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Futurama Season 11: Who Voices Nibbler & Why Does He Sound So Familiar?

Contains spoilers for "Futurama" Season 11, Episode 4 — "Parasites Regained"

Nibbler (Frank Welker) has become sort of a guiding beacon for Phillip J. Fry (Billy West) as he navigates his portentous destiny in the far-flung future. Without Fry, the entire future would be toast, and the Nibblonian race has been dedicated to manipulating Fry and Leela (Katey Sagal) until they're in the right place at the right time. He's done battle with the viscous Brain Spawn and is literally instrumental in Fry's being shoved into the future. If Nibbler benefits from his actions through shelter, belly rubs, close companionship with Leela, and other beneficial joys, so be it. As long as he has his friends at his side and the destiny of the world assured, he's willing to do almost anything to keep the order of things intact.

During Season 11, Nibbler finds himself losing his intelligence during "Parasites Lost." The Planet Express gang has to shrink themselves down to do battle with the worms infesting his litter box, which is filled with litter 'from his ancestral pooping grounds.' It turns into a race against time to find out if Nibbler will remain his usual, wise self — or become a feral, nonverbal creature.

It's Frank Welker who gives voice to Nibbler's grandest pronouncements and his softer, more animalistic sounds. For Matt Groening fans, he might sound familiar because, from 1991 on, he occasionally voiced Santa's Little Helper and Snowball II — the family's ubiquitous dog and cat — before leaving the series in 2002 for reasons that still remain mysterious at press time.

But there are dozens of other reasons why Welker sounds so familiar. The veteran voice actor has dozens of other legendary animated animals over the decades, as well as several well-known human characters.

Scooby-Doo Series (1969 onward)

Frank Welker has nearly become synonymous with the voice of Fred Jones, the ascot-sporting leader of the mystery-solving teens in the "Scooby-Doo" series of shows and movies. Welker started voicing Fred in 1969 for "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?" and is still playing the character to this day, having last portrayed him in 2022's "Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo!" He also started regularly playing Scooby-Doo himself in 2002 in the wake of Don Messick's 1997 death. Welker last voiced the character in "Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo!"

Naturally, the actor's longevity is something to marvel at, but it's not something he takes too seriously. "How do I feel about that?" Welker joked to People Magazine in 2018. "I would have to say 'very old.'" He explained to the magazine that he got the gig after meeting a casting director while doing work for a commercial and added that he and Casey Kasem, who played Norville "Shaggy" Rogers for many "Scooby-Doo"-related projects until his own retirement and passing, initially wanted to play each other's roles.

And as for Fred's dulcet tones? "How I came up with [Fred's] voice was, basically it's my own voice with maybe five cups of coffee," Welker said.

Welker is also the voice behind dozens of other Hanna-Barbera characters, including Dynomutt, Yakky Doodle, and Jabberjaw. He took over as the primary voice actor for Barney Rubble of "The Flintstones" in the 1990s, and has voiced non-humanoid characters such as Bandit in "Jonny Quest" and Orbitty in "The Jetsons." He's gone on to revisit some of his most famous Warner Bros. characters in "Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law" and "Family Guy," and played Fred's father, William Jones, in "Velma."

Numerous Saturday morning cartoons (1970 onward)

Frank Welker has an extensive list of Saturday morning cartoon credentials. He was the primary voice of Hefty Smurf in "The Smurfs" during both the show's initial run and over the course of its lifetime. Hefty, naturally, is the most physically strong of the Smurfs. He can often be seen lifting weights, and his temper sometimes gets the best of him, though it somehow aids his feats of daring. That's also him taking over for Dan Aykroyd as the scientifically-minded Ray Stantz in "The Real Ghostbusters" and originating the voice of Slimer on the same show.

In an interview conducted with Transformers World, Welker admitted that Slimer is one of his favorite characters to voice, though picking an absolute favorite among his many roles seemed to be an impossible task for him. "That would be like asking who is the best kisser in front of your wife, [ex-wives], and girlfriends...they were all good but it's usually the one you are with at the time," he explained.

More of Welker's Saturday morning cartoon credentials include Dr. Claw and Brain in "Inspector Gadget," Torch in "G.I. Joe," Bigtime and Baggie Beagle in "DuckTales," Baby Kermit, Skeeter and Beaker in "Muppet Babies," Gogo Dodo in "Tiny Toon Adventures," and Ralph the Security Guard, Thaddeus Plotz, Runt and Flavio Hippo in "Animaniacs" and its sequel series.

