|Bender Bending Rodríguez|
Bender drinking beer and smoking a cigar
|First appearance||"Space Pilot 3000"|
|Voiced by||John DiMaggio|
|Origin||Tijuana, Mexico, Earth|
Bender, whose full name is Bender Bending Rodríguez, is a main character in the animated television series Futurama. Designated in-universe as Bending Unit 22, unit number 1,729 (the smallest number that can be represented as the sum of two cubes in two ways, 1³ + 12³ = 9³ + 10³), serial number 2716057 (952³ - 951³), he was created by series creators Matt Groening and David X. Cohen, and is voiced by John DiMaggio. He fulfills a comic, antihero-type role in Futurama and is described by fellow character Leela as an "alcoholic, whore-mongering, chain-smoking gambler".
According to the character's back story, Bender was built in Mexico (the other characters refer to his "swarthy Latin charm" throughout the overall narrative). Viewers are informed, through his own testimony, of Bender's prejudice against non-robots: His dialogue often contains anti-human expressions such as "kill all humans." Exceptions who are not subject to Bender's prejudicial attitude are those individuals on his "Do Not Kill" list, which seems to comprise only his best friend Fry and his colleague Hermes (Hermes is added after the episode "Lethal Inspection"). However, Bender is also occasionally portrayed as possessing a sympathetic side, suggesting that he is not as belligerent as he claims, a view often echoed by his friends.
Bender, an industrial metalworking robot, was built in 2996 at Fábrica Robotica De La Madre (Spanish: "Mom's Robot Factory"), a manufacturing facility of Mom's Friendly Robot Company in Tijuana, Mexico. However, the story of his construction is a mystery. Although different creation processes have been shown, Cohen has stated that the viewer has only been shown Bender emerging from the machine that created him, whilst what happened inside the machine has not yet been revealed. According to one version, suggested by a Hermes flashback, and also by a reverse aging process shown in the "Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles" episode, a newborn Bender possessed a baby-like body. In "Bendless Love", however, Bender is portrayed with a normal, adult-sized body in a flashback sequence conveying his memory of coming into existence. As Bender's memory contains an adult form, the episode's content suggests that the character might actually be recalling a transfer to an adult body, rather than the moment of creation.
Unlike most other robots, Bender is mortal and, according to Professor Farnsworth's calculations, may have less than one billion years to live. Because of a manufacturing error that left Bender without a backup unit, Bender's memory cannot be transferred to another robot body. After reporting that defect to his manufacturer, Bender barely escapes death from a guided missile and a robot death squad dispatched by Mom in order to eliminate him and effectively take the defective product off the market.
At the factory Bender was programmed for cold-bending structural steel and later attended Bending State University, where he majored in bending and minored in Robo-American Studies. At the university he was 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 58 people into a telephone booth (although he concedes they were mostly children).
Before meeting Fry and Leela and joining Professor Farnsworth's delivery crew at Planet Express where Bender currently works as the assistant manager of sales, he had a job at the metalworking factory, bending steel girders for the construction of suicide booths. Ironically, Bender attempts suicide using one such booth after discovering the sinister purpose of the product of his labor.
Although a robot, Bender has an apartment in the "Robot Arms Apts." building, where he eventually invites his best friend and coworker, Fry, to live with him. Although the pair enjoy living together, Bender is sometimes portrayed as being manipulative to his friend - although often Fry is oblivious or apathetic about being manipulated by him. In the series beginning, Bender is shown preferring to occupy smaller areas of their apartment, like the closet, referring to them as "cozy," although in later episodes he is shown to have his own individual bedroom, like Fry.
