Creator / Stephen Hawking

"I'm working on that."
Stephen Hawking upon seeing the Warp-Core when touring the Star Trek: The Next Generation set.

Born 8 January 1942 in Oxford, Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA, is a theoretical astrophysicist. In his time he has done world-recognized work on black holes, theoretical cosmology, and quantum gravity. The ability to do most of this work entirely in his head has led him to be generally recognized as the most brilliant scientist since Albert Einstein (Hawking himself disputes that title, however, arguing himself to be, at best, the greatest scientist since Richard Feynman, whom he considers the best since Einstein). The reason this is necessary is that he has been left almost paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, "speaking" through a specially-designed computer (the voice of which is also very well-known), due to his having motor neuron disease (MND). This is the collective name for a group of five related degenerative neural disorders, of which best-known to the general public is ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), better known to Americans as Lou Gehrig's disease. It's not definitively known which form of MND he has, although it's thought that he has ALS. (He is rather famous for his affliction, as well: if it is ALS, it would be the most protracted case ever recorded — it hasn't progressed the way ALS normally does, which has stymied a definitive diagnosis, which can only be confirmed by post-mortem dissection of the brain.)

In fact, Hawking was one of the many celebrities challenged to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge of 2015- which he did so, but due to a then-recent bout of pneumonia he could not safely have ice water dumped on him. His children took his place in the challenge.

Hawking is also quite famous for his sense of humor. He has appeared several times on The Simpsonsnote , Futurama, and The Big Bang Theory As Himself, each time bordering on the line of Adam Westing. (And yes, that's him reciting one of the "Boom-de-yadas" in the Discovery Channel's "I Love The Whole World" promo.) Expys of him have appeared in parody form (Family Guy) and in Charlie and the Chocolate Parody form (Dexter's Laboratory and Sausage Party). He appears as a character, but not on camera (perhaps he couldn't make the shoot fit his schedule, or just didn't like the show), in an episode of Stargate Atlantis. Finally, he's the only person to appear in any Star Trek series As Himself (obviously, as a holodeck recreation of himself). Hawking is also known to be a fan of Red Dwarf. He also appeared in The Fairly Oddparents, where he and Crocker knew each other from their days as college students. And while he is not involved in the production of the nerdcore rapper M.C. Hawking (which uses a VERY similar text-to-speech voice program, albeit not identical), he has given his full approval of the parody act.

Hawking was at one point offered a knighthood, but turned it down in protest of the state of science education in Britain. He ended at #25 in One Hundred Greatest Britons.

He's been played in Hawking by Benedict Cumberbatch, who also provides voiceover narration in Hawking's documentaries, and Eddie Redmayne in the 2014 biopic The Theory of Everything, who ended up winning the Academy Award for Best Actor.

He's got 12 inch rims on his chair, that's how he rolls, y'all. No, he actually does. You thought they were joking?

Not to be confused with Stephen King.

Associated Tropes:

