Two weeks ago, I made a list of the five saddest Futurama episodes ever — or at least the ones that made me cry the hardest. The response was overwhelming, and many of you wondered how I could have possibly left out your favorite Futurama tear-jerker. Well, the answer to that was that it was only a five-episode list, so a few were bound to be left out. But after thinking it over, I figured there were at least five more misery-inducing episodes to discuss here. So, without further ado, I present with five MORE Futurama episodes that left every fan in tears.
5. “Near-Death Wish” – Original Air Date: August 15, 2012
While we gradually learned more abut Fry’s life in the 20th century, we know very little about the Professor’s backstory. This episode went along way in changing that, however, as we find out that as a gifted-yet-disturbed child, he had a lot of anger at his parents when they moved him to a farm, and, in his mind, stifled his creativity as a budding scientist. As the episode goes on, we find out that the Professor actually spent 25 years of his life in a mental institution (“It felt like a second compared to grad school!”), a fairly disturbing fact that actually isn’t touched upon all that much. The ending is the kicker, however, when Fry creates a virtual reality of the farm the Professor grew up on, and he gets to have to one last day with his parents, which means a lot more now that he appreciates their reasons for moving him there in the first place. This episode taught us more about the Professor than any other, and in true Futurama form, left us sobbing at its conclusion.
4. “Time Keeps On Slippin'” Original Air Date: May 6, 2001
When we reached the end of Season 3, it was well-known that Fry had serious feelings for Leela. And up to that point, those feelings were entirely unrequited. That’s why this episode just seems needlessly cruel at times. When an abnormality leads to time randomly skipping from place to place, we find out that Fry and Leela eventually get married. But before Fry can get any enjoyment out of this, we immediately skip to their eventual divorce (but hey, at least Fry gets to keep the AFC dinner plates). Just went you think this episode is done toying with your emotions, we get to the painfully depressing ending, in which Fry makes a beautiful message of love for Leela, only to have it wiped out just before she can see it. Even knowing what would happen with Fry and Leela in future episodes, this one is too depressing to re-watch. Bender’s misery over not getting to join the Globetrotters is the only comic relief in a truly dreary episode.
3. “Lethal Inspection” – Original Air Date: July 22, 2010
When this one aired, the initial reception to it was a bit lukewarm. Futurama had just returned to TV after a seven-year hiatus, and the presence of a tearjerker ending involving the unlikely tandem of Hermes and Bender seemed like a shameless attempt to generate another “Jurassic Bark.” But as the years have gone by, this one works a lot better. Bender’s misery over learning he is mortal is an understandable pain, but it’s also interesting to watch the friendship between Hermes and Bender develop over the course of the episode. At first, Bender despises Hermes as nothing more than a dull, useless bureaucrat, but at the episode’s end, he respects him as a true friend, and the two share an undeniable bond. When we get to the ending, and see that Hermes was the fabled Inspector #5, we discover that Hermes cared about Bender long before any of this went down.