In season 2’s “The Honking”, Futurama turned Bender into a Were-Car, and in the process, touched the core that underlies the character.
One of the most popular characters in Futurama is Bender, the unpredictable and crime-happy robot. As the series progressed, his antics became increasingly ridiculous, but one of his early exhibits ended up proving that he is more than just a loose cannon.
Bender’s brief time as a werewolf-inspired car-man may have been Futurama at his most ridiculous, but he also holds the key to what makes Bender such a lovable character: the little part of him that will do anything for his friends.
Season 2’s “The Honking” focused on Bender receiving a castle from a distant relative after his passing. While spending the night in the comically gothic castle, the ghosts of the fallen robots, actually digital avatars that were caught in a loop, terrorized Bender and sent him running into the fields. There, he was attacked by a Were-Car, which imported the cursed code into Bender’s processors. Every night at midnight, Bender transformed into a car version of himself and was led to chase people and run them over. The trick was that the curse forced Bender to hunt down and kill his best friend, terrorizing both Bender and Fry, who had quickly established himself as the robot’s only true friend.
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His attempts to stop the curse sent Fry, Bender, and Leela across the world, chasing others who had been part of the curse in search of a cure. Along the way, a transformed Bender attempted to kill Leela, leading Fry to jealously believe that Bender cared more for her than for him. However, after finding the original man-car and discovering that destroying it would end the curse, Fry and Leela confront both him and Bender, who transformed during the confrontation. Fortunately, Fry was able to survive long enough for Leela to lure the original man-car into a furnace, melt the machine, and free Bender, along with the other infected robots, from the curse.
What Futurama It progressed, one of the most consistent character comedy pieces came from Bender. Over the course of the series, Bender would do more than just his faith in selfish things, like trying to sell children for food (“Cyber House Rules” from season 3), trading his son for the robot demon (” The Beast with a Billion Backs “) and dancing on what he believed to be a girl’s corpse (” Stench and Stenchibility “from season 7). But Bender remained a very likable character through two means: his enthusiasm for the absurd actions he was trying to perform, and the little core of a heart at the center of his character.
From the beginning, Bender’s relationship with Fry and the rest of the Planet Express crew has brought out the best in him. “The Honking” shows that no matter how dumb or evil Bender may be, he is still partly defined by the people he cares about. Bender’s horror at the prospect of even hurting Fry is played out by the fact that he will strangle him for gleefully stealing Bender’s last beer. The two are best friends, and Bender even admits at times that Fry is one of the only humans he really cares about. It is that core of the character that appeared at the heart of “The Honking” that helped ensure that Bender’s friendships would help him remain a likeable character, regardless of how ridiculous his crimes became.
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