Roswell That Ends Well

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"Roswell That Ends Well"
Futurama episode
Futurama ep51.jpg
The Spaceship that landed in Roswell, New Mexico turns out to be Bender.
Episode no. Season three
Episode 19
Directed by Rich Moore
Written by J. Stewart Burns
Production code 3ACV19
Original air date December 9, 2001
Opening caption "Fun For The Whole Family (except Grandma and Grandpa)"
Opening cartoon "Congo Jazz" (1930)
Season three episodes
List of Futurama episodes

"Roswell That Ends Well" is the 19th episode of the third season of the animated television series Futurama. This episode, which won an Emmy Award, originally aired on December 9, 2001 as the season premiere of broadcast season four. It was written by J. Stewart Burns and directed by Rich Moore. The episode centers on an accidental time travel event that results in the main characters participating in the Roswell UFO Incident in 1947.[1]


As the crew watches a supernova from point-blank range, Fry puts a non-microwaveable metal "Iffy Pop" container into the ship's microwave. This causes a reaction between the microwave radiation and the "gravitons and graviolis" from the supernova that sends the ship to 1947. On their return to Earth, the crew finds a complete lack of a Global Positioning System, causing them to crash-land in Roswell, New Mexico.

Refusing to wear a seat belt like the rest of the crew, Bender is catapulted out of the front of the ship upon crash-landing and smashed to pieces. The crew and Bender's disembodied head go to seek out a way to return, leaving Zoidberg behind to pick up the pieces. However Zoidberg is captured by the U.S. military and taken to Roswell Air Base for experimentation. Assuming the pieces are the remnants of a flying saucer, the military "reconstructs" Bender's body as such.

Meanwhile, the microwave needed to return to the future has been destroyed and replacements have not been invented yet. A microwave antenna from the army base would work, but Professor Farnsworth warns against using it; they must preserve causality or risk changing history and doing damage to the future. While disguised as a soldier, Fry visits his grandfather, Enos, who is stationed at the base and engaged to Fry's grandmother Mildred. Near-accidents cause Fry to become obsessed with protecting Enos from possible harm after the Professor tells him he will cease to exist if Enos is killed. While obsessively trying to keep Enos safe from possible harm, Fry accidentally brings about his death by leaving him in an abandoned house located in the middle of a nuclear weapon testing range when he thought it was in the middle of nowhere; Bender pointedly remarks, "And you are outta here!"

Despite Enos being killed, Fry still exists. He encounters and consoles his beautiful would-be grandmother Mildred. She propositions him, and Fry deduces that since he is alive, Mildred must not have been his grandmother, so the two end up having sex. When the rest of the group finds him, the Professor insists that Mildred is indeed Fry's grandmother. Fry realizes that he is his own grandfather and panics; this makes the situation much worse and clear for Fry as Mildred starts to display elderly tendencies such as knitting and using a hearing trumpet. The Professor gives up on noninterference as they are running out of time to get back to the future.

The crew storms Roswell Air Base and steals the microwave dish. Fry and Leela rescue Zoidberg from an alien autopsy while the Professor grabs Bender's body. As the crew leaves Earth's atmosphere, Bender's head accidentally falls off the ship and they are forced to leave it behind in 1947. Back in the 31st century, Fry laments the loss of Bender, until he realizes that his head must still be where it landed in New Mexico. The crew returns to Roswell's ruins with a metal detector where they find Bender's head, perfectly unharmed from wear and saying he had been enjoying the centuries "until [they] showed up", and reattach it to his still-mangled, hovering, "UFO" body.


The writing team came up with the idea for this episode when they were planning the three plot lines for "Anthology of Interest II". As the idea developed they eventually had so much material for it that they broke it out as a separate episode.[2] The reason the concept was originally under consideration for the "What if..." scenario was that when Groening and Cohen originally created Futurama they decided there would not be any time travel; however they changed their mind and decided to go forward with the idea.[3] The writers did not want to create a situation that would leave fans wondering why the Planet Express crew could not simply travel through time on a regular basis. For this purpose they chose to have it occur unintentionally during a supernova as that was deemed to be a suitably rare occurrence.[2] Futurama has returned to the theme of time travel twice since; in Futurama: Bender's Big Score, although the cause of time travel is different, and in "The Late Philip J. Fry", which involves a time machine that can only travel forwards in time – to specifically avoid creating a paradox.

