This weekend, Futurama is getting resurrected once again. It will be the Planet Express crew's shortest comeback, and they have to share the screen-time with their yellow-skinned ancestors (of sorts), but they will be back. The sixth episode of the twenty-sixth season of The Simpsons, aptly titled “Simpsorama”, is the long-awaited crossover of Matt Groening's two animated series. It's the hottest ticket since The Flintstones Meet The Jetsons.
However, The Simpsons has actually been spotted on Futurama many times before. There have been a ton Springfieldian easter eggs since Groening's sci-fi series premiered fifteen years ago. Here are twelve especially clever references...
12. Blinky And You'll Miss It
It doesn't take long for The Simpsons to show up on Futurama with “Space Pilot 3000” (the latter's series premiere) containing a few nods to the the former. The one that stands out from the pack is Blinky's brief appearance as Fry travels though an underwater section of the tube-way. It's a 'blink' and you'll miss it moment (sorry) but also quite special since the three-eyed fish, a product of Springfield's Nuclear Power Plant, first showed up in the third episode of The Simpsons before becoming a main plot point in the second season's "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish" when Mr. Burns loses a gubernatorial race after being unable to eat one. Blinky's been in at least ten episodes of The Simpsons and even made another appearance on Futurama in "T: The Terrestrial" as Jrrr's pet fish.
11. Simpsons Jaundice
In "The Tip of the Zoidberg," the tenth episode of the eighth season (or the eighteenth of the sixth depending on how you count the films as well as Parts I and II of production Seasons 6 and 7... it's complicated but from now on I’ll only mention the broadcast order so you have a better chance of finding them on Netflix), Fry is struck with a couple of cartoon-related illnesses, including one called 'Simpsons Jaundice.' The condition turns his skin yellow and, upon hearing the diagnosis from Dr. Zoidberg, he says Bart's signature "Ay caramba!" Oh, the others were 'Garfield Syndrome' ("I hate Mondays"), 'Muppet Gangrene' ("It's not easy being gangrenous") and an unnamed illness that made Fry look like a Smurf.
10. Bring Me The Head Of Bart Simpson
It just wouldn't be right if one of the fans' all-time favorite episodes of Futurama didn't include at least one juicy Simpsons easter egg. "The Luck of the Fryrish" comes through in clubs. I know the expression, I changed the suit so it was tailored to the tenth installment of the third season. While searching through Fry's childhood Old New York home, Bart's head can be seen on a shelf when Bender is looking around the basement. Looks like young Philip was a fan.
9. Reading While Overclocked
In another 'blink and you'll miss it' moment, "The Complete Simpson Episode Guide" (a fictional book likely based on the very real "Simpsons World: The Ultimate Episode Guide, Seasons 1-20") makes an appearance in "Overclockwise." Bender's processing speed is greatly increased when he is 'overclocked' by the Professor during the twelfth episode of the eighth season and this allows him to read like 30 books a minute, one which was the aforementioned guidebook. Some of the others? "Dante's Life in Hell," Ayn Rand McNally Atlas Shrugged" and "All the Presidents' Heads."
8. Badge Of Homer
Another quick visual nod to the Simpsons occurs early in Futurama's run, but this time it's Homer (not his son) who shows up in "My Three Suns." Of course, the patriarch of the titular family doesn't actually appear in the seventh episode of the first season, just his profile, and it's on one of the badges on Bender's sash. It's an easy one to miss because most of the audience is busy looking at the Trisolian Emperor growing inside Fry's stomach. A nice bit of reference misdirection.
7. Shooting For Simpsons
The list already includes a shot of Bart's head on a shelf in Old New York. Regardless, in Episode 2 of Season 2, "Mars University," both he and Homer show up as dolls up for grabs at a Coney Island carnival game. The one next to the community college where Fry went to school. And Snake Boy. I like how Futurama took advantage of the flashback to sneak in an era-appropriate Simpsons reference. Like an anachronistic easter egg in the animated series would be wrong or something.
6. This Junk Isn't Garbage
Since we know that Futurama wouldn’t want to make an anachronistic reference, that means The Simpsons is still popular in 2052. And here I thought twenty six seasons of The Simpsons was a lot. Fry finds and recognizes a pile of discarded Bart dolls on (and in) "A Big Piece of Garbage," the eighth episode of the first season and it makes me wonder if they the same ones that were up for grabs at the Coney Island game in “Mars University”? Either way, the nod also includes Bender tugging on the toy’s pull-string and then eating Bart’s shorts. Hey, the doll asked for it! Besides, the robot seems to enjoy them since it ends with a Homer-esque, "Mmm...shorts."
5. = Love
The next Simpsons reference from Futurama is especially clever because it's not just a general nod to Groening's first show but instead recalls a moment that was itself kind of an easter egg. In "Hell Is Other Robots," Episode 9 of Season 1, a heart with 'H.S. + M.B.' written inside it can be seen when Fry and Leela open the door to Robot Hell. The initials obviously stand for Homer Simpson and Marge Bouvier, and a similar image ('M.B. + H.S. around a heart and arrow') appeared for only a moment on a tree in "Marge vs. The Monorail" while Mr. Burns is trying to hide barrels of toxic waste. How romantic.
4. On Springfield Time
The fourth season premiere, "Roswell that Ends Well," is one of Futurama's funniest episodes (thanks in no small part to Back to the Future) and it contains a clever reference for fans of The Simpsons. During the time-travel sequence in the Emmy award winning installment, the Felix the cat clock usually found at 742 Evergreen Terrace in Springfield can be spotted flying past, before ending up inside, the Planet Express ship.
3. Cartoon Balloon
The sight gag in Futurama's fifth episode of the fourth season, "Leela's Homeworld," is one of the best because it once again plays with the idea that Simpsons memorabilia is garbage. First, it was a pile of discarded Bart dolls on the giant garbage astroid and now it's a discarded Bart parade balloon. Fry, Leela and Bender get back to the surface by making a hot air balloon out of 'him,' Underdog, Bullwinkle and Jon Arbuckle.
2. Watch My Shorts
If there's been a common thread running through the list of Simpsons references on Futurama, it's that a lot of the entries have come from early episodes. This one is no different. Additionally, it also fittingly features a nod to one of the earliest incarnations of Groening's cartoon family. On the video-billboard at the end of the opening credits of "Fry and the Slurm Factory," the fantastic first season finale, is a clip of the Simpson kids from "Making Faces", a short featured on The Tracey Ullman Show.
1. Out Of Order
What do you know? The most clever reference to The Simpsons on Futurama comes from what many consider to be its best episode. While Seymour is looking for Fry near the end of "Jurassic Bark," the second installment of the fifth season, he comes across a mini-golf course with a windmill closed because an inconsiderate someone left it in unsanitary condition. Just like Marge and Homer did in "Natural Born Kissers," the eighteenth episode of the fifth season of The Simpsons.
The Simpsons and Futurama crossover episode, “Simpsorama,” airs on Sunday, November 9 at 8:00 p.m. ET on Fox.
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