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SYFY WIRE Futurama

Futurama's John DiMaggio on not returning as Bender in Hulu revival: 'It's about self-respect'

The beloved voice actor still has hope that something can be worked out.

By Matthew Jackson
John Dimaggio Bender Header GETTY YT

Last week, the news that beloved sci-fi comedy animated series Futurama would be getting a revival on Hulu was quickly blunted by word that the show would be moving forward (at least at first) without one of its original stars. John DiMaggio, who voiced the hard-drinking robot Bender Bending Rodriguez on the series throughout its original run and prior revival, was not listed in the original announcement alongside fellow Futurama stars like Billy West and Katey Sagal, leading fans to worry that the show would be without one of its integral voices. 

At first, it seemed like DiMaggio's absence might only be temporary, the product of final contract negotiations that hadn't yet gone through. As the days wore on, though, it became clear that DiMaggio was at an impasse with the revival's producers, locked in a salary dispute that neither side seemed inclined to break. Even as friends and fellow voice actors spoke out in support of DiMaggio, whose work on Futurama made him one of the most recognizable voice performers in the industry, he remained on the outside of the show's return. 

On Tuesday, DiMaggio -- who told fans "I'll keep you posted" when word of his absence from the revival first got out -- offered an update on the situation via his Twitter account, labeling the pay dispute something that he sees as a series-wide issue that affects the entire returning cast. In his eyes, it's not just that he's underpaid. It's that everyone is. 

As DiMaggio noted in his message, he's unable to spill out every single detail of the dispute for fans, and he remains hopeful that something can be worked out as Hulu works to ramp up production on Futurama for a 2023 release date. For the moment, though, DiMaggio seems to have a massive network of support behind him, including Futurama fans and fellow voice actors like Tara Strong and Mark Hamill, who promised earlier this week that he would never audition for the role of "FAKE Bender." 

DiMaggio's Futurama co-stars, including West and Sagal, have yet to weigh in on the issue via social media. 

Debuting on FOX in 1999 as a much-hyped new animated series from The Simpsons creator Matt Groening, Futurama quickly built a universe all its own among fans, and proved so popular in reruns that it was revived after its 2003 cancellation, first as a series of DVD releases and then as a new run of episodes on Comedy Central. The new Futurama revival would mark the first new run of episodes in nearly a decade, but DiMaggio's absence makes the entire series more precarious in the eyes of fans. Eventually, the show will move forward in some form, with or without DiMaggio. For now, all viewers can do is follow the voice actor's lead, and hope for the best.