Treva is a pop culture fan who has been writing about the entertainment world for over a decade.
Bender is my favorite Futurama character because he's the worst member of the Planet Express crew; he's a rude, crude dude who is as selfish as they come, and he never uses his bending skills to help his shipmates. He also wants to kill all humans, of which I am one (I swear this is the truth). However, you've go to respect him for being brutally honest about who he is. It's also pretty awesome that he gets to guzzle beer all day long because he needs it to keep functioning properly (Who wouldn't envy him for that?).
I've been missing Futurama a lot lately and have my weak, fleshy human fingers crossed that it will eventually make another comeback. But until Professor Farnsworth announces that bit of good news for everyone who is a Bender fan, I'll just have to settle for doing a little time traveling and taking a look back at the 10 best Futurama episodes that are all about Bender Bending Rodriguez, Sr.
Note: Because there are so many great Futurama episodes about Bender, this list focuses on episodes that were produced for FOX. I plan on doing a different list for the Comedy Central episodes.
1. "Fear of a Bot Planet"
Bender finally gets the credit he deserves for being so great in this fun Futurama episode, and he does it the most Bender way possible: by becoming an idol to the inhabitants of an island solely populated by robots. But what path will Bender choose in the end? Will he keep his position of power, or save his fleshy friends from becoming buckets of chum? Of course, the answer is obvious (maybe he doesn't want to kill all humans after all).
This episode introduces hardcore Futurama fans to a new fun holiday to celebrate that's even better than Xmas: Robonnukah. And if you're looking for the perfect Robonnukah gift, you might want to consider the talking Bender action figure that the popular metal man hands out to his adoring fans in "Fear of a Bot Planet."
2. "Bender Gets Made"
Bender has three big dreams: to be a great chef like Elzar, to become a successful folk singer, and to achieve great power through his criminal ways. In this Futurama episode, the final of those three dreams comes to fruition when Bender is invited to join the robot mafia. His sticky metal fingers earn him a place in the crime organization after he tries to steal from the Don-bot himself.
Unfortunately for Bender, it's not long before he's forced to choose between his new lavish life of crime and his bony buddies when the robot mafia targets the Planet Express ship. But does he give up his life of crime for good? If you don't know the answer to that question, then you definitely are not a Futurama fan.
3. "Hell is Other Robots"
This isn't just one of the best Futurama episodes about Bender; it's one of the best Futurama episodes of all time. It delves deeper into robot religion, introducing us to the very frightening Robot Devil. Bender becomes a member of the Temple of Robotology to fight an addiction to electricity, and he ends up in Robot Hell after the evil robot learns of his sinful ways.
Luckily, Fry and Leela manage to rescue their repentant pal from eternal damnation. However, the humans don't deserve to be celebrated for helping out the superior being; it was kind of their fault that Bender ended up there in the first place.
I love this episode's "Devil Went Down to Georgia" reference, but its best musical moment is definitely the Beastie Boys' guest appearance. Their heads perform "Intergalactic," of course.
4. "Bender Should Not Be Allowed on TV"
Let's just hope that Bender is allowed on TV again someday. In this classic Futurama episode, Bender gets to star on one of his favorite television shows, All My Circuits, a soap opera starring his robotic hero Calculon.
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Bender's soap opera character is supposed to be in a coma, but the bot who was born to be a star isn't about to spend all his time on TV lying completely still. Bender decides to do a little improvising by doing what he does best: smoking, drinking, dancing, and using his classic catchphrase. Unfortunately, his wild and crazy antics start to corrupt the kids that watch the show (who knew children liked soap operas so much?). This prompts the creation of F.A.R.T.: "Fathers Against Rude Television."
In the end, we are presented with a special message from Bender that makes this one of the top 10 episodes of Futurama. He tells parents like it is: They are ultimately responsible for their children's actions, and if they don't like their children watching violent shows, then they should turn off the TV. Of course, Bender can't resist delivering one last violent line about how parents should be hitting their kids instead of letting them sit in front of a TV screen, and he waves two guns around during his speech.
Perhaps Bender should have encouraged parents to let their kids get brainwashed by the Hypnotoad instead of watching violent programming like Futurama ( "ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD!").
5. "The Honking"
It's obvious that most Futurama fans love their sci-fi, but this episode has a special treat for those like me who enjoy horror movies, too. This is also one of my favorite episodes where Bender gets transformed into something. In this one, it's an evil werecar.
After a series of mysterious tire tracks turn up places where Bender has been, he thinks something is wrong with him and seeks professional help from a psychic machine. He discovers that he is transforming into a werecar after having been hit by one earlier in the episode, and the only way he can return to normal is by destroying the original werecar with a silver potato plugged into its exhaust. You'll never see someone as happy as Fry is when his best friend tries to kill him.
