A Head in the Polls: Wikis


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Futurama episode
"A Head in the Polls"
Futurama 207 - A Head in the Polls.jpg
Bender argues with Richard Nixon's head.
Episode no. 16
Prod. code 2ACV03
Airdate December 12, 1999
Writer(s) J. Stewart Burns
Director Bret Haaland
Opening subtitle From The Makers Of Futurama
Opening cartoon "Koko's Earth Control"
Guest star(s) Claudia Schiffer as her head
Season 2
November 1999 – December 2000
  1. I Second That Emotion
  2. Brannigan, Begin Again
  3. A Head in the Polls
  4. Xmas Story
  5. Why Must I Be a Crustacean in Love?
  6. The Lesser of Two Evils
  7. Put Your Head on My Shoulder
  8. Raging Bender
  9. A Bicyclops Built for Two
  10. A Clone of My Own
  11. How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back
  12. The Deep South
  13. Bender Gets Made
  14. Mother's Day
  15. The Problem with Popplers
  16. Anthology of Interest I
  17. War Is the H-Word
  18. The Honking
  19. The Cryonic Woman
List of all Futurama episodes...

"A Head in the Polls" is the third episode in the second production season of Futurama. It originally aired in North America on December 12, 1999 as episode seven in the second broadcast season. The episode was written by J. Stewart Burns and directed by Bret Haaland. Claudia Schiffer makes a guest appearance as herself. The title is a pun on the common phrase "Ahead in the polls".[1]



The election race for President of Earth is in full swing, with two identical clones as candidates. Leela, appalled by the apathy of the Planet Express crew, exhorts them to register to vote. Meanwhile, a mining disaster sends the price of titanium through the roof, and Bender seizes the opportunity to make a quick buck by pawning his 40% titanium body.

As a head with a pile of cash, Bender begins enjoying his new lifestyle. During a trip to the Hall of Presidents in the New New York Head Museum, Richard Nixon's head ruins Bender's illusions about the glamour of a life without a body. The next day Bender heads off to the pawn shop to retrieve his body, but it has been sold. Later, Nixon's head announces its candidacy for President of Earth, using Bender's body to escape a constitutional provision that "nobody can be elected more than twice".

Fry, Leela, and Bender take off to Washington, D.C. to stop Nixon and recover Bender's body. Directly confronting Nixon fails to recover Bender's body, so the crew infiltrates Nixon's room at the Watergate Hotel. Leela successfully separates the sleeping head from the robot body, but Fry accidentally wakes Nixon. Confronting the intruders, Nixon begins ranting about his future plans for Earth. However, Bender records the conversation and knowing that the tape would ruin his election chances if released, Nixon trades the body for the tape.

On election day, Nixon wins by a single vote. He regained the robot vote by replacing Bender's body with a giant war robot while Leela, Bender and Fry forgot to vote against him. The episode ends with Nixon on a rampage through Washington D.C., escorted by Secret Service agents into the White House.


In Doug Pratt's DVD, Pratt opined that this episode was one of the "less inspired" episodes of the second season.[2]


Nixon's head would continue to be president throughout the series and into the four direct-to-video feature films. However, he does not use the supersuit he had at the end of the episode ever again.

Cultural references

This episode is the first to heavily feature the character of Richard Nixon's head. Although Nixon is often remembered only as "Tricky Dick" the writers for this episode not only mocked his "ruthless drive" but also showed his resilience and relevance.[3] This episode also showcases the show-within-a-show The Scary Door, a parody of The Twilight Zone featured in multiple episodes. At the beginning of this episode the classic Twilight Zone episode "Time Enough at Last" is spoofed.[4]

This episode contains numerous references to Richard Nixon's presidency and political career:

