Futurama is probably best known for two episodes that will legitimately bring even the most ardent fanboy to tears. Now you might think I’m going to talk about “Jurassic Bark,” but you’d be wrong. I’m going to instead discuss an episode that may be less known but is just as effective. This is “The Luck of the Fryish.”
Trying to describe a show like this can be extremely difficult because there is an incredible combination of science fiction combined with humor. Essentially, Fry accidentally froze himself starting on December 31, 1999 and he woke up in the year 3000. A lot changed in in those 1000 years to the point Fry is essentially an alien on earth.
In the first few minutes, we see Phillip has parents who aren’t the most loving people in the world and a brother who’s quite selfish. As the episode transitions to the year 3000, we see the Planet Express gang at the horse races. So bad they’re good horse puns ensue. Fry loses a dollar bill and in trying to get if off a power line, he’s electrocuted and struck by lightning.
Back in the past, Fry finds a lucky seven leaf clover (a MacGuffin in every sense of the word) and find he has good luck. One thousand years later, Fry wants to find his lucky clover and even goes down to Old New York. Another flashback shows Fry’s brother continuing to rip off various ideas and steal things from him. There are some very New York centric jokes laced as Fry, Leela, and Bender make their way through the underground city.
Fry hides his clover in an album of The Breakfast Club in the 1980s and tries to find it in the same vault some 3000 years later. After walking around for a bit, Fry discovers a statue of who he thinks is his brother with the clover. Fry believes his brother has literally stolen everything from him. The payoff is unpredictable because all we’ve seen is Fry’s brother be everything Fry says he is.
While “Jurassic Bark” is a progressively depressing episode, “The Luck of the Fryish,” packs a wollop. In the end, Yancy really did love his brother and didn’t steal anything with malice. Yancy names his son after his brother, provides the lucky clover leaf to him, and that son turned out to the first man to ever go to mars.
Bender finds the clover leaf, but Fry makes the right decision and leaves it with his dead nephew as the song “Don’t You Forget About Me” plays. There have been a lot of instances of that song being used. In many ways, it’s almost a cliché. However, with the album being a focal point of the McGuffin in combination and the lyrics playing into how Yancy thought of his brother, this is a strong use of an unforgettable song.
For a show that produced some genuinely hilarious moments, some reaching the heights of even The Simpsons, I don’t think even The Simpsons had has many heartbreaking moments. “The Luck of the Fryish” is able to handle the complexities of a brotherly relationship. We can sympathize with Fry because of how harshly he’s treated. In the end though, even an older brother can find ways to show his life without ever saying the words.