Doctor John Zoidberg is a lobster-like alien, Decapodian, in the television series Futurama. He works as the doctor for Planet Express. He's poor and always hungry. He is often treated like an annoying pet, frequently being found in Professor Farnsworth's inventions and subsequently shooed away with a broom. Possibly because of this, Zoidberg is the only known person to have received a present from the Santa Claus Robot, whose moral standards are set unreasonably high.
Zoidberg is the nephew of Harold Zoid, the famous silent-hologram star. Zoid's name is almost certainly a reference to silent film star Harold Lloyd. Zoidberg also has a cousin named Zoidfarb.
Though technically a doctor of human medicine, his knowledge of human anatomy is very poor, including occasionally mistaking non-human creatures for humans. He is routinely confused by the "strange" features of humans, such as their skeletal system. When he performs operations on the staff, he usually messes up spectacularly, such as by attaching a limb in the wrong place.
The Doctor has a serious desire for attention, friendship, and a little TLC. He frequently rejoices when these desires fulfilled to the slightest degree, but is nearly always let down.
Zoidberg is an unmissable target for jokes, a fact of which he is usually all too aware. Sometimes, however, he completely misses the point of the insult aimed at him, instead taking it as a compliment, which contributes to the comedy of the situation in no small way.
Dr. Zoidberg's eating habits are worthy of mention; he has been known to eat nearly anything possessing at least a percentage of organic material, and some things that don't.
In a twist of humor, Dr. Zoidberg speaks English with a pseudo-Yiddish accent, and has been seen wearing T-shirts with Hebrew lettering on them. These circumstances suggest that his character was designed to be reminiscent of Ashkenazi Jewish people. Additionally, surnames ending in "berg" are often considered stereotypically Jewish. But Zoidberg is a crustacean being, and crustaceans are not deemed kosher. For those viewers who understand the religious doctrine of Judaism, these circumstances serve to add an additional layer of humor to Dr. Zoidberg's character. Further, the other "Decapodians" seen on the show, such as Zoidberg's Uncle Harold, speak with very heavy Yiddish-accents. He also makes the trademark sound of the Three Stooges ("Woo woo woo woo woo!") when running away from trouble (sometimes after squirting ink).
Doctor Zoidberg's race, the Decapodians, come from Decopod 10. This name is a pun on the fact that lobsters and crayfish are scientifically reffered to as decapods (10-legged). The "apology dance" is used by the Decapodians to ask for forgiveness. Zoidberg tried to teach this dance to Fry in the episode "Xmas Story", but Fry was uninterested. The anchovy disappeared from Earth around the time in which the Decopodians first came to Earth; Zoidberg admits in A Fishful of Dollars that his race ate nearly all of them.
Zoidberg at one point actually owned a major interest in the Planet Express company's stock. The company is very unsuccessful financially, and its stock was long all but worthless. The way Zoidberg acquired his large stock holdings is that at some point (offscreen) he is in need of a large supply of toilet paper, so Hermes Conrad just gave him large numbers of stock share certificates, as they were worth less than toilet paper at the time anyway. This would come back to haunt Hermes when Planet Express briefly became very successful....
Most of the above character traits for Zoidberg didn't really manifest themselves until season two. As the Futurama writers themselves have noted, his initial and sole humorous character trait in season one was a dangerous lack of knowledge concerning human anatomy. The DVD commentary reveals the character was created after considering how Spock from Star Trek might feel about being treated by a doctor of a completely different race, like Dr. McCoy.
Whilst he has appeared in most episodes, particular Zoidberg-centralized ones are: Why Must I Be A Crustacean in Love?, That's Lobstertainment!, and A Taste of Freedom.
Zoidberg is voiced by Billy West.
- Dr. Zoidberg's page (http://www.gotfuturama.com/Information/Encyc-9-Zoidberg/) in the Futurama Encyclopedia