After being trapped in a cryogenic freezer on New Year's Eve 1999 thanks to the machinations of the adorable Nibblonian, Nibbler, Philip J. Fry awakens a thousand years later in New New York City and embarks on a series of adventures in the year 3000 and slightly thereafter! Futurama follows the antics of the Planet Express crew as they travel from one edge of the universe to the other, all in the name of earning an anemic paycheck in exchange for successfully completing package deliveries. In addition to fish-out-of-water Fry, Professor Farnsworth's package delivery crew includes Bender Bending Rodriguez, the saucy foul-mouthed robot chef, and Turanga Leela, the captain of the good ship Planet Express Ship. Rounding out the Planet Express ground crew in New New York are Hermes Conrad, Bureaucrat Grade 36, Amy Wong, the Chinese-Martian heiress, and staff doctor John Zoidberg. While the show was eventually canceled (two or three times), the reruns of the missions undertaken by the nearly-competent Planet Express crew continue to remain popular on streaming services, and memes originating from the show still regularly appear on social media.
It's undeniable that some of Futurama's best episodes, including "The Luck of the Fryrish," "Parasite's Lost," and "Leela's Homeworld," are cult classics worthy of repeat viewings. But while certain Futurama episodes, such as the Emmy Award-winning "Roswell That Ends Well," have received the respect they're due, the series has other amazing episodes that no one seems to talk about!
20 OVERRATED: MEANWHILE
The (current) final episode of the series, "Meanwhile," used time-travel to eat its cake and then have it, too. By sending Fry and Leela decades into a frozen future, their life-long relationship can be explored, but at the end of the episode, they're rescued by a Professor ex machina: Farnsworth is able to repair the time machine and send them back to an ambiguous point earlier on the timeline to resume their lives in an unfrozen New New York.
But while it's nice to see Fry and Leela spend their lives together in a parallel timeline, the suggestion of more adventures with the Planet Express crew prevents this episode from serving as a completely satisfying conclusion.
19 AMAZING: REINCARNATION
This anthology episode presents three short stories about the Planet Express crew encountering the element diamondium, each presented in a different style of animation.
In "Colorama," the crew appears in the style of the cartoons produced by Fleischer Studios in Old New York during the 1920s. "Future Challenge 3000," depicts the Professor's pursuit of the unfortunate truths of science in the animation style of '80s video games. "Action Delivery Force" gives Zoidberg a chance to take center stage in a segment paying homage to the anime shows of the 60s and 70s. Tying the anthology together nicely is the fact that all three stories feature a key narrative element that cannot be expressed visually due to the limitations of their respective animation style.
18 OVERRATED: JURASSIC BARK
In the season four episode "Jurassic Bark," Futurama relied on one of its most reliable narrative devices, the flashback, to break the hearts of fans everywhere. After uncovering his fossilized dog, Seymour, Fry embarks on a mission to resurrect his late companion and closest friend from the 20th century. But before Seymour can be cloned back to life, Fry makes what he thinks is the mature decision and allows the dog to rest.
However, the heart-shattering final sequence reveals that Seymour never moved on after Fry disappeared, and expired in the gutter waiting for the frozen delivery boy's return. While some cite the episode as one of the best of the series, others cannot bear to rewatch, earning it a place among the overrated.
17 AMAZING: The 100th EPISODE
The 100th episode of the series sees Leela exiled to the sub-sewers after Fry announces that she's a mutant in the presence of the wealthy Mrs. Astor. Building on mythology the show had spent years shaping, including the nature of the marginalized mutant society and the truth about Leela's parents, this episode delivers a major status quo change for New New York: going forward, mutants are allowed on the surface (even without a special one-day-only permit).
On top of all this, the episode also reveals the history of the Land Titanic (suggesting the doomed cruise ship in season one's "A Flight to Remember" was named for an even more recent tragedy than the 1912 oceanic disaster).
16 OVERRATED: ANTHOLOGY OF INTEREST I
In the vein of the Marvel What If? comics, the What-If Machine gave Futurama the opportunity to explore plotlines too far-fetched for regular continuity (and to spleh with the narrative consequences). But while "Anthology of Interest I" did offer the first glimpse of Scruffy as a Planet Express employee, the first Anthology of Interest is somewhat overrated, as it tends to be cited far more often than the overlooked sequel.
In "Anthology of Interest II," fans get to see the horrific consequences that occur when Bender becomes human (a tale only teased in the first anthology), Fry levels up, and Leela goes on a journey home using references anyone can understand.
