Great Fictional Scientists

So… I was watching The Incredible Hulk this evening and it got me thinking about my favorite fictional scientists. Because yes, I’m *that* kind of nerd. Naturally, it’s worth saying that these are just the first few which sprang to mind (not including Tony Stark, seeing as I *almost* watched Iron Man).

So, the headliners:

Bruce Banner, from The Incredible Hulk
Holding a double doctorate in nuclear physics, Banner, in an ironic twist, volunteered for the gamma ray experiment which caused his metamorphosis. An emotionally withdrawn lover of hitchhiking, Banner has been described as living ‘in a constant state of panic, always wary that the monster inside him will erupt,’ which is just another way of saying the dude needs to relax, ya’know? I’ve always seen him as Richard Kimble meets MacGyver, a capable fugitive though he finds it difficult to form meaningful bonds with anyone. Which, I suppose, is why his theme tune is the saddest piece of music known to man.

Saxifrage Russell, from Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy
‘Sax’, as he was known, was a key member of the first hundred Martian colonists. Originally a physicist, he later develops an affinity for biology and becomes the ideological founder of the planet’s Green movement… As in, let’s turn red Mars into a green world humans can live all over. Across the three novels, Sax goes from being a cold, apolitical lab-coat to an emotionally alive eco-terrorist with an interest in the social sciences. Neither was he above having plastic surgery to disguise himself and, you know, blowing shit out of orbit if it suited his purposes! Rock on, Sax, rock on.

Superman, from, um, Superman
Strange visitor from another world, sure he beats up monsters and entrepreneurs, but at his heart, Kal-El is a scientist, applying deductive reasoning and observation to figure out the week-to-week WTF moments which make up most of his life. He even maintains a fully tricked out laboratory in the Arctic. The Arctic, people. And it’s filled with shit like robots and time-telescopes and those crazy test tubes that, when you walk past them, make you look all goofy like funhouse mirrors. Adhering to a strict, Midwestern value system, Superman only uses his powers for good, unless he’s been munching on the Special K, you know what I’m saying? Seriously though, for the definitive Superman-as-scientist, check out Grant Morrison’s All Star Superman.

Zefram Cochrane, from Star Trek
Drunkard…! Womanizer…! Drunkard again! In 2063, Cochrane makes Earth’s first warp speed flight to the accompaniment of Steppenwolf’s 1968 hit ‘Magic Carpet Ride’. He was instrumental in making first contact with those pointy-eared hobgoblins the Vulcans, as well as inspiring a new, peaceful era for humanity and basically laying the foundations for everything we associate with the Star Trek universe. And did he do it to make the world a better place? No, he did it so he could retire to a tropical island full of naked women. Though he later came around to more enlightened thinking!

Nathan Bridger, from SeaQuest DSV
Yeah, I said it. Nathan Bridger, tough Navy veteran who, along with his talking dolphin, designed a revolutionary, thousand-foot long underwater Swiss Army Knife which he called SeaQuest, presumably because all the good names were taken. While on ‘Bridger’s Island’, part of his tragic backstory, the captain devoted his time to science and came to mistrust the violence and brute strength of the navy, yadda yadda. Though of course his submarine could nuke things and had underwater lasers, so I don’t know what was going on there. Why is he cool? Well, one time he faced off against William Shatner and one time he went into *space*! Was he banging the hot doctor in season two? Alas, we’ll never know…

And, finally:

Buckaroo Banzai, from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eight Dimension
A twentieth century renaissance man! Top neurosurgeon, expert particle physicist and daring jet-car driver, Buckaroo not only has an in-universe comic book *about* him, but he’s also the lead singing with the hard rocking, hard-drinking Hong Kong Cavaliers, a death-defying, multi-disciplinary think-tank led by Clancy Motherufuckin’ Brown! And, I suppose, Jeff Goldblum was there too. If you haven’t heard of Buckaroo, it’s only because his movie opened against Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Ghostbusters, and Star Trek II: The Search for Spock. Trust me, though, he’s awesome.


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