A Real-Life Tragedy Had Futurama Showrunners Rewriting One Specific Line

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Both Cohen and actor John DiMaggio — who plays the drunken robot Bender and multiple other characters — noted that the original line was indeed “JFK Jr. Airport,” and Cohen clarified that the episode aired once with the original line. In all subsequent airings, and on the DVD version, the line was changed to “Radio City Mutant Hall.” In both instances, the line was performed by DiMaggio — the latter joke being, of course, a reference to Radio City Music Hall.

The details of Kennedy’s death were startling in 1999. Piloting a small plane himself, and carrying his wife Carolyn and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette, Kennedy took off at night, but his plane vanished over the ocean. After two days of searching, the Coast Guard declared the search to be a lost cause and that all three passengers were dead. Debris from the plane was found the following day. The bodies were later discovered on the ocean floor. 

In 2024, it might not be gross to refer to a futuristic airport as JFK Jr., but in 1999, it was wise to avoid cheapening the real-life death of a celebrity. Cohen was right to alter the line to “Radio City Mutant Hall.” 

“Futurama” slightly altered other lines throughout its run as well, likely to remain topical, sometimes to tone down a crude joke, and often merely to shorten an episode’s runtime for re-broadcast on a different channel. In “The Day the Earth Stood Stupid” (the episode that featured the Hypnotoad), Bender, having been made less intelligent by an itinerant race of disembodied, intelligence-hating brains, yelled, “Hey, let’s go join the Reform Party!” In Comedy Central reruns, “Reform Party” was changed to “Tea Party.” 

This was less about politics or tastefulness, however, as “Futurama” merely needed to cram into a shorter scheduling block.

For more on this beloved animated series, check out our ranking of the 27 best “Futurama” episodes.

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