At the heart of every family is a robotic beer-swilling mostly heartless cigar-chomping thief who indulges in virtually every vice.
OK, this family may just be the employees of Futurama’s Planet Express, but somewhere adjacent to its heart is Bender. Foul-mouthed, with a penchant for infectiously evil giggles, Bender was more than just Fry’s best friend and roommate, he was the psychological id for fans who tuned in to watch the recalcitrant robot enjoy life to the fullest with total disregard for the feelings of others — or the criminal justice system.
Thankfully for fans, the writers of Futurama saw Bender’s sinfully ridden character traits as something to play off of with a number of transformations and experiences that added depth and laughs to the character. Here are 11 of our favorite transformations that Bender underwent over the course of the show, which will begin airing on SYFY on November 11.
Bender becomes a god
“Godfellas” begins with the age old story of the unforeseen consequences of napping inside a torpedo tube and ends with Bender floating in space with a small alien race adopting him as their god when they accidentally end up residents on his chest. Unsurprisingly, being god is a lot harder than Bender expects, what with the miracles, prayers, and total annihilation through nuclear war.
Bender becomes an iron chef
Bender’s lack of a sense of taste is a minor annoyance in his journey to becoming a renowned chef in “30% Iron Chef.” His home cooking rejected, Bender hops a train and finds himself in an intergalactic hobo camp, the protégé of a disgraced master chef. Bender ultimately achieves his goal aided by his passion, his learning, and a large amount of LSD.
Bender becomes a soap opera star
“Bite my shiny metal ass!” Playing the son of the TV star Calculon, Bender’s catchphrase causes major consternation when uttered on All My Circuits, launching a protest movement of parents in the aptly titled, “Bender Should Not Be Allowed on TV.” The episode is dazzyingly meta as it riffs on the protests against Bart Simpson in the late 1980s, whose catch phrase was “Eat my shorts!” That phrase, in turn, was made famous by Judd Nelson’s The Breakfast Club character named Bender.
Bender becomes a folk music star
We all share the dream of being folk singers, but only Bender gets to join guest star Beck on the road in “Bending in the Wind.” When a tragic industrial sized can opener accident renders Bender paralyzed from the head down, he joins up with Beck as a washboard musician. Come for the Becktionary, but stay for the Rhyming Becktionary.
Bender becomes a religious philosopher
A first season classic, “Hell is Other Robots,” philosophizes whether there is or isn’t a Robot Hell. The truth is revealed after Bender finds and loses religion, but without first adding sanctimoniously-better-than-thou behavior to his repertoire of annoying personal traits.
Bender becomes a penguin
After a knock on the head in “The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz,” Bender believes himself to be one of nature’s naturally tuxedo’d own and joins a penguin population. He eventually comes around, but not before teaching his feathered friends, “If it ain’t black and white, peck, scratch, and fight!”
Bender becomes parts
“Assie Come Home” asked the important question: “Which part of Bender does Bender value most?” The answer? His ass. After being stripped for parts, Bender and friends embark on a galaxy wide quest to recover them, including his shiny metal ass, which unsurprisingly is also an a-hole on its own.
Bender becomes a vengeance-seeker
Bender is faced with mortality when he discovers a manufacturing defect has left him with a life span of only a minute to a billion years in “Lethal Inspection.” To cope, he swears revenge on the assembly line inspector who let the flaw pass and begins a buddy road trip with Hermes to discover the truth. Bureaucracy meets adventure with a surprisingly touching conclusion.
Bender becomes a car
Hit by a were-car, Bender is cursed to turn into a car with a taste for maiming and killing humans. While not much of a personality change follows, the “The Honking” is a story of friendship tested, mobs of torch wielding Robo-Hungarian robotic citizenry, and the most evil car ever built, so something for the whole family to enjoy.
Bender becomes obsolete
In an era of inevitable obsolescence of one’s gizmos, Bender freaks out and runs away when he discovers he’s the out of date gizmo in “Obsoletely Fabulous.” The owner of a shiny metal derriere trades his metal body for one built of wood before launching a war on technology with other outdated robots, as one does when faced with a pricey upgrade.
Bender becomes Nixon
Bender’s insatiable greed in “A Head in the Polls” brings together two things no one knew they needed, the head of Richard Nixon and Bender’s titanium body. In a conclusion that would fit any after school special, both parties end up happy, and it only takes a little blackmail wrapped around a secret recording.