9

In The Late Philip J. Fry (S06E07), the professor invents a forward time machine which causes an adventure through future years in order to find a backward time machine (after the professor overshoots). After the universe decays and the second big bang, the professor stops to kill Hitler before continuing on. He then overshoots again and the second time around he attempts to shoot Hitler in a "drive-by" (I don't know what you'd call passing by in time) which misses and hits Eleanor Roosevelt.

Both times, this event doesn't appear to have changed anything at all in the future. The only noticeable difference is that the final world appears to be about ten feet lower than previous. Normally, in pretty much any other show that deals with time travel, we're warned not to change anything in the past as it can have unintended consequences on the future. Why don't these changes in the past affect the future at all? Why does the Professor, who would normally be warning us about dangers such as these, choose to kill (and try to kill again) Hitler?

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    Read Making History by Stephen Fry for an interesting take on using time travel to kill Hitler. – StuperUser Jun 29 '12 at 10:08
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Shooting Hitler the first time may have changed history in that second version of the universe, but then they overshoot their desired time again and have to go forward to a third (and unchanged) version of the universe. In that version, the Professor misses Hitler and hits Eleanor Roosevelt. Notice, from the episode transcript, that he didn't say he killed her:

Farnsworth: Just slow it down, I'll shoot Hitler out the window. [He takes out his weapon again and aims out the window and shoots.] Darn! I shot Eleanor Roosevelt by mistake.

He just says he shot her. It's possible he just accidentally winged her, since he was shooting while they were still moving. In addition, as other answers mention, with over 1000 years of intervening history filled with drastic and apocalyptic occurrences, the injury (or possible death) of Eleanor Roosevelt may not affect the state of things all that much by the year 3000.

So, why might the Professor be so quick to monkey around with history? It's possible that, with all of his prior experiences with changing history ("Roswell that Ends Well") and time paradoxes (Bender's Big Score), he realizes that time seems to right itself just fine, so why not have fun and live out everyone's time-travel-tyrant-murder fantasy. In the Professor's own words:

Fry: But-- But won't that change history?

Farnsworth: [sarcastic] Oh, a lesson in not changing history from Mr. I'm-My-Own-Grandpa! Let's get the hell out of here already! Screw history!

5

It's a well-known fact that in the Futurama universe all paradoxes are self-resolving. As Hitler and Elanor Roosevelt are very prominent figures in 20th century human history, their deaths would have inevitably created a paradox wherein Fry, Bender, and the Professor couldn't possibly have been in that time machine to shoot them.

Consider the fact that human technology took a large jump forward during WWII. Without Hitler, there would probably have been no cryogenic chamber for Nibbler to have pushed Fry into during his lifetime. Voila, paradox.

The episode isn't explicit as to how the paradox is resolved, but one plausible scenario is that other individuals rose up to fill the void in history left by their deaths (i.e. someone else became the dictator of Nazi Germany, and FDR married another woman who became the new Mrs. Roosevelt). The distinction between these original historical figures and their replacements was evidently small enough as to be inconsequential at a point in time more than a millennium later.

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    Paradoxes are only self resolving when using the time code. The time code was not used in this episode, the professor's time machine was. – Cyrus Jun 29 '12 at 2:10
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After watching it again, I realized that in between the time the Professor shoots Hitler and the time they near the stopping point, civilization on Earth is wiped out... twice. The first time, civilization rebuilds in what appears to be a Castle Age type era. After being wiped out again, the futuristic world that they now live in is built.

It could be possible that the deaths of those figures did change events in the future closer to when they were alive, but that those events were not relevant to the future we know because of the alien invasions destroying most of everything that was there. Whether or not Hitler lived or got assassinated probably wouldn't have any real bearing on whether or not the aliens would invade and destroy everything.

It's possible the Professor knew this, but I still wouldn't have expected the Professor to make a drastic move like this.

1

So, if Hitler is dead, who replaces him? Not like WW2 isn't going to happen without him, especially if it's already underway.
Ditto with Elanor. The message is that they don't matter in grand scheme of things.

