5 Times ‘Futurama’ Outfunnied ‘The Simpsons’
The contrast between Futurama and The Simpsons’ lifespans couldn’t be more glaring. For the former, staying on air has been a struggle after constant cancellations and resurrections saw the cult sci-fi darling jump from home to home, finally landing at Hulu for its current season after being frozen for a full decade. The Simpsons, on the other hand, has been chugging along without a hitch since 1989, even though some salty fans wish that it never made it out of the 20th century. The juxtaposition between Futurama die-hards celebrating each time the show survives a season finale and Simpsons complainers tuning into each successive season simply for hate-watching purposes makes us wonder which fanbase Matt Groening likes more — the sparse yet passionate fans or the annoying but absolutely abundant ones.
Though The Simpsons is the undeniable commercial king of Groening’s filmography, there are a number of Futurama episodes that can give even “Marge vs. The Monorail” a run for its money. Here are those episodes in order…
‘Amazon Women in the Mood’
Unsurprisingly, the most quotable episode in Futurama history makes the list of Simpsons contenders. Twenty-two years after airing, echoes of “death by snu-snu” and “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is spongey and weak” can still be heard echoing across college dorms and bachelor pads by Futurama fans dreaming of their own mission to Amazonia.
The silent shot of Fry and Zapp oscillating between ecstasy and existential terror at the prospect of being killed with sex is so simple and hysterical that it alone earns the episode a spot on the list — that moment perfectly encapsulates Futurama’s ability to get big laughs with small details.
‘How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back’
Hermes is one of Futurama’s unsung heroes. His penchant for pencil-pushing and love of limbo make him more than just a sensible straight man — even if his prudence is often his greatest weapon. The first great bureaucratic challenge Hermes faced in the series came when the horned-up Morgan Proctor supplants him at Planet Express and sends Bender’s mind to the Central Bureaucracy to cover up her illicit affair with Fry.
Hermes’ bureaucratic prowess eventually saves the day, as he demonstrates Futurama’s ability to utilize its character’s quirks for plot construction without Flanderizing them like… oh, you know.
‘Roswell That Ends Well’
Who could have thought that a time-traveling incest episode would become one of Futurama fans’ favorite plotlines? The hilarious and risky decision to make Fry his own grandfather paid off in spades as “Roswell That Ends Well” became both a fan favorite and a critical darling, earning Futurama its first Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming Less Than One Hour).
Now imagine your own grandma saying, “How ’bout these cookies, sugar?”
Actually, don’t. That’s awful. I’m sorry.
‘The Series Has Landed’
For many Futurama fans, just the second episode in the entire series marked the moment they fell in love with the show. Early Futurama had an easier time using Fry’s fish-out-of-water status to drive plotlines forward, and turning the freaking moon into a Niagra Falls-esque tourist trap was the perfect way to explore that juxtaposition for jokes. Lines like, “That’s not an astronaut, that’s a TV comedian! And he was just using space travel as a metaphor for beating his wife,” remind us all of why we fell in love with Futurama.
Also, this episode gave us the iconic quote, “I’m gonna go build my own theme park. With blackjack, and hookers! In fact, forget the park!” Which automatically places it in the pantheon of Futurama bangers.
‘The Day the Earth Stood Stupid’
Plot-heavy episodes in comedy shows sometimes have a hard time getting jokes in when so many canonically important events are happening. “The Day the Earth Stood Stupid” is not one of those episodes. Fry’s lack of Delta brainwaves ensures that he’s too stupid for the Brainspawn to best, leading to his outsmarting the alien foes by writing his magnum opus novel Fry Tricks The Brain in hilariously broken prose.
This wins first place because “The Day the Earth Stood Stupid” also contains the introduction of the Hypnotoad. ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD.