Nearly two decades after the show's initial pilot episode, Futurama is still blessing us with meme's, quotes, and a love for genocidal robots... well, maybe not the latter. One thing is for sure, though, Matt Groening had gone out of his way to write such stories involving his fictional, animated crew that you can't help but tear up over. Join us, as we count down our picks of the top 10 most emotional Futurama episodes ever... Oh yeah, you may want to grab yourself a box of tissues... we'll wait.
"Game of Tones" – Original Air Date: August 14, 2013
This is it, our number one pick for the most emotionally tugging episode of Futurama. It seemed like a normal goofy episode in the beginning, with Aliens playing loud musical tones towards Earth. We quickly learn that Fry is the only one who is familiar with the sound - leading to the crew hooking him up to a machine that allows him to explore his memory from his last day of 1999 to uncover the meaning of the song. In a lighthearted turn, you find out the alien was just searching for his lost, parked spaceship, and the episode immediately takes a turn for a more heartfelt course. Fry, missing his family, in particular his mother - whom he never had a chance to say goodbye to - tries against all odds to finally deliver that message to her with no luck. Nibbler thanks Fry for saving the world, and states he owes Fry a favor, to which Fry replies, "Thanks, but no one can give me what I really want." The episode ends with Fry sleeping, dreaming of seeing his mom. Distraught, thinking that there is no point to talk to his mom in his dream, Nibbler manifests to tell him it isn't his dream, but rather, a dream from his mother, leading to the most emotional scene in Futurama as Manchild by Eels plays.
“The Luck Of The Fryrish” – Original Air Date: March 18, 2001
Sick and tired of constantly being faced with bad luck, this episode centers around Fry and his family he had left behind. Flashbacks introduced us to more of the Fry family, including his older brother Yancy - who seemingly was always jealous of Fry. As he searches for his long lost, seven-leaf clover that had once brought him so much luck, Fry, Leela, and Bender find themselves in Orbiting Meadows National Cemetery, where they believe they'll find the grave and body of Yancy, who took Fry's name, success, and clover, leading to an incredible and heroic life. It's at this point when the show takes its emotional swing. After some moss is scraped away from the grave, we see the words, "named for his uncle, to carry on his spirit," and learn it wasn't Yancy who did all of those things, but instead, Fry's nephew.
“Jurassic Bark” – Original Air Date: November 17, 2002
This episode.. we all know this episode. The episode which many consider to be the most tear-jerking of the series. The plot starts out with jealousy from Bender, as Fry is wishing to have his fossilized dog cloned and brought back so that he could have his "best friend" back again. Throughout the episode, Fry learns that Seymour had gone on to live over a decade after Fry had become frozen and as such, must have lived a full and beautiful life without him. Now grab your tissues, because it's at this point that we are presented with one touching ending - as we get a cutaway into a montage of Seymour faithfully and loyally awaiting Fry's return. As seasons change and Seymour grows older to the music of "I will wait for you," Seymour finally lays down and closes his eyes, dying as he waits for his master’s return. Perhaps the most touching part is that the episode is loosely based on a true story - that of Hachikō, who's story can be found in our "Most Famous and Heroic Dogs" video.
"Stench and Stenchibility" – Original Air Date: August 28, 2013
If one thing is constant, it's that Zoidberg constantly gets the raw end of the deal - which is why the episode Stench and Stenchibility rates so high for us. The episode starts with Zoidberg setting up a date with an alien woman he had been talking to online. The rest of the crew warn him not to, as she will be repelled by his horrific odor. Zoidberg buys flowers from a vendor for his date, as she then tells him that she can't see him as something came up... vomit. Zoidberg returns to the flower vendor to get a refund, claiming she shouldn't worry as the flowers were "unused" as he begins to cry. The vendor, Marianne, reveals to Zoidberg that she has no sense of smell - so the two begin to date. It's revealed that there is a procedure to give her the sense of smell that she had never had, and this is where the episode grips us in the feels. Zoidberg is prepared to give away his chance at love and happiness to give a better life to the woman he loves - fearing his odor would repel her. Waking up from the procedure, she is repulsed by the smell of flowers that he had gotten for her and in turn attracted to the pungent odor of Zoidberg, as she had never learned what was supposed to be a good or a bad smell...
