One of the world's greatest minds, renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking died Wednesday at the age of 76 and while he leaves behind the legacy of his work which has changed science forever, Hawking may be as well-remembered for his place in pop culture as he is for his scientific pursuits.
Hawking wasn't just a brilliant mind. He was also a pop culture icon all his own with Hawking appearing as himself in shows such as The Big Bang Theory, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Simpsons and Futurama. Hawking even battled Ant-Man star Paul Rudd in an epic game of quantum chess in a promotional video for Caltech's Institute for Quantum Information and Matter, his various appearances giving a human face to serious science. Not only did Hawking bring humor to his appearances, but he also brought science to the common man simply by showing that even the brightest among us could have a sense of humor.
So, as the world remembers Hawking, we're taking a look back at some of his memorable appearances.
Hawking made several appearances as himself on Fox's groundbreaking animated series The Simpsons. One of his most memorable appearances may just be his first one. In Season 10, Hawking appears as himself in the episode "They Saved Lisa's Brain". In the episode, Hawking visits Springfield after it's chapter of Mensa (which includes Lisa Simpsons) took over the town to diasterous results. Hawking arrives to give the town a sharp reality check, even punching Principal Skinner with his chair. Simpsons executive producer Matt Selman remembered Hawking on Twitter today.
Farewell to Stephen Hawking, the most intelligent guest star in the brief history of The Simpsons pic.twitter.com/po3fIHgEdh— Matt Selman (@mattselman) March 14, 2018
"Farewell to Stephen Hawking, the most intelligent guest star in the brief history of The Simpsons," Selman wrote.prevnext
Saddened to hear about Stephen Hawking’s death. :( He was a brilliant person, but also had a good sense of humor. Loved seeing him pop on shows like Futurama and The Simpsons. Descanse en paz. pic.twitter.com/Z7ODHsARj8— David J. Peterson (@Dedalvs) March 14, 2018
In addition to The Simpsons, Hawking also appeared as himself in animated form on Futurama. Hawking appeared on the show two times with his first appearance coming in the 2000 episode "Anthology of Interest" where he plays one of Al Gore's Action Rangers. The Action Rangers were responsible for repairing any tears in the spacetime continuum and, upon Fry discovering one tear, Hawking quickly names it for himself declaring "Who is the Journal of Quantum Physics going to believe?"prevnext
The Big Bang Theory
While part of the fun of Hawking's appearances on The Simpsons and Futurama were him stealing the ideas from not so bright people, Hawking's appearances on The Big Bang Theory drew humor from devastating much smarter characters, such as Sheldon, poking holes in their theories and research and other works. The show's official Twitter paid tribute to Hawking today.
"In loving memory of Stephen Hawking. It was an honor to have him on #TheBigBangTheory. Thank you for inspiring us and the world."prevnext
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Hawking's first appearance on a television series was on Star Trek: The Next Generation and to this day, he remains the only person to play himself anywhere in the Star Trek universe.
In S06E26 of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Data sits down on the holodeck to play poker with Earth’s greatest minds: Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, and Isaac Newton. Hawking is the only actor in the history of Trek to play himself. pic.twitter.com/ToVSkHwkXi— Ted Geoghegan (@tedgeoghegan) March 14, 2018
Hawking appeared the Season 6 finale, "Descent", from 1993 and in the episode, he sits down with Data, Einstein, and Sir Issac Newton to play poker. Hawking ends up winning (by bluffing Einstein). It was no doubt a special appearance for Hawking: the scientists was a real-life Trekkie.prevnext
Action Figure and Video Game
Hawking didn't just appear on The Simpsons, he also had other "appearances" in the fictional Simpsons universe. Hawking had his own action figure based off his appearance in "They Saved Lisa's Brain" -- complete with his boxing glove equipped wheelchair. Hawking also appeared as a limited-time character in The Simpsons' mobile game, "The Simpsons: Tapped Out."prevnext
Stephen Hawking versus Paul Rudd
Perhaps one of the lesser known but still amazing appearances from the renowned scientist, Hawking faced off with Ant-Man star Paul Rudd in a short video promoting Caltech's Institute for Quantum Information and Matter. In the video, Keanu Reeves emails Rudd from 700 years in the future prompting Rudd to end up in a "quantum chess" match against Hawking as a challenge to see who will speak at a prestigous event at Caltech. Rudd thinks his time as Ant-Man in the quantum realm qualifies him to speak at the event and even takes a shot at Rudd saying he will crush him "like an ant man." You can check out the video above.prevnext
Even when he didn't directly appear as himself in programs, Hawking made an impact on entertainment. In 2014, Fantastic Beasts star Eddie Redmayne played Hawking in the biopic The Theory of Everything. Redmayne shared his experience with Hawking on the set of The Theory of Everything during the premiere of that film, recalling how Hawking arrived on set.
With Stephen Hawking's death (Obit: https://t.co/vmLfc6GtYu), we look back on a moment during our Envelope Screening Series chat on "The Theory of Everything" when Eddie Redmayne describes the physicist arriving on set. https://t.co/B6JmJJgfM9 pic.twitter.com/feoU5s5uyt— LAT Entertainment (@latimesent) March 14, 2018
Do you have a favorite Hawking appearance? Let us know in comments below.prev