Pop Pedestal: Captain Turanga Leela

Ann-Derrick Gaillot
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I am a freelance writer and reporter who watches a lot of TV. I tweet at @methodann.

Welcome to another installment of Pop Pedestal, the series where we pay homage to our favorite characters from pop culture. Today, let us travel to the year 3000 to take a look at Leela of the animated series Futurama.

An image of Leela standing with her raygun cocked.

The Pedestal Profile:
Leela starts out the series working at a cryogenics lab where she unfreezes the show’s protagonist (and her tireless admirer) Philip J. Fry. She soon leaves her unfulfilling job at the lab and becomes captain of the intergalactic, delivery spaceship Planet Express, where she has continued to kick butt ever since.

Leela was orphaned at birth and struggled with her identity her entire life. Being a cyclopean alien on Earth is hard enough, but when Leela finally meets her biological parents in season four she finds out she is actually a sewer mutant given up by her parents for the chance at a better, brighter life. Though she struggles with this self-discovery Leela eventually comes to terms with her true species and embraces her sub-terrestrial community.

Admirable Qualities:
Leela does not shy away from great responsibility as she readily accepts her post as Planet Express captain even through the setbacks and accidents that inevitably occur during each of Futurama’s over 100 episodes.
Leela leading crew
Leela must contend with constant attention (and sometimes even harassment) from her co-worker Fry and former lover Zapp Brannigan. However, she never takes their crap, putting them in their places with either a sassy  verbal comeback or a roundhouse kick to the ribs.

Leela is also a noted animal lover, having saved little three-eyed alien Nibbler just before his planet Vergon 6 was destroyed.

Lastly, Leela has naturally purple hair, which is awesome.


Her Influence:
Leela’s greatest influence is on the show itself. Without her, the rest of the Planet Express crew would be dead by now and, no doubt, so would Futurama. Without her as a main character the show would never have been brought back in 2008, a full five years after its original cancellation. Other than that, she has inspired some creative cosplay outfits, Futurama fan fiction, and a few facebook pages.

Two women pose dressed as Leela and Bender from FuturamaA headshot of a woman dressed like Leela, complete with purple ponytail and raygunA still from a Futurama costume contest. Bender the robot is dressed like Leela.

Also, this great YouTube video that mashes up Kelly Clarkson’s “Miss Independent” with scenes of Leela kicking butt.


That’s Not All:Leela done up like Peggy Bundy, complete with permed, long hair and headband
 If Leela’s voice sounds oddly familiar it may be that you recognize it as the voice of the high-tech Colonial from the Disney Channel Original Movie Smart House. (Anyone remember that one?)  Leela is voiced by Golden Globe-winning actress Katey Sagal, perhaps best known as Peggy Bundy from Married… with Children.

Think of her when:
You feel like you’re the only one of your species on Earth. You may discover you were with your true family all along (or they were hiding in the sewers of New New York.) Either way, you can forge your own path and make your own place in the world no matter where you’ve come from.

Previously: Lucille “Two” Austero, Billy Elliot

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7 Comments Have Been Posted

Leela's the best! I love

Leela's the best! I love Futurama; Leela is my favorite character.

I love Leela and I love

I love Leela and I love Futurama but sometimes the show gives her lines or puts her in situations that piss me right the hell off. For example, I will probably never get over a line of hers in "The Devil's Hands are Idle Playthings" where she sings, "Deception's the curse of my whimsical gender". Fuck that. For real.

Could that line not have been

Could that line not have been satirical? Groening's work constantly pokes fun at stuff by playing it straight, as if being serious about it. I don't see the writers writing something that's inherently sexist or any kind of -ist, for that matter.

I'm pretty sure that line was

I'm pretty sure that line was 50% satire of operatic conventions (which was a pretty heavy theme in that episode) and 50% needing something that rhymed with "Bender."

That's totally possible. I

That's totally possible. I hope so! I could possibly be taking everything too literally. I listen to the commentaries (I have a desk job and I want something to listen to) and sometimes it seems as though it's not satire, but a real belief. There's a lot I love about this show (Heisenburg principle jokes, Leela being generally awesome, Star Trek references, I could go on forever!), but there's also a lot that kind of leaves me on guard.

Agreed about those situations

In the more newer episodes she sleeps around although her and fry are in a relationship. IT's a typical male behavior to want the relationship to be open, but it is also a female behavior for wanting independence. But you loose the seance of independence when she goes around 'bumping against' every slightly hansom or even the slightest bit adventurous character. Leela longs for adventure but she does tons of things that piss me the hell off, Especially with Fry being RIGHT THERE. The independence is lost because fry isn't flirting with any other girls to the extent leela does. And she usually awards her supposed boyfriend with a kiss? You never see any episodes where they are leaving the others apartment, hen you see leela crawling out of the beds of every other male character that isn't married on the show. Even though that episode with bender as a super-genious aired and showed their reactions to the things they did, no longer means it will happen in that line of events. Maybe they will strive for the end result but from what we have seen out of leela's constantly flirtatious behavior that they will continue to portray Fry as this moron who will hold onto her for as long as he lives. Even when Fry tried to make it a close relationship at first she ran off to mysteriously disappear and reappear at the end. As a man I will let every women that reads this know, and this is always the end result: we loose respect for you, and eventually it degrades to the point where we can't even look at you. Possibly we could eventually get over it, but if we feel we aren't meeting certain needs we feel hurt and alienated. I am just surprised Fry hasn't thrown a large fit with her over it and dumped her on the sidewalk after these last episodes.

Leela sets a good example of an indpendant women but sets a bad example of how one is to treat their boyfriends. You don't have a boyfriend you rarely spend time with and then have a flurry of one night stands.

oh yeah fap fap

oh yeah leelas hot....fap...fap.fapp.fapfapfapfapfapfapfapslickflopflopflopfap oh yeah its up..fapfapfapfapFAPFAP FLOP FLIC FLOP FAP FLAP FLAP FAPPPPPPPPPPP

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