15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Futurama’
TV executives spent most of the 1990s begging The Simpsons creator Matt Groening to create another animated show. Once he delivered Futurama, the executives switched to spending decades trying to kill it. And yet, despite having four season finales so far, this heartwarming show about a bunch of alcoholic, grandma-boinking freaks going on suicide missions perseveres, along with the odd tales that come from making it...
The Show’s ‘Lost Episode’ Was Recorded on an Xbox
Although it failed to win any Game of the Year awards, the 2003 Futurama video game is noteworthy for including 28 minutes of new animation featuring most of the original cast. Fortunately, those scenes were included as a “lost episode” in one of the DVDs. Unfortunately, since the game’s developers had gone under by then, the crew had to play through the game in an original Xbox and record the footage directly from there, according to the audio commentary.
In other words, what you see on the DVD is a YouTube Let’s Play minus most of the gameplay.
Leela Is Named After a Symphony
The name Turanga Leela is taken from the Turangalîla-Symphonie, a symphony by French composer Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) that has nothing to do with one-eyed mutants working for interplanetary delivery companies. It’s based on the medieval legend of Tristan and Isolde, a tragic saga of forbidden love that might resemble Fry and Leela’s romance if you squint and have terrible depth perception due to having only one giant eye.
Bender’s Voice Is Based on Someone Called ‘Charlie the Sausage Lover’
According to Bender‘s inimitable voice actor, John DiMaggio, Bender‘s voice is a combination of the drunk in every bar, old-school western actor Slim Pickens and a character his college buddy used to do called “Charlie the Sausage Lover.” Literally, a guy called Charlie who loved sausages too much. Good thing DiMaggio agreed to join the revival cast after all or Hulu would have been forced to find some drunken sausage enthusiast cowboy to replace him.
The ‘Futurama’ Comic Ran for 17 Years
While the show was going on and off the air and the console game failed to produce any sequels, the Futurama comic book ran strong for 17 years (2000-2017), albeit with an increasingly irregular schedule. It also produced specials like The Futurama/Simpsons Infinitely Secret Crossover Crisis, which was vastly superior to the crossover episode we got in 2014. Speaking of that other show...
‘The Simpsons’ Are Still on the Air in the 30th Century
According to Matt Groening, The Simpsons was on its 1,010th season when Fry was unfrozen in 2999. The show was “only” in its 10th year when Groening made that joke, so he had no idea how increasingly realistic it would become. Incidentally, the storyboard for the pilot episode includes a shot of Fry watching The Simpsons as a teenager and saying, “God, they’re ugly,” but it was cut for unknown reasons. Maybe Groening didn’t sign over the rights to himself?
Coolio (RIP) Will Continue Voicing Kwaanza-bot
Despite Coolio’s untimely passing last year, Futurama’s producers have confirmed that he finished recording dialogue for his character, Kwaanza-bot, and a rapped version of the theme song a few weeks before his passing. May he live forever in robot paradise.
Groening Called Getting the Show Approved the ‘Worst Experience’ of His Adult Life
Although Fox enthusiastically approved Futurama in 1998, Groening says that the executives quickly decided this was a mistake and that getting the show on the air was “by far the worst experience of (his) grown-up life.” The executives were freaked out by elements like the suicide booths or Bender’s overall personality and did everything possible to change them, causing numerous headaches to Groening and co-creator David X. Cohen. This probably explains...
They Ran a Fake Ad Making Fun of Fox’s Executives
When the first post-Fox cancelation episode ran on Comedy Central, Futurama ran a fake ad for a product called Torgo’s Executive Powder, which is made out of ground-up executives from “Box Network” and is shown being dumped into a toilet. Another Torgo’s Powder ad simply showed someone’s naked posterior and said, “Apply directly to buttocks.” What could it all mean?
Bender Was Supposed to Be Replaced by His Twin Brother
In the episode “Bender Gets Made,” Bender replaces his serial number with “14” to hide from the mob. In the finished episode, we see Bender’s established serial, 3370318, but according to the DVD commentary, it was originally going to be 2716057 as an in-joke to the nerds in the audience who would have instantly recognized that as the number belonging to his identical brother, Flexo. The idea was that Flexo had replaced Bender in his previous appearance, kinda like Jerry in Rick and Morty, but this was scrapped since it would have annoyed die-hard fans and made future Flexo episodes confusing.
Hermes Was Supposed to Be a Mind Slave for Half a Season
In “Raging Bender,” Hermes’ brain is hijacked by a Brain Slug who proposes going to the Brain Slug planet and “just walk around not wearing a helmet.” We never see Hermes get free of the slug in this episode because, according to the commentary, the idea was for him to keep it on his head for the rest of the season. So what saved Hermes from being puppeteered by an alien creature for a dozen episodes? The fact that the writers “just sort of forgot about it.”
The Show Was NEVER Going to Do Time Travel, But Then They Did
According to the Season Three DVD commentary, one of Groening and Cohen’s early rules for the show was that they was NEVER going to be any time-travel in Futurama because they didn’t want people to wonder why they didn’t just go back in time after every inconvenience. The classic “Roswell That Ends Well” episode was initially conceived as a “what if” type segment for one of the “Anthology of Interest” episodes, except everyone liked the idea of Fry becoming his own grandpa so much that they broke the rule and gave it its own episode. And once that door was open, it led to...
Bender Is the Oldest Character in the Show — By Far
Casual viewers might reasonably assume that Professor Farnsworth is the oldest character in the Futurama cast because, well, look at him. But no, taking this show’s various time-travel shenanigans into account, the Professor is only the fourth oldest character at 165, followed by Fry at 2,039 (if we count the two times he got frozen for 1,000 and 1,007.95 years), Nibbler at 3,274 or 10,013 depending on how you’re counting and Bender at least 1,000,000 due to traveling back in time and waiting in a cavern under the Planet Express building thousands of times in Bender’s Big Score. He must have had some pretty good booze reserves in his body to survive for that long.
The ‘X’ In David X. Cohen Means...
Nothing. He just couldn’t use “David S. Cohen” due to Writers Guild rules, so he picked “X” because it sounded “sci-fi-ish.”
The ‘Number 9’ Man Was Supposed to Represent a Caste System
When creating Futurama’s future, Groening and Cohen came up with the idea that people on the lowest rungs of society would wear shirts with a big “9” on them, indicating that they were the 9th most important sector of society (so, bums and slaves). Number ones would be kings and rich people and so on. They dropped the idea before the show got on the air, but it led to a guy with a “9” on his shirt appearing in multiple crowd scenes early on, leading to intense fan speculation about his origin. Eventually, the writers made a new origin up for Into the Wild Green Yonder.
Leela’s Parents Had a Cameo Years Before Being Revealed
Although Leela’s origin as an Earth mutant and not an alien was only revealed in Season Four’s “Leela’s Homeworld,” the Season Two episode “I Second That Emotion” included two sewer mutants who strangely resembled her in a crowd shot. The same mutants (slightly redesigned) were later confirmed to be her mother and father. Presumably, she didn’t see them because, again, not the best depth-perception.
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