Near-Death Wish

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Not to be confused with Near-Death Star.
Season 7 episode
Broadcast season 9 episode
Near-Death Wish
Near-Death Wish preview 1.png
A screenshot from the episode shown during the live stream of the Futurama cast and crew live chat, showing Fry, Leela, Bender, and two elderly people in Trop Vieux Manor.
Production number7ACV10
Written byEric Horsted
Directed byLance Kramer
Title captionThere's No Bismuth Like Show Bismuth
First air date15 August, 2012
Broadcast numberS09E10
Title referenceThe Near-Death Star and the term "death wish"
Special guest(s)Estelle Harris


Season 7
  1. The Bots and the Bees
  2. A Farewell to Arms
  3. Decision 3012
  4. The Thief of Baghead
  5. Zapp Dingbat
  6. The Butterjunk Effect
  7. The Six Million Dollar Mon
  8. Fun on a Bun
  9. Free Will Hunting
  10. Near-Death Wish
  11. 31st Century Fox
  12. Viva Mars Vegas
  13. Naturama
  14. Forty Percent Leadbelly
  15. 2-D Blacktop
  16. T.: The Terrestrial
  17. Fry and Leela's Big Fling
  18. The Inhuman Torch
  19. Saturday Morning Fun Pit
  20. Calculon 2.0
  21. Assie Come Home
  22. Leela and the Genestalk
  23. Game of Tones
  24. Murder on the Planet Express
  25. Stench and Stenchibility
  26. Meanwhile
← Season 6Season 8 →

"Near-Death Wish" is the one hundred and twenty-fourth episode of Futurama, the tenth of the seventh production season and the tenth of the ninth broadcast season. It aired on 15 August, 2012, on Comedy Central. It guest-stars Estelle Harris as the Professor's mother. The Professor is deeply disturbed when his parents return from virtual retirement aboard the Near-Death Star.


Act I: "Let's boldly go where we've gone before."

Fry is disappointed when Professor Farnsworth is not there when he receives a prestigious Delivery Boy of the Year award, and wishes he had other relatives he could bond with. The Planet Express crew discovers that Farnsworth's parents have moved to the Near-Death Star, an artificial satellite whose elderly inhabitants are connected to power-generating pods similar to those in The Matrix. The pods keep the inhabitants' minds entertained in a virtual reality simulation. Fry, Leela, and Bender find Farnsworth's parents, Ned and Velma (whom Fry nicknames "Shabado" and "Gram-Gram," respectively), and Bender wires them into the simulation, which for them resembles a run-down nursing home. Fry enjoys meeting and bonding with the couple, but when the time comes to return to Earth, he disrupts the equipment and sets off the security alarms. Leela connects Ned and Velma direclty to the group's hovercart in order to power it and escape the pursuing robot guards, and the group returns to Earth.

Act II: "That is one crazy, uncircumcised old man."

Farnsworth's surprise at seeing his parents quickly turns into resentment over a poor childhood, and he wants nothing to do with them. However, he spies on them as they enjoy several activities with Fry. When Leela and Amy confront Farnsworth, he tells them that when he was growing up, his parents never played with him nor paid attention to his scientific discoveries (one of which involved transplanting a mouse's head onto a frog's body). The family eventually moved to a farm in the countryside, further limiting Farnsworth's ability to study, and he has never forgiven them for it.

Act III: "Why would he go to Queens? He doesn't need tires."

Once he tells the rest of the group about his past, Ned and Velma explain that they moved in order to protect Farnsworth from meeting the same end as their first son. That son's scientific curiosity got him into trouble on several occasions; for his sake, they first moved to the farm, then later had to commit him to a mental institution and never saw him again. Ned and Velma claim that they did not want their second child, Floyd, to suffer this fate as well - whereupon Farnsworth realizes that they believe him to be Floyd. Farnsworth, the first son, was in fact committed, but escaped from the institution. Bender tells the group about the arrival of a man named Floyd who claims to be related to Farnsworth, but no one pays any attention and Farnsworth reconciles with his parents.

Ned and Velma ask to be taken back to the Near-Death Star to escape the pain of their physical bodies, and Farnsworth promises to visit. Once they are connected into their pods, he re-programs their simulation to present the country farm and revert them back to a younger age. Plugging himself in, he creates an image of himself as a child so he can play with them as his mouse-headed frog hops by.


On 28 July 2011, it was revealed at the San Diego Comic-Con that, in an episode of the seventh production season, Professor Farnsworth's parents would be revealed to be still alive and living in the Near-Death Star.[1] On 29 February 2012, CGEF revealed the episode's title, its writer to be Eric Horsted and its director to be Lance Kramer.[2][3] On 29 June, MSN TV revealed the episode's air date.[4]

On 12 July, following the broadcast of the episode "Zapp Dingbat", the public were given the opportunity to participate in a live chat with the Futurama cast and crew. Several clips of "Near-Death Wish" were shown during the live stream.[5]

Additional information


  • The episode features a return to the Near-Death Star, which was introduced in "A Clone of My Own", also the tenth episode of its season.
  • When Fry, Leela, and Bender are being transported to the virtual retirement home, they fall through a matrix of letters (both letters of the Latin script and letters of the alien script), some of which are green and some of which are white. When the white ones align, they spell out "secret messages that old people in a virtual retirement home might say", as David X. Cohen describes in the commentary. The first one is also a line in "A Clone of My Own".
    • Get off my lawn
    • Did I already take my pills? (can be clearly made out)
    • My grandson's a doctor (can be clearly made out)
    • My knee hurts
  • It is clear during this episode where the Professor gets some of his elderly mannerisms. For example, he and mother Velma share the same exclamation of "Oh my, yes!". The Professor and father Ned both have a moody tendency that ranges from irritation to happiness, as when Ned invites Fry, Leela and Bender into the retirement home after slamming the door on them. This is repeated by the Professor's Cornwood incarnate, Greyfarn, in Bender's Game.
  • The virtual retirement home is called "Trop Vieux Manor". "Trop vieux" is French for "too old".


