Dr. John A. Zoidberg

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Primary character
Dr. John A. Zoidberg
Zoidberg promo 2.jpg
A promotional picture of Zoidberg eating a fish.
AgeAt least 90[6ACV18]
Date of birthBetween 23 November and 23 December[3ACV14][6ACV08]
Planet of originDecapod 10
ProfessionStaff doctor
RelativesSee family section
First appearance"The Series Has Landed" (1ACV02)
Voiced byBilly West
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Dr. John A. Zoidberg is a Decapodian employed as staff doctor at Planet Express[1ACV02] and an honorary Globetrotter.[3ACV14] He is only tolerated at Planet Express because of his ability to cut things.[6ACV14] An extremely poor man and a doctor of art history,[6ACV05] he is still lovable to many and hated by others. He is also noted as the only alien member of the Planet Express crew.


Desperate for acceptance, Zoidberg lives with a continuing delusion that he is well regarded by the rest of the Planet Express crew. He does appear to be rather intelligent, but he is an inept medical practitioner. Most of his co-workers look down on him, especially Hermes, who likes to make his life even more miserable. Dr. Zoidberg is Professor Farnsworth's oldest friend, which suggests that Zoidberg is much older than he appears. A citizen of Earth, he loves his chosen home planet for the personal freedom it provides.[4ACV05] He is also apparently the only intelligent organism on Earth deemed nice by the Robot Santa Claus.[2ACV04] It is unknown why, but it may be because of a glitch in Santa or because of Zoidberg's kind and innocent personality. Other than the professor, the only people known to identify him as a friend are the members of the First Planet Express crew, Fry, Mom and his girlfriend.


Giant Zoidberg.[2ACV16]

Early years

Dr. Zoidberg was born on Decapod 10 and seems to have visited high school there, going to school together with and having a crush on Edna.[2ACV05] During that time, his face was covered in barnacles, for which he was laughed at.

As a youngster, Zoidberg wanted to become a comedian, following the footsteps of his uncle Harold Zoid, but he was discouraged by his guardian,[1] whereupon he developed an interest in medical science.[3ACV08] In spite of trying to win his surrounding's respect, he was then looked down on because of giving up his dream of being a comedian. Eventually, he went to medical school and left his home planet to seek his fortune on Earth, although it is not known whether he studied on Decapod 10 or on Earth. He never received a doctorate in medicine for humans, but in art history.[6ACV05] However, he started practicing human medicine nonetheless. He is however, an expert on aliens, as stated by Professor Farnsworth.[6ACV18]

In 2927, Zoidberg met Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth while on a mission to capture a Tritonian yeti for Mom. During the mission, the Professor was infected with hypermalaria, which at the time, was thought to be impossible to cure. The Professor ended up saving Zoidberg from the yeti by killing it, and in exchange, Farnsworth pleaded that Zoidberg kill him as soon as the symptoms of hypermalaria started, so he wouldn't have to experience the horrible consequences.[6ACV18] Zoidberg agreed, leading to his employment at Planet Express in 2961, when it was founded.[6ACV15]

Zoidberg and his friend Fry, battling in Claw-Plach.[2ACV05]

Later years

Although his medical career meant giving up his dream of becoming a comedian, Zoidberg has since tried on occasion to be a freelance comedian of some sort, but lack the necessary talent and sense of humour. In his biggest try, he even had a minor part in his uncle's film The Magnificent Three in 3003.

Zoidberg once saved Fry's life by transplanting his head onto Amy's shoulder when his body was severely damaged in a car crash on Jupiter's moon Europa.[2ACV07] On another occasion, he tried to kill Fry in the Decapodian tradition of Claw-Plach.[2ACV05] He has served as a military doctor in the conflict with Spheron 1[2ACV17] and defeated the Decapodian oppressors who had occupied Earth in response to Zoidberg being sentenced to death for eating an Earthican flag.[4ACV05] On one occasion he travelled through time to 1947 Roswell,[3ACV16] was captured by the US Army, met President Harry Truman (it is unclear which of them was more baffled by the other), and was partially vivisected before being rescued and returned to the future where he put his organs back in (except a non-vital one) and fixed himself with duct tape.

