Season 5 Episode 16

The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Aug 10, 2003 on Comedy Central
out of 10
User Rating
611 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Fry, in an effort to win Leela's love, makes a deal with the Robot Devil to become a gifted musician. He has tried to take holophonor lessons, but his teacher claimed he had "stupid fingers." Bender realizes that the Robot Devil is the only one to help. Fry makes a deal only to regret it immediately as it comes with a hefty price.moreless

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  • The final episode of the first series

    This episode was so good, yet so touching. In 2003, it was already shown that FOX was showing lack of support for the show, and believes that this series was just as inappropriate as "Family Guy" (both of them were cancelled on the same year). FOX opted to not renew "Futurama" for another season and the series has been cancelled. But 5 years later, Comedy Central brought the show back. But anyways, the one thing I love about this episode was the ending. It was so beautiful and has a perfect touch.moreless
  • The last lines of the series

    For all anyone knew, this would be the series's last episode. Fox had not renewed Futurama for another season, and though it was likely the show would be picked up for syndication, even that was far from assured. Therefore the "See You on Some Other Channel" caption was actually speculation--and not about new episodes, just about syndication. Knowing that it might be their last episode, the writers went all-out.

    The jokes here are some of the series's funniest, and once again the writers showcase their knack for continuous humor. But what really makes this episode great, what makes it famous, is its unique climax.

    The idea to write a mini-musical is crazy ambitious, certainly the most audacious thing they've done, and yet it feels totally natural. The execution is flawless. To me, the music doesn't seem cheesy, because it's funny throughout. Not only is the music so well done, but also as a piece of writing the climax is amazing for bringing all the plot threads together with such smooth unpredictability.

    Usually this sits at a 9.5 for me: some of the best TV I've seen, but not particularly emotional. This time, for whatever reason, that last scene really resonated. I think the knowledge that the writers knew this might be the end makes Leela and Fry's final lines all the more poignant.moreless
  • An exquisite work

    This is an exquisite piece of work. Probably inspired by Faust, it is the story of a man who wants to reveal the truth about his feelings to a woman he secretly loves, but he fails each time he tries.

    I like it because it's true that sometimes telling the truth is complicated, we don't find the words we need, so the artistic skills are used for telling the truth, not for hiding it.moreless
  • 10
    The Devils Hands are Idle Play Things is the best episode in the whole series. It is funny, it includes the best character,the robot devil, and the song is amazing. The robot devil is always funny. I believe the writers kept a couple of the jokes just for this episode to go out with a bang. And the song...it was so well written. It had a perfect mix of comedy and surprising drama that is not very often found in futurama. The song was so good it got nominated for an Emmy and an Annie award. It was the perfect episode to finish a great show.moreless
  • A fitting end to the show

    Well, that's it. It's over, and with a very fitting episode as well. This had a great balance of emotion and comedy, and even had a real sense of urgency and finality and an epic plot, particularly towards the end. While it would have been nice to have some final storylines for Amy and Zoidy, I'm glad this wasn't just about Leela and Fry, with Bender having a real part to play in the storyline. Obviously, I had huge expectations for this and can't help but feel a little disappointed, but I like it more every time I see it. I loved the return of the Robot Devil, who had some great lines and gags, and it was cool to put a new spin on the 'deal with the devil' storyline, with Fry actually having the upper hand (pun not intended) to begin with. I was truly surprised when the wheel slipped over from Bender to the devil, which is always good. I was also happy to see the holophoner return, the music it plays is always hauntingly beautiful. Leela finally telling the whole story of her and her ex-boyfriend Sean was great, and the way she was given a real reason to change her mind about Fry made the whole thing more believable. HedonismBot was OK, but not great. Bender had some great gags ("By 'metaphorically' I mean get your coat.") and even a crazy kind of closure with the crotchplate thing. I was a bit disappointed with the opera itself, I was hoping for something more modern, or abstract like in 'Parasites Lost' (that was one of my favourite scenes). It was really more of a parody of an opera, which is fine, but could have been better. Once the characters started singing themselves it got better, and I like that part more every time I see it. The very ending was just absolutely fantastic, with beautiful music, and a fitting end to the show.moreless
David Herman

