It’s the one with the dog that makes the internet cry forever.
Bender (John DiMaggio) and Fry (Billy West) are practicing a magic act, when Fry learns that his old pizzeria was unearthed and has been put into a museum. When they go to visit the exhibit, Fry finds a fossilized dog that he realizes was his dog, Seymour Asses (he was named for a prank call). Fry tries to take Seymour with him, but is kicked out of the museum. He tries to dance in front of the building as a form of protest, to no avail, until he tells the curators a number of facts about Seymour that they consider to be more worthwhile than the dog, so they return it to him. The Professor (West) finds that Seymour was fast-fossilized, meaning that he can be cloned with all his memories. Fry is ecstatic, but Bender becomes worried that Fry likes the dog more than him.
The Professor needs a while to reformat the clone-o-mat, so it’s time for the flashback. It turns out that on the night Fry got frozen, Seymour tried to stop Fry. Fry, not knowing what was going to happen, tells the dog to just wait until he comes back. Later, Seymour tried to lead Fry’s family to him, but Fry’s dad, Yancy (DiMaggio), refuses to follow him due to his fear of Y2K. The dog eventually gets them to come along, but even though he paws at Fry’s cryo-tube, the family never realizes what is happening.
In the present, which is the future, Bender’s jealousy grows as Fry becomes more and more focused on preparing for Seymour’s return, to the point that Fry ignores Leela (Katey Sagal) and Amy (Lauren Tom) sensually wrestling. Finally, the Professor is ready to clone Seymour using the power of Geothermal Energy, so he lowers the lab next to the molten core of the Earth. Seeing the dog about to be cloned, Bender grabs the fossil and throws it into the magma. Seeing Fry break down, Bender realizes that Fry truly loved the dog and jumps into the pit, swimming through the liquid rock until he brings Seymour back. They’re about to revive Seymour when Fry realizes that Seymour was 15 when he died, meaning he lived 12 years after Fry disappeared. Fry, thinking that Seymour probably forgot about him and had a full life, refuses to go through with the cloning.
Unfortunately, the audience is shown that Fry was wrong. In a time lapse montage set to the song “I Will Wait for You” by Connie Francis, it’s revealed that Seymour spent the rest of his life waiting for Fry to return home. The dog loyally looked for its master to return until, his coat grey and his eyes weary, he laid down and went to sleep, seemingly for the last time.
This episode is simultaneously famous and infamous. The ending of this episode is one of the most powerful emotional punches the show ever delivered. It spends the episode showing us the simple and beautiful friendship between Fry and his dog, from their first meeting to their bonding over “Walking on Sunshine” to Seymour trying to save Fry from his eventual fate. We even see how he tries to save Fry after he gets frozen. When Fry realizes that Seymour lived another 12 years beyond what the audience had said, he makes a noble decision, thinking that Seymour likely had a happy life without him and deserves to rest in peace. But what he didn’t take into account was that Fry was Seymour’s world. Watching a show of a dog spending his entire life waiting for the love of his life to come back, with us knowing that he never will, turns Fry’s noble sacrifice into a pointless cruelty and, due to the show’s cancellation, it was never undone. It is genuinely heartbreaking and I don’t know how else to describe it.
Fan reactions to this episode were extremely intense. Since Futurama is ostensibly a comedy, this kind of ending isn’t really expected. Even in episodes like “Leela’s Homeworld,” where there is a sad montage, it at least has a happy ending associated with it. This episode doesn’t give you a respite, it doesn’t end on a joke, it doesn’t have a happy moral, it just dumps a painful series of images on you and lets you wallow. This was so painful to the audience that the creators had to undo the whole thing when they brought Futurama back with “Bender’s Big Score” by having an alternate Fry spend the 12 years with Seymour before the dog gets fossilized. In the second to last episode of the show, they even reference it again by having the title caption say “Not the Episode With the Dead Dog.” This episode is one of the most remembered in the show and, honestly, I considered adding it to my list of the 100 greatest television episodes of all time.
The rest of the episode really feels like nothing more than a set-up for this downer, although Bender’s jealousy is a rare revelation that he really does care about his relationship with Fry. At many points in the show, it’s implied, mostly by Bender, that Bender is mostly just using Fry, but here we see that he does in fact care about him.
This is an amazing episode that everyone needs to see, because it’s so unique.
When Bender throws Seymour into the lava, the Professor reveals that the dog might be able to be recovered because his fossil was made of Dolemite.
So, Dolomite limestone is a rock which frequently contains fossilized remains. Dolomite the mineral is used for decorative purposes or to make auto-glass because it survives high temperatures. Dolemite is a Blaxploitation film from the 1970s starring Rudy Ray Moore. It was mostly an over-the-top parody of other blaxploitation films based around a character that Moore made up during his stand-up routines.
In other words, this is a joke that works on three different levels. I love it.
See you next week, meatbags.
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