One thing we know already is that despite being an eminent scientist respected the world over, Hawking doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s not only educated; he’s entertained. In fact, one of our country’s most famous scientific exports has become a pop culture icon. Here are some of his greatest screen appearances – both in the flesh and as a cartoon.
While many of the world’s biggest stars have voiced their delight at guest-starring in a single episode of The Simpsons, Hawking has appeared four times so far (in the episodes They Saved Lisa’s Brain, Don’t Fear The Roofer, Stop Or My Dog Will Shoot and Elementary School Musical). In his first appearance, he offers sage advice to Lisa:
“Don’t worry Lisa, sometimes even the smartest among us are the most childish”
It’s no surprise that Futurama – a show jam-packed with nerdy jokes – features the planet’s most famous scientist. Hawking teams up with renegades such as Al Gore, and lends his voice to a ruthless version of himself who’s willing to take the credit for every scientific achievement possible.
“Are you the guy who invented gravity?” Fry asks.
“Yeah sure, why not.”
Here’s a compilation of his finest Simpsons and Futurama moments:
For this year’s Comic Relief, the physicist usurped Matt Lucas as David Walliams’ ostensibly wheelchair-bound friend for a one-off sketch. It showcased his comic timing, as well as the capacity to transform into a murderous mechanical robot.
Big Bang Theory
Another show, another deadpan put-down from Hawking. He appeared in the hugely popular US sitcom when super-geek Sheldon Cooper was given the chance to meet him. He promptly corrects Sheldon’s arithmetic, rendering all his research useless.
Last year Hawking made a surprise appearance in Monty Python’s live shows. Once again, he revealed his mischievous side as he ominously sped onto screen and bowled over Brian Cox (literally) before enthusiastically giving a rendition of The Galaxy Song.
(Skip to 2 mins 55 seconds in, or enjoy Eric Idle as a warm-up act:)
Late Night with Conan O’Brien
In one of history’s greatest meetings of minds, Stephen Hawking rang Jim Carrey to discuss the revolutionary ekpyrotic theory of the universe on Conan O’Brien’s chat show. Truly the stuff of scientific folklore.