David Herman

Mayor Poopenmayer, Professor Ogden Wernstrum, Scruffy, Toronga Morris, Larry, Dwayne, Various

Katey Sagal

Katey Sagal

Turanga Leela, Various

Billy West

Billy West

Philip J. Fry, Professor Hubert Farnsworth, Dr. John Zoidberg, Zapp Brannigan, Leo Wong, Various

Lauren Tom

Lauren Tom

Amy Wong, Inez Wong, Various

Tress MacNeille

Tress MacNeille

Mom, Linda the Newscaster, Various

Frank Welker

Frank Welker

Nibbler, Various

Dan Castellaneta

Dan Castellaneta

Robot Devil

Guest Star

David X. Cohen

David X. Cohen

Phone Voice (Uncredited)

Guest Star

Byrne Offutt

Byrne Offutt

Ultility Player

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (18)

    • After the Robot Devil grabs Nixon and sets off the smoke on stage, he seems to disappear, yet you can see him tiptoeing down the aisle.

    • Opening theme promotion: SEE YOU ON SOME OTHER CHANNEL
      Opening Theme Cartoon: "Futurama" by Curiosity Company (1999)

    • The holophoner first appeared in the season three episode "Parasites Lost."

    • Fry, Leela, Bender, the Professor and Richard Nixon are the only characters to appear in both this episode and the series pilot, "Space Pilot 3000."

    • When Bender and Fry arrive in robot hell, The Robot Devil and his minions are playing the song from "Hell Is Other Robots."

    • Preacherbot mentions the power vested in him "by the state of New New York." Up until this point, it had never been mentioned if the state's name had changed along with that of the city's. However, it was marked as such in the episode "Bendin' in the Wind."

    • On the spinning wheel that the Robot Devil uses to select what robot hands Fry shall switch his hands for, the names are actual names of robots that have been on previous episodes (and/or this episode). The robots found on the wheel (in order of appearance) are the Robot Devil, Billionaire-Bot, Flexo, Daisy Mae 128k, Crushinator, Roberto, Helper, Kwanzaabot, Robot 1-X, Clamps of the Robot Mafia, Hedonism-Bot, Fat-Bot, Linctron, Destructor, Robot Santa, Joey Mousepad of the Robot Mafia, Tinny Tim, Spinny Chins, Chain Smoker, Angleyne, Sandra, Execu-Tor, Reverend Lionel Preacherbot, Washbot, Fembot, Hair Robot, Unit 2013, Donbot of the Robot Mafia, Frankie, Boxy, Lulubelle 7, Humorbot 5.0, Calculon, Officer URL, Foreigner, iZac, Cartridge Unit, Barkerbot, Teenbot, Gearshift, Q.T. McWhiskers, Deep Blue, iHawk, Cylon, Patchcord Adams, Liubot, Stage Mom 7.0, Sinclair 2k, Vending Machine, Oily, Coolometer, Andrew, Monique, Rab-Bot, Lisa, Executive Gamma, Keg Robot, Greeting Card, Eurotrash 80, Nannybot 1.0, Emotitron, Jr., Ceiling Fan, Hookerbot 5000, RectalExam-Bot (on whom Bender bets), and Bender (whose name shows up several times on the wheel). Interestingly, several of these robots do not have hands.

    • In the season three episode "Parasites Lost," Leela mentions how only a few people in the world could play the holophonor, and even then they weren't very good at it. However, many of the children in Fry's class appeared to be quite good at it.

    • A running gag for the episode features the Robot Devil saying something is ironic and Bender pointing out it isn't, culminating with him pointing out something that is ironic.

    • Every time Fry plays the Holophoner (except when he is composing and playing his opera), there's the snail from "The Grumpy Snail" in the holograms. The snail also made an appearance in Fry's Holophoner record commercial.

    • The Robot Devil had the same teacher as Fry does now.

