Matt Groening, the creative mind behind The Simpsons, also happens to be the creator of the cult classic comedy, Futurama. Despite being set 1,000 years in the future, Futurama manages to feature several celebrities from the modern era. Futurama employs an interesting idea of keeping disembodied heads alive in jars with a special mineral powder, which helps the cameos make at least a little bit of sense.
While some of the celebrity cameos might seem obvious, there are a lot more self-cameos than fans may realize. Over the course of 140 episodes, Futurama has featured famous actors, professional athletes, and even significant historical figures who all voice themselves on the show.
10 The World’s Fastest Cartoonist, Sergio Aragones
When Fry develops his own comic book, it’s met with much criticism from his coworkers and friends, mostly because the hero had so many powers it didn’t seem like the damsel was truly in distress. After a few updates, Fry then takes his comic strip to a comic book convention hoping for praise from the professionals.
Fry actually comes across Sergio Aragones, who is credited with being the world’s fastest cartoonist in this day and age. Aragones is excited about someone who still makes comics but is underwhelmed by Fry’s work. He notes that the only part he liked was the doodles in the margin, but Fry informs him those doodles were merely pickle relish from a hot dog he found.
9 The Classic Dynamic Duo Of Adam West & Burt Ward
Adam West was most recently known for his recurring role on Family Guy as the beloved Mayor of Quahog. However, in his younger days, West played the role of Batman for television and Burt Ward played his young sidekick, Robin.
When Leela begins to mutate uncontrollably, Fry and Bender attempt to save her from Mom’s genetic experiments. They end up climbing Leela’s new tentacles in order to get to Leela, but as they climb they come across West’s and Ward’s heads in jars, attached to bat and robot bodies respectively. These two were unfortunate victims of Mom’s genetic experimentation.
8 Famous Announcers & Hosts Such As Dick Clark, Bob Barker, Conan O’Brien, & Bob Uecker
Considering so many announcers and late-night show hosts have great radio quality voices, it only makes sense that they would wind up doing voice actor work at some point. The world-famous Dick Clark has appeared in a couple of episodes, including the pilot where he’s seen on New Year’s Eve 1999 and 2999.
Bob Barker’s head is the judge in an actual Miss Universe competition, Conan O’Brien makes a brief cameo in one of the Christmas episodes with Robot Santa, and Bob Uecker is an announcer for the future’s version of baseball, Blernsball. Not only are these legendary cameos, but they’re also fairly appropriate with respect to their real-world personas.
7 Former Professional Athletes Like Hank Aaron & Larry Bird
Futurama manages to use some historically significant athletes on a couple of occasions. When Leela decided to actually learn how to pitch for Blurnsball successfully, she seeks out the help of Hank Aaron XXIV. The original Hank Aaron is also around as a head in a jar, and the real-life Aaron voices them both.
Larry Bird also makes a cameo appearance, but his cameo is far more hilarious. During a Scooby-Doo-style episode of Futurama, the gang teams up with the Globetrotters and ends up meeting Larry Bird. However, Bird seemingly didn’t want to be involved. His only line in the episode appears to be a voicemail from Bird telling the showrunners that he wanted no part in the episode.
6 Big Time Musicians Like Snoop Dogg, Beck, & The Beastie Boys
Like most adult cartoons, music is a big part of Futurama’s success. While they do write a variety of show-specific tunes for fans, they also feature famous musicians in the show. Most musicians end up playing themselves, such as when Fry, Bender, and Leela attend the Beastie Boys concert. Additionally, when Bender is broken and (temporarily) loses all motor function from the neck down, he starts a new musical career and even joins Beck on a music tour.
Snoop Dogg is also featured in multiple episodes throughout the series. However, unlike the others, he isn’t a musician in the show. He first appears as an Associate Justice of Earth’s Supreme Court, eventually securing the Chief Justice position later in the series.
5 Several Big Name Actors Like Lucy Liu, Pamela Anderson, Pauly Shore, & Robert Wagner
A lot of the famous actor cameos come when something bad is happening to Fry. For example, Pamela Anderson’s head is used in an elaborate ruse by Mom’s three sons to steal Fry’s bank card and his pin number so that they could drain his multi-billion dollar account and convince him to sell the last can of anchovies in existence.
Pauly Shore ends up stealing Fry’s girlfriend from the past, Michelle. Fry also dates a robot version of Lucy Liu for a while before an army of Lucy Lui bots come after him and the Planet Express Crew. However, not all celebrity cameos go after Fry. Robert Wager’s head makes a brief cameo when he usurps Calculon’s star on the walk of fame, gaining his second.
4 Most Of The Cast From Star Trek
Star Trek is a classic show that has somewhat of a mysterious history in Futurama. Long story short, Fry and the Planet Express crew crash land on an unknown planet where they stumble across the main cast from the Star Trek TV series.
The six actors that reprise their Star Trek roles are Nichelle Nichols, Jonathan Frakes, Walter Koenig, Leonard Nimoy, George Takei, and William Shatner. While several of these actors have appeared in Futurama before (and after) as a head in a jar, this was the first time any of them had been portrayed as full-bodied characters.
3 Historical & Legendary Moon Walker, Buzz Aldrin
During an episode heavy with flashbacks from Fry’s childhood, fans see Fry competing in a science fair, hoping to beat out the favorite to win, Josh Gedgie. Unfortunately for Fry, Gedgie is intellectually superior by a vast margin. Despite losing, Fry’s projects from the 1980s proved to be the solution for the common cold outbreak in New New York over 1,000 years later.
During the science fair, Fry’s school manages to land a fairly significant guest speaker in Buzz Aldrin. He is only there as a judge for the fair, but while on stage he suggests that there really are moon men on the moon. However, the person in charge of the fair indicates to Aldrin he is low on time so fans never got to learn the full truth about the moon from an actual person who had been there before.
2 Former Vice President, Al Gore
One of the most surprising cameos that were voiced by their real-life counterparts was probably former Vice President, Al Gore. Not only does he cameo his head, but he also cameos himself from 1999/2000. In fact, Gore appears in five or more episodes, depending on how fans view Season 5; this is likely due to the fact that his daughter was a writer for the show.
His first appearance was as himself, as part of a team of nerds and scientists compiled to capture Fry after learning that he saw a portal into the future. In his many other appearances, he is considered the inventor of the environment, claims to have ridden the mighty moon worm, and even hosts a Futurama Holiday Special.
1 The Late Great Theoretical Physicist, Stephen Hawking
Many people wouldn’t think that Stephen Hawking was a voice actor due to his speech issues as a result of his Motor Neurone Disease. However, in addition to Futurama, Hawking makes appearances in a few other animated shows including Groening’s other series, The Simpsons. Hawking actually cameos in a few episodes of Futurama, including one of the Season 5 films.
Stephen Hawking was one of the most brilliant minds in human history, and despite his many scientific achievements, he still made time for the things that truly made him happy. According to Hawking himself, he liked science, but he loved cartoons.
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About The Author
(62 Articles Published)
Julian Prestia is an avid MCU enthusiast, researcher, and overall hardcore fan. He has also been a die-hard fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender since its premiere in 2005.
Julian graduated from the Pennsylvania State University in 2013 with a BS in Wood Products. He continued his education at UNLV where he earned a Graduate Certificate in Solar and Renewable Energy in 2016 as well as an MS in Construction Management in 2018.
Despite his background, Julian is passionate about writing and has been developing music, movies, and various stories for over a decade. When he isn’t watching Penn State football or spending time with his beloved dog, Shabadoo, you can typically find him re-watching an MCU movie/show or doing research on one.
Original posted at www.cbr.com