The Farnsworth Parabox
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|Season 4 episode|
Broadcast season 5 episode
|The Farnsworth Parabox|
|Written by||Bill Odenkirk|
|Directed by||Ron Hughart|
|Title caption||Beats a hard kick to the face|
|First air date||8 June, 2003|
|Title reference||The "<name> Paradox" convention, where a paradox is named after the one who discovered it, punned by replacing "-dox" with "-box"|
|Opening cartoon||The Queen was in the Parlor (1932)|
"The Farnsworth Parabox" is the sixty-ninth episode of Futurama, the fifteenth of the fourth production season and the tenth of the fifth broadcast season. It aired 8 June, 2003 on FOX. The Planet Express crew goes to a parallel universe made accesible by Professor Farnsworth's latest experiment.
 The Story
 Act I: "Satan! You owe me!"
While Professor Farnsworth is in the process of almost killing himself with an experiment spectacularly gone bad, Fry is once again trying to invite Leela to go out with him, but she refuses and claims that she can't join him because of "sweaty boot-rash".
Shortly afterwards, the Professor calls on the crew to dispose of a box containing the crazy-ass experiment that almost killed him, by throwing it into the Sun itself. He forbids everyone to look into the box for any reason, fueling the crew's curiosity to a critical stage. Hermes chases off the nosy crew members and sets Leela with a gun to guard the box. Fry and Bender mount a serious attempt to seize the box by crawling through the buildings steam tunnels, and indeed manage to acquire it. They find it full of junk (unlabeled booze and tangled Christmas tree lights), much to their pleasure, because Leela has foreseen the attempt and planted a fake box so she can guard the real box in peace.
However, she is eventually overcome with curiosity herself, and when she goes to the coffee dispenser, she lets a coin flip decide whether to look into it or not. The coin says to go ahead, and Leela looks inside - the box is deep, much deeper than a box this size should be, and she falls through it and lands on the floor. Fry comes in, and looks rather different - he has black hair and different clothes. He is followed by Bender, who has a shiny golden finish, the Professor, who has a curious scar on his head, and eventually Leela sees herself enter the room - with red hair and a cup of coffee.
 Act II: "Say, I hope you won't think it 'evil' of me to ask how you got that stylish head wound."
The other Professor soon realizes what must have happened: the box contains a parallel universe and is a gateway between the two universes. He suspects that the universe where Leela came from is populated by evil twins and sends the different Leela through the gateway with a gun to round up the other inhabitants. She does so, and the two Planet Express crews (except Hermes) end up facing each other in the other universe. The original Leela and her twin end up fighting and beat each other unconscious, and both crews agree to seek a violence-free solution. They decide to name the universe where the original Leela came from Universe A, while the other universe is Universe 1 (originally Universe B). It seems that a key difference between the two universes is that coin flips have different outcomes, which explains why Leela-1 didn't look into the box and got herself coffee instead while Leela-A did take a look. It also accounts for Bender-1's golden finish and the Professor-1's head scar that he inflicted on himself while experimenting to remove his own brain. Professor-1 has hidden the box with Universe A in it until he is convinced their other selves are not evil, so there is no returning for now. Fry-A and Leela-A are astonished to learn that Fry-1 and Leela-1 are a married couple.
The opposite selves soon gradually decide that their other incarnations are not evil and make friends (the two Benders make friends very quickly, since they love what is essentially themselves). Meanwhile, the two Frys and Leelas are having dinner at Elzar's Fine Cuisine, and Fry-1 and Leela-1 tell the story how they got together. It turns out that Leela-1 gave Fry-1 a chance for a date after a coin flip, the date was most satisfactory and one thing led to another. The same coin flip had an opposite outcome in Universe A, so Leela-A and Fry-A didn't come together - Fry-A berates an embarassed Leela-A for her constant deception. The two Zoidbergs hang out in a dumpster (Zoidberg-1 has a blue carapace) and work out a plan to get everyone's attention: to steal the box with Universe-A in it. Both Professors then announce that neither crew is evil, and the crew-A is free to go. Just that moment, Hermes-1 (blond hair) enters and wonders why the crew is not out to destroy the Professor's box. It turns out that Professor-A instructed Hermes-A to destroy the box, so there is no time to lose.
Professor-1 dives into his personal coelacanth tank to retrieve the box with Universe-A in it, but finds it has been stolen - the Zoidbergs have it. In desperation, the two Professors produce further parallel universes, hoping to find Universe-A among them. Dozens of identical boxes are produced by some strange machine, and the crews try to find the proper universe in them. As they are unsuccessful and about to despair, the Zoidbergs enter with the right box, but flee into one of the boxes as the crews give chase. The other universe boxes fall down around the box, making it impossible to determine which one is the right one.
The crew members attach themselves to Universe-1 with cables and explore the boxes that contain weird variations of the Universe. Eventually they meet the Zoidbergs and seize the box with Universe-A in it. They all return to Universe-1 using their ropes, and then rush into Universe-A just as Hermes is about to eject the box into the Sun.
