A hilarious, tongue-in-cheek animated show about the future, Futurama almost always makes us laugh. From Zoidberg's lack of understanding of medicine to the Professor's increasingly nutty/useless inventions, and from Fry's general ineptitude to Bender's latest crime, this series from Matt Groening makes us all want to freeze ourselves to see the year 3000.
But everything isn’t always laughter and zooming through space for this crew. The show’s entire premise is pretty dark: a young man gets trapped, is thrust a thousand years into the future, and never sees his family again. He adjusts, eventually, but from the outset, this show could have been very sad. And good news, everyone! We’ve put together ten of the most devastating moments of the series. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
10 When Bender Becomes a God, then Meets God
In “Godfellas,” season 3 episode 20, Bender is accidentally shot out of a cannon into space, where he drifts endlessly. When an asteroid crashes into him, he accidentally becomes host to a civilization of tiny humanoids who worship him as a God. He loves them, but every time he tries to help them, he hurts them. He resolves to stop helping, which results in an atomic war that wipes them all out. He’s heartbroken and continues drifting through space alone until he runs into another God. God tells Bender that he had a similar experience with his worshippers, and now only uses “a light touch.”
On Earth, Fry searches for Bender, devastated about what’s happened to his best friend. Just as Leela convinces him to give up, God hears and sends Bender back, where Bender then rescues some monks Fry and Leela locked up because he’s learned God can’t be counted on. God sees and says, “When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all.” It’s devastating for the way it tackles predestination, prayer, atonement, and salvation, all through Bender’s normally self-aggrandizing perspective.
9 When Zoidberg Sacrificed His Relationship to Make His Girlfriend Happy
In “Stench & Stenchibility,” season 7 episode 25, the Planet Express team discourages Zoidberg from dating because they think women will be turned off by his horrifying stench. They’re right until Zoidberg meets Marianne, a woman who has no sense of smell despite owning a flower shop cart. They date happily, but when she expresses a desire to finally smell flowers, the team encourages Zoidberg to use his medical knowledge to help her.
Despite worrying that once Marianne can smell she’ll reject him, Zoidberg performs the nose transplant. When she wakes after surgery, Marianne discovers that she is repulsed by the smell of flowers because she never was taught what smells “good” or “bad.” She becomes a garbage truck driver, “dumping" Zoidberg out of his dumpster and into her truck to drive off into the sunset with him. After years of abusing Zoidberg, this penultimate episode of the series gives him a happy ending, and we’re all crying over it.
8 When Leela Leaves Fry a Message in the Rocks
In season six episode 7, “The Late Philip J. Fry,” Leela and Fry are finally dating seriously, but their relationship is rocky because of his constant tardiness. On his way to Leela’s birthday dinner, Fry is roped into testing Professor Farnsworth’s new time machine, which only goes forward in time. By accident, they are thrown 10,000 years into the future. Meanwhile, Leela is furious because she thinks Fry has blown her off for a party, where an explosion killed all the guests.
Eventually, Leela finds out the truth. She goes to the cave where they were supposed to have dinner to leave a message for Fry to find in the future. It’s an episode that’s surprisingly uncynical, mixing high and low comedy, and giving us a hearty dose Leela and Fry romance.
7 When Hermes Saved Baby Bender From Being Scrapped
In “Lethal Inspection,” season 6 episode 6, Bender finds out he has a defect that makes him “mortal.” With Hermes, Bender goes on a journey to find out who the mysterious Inspector #5 is, who he blames for releasing him into the world imperfect. At every turn, Bender’s Inspector can’t be found — his files have been deleted and the physical copies have been deleted.
In the end, when Bender resigns himself to mortality and leaves, we see Hermes pull out Inspector #5’s file and opens it, revealing Hermes’ own photo. Hermes saved Bender’s life! This episode really gets you when you realize that Hermes has known the whole time they’ve worked at Planet Express and just never said anything.
6 When Zoidberg Saves the Professor
Why the Professor keeps Zoidberg around when he’s so incompetent is finally revealed in season 6, episode 18, “The Tip of the Zoidberg.” In an encounter with a Tritonian yeti on a mission for Mom, Professor Farnsworth saved Zoidberg’s life but was scratched by the yeti, potentially contracting hyper-malaria. Knowing that the disease is excruciatingly painful and can lie dormant for years, he asked Zoidberg to stay and perform a mercy killing should the disease strike.
