Futurama's Infamous 'Jurassic Bark' Episode Could Have Been Even More Grim

The episode of "Futurama" entitled "Jurassic Bark" (that aired on November 17, 2002) was about the unfrozen 20th-century boob Fry (Billy West) going to a museum in the year 3002 to find ancient antiques of the pizza joint where he used to work. There was a pizza paddle, an old dining booth, and, most shockingly, the fossilized remains of his beloved pet dog Seymour. Professor Farnsworth (West) explains that, because Seymour was fossilized so quickly, there may still be a creamy center of organic dog matter somewhere inside Seymour's rock shell. With such matter, Seymour could be cloned and returned to life with his memories and personality intact, so Fry endeavors to steal Seymour's remains from the museum. Half of the episode is told in flashback, and audiences enjoy scenes of Fry bonding with his dear dog. At one point, Fry teaches the pooch how to bark Katrina and the Waves' 1985 hit "Walking on Sunshine." 

Eventually, the professor has access to the dog's remains and finds that it lived an additional 12 years after Fry's disappearance back in the 20th century. Fry, sensing that Seymour lived a long full life without him, elects to leave Seymour dead. 

Then, just to assure dog lovers' hearts are thoroughly broken, an additional flashback shows Seymour waiting outside Fry's old pizza joint for 12 full years, eagerly awaiting his master's return. The final shot of the episode is Seymour laying down on the sidewalk to die alone. 

"Jurassic Bark" was written by Eric Kaplan, a regular contributor to "Futurama." In a 2022 appearance on the "What's In My Head" podcast, Kaplan talked about the original idea for the episode, and how David X. Cohen, the showrunner, found it to be a mite too grim.

Deep time

Kaplan explains to the "My Head" podcast host Julian Hester, that he was always drawn toward stories about what he called "deep time." That is a story set on a timeline that can barely fit inside the imagination. Kaplan says he was deeply inspired by the notion in Hindu cosmology that the universe "resets" itself every 300 trillion years or so. There will be a collapse and a re-expansion, like the inhaling and exhaling of God's lung. He was also intrigued by the story of a crow within that cosmology that doesn't die but lives into each incarnation of the universe. The crow is one being living in multiple times, ancient memories still alive in its head. 

In a way, that could describe Fry, a human born in one age, living into the next. When looking at fry that way, Kaplan began to wonder what emotional echoes would apply to his life in the 30th century, and he came up with the notion of including a long-dead figure from his past. In Kaplan's original version of the story, however, it wasn't a beloved dog, but Fry's mother. In Kaplan's words:

"I pitched to David Cohen, who's the co-creator of 'Futurama': What if Fry goes to a museum and sees his own mummified mother? And he was like, 'Oh that seems cool, but it seems like it might burn people out to have a dead mother as, like, this central image of a comedy program.' So I said, 'Well, what about a dog?' So he said, 'Okay, a dog!' And that's how that story came to be."

Simple enough, but Kaplan seemed more interested in a cerebral, tragic version of the story.


Kaplan, a veteran TV writer, walks listeners through how his script was assembled. He understood that he needed an emotional hook. "Jurassic Bark" is essentially about loss. Fry wakes up at a time when everything and everyone he knew is now dead. On one level, it's a strange relief to have a completely fresh start. On the other, so much has been lost. Kaplan understood that Seymour needed a 30th-century equivalent. Luckily, Fry's best friend was always right there. As Kaplan explained: 

"This story kind of ... It came in sort of two pieces. The first piece was: He should be longing for some love and some connection with a being that he lost from his previous life. And then the second piece was there should be a love or friendship or connection piece of the puzzle in his present life, and that's Bender. And that's sort of what created the story."

But it wasn't enough that Fry learn to let go of an old friend and embrace a new one. By Kaplan's insistence, the ending had to be tragic for the dog. For those miffed that "Futurama" ripped their hearts out, they can tune their heated stares squarely in Kaplan's direction. It was he that insisted the dog remain dead. In a story about loss and acceptance, resurrecting a canine using sci-fi means would kind of undercut that. As Kaplan said: 

"And then the final interesting personal piece of the puzzle was– so I always knew it needed to end on a tragic note where we learned that the dog loved him all along, and that he should have defrosted it or cloned it or whatever science fiction nonsense we came up with to stand in for resurrecting this dog and getting it back."

Edward and Doe Kaplan

The final sequence of "Jurassic Bark," as mentioned, was a montage of Seymour waiting outside Panucci's Pizza for 12 years. Seymour slowly aged, waited out in the snow, and never lost hope that Fry would one day return. The music for the scene was Connie Francis performing the 1966 ballad "I Will Wait for You," a song adapted from Jacques Demy's indelible 1964 musical "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg." Kaplan revealed that the song had special significance to him personally, giving the final scenes of "Jurassic Bark" even more meaning. The song, it turns out, is one he learned from family. As Kaplan explained:

"My grandparents, Edward Kaplan and Doe Kaplan, used to play the piano and sing a song popularized by Connie Francis that had the lyric: 'If it took forever I would wait for you, for a thousand summers I would wait for you.' Which perfectly fit the story, because the dog had been waiting for him in that mummified state for a thousand years. So that was really a nice moment, and that kind of tied it around personally for me, it became a story that was very personally connected with my own life with my grandparents."

So if the story of a dog tragically waiting outside for 12 years for a master that never returned wasn't sad enough, know that the writer was also digging deep into his own heart to extract a tragic love song that reminded him of his grandparents. 

Someone pass the tissues. I have something in my eye.