|Planet of origin||Earth|
|Profession||Captain of the DOOP starship Nimbus and high ranking general.|
|First appearance||"Love's Labours Lost in Space" (1ACV04)|
|Voiced by||Billy West|
Although he claims to be a strategic genius, Zapp Brannigan is actually an imbecile and a coward whose plans could have easily been conjured up by a child. Zapp is inexplicably well-respected throughout the universe, appearing as a Miss Universe Judge [2ACV06] and often (ineffectively) defending Earth from attacks. Due to his stupidity and incompetence, most battles Zapp leads are lost; however, sometimes the army is lucky. Zapp doesn't care about casualties and cheerfully sends wave after wave of his own men to die in battle. [1ACV04] (This is most likely based on the idea that one can send more and more people to someone with a gun until it runs out of bullets.) He also apparently suffers from a learning disorder that he calls sexlexia, which is a disturbingly erotic disorder, [2ACV17] though this may simply have been a pick-up line. The central law of DOOP, Brannigan's Law, is named after him. [1ACV04] All this aside, he actually seemed happy for Kif after Kif had just given birth. [4ACV01]
Contrary to his robust self image, the real Zapp Brannigan has a prominent beer belly and wears a blonde toupée to hide that he is, in fact, bald. [4ACV01] His specially designed DOOP uniform includes a revealing kilt.
Zapp Brannigan is hardly ever seen without his second in command, Kif Kroker. Zapp and Kif have a tough time working together and Zapp treats Kif like a slave, making his job the second most humiliating job there is. For example one of the jobs Zapp makes Kif do is shaving his armpit while he was bathing. Even though he treats Kif badly, he always gives advice, usually bad advice, to Kif whenever he needs it; he calls Kif his best and most loyal friend.
On their first meeting, Zapp successfully seduced Leela into sleeping with him out of pity. After that fateful night in Zapp's Lovenasium, Leela ended the relationship and chose saving Nibbler over getting back with Zapp and being rescued. Zapp keeps trying to get together with Leela and sometimes even mentioned what happened between them in court. However, she invariably turns him away, sometimes even going to elaborate claims that she has a fiancé. At the battle of Spheron 1, Zapp was attracted to new male recruit Lee Lemon and feared he might be gay and was relieved to find out that it was actually Leela.
Only once was Zapp's incompetence shown to have personal repercussions: when he blew up DOOP's new headquarters with the Nimbus' hyperdeath laser. This led to him and Kif being discharged from the DOOP after a court-martial. The two were employed by The Professor to work at Planet Express, which led to Zapp convincing Bender and Fry to mutiny against Leela. Subsequently, he tried to pilot the Planet Express Ship into the Neutral President's home but used this incident to get himself and Kif reinstated in the DOOP. Leela, who had thwarted the plot, corroborated Brannigan's story and claims of heroism to ensure he left Planet Express.
Brannigan also served a short tenure as honorary captain of the ill-fated intergalactic cruise ship Titanic, which he piloted into a black hole on its maiden voyage.
- Zapp has at least three children, born to Holo-Shed characters who became real. [4ACV01]
- Was "host" to a dozen or so Da Nangian spawn. The children were presumably eaten by Zoidberg. [US#004]
Commendations and Accomplishments
- Defeated an army of Killbots by sacrificing his troops until the bots' pre-set "Kill limit" was reached.
- Rented self a medal after leading a successful assault on the Spiderian home world Tarantulon 6.
- Led DOOP to victory over the peaceful Ball-People of planet Spheron 1.
- Single-handedly defeated the Retiree People of the Assisted Living Nebula.
- Annihilated the Pacifists of the Gandhi Nebula.
- Conducted a triumphant carpet bombing on Eden 7.
- Authored Zapp Brannigan's Big Book of War, which is likely a plagiarized version of Sun Tzu's The Art of War.
- Sponsored "Brown Out".
Zapp is clearly a parody of classic Sci-Fi captains, specifically Captain James T. Kirk from Star Trek, with further inspiration drawn from Flash Gordon. His name is possibly a reference to Zaphod Beeblebrox from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy science fiction comedy media franchise, as is parts of his wit and humour, and both characters call themselves "The Big Z". There is a more than passing resemblance to Magnus, Robot Fighter, who also wears a red uniform featuring a skirt and dwells in the future, the year 4000.
The voice acting was originally scheduled for Phil Hartman, who also voiced Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz on The Simpsons. But due to Hartman's death in 1998, the voice acting was given to Billy West. As a tribute, the makers of The Simpsons dedicated an episode to him and retired his characters. On Futurama, Philip J. Fry was named in his honor.
