The Best Futurama Episodes to Watch Before Season 11

Here are the best episodes to get caught up on Futurama before it all begins again on Hulu with season 11.

Futurama Season 11
Photo: Hulu

Good news, everyone! After a brief little entire decade off the air, Futurama is back, baby. Matt Groening and David X. Cohen’s sci-fi follow-up to The Simpsons has once again found itself revivified, this time by Hulu.

This most recent hiatus has been the longest one by far, so you’ll be forgiven for forgetting what’s been going on 3,000 years in the future. And that’s before getting into all of the time travel, clones, robots, resurrections, and multiversal cardboard boxes. So here’s a quick refresher of everything you need to rewatch before season 11’s July 24 premiere.

Season 1 Episodes 1 & 2: “Space Pilot 3000” / “The Series Has Landed”

While the pilot focuses primarily on the first meeting of sad-sack Philip J. Fry (Billy West), space cyclops Turanga Leela (Katey Sagal), and self-avowed “lovable scamp” Bender Bending Rodriguez (John DiMaggio), it’s the follow-up episode that really sets the show in motion. We’re introduced to the rest of the Planet Express crew and, as they deliver a package to the moon, we get to see the future through Fry’s awestruck eyes, setting the tone for the rest of the series.

Season 2 Episode 19: “Mother’s Day”

While not the first appearance of Mom (Tress MacNeille) and her omnipresent conglomerate MomCorp – season one’s “A Fishful of Dollars” gets credit for that – “Mother’s Day” lays the groundwork for exactly how evil and important Mom is to Futurama’s mythology. Her nearly successful quest to overthrow humanity, and her casual cancellation of the same, sets her up as the kind of all-powerful corporate overlord certain real-life billionaires only wish they were.

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Season 3 Episode 4: “Parasites Lost”

Fry, having eaten an egg salad sandwich from an interplanetary gas station bathroom vending machine, gets infested with parasites. But these are no normal intestinal worms – no, these worms make Fry better. He becomes the person he always wanted to be, smarter, smoother, and with the strength and dexterity of Gumbercules. (Zoidberg loves that guy.)

Aside from a fantastic voyage into Fry’s colon – and the utter perfection of Amy’s “that place used to be a big dump” pun – “Parasites Lost” also gives us the first inkling that there might be more to Fry than his slacker exterior, allowing him and Leela to take a small, yet important, step forward in their burgeoning relationship.

Season 4 Episode 1: “Roswell That Ends Well”

After Fry throws metal in the microwave during a supernova, the Planet Express crew is hurled backwards through time to 1947, where they crash land in Roswell, New Mexico, becoming the famed UFO of a thousand conspiracy podcasts. Along the way, Fry accidentally becomes his own grandfather.

After several nominations and a few awards for individual achievements, “Roswell That Ends Well” is the episode that won Futurama its first Emmy. And, as ridiculous as it sounds, Fry’s doing “the nasty in the pasty” ends up being the backbone for all his future savior-of-the-universe moments.

Season 5 Episode 5: “Kif Gets Knocked Up a Notch”

Kif Kroker (Maurice LaMarche), amphibious alien boyfriend of Amy Wong (Lauren Tom), finds himself pregnant, leading party girl and klutz from Mars Amy to reckon with impending motherhood. In the end, however, it’s revealed that Kif’s tadpole-like spawn won’t reach maturity for another twenty years, giving Amy and Kif some much-needed relief.

Of course, the episode first aired in 2003, so …

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Season 5 Episode 8: “The Why of Fry”

After a mission goes better than usual after Fry misses it (because he was looking up curse words in the dictionary), the time-displaced delivery boy spins out in an existential crisis. Only then does Fry discover, from Leela’s pet Nibbler (Frank Welker) no less, that he’s the only thing standing between an armada of giant brains and the end of all life in the universe.

The ”Why of Fry” is a pivotal episode that rewrites what we thought we knew about Fry, while also giving viewers more insight into Nibbler and his alien race, and a better idea as to what Leela might see in a listless slacker from the Stupid Ages.

Season 5 Episode 11: “Three Hundred Big Boys”

President Nixon’s Head issues a $300 rebate to all Earthicans, and viewers are treated to a series of rambling and interconnected storylines, following the entire Planet Express crew as they try to spend their cash. “Three Hundred Big Boys” is a great way to get to know everyone, including a little more insight into the relationship between Hermes Conrad (Phil LaMarr) and his son, Dwight.

Season 5 Episode 16: “The Devil’s Hands Are Idle Playthings”

The first series finale finds Fry swapping hands with the Robot Devil so he can play his holophonor – a callback to the uber-Fry of “Parasites Lost” – and finally express how he feels to Leela. In an era before streaming and near-constant reboots, “The Devil’s Hands” was a beautiful, bittersweet, and note-perfect ending for Futurama.

Season 7 Episode 1: “Rebirth”

After a series of middling straight-to-DVD movies (later rejiggered into season six), the Planet Express crew are back from the dead – literally, in this case. The end of Into the Wild Green Yonder (the second series finale) found everyone hurled through a wormhole of time and space. “Rebirth” puts them right back where they left, only a couple feet to the left and way too fast, resulting in a spectacular crash that kills everyone.

Through some of the professor’s patented mad science, the crew is brought back to life – after some robot doppelganger shenanigans, of course – and the Comedy Central era of Futurama begins in earnest.

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Season 7 Episode 7: “The Late Philip J. Fry”

Fry, Farnsworth, and Bender find themselves trapped in a time machine that can only go forward, in an episode with more than a few echoes of H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine. Things seem bleak – even after the professor assassinates Hitler – but it turns out that time is cyclical, and so the trio rides around again, and one more time after that.

Similar in spirit to season three’s “Time Keeps on Slipping,” “The Late Philip J. Fry” explores Fry & Leela’s love story and its ability to transcend time itself. (It’s also worth noting that the time-traveling trio kills the resulting temporal anomalies, leaving Bender to bury the bodies, three years before Rick and Morty won acclaim for the same gag.)

Season 10 Episode 13: “Meanwhile”

The third series finale – or fourth, if you count season eight’s “Overclockwise,” intended to be the end if Comedy Central hadn’t picked up the show for another two seasons – is arguably the best of the bunch. Which, given “The Devil’s Hands Are Idle Playthings,” is no faint praise.

After a cute callback to Fry and Leela’s very first mission together, Fry burgles, bungles, and breaks the Professor’s Time Button, resulting in Fry and Leela getting trapped in a single moment of time. They end up living out an entire lifetime together as the only two people on Earth.

“Meanwhile” gave audiences the perfect happy ending for Fry and Leela, while also – thanks to a last minute intervention by the Professor – leaving things open-ended enough for the current run on Hulu. Because the answer to Fry’s final question of “Want to go around again?” was always going to be yes.

Futurama season 11 premieres Monday, July 24 on Hulu. Previous seasons are available to stream on Hulu in the U.S. and Disney+ in the U.K.

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