15 TV Scientists Who Have Proved Their Smarts (PHOTOS)

Nivea Serrao
X-Files, Breaking Bad, Bones, Star Trek

Clockwise from top left: Ed Araquel/FOX; Everett Collection; Jennifer Clasen/FOX; Everett Collection

Not-So-Mad Scientists

Whether it's travel between planets and alternate universes, the creation of clones or the search for a zombie cure, the possibilities (and pitfalls) of science have captured the imagination of many TV writers. With The X-Files revival, which has a brilliant medical expert as one-half of the investigative duo, it's only fitting that we look at some of the memorable scientists (real and fictional) who have represented STEM (that's Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) so well on TV.

The X-Files - Gillian Anderson

Ed Araquel/FOX

Dr. Dana Scully (The X-Files)

If her FBI agent training isn't impressive enough, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) is also highly trained as a medical doctor, a skill that often has her performing autopsies on victims and providing scientific explanations for the many weird occurrences that she encounters with partner Fox Mulder (David Duchovny). Still, even though she's deeply rooted in science, Scully's faith allows her to (mostly) keep an open mind to Mulder’s many otherworldly theories—and their possible truths.

Plus: On the X-Files Set: An Extended Interview With Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny


Jack Rowand/The CW

Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti (iZombie)

A forensic pathologist by day (and sometimes, night), Ravi (Rahul Kohli) is pretty much the leading scientist in finding a permanent cure for zombie-ism. But in addition to focusing on his rat experiments and finding the elusive tainted Utopium that factors into creating zombies, the handsome doc also helps his zombie Assistant Medical Examiner, Liv (Rose McIver), solve crimes for Seattle PD.

Big Bang Theory

Michael Yarish/Warner Bros.

Dr. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz (The Big Bang Theory)

Since her introduction in Season 3 Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) has completed her Ph.D. in microbiology—while waitressing at the Cheesecake Factory—and also accepted a very well-paying job at a pharmaceutical company. But what really sets Bernadette apart from the other scientists on the show is her amazing social skills. Unlike her husband, Howard (Simon Helberg), and his friends, Bernadette is comfortable having a girls’ night with fellow scientist Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik) and non-scientist Penny (Kaley Cuoco) as she is hanging with the boys.


John Fleenor/ABC

Dr. Jemma Simmons and Leopold Fitz (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)

After graduating from S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy of Science and Technology three years early, it’s no surprise that biochemist Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) and engineer Leo Fitz (Iain de Caestecker), collectively known as FitzSimmons, were quickly snapped up by Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) to be part of his team. The inseparable duo also has the impressive ability to apply their knowledge in the field while under immense pressure, with Simmons capable of surviving on an alien planet for six months and Fitz capable of opening a portal to said planet (to rescue her).

The Flash

Cate Cameron/The CW

Cisco Ramon (The Flash)

If anyone on Team Flash can use pop culture to break down difficult scientific ideas, it’s this S.T.A.R. Labs mechanical engineer. Not only is Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) quick on the draw when it comes to movie references and quips, he's also great at upgrading Barry's (Grant Gustin) Flash suit, supplying the Central City police force with gadgets and weapons that neutralize criminal-minded metahumans and serving as the team’s resident computer specialist/hacker.

Plus: 6 Actors Who Got Their Big Break on Broadway


George Holz/FOX

Dr. Walter Bishop (Fringe)

The older Bishop (John Noble) can easily be considered a mad scientist, literally, but his crazy side is no surprise given his immersion in “fringe” science. Over the course of the show’s five seasons, Walter not only applied his scientific expertise toward solving a number of FBI cases but he also used many personal inventions and risky experiments to find the necessary answers to out-there cases.

