Bender (Futurama)

Bender (Futurama)
Bender Rodríguez
Futurama character
Bender Bending Rodríguez
Bender drinking beer and smoking
First appearance "Space Pilot 3000"
Voiced by John DiMaggio
Species Robot
Gender Male
Occupation Assistant Manager of Sales at Planet Express delivery company
Relatives Son: Junior
Twin: Flexo
Uncle: Vladimir
Origin Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico

Bender Bending Rodríguez, designated Bending Unit 22, is a fictional robot character in the animated television series Futurama. He was created by series creators Matt Groening and David X. Cohen and is voiced by John DiMaggio. In the series, Bender plays the role of a comic anti-hero, and is described by Leela as an "alcoholic, whore-mongering, chain-smoking gambler".[1] He was built in Mexico and other characters refer to his "swarthy Latin charm", though he does not even know how to speak Spanish. He is, per his own testimony, prejudiced against non-robots, often expressing an urge to "kill all humans" except his best friend, Fry; however, he has also committed acts of kindness for humans and others, suggesting he is not truly as belligerent as he claims.[2][3]


Role in Futurama

Bender serves as a member of Professor Farnsworth's delivery crew and as the ship's cook for the Planet Express ship. He is Fry's housemate and one of his closest friends, though the relationship is often one-sided. Bender is a heavy drinker, smoker, and gambler and has been referred to as "pure evil" by other characters, though is also something of a lovable rogue. Bender drinks in order to obtain the alcohol needed to fuel his power circuits, and, ironically, enters an inebriated-like state when he does not consume enough.[4] The process produces waste gases and heat, which he often expels as a flaming belch.

Bender often shows signs of sociopath-like behavior, as he is a pathological liar, and rarely shows empathy towards anyone. He has a mostly voluntary morality and constantly steals, ranging from the petty theft of wallets to much higher crimes like kidnapping Jay Leno's head due to their long feud and stealing Fry's blood. He also once stole Amy's earrings while giving her a hug. It was shown in "Roswell That Ends Well" that even in a disassembled state, his individual limbs carry on attempting to steal anything in proximity; the hand on his dismembered arm steals a wallet right out of a scientist's pocket before becoming inactive again.

Bender is a Bending Unit 22 model robot. Bender was built at a facility in Tijuana, Mexico by Mom's Friendly Robot Company,[5] specifically for the task of bending metal girders for the construction of suicide booths (ironic as Bender twice attempts suicide using such booths later on). In Hermes's flashback in "Lethal Inspection", Bender is seen as a newborn with a baby-like body (also seen in "Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles") and though he is defective, Hermes is revealed to have approved Bender's inspection out of empathy and thus saved him; the episode also reveals that because of his defective lack of a backup unit, Bender is mortal, unlike other robots. In "Bendless Love", Bender is portrayed as built with his normal adult-sized body and memory of his birth. As Bender's memory of his birth is an adult form, it is possible what he remembered wasn't his birth, but a transfer to an adult body.[6]Bender attended Bending State University, where he majored in Bending and minored in Robo-American studies. He was also a member of Epsilon Rho Rho, a robot fraternity, where he became something of a fraternity hero for his many shenanigans; one night he chugged an entire keg of beer, streaked across campus, and stuffed fifty-eight people into a telephone booth ("A lot of them were children."). While different creation processes have been shown, David X. Cohen stated that the viewer has only been shown Bender emerging from the machine that created him, while what happened inside the machine was not revealed. In "Rebirth", Bender's chassis is reconstructed from stem cells.



The name Bender was chosen by series creator Matt Groening as a homage to the character John Bender from The Breakfast Club[7] (although the name was later used in reference to his job of bending girders). There is also a significant similarity to the character in John Sladek's novel Tik-Tok (1983), whose title character is a robot that disobeys humans, calls them "meatfaces" (like Bender's "meatbags") and at one point even says:

"You can kiss my copper-plated ass!" "bite my shiny metal ass" "bite my colossal metal ass"

