A Futurama Community
Comedy Central (ended 2013)

Futurama S07E26 / S010E13: "Meanwhile"


David X. Cohen, Futurama’s co-creator along with Matt Groening and its longtime showrunner, has said that he and Groening established a “no time-travel” rule for the series early on. Philip J. Fry is no doubt eternally grateful that the writers dispensed with that rule, seeing as how much of his relationship with Turanga Leela has depended on various sorts of temporal anomalies. (To say nothing of how his own existence relies on it, being his own grandfather and all.)

Like two of its clear antecedents, “Time Keeps on Slippin’” and “The Late Philip J. Fry,” “Meanwhile” used its rigidly controlled time-travel conceit to examine the Fry-Leela romance. The Professor’s time-rewinding device opened the door to two common questions that underlie time-control fantasies: What if you could relive a moment over and over again? And what if you could stop time altogether and make one moment last forever? One of those questions was answered with biting irony, the other with sweet symbolism. Only fitting for a show that’s always walked the line between cynicism about the world and affection for its characters’ humanity.

These are familiar themes that Futurama has played well in the past, so it was no surprise to see them re-emerge in its swan song. Structurally, too, the episode had a retroactive feel, with each act devoted to one of the series’ favorite tones. The opening sequences were laced with reference humor, including plenty of nods to the series’ longevity (the crew returning to the moon, site of their first delivery in episode two; Leela saying she and Fry have known each other for 13 years; Bender claiming Fry has told Leela he loves her “like 140 times,” corresponding to the series’ official episode count).

After an emotional pivot, the middle portion went heavy on black humor, as poor Fry violently splattered about a dozen times and the Professor was seemingly torn into temporal shreds. One more sharp turn later, the third act was given over almost entirely to a genuinely romantic montage. Fry and Leela’s extremely extended, globetrotting (or globe-strolling) honeymoon felt like a parting gift from the writers to their characters—all the more so because they were allowed to do one thing animated characters almost never get to do: Age. They lived out their lives. The humor notes here weren’t full-fledged jokes so much as they were grin-inducing moments, but everything worked because it was rendered with such sincere sweetness.

As an isolated episode, “Meanwhile” suffered from some of the mechanical plotting that’s characterized this final season. From the moment Farnsworth introduced his latest thematically convenient gizmo, you could see the story cranking dutifully toward its emotional climax. The rules of this iteration of time-travel were intriguing—the 10-second recharge limitation and the hazards of vacating the time bubble created interesting wrinkles that were used successfully—but it didn’t find much time to let loose many great or surprising jokes.

As a coda to a long-running series, though, the episode was much more successful. It brought its characters to satisfying resting places: Fry and Leela finding meaningful closure, Prof. Farnsworth cruising through a maze of quasi-science-y mumbo-jumbo, the rest of the Planet Express crew frozen in a moment of triumph after Bender led them to save the day, however briefly.

Then the episode dropped in a reset button ex machina, because nothing ever truly ends in fictional universes like this one. Sitcoms always return to the status quo ante; sci-fi always has new worlds to explore. And series that have been revived twice can’t afford to wrap things up too tidily. In more ways than one, “Meanwhile” ended a frequently cynical show on a disarmingly optimistic note.



EXPRESS DELIVERIES

– The (probably) final opening credits tag: “AVENGE US,” written in blood.

– For a show largely built on a foundation of science-fiction spoofs/homages, I believe the beer bottle in the Moonface Man’s eye was Futurama’s first reference to the earliest sci-fi movie in film history, Georges Méliès’ 1902 A Trip to the Moon.

UPDATE: Commenter torque_smacky points out that this too is a callback to a joke from Episode 2, which had slipped my mind. More cap-tipping to the early days!

– Genre Show Overlap, Part 1: The situation Fry and Leela wound up in was essentially an inverse of the scheme concocted by the lovelorn physics student in Angel’s Season 2 episode “Happy Anniversary,” even down to the expanding glowy hemisphere that engulfed the area. Without all the heartbreak and obsession, though.

