"Bah! Good riddance to them! Now Zoidberg is the popular one! " - Dr. Zoidberg after main characters Fry, Leela, and Bender are fired from Planet Express, "The Cryonic Woman"

Voiced by Billy West (who based the voice on a series of vaudeville comedians), Dr. John Zoidberg is the crustacean/lobster physician at Planet Express in the Futurama universe. He grew up on his home planet, Decapod 10 , under the care of friends of his parents after his biological mother and father died during the mating frenzy that led to his birth. As a larva he hung around a small pond and was often beat up by Vinnie, a mean hermit crab. Zoidberg developed a dream of being a famous comedian during his childhood, but his adopted mother forbid him from pursuing it. As he grew older he became interested in medicine and later moved to Earth to pursue his goal of becoming a doctor. After earning (some say fabricating) his medical degree he met Professor Hubert Farnsworth who was in the process of starting a delivery company to finance his inventions; Zoidberg was hired as the staff doctor.

The original joke behind Dr. Zoidberg was that he was the opposite of Dr. McCoy's situation from the original Star Trek; for while Dr. McCoy was a human who operated on aliens, Dr. Zoidberg is an alien who operates on humans. The gag is that the humans feel uncomfortable being treated by an alien who has a questionable grasp of human physiology. While originally Zoidberg was simply a bad doctor (past incidents of Zoidberg practicing bad medicine include the time he sewed Fry's severed arm to the wrong side of his body and the time he diagnosed Bender, a robot, with fin fungus), his character traits were expanded over the years to make him poor and starving as well. The ongoing feud between him and Hermes Conrad began near the end of the first season of the show, although it's never been established why the two Planet Express employees hate each other so much.

Being a supporting character, Dr. Zoidberg was only featured as the star in a few episodes of the series. His breakout role in "Why Must I Be a Crustacean in Love?" established much of his backstory, as this was the episode in which he returned to his home planet for the mating frenzy. He sought to win the love of a desirable female, Edna, only to be spurned when she fell for his good friend Fry. The two fought to the near-death, but the fight was for naught: Edna chose to mate with the ruler of the planet. In "That's Lobstertainment!" Zoidberg teamed up with his uncle Harold Zoid, the famous has-been movie actor, to become a famous actor. In the end the lobster duo rigged the Academy Awards in Harold's favor, angering Calculon who had originally sought to rig the awards in favor of himself.

"Roswell That Ends Well" revealed that Zoidberg was, in fact, the alien caught at Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, a result of the Planet Express ship having been thrown back in time. Zoidberg was dissected by the military, yet they did little damage in the long run and Zoidberg lived on (minus his gas bladder). The landmark episode "A Taste of Freedom" explored the implications of a certain lobster doctor eating the Earthican flag, resulting in a trial against Zoidberg and, eventually, the enslavement of Earth by Zoidberg's planet. After several days of cruel oppression against the human race, Zoidberg managed to convince the two species to see eye-to-eye and put an end to the war.

Other facts about Zoidberg:

  • His favorite foods include melted cheese stuck to pizza boxes and unguarded penguin nests. He is the last person in the universe to have eaten anchovies.
  • He has dreamed of being a race car driver, a comedian, and a grandmother.
  • He once owned a "house" at the bottom of the sea, but it burned down.
  • He used to own a controlling interest in Planet Express, but he sold all his stock to that guy for a sandwich (he would have accepted a dinner roll filled with ketchup.)
  • He is one of the few people to make Evil Robot Santa's "good list"; he was given a pogo stick as a reward.
  • His catch-phrase, "Why not Zoidberg?", has become a sort of catch-all internet meme, usable for any purpose. For example: the pope just died. Need a new one? Why not Zoidberg?

Dr. Zoidberg was last seen outside Fry's holophonor opera in "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings".


References:
Futurama Volumes One through Four DVDs

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