Futurama, Professor Farnsworth

Dr. Hubert J. Farnsworth (Futurama)

Inspired by two real life scientists (Hubert Dreyfus and Philo Farnsworth), Hubert J. Farnsworth can give Walter Bishop a run for his money when it comes to building doomsday devices. A tenured professor at Mars University and the oldest living member of the Academy of Inventors, Farnsworth is very resourceful when conducting scientific research and a staunch defender of theories.

Orphan Black

BBC America

Cosima Niehaus (Orphan Black)

When it comes to clones trying to figure out why they exist, the more minds the merrier. So it’s extremely fortunate that the Clone Club's own Cosima Niehaus (Tatiana Maslany) is studying Experimental Evolutionary Developmental Biology. With the knowledge and resources available as a Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota, Niehaus is able to fully investigate and work on experiments without arousing (too) much suspicion.


Jennifer Clasen/FOX

Temperance Brennan (Bones)

A forensic anthropologist for the Jeffersonian Institute, Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) has been helping the FBI solve murder cases alongside her partner, Booth (David Boreanaz)—all while fine-tuning her own research, publishing scientific treatises and mystery books and raising two kids. Brennan may have started out using science to rationalize mystifying circumstances, but Booth's influence has allowed her to soften point of views (to a certain extent).


Fox/Everett Collection

Neil deGrasse Tyson (Cosmos and StarTalk)

When the noted astrophysicist (and director of the Hayden Planetarium at New York City's American Museum of Natural History) isn’t rapping about the Earth being round or composing tweets correcting depictions of science, deGrasse Tyson can be found spreading the good word of science, or more specifically, astronomy on his own shows, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and StarTalk.

Plus: Composing a Tweet With Neil deGrasse Tyson | Why You Should Watch StarTalk


Disney XD

Waddles the Pig (Gravity Falls)

Waddles has spent most of the series as Mabel’s (Kristen Schaal) pet pig and best friend, but after ingesting a concoction (Season 2 episode, “Little Gift Shop of Horrors"), he suddenly becomes super smart, with the ability to talk. With his new scientific knowledge and enhanced intellect, Waddles (temporarily voiced by real scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson) attempts to solve the world’s biggest problems, only to give up his intelligence in order to stay as Mabel’s constant companion.

BREAKING BAD, Bryan Cranston

Everett Collection

Walter White (Breaking Bad)

Sure, mild mannered chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston) turned his scientific knowledge towards cooking perfect meth, but before his transformation into a drug kingpin, he was just a man with a passion for chemistry who wanted inspire his students. Which he did, ironically, when he recruited student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) as his accomplice.

Whitney Frost (Marvel’s Agent Carter)

Whitney Frost has beauty and brains, possessing an impressive scientific mind from a young age that saw her fixing and sketching machinery, conducting experiments and testing theories. While most people see only her beauty as a Hedy Lamarr-esque Hollywood actress, Frost has used her brains (and her birth name, Agnes Cully) to file a number of patents and remain as a (silent) partner in Isodyne Energy. But now that she's been exposed to the mysterious Zero Matter, Frost finally has the brawn to defend herself against anyone who gets in her way.

Star Trek

Everett Collection

Dr. Leonard McCoy and Spock (Star Trek)

Spock (Leonard Nimoy) may be the cool, dispassionate voice of reason (and pragmatic foil) to the hotheaded Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley), but together, the Enterprise’s Chief Science Officer and Chief Medical Officer dole out a double dose of necessary expertise to Kirk (William Shatner) during times of intergalactic danger.

Plus: Read George Takei's Tribute to Leonard Nimoy

Stargate SG-1

Mike Ruiz/Syfy/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

Dr. Samantha Carter (Stargate SG-1)

When a commanding officer referred to Dr. Samantha Carter’s (Amanda Tapping) brain as a “national resource,” he wasn’t kidding. As a brilliant astrophysicist and a senior officer in the Air Force, Dr. Carter was also second-in-command of the Stargate program’s flagship team (SG-1)—earning her the title of "Major"—and the leading expert on Stargates and alien technology.

< >