?Man, it was good when Futurama came back to TV in 2010. Maybe you think that the show still isn’t as good as when it first left the air (although you probably agree that it was better than the four DVD movies), but it’s still the nerdiest show on TV.
Co-creators Matt Groening and David X. Cohen have packed it chock-full of such high-octane nerdity as jokes about physics, chemistry, computer programming, mathematics, and nearly every science fiction property in existence, they’ve also gone to the trouble of hiring some of the most nerd-pandering guest voice talent.
Some of these individuals play themselves, others lend their voices to original characters — in either case, they, and Futurama, deserve recognition from the community for their brilliant contributions to arguably the best/nerdiest animated program on the air. Thus, TR presents the eight Nerdiest Futurama guest stars.
8) Al Gore
Al Gore was still the Vice-President of the United States when he made his first appearance on Futurama in “Anthology of Interest I,” as the leader of the “Vice-Presidential Action Rangers” whose ranks include many of the people on this list, and who job is to protect the space-time continuum (and cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate). It’s less of a coup than you might think, as Al’s daughter Kristen, was one of Futurama’s writers at the time. Still, Gore happily spoofed his own over-serious demeanor, leading his Rangers to try to fix reality when Fry fails to get himself frozen until the year 3000 (it mostly involves hitting Fry with tennis rackets, though). Gore also appears as a head-in-a-jar in the episode “Crimes of the Hot,” announcing himself with the immortal line “I HAVE RIDDEN THE MIGHTY MOON WORM.”
7) Sigourney Weaver
After a Valentine’s Day delivery goes strangely right in the episode “Love and Rocket,” the Professor upgrades the Planet Express ship with its own AI, voiced by the Aliens/Ghostbusters/Avatar star. Unfortunately, the ship enters into an ill-advised romance with Bender, who almost immediately starts cheating on her, with the ship getting increasingly clingy and paranoid. It works out about as much as any office romance, except in this case, the spurned lover can shut off the oxygen supply. Eventually, it ends up as a HAL/2001 parody, except that Bender has to distract the ship by convincing her he still loves her while Fry and Leela shut off the AI manually. Weaver’s best line, to Leela: “You’re just jealous! Nobody loves you because you’re tiny and made of meat!”
6) Professor Stephen Hawking
Like Al Gore, the beyond brilliant Professor Hawking has appeared on Futurama twice — once as a Vice-Presidential Action Ranger with Gore in “Anthology of Interest I” and also in the second DVD movie Beast with a Billion Backs. Hawking’s first appearance is the funniest, though, since… well, he’s kind of a dick, insulting Leela’s hair, claiming he invented gravity, and stealing Fry’s discovery of a “Fry-hole.” On the other hand, his wheelchair is rocket-powered and can fly, and Hawking himself can shoot lasers out of his eyes, so it’s best not to cross him (see below for the clip of the Action Rangers in action).
5) Katee Sackhoff
Better known as Kara “Starbuck” Thrace of Battlestar Galactica fame, Ms. Sackhoff might have played her nerdiest role ever in “Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences” voicing “Grrrl,” who’s sort of a futuristic equivalent of a furry — she’s a human who gets off on dressing up like an alien. This is disappointing news for Omicron Persei 8 overlord Lrrr who falls for Grrrl, thinking she’s a fellow Omicronian, during an alien mid-life crisis. To Lrrr’s credit, he breaks it off with Grrrl when he realizes she’s human, causing Grrrl to immediately start chasing after Zoidberg (by the way, Katee doesn’t show up until near the end of the clip).
The legendary nerd rock band appeared as themselves in “The Mutants Are Revolting,” still alive in the 31st century, only horribly mutated and living in the sewers of New New York, along with all the other horrible mutants. Mark Mothersbaugh and the rest of DEVO sing at a Mutant Rights rally, although to their credit, they do refuse a request to play “Whip It.”
3) The Entire Cast of Star Trek (Except for James Doohan)
Having one of the beloved cast members of the original Star Trek guest-voice on Futurama
was always a matter of when, not if. Both Nichelle Nichols and Leonard Nimoy popped up a few times before
Futurama raised the bar, and got the entire Trek cast to show up as themselves, in an episode devoted entirely to them (alas, James Doohan was too ill to participate, but was ably replaced by “Welshie”). In “Where No Fan Has Gone Before,” its revealed that Star Trek is taboo in the 31st century, after it became a religion and nearly wiped out the human race by turning most of the populace into non-procreating nerds. Fry decides to bring the heads-in-jars of William Shatner, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichols and Nimoy together to look for lost Trek tapes. They end up captured by powerful energy and obnoxious Trek fan named Mellvar, who forces them to have a Trek convention, read his fan fiction, fight to the death “Amok Time”-style, and more. Honestly, there may be no better Trek parody than this episode.
2) Mark Hamill
The Chanukah Zombie previously appeared on our Ten Most Likable Zombies
list, today we honor the voice behind him. As one of the holiday trinity
in Bender’s Big Score (along with Santa Claus and Kwanzaa-Bot), the Chanukah Zombie showcases Hamill’s incredible voice over talents — he sounds nothing like and of his previous work — honestly we never would have called this as an Hamill voice had we not been told. Although the Star-of-David-festooned, menorah-topped TIE Fighter the Chanukah Zombie flies is admittedly a bit of a hint.
1) Gary Gygax
If you’re wondering why Dungeons & Dragons creator Gary Gygax is #1 on this list, remember, it’s nerdiest guest stars, not biggest. Sure, Al Gore was the Vice-President, but getting a man known only to nerds, and whose voice was known to almost no one, to play himself on a cartoon? Only nerds could’ve appreciated such a gesture. Gygax is yet another member of Gore’s Action Rangers, who, of course, makes most of his decisions by rolling a few d10s. Sadly, Gygax passed away in 2008, but the fantasy-oriented Bender’s Game DVD movie was dedicated to him.