One of the more subtle running jokes in the show is that in the future, owls have replaced pigeons and rats as being pests. If you look carefully in many episodes, you can see owls pecking at food on the ground or coming out of mouse holes.
According to Matt Groening, viewers were able to decipher the alien language that is sometimes seen in the background the same night as the pilot episode aired. The only primer for the code in that episode was a sign that read "Drink Slurm". The sign appeared once with the word "Drink" written in the alien code and once in plain English. This resulted in the producers creating a second, more complex alien code to be seen in the background of later episodes.
"J" is Matt Groening's favorite middle initial in tribute to Jay Ward, Creator of Rocky and Bullwinkle (Bullwinkle J. Moose) and other classics; hence the "J" in Philip J. Fry, Hubert J. Farnsworth, Cubert J. Farnsworth, Homer J. Simpson, Abraham J. Simpson, and Bart J. Simpson.
Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth was named after the inventor Philo T. Farnsworth, one of the pioneers of television, whose invention was premiered at the 1939 New York World's Fair, along with the Futurama exhibit.
Bender's antenna has been used as the following: an antenna, a timer button for his internal digital camera, a beer pump lever, mailbox flag, a measure of his manhood, a popcorn butter dispenser lever, a cigarette lighter, a pager vibrator, a flushing lever, a cooking timer, an alarm clock snooze button (accidentally by Fry), a voice mail alert light, a voice mail "delete all" button, "little bender", a cap for a beer still, binary time machine activator, motor oil suntan lotion dispenser, an audio tape dispenser button, and a laser rock show.
Billy West was inspired by Lou Jacobi's performance in The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) when he was creating the character of Zoidberg. He imagined Zoidberg to have Yiddish mannerisms because of the last name. He also said he was attracted to the idea of a doctor that was poor.
The character Cubert (the Professor's clone) was initially conceived as being somebody who would point out all of the show's inconsistencies and plot holes. The idea was that he would be the voice of obsessed fans that paid far too much attention to detail. Unfortunately, the writers couldn't figure out a way to introduce him until season two, and aside from his debut episode, he never took on his original intended role.
As the opening credits cut to the final shot, just before the Planet Express Ship crashes, several characters are seen moving through one of the transport tubes. The first guy to go through is reading a newspaper. The headline reads, "Moon pie fight in Mars Bar."
When he started working on this show, David S. Cohen joined the Writer's Guild. Since there was already a David S. Cohen in the Writer's Guild, he changed the "S" to an "X", because he felt it was more "sci-fi-ish".
Lines of an unknown language, similar to hieroglyphics can be seen in varying locations throughout the intro song. According to Matt Groening, the glyphs do mean something, and it's up to loyal viewers to figure them out.
The hieroglyphics in the opening titles read: "Tasty Human Burgers". There are also two other examples of that alphabet (one just on the left a few frames after the ship passes through the R, and one during a quick pan to the right).
Leela's costume choice is inspired by the popular female heroines that have graced famous science fiction movies. Starting in the pilot episode, she takes off her jacket to reveal a white tank top underneath. The fashion is believed to have originated with Sigourney Weaver in Alien (1979), and has been copied by Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), and Carrie-Anne Moss in Red Planet (2000).
Matt Groening named Turanga Leela after Louise Jameson's character on Doctor Who (1963). Coincidentally, "lila" (pronounced "lila") means "purple" in Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, German, and Hungarian (pronounced "leela").
At the beginning of the show, during the opening credits and theme song, there is always something different displayed in text at the bottom of the screen. At the end of the theme song, there is always something different displayed on the screen before the ship crashes into it. This is reminiscent of Matt Groening's cult phenomenon of The Simpsons (1989), as there are three distinctly varying elements in the introduction music as well. (Bart's chalkboard writings, the method of the family sitting down on the couch, and Lisa's saxophone solo as she leaves band practice.)
The concept of having a celebrity's head in a jar was originally used in The Simpsons (1989) season five, episode twelve, "Bart Gets Famous". Bart sees himself in the future on Match Game, in this show which Bart is special guest as the boy who said "I didn't do it." The regular guest Kitty Carlisle appeared as a head in a jar.
In one episode, it is said that they can translate the second alien language, but only into beta crypt 3, a language so complex, that it is even less likely to understand, this is an inside joke, because the second alien language is in fact beta crypt 2, with symbols replacing the initial alphabet.
