“I’ve never seen a Super Nova blow up. But if it’s anything like my old Chevy Nova, it’ll light up the night sky!” — Fry
Futurama is an animated TV series about a pizza guy who is accidentally frozen in 1999 and is thawed out 1000 years later on New Year’s Eve. The show was created by Matt Groening (tho also created The Simpsons) and originally aired on Fox from 1999-2003. In 2007, four direct-to-video films were produced, and in 2010, the series returned on Comedy Central for 26 more episodes.
Here are 44 Futuristic Facts About Futurama.
44. The Glyphs of Mystery
According to Matt Groening, the lines of an unknown language similar to hieroglyphics seen in the intro song do mean “something.” He has never specified what that “something” is.
43. Yummy Burgers
In the opening sequence of Futurama, 3 signs written in alienese are visible in the background. The signs translate to “Tasty Human Burgers,” “Rent a Human,” and “3D Rulez.”
Bender’s apartment # is 00100100. This number sequence is binary for the dollar sign.
41. I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
Matt Groening claims that the idea for Futurama came to him while he was listening to the song “Robot Blues” by the Incredible String Band.
40. Thank You, General Motors
The title Futurama is taken from the General Motors exhibit about the “world of tomorrow” at the 1939 World’s Fair.
39. More Inspiration from the Fair
Professor Farnsworth’s character is named for the real Philo Farnsworth, who was the inventor of the television. Farnsworth was also an inventor at the same World’s Fair that gave the show its name.
38. A Symphonic Name
The full name of Leela’s character on the show is Turanga Leela. The name comes from composer Oliver Messiaen’s 1948 Turangalila-Symphonie.
37. Foreshadowing Shadows
At least a couple of times during the show, animators inserted shadows of not-yet-introduced characters into a scene. In the first episode, Nibbler’s shadow is seen under the desk when Fry falls into the freezer. The character didn’t appear for real until several episodes later. The shadow of Leela’s parents are also visible two seasons before viewers meet them.
Billy West, the voice of Fry on the show, also voices several other characters: Dr. Zoidberg, Professor Farnsworth, and several secondary characters.
35.No Random Clothing
The outfits worn by Leela and Fry in the show are specifically chosen. Leela’s white tank top is a nod to Ripley from Alien (and other sci-fi heroines), and Fry’s look is modeled after James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.
34. Jurassic Bark
The real-life story of Hachiko was the basis for a plot involving Fry’s dog Seymour. In the episode “Jurrassic Bark,” Seymour becomes fossilized while waiting for Fry to return. The real-life dog Hachiko was an Akita dog born in Japan.
Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor at the University of Tokyo, adopted Hachikō. Hachikō would greet his owner at the end of each day at the nearby Shibuya Station every day. One day, the professor suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died, never again returning to the train station.
Each day, for the next nine years, nine months and fifteen days, Hachikō awaited Ueno’s return, appearing precisely when the train was due at the station.
33. All Glory to the Hypnotoad
One episode of Futurama consists entirely of the Hypnotoad. At the end of the episode, a voice comes on and announces: “the audience will wake up remembering nothing and feeling refreshed.” Hypnotoad is one of Matt Groening’s favorite characters, and is a fan favorite as well.
32. The Sound of the Hypnotoad
The sound the Hypnotoad makes was called “Angry Machine,” and it’s a recording of a turbine engine running backwards.
31. They Totally Got it
The alien language that’s occasionally used in the show’s background has been changed twice because the fans keep figuring it out. Nobody’s figured out the third language yet, leading many people to speculate that it’s gibberish.
30. 30th Century Fox
At the end of every episode, an image for “30th Century Fox” appears on the screen. The network initially hated the idea of using it, but changed their minds after Matt Groening bought the rights.
29. That’s Too Many Characters!
Futurama once got fined by the animation studio for having over 250 characters in one scene in one shot near the end of Into the Wild Green Yonder. The scene was an attempt by the creators to insert all of the adult characters who had appeared on the show so far.
In an episode of Futurama where the cast switched bodies, a mathematical theorem showed how to switch them back. Believe it or not, episode writer Ken Keeler, who holds a PHD in mathematics, wrote a real theorem to explain how people could switch bodies.
27. Overeducated Writers
If you ever wondered why the show was so accurately able to cover mathematical problems and scientific concepts, it’s because the writers hold 3 PhDs and 7 Masters between them. This prompted one of the writers to say during an interview that “we were easily the most overeducated cartoon writers in history.”
26. A Part Was Written for Phil Hartman
Actor Phil Hartman had previously worked with Groening on the Simpsons, where he voiced a number of characters. The part of Zapp Brannigan was specifically written for Hartman, but he was tragically killed. In dedication to Hartman, the name of the lead character was changed to Philip J. Fry, and Billy West took over the voice of Zapp.
25. Alternate Final Episodes
The constant cancellation and renewal of the show means that several episodes were created to be the finale. One of the finale episodes left the future of several characters in the balance, but the true finale ended up being an emotional and satisfying ending for fans.
24. Owls are Rats
In Futurama’s version of New York in the year 3000, there are several owls wandering around the streets. The show explains that the birds were released to tackle a growing rat problem, and ended up replacing the critters as the main vermin in the city. Owls can be spotted anywhere that rats would normally be found.
