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Mistakes That Are Hard To Ignore In Futurama

The Simpsons was never going to be an easy act to follow. The show was a well-estabilshed cultural phenomenon when Matt Groening was asked to come up with a brand new series, but Futurama (which he co-created with David X. Cohen) didn't achieve anywhere near the same level of success. According to Groening, execs at Fox never really wanted his sci-fi sitcom to succeed. "The people at Fox didn't ever support the show and it wasn't to their taste and, in my opinion, they're out of their minds," Groening told the Calgary Sun (via Chortle) when the show was effectively canceled in 2003 after four seasons. "Futurama fans delivered a petition with 130,000 signatures and there was no reaction from Fox."

The cult following that the show amassed in its first four years meant that it wouldn't stay dead forever — Comedy Central recognized that there was still an appetite for Futurama and brought it back to life, airing three more seasons of Philip J. Fry's adventures in the World of Tomorrow. There were no hard feelings when the Planet Express shutters came down for the final time in 2013. "This is a really great way to go out," Groening told Entertainment WeeklyMuch like The Simpsons, the general consensus is that the earlier seasons of Futurama are the strongest, but they weren't perfect. The writers and animators made plenty of mistakes over the years, from jarring continuity errors to blatant contradictions. Let's take a look.

Fry's party whistle disappears in this iconic scene

It's one of the most iconic Futurama scenes ever, but the moment that Fry tumbles backwards into a Cryogenic Pod during first ever episode "Space Pilot 3000" actually has a glaring mistake in it. When the duped pizza boy (he was delivering a New Year's Eve pie to an I.C. Weiner) realizes that he's been had, he cracks open a beer and says, "Here's to another lousy millennium." As the rest of the world welcomes the year 2000 in style, Fry celebrates with a lone party whistle. This whistle inexplicably vanishes after he falls — it lands right next to the chair's back left leg in one shot, and is nowhere to be seen in the next.

Professor Farnsworth's vanishing portrait

The mistakes continue when Fry wakes up on New Year's Eve in the year 2999 to discover a very different world (the one he knew has been destroyed and rebuilt several times over). He's told by Leela that he has one living relative: his elderly nephew Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth. With a picture of the professor in hand, Fry sets out to look for him, taking in all the wonders of New New York as he goes. When he stumbles across what he thinks is a phone booth (but is actually a suicide booth) he decides to contact his old relative, and this is where another clear and obvious error pops up — the print-out picture of Farnsworth vanishes between shots like some kind of Harry Potter painting.

Zoidberg's zipper

As funny as it was, the first season of Futurama was guilty of a number of basic animation errors. In episode five, "Fear of a Bot Planet," Fry is introduced to the sport blernsball, a "jazzed up" version of baseball, as Leela puts it. In blernsball, the ball is attached to an elastic rope, steroids are mandatory, and motorcycles are sometimes involved. Fry and the Planet Express crew go to see this insanity in person at Madison Cube Garden, home of the New New York Yankees. 

There's one obvious mistake during this segment, and it involves fan favorite Zoidberg. When the Decapodian doctor comes out of the men's room, his zipper (which, for reasons unknown, comes all the way up to his chest) is undone. He quickly fixes that, but in the next shot the zipper has vanished from his shirt altogether.

Slurms MacKenzie loses his teeth

In the first season finale, a Willy Wonka parody titled "Fry & the Slurm Factory," the redheaded protagonist discovers that a golden bottlecap has been hidden inside a can of Slurm, a highly addictive soft drink made on the planet Wormulon. Whoever finds the golden bottlecap wins an invitation to a private party with Slurm mascot Slurms MacKenzie. 

Determined to find the winning bottlecap, Fry and Bender head to the nearest 7-11, where a cardboard cutout of MacKenzie with a bikini-clad girl on his shoulders stands next to a pyramid of Slurm. As the pair approach, the mascot's teeth are showing. However, in the following shot, MacKenzie's mouth is wide open and his teeth are nowhere to be seen. Slurm is known to make your teeth drop out, but this is quite clearly an error by the animators.

Mutating signs in the sewers of New New York

The season 2 episode "I Second That Emotion" takes the Planet Express crew into the mutant-infested sewers below New New York. They're forced to go down there because of Bender, who flushes Leela's beloved pet Nibbler down the toilet out of jealousy. The robot goes on a mission to save the little Nibblonian after Professor Farnsworth installs an empathy chip in his head, forcing him to feel Leela's sadness. The crew discover a subterranean civilization beneath their feet, complete with an aquarium, a library, and dry cleaners. If you pay attention to the sign hanging above the dry cleaners during the team's tour of the village, you'll notice the word "dry" vanishing between shots.

Leela's self-repairing shirt

Later in "I Second That Emotion," the mutant residents of the sewer village below New New York reveal that they've been getting terrorized by a monster called El Chupanibre. They explain to the crew of the Planet Express that the only way to lure the monster out is with a "snackrifice," and Leela (believing that El Chupanibre is actually Nibbler) offers herself up. She's wrong, of course — the real El Chupanibre is a giant humanoid lizard. Bender ultimately saves the day, but if you keep an eye on Leela's shirt during this segment you'll spot an error. The cyclops' top gets torn during all the commotion, but when she's freed and reunited with Nibbler, the rip is somehow repaired. 

