Forty Percent Leadbelly

From The Infosphere, the Futurama Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Season 7 episode
Broadcast season 10 episode
Forty Percent Leadbelly
Forty Percent Leadbelly infobox.png
Bender performing as Ramblin' Rodriguez, at the restaurant T.G.I. Folky's.
Production number7ACV14
Written byKen Keeler
Directed byStephen Sandoval
Title captionAny Resemblance To Actual Future Is Purely Coincidental
First air date3 July 2013
Broadcast numberS10E04
Title referenceA running gag and the late American musician Lead Belly
Opening cartoon"Makin' 'Em Move"


Season 7
  1. The Bots and the Bees
  2. A Farewell to Arms
  3. Decision 3012
  4. The Thief of Baghead
  5. Zapp Dingbat
  6. The Butterjunk Effect
  7. The Six Million Dollar Mon
  8. Fun on a Bun
  9. Free Will Hunting
  10. Near-Death Wish
  11. 31st Century Fox
  12. Viva Mars Vegas
  13. Naturama
  14. Forty Percent Leadbelly
  15. 2-D Blacktop
  16. T.: The Terrestrial
  17. Fry and Leela's Big Fling
  18. The Inhuman Torch
  19. Saturday Morning Fun Pit
  20. Calculon 2.0
  21. Assie Come Home
  22. Leela and the Genestalk
  23. Game of Tones
  24. Murder on the Planet Express
  25. Stench and Stenchibility
  26. Meanwhile
← Season 6Season 8 →

"Forty Percent Leadbelly" is the one hundred and twenty-eighth episode of Futurama, the fourteenth of the seventh production season and the fourth of the tenth broadcast season. It aired on 3 July 2013, on Comedy Central. At a maximum-security prison, Bender meets a famous folk singer and attempts to make a copy of his precious guitar.


Act I: "Don't come back 'til you've lived a life worth singin' about!"

The Planet Express Discount Prisoner Transfer crew are transferring Dr. Brutaloff, a super villan with Freddy Kruger-style finger-knives, to 11-Worth Variable-Security Prison. A Han Solo-style block of frozen carbonite encases Brutaloff. Conveying this cargo to its final destination, Bender spies Silicon Red, "the universe's greatest folk singer" at the prisoner discharge office, retrieving his belongings and preparing to depart. Bender suddenly remembers his "lifelong dream of being a folk singer" and abandons Fry to chase down Silicon Red. As soon as Bender leaves, Brutaloff escapes from the carbonite, beats Fry up, and freezes Fry back into the carbonite up to his neck.

Bender catches up to Silicon Red and takes a picture of Red's guitar, with the intention of using a 3-D printer to create a perfect duplicate. With this duplicate, Bender believes he will be a "famous folk singer". Dr. Beeler finds the image of the duplicated guitar in Bender's file system. He then turns a crank in Bender's compartment of mystery that causes Bender's components to wirelessly transmit the image to the printer. Bender can next be found walking around Planet Express wearing a flannel shirt and playing his duplicated guitar.

Fry, mostly encased in carbonite after being attacked by Dr. Brutaloff, begins at this point to make periodic sarcastic comments to complain of Bender's mistreatment of him at the prison.

When the crew tell Bender that he doesn't know enough about folk music to be successful, he explains his analysis of "every folk song in the universe": bad-hearted woman cheats on her good man with a rambler. Bender uses this as a formula for creating his own folk songs. He crashes a performance by Silicon Red and performs one of his songs while Red is distracted, billing himself as "Ramblin' Rodriguez". The audience hates it, and Red explains that Bender's song is insincere. He sends Bender away and says, "Don't come back 'til you've lived a life worth singin' about!"

Act II: "I've never worked on anything all the livelong day, let alone a railroad."

Fry is still making biting comments about Bender's abandonment, as when Leela echoes Silicon Red: "You can't write a real folk song about experiences you haven't had." Fry interjects, "You should write a song about a heartless robot who leaves his best friend to be murdered!" Bender continues to ignore him, and Fry becomes increasingly agitated. Bender follows Zoidberg's suggestion to go work on "the railroad" in order to have the experiences necessary to be a folk singer. In the Rusty Rail, a bar on "the wrong side of the tracks," Bender meets Big Caboose, "a steel-drivin' man workin' the Trans-Universal line." Bender sees Big Caboose, who actually a robot, not a man, as exactly the kind of exciting personality that can be used in a good folk song. Caboose protests that he is nothing special.

As Caboose introduces Bender to his colorful acquaintances, Bender takes notes so he can use these people as characters in his song. At the work site, Bender's job is to lead the singing of the laborers and drink cocktails. After living this grueling life for a while, he begins to create his song. By the time Fry and Leela arrive at Bender's railroad camp to deliver explosives, Bender's song includes the main character, the Jezebel, and the rambler whom she runs to. Fry is still angry at Bender, and when he makes a mean comment, Bender adds a verse for him. It tells how Bender needs help to escape the angry Caboose, but Fry, still holding a grudge, sends him away. Fry gives credit where credit is due, responding, "You have accurately portrayed the nature of my grievance."