When the Professor begins exhibiting symptoms, Zoidberg tries to fulfill his promise but is stopped by the Planet Express team. He escapes and goes to Mom for the cure, who calls Zoidberg “the best in the business” when it comes to alien anatomy. We find out that Zoidberg could have been rich and famous but stayed with Farnsworth because he values friendship over wealth. It really gets us when Zoidberg pays Mom with the only thing he has --a free tanning coupon. After he’s cured, the team goes out for a tan, and Professor treats Zoidberg.
5 When Fry Fights The Parasites In His Brain
A lot of the Fry and Leela romance sends us reaching for tissues, and this episode is one of the hardest to watch. In the second episode of season 3, “Parasites Lost,” Fry contracts parasites that drastically improve him. He grows strong, articulate, healthy, and is able to perform a complex sonata on a futuristic instrument, the Holophonor. While the rest of the team tries to clear the parasites out, Leela falls in love with the new Fry, and tries to convince everyone to stop the procedure.
But Fry grows worried and decides to go inside his own body to fight the parasite king and clear them out so he can know if Leela loves him or just what the worms made him. Once he’s back to normal, he tries to woo her again, only to be kicked out. Alone in his apartment, he tries to play the Holophonor again, creating only a weak melody and crude image of Leela.
4 When Fry Finds Out Who Philip J. Fry Is
Another season 3 episode, “The Luck of the Fryrish,” shows us a Fry angry that his brother Yancy stole his ultra-lucky seven-leaf clover and his name in order to become a rich and famous space traveler. They watch a documentary on Philip J. Fry which shows him as a millionaire, rockstar, and “the Original Martian.” Infuriated by all of fake-Philip J. Fry’s successes, Fry sets off to the cemetery where he’s buried to rob his grave for the clover. While digging, Fry accidentally reveals the inscription on the tombstone: “Here Lies Philip J. Fry, named for his uncle, to carry on his spirit.”
Realizing that Yancy never stopped missing him — and even named his son after him — makes Fry (and all the rest of us) emotional. Even though Bender finds the clover, Fry returns it to the grave.
3 When Fry Visits His Mom
Once again needing to save Earth in season 7 episode 23, “Game of Tones,” Nibbler and the Planet Express crew go into Fry’s dreams to replay his last day in the 21st century, looking for information. Fry has to go back to his house, and he claims he misses nothing about it. But seeing his dog Seymour makes Fry reconsider, and acknowledge that he especially has unfinished business with his mom. Our hearts broke a little when he wants to stay and talk to her, but the crew pushes him out, citing the impending destruction.
After Earth is safe, Fry goes to sleep feeling sad and wakes up in a dream that can’t possibly be his. Nibbler reveals it’s his mother’s and gives Fry one last chance to talk with her. We really got emotional when he quietly hugs her and tears up.
2 When Fry and Leela Decide to “Go Around Again”
If the fact that it was the series finale wasn’t already breaking your heart, the story of “Meanwhile” probably did it. After Professor Farnsworth’s sort of useless invention that rewinds time by only 10 seconds breaks, the entire universe freezes, and Fry and Leela have it to themselves. They perform their own wedding and romantically travel the world for what is, for them, decades.
In their old age, they travel back the Vampire State Building, where the whole mess began, to drink the champagne Fry had long ago laid out there. There, a glimmer of Professor Farnsworth shows up, saying he has been traveling on an alternate plane and can restore the universe to normal if Fry still has the pieces of the broken device. They can go back to before the Professor created it, but they will forget everything. In what is basically a second proposal, Fry asks Leela if she wants to “go around again,” and it is heartbreaking to know that they’ll forget their adventure.
1 When Seymour Waited For Fry
This one is brutal. In season 4, episode 7, “Jurassic Bark,” Fry goes to a museum and sees a fossilized dog, only to realize that it’s his dog, Seymour. The Professor offers to clone Seymour, with his personality and memories intact. At the beginning of the procedure, they realize that Seymour died at age 15, meaning he lived 13 years after Fry disappeared. Thinking that Seymour already lived a full and happy life with another owner, Fry aborts the procedure.
But we see that when Fry left on his fateful pizza delivery, he told Seymour to “stay,” which he did. Seymour waited day and night at Panucci’s Pizza for Fry to come back, passing thirteen years on the sidewalk until he finally feebly laid his head down and closed his eyes. Naturally, Connie Francis’ “I Will Wait For You” plays in the background. If your heart didn’t break watching that, you might not actually have one.