Futurama has so many allusions to Star Trek, they couldn’t be contained in one (or even two) list(s) — you can check out our first Star Trek references on Futurama article, here. The cult-classic animated sci-fi series from Matt Groening and David X. Cohen follows Philip J. Fry (Billy West) as he works for Planet Express delivery company. But while Fry, Captain Turanga Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender Bending Rodriguez (John DiMaggio) may not live in the post-capitalist utopia of the Federation, there are still plenty of references to Trek.
How many references to the greatest sci-fi franchise of them all are there on Futurama? This list still doesn’t make first contact with season 4’s all-Trek episode, “Where No Fan Has Gone Before.” The future is today: worry about it tomorrow.
In the world of Star Trek, interstellar travel is feasible thanks in part to the matter replicators. These devices can synthesize a variety of human foods. This makes it possible to explore areas that would otherwise be impossible due to the unavailability of food. However, due to the law of conservation of matter, that means the basic elements that will be synthesized into food must come from somewhere.
Fry learns this lesson in the Futurama season 1 episode “A Big Piece of Garbage.” When educating Fry about recycling in the future, Leela reveals the sandwich he’s eating is made from “old discarded sandwiches.”
The Empathy Chip
In the Star Trek: The Next Generation season 4 episode “Brothers,” it is revealed that Doctor Noonien Soong (Brent Spiner), creator of Data (Spiner), had designed an emotion chip. This chip would go on to play an important role in the TNG season 7 premiere “Descent, Part II,” as well as in the TNG movies Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Insurrection.
In the Futurama season 2 episode “I Second That Emotion,” Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth (West) reveals he has invented an “empathy chip” that will subject Bender to the emotions of his coworkers.
In Futurama season 2’s “Brannigan, Begin Again,” Zapp Brannigan (West) is put on trial. While there are few things more “Star Trek” than a trial episode, that’s not the only allusion in “Brannigan, Begin Again.”
The episode’s opening sequence sees Professor Farnsworth and Hermes Conrad (Phil LaMarr) explaining the Democratic Order of Planets (DOOP) to Fry. Farnsworth’s comparison to the United Nations is lost on Fry. However, he immediately comprehends Conrad’s comparison between the DOOP and “the Federation from your Star Trek program.”
In the Star Trek: The Original Series season 2 episode “Mirror, Mirror,” Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and several Enterprise crew members make first contact with the Mirror Universe. There, they encounter a parallel version of Spock (Leonard Nimoy). This more sinister Spock sports a goatee, a fact so startling to Kirk that he even brings it up in dialogue.
In the Futurama season 2 episode “The Lesser of Two Evils,” the PlanEx crew meets bending unit Flexo (DiMaggio). Flexo is identical in appearance, voice, and demeanor to Bender, except that Flexo possesses a goatee. When Fry suspects Flexo is evil, Bender accuses him of being prejudiced because of Flexo’s goatee. This perception might fairly be attributed to the goateed Spock when it comes to Sci-Fi. Ultimately, it is revealed that Bender was the evil one all along.
There are multiple Star Trek references in Futurama season 2’s “A Clone of My Own.” During the Professor’s sesquicentennial dinner, a former PlanEx captain makes an appearance. Captain Musky is based on Captain Christopher Pike (Sean Kenney) in the TOS season 1 2-part episode, “The Menagerie.” Furthermore, his name is a reference to the character, as well. Both “Pike” and “Musky” are types of fish.
Later in the episode, the Professor’s clone, Cubert Farnsworth (Kath Soucie), is introduced. In the audio commentary for the episode, Groening and Cohen discuss the inspiration for the character. While Groening describes the more general Sci-Fi trope of adding a genius child to the cast, Cohen specifically cites TNG‘s Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) as an inspiration for the character. Does this mean Cubert will be an interdimensional entity in Futurama season 11? Only time will tell.
All Around the Roddenberry Bush
First and foremost, the title of the Futurama season 2 episode “The Problem with Popplers” is a TOS reference. It alludes to season 2’s “The Trouble with Tribbles.”
But some of the episode’s dialogue also makes some direct Trek allusions. Early in the first act, the PlanEx ship lands on a remote planet. After scanning, Leela determines that it’s a “Type M” planet, alluding to the “Class M” planets of Star Trek (a good explanation is available in Star Trek: Prodigy‘s “Dreamcatcher“). Then, she declares that the planet is likely to have “Roddenberries.” This alludes to the surname of Star Trek‘s creator, Gene Roddenberry.
Al Gore’s Vice Presidential Action Rangers
In the third story of Futurama season 2’s “Anthology of Interest I,” a 20th-century Fry meets Al Gore (himself) and his team of Vice Presidential Action Rangers. Among their ranks is Nichelle Nichols (herself).
Although Nichols is playing a version of herself, she is introduced as having played Uhura on Star Trek. Furthermore, she appears in a uniform similar to Uhura’s and displays her mannerisms, while sitting at a console that resembles the Enterprise‘s control systems. Finally, after the universe is destroyed at the conclusion of the story, she laments: “Eternity with nerds! It’s the Pasadena Star Trek convention all over again.”
The Ancient Art of Karaoke
At the fifth Saturn Awards in January 1978, Shatner performed a cover of “Rocket Man” by Elton John. The memorable spoken word performance has been widely parodied in the intervening years.
In the Futurama season 3 episode “Amazon Women on the Moon,” Brannigan performs a spoken word parody of “Lola” by The Kinks. At times, this is almost a shot-for-shot recreation of Shatner’s “Rocket Man” performance. Furthermore, a chef reacts to Zapp’s singing by stating, “He sickens me.” As previously discussed, this is also a reference to one of Shatner’s most infamous moments.
Finger Alert Five
In the Futurama season 3 episode “Parasites Lost,” the PlanEx crew uses VR and tiny robots to virtually travel inside Fry’s body. While the basic premise pays homage to Fantastic Voyage, there are still Star Trek references to be found!
When the tiny PlanEx ship enters Fry’s nose, Bender responds by declaring, “We’re at Finger Alert Five.” In doing so, he adopts the classic “Uhura pose.” Furthermore, “Finger Alert Five” looks exactly like the well-known Star Trek “Red Alert” protocol.
In the TOS season 1 episode “The Enemy Within,” the Enterprise crew travels to Alfa 177. There, they encounter an unnamed creature. This creature is played by what is obviously a dog with a fake horn on his head.
In the Futurama season 3 episode “The Day the Earth Stood Stupid,” Leela places Nibbler (Frank Welker) in a pet show at Madison Cube Garden. While walking around the show, the PlanEx crew passes by another visitor carrying what appears to resemble (but is legally distinct from) an Alfa 177 canine.
The Conrads & the Freemans
Bonus entry! On Futurama, Hermes Conrad is played by Phil LaMarr, and his wife LaBarbara Conrad is played by Dawnn Lewis. Meanwhile, on Star Trek: Lower Decks, Captain Carol Freeman is played by Lewis, while her husband Admiral Alonzo Freeman is played by LaMarr.
It isn’t clear whether or not this parallel was intentional during the casting process. However, the audio commentaries for Lower Decks season 3 reveal that series creator Mike McMahan is indeed aware of the serendipitous similarity.
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