While Stephen Hawking was best known for his contributions to the world of science, the late astrophysicist made his mark in pop culture with several TV appearances — including recurring spots on The Big Bang Theory.
Hawking, who died late Tuesday at age 76, first appeared on the popular CBS comedy in season five for an episode titled, “The Hawking Excitation,” during which he schooled know-it-all Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons).
During his seven total appearances on the sitcom, Hawking made friends with the cast and crew, who offered up touching tributes following his death.
Big Bang’s social media account shared a photo of Hawking surrounded by the show’s cast on set.
“In loving memory of Stephen Hawking. It was an honor to have him on The #BigBangTheory. Thank you for inspiring us and the world,” it wrote alongside the image.
The science-inspired sitcom’s stars reposted the photo with their own messages of love for the "Brief History of Time" author.
“Thank you, Stephen Hawking,” Parsons, whose character idolized the astrophysicist, wrote on social media.
Johnny Galecki, who portrays Leonard Hofstadter, wrote, “RIP #Stephen Hawking… Not only your brilliance, but your sense of humor will be sorely missed by all. ‘Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.’”
Kaley Cuoco, who plays Penny on the comedy, wrote, “It was truly such an honor getting to work with the incredible Stephen Hawking.. He made us laugh and we made him laugh. His life and career workings have been many a subject matter on [The Big Bang Theory] and we are all better for it. You will be missed but the world is grateful for the knowledge and courage you leave in your path. Thank you for being an inspiration to everyone.”
Amy Farrah Fowler actress Mayim Bialik, who is also a scientist, added, “As we near Pi day (3.14) I join the global community in mourning the loss of the greatest physicist of our era. #Stephen Hawking is free from the physical constraints of this earthly condition we all exist in and he is soaring above us now marveling at it all. Thank you Dr. Hawking for enlightening us and blessing us with your wisdom and courage.”
The series’ co-creator Bill Prady shared a new photo of cast posing with Hawking.
“We will miss one of the best recurring characters,” he wrote.
Hawking's most recent appearance on The Big Bang Theory was during the season 11 premiere last fall.
Hawking's children Lucy, Robert and Tim announced the news of his passing late Tuesday. "We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years," they shared.1comments
As a graduate student in 1963, Hawking learned he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neuromuscular wasting disease also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He was given only a few years to live at the time.
The disease reduced his bodily control to only being able to flex a finger and voluntary eye movements, however his mental capacity was unharmed. Though he eventually spoke with a voice synthesiser following a tracheotomy, he went on to become his generation's leader in exploring gravity and the properties of black holes.