Bender is just adding the verse where his main character begins his quest to avenge himself on the rambler when Caboose bursts in and eagerly introduces Bender to his new fiancee. She flings herself at Bender as soon as Caboose leaves the room. Bender and the fiancee have sex, which inspires him to add another verse to his song. Foreshadowing later developments, the fiancee reveals that her name is Jezebel. Bender sees this as a lucky coincidence, not realizing its significance.

While Fry and Leela hang out at Fry's house, Caboose, who was last seen near the railroad camp far from Earth, bursts in the door with a shotgun in his hands saying that he is here to shoot Bender down for sleeping with Jezebel. At this point, Fry and Leela realize that Bender's song is also playing out in real life. Back at camp, Bender has the idea for his hero to run over the rambler with a train, rather than shooting him. When Bender has this thought, his transmitter sends a train image from Bender's file system to the 3-D printer, and the printer begins to fabricate a train. Just as Bender is saying goodbye to Jezebel, Big Caboose crashes through the wall in the train from the printer and tells Bender that he has come to run him down.

Act III: "That steel-driving moron killed a duplicate instead of me."

Caboose follows as Bender flees all the way to Earth, all the way to the apartment he shares with Fry. He bangs on the door and begs to be let in, but Fry mocks him, reminding him of the verse he had added to the song for Fry. Bender flees to Planet Express with Caboose not far behind. He finds Fry, Leela, and Farnsworth trying to locate him. Bender is confused to see Fry, given that Fry had just mocked him at their apartment in his underwear, but decides to put off thinking about it. Leela explains that his song is coming true, and Bender finally realizes that he is transmitting his thoughts to the 3-D printer, resulting in duplicates even of people, such as the duplicate Fry who mocked Bender at their apartment.

After some brief trouble with a band of giant octopuses, Leela realizes that Bender can "write his way out of" the problem. Fearing for Bender's safety, Leela suggests that Bender make up any old ending that saves him from Caboose. Bender refuses on the grounds of artistic integrity, as he still wishes to create "the best folk song in the universe". Just as he begins to add the next verse to his song, Caboose appears in his train and runs Bender down. At Bender's memorial service, it is revealed that this is not really Bender, but a duplicate fabricated by the 3-D printer. The real Bender arrives and sings the rest of his song, explaining that during the octopus trouble, he made a duplicate of himself with a fatal weakness that the real Bender doesn't have: artistic integrity. Bender and Silicon Red decide to sell out, and they are last seen performing a rap concert.


This section is in need of expansion. The reason given is:
Countdown to Futurama
Please add more content or information.

On 27 January 2012, assistant director Aimee Steinberger commented that she could not go to the FOX-lot screening of the first full-color animation for "7ACV01"[1] due to her work on this episode.[2] On 14 February 2012, she said that the animatic for the episode was "done" and would be screened "[on the next day] at the FOX lot".[3] On the next day, she stated that she thought that it had gone "pretty well".[4]

As late as 8 January 2013,[5] it was revealed[6] that the title "Forty Percent Leadbelly", which had been, in February 2012, added to the Copyright Catalog[7] and said by show writer Eric Rogers to be the title of something "supergood",[8] was the episode's title.

On 12 April 2013, a preview clip for the episode was released during a HuffPost Live interview with Futurama writer Patric Verrone, showing Bender using the help of Dr. Ben Beeler to bring a guitar image stored in his file system into reality by use of a large 3D printer, the Make-O-Matic. The air date for the second half of season 7 was also revealed.[9]

Image gallery

Additional information



  • This is the only episode of the tenth broadcast season not to be featured in the Vulture preview clip.
  • The episode's title caption is similar to that of "The Route of All Evil".
  • Dr. Ben Beeler is named after Futurama writer Ken Keeler, who wrote this episode. Dr. Beeler also appeared in another episode written by Keeler, "Overclockwise", but he did not speak.
  • Part of the code in the guitar's formula for mass production reads "thankMakerBot". According to the commentary, the Make-O-Matic was modelled after a 3D printer that the Futurama crew had in the office, which Patric Verrone bought from New York's MakerBot Industries.
  • Bender's porn drive has a memory size of 100,000 terabytes and his main drive has the memory size of only 1 terabyte.
  • This episode confirms Dandy Jim's name, which was first used in a Volume Three menu.[10]
  • When Bender and Jezebel begin making out, a train goes into a tunnel, a metaphor for sexual penetration.
  • Bender is wrong, "octopi" is not a true plural form of "octopus" and originates from a misconception on Latin pluralization rules.[11][12][13]
  • The Bender duplicate says that his audience deserves better than some crappy, formulaic ending. This may be a reference to the fact that Ken Keeler wrote the finale.
  • Ramblin' Rodriguez's birth year is given as 2996. This may be Bender's "birth" year, making Bender 16 or 17 at the time of his "death", if the thousands of years he spent in the past are not counted.

