Our top 10 favorite ‘Futurama’ episodes

Futurama may have aired its final season nearly a decade ago, but it’s a series that is never far from our hearts and minds. The sci-fi animated comedy centers around Fry, a somewhat below-average 20th century pizza delivery man who is inadvertently flung into the far future by accidentally trapping himself in a cryogenic chamber on New Year’s Eve in 1999. Upon being awakened from the tube, he discovers that he is now living in the year 3,000, where Earth is inhabited by robots, aliens, and mutants, and he has no choice but to resume his duties as a delivery boy. This time, however, he’s part of the spacefaring crew of Planet Express, led by a distant great-great-grand-nephew, Professor Farnsworth.

Soon Fry finds romance with the one-eyed Leela, who in the pilot episode was poised to implant Fry with a career chip as part of her job. Not finding satisfaction in forcing people to do something they dislike, Leela decides to quit the job and join the Planet Express crew. Along the way, Fry becomes friends with other members of the crew as well, which includes a raunchy-minded robot named Bender and the Lobster-like creature Hermes. We’re also treated to a gallery of other colorful characters, such as the spoiled-but-brilliant and beautiful Martian Amy, the boastful space captain Zapp Brannigan, his trusted sidekick, Kif, and the ruthless robot manufacturer, Mom.

Futurama has always been known for its hilarious writing, mind-bending adventures, swashbuckling fun, occasional horror, and a surprising amount of romance and heart. The show was created by The Simpsons progenitor Matt Goening and originally aired alongside it on Fox in 1999. Futurama was subject to numerous cancellations and revivals over the years, eventually switching to Comedy Central for subsequent seasons where it definitively concluded its seven-season run in 2013.

It’s now available to stream on Hulu, and if you’re in the mood for an epic binge, here’s a list of our all-time favorite episodes in order of seasonal release.

“Hell Is Other Robots” (Season 1, Episode 9)

In this very Bender-centric episode, we see the lovable robot succumb to addiction to electricity, which causes a lot of problems for Planet Express. His journey to finding religion and eventually going back to his old ways put him face-to-face with the Robot Devil. We’re also treated to a delightful musical number by the villain, a rarity in the series. The tune, which is clearly parodying the boastful songs of villains in Disney films like The Lion King and Aladdin, is the very reason this episode lands in our top 10.

“Brannigan, Begin Again” (Season 2, Episode 2)

One of the first episodes to prominently feature the misadventures of blowhard space captain — and occasional lover to Leela — Zapp Brannigan, this episode stands out because of the sheer number of quality jokes it manages to dish out. It centers around Brannigan taking up employment at Planet Express after he and subordinate Kif are dishonorably discharged for destroying the inter-planetary government headquarters, the Democratic Order of Planets (DOOP). To win back favor with DOOP, Brannigan soon begins scheming an attack on the Neutral Planet, whose presence and inhabitants bring with it a number of memorable laughs poking fun at the very concept of neutrality itself.

“Parasites Lost” (Season 3, Episode 2)

A milestone episode in terms of how in-depth it explores Leela and Fry’s seemingly destined but frustratingly out-of-reach romance, “Parasites Lost” sees Fry get infested with parasitic worms that seem to enhance his every characteristic, from strength to intelligence. Fry is finally able to gather enough courage to express his true feelings for Leela via the notoriously difficult-to-master instrument the Holophonor, which projects holographic images and sounds from the player. But will the chemistry continue to climb between the two when the rest of the crew shrinks down to go inside Fry’s body on a mission to eliminate the worms? You’ll have to watch to find out.

“The Luck of the Fryrish” (Season 3, Episode 4)

Fry going back to explore his life in the 20th century ⏤ and more specifically what unfolded in the immediate aftermath of his disappearance ⏤ is one of our favorite types of episodes in Futurama. That’s why “The Luck of the Fryrish” from the show’s third season makes our list. In the episode, Fry tries to unravel whatever happened to his lucky seven-leaf clover. To his disgust, he discovers that his brother, Yancy, apparently stole it and assumed Fry’s identity, becoming hugely successful in life. The episode’s twist ending offers one of the emotional gut-punches that the series is known to drop from time to time, and the well-crafted writing and character development for Fry is what makes this episodes one of the greatest in the series, in our humble opinion.

