Originally posted by MrBurns:
I think there are quite some original things.
-the heads in jars
Keeping heads/brains alive is an old science fiction idea. See the MST3K movie The Brain that Wouldn't Die or watch the good Doctor Who story The Brain of Morbius. The Simpsons actually had a head in a jar before Futurama. As far as I know, the idea was created by JD Bernal in his amazing 1929 book The World, the Flesh, and the Devil.
-that tube transportation system
This comes from The Jetsons.
-ads in dreams
The comic book Transmetropolitan used this idea before Futurama, but it may be older.
The Planet Express ship's drive for instance seems to be based somewhat on the infinite improbability drive from the Heart Of Gold (Hitchhiker's Guide...).
I don't know about that, but Alan Moore used the idea of a ship that never moves but causes the universe to move around it in the Horus issue of his 1963 series.
Still, none of those are the sorts of things you usually see in cartoons or sitcoms.
(Sorry I don't have a list, but I want to watch all the episodes again before making one. But I am surprised that so many people disliked "The Deep South." I really liked it.)