Throughout the series, he enters many romantic relationships of varying duration, and is commonly referred to as a womanizer by his friends. He does not seem to discriminate between human women and their robot or "fem-bot" counterparts, and is shown actively pursuing both. Likewise, his taste in fem-bot partners does not seem to be affected by the fem-bot's height or weight, and he is shown numerous times chasing fem-bots of all builds. In "Proposition Infinity", Bender's secret affair with Amy Wong leads to a referendum that is eventually approved legalizing robosexuality. In "The Bots and the Bees," he has a sexual encounter with a fem-bot soda vending machine that leads to the almost instantaneous birth of a son whom he names Ben, after the first part of his own name.
Bender's visual design 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 the year 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".
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 robots should sound like. Because of this, every voice actor who auditioned, no matter for what role, was also asked to read for Bender. After about 300 auditions, even series co-creator Cohen attempted to audition after being told he sounded like a robot. John DiMaggio was eventually chosen for the role after his second audition.
DiMaggio 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. He describes the voice he got the part with as a combination of a sloppy drunk, Slim Pickens, and a character one of his college friends created named "Charlie the sausage-lover". 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.
Bender is a high-tech robot; he is a Unit 22 from a series of bending robots manufactured by Mom's Friendly Robot Company. His design is based on an original "gas-blasting" prototype developed by Professor Farnsworth while he was employed at Mom's at an earlier time. In the series, robots are not all androids, but nevertheless generally have anthropomorphic features.
Bender's factory-set height is 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m); a little over 6 ft (1.8 m) including his antenna. In "The Farnsworth Parabox", Bender states that he flipped a coin to decide his color, ending up with foghat gray rather than gold. In "The Cyber House Rules", Bender shows the kids a black-and-white mug shot of himself taken after his arrest for theft. In "Time Keeps on Slippin'", Bender is shown trying to join a basketball team and makes himself taller by simply extending his legs. His body has a "shiny metal ass", two legs, two arms with three fingers each, a head with two replaceable eyes shaped like light-emitting diodes, and a mouth used for fuel intake and voice communication. In "Bender Gets Made", Bender claims he also has a nose, but he chooses not to wear it. Bender's human-like characteristics are reinforced by his display of behaviors often regarded as exclusive to humans, such as whistling, snoring, having bloodshot eyes, crying, feeling physical attraction, being tickled, dreaming, and belching.
Other bending units of the same model as Bender, such as Flexo, share the same hardware design, but differ in terms of their personality and behavior. For example, Flexo shows personality traits similar to those of Bender but 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, implying that all bending robots are somewhat prone to theft and amoral by design. However, another unit, Billy West (named after the series voice actor of the same name), is helpful and kind, though he lives as a farmer on the Moon and insists on not being a bending unit.
Bender's serial number, 2716057, can be expressed as the sum of two cubes, which is humorous to Bender and Flexo after Flexo reveals that his serial number has the same characteristic. Bender's CPU is an AMD Athlon II which is attached to his lowed hatch, found on his bottom side. Bender also possesses a secondary MOS Technology 6502 processor in his head, allowing his head to function and process information independent of his body.
Bender was designed specifically for the relatively simple task of bending straight metal girders into various angles. Despite this apparent simplicity, he possesses numerous features superfluous to his original purpose, which become more apparent after an electric jolt to his antenna from an overhead light socket in the pilot episode. The scope of Bender's functionality is impressive; he often acts as if he was a multifunctional gadget rather than a special bending machine. Similar to a contemporary computer, he hosts a number of input/output devices: his head has a data socket and remotely operated volume control. His body has a socket for a microphone jack, a dual-socket power receptacle, a reset button, a kill switch, and a self-destruct button. Having the hardware-based self-destruct control on his body, rather than in his software, prevents Bender from committing suicide in "A Head in the Polls" when he pawns everything but his head, grows desperate without it and desires to kill himself.
Bender is capable of disassembling and reassembling his body at will and operating each detached body part individually and remotely, presumably by using his transmitter and antenna to send wireless signals.