6. "The 30% Iron Chef"
Bender has always had a crazy dream of being a top chef like his idol Elzar, despite not being able to taste or smell. In this episode, he tries his best to cook for his Planet Express crewmates, but he tortures their sensitive tongues with his excessive use of salt. His corrosive creations that burn holes in the floor of the Planet Express ship also don't go over so well.
When he overhears his buddies bashing his culinary creations, Bender runs away to beg Elzar to teach him to cook. Elzar refuses to help Bender, but cook-turned-hobo Helmut promises to turn him into a successful chef. Helmut has an ulterior motive that a vengeful guy like Bender has to respect: It turns out that he and Elzar are old rivals, and Helmut wants to take down the celebrity chef.
Unfortunately, Bender's bad cooking kills Helmut, but the special vial of liquid that Helmut gave his student before his death makes Bender's baking taste absolutely delightful to those who eat it, despite it's horrifying appearance. I love the ending that reveals that all that was in the vial was ordinary water...or was it?
7. "Bendin' in the Wind"
This is one of the best Futurama episodes that prominently features a celebrity head, that of folk artist Beck.
After trying to help Fry fuel his new/old '60s-era Volkswagen, Bender becomes a broken robot, both mentally and physically; he's devastated to learn that he'll never be able to bend again. His spirits are somewhat lifted when he meets Beck's head in the hospital. Bender earns a spot as the washboard in Beck's band, a feat he accomplishes by using a pair of robotic mini-arms to play on his damaged metallic body.
Because he's so great at everything he does, Bender quickly becomes an icon to other broken robots everywhere as he lives out his once-secret dream of being a folk star. The episode eventually starts to look like it's been taken over by futuristic hippie robots, which is a lot of fun. Even if Bender's music stardom does come to an end, it's nice to see him get to live out another of his crazy dreams.
8. "Obsoletely Fabulous"
In this episode, we learn the answer to the question: How well would a robot made out of wood really function? The answer is not well at all, especially when faced with fire and termites.
Bender undergoes a major downgrade to a wooden body when he refuses a new upgrade, running away to an island inhabited by obsolete robots instead. He then declares war on technology with help from his new friends, but their primitive weapons (rocks) are no match for the new Robot 1-X model. In the end, Robot 1-X saves the day, but the episode doesn't end here; in one of Futurama's many great musings about life, it turns out that this whole episode was just a vision Bender was experiencing before undergoing an upgrade, and he ponders what "reality" really is. (I'm totally riding a unicorn right now.)
9. "Bend Her"
Bender will do anything to achieve fame and fortune, even if it means being turned into a fembot so that he can compete against other female robots in the Olympics bending competition.
Unfortunately for Bender, he makes one attractive lady (of course), and his idol Calculon begins to pursue the newly-named "Coilette." When Calculon proposes, Bender/Coilette accepts, but Professor Farnsworth warns Bender that he may irreversibly become a fembot if he continues to live as one.
To save Bender from this fate, his pals devise a way to get rid of Coilette the only way Calculon will be able to accept it: soap opera style. I just love to see the lengths Bender will go to for money, but he also seems to learn something in the end after getting in touch with his feminine side.
I know, I know; The Simpsons did it when Lisa accidentally created her own minuscule world, but it's even more entertaining to see selfish Bender play God.
Almost all of this episode focuses on Bender floating in space, a predicament he ended up in after being accidentally ejected out of the Planet Express torpedo tube. As if floating around in the lonely nothingness of space isn't bad enough, Bender gets struck by an asteroid. However, he's not lonely for too long; the asteroid strike causes a colony of tiny humanoids he deems Shrimpkins to grow on his chest, and they quickly develop into a complex society.
Bender becomes a God-like figure to the Shrimpkins, and his One Commandment to his people is to create beer for their master. Unfortunately for Bender, he soon learns that being a God isn't all it's cracked up to be when some of his followers shun him. To make matters worse, a war breaks out between those who are still faithful to Bender and those who are not.
In the end, Bender meets a real God-like character that tells him the secret to being a good leader. It's all very deep, and one of the best episodes of a cartoon series I've ever seen.
So grab a bucket of Popplers and a can of Slurm and enjoy watching these top 10 episodes of Futurama featuring Bender, the universe's brightest bending star. You can feel good knowing that your Fry-like existence of staying up late to watch Futurama reruns while munching on junk food helped to bring this amazing series back once, and maybe it will bring Bender back again.