And knowing Futurama, this did effect things, but as an easter egg nobody noticed. Remember, this is the show where you could see Nibler in the intro from day one. This is the show where the writers developed an actual functioning mathematical theorem for switching bodies. Yes, all the math for when the proffessor explains what they need to switch bodies checks out, and it is a theorem for math.

The other answer, is that it's an intentional red herring, because the writers actually know people will be looking, and want to frustrate those people. Like when John Lennon wrote I am the Walrus. And then latter, he said the Walrus was Paul in the kind of sequal, Glass Onion. Comeplete, self-proffessed nonesense created purely because they found out their music was being studied by universities. To be fair, John Lennon also put in a bunch of things in there, like a nod to them being hounded by a famous drug-busting cop, Norman Pilcher, who busted a ton of people, like McJagger, and was going to arrest George and John, however, it's placed in a spot that makes absolutely no sense. Selmalina Pilcher. That's the entire line.

  • This is a decent answer but most of the last paragraph seems entirely irrelevant and it would probably be better if you edited it out. – TheLethalCarrot Feb 26 at 22:10
0

In both cases they are in effectively a new universe and only travelling forward in time, so killing Hitler and/or Eleanor Roosevelt will only change the future. As a result the usual paradoxes don't apply, i.e. the "past" (from 19xx-30xx) is never changed because it hasn't happened yet, so any changes will flow through as normal.

Having said that, the question then becomes why did the shooting of Eleanor Roosevelt not appear to change anything? In other words, was the flow of history was similar enough to result in the same result? The trouble is that you cannot predict how a modification can affect the world. Eleanor Roosevelt's absence may not have caused a significant enough change in any of the world's events to change the world, and that appears to be the case.

  • Hmmm, but the show still specifically mentions the paradox. After the second time when they appear, they fall on top of themselves next to a second forward time machine, and the Professor exclaims, "Pow, we took care of the time travel paradox." – animuson Jun 28 '12 at 22:56
0

In this episode the proffesor invents a forwads time-machine but I would rather call it a fastforward machine (so they won't go back in time and do something disgusting like sleep with their own grandparents!) since they have to sit there and watch the world get older and can not set a precise date.

So the first time they shoot Hitler we can't really see what's happend to the history since they fastforward everything.

So now too the second shooting they just slow down and then Farnsworth shoot's and hits Eleanor Roosevelt instead, this does not mean that she died she might just have lost a arm or something (But I think she died, laser tend to do stuff like that...). But another thing is that these differen't earth's are not all identicall since when they come back to the third (last) earth they notice that they are higher up then before (~10 feet) so there can be some other changes aswell besides the hight different.

We have also no idea how old Eleanor Roosevelt was when she was shoot, so she could have died the day after or was supposed to die in 10 years there is no way of knowing.

I would guess that she was supposed too die within a short period of time, so her message would still have been heard. Since we don't see that much of a different in this earth I would go with this explanation.

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The joke is a play on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test (MBTI). In the test, there are 16 personalities, some are more rare than others. INFJs are generally considered to be the rarest personality. INFJ stands for Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging.

Two people generally typed as INFJs are Eleanor Roosevelt and Adolf Hitler. However, Eleanor Roosevelt was generally considered to be an inspiration during her time, while Adolf Hitler was considered inhuman after it was found what he had done.

So, the joke is that in one time history, Adolf Hitler was killed, getting rid of one powerful INFJ. In the other time history, Eleanor Roosevelt was killed, who was also a powerful INFJ, so same difference.

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    This could be the case. How do we know that this is what the show was going for, though, as opposed to some other joke/references? Did they mention the Myers-Briggs test in the episode, for example? – Adamant Sep 4 '16 at 6:41
  • I found that Eric Kaplan was a writer for Futurama, and he is an INFJ. I don't know if he specifically wrote on this episode, but the AMA at the following link mentions it: amatranscripts.com/ama/eric_kaplan_2013-06-12.html – its.just.me Sep 4 '16 at 7:03
  • It seems possible, but pretty speculative IMO. – Adamant Sep 4 '16 at 7:04
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    This seems very tenuous indeed. – Valorum Sep 4 '16 at 8:15

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