Futurama still stands as one of the best animated series of all time, and even though it saw a slight decline in quality when it was brought back on Comedy Central years after Fox canceled it, it still produced some great episodes, filled with hilarious character moments, creative story beats, and emotional endings.
However, as with any series, you have to take the good with the bad, and while there are some truly great moments throughout Futurama's seven-season run, there are also enough bad episodes to remember that not every show gets it 100% right. These are the five best and five worst episodes of Futurama.
10 BEST: "FRY AND THE SLURM FACTORY"
"Fry and the Slurm Factory" is one of the best early Futurama episodes, just for the fact that is so funny. After winning a contest where Fry and the rest of the Planet Express crew get to take a tour of the famed Slurm factory on planet Wormulon, Fry, Leela, and Bender make a terrible discovery about the addictive soft drink.
Slurm had always been more of a background thing on Futurama, but this episode brought it right to the forefront, cementing its place in the show's mythos. As it turns out, Slurm is so delicious (or maybe just highly addictive, as advertised), that Fry decides not to report its gross origins to the Bureau of Soft Drinks, Tobacco, and Firearms.
9 WORST: "THE CRYONIC WOMAN"
Despite the fact that this episode stars the amazingly funny Sarah Silverman, there's just not a lot of good things that can be said about "The Cryonic Woman." The episode finds Fry's ex-girlfriend, Michelle, traveling to the future and reuniting with him. However, she does not quite fit in with all of Fry's weird friends.
The episode focuses a lot on Michelle's constant complaining and insulting of Fry. It doesn't really do her any favors as a character, and the story is resolved in a fairly rote way. After Fry and Michelle find themselves in a barren wasteland which they believe is another thousand years in the future, it turns out it is just Los Angeles a few days later.
8 BEST: "LEELA'S HOMEWORLD"
One of the central mysteries for much of Futurama's early run was where exactly Leela came from. It was right there from the first episode, in that Fry and Leela's shared loneliness in the universe is what made them connect to each other in the first place. In "Leela's Homeworld," we discover where Leela came from, and it is closer than she ever thought.
As it turns out, Leela's parents were mutants, who gave her up and claimed she was an alien to give her a better life. The episode is incredibly moving in how it shows the lengths parents will go to give their children a better life than they had. The episode concludes with a touching montage of times when Leela's parents secretly connected with her through her entire life.
7 WORST: "THE ROUTE OF ALL EVIL"
There are plenty of Futurama episodes where not a lot happens, but they are still filled with great jokes, character beats, and usually a pretty funny twist in the third act. Episodes like "Future Stock," "Law and Oracle," and "Less Than Hero" come to mind. However, "The route of All Evil" has none of those things and sticks out like a sore thumb.
The main issue with this episode is that the A-story revolves around Cubert and Dwight, the clone and son of the Professor and Hermes, respectively. They start their own paper route and take over Planet Express, but eventually, everything falls apart when they reveal they have been cutting corners. There's no emotional payoff or humorous twist in this episode. Plus, the main crew is relegated to a B-story about brewing beer in Bender.
6 BEST: "MEANWHILE"
Series finales are hard. It's often one of the most difficult episodes to write because it has so much weight to carry. That's even true for shows like Futurama, which was always more episodic than serialized. How could the finale of this great show possibly live up to everything that came before it?
The answer was simple: focus on the most important relationship on the show and isolate it. Fry and Leela find themselves entirely alone after the entire universe is frozen in time except for them. The couple get to spend their entire lives together, making up for all of the lost time between them, before being found by the Professor, who takes them back to the very start of the universe, making the end of Futurama a new beginning, as well.
5 WORST: "SPANISH FRY"
As far as bad episodes of Futurama go, "Spanish Fry" is probably not the worst of them all, but it is entirely forgettable. After a camping trip involving a search for Bigfoot, Fry is abducted by aliens (which doesn't even phase him that much at first, because Fry has seen much crazier things) who steal his nose and sell it as an aphrodisiac.
The episode seems to lose a lot of focus going into its third act and then falls back on jokes about the size of another one of Fry's body parts, which becomes the prize once the aliens (a returning Lrrr and Ndnd, of the planet Omicron Persei 8) find out about it. The funniest bit in the whole episode is the park ranger trying to sell an exercise bike, the ad for which is later seen on a satellite.
4 BEST: "ROSWELL THAT ENDS WELL"
It would be impossible to make a list of the best Futurama episodes and not include the one that won the show its first Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program. "Roswell That Ends Well" more than earns that accolade, as its story, character beats, and action are by far some of the best in the series.
Not only does the episode take the premise of Back to the Future to its most logical (and disturbing) endpoint, but it also plays on the 1950s science fiction aesthetic, from which the series borrowed heavily. It also does a great job in subverting its main plot right at the midpoint of the episode, and there might not be a funnier image than President Harry Truman punching his way out of a wooden crate.
3 WORST: "FREE WILL HUNTING"
Seasons six and seven of Futurama might not have entirely lived up to the sharp writing and episode structures of the original four seasons, but they certainly had their inspired moments. However, "Free Will Hunting" is not one of them, and it unfortunately lacks any of the inspired storytelling that the show was known for.
After Bender is arrested (what else is new?), he is let go on the technicality that as a robot, he has no free will. Feeling depressed by the fact that nothing he has ever done is his own choice, Bender embarks on a quest for meaning, stopping in at a monastery before returning to Earth. The episode's plot is far too linear to be interesting, and never really culminates in a satisfying ending. It might not be the absolute worst, but it is inessential.
2 BEST: "LUCK OF THE FRYRISH"
Without a doubt, "The Luck of the Fryrish" carries the most emotional weight of any episode of Futurama. When the show began, we saw that Fry was actually happy to be in the future, that the life he left behind wasn't exactly any big loss. A big part of that, revealed in this episode, was how much he and his brother, Yancy, fought with each other.
When Fry tries to retrieve his seven-leaf clover to regain a bit of good luck, he discovers that Yancy had stolen it and used it for himself, building a life full of rock stardom and space exploration. At least, that's what Fry thinks. It is in the episode's final moments, that we get the emotional and heartbreaking reminder that Fry left his family behind. Even though his relationship with Yancy wasn't perfect, his brother loved him, and never stopped thinking about him. If Fry reading the inscription on the gravestone and placing the clover back, set to Simple Minds' "Don't You Forget About Me" doesn't bring a tear to your eye, then nothing will.
1 WORST: "SATURDAY MORNING FUN PIT"
When Futurama was finally winding down and approaching its final episodes, it should have been a time to be presenting the best content the writers could come up with. Unfortunately, audiences were mostly stuck with episodes like "Saturday Morning Fun Pit."
This is the nadir of Futurama's creativity. The episode takes on old Saturday Morning cartoons like Scooby Doo and G.I. Joe (fresh targets!), but doesn't really say anything about them besides the obvious: cheap animation, shows that were used as advertising, and too much violence. It stands not only as the worst anthology episode, but just one of the worst of all time.