– Genre Show Overlap, Part 2: Fry caught in a time loop, dying repeatedly before Leela’s eyes, called to mind the Season 3 Supernatural episode “Mystery Spot.” At least there, Dean Winchester got to enjoy a little variety in his many demises.

– What would a Futurama finale be without one last Harlem Globetrotters cameo?


What'd you think of the series finale? Are you satisfied with how things ended?

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 9/4/2013

Season 10 : Episode 13

92 Comments
Comments (93)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
What the fuck happened to Kif? I know he died into the wild blue yonder but he came back didnt he?
1
Reply
Flag
He was sitting in the cab together with Zapp so yes, he's alive.
1
Reply
Flag
I like the "final" espisode. But.. i was hoping to see just one last time the "dead dog" .. he usualy improve any episode with just a cameo!. :)
4
Reply
Flag
I thought it was a good ending, very "Futurama-y." I always love it when Futurama goes big on the Sci-Fi (especially time travel. unless they go back to 12/31/99, because that's over-done).

This review pointed out some things I didn't notice, like the meaning behind "140 times" and the possible purpose behind the tone shifts. Good analysis.
3
Reply
Flag
don't u dare end this series, because I tell you, this would be an absolute disaster for my 3year old! I myself am utterly saddened by the planned decision to pull the plug, even with some really dimwitted episodes, this was truly one of the best animated pseudo sci-fi series in TV history, unlike anything ever broadcast... there was a sense of open-ended finality, who knows, maybe they're just teasing, but I would like to hope that there will be another comeback, when they come to their senses, again!
till then, sad, very sad, my boy and I, we used to watch them together. my 3yo is very intelligent, extremely precocious, even though he doesn't understand nearly enough to make sense of it all, he frantically enjoys the characters and animation itself. you condemned us to mindless reruns for ever and ever, cohen, be a Mensch and think on it! or not, since it's an authentic no-brainer, just give us more! and then some! wth, this one is more entertaining than the Simpsons, if you decide to refrain from feeble-minded writing every now and then.. cool show, bring it back! if not for the money it'll earn you, at least do it for my kid! shalom
More+
5
Reply
Flag
I thought it was a satisfying finale that tied together the relationship nicely. I agree with JT_Kirk in saying I'm glad it's going out while it at least somewhat retained its quality then declining in quality and not being able to produce anything good.
4
Reply
Flag
There's been some truly sad and nostalgic moments in this series... If this didn't feel like the final one I don't think it would have had the same effect. But because it is what it is (probably) I had to shed some manly tears.
It was what Fry and Leela deserved.
4
Reply
Flag
I'm as satisfied as can be with the finale. but someone needs to call TBS and have them pick this and the cleveland show up to pair with american dad.
8
Reply
Flag
There's one other thing that bugged me about the finale:

I know they needed it for the plot (so that Fry would jump), but the whole idea of Leela asking, "What if the answer's no?" bothered me. I can't picture her ever saying no in that situation.
2
Reply
Flag
I thought the ending was sweet. I liked it, I didn't love it. I really would have liked to have had a warm and fuzzy ending with all of the characters (in a non-frozen state), kind of like the last few minutes of King Of The Hill. The episode was Fry and Leela centric and it just felt like something was missing by not having more of the whole gang in there.
3
Reply
Flag
I was okay with not having the rest of them there. The series was about Fry and Leela's relationship, in the end. I just thought they should've decided not to go back. Just have them grow old together and fade the episode to black. That would've been better closure than to have the audience wondering if Leela gets her hand chopped off the second time around, if she says no to Fry, etc.
3
Reply
Flag
Man, just think. When this started we still had Clinton in office. A decade ago exactly, I was in the same position I'm in now, having just finished "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings" and realizing there was nothing left.

