|Philip J. Fry|
|First appearance||"Space Pilot 3000"|
|Voiced by||Billy West|
|Relatives||Brother: Yancy Fry
Distant nephew: Professor Farnsworth
Significant other: Turanga Leela
|Origin||New York City, New York, United States|
Philip J. Fry, commonly known simply by his surname, Fry, is a fictional character and the main protagonist of the animated sitcom Futurama. He is voiced by Billy West using a version of his own voice as he sounded when he was 25.
Born in the 20th century in New York City, Fry is a dimwitted man in his 20s, though the episode "The Luck of the Fryrish" seems to imply he was 30 at the time of his freezing. He is a pizza delivery boy who, during the first few seconds of the year 2000, fell into a cryonic tank while delivering a pizza to Applied Cryogenics. He remains frozen until the last day of the year 2999. He then meets the one-eyed cryogenics counselor Leela and a cigar-smoking, booze-fueled, kleptomaniac robot Bender. Together, they are employed by Fry's distant nephew, the senile and demented old scientist Professor Farnsworth, as the crew of his delivery company Planet Express.
In the past Fry had an older brother named Yancy; a dog named Seymour; and a girlfriend named Michelle (who dumped him in the first episode "Space Pilot 3000", just before he was frozen). Fry had a lifelong sibling rivalry with his older brother Yancy, due to Fry's perception that Yancy steals everything from him and vice versa. After dropping out of Coney Island Community College, he then got a job as a delivery boy at Panucci's Pizza.
Personality and abilities
Characterized as simple, sweet, naïve and immature, Fry regards Bender as his closest friend. He also has strong feelings for Leela, although he lacks the intelligence required for articulating his emotions; thus, for most of the series his love remains (sometimes coldly) unrequited, though not entirely without hope. She does occasionally return his interest throughout the series, and in the movie Into the Wild Green Yonder she admits to loving him back. At the end of that film, they are seen sharing a kiss as they enter a wormhole, and subsequently begin dating. Despite his low intelligence, Fry is a very caring and kind-hearted person who often goes out of his way to help his friends, even if he is sometimes oblivious to their problems. He tolerates all of his friends' quirks and is notable as the only staff member to treat Doctor Zoidberg decently. Although at times lacking in self-awareness, Fry always tries to do the right thing and fix his mistakes. Fry has shown remarkable skill playing video games, (even mastering the 31st-century's version on the Internet), and in Bender Should Not Be Allowed on TV is seen successfully playing a game despite not looking at the screen. This skill carries over to using Planet Express Ship's laser gun. Despite his laziness, Fry has also exhibited remarkable bravery and self-sacrifice on occasion and has even displayed flashes of stagnant intelligence. Also, despite his laziness and clumsy behavior, Fry has proved to be a competent fighter in Law and Oracle and Fun on a Bun, the latter episode showing that Fry is skilled enough to hold his own against Leela herself in direct physical combat. He has also survived a heart attack caused by Bender.
In the episode "The Why of Fry", Leela's seemingly oblivious pet Nibbler reveals himself as the reason for Fry's freezing; because Fry lacks the Delta brainwave, he can withstand the intellect-draining onslaught of the evil Brainspawn and is immune to the Dark One's mind reading in Into the Wild Green Yonder. Nibbler's race, the Nibblonians, dub him "The Mighty One". Through prediction (on the eve of 1999, as the Nibblonians lack the ability to travel through time), they guessed that Fry would be the one to save the world from the evil Brainspawn. Because his natural lifespan would not extend to the right millennium, however, Nibbler is sent to make the aforementioned delivery call to push an unsuspecting Fry into the cryogenic tube, to re-emerge December 31, 2999.
Leela is Fry's main love interest, and his love for her provides a major plot line throughout the series. Fry first begins to show a serious interest in her from the second season onwards, although she constantly turns him down for other dates due to his immaturity, though she says that she loves his boyish charm. Leela initially sees Fry as a friend and nothing more, but deeper affection for him appears occasionally, such as on the numerous occasions when he risks his life for hers ("The Sting"; "Love and Rocket").
