The home centers on the Belcher family—Bob, Linda, and their children Tina, Gene, and Louise—who run a hamburger restaurant on Ocean Avenue in an unnamed seaside community (informally known as "Seymour's Bay" among the show's writing staff). While series creator Loren Bouchard has said that the show's location was an indeterminate Northeastern United States shore town, calling the setting a "semi-Springfield", some critics, particularly for the episode "It Snakes a Village", have deduced that the unidentified setting appears to actually be southern New Jersey.
Bob's Burgers is located in a red two-floor building that features an apartment on the second floor where Bob and his family reside. The restaurant is sandwiched between two other commercial buildings, one of which houses It's Your Funeral Home and Crematorium, whose owner Mort is a regular at the restaurant. One of the show's running gags involves the other building, which is usually vacant during episodes but has been home to such businesses as "Uncle Marty's Breast Pumps", "Extra Moist Yoga", "That's A-Door-A-Bell Doorbells", and "Tire-Rhea".
Success is not easy, as Bob must compete with several other eateries for business. His biggest rival is Jimmy Pesto's Pizzeria, which is located right across the street and does far more business than Bob's Burgers does. In addition to their business rivalry, Bob and Jimmy Pesto are unable to stand each other personally. Jimmy particularly enjoys humiliating Bob, such as when he got the high score on an arcade machine Bob had rented and taunted him by putting "BOB SUX" as his initials. The hatred between Bob and Jimmy Pesto is full of humor because, although they dislike each other very much, Bob's daughter Tina and Pesto's son Jimmy Jr have shown to have quite an interest in each other. He is Tina's love interest, although he does not always realize that she loves him. It is occasionally unclear how Jimmy Jr. feels toward Tina. He approves of her erotic friend fiction, starring himself, in "Bad Tina", but tends to forget they are dating in favor of time spent with best friend and wrestling buddy, Zeke, and dancing by himself.
Bob's restaurant also has seen its fair share of bad luck. For example, in the show's opening, the property falls victim to a fire, an infestation of vermin, and a broken front window caused by a car knocking down a utility pole. In spite of all this, Bob does have a small but loyal group of regular customers, including the aforementioned Mort and Teddy, the local handyman.
The Belcher family runs a hamburger restaurant. Bob is the restaurant's owner and husband to the fun-loving and happy-go-lucky Linda. Their three children are Tina, the oldest, Gene, the only boy, and Louise, the youngest. All three kids help out around the restaurant to some extent. Louise is somewhat of a precocious menace and an instigator of many of the debacles that face the Belcher family. Tina is awkward, but full of heart, and muddles her way through her pubescent experiences, such as leg waxing and strong fixations on neighborhood boys. Gene is the more light hearted goofball type and aspires to be a great musician. His musical numbers are often featured throughout the show, though Linda is very musical herself. One of her songs from Episode 5 Season 3, "An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal," gained so much popularity that it was covered by the band The National. Of all the musical numbers throughout the first three seasons however, the show's writer's dub "Electric Love" and the best musical number so far. This song is written by Gene and featured in the episode "Topsy" from season 3.
There are various recurring characters in the series including Jimmy Pesto, Sr., Bob's rival who owns a pizzeria across the street, and his sons Jimmy Jr. (Tina's love interest) and hyperactive twins Andy and Ollie, who are friends of Louise. Other recurring characters include the aforementioned Mort and Teddy, as well as Linda's eccentric sister Gayle, and sometimes-meddling landlord Calvin Fischoeder.
Creator Loren Bouchard said Bob's Burgers came about because Fox's animation brand centers mostly on family, but he also wanted to dabble in workplace comedy. The show has generally been viewed as a spiritual successor to King of the Hill, which carried less emphasis on shock comedy and focused more on character driven humor; Bob's Burgers executive producer Jim Dauterive worked on King of the Hill for nearly its entire run.
Before the show was aired, the team created a proof of concept so Fox Broadcasting Company knew what to expect if they bought the show. Jay Howell had his art featured in a test animation based on Bob forgetting about his and Linda's wedding anniversary. The actual show has never used a word that needed to be censored by the network. The proof of concept eventually turned into the pilot episode. It had the same synopsis as the official pilot (aired in 2011) but had both cosmetic and substantial differences. These included:Cruder animation
Character models having longer noses
Bob wears a white tank top/singlet (in the series he wears a white T-shirt)
The eldest child is male, and called Daniel. In the broadcast pilot, Tina's dialogue is almost the same as Daniel's and the voice characterization by Dan Mintz is the same, despite being changed to a female character.
