Futurama is being resurrected yet again, and we can look forward to seeing the Planet Express crew return on Hulu in 2023. To celebrate, it only seems fitting to rank the ten best episodes of Futurama for you all. More than ten years after The Simpsons became a smash hit, Matt Groening followed it up with this hilarious show about a pizza delivery boy who travels into the future where he and his new quirky friends go on adventures in their attempts at interplanetary delivery. The show has delivered some hilarious and memorable storylines, and it remains so popular that memorabilia is still being made after its cancellation. So without further ado, here are the ten best episodes of Futurama ranked.
Note: While the movies have been broken down into individual episodes, they play better as feature films. Therefore, I do not include them on this list. Also, the Futurama cross-over with The Simpsons is technically an episode of the latter, so it cannot be ranked as a Futurama episode.
10. “The Luck of the Fryrish” (Season 3, Episode 4)
A series of unlucky events sends Fry on a journey into Old New York’s ruins to find his lucky seven-leaf clover from the 20th century, only to discover that it’s missing. A documentary film makes him realize that the last person to have it was a renowned hero with Fry’s name who looks exactly like his brother Yancey. The episode contains a series of flashbacks showing the brothers had a serious rivalry, and an enraged Fry goes to dig up his brother’s grave to get the clover back. Only when he’s dug the grave and seen the tombstone does he realize that this Phillip J. Fry is actually his nephew, who a mournful Yancey named after Fry and gifted the clover to. The episode is fun to watch, but it’s the heartwarming moment when Fry realizes that his brother really loved him that makes this episode unforgettable.
9. “The Late Philip J. Fry” (Season 6, Episode 7)
This episode features Fry being late to both work and Leela’s birthday lunch, promising to make it up to her with a good dinner. However, things become problematic when he, Bender, and Professor Farnsworth all end up trapped going forward in time in the professor’s time machine (which does not go backward). As they fight to return home, the Planet Express crew presumes their deaths, and Leela takes over the company and spends years trying to deal with losing Fry. The episode has unbelievably funny moments, such as Fry and the Professor getting distracted from their mission by a future filled with beautiful women. Still, it’s also a touching look into how much Fry and Leela mean to each other.
8. “The Prisoner of Benda” (Season 6, Episode 10)
The body and voice switching gag never seems to get old, and this episode is one of the funniest episodes to use it. The Planet Express crew members switch bodies via an invention by Professor Farnsworth. This sends them on a variety of hilarious misadventures. Such escapades include Bender switching with a robot emperor for a life of luxury, Amy switching bodies with people to stuff her face and not ruin her body, Fry and Leela taking over Dr. Zoidberg’s and the Professor’s bodies to prove they love each other more than their appearances, and even Scruffy the janitor’s robotic wash bucket entering Amy’s body to confess her (or its?) love to Scruffy. The episode is unforgettable and hilarious, and one that you will watch many times.
7. “How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back” (Season 2, Episode 11)
Stereotypical bureaucrat Hermes Conrad is in many ways a terrible guy, but he’s one of the best characters on the show. In this episode, a poker game gone wrong causes him to fail an inspection and have a breakdown, forcing him onto a paid vacation where he is replaced by a higher-ranking bureaucrat named Morgan. Morgan starts a secret affair with Fry despite her professional demeanor due to a kinky obsession with his slobbish nature. But when Morgan starts wreaking havoc in everyone’s lives to the point of wiping Bender’s memory, the crew travels to the Central Bureaucracy to put an end to the nightmare she’s created. However, when Hermes returns from his “vacation” to what was actually a forced labor camp (watch the episode, and you’ll get it), it’s him who ends up saving the day with a catchy musical number about his passion for his work. That passion can’t be summed up any better than in the song’s line, “When push comes to shove, you’ve gotta do what you love even if it’s not a good idea.” A motto for life if there ever was one.
6. “The Farnsworth Parabox” (Season 4, Episode 15)
Written by comedy writer Bill Odenkirk, this episode sees Professor Farnsworth accidentally create a box that contains a path to a parallel universe in which coin flips have opposite outcomes. This has led to alternate versions of the crew members making some interesting choices, such as the Professor trying to perform brain surgery on himself, Bender having a solid gold finish, and the biggest of all, Fry and Leela being married. As they form relationships with their alternate counterparts, they also have to deal with the threat of the original Hermes throwing the box into the sun and destroying them all. It’s a clever plotline, and it only gets funnier when they all end up visiting several other universes where the characters are blind, bobbleheads, robots, hippies, etc.