  • The characters mock the concept, used in The Matrix films, of using humans as a power source, pointing out that it would be impossible to get more energy out than is put in.
    • The batteries in the Near-Death Star's hovercraft appear to be Duracell, or "Coppertops" - a term which humans freed from the Matrix used to refer to those plugged into the Matrix.
  • The episode's title is a reference to the Near-Death Star, near-death experiences, and the term "death wish".
  • The "Theater in the Ground" is a reference to Theatre in the round.
  • Professor Farnsworth parodies the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera at Fry's holophonor recital.
  • The Opening Title Caption "There's No Bismuth Like Show Bismuth" parodies the phrase "There's No Business Like Show Business", which is also the title of a 1954 movie and a song in the 1946 musical Annie Get Your Gun.
  • Fry states "We must boldly go where we've gone before," in a homage to Star Trek.
  • A poster of Braino sticking out his tongue like Albert Einstein appears in Hubert's room.
  • Although introduced in the same episode as the Near-Death Star, and considering the focus on the Fry/Farnsworth family tree, Cubert is completely absent from this episode.
  • The Professor's bedsheet has transformers on it.
  • This is the first and so far only instance of anyone having any strong feelings toward Farnsworth being nude. However, in every other time, there was far more modesty on his part and it was easier to maintain eye contact.
  • Bender says "faster! Faster! Okay, stop short" when they are on their mobility rides. Stopping short is a clear reference to the Seinfeld episode "The Fusilli Jerry" with Estelle Harris.


  • The Fry-Leela relationship is featured again.
  • Fry is seen learning to play the Holophonor again.
  • The Near-Death Star was first seen in "A Clone of My Own".
  • A poster of Braino is seen on the Professor's bedroom wall during a flashback, a call back to the "The Duh-Vinci Code" where the Professors says he has long been inspired by him.
  • The toll bot loses his arm, which he also did in "A Clone of My Own".


  • In "The Sting", when Fry is thought to be dead, the Professor claims to be the oldest living member left in his family.
    • There are three possible solutions: the majority of the events of "The Sting" are part of a dream thus would not count, the Professor was wrong as he would not know whether they were even still alive, and/or the attribution of "living" only applies to non-dead persons who are not in "virtual retirement".
  • The Professor's parents make it clear that Floyd would be unaware of Hubert as his brother, so how would he know about the professor to come see him years ago?
    • Being homeless he could have gone and tracked down living family to possibly ask for money.
  • Here Fry can play the holophonor, but in The Devils Hands are Idle Playthings, he couldn't because he had stupid hands.
    • He could play short (and usually not very good) songs, which he did in this episode, plus he seems to have played enough to have some basic skills with the instrument by now.
  • It's mentioned (and shown) that the Professor was in diapers till age six, in "A Clone of My Own", but in this episode's flashbacks he doesn't have them.
    • Because here he was shown as 14. And in the virtual world, where he appears younger, that is how Hubert explained it, simply appearances.
  • When talking about his lack of living family, Fry forgets Cubert and Igner.
    • Fry may not fully understand his relationship to Igner and may not consider Cubert to be anything more than one and the same as the Professor since, genetically, they are the same person.
  • In "Space Pilot 3000", it's stated the Professor is Fry's only living relative, now presumably people on the Near-Death Star don't count, and Igner was a secret but what about Floyd? Why wasn't he mentioned?
    • This goes back to the surprise revelation that Ned and Velma still lived. As for Floyd, we may attribute this to Ned and Velma altering family records to hide one of their children and obviously got the wrong one due to their inability to distinguish their children.
    • On the other hand, they may have found it easier to hide Floyd's existence than Hubert's.
  • The toll bots say that visitors are forbidden. So why are there "Visitor Entrance" ports in the virtual reality machines?
    • Perhaps visitors were allowed at the Near-Death Star's creation, and there was later a cultural shift that considered the occupants to be dead and hence impossible to visit. The design of the life support machines may not have been changed, hence the redundant ports.
    • It is also possible that important people, such as Clippie winners, are allowed to visit relatives.
  • Fry said he was most recently a high school student, but he became a proud college dropout in "Mars University".
    • However, he did return to being a teenager during "Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles". It's possible he attended high school at this time, and that became his most recent education.
  • The old man with a zimmer frame disappears during the Matrix-style camera shift when Fry, Leela and Bender enter the virtual retirement home.
  • Leela removes the battery cover of the hover craft when she realises the batteries have died, but when the guards arrive it is back on.
  • When the hover craft is rising (as Leela is explaining how they got the idea from the Matrix), a graphical rendering glitch can be seen on the right side of the screen.


(In alphabetic order)


  1. ^ JavieR (27 July 2011). "San Diego Comic-Con 2011 Futurama panel sneak peeks + videos". The Futurama Point. Retrieved on 22 August 2011.
  2. ^ Episode Guide: 7 ACV. (CGEF.) 29 February 2012. Retrieved on 29 February 2012.
  3. ^ "Just Fan" (29 February 2012). "Futurama: Futurama News (pre-season 7)". (PEEL.) Retrieved on 29 February 2012.
  4. ^ Futurama - 'Near-Death Wish' Episode Info. (MSN TV.) Retrieved on 29 June 2012.
  5. ^ "Tastes Like Fry" (12 July 2012). "Newsarama! (Futurama News Thread)" (page 1). (PEEL.) Retrieved on 13 July 2012.