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In Futurama, How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back (season 2, episode 15), Bender loses his brain (which looks like a floppy disk), causing him to repeatedly say:

Bender: I am Bender. Please insert girder.

I'm a little confused, since the definition of "girder" is:

girder: A beam, as of steel, wood, or reinforced concrete, used as a main horizontal support in a building or bridge.

Yet Bender seems to be referring to his brain (or something similar). It's not clear how one could insert a girder into Bender.

Question: Why does Bender say "Please insert girder"?

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    Incidentally, it may be worth noting that the name "Bender" is, at least in English, itself a play on words, since it may refer to a literal device that bends metal (the purpose for which Bender was built), or a headache induced by having consumed too much intoxicant (typically alcohol).
    – supercat
    May 23 at 21:34
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    @supercat: Where I come from a "bender" is a drunken episode or escapade - if someone is reported to have gone on a bender it means they've gone away for a while to get very intoxicated and quite possibly getting in trouble...
    – psmears
    May 24 at 10:48
  • @psmears: Yeah, that's probably more accurate. I'm not one to engage in such conduct myself, but the key point is the relationship to alcohol.
    – supercat
    May 24 at 13:44

2 Answers 2

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Bending girders is what Bender was built for - and when his personality was removed, he defaulted to his original programming.

If you notice he (almost) always has his arms out when asking to "please insert girder". He's simply asking that someone place a girder into his hands for him to bend. The phrasing is simple and mechanistic - demonstrating his lack of personality.

It's likely that the specific phrase was hit on by the writers when putting together the musical number (to fit in with the rhythm of the song), and they ended up using it throughout to show how void of personality Bender is.

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    Might indeed be a song thing. While it's been like 20 years, I'm pretty confident in the German version he actually states "Ich bin Bender. Bitte Diskette einlegen." specifically asking for the floppy, not a "Stahlträger", which would have been far too long (pun intended).
    – Mario
    May 22 at 5:30
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    @Mario, the same in the Italian dub, even if the Italian word "trave" would have fit (but the Italian dub made a lot of "questionable" choices... the list is too long... longer than a grider ;) ) May 22 at 11:42
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    Also an element of absurdity there as well - while anyone could easily hold a floppy disk, a girder, even a short one, is ridiculously heavy, and not something you'd simply pick up and hand to someone. (Unless you were a another robot maybe?) May 23 at 14:32
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    See the first 5 seconds of this clip, a bender bending girders as demonstrated by Flexo: youtube.com/watch?v=pzasKNhD2iI
    – Ben
    May 23 at 16:03
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    Incidentally, this line cracks me up so much every time I hear it. I just re-listened to the song and still cracked up. I'm actually not sure if they just picked it to finish the couplet. The line it rhymes with ("they poo-pooed my electric frankfurter") is so absurd that I'm guessing it's the shoe-horned line, and "I am Bender please insert girder" is the punchline they worked back from.
    – yshavit
    May 24 at 3:26
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To extend HorusKol's answer, the phrase is also riffing on many variations of

Please insert disk

that a computer might display when initially starting up. Bender is simply substituting Girder for Disk.
OK it's not quite the same because the girder is raw material not a storage medium, but there are obvious parallels, enough to be funny.

Example 1: an error requesting another disk
enter image description here

Example 2: from the Amiga - its a visual request to "insert a disk" enter image description here

Example 3: okay its a bit more wordy enter image description here

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