Top 10 Movie