You already know what’s number one.
There’s no avoiding that.
But, let’s celebrate the many, many times we’ve been left sobbing by one of the most charmingly realistic depictions of life in the future as there’s ever been.
It’s been a pleasure growing up with this series. Like it’s sister series The Simpsons, the later seasons lost the comedic magic of the original 4, but god is it still worth it for these, and with this one, we can rest easy knowing it ended with dignity.
So, let’s honour it by sobbing once more for the episodes that ripped us apart.
Oh, and, uh, spoiler warning. Like, HUGE spoiler warning. Like, if you haven’t seen these and plan to, this will ruin the episodes for you.
But first, our honourable mentions:
Bender’s Big Score
I can’t count it since it’s a movie (even if it was divided up into episodes for tv), but damn. Lars’s life sums up pretty much the whole spirit of this list. 30th Century Man by the Jigsaw Seen says it all, and it’s a gut-punch to hear it play over the end of Lars’s story.
The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings
Ah. The original finale. I almost wanted to include it because of how nice that ending is, but since it’s a happy ending and Fry’s sacrifice is rewarded, I couldn’t. This list is all about tragedy (or, stories with elements of tragedy).
With that said, onto the real list! Crack open a can of Slurm and watch your friends for brain slugs because this is the Top Ten Futurama Heartbreakers!
10. Lethal Inspection
Finding out a character we know and love should’ve been destroyed after birth because he’s defective is one thing, but seeing that it was one small act of selfless sacrifice that kept him alive? And that Hermes didn’t want Bender to know it was him?
God, damn it, this list isn’t going to be easy, is it?
This one’s so low on the list just out of personal preference, but it’s still a seriously lovely ending. Little Bird Little Bird by Elizabeth Mitchell makes a startlingly good soundtrack to my tears.
9. Tip of the Zoidberg
Here’s one thing that the last two seasons of the show did after it came back from hiatus that the New Simpsons never did (or, very rarely). Go into the backstory of the characters who didn’t get a chance to have their story told in the original run of the series. #10 kinda did this, too, and we actually got to find out what Amy’s job is at Planet Express in another episode, but this is the best example of it: Zoidberg’s story.
This isn’t great from a comedic perspective, so you have to know that going in, but seeing how fiercely protective John was when the Professor called him a friend breaks my heart– and then having to promise to kill his best friend whenever he started showing symptoms … it’s just a great concept.
Not the best execution there could’ve been. I would’ve actually liked it if instead of trying to go for the comedy route in the ‘killing-the-professor’ montage, they would’ve shown him struggle with it more, but still I appreciate knowing the history behind these two, and why the Professor would keep around a grossly incompetent doctor all these years.
Ah. The third series finale. You know, this is one show where not knowing if they’d be cancelled or not actually worked in our favour. It gave us gems like this.
Simply said, it all comes down to Fry and Leela, and their subplot turned main plot about the uncertain future of their relationship.
The end, where their given their Ultimate Fate on a piece of paper, and all we get to see is their reactions, is just wonderful. If it’d ended here, I would’ve been happy, but thank god it didn’t.
(I’m counting it as a heartbreak just because it rips your heart out with the same sort of ambivalent happy-sadness that the others on this list have, and a little more than The Devil’s Hands)
7. The Sting
I know, I know, this one ends happily, too. But the constant misery and questioning of sanity really brings you along for the emotional ride- even when the jokes are still hitting hard.
So, everyone knows this classic. Fry dies and Leela goes insane, hearing his voice in her dreams, when really in fact she’s hearing him talk to her in the hospital. You might be able to predict this one, but that doesn’t make it any less touching to see it play out on screen.
6. Leela’s Homeworld
And so, Leela finally gets to meet her parents. But the real heart-strings yank is watching her grow-up totally unaware that they were watching over her her entire life, wishing they could be with her, but letting her try to have a normal life without them.God damn it.
Baby Love Child by Pizzacato Five never sounded so sweet.
5. Cold Warriors
Everybody wants to know their dad loves them. In this spiritual successor to Luck of the Fryrish, we get a closer look at what Fry’s relationship to his dad was like, and even why it was that way.
God, I love this ending. It’s a rare moment of connection and understanding between the two, and it let’s us know that even though Fry’s dad seemed to give up looking for him pretty fast once he disappeared, he cared. He loved him. That last line says it all.
“Bundle up. I don’t want you getting frozen.”
4. Game of Tones
In the same vain, here’s another one that made me cry.
The plot of the episode, where they go around in Fry’s memory looking for the right sound feels way too much like Dora the Explorer for my liking, but there’s a real, gripping story going on around it.
The twist ending, when Nibbler transports Fry into his mother’s dream 1000 years in the past, just kills me. It’s yet another moment where the music does all the talking when words really can’t– and honestly it made me bawl when I first saw that Fry couldn’t say anything in the end.
With the frozen window in the background, and the broken sounding Manchild by The Eels playing, this is a moment I’ll never forget.
Ah. The final series finale. And I’d argue the best one.
It’s everything Futurama was brilliant at– heartrending story, glorious sci-fi structure, and good comedy. What more could you want?
If ever there was an episode to end it on, I’m glad this was the one it finally did. You can’t go on indefinitely after this, it’s just too final, even though Fry and Leela live a whole other life together after this. It’s too sweet and too satisfying not to end on.
2. Luck of the Fryrish
I’ll always hold this one in high regard. I grew up with it as a staple of what makes for great television, and it still holds up to this day as one of the most beautifully structured stories I’ve ever watched.
It’s changed me as a storyteller, and touched me as a viewer. I can’t say anything more than bravo.
1. Jurassic Bark
I’d have to be heartless. You can’t make this list without putting this episode at number one, it’s just impossible.
Whether or not you like the show, heck, whether or not you’re even a dog person, this episode’s ending is a hard, but beautiful thing to watch. It rips you apart, especially if you’re not expecting it. It’s the ultimate in surprise endings.
And I’ll never stop wanting to hug Seymour. Ever. It’s my constant state of being now.
So, with that said, take care of yourself. It’s been a hard one.