Futurama is regarded as one of the best adult animated series of all time. It follows the adventures of Philip J Fry (Billy West) who is frozen for a thousand years and awakens in the year 3000. He joins a delivery service run by his descendant, the elderly Professor Farnsworth (West), and learns how to navigate his new futuristic society.
Due to the show’s settings, it features a number of robotic characters alongside human and alien ones. They tend to have a single trait taken to the extreme, allowing for hilarious and memorable personalities to form.
10 Reverend Lionel Preacherbot
Many robots follow the religion of Robotology, which is basically a more restrictive version of Christianity. Its most recurring member is Reverent Lionel Precherbot (Phil LaMarr) who happily shares the faith with any robot who will listen to the good book 3.0. He also attends to other duties outside his religion, including overseeing funerals and human and alien marriages.
Lionel’s personality is a great example of how Futurama handles its robots. His personality is based on an exaggerated version of a stereotypical evangelist who loves his faith and always works in an “amen.” Of course, he’s not infallible in his programming and can give into moments of violence and indulgence like any robot.
Patrolling the streets of New New York is Officer URL (pronounced Earl) (John DiMaggio). With his partner, Smitty (West), he works to keep the people safe from crime. Unfortunately, his job encourages a level of abuse of authority, so he and Smitty are frequently seen beating others with their lightsaber batons – he’s not exactly a heroic TV robot.
DiMaggio voices URL with a smooth drawl, which pays homage to blaxploitation films. Though he frequently abuses his authority, he does care about keeping the city safe. He also values his friendship with Smitty and is shown to miss him when he took an early retirement.
8 Santa Claus
In an attempt to sort out naughty and nice children, the Friendly Robot Company created a robotic Santa (voiced by John Goodman and John DiMaggio). Due to a programming error, his standards for nice were set too high, so he sees everyone as naughty. Every X-Mas Eve, he flies from Neptune to Earth to punish the naughty with a night of destruction and murder.
Despite his love of wanton carnage, what makes Robot Santa so enjoyable is how seriously he takes his job. He takes great offense when people try to bribe him or blame others for their actions, and even gave Dr. Zoidberg (West) a pogo stick. Of his two voice actors, DiMaggio sounds more threatening, but Goodman sounds like an angry parent who isn’t afraid to use capital punishment.
Within New New York, the Robot Mafia extends its influence across many fields, including protection rackets, running numbers, and murder. Its most enthusiastic member is Clamps (Maurice LaMarche), named for his massive clamp-like hands. After four years of clamping school, he eagerly seeks out a situation where he can put his skills to use.
Like the rest of the Robot Mafia, Clamps is a parody and stereotype of a particular kind of gangster. In his case, it’s the paranoid and angry mobster who is always looking to prove themselves. This prompts Clamps to talk about his clamps frequently and attack anyone who implies anything bad about them.
As his name implies, Hedonismbot (LaMarche) loves to indulge in life’s pleasures. These often range from unapologetic acts of debauchery to covering his stomach with chocolate icing. If the act happens to be illegal, that just makes it better, so long as it doesn’t lose his interest.
Hedonismbot is very one-note as a character, but the show gets so much mileage out of him, and he shows up in a lot of Futurama‘s best episodes. Much of this comes from LaMarche’s voice work: he makes every line sound both sensual and flamboyant. He also has one of the best designs in the show, and his golden body is always accentuated by grapes of the deepest violet.
5 Tinny Tim
One of the more innocent characters on the show, Tinny Tim (Tress MacNeille) is an optimistic orphan bot. Although life and Bender (DiMaggio) are constantly knocking him down, Tim always puts his best foot forward. When he’s not begging or selling newspapers and oil-aid, he hangs out with children like Cubert (Kath Soucie) and Dwight (LaMarr)
Tinny Tim is a cute and effective parody of Oliver Twist. He is well-mannered and polite, even to people who use and abuse him, like Bender. This doesn’t stop audiences from laughing at his misfortunes, but it’s always refreshing to see him pick himself up and try again.
For some reason, a team of engineers decided to build a wild robot. The result was Roberto (David Herman), who gleefully commits crimes against the people of New New York. These include robbing the same bank three times and holding people hostage at knifepoint.
Roberto’s mannerisms and Herman’s flawless delivery make him one of Futurama‘s most iconic scene-stealing side characters. His goals are always all over the place, and the noises that he makes when stabbing are both hilarious and offsetting. Not even death can stop him from returning to harm others and prove the lengths of his insanity.
3 The Robot Devil
As the ruler of Robot Hell, it is the job of the Robot Devil (Dan Castellaneta) to punish any followers of Robotology who succumb to sin. Beneath an abandoned amusement park in New Jersey, he thinks up ironic punishments tailored to each individual sinner. He’s also down to make a deal with anyone who comes visiting.
All of this makes for an entertaining recurring antagonist. He always comes across as affably evil in his interaction, and amusingly, his deals tend to be bad for him more often than not. Castellaneta’s performance also adds to the character’s employability: it’s the right level of sleazy and endearing that you’d expect from such a robot.
Originally a crane working as a car manufacturer, Calculon (LaMarche) was turned into a were-car by Project Satan (Herman), the world’s evilest car. Over the years, he upgraded himself into his current form and made a deal with the Robot Devil for acting talent. This has allowed him to star in the hit sitcom, “All My Circuits.”
Calculon is a beautiful spoof on talented actors with over-inflated egos. His deliveries are always melodramatic and over-the-top, which bleeds into his dialogue off-set as well. His personality is proud and self-centered, so he refuses to do second takes and has been known to act violently when denied.
1 Bender Bending Rodriquez
After getting electrocuted when his antenna hit a light bulb socket, Bender joined Planet Express with Fry. He provides numerous essential services to the crew, including heavy lifting and bending. He also needs to be the center of attention and loves to steal things, which often gets the crew into trouble.
Bender is Futurama’s most recognized and iconic character. Beneath all his bravado and burglary is a heart of gold, which often rears itself when he interacts with Fry. He is so loved that, when it seemed DiMaggio wouldn’t reprise the role for the Hulu revival, fans threatened to boycott it until he was confirmed.