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Why Futurama Almost Never Made It On Air

There aren't many animated TV shows more beloved or iconic than "Futurama." Created by "Simpsons" creator Matt Groening, the sci-fi comedy series follows the adventures of an American slacker after he is accidentally frozen in time for 1,000 years. After making its original premiere in March 1999, the series went on to air four seasons on Fox before it was dropped by the network in 2003. However, four direct-to-video "Futurama" movies were produced several years later (via Rotten Tomatoes), and the series itself was revived by Comedy Central in 2009 (via Reuters).

Two seasons of "Futurama" subsequently aired on Comedy Central before the show came to end again in 2013 (via EW). Now, "Futurama" is set to return with 20 new episodes on Hulu, which means it is about to enter into its third (or fourth, depending on how you see it) life cycle. That's undeniably impressive, especially considering how many setbacks "Futurama" has endured over the course of its run, as well as the creative disagreements that could have very well stopped it from premiering on Fox in the first place.

Futurama was plagued by behind-the-scenes disagreements

In a 1999 interview with Mother Jones about "Futurama," Matt Groening opened up about the struggles he faced in getting the beloved animated series made. After referring to the process as "by far the worst experience of my grown-up life," Groening revealed that Fox picked up "Futurama" immediately after he and David Cohen finished their initial pitch for the show. Unfortunately, Fox quickly developed doubts about the project, with Groening saying that "the honeymoon was over" immediately after the network ordered 13 episodes of the show.

"They completely freaked out and were afraid the show was too dark and mean-spirited, and thought they had made a huge mistake and that the only way they could address their anxieties was to try to make me as crazy as possible with their frustrations," Groening said. The writer went on to say that Fox "tried" to change many things about "Futurama" while it was being made, but noted that he "resisted every step of the way" and "had to spend way, way too much time in pointless battles with the network" in order to make sure the project became the show he wanted it to be.

"Everybody wants to go with the safe thing. Fox wants 'Futurama' to be just like 'The Simpsons.' And they are freaked out that is not like 'The Simpsons,'" Groening said at the time. The "Futurama" creator added that he responded to the network's concerns by saying, "It's exactly like 'The Simpsons': It's new and original," and it's hard to disagree with him about that.