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What Could Have Been / Futurama

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Concept art of what eventually became Bender
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Futurama went through a lot of changes while under cryogenic development.

  • The original premise was very different. Originally, Fry was going to be a gruff deliveryman who was already in the future rather than being frozen, and he would've worked for Mom.
  • The series was originally named Aloha Mars!, though it also had the working title of Doomsville at one point. These titles, among many others, were rejected until the network and creative team were satisfied with the final choice.
  • Eric Rogers revealed that they considered making a claymation segment for "Reincarnation" but didn't due to time constraints and money issues.
  • Zapp Brannigan was intended to be played by Phil Hartman, but Hartman's death at the hands of his own wife destroyed any chance of that, so Billy West voiced the character with the same kind of smugness you'd expect from a jerkass Phil Hartman character.
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  • Fry originally had "Curtis" as his given name, but was renamed "Phillip" in honor of Phil Hartman. He was also originally going to be a 35-year-old who was born and had always lived in the future, but that was changed to make him more relatable to the target audience.
  • Fry and Leela were originally supposed to be played by Charlie Schlatter (from 18 Again!, Diagnosis: Murder, and Loonatics Unleashed) and Nicole Sullivan (Shego, Joan of Arc and best known as the Vancome Lady from MADtv) respectively.
  • According to Billy West, Ryan Stiles auditioned to be Dr. Zoidberg, and, in his interview with John DiMaggio, Rob Paulsen reveals that he auditioned for Fry. John DiMaggio originally auditioned for Farnsworth, and David X. Cohen considered doing Bender's voice by himself.
  • Bender was initially designed with antennae on each side of his head, which would have functioned as ears. Several episodes have referenced this unused idea via Development Gag.
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  • Hermes was originally going to have the Brain Slug on his head for all of season two instead of just "Raging Bender".
  • According to Lauren Tom, Amy was initially written with a relatively masculine personality and job, which would have made her border on Ambiguously Lesbian. She was rewritten as a Girly Girl in order to provide a better contrast between her and Leela, who was already a Tomboy to begin with.
  • Hermes was originally going to be named Dexter.
  • Mom was originally intended to be the dictator of Earth in the setting, but as the concept developed, she was slowly pushed to the sides until she basically became an Advertised Extra.
  • In Zapp Brannigan's introductory episode, "Love's Labors Lost in Space", he was supposed to get fatter every time he reappeared on screen, but the animators were too disgusted by the results to do it.
  • "Roswell that Ends Well" was originally written as a What If? short for "Anthology of Interest II", but was cut after the story got long enough to be its own episode.
  • In "Jurassic Bark", Fry's mother was originally going to be the fossilized remnant from Fry's past that he tries to revive, only to stop at the last minute, but the writers and producers rejected it as being more depressing than the dog story, somehow. The writers did end up making an episode where Fry reunites with his mother again ("Game of Tones") and it's just as tearjerking as this episode.
  • Throughout the first two seasons, there are cameo appearances by an elderly man with the number 9 on his shirt. Initially, he was supposed to represent a fictional caste system in which a person's number determined their social status. However, this idea was abandoned and, when the same character got a major role in the fourth film, the number served as his given name instead.
  • Behold the early concept art for Fry, Bender, and Leela.
    • Following the events of the fourth movie where the main characters go on the run and vanish into a gigantic wormhole, half the writers wanted to continue on from that while the other half wanted to pull a Writer Cop Out and end the series there. The side that wanted to continue won, leading to Comedy Central's revival.
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