15 of the Top Movie and TV Scientists of All Time
We all have our favorite fictional movie and TV scientists but some are likely to feature in most people's 'dream team'.
Whether it be Spock from Star Trek (not featured here) or Dr. Emmett Brown (he's here), no list can ever please everyone.
And so we took it upon ourselves to attempt to hand-pick some of the 'best' from the enormous back catalog of science fiction media and literature that stretches back over the last 100 years or so.
This list of 15 contains some of the 'usual suspects' but we've also thrown in some lesser known 'curve balls', just to mix things up a bit.
The following list is in no particular order and is far from being exhaustive. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments below.
1. Dr. Emmet Brown - Back to The Future Trilogy
Movie/Fictional Scientist's Field: Theoretical Physics/Inventor
Specialty and/or their research: Time-Travel and inventor
Notable achievements: The Flux Capacitor/The DeLorean Time Machine and modified Steam Train
Actor(s) or Actress(s): Christopher Lloyd
Brief Biography/Additional Information: According to canon, Emmet was born in 1920 and was the son of a nativized German father. He changed his name from Von Braun to Brown during the first world war.
Emmett would go on to lead a mainly solitary life as a prolific inventor and "student of all sciences".
2. Dr. Henry Jekyll - Jekyll and Hyde
Movie/Fictional Scientist's Field: Chemistry/Pharmaceuticals
Specialty and/or their research: Chemistry
Notable achievements: Best known for his development of a serum that accidentally manifests his 'evil' alter-ego
Actor(s) or Actress(s): Various from John Barrymore in 1920 to Russell Crowe
Brief Biography/Additional Information: After battling with the good and evil within his psyche, Dr. Jekyll develops a serum to help him repress these feelings. Sadly in doing so, the serum allows his alter ego to take control of his body.
3. Dr. Strangelove - Dr. Strangelove
Movie/Fictional Scientist's Field: Nuclear Physicist
Specialty and/or their research: Nuclear weapons
Notable achievements: Helping the U.S. Develop Nuclear Weapons
Actor(s) or Actress(s): Peter Sellers
Brief Biography/Additional Information: Dr. Strangelove's character is ostensibly based on the real-life Nazi scientists relocated to the United States after WW2 during "Operation Paperclip".
Suffering from "alien hand syndrome" he can be seen, on occasion, lapsing into giving Nazi salutes in the film. Apparently, this affection of the character was improvised by Peter Sellers during filming.
4. Lex Luthor - Superman Series
Movie/Fictional Scientist's Field: Engineering/Business Magnate
Specialty and/or their research:
Notable achievements: Developing global corporation LexCorp and inventing various devices to combat Superman.
Actor(s) or Actress(s): Various including Gene Hackman (1970's to 1980's) and Michael Rosenbaum in Smallville
Brief Biography/Additional Information: Lex Luther's story varies depending on his depiction in media. He ranges from a power-hungry, wealthy business magnate to ingenious engineer and megalomaniacal genius.
5. C. A. Rotwang - Metropolis
Movie/Fictional Scientist's Field: Robotics/Engineering
Specialty and/or their research: Development of humanoid AI robot
Notable achievements: His fembot built in the image of his dead wife
Actor(s) or Actress(s): Rudolf Klein-Rogge
Brief Biography/Additional Information: Rotwang is a diabolical mad-scientist who locks himself away in his underground lab building a fembot in the image of his long-lost wife. The android goes on to lead the oppressed working class, incites riots and plunges the city of Metropolis into anarchy.
6. Dr. Seth Brundle - The Fly
Movie/Fictional Scientist's Field: Theoretical Physics
Specialty and/or their research: Teleportation
Notable achievements: Telepod (instantaneous teleportation devices)
Actor(s) or Actress(s): Jeff Goldblum
Brief Biography/Additional Information: Dr. Seth Brundle was a brilliant and eccentric scientist who dedicated his life to developing practical teleportation in his warehouse/lab home.
Initially only having success with inanimate objects he eventually masters the Telepods ability to transport living tissue and eventually organisms. Sadly during a test on himself, his DNA is mixed with that of a stray fly merging the two and leading to disastrous genetic mutation of his body.
7. Walter White - Breaking Bad
Movie/Fictional Scientist's Field: Research Chemist/Chemistry Teacher/Company Founder/Narcotics Producer
Specialty and/or their research: Early career: Radiography, Later: Narcotics Production
Notable achievements: Early Career: Proton radiography (Nobel Prize), Gray Matter Technologies Founder
Actor(s) or Actress(s): Bryan Cranston
Brief Biography/Additional Information: After graduating from the California University of Technology with a degree in Chemistry, Walter goes on to conduct groundbreaking research in proton radiography. He later founds a company with his former classmate and friend before selling his stake in it and leaving.
He later works as a high school chemistry teacher and supplements the low wages with a secondary job at a local car wash. After being diagnosed with lung cancer he decides to begin manufacturing methamphetamine to cover his medical costs and bills.
8. Lieutenant Colonel Robert Neville - I Am Legend
Movie/Fictional Scientist's Field: Virology/Biology
Specialty and/or their research: Virology
Notable achievements: He finds a cure for the zombie-plague ravaging the planet
Actor(s) or Actress(s): Will Smith
Brief Biography/Additional Information: After losing his family and everyone he ever knew in the zombie apocalypse, Robert is left alone with his trusty canine partner, and family pet, Samantha. He spends the next three years slowly going mad in his isolation, whilst experimenting on a potential cure for the plague.
