Whether it’s because of a pandemic, money issues, or just bad timing, it sucks when we can’t make it to our favourite fan conventions. Fortunately, if we want to recreate that classic convention experience — all we have to do is turn on the television. These are the five best movies and TV episodes set at fan cons.
Futurama: “Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences”
This season six episode of Futurama kicks things off because it actually brings us to San Diego Comic-Con! Well, a non-trademark infringing version of it anyway. Fry heads to the convention to promote his new comic book Delivery Boy Man, while Leela and Bender try out for the costume contest. Bender wins, of course, because he’s dressed as “every nerd’s fantasy” — meaning Leela.
Community: “Conventions of Space and Time”
In this episode of Community, Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi) see their friendship strained at a con for their favourite British space and time-travelling hero: Inspector Spacetime. Season four might be wildly divisive in the Community fandom (and for good reason), but that doesn’t change the fact that this episode is a fun tribute to the Doctor Who fandom. Plus, it features a cameo from Battlestar Galactica’s Tricia Helfer. It also has a tongue-in-cheek reference to the failed American version of Doctor Who. Although in this world… it actually happened.
The Guild: Season 5
The Felicia Day-led web series — now available to watch on Netflix — features a whole season at a comic convention (filmed at Long Beach Comic Con). This lets audiences experience every level of con life — whether it’s visiting the panels, checking out booths, going to the afterparties, or just bothering comic con staples like Nathan Fillion and Neil Gaiman. And, just like any classic comic con story, it ends with a cosplay contest. Complete with a flying dirigible!
This one is where things get a bit meta. Clark Kent, an actual superhero, visits a comic con surrounded by folks cosplaying as superheroes. He’s trying to stop a kid from gaining magical abilities by reading an enchanted comic book (DC’s Zatanna guest-starred in this one), but he can’t help griping about how weird and artificial comic cons are. That is, until he spots Lois Lane dressed up as… Wonder Woman.
It’s the quintessential convention story. A group of stars from a cancelled sci-fi show make their living on the con circuit… until they’re whisked away by aliens who believe they have the power to actually save them from an extraterrestrial threat. The movie ends exactly where it begins — at the Galaxy Quest convention, with the stars of the show taking a bow to thunderous applause after saving the entire universe… and getting their show renewed. It’s enough to make you wish you were there too.