Futurama is easily one of the most tenacious shows in television history. Despite being canceled numerous times, it always seems to return – most notably next year, when Futurama gets revived once again, this time on Hulu. But why does Futurama always seem to come back? Because fans can’t get enough of the compelling, hilarious, and oftentimes complicated characters.
From episodes that downright make you cry, like “Jurassic Bark,” to episodes so complex they needed to create their own mathematical formula, like “The Prisoner of Benda,” Futurama is more than a cartoon. It’s deep and it’s smart. Naturally, this lays the perfect groundwork for compelling and hilarious characters that get to experience the rich world Futurama created. But who are the most likable characters in the beloved series?
Voiced by veteran actor Maurice LaMarche (his voice probably sounds familiar because he’s also the voice of Brain in Pinky and the Brain), Calculon is one of Futurama‘s most one-dimensional characters. He’s a hammy robotic soap star and the lead actor in the popular daytime series, All My Circuits. He’s melodramatic, he overacts, and he’s completely self-absorbed.
On the surface, he should be a hated character, but much like Troy McClure in The Simpsons and Lucile Bluth in Arrested Development, when a self-centered character is done right, they can completely steal the show and take control of every scene they’re in. Plus, with lines like, “I’d like to thank the Academy, my agent, and most of all, my operating system, Windows Vista …,” how could you not laugh every time he’s on camera?
Sadly, for much of Futurama‘s run, Hermes was a character that was never utilized to his fullest. He had his pot jokes and his trademark “sweet something of somewhere” lines, but as a whole, he was a glorified side character. Luckily, that all changed in season 6’s “Lethal Inspection,” where it’s revealed that Bender was actually a defective robot and should have been scrapped…but Hermes, who was working as the factory’s inspector at the time, couldn’t bring himself to kill baby Bender, ultimately letting him go into the world, despite his defect. It was heartwarming and a total tear-jerker, proving that Futurama still had tons of great stories to tell.
The episode was a critical hit and became one of the most touching in the entire series, and Hermes went from a throwaway supporting character to one of the most likable members of the Planet Express crew. Let’s hope the reboot continues to utilize him to his full potential.
He may have only been in one episode, but Slurms MacKenzie sure made a lasting impact on fans. In season 1’s “Fry and the Slurm Factory,” the series lampooned Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. In the episode, Fry and the crew win a trip to the Slurm factory, where an addictive soda is made from the rectal discharge of a giant alien queen.
At the start of the episode, Slurms is the company’s partying surfer-dude slug spokesperson, but once the nefarious secret is discovered, he helps the Planet Express crew escape by partying so hard the walls literally collapse, trapping the alien queen and killing himself. Thanks to his party-hard attitude and his heroism, Slurms MacKenzie is still one of the most recognizable Futurama characters more than 20 years after his episode premiered. Party on, Slurms, Party on …
Ruthless, successful, conniving, and brilliant, Mom is a force to be reckoned with. She is the owner of Mom’s Friendly Robot Company – the producer of almost every robot on the planet – and she presents herself to the world as a homely, almost Betty Crocker-like older woman. But in reality, she’s a domineering corporate tycoon who wants nothing but power and control over everything she sees.
Her two-sidedness and caustic remarks are fantastic. Plus, with blisteringly hilarious lines like, “One Mother’s Day 70 years ago, the only man I ever loved walked out on me. Some snot-eating bastards say it made me a bitter woman …” you can’t help but love her. Mom’s ruthlessness is oddly likable, perhaps because the character is so perfectly crafted, thanks largely to the voice acting of Tress MacNeille, who also voices numerous characters on The Simpsons, including Mrs. Skinner.
An often-overlooked Planet Express crew member is also one of the fans’ favorites. Scruffy wasn’t even included in season 1, instead first properly appearing in season 2’s Anthology of Interest I. The series even pokes fun at his sudden appearance with Leela saying, “I’ve never seen you before…” after Scruffy walks in, introducing himself as the Planet Express janitor.