The intro had slower animation due to budget
Extra dialogue and plot elements were added to the pilot: a scene where the community reacts badly to the restaurant's health safety alert and Bob confronts Hugo about it, and a denouement wrapping up plot elements.
This extra material expanded the running time from thirteen and a half minutes to twenty-one and a half minutes.
The original pilot can be seen on the DVD release of the first season, released on April 17, 2012.
Bob's Burgers first appeared on the development slate at Fox on August 6, 2009. On December 1, 2009, Fox ordered 13 episodes for the first season. On May 17, 2010, Fox placed the series on the primetime slate for the 2010–11 television season. A special preview aired on Thanksgiving on November 25, 2010.
Creator Loren Bouchard serves as the executive producer, alongside developer Jim Dauterive. They have served as executive producers since the first season. Dan Fybel and Rich Rinaldi were promoted to executive producers during season 6.
The team of writers includes Loren Bouchard, Jim Dauterive, Scott Jacobson, Lizzie Molyneux, Wendy Molyneux, Holly Schlesinger, Nora Smith, Steven Davis, Kelvin Yu, Dan Fybel, Rich Rinaldi, Kit Boss, Greg Thompson, Jon Schroeder, and Mike Benner. After the writing has been completed, the voice actors read the script as written, but later are allowed to improvise lines. The editors and director decide what improvised lines make the final cut.
Bob's Burgers has five main cast members: H. Jon Benjamin as Bob Belcher, John Roberts as Linda Belcher, Dan Mintz as Tina Belcher, Eugene Mirman as Gene Belcher, and Kristen Schaal as Louise Belcher.
The components of a burger fall into place on a white screen, and Bob's hands appear underneath to hold it. The other family members appear around him one at a time, beginning with Linda and ending with Louise. Linda puts her arm around Bob, Tina stands there expressionless, Gene plays a sound effect on his keyboard, and Louise poses for the camera. The restaurant then materializes behind them and the neighboring businesses slide into place, with a funeral parlor at screen left, and the street slides into view in front. A "Grand Opening" banner is placed over the door, followed by a series of mishaps. First, the restaurant catches on fire. Then, vermin come running toward the restaurant as an exterminator pulls up in a van. Lastly, a car crashes into the utility pole next to the funeral home, which causes the pole to fall through the front window of the restaurant. A new banner is hung up after each event: "Grand Re-Opening," "Grand Re-Re-Opening," and finally "Grand Re-Re-Re-Opening." The camera then zooms in on the burger Bob is holding, and the view fades in to the start of the episode.
As with other Fox animated series such as Futurama, The Simpsons and American Dad!, the show employs the "changing element" running gag in its opening credits. The gag present on Bob's Burgers involves the store located to the right of the restaurant, which has a new, humorously named client in every episode (such as "Betty's Machetes" in "Purple Rain-Union"). Additionally, beginning with Season 2, the pest control van in the sequence has the name of a different company on each episode; the van read "Rat's all Folks! Exterminators" on all episodes of Season 1. On certain episodes, an element is changed for a special night (a flash frame saying "HAPPY HALLOWEEN" was shown during the title sequence of "Fort Night").
In an article written by the writers of the show ranking the best 10 musical numbers of the first three seasons, it is explained by show creator and theme composer Loren Bouchard that the ukulele track heard in the theme is an edited version of the first recording he did as well as the first take in 2008. Bouchard explains that if the EQ is taken off the original track, there is noise audible from the nightclub below the apartment he was living in when he recorded the theme.
The credits sequence of Bob's Burgers often features the Belcher family at work. The scene is the kitchen of Bob's Burgers drawn with a black outline over a white background and the characters in full color, with the credits off to the right hand side. The sequence consists of Bob cooking a burger and Louise and Tina doing prep. Bob places the burger on the plate for Louise to give to Linda, who takes it from the window, and a few seconds later Gene walks through the kitchen wearing his burger costume.
Although the kitchen scene is still the main closing sequence the show uses, beginning in season two the producers began to use different elements from the show in the credits. Some examples:In "Ear-sy Rider", the kids ride their bikes down a highway.
