Good news, everyone! The cast of Futurama is whole again.
John DiMaggio was the voice of Bender in the original Futurama animated series, and is now confirmed to be returning to the role for new episodes of the series on Hulu. When the streamer announced the revival of the series—The Comedy Central run lasted two seasons (each split into two parts). In total, Futurama—created by Matt Groening and David X. Cohen—on Feb. 9, DiMaggio wasn’t on board. The new contract is inked now, though, and he’ll return with fellow regulars Billy West, Katey Sagal, Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche, Lauren Tom, Phil LaMarr and David Herman.
Futurama without DiMaggio? The fans weren’t having it.
A number of Futurama fans were vocal with their displeasure that DiMaggio wasn’t yet signed. The hashtag #Bendergate was getting a lot of traction on social media, and this probably played a significant role in Hulu finally dealing in good faith with the actor.
On Feb. 15, DiMaggio posted a note on Twitter that reads in part, “Bender is part of my soul & nothing about this is meant to be disrespectful to the fans or my Futurama family. It’s about self-respect. And honestly, being tired of an industry that’s become far too corporate and takes advantage of an artist’s time and talent.”
With a deal now closed, DiMaggio was quick to let the fans know in true Bender style last Tuesday: “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,” he said in a statement. “#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!”
The Series That Just Won’t Die
Futurama had its start on Fox in 1999 and ran four seasons there. It was revived in a series of direct-to-digital movies, then as original episodes on Comedy Central in 2010 (TV edits of the DVD movies aired as “Season five” on Comedy Central in 2008-2009).
The Comedy Central episodes run lasted two more seasons, giving the show 140 episodes to date. The new deal has Hulu debuting 20 new episodes of Futurama in 2023, with production set to begin soon.
“From the moment John DiMaggio auditioned last century, we knew we had our Bender,” said Groening. “So congrats to everyone at Futurama. We’re all back, baby!”
Added Cohen, “John DiMaggio may be a great robot, but he’s also a great human being. Not many people or machines can say that. For the fourth time, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thrill to be back with our entire original cast and the phenomenal animators of Rough Draft Studios.”
Disney’s 20th Television produces Futurama, with Rough Draft Studios handling the animation. Groening and Cohen executive produce.
So, technically, Bender is a Disney Princess. Fight me.