Bender uses his chest cavity as a locker, which seems to store much more than is physically possible; it is often used to store heads in jars, small children, alcohol, money, loot, the world's last darkroom, and, on a couple of occasions, Fry. In "The Route of All Evil", the cavity was also used as a boil kettle, hopback and fermentation tank to produce home-made beer. On inspection of his body, it appears to be empty, though devices like the F-Ray reveal that, despite appearing hollow, Bender's body contains gears and other robotic components.
Being an electronic machine, he can perform quick mathematical calculations, but admits to being a poor calculator.
As a bending unit, Bender possesses extraordinary strength, which he often demonstrates by lifting heavy objects, smashing through walls, and even bending an enormous steel girder marked "UNBENDABLE" (in "Bendless Love"). His mechanical nature also makes him far more durable than the rest of the cast, capable of surviving gunfire, explosions, extreme heat, deep water, or hard vacuum.
Even when his body is seemingly destroyed or completely detached from his head, it has no effect on Bender's ability to think and communicate, indicating that his main processing facilities are located in his head. Bender's hardware is controlled by a factory-loaded operating system, which reboots upon incidental shutdown and automatically adjusts its settings to the environment detected at the time of rebooting. For example, in "The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz", when Bender reboots, his visual sensors detect a colony of penguins, prompting his boot loader to re-initialize him with penguin-like behavior and language.
He is equipped with a vast capacity of computer data storage, in excess of 100,001 terabytes- 1 TB for general storage and 100,000 TB for the storage of pornography, though in 6ACV25 Cubert Farnsworth deletes 12 TB of outdated catchphrases from Bender. Presumably either Bender has a separate "catchphrase drive" or the majority of the catchphrases also pornographic.
Source of energy
Bender is powered by alcohol-based fuels, which he can convert into an electrical power source sufficient to operate not only himself, but also small household appliances plugged into his power receptacle. Low alcohol intake levels decrease his production of electricity: when he stops drinking and begins to "sober", his behavior grows increasingly ebrious and dysfunctional, and he grows a red beard of rust. He is also, apparently, able to sustain himself by consuming mineral oil, though he considers this to be only 'functional'.
Due to Professor Farnsworth's flawed design, the energy conversion process inside Bender's body produces an inordinate amount of waste gases and heat. He can expel these products from his rear end or, more often, as a flaming belch.
Bender often exhibits sociopathic behavior, is a pathological liar and rarely shows any empathy (his most frequent catchphrase to any bothersome person is: "Bite my shiny metal ass!"). He has a mostly voluntary morality and constantly steals, ranging from the petty theft of wallets to crimes such as kidnapping Jay Leno's head 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 out of a scientist's pocket before becoming inactive again.
He 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 or near his head. This desire is finally fulfilled in the episode "Bendin' in the Wind": an accident involving a giant can opener leaves him with a mutilated chest and paralyzed from the neck down. An encounter with Beck during his hospitalization leads to his becoming lead washboard player and the two teaming up for a musical tour that turns Bender into a folk hero for other broken robots, only for his career to end when he finally recovers.
He 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 omnivorous Zoidberg could not 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); he then remarks that the food was fine since the salt content was 10% below a lethal dose. 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 mistakenly 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 ingredient.
As a robot, he possesses an incredible amount of patience. In Futurama, he is shown to wait over a thousand years in sand after his head is lost during a trip back in time to 1947, as well as many thousands of years in subterranean caverns under New New York City (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 implied 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.
Although the consumption of alcohol is necessitated by Bender's design and should not be generally viewed as a vice for alcohol-fueled robots, he apparently drinks far more than he needs for energy. His excessive drinking contributes 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 he 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.
When he is sufficiently frightened or sickened, bricks fall from his backside (a reference to the slang "shitting bricks"). When sufficiently fascinated by something, he may pull out a camera and snap a picture, adding the catchphrase "Neat!". In addition to drinking, he also has an affinity for cigars, which he ignites with a lighter built into his finger, although in "Decision 3012" he uses a Zippo. Unlike drinking alcohol for fuel, Bender tells Fry that he smokes cigars simply because they "make [him] look cool."