Mind that child

The second season episode "Xmas Story" introduced Futurama fans to the terrifying Robot Santa Claus, who would go on to appear in the series' first straight-to-DVD movie, Bender's Big Score. Robot Santa Claus was designed to weed out the naughty kids from the nice ones, but because of a major programming error, he kills anyone he deems naughty. The Planet Express crew come face to face with the robotic mass murderer later in the episode, but prior to that, they all go on a ski trip together. 

Bender being Bender, he decides to go snowboarding off trail and ends up riding right off the edge of a mountain. The frozen lake he plummets towards is clearly deserted at first, but when he reaches the bottom, a bunch of kids have appeared out of nowhere to form a parody of the iconic opening sequence from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Burying Bender's uncle Vladimir

The opening episode of Futurama's third season introduced viewers to Bender's uncle Vladimir, though the character wasn't meant to be a permanent fixture. Vladimir dies early on, leaving "a pittance" for his loyal Butler, You There, and the majority of his multimillion-dollar fortune to his good-for-nothing son, Tandy. Finally, he bestows the family castle (the brilliantly named Thermostadt) upon Bender. 

Before we get to any of that, however, there's the matter of the funeral. Reverend Lionel Preacherbot presides over the ceremony ("Filings to filings, rust to rust," he intones), which contains an obvious error — when he opens up his chest plate to fill the grave with dirt, there's nobody standing behind him, but in the next shot. Doctor Zoidberg and a gravestone stand between Preacherbot and the fence.

Kif turns invisible

Just like the season premiere, episode two of Futurama's third season is guilty of some animation oversights. In "War is the H-Word," Fry and Bender enroll in Earth's army so they can get a five percent military discount at New New York's 7-11s. This backfires massively when they're shipped off to Spheron I to fight a war over a planet with no strategic importance whatsoever. 

The episode gets plenty of mileage out of parodying targets like Starship Troopers and M*A*S*H, but it's far from perfect. When Leela attempts to join the male-only army to keep her one eye on her friends, she's denied by commanding general Zapp Brannigan. During this scene, Brannigan's assistant Kif vanishes between close-ups and long shots. The whiny green alien is standing right next to his boss and should be visible from both angles. 

Cylon and Garfunkel

In the season 3 episode "Bendin' in the Wind," Bender is left paralyzed after a terrible can opener accident. While in the hospital he meets Beck's head, who takes a liking to the sound of mechanical arms scraping against the robot's shredded body. Bender becomes Beck's new washboard player and goes on to stage his own music festival in aid of broken robots — Bend-Aid. 

One of the acts booked for Bend-Aid is Cylon and Garfunkel, who perform a bizarre version of "Scarborough Fair" to the "gentle hippies" in attendance. It's a good gag, but it's marred by a glaring mistake. As the duo begin their song we see them from the front, and they're clearly sharing a microphone. In the next shot we see them from behind, and an extra mic has appeared from nowhere.

One-way titanium?

The classic fourth season episode "A Tale of Two Santas" is guilty of an Xmas continuity error that's hard to unsee once you've seen it. While Bender and the maniacal Robot Santa Claus are destroying New New York, we see an external shot of the iconic Planet Express building, though the red exterior is hidden. To keep himself and his crew safe from the Xmas insanity going on outside, the professor activates the titanium shutters that cover the entire building. When the shot cuts to inside the Planet Express HQ, however, said shutters are quite clearly up and you can see out of all the windows.

Human Bender blunder

Thanks to Professor Farnsworth's mysterious What-If Machine, viewers got to see exactly what a human version of Bender would look like in the season 4 episode "Anthology of Interest II." The former robot is quickly overwhelmed by his new senses — taste in particular. Unfortunately for Bender, being human means gaining weight. By the time the professor is able to present Bender as proof of his scientific achievement, he's a thousand-pound blob. 

It all starts with some nachos in a bar, but did you notice the obvious error in this scene? The color of the tabletop behind Bender changes between shots, turning from blue to red. The chicken leg on the table also appears to vanish, but it could have realistically been cleared up in between shots, so we'll give the animators the benefit of the doubt here.

Robo copout

In the season 5 episode "Three Hundred Big Boys," President of Earth Richard Nixon gives everyone on his planet a $300 tax rebate. Each member of the Planet Express crew spends their "Tricky-Dick Fun Bill" money on different things, from stem cells to talking tattoos. Bender uses his money to purchase specialist equipment that helps him steal a $10,000 cigar that was rolled in the United States Constitution by Queen Elizabeth in her "wild years." 

At one stage, robotic police officer URL shows his partner some incriminating footage of Bender on his screen. At this moment, URL's extendable head siren is out and on full show. In the very next shot, it has vanished. We're just as confused as you are, Smitty.

