After Zapp and Kif experience some “Midnight Cowboy”-style homelessness, they’re hired at Planet Express by Professor Farnsworth. Not for their prestigious records, but because he needs a new distraction from the company’s “horrendous safety record.” Zapp eventually inspires Fry and Bender to mutiny against Leela, promising to be a less strict captain. So, they hijack the Planet Express ship to attack the Neutral Planet. When the pair learn it’s a suicide attack (with Zapp fleeing in an escape pod), they free Leela and narrowly stop the ship from crashing. Afterward, Leela helps get Zapp reinstated to keep him as far away from her as possible.
So, while Zapp losing his job/facing consequences isn’t new territory for “Futurama,” the exact consequences are the opposite of each other. In “Brannigan Begin Again,” Zapp takes Leela’s job and shows why he’s such a poor leader, no matter the extent of his power. In “Zapp Gets Canceled,” Leela takes Zapp’s job and proves to be better at it — unfortunately, she just has too much empathy to captain a “peacekeeping” ship like the Nimbus.
If you view other people as expendable, like Zapp does, it’s easier to climb over them. As for him getting re-hired after being fired from his job not once but twice? It’s a harsh reality that “cancellation” often comes with few material consequences, and that once you reach a certain level of power, you can only fail upward, not be dragged back down even by those with greater merit.
“Futurama” is streaming on Hulu — new episodes release on Mondays.