Fry's feelings for Leela are openly displayed throughout the series. In "The Sting", Fry throws himself in front of a baby Queen Bee to protect Leela, resulting in the bee's stinger completely penetrating his torso. In "Love and Rocket", upon noticing that Leela's oxygen tank was running on 'critical', he attaches her oxygen tube to his tank, giving her his oxygen and almost asphyxiating himself. In "Parasites Lost", Fry becomes infected with symbiotic "parasites" which enhance his muscles and intelligence, allowing him to attract Leela's romantic attention. However, fearing that Leela was attracted to him only for his worms, he rids himself of them in a failed bid to begin a genuine relationship. In "Time Keeps on Slippin'", Fry moves the stars to write a love note to Leela, but the message is blown up before she can read it. In the final episode of the initial run, "The Devil's Hands are Idle Playthings", Fry trades hands with the Robot Devil in order to compose an opera about Leela in which they fall in love. When Fry returns the Robot Devil's hands to prevent him from forcing Leela to marry him, the opera deteriorates, causing the audience to leave. Fry sadly walks off the stage. Leela is the only one who remains behind, asking Fry not to stop because she wants to hear how it ends. He picks up his holophonor and composes a crude ending in which the stage-Fry and stage-Leela share a single kiss.
In the film Futurama: Bender's Big Score Leela falls in love with a seemingly perfect man, Lars, and they soon become engaged. However, Lars leaves Leela on her wedding day explaining later that as a time paradox he is doomed, and that he wouldn't marry her only to have her lose him soon after. Through this he then reveals that he is in fact the time paradox of Fry, who had undergone physical changes due to an explosion and become more mature through twelve years of age and experience.
At the end of the film Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder, Leela openly admits to loving Fry, and they commence an openly romantic relationship from the episode "Rebirth" onwards. In "The Prisoner of Benda" they have "sex", albeit in differing bodies. The on-again, off again nature of their relationship causes Leela to leave Planet Express and Fry in "Overclockwise", however by the end of the episode, Leela returns to Planet Express and seemingly reunites with Fry. Bender reveals to both Fry and Leela their "ultimate fate" that he learned while he was overclocked. The audience is never shown the contents, but through their facial expressions it is clear that while the journey for them may be bumpy, Fry and Leela will ultimately end up happy.
In later episodes, such as "The Butterjunk Effect" and "Fun on a Bun," Fry and Leela are shown to be in a relationship, though the events of the series precipitate frequent arguments and breakups. These issues are usually resolved within the episode, leaving Fry and Leela still together at the end.
During the series finale on September 4, 2013, Fry after nearly losing Leela during a freak accident at the moon decided that it was time for him to propose. Wanting the moment of his proposal to last longer he stole Professor Farnsworth's time machine remote that turns back time every 10 seconds. An accident from him falling off the Vampire State Building while waiting for Leela broke the remote and froze the universe in time except for Leela and Fry. Leela accepted Fry's proposal even though they are the only two moving people in the world and lived a happy and long life together till their old age. The Professor showed up during one of their anniversaries and repaired the time machine but informed them it will do a reset of their lives, with no memory of the lifetime they spent. Fry asks Leela if they want to go another round of it again to which they returned in time with the Professor and credits rolled.
Michelle (voiced by Kath Soucie in the first appearance, Sarah Silverman in the second appearance) is Fry's on-and-off girlfriend from the 20th century. Shortly before Fry is frozen, she dumps him for a man named Constantine (called Charles in "The Cryonic Woman"), whom she later marries. They eventually split up, and she decides to freeze herself to try again in the distant future. She wakes up in 3002, meets Fry again, and restarts her relationship with him. However, she fails to fit into the 31st century life to which Fry has become so accustomed, and so asks him to freeze himself with her for another thousand years. This plan fails, as does the rekindled relationship, so Fry leaves her. She later is shown in a limousine with the recently unfrozen Pauly Shore. In the episode "Proposition Infinity," she is again shown with Pauly Shore, and the implication is that they are now married.
During a trip on the luxury starliner Titanic, Amy used Fry as her fake boyfriend to avoid being set up by her parents with an unattractive potential husband. Unfortunately, Leela was also using Fry as her fake fiancé to ward off the attentions of Zapp Brannigan. Potential embarrassment was averted by catastrophic damage to the ship, and Amy won the battle of the bogus boyfriends.