    • The theatre where Fry plays a piece is called "HoverCar-Negie Hall"

    • During the intermission, just after the Robot Devil gives Leela Calculon's ears, she asks if he is going to take her hand. The Devil robot holds her left hand and tells her to go enjoy the opera. When the angle changes he's holding Leela's right hand.

    • Fry, Leela and Bender are the only characters to appear in every episode of the series. In second place are the Professor and Doctor Zoidberg who both appeared in 70 out of 72 episodes. The Professor did not appear in "Where No Fan Has Gone Before" and "The Why of Fry"; Doctor Zoidberg did not appear in "Space Pilot 3000" and "Mars University".

    • The windows in Fry and Bender's apartment keep changing positions.

    • When Bender tells Fry to "get your coat", Fry is already wearing it, just as he always does.

    • During the opera, Beezlebot picks up the Preacherbot and pulls him on stage. In 1ACV09 "Hell Is Other Robots", Preacherbot keeps saying how evil Robot Hell and the devil are, so it is a bit odd that he does not react to being picked up by Beezlebot.

    • Fry appears on the album covers for his music shown in the TV ad Zoidberg is watching with his own human hands, not the devil's robot hands.

  • QUOTES (36)

    • Lyrics to "I Want My Hands Back"

      Fry: (spoken) What do you want?!
      Robot Devil:
      I want my hands back!

      (The Robot Devil roars with laughter and causes flames to appear on-stage.)

      A deal's a deal
      Even with a dirty dealer!

      Robot Devil:
      Very well. Then I'll take
      What I want from Leela!

      (The Robot Devil pulls Leela out of the audience and onto the stage.)

      Robot Devil:
      Leela has promised me her hand.

      (The audience gasps.)

      Fry, you do not understand!

      I should have revealed
      I've been deafened by Bender.
      The shame.
      The shame!
      But I feared you'd stop writing
      This musical splendor.
      Deception's the curse
      Of my whimsical gender.

      He gave me mechanical ears,
      Effective, though just a bit garish.
      In return, without shedding a tear,
      I agreed that I'd give him my hand.

      Robot Devil:
      In marriage!

      Fry: (spoken) Huh?

      Leela: (spoken) What?!

      Robot Devil:
      You'd give me your hand in marriage!

      Is this really happening
      Or just being staged?

      It can't be real.

      Not if Leela is engaged.

      That isn't what I meant!
      That' isn't what I signed!

      Robot Devil:
      (taking out the contract)
      You should have checked the wording
      In the fine...

      Leela: (spoken, reading) "I'll give you my hand..."

      Leela and Robot Devil:
      "...in marriage."

      (reading from a dictionary)
      "The use of words expressing something
      Other than their literal intention."
      Now that...IS...irony!

      (The Robot Devil then reaches into the audience and takes out the Reverend Preacherbot.)

      Robot Devil:
      I will marry her now
      And confine her to Hell.
      How droll.
      How droll!
      Where Styx is a river
      And not just a band
      (Though they'll play our reception
      If all goes as planned.)
      Unless, Fry, you surrender
      MY HANDS!!!

      (Fry gets up from his chair and looks at the metal hands he possesses as the music becomes solemn.)

      Destiny has cheated me
      By forcing me to decide upon
      The woman that I idolize
      Or the hands of an automaton.

      Without these hands I can't complete
      The opera that was captivating her.
      But if I keep them and she marries him,
      Then he'll prob'ly won't want me dating her.

      (The audience applauds.)

      Richard Nixon's Head: (spoken) Row-rowoo!!

      Zapp: (spoken, rhyming the latter's first syllable with "pen") "Brave-o!" "En-core!"

      I can't believe the Devil
      Is so unforgiving!

      I can't believe
      Everybody's just ad-libbing!

      (The Robot Devil keeps Leela, who is trying to escape, in his grasp.)

      Reverend Preacherbot:
      By the power vested in me
      By the State of New New York --

      Fry: (spoken) No, stop!
      Take my hands,
      You evil...metal...doooooooooooork!!!

      (The Robot Devil laughs gleefully and chops Fry's hands off.)

    • (Deleted scene)
      Robot Devil: Well I'm the robotic prince of darkness and you're some sort of moron.

