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The Iconic Futurama Character Who Almost Never Happened

Often featured in lists of the most influential animated sitcoms, "Futurama" plumbed the depths of science fiction lore for laughs, with creator Matt Groening taking influences from everything from "Star Trek" to Lovecraftian horror to color in the show's zany 31st-century setting (via Mother Jones). Having been rebooted several times over the years, there's now a new batch of episodes ordered for Hulu — tentatively scheduled for 2023 — with the core cast of the delivery crew back on board, proving that the show has the sort of staying power rarely seen in our constantly evolving media landscape.

Inventiveness is consistently on display throughout "Futurama," and some of the show's most memorable characters are its bit roles. Whether you love the vainglorious starship commander Zapp Brannigan or the disembodied head of Richard Nixon (both voiced by Billy West), the show never fails to deliver on its hodgepodge of absurdist personae.

But as it turns out, there's one "Futurama" character who almost never made it past a first appearance, and they only turned out to be as iconic as they were due to a fluke in the editing process.

Hypnotoad's unsettling sound effect wasn't intended to make it to air

One of the most unsettling characters "Futurama" ever put to screen is the Hypnotoad, a giant bufonid with enormous eyes that can hypnotize anyone, immediately bending them to its will. The Hypnotoad first appeared in 2001, in the Season 3 episode "The Day the Earth Stood Stupid," where it was entered into a pet show alongside other bizarre creatures and fixed its amorphous, shifting pupils on the judges, forcing them to give it a perfect score and name it the winner of the contest. The Hypnotoad would go on to have its own TV show, "Everybody Loves Hypnotoad," which was depicted in several more episodes of "Futurama." The show consists of a blank white frame in which the Hypnotoad sits and stares into the camera, hypnotizing viewers. When the toad has its broadcast interrupted in the "Futurama" movie "Bender's Big Score," it even forces one of the crew members to kill himself.

Despite the fearsome implications of its powers, one of the funniest aspects of the Hypnotoad is the sound it makes when using its ability — a distorted bass that might make you wonder if your TV is broken. The sound effect goes a long way in selling the sheer horror of such a creature and helped make the Hypnotoad an instant fan-favorite character, becoming a meme and prompting its repeat appearances in later years.

But as reported by CBR, the Hypnotoad's iconic mind-slaving noise wasn't originally intended to make it on air. It was revealed in the DVD commentary for a few "Futurama" episodes in Seasons 3 and 4 (notably "The Day the Earth Stood Stupid") that the noise was a temporary sound effect used early in the production process as a placeholder for editing. But when it was shown to the crew, they found the modulated bass so amusing that they kept it in for the finished version. Clearly, they made the right decision. All glory to the Hypnotoad.