The Simpsons included a poignant tribute to Stephen Hawking in the first episode to air since his death last Wednesday.
The astrophysicist had made several cameos in the cartoon, most memorably in 1999 when he appeared in the episode They Saved Lisa’s Brain, piloting a helicopter and jet-powered wheelchair.
At the end of Sunday’s episode, a shot of Hawking flying over Springfield with Lisa Simpson on his lap appeared on screen. It was captioned, “In loving memory of Stephen Hawking”.
The Simpsons’ executive producer Matt Selman posted the image on Twitter:
— Matt Selman (@mattselman) March 19, 2018
Hawking, who died at the age of 76, was a big Simpsons fan, calling it “the best show on American television.” His most famous cameo saw him arrive in Springfield to rescue Lisa from a baying mob, using the helicopter blades concealed in his wheelchair.
He later shares a beer with Homer Simpson, who enjoys hanging out with “Lisa’s robot buddy”.
“His true legacy of meaning and understanding is a little bit coloured by having been in Simpsons colours,” Selman told the BBC.
“I’m immensely proud, he’s a beautiful man and to share in anyway his legacy and to have propagated it is tremendously satisfying.”