Bender's file system


Click here to see cultural mentions made in this episode.



  • When the ship lands at the prison, the crew is already at the door.
  • Bender's main drive originally says it contains one terabyte, but, when Dr. Beeler opens it, its contents only add up to 153 megabytes.
  • When everyone is at T.G.I. Folky's, Hermes doesn't have a pipe in the first shot but later on he does.
  • In the scene where Bender is lying in bed with Jezebel, the left sleeve of his shirt isn't outlined.
  • In the scene where Fry and Leela are watching TV in Fry and Bender's apartment, the shot depicting the television set is clearly the one used for the Planet Express employee lounge.
  • Leela states that Big Caboose, Duplicate Fry, and Cookie are simply creations from Bender's song, but Bender met Big Caboose and Cookie before he wrote the song.
    • She is referring to the Big Caboose that was in the apartment. She may also be saying that she met Cookie herself, sometime after Bender presumably wrote him into his song.
  • Dr. Beeler says that a duplicate was created as a decoy in Star Trek: The Next Generation, but, in "Where No Fan Has Gone Before", Star Trek had been outlawed.
    • Dr. Beeler could have found an illegal method of watching Star Trek.


The prism railroad, which appeared in "The 30% Iron Chef".

    Silicon Red: All your fancy technology will never be able to copy this guitar.
    [Cut to a building with a sign reading TECHNOLOGY LAB. Inside, Bender has the rotating image of a guitar projecting from his eyes. He and Ben Beeler are looking at it.]
    Ben Beeler: Using my fancy technology, I can make an exact copy of this guitar.
    [Ben Beeler points to the copy.]
    Bender: Tell me Dr. Beeler, will I need to threaten you?
    Ben Beeler: Not at all! You see nowadays, we can take a unique and beautiful object, and easily reduce it to a formula for mass production! I call the process: science!

    [A large 3D printer-like device called the Make-O-Matic begins to create a guitar downloaded from Bender's memory.]
    Ben Beeler: By laying down layer after layer of nano plastic, it can turn your wildest dreams into ordinary reality!
    Bender: Witchcraft! Sorcerer! Neat.

    Bender: You're always gett'n' frozen in stuff. It's your thing, man!

    Bender: I failed at my life-long dream again. How can I be so bad at everything I try, and still be so great?

    Fry: You know my favourite part of your song? The part where it ended.
    [Fry laughs.]

Alien-language sightings

    Time: 08:52
    Location: Fence next to The Rusty Rail
    Language: AL1
    Translation: WILCOT WAS HERE


Message-box warning.png
This list may be incomplete!
The following list may be incomplete and requires revision. You can help the project by determining whether or not this list is incomplete.
(If it is incomplete, please either complete it or remove the "sure" parameter. If it is complete, remove the notice altogether.)
(In alphabetic order)


Characters at the funeral



Notes and references

  1. ^ Aimee Steinberger (27 January 2012). aimeekitty. (Twitter.) Retrieved on 27 January 2012.
  2. ^ Aimee Steinberger (27 January 2012). aimeekitty. (Twitter.) Retrieved on 27 January 2012.
  3. ^ Aimee Steinberger (14 February 2012). aimeekitty. (Twitter.) Retrieved on 15 February 2012.
  4. ^ Aimee Steinberger (15 February 2012). aimeekitty. (Twitter.) Retrieved on 16 February 2012.
  5. ^ Eric Rogers (08 January 2012). EricRogersLA. (Twitter.) Retrieved on 15 January 2012.
  6. ^ FoxFast: Futurama. ( Retrieved on 09 January 2013.
  7. ^ "Just Fan" (08 February 2012). "Futurama: Futurama News after 6ACV26 (Reincarnation)" (page 18). (PEEL.) Retrieved on 15 January 2013.
  8. ^ Eric Rogers (08 February 2012). Kitchelfilms. (Twitter.) Retrieved on 15 January 2013.
  9. ^ a b 'Futurama' Writer Shares Exclusive New Clip. (HuffPost Live.) 13 April 2013. Retrieved on 13 April 2013.
  10. ^ Special Features > Still Gallery on Volume Three, disc 4.
  11. ^ octopus - definition of octopus in English from the Oxford dictionary. (Oxford English Dictionary.) Retrieved on 13 July 2013.
  12. ^ Search Chambers - Free English Dictionary. (Chambers Dictionary.) Retrieved on 13 July 2013.
  13. ^ Definition of octopus. (Collins English Dictionary.) Retrieved on 13 July 2013.
  14. ^ Possibly a play on ".kp" and ".jpg".
  15. ^ A play on "3D" and ".pdf".