Despite being a robot, he has been seen to show emotion on many occasions, going so far as to shed a tear in "Crimes of the Hot", to Fry's astonishment. One of the series' running jokes revolves around Bender having emotions, when technically he should be an unfeeling machine. 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". In his very first appearance, he tries to commit suicide via a suicide booth out of guilt for having unknowingly contributed to their creation. He has also been known to be nonchalant to the point of appearing both uncaring and incredibly brave, even in life-threatening situations.
Bender is a classic narcissist. He considers himself flawless, a "towering inferno of physical perfection", and refers to himself in both the first and third person. In "The Farnsworth Parabox" Bender seemingly falls in love with an alternate gold-plated version of himself, stating that he has finally found someone "as great as me". Even his personal email address, email@example.com, reflects his self-absorbed nature.
Despite these human characteristics, he has no verifiable soul, as seen in "Obsoletely Fabulous" when he passes through a "soul detector" without setting off the alarm. However, in "Ghost in the Machines", Bender becomes a ghost who can't interact with people directly but can possess machinery: he uses this ability to "scare Fry to death". He eventually makes a deal with the Robot Devil to get a new body. (Though never addressed in-universe, this seeming contradiction, as noted by the Robot Devil himself, may result from the distinction that Bender's "spirit" exists in a universal wireless network that allows him to travel in the physical world while trapped in a Limbo-like loop. The conclusion that his ghost is an incorporeal program rather than a soul is further supported by the fact that the "spirits" in "The Honking" are actually holograms of deleted computer folders.)
His relationships with the rest of the crew of Planet Express vary over time, 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 him, 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, 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, as well as 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 again to ensure his own sheet remains lengthier. Although he regularly frustrates the crew, they have demonstrated a certain affection for him in return. During "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back" the entire crew traveled to the Central Bureaucracy to recover his brain after Morgan Proctor burned it onto an optical disc and sent it away, when Hermes Conrad subsequently risks his bureaucratic license to locate the disc with Bender's brain on it by sorting the entire pile in just under four minutes. In the same 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." Amy and Bender date for a time in "Proposition Infinity"; the relationship becomes so serious that Bender proposes to Amy and participates in a campaign to legalize human/robot marriage, although the relationship ends after he realizes that such marriage rights would necessitate monogamy.
Despite his often immoral attitude, he does not lack a soft side; he can feel guilt and remorse over his actions if he goes too far (even by his own standards), indicating that he is not as selfish or unkind as he appears to be. In "Bendless Love", Bender intends to murder Flexo in order to gain the love of fem-bot Angelyne, but when Flexo gets stuck under a gigantic steel girder, Angelyne shows sorrow for him. Bender decides that her happiness is more important than his own, and ends up saving Flexo. Also, in "Jurassic Bark", when Bender becomes jealous of Fry's petrified dog, Seymour, he decides to throw him in magma. But when he realizes how Fry becomes deeply hurt, Bender apologizes for his behavior and rescues the dog. In "Godfellas", he becomes the god of a microscopic alien race known as the Shrimpkins and abuses this position by commanding them to produce beer for him. When this abuse causes the entire species' demise, however, he cries in mourning and remorse.
Reception and cultural influence
Being the show's breakout character, Bender 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 cameo appearances in several Family Guy episodes. In "Blue Harvest" he can be seen at the Mos Eisley Cantina, and in "The Splendid Source", he is one of the repeaters of a dirty joke whose original author Peter, Joe, and Quagmire are seeking.
Although Bender was made in 2996, his head is an additional 1055 years old due to it being stuck in the ground for years. In Bender's Big Score, he becomes the main component of the nudist aliens' plan to steal every valuable item from the past. As the Time Sphere can only travel backwards in time, when he completes his task every time, he hides in the limestone cavern under Planet Express waiting for the right moment to come out. As the number of times he has traveled back in time and the time periods he went to became unlimited, it is not clear as to how old Bender is at the end of the film. Also, in The Late Phillip J. Fry, he is infinitely old due to him having to travel through the time span of the universe twice. Thanks to this, Bender is by far the oldest member in the group.
