Dr. John A. Zoidberg is a fictional character in the television series Futurama. He is an alien of lobster-like form. The character traveled to 31st century Earth from the planet Decapod 10. On Futurama, he serves as staff doctor for Planet Express, even though he knows very little about the physiology of humans. Zoidberg is voiced by Billy West and speaks with a Yiddish-inflected accent.
Zoidberg is the company doctor
at Planet Express. Although he claims expertise in human medicine
, his knowledge of human anatomy
and physiology is negligible. For example, he cannot tell the difference between robots and humans (or human males and females), believes food is digested in the heart and that humans have multiple mouths. His only knowledge of humans seems to come from commercials. Zoidberg's own race, the Decapodians (from the sandy planet Decapod 10) are crustaceans
, with lobster
-like claws, mouth tentacles, a hard exoskeleton
, a fleshy, boneless inner body, a head-fin (usually hidden), an ink pouch, and a complex system of internal organs, including multiple hearts and stomachs. At one point in all Decapodians lives, they go into a mating season or "The Frenzy" as they call it, which causes them to behave in a neurotic and manic way. During this chaotic time, their behavior is dictated by the tiny brain located in their rumps. They also develop incredible strength (much stronger than humans), their headfin comes out for mating displays, their stink glands REALLY stink and the males become saturated with male jelly as the females become engorged with eggs. Sadly though, once each Decapodian passes its genes on, they die. The episode Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles
suggests that young Decapodians progress through various crustacean or invertebrate
forms before reaching their adult form. Zoidberg often makes a high-pitched whooping sound, similar to Curly
on the Three Stooges
Despite his career as a doctor, Zoidberg is repeatedly identified as living in crushing poverty, as well as lonely and desperate for friendship and attention. The crew, especially Hermes, who seems to intensely dislike Zoidberg, are often disgusted by his foul habits, such as squirting ink or eating from trash cans. Philip J. Fry and Professor Farnsworth are usually the only ones of the group to refer to Zoidberg as a friend, as in Benders Big Score, Zoidberg says, "He was the only one of you who never struck me!" though in the episode "Why Must I Be a Crustacean in Love?" Fry was forced to fight Zoidberg. Zoidberg has ambitions to be a stand-up comedian, but is entirely unsuccessful at this endeavour. He has an uncle, the silent film star Harold Zoid (a parody of Harold Lloyd), who advises him to give up on comedy and finance a film whose script Zoid is writing ("That's Lobstertainment!").
The name Zoidberg comes from a game that David X. Cohen
made in high school called Zoid
, similar to the game Qix
. The game was rejected by Broderbund
. One of Cohen's inspirations for the character of Dr. Zoidberg's was the fact that Star Trek
character Bones McCoy
frequently administered medical treatment to aliens such as Mr Spock
, so Cohen wished human characters in Futurama
to be in the uneasy situation of being treated by an alien doctor.
During the first season, jokes surrounding Zoidberg usually focused on his incompetence as a doctor, his poor understanding of human anatomy, and some of his crustacean characteristics. One of his running traits is his mispronunciation of the word 'robot', emphasising the 'ro-' so it sounds like 'roh-bit'. As the series progressed, writers gradually introduced the themes that Zoidberg is also poor, friendless, smelly, undignified and repellent.
Billy West came up with Dr. Zoidberg's voice, which is inspired by actors Lou Jacobi and George Jessel. Zoidberg is frequently identified by the creators or writers, in episode commentaries, as having some Jewish characteristics.