  • The Watergate Scandal: When Leela is breaking into Nixon's room, Fry asks why he's staying at the Watergate, and Leela responds "They give you a discount if you've been here before", referring to the Watergate scandal. (Nixon, however, was not part of the group that broke into the Watergate complex.)
  • Nixon says later, "Don't expect me to grant a pardon like that sissy Ford," a reference to Gerald Ford's pardoning of him of the Watergate scandal.
  • When Nixon discloses what he plans on doing when he is sworn in as president, Bender records it on audio tape, which is a reference to the Watergate tapes.
  • Foreign Relations: Nixon tells Fry, Bender, and Leela to leave his room "before I get Cambodian on your asses", a reference to tense American-Cambodian relations during his presidency. He also repeatedly refers to them as hippies and Communists. Leela also mentions his re-opening of relations with China.
  • The head of his dog Checkers (namesake of Nixon's notorious Checkers speech) is also in a jar on a shelf in his dressing room.
  • The Checkers speech is also referenced when Nixon's head recalls his former body as "... flabby, pasty-skinned, riddled with phlebitis -- a good Republican body," a description alluding to the line in that speech in which he claimed his wife wore not an extravagant mink coat, but rather "a respectable Republican cloth coat."
  • During the debate, Richard Nixon's jar begins to sweat profusely due to the sensitive nature of a question. This is a reference to Nixon's first televised presidential debate of 1960 against John F. Kennedy. Nixon's appearance in the 1960 televised debate caused him to look old and sweaty.

References to other aspects and events in the American political system are also made:

  • The names of the two clones' respective parties, the Tastycrats and the Fingerlicans are obvious parodies of the Democrats and the Republicans.
  • The head of Gerald Ford says, "Frankly, I've never felt voting to be all that essential to the process," to which Richard Nixon's head replies, "No kidding, Ford." This is a reference to Ford being the only U.S. president and vice-president to never be elected into office.
  • When explaining why they could not allow Bender to move in at the Head Museum's Presidential head exhibition, the head of George H. W. Bush expresses that they cannot allow "every Tom, Dick and Harry to move in" before immediately apologizing to the heads of Jefferson, Nixon and Truman, referring to their first names.
  • The 22nd Amendment to the constitution reads, "No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice...". Nixon uses the key word of "body" to justify running again, as he now had Bender's body, hence not the same body he had before.
  • A closet of "Presidential Losers" is seen, which is inhabited by Bob Dole, Lyndon LaRouche, H. Ross Perot, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis (who is not named) and an unidentified man (who was scripted to be George Wallace, but changed at the last minute to avoid causing controversy over Wallace's segregationist platform). Rob Reiner also appears, despite never having run for political office; this was due to David X. Cohen and several other Futurama producers hating The American President, which Reiner directed.

Other cultural references include:

  • While living it up as a rich head, Bender orders a martini "shaken, not stirred", a reference to the famous James Bond line.
  • While dreaming, Nixon references Betty Friedan, an influential feminist.
  • As the group is walking in the head museum, Leela and Bender's head pass by a section with the heads of TV stars, one of which is Katey Sagal, best known as Peg Bundy on Married...With Children and the voice of Leela on this show.
  • In Bender's dream, a two does appear in the lower right part of the screen. The binary code in the final frame before the bigger numbers appear can be translated into the sentence "get a life".
  • When Amy goes to the hemp booth, the hippie says "Dave's not here, man." This is a reference to the stand up comedy duo Cheech and Chong.
  • During his speech, Nixon sings the song White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane.


  1. ^ Cook, Vivian. Accomodating Brocolli in the Cemetary. p. 128. http://books.google.com/books?id=EyRw5ZxY-_sC.  
  2. ^ Pratt, Douglas. Doug Pratt's DVD: Movies, Television, Music, Art, Adult, and More!. p. 474.  
  3. ^ Greenberg, David. Nixon's Shadow: The History Of An Image. p. 346.  
  4. ^ Booker, M. Keith. Drawn to Television: Prime-Time Animation from The Flintstones to Family Guy. pp. 115–124.  

External links

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