The design for Bender went through multiple changes before reaching its final state. One of the decisions which Matt Groening found to be particularly difficult was whether Bender's head should be square or round. Initially he worked under the idea that all robots would have square heads in 3000; however, it was later decided that Bender's head should be round, a visual play on the idea that Bender is a "round peg in a square hole".[8] Bender's antennae, which would have been positioned in place of his ears, were also changed to give him a more streamlined appearance.[8] Groening later states in commentary for the episode Crimes of the Hot that the robot built by Professor Farnsworth in that episode is very similar to the original design for Bender.[9]


When casting for Futurama , Bender's voice was the most difficult to cast, in part because the show's creators had not yet decided what a robot should sound like.[10] Because of this, every voice actor who auditioned, no matter for what character, was asked to also read for Bender. After about 300 auditions, series co-creator David X. Cohen even attempted to audition after being told he sounded like a robot.[11] John DiMaggio was eventually chosen for the role after his second audition. He originally auditioned using his Bender voice for the role of Professor Farnsworth and used a voice later used for URL the police robot for Bender.[12] He describes the voice he got the part with as a combination of a sloppy drunk, Slim Pickens and a character his college friend created named "Charlie the sausage-lover".[13] Casting directors liked that he made the character sound like a drunk, rather than an automaton. DiMaggio has noted that he had difficulty singing as Bender in "Hell Is Other Robots" because he was forced to sing the harmony part in a low key.[14]


As a bending unit, Bender is shown to have extraordinary strength, even bending unconventional objects including enormous steel girders marked "UN-BENDABLE", Professor Farnsworth's spine and even a vertical brick wall. Bender is shown to be extremely durable and strong, as he is able to break through solid objects, survive gunfire and explosions, and survive underwater and in magma (Suffering minor damage). Even when he is seemingly destroyed it has no effect on his personality, indicating that his "brain" is not stored in any particular location. He is also portrayed as a technologically advanced robot, with numerous features superfluous to his original purpose that appear at his will. As such, Bender is able to record video and audio; extend/retract/detach his arms, legs and eyes; project imagery; and use his head for a wide range of functions. Bender can also disassemble and reassemble his body at will, and each part can operate individually. In Bender Gets Made, Bender says he has a nose, but chooses not to wear it. Bender's chest cavity seems to store much more than is physically possible, often used to store heads in jars, small children, alcohol, and loot from a heist. On inspection of his body it is normally shown to be empty, though devices like the F-Ray reveal that he does have gears and other robotic components inside despite appearing hollow (and thus, giving another indication that his cavity is a pocket dimension).

Bender's metallurgical composition is occasionally mentioned, and he has inconsistently claimed in various instances to be some combination of 30% iron, 40% titanium, 40% lead, 40% zinc, 40% dolomite, 20%[15] or 40% chromium, 40-50% osmium, 0.04% nickel, 60% storage space, 40% scrap metal and 40% lucky. His titanium composition is confirmed in A Head in the Polls, in which he sells his body during a titanium shortage. His dolomite composition is supported in Jurassic Bark when he survives a swim through a pool of magma, which the Professor suggested was only possible for objects made of this mineral. In A Pharaoh to Remember, Professor Farnsworth revealed that Bender has a .04% nickel impurity. In Attack of the Killer App, Third World workers stripping Bender for scrap claim that he is 40% chromium. He is described as made from an osmium alloy, which would then be somewhere in between 40 and 50%.

Other bending units such as Flexo show similar personality traits, though Flexo is not quite as "evil" as Bender. In the episode Mother's Day, Leela looks through a simulation of a bending unit's sight, which targets potential rubes and then denotes a plan to rob them and leave them in a ditch, showing that they are thieving and amoral by design. However a bending unit named Billy West is helpful and kind, though this unit lives as a farmer on the moon. Bender's serial number is 2716057. (This can be expressed as the sum of 2 cubes. Specifically, 9523 + (-951)3 with Flexo's serial number 3370318 = 1193 + 1193)[16]


Bender is shown throughout the series as having a secret desire to be a folk musician that only manifests itself when a magnet is placed on/near his head. This desire is finally fulfilled in the episode "Bendin' in the Wind": an accident involving a giant can opener leaves Bender with a severely ripped-open chest and paralyzed from the neck down, and an encounter with Beck during his hospitalization leads to him becoming his lead washboard, and the two teaming for a musical tour that turns Bender into a folk hero for other broken robots, only for his career to end when he recovers from the damage.