Throughout the seasons Bender has admitted to being forty percent titanium, forty percent scrap metal, forty percent dolomite, and forty percent luck. Also, the third world workers in season six, episode three, "Attack of the Killer App" say he is forty percent chromium. Not to mention season seven, episode seventeen, "Forty Percent Leadbelly".
The show was cancelled in May of 2002. The last first-run episode of the show aired on August 10, 2003. In 2006, Billy West announced on his website that twenty-six new episodes had been ordered, but then later retracted the announcement, stating that Series co-Creator David X. Cohen had corrected him "with a hammer". Instead, four feature-length direct-to-DVD releases were produced. Comedy Central later brought the show back in June of 2010.
Zapp Brannigan's portrait in his Captain's quarters was based on the famous White House portrait of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. They are both in the same distinctive pose, arms crossed against the chest and solemnly looking downward.
Writer and Producer David X. Cohen is a Dungeons and Dragons player. References to the game have been included in the show, including a cameo by Dungeons and Dragons Creator E. Gary Gygax, and Al Gore referring to himself as a "10th level Vice President". At least two Dungeons and Dragons monsters have made appearances as well: a Rust Monster at a veterinarian's office, and a beholder appearing as a guard in the bureaucratic building. The third straight-to-DVD Futurama movie, Futurama: Bender's Game (2008), also used a lot of Dungeons and Dragons references, and is, in fact, hugely based on the game. The credits tribute the movie to the memory of Mr. Gygax.
Originally aired on FOX, and cancelled in season five. The last episode aired August 2003. In June 2009, Comedy Central revived the show with new episodes. The first episode of season six aired in June 2010.
Leela's full name is Turanga Leela. This is a reference to French composer Olivier Messiaen's "Turangalîla-Symphonie" (1948), an eighty minute work in ten movements for piano, ondes Martenot and orchestra. The name "Turangalîla" derives from two Sanskrit words, which may be translated several ways, including "love song".
The show went through only four production cycles, but not all of the episodes from cycle four were aired during the fourth broadcast season. These were held over for a fifth season before cancellation took effect. The original DVDs were not released in seasons, but rather according to the production cycles. For this reason, there were only four volumes, though all of the original episodes were included.
The final two minutes of the series finale Futurama: Meanwhile (2013) hints at the possibility of a reboot, and that the reboot could be given the Star Trek (1966) and Terminator Genisys (2015) treatment. With Professor Farnsworth, elderly Fry, and Leela entering a new timeline via the Time Button.
DVD EASTER EGG: Season four, disc three. Go into the sub menu for "Where no fan has gone before". Highlight the option "HOME". Press "RIGHT" on the DVD remote to display the Planet Express ship in the menu. Press "PLAY" to start a behind the scenes video.
Bender's name is especially fitting. He's "a stock MomCorps Bending Unit", a robot who was built and programmed specifically to bend girders, and he also regularly drinks heavily, which is sometimes referred to as going on a "bender". Those explanations aside, he was apparently named after John Bender, Judd Nelson's character from The Breakfast Club (1985), of which Creator Matt Groening is a fan.
Season three, episode three, "The Cryonic Woman" was the last episode to air in the twentieth century (the year 2000). Season three, episode four, "Parasites Lost", was the first episode of the year 2001 (the third millennium).
In each installment of every "Anthology" episode, one or more of the main characters dies. Each of these episodes is made up of the short vignettes, and someone dies or is killed in every single one. This tradition started with season two, episode twenty, "Anthology of Interest I", and continued through season seven, episode nineteen, "Saturday Morning Fun Pit".
In 3000 New New York City, owls have replaced rats and pigeons as the most visible animal pest. This is never really fully explained, but it's grounded in logic. The show creators posited that sometime between 2000 and 3000, with the rat and pigeon problem in New York City growing out of control, a great number of owls - rats' and pigeons' natural predator - were brought in to help curb the population. While they were successful, soon the owls had replaced their prey as the city's most prolific animal nuisance. As a result, anywhere in the show you would expect to see rats, mice, pigeons, or other common scavenger animals, owls are usually found instead.
In its first episode, under the opening title, it says, "In Color". Upon returning on Comedy Central, in its first season back, in the episode "Reincarnation", the episode's first part is in black-and-white.
