Fox Made Bob's Burgers Swap The Gender Of A Fan-Favorite Belcher Family Member

Most animated shows have a general idea of what their characters are going to be when they start casting, but in the case of the Fox family sitcom "Bob's Burgers," they actually worked in reverse. The series went backwards by starting with a cast in mind and then created the Belcher family inspired by the cast and their specific talents. It's a pretty unique way to create a television show, but it worked great because the voice actors each bring so much to the table that the show actually uses a mixture of written script and improv to bring the Belchers to life, something very few animated shows would ever even attempt. 

H. Jon Benjamin is perfect as the family's fumbling but loving patriarch, Bob, while John Roberts somehow manages to change his voice to the perfect pitch for Bob's wine-chugging, song-singing wife Linda. It's not super unusual for voice actors to voice characters of different genders (Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson, for example), so Roberts voicing Linda isn't too strange. 

What is a bit unusual, however, is that one of the Belcher kids had their gender changed after the fact. In an interview with It's Nice That, series creator Loren Bouchard revealed the origins of one of the show's most beloved characters, from picking a voice actor to designing the character to ultimately switching their gender. Much like deciding to cast first, the gender swap was a bit of genius, creating not just one of the best characters on the show but in all of animated comedy history.  

Ummm... uhhh... it's Tina!

In the interview, Bouchard explained that he had ideas about who the characters would be based upon their voice actors, but that Fox execs made some notes that led to Dan Mintz being the voice of the Tina Belcher we all now know and love:

"I've worked with Jon Benjamin who plays Bob for over 20 years. I've only ever done shows with Jon in them, I don't even want to know what it's like to do a show without him. I knew I wanted him as the dad and we built the family around him. I knew that John Roberts, who plays Linda, could do that voice, and that Kristen Schaal should be Louise. I've always wanted to work with her, I knew she would be an incredible little girl. Eugene Mirman, the voice of Gene, is an actor who again I've been working with for a long time, I knew he would be great. The only person I didn't know was Dan Mintz. Jon Benjamin recommended him, saying, 'you've really got to hear this guys voice, it's so funny,' and we cast him as Tina. Although originally we cast him as a boy, it was only after the pilot episode and Fox's feedback that we realized the character wasn't quite there. So we kept the voice and actor, but changed the gender. He was thrilled!"

Tina is a 13-year-old girl who loves horses and writing fanfiction about her friends, and there's something extra hilarious about her having the voice of an adult man that hasn't really been modified at all. It's deep, it's awkward, and it's perfect. 

How a voice shaped a character

Changing Tina's gender without changing her voice at all made the character more unique and also helped highlight her awkwardness. Both of her siblings have higher-pitched voices (as does her mother), while Benjamin has a smooth, deep register that also helped him voice international superspy Sterling Archer on FX's "Archer." So it makes sense that at least one of the Belcher siblings would have a deeper voice. Tina's voice impacted the character because it really sets her apart from other teenage girls in animated comedies, who are usually either bubbly or sarcastic. Instead Tina is sort of a mumbling, grumbling mess who just wants to be left alone to think about butts. Girl, same. 

Looking for more Tina to love? Then check out our list of the 12 best Tina episodes of "Bob's Burgers"! (Hint: the incredible "Vampire Disco Death Dance" made the cut, so check it out.)