As with The Simpsons, the first animated comedy created by Matt Groening, Futurama populates its universe (in this case, literally) with a variety of unique and entertaining characters. The principals–Fry, Leela, Bender, et al–are strong enough to please the rabid fans, and certain recurring characters like Robot Santa, Robot Devil, and Lrrr of the planet Omicron Persei 8 are iconic as well. However, much of what makes Futurama an amazing series is the minor characters often featured in the background or in selected moments in the episodes. Here are ten who are particularly entertaining and deserve as much screen time as possible:
Hypnotoad is the star of the TV series Everybody Loves Hypnotoad, and all he does is sit there and hypnotize the viewing audience with his pulsating eyes. He was first introduced in the third season episode “The Day the Earth Stood Stupid” as a contestant in a pet show, winning by hypnotizing its sheep into doing its bidding and also the judges. For a character who essentially does nothing but sit there, it is hilarious every time it appears on screen (in eight more episodes). It has proven popular enough to become its own Internet meme.
Morbo the Annihilator
Morbo is the aggressive alien host of several news and entertainment programs, usually paired with ditzy blond co-anchor Linda. He allows his hatred for humans to color his commentary of news events, usually by yelling at the camera things like, “I will destroy you all!” or “DOOOOOM!” or “At the risk of editorializing, this reporter applauds the demise of the pathetic human species!” He originally appeared in the first season episode “A Big Piece of Garbage” and has since become a staple of most episodes.
Hyper-chicken is an alien attorney who looks (and acts) like a giant rooster. He often has to defend the Planet Express crew during their many trial proceedings (when he himself is not incarcerated), and despite the fact that he is completely incompetent, he often wins his cases with his down-home Southern demeanor in the style of Clarence Darrow, Atticus Finch, or Matlock. His first case was in the second season episode “Brannigan Begin Again,” and he appeared nine more times.
Roberto is a violently insane robot who likes stabbing people, and has been incarcerated in the Hal Institute for Criminally Insane Robots repeatedly. He has hilarious lines like, “Well, well, looks like old Roberto’s the focus of attention now. Stop looking at me! Ha ha ha ha ha HA!” and “I’m not crazy. I’m just not user friendly.” He didn’t show up until season three’s episode “Insane in the Mainframe,” but made eight more appearances.
Francis X. Clampazzo (AKA Clamps)
Not to be confused with Roberto, Clamps is part of the Robot Mafia run by the oblivious Donbot and is teamed with the gun-toting Joey Mousepad. His specialty is killing people (or robots) using the clamps he has for hands. What makes him stand out from the other mafiosos is his paranoia and sarcasm, like a robotic version of Joe Pesci. The nine episodes in which Clamps appeared started with the season three story “Bender Gets Made (a.k.a. Bendfellas)“.
Season two’s “Xmas Story” introduced the crowd-pleasing Robot Santa, but also brought us another character who was featured more often, Tinny Tim–an orphanbot modeled after Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol who has a crutch for an arm and speaks with a British accent. In his seven other episodes, he is seen selling newspapers on a street corner, run over by a bus, and begging. Despite his unlucky fate, he is eternally optimistic and is used for comedic effect, satirizing the use of small children to pull upon the audience’s heartstrings.
One of Roberto’s companions at the Hal Institute for Criminally Insane Robots is Malfunctioning Eddie, the owner of Malfunctioning Eddie’s Rocket-car Emporium. He is often featured in TV commercials that spoof ones of bad local car dealers, as seen in his first appearance in season two’s “Put Your Head on My Shoulders“. His problem is that every time he gets excited, his head explodes, which is frequently. He exploded onscreen in six more episodes.
A throwback to the indulgent ancient Greek and Roman culture, Hedonismbot is a golden lounging robot willing to engage in any immoral or decadent activity (“Let us cavort like the Greeks of old! You know the ones I mean”). He’s present at any party, gathering, or social function to show off his status and wealth and partake in every conceivable pleasure. Originally showing up in the first episode of season five, “Crimes of the Hot” Hedonismbot returned about a dozen more times.
Making only two appearances, in season five’s “Teenage Mutant Leela’s Hurdles” and the film The Beast with a Billion Backs, Pazuzu is a possibly alien or demonic gargoyle owned by Professor Farnsworth that speaks French and grants wishes. Names after an ancient Babylonian demon, the name is funny to anyone who ever saw Exorcist 2: the Heretic and had to hear Richard Burton utter that name countless times. Of all the characters on this list, he desperately needs to return to the series.
(Professor Farnsworth searching for a video clip of Pazuzu)
Sal is Futurama‘s go-to guy as the typical New New Yorker. Since the series’s second episode (“The Series Has Landed“) Sal has shown up numerously in various blue collar jobs: janitor, bus driver, impound lot worker, truck driver, impound lot worker, demolitions expert, robot repairer, sewage treatment worker, and so on. He is lazy, mangles words, and has a strong New York accent. He is the show’s everyman, seen every where at any time.
copyright © 2012 FilmVerse
- Futurama Volume 6 (comicsworthreading.com)
- Futurama TV Episode Review: Proposition Infinity (socyberty.com)
- Robot realities fail fictional fantasies (leggotunglei808.wordpress.com)
Futurama is very good with its side characters, Morbo the annihilator has the best lines. “weak perfetic humans!”
Yeah, there are many more supporting characters than what I listed here that are terrific. That’s one reason why the show is so great.
I do agree
I’ve never been a fan of Hedonismbot, but all the rest are great. Best line from any of them: “Cats give Morbo gas.”
But I think you left off a few great minor characters, like Nibbler! (Excuse me, Lord Nibbler.) Or is he too regular of a character to consider “minor”? Also have to give props to The Robot Devil, especially since he’s voiced by Dan Castellaneta. Other good ones include Calculon, Mom, Flexo, Robot Santa, and the best-named of them all, Mayor Poopenmeyer.
In no way is this list complete, but is intended to just highlight 10 little seen characters. I was going to mention Lord Nibbler (who is one of my favorite characters) in regards to just the episodes where he speaks, but decided that he is there so often that he’s pretty much a regular even when he’s silent. As with Robot Santa, Robot Devil is an example of “special guest star” character that is a fan favorite for the few episodes he appears. I especially love when he breaks into song, and when Bender tells him to stop singing. Calculon was also on my list initially, but has become somewhat of a regular, as is Mom. Flexo is a variation of Bender, so I don’t really see what’s special about him (other than being like Bender, which is always a plus). Mayor Poopenmeyer has a great name, but nothing much more going for him. I never really noticed Heonismbot before, but after watching all the episodes consecutively, he stood out as first an annoying letch, and then as a funny running gag. I figured he’s be the most controversial of the list.