Does Futurama have a future?

Feature James Peckham 17 Sep 2013 - 07:00

Now that Futurama's season 7 finale has aired, James looks at the possibilities for more adventures with the Planet Express crew...

For the second time, Futurama has drawn to a close. Back in April this year, Comedy Central announced it had no plans to renew the then-incoming second half of season seven meaning the show's last thirteen episodes were to be its final bow. But was Futurama ready to end?

The brains behind a little-known show called The Simpsons created Futurama in 1999, and it originally ran for four seasons. After being axed in 2003, Futurama was resurrected for a series of four DVD movies and then two extra seasons. Season five, which consisted of the feature films, proved a big enough hit for Comedy Central to commission a full-blown comeback for the Planet Express crew.

Matthew Groening and David X Cohen seemed to see the news of this year’s cancellation coming. Cohen previously told Entertainment Weekly: "I felt like we were already in the bonus round on these last couple of season. At this point I keep a suitcase by my office door so I can be cancelled at a moment’s notice.” What changed to make Comedy Central drop Futurama? Falling ratings are the likely culprit. On its return in 2010, Fry and co. brought in 2.6 million viewers, but last year only 1.7 million returned to continue the adventure.

Does anyone have the tools to revive Futurama? No-one has come forward grasping the defibrillator yet but there’s always time, it took the first revival three years. Let's look at the possibilities for another return for Futurama.

Netflix

Netflix saved Arrested Development seven years down the line by creating a fourth season which solely aired on the online streaming site. Creator Mitch Hurwitz and Netflix bosses are confident that the fourth season, which hit the site in one go this May, will return for season five and potentially a movie. Would Netflix consider taking on the Planet Express in the same vein as the Bluth family's frozen banana stand? Netflix seems focused on creating their own original content from scratch now after big hits House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, but there's still time for them to perk up and take control of Futurama.

Xbox Video

Over the past year Microsoft has vowed to transform the Xbox brand into an all-round entertainment platform, not just a games console. At the Xbox One launch, Microsoft took us underneath the bonnet and showed how the console will be focused on becoming the entertainment hub of the living room. The tech giant took the step of hiring CBS TV executive Nancy Tellem last September and making her head of original content. The unofficially dubbed “Xbox Studio” team also brought the announcement that a Halo TV series was in development with potentially interactive elements. Halo is a lucrative franchise and will dwarf anything Microsoft produces in comparison, but resurrecting Futurama exclusively for Xbox owners would surely generate some goodwill for the company?

Amazon Prime

Internet giant Amazon debuted fourteen pilots for free in April this year resulting in five commissioned full series. It decided to continue with:

- Political comedy Alpha House.

- Silicion Valley-based comedy Betas.

- Kids' show about robots, Annebots.

- Animated adventure Creative Galaxy.

- And Tumbleaf, a kids' show about a small blue box called Fig.

Zombieland: The Series, based on the film of the same name, was not commissioned after what writer and producer Rhett Reese called: “vehement hate for the pilot” (not from us, Mr Reese, we quite enjoyed it - Ed). Judging by the list above, Amazon's exploration of streaming original content online seem focused on the kids TV market meaning Futurama wouldn’t necessarily sit nicely on their virtual shelf.

Fan Petitions

Though TV networks don’t like to admit it, the customer is always right. Especially the very loud, persistent and determined viewer. Friday Night Lights, Jericho, Community, Family Guy, Firefly (in the form of the movie Serenity) and even Star Trek have been saved by fans bombarding the networks with affection, letters and - on one occasion - bananas to save their favourite shows. Chuck was almost cancelled after the second season but campaign “Save Chuck” brought about a further three seasons. The Save Chuck campaign was different as the fans targeted a sponsor to encourage the network to renew. Subway was drafted in and after striking a major sponsorship deal, Chuck lived on. Do Futurama fans have it in them to convince Comedy Central that they’ve made a mistake? With dwindling viewing figures showing a shrinking dedicated fan base, perhaps not.

Another network

It’s happened once before. Comedy Central picked up Futurama after its rising DVD sales and ran with the series as far as they saw fit. Could another network jump in and give the show a few more seasons? Futurama gained its cult following after featuring reruns on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. The network also aired reruns of Family Guy in 2003 which encouraged Fox to announce the show would return a year on. Perhaps Adult Swim could take up where Futurama left off and create brand new episodes?

Maybe... it doesn’t need it

There comes a time in every TV show's life when it’s time to go to call it a day. Many have argued that The Simpsons reached its peak, steadily declined and continued on down way past the base camp of Springfield Gorge.

