A character that appeared in the comics and cartoons of Marvel Comics. Herbie first appeared in the Saturday morning cartoon the Fantastic Four and later in print by Fantastic Four #209.

In 1978, NBC began showing a Fantastic Four cartoon produced by Hanna-Barbera. It is commonly believed that NBC required that the creators remove the Human Torch as a team member, believing young, impressionable viewers with lower I.Q. scores might decide that lighting themselves on fire would be a good idea and leave them open to lawsuit. So Hanna-Barbera came up with a new character: Herbie the Robot. In actuality, the Human Torch was under contract for development with another studio and therefore, could not be used in the cartoon and hence, the introduction of Herbie. Herbie was a floating robot shaped sort of similiar to a table lamp. They set him up with a rivalry relationship with Ben Grimm. The cartoon did not last past the first season, but Herbie became part of the Fantastic Four's family.

To help with the crossover for those picking up comics after having watched the cartoon, Marvel Comics introduced Herbie the Robot into their comics in Fantastic Four #209. HERBIE turned out to stand for the verbally-unwieldy Humanoid Experimental Robot, B-Type, Integrated Electronics, He was constructed by Reed Richards as a mobile computer to help track Galactus, making Herbie nothing more than a glorified PDA. Herbie was constructed with the help of the Living Computers of Xandar and were therefore linked to said computers. However, unbeknownst to the Fantastic Four, the computers on Xandar had been inhabited by the villain Dr. Sun, who effectively downloaded himself into Herbie.

Later, after the Fantastic Four returned to Earth, Sun in the form of Herbie attacked and disabled all four members of the team. Sun then downloaded himself into the main computer of the F.F. where he sought to gain knowledge and power to help in his plans. Richards trapped Sun in the computer giving him only one way of escape: Herbie. Herbie, in control of himself again, would not allow himself to be used to harm the Fantastic Four and when Sun's consciousness was returned to his form, Herbie flew into the main computer, destroying himself, the computer, and Sun. In the end, Herbie died a hero.

Since this time, other versions of Herbie have been seen around the Fantastic Four's headquarters. They usually are doing things like reminding Richards of appointments, greeting guests, etc.


My thanks for Gamaliel for the real story of Herbie's inclusion in the 1978 NBC cartoon.

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