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Futurama episode
"The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings"
Futurama ep72.jpg
Fry swaps hands with the Robot Devil.
Episode no. 72
Prod. code 4ACV18
Airdate August 10, 2003
Writer(s) Ken Keeler
Director Bret Haaland
Opening subtitle See you on some other channel
Opening cartoon Futurama's opening credits (infinite regression)
Guest star(s) Dan Castellaneta as the Robot Devil
Season 4
January 2002 – August 2003
  1. Kif Gets Knocked Up a Notch
  2. Leela's Homeworld
  3. Love and Rocket
  4. Less Than Hero
  5. A Taste of Freedom
  6. Bender Should Not Be Allowed on TV
  7. Jurassic Bark
  8. Crimes of the Hot
  9. Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles
  10. The Why of Fry
  11. Where No Fan Has Gone Before
  12. The Sting
  13. Bend Her
  14. Obsoletely Fabulous
  15. The Farnsworth Parabox
  16. Three Hundred Big Boys
  17. Spanish Fry
  18. The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings
List of all Futurama episodes...

"The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings" is the eighteenth episode in the fourth production season of the animated television series ‘’Futurama’’, and was aired for the first time in the United States on August 10, 2003 as the sixteenth episode of the fifth broadcast season. The episode was written by Ken Keeler and directed by Bret Haaland, and it guest stars Dan Castellaneta, who reprises his role as the Robot Devil. Keeler was nominated for an Emmy Award for this episode and the song "I Want My Hands Back" was nominated for an Annie Award.

This episode was Futurama's original series finale, and was the very last episode that aired on Adult Swim on December 31, 2007 at 10:30 EST.. However, it was confirmed on June 22, 2006 that the show would be returning for a run of at least 13 episodes on Comedy Central, to air beginning in 2008.[1]



The episode begins with Fry attempting to play the holophonor, hoping to woo Leela as he did in Parasites Lost. After a disastrous holophonor recital, Fry enlists the help of the Robot Devil to improve his holophonor skills through a hand transplant, correctly believing that his own hands are the reason he cannot play. The Robot Devil decides to switch his hands with a robot randomly selected by a carnival wheel — which coincidentally stops on the Robot Devil himself. With his new, nimble hands, Fry becomes a skilled holophonor player and attempts to win the heart of Leela with an opera based on her life.

Revolted at getting the raw end of the deal, the Robot Devil decides he has to get his own hands back. He trades Bender a stadium air horn for his "crotch-plate" so that he can annoy people. When Bender uses the air horn on Leela, he causes her to go deaf (his air horn also almost immediately runs out of propellant, and when the Robot Devil taunts him, there is no "shiny metal ass" for him to bite). Leela refuses to tell Fry that she is deaf because she is afraid that Fry will stop writing the opera, so she attends the premiere pretending she can still hear the performance. During the intermission, the Robot Devil offers Leela robotic ears (which previously belonged to Calculon) in exchange for her hand. Desperate to hear the opera, Leela accepts the offer.

The Robot Devil interrupts the opera and demands that Fry give back his hands. When Fry refuses, the Robot Devil says that he will take Leela's hand - "in marriage". After a musical conflict, Fry decides that he has no choice but to trade the Robot Devil's hands back for his own, or else he'll never have a chance to be with Leela. With his own hands, Fry can no longer play the holophonor, and the remainder of the opera is terrible. The entire audience storms out except for the sympathetic Leela, who asks, "Please don't stop playing, Fry. I want to hear how it ends." Playing an improvised finale of his opera, Fry produces crude, cartoony images of himself and Leela. To a simplistic yet sweet violin tune, they kiss and then walk into the distance hand-in-hand.


While this episode may not have been conceived as the final episode of the series, the production crew did include references to the series likely ending as the show had not been renewed by the end of production.[2] The episode’s opening subtitle was “See You On Some Other Channel”, referring to the broadcast syndication that many shows enter after conclusion as this was the last episode at the time of production.[3] In 2003, the series aired on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block, running until the end of 2007, and bought by Comedy Central to air in 2008 (with new episodes coming in 2010), thus making the subtitle true twice.[1] In the audio commentary it is stated that there was a concerted effort to include the entire cast of the show and also just about all the recurring characters.

Due to the ending of the series and Katey Sagal's role in 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter there was difficulty in recording the final line of the series ("I want to hear how it ends"). In the audio commentary it is stated that this single line took nearly six months to record.[4] The Futurama Season Four DVD also includes a hidden featurette of a table reading of the script for this episode.

Broadcast and reception

Writer Ken Keeler was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2004 for "Outstanding Music and Lyrics" for the song “I Want My Hands Back” and for an Annie Award for "Music in an Animated Television Production".[3][5] The episode is considered by many fans to be one of the best episodes in the series' history and was ranked number 16 on IGN's list of the top 25 Futurama episodes in 2006.[6] Science Fiction Weekly rated the episode as their "A Pick" for its original airing in 2003, calling the episode a "superbly funny ending to the series".[2] Dan Castellaneta's performance as the Robot Devil in this episode along with the episode "Hell is Other Robots" has been described as a "bravura appearance".[7] The episode was called an "instant classic" by a reviewer for the Asia Africa Intelligence Wire.[3]

Cultural references

The title comes from the old saying "Idle hands are the Devil's playthings", which according to David X. Cohen, is rarely heard nowadays.[4] In keeping with the episode’s focus on classical music (and particularly, opera), the plot is loosely based on the story of Faust,[8] the story upon which several famous operas are based.

The Robot Devil references the River Styx of Greek mythology as well as the American rock band Styx, singing that in Hell "Styx is a river and not just a band".

The Holophonor was inspired by the Visi-Sonor, an instrument played by the The Mule in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b Wallenstein, Andrew (June 22, 2006). ""Futurama" gets new life on Comedy Central". Reuters. Retrieved 2006-06-22.  
  2. ^ a b Huddleston, Kathie (August 4, 2003). "Futurama Series Finale". Science Fiction Weekly. Retrieved 2007-06-11.  
  3. ^ a b c Azrai, Ahmad (2004-10-31). "Farewell to the funny future". Retrieved 2008-01-10.  
  4. ^ a b c Cohen, David X.. (2003). Futurama season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings". [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.  
  5. ^ "The fish that got away took top honors at the 31st Annie Awards". International Animated Film Society. 2004. Retrieved 2007-06-28.  
  6. ^ ""Top 25 Futurama Episodes"". Retrieved 2006-11-04.  
  7. ^ Booker, M. Keith. Drawn to Television: Prime-Time Animation from The Flintstones to Family Guy. pp. 115–124.  
  8. ^ Pinsky, Mark. The Gospel According to the Simpsons. Bigger and possibly even Better! edition. pp. 229–235. ISBN 978-0-664-23265-8.  

External links



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