Futurama was always a show that was sentimental about its characters, cynical about society, and well versed in history. Perhaps it’s these guiding principles that resulted in such an upsettingly prescient look at the future.
Just like certain episodes of other cartoons, these episodes of Futurama may be more effective in reflecting the events outside your window rather than distracting you from them. Welcome to the world of tomorrow!
- Season One, Episode Eight: “A Big Piece of Garbage”
In the distant past, Rudy Giuliani set off a chain of events that’s going to culminate in modern-day New New York being buried under a big pile of garbage.
- Season Two, Episode One: “A Flight to Remember”
While history is quite clear on the outcome of the maiden voyage of the R.M.S. Titanic in the year 1912, the Starship Titanic nevertheless completes an easily foreseeable cycle of precisely the same tragedy in the year 3000.
- Season Two, Episode Seven: “A Head in the Polls”
In spite of historical evidence (and his own admission that he plans to sell the children of Americans for zoo meat), Richard Nixon’s Head is elected President of Earth, a position he will hold for the remainder of the show’s tenure.
- Season Two, Episode Fifteen: “A Clone of My Own”
The crew travels to the Near-Death Star, where senior citizens are sequestered from one another and kept isolated in separate boxes.
- Season Two, Episode Sixteen: “The Deep South”
Atlanta, Georgia takes social distancing to a new level by having the city air-lifted to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean (where it promptly sinks).
- Season Two, Episode Nineteen: “Mother’s Day”
A narcissistic corporate figurehead motivated by a personal agenda plunges the world into chaos in an attempt to seize power for herself.
- Season Three, Episode Two: “War is the H-Word”
After following a brainless commanding officer into battle, the gang discovers that Earthlings are the evil invading aliens, and everything Zapp claimed to be true about the denizens of the targeted planet was xenophobic claptrap.
- Season Three, Episode Fourteen: “Time Keeps on Skipping”
Is it… Tuesday? Sunday? January? October? It’s hard to tell when you’re stuck inside all the time. The Planet Express crew deals with a similar issue when stolen chronitons rip space-time a new hole, resulting in random skips forward in time.
- Season Four, Episode Nine: “Future Stock”
A slick 80’s guy convinces Fry he’s a friend when he’s actually a vicious and disgusting profiteer who sells his stock at the worst possible time for anyone in the Planet Express crew who isn’t him (hint: search for “Loeffler, Inhofe, Feinstein, and Burr”).
- Season Five, Episode One: “Crimes of the Hot”
Instead of actually solving the issues associated with global warming, Earth’s “handsomest” scientists instead conceive of a method of indefinitely delaying the inevitable – until the inevitable can no longer be delayed, and the questionably competent Planet Express crew is left to deal with the planet-threatening problem themselves.
- Season Five, Episode Eleven: “Three Hundred Big Boys”
President Nixon’s Head heeds the advice of top voodoo economists and issues a tax rebate of $300 to each Earthican. Unfortunately, as plutocrat Mom implies, that’s not really enough money to make any lasting difference, even for perpetually penniless Planet Express physician Dr. John Zoidberg.
- Season Five, Episode Fifteen: “Bender Should Not Be Allowed on TV”
We’re gonna have a TV party tonight! Bender is removed from his role on All My Circuits after a group of parents feign moral outrage.
- Season Six, Episode Five: “Beast with a Billion Backs – Part 1”
After the events of the first straight-to-DVD movie ripped a hole in the universe, Earthicans are growing exhausted from several consecutive weeks of panic. Remember, kids: Week 4 of Shut In Theater here at Stately Beat Manor starts Monday!
- Season Six, Episode Sixteen: “Into the Wild Green Yonder – Part 4”
When an “impartial scientist” puts profits ahead of his values, it’s up to a ragtag group of women to take extra-legal action in order to save the human race (which, it turns out, is in danger of extinction – imagine that).
- Season Seven, Episode Twelve: “The Mutants Are Revolting”
Leela is deported (to the sewers) when the wealthy elite of New New York discover she isn’t actually an alien, but rather, a mutant. With no official assistance on the way, she is forced to lead the mutants in civil disobedience until their right to exist is acknowledged.
Also in this episode: the Land Ship Titanic is revealed to have sunk in the early 2900s, making the crash of the Starship Titanic in the year 3000 somehow even more foreseeable and avoidable.
- Season Eight, Episode Eleven: “Cold Warriors”
The CDC seals the Planet Express building – and later, all of New New York – into quarantine in order to prevent the spread of a virus Fry brought with him from the twentieth century.
- Season Nine, Episode Three: “Decision 3012”
During the 3012 Earth Presidential election, Nixon promises to build a fence around the southern half of the solar system in order to keep immigrants out (this episode aired in 2012). Meanwhile, Leela helps a grassroots candidate with the best of intentions (who ultimately loses the election in spite of earning more votes – again, 2012).
- Season Ten, Episode Eleven: “Murder on the Planet Express”
While it isn’t precisely a bottle episode, the bulk of this Agatha Christie/Alien send-up has the crew trapped together (and suspicious of one another) within the Planet Express Ship.
- Season Ten, Episode Thirteen: “Meanwhile”
Fry borrows a device from the professor that can turn time back 10 seconds, but when he takes a dive off the highest building in New New York with a fall that lasts longer than 10 seconds, he finds himself plunging to his death in a nightmarish infinite loop!
Every episode of Futurama, including those that comprise the four straight-to-DVD movies, is available for streaming now on Hulu (which offers a free trial if you do not yet subscribe). Please note: the season and episode listings included in this article reflect the erroneous organization on Hulu, for ease of streaming access. If you have the DVDs, then find the episodes yourself, you nerdlinger (and check out the awesome audio commentaries).