‘Futurama’ Renewed: Comedy Central Orders 26 More Episodes

Back from the dead, Matt Groening’s animated sci-fi comedy nabs a seventh improbable season

So that Facebook "llke" function is useful for something, after all.

On Tuesday, Comedy Central officially confirmed Vulture.com's exclusive reports that "Futurama" — a cultish animated sci-fi comedy created by Matt Groening, which has racked up more than 11 million "likes" on the social-media giant — will be returning for 26 more Bender-filled episodes.

The new episodes will be aired in two installments during the summer months of 2012 and 2013, respectively.

"Futurama," in which a 20th-century slacker gets cryogenically frozen and wakes up a thousand years later, has a rather atypical TV history.

The show debuted to much fanfare in March 1999 and was seen as something of a sister series to "The Simpsons," given the Groening connection. Despite winning an Emmy for outstanding animated program in 2002, "Futurama" was canceled the following year, ending its four-season FOX run of 72 episodes.

In 2007, 20th Century Fox revealed its plan to revive the franchise with four straight-to-DVD films. Soon after, Comedy Central, which had been airing "Futurama" reruns since 2003, entered into an exclusive agreement to carry the existing episodes and the four films, which the network split into 16 distinct episodes and spread over four mini-seasons, which it collectively labeled as season five.

In 2009, Comedy Central announced that it had picked up a sixth-season order of 26 original episodes. The first half of the show's sixth season, which aired last summer (the second bundle of 13 episodes returns starting June 23, 2011), averaged 2.5 million viewers and became one of the network's highest-rated shows among young adult males. The network's Facebook page for the show has swelled by 10 million in less than a year.

"Futurama" is now guaranteed to be on the air through the summer of 2013.

In a Comedy Central press release, creator Matt Groening and co-developer David X. Cohen said, "We're very grateful to Comedy Central and Twentieth Television for this show of support. Our entire staff will celebrate tonight by going out and getting even drunker."

All of its original voice cast — including Billy West and Katey Sagal — will be returning to the fold.

To our knowledge, "Futurama" is still the only show on TV co-starring a beer-guzzling robot. Bender is one of the many reasons we also "like" the show on Facebook, and we have a feeling we're not alone.