After his lab and house are invaded by hordes of zombies he manages to smuggle his cure away with some other survivors before being blowing them to pieces, along with himself.
9. Dr. Henry Wu - Jurassic Park Series
Movie/Fictional Scientist's Field: Biotechnologist/Geneticist
Specialty and/or their research: Advanced Genetic Engineering
Notable achievements: Headed the team that was able to resurrect dinosaurs and other extinct species from ancient DNA and splicing with extant organism DNA
Actor(s) or Actress(s): B D Wong
Brief Biography/Additional Information: Dr. Henry Wu was a child prodigy who drew Mr. Hammond's attention for his undergraduate thesis at MIT. Whilst working for InGen he was instrumental in developing the procedures behind the company's de-extinction program.
The character appears in the original film and the fourth and fifth installments of the series.
10. Hubert J. Farnsworth - Futurama
Movie/Fictional Scientist's Field: Undefined - Supposedly he has mastered all fields of science
Specialty and/or their research: All
Notable achievements: He can demonstrate a vast knowledge and expertise in any field of science and is the most brilliant inventor on Earth.
Actor(s) or Actress(s): Billy West
Brief Biography/Additional Information: The Professor is the very embodiment of the 'mad' scientist and is the proprietor of the Planet Express delivery service. This is the company the other main characters in Futurama work for.
He can often be found switching between supreme intelligence and amoral senility because of his advanced age. Despite his genius, he often falls asleep.
11. Indiana Jones - Indiana Jones Series
Movie/Fictional Scientist's Field: Archaeology
Specialty and/or their research: Archaeology - specializing in historical artifacts
Notable achievements: Discovering the Arc of the Covenant and the Holy Grail
Actor(s) or Actress(s): Harrison Ford (main films), various others in spin-offs
Brief Biography/Additional Information: Indy serves as a college professor of archaeology who specializes in ancient civilizations. But he is always keen to get into the field to track down and recover ancient artifacts and treasure.
This often gets him into trouble and puts any companions of his in real mortal danger. He also has a penchant for outsmarting his enemies and generally being a thorn in the side of Nazi ambitions around the world.
12. Doctor Mason Wren - Alien Resurrection
Movie/Fictional Scientist's Field: Xenobiology/Geneticist
Specialty and/or their research: Cloning and Xenobiology
Notable achievements: He, and his team, was able to successfully clone an Alien queen and Ellen Ripley from blood samples alone
Actor(s) or Actress(s): J. E. Freeman
Brief Biography/Additional Information: Dr. Wren was in overall charge of a team of scientists within a project to synthesize the Xenomorph species and manipulate it for human use. After 10 years of trial and error, the team finally 'succeeded'.
Both the Alien queen and clone Ripley shared some DNA and physiological traits and, therefore, were hybrids of both species albeit to varying degrees.
Wren was eventually killed by a 'chestbuster' whilst trying to flee after an Alien containment breach.
13. Dr. Victor Frankenstein - Frankenstein
Movie/Fictional Scientist's Field: Anatomist/Biomechanics
Specialty and/or their research: Resurrection of the deceased/Creating life
Notable achievements: Creating and resurrecting a composite cadaver
Actor(s) or Actress(s): Various throughout history
Brief Biography/Additional Information: Swiss scientist Victor Frankenstein who is typically portrayed as the archetypical mad scientist in film and TV adaptations but was actually a tragic, selfish figure in Mary Shelley's original novel.
After succeeding in his plan to create life his invention becomes his undoing. His 'monster' obsessively pursues his family, kills his brother and wife and eventually leads to Victor's own demise at the North Pole.
Although the monster is often portrayed as a mindless automaton, this couldn't be further from the truth.
14. Agent Dana Scully - The X Files
Movie/Fictional Scientist's Field: Forensic Sciences/Medical Sciences/Physics
Specialty and/or their research: Forensic Sciences and Specialist Top Secret Research for the FBI
Notable achievements: She is most noted for her part played in the FBI's highly secret X Files Project into supernatural and alien activities, with her partner Fox Mulder
Actor(s) or Actress(s): Gillian Anderson
Brief Biography/Additional Information: Dana Scully studied at the University of Maryland for an undergraduate degree in Physics. Her senior thesis titled Einstein's Twin Paradox: A New Interpretation, was published in 1986 when she was aged 23.
She later went to medical school but decided to not practice medicine. Scully was recruited by the FBI and would go on to lead a distinguished career before being assigned to the X-Files in 1992.
She and her partner, Fox Mulder, would have a frosty start to their partnership but mutual respect and compassion between the two would quickly form.
15. Wayne Szalinski - Honey I Shrunk The Kids
Movie/Fictional Scientist's Field: Amateur Physics/Inventor
Specialty and/or their research: Prolific inventor
Notable achievements: His successful development matter shrinking and enlarging machine
Brief Biography/Additional Information: Wayne is an inventor who struggled to build a device to shrink and expand matter. After a lot of trial and error and a lot of exploded apples, he resigns himself that the machine will not work as intended.
Unbeknownst to Wayne, however, the machine actually works and his children accidentally shrink themselves.