Having to say goodbye to a cartoon show feels like such an alien experience. Usually, they just go on and on and on until you're sick of them. I guess we're blessed in that regard.
11
Reply
Flag
I thought that was a terrible series finale, but to be fair, I've always hated the episodes based on Fry and Leela's sappy relationship and it bothered me that the writers had them hook up in the first place. It was so annoying whenever Fry got whiney or sentimental. He was always better as a comical blundering idiot.
1
Reply
Flag
Fry's existence doesn't rely on being his own grandfather, he existed before that event happened so he could make that happen... wait, what? Ok, never mind.

Aging hasn't been ignored on this show, we've seen it dealt with several times, Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles, Bender's Big Score, and the aforementioned The Late Philip J. Fry. So in that regard, this ending didn't really feel terribly new, but it was nice because it had heart and it stuck to its conceit even as the obvious ending loomed.

I have a hard time gauging this series finale, it's not quite as poignant as the other 3 but it holds up on heart. Also, I saw a live table read of act 1 and saw the completed piece of act 2, so there were no surprises for me until act 3 which I had preconceived notions of already. But it wasn't a bad way to go out overall, even if it wasn't the punch to the heart that The Devil's Hands are Idle Playthings was.
3
Reply
Flag
Staff

33
Reply
Flag
I understand the predicament the writers were in, where they had to come up with an ending that could work not only as a season finale but also a series finale, and its certainly not their fault, but I didn't like it. I loved it up until the point where the Professor came back and reset everything. It seemed like the writers were saying that this is our show and we're ending it our way, but at the same time they didn't commit to their ending.

It would have been great if they let Fry and Leela grow old and die together, but then they'd be stuck if they hypothetically got revived by Netflix. A show as perfect as Futurama needs to go out their way and I know if they ever get that chance(where they get to end instead of get canceled) it will be magnificent. However, the TV Gods frowned upon them, and we were left with an amazing season finale, and a half-assed series finale.
3
Reply
Flag
I don't think they could have considered ending the show with the universe in stasis forever, that's unfair to the rest of the characters. And having the notion being that they wouldn't mind trying it all again is a romantic one, they were satisfied with their lives together yet still were willing to give it another go.

As for being stuck, they've died plenty before, a reboot wouldn't have been a problem.
5
Reply
Flag
I understand, I just think that a show with ideas as big as Futurama's could have found another way to end other than opening one door only to slam it shut a minute before the ending. It felt like a cop-out.
1
Reply
Flag
Where else would they go, burying each other? They live in a pocket dimension at this point, a universe that is stopped (possibly only from their perspective), they are approaching death and they have limited access to the technology that would keep them alive, they have experienced so much love that they have become ready to face aged death together. They don't get to raise children and pass love down through their subsequent generations, it's a limited life, we got to see essentially all of it, but the next step is a slammed door either way.
1
Reply
Flag
Well, I mean a different ending altogether. They went with the relationship-focused finale, but there was a lot more they had to explore in the universe that they didn't have the time to. Like I said, it's not the writers' fault that I didn't like it since Comedy Central pulled the rug out from under them, but if they were given proper notice to end the series, I know they would have knocked it out of the park.
1
Flag
quite possibly the most perfect "futurama ending" for Futurama...

this is the first time a series finale has wrapped up so.. perfectly (for me at least)

it is sad this show is very "niche" in the sense that it never grabbed a big enough audience to be given a fair chance (on more than one occasion)...maybe it was to smart for its own good

either way I'll miss this show whether it be for good this time.. or for another long break
9
Reply
Flag
It was decent finale, and I hope that this isn't the last time we've seen these characters in their own show (becuase we're bound to see them in a crossover with the Simpsons, really soon).

