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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Futurama timeline

I've seen a bundle of Futurama timelines around the place and I found them all to be inadequate, because they don't, by a long shot, include every conceivable dated event from the show. It's easy to guess at dates from things like "Pine trees went extinct eight hundred years ago" but that seems to be the limit of effort put in. So I went through, watched the whole 72-episode run again - yes, this is entirely my own work - and took notes in preparation for this, my considerably more exhaustive Futurama timeline.

Anything with a question mark in the date is probable, but not known for definite. A tilde (~) indicates that the date is approximate.

Only relatively few episodes have specific dates attached to them, but dates for the rest of them can be guessed at with a fair degree of certainty. For this purpose, I have made the simple assumption that the chronological order in which episodes occur is the same as the order of production code. There were four production seasons of roughly 18 episodes apiece. Space Pilot 3000 (1ACV01) is the first, The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings (4ACV18) is the last. This system enables all the episodes to be placed on the timeline, with only a little uncertainty and only one episode (Roswell That Ends Well) definitely out of sequence.

A slight anomaly is that this results in about 20 episodes taking place between January 1 and February 14, 3002. Hey ho. There are a few other interesting notes which you'll find as you read.

At this point the time-stream diverges. As is well recorded, Nibbler is hidden underneath the desk that Fry will sit at as the new millennium rolls in, intending to deliberately make Fry fall in the cryogenics tube, so that in the future (specifically, the episode "The Why Of Fry") he can defeat the brainspawn on behalf of all intelligent life.

In one timeline (timeline A) this goes ahead as planned. In timeline B, a Fry arrives from the future, sent back in time by the brains, just in time to deliver to Nibbler the dire warning, "Scootie-Puff Junior sucks!" This will have significant consequences, as we shall see in the year 3002 or so. Either way, Nibbler's plan proceeds as envisaged:

It is here that the split caused in 1999 becomes significant. Fry is sent by the Nibblonians into the brains' InfoSphere so that he can destroy it. In timeline A, Fry's vehicle - a Scootie-Puff Junior - shatters in his hands, and he is sucked along with the InfoSphere into an empty universe. The brains then send him back in time to 1999, timeline B: see above.

In timeline B, thanks to Fry's warning in 1999, the Nibblonians provide Fry with a Scootie-Puff Senior with which he escapes the InfoSphere in time.


Futurama has a pretty rich timeline which is much more complete and consistent than most people would imagine. Whether the writers are aware of this and have a definite plot of future history written, or they just got lucky, is unknown, but there is only one definite contradiction in the whole series' run (look up Hermes' Olympic exploits in 2980, then in 2984), which in fact is very impressive. One can only hope that if (and when) further Futurama episodes are made, Futurama's writers have the sense to respect and work within the continuity they have created for themselves.

Original here

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