15 AMAZING: THE SILENCE OF THE CLAMPS
When Bender witnesses a savage clamping while making out with the Donbot's daughter at her sister's wedding, he enters the witness protection program to avoid further retaliation from the Robot Mafia, and Clamps joins the Planet Express crew in his place, hoping to clamp the bending robot once and for all.
On top of giving Clamps a chance to shine during a montage set to the song "Clampdown" by the Clash, Doctor John F. Zoidberg achieves one of his greatest triumphs at the climax of the episode, the friendly robo-bumpkin with the phony made-up name "Billy West" is introduced, and there's an FBI ship shaped like a fedora!
14 OVERRATED: WAR IS THE H-WORD
In many ways, "War is the H-Word" is a classic science fiction story, right down to the revelation that the humans had been the evil invading aliens all along.
But in the final scene, Bender attempts to detonate the planet-destroying bomb by guessing what word might serve as the trigger. It undercuts the rest of the episode when, after cutting to black on the sound of Bender succeeding in activating the bomb, a quick line of dialogue assures the viewer that all is well. The best episodes of Futurama rely on continuity, and the writers are clearly aware that their nerdlinger fans demand a What-If Machine to explain inconsistent continuity.
13 AMAZING: YO LEELA LEELA
"Yo Leela Leela" opens with Leela returning to the Orphanarium, where she attempts to tell the children a story (earning her an acerbic barb from Albert so sharp that Bender would have been jealous). After she discovers how difficult it is to write a story, she ends up plagiarising the antics of the adorable and innocent denizens of the planet Rumbledy-Hump.
While the song the crew performs while dressed as the Humplings is a highlight and Abner Doubledeal gets some of his best lines of the series, Leela steals the spotlight as a big Hollywood bigshot who makes the wrong decision at every turn.
12 OVERRATED: BENDER SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED ON TELEVISION
In "Bender Should Not Be Allowed on Television," Bender's wanton drinking, smoking, and stealing become featured traits of the character he plays on the soap opera All My Circuits. Soon, children everywhere are emulating the ultimate bad role model, leading Fathers Against Rude Television (FART) to waft into the TV studio and demand Bender be removed from the airwaves!
What makes this episode overrated is the fact that despite being produced as the sixth episode of the fourth season, it was aired as the penultimate episode of the series on Fox in August 2003, adding insult to the injury of Futurama's untimely cancellation. Fortunately, Bender's Big Score, the first straight-to-DVD movie, would soothe these wounds with a heaping application of Torgo's Executive Powder.
11 AMAZING: A CLONE OF MY OWN
Professor Farnsworth resolves to appoint a successor, only to remember that he already did that when he cloned Cubert from one of his moles. But the rest of the crew is unenthused when they discover that Cubert is an insufferable know-it-all who spends his time pointing out the crew's shortcoming and the many ways that the inventions of his father do not make sense.
While many fans seemed to revile Cubert for being a smug, arrogant jerk, this overlooks the fact that Cubert's behavior is a direct reference to the genre trope of late addition child characters that possess unparalleled abilities and intelligence.
10 OVERRATED: LRRRECONCILABLE NDNDIFFERENCES
Over the course of the series, the relationship between Omicron Persei 8's rulers, Lrrr and Ndnd, frequently becomes the concern of the Planet Express crew. The first time occurs in "When Aliens Attack," a first season episode that sees earth invaded by the Omicronians in response to the cancellation of Single Female Lawyer.
What makes "Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences" so overrated is that it's essential a re-hash of the same story as "When Aliens Attack," only this time, the crew is helping Lrrr fake an earth invasion rather than faking a scripted TV show. One notable addition to the antics, however, is Maurice LaMarche's absolutely uncanny performance as the head of Orson Welles.
9 AMAZING: DECISION 3012
Leela gets involved in the political process, offering her support to Earth Presidential candidate Chris Z. Travers. But running against Nixon comes with consequences, and it's soon revealed that Travers does not possess a valid long-form certificate of live birth proving he was born on Earth!
The crew travels to Traver's place of birth, Kenya, and discovers that he is a citizen of Earth, he just isn't born yet! Travers is a time traveler who returned to the year 3012 to prevent Nixon's election. According to Travers, Nixon plans to build a Dyson fence around the southern side of the solar system to keep out aliens, a decision that destroys Earth's economy and sends humanity into a downward spiral. Welcome to the world of tomorrow!
