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Futurama (animated series)

Futurama was an animated American cartoon series (1999-2003), created by Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons), set 1000 years in the future in New New York City. Set in the year 3000, it was introduced on the Fox Network (with a gag end credit of "Thirtieth-century Fox").

Table of contents
1 Setting
2 Characters
3 Production
4 Speculation
5 Season details
6 External links


The world of Futurama is a fairly grim version of the future. Unlike past cartoons like The Jetsons, Futurama portrays a much less idealistic view. While the Jetsons showed an efficient, clean, happy future, Futurama's version of the year 3000 shows humans still dealing with many of the same basic problems of the 20th Century, albeit with a different spin.

Race issues in the year 3000 are now centered around Human / Alien relations, with problems such as Alien immigration plaguing Earth. Although Earth is now populated by super-intelligent robots, their intelligence has made them lazy and surly, and often unwilling to assist their human creators. Earth's government (now united under a single President of Earth) remains corrupt, and apparently very US-centric (the flag of Earth, for example is a modified Flag of the United States). Inter-planetary relations are poor, with constant wars and invasions, often poorly planned and fought for stupid reasons.

Depsite this, Futurama's world also showcases numerous technological advantages that have been developed by the year 3000. Along with robots, space ships, and floating buildings, the show also introduced many memorable inventions such as the "Smell-o-scope" and the "What if Machine" as well as less inspiring inventions, such as coin-operated "Suicide Booths" and horribly inefficient "transport tubes."

Much of the shows humor comes from the way characters make passing references to significant historical events of the past thousand years. Between 1999 and 3000:

Most celebrities from the 20th century, 19th century, and earlier are alive and well in Futurama's world, thanks to cloning, head preservation, DNA splicing, or various other forms of regeneration. Most commonly they are sentient living heads in jars. There are two jarred heads of Grover Cleveland, presumably for some reason related to his being the both the 22nd and the 24th President of the United States. The head of Richard Nixon was elected President of Earth; his 31st century term of office was no improvement on his 20th century one.


Characters on the show include:

Planet Express

Planet Express is the name of the delivery company held by Professor Farnsworth to fund his "research" and "inventions."

Officially, the ship is manned by Leela as Captian, Bender as Cook, Fry as Delivery Boy, and Amy as needed. Hermes Conrad runs the administrative end of the business; Dr. Zoidberg is the company's physician. Nearly every mission, or delivery, that the Professor comes up with is very dangerous. Furthermore, the crew probably has somewhere around a 50% delivery success rate.


Actors lending their voices to the series include Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Maurice LaMarche, Lauren Tom, Phil LaMarr, and Tress MacNeille.

Actual celebrities who have lent their voice to the show include Billy Crystal, Beck, Al Gore, Sigourney Weaver, Lucy Liu, and the full cast of Star Trek (excluding the late DeForest Kelley).

In 2001, during the show's third season, it was quietly announced that Fox Television was canceling production of the series. While Futurama is currently in its fifth season, there were actually only four production seasons. Due to numerous preemptions and other schedule shuffles, Fox had enough new episodes backlogged for another full year of shows. These delays account for the difference in Fox's broadcast season number and production season number (Note: the production season forms the basis for the DVD and video sets). The fate of new Futurama episodes remains somewhat uncertain, but Fox has been showing episodes sporadically as of 2003 (its fifth broadcast season). Cartoon Network is currently showing old episodes in syndication.

In response to the events of the September 11, 2001 attacks against the United States the Fox Television Network and Futurama creator Matt Groening for a short time removed the scene in the show's opening in which the Planet Express ship crashes into a giant television screen. It was felt that this scene would be upsetting and be disturbing to many viewers who had witnessed the head on collision of two airplanes into the World Trade Center in New York on live television and another airplane into The Pentagon in Alexandria, Virginia. Within a month or so after the attacks the scene was reinserted back into the opening.

In Britain the series was picked up by Sky One shortly after its US premiere, and Channel 4 later acquired terrestrial broadcast rights.

In the USA (DVD Region 1), The first season of Futurama was released on DVD on March 25, 2003, and the second season DVD was released on August 12, 2003.

In Europe (DVD Region 2), The first and second seasons were both released in 2002, the third season was released on June 2, 2003, and the fourth (and final) on November 24th 2003.

Unique Development Studios has released a Futurama video game.

The 72nd and last episode, called "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings" was aired on the 10th of August, 2003. With this episode, the 5th television season (fourth production season) and the whole series ended.

The theme and incidental music for the show was written by Chris Tyng.


It seems possible that some of the characters and settings found in Futurama episodes are loosely based on Douglas Adams' books and radio series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. For example, the pessimistic, depressed, super-intelligent robot Marvin the Paranoid Android is similar to the pessimistic, suicide-prone (in the first episode), hard-drinking robot Bender. The cheerful, attractive, intelligent Trillian parallels the good-natured, attractive, competent Leela. Fry, the displaced, somewhat bumbling liability and last surviving 20th centurian closely resembles Arthur Dent, the displaced, confused, liability and last surviving 20th centurian, and earthling. The strongest connection are the mutually cocky, showish, shortsighted, womanizing, ship captians of Zapp Brannigan in Futurama and Zaphod Beeblebrox in Hitchhiker's Guide. Even the names are similar (ZB).

Professor Farnsworth once declared himself dead as a tax dodge. In Hitchhiker's Guide, a rock singer named Hotblack Desiato did exactly the same thing.

The writing style is not a wide departure either; both series use a sharply ironic and character based humor. Futurama however, being only produced for television, is more mass consumable; its jokes are less involved or as serious.

Season details

External links