    • Hedonismbot: Surgery in an opera, how wonderfully decadent. And just as I was beginning to lose interest.

    • Robot Devil: Ooo, out of aerosol, also ironic.
      Bender: Oh yeah, well bite my shiny metal (realizing he traded away his bottom metal plate) Ohhhh noooo!

    • Robot Devil: Hello Fry, ahahahahaha. Just dropped by to make sure you're as happy with our little deal as I am... Oh, give me back my hands. These things are always touching me in places.
      Fry: Hehehe, yeah they get around. But I'm afraid we had a deal.
      Robot Devil: Ohhhh, it looks like I wasted a bus trip.
      Fry: Yes you did.

    • Hedonismbot: A man writing an opera about a woman. Hahahah, oh sirrah, how deliciously absurd.

    • Scruffy: Somebody called the "Robot Devil" is here to see somebody called "Fry."

    • Leela: Please don't stop playing, Fry. I want to hear how it ends.

    • Bender: Hmmm... I don't recall ever fighting Godzilla, but that is so what I would have done.

    • Zoidberg: Your music is bad and you should feel bad!

    • Fry: Hey Bender, as long as you know, I have a Holophoner recital Tuesday and I would really like to have someone there, please?
      Bender: Fine I'll go already. You know sometimes I wish your real parents were still alive.(pause) Not often though.

    • Robot Devil: Calculon, old friend! May I borrow your ears?
      Calculon: Well, I suppose I owe you for this unholy acting talent!

    • Bender: I choose not to understand these signs.

    • Tinny Tim: Extra! Extra! Greatest opera of all time sucks!
      Zoidberg: I'll take eight!

    • Farnsworth: I can't believe the devil is so unforgiving.
      Zoidberg: I can't believe everyone is just ad-libbing!

    • Bender: The use of words expressing something other than their literal intention... Now that is..."irony!"

    • Zoidberg: I watch TV with that guy!

    • Robot Devil: Ah how delightfully ironic.
      Bender: It's not ironic, it's just mean. Take this!

    • Robot Devil: Ah, my ridiculously circuitous plan is one-quarter complete!

    • Robot Devil: Ah Bender, this is a surprise! For you. Finding me in the refrigerator.
      Bender: True but at least I don't have the hiccups anymore. What up?
      Robot Devil: Oh well it so happens I'm in the mood to make a deal with you.
      Bender: Forget it, you can't tempt me.
      Robot Devil: Really? There's nothing you want?
      Bender: Hm. I forgot you could tempt me with things I want.

    • Fry: Leela! You shouldn't be listening. I-I don't want you to hear it 'til it's done.
      Leela: But it's so beautiful.
      Fry: So's a peacock but you don't eat it 'til it's cooked.

    • Hedonismbot: Ah Fry, congratulations. Your latest performance was as delectable as dipping my bottom over and over into a bath of the silkiest oils and creams!
      Fry: Thank you sir, that's exactly what I was going for.

    • Zoidberg (dials phone): Only $14.99 for a two-record set. Two records! Oh Zoidberg, at last you're becoming a crafty consumer! [Someone on the other end picks up.] Hello? I'll take eight!

    • Fry: Robot Devil? I get your hands? Zam!
      Robot Devil: Oh what an appallingly ironic outcome.
      Bender: It's not ironic it's just coincidental. Now fork over those lady-fingers cookie!

    • Fry: I don't know. It doesn't seem entirely moral to -
      Bender: Fry if you don't take this offer right now I will lose all respect for you and punch you.

    • Mrs. Mellenger: Hello Philip. And you must be Mr Bender. Philip's told me so much about you. Is it true that you're a robot?
      Bender: I prefer the term "love machine."

    • Bender: Lessons? Oh that's rich! Isn't it time you gave up all hope of ever improving yourself in any way?
      Fry: I know I should but I just can't.

    • Fry: Bender?? I was just not playing the holophonor.
      Bender: Yeah well you should try not stinking at it.