- Why is the number 1,729 hidden in Futurama episodes?, Simon Singh, BBC News, 15 October 2013
- Ehasz, Aaron (2002-11-10). "Crimes of the Hot". Futurama. Season 4. Episode 8. Fox.
- Horsted, Eric (2010-07-22). "Lethal Inspection". Futurama. Season 6. Episode 6. Fox.
- Morton, L. (2003-08-03). "Bender Should Not Be Allowed on TV". Futurama. Season 04. Episode 06. Fox.
- Avanzino, Peter (Director) et al (2008-06-24 (United States)). The Beast with a Billion Backs (DVD). The Curiosity Company et al.
- Cohen, David X (2003). Futurama Season 4 DVD commentary for episode "Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Carey-Hill, Dwayne (Director) et al (2007-11-27). Bender's Big Score (DVD). United States: The Curiosity Company et al.
- [Episodes 2ACV01, 3ACV13.]
- "Intellectual Names". Sci-Fi Baby Names: 500 Out-of-this-world Baby Names from Anakin to Zardoz. p. 119.
- Sterngold, James (22 July 1999). "Bringing an Alien And a Robot to Life; The Gestation of the Simpsons' Heirs". New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
- Cohen, David X (2003). Futurama season 1 DVD commentary for the episode "Space Pilot 3000" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Cohen, David X (2003). Futurama season 1 DVD commentary for the episode "The Series Has Landed" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- 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."
- Itzkoff, Dave (2010-06-24). "‘Futurama’-Rama: Welcome Back to the World of Tomorrow". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-08.
- Dimaggio, John (2003). Futurama season 1 DVD commentary for the episode "Hell Is Other Robots" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Rogers, Eric (2011-07-14). "The Silence of the Clamps". Futurama. Season 6. Episode 14. Fox.
- Specifically, 9523 + (-951)3 with Flexo's serial number 3370318 = 1193 + 1193. Source: Maths in Futurama
- Weiner, Ron (2002-03-10). "A Pharaoh to Remember". Futurama. Season 4. Episode 17. Fox.
- Bender pushes a button on his body to erase everything he knows about cooking before his first cooking lesson in "The 30% Iron Chef".
- In "Godfellas", Bender survives atmospheric entry after returning to Earth from outer space.
- Indirect evidence suggesting that the Bender's computer is in fact located in his head is provided in several episodes. In "Fry and the Slurm Factory" the F-ray exam shows that Bender's head contains a device clearly marked "6502" (a designation for MOS Technology 6502, an eight-bit microprocessor used in the original Apple Computer). In "Roswell that Ends Well", Fry's grandfather reaches deep inside Bender's head and retrieves a handful of circuit boards and microchips, to which Bender protests by exclaiming, "Hey, that's my brain!".
- Cohen, David X. (May 2009). "The Truth About Bender's Brain". IEEE Spectrum. IEEE. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
- In Season 7, Episode 17 "Forty Percent Leadbelly", it is shown that Bender has a 1 terabyte "Main Drive", and a 100,000 terabyte "Porn Drive".
- In the episode "Bender Should Not Be Allowed on TV", Bender serves as a power supply for a small television set, which is plugged into a receptacle located on the underside of Bender's body.
- Horsted, E (1999-04-06). "I, Roommate". Futurama. Season 1. Episode 3. Fox.
- Lewis Morton; David X. Cohen, Jason Gorbett & Scott Kirby. "Futurama Episode 403 "Anthology of Interest II"". The Internet Movie Script Database. IMSDb. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
- TechRadar staff (2008-06-10). "Baddest movie robot: the votes are in!". Techradar.com. Retrieved 2008-06-10.