Bender is also fascinated with cooking, being the Planet Express ship's chef, though he is shown to have no sense of actual human taste, in fact, his early dinners were so horrible that even the literally omnivorous Zoidberg couldn't eat it. In his first attempt, he creates a dinner for the crew that is so over-salted they all gag (which is aggravated further when their drinks turn out to be salt water, or "Salt with water in it," as Bender puts it), then tells them that the food was fine since the salt content was 10% below a lethal dose (Dr. Zoidberg remarks that he "shouldn't have had seconds"). In "The Problem with Popplers", he creates dinner consisting of nothing but capers and baking soda, and mistakenly expresses the belief that humans eat rocks. He seems to improve his cooking skills over the series, cooking a lavish cake for Nibbler's birthday party and beating Elzar for the title of Iron Cook (though he uses a potion called "The Essence of Pure Flavor," consisting of water and a generous portion of LSD to make the judges hallucinate that his food tastes good). In Into the Wild Green Yonder he mistakingly bakes prison guards a cake with nutmeg thinking it was a natural human sleep drug, before being corrected by Amy that nutmeg is in fact a baking drug.

Bender also states, "I've always wanted to break in to gooning." in the episode, "Bender Gets Made."

As a robot, Bender possesses an incredible amount of patience. In the series and movies, he is shown to wait over a thousand years in sand after his head is lost during a trip back in time to 1947, and many thousands of years in subterranean caverns under New York (Although on this occasion he was also in the presence of multiple alternate versions of himself that had previously made the same 'trip'). Despite the long wait, it is suggested that Bender does not power down, apparently enjoying his own company so much that he does not consider it necessary. However, in one episode, he shows next to no patience as a one time joke.

Bender's constant drinking stems from the fact that he needs booze to power his fuel cells; the process generates waste gases and heat, which he often expels as a flaming belch (although it is not always a belch). Although booze is thus a necessity for Bender rather than a vice, he apparently drinks far more than he requires, contributing to his characterization as an alcoholic ("Hell Is Other Robots" reveals that robots can function equally well on mineral oil instead of alcohol, also contributing to the perception of Bender's alcohol use as a vice). If Bender is deprived of alcohol, for instance during periods of depression, he ceases to function properly and shows signs similar to human drunkenness, including developing a rusty 5 o'clock shadow. As noted above, his disembodied head has survived for millennia with, presumably, no source of alcohol, so it may be that, when a mere head, Bender neither requires alcohol nor suffers from its absence.

In addition to consuming alcohol for energy, he also has a nuclear pile, as seen in "Godfellas". When he is sufficiently frightened or sickened, bricks fall from his backside (a reference to the slang "shitting bricks"), as seen in "Space Pilot 3000", The Beast with a Billion Backs and "Bendin' in the Wind". When sufficiently fascinated by something, he may pull out a camera and snap a picture, adding the catchphrase "Neat!" In addition to drinking, Bender also has an affinity for cigars. Unlike drinking alcohol for fuel, Bender tells Fry that he smokes cigars simply because they "make (him) look cool."

Despite being a robot, Bender has been seen to show emotion on many occasions, going so far as to shed a tear in "Crimes of the Hot", to the astonishment of Fry. One of the series' running jokes revolves around Bender having emotions, while technically he should be unfeeling. Bender is seemingly unaware of his emotions, stating in the episode "Anthology of Interest II" "I mean, being a robot's great but we don't have emotions and sometimes that makes me very sad".[17] In his very first appearance, he tries to commit suicide via a suicide booth out of guilt for having unknowingly participated in creating suicide booths. Bender has also been known to be nonchalant to the point of appearing both uncaring and incredibly brave, even when faced with life-threatening situations.

