Ghost in the Machines
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|Season 6 episode|
Broadcast season 8 episode
|Ghost in the Machines|
|Written by||Patric M. Verrone|
|Directed by||Ray Claffey|
|Title caption||#1 MOST VIEWED SHOW AMONG VIEWBOTS|
|First air date||30 June, 2011|
|Title reference||The phrase "Ghost in the machine"|
|Special guest(s)||Dan Castellaneta|
"Ghost in the Machines" is the one hundred and seventh episode of Futurama, the nineteenth of the sixth production season and the third of the eighth broadcast season. It aired on 30 June, 2011, on Comedy Central. When Bender dies, his disembodied software begins haunting the Planet Express building.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Production
- 3 Reception
- 4 Additional info
- 5 References
Act I: "That's it. I'm killin' myself!"
The Planet Express crew watches as the annual Parade Day parade passes by their headquarters. The Professor explains that during his youth, every ethnic and political group in New New York wanted their own parade, so a different parade was held every day (and "those were dark times"); eventually, all the parades were consolidated into a single holiday. However, a mishap causes the giant globe on the Earthican pride float to come loose and begin rolling toward a pair of spectators, one robot, and one human. Fry selflessly dives in front of the globe to push one of them out of the way, saving the human, but leaving the robot to be crushed.
Fry is praised by the mayor for his act of heroism, but Bender is incensed with him for sacrificing a robot's life for the sake of a human's. When Fry admits that he values human life more highly than robot life, Bender is so outraged that he vows to kill himself, but the crew are unconcerned; Bender regularly claims he will kill himself, but the last time he visited a suicide booth (named Lynn), he ended up dating it for six months. Bender leaves in a huff, and heads for the nearest suicide booth... which turns out to be Lynn, who violently murders him in retaliation for dumping her. A DeadEx hearse drops Bender's corpse off at Planet Express headquarters, and the crew mourn his passing... only for Bender's ghost to emerge from his body and emit a sinister laugh.
Act II: "A g-g-g-g-ghost!?"
The crew hold a wake for the deceased Bender and begin to divide his body parts up amongst themselves, and although Bender's spirit makes wisecracks about the unfortunate robot (not realizing it is his own corpse), no one responds to his jokes. Confused, Bender wanders outside, wondering aloud why no one can see or hear him... only to learn that the Robot Devil, who is sitting nearby, can. The two travel to Robot Hell, where the Robot Devil explains that because Bender killed himself, he is now "in Limbo"; his software was uploaded to the computational cloud, where his program is now running on the collective wireless network shared by all machinery, and Bender, stuck in an infinite loop, can never leave it. Bender grumbles how his predicament is Fry's fault, prompting an angry response from the Robot Devil, who still wants revenge on Fry for stealing his hands. The Robot Devil offers Bender a deal: if Bender uses his ghostly powers to scare Fry to death, the Robot Devil will return him to his old body; if he fails, however, then he will be condemned to Robot Hell.
Bender sets out trying to frighten Fry, only to discover that his task is more difficult than he first thought; as a ghost, he is immaterial, and cannot interact with physical objects. However, he discovers that he can manipulate electronic equipment by "possessing" it. Bender wages a campaign of technological terror against Fry, attacking him with every appliance in his apartment and the Planet Express building. Seeking aid, the crew call in the Gypsy, who is able to sense the presence of a robot ghost, but cannot identify it as Bender; Bender possesses her, causing her head to explode. Following that, the crew summon the Reverend Preacherbot in order to perform a robotic exorcism. The Reverend provides Fry with a "sacramental firewall" that expunges all "ghostware" within 20 feet. As long as Fry keeps it with him at all times, he will be safe.
While Fry sleeps that night, Bender is able to overpower the firewall and take possession of it, using it to project a nightmarish image of Fry's face melting off his skull. This causes Fry to suffer a heart attack, and he falls to the floor, apparently dead.
Act III: "I'm back from lots of stuff."
Bender returns to the Robot Devil to claim his body, but the Robot Devil says that according to Fry's Wikipedia page, he survived his heart attack and is still alive. At the hospital, Dr. Cahill informs Fry that his heart was severely damaged, and he must avoid further shocks; because he is being haunted by a robot ghost, the only solution is for him to move to the Amish homeworld, where all electronic devices are prohibited. As Bender takes possession of Fry's heart monitor, preparing to terrorize him further, Fry laments how much he misses Bender (much to Bender's surprise). Fry's experience with the unidentified spirit has led him to develop a newfound respect for robotic life. Touched by the sentiment, Bender is unable to kill Fry, and accompanies him on his journey to the Amish planet aboard a wooden spaceship.