I'll be saying what I said when I finished watching "Into On Green Younder": "Wherever they end up, they're bound to come back to make us laugh like crazies"

Soon long, Futurama... for now.
2
Reply
Flag
Its sad we live in a world where Seth McFarlane can spread his animation thin across multiple shows, but we cant still have Futurama.
And certainly the fans won't let it die until Netflix says "We aren't going to revive it"
9
Reply
Flag
"Can't still have Futurama" - we've had 7 seasons of it over 14 years, 140 episodes of a show that's been asked to produce 4 series finales. I'd rather it went out as close to the top as possible like this than eke out another decade of declining quality a la The Simpsons. Where "The Devil's Hands are Idle Playthings" was a bittersweet ending because it was saying what we felt, that there was so much more life left to experience with Futurama, "Meanwhile" enjoys an equal number of new episodes on top of that initial run (72 episodes under Fox, 68 under CC), our characters have grown and had new experiences, they have lived richer, fuller lives and it feels ok to say we have had plenty of Futurama this time - whether or not it gets revived again.
6
Reply
Flag
Like Fry's dog Seymour, I will wait until the day I die for this show to come back. Even if you don't, I will cherish the memories we've shared.

Au revoir, Futurama.
21
Reply
Flag
Spot on review. I'll agree, the plot seemed a bit mechanical at times, but I feel it made up for it with well placed black humor and the good old fashioned sentimental moments the show has always been deft at playing.

Futurama, goodnight sweet prince. It seems this is the end(?). You made me laugh, you made me cry, some days you even made me cringe when your episodes were a bit, shall we say, under par. But regardless, as a show I loved to follow, I shall miss you dearly.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
4
Reply
Flag
Few shows are lucky to get 1 series finale to wrap up the series (nevermind 3).

This episode was perfect, funny and sweet, I knew I would have tears once the episode ended. I am happy if another network doesn't pick it up, I am going to miss this show.

Thank you Futurama for 13 great years.

(Need a spin off? Why not Zoidberg?)
13
Reply
Flag
Great last episode, we've seen Fry and Leelas wedding and life together and in the same time we didn't. They'll have another nice life together but we won't see it, there will be no reboot. The series won't return, it would be nice to have a movie in time, but don't think it will happen. Bye futurama, so so nice to see you all this years, all the cancelations and reboots, all the good and bad news for everyone and all the fucking funny moments you gave us!!!
2
Reply
Flag
Damn you Futurama , you made me Cry !!!
11
Reply
Flag
If it truly ends here I'll be happy. They did leave it wide open for anything though. I'd actually like to see a fresh project from this team though. Here is an idea for free, a family sitcom set in an ambiguous time but in a world where classic horror movie monsters live when not in our world creating mayhem. For them it's kind of a job but every morning they go home to their worldand families. Lots of potential but hey it's my idea so I'm biased a little maybe?
2
Reply
Flag
I like it.
1
Reply
Flag
im confused. how come it says season 10 or season 7. but when i go look to watch season 9 or 10 i cant find them can only find up to season 7
1
Reply
Flag
Staff
With all its schedule shifts and split seasons, people account for "seasons" of Futurama differently. For instance, the production order refers to the two halves of seasons six and seven as 6A / 6B and 7A /7B, but some will count those as four separate seasons. And the original airing order, DVD orders, and streaming service orders sometimes break up the starts and ends of seasons differently too.
4
Reply
Flag
oh ok thanks for explaining. what a confusing way of doing things lol
1
Reply
Flag
I'll admit the Comedy Central version wasn't as great as the original, but I still always watched it and this finale (again) was pretty great. what I kept thinking was when Leela figured everything out, why didn't she just push the button a little bit later each time, then Fry would basically just fall maybe a foot or so. but whatever. like I said, the finale was great, and actually kind of touching. maybe Adult Swim will pick it up again or something in a few years :p or maybe Fox will cancel their numerous idiotic Seth MacFarlane series and bring this back instead.

