Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

How Fry From Futurama Could Have Been Completely Different

In 1999, "The Simpsons" creator Matt Groening gave audiences yet another iconic animated series in the form of the equally clever and crude "Futurama." A massive departure from the sitcom about a yellow-skinned middle American family, "Futurama" took audiences 1,000 years into the future to follow a 20th-century man named Philip J. Fry (Billy West) who awakens from cryogenic sleep and is forced to adapt to an entirely new world. 

The show introduced audiences to an assortment of instantly classic characters, including everyone from Leela (Katey Sagal) to Bender (John DiMaggio) and Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) to Zoidberg (also Billy West) (via IMDb). Like many iconic characters from the series, Fry did not debut on screen without a fair amount of evolution and development. In fact, in the years since the first iteration of the series went off the air, information has surfaced about how the character changed from his original inception.

Concept art shows Fry changed a lot

In 2018, @AnimatedTVBlog tweeted examples of early concept art for "Futurama," including a handful of drawings that show variations on Fry's look. While one of the images is fairly close to the boyish appearance the show eventually settled on, two other Fry variants portray a much older and more grizzled version of the character. A far cry from the young man "Futurama" fans know and love, these iterations are complete with bags under their eyes and notable facial stubble. Notably, these renderings seem to lean into more of a futuristic blue-collar style — arguably fitting in well with the aesthetic of Fry's job as a deliveryman for Planet Express

Additionally, one of the more interesting changes to Fry's character includes the character's distinctive voice. Actor Billy West has played the role off and on for over two decades, but he actually wasn't the producers' first choice. In fact, Matt Groening originally offered Fry's role to voice actor Charlie Schlatter (via The New York Times) before eventually going with West's take on the character.

While Fry's voice and appearance are easily the most obvious changes the character underwent, it is not the only way the character changed before his debut. Interestingly, Fry's method of exposition delivery is quite different than originally imagined by the creators. In fact, early iterations of "Futurama" saw Fry using a small robot called a Pocket Pal to learn about the year 3000. While this concept was scrapped for regular use, the Pocket Pal later appeared in the second "Futurama" movie, "The Beast With A Billion Backs" and was voiced by actress Tress MacNeille (via Behind The Voice Actors).