Rake off

The fifth season episode "Bender Should Not Be Allowed on Television" revolves around the crass robot winning a part on the popular soap opera All My Circuits. Bender quickly goes off script, becoming a terrible role model for the show's young viewers, including Cubert and Dwight. The professor's young clone and Hermes' son try drinking and smoking because of Bender, forcing their dads to form F.A.R.T. (Fathers Against Rude Television). 

Hermes and the professor share father-son hugs with their boys near the beginning of this episode, but the moment is ruined by a mistake — the grown ups put their rakes down as the kids enter, and in the next shot they've vanished. Maybe rakes come with an invisibility setting in the year 3000?

Bender's hinges are not where they should be

The Planet Express crew gets hooked on a killer new video sharing app in the third episode of Futurama season 6. Fry and Bender make a wager over who can reach a million followers first, though the robot's antics prove far more popular. In a bid to catch up, Fry records Leela lancing her butt boil (Susan). 

Before all that, the episode begins with Mayor Poopenmeyer opening "the 83rd or 84th" annual E-waste Recycling Festival. The crew is hired to ship the garbage to the Third World, where Bender is mistaken for trash. The locals make quick work of the bending unit, stripping him down to the hinges — which are incorrectly located on his left side. The hinges of the door to Bender's chest compartment should be on the right, as shown later in the episode.

There's something wrong with this picture

The season 6 episode "Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences" sees Lrrr, ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8, and his wife Ndnd going through some marriage trouble. Ndnd grows tired of her husband's lack of drive to conquer new worlds and nags him into reluctantly invading Earth, but he arrives during Comic-Con 3010, and everyone assumes he's a cosplayer. He returns to Ndnd with J.J. Abrams' face, but it's not enough. 

Lrrr gets kicked out and ends up crashing with the Planet Express crew on Earth. Bender convinces the newly single Omicronian to get plastic surgery and splurge on some expensive threads at the Elegant Elephant, and it's during this sequence that the animators drop the ball — we should be seeing a mirror image of Lrrr's gold pendant as he checks himself out in the store's changing room mirror, but they seemingly forgot to reverse it.

Rumbledy-hump lip-shtick

In the season 6 episode "Yo Leela Leela," the titular cyclops returns to Cookieville, the "Minimum-Security Orphanarium" where she was raised. Wanting to impress the orphans, Leela writes a story about a whimsical fantasy world named Rumbledy-Hump, a place inhabited by tiny, colorful creatures called Humplings. The kids love the Humplings, and so does Hollywood — Rumbledy-Hump is turned into a cable series. 

Leela's success (her creation wins Best New Kids Show at the Young People's Choice Awards) goes to her head, but she's ultimately brought back down to Earth by Bender. The robot stows away with an actress after the aforementioned awards show and accidentally ends up in the "quiet place" where Leela goes to write, which, it transpires, is Rumbledy-Hump. Realizing that the planet is real, Bender calls Leela out for ripping off the Humplings, and as he does, the lipstick marks he got in transit inexplicably move around and multiply.

Sigma Beta, see ya later

It's the end of the world in the seventh season episode "A Farewell to Arms" — at least, according to the Mayans. When the Planet Express crew happens upon an ancient pyramid that predicts the Earth will be destroyed in the year 3012, the professor decides to do some research. Farnsworth discovers that a solar flare from the Sun is indeed set to obliterate the planet, and panic ensues. 

Only so many people can escape to Mars, and that decision is made by a sentient box that was apparently in the same sorority as Amy. She and the box chant "Sigma Beta, see ya later" in unison as she's accepted without question, however in an earlier episode Amy states that her sorority was called Kappa Kappa Wong, not Sigma Beta. The writers apparently forgot all about this little tidbit.

Shaggy is carrying

The season 7 episode "Saturday Morning Fun Pit" opens with President Nixon settling down to watch some Saturday morning cartoons, the first of which is Bendee Boo and the Mystery Crew. Bender is re-imagined as famous Great Dane Scooby-Doo in this parody of Hanna-Barbera's classic cartoon, and Fry, of course, is Shaggy. Amy makes for a great Velma, Leela looks the part as a one-eyed Daphne, and Fred's neckerchief really suits Hermes, despite his struggle to tie it. 

The segment plays on one well-known Scooby-Doo theory — that Shaggy is a massive stonerFuturama used this for a cheap gag, and what's worse, the scene has a glaring error in it. When Fry says "Search me... no, don't, I'm carrying," there's nobody standing next to him, but in the next shot, Amy and the rest of the gang are right there.

The Harlem Globetrotters drop the ball

Later in "Saturday Morning Fun Pit," the gang encounters the Harlem Globetrotters, who are in town for the big game and decide to stop by and help their friend the professor with his cloning machine. The Globetrotters had their own Hanna-Barbera cartoon in the early '70s, which is why they crossed over with Scooby-Doo and company on occasion. 

In "Saturday Morning Fun Pit," the famous basketball team uses the professor's machine to clone a team of Larry Birds, but their fancy tricks can't distract from the fact that there's a huge gaffe in this scene — the Globetrotters activate the contraption by turning the knob to ON, but in the next shot that same knob is pointed to the OFF position, yet the machine still works anyway. Talk about a mystery.