In "Full Bars", Bob and Linda fool around in the kitchen in their Halloween costumes.
In "An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal", Linda performs a song she came up with for Thanksgiving, and annoys Bob with it while he is trying to work.
In "Broadcast Wagstaff School News", Gene, who was given a makeover to resemble Bob, stands next to Bob at the grill. They shoot each other disapproving looks.
In "O.T.: The Outside Toilet", the family works while Gene hugs the titular toilet.
In "Mother Daughter Laser Razor", Linda and Louise play Lazer Tag and Gene walks through wearing no pants.
In "The Belchies", "Topsy", and "It Snakes a Village", as well as some other episodes, an extended musical ending revisiting a song or sequence from earlier closes the show.
Other times, the scene will play out as usual, but with something from the episode going on in the background, etc. For instance:In "Moody Foodie", deli owner Reggie dances around like Michael Madsen in Reservoir Dogs.
In "Bad Tina" and "Seaplane!", Tina performs actions she imagined herself doing during the course of the episode.
In "Burgerboss", the entire scene is animated to look like a video game.
In "Nude Beach", several customers are nudists from the aforementioned beach.
In "The Equestranauts", Bob works while wearing his Equestranaut costume and Tina plays with one of her Equestranaut toys. The theme song to the fictional TV series that gave the episode its title is played, with everyone except Bob singing along.
In "Best Burger", everybody except Bob has chocolate covering their faces, implying that they all went to the "hot fudge car wash" at the food festival where most of the episode took place.
In "A River Runs Through Bob", Tina performs the Thundergirls anthem and Bob is attacked by squirrels, revisiting elements from earlier in the episode.
In "Broadcast Wagstaff School News", the subplot of the episode involving Gene being made up to look like his father sees Bob and Gene working the grill to each other's annoyance.
In "Dawn of the Peck", Bob sings and dances to Donna Summer's "Love Is In Control" while he works.
Every episode features one or more "Today's Special" burgers on a chalk board on the wall behind the counter. The name of the special is usually a play on words that indicates what comes on the burger (ex.: "It's Fun to Eat at the rYe M C A Burger": Comes with Rye, Mustard, Cheese, and Avocado). Other "Special" burgers are also mentioned by the family without being written on their chalkboard. The joke is often that the play on words is overly complex or obscure.
The first season through the current season of the show are available on the iTunes Store for download. The first 6 seasons are available from Amazon Video. As of April 3, 2016, seasons 1-5 are available on Netflix. Episodes are aired on Hulu for the current season only.
Bob's Burgers initially received mixed reviews for season 1, with a Metacritic score of 54 out of 100. However, by season 2, the ratings had reached a score of 78 out of 100, proving a rise in popularity with praises about its "daffy comedic momentum" and how it is "new and fresh." Rotten Tomatoes gave the first season a 58% from the collective critic feedback, admitting while it has potential, it needs to find its "rhythm." The Washington Post described the show as "pointlessly vulgar and derivatively dull", while Reuters stated that "It's unwise – and unnecessary – to launch an animated sitcom on Fox that appears intent to ape the vulgarity quotient of Family Guy."ww.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE7090FY20110110| title= Bob's Burgers serves up bad first course| last= Goodman| first= Tim| date=January 9, 2011 |agency=Reuters|accessdate=January 14, 2011}}</ref> USA Today stated that "Bob's Burgers isn't very tasty" describing the comedy as just "lop[ing] along, stumbling from one tasteless moment to the next" The New York Times described the show as having "a lackadaisical vibe; its humor, no matter how anarchic, slides by in a deadpan monotone."
However, as the first season progressed and concluded and the second began, critics began giving the series praise. Rowan Kaiser of The A.V. Club has recalled, "...the show was amusing, yes, and there was certainly potential, but it took half a dozen episodes before it really began to meet that potential." Season 2 has a Metacritic score of 78 out 100. The first season is considered by many fans as very rough in comparison to the quality in later seasons.
Entertainment Weekly gave the show an A- grade in its review, remarking that "a comedy this well done is very rare indeed". Ain't It Cool News called Bob's Burgers "perhaps the funniest half-hour currently airing on broadcast TV." In its review, CNN called the show "wickedly funny" and said there are "too many highlights to list here". Speaking about the show during its second season, The A.V. Club reviewer Rowan Kaiser said: "After an uneven start, Bob's Burgers is becoming one of television's best comedies!" Since the debut of season two of the series, the show's positive reception has increased.
