When you're watching an animated show from Matt Groening, you generally know what you're getting: a witty piece of comedy with a variety of kooky characters and situations that are nothing short of delightful.
I remember when Futurama first debuted on Fox 20 years ago. Billed as the "next big thing" from the creator of The Simpsons (which was my and my siblings' favorite show growing up), we eagerly awaited the premiere.
It quickly became one of my favorite things to watch and, every time I caught a rerun, I noticed a new joke or detail I had missed the first or second time around. The show continued to surprise me with just how layered the comedy was.
But something else about Futurama surprised me: how it could often hit you with some heartrendingly profound moments out of nowhere.
1. "Jurassic Bark": S04E07
We might as well start this list off with a bang. Not only is this the heaviest Futurama moment, it's probably one of the heaviest moments in TV history. In the episode, we learn what happens to Fry's dog, Seymour, after he was frozen and woke up in the year 3000. The audience is "treated" to a montage of the dog waiting for his best friend every day outside of Panucci's Pizza. Seasons change, time passes, yet Seymour waits diligently for his pal until finally, he rests his head and dies. Devoted to the very end.
Great now I'm crying.
2. "Near-Death Wish": S07E10
The circle of parenthood is a tough one, and it really isn't until you grow older that you realize your folks are fallible human beings who were just doing the best that they can. The episode ends with Farnsworth realizing his parents loved him all along, and he ends up creating a simulation world for them where they can experience the joy of raising a child all over again. This one'll gut you especially if you have kids of your own.
3. "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings": S04E18
Fry strikes a deal with the devil to get his hands so he can play the holophonor, a ridiculously difficult instrument, just to impress Leela. He becomes a worldwide sensation, thanks to his newfound musical abilities. But when forced with the decision to trade back the hands or see Leela suffer, he gives it all away to ensure the love of his life is safe and sound. When everyone abandons the recital, Leela is the only one who stays behind and asks to hear Fry play, it sounds terrible, but it's one of the most heartwarming moments in the series.
4. "Lethal Inspection": S06E07
Hermes is a bureaucrat who prides himself on following the rules. He's more of a satellite character who's good for a few laughs and gags here and there, but in "Lethal Inspection," we come to find out he was responsible for ensuring baby Bender wasn't scrapped after being pronounced "defective" on the assembly line. What's crazier is when you realize that Hermes never brings it up, despite working with the foul-mouthed, booze-guzzling, gambling robot on a daily basis.
5. "Time Keeps on Slippin'": S03E14
As you could infer from the episode's title, it has to do with time travel, but the gang doesn't have control over the time jumps. Throughout the series of jumps, it's revealed that Fry and Leela get married, then divorced. Throughout the show, we're left wondering what made Leela fall in love with Fry in the first place. It isn't until the end that we discover our red-jacketed hero moved the stars themselves to tell Leela how he feels. Hearing Fry's anguished cry as a bomb detonates to stop the time skips and erase the love-letter forever is something that'll hit anyone who's ever had an unrequited crush.
6. "Leela's Homeworld": S02E04
Throughout all of Season 1 and most of Season 2, it's assumed that Leela's from another planet and is some kind of alien life form who was orphaned on Earth. As it turns out though, she's not an orphan at all, nor is she an alien: she's a mutated human being. Her "homeworld" is the sewer, and her parents have been keeping a watchful eye on her during the course of her entire life. They protected her when she'd get in trouble and leave little Easter eggs along the way. They knew living underground with the other mutants wouldn't give her all the opportunities she deserved — so they pretended she was an alien instead.
7. "The Luck of the Fryrish": S03E04
Sibling rivalries can often get out of control and lead brothers and sisters to believe the other person bears ill-will toward them. Fry lives his entire life believing that his brother Yancy became a famous astronaut by stealing his name and his lucky seven leaf clover. It isn't until he goes to Philip Fry's grave that he discovers Yancy missed him so much he named his son after him, and Fry was staring at the grave of his nephew, who he never got to meet.
Finding out your brother really did love you that whole time is heavy, man.
8. "The Late Philip J. Fry": S06E07
Fry gets trapped in Professor Farnsworth's time machine at the worst possible moment: when he has a scheduled date with Leela. Once she finds out that he's hurtling forward in time and that she'll more than likely never see him again, she leaves a message in rock formations so wherever he ends up, he has the best chance of catching it. He does, and the audience catches feelings in the process.
9. "The Sting": S04E12
This one's a bit of a mind trip: Fry ends up getting killed by Space Bees while trying to save Leela's life. She's racked with guilt and throughout the episode keeps having visions of him telling her to wake up. While those around her think she's seeing things, Leela believes Fry's really alive and goes nuts to try and prove it. As the episode reaches its climax, we discover that Leela's been in a coma the entire time and Fry never left her side, the entire time begging her to wake up.
10. "Meanwhile": S07E26
While nothing can really top the heart-destroying finale of "Jurassic Bark", "Meanwhile" will leave you crying for an entirely different reason: that there really is such a thing as true love. Leela and Fry, despite all of their ups and downs, end up being soulmates. After the entire world is frozen in time, save for the crew, they're content to just backpack around the planet, hand in hand. They're content. They're happy. They're in love. Once they reach the end of the episode, they're older and had spent their entire lives together, Professor Farnsworth says he found a way to undo everything. Fry asks Leela if she wants to go on that crazy journey all over again, and she says yes.
My god, now that's a series finale.