Doctor Zoidberg

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Dr. John A. Zoidberg is a fictional character in the television series Futurama. He is a crustacean-like alien from the planet Decapod 10, who emigrated to 30th century Earth, where he works as the staff doctor for Planet Express, despite his apparently poor understanding of human physiology, and allusions to his questionable credentials.

Zoidberg is voiced by Billy West, who performs the character with a Yiddish-inflected accent inspired by actors George Jessel and Lou Jacobi.[1]

Contents

Character creation

The name Zoidberg comes from an Apple II game that David X. Cohen created in high school called Zoid, similar to the game Qix. The game was rejected by Brøderbund.[2][3][4] One of Cohen's inspirations for the character of Dr. Zoidberg's was the fact that Star Trek character Leonard 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.[3]

During the first season, jokes surrounding Zoidberg usually focused on his incompetence as a doctor, his poor understanding of human anatomy, and the fact that all of his co-workers hate him. One of his running traits is his pronunciation of the word "robot," emphasising the "ro-" so it sounds like "roh-bit," an inflection typical among Ashkenazi Jews. As the series progressed, writers gradually introduced the themes that Zoidberg is also poor, homeless, friendless, smelly, undignified, and repellent.[5]

Billy West came up with Dr. Zoidberg's voice, which is inspired by actors Lou Jacobi and George Jessel.[1][6] Zoidberg is frequently identified by the writers in episode commentaries as having some Jewish characteristics, though in the episode "Future Stock" he is barred from a "Bot Mitzvah" (a robot Bar Mitzvah), because shellfish are not Kosher.

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