MANILA, Philippines – Stephen Hawking, who died on Wednesday, March 14, was not just a physicist who changed the way we saw the universe. He was also a pop culture icon who became part of countless TV shows, films, and songs that either referenced him, were inspired by him, or actually featured him.
Who could forget Eddie Redmayne playing Hawking in an Oscar-winning performance in The Theory of Everything? Or Hawking’s distinctive voice opening Pink Floyd’s trippy track “Keep Talking” with a spoken nugget of scientific wisdom?
But perhaps Hawking’s most memorable pop culture moments are his TV cameos – both in live action and animated form – when he lit up the screen with his signature voice, his dry wit, and his indomitable spirit.
Hawking appeared on several episodes of the animated sitcom, and his wry humor seemed to be a perfect match for the satirical show. His first appearance was in the show’s 10th season in 1999, in an episode called “They Saved Lisa’s Brain.” In the episode, he admonishes the bickering Springfield Mensa group that Lisa has become a part of, and takes her away from them with his flying wheelchair. The episode ends with Hawking having a beer with Homer (who of course has no idea who he is), saying “your theory of a donut-shaped universe is intriguing, Homer. I may have to steal it.”
Star Trek : The Next Generation
Hawking was a fan of Star Trek, and had been interested in appearing on the show. Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock, learned of this and made it happen so that Hawking opens an episode in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s 6th season. In the episode, called “Descent, Part 1” Hawking plays poker with Starship Enterprise Lieutenant Commander Data, as well as some other brilliant minds in physics: Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton.
The Big Bang Theory
The Big Bang Theory is a show that revolves around the lives of 4 nerdy scientists – 3 of whom are physicists – so of course it had to have several appearances by Hawking. His first appearance on the show takes place in the episode “The Hawking Excitation,” where he read a paper by the socially awkward Sheldon Cooper, who idolizes him. Hawking then points out a math error that Sheldon made in the paper, causing him to faint.
Hawking – in cartoon form – appeared on Futurama several times, starting with the episode “Anthology of Interest I.” In the episode, he plays a version of himself who is tasked to protect the space-time continuum. He also casually takes credit for “inventing gravity,” taking a dig at how some scientists take credit for groundbreaking discoveries that aren’t theirs.
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
One of Hawking’s last ever cameos is in BBC Radio 4’s adaptation of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In the episode of the sci-fi radio series, Hawkings plays the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Mark II, an all-knowing being that some might call god.
“I have been quite popular in my time,” Hawkings said in the episode. – Rappler.com