Since then, Scruffy has gone on to pop up randomly throughout the series, often looking at naughty magazines and always claiming to be on break. While only on-screen for mere seconds per episode, Scruffy always gets the best lines that really showcase his personality, like in the episode where Hermes asks what exactly it is Scruffy does at Planet Express. Scruffy casually responds, “My job? Toilets and boy-yeh-lers, boy-yeh-lers and toilets … plus that one boy-yeh-lin toilet.” It’s no surprise why he went from a nonexistent character to a regular part of the crew … you just can’t get enough of him.
What’s not to like about Hypnotoad? He’s everyone’s favorite mind-controlling galactic overlord – he’s even the star of his own sitcom, Everybody Loves Hypnotoad. He’s achieved the kind of fame and success only a hypnotic toad can. But Hypnotoad’s fame and popularity have stretched far beyond Futurama.
Nowadays, he’s become an iconic GIF and meme staple, and he’s even the unofficial mascot of Texas Christian University (TCU) and can regularly be found on posters and even on the big screen at their football games. In fact, in the DVD extras for Bender’s Big Score, a full 22-minute episode of Everybody Loves Hypnotoad was released because fans kept demanding more of him.
Leela is a mutant whose parents gave her up for adoption as a baby to trick the world into thinking she was an alien. Why? Because in Futurama, mutants aren’t legally allowed to live above ground. That origin story alone is heartbreaking enough, already giving Leela a depth that few cartoon characters have.
But throughout the show’s run, Leela experienced many more triumphs and heartbreaks, from becoming the captain of the Planet Express ship to the very last episode where she and Fry get trapped in a never-ending time loop. She is courageous, strong, smart, and able to deal with whatever the universe throws at her. Without Leela, it’s unlikely Planet Express would ever get anything done. It’s impossible not to like and respect her for all she does, and it doesn’t hurt that she’s voiced by the fantastic Katey Sagal.
The lovable goofball, the bumbling fool, and the downtrodden slacker, Fry is the most relatable character of the entire Planet Express crew. After being frozen in the year 1999, he wakes up in the year 3,000, only to find that everyone he ever knew is long dead and the planet has undergone drastic changes. Audiences are naturally drawn to Fry since he’s the only character from the present day, serving as an anchor for viewers to cling to as he explores this new reality for the first time, just like those watching the show.
But what really makes Fry likable are the moments where he shows he cares. From his beautiful opera to Leela to his undying love for his dog Seymour, Fry proved on numerous occasions that he’s more than just an oaf. He also has a big heart, big dreams, and a real desire to be someone. Plus, who can forget, “Shut up and take my money!”
Aw, poor Zoidberg. Somehow, he is Planet Express’ doctor, despite his absolute ineptitude and often life-threatening medical negligence. It’s also not uncommon to find Zoidberg loitering in dumpsters, eating trash, and wallowing in his own failure. But it’s these failures that make audiences love him so much.
We’ve all struggled at work, we’ve all lost opportunities, and we’ve all felt lonely. We’ve all been Zoidberg at certain points in our lives and that’s why you can’t help but love him. There’s a vulnerability to Zoidberg’s destitution. Something about him being at rock bottom draws you in and makes you root for him. Sure, you laugh at his ineptitude, but also, you secretly want him to succeed because, in actuality, he’s incredibly likable.
Futurama wouldn’t be Futurama without Bender. He’s a smoking, drinking, gambling, hooker-obsessed wise-ass. And yet, audiences love him for it. Maybe it’s because Bender says the things everyone else is too afraid to, or maybe it’s because his lines are just so damn funny. How could you not laugh at “I hope he didn’t die … unless he left a note naming me his successor, then I hope he did die.” He’s so shockingly selfish that it almost catches you off-guard, forcing you to just laugh and enjoy it.
He’s someone you’d probably never want to meet in real life, but in the safety of the show, he’s just so damn funny and likable. And if you don’t like him? Well, then he’d have no problem telling you to “Bite my shiny, metal ass.”
You can watch all 10 seasons of Futurama on Hulu.
- 10 times The Simpsons predicted the future
- The 10 most likable Big Bang Theory characters, ranked
- Celebrate Back to the Future Day with special three-movie bundle sale from Vudu
- Stranger Things 4 Volume 2 teaser hints at the last showdown
- Roll for initiative in Stranger Things 4’s final trailer