Futurama is one of the most well written and hilarious television series of this century. Premiering in 1999, it tells the adventures of Phillip J. Fry, a professional slacker who was cryogenically preserved for 1000 years and was awoken in the 31st century. The comedy sci-fi show was originally developed by Matt Groening, who is known for his Life in Hell comic strip, The Simpsons, and Disenchantment. David X. Cohen was brought on by Groening and has also worked on The Simpsons and Disenchantment, as well as Beavis and Butt-Head.
The show has had a bit of a volatile history. It originally ran for four years on Fox but was canceled in 2004. It was revived in 2007 as four direct-to-video films, the last of which was released in 2009. Comedy Central entered into an agreement to syndicate these films as 16 half-hour episodes. After the success of this, Comedy Central picked up the show for an additional 26 episodes. On February 9th 2022, Hulu revived the series with a 20 episode order that is set to premiere sometime in 2023.
Futurama has received many accolades and critical acclaim. It has been nominated for 17 Annie awards, winning seven of those. The series has also been nominated for 12 Emmy Awards, winning six. It also won the Writers Guild of America Award twice with the episodes “Godfellas” and “Prisoner of Benda.” The series deserves all its respective praise and is rightfully considered one of the best animated shows of the 2000s (though really, anyone can enjoy it). Its ensemble of original characters and the unique circumstances that they find themselves in lead to smiles, tear-laden cheeks, and non-stop laughter. In this collection, we will be ranking the very best Futurama Episodes.
6 Three Hundred Big Boys
This episode takes place in the fourth season and follows Earth’s victory over the Spiderians of Turantulon 6. The fruits of their conquest inspire the preserved floating head of the American President Richard Nixon, the leader of Earth, to give every citizen a $300 tax rebate in the form of a “Tricky-Dick Fun Bill.” Fry decides to use his money to buy $300 worth of coffee. Bender can’t afford an expensive cigar so instead purchases burglary equipment to steal it. Leela buys a swim with Mushu, a whale at a theme park. This breezy, fun episode continues to show how each of the crew members spends their money and is an interesting insight into each character’s desires.
5 Space Pilot 3000
This is the very first episode in the series. Comedy series are notorious for having a not-so-hot pilot episode. They are usually filled with lots of exposition and character introductions, so they don’t have time for the actual comedy. Futurama, however, finds a way to make things funny. The exposition is incredibly clever, and they absolutely nailed the character introductions. We are first introduced to Bender (played by John DiMaggio) as Fry enters what he thinks is a telephone booth. Bender steps into the booth with a quarter attached to string and proposes that they try to get a “twofer.” Fry realizes what Bender already knew and that the booth is a suicide machine. This is a perfect introduction to Bender: we find out he is cheap, depressed, and doesn’t take life very seriously, and the show creates similarly perfect intros for many other characters. The Futurama pilot is a rare gem in the world of comedy pilots.
4 Amazon Women in the Mood
This was the first episode of season three and follows part of the crew as well as Zapp Brannigan and Kif after they crash-land their ship on the planet Amazonia. The planet is inhabited by tall muscular cavewomen. The cavewomen capture the men and take them to their leader, the femputer, which is a man-hating supercomputer. The men are sentenced to death which forces Leela and Amy to rescue them. Their rescue attempt fails and instead their freedom is precipitated by Bender making out with the femputer and the femputer allowing them to leave peacefully in this delightfully wacky send-up of old B-movies.
3 Roswell that Ends Well
This was the 19th episode of season three of Futurama, and won an Emmy in 2002 for “Outstanding Animated Program.” The episode depicts the crew accidentally time traveling back to 1947 where they crash-land their spaceship in Roswell, New Mexico. Dr. Zoidberg gets captured by the U.S. Military and while finding out how to rescue him, Fry meets his grandfather. Fry becomes preoccupied with protecting his grandfather after hearing that if he dies, Fry will no longer exist. Fry ends up killing his grandfather through trying to protect him. Confused as to why he is not dead, he finds himself consoling his grandmother who was engaged to his grandfather at the time. No longer thinking his grandfather or mother ere his biological relatives, Fry has sex with his grandmother. He later finds out that through this act he has become his own grandfather.
2 Jurassic Bark
This is the seventh episode of season four and is a very special one. Futurama commonly finds itself portraying difficult issues through the medium of comedy. This episode is no different. The friendship between Bender and Fry starts to break down when Fry finds the mummified body of his old dog, Seymour. Bender becomes jealous with Fry’s affection for his mummified pet, and when Professor Farnsworth reveals that he can clone Seymour, Bender throws the corpse into a pit of lava. Regretting his action, Bender retrieves Seymour from the lava pit.
Fry finds out that Seymour died at the age of 15 and must have lived a fulfilling life after he was frozen; he then decides to not have him cloned. The entire episode is cut together with flashbacks of Seymour. The final saddening scene depicts a montage of years when Seymour is waiting for Fry to return, concluding with a final shot that depicts the dog closing his eyes and resting for the final time. It’s an emotionally devastating moment in a show which is surprisingly consistent with powerful emotions.
1 The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings
Number one on our list is the very last episode of the original Fox run. The premise is that, in an attempt to learn the futuristic instrument, the Holophonor, Fry enlists the help of the recurring Robot Devil character. Through spinning a wheel of chance, Fry ends up with Robot Devil’s hands. He is now able to play the Holophonor at the Hovercar-Negie Hall. The devil, jealous of his own hands, interrupts the performance and a dramatic opera is played out between the two.
We really get it all with this episode. The Fry and Leela romantic arc, the Robot Devil, and some well done but still hilarious musical numbers. It’s a high production value episode, and is very much deserving of the number one spot.