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It’s time for another top-5 countdown. And after spending my bank holiday-weekend vegetating in front of the TV, I thought it would be poignant to conduct a brief round up of the greatest fictional scientists ever to grace our screens.

5) Professor Frink: The Simpsons

Professor Frink

Glahaven! One of the most recognizable scientists of all time, Frink is a stalwart of the World’s most successful cartoon series. With his frantic gesticulations and bizarre utterances, he helps reaffirm the notion that scientists speak a language few can understand.

An absent-minded parody, Frink is generally seen unleashing his new (and often ill-conceived) inventions on the rest of Springfield’s hapless inhabitants. From shrink rays to human clones, Frink has done it all. But whilst he seems perfectly at ease dabbling in all of science’s major disciplines, he is completely incapable of mixing with the ladies.

4) Dr Emmet ‘The Doc’ Brown: Back to the Future

Great Scott! As one half of cinema’s best-loved time-travelling duo there was never any doubt that Dr Emmet Brown would be featured on our list. Whether he’s harnessing the raw power of electricity or tinkering with his beloved DeLorean, The Doc is always keen to begin his next experiment.

The Doc

He’s also incredibly eager to transmit his scientific understanding to those around him, often lecturing a rather clueless Marty on the mechanics of his latest invention. This boundless love of science is reflected plainly in his personal appearance. No one looks more like your stereotypical scientist than The Doc. With his crazy grey hair, heavily stained lab coat and complex array of gizmos and gadgets, he really is unmissable.

3) Spock: Star Trek

With his cold logical deductions and sound empirical eye, Spock is one of the best-loved and most endearing scientists around. And whilst he may not have topped the list, his role as Chief Science Officer on the World’s archetypal Sci-Fi show easily cements his position at number 3.

SpockAs the principal scientist aboard the Enterprise, Spock serves as Captain Kirk’s go to source of information during all kinds of weird and wonderful alien encounters. And when he’s not conducting experiments or analyzing data he is also the First Officer, transitioning seamlessly from the laboratory to the battlefield.

Spock is also the only scientist in the list to make the effective move from TV to film. Played by the legendary Leonard Nimoy in the original series and resultant cinematic spin-offs, the mantle has been taken up by Zachary Quinto in the two most recent installments, which has helped ensure that this wonderful character continues to live long and prosper.

2) Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth: Futurama

Good news everyone! No discussion of fictional scientists could ever be complete without mentioning Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth, owner and maniacal dictator of Planet Express.

Professor FarnsworthAs a central character in one of the most under-rated shows in televisual history, Farnsworth has been given ample time to develop some of the Word’s most zainy inventions. Whether it’s a universe in a box, or his beloved Smelloscope, which has somehow found a way of detecting particles that can’t travel across the vacuum of space, the Professor never allows something as trivial as common sense to hinder his experiments.

In fact, Farnsworth is one of the most important scientific depictions in modern media. Because whilst he might be out-of-touch and a bit barmy, he also displays a wonderfully single-minded dedication towards the pursuit of knowledge. As the good professor himself said when explaining the inherent beauty of science “Nothing is impossible! Not if you can imagine it! That’s what being a scientist is all about!”. Amen.

1) The Doctor: Dr Who

Alonsy! Ok, so maybe it was a little obvious, but there really could only ever be one winner. Whether he’s battling a full-scale Dalek invasion or just tweaking the angle of his bow tie, the enigmatical Doctor is responsible for making an entire generation of youngsters think that science is cool.

Dr WhoAnd although he rarely engages in any front-bench research, the Doctor always makes a point of acknowledging the part that science plays in his victories. Indeed, his longest and closest relationship is with a living, thinking, time-travelling laboratory.

But what’s most important about The Doctor is that he provides science with an emotional context. In his constant battles with the cruel and uncompromising Dalek empire, he reminds us that scientific advancement can only be considered a force for good if it remains entwined in our basic sense of humanity.

So that’s our pick of the top-5 scientists from the wonderful world of motion pictures. If you disagree and want to nominate your own fictional hero, then let us know in the comments below…

Paul Blakeley

Paul has an MSc in Reproductive Biology, and is currently dabbling in a bit of writing and website design…If someone would like to give him a job, that would be lovely.

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Posted on in with 8 Comments.


  1. Pippa

    Woah there…doctor who is a scientist? This has changed my world view. I just thought he was a plain old time lord…as plain as they get that is. Agreed that futurama was totally underrated!

  2. Vicki Harvey

    You have omitted one of the greatest: Dr Bernard Quatermass. He featured in film and TV from the 50s to the late 70s with a remake on BBC4 in 2005. In many ways he shares the focused, closed-in approach of the other 5. He was a huge influence on the early Dr Who episodes and was mentioned in the programme, albeit in throw away lines, as recently as 2009.

  3. Paul Blakeley

    I agree that The Doctor is pretty far removed from the traditional view of a scientist. But he does draw on a vast repertoire of (admittedly often futuristic and therefore unverifiable) scientific knowledge to vanquish his foes. It’s more his evident love of the subject and ability to transmit that passion to the audience that, I think, justifies his position on the list.

    I’d never heard of Dr Bernard Quartermass, but after a quick perusal he certainly seems like a forerunner to The Doctor. Good call.

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