5. “Godfellas” (Season 3, Episode 20)
Bender is the star of Futurama, and no list of the best Futurama episodes ranked would be complete without a Bender-centric episode. “Godfellas” sees Bender getting lost in space where an asteroid crashes into him. A tiny species grows on him and worships him as a god, which of course, he enjoys. That is until his interventions cause unintended harm and a religious war breaks out among the civilization. The episode is compelling, and it’s one of the few occasions where Bender demonstrates that he has a conscience. Moreover, it actually ends up being a philosophically deep episode. So much so that a Christian youth book entitled Toons That Teach recommends the episode for spiritual learning. Who would expect that from an episode centered on Futurama’s most vulgar, albeit beloved, character?
4. “Jurassic Bark” (Season 4, Episode 7)
WARNING: if you’ve ever lost a pet, this episode is a tear-jerker.
When Fry discovers the fossilized remains of his dog Seymour Asses in a museum, he is overjoyed when the Professor tells him that he can clone Seymour and bring him back to life. However, once he realizes Seymour lived to be 15, he stops the experiment assuming Seymour lived a full life and eventually forgot about him. Unbeknownst to Fry but painfully known to the audience, the opposite is true. In a montage that WatchMojo calls the most heartbreaking cartoon moment ever, we learn that a deeply loyal Seymour spent every day of his remaining 12 years waiting outside Panucci’s Pizza for Fry to greet him. Tragically, Seymour waited until the very end and died of old age without seeing Fry ever again.
3. “Meanwhile” (Season 7, Episode 26)
In the second series finale, Fry finally proposes to Leela. Trying to make a special moment last, he abuses a ten-second time-traveling tool, which, through a complicated misunderstanding, makes him jump from a building heartbroken, thinking Leela has rejected him. When he sees Leela at the bottom on her way to say yes, he tries to go back ten seconds only to find out he has passed the time frame and is stuck in a loop of falling. The crew manages to get him safely to the ground, but the tool is damaged, freezing all of time and existence except for Fry and Leela. They choose to make the most of this and initiate their own wedding, and they live their entire lives into old age, having the world to themselves. However, once the Professor returns, he can reset the time order, which will send them back to the past where they will forget their time together. However, the smile and embrace the chance to “go around again.” Seeing Leela and Fry get a happy ending was a perfect way to wrap things up. We’ll see what the reboot holds for this polar-opposite yet perfectly matched couple.
2. “Leela’s Homeworld” (Season 4, Episode 2)
A running storyline for Futurama’s first three seasons was Leela’s search for her family and identity. In the best Leela episode, an unwanted trip to the mutant colony in the sewers reveals the truth. Leela chases down a hooded pair who seem to know something about her. Through flashbacks, the audience learns that the pair are Leela’s parents, who left her at the orphanage and left a note in an alien language to create the impression that Leela was an alien. They did this so Leela wouldn’t be cursed to the degrading life of a sewer mutant. Just as Leela is about to make a tragic mistake and shoot the couple, believing they robbed and killed her parents, Fry uncovers their faces, and Leela recognizes them as her parents immediately. She shares a tearful embrace with both of them, and a flashback montage shows how her parents were a part of her childhood in ways she never realized.
1. Three Hundred Big Boys (Season 4, Episode 16)
When President Nixon gives the people of earth a $300 tax rebate, we see all the Planet Express crew members spend the money in unique ways. Leela opts to swim with a whale, Amy gets a talking tattoo, her boyfriend Kif buys her a special watch that ends up eaten by the whale Leela swims with, Fry buys an unhealthy amount of coffee, the Professor uses stem cells to create a younger appearance, and Bender buys robbery equipment to steal an expensive cigar. Then there’s Dr. Zoidberg attempting to find a way to spend the most money he’ll ever have. Something about this whole convoluted hodgepodge of storylines reminds me of Pulp Fiction, which is probably why I like it so much. It’s funny and engaging, and all these storylines connect in quite a way at the end. This Futurama episode ranks highest for me for being fun and rewatchable and giving the whole cast some time to shine.
So there you have it. Our picks for the ten best episodes of Futurama ranked. What Planet Express adventure is your favorite? Share your thoughts on The Nerd Stash Facebook page and @TheNerdStash on Twitter, and don’t forget to like and follow.