Futurama tells the story of a normal pizza delivery boy in a not so normal situation. At the turn of the century, Philip J. Fry had one last delivery to make before the calendars shift to 2000. That last delivery turned into an entirely new life for him as Fry managed to accidentally lock himself in a cryogenic freezer. If that’s not enough, he wakes up a thousand years into the future where he meets the motley crew of the Planet Express.
Futurama is set to compete with the likes of The Simpsons, Family Guy and other more mature cartoons. For the first couple of years, Futurama has managed to make us laugh for a good 20 minutes or so with each episode. After a while, the writers decided to take the show on a new angle and began giving us some pretty emotional episodes.
The cartoon has turned into a surprisingly dramatic series after a few seasons and even after it’s ended, there are a lot of memorable episodes out there that have left many fans in shambles. Here are the 15 most heartbreaking moments on Futurama.
15. The Sting – Leela’s Limbo
Not entirely sad, “The Sting” is one of those episodes that revealed how close Fry and Leela have become throughout the years. It shows Leela’s care and concern for Fry, and it shows Fry’s devotion and love for Leela. It was more of a romantic story rather than a sad one but it still had us weeping at one point.
Professor Farnsworth sends Fry and co. on the mission that took the lives of the previous crew. It was to collect honey from space bees. Things went awry and the bees attacked the crew. To save Leela, Fry steps up front only to get impaled. Leela on the other hand, gets stung and wakes up to see Fry dead.
Out of sadness, Leela eats dangerous amounts of the honey while begging Fry to wake up. What happens next is a series of dreams wherein Leela forces Fry to wake up but fails. It was all an illusion caused by the sting though as Leela wakes up to see Fry in the hospital all okay after having surgery to replace his impaled spleen. Leela then found out that Fry never left her side while she was in a coma.
14. The Devil’s Hands Are Idle Playthings – Against All Odds
Most of Futurama’s plot lines focus on Fry’s budding relationship with Leela. One of the best examples of their relationship was in “The Devil’s Hands Are Idle Playthings“, which served as a series finale before the show moved to Comedy Central.
In the episode, Fry wants to impress Leela by playing the hardest musical instrument ever, the holophonur. It allows the user to project holographic images through music. As expected, Fry failed miserably but after making a deal and switching his hand with the Robot Devil, Fry became a master.
When the devil wanted his hands back, Fry refused and the devil tricked Leela into giving her hands instead. Fry then gives back the devil his hands before he begins playing in front of a huge audience. Everyone in the audience left the performing Fry, all except Leela. Against all odds, Fry managed to project a not too shabby hologram of him and Leela kissing and holding hands.
13. Time Keeps On Slippin’ – Failed Confession
Early on in the series, Fry is obviously eager to make Leela fall in love with him no matter what. In “Time Keeps On Slippin'”, a rift in time reveals that in one reality, Leela does fall in love with Fry but only after one particular act of love that Fry did. After seeing the possible future, Fry did everything he could to make Leela fall in love with him.
Apparently, Fry managed to rearrange the stars to spell “I LOVE YOU LEELA.” Fry manages to do it in present time but before Leela saw it, the star formation disappeared. It was devastating to see Fry’s last chance at making Leela fall in love fail utterly. But aside from that, the rift in time also revealed that even if Fry and Leela do get married, they’ll get a divorce eventually.
12. Near Death Wish – The Professor’s Parents
When it comes to emotional episodes, Professor Farnsworth rarely gets his dramatic airtime on the show. But whenever the sob story is about him, it’s truly emotional and heartbreaking as with the Professor’s old age, he’s been through a lot already.
The crew pay a visit to the Near-Death Star which is a retirement home. Residents are hooked to machines to live the rest of their lives in another reality a la Matrix. Among the citizens are Professor Farnsworth’s parents who are older than he is obviously. The Professor’s parents turn their love to Fry who they treat as their own. The professor then reveals that he was neglected as a child but later on, his parents told him he HAD to be institutionalized. Feeling sorry for his parents, the professor reprograms his parents’ simulation to make them look and feel younger and even gave them a younger version of himself.
11. A Flight To Remember – Love In Titanic Proportions
Bender is known for a few things; he’s greedy, he’s a lover and he’s an idiot just like Fry. The writers don’t shy away from giving the heartless Bender some heartbreaking moments though. Perhaps his most heartbreaking moment could be from the episode “A Flight To Remember“.
Bender meets the love of his life in the robot called the Countess. Bender wasn’t in love at first though as he initially planned on stealing the Countess’ huge diamond but the unexpected happens and Bender falls in love. Their story was told a la Titanic style and it ends pretty similarly too.
