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Why Futurama's Dr. Ben Beeler Is More Important Than You Might Think

"Futurama" may follow the exploits of the Planet Express Crew, but that doesn't mean they're the only characters with a lasting presence in the sci-fi comedy. Fans who pay even the slightest bit of attention will notice that certain characters and character designs make recurring appearances throughout the series, either as minor side characters or background figures. These range from named characters like Hattie McDoogal, the old lady with a penchant for screaming the phrase "my kajigger!," to unnamed nobodies like the teenage robot with light-up acne.

Most of these characters, whether they have a named role or not, aren't exceptionally important to the series. However, this is not the case for one background character in particular: Dr. Ben Beeler. Though fans may not know him by name, they will definitely remember him as the round-spectacled scientist who gives Fry his dead dog back in "Jurassic Bark" (among numerous other appearances). While his presence may seem easily written off at first, there is a reason that he should be considered more important than your run-of-the-mill background character.

Ben Beeler is a reference to one of the show's writers

"Futurama" fans with sharp ears will notice how familiar Ben Beeler's name sounds. That's because it's a simple play on the name of one of the show's senior writers and executive producers, Ken Keeler. Keeler has been around since before the start of "Futurama" as a writer for Matt Groening's other popular show, "The Simpsons." Holding a Ph.D. in applied mathematics (via APS News), Keeler was an almost perfect fit for the science and math-focused series. He was the writer who developed the famous "Futurama Theorem," which is a legit mathematical theorem created solely for the episode "The Prisoner of Benda" (via Mathematical Association of America).

Keeler also happens to be the writer with the second-highest number of acting credits for the show. For his efforts, he has won two Writers Guild of America Awards for writing the episodes "Godfellas" and "The Prisoner of Benda," as well as five Primetime Emmys (via IMDb). Keeler bears almost no resemblance to his stereotypical-nerdy cartoon counterpart. While this is fortunate for him, it is unfortunate for "Futurama" fans who probably would not be able to make the connection if it weren't for their nearly-identical names.