Futurama isn’t The Simpsons. It’s more risqué than its yellow-coloured counterpart for a start, a show children and adults can watch alike without risk of gore or learning the word 'ass' too early. The Simpsons is officially the longest running comedy of all time, but reached its viewer peak as early as season two with thirty-three million people watching classic episode Bart Gets An F. Viewing figures have dropped dramatically to as low as four million in the latest season.  There is however, one key reason that The Simpsons has continued long past its peak: merchandise.

Homer, Bart’s and Lisa’s faces grace the front of lunchboxes, pencil cases and bed sheets the world around. It's spawned a feature film, countless video games and even a number one UK single. Futurama doesn’t appear to have quite the same appeal, and perhaps that's a blessing. Maybe it’s a good thing that the writers won’t ride the format out until the show becomes tired and stale.

Groening told Entertainment Weekly about Futurama: “It’d be a shame if we all went our separate ways. We would love to continue. We have many more stories to tell. But if we don’t, this is a really great way to go out.” It would be a great shame were the show to continue and reach a point where the original series is sullied by milking it to death.

If Futurama never returns, we can always rely on its run of comics to keep giving us a dose of Fry, Leela and Bender. The bi-monthly comic book series has been published consistently since 2000 and there are no plans to stop production yet. Long live the Planet Express crew.

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Disqus - noscript

futurama comics are funny, as good as the show

good article, but I think Futurama was past its best, the Season 6 DVD was pretty weak and the less said about the DVD movies the better.
Still, an amazing show at its peak, and I recommend the Season 7 finale 'Meanwhile' alot.

I think the last season showed that Futurama still has a lot left to give. I stopped watching after the first Comedy Central season and picked it up again to watch the finale. I forgot how good this show is compared to the other junk I've been watching.

You didn't like the movies? Bender's Big Score was one of my all time favorites!

Except for the last episode, the arse-end of this final season was without a doubt the worst Futurama has ever been. The jokes weren't funny, the inventiveness was sorely lacking and a lot of old jokes and plots seemed to be referenced in a lazy way.

I assumed that the writers were phoning it in a little as they already knew they'd been cancelled, but who knows.

I'd prefer Futuruma RIP than for it to keep going, getting worse and worse, until it's barely watchable, like The Simpsons.

I love the show, but season 7 was bad. The stories were just...lame. I would love for the show to come back, but not in the half-assed way it did with comedy central. I would watch it if it came back, but if it can't do better it would be better if it stayed dead.

I'll go with the last argument.

if future episodes are as bad as the last season, let it die.

The last bunch of episodes were pretty bad, save for the finale. Bender taking part in a tap-dancing competition was a very very low point.

Fun on a Bun...bad??

Murder on the Planet Express....BAD?? They were great. Don't know what you're talking about!

The 2 eps before the final ep were classics.

I really liked the final ep. Had everything that makes me love Futurama.

Sci-Fi, Love, Action, it had it all.

I know, Season 6A began pretty crappy iga. It got better as it progressed. But Season 7 was better in my opinion. It seems like all the fans who don't like the newer Seasons either plain out hate change, and curse it's existence because they wanted it to stay dead in 2003, or they never watched the great eps this season has supplied us with.

I just don't get the hate of these new eps. People are acting like this is The Simpsons we're talking about. And yeah, Futurama's not as good as it used to be. Still pretty darn good though.

Should have ended with 'The Devils Hands Are Idle Playthings' like it was supposed to. Perfect ending to the show in my opinion, also has never been as good since.

Whoa!? Futurama was still going??

Don't worry. The Planet Express Crew is set to appear in a crossover with The Simpsons either at the end of this new season or the beginning of the 2014-15 season.

I thought Bender's Game was astonishing. Some of the best Futurama ever!

That's 2 episodes out of 26.

the simpsons whine has gotten as exhausting and tired as what the complaints are based on... the show still is solid... watched most of last season... just funny, clever show... and ratings are very good mostly in the demo... last year simpsons ranked 31 out of over 150 shows... that's why it's still on as well as merchandising and syndication and world wide popularity... don't cut one of the most amazing runs and shows in american history short like that

as for futurama... the movies were very good... benders big score and benders game were great... if you watch in episodic increments you'll see how good they are... the first batch of 26 for comedy central was fantastic and they won the emmy for best animated series with the time machine one which is one of their best... the next batch was not as good but still solid...

i hope they do come back in a year or 2... i think a little break might them some good...

if just the reruns went back to adult swim they would explode again... and i dont know the answer to this but did comedy central also give up on the reruns? if yes then those are up for grabs...

and every time i'm on netflix futurama is ranked as one of their highest viewed shows

futurama is too good to just end... but if it does... the 140 eps are a lot more satisfying than the 70 they had before

Oh yeah, and Meanwhile wasn't. ..?

-_-

I could list more. Those were merely prime examples.

By all means do list more then.

No.