In this episode, director Rich Moore used screen position and character movement to mimic the time travel aspects of the plot. In the planning stages it was decided that actions that played to screen left would represent events from the past or a setback to the plot. Likewise, screen right indicated progress or moving past their problems.[4]

Cultural references[edit]

TV critic Rob Owen perceived the episode to have touched upon many of the plot devices and themes commonly seen in time travel stories, most notably the Back to the Future and Terminator movies.[1] The episode also shares much in common with the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Little Green Men".[5] Bender's head lying buried in the sand for centuries recalls the same thing happening to the android Data's head in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Time's Arrow".

Much of Enos' character is taken from Gomer Pyle,[1] such as his accent and use of Pyle’s trademark “Gawwwly!”, which was parodied as "Gadzooks!".[2] Enos's sexuality is likely a reference to the homosexuality of actor Jim Nabors, who played Pyle. Enos' Drill Sergeant also bears a strong resemblance to the character Sergeant Carter.

At one point, the song "I'm My Own Grandpa" is referenced, when Professor Farnsworth says "a lesson in not changing history from Mr. I'm-My-Own-Grandpa." This is a reference to the Robert A. Heinlein short story "All You Zombies", the protagonist of which is likewise his own ancestor.

The soylent products that the professor attempts to order is a reference to the 1973 film Soylent Green.

Broadcast and reception[edit]

The episode won an Emmy Award in the Outstanding Animated Program (Programming Less Than One Hour) category in 2002,[6] marking Futurama's first win in this category. Rich Moore also won an Annie Award for "Directing in an Animated Television Production" in 2002[7] and in 2006, IGN ranked the episode as the sixth best Futurama episode.[8] In 2001, executive producer David X. Cohen noted that this was one of his favorite episodes of the series.[9] Sci Fi Weekly gave the episode an "A" grade and noted that it was "a half hour of pure entertainment".[10] This episode is one of four featured in the Monster Robot Maniac Fun Collection, marking it as one of Matt Groening's favorite episodes from the series.[11] Claudia Katz, producer of Futurama, has also stated that this is one of her three favorite episodes of the series.[12] In 2013, it was ranked number 5 "as voted on by fans" for Comedy Central's Futurama Fanarama marathon.[13] Although the episode was well received by critics, it continued to do poorly in its time slot. The original airing was in 83rd place for the week with a 3.1 rating/5 share.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Rob Owen (2001-12-09). "Fox's 'Futurama' funny, freaky, fetching". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2007-06-30. 
  2. ^ a b c Cohen, David X (2003). Futurama season 3 DVD commentary for the episode "Roswell That Ends Well" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  3. ^ Groening, Matt (2003). Futurama season 3 DVD commentary for the episode "Roswell That Ends Well" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  4. ^ Moore, Rich (2003). Futurama season 3 Alternate DVD commentary for the episode "Roswell That Ends Well" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  5. ^ Booker, M. Keith. Drawn to Television: Prime-Time Animation from The Flintstones to Family Guy. pp. 115–124. 
  6. ^ Azrai, Ahmad (2004-10-31). "Farewell to the funny future". Asia Africa Intelligence Wire. Retrieved 2008-01-10. 
  7. ^ "30th Annual Annie Award Nominees and Winners". International Animated Film Society. 2002. Retrieved 2007-06-28. 
  8. ^ "Top 25 Futurama Episodes". Retrieved 2006-11-04. 
  9. ^ "David X. Cohen boards the Planet Express to find meaning in Futurama". Sci Fi Weekly. December 17, 2001. Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2007-06-18. 
  10. ^ "Futurama Premiere". Sci Fi Weekly. December 3, 2001. Archived from the original on 2007-11-05. Retrieved 2007-06-26. 
  11. ^ Gord Lacey (2005-05-11). "Futurama — Do the Robot Dance!". Retrieved 2007-06-26. 
  12. ^ Scott Weinberg (2007-11-14). "Interview: 'Futurama' Movie(s) Producer(s) & Director(s)!". Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  13. ^ "Futurama Fanarama marthon". 2013-08-25. Retrieved 2013-08-31. 
  14. ^ "Futurama, Family Guy Not Fairing Well". 2001-12-12. Retrieved 2007-07-04. 

External links[edit]