Billy West has stated that Zapp Brannigan is how he envisions Captain Kirk playing William Shatner. West also based the voice on certain radio announcers he's heard who love the sound of their own voice and often enunciate ending consonants.
- Zapp Brannigan is one of the few non-primary characters who appear in every film.
- Zapp is featured on one of the discs of The Complete Collection 1999-2009.
- In the commentary for "When Aliens Attack", it is speculated that Zapp got promoted from Captain to 25-star General sometime since we last saw him. [1ACV10] However, it is common for the person in command of a ship to be called "Captain" regardless of their actual rank.
- Wears a girdle. [2ACV02]
- Was charged for blowing up DOOP headquarters. [2ACV02]
- Is apparently known as "The Velour Fog". [3ACV01]
- Is, besides Fry, the only known person to have had sex with both Leela [1ACV04] and Amy. [TBwaBB]
- Was crushed while riding in an army tank with Kif, trying to destroy a giant version of Bender. [2ACV16]
- In The Simpsons Game, a wanted poster for Zapp appears in the Springfield police station.
- Claims to be "Commodore 64 Zapp Brannigan" in Into the Wild Green Yonder which is possibly a reference to the "Captain Zzap" Commodore 64 game which appears to be a re-branding of a Flash Gordon game on the same console.
Zapp: [saluting] Mr. President, what the hell?
Zapp: Well, well, well...
Zapp: Leela! So it's you I've been attracted to. Oh God, I've never been so happy to be beaten up by a woman.
Leela: Let's do it again sometime.
Richard Nixon: My God, cover yourself. I didn't live a thousand years and travel a quadrillion miles to look at another man's gizmo.
Zapp: Sorry, Mr. President, I didn't realise. Kif; raise him up about nipple high.
Zapp: Now, like all great plans, my strategy is so simple an idiot could have devised it.
Zapp: Brannigan's law is like Brannigan's love: hard and fast.
Zapp: If we can hit that bullseye the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards: checkmate!
Zapp: I am the man with no name. Zapp Brannigan at your service.
Zapp: Captain's log. Stardate: The Year of the Tiger. The battle has been bravely fought, and the suffering of our troops, beyond measure. But the alien is invulnerable, and our defeat: inevitable. That much is certain, even from my remote command post here at the Times Square Applebee's.
Zapp: What an erotic display of girl-on-girl consolation!
Zapp: Now remember, Kif, the quickest way to a girl's bed is through her parents. Have sex with them and you're in.
Zapp: I surrender and volunteer for treason.
Zapp: She's built like a steakhouse but she handles like a bistro.
Zapp: Stop exploding you cowards!!
[Being sentenced to death by snu-snu (sex.)]
Zapp: What are you? Gay?
Zapp: What the hell is that thing!?
Kif: It appears to be the mothership!
Zapp: Then what did we just blow up!?
Kif: [Checks on a map.] The Hubble Telescope.
Zapp: When I'm in command, every mission is a suicide-mission.
Zapp: It's a desolate, ugly little planet with absolutely no natural resources or strategic value. Questions?
Soldier: Why is this godforsaken planet worth dying for?
Zapp: Don't ask me, you're the one who's going to be dying.
Zapp: In the game of chess, never let your adversary see your pieces.
Zapp: My God, we're defenseless... like fish in a barrel!
Richard Nixon's head: Options?
Zapp: My instinct is to hide in this barrel like the wily fish.
Zapp: The Spiderians, though weak and woman-like on the battlefield, are masters of the textile arts.
Zapp occasionally mispronounces words, saying them the way they are spelt. Some examples include:
- Champagne - Champ-paggin' [1ACV04]
- Without further ado - Without further adieu [1ACV10]
- Guacamole - Go-awk-a-mole [2ACV15]
- Bravo - Bray-vo [4ACV18]
- Encore - Enn-core [4ACV18]
- Quesadilla - Kay-sa-dill-a [TBwaBB]
- Grand finale - Grand finally [ItWGY]
- Syllable - Sill-ah-bull [ItWGY]
- Coup - Coop [7ACV05]
- Parmesan - Par-mee-zee-en [7ACV05]
There are three exceptions: he doesn't have any trouble with "chutzpah," "karaoke," or "au naturel". Zapp often mentions velour (apparently his favorite material).
Also, when he sings his butchered version of the song "Lola," he properly pronounces the word "champagne", though it is long after Leela corrects his pronunciation of it during his seduction of her.
When mocking this trait, Leela pronounces "connoisseur" as "coin-a-sewer".