8 OVERRATED: PUT YOUR HEAD ON MY SHOULDER
While Fry and Leela's will-they won't-they romance had already been firmly established by the second season, "Put Your Head on my Shoulder" explored the potential for a relationship between Fry and Amy. Although the plot leads to one of the best sight gags of the series, as Fry's head on Amy's shoulder is inarguably hilarious, the romance that drives the episode flounders.
While the pair does share a certain airheaded sense of humor, the romance between the pair never seems that plausible. Fortunately, in the third season, the show would return to the romance between Kif and Amy that had been established in season one's "A Flight to Remember."
7 AMAZING: WHY MUST I BE A CRUSTACEAN IN LOVE?
When Doctor Zoidberg starts getting a little too "frisky," the Planet Express crew travels to his planet of origin, Decapod 10, so that he can take part in the mating frenzy. Unfortunately, the object of Zoidberg's affection ends up falling for Fry, leading Zoidberg to challenge Fry to Claw-Plauch.
The ensuing battle is one of the single funniest action sequences in the entirety of the series. The battle is set to the song from the Star Trek episode that served as inspiration for the story, "Amok Time," in which Spock is afflicted with the Vulcan mating urge known as pon farr.
6 OVERRATED: XMAS STORY
In season two's "Xmas Story," Fry spends his first Xmas in New New York and discovers that in the year 3000, Santa is a horrible robot who travels around the planet every Xmas eve sowing death and destruction. As a bonus, in this first appearance, Robot Santa is voiced by John Goodman.
However, it isn't until the third season episode "A Tale of Two Santas" that the full brutality of Robot Santa is put on display. This episode was delayed from broadcast for an entire year because of the violent acts Santa takes part in, and as a result, was first shown publically at the Futurama production crew's holiday party in December 2000.
5 AMAZING: THE LATE PHILIP J. FRY
The irrevocable consequences of traveling back in time (seen in "Roswell That Ends Well" and Bender's Big Score) haven't convinced Professor Farnsworth to stay away from time travel, but they have inspired him to include some safeguards: a time machine that can only travel forward in time, which Farnsworth reasons will prevent the creation of potentially universe-ending paradoxes.
Unfortunately, even this safeguard isn't sufficient to prevent time travel disaster, and Fry, Bender, and the Professor soon find themselves lost in the future. But what makes this time travel episode stand out is the unorthodox and unflinching method of resolving the time-travel paradox. The late Philip J. Fry, indeed!
4 OVERRATED: ATTACK OF THE KILLER APP
One of the first episodes to air after Futurama's Comedy Central revival, 2010's "Attack of the Killer App" took the opportunity to lambast one of the biggest tech trends to occur in the years since the show left the airwaves: cell phone telephones!
The plot sees MomCorp attempting to take over the world thanks to the eyePhone and a social media app called Twitcher. But what makes this episode so overrated is Fry demanding he is allowed to pay for his eyePhone, a line that has become an internet meme that is more widely known than the episode from which it originated.
3 AMAZING: A LEELA OF HER OWN
A family of Cygnoids opens up a pizza shop across the street from the Planet Express building. To welcome their new neighbors, the Planet Express crew invites the employees of Family Bros Pizza to take part in a game of Blernsball in Central Park, which leads to Leela being recruited to the New New York Mets.
In the farce that ensues, Leela desperately attempts to make headway as the first woman to play the game, eventually recruiting an ancestor of Hank Aaron to help her avoid becoming the worst Blernsball player in history (a fate she does not successfully avoid).
2 OVERRATED: THE DEVIL'S HANDS ARE IDLE PLAYTHINGS
The final episode of season four was also intended to serve as a finale for the series: after striking a deal with the Robot Devil to improve his ability at playing the Holophoner, Fry writes an opera about the object of his affection, the lovely lady Leela.
The third act is largely comprised of a musical number that sees Fry falling victim to a ridiculously circuitous plan concocted by the Robot Devil himself. While the story does end on a sweet note, this pitch-perfect episode is overrated when one considers it as a potential conclusion for the series: when a show is producing episodes this superb, cancellation can only be considered a crime!
1 AMAZING: THE BEAST WITH A BILLION BACKS
The second of four straight-to-DVD movies, The Beast with a Billion Backs, dealt with the consequences of Bender's careless handling of the timestream in Bender's Big Score. A new space-hole is torn in the fabric of the universe as a result of Bender's irresolvable time-travel paradoxes, and a creature with a billion tentacles soon enters our dimension!
With a story that calls to mind Sci-Fi horror classics like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a title that just might constitute the show's single best Shakespearian allusion and a fantastic performance by the late Brittany Murphy as Fry's polyamorous paramour, The Beast with a Billion Backs is Futurama at its finest.