23.The Super Annoying Fan
The Professor’s clone Cubert was originally meant to be a bratty, know-it-all child who pointed out the shows many flaws, just like some of the annoying fans. The character ended up being too annoying, and the writers turned him into a typical child.
22. The Double President
When Fry and Bender hide in the Head Museum’s Hall of Presidents, Grover Cleveland’s head pops up twice. This detail wasn’t a mistake as some might think, but was a clever pun on the part of the writers. Since Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms, they gave him a head for each of his terms in office.
If you listen carefully, you’ll recognize some familiar sounds in various Futurama episodes. The lightsaber batons use the actual lightsaber sounds from the Star Wars movies, and other sounds have been mined from shows like The Jetsons and Star Trek. The sounds were originally used as an audio homage to these shows, and are instrumental in the creation of the world.
20. A Last-Minute Switch
The character of Hermes was not supposed to be Jamaican, nor was he supposed to be called Hermes. Originally, the character was named Dexter, but was changed after Phil LaMarr suddenly did the accent in recording. The writers needed time to create a story for this character, which is why his limbo past wasn’t immediately revealed.
19. Fry’s Revenge
In the episode titled The Luck of the Fryrish, the gang heads to old New York where Fry gets to scream “Howard Stern is overrated.” The line was Fry actor Billy West’s revenge on Howard Stern, who used to appear regularly on Stern’s show. He stopped working with Stern after the pair had a falling out.
18. He Never Said That!
Many fans of Futurama are familiar with the popular “Why Not Zoidberg” meme, but the line was never used in any episode of the show.
17. It’s Free on Tuesdays.
In the first episode, the date is Dec 31, 2099, and Bender tells Fry to go into the Head Museum because it’s free on Tuesday. As it happens, the real Dec. 31, 2099 will be a Tuesday, so go ahead and mark your calendars!
16. A Colorful Catchphrase
Bender is known for using colorful language, and his catchphrase is no exception. “Bite my shiny metal a**” is the phrase he uses whenever he’s annoyed with someone, and depending on the situation, there are different variations.
15. That’s My Real Voice!
Katy Segal is the only cast member to only voice one character (Leela), and is also the only person to use her real voice on the show.
After the show’s cancellation, the creators said that they should have done a parody of Martin Scorsese’s films. The title of the would-be episode? “Gangs of New New York.”
13. More Uses than a Swiss Army Knife!
Robot Bender’s antenna has had countless purposes over the years. It’s been used as a beer pump, a timer for his digital camera, a popcorn butter dispenser lever, a snooze button, and more.
12. The Gore Connection
Al Gore was a huge fan of Futurama, and appeared on the show as himself several times. His daughter Kristen wrote 6 episodes of the show.
11. A Punny Headline
Observant viewers may have noticed a “punny” newspaper headline in the show’s intro. The headline reads: “Moon Pie Fight in Mars Bar.”
10. The Mystery of Number 9
In several episodes of the series, a man wearing a tunic with the number nine appears in the background. His first appearance was in the pilot, but his identity isn’t explained until the 2010 movie Into the Wild Green Yonder. In the movie, he is revealed to be the leader of a group of telepaths called “Legion of Mad Fellows.”
9. Blink & You’ll Miss It
The writers loved to reference The Simpsons, and the series premiere included quite a few nods to the show. One of the biggest standouts was Blinky the three-eyed fish, who briefly appeared as Fry travelled through an underwater section of the tube-way. Blinky’s been in at least ten episodes of the Simpsons, and made one other appearance on Futurama.
8. Aye Caramba!
In the episode The Tip of the Zoidberg, Fry contracts a couple of cartoon-related illnesses. One of them is called “Simpsons Jaundice,” which turns the skin yellow. Upon hearing his diagnosis, he utters Bart Simpson’s popular catchphrase “Aye Caramaba!”
When Bender sees a series of numbers written in blood on the wall of a haunted castle, he thinks it’s gibberish—that is until he sees them in a mirror and runs off screaming. In Binary, 0101100101 translates to 357, but in reverse, they translate to 666, which is commonly associated with Satan.
6. The Breakfast Club Connection
The character of Bender was named for John Bender from the iconic 80s movie The Breakfast Club, and shares some of his namesake’s belligerence.
5. William Shatner and James T. Kirk
Zapp Brannigan’s character was based on Star Trek Captain James T. Kirk—but not entirely. The show’s executive producer has described him as half William Shatner and half Kirk.
Before settling on Futurama for the series title, Matt Groening considered several other titles and phrases. Aloha Mars was a contender, but Doomsville came closest to being the name.
3. One of These Days ND ND…
In another classic TV reference, when Lrrr gets agitated at his wife ND ND, he jumps up and shouts at her, “One of these days, Nd-Nd, bang. Zoom. Straight to the third moon of Omicron Persei 8.” This is taken from the show The Honeymooners, in which Ralph would say more-or-less the same thing to his wife Alice.
2. Aww Yeah!
The name of the robotic “peace officer” in Futurama is Officer URL. URL is an acronym for the term Uniform Resource Locator, often referred to as a web address. His style of speaking is reminiscent of a 1970s Soul Brother with his use of phrases such as “aww yeah” and “all right.”
1. Always Something Different
During the opening credits of each episode, there is always something different in the text displayed at the bottom of the screen. This is similar to the intro of The Simpsons, where Lisa’s sax solo, the lines Bart writes on the board, and the family’s method of sitting on the couch vary.
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