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careers officer

Philip J. Fry

Philip J. Fry (c. 1975, New York) is the protagonist of animated sci-fi sitcom Futurama, and is voiced by Billy West. He is usually referred to by his family name, "Fry".

Character Biography

Fry is an average, thoroughly unremarkable, 25 year old pizza delivery boy who, during the last ten seconds of New Years Eve 1999, accidentally fell into a cryogenic freezing tank whilst on a hoax call. He subsequently remains frozen for a thousand years, finally thawing out on the last day of 2999, where he meets the one eyed careers officer Leela and chain smoking, kleptomaniac robot Bender. Together, all three of them are employed by Fry’s great-great-great...(etc.) nephew, the senile and demented old scientist Prof. Hubert J. Farnsworth, as the spaceship crew of his delivery company. In his old life Fry had an older brother, Yancy, and a girlfriend, Michelle, who dumped him in the first episode, "Space Pilot 3000", just before he was frozen. Having been subsequently left by her new boyfriend, Michelle froze herself and re-appears in the season two finale "The Cryonic Woman".

Characterised as simple, sweet, naïve and immature, Fry regards Bender as his closest friend, despite the latter’s often violent criminal tendencies. He also has strong feelings for Leela, although he lacks the intelligence required for articulating his emotions; thus, his love remains unreciprocated, though not entirely without hope. She does occasionally return his interest, but because of her high expectations of men, his immaturity, and sometimes sheer idiocy, proves a consistent obstacle for any potential romance.

In the episode “The Why of Fry”, Leela’s seemingly oblivious pet Nibbler reveals himself as the reason for Fry’s cryogenic freezing; because of Fry's uniquely inferior mental characteristics (he lacks the Delta brainwave, the cause of his stupidity and the result of the events depicted in “Roswell That Ends Well’’) he can withstand the intellect-draining onslaught of the evil Brainspawn. Nibbler's people, the Nibblonians, deem him "The Mighty One". Through prediction (on the eve of 1999, as the Nibblonians hadn't discovered time-travel yet), they guessed that Fry would be the one to save the world from the evil Brainspawn; since his natural lifespan would not extend to the right millennium, however, Nibbler is sent to make the aforementioned hoax delivery call and push an unsuspecting Fry into the cryogenic tube, to re-emerge in the year 3000.

It is a recurring theme that Fry can smell or taste radiation.

Character Development

Creation

The name "Philip" was given to Fry by Matt Groening as a homage to the then recently murdered Phil Hartman, for whom the role of Zapp Brannigan was created. The "J" is akin to the "J" in Bullwinkle J. Moose, Rocket J. Squirrel, Bartholomew J. Simpson and Homer J. Simpson, in tribute to Jay Ward, creator of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. It is unknown what Philip's name would have been had Hartman not been killed.

According to Groening, Fry's character developed over time while still keeping his qualities as a loser and the characteristics which writers hoped would make him appeal to the target young male audience. Fry's character is essentially a bungling, stubborn slob with a heart of gold that cannot get ahead in the world, yet he does have a slight glimmer of hope.

Casting

Fry is voiced by Billy West who also voices Doctor Zoidberg, Professor Farnsworth and various other characters in the show. After West's original audition he did not get the role of Fry; however, after a casting change he was offered the job. The voice West uses for Fry has been described as that of a "generic Saturday-morning good guy". West admits that he intentionally made Fry sound similar to his own real voice claiming that keeping the "cartoony" aspects out of it would make it harder for someone else to imitate the same voice. West also voices Lars Fillmore, a time travel duplicate of Fry, in Bender's Big Score with a different voice. The producers initially considered having a different voice actor do Lars' voice in order to keep viewers from guessing his true identity, though they decided it would not make sense if anyone besides West did the voice.

See also

References

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