Top 10 Unforgettable Stephen Hawking Cameos in Pop Culture

VOICE OVER: Ashley Bowman
Renowned scientist Stephen Hawking passed away March 14, 2018. But before Stephen Hawking died, he not only made some incredible scientific breakthroughs; there are also many hilarious Stephen Hawking cameos to remember him by. Whether he was support Monty Python, speaking to John Oliver or playing poker on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Stephen Hawking was a fabulous ambassador for science.

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Top 10 Unforgettable Stephen Hawking Cameos in Pop Culture

He reminded us “to look up at the stars” – and he was quite the star himself. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Stephen Hawking Cameos in Pop Culture.

For this list, we’re scouring the worlds of film, television, music and more to find the most hilarious appearances made by this brilliant theoretical physicist during his remarkable lifetime.

#10: “Monty Python Live (Mostly)” (2014)

Few groups know comedy as well as Monty Python, so for their 2014 reunion shows at the O2 arena, they tapped the best in British wit: theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and particle physicist Brian Cox. Wait, what? Oh, they were there to talk about the scientific validity of the Pythons’ “Galaxy Song”? Gotcha. And if you’ve ever doubted Hawking’s comedic timing, just wait till he runs Cox down and sings the song himself. Hawking jumped at the chance to participate in this event, as he was a huge fan of Python and – obviously – the galaxy. The result is an unexpected delight.

#9: “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” (1993-2009)

You know you’re a talent when you can upstage Jim Carrey. Appearing alongside Carrey on Conan’s first late night show, Stephen Hawking once again proved that his genius encompasses all things, including comedy. Steve calls Jim up to talk shop about the ekpyrotic universe theory, and insults the intelligence of the audience in the process. The back and forth between Carrey and Hawking is filled with great moments, especially when Hawking says he has to cut the call short to watch the rest of “Dumb and Dumber.” Hey, even theoretical physicists need to unwind sometimes.

#8: Pink Floyd’s “Keep Talking” (1994) & “Talkin’ Hawkin’” (2014)

Stephen Hawking… rock star? Stranger things have happened. In the early-‘90s, Hawking appeared in an ad for British Telecom, in which he espoused the virtues of communication, explaining the achievements in human history that have been made possible by talking and implying that discussion can solve any problem. This ad moved Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour to tears, and inspired him to sample Hawking’s voice and message on the 1994 album “The Division Bell,” for the track “Keep Talking.” This poignant message resonated with Gilmour so much; he revisited the same sample again 20 years later on “The Endless River”’s “Talkin’ Hawkin’.”

#7: “Stephen Hawking’s New Voice” (2017)

Professor Hawking had one of the most unique and recognizable voices in the world… sorta. Well, it wasn’t actually his voice, but that computerized voice box is familiar to millions. Even so, in this 2017 Red Nose Day sketch, Hawking is in search of a new sound. What follows is a veritable who’s who of celebrity auditions from the likes of Liam Neeson and Rebel Wilson, to Simon Cowell and Gordon Ramsay, to Miss Piggy and even Bill Gates. Through it all, Hawking is there, judging and offering up some sassy quips. But in the end, he finds what he believes is the perfect match.

#6: “Anyone Can Quantum” (2016)

How do you make a quantum chess match between Stephen Hawking and Paul Rudd more epic than it already is? Get the faces behind the “Bill & Ted” franchise to direct and narrate the resulting video footage. Directed by Alex Winter, this educational comedy short has Keanu Reeves providing the voice-over, while Rudd challenges Hawking to a game using quantum physics that may or may not determine the fate of humankind. Funny, educational and over-dramatic, this Caltech sketch is most excellent – and Hawking was a key ingredient.

#5: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (2014-)

Is there a better way to inaugurate a new series on your late-night talk show than to have Hawking as your very first guest? We think not, especially if the segment is about Great Minds. As “Last Week Tonight” is known for its comedic and satirical elements, Oliver needed to make sure he could keep his first “People Who Think Good” interview with Hawking both entertaining and interesting. Thankfully for the host, Hawking demonstrated that he wasn’t just a brilliant mind; he could also be as sarcastic and funny as Oliver himself.

#4: “Futurama” (1999-2013)

Hawking appeared several times in this futuristic animated sitcom, and whether he was a literal talking head or a member of Al Gore’s Vice Presidential Action Rangers, he always delivered the laughs. Throughout the series, Hawking brought plenty of science and sass to all his scenes, especially when he was forced to interact with Philip J. Fry, whose intellect is just a couple of decimal points off from his own. He may not have been the nicest guest character, but he was definitely one of the funniest. Oh, and he can shoot lasers out of his eyes. Who knew?

#3: “The Big Bang Theory” (2007-)

Considering this long-running sitcom follows a group of friends consisting of 2 physicists, an astrophysicist and an aerospace engineer, it’s probably not surprising that Hawking’s been mentioned several times. But it was only in season 5 that he made the first of multiple appearances. “The Hawking Excitation” is all about the build-up to Sheldon meeting one of his heroes – and when the moment finally comes, Hawking brings him down a notch in a way the nerdy theoretical physicist won’t soon forget. Though the episode featuring Howard’s remote-controlled toy also had its highlights, as did Hawking’s other “Big Bang Theory” moments, his first cameo was arguably his most memorable.

#2: “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (1987-94)

Stephen Hawking made a quick journey to the Final Frontier for this cameo. In a poker game with Data, Einstein, and Newton, Hawking proved himself to be the smartest and funniest person in the room, as he cleaned out his opponents’ pockets with a smile on his face. Hawking actually made history by being the first “Trek” guest star to appear as themselves, and in fact, his season 6 cameo was so anticipated that crew members who weren’t even needed on set showed up anyway to catch a glimpse of the genius. According to producer Rick Berman, Hawking even wrote some of his own lines! Now, that’s what we call “making it so.”

#1: “The Simpsons” (1989-)

Stephen Hawking called “The Simpsons” “the best thing on American television,” and his appearances on the show not only earned him a cult following; they also bridged the gap between intellectualism and pop culture. Hawking’s flying, yellow-skinned counterpart first showed up in Springfield in season 10, when he tried to save the town from some rogue Mensa members and shared a beer with Homer. This ‘friend of the show’ reappeared a few more times over the years, and whether he was solving mysteries, cheating his way out of a corn maze or… rapping?, he always proved he had a healthy sense of humor to match his more-than-healthy IQ.