After his guest role on “The Simpsons,” Hawking spoke about how he enjoyed the jokes and being “depicted as a somewhat surreal character with enormous powers.” Though his animated self is found hanging out with Homer at Moe’s bar by the end of the episode, he’s also not above punching Seymour Skinner with a boxing glove hidden in his chair, or declaring Lisa and her Mensa group’s attempt at building a utopia, a “fruitopia.”

When it came to “Futurama,” head writer David X. Cohen played up the ‘Stephen Hawking is actually a jerk’ joke even more. The physicist, who passed away in 2018, appears in the season 2 episode “Anthology Of Interest I,” which is comprised of three mini-stories, much like the “Treehouse of Horror” episodes of “The Simpsons.” In the segment entitled “The Un-Freeze of a Lifetime,” Fry (Billy West) asks Professor Farnsworth’s what-if machine, ‘What if I had never come to the future?’ The machine then displays an alternate version of reality where Fry remains in the year 1999 and meets a team of nerds known as the Vice Presidential Action Rangers, guardians of the space-time continuum. The group was led by Al Gore, and included Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols, Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax, chess-playing computer Deep Blue, and Stephen Hawking.

Hawking would play a version of himself who doesn’t think twice about having his goons beat Fry with tennis rackets, driving his wheelchair over Fry’s face, or stealing other people’s ideas and claiming them as his own. It’s a hilarious subversion of the man’s reputation as a thoughtful and respected intellectual that was well worth the effort Cohen and his team had to put in to record Hawking’s lines.