“Insane in the Mainframe” (Season 3, Episode 11)

While the more romantic, swashbuckling, and parodic episodes of Futurama are something we generally favor over the more horror-themed episodes the show occasionally dabbles in, “Insane in the Mainframe” is one notable exception. The episode sees Fry and Bender framed for a bank robbery by a psychotic robot named Roberto, who is hilariously over-the-top with his constant stabbing motions and catchphrase, “Ha-Haaa!” Fry is sentenced to an insane asylum for robots where he is inadvertently brainwashed into believing that he is a machine after becoming Roberto’s cellmate. Part One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and part Cape Fear, this episode is a recipe for a lot of memorable, imaginative moments and tons of laughs.

“Jurassic Bark” (Season 4, Episode 7)

“Jurassic Bark” is one of those tearjerker episodes, even if you’re not a dog person (but it helps). It’s not just the emotional wallop the episode packs in its final moments that makes us love it, but it also does a great job of exploring Fry’s life back before he was cryogenically frozen and brought to the future, living a relatively normal life in the 20th century in New York City. For being something of a below-average everyman, this episode highlights Fry as a rather tragically complex character. The episode explores Fry trying to trace the final days of his dog Seymour after he discovers the canine as a fossil in a museum.

“The Devil’s Hands Are Idle Playthings” (Season 4, Episode 18)

In this season four finale, we’re once again given the plot element of Fry trying to impress Leela by playing the Holophonor. However, this time, instead of raising his skill level through intelligence-gifting parasitic worms, Fry makes a deal with the Robot Devil to trade in his human hands for the villain’s. It turns out that there’s a grave catch to the agreement. The sweeping romance and moving visuals of Fry’s holographic instrument are the main reasons why we love this episode, not to mention the much-welcomed musical return of the Robot Devil. Most of all, Fry’s chance to finally win his love over makes us cheer him on in this episode, which at one time represented a fitting series finale before its season five revival five years after the show was initially cancelled in 2003.

Bender’s Big Score (Season 5, Episodes 1-4)

We’re counting Bender’s Big Score, one of four original full-length movies that represents season five of Futurama, as one entry, despite each of the movies later being broken up into four episode-length segments and airing on Comedy Central. Bender’s Big Score gives us all the grand adventure — both spacefaring and time travel-spanning — that we’ve come to love about Futurama as a whole. What’s more, the plot presents an intriguing mystery surrounding Fry’s butt tattoo that contains a profound secret, delightfully gross nudist alien scammers trying to take over Planet Express, and a twist ending that takes our breath away in regards to a mysterious new character, Lars, and his romance with Leela.

“The Late Philip J. Fry” (Season 6, Episode 7)

“The Late Philip J. Fry” combines some of our favorite elements of Futurama, such as time travel, imaginative visual storytelling, a mobius-strip-like plot, and most of all the seemingly destined but frustratingly out-of-reach romance between Fry and Leela fans of the series have longed for since its inception. Centering around Fry being tardy to a date with Leela and accidentally getting wrapped up in Professor Farnsworth’s time travel plot gone wrong, the episode once again exemplifies how the couple coming together seems to triumph over spacetime itself.

“Meanwhile” (Season 7, Episode 26)

“Meanwhile” is the Futurama series finale to trump all previous series finales (since there were multiple send-offs as the show was cancelled and then revived repeatedly over the years). Once again focusing on the relationship between Leela and Fry, this episode sees the pair’s plan to finally marry grow complicated by an invention of Professor Farnsworth’s that can take a person 10 seconds into the past. The stakes become life or death as the pair is thrust into a world beyond time and space itself and finally able to live a full life together. But can they bring the universe back into existence after the button breaks? You know what you have to do to find out.

Honorable mentions

While the following episodes didn’t make the list, we’d recommend checking them out nonetheless, as they are all classics in their own right. Check out our honorable mentions for the all-time greatest Futurama episodes:

  • “When Aliens Attack” (Season 1, Episode 12)
  • “The Problem with Popplers” (Season 2, Episode 15)
  • “Xmas Story” (Season 2, Episode 4)
  • “Space Pilot 3000” (Season 1, Episode 1)
  • “Why Must I Be a Crustacean in Love?” (Season 2, Episode 5)
  • “Mars University” (Season 1, Episode 11)
  • “A Fishful of Dollars” (Season 1, Episode 6)
  • “Fry and the Slurm Factory” (Season 1, Episode 13)
  • “Anthology of Interest II” (Season 3, Episode 18)
  • “Roswell That Ends Well” (Season 3, Episode 19)
  • “In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela” (Season 6, Episode 2)
  • “The Prisoner of Benda” (Season 6, Episode 10)
  • “The Duh-Vinci Code” (Season 6, Episode 5)
  • “The Honking” (Season 2, Episode 18)