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Futurama: The Show Was Almost Completely Different In Some Huge Ways
Brandon Zachary
2021-07-06T08:12:39
futurama
futurama
As with any show, Futurama went through a number of tweaks and shifts in terms of character, design and performance over the course of development. But the earliest versions of the show were surprisingly distinct from the finished product -- especially when it came to three of the show's most memorable characters. Here are some original character concepts that almost made Futurama radically different, as revealed by the show's home release.

Fry

Futurama primarily centers around Phillip J. Fry, a kind-hearted but dim pizza delivery man who, after being frozen in the year 1999, is awoken in the 31st century. However, the character went through various iterations during the early stages of production. Originally, Fry was named Curtis. While he was always intended to be a delivery boy, he was initially intended to hail from the distant future rather than time-travel.
Original Fry was portrayed as a slightly older and gruffer figure, judging by his early designs (as compiled by Animated TV Blog). Series Co-Creator David X. Cohen also explained on the commentary for Season 5's "The Beast With A Billion Backs" that there was a time in development when Fry had a Pocket Pal -- a miniature robot who would serve as a guide to the futuristic world of New New York. However, this was scrapped to avoid the show wasting time on exposition. A version of Pocket Pal later appeared in Season 5's "The Beast with a Billion Backs" only to be promptly destroyed.

Bender

Bender is arguably Futurama's chief breakout character, with the foul-mouthed but loveable criminal quickly taking center stage in various episodes. Bender actually went through a number of changes during the series' initial development with the producers split over the general design of robots in the show. This included Bender, at times, having an additional antenna on either side of his head -- a design that would be given to his son Ben in Season 7's "The Bots & The Bees." He was eventually given a round head, with series co-creator Matt Groening telling the New York Times that this was to reflect Bender being a "round peg in a square hole."
However, the true challenge to figuring out Bender proved to be the vocal performance. There were hundreds of auditions for the character, including other cast members who would join the show. Series co-creator David X. Cohen even auditioned for the role, as revealed in the audio commentaries for Season 1's "The Series Has Landed." The role ended up going to John DiMaggio, who originally auditioned for the part of Professor Farnsworth. DiMaggio's performance felt less robotic and more natural, impressing the producers and landing DiMaggio the role.

Mom

Carol -- aka Mom -- is one of the chief antagonists in Futurama. The owner and CEO of Mom's Friendly Robot Company, Mom effectively serves as the show's version of The Simpsons' Mr. Burns -- a rich and malicious enemy that constantly thwarts the Planet Express crew's plans thanks to her business connections and her former romantic relationship with Professor Farnsworth.
However, Mom initially had a far more malicious place in the series.  In early conceptions, Mom was the ruler of the entire world. As Futurama morphed during development, Mom became a corporate force to be reckoned with instead. At one point, Fry was even meant to work for her -- although this element was eventually dropped. Mom remained a major fixture of the show, albeit in a far more connected role.
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