3
Reply
Flag
It doesn't matter if it's a foot or an inch away from ground, he would still die in the same way because of the already acquired speed of falling.
4
Reply
Flag
then that should also mean he'd be falling faster each time he reset, which would make the 10 seconds irrelevant because eventually he'd hit the ground sooner than 10 seconds and wouldn't be able to push the button because he'd be dead.
2
Reply
Flag
I don't think he is keeping the speed he has already gained from his privous fallings... Time goes back of 10sec, so his speed will be the same as the one he had 10sec ago. So pushing the button in order to go back to when Fry would be at, let say, 1 feet from the ground would be useless, he would go back to what speed he already had when he was 1feet of the ground 10sec ago, thus he'd die.
1
Reply
Flag
It was Fry who had to keep pushing the button, wasn't it? You bring up a good point, though. I thought in the episode they figured out the solution a bit late.
1
Reply
Flag
After Fly splatted, it was Leela who was pressing the button. Then it would go back 10 seconds to when Fry had it, but he couldn't press it because it wouldn't be charged again until he had already hit the ground.
1
Reply
Flag
Okay, thanks. I lost track of that. :)
1
Reply
Flag
A good send off to a great series.
3
Reply
Flag
Time travel is my all-time least favorite plot device. I generally consider it to be a highly overused crutch by writers who've run out of original ideas. But I really limit my hatred of it to dramas. It wasn't harmful to this episode at all.

All in all, it was a fine ending. Just touching enough but not so much as to be maudlin. And open-ended enough to allow it to return, although I really don't see that happening and hope that Netflix doesn't open its mouth about a resurrection anytime soon.

But the best part of it? FRY WON! \o/

8
Reply
Flag
I actually love time travel stories when they're done right, and they usually are. They're always so intruiging.
5
Reply
Flag
I'll agree that I used to find them intriguing before they became as overly used as they now are by lazy writers. However, I can't say that I've seen a single one that was ever done "right" since there's no way to define right. Unless and until time travel into the past ever becomes demonstrably provable, there's no way to say what could and couldn't happen with one, so I end up throwing up my hands and saying "meh, whatever." Fringe had a couple of great seasons with the alternate universe. It was fun and interesting while at the same time making total sense. Then when they built Season 4 all around time travel and the inevitable "alternate time lines," it all kind of fell apart and became mostly unfollowable, at least to me.

When a plot thread involving TT gets introduced in a serious way, it always gets discussed to death in fora and the like. And those people always make intelligent observations and interesting comments, but they always end up disagreeing with other equally intelligent observations that came to the opposite conclusion. In short, they always end up leading to unresolvable paradoxes and no matter what conclusion you arrive at, you can always undermine someone else's conclusion (or even your own) with a "hmm, but then again..." thought. Always.

No, no matter how hard you try, there's never a single, logical, straightforward way of looking at one. And that's why I hate TT as a writer's device, because there's never one "right" answer. I suspect Futurama's creators shared a similar mindset and was the reason why they (unsuccessfully) vowed never to incorporate it into their show. Sooner or later, some idea-challenged writer eventually gives up trying to be genuinely clever and says, "Hey, how about time travel?" That's the moment when the other writers in the room should take that one outside and deposit him/her in the nearest dumpster. Sadly, though, they rarely seem to get that bad idea shot down.

More +
1
Reply
Flag
That's because it's a good idea.
1
Reply
Flag
While it wasn't a bust-a-gut funny episode, it was genuinely sweet. They left us with a "happily ever after" ending. I'm not disappointed. Futurama, I'll be awaiting your re-return in a couple of years.
12
Reply
Flag
Futurama, I shall avenge you .

I'm gonna miss this show so much :'(
13
Reply
Flag
It was a nice, sweet sendoff for a wonderful show. I'll miss ya, old pal.
13
Reply
Flag
Nope -- Bender made that reference all the way back in episode 2, and that was a callback to that reference.
1
Reply
Flag
Staff
Ah, duh. Even more appropriate, then. Then.
1
Reply
Flag
Excellent ending. First half was slow, but second half was awesome.

