All good things must come to an end – though in the case of the cult science-fiction comedy Futurama, "an end" hasn't necessarily meant "the end." Facing cancellation by Fox after only its first season, the series managed to eke out a few more season orders before getting the axe in 2003.
Despite the finality of Futurama's dismissal from Fox, the show saw resurrection on Comedy Central in 2007 with direct-to-DVD movies and (eventually) full seasons of new episodes. Unfortunately, it looks as if Futurama may finally, truly, end later this year, as the cable network has decided to not renew the series.
Futurama creators David X. Cohen and Matt Groening (both of The Simpsons) responded to the news of the series' (re-)cancellation with good humor. Cohen commented:
"I felt like we were already in the bonus round on these last couple of seasons, so I can’t say I was devastated by the news... It was what I had expected two years earlier. At this point I keep a suitcase by my office door so I can be canceled at a moment’s notice."
When asked whether Futurama would seek yet another broadcaster to continue the series, Groening responded:
"We’ve been in this situation before and it’s tempting when you’re doing episodes that are as good or better than anything you’ve ever done to continue doing it... We’re catching our breath and seeing what the fans have to say. The experience of this show has been so much fun from the very beginning to now – everybody is so happy to work on this show – that it’d be a shame if we all went our separate ways… We would love to continue. We have many more stories to tell. But if we don’t, this is a really great way to go out… I think these episodes are the best ones we’ve ever done."
Appropriately enough, the now-final episode of season 7 will apparently feature an event the entire series has been leading up to – the wedding of Philip J. Fry (Billy West) and Turanga Leela (Katey Sagal). This could end up working in Futurama's narrative favor while also deterring any further interest in continuing the show. After all, culmination of such a long-running "will they/won't they" romance has been the end-point of many a television series. The episode sounds as if it could usher the show out on an outrageous high note, as Cohen refers to it as, "...a tasteful, emotional gorefest."
Whether or not Groening and Cohen decide to pursue an eighth season of Futurama, the series' fans can look back on its run with gratitude and something approaching astonishment. Futurama's repeated death and rebirth was nearly unprecedented, allowing the series creators to continue what was a largely unresolved story. At its height, there was nothing quite like Futurama on television – a smart, crass, visually ambitious comedy that nonetheless could pack one heck of a dramatic punch. If the autumn of 2013 does end up being Futurama's last swan song, we can only hope that it goes out on a note that does justice to its finest moments.
The (perhaps) final run of Futurama episodes will begin airing on Comedy Central on June 9th, 2013.