  • A Wizard Did It: Subverted. God did not create the Universe, according to Hawking. Or more specifically, He may have, but He didn't need to, as it can be explained by gravity and quantum mechanics. His theory has since been challenged (along with his theory on the existence of black holes) but he remains confident about the possibility.
  • Adam Westing: Anytime he appears in animated form, expect his wheelchair to be a cross between Inspector Gadget and a Transformer.
  • And I Must Scream: Defied despite his condition. Put best with this quote from Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking:
    "Hello. I am Stephen Hawking. Physicist, cosmologist, and something of a dreamer. Although I cannot move and I have to speak through a computer, in my mind I am free."
  • The Artifact: He's used the same voice synthesizer for decades, and it's way out of date. It would be easy for him to attain a more advanced one, or even just one that actually has an English accent, but he realizes that the particular voice he's had all these years is an iconic part of his public image, so he hasn't bothered to upgrade.
  • As Himself: The only person to have appeared in the entire Star Trek franchise As Himself.note 
  • Badass Boast: Upon seeing the Warp-Core during his tour of the set of Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    Hawking: I'm working on that...
  • Cool Old Guy: 74 years old and counting, and still doing that science thing.
  • Determinator: At 21, he was told he had (at most) two-and-a-half years left to live. Ordinary people would consider suicide when diagnosed with an And I Must Scream-causing disease that cannot be cured. He's lived long enough to have to take a mandatory retirement from his post at Cambridge University (the same position once held by Isaac Newton) because the University forbids anyone older than 67 from holding it. At the age of 70, he participated in (and helped narrate) the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. He recently turned seventy-two with a positive attitude.
    "Life has thrown at me both good times and bad. Perhaps it is human nature, that we adapt, and survive. As for me, I have lived with the prospect of an early death most of my life. I am not afraid of dying, but I am in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do and find out first."
  • Disabled Snarker
    • Once when he encountered Brent Spiner (who played Commander Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation and played poker with Hawking in that series) at a convention, he said, "Brent, you still owe me twenty dollars!" and at another, more recent convention, quipped, "Where's my money, Spiner?"
    • His opening statement on England's chances at winning The World Cup:
    "It is widely accepted in the field, that a key factor of achieving World Cup champions status is winning matches."
  • Disney Owns This Trope: His synthetic voice is trademarked, to the point that once he saw The Theory of Everything, his approval led to a similar computerized speech being replaced by the real deal.
  • Genius Cripple: The Trope Codifier for modern portrayals and interpretations of this trope.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Asked how he had fathered children despite his condition, he replied that Lou Gehrig's Disease only affects voluntary muscles.
  • Handicapped Badass: Anyone who defies an And I Must Scream condition and becomes a significant figure of pop culture has to count as one.
  • Hope Sprouts Eternal: Despite his horrible disease he still manages to be optimistic.
  • Improbably High I.Q.: While Hawking most likely has one of the world's highest IQs, he neither knows nor cares what it is, calling everyone who boast about theirs losers.
  • Machine Monotone: Famously so. As he is unable to speak on his own he requires a special computer to assist him.
  • Mistaken Nationality: Due to his American computer voice and frequent appearances in American TV shows some people are unaware that he was actually born in the United Kingdom.
  • Nerd Glasses: Probably helped popularize this trope as well.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: He's been the subject of several Expy characters.
  • One of Us: A huge fan of Star Trek, The Simpsons and Red Dwarf, all of which he's appeared in as himself. Also of Doctor Who, even appearing in the special where Peter Capaldi was introduced as the new Doctor. And scored a cameo in 2014 Monty Python reunion show, where he stops Brian Cox from critiquing The Galaxy Song ("I feel you are being pedantic.") and rolls away reciting the lyrics. He has also given his approval to M.C. Hawking, a parody gangsta rap album created by use of a vocal synthesizer that sounds quite similar to his own.
  • Robo Speak: He speaks using a Machine Monotone computer, what did you expect?
  • Self-Deprecation: He seems to take his paralysis with good humor and even makes jokes about it. Mentioning that his professorial chair at Cambridge was formerly held by Isaac Newton, he remarked, "They say it's Newton's chair, but obviously it's been changed." Also, when giving a speech at Stanford, he told the audience that he hoped they could understand his British accent.
  • Synthetic Voice Actor: A famous example, and probably the Trope Codifier for many other examples. Notably, he has appeared As Himself on several popular shows using his distinctive Machine Monotone voice.
  • Significant Birth Date: Born three hundred years to the day after the death of Galileo.
  • Time Travel: His long-standing theory is that, outside of Time Dilation effects, time-travel is impossible for various reasons.
    • Showing off his sense of humor again, he once held a reception for any possible time travelers but only publicized it after it was already over.
    • In the PBS miniseries Genius By Stephen Hawking, he uses a simulation with three DeLoreans to demonstrate that time travel to the past would require you (or at least whatever particles make up your body) to be duplicated, a violation of conservation of mass.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: His voice synthesizer has caused him to be mistaken for an American. He has said he would like to replace it with a synthesizer with a British accent, but it's become so synonymous with himself that he knows he can't.