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The Big Futurama Detail You Missed In The Pilot Episode

Matt Groening may have made a name for himself with his iconic brainchild, "The Simpsons," but some enthusiastic sci-fi fans will insist that the adult animation guru reached his peak when "Futurama" hit the scene. Praised for its clever writing and numerous homages to the science fiction genre, "Futurama" spoke to a niche audience with its witty humor and unique self-awareness. As succinctly put by Reddit user CantFailtheMayor, the show is "like a smarter Simpsons, but with spaceships and with more heart."

While the animation style and humor may be similar to "The Simpsons," the shows differ in many ways. One way is that "Futurama" will often include complex storylines, often involving time travel and the effects thereof. One of the series' main plots centers around Fry being the dubious savior of the known universe, and time travel is a central tool within that premise. Anyone who has watched time travel movies like "Back to the Future" or the TV show "Doctor Who" knows that time travel can get messy, and anyone who attempts it had better make certain not to unravel the time-space continuum. The creators of "Futurama" knew this, too, and took steps to make sure that their own time travel adventures didn't leave any loose ends. In fact, fans who return to the beginning of "Futurama" may find a tiny detail in the pilot episode that they missed the first time around — a detail that the show's creators made sure would even out all of those pesky time anomalies.

Nibbler is hiding in Futurama's pilot episode

In Season 5, Episode 8 of "Futurama" ("The Why of Fry"), series antagonist Philip J. Fry is told by Nibbler (Leela's unassuming alien pet who is actually from a race of superior beings) that Fry is the only one who can save the universe from an evil race of alien brains. The Nibblonians send Fry on a mission to blow up the brains' supercomputer before they devour all the knowledge in the universe and become unstoppable. Unfortunately, the plan backfires when Fry sends himself along with the brains to another universe, where they are supposedly trapped forever.

Thanks to the alien brains' supercomputer, Fry learns the shocking truth of how he came to be cryogenically frozen for 1,000 years. As it turns out, it wasn't just an accident that Fry got a prank pizza delivery order from I.C. Weiner on the night of December 31, 1999 — or that Fry's chair tipped him off balance and into the cryogenic chamber. While viewing the events of that fateful night on the monitor, Fry sees none other than Nibbler hiding under the desk and pushing his chair backward with a blow of air — setting events in motion that would bring Fry into the future.

It's a shocking twist that most "Futurama" fans didn't see coming — but the show's animators had the whole thing planned from the beginning. In the show's pilot episode, "Space Pilot 3000," watching the scene unfold as Fry falls backward in his chair reveals a Nibbler-shaped shadow on the ground. The shot is only about one second long, so it's easily missed — except for those who take a closer look on a rewatch of the episode. This little detail proves that the writing and animation team of "Futurama" aren't slackers when it comes to filling in the blanks of its more complex plotlines, which is part of what makes the show so well-loved by its fans.