Fry lives a simple, rustic existence on the Amish planet, working as a carpenter and farmer. Bender accompanies him the entire time, but because there are no machines on the planet, he is unable to communicate his presence to Fry. One day, the rest of the Planet Express crew come to visit Fry, while Bender watches from a distance. The Robot Devil appears, disguised in the clothing of one "Granny Hester", and instructs Bender to kill Fry and satisfy the terms of their agreement; when Bender refuses, the Robot Devil claims that Bender has no choice, as he is fated to kill Fry. Bender inadvertently spooks the oxen pulling Fry's cart, causing the barn atop it (which is shaped like a geodesic dome) to topple to the ground and begin rolling toward Fry and the other crew members. Bender shouts out a warning to Fry, but cannot be heard; the Robot Devil mocks him, saying there are no machines on the planet he can possess to save Fry. Bender counters that there is one machine, and promptly possesses the Robot Devil. Using the Robot Devil's body, Bender pushes Fry out of the path of the rolling barn, only to be crushed beneath it. Fry, confused at being saved by the Robot Devil speaking in Bender's voice, expresses a desire to return home to Earth.
The spirits of both Bender and the Robot Devil descend into Robot Hell, with the Robot Devil explaining that because Fry lived, Bender violated their contract, and will spend an eternity in Robot Hell as a disembodied ghost (while the Robot Devil simply uploads himself into a new, identical body). Just as the Robot Devil begins to torment Bender with a song, Bender is unexpectedly pulled upward, and ascends to Robot Heaven, where "Robot God" explains that because of his act of self-sacrifice to save Fry, Bender is now welcome there. Bender, however, is not pleased; he takes possession of Robot God, demanding to be returned to Earth, and is swiftly kicked out of Robot Heaven. At Planet Express, Bender's body quickly reassembles itself, allowing his spirit to occupy it. The crew, and especially Fry, are overjoyed to have Bender back... but when Fry asks whether or not it was Bender who was haunting him, Bender's eyes becomes shifty, and he does not answer.
During May 2011, Countdown to Futurama released five items of promotional material for the episode: a promotional picture featuring the Robot Devil on 15 May, concept art of an Earthican pride float depicting Zapp Brannigan and the Nimbus on 16 May, a promotional picture featuring the Planet Express crew mourning for Bender as his ghost watches from above on 17 May, part of the storyboard showing Mayor Poopenmeyer give Fry the keys to the city on 18 May, and a promotional picture featuring Fry and Bender's ghost sleeping in their apartment on 19 May.
On 15 June, David X. Cohen revealed that Dan Castellaneta would be reprising his role as the Robot Devil. On 28 June, two days prior to the release of the episode, Comedy Central released a two-minute clip featuring Bender's death. On 29 June, the day before the airing, Bongo Comics released a promotional picture featuring the Robot Devil in Granny Hester's clothes.
Before airing, several items released had the episode title "Ghosts in the Machines" (example), but most sources used "Ghost in the Machines".
In its original American broadcast, "Ghost in the Machines" received a 0.9 share among adults 18-49, and was viewed by an estimated 1.921 million viewers, making it around average of season six episodes.
- "Ghost in the machine" is a philosophical term. It is also the name of an album by the British rock band The Police.
- The episode serves as a sequel of sorts to "Lethal Inspection", which is the sixth episode of its broadcast season. If the eighth broadcast season had been aired in production order, this episode would also have been the sixth episode of its broadcast season.
- Dr. Cahill says that Fry may be suffering from "machine-phobia", although the technical phobia is mechanophobia. But given that Dr. Cahill has shown bimbo characteristics, this can be forgiven.
- The title is a parody of the phrase "Ghost in the machine".
- "Ghost in the Machine" is also the title of an episode of The X-Files which has a relatively similar plot line.
- The sausage float's brand (All Parts Franks) is a play on the real-world brand, Ball Park Franks.
- The name and logo of DeadEx is an obvious reference to FedEx, a courier company. This was previously referenced in "Future Stock", when Planet Express changed name to PlanEx and with it adopted the same logo.
- Zapp Brannigan holding up the Earth as the Earthican pride float is a reference to Atlas of Greek mythology, who according to the mythology supported the heavens in such a way.
- The Robot Devil is reading a magazine entitled "Life in Hell", a reference to Matt Groening's comic strip and the news magazine Life.