10. The Luck Of The Fryrish – Brothers To The End
Considered one of the best episodes in the series, “The Luck of the Fryrish” details Fry’s relationship with his real brother in the 20th century. Like most flashback episodes featuring Fry’s past, this gets a little too emotional especially for those with a good relationship with their siblings.
Fry believes that his brother, Yancy, stole his identity when Fry got encased in the cryogenic chamber. This is because the crew of the Planet Express found a statue built in Yancy’s memory. It wrote, “Philip J. Fry – The Original Martian.” Fry was furious believing that Yancy stole his identity including a seven leaf clover and Fry’s dreams of becoming an astronaut.
Fry decides to dig up the clover from the grave and a flashback ensues showing his brother and his wife with their newborn son. Yancy names his son after his brother, Philip Fry. Before Fry desecrates the grave, he reads a never before seen inscription that states “Here Lies Philip J. Fry, named for his uncle, to carry on his spirit.” This means Yancy named his son after Fry because he misses him so much. The song “(Don’t You) Forget About Me” played at the end and it just tore us apart.
9. The Late Phillip J. Fry – Never Too Late
From his antics and idiocy alone, it’s obvious that Fry isn’t that much of a reliable person. In fact, out of the crew of the Planet Express, it’s Fry that’s almost always late. This bugs Leela as Fry’s tardiness shows up even in their relationship. Fry says sorry and tries to make it up to Leela by taking her out on a dinner date.
On the day of the date, Professor Farnsworth tasks Fry with testing out a one-way time machine that propelled them, along with Bender, a billion years into the future. Back in Leela’s time, Fry was late and she thought Fry had died in an explosion caused by the time machine. All alone, Leela turned the Planet Express into a successful business.
After a while, Leela figures out that Fry isn’t dead but is actually just a billion years into the future. Leela projects a laser on the wall so that it creates stalagmites for Fry to read into the future. The message says that though short, Leela’s time with Fry was the best time of her life. It got to Fry and the Professor and they made their way back to their timeline with Fry being on time for their date.
8. Lethal Inspection – Bender Meets His Inspector
Futurama writers have a thing for creating flashback episodes that keep us in shambles. In “Lethal Inspection”, we get to see Bender’s own past as he struggles to find his inspector who has apparently allowed him to roam the world despite one very major flaw in his design.
Thanks to a manufacturing defect, Bender will not be able to back up the files that keep his memories in case his physical body gets destroyed. He heads to a factory in Tijuana where he was made to confront his creator. In his journey, he’s accompanied by Hermes. They go through a lot in the journey and it was later on revealed that Hermes Bender’s inspector in the production line after all.
We later on find out that Hermes approved a baby Bender despite of his design flaws. This lead him to resign from the factory to take care of Bender. Sadly, Bender never knew about his inspector’s sacrifice.
7. The Tip Of The Zoidberg – Why Zoidberg?
Professor Farnsworth’s motley crew at the Planet Express is filled with a few talented individuals. The same can’t be said for Dr. Zoidberg though as he remains to be the screw up of the crew. In this episode, the rest of the crew urges Professor Farnsworth to fire Zoidberg because of his incompetence but we got to see why the professor wants to keep him no matter what.
Most of the episode is a flashback of Zoidberg and Farnsworth’s early days. While out on a mission, Farnsworth contracts a deadly disease even after being saved by Zoidberg. The disease would kill him in the future and he tasks Zoidberg to kill him when the time comes. That time finally came and the crew chances upon Zoidberg trying to kill the professor but they manage to restrain him and lock him up.
Zoidberg manages to escape and heads to Mother to find a cure. Mother asks Zoidberg why he stuck with the professor instead of making it on his own, he answers saying that he values friendship over money. The episode ends with Zoidberg saving his best friend just in the nick of time.
6. Leela’s Homeworld – Been There All Along
The crew of Planet Express is very diverse and complicated. We’re sure that there’s a backstory to each and every one of them and we’re happy that the writers do make origin stories from time to time. Aside from Fry’s accidental cryogenic sleep origin at the start of the series, the writers also treated us to Leela’s sad origin story.
At first, Leela was believed to be an alien from another planet filled with cyclopes like her. That isn’t true though as Leela is just a mutant. While being held captive by mutants in the sewers, Fry, Bender and Leela happen upon Leela’s parents. It turns out that mutants are unwanted from the world and they are forced to live underground.
