Futurama: Nibbler's Race Are the Guardians of the Universe

Despite being primarily a comedy take on classic sci-fi concepts, Futurama slowly revealed a deep history that connected seeming coincidences into the grander wars and prophecies of the universe. Perhaps the most notable of these evolutions was Nibbler, a minor pet in the first few seasons who proved to be part of the show's most important alien race.

Nibbler is the tiny alien pet found by Leela and the rest of the Planet Express crew in Season 1's "Love's Labours Lost in Space." Trying to rescue the aliens on a doomed world about to be mined for its valuable Dark Matter, Leela adopted the mysterious little alien she succeeded in rescuing. For three seasons, Nibbler appeared to be nothing more than the average animal, content to be Leela's house pet, with no one able to identify what species he really was. But in Season 3's "The Day The Earth Stood Stoopid," the full origins of Nibbler and his entire race were revealed.

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A member of the Nibblonians -- a name that Nibbler only used due to the Planet Express crew's familiarity with the descriptor due to his true name taking longer than a human lifespan to even speak -- Nibbler is actually an ancient and powerful alien being. Capable of vast telepathic abilities, Nibbler is also immortal, existing for untold eons without any sign of aging. As he explained to Leela, his species had already existed for a time before the Big Bang, implying his species is the single oldest group in the universe. Upon the expansion of the galaxy, the Nibbloians -- a relatively peaceful species despite their massive appetites -- found themselves at war with the Brainspawns.

A more vile species, the Brainspawn traveled the cosmos, seeking out all forms of knowledge and then eradicating any species they'd encountered to ensure they were the only true vestiges of intellect in the universe. The Nibblonians spent countless years at war with the Brainspawn, continuing into Earth's 21st century. Learning that a human had been born who was prophecized to become their "Chosen One" due to his lack of delta brainwaves -- the part of the brain that makes mortal minds susceptible to the Brainspawn's attacks -- Nibbler was sent to Earth.

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Nibbler ensured that the young man in question -- an unassuming pizza delivery boy from New York City named Phillip J. Fry -- was cryogenically frozen so he'd live to the 31st century, where he was fated to confront the Brainspawn. Nibbler repeatedly turned to Fry, with the young man successfully trapping the Brainspawn in an alternate dimension in Season 4's "The Why of Fry." Using his powers to continue his disguise on Earth, Nibbler remained a simple house pet until the events of Season 5's "Bender's Big Score." Realizing the danger posed to the universe by the Scammers finding the time travel code hidden on Fry's backside, Nibbler led an assault against the Scammers that ultimately failed -- and fully exposed his identity to the rest of the Planet Express crew.

Nibbler remained casually open about his true intellect and powers in the following seasons, with the changes in his relationship with Leela being at the heart of Season 6's "That Darn Katz!" Throughout Futurama, Nibbler and his people were treated more or less as the guardians of their universe, with an overarching mission to protect the sanctity of life. Nibbler even developed a fondness for the humans who watched over him, helping steer Fry and Leela toward each other romantically and eventually even rewarding Fry for his years of service to the galaxy by telepathically connecting him with his mother, so he could finally gain closure in Season 7's "Game of Tones."

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Brandon Zachary (4230 Articles Published)

Brandon Zachary is an Associate Writer with Comic Book Resources and has written for CBR since 2018. He covers breakouts on comics, film, television, video games, and anime. He also conducts industry interviews, is a Rotten Tomatoes certified film critic, and knows SO MUCH about the X-Men. For requests, comments, or to hear his pitch for a third Avatar series that incorporates robots, you can contact him through [email protected].

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