Bender can perform many functions that are often regarded as exclusive to humans, such as whistling, snoring, having bloodshot eyes, crying, feeling at the least physical attraction, being tickled, dreaming, and belching. Despite these anthropomorphic characteristics, he can function in the vacuum of space, in the deep sea, or while submerged in lava for a short period. Bender is a classic narcissist, as seen in "The Farnsworth Parabox" when he seemingly falls in love with an alternate gold plated version of himself, stating that he has finally found someone "as great as me". In Bender's Big Score he converses with time-duplicates of himself under New New York in a limestone cavern for thousands of years because he is so in love with himself. Despite these human characteristics, Bender has no detectable soul, as seen in "Obsoletely Fabulous" when he passes through a 'soul detector' without an alarm sounding.

Bender's family is rarely seen in the show. It is known that his mother was an Industrial robot, however he often refers to Mom, the owner of the company that made him, as his mother. On several occasions he meets with another bending unit of the same manufacturer, Flexo, who looks and sounds exactly like him except for an arbitrary metal goatee. Flexo is later revealed to be the good twin despite the goatee, while Bender is the evil twin (an apparent twist on the classic Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror"). Bender also claims to have an identical cousin named Buster. It is also revealed that Bender has a young son who he willingly sent to Robot Hell in exchange for a robot army provided by the Robot Devil to get Fry's attention in The Beast with a Billion Backs. He also has an Aunt Rita, a screw, however this is only mentioned in a dream-sequence of Leela's, and may not be true, and in Beast with a Billion Backs, during the Deathball sequence, Bender claims his grandmother was a bulldozer. In "That Darn Katz!" Bender claims he has a cousin named Turner, who is apparently an expert in turning, hence the name. Bender also had an Uncle named Vladamir who passed away in The Honking, whose son, Tandy, is by extension Bender's cousin.

Bender's relationships with the crew of Planet Express vary from person to person, although he treats nearly all biological organisms with disdain. The only one of his friends who he has openly shown affection for is Fry, his best friend and roommate. "Of all the friends I've had, (he is) the first." Although he is verbally and physically abusive towards Fry and considers him to be vastly inferior to himself, he has been shown to care for him a great deal. In "Jurassic Bark" he states that he loves Fry "the way a human loves a dog", and in "I Second That Emotion" when Bender gets jealous of Nibbler and flushes him down the toilet, a distraught Leela asks how he would feel if she did the same to Fry, effectively describing Fry as Bender's pet (Bender responds with an apathetic "Only one way to find out."). He routinely takes advantage of his friends, framing them for crimes, robbing them, stealing Fry's blood on more than one occasion, stealing Fry's power of attorney, using Fry's body to smash open a window, stealing jewelry from Amy, and using Zoidberg in various get-rich-quick schemes, although it is probable he does not consider Dr. Zoidberg a friend since in "Obsoletely Fabulous" Bender begged the 1X Robot to "save (his) friends and Zoidberg" (Though it is seen that he helps Zoidberg from time to time, as seen in "That's Lobstertainment!"). He even betrays Leela to Zapp when she becomes a wanted criminal out of jealousy of her steadily growing rap sheet in Into the Wild Green Yonder, only to break her out of prison to make sure his own rap sheet is longer than hers. Although he regularly frustrates the group, they have demonstrated a certain affection for him as well; during "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back" the entire crew travelled to the Central Bureaucracy to recover his brain after Morgan Proctor downloaded it onto a disc and sent it away, Hermes Conrad subsequently risking his bureaucratic license to locate the disc with Bender's brain on it by sorting the entire pile in just under four minutes. In this episode, when Amy asked why they had to fix him, after being met with a brief period of uncertain silence, Leela responded with "Those arguments aside, we're still going."

Despite his often criminal and immoral attitude, Bender is not free of a soft side; he can feel guilt and remorse over his actions if he goes too far, even for his patterns, indicating that he is not selfish or unkind as he appears to be. In fact, Bender intends to commit suicide in Space Pilot 3000 due to his role in the creation of suicide booths. In Bendless Love, Bender intends to get rid of Flexo in order to gain the love of a fembot (Angelyne), but when the latter gets stuck under a gigantic steel girder, Angelyne shows sorrow for him. Bender decides that her happiness is more important than his own and he ends up saving Flexo. Also in Jurassic Bark, when Bender becomes jealous of Fry's petrified dog, Seymour, he decides to throws it in magma. But when he realizes how Fry becomes deeply hurt, Bender apologizes for his misbehavior and in the finale, he saves the dog. And in Godfellas, he becomes a god of a microscopic alien race (the shrimpkins), and abuses his title by commanding them to produce beer for him. But when his abuse causes their death, Bender cries in mourning and remorse.

