|Futurama and The Simpsons|
The Simpsons (1989- )
Okay, I give! I give! These shows have many connections and "referenced" each other a whole bunch but not usually in a direct their-worlds-are-connected sort of way. But they finally went and do'd it.
Okay, for those of you just out of a decades long coma, The Simpsons is the Fox Network's long running super popular cartoon series created by Matt Groening. It's the story of the Simpson family who live in the town of Springfield (the state they live in remains unclear). Homer is the buffoonish though well intentioned dad. Marge is the sweet if also slightly daft mother with the hairstyle borrowed from The Bride of Frankenstein. Bart is their troublemaking son, Lisa their super smart daughter and Maggie their silent pacifier sucking infant. The whole show was drawn in the distinct Groening style: googly eyed characters with crazy big overbites.
One good mega hit deserves another. Hoping to strike gold a second time, Fox had Matt Groening create a second show. Futurama was Groening's shot at a sci-fi cartoon comedy. Now sci-fi comedys? Risky. Quark, Homeboys From Outerspace... ratings, quality... something always seems to go wrong. But as it turned out, Futurama was actually a really good show. Here's the setup. On New Year's Eve, pizza delivery boy Philip Frye delivers a pizza to a cryogenic freeze company. Turns out the delivery order was actually a crank call (the pizza order for the cryo lab was ordered by I.C. Weiner). Disgusted Frye sits down in a chair. He leans back in the chair aaaaand... whoops! He slips and falls into one of the cryo tubes only to be finally thawed out in the far distant future. He has become a sort of combination of Homer Simpson and Buck Rogers. Having reached the future, Frye finds himself now working as... well he was still a delivery guy.
Frye worked along a host of insane characters. Lila was the hot cool chick who happened to also be a Cyclops; Professor Farnsworth was the super elderly mad scientist who ran the delivery company and who also happened to be Frye's descendant; Dr. Zoidberg was the delivery service's crustacean physician and general loser... the list literally goes on and on. But for the purpose of this page there is just one more character that has to be mentioned.
Bender was the show's requisite robot (every sci-fi show needs one). Bender could not have been more aptly named. His intended function as a robot was to bend thing. Take a big heavy metal beam, bend it. That was his intended function. What he actually did on the show was... uh... his intended function was to bend things. See, Bender didn't do a lot and if he did do something it was usually illegal. Case in point. They did the classic sci-fi plot where Bender's evil twin showed up. In the best Star Trek tradition you knew he was the evil opposite of bender because he had a goatee. A metal goatee but a goatee. Bad things start happening. Someone is clearly up to no good. It must be Bender's evil twin, right? Nope. It was Bender. Yeah. No need for a twin. Bender is fully capable of stealing everything in sight all on his own.
Not only did Bender steal, he also drank. Allll the time. But see, it was okay because Bender actually ran on alcohol (I told ya he was aptly named). If he didn't drink, he'd start acting like he was drunk.
The show was really good. The writers knew science and sci-fi incredibly well. They would reference not just popular science fiction like Star Wars and Star Trek, they would also reference classic science fiction books too. And then on top of that they would throw in serious math and science gags in the background too. So you got drunk robot jokes for everybody and super smart gags for the braniacs to catch.
The plotting was smart too. The writers thought this crap out way in advance. For example, in a later episode it was revealed that Frye's falling into the cryo tube was not an accident. Another character from the show was there in the lab and purposely pushed him in. If you go back to the pilot episode and look, you'll see that that character's shadow is present in the scene. Then in another episode flashing to that scene, you can see not only that character's shadow but, another one that looks like Frye. Then in a later episode it ends up that Frye travels back in time so that his future self was there to see himself get frozen. Follow that? Time travel can be so confusing.
Anyway, the show kicked ass. Sadly, Fox didn't see that. They didn't treat the show so great. They would film a full season of the show and then preempt it for half the year with sports. They'd end up airing about half the episodes and banking the rest to air in later seasons. Every year it seemed only half a season of episodes would air. They did this so much that Fox ceased production on the show but still had enough episodes to keep it on the air for another season! So the show was still running for a season while the folks behind the show were out of work. Crazy.
Futurama and The Simpsons would name check each other every once in awhile but usually in a way that did not directly link their realities. The Futurama folks would stumble upon a pile of old Bart Simpson dolls. Or on The Simpsons they'd have Matt Groening appear at a comic book convention billed as the creator of Futurama. But I'm looking for a concrete connection. I need Frye meeting Bart as a real person, not as a doll from a TV show. The closest I could get for a long time was a crossover between the shows that happened in a comic book. But I'm not going there.
Then they FINALLY did it. The Simpsons constantly do episodes flashing to the character's futures. In the episode Future-Drama, The Simpson's resident mad scientist, Professor Frink, invented a device that allowed users to Tivo their futures. Bart and Lisa sit down to watch what will happen to them. At one point Future Bart goes to visit his dad. He and Homer go for a ride in Homer's crappy hover-car. Seems Homer bought one of the first hover-cars before they worked all the bugs out. Homer and Bart drive along and hit a quantum tunnel in a mountain. Basically the quantum tunnel allows them to drive right through solid rock. When they come out the other side, Bender (or maybe just another robot of the same model) is riding in the car with them. He tries to buddy up with Homer and Bart but they kick him to the curb. And I breathed a sigh of relief.
Not that I'm looking for carefully exact continuity from The Simpsons but... Futurama was set about 1,000 years in the future. The Future-Drama episode of The Simpsons was set 8 years in the future. So Bender robots have been around unchanged for 992 years?!?!? Everybody on Futurama mocked Frye for being so ancient and less evolved. Meanwhile Bender is just as antiquated. Actually... that would make sense of why Frye and Bender would be good friends.Other Futurama Crossover Links
Futurama and The P.J.s
Other Simpsons Crossover Links
The Simpsons and Cheers
The Simpsons and The Critic
The Simpsons and The Flintstones
The Simpsons and King Of The Hill
The Simpsons and The Tracey Ullman Show
The Simpsons and 24
The Simpsons and The X-Files
Links To Simpson Web Sites
New Springfield: It's a helluva town!
The Simpsons Emporium
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