    • Mrs. Mellanger: Mr. Bender, I simply cannot teach your child.
      Bender: Then good day, madam! (He and Fry leave. Bender sticks his head in a second later.)
      Bender: We hope to see you soon for tea!

    • Bender:(to a mother at her son's recital) Wow, your kid is great. How hard did you say you had to hit him?
      Mother:Fairly hard.

    • Leela: (About Fry's Robot Hands) Ah! They're so cold!
      Robot Devil (Offscreen) Yet hell is so hot! A-HA-HA-HA-HA-HAA!....can I have my hands back?
      Fry: No!
      Robot Devil: You're not nice!

    • Fry: That could be my beautiful soul sitting naked on a couch. If I could just learn to play this stupid thing.
      Bender: Oh, but you can! Though you may have to metaphorically make a deal with the devil. And by devil, I mean Robot Devil. And by metaphorically I mean get your coat.

    • Fry: My hands! My horrible human hands! And what'd you do to my nails?
      Robot Devil: I cleaned them.

    • Robot Devil: This opera's as lousy as it is brilliant!

    • Robot Devil: Your lyrics lack subtlety. You can't just have your characters announce how they feel! That makes me feel angry!

    • Robot Devil: Well, it looks like it's back to robot hell for me. come on Nixon.

  • NOTES (7)

    • This episode was nominated for a Emmy Award for Outstanding Music and Lyrics.

    • This episode was nominated for a Annie Award for Outstanding Music in an Animated Television Production.

    • The final line in the episode took a while to record due to Katey Sagal being cast in the new show 8 Simple Rules.

    • On the Season 4 DVD main menu, there's a large alien easter egg. Hover over the title for this episode, and then press left, then select. You will see a giant block of text written in the original alien code.

    • This was originally the last episode of Futurama, until Comedy Central picked up the show to air the 4 direct to DVD movies, the first of which being in 2008. The films are reconfigured into seperate episodes, as well as new content being added.

    • You can hear a table read for this episode on the season four DVD. Go to the episode and press up (you will see the Robot Devil's hands on the right) and press 'enter'

    • When Futurama was on hiatus, Matt Groening and crew made this as a last episode of Futurama just so the show would end on a good note. It was not confirmed at the time though if this would indeed be the last episode. When it finally came down to the wire, this episode was put in last.


    • Rodgers And Hammerstein
      When Leela talks about her ex-boyfriend, Bender asks "So musicians really Rodger your Hammerstein?", which is a reference to the songwriters Rodgers and Hammerstein.

    • Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
      The Robot Devil's 'marraige plan' to get back his hands is similar to the plan of Count Olaf's in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. In the first book of the series, The Bad Beginning, Count Olaf tries to marry Violet Baudelaire in a play to get her fortune, but he ends up failing.

    • Foundation and Empire
      In an interview, Matt Groening admitted that the holophonor was taken from the Isaac Asimov classic novel Foundation and Empire, in which the main villain the Mule, or Magnifico Gigantico as he was known to by his inner circle, played a similar mental-audio-visual device called the visi-sonor.

    • Gershwin
      Fry's opera, particularly the part where the Robot Devil chimes in, sounds awfully like a parody of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.

    • Title: The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings
      The title comes from a twist on the the old saying, "Idle hands are the Devil's playthings."

    • Chaplin's Modern Times
      The holophonic scene where Fry and Leela walk off into the distance hand in hand is much like the Tramp and the Waif in Charlie Chaplin's films. Additionally, just as this was the final Futurama episode, Modern Times was the final Chaplin film to feature his famous Tramp character.

    • Plot: Robert Johnson
      The complete episode is a reference on famous Blues artist Robert Johnson and his "Crossroad Blues". In it he tells how he came to be such a good guitar player: He went to a certain crossroad in the midst of Mississippi and made a deal with the devil.
      The most famous version of that song is by Eric Clapton (variously performed and recorded under the title "Crossroads").
      Walter Hill's movie *Crossroads* is also based on the song.

    • Donkey Kong
      A holophone song has two persons dancing up stairs, when suddenly a barrel rolls down and they both jump over it getting 100 points, this is a reference to the original Donkey Kong arcade game.