In 3011, the rest of the crew became fed up with Dr. Zoidberg's incompetence as a doctor, and demanded that the Professor fire him[6ACV18]. However, the symptoms of hypermalaria had after several decades, finally began to infect him. Farnsworth approached Zoidberg and informed him that it was time to perform the mercy killing, only it needed to be by surprise. But before Zoidberg could carry out the act, the rest of the crew caught Zoidberg trying to kill the Professor and imprisoned him in his office, restraining him with the Professor's lab coat. On the coat, Zoidberg discovers a thin, white, yeti hair, and realizes that the Professor never had hypermalaria, but yetiism, a dangerous disease with identical symptoms to hypermalaria, that turns the victim into a yeti. Shocked by this revelation, Zoidberg escapes and goes to the headquarters of Mom, where he exchanges a coupon for a free tanning session for the disembodied head of a yeti. Zoidberg returns to the Planet Express headquarters just moments before the rest of the crew kill the Professor themselves, (after he revealed the truth to them) Zoidberg reveals to them that the Professor has yetiism, not hypermalaria. Using the pineal gland from the yeti's head, he creates an antidote and forces him to swallow it; just as the yeti transformation begins. The cure was successful, and the rest of the crew apologize to Zoidberg for treating him so poorly.

By 3013, Zoidberg had gotten a job at Elzar's as a busboy.[7ACV17]

Amazingly enough, by at some point in 3013, Zoidberg met a flower girl and they began dating.[7ACV25]

Character description


  • Norm, Sam and Sadie, parents,[3ACV08] presumably one is the woman who raised him,[4ACV05] the other two are deceased biological parents. It is also possible that Decapodians have three biological parents. He referred to one of them (his mother) as a saint, which was most likely just an expression. Non-canonically, his parents' original intentions were for him to become a Lawyer.[US#048]
  • Harold Zoid, uncle.[3ACV08]
  • His brother Norman and up to nine other siblings that budded from Zoidberg during the coral stage of his larval stadium. A duplicate Norman dies when he is sucked into the Fountain of Aging, but all other siblings are never mentioned again.[4ACV09]
  • Zoidfarb, cousin. Zoidberg received an Xmas card from him in 3001.[2ACV04]
  • Cubert, godson.[6ACV09]
  • Unknown ex-wife. Zoidberg's wedding album was destroyed by the Professor to make two small sweaters using the Banach-Tarski Dupla-Shrinker work.[6ACV17] Possibly Grrrl,[2] however unlikely, as Zoidberg video-dated Zindy for four years.[7ACV25]
  • Marianne, girlfriend (7ACV25).


(In chronological order):


Production pic of Zoidberg's lab.

The original inspiration and the basic traits and characteristics were developed by David X. Cohen,[3] while the cartoon design was created by Matt Groening. The later refinement and addition of various traits came from the various writers.[4]

Cohen's name for Dr. Zoidberg came from a video game he had developed during the 1980s, called "Zoid",[3] which was largely inspired by the popular arcade game Qix.[5] Cohen tried to get the then famous publisher Brøderbund to publish the game.[5] Unfortunately, Brøderbund refused to publish Cohen's assembly-written game, and he shelved it.[5] Dr. Zoidberg was thus named to honour those wasted years in college.[3]

Cohen's inspiration came from Bones McCoy from Star Trek, the doctor on the U.S.S. Enterprise. Bones was often faced with treating aliens and other non-humans, including Spock.[3] Cohen's idea for Zoidberg was the exact opposite, where an alien would perform on humans.[3] Zoidberg's trait of being a bad doctor was then established.[4]

Later traits, such as his lust for seafood, became apparent in "A Fishful of Dollars". More demeaning traits such as being poor and lonely came in "Put Your Head on My Shoulders"; eating garbage and being homeless appeared later as well.

Certain contradicting situations can be seen in "A Flight to Remember", where Zoidberg is seen being given a suite, something that the writers would not give him in the later course of the series.[6]


Billy West has often stated that the voice of Zoidberg was inspired by profile actors from Yiddish theater such as Lou Jacobi and George Jessel.