- When the Robot Devil is about to start singing, he has a wall with a boat called "S. S. Anything Goes", a reference to the musical.
- Bender asks the Robot Devil if he's "a g-g-g-ghost?!" This is a reference to grown-ups' reaction to seeing Casper the Friendly Ghost in the cartoon series of the same name.
- When the Robot Devil mentions an infinite loop, he blows out the sign for infinity (∞) in smoke.
- Fry is about to spread "It Sure Ain't Butter!" on his toast. An obvious parody of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!.
- When Fry is calling for help to "bust his ghost", Hermes asks "who you gonna call?", and Fry begins to reply "Gho--" before he is interrupted. This is a reference to the movie Ghostbusters, and the lyric "Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!". The phone number, now disconnected, acknowledges this, declaring the line lame since 1989, the year Ghostbusters II, which is often considered a weaker film, was released.
- The scene in which Preacherbot is coming to help drive out Bender, is a reference to the movie The Exorcist. The scene when he stands outside the Planet Express headquarters is identical to one in the movie, and the same music is played.
- When Bender comes to tell the Robot Devil of having killed Fry, the Robot Devil is playing Patience on his computer.
- The Robot Devil looks up Fry on Wikipedia, who indeed has a page. The page was updated with Fry's survival before Bender could descend into Hell to tell the Robot Devil he killed Fry.
- Bender screams "Damn you, Obamacare!" after finding out Fry survived his heart attack. "Obamacare" is the colloquial name given to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was proposed and signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama.
- Fry travels to the Amish homeworld, a planet populated by Amish people.
- Fry's carriage is a geodesic dome, popularized by Buckminster Fuller. The Robot Devil later references this when he tells Bender that Fry is "about to be fully buckministered".
- When Leela asks Fry how he is, he replies "thank you for asking, English". "English" is a common Amish label for the world outside of their culture.
- Robot God resembles the character EVE from WALL-E.
- Bender's body reassembling itself resembles the title character from The Iron Giant.
- St. Patrick's Day is traditionally celebrated across the island of Ireland on 17 March each year. It is also traditionally celebrated around the world by many people with extremely tenuous connections to Ireland as well as by many with none whatsoever.
- Bender's mortality was the main theme of "Lethal Inspection".
- Once again, Fry is being taught about concepts of the 31st century.
- Suicide booths have previously appeared in multiple episodes, first in the pilot. This is, however, the first time a suicide booth is seen to have feelings and being capable of decision-making.
- The concept of robots turning into ghosts was previously seen in "The Honking".
- The robot crushed by the giant globe was the concessions robot at the theater in "Raging Bender".
- Apparently Fry and Leela's relationship is on hold once again, as Fry mentions having sex with Mrs. Poopenmeyer, which does not anger Leela.
- Bender's disgust that robots are supposedly considered "inferior" was first explored in "Fear of a Bot Planet".
- The Robot Devil originally appeared in "Hell Is Other Robots", and has appeared in several episodes since.
- References are made to the Robot Devil's interest in singing, and one of the songs he starts singing is the song with which he explained the punishments for Bender's multifarious sins in his original appearance (1ACV09).
- The Robot Devil also mentions having switched hands with Fry before (4ACV18), stating that they "still smell like candy corn".
- After the Robot Devil explains Bender's ghostliness, Bender says, "Adoy! Wait, Adoy?" This is a possible reference to the console game character of the same name, making this the first reference the TV series has ever made to the game.
- Actually, this refers to a saying that was popular in the 1980s and 90s. When someone said something that was plainly obvious, s/he would often say "Doy!", which is the same as "Duh!". Often times people would put an "A" in front of both words to add emphasis. This led to "A-Duh!" and, of course, "A-Doy!".
- The heart attack Bender caused Fry to suffer is his fourth; he mentioned in "Fry and the Slurm Factory" that he suffered three when he was in high school.
- It was revealed in "The Cryonic Woman" that a cure for heart attacks has been invented.
- Robot Heaven was previously mentioned by the Preacherbot in "Hell Is Other Robots".
- The Robot Devil says "there aren't any machines on [the Amish homeworld]". Bender tells him "there's one". In fact, there is a second, Leela's wristlojackimator, which he was able to possess earlier in the episode, a third, Amy's wristlojackimator, and a fourth, the calculator that Hermes ate in "Lethal Inspection".
- It is, of course, possible that he simply didn't think of any of those, disqualifying it as a goof.
- Since it is unlikely for these devices to save Fry, he may not have considered them.
