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Stephen Hawking Simpsons
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"PROBABLY MAGNETS"

A brief history of Stephen Hawking’s pop culture cameos

Adam Epstein
By Adam Epstein

Entertainment reporter

Stephen Hawking died this morning, his family announced. He was 76.

Diagnosed with the motor neuron disease ALS at age 21 in 1963, Hawking was initially given a life expectancy of two years. Over the next five decades, though, he became the world’s foremost physicist—scoring monumental achievements in cosmology that helped scientists and the rest of humankind understand their place in the universe.

As his body progressively weakened, Hawking maintained a strong spirit and an even stronger sense of humor, which he channeled in hilarious and often self-deprecating cameos on television. His inspiring life story also served as the basis for two major Hollywood productions, one of which earned the actor who portrayed him an Oscar.

Hawking’s combination of intellect, wit, and willingness to poke fun at his own unique appearance (and signature voice) turned the physicist into both a cultural and scientific icon. From The Simpsons to Pink Floyd, Hawking has been a welcome part of entertainment for decades. These are his most memorable pop culture moments:

1993: Hawking plays poker with Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton in Star Trek: The Next Generation

1994: Pink Floyd samples Hawking’s voice in “Keep Talking”

1999: Hawking and his flying wheelchair save the day on The Simpsons

2008: A disembodied Hawking gets sarcastic on Futurama

2012: Stephen Hawking becomes the first and only funny person to appear on The Big Bang Theory

2014: Hawking gets in on the “Ice Bucket Challenge” internet craze to support ALS

2014: Hawking jokes about robots and roasts John Oliver on his own show, Last Week Tonight

2016: Hawking battles actor Paul Rudd in an epic game of “quantum chess

For a comprehensive list of every Hawking appearance and reference in television, film, music, radio, video games, and books, go here. If you needed any more proof that Hawking was beloved in the entertainment community, dozens of actors, filmmakers, and celebrities have memorialized the legendary scientist on social media today.

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