Additional Info


  • Zoidberg is featured both on disc 7 of The Complete Collection 1999-2009 and on the cover for Volume 7. He is also featured on one of the discs of Volume 7.
  • Zoidberg's E-mail is: [email protected][citation needed]
  • As the show progresses, Zoidberg's apparent utility becomes less obvious, and the Planet Express staff shun his presence from one instance to another.
  • It has been mentioned several times that the Planet Express crew openly abuses him. In Bender's Big Score, he yelled that Fry was the only crew member who had never struck him. Also, several times he has done something wrong and exclaimed "Don't hit me!"
  • As with all Decapodians, Zoidberg's mannerisms, speech, and personality are representative of dry East Coast humor readily seen in Jewish communities.
  • He claims to have lost his medical degree in a volcano. This, however, was an excuse for not having one to give to Cubert.
  • In earlier episodes he is animated with teeth, but in later episodes he is drawn without. His mouth frills are prehensile and can move independently, although most of the time they remain loose.
  • Is apparently his own medical corporation, as described on the door to his office.
  • Zoidberg has a top fin or crest on his head that appears at times of emotional duress, such as "Why Must I Be a Crustacean in Love?" and Bender's Big Score. It seems to be linked to his species' equivalent to testosterone, as it appears to be linked to both aggression and arousal, as shown in Bender's Game and "Attack of the Killer App". Also, the fin appears when he remembers a forgotten event. The crest, referred to by Amy as "cockateiling", has been shown on one occasion to occur just before a traumatic event, allowing Zoidberg to predict danger, but not with enough notice to do anything about it.
  • His greatest fantasy is to be a grandmother ("Subjugated yet honored!").
  • Hermes from the earliest episodes seems to harbor a bitter hatred toward Zoidberg, never explained or given a rationale. This starts in "Hell Is Other Robots", when Hermes states someone (in fact Bender was addicted to it) has been using a lot of electricity, then blames Zoidberg who exclaims "MEEE?" Hermes later removes the office's salt-water cooler to save money, prompting Zoidberg to blurt out, "This is a witch-hunt!"
Zoidberg in his office with Fry.[6ACV18]
  • An alternate version of him as a blob-like creature appears in Bender's Game, although he begins as an innocent Dungeon Monster.
  • In the Halloween 2008 cartoon of Homestar Runner, the Poopsmith is dressed as Zoidberg. Also, if you click him at the end of the toon, the King of Town uses the phrase "Good news, everyone."
  • Apparently likes Barbados Slim (Although he says he likes a lot of people, possibly a catchphrase).
  • He has been shown to cough up colorful beads after eating copious amounts of dirt, which can be sold to make money. This is only seen in the episode "Bendin' in the Wind".
Zoidberg reading a book entitled Diseases of the Claw and Egg Sac.
  • His birthday is the day after Amy's.[3ACV14]
  • His claws and exoskeleton are incredibly strong and resilient. His claws can cut through human flesh, bone, and even some metals while his exoskeleton is impervious to knives and swords.
  • He is first mentioned to be desperately poor in the episode "Put Your Head on My Shoulders".
  • In "Insane in the Mainframe", it is said he started working in Planet Express in 2992, though in "Möbius Dick", he is seen working since the start, around 2961.
    • Possible that he is fired and rehired to avoid paying out benefits.
      • The Professor's senilty and Hermes' not caring may also be the explanation.
  • Grows brown hair that usually turns white immediately in cases of extreme fear (as shown in "Möbius Dick").
  • He is noted by Farnsworth to be a "doctor for aliens", often gives mistaken diagnoses on Fry and Bender that may apply to other species, and has demonstrated knowledge of alien physiology (as shown in "The Tip of the Zoidberg"). This may suggest he qualified as a doctor on Decapod 10. He was also described as a "medical doctor" by the Contrabulous Choosematron, implying he may be qualified in some form as a doctor.
  • Interesting, the only thing about being a doctor Zoidberg seems to know about is reattaching limbs, as he does this several times.[2ACV05][2ACV07][BBS]
  • He has shown infrequent romantic interest in human men, thought this probably means nothing as he is repeatedly unable to differentiate between human genders.
  • In Bender's Big Score he was crowned Prince of Bageria by the Scammers. Although it's obivously a scam, Zoidberg still fell for it.
  • Zoidberg appears to think humans have multiple mouths, dorsal fins. He also can't tell humans apart from robots and males from females. He also thinks that food is digested in the heart.
  • Several of Zoidberg's internal organs are either redundant or vestigial. In "Roswell that Ends Well", he is vivisected by scientists who know nothing of his physiology and leaves one of his hearts behind.
  • He may be a fan of Scooby-Doo, as he said "Well gang, it looks like we have another mystery on our hands.", a catchphrase of Fred.[3ACV06]
  • According to the Contrabulous Choosematron, Zoidberg is "delicious with butter and lemon",[7ACV02] though this could be a gag since those two do work well with lobster.
  • He can harmonize with himself, possibly with two sets of vocal cords.
  • He is one of three current crew members of Planet Express that have worked for Mom in some capacity, the other two being Farnsworth and Hermes.


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    Zoidberg: [To Fry.] Young lady, I am an expert on humans. Now pick a mouth, open it, and say BR BR BR BR BRRRRRRRR.
    Zoidberg: What? My mother was a saint! Get out!!

    Zoidberg: In my experience, boxes are usually empty, sometimes with a little cheese stuck to the top, and one time pepperoni, what a day that was!

    Bender: I got a busted ass here, I don't see anyone kissing it!
    Zoidberg: Alright, I'm coming.

    Zoidberg: The female Leela's problem is purely medical, soon she will lay her eggs and they will hatch and all will be well.