In "Put Your Head on My Shoulders", Fry and Amy are trapped together in a desert on Mercury and realize they have a lot in common. While being towed to the nearest gas station to refuel, they have sex in the car. They continue the relationship back home (with sexual relations implied), but Fry intends to end it the day before Valentine's Day because he felt that they were spending too much time together. An accident ends with Fry's head being temporarily attached to Amy's body, causing much tension due to Fry's decision to break up and Amy's subsequent date, forcing Leela to step in and distract Amy's date to save Fry from an awkward situation. Despite their break-up, they remain good friends.
Although Billy West stated in an interview that the name "Philip" was given to Fry by Matt Groening as a homage to the then-recently deceased Phil Hartman, for whom the role of Zapp Brannigan was created, Groening said during the 2013 Futurama panel at the San Diego Comic-Con that the name was actually given to the character after Groening's father "Homer Phillip Groening".
According to Groening, Fry's character developed over time while still keeping his qualities as a loser and the characteristics which writers hoped would make him appeal to the target young male audience. Fry's character is essentially a bungling, stubborn slob with a heart of gold that cannot get ahead in the world, yet he does have a slight glimmer of hope. Fry's clothing of a red windbreaker jacket, white t-shirt and blue jeans is based on James Dean's outfit from Rebel without a Cause.
Fry is voiced by Billy West, who also voices Doctor Zoidberg, Hubert J. Farnsworth and various other characters in the show. Although West auditioned for the part it was originally given to Charlie Schlatter; however, after a casting change he was offered the job. The voice West uses for Fry has been described as that of a "generic Saturday-morning good guy". West admits that he intentionally made Fry sound similar to his own real voice claiming that keeping the "cartoony" aspects out of it would make it harder for someone else to imitate the same voice. He notes that the voice is higher than his own and that he tried to duplicate the voice he had at age 25 which he describes as "this whiny, complaining voice — this plain vanilla voice". West also voices Lars Fillmore in Futurama: Bender's Big Score, who is a time travel duplicate of Fry with an injured larynx, and therefore, a slightly altered voice. The producers initially considered having a different voice actor do Lars' voice in order to keep viewers from guessing his true identity, but ultimately decided it would not make sense if anyone besides West did the voice.
- "Billy West: The Many (Cartoon) Voices In His Head". Fresh Air (National Public Radio). July 15, 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-05. "'His voice is basically what I sounded like when I was 25. Kinda plain vanilla. I had nothing special about my voice, really. And I just thought, 'Well, I know that character so well.' ... [T]o try to do someone else's real voice is kind of tough.'"
- Wertheimer, Ron (1999-03-26). "A Feeling We're Not in Springfield . . .". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-19. "Originally I had auditioned for Dr. Zoidberg, Bender, the Professor and Fry. But I didn’t get Fry — it went to Charlie Schlatter, who’s a heck of an actor and a great voice guy, but they just changed plans. They said to me, 'Fry’s 25, so bear that in mind.' It became a high-pitched version of me, trying to remember the dumb innocence of being 25. At that age I had no idea where I was going, I was working for U-Haul shoveling dirt out of trucks, I was washing dishes at nursing homes. I always thought I had this whiny, complaining voice — this plain vanilla voice, but I guess if you’re in neutral, you can go anywhere"
- Leela gives Fry's age in the first season episode "My Three Suns".
- At the beginning of the episode, a flashback goes back to his birth; the year is implied to be 1969 as a radio broadcast is heard with the New York Mets winning the World Series.
- Joel Keller (2006-06-15). "Billy West: The TV Squad Interview". TV Squad.com. Retrieved 2007-06-09.
- "Comic-Con 2013 - Futurama Panel". ComedyCentral.com. 2013-07-18. Retrieved 2014-02-03.
- Sterngold, James (1999-07-22). "Bringing an Alien And a Robot to Life; The Gestation of the Simpsons' Heirs". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-20.
- Cohen, David X.; Groening, Matt; Moore, Rich; Vanzo, Gregg; DiMaggio, John (2002). Futurama: Volume One DVD commentary for the episode "Space Pilot 3000" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. "Matt Groening: Oh and, Fry's wearing James Dean's outfit in Rebel Without a Cause."
- Itzkoff, Dave (2010-06-24). "‘Futurama’-Rama: Welcome Back to the World of Tomorrow". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-08.
- This is mentioned on the DVD commentary of Bender's Big Score.
- Philip J. Fry at The Infosphere: The Futurama Wiki
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