Transformers (1984 onward)

Any tour of the actor's storied career wouldn't be complete without mentioning the fact that Frank Welker has voiced a staggering number of characters from "Transformers."  Welker spoke for 20 different characters during the original show's lifespan, including 14 of the show's Decepticons. Most prominently, he voiced Megatron (eventually Galvatron) and Soundwave. He also played Megatron on "Transformers Prime" and "Transformers Universe," and Soundwave on "Transformers: Robots in Disguise." Across the entire franchise, he's voiced 50 unique characters overall.

While Welker initially wasn't brought back to take part in the "Transformers" series of live-action films, he returned to the fold as Soundwave and Megatron for "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen."  He has since played both characters in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," "Transformers: Age of Extinction," and "Transformers: The Last Knight."

Welker admitted to MTV News in 2011 that he has modified Megatron's voice over time for different iterations of the character, at least to save his voice from his character's scratchy tones. "I can get down into the lower registers and different qualities and still maintain some of the high, scratchy stuff when I want to. It gives me a much bigger palette to play with, and as an actor that is a lot of fun," he said, explaining his acting choices in "Transformers Prime."

Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro - English Dub - 1988)

Frank Welker also brings Totoro and Catbus to life in the English dub of "My Neighbor Totoro." The film focuses on the young Kusakabe sisters, who have moved with their professor father and mother to a new home for a fresh start as their mom recovers from a long illness. There, the girls make friends with their new home's spirits, including Totoro. Welker explained to Coming Soon in 2021 that he found out about the anime through a friend of his niece. He was inspired to take a look into the story and was moved by the manga years before the anime sprung to life.

"[W]hen the folks at Disney asked me to do the role I was at their door before the light went out. I loved the subtlety of this gentle giant forest creature. I really got into it and the recording was done against picture ADR, which means I was watching Totoro and just became one with him," Welker explained. He admitted that he thought the story sounded a little wild, but he truly found common ground with the large, fuzzy creature. "I loved getting lost in the forest and spending time with Totoro. Now the Catbus, that was more typical of the crazy things I do all the time ... but Totoro ... he was a deep and truly joyful spirit."

The number of non-verbal animal characters he's given voice to is astronomical — Welker has been brought in to neigh and bark for many animal sidekicks in Disney's roster, including Max in "The Little Mermaid," Bullseye in the "Toy Story" series, and Abu in "Aladdin."

Garfield Franchise (1988 onward)

The reason why Frank Welker took on the duties of voicing Garfield the cat is a sad one. After Bill Murray chose to depart the role after the second "Garfield" hybrid live-action film, Welker was selected to replace Lorenzo Music, a friend of his, when Music passed away in 2001. Starting with "Garfield Gets Real" in 2007, Welker has continuously voiced everyone's favorite plump feline in several more direct-to-DVD films and then in "The Garfield Show," which aired on the Cartoon Network from 2009 to 2012, then for two seasons more seasons on its sister network, Boomerang, starting in 2017. 

Welker has a fondness for Garfield's laid-back attitude. "Garfield's such a fun character to do because it's so laid back. It's just like, [in Garfield's voice] "I gotta take a nap before I eat so I can sleep," he told MTV News in 2011. He added that he felt as if Garfield sat directly in the middle of a moral scale weighed by two extremes — the innate kindness of Curious George and the egotistical evil of Megatron. 

This isn't the first time Welker has been involved with the "Garfield" franchise; he voiced Booker the chick, Bo the sheep, and Sheldon the egg for the "U.S. Acres" segments on "Garfield and Friends" during the 1980s. According to a 2022 blog post from casting director Mark Evanier, Jim Davis, creator of the "Garfield" newspaper strip, helped select Welker for the roles.

Curious George (2006 onward)

One of the most recent roles Frank Welker has added to his voice acting repertoire is that of the chatty, messy, but always well-meaning little monkey, Curious George. Welker has been voicing the animated simian's antics ever since 2006, and he also voiced George in the feature film version in the same year.

Welker told Coming Soon that while voicing George, he tries to leaven any sense of George's anthropomorphic nature by making sure the little monkey stays a little monkey. "My tendency is to get lost in the character and just do what feels natural (as in the original feature) but now we have the team to change what they feel may be getting to close to George speaking English," he explained.

After so many years in the voice acting business, Frank Welker has proclaimed himself a lucky man — and someone who is proud of his long-lasting career. But he still thinks the best part about voice acting involves getting to bounce off of one's fellow actors.

"As far as characters in animation, I think it's fun to do talking characters and play with other actors," Welker told the Chicago Tribune in 2006. "It's just having a range in acting, you need to do everything and as a voice actor you can be as old as you want and play it serious or you can be a silly goofy. It's just wonderful, and there's no limits except for the people around you." 

With 50-plus years of voice acting experience behind him, and generations of kids who raised on his prodigious talents, limitless is exactly what Frank Welker's career has turned out to be.