To save Leela from living in the sewers, her parents left her at a doorstep for her to be adopted instead. The end scene features a flashback of the numerous times that Leela was helped covertly by her parents while she was still young and it broke our hearts to see the pain her parents went through.
5. Parasites Lost – Leela’s Preferences
After eating a spoiled egg sandwich from a truck stop, Fry develops a colony of worms in his body. While not entirely harmful, the worms have begun to impose their will on Fry and he becomes a completely different person. He became smarter, more fit and most of all, more desirable to Leela.
The crew had to kill the worms in Fry using virtual reality and small droid versions of themselves. To be successful, Fry should have no knowledge of what the crew is doing inside his body. To help out, Leela is tasked with distracting Fry. Leela falls in love with the new and better Fry and believes that he’s better off with the worms.
Uncertain of Leela’s true feelings, Fry decides to use his own mini droid to kill the worms in his body. Fry did this to see if Leela would still love him even if he’s back to his regular self. After killing the leader of the worms, Leela no longer sees Fry as desirable. We later on see Fry trying his best in learning an instrument to impress Leela.
4. Jurassic Bark – Seymour’s Flashback
Who hasn’t heard the story of Hachiko? The very loyal Japanese Akita that waited for his master at a train station. The poor dog weathered winter and other harsh conditions to wait for his master who had sadly passed on. When Futurama had their own take on the familiar story, our hearts were torn to pieces.
While visiting a museum featuring stuff from his own time, Fry notices that one of the fossilized dogs is his own Seymour. Professor Farnsworth had the idea of cloning Seymour with memories intact. Everyone also found out that Seymour lived 13 more years after Fry went missing. Fry thought that Seymour lived a full life with another owner so he aborted the cloning.
A flashback then occurs revealing that Seymour waited for Fry for 13 years. Like Hachiko, he never left his spot and he waited through the harsh conditions as well. The flashback was accompanied by Connie Francis’ “I Will Wait For You” and it left us in shambles.
3. Game Of Tones – One Last Dream
Some of the saddest Futurama episodes are flashbacks featuring Fry’s family. In “Game of Tones”, we get a look inside Fry’s dreams, as well as his mother’s. It was a particularly sad episode because we got to see how Fry’s disappearance caused a lot of problems for those he left back in his timeline.
Fry is being bugged by a mysterious tone which Professor Farnsworth finds out, comes from the night Fry froze himself. Fry got connected to a dream machine where he got to explore his past, including his neighborhood. Fry had a second try at the machine and he realizes then that he needs closure from his family.
A lot of things happen but Fry saves the day. In the process, Fry gets a favor from Nibbler wherein he got to see his mother in his dreams. Confused, Fry wondered why he saw the final score from the 2000 Rose Bowl when he was gone by then. Nibbler reveals that the dream wasn’t his but was in fact from Fry’s mom. Fry and his mother embrace in the dream and she tells Fry that she dreams about him all the time since he disappeared. We also got to see Fry’s mother wake up and look at a picture of Fry in the end.
2. Meanwhile – The Last Episode
This episode serves as the series finale of Futurama and boy was it emotional. Leela almost dies while making a delivery to the spot where she and Fry made their first delivery a while back. This even made Fry think that it was time to propose to Leela, which he did. At the same time, the Professor creates a time machine that allows the user to jump forward in time for a few seconds.
Fry uses the machine to somewhat get an assured “yes” from his proposal to Leela. Thanks to a faulty watch and Fry’s usual stupidity, Fry got stuck in an endless loop wherein he falls from a building. Bender managed to save him but this broke the space time continuum and the entire world froze except for Leela and Fry.
The two spend the rest of their lives taking walks on the still planet and even drank champagne on the spot where Fry was supposed to propose. Near the end, the Professor appears and brings the two back in time; to when Fry was going to propose and the series ends on a good note.
1. The Entire Story Itself
Let’s face it, behind the comedic antics and Fry’s stupidity, the entire concept of Futurama is very sad. If it wasn’t for Fry’s upbeat behavior and all too optimistic approach on things, the entire show had the makings of a solid drama cartoon. Everything about the premise is sad.
The story starts off with Fry; doing his job as a pizza delivery boy. Throughout the series, we’ve come to know that Fry’s life in his original time wasn’t that great already. On the night of New Year’s Eve, Fry had a job to do instead of spending the momentous turn of the century with his family.
Then, in a twist of fate, Fry ends up another millennium into the future. He basically left his family for good and everything he had in his original timeline was lost with time’s passing. If we look at it this way, Futurama tells the story of Fry’s sad venture into the future.