Futurama fans, your days of worrying are over. John DiMaggio has officially announced that he will be returning to Hulu’s Futurama revival to voice everyone’s favorite alcoholic robot, Bender. It just goes to show that sometimes when you tell people to bite your shiny metal ass, good things happen.
Last month, 20th Television Animation and Hulu announced that they will be reviving Matt Groening and David X. Cohen’s sci-fi comedy for 20 new episodes. But there was a big asterisk tied to that first announcement. DiMaggio, the actor behind the iconic Bender, was not listed as part of the returning cast. Roughly a week after the announcement, DiMaggio took to Twitter to explain what was dubbed #Bendergate. It all came down to pay negotiations, though DiMaggio made it clear that he doesn’t believe that only he should be paid more. He believed the entire cast deserved a pay bump.
Nearly a month later, DiMaggio, 20th, and Hulu have reached a deal that satisfies them all. True to his character, DiMaggio announced the news with one of Bender’s best catchphrases: “I’M BACK, BABY!”
“So damn grateful for the love and support of fans and colleagues alike during this whole time (especially my wife, Kate), and I cannot wait to get back to work with my Futurama family,” DiMaggio said in a press release. “#Bendergate is officially over, so put it on the back of a shelf behind Xmas decorations, or maybe in that kitchen drawer with all of the other crap you put in there like old unusable crazy glue, or maybe even put it in a jar you save farts in. Whatever floats your boat, I don’t care, you get the picture. I’M BACK, BABY! BITE MY SHINY METAL ASS!”
You would be hard-pressed to find a better official press statement than that one. And that’s what encapsulates the beauty of DiMaggio’s performance as Bender. Bender Bending Rodriguez has always been more than a collection of vulgar one-liners and larceny charges. The storied voice actor always infused this tough-living robot with a soft, vulnerable underbelly. Even when Bender was at his most verbally abusive, you could always feel the fondness and eventual love he felt for Fry (Billy West) and the rest of his friends. It’s that tenderness that’s always made the character work and added to Futurama‘s distinct charm. Yes, Bender is a relentless criminal who’s a step away from several sexual assault charges. But DiMaggio made him feel like more of a lovable scamp than an actual threat to society.
As Decider has covered before, the entire prospect of another Futurama revival is a dicey one. Groening and Cohen’s show has been canceled and rebooted so many times that it feels like a sci-fi experiment itself, and it’s one of the few shows that’s managed to create the near impossible: a perfect finale. We’re still skeptical, but having DiMaggio back on board is a step in the right direction. After all, Futurama wouldn’t be the same without him.