Bottom: also foreshadowing.
For the past month or so I’ve been watching all episodes of Futurama in order. And I have to say, it’s one of my favorite shows. It turned out that there’s A LOT more episodes I hadn’t already seen than I thought. The Luck of the Fryrish made me tear up and is my favorite episode so far, Jurassic Bark was FUCKING SAD, and The Why of Fry is also really memorable because it heavily reminds me of the story webcomic Homestuck with its stable time loops and revelations of characters’ involvement in past events. Here I’ll go over these similarities because they really are pretty striking.
“You are the chosen one!”
At the start of the episode, Fry feels like a useless tool, with his crewmates accomplishing more than usual without him at their side. But then the mysterious little pet alien Nibbler takes Fry to his home planet where he learns that he is the most important man in the universe because he has brain attack immunities that arise from him being his own grandfather. Being the “chosen one” is also a theme in Homestuck; all of the major characters would be considered chosen ones. Out of the whole population of Earth, four nerdy teenagers are given the quest of creating a universe in the guise of a new video game. John, the protagonist of Homestuck, is also in a sense his own grandfather (having created all the guardians who in turn were cloned to create the four kids), but unlike Fry, who FREAKED THE FUCK OUT when he realized this fact, he took that revelation pretty lightly, merely thinking it’s a little strange.
But wait, it gets better, a lot better.
“That was a (Nibbler/Vriska) thing!”
We later learn that Nibbler was behind Fry getting frozen a thousand years in the future, an iconic event that at first seemed like a pure accident. This instantly reminded me of how Vriska in Homestuck loves involving herself in important plot events, such as Jade constantly falling asleep, Bec the omnipotent dog getting created, and Jack Noir turning into an omnipotent dog. The first two of those events are especially noteworthy because at first we didn’t know Vriska was behind those, just like we didn’t know Nibbler was behind Fry getting frozen.
This isn’t all Nibbler was behind. It turns out he did the I.C. Wiener “prank call” that led Fry to the cryogenics building. I have to say, that was a BRILLIANT plot twist which I previously did not know of at all. This further supports the whole idea that Nibbler is Vriska. I don’t mean he literally is Vriska, just that they have a lot in common.
Nibbler and Vriska are both pretty strongly foreshadowed as shown in the picture at the beginning top of this post. Nibbler is literally foreshadowed when his shadow appears as Fry is about to get frozen in the first episode. The title card page of Homestuck (which is 82 pages in) has the sun symbol that Vriska wears on her god tier outfit, which the author stated retroactively foreshadows her. Some argue retroactive foreshadowing doesn’t count but it’s close enough for me.
Going on, when we get a closer look at what went on when Fry was frozen, we see that future Fry went back in time in an attempt to catch Nibbler and stop this moment. He finds Nibbler under the table, argues with him about whether to freeze his past self, and as it turns out, he (not Nibbler as suggested earlier in the episode) blows on the chair at the last second, causing it to tip and his past self to fall in the tube as we saw, effectively not changing the past. Being unable to change the past is very much a thing in Homestuck (with a few exceptions), as are stable time loops.
“Nobody can know this useful information!”
Towards the end of the episode, Nibbler takes Fry back to Earth and wipes his memories of this whole experience. This is yet another thing that reminds me of Homestuck. In Homestuck it’s sort of a recurring theme that characters refuse to share useful information they know. For instance, Jade always hid her knowledge of the future from John, apparently because doing so would mess up the timeline, but I STILL don’t see the harm in telling him. Likewise, Nibbler pretends to be an adorable mindless little creature rather than the almighty universe maintainer he is.
This part also reminds me of Phineas and Ferb, a show I used to watch pretty often. Perry the Platypus has a similar thing going on to Nibbler: for some reason he can’t let the kids know that he’s a secret agent. The movie “Across the 2nd Dimension” explores what would happen if the kids found out (and like The Why of Fry, ends with the kids’ memories being erased); although I’m sure the movie makes it clear why the kids can’t know that Perry is a secret agent and I remember pretty well how the movie goes, I can’t remember why exactly they that fact has to be a secret.