The A.V. Club voted Bob's Burgers as the 10th best TV show of 2012, the 3rd best show of 2013, the 20th best show of 2014, and the 35th best show of 2015.
After airing, the show became the highest-rated series premiere of the season and also finished 9th in the ratings for the week it aired. Despite this, the ratings went on a slide with ratings expert Bill Gorman of TV by the Numbers calling it a "toss up" for renewal before the series was renewed for a second season which premiered on March 11, 2012.
Adult Swim acquired the rights to air Bob's Burgers in 2013. Episodes air six nights a week, with a 1:30 am airing on Sunday and 8:30 pm airings Monday through Friday. An additional episode airs every Monday through Thursday at 9:00 pm. Adult Swim currently has rights to all five season of Bob's Burgers and recently began airing the season five episodes on Mondays.
20th Television began distributing Bob's Burgers to local stations in 2015. The syndication package began airing on its affiliates on the weekend of September 19–20, 2015, and two episodes air each weekend.
The series also premiered on September 26, 2016 on TBS and airs Mondays afternoons (along with Family Guy, American Dad!, and The Cleveland Show) and on Friday nights.
On January 6, 2011, some Fatburger locations were re-branded as Bob's Burgers for the day as a promotion. It also offered limited-time offers, such as a free burger giveaway, and a special, "The Thanks a Brunch Burger", on the menu until February 2011. There were also "Bob's Burgers" coupons offered for a free medium Fatburger special. Across the United States, 4 locations were re-branded as Bob's Burgers, in California, New Jersey, Nevada, and Illinois. At least one restaurant location in California continues to use the Bob's Burgers appellation into 2016.
In the Family Guy episode "Space Cadet", the principal shows Peter and Lois a picture of Bob Belcher as a sign that Chris is doing poorly in his Advanced Art class. Peter mutters "I'm very embarrassed", and the principal replies "Yeah, well, someone should be." In "Boopa-dee Bappa-dee", Louise is one of many characters Stewie is turned into by Peter using a remote control. Bob's Burgers is also mentioned on "He's Bla-ack!", as one of the reasons why The Cleveland Show did not succeed.
The season 4 premiere episode of Archer features a crossover where the Belcher family is shown, but Bob is revealed to be Sterling Archer (also voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) in a fugue state. Archer has taken the place of Bob Belcher, with Bob inexplicably missing. The menu board touts the "Thomas Elphinstone Hambledurger, with Manning Coleslaw", a play on amnesiac secret agent Tommy Hambledon, a character in a series of novels by Manning Coles.
"Homerland", the season 25 premiere episode of The Simpsons, features a couch gag in which the Belcher family (skinned yellow according to the standard character coloring of the series) attend a 25th anniversary party in the Simpson family living room with the main characters of their fellow Animation Domination series. Bob made another cameo in the episode "The Girl Code", where a picture of him is shown, and explaining that the restaurant was boycotted by short people due to an offensive Burger of the Day.
Bob makes a cameo appearance in the hour-long Simpsons-Family Guy crossover "The Simpsons Guy". He appears on the same airplane as Homer and Peter in a cutaway about them being a greater team than the Air Force. Peter remarks to Homer that they have to carry Bob, and then Peter points to Cleveland's plane and says "We let that other guy try and look what happened." Cleveland, repeatedly saying "no", crashes in flames. This is a reference to the poor ratings of Bob's Burgers and the cancellation of The Cleveland Show.
In Aqua Teen Hunger Force a character previously known as Dr. Eugene Mirman (obviously played by himself) was renamed to Dr. Gene Belcher in the episode "Hospice". The character's name was revealed on Aqua Teen Hunger Force's creator, Dave Willis' Twitter account two hours before the episode. The character had been introduced in 2006, which was 5 years before Bob's Burgers aired.
Seattle rock band Sleater-Kinney collaborated with Bob's Burgers and its crew for their 2015 single "A New Wave", off of the album No Cities to Love. The resultant music video featured the band, animated in the cartoon's style, performing for the Belcher children in Tina's bedroom.
In 2016, The Bob's Burgers Burger Book, edited by series creator Bouchard, was released. There are 75 burger recipes pulled from the fan-based blog "The Bob's Burger Experiment" based on the Specials of the Day that appear on the chalkboard menu in the show.