Cancellation of Futurama

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This article is about the first cancellation. For the second cancellation, see Second cancellation of Futurama.

In 2003, when the production company of Futurama were waiting for FOX to order a fifth production season in wake of the fourth production season's production being almost finished, no call came, effectively labelling Futurama as cancelled,[1] ending the show's original run.

In early 2006, after successful DVD sales and popular syndication on Adult Swim, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment decided to order four films as a fifth production season,[1][2] and the show started its second run in June 2010. Comedy Central announced in April 2013 that they would not be renewing Futurama and aired the final episode on 4 September, 2013, ending the show's second run.


The first and foremost cause of FOX refusing to order new episodes after four production seasons is attributed to the price of the show and its decreasing popularity. Despite Futurama's pilot episode, "Space Pilot 3000", being the most watched pilot episode on FOX when it aired,[3] the show had been decreasing slowly in popularity over time, and FOX was disappointed in the show, which they had assumed could gain a popularity like their other show, The Simpsons, and even within FOX, arguments arose regarding whether they had kept Futurama alive for too long.

However, despite FOX's own disappointment with the show, FOX themselves were to some degree responsible for the decreasing viewership of the show. Indeed, its popularity had not gone down, but rather the amount of viewers it had, as the show had moved to a less popular timeslot since "I, Roommate". In addition to the less popular timeslot, it was also highly unstable, as FOX would often put off an episode for another event, e.g. sporting or news reports. This made new episodes highly unpredictable for viewers.

Indeed, FOX's unstable airing eventually led to the airing of five broadcast seasons, rather than the four produced.[4][5] Not only were episodes aired out of order, but examples like "The Route of All Evil" had to be pushed back two entire seasons.[6] This unpredictable nature, the unpopular timeslot eventually lead to the demise of the viewership and the show's popularity in terms of numbers.

Despite the fact that "Space Pilot 3000", the pilot, was a very popular pilot episode in terms of viewership,[3][7] as well as the second episode, "The Series Has Landed",[8] whose popularity was attributed to the Sunday line up it was in, with the lead-in show of The Simpsons as well as X-Files after the show, FOX decided to move the show to its Tuesday line up instead, beginning with "I, Roommate", which as expected hurt the show's ratings.[9] And the show continued to dwell on these ratings for four broadcast seasons.


Technically, Futurama was never cancelled, it was simply not renewed.[2] In usual production, the purchase of an additional production season, usually comes near the end of its current production season, as to not put the production company on hold for too long, which would eventually cause a loss of money. By 2003, the fourth production season was basically finished, and the producers were waiting for 20th Century Fox Television to call with an order of another season. However, the call never came.

However, Fox had alerted the production company, that "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings" could be the last episode that they would ever make,[5] as such its production was developed with that in mind, and at the very least was written as a season finale. It did later turn out to be the series finale they had feared.[5]

Second cancellation

Main article: Second cancellation of Futurama

Comedy Central announced in April 2013 that they would not be renewing Futurama, and aired the final episode on 4 September, 2013.[10] The producers said that they were exploring options for the future of the series as "we have many more stories to tell", but would gauge fan reaction to the news.[11] Groening and Cohen have previously expressed a desire to produce a theatrical film or another direct-to-video film upon conclusion of the series.[12]


Main article: Speculation of Futurama's return until the second run
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  1. ^ a b Cohen, David. Commentary for Bender's Big Score on the DVD.
  2. ^ a b Groening, Matt. Commentary for Bender's Big Score on the DVD.
  3. ^ a b "Wasn't this the highest rated debut in Fox history? Am I mistaken in saying that? I think it was."DiMaggio, John (Transcript)
    DiMaggio, John. Commentary for "Space Pilot 3000" on Volume One, disc 1.
  4. ^ "This was show ten of the first season, when it was actually aired as the season première of the second season. So you can see how, sometimes, production seasons and air seasons don't match up."Horsted, Eric (Transcript)
    Horsted, Eric. Commentary for "A Flight to Remember" on Volume One, disc 3.
  5. ^ a b c Cohen, David. Commentary for "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings" on Volume Four, disc 4.
  6. ^ Cohen, David. Commentary for "The Route of All Evil" on Volume Three, disc 3.
  7. ^ Bierbaum, Tom (30 March 1999). "Fox sees 'Futurama' and it works". Variety. Retrieved on 07 February 2010.
  8. ^ Bierbaum, Tom (06 April 1999). "'Futurama' cools, but still holds on to auds". Variety. Retrieved on 17 April 2009.
  9. ^ Bierbaum, Tom (08 April 1999). "Fox's four-toon Tue. stumbles in first try". Variety. Retrieved on 19 April 2009.
  10. ^ Marechal, AJ. Toon comedy has logged seasons on Fox, Comedy Central since 1999. Retrieved on 22 April 2024.
  11. ^ Dan Snierson (22 April 2024). 'Futurama' to end seven-season run on Sept. 4 -- EXCLUSIVE. Retrieved on 22 April 2024.
  12. ^ Max Nicholson (23 April 2024). "Futurama's Back, and Bigger Than the Red Hot Chili Peppers!". IGN. Retrieved on 23 April 2024.