Bender Big Score can still inspire the same delight and happiness in me today as my very first viewing. I don't hold the other three DVD movies up to the same standard, but that's no different to the series - there are episodes I love and some that don't have the same replay value in every season.

I think the fan base will ensure it comes back once more - or maybe that's just my hope. There's such a wide range of stories to be had in the world of Futurama. There's not been a single season that hasn't managed to tug my heartstrings as well as keep the laughs coming.

Maybe this late night network will scoop them up!

Maybe this late night network will scoop them up and renew it.

"Futurama RIP". HA
Dude The Simpsons got unwatchable because the shows comedy dates back into the late 80's and 90's. The Simpsons basically had its popular run for a long time and the jokes were just from another era.

Futurama, in my opinion, has not got there golden spotlight yet. Its comedy can lack sometimes, but definitely not frequently. Futurama has an action packed witty comedically twisted plot. Now Futurama just has not gotten that spotlight, that what its missing.

If you want something lame just watch the new episodes (2011 and up) of this show.....

I stopped watching that a loooooong time ago.

The reason I want futurama to continue is because I only recently descovered it and it sucks I'm about to finish the show within two weeks I would love to at least get one or two more seasons so I can at least enjoy the wait of a new episode, then again i didn't finish it so maybe I will be satisfied by the ending

they should make a offspring of its own sort of speak like call it futurama the new beginning have it mostly the same but age some things about it. like fry and leela stay married they live together we see stories and things happen with them every week. have bender and zoidberg roommates one thing the newers seasons have showed us is bender and zoidberg work well together. then have amy move back home have her parents become regulars. find a way to have the professor young again would make for a killer twist. i mean it would be a different look and if they advertise it as a new beginning for the show leaving its original alone then it could very well work.

so I just watched the series finale and I will say it would make a good season finale but not a good series finale

just realized the nature documentary one wasnt the series finale thank god

I just wish they did more of Fry and Leela. I mean it took Fry all those seasons to win her heart. Then when season 6 came it was an on-again-off-again. And then the next thing you know their married. The Fry and Leela story was the biggest thing on the show. Why cancel it again..?

Futurama Should never end it's the last great show out there. Please say it ain't so... Please

for reals.. i wasnt a hugge fan in the past, but netflix seemed to have all the seasons so i decided to watch 'em all. Now i have a strong passion for it and i think that Futurama is the best show then simpsons and family guy. i really want to get my voice out there and tell the network to bring back futurama, but dont know how?

I dont have cable, so the only way to watch the show id though netflix

i want to be one also

i would love netflix to save Futurama. This "last" season really showed what futurama is capable off. I think its much better than the Simpsons and should run for as long or longer as the Simpsons. The possibilities are endless for futurama.

EXACTLY!

This show didn't fail. Comedy Central failed, and did so with a franchise so profitable most networks would slit a kitten's throat to get it.

Oh, that joke wasn't funny? Neither was this one Comedy Central.

All good things must come to an end, lest they rot and we regret it all.

I love Futurama, truly I do, but to bring it back again might soil it. Sure there are lots more things they could do, but if it flops in another revival? Some shows should be taken off at the perfect time, and I believe Futurama hit that point finally. It was a good ending, left possibilities open, but also left the possibilities where they belong: In our heads.

Not again! While I love that Futurama isn't mainstream it must have enough support to keep going. They just do what they do so danm well. This new seasons amazing, where else do you learn that tap dancing on the corpse of a cute, little, evil enemy can save a life?!? I need that kinda role model danm it!

Why do you think obtaining the rights to reruns somehow costs the same as a brand new production of episodes? Simply pressing the play button is a lot cheaper than having to pay writers, actors, animators, audio engineers, editors, etc.

Ikr?? Petitions have been signed ! Where's futurama?? I need it!!!!!!! :((

I prefer Futurama to the Simpson's and I can't handle life without it !... Mind = Fry'd

Reminds me of Avatar the Last Airbender. That was a great TV show, but it's just too short. I think they'd be beating the dead horse to bring Futurama back, although I hate to say it. It was and still is one of the best TV shows ever

futurama is stil my favorite over american dad, family guy, south park and simpsons (which i dont really like at all) futurama only comes next to "Archer" :) bring back futurama!! please, just need some "good news!"

i'd really live to see futurama back and personally i think the show had bee getting better im at a loss as to why they canceled it , the past few seasons were much better than when it began

Yeah we should do a petition if nobody still did one! I looooove that show!

yay!

Gordon Yarley did one, check in the comments below! :)

Ohhhh thanks! Socool ;)

dude he danced on a temporarily dead kid. i'd say that's some pure bender spirit right there

Booo.

Bring it back!! This kind of humor is way to great to lose. It's such a great show! :( if not then bite my shiny metal a**;) with much love

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