The crews make their farewells, and Leela-A decides to give Fry a chance and lets herself be invited to a big ape fight. The Professors grab the other universes box and pull - and end up with a box containing their own universe. Quite a responsibility, really. The crew adjourn to the TV, and Fry takes a seat on the box, compressing the screen slightly... No one seems to notice anything's changed.
 Additional Info
- One of the planets seen in the zoom-in scene of the Universe-A box to Universe-1 is Planet Eternium.
- Leela is reading a magazine, the Nosy Inquirer, headline: Bigfoot turns 80! which means Bigfoot was born around the 2920's.
- The Planet Express Ship has acquired an Ejection Port, large enough for PE crews A and 1 to easily fit into it.
- The Planet Express building in Universe-1 is blue, and the sky has a strange colour pattern.
- The Futurama game, developed around the same time as this episode was written, depicts Bogad as being in a corner of the universe. This fits well with the universe-in-a-box concept.
- This episode includes the smallest cast of any Futurama episode, with only 5 cast members.
- With the arguable exception of the pseudo-character of the Transition Announcer, this is the only episode of Futurama to exclusively feature the principal seven characters, with no secondary characters appearing.
- Shortly after the professor A comes into Universe 1 He declares that he made a Parallel Universe; Professor 1 then states: "Baldercrap, I created your Universe! All you created was my fist parallel to your face." Then Professor 1 punches Professor A, proving that face and fist are not parallel, after all.
- This episode was named #17 on IGN's list of Top 25 Futurama Episodes.
- According to the audio commentary, Zoidberg-1 is blue because around 1 in 100 lobsters is blue.
- Although credited, neither Tress MacNeille nor Maurice LaMarche have any roles in this episode. The role of the Transition Announcer, usually played by LaMarche, is filled by Billy West.
- Even though the most paradoxical element of the episode apparently comes at the episode's end, the fact that Universe A is within a box in Universe 1 means that if Hermes A had succeeded in destroying the box containing Universe 1, he would have also destroyed the box within that universe, thus also destroying Universe A. This would, of course, also destroy all of the other parallel universes the crew explored.
- Universe XVII appears at around 17 minutes into the episode.
- Farnsworth-1 is shown to have a collection of many lengths of wire, similar to Farnsworth-A but displayed more prominently (1ACV01).
- After Fry-1 and Leela-1 enter the box back to their Universe, Fry-A says "There, but for the flip of a coin go we." This is a reference to the quote "There, but for the grace of God goes John Bradford" (frequently cited as "There, but for the grace of God go I"). John Bradford was an English theologian imprisoned in the Tower of London, and allegedly uttered the phrase after watching a condemned criminal walk to his execution.
- Igner wouldn't have existed in Universe 1, because, in Bender's Game, Mom said she flipped a coin to decide to keep him or the afterbirth.
 Parallel Universes
A description of the universes explored by Crew-A and Crew-1:
- Universe A - The normal Futurama universe. Boxes in this universe are yellow.
- Universe 1 - The first alternate universe seen, coin tosses have opposite outcomes and almost everything is a different color. The sky here is a wide array of swirling colors. Boxes in this universe are blue.
- Universe 25 - None of the residents of this universe have eyes, although they are apparently not unfamiliar with the concept of sight. Boxes in this universe are white.
- Universe 1729 - Everybody is a bobblehead version of themselves. Boxes in this universe are pink. 1729 is the Hardy-Ramanujan number, a mathematical in-joke appearing as well as alluded-to in several Futurama episodes.
- Universe 31 - Everybody is a robot version of themselves, and robots may possibly be human, although none are ever seen. Boxes in this universe are green.
- Universe XVII - The overall outfit of this universe matches the Roman Empire, allthough this universe's inhabitants' science is advanced enough to be able to create parallel universes. Boxes in this universe are purple. "XVII" translates to "17" in Roman Numerals. Also, the Professor says "Quae?", the Latin equivalent of his catchphrase "Whaaa?"
- Universe 420 - A hippie universe where marijuana smoking is implied both by its smoky haze and its label 420 (420 is commonly used slang for smoking weed). There appears to be a shortage of boxes in this universe, as only one (colored orange) is seen.
- Other universes - One (explored by Fry) is very cold, another (explored by the Professor) has everyone as women, a third sticks on Hermes-1's head, and another (explored by Leela) has octopus residents. Also, both Benders steal treasure from both a leprechaun universe and a pirate universe.
Prof. Farnsworth: Oh, Lordy Lou! [Screaming.] Help! [Several explosions occur and the Professor screams loudly.] Buddha! Zeus! God! One of you guys, do something! [Several more explosions occur, and he screams again.] Help! Satan! You owe me!
Hermes: Here, Leela. Take this and use it to shoot those guys.
Leela: Right! If they try to look in the box.