Hey Netflix, pick up Futurama like you did with Arrested Development! :D
13
Reply
Flag
This article is spot on. As an individual episode, it was ok, but for a series finale (hopefully not) it works well. The humor was morbid, but the last few moments with Fry and Leela was just wonderful. Kudos on showing them grow old together. Even without the professor to return allowing for a reset, this could've been a decent way to end with them growing old and just ending there. I just hope the simpsons crossover is going to be decent.
5
Reply
Flag
I thought the reset they did at the end was kind of awkward, at best. Fry and Leela got married and spend decades as husband and wife, and you're going to have them throw all those memories away for the sake of being with the crew again? That was disappointing. They should've told the professor to go back without them.

Other than that, it was a great episode.
3
Reply
Flag
Not just for the sake of being with the crew again, but so that the crew and everyone else in the universe could continue to live.
1
Reply
Flag
Yeah, I would've been fine if they had ended the show with just them together and growing old just like Fry's Dog at the end of Jurassic Bark. But hey, I understand they did it in case some other network decides to bring the show back, so it was a needed evil to make sure it can continue 'as normal'. And then of course there's the Simpsons crossover (but I'm sure that could've taken place before this ep continuity wise).
2
Reply
Flag
Now that I think about it, I'm kind of curious as to why they aged at all (I mean, other than for the plot, of course). They were frozen in time, weren't they? How do you age when you're frozen in time?
2
Reply
Flag
I guess it's to show time is frozen or moving so slow that only those trapped in the 'bubble' are moving relatively normal to everything else. I guess the best way to explain it is like the Stargate SG1 finale with the crew trapped on the ship with time on the inside being 50 years, but outside the bubble would've lasted just a few seconds.
2
Flag
They experienced those memories, and that was that, they cherished them, alone, and had an amazing journey. Now they can make new ones with a more animated world. While the memories may not exist any longer, they get another go-round. Why not? It was fun, let's do it again! Loved this episode.
5
Reply
Flag
I would've been okay with it if they could've kept the memories. It was the fact that they gave up the memories that bothered me. That seemed like a waste, and something neither of them would want to do. I didn't really think it was necessary, either. The professor never lost his memories when he took away Zoidberg's ten dollars, and Fry didn't lose his memories when he pushed the button. I suppose it made sense for what they wanted to use it for, but it didn't make sense in the mechanic they created.
4
Reply
Flag
I also wanted to add that when Fry was falling, that scene reminded me more of Men in Black 3 where will smith's character was falling down the chyrsler building just stopping before smacking into the ground.
1
Reply
Flag
Leela line about never feeling lonely all this time with just Fry make me tear!
18
Reply
Flag
I thought the series finale was really good. It set the right mood, and we got to see Fry and Leela get married and spend (mostly) the rest of their lives together.

I have to take a few points off for the very end, though. I think it would've been a better emotional ending if Fry and Leela had decided not to go back to when the time button was created. They spent their lives together. The writers should've probably just left it at that.
4
Reply
Flag
They didn't leave it because they could get picked up again (I think David X Cohan and Matt Groening are interested in a feature film to).
1
Reply
Flag
Yeah. I could see that, I guess. The only problem is, if it doesn't get picked up, there's not full closure to the story. Without the time button, things the next "go around" are going to be different than this one.
1
Reply
Flag
It's an interesting point you've got, we've already seen what happens when Fry and Leela get married. What would it be like the second time if they get married and there are people around? (if it happens if they get picked up again)
1
Reply
Flag
Why does this show continue to get cancelled, I refuse to believe that this is the end, somewhere, sometime it will get picked up again by someone.
23
Reply
Flag
Careful, that hope can easily turn to bitterness if disappointment is the only thing in the show's future.
3
Reply
Flag
Netflix should do it!
8
Reply
Flag
Follow this Show
Members
1,811