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Recap / Futurama S 4 E 10 The Why Of Fry

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Dancing space potatoes?

Still unable to impress Leela, Fry sadly suspects that he has no importance in life - until Nibbler takes him on a special mission to prevent the big brains from destroying the universe. In the process, Fry learns what really happened when he was cryogenically frozen on December 31, 1999.


  • Always Save the Girl: In the past, Nibbler manages to convince Fry to save the future by making him realize that Leela will die should the Brain Spawn destroy the universe.
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  • Back to the Early Installment: The Brainspawn give Fry the offer to stop his freezing by sending him back to 1999, moments before he fell back into the cryogenic freezer. He hides under the table and ultimately decides to push himself into the cryo-tube to save the future, and then tells Nibbler that Scooty Puff Jr sucks.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Fry strangles past!Nibbler, as angry as we ever see him, because he doesn't like being used.
  • Brain Monster: It turns out the Big Brain is merely the field commander. The actual leader of the Brainspawn is a gigantic brain large enough to dwarf dinosaurs (and kill them with a single blast of energy). It's so big, it serves as the center of the Infosphere.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • The Big Brain comes back, having somehow escaped Fry's crappy book. Alternatively it could be one of several Big Brains.
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    • The Nibblonians Ken and Fiona.
  • Call-Back: To "The Day the Earth Stood Stupid", "Roswell That Ends Well" and "Space Pilot 3000". The Brain Spawn are back and Fry's the only one who can stop them due to not having a Delta Brainwave, which is the result of him "doing the nasty in the past-y" and becoming his own grandfather, which is why Nibbler froze him.note 
  • Chekhov's Gun: If you were paying any attention during the "Space Pilot 3000" and the flashbacks of that episode seen in "Jurassic Bark," you'll notice the strange eye stalk poking through the trash. This episode provides an explanation for that.
    • "Jurassic Bark" in particular also sets up this episode by demonstrating Fry's future self being present at the moment of his freezing by having two shadows under the table (instead of only one, like in the pilot) and Fry himself is the one who causes the chair to tip over and send his past self into the chamber.
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  • Disability Immunity: Once again, Fry's lack of a Delta brainwave makes him immune to the Brain Spawn.
  • Epic Fail: Leela was clearly attracted to Chaz and probably would’ve continued a relationship with him - she even implied as much - but he utterly blew it by being a dick to the orphans.
  • Evil Is Petty: The reason the Brain Spawn go around stealing knowledge and destroying planets and have now decided to destroy the universe? Being brains, they feel the need to know all information in existence, and because new information is constantly being created, they want to wipe out life to prevent the creation of further information.
  • Funny Background Event: A Nibblonian feed of Fry's failed attempts to eat a pineapple hanging from...somewhere.
  • I Hate Past Me: Fry is disgusted by a recording of his past self, thinking he looks fat (the joke being he looks completely identical).
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Fry's problems in a nutshell. He's quite happy to learn he is.
  • It's Personal: Fry says it upon learning that the Brain Spawn are going to destroy the universe.
  • Jerkass: Chaz, the Mayor's aide. Leela eventually realizes this and shoves his badge into his mouth when she does.
  • Kaiju: The Giant Brain, which acts as the center of the Infosphere.
  • Large Ham: The Giant Brain.
  • Long-Lived: The Nibblonian's live for over a thousand years. The Giant Brain killed the dinosaurs, making it at least millions of years old.
  • The Magnificent: The Nibblonians refer to Fry as "the Mighty One"
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Played for Laughs with Fry's upgraded Scooty Puff scooter, which is called The Doombringer — Scooty Puff Sr.
  • The Needs of the Many: The Nibblonian's reasoning for sending Fry to the future, as he was the only one who could defeat the Brain Spawn. There's also a Stable Time Loop involved, but it isn't visited in this episode.
  • No Sympathy: The NNYPD fine Fry after Nibbler takes a dark matter dump and Fry can't scoop it since it's too heavy for him.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: After the Infosphere is complete, the Brain Spawn plan on destroying the universe to ensure no new information exists.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: The Giant Brain shows Fry the scene where he got frozen, except with an additional scene of Nibbler causing his chair to tip over and making him fall in the cryo-tube.
  • One-Steve Limit: In all the universe, there are two people named Philip J. Fry in the 31st century, our hero, and the Philip J. Fry of Hovering Squid-World 97A (although it may be that these are the only two Philip J. Frys in a position to be in the present and also be active on Earth on New Year's Eve 1999).
  • Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs: As it turns out, it was the Giant Brain.
  • Removed from the Picture: After realizing what an ass Chaz is, Leela has Bender burn his face off a photo of their date with a flaming burp. Fittingly, when Fry walks into the room, Leela sees his face where Chaz used to be.
  • Riddle for the Ages:
    • What was the mission that Leela and Bender went on without Fry and what did they get the medals for?
    • What does Nibbler mean when he speculates that Leela is "the Other", in terms of her connection to Fry's status as "the Mighty One"?
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Parodied by Chaz, the mayor's aide- a connection he'll flaunt even when he doesn't need to.
  • Skewed Priorities: Faced with the Infosphere about to finish learning everything, and the destruction of the entire universe, Fry wastes time asking it questions, such as what postage stamp glue is made of.
  • Sock Slide Rink: Impiled when the the Cookieville Orphanarium are denied skating at the ice rink Chaz had rented out for Leela and him.
    Mr. Vogel: "Alright, little ones. Back to the orphanarium. You can slide around the gym in your socks."
    Girl: "What socks?"
  • Take That!:
    • After ending up in the alternate universe, one of the Brains offers to sing "American Pie" at Fry. He mutters that he deserves it.
    • Ken the Nibblonian takes the time to inform Fry that the Dave Matthews Band doesn't rock.
  • Take That, Audience!: When Fry enters the Infosphere, the Brain Spawn detect trace amounts of mental activity, "possibly from a dead weasel, or a cartoon viewer."
  • Tastes Like Purple: Trope Namer. After Nibbler gives him a mind wipe, Fry says "Did everything just taste purple for a second?"
  • Temporal Duplication: Fry is sent back to 1999, giving him the chance to stop his freezing. He shows up right underneath the table 1999 Fry has his feet on and ends up causing him to fall into the cryogenic tube in the first place.
  • Time Travel: The Giant Brain takes Fry back to December 31, 1999 in order to show Fry what the Nibblonians were up to.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Fry's meddling in the past ends up contradicting "Roswell That Ends Well" as he convinces Nibbler to provide him with a better scooter on his escape from the Infosphere. The Nibblonians give him that scooter (so he escapes successfully on the second go-around) but in doing so it breaks the causality that allowed him to go back in time to tell Nibbler to give him that scooter.note 
    • Could be justified due to the unique nature of the temporal rupture that allowed Fry to go back to 1999 on this occasion having different rules to the methods used in other cited examples.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Fry discovers the Nibblonians froze him on purpose so he'd be able to fight the Brain Spawn in the future. He's outraged to the point of strangling Nibbler when he travels to the past, not because Fry wouldn't have wanted to live in the future, but because he does not like being used.
  • Villain Has a Point: The Brain Spawn point out that Fry was merely an Unwitting Pawn for Nibbler and his race, ripping him from his current time to save the universe.
  • Wham Episode: It turns out Fry falling into the cryogenics tube wasn't an accident.
    • Wham Shot: The shot of Nibbler pushing Fry into the cryogenics tube from under the table.
  • What Is One Man's Life In Comparison?: Nibble explains as such to Fry when defending freezing him.
    Nibbler: What is one life weighed against the entire universe?
    Fry: ... but it was my life.