Hermes-A: Like Granny said: "If you want a box hurled into the sun, you got to do it yourself." God rest her zombie bones...
Leela-1: [Referring to Leela-A.] We're exactly the same! I know all her moves, therefore I have the upper hand!
Prof. Farnsworth-A: [After Leela-A and Leela-1 knock each other out.] Now, now. Perfectly symmetrical violence never solved anything.
Bender-1: It's like I always say: "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver..."
Bender-A: And the other's gold! [They hug and cry.]
Leela-A: Uh, have you Robot-versions of you guys seen any extra Zoidbergs around here?
Robot Fry: Negative! Will. You. Go. Out. With. Me?
Leela-A: Uh, access denied. [Robot Fry's head explodes.]
Bender-1: [Gold-plated.] Hey! Bite my glorious golden ass!
Leela-1: The idiots have the box!
Dr. Zoidberg-A: [Referring to Dr. Zoidberg-1.] I think she means you.
Prof. Farnsworth-420: [In a hippie-like universe.] Dig it! All you fitting in this box is like seriously freaked up!
Prof. Farnsworth-1: Nonsense, there's a whole universe in there.
Prof. Farnsworth-420: Dude, there's a universe in all of us.
Amy-420: Right on, Professor Freaksworth!
Prof. Farnsworth-A: [Prof. Farnsworth-420 Trys to give him a flower.] Get a job!
Transition Announcer: Meanwhile, in Universe-A, Hermes-A heads towards the Sun... A.
Prof. Farnsworth: There. That space-time eversion has given us their box and vice versa.
Leela: So, what you think you just explained to us is that–
Prof. Farnsworth: Correct! This box contains our own universe. [The crew gasps.]
Hermes: Sweet honey bee of infinity!
[Bender takes the box from Farnsworth and shakes it. The building quakes.]
Leela: Bender! Quit destroying the universe!
- In a shot of Leela looking into the box in universe A, the room is blue, the colour of universe 1.
- The same mistake happened in universe 1 as the background color is red.
- When all of the cast is jumping into the box for universe "A," they exit in a different order than they entered in. Jumping order was: Fry-A, Amy-A, Fry-1, Amy-1, Leela-A, Bender-A, Leela-1, Bender-1, Hermes-1, Zoidberg-A, Zoidberg-1, Professor-1, Professor-a. The exiting order was: Fry-A, Leela-A, Bender-A, Fry-1, Amy-A, Bender-1, Amy-1, Zoidberg-A, Hermes-1, Zoidberg-1, Leela-1, Professor-A, Professor-1.
- When Zoidberg A is sucking on a can, he briefly has 5 mouth tentacles.
- Technically, since it is an alternate universe, Fry-1 wouldn't be there, because he wouldn't of gotten frozen, and Bender-1 and Leela-1 wouldn't work at Planet Express-1 because Bender-1 would be dead from that Suicide Booth in 1ACV01. Also, the universe would be destroyed because of the Brain Spawn and the Infosphere.
- Fry's fate of getting frozen was not based on the outcome of a coin flip.
- At the end Fry sits on the box and crushes it, stretching their Universe. But when Fry and Bender stole the box earlier, Leela is actually sitting on the real box but never crushed it like Fry did.
- The box that Fry crushes is the box with their universe in, not the box Leela sits on which has Universe 1 in.
- When all of the cast is jumping into the box for universe gamma, Professor-A enters the box feet first, but exits headfirst.
- Technically, there can only be one universe, because 'universe' is a term that encompasses everything in existence. So, what Farnsworth found was an alternate being, but still part of the universe.
- Technically, but in many (if not all) instances with dealing with other realities, they're always referred to as alternative universes, so it's not so much an error, but a common choice of vocabulary.
- (In alphabetic order)
- Debut: Amy-1
- Debut: Amy-420
- Debut: Bender-1 (gold-plated)
- Debut: Bender-1729 (bobblehead)
- Professor Farnsworth
- Debut: Professor-1 (green turtleneck, off-white lab coat, scar around top of head)
- Debut: Professor-XVII (17) (dressed in a toga)
- Debut: Professor-31 (robotic version)
- Debut: Professor-420 (red hair, hippie clothing, last name "Freaksworth")
- Debut: Fry-1 (black hair, green jacket, dark gray shirt, light tan pants, brown shoes)
- Debut: Fry-25 (same as normal except with no eyes)
- Debut: Fry-31 (robotic version)
- Debut: Fry-1729 (bobblehead)
- Debut: Hermes-1 (blond hair, purple suit)
- Debut: Hermes-25 (same as normal except with no eyes)
- Debut: Hermes-31 (robotic version)
- Igner (see Trivia)
- Debut: Leela-1 (red hair, brown pants and boots)
- Debut: Leela-25 (same as normal except with no eye)
- Debut: Leela-1729 (bobblehead)
- Debut: Zoidberg-1 (blue shell)