- During the "taking-off caps" scene, Fry's shirt is blue, instead of white.
- Since it was established that Bender is mortal in "Lethal Inspection" and his duplicate was killed in "The Late Philip J. Fry" then shouldn't his duplicate be in Robot Hell? It is also possible that after fleeing from Hell in "Hell Is Other Robots", Bender no longer officially belongs to Robotology and hence does not go to robot hell after death.
- When the Robot Devil dies, his ghost possesses a replacement body. Since he has multiple replacement bodies, he should have had no problem replacing his own hands in "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings".
- He may have had replacement bodies made to prevent a similar situation from happening again.
- His deals may prevent him from using the replacements, for the above reason.
- Fry is seen carrying Bender's corpse effortlessly in his hands, which just seems odd considering his weight of at least 500 lbs (and as much as 2 tons).
- People seem to be able to punch him no problem, so metal may be lighter in the future, although 500 lbs lighter is pushing this theory slightly.
- When making his deal with the Robot Devil, Bender is able to hold the pen to sign the contract, but in all other scenes, before and after that one, he is unable to interact with anything other than machines.
- It could've been an electronic pen (it is the future after all), or some kind of pen created by the Robot Devil that allows Bender to use it.
- When Amy gives Fry Bender's eyes, his eyes were shown as round (this is also the case in "Anthology of Interest I"), even though in most episodes (such as "Space Pilot 3000"), Bender's eyes are cylinders.
- It's likely that the skeletal structure inside Bender's (spherical) eyes is able to stretch the eyeball, allowing him to see distant objects, like a pair of binoculars, and that Bender usually keeps his eyes stretched, but occasionally will leave them spherical.
- The Gypsy says ghosts don't exist, but in "The Honking" Hermes says that ghosts died out 200 years ago.
- This does not necessarily make the Gypsy's statement wrong. If ghosts died out, then they are extinct, and the definition of extinct is, "no longer existing or living."
- After the parade scene, the show cuts back to Planet Express and it is shown to be night. However, while Bender is chewing out Fry, you can see outside the window and it appears to be day time.
Mayor Poopenmeyer: What's your name, son?
Fry: I dunno. Fry?
Mayor Poopenmeyer: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud to associate myself with a true hero. [The crowd cheers.] Mr. Fry, allow me to present you with the keys to the city. [The Mayor rummages through the keys.] This one's for the deadbolt, this is for the top lock... I think this one's for the knob. The city's in a bad neighbourhood. [The Mayor laughs.] Care to say a few words, son?
Fry: Uh... Heroes don't do drugs! Except for Drugman, I guess.
Bender: I thought you were in Oregon.
Lynn: My mom tried to commit suicide in me. I don't wanna talk about it.
Robot Devil: You see, Bender, it's simple. You're a ghost!
Bender's ghost: A g-g-g-g-ghost?!
Robot Devil: No, just the regular kind.
Hermes: As you can see, since Bender's death, requests to bite one's shiny metal ass are down 98%. [Scruffy starts vacuum-cleaning with Bender's compartment, leg, and footcup. The crew looks at him.] Do you mind doing that later?!
Scruffy: Bite my shiny metal ass.
[The line in the chart on the screen rises.]
- Dr. Ben Beeler
- Dr. Ben Beeler's wife
- Dr. Cahill
- Debut: Drugman (mentioned in speech only)
- Professor Farnsworth
- Debut: Granny Hester (mentioned in speech only)
- The gypsy
- The Hypnotoad
- Debut: Lynn
- Debut: Lynn's mother (mentioned in speech only)
- Debut: Barack Obama (mentioned in speech only)
- Mayor Poopenmeyer
- Mrs. Poopenmeyer (mentioned in speech only)
- Reverend Preacherbot
- The Robot Demons
- The Robot Devil
- Debut: Robot God
- Spotty Teen Robot
- The unnamed fat guy
- ^ "Well, Dan Castellaneta returns as the Robot Devil for an episode where Bender dies but his software keeps haunting the Planet Express, and he has to make a deal with the devil." — Cohen, David X.
Cohen, David X. (16 June 2020). Cohen Spills the Beans on Futurama's New Season. Retrieved on 16 June 2011.
- ^ Seidman, Robert (01 July 2011). Thursday Cable Ratings: Pre-Holiday Slump for 'Burn Notice,' 'Suits' But 'Swamp People' Impervious + 'Wilfred,'Futurama,' 'Louie' & More. (TVbytheNumbers.zap2it.com.) Retrieved on 01 July 2011.