Today, the world woke up to awful news: Stephen Hawking, the smartest man in the world and one of our planet’s greatest promoters of science, passed away peacefully. While it’s sad news, the fact that he lived to be 76 despite decades with ALS is a testament to his perseverance in life – and that’s what we’d like to celebrate today.
Over his years as arguably the world’s best known scientist, Professor Hawking also became a pop culture icon. He had cameos on multiple TV shows and movies over the course of decades, always showcasing his amazing sense of humor to the world.
Here are our 6 favorite cameos of this superstar physicist!
1. Star Trek: The Next Generation
The cameo that started all other cameos, Professor Hawking obviously had to be part of the Star Trek universe. On season 6, episode 26, he plays poker with Data, Albert Einstein, and Isaac Newton. He even quips about Newton telling “the apple story” again. To this day, Professor Hawking remains the only person to have ever played themselves in Star Trek.
2. Last Week Tonight
Whether or not John Oliver is your cup of tea in terms of talk show hosts, one thing is undeniable: his banter with Professor Hawking was amazing. Oliver interviewed his fellow Englishman in 2014, as part of his “People Who Think Good” section, asking him self-deprecating questions about science. The highlight? When Oliver asked if there was a parallel universe where he was smarter than Hawking, to which the physicist replied: “Yes, and also a universe where you’re funny.”
3. The Simpsons
Professor Hawking first arrived to Springfield on season 10. On the episode, he’s half superstar scientist and half Inspector Gadget, with abilities like a punching glove device and helicopter propellers. Not only does he save Lisa from an angry mob, he also discusses physics with Homer and steals his idea of a donut-shaped universe. Professor Hawking then went on to guest star on The Simpsons three more times.
Guest starring three times, Professor Hawking had people beat up Fry and also wanted him to get shoved into a freezing tube. And of course, there’s that epic Worlds of Tomorrow trailer where he fights the heads of Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye the Science Guy and George Takei.
5. The Big Bang Theory
There’s a pretty good chance the younger crowd knows Professor Hawking best from his multiple cameos in this popular geeky sitcom. Since meeting Sheldon in the fifth season episode “The Hawking Excitation,” he has returned to play Words with Friends and even troll the boys about a published paper.
6. Comic Relief
Last year, the good-humored scientist took part in a short for charity. In the bit, he decides he wants to change his voice after 30 years, and a bunch of celebrities audition to become the new voice of Stephen Hawking. Some of the people competing to become his voice include Liam Neeson, Lin-Manuel Miranda and even Miss Piggy and Siri.
Not quite a cameo, but…
Back in the 90’s, Dexter’s Laboratory gave us our share of geekdom, long before it became cool. While Professor Hawking never actually guest starred on the classic Cartoon Network show, he was honored in an episode called “who doesn’t walk and has a robotic voice. Just another way in which this great mind influenced our culture in his rich life!