Futurama Fridays – S4E15 “The Farnsworth Parabox”

In one of the funniest episodes of the show, we find out what life is like on the other side of the universal boundary.

Warning up front: The episode labels the universes Universe A and Universe 1, which gets super confusing but I’m still adopting it.


Fry (Billy West) invites Leela (Katey Sagal) out on a date, but gets shot down as usual. Meanwhile, the Professor (West) conducts a reckless experiment that almost kills him, then gives the box containing the result of the experiment to the crew and tells them to shoot it into the sun. He orders them not to look into the box for any reason. Hermes (Phil LaMarr) puts Leela in charge. Fry and Bender (John DiMaggio) try to steal the box, but Leela tricks them into stealing random junk. Eventually, Leela flips a coin to decide if she should look into the box which lands on “look.” She looks inside, only to fall through it and land… back in the Planet Express building. Fry (Fry-1) walks in, with different hair and clothes, asking why she looks different. Leela says she doesn’t, only to be confronted by a different version of her (Leela-1) with red hair. 

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It’s the Box to end all Boxes. 

The other Professor (Professor-1) realizes what happened: The box he created contained Universe A (the main universe), while the Professor-A created a box containing Universe 1. Assuming that Universe-A must be evil, Professor-1 has Leela-1 abduct the rest of the Planet Express crew-A (except Hermes-A). Each group assumes the other is evil and finds out that the difference between their universes are the outcomes of coin flips. Each person is assigned to monitor their counterpart, which leads Fry-A-and Leela-A to find out that the other Fry and Leela are happily married. Finding out that everyone isn’t evil, the groups quickly bond with their counterparts, which drives Fry-A to anger when he finds out that only a single coin flip kept him from being with Leela. At the same time, the two Zoidbergs (West) partner together and steal the box containing Universe-A to get everyone’s attention. The next morning, Professor-1 announces that everyone is free to go, only for Hermes-1 to come in and ask why they aren’t shooting the box into the sun. The crews realize that Hermes-A is about to shoot THEIR box into the sun and try to hurry back to their universe. 

Image result for futurama the farnsworth parabox
Remember, all of the differences are from coin flips… somehow.

The Professor-1 tries to retrieve the hidden box, only to find out that it’s gone. The Professors start generating more boxes, hoping to find another box containing their universe. As they fail, the Zoidbergs return with the box, but they panic and flee into another universe, scattering the boxes containing other universe. Everyone starts to hop from universe to universe to find the Zoidbergs, finally managing to track them down. Both crews head to Universe-A and stop the destruction of the box. Leela-A gives Fry-A a chance to go out with her and the Professors each invert their boxes, resulting in each having a box that contains their own universe. Fry sits on the box, compressing the universe, but no one seems to notice.

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This would have been a decent show premise on its own.


This is one of the best episodes of the show. Part of it is watching all of the characters do some projected introspection in order to find out what is different, including finding out that Professor-1 removed his own brain and watching both of the Zoidbergs lie to each other about being successful. Seeing a version of Fry and Leela together that are happy was a major bit of fanservice and, since the show was about to end at the time, sets us up to believe the “happy” ending that is hinted at by the original finale. It’s also a nice touch that the alternate Fry (Fry-1) is more mature and the alternate Leela (Leela-1) more spontaneous than their counterparts, indicating that they both are improved by knowing each other. 

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Meanwhile, Fry-A gets beaten up at a Neil Diamond concert.

We’ve often seen the “mirror universe” trope and it’s even invoked within the episode, but in typical Futurama style it’s subverted by never having an “evil” universe. It just has a universe where stuff is different, but not necessarily better or worse. The most memorable sequence in this episode has to be the universe-hopping. We see a ton of gag universes ranging from Roman to Robot, all of which are pretty good for a laugh. Despite that it only lasts for a few minutes, it is one of the parts of the show that I best remembered for years. 

All the redheaded ones are single. Weird.

Overall, I love this episode. It gave us “Bite my glorious golden ass,” which is basically a work of art comparable to any Shakespearean monologue.

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Explain the difference between this and “All the world’s a stage.”



One of my favorite touches is that one of the universes is Universe 1729, the Hardy-Ramanujan number. The story goes that the mathematician G.H. Hardy visited Indian Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan in the hospital and told Ramanujan that he had taken a cab to see him. Hardy expressed sadness that the cab’s number was 1729 and that he was disappointed it wasn’t an interesting number. Ramanujan said that it was indeed an interesting number, because it was the smallest number that could be expressed as the sum of two cubes in two ways (1729 = 13 + 123 = 93 + 103). Since then, any number which is expressed as the sum of two cubes in n distinct ways are called taxicab numbers. In this episode, what populates Universe 1729? Rude Bobbleheads, which are two things often found in New York Taxicabs.

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This is the day Funko was born.

Favorite Joke:

Not as complicated, but still funnier is that when the two Benders appear in the Roman universe (Universe XVII), as they leave the Professor notices them and says “Quae?” This is the Latin equivalent of his catchphrase “Whaaaa?” It’s so simple, but it’s such a random gag that I love it.

Image result for futurama the farnsworth parabox roman
You don’t need Arabic numbers to make a universe. Fun.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 68: Obsoletely Fabulous

NEXT – Episode 70: Three Hundred Big Boys

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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