Early in the series, Turanga Leela believes herself to be alien, despite never having met her parents or other relatives. When she discovers that she is a mutant of human descent, at least one of her mutations appears to be hereditary. Leela, her mother, her maternal grandmother, and her great-grandmother all had purple hair.
This show was cancelled after its fifth season because of poor ratings, and its weak storylines during the current season. However, the fandom remained strong and Comedy Central picked it up again seven years later for another two seasons. It is said that these two seasons cancelled out the poor quality of the previous five, and made this show a timeless classic.
100111001 = 313. Those numbers appear on a robot tattoo artist in season seven, episode nine, "Free Will Hunting". 313 is an area code around Detroit that has gang connotations, and Eminem claimed it as his area code.
The lead female characters are called Turanga Leela and Amy Wong. In Doctor Who (1963) and Doctor Who (2005), the Tom Baker and Matt Smith incarnations of the show's title protagonist The Doctor had two female companions: Leela (Louise Jameson), a barbarian warrior, and Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), a Scottish kissogram.
Despite Turanga Leela's desires to remain single, a running gag of the series is for her to go from one failed, short-lived marriage to another. By the end of the series, Leela had 6 failed marriages and a 7th was depicted in an alternate timeline.
A subplot of the series is that the resident girly girl, Amy Wong, keeps criticizing the tomboy Turanga Leela for her supposed lack of feminine traits. She has apparently failed to notice Leela's adoration for cute animals, and Leela's protective, maternal instincts towards others.
A number of sources suggest that Turanga Leela was named after the fictional character Leela, a "Doctor Who" female companion introduced in 1977. The original character was played by actress Louise Jameson. Both characters are martial artists with seemingly superhuman strength, but otherwise have few similarities.
An alternative theory for Turanga Leela's name is that she is named after Leeloo, the female alien from the film "The Fifth Element" (1997). The original character was played by actress Milla Jovovich. Both characters are martial artists with seemingly superhuman strength, both characters have blue eyes (though rarely drawn in Leela's case), but share no other similarities.
According to Turanga Leela's origin episodes, she grew up in an orphanage. Due to her unusual appearance, she was bullied by other kids and grew to become a lonely outsider. The origin is used to explain why the adult Leela still prefers solitude in her private apartment, and does not socialize much when not working.
The martial art which Turanga Leela practices is called "Arcturan Kung Fu" within the series. She reportedly learned from a true master of the art, until she became better than him and managed to defeat him. Her "mentor" Fnog strongly resembles Master Yoda from "Star Wars", but is consistently depicted as evil, misogynistic, and dishonorable.
Despite being a professional ship's captain and pilot, Turanga Leela has poor depth perception due to her single eye. A running gag of the series is that she keeps crashing ships into billboards, but survives every accident.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Nibbler's shadow can be seen in the pilot episode right before Philip J. Fry falls into the cryogenic tube. Later, during the series, it is revealed that it was actually Nibbler who pushed Fry into the cryogenic tube.
In the Volume 4 DVD, an Easter Egg can be found by clicking on the sandwiches in the fridge. It reveals a long alien message, the message reads: "This DVD includes a specially encoded Easter egg which you are now meticulously translating from an alien language because you have no life and are a compulsive nerdlinger, how sad. It's especially sad if you don't speak English and you have to translate the alien language into English and then into your own tongue and you come upon a word like nerdlinger which really isn't a word at all, but still aptly describes someone who would actually translate such a word twice and those of you who are reading this translation on a Futurama newsgroup aren't any better. We lurk on those newsgroups and we know what nerdlingers you guys are, too, of course, you're also probably our biggest fans, which is sad in its own way, but since you went to all this trouble to translate an Easter egg we do owe you something, so here's a secret about the show. The writers, producers, directors, and most of the actors who worked on the show are all nerdlingers too."
Although season seven, episode twenty-six, "Meanwhile" was the last episode of the series, the Planet Express crew returned once more in The Simpsons (1989) season twenty-six, episode six, "Simpsorama", which was a special crossover episode of The Simpsons (1989) and this show to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of The Simpsons (1989) and the crossover saw the Planet Express crew travel back through time to present day Springfield and set out to stop the Simpsons from destroying the future.