“Meanwhile” – Original Air Date: September 4, 2013
Hard to do a top 10 most impactful Futurama episodes without mentioning the series finale, Meanwhile. Wanting to propose to the woman he loves, Fry sets up a beautiful scene and gives Leela a time to show up. Another part of the episode focuses on a device the professor had just made that jumps time back ten seconds for everyone not in the containment area. Fry, seeing an opportunity with such a device, steals it, not realizing each time he pushed the button, would set his personal watch forward ten more seconds. Fry, who was going to propose, checks his watch and decides she wasn't going to show up. Unable to live without her, he jumps from the skyrise, only to see Leela walking up as he plummets to his death. As Fry is saved and the button becomes broken, everyone becomes frozen in time except for the pair. What follows is a montage of the adventures they shared as they grew old together, only to return to the top of the Vampire State Building as elders to finally drink the champagne that was poured for them. It's at this point, that a glimmer of light which followed them since the start of their time-freeze finally manifests to Professor Farnsworth, who was believed to have been shredded into pieces. Repairing the button, the professor says they can return to the time they left from, with no memory of Fry and Leela's time together. With a smile to each other, Fry and Leela agree to "Go around again" as the professor presses the button for an incredibly touching series finale.
“Near-Death Wish” – Original Air Date: August 15, 2012
Most of the emotionally crushing episodes of Futurama undoubtedly focus on Fry and Leela and their tragic romance. Sometimes, however, Groening would slip in a meaningful story for someone else. In this instance, Professor Farnsworth. The episode returns us to Near-Death Star, a retirement satellite where residents are hooked to machines to live out the rest of their lives in a virtual world. Fry, feeling neglected by his only living relative, Professor Farnsworth, goes to look for other family members to hang out with. This episode fills us in on the unhappy childhood of the professor, forcing him to confront his past life. You find out he was institutionalized for mental instability and night terrors, much to his parents’ dismay. The episode ends when his parents return to the Near-Death Star to live out their lives... but not until the professor had re-programmed their simulation to make them, and himself young again - giving them the time to play with their baby boy in a way they weren't able to in the past.
“The Sting” – Original Air Date: June 2, 2003
This episode really picks up after a terrible accident with giant space bees - one that seemingly left Fry dead after he protected Leela. At Fry's funeral, Leela takes it hard as she blames herself for his death. Life becomes hard and lonely for her and she even begins to question her sanity - after she constantly dreamt of Fry, each one ending with him begging her to wake up. After digging up Fry's corpse, she comes to the conclusion that she is truly insane, vowing to eat enough space honey to force her to sleep forever, and finally be back with Fry in her dreams. The picture of Fry she kept implores her not to, and begs her to just wake up - Leela would then smash her jar of honey, luring in the swarm of space bees. Clutching Fry's picture, she is begged to wake up once more - this time she awakens in a hospital, next to a crying, unkempt Fry still begging her to wake up, who refused to leave her side for 2 weeks. It's at this point where we learn that the bees stinger pierced clean through Fry, leaving Leela to absorb all the venom.
"Leela’s Homeworld" – Original Air Date: February 17, 2002
During the course of the first few seasons, Leela believes she is an alien and spends much time searching for her home planet. She grew up in Cookieville Minimum Security Orphanarium after she was "abandoned" by her parents on the doorstep. In Leela's Homeworld, you actually find out she is a mutant, the least mutated one ever. She finds both of her parents alive, living in the sewers on Earth, where the mutants are forced to live. In a series of flashbacks, you see as her parents make the unimaginable sacrifice of giving up their child, so she would have access to a much better life on the surface. When Leela confronts her parents, they both cry and say to her "You must despise us", until the moment Leela hugs them, crying back saying "This is the happiest moment of my life!" Opening the way to a montage of events from Leela's life at Cookieville, and how her parents were always there to help her along life's way.
“The Late Philip J. Fry” – Original Air Date: July 29, 2010
An episode that shines a light on the all too tragic romance between Fry and Leela. Circumstances break the two protagonists apart from one another, giving us a view on how miserable they feel without the other. Fry, Bender, and the Professor find themselves stuck in a time machine that only goes into the future, forcing the crew to have to experience the Big Bang all over again. While they hilariously stop off at different points in history, Leela is left back in the 31st Century and with the idea that Fry is dead. Between the message Leela wrote with stalagmites and the closing dinner-date after they reunited, this goes down as one of the most heart-warming Futurama episodes of all time.
“Lethal Inspection” – Original Air Date: July 22, 2010
The episode Lethal Inspection gives us a look at a secret bond and history between Hermes and Bender. After figuring out that he can no longer back himself up - in case his physical body is destroyed thanks to a defect - Bender heads out to the factory where he was manufactured in search of answers from Inspector #5, the man responsible for approving a defective robot. Hermes tags along to assist Bender in his investigation, helping navigate the Central Bureaucracy's record system. In the end, Hermes was the inspector that passed Bender, which is shown to us in an emotional flashback which shows the resignation of Hermes to Elizabeth Mitchell singing "Little Bird, Little Bird".