A Tale of Two Santas Became the Show's 'Lost Episode'

Futurama, while gleefully chaotic at times, never reached the levels of crassness or violence as many of its contemporaries. However, there was one episode that was initially pulled from the air due to concerns from the Fox Network over its level of violence, resulting in it briefly becoming a "lost episode" until the following season, and this also happened to be Season 3's Christmas special, "A Tale of Two Santas."

In the world of Futurama, Santa Claus is a fearsome figure, and X-Mas -- which has replaced Christmas -- is a more feared holiday. The robot was introduced in Season 2's "X-Mas Story," voiced by John Goodman in his first appearance and by series regular John DiMaggio in subsequent episodes.

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In the 31st Century, Mom's Friendly Robot Company created a robotic Santa Claus, but the robot decided any "naughty" act was worthy of capital punishment, making it a monstrous and almost unstoppable force. The Planet Express Crew barely survived an encounter with Robot Santa in "X-Mas Story," and they are forced to deliver letters to his fortress on Neptune in Season 3's "A Tale of Two Santas."

On the way to the planet, a nostalgic Fry convinces Bender and Leela to help him defeat Robot Santa, so X-Mas can become a less frightening event. Freezing the Robot Santa, Bender is forced to become the "good" Santa and attempts to bring toys to Earth. However, he's captured by the fearful New New York Police and is sentenced to execution.

Although the Planet Express Crew tries (and fails) to prevent the event, Bender is saved by the Robot Santa, who broke free and resumes his annual wave of terror. Bender becomes his assistant to make up for lost time, helping bring chaos to the world while the Planet Express Crew huddle together in fear while uniting for the holidays.

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"A Tale of Two Santas" is a fun yet dark episode of Futurama, with the episode  gleefully embracing the inherent over-the-top violence of Robot Santa. It's a consistently silly episode of Futurama, featuring the introduction of Kwanzaa Bot and includes Doctor Zoidberg dressing up as Jesus in an attempt to save Bender. However, the Fox Network objected to the level of violence featured in the episode.

According to the DVD Commentary for the episode, the violence occurring across New New York City proved too much for the network, which kept the episode out of rotation. As revealed by Executive Producer David X. Cohen in an interview with Sci-Fi Weekly, the lost episode was set to air in the 7:00 PM Sunday time slot, but it was ultimately pulled and held for a year before being released as part of the fourth season.

Given the level of violence on other future Fox shows, it's a surprising line in the sand for the network to have drawn. Still, it's a fitting episode to have at least briefly held the title of the "lost episode," especially given the bedlam Bender and Robot Santa cause by episode's end, including hitting a little girl with a bicycle.

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Brandon Zachary (4233 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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