Bender is known for his catchphrase "Bite my shiny metal ass", which he uses nearly every episode throughout the series (it was even his very first line of dialogue in the pilot) and sometimes varying the phrase. Bender also has the catchphrases "We're Boned" and "Cheese it!" Also, when referring to himself, Bender frequently refers to himself in the first and third person.

He also is capable of calculating split-second timing while time-traveling as seen in Bender's Big Score where he is capable of calculating the exact second when he can appear from the underground cave, immediately after his counterpart has left for the past.

Due to complications in the episode "Roswell That Ends Well", Bender's head is 1055 years older than the rest of his body, and since "Bender's Big Score"- during which multiple versions of himself traveled back in time to as far back as Ancient Egypt before waiting out the intervening centuries in the stone caverns underneath Planet Express, Bender's age is many thousands or even possibly millions of years old, though he does at one point indicate that he is four.

Reception and cultural influence

Groening presenting a Bender-shaped DVD box set.

Bender (being the show's breakout character) has made several cameos in different episodes of The Simpsons, another series by Matt Groening. Within The Simpsons, Bender has appeared in episodes "Future-Drama", "Bart vs. Lisa vs. the Third Grade", "Missionary: Impossible", and "Replaceable You." He also appears as one of the enemies, along with Doctor Zoidberg, in The Simpsons Game. Bender has a cameo appearance in the Family Guy episode "The Splendid Source", as one of the people who had heard and told a dirty joke whose original author Peter, Joe and Quagmire are seeking.

In 2008, Bender took second place behind the Terminator in a poll for the "Baddest Movie Robot" on[18]

The song "Bend It Like Bender!" from the Devin Townsend Project album Addicted, is a direct reference to Bender, and contains the quote, "Game's over, losers! I have all the money!"

Bender is currently nominated for the Robot Hall of Fame.


  1. ^ "Crimes of the Hot"
  2. ^ "Bender Should Not Be Allowed on TV"
  3. ^ "Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs"
  4. ^ Barshad, Amos (2011-02-17). "Drinking on TV Is Everywhere, But Who Gets It Right?". New York Magazine. 
  5. ^ "Lethal Inspection"
  6. ^ Cohen, David X (2003). Futurama season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  7. ^ "Intellectual Names". Sci-Fi Baby Names: 500 Out-of-this-world Baby Names from Anakin to Zardoz. pp. 119. 
  8. ^ a b Sterngold, James (2008-06-10). "Bringing an Alien And a Robot to Life; The Gestation of the Simpsons' Heirs". New York Times. 
  9. ^ Groening, Matt (2003). Futurama season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "Crimes of the Hot" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  10. ^ Cohen, David X (2003). Futurama season 1 DVD commentary for the episode "Space Pilot 3000" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  11. ^ Cohen, David X (2003). Futurama season 1 DVD commentary for the episode "The Series Has Landed" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  12. ^ Cohen, David X.; Groening, Matt; Moore, Rich; Vanzo, Gregg; DiMaggio, John (2002). Futurama: Volume One DVD commentary for the episode "Space Pilot 3000" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. "John DiMaggio: Now, that's the first words, but– you know what, I auditioned for the– when I auditioned for this show, I auditioned and I auditioned for the Professor as well. And I used that voice for the professor and I used that voice, and I also used– I also used URL's voice for Bender. So I did a couple of different things." 
  13. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (2010-06-24). "‘Futurama’-Rama: Welcome Back to the World of Tomorrow". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  14. ^ Dimaggio, John (2003). Futurama season 1 DVD commentary for the episode "Hell Is Other Robots" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  15. ^ "Attack of the Killer App". Retrieved June 1, 2011. 
  16. ^ Maths in Futurama
  17. ^
  18. ^ TechRadar staff (2008-06-10). "Baddest movie robot: the votes are in!". Retrieved 2008-06-10. 

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