    Zoidberg: Oh, the hypochondriac's back! So what is it this time?
    Fry: Well, my lead pipe hurts a little.
    Zoidberg: That's normal. Next patient!

    Zoidberg: Fry, it's been years since medical school, so remind me. Disemboweling in your species: fatal, or non-fatal?

    Zoidberg: Friends, help! A guinea pig tricked me!

    Zoidberg: I saw a frilly cake in here you would remember all your life. I know I will. Late at night it haunts me with its frosty beauty. [shouting] Order the cake, dammit!!

    Lrrr: I mean, look at Donkey Kong here. Have you smelt his loincloth lately?
    Zoidberg: Yes.

    Dr. Zoidberg: I don't quite know how to say this. Fry is dead!
    Fry: Oooow... [Fry stirs, alive.]
    Zoidberg: Wait. Not dead, the other thing.

    Fry: Like Dr. Zoidberg: he's a weird monster who smells like he eats garbage, and does.
    Zoidberg: Damn right!

    Bender: Oh, so it's just coincidence that Zoidberg here is desperately poor and miserably lonely? Please!
    Leela: For your information, it's because he's hideous.
    Zoidberg: Aw!

    Zoidberg: Look, coupons! I can get two oil changes for the price of one. Now, if I could only afford the one... and the car. Ah, the years! So many memories, so many strange fluids gushing out of patients' bodies.

    Zoidberg: Switch bodies? I don't see why not. I also don't see why.

    Clamps: Mind your own business, slick.
    Zoidberg: My name is not Slick. It's Zoidberg. JOHN [bleep]ING ZOIDBERG!!!

    Bender: I'll just do the cutting.
    Zoidberg: You do and I'll [bleep]ing gut you like a fish!

    Professor Farnsworth: No. I'm afraid the Smellescope isn't powerful enough. Bender's odour is so mild it's being overpowered by local sources.
    [He, Fry and Leela glare at Zoidberg who jumps up and claps with delight.]
    Zoidberg: Hooray! People are paying attention to me!

    Zoidberg: Only $14.99 for a two-record set. Two records! Oh, Zoidberg, at last you're becoming a crafty consumer!
    Man: [on phone] Hello?
    Zoidberg: Hello? I'll take eight!
    [Time lapse.]
    Tinny Tim: [shouting] Extra! Extra! Greatest opera of all time sucks.
    Zoidberg: I'll take eight!

    Hermes: Strange. Usually you don't know anything about human anatomy.
    Zoidberg: I learned it from a decongestant commercial. [echoing] "Soothing action, action, action, action..."

    Professor Farnsworth: So many loves half-loved. So many inventions half-invented. That damn time machine alone set me back fifteen years.
    Zoidberg: If only it'd worked, you could go back and not waste your time on it.

Catchphrases and running jokes

Zoidberg as the berry burglar's monster.[7ACV19]
  • (At inappropriate times) Hello.
  • Sometimes he will (with a grin) exclaim "What an honor!"[3ACV19]
  • Excellent, excellent!
  • (Famous person)? I love that guy!
  • Woop woop woop woop!? (This sound effect is based on sound effects made by The Three Stooges.)
  • Hooray!
  • Dibs on...! or alternative forms of calling dibs on something. Zoidberg usually comes late to Bender (for Leela's iPod in Into the Wild Green Yonder and the ship's shotgun in "Parasites Lost") or Amy (for Leela's maid of honor in Bender's Big Score)
  • (Depressed, after being insulted, ignored, or one-upped) Awwww...

Also, he is usually shown to be highly unintelligent when it comes to being a doctor, such as thinking that Amy is the father of Leela's poppler, that humans have multiple mouths, that Fry is a robot, and that humans digest food in their hearts. More so, he often mistakes the human penis for other objects, especially that of Hermes. The closest he has ever been to showing competence in the field of human medical science was in "Parasites Lost", but only because he saw it in a commercial.


While Zoidberg appears in almost every episode/film/comic, only missing the episodes "Space Pilot 3000", "Mars University" and "Brannigan, Begin Again", these categories may be of interest:

Notes and references

  1. ^ Decapodians die upon mating.[2ACV05] One theory suggests that barren females care for the newly hatched young.
  2. ^

    Grrrl: Hello.
    Zoidberg: Of course I'll marry you!
    ["Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences".]

  3. ^ a b c d e Cohen, David. Commentary for "The Series Has Landed" on Volume One, disc 1.
  4. ^ a b Keeler, Ken. Commentary for "Put Your Head on My Shoulders" on Volume Two, disc 2.
  5. ^ a b c Cohen, David. Commentary for "That's Lobstertainment!" on Volume Three, disc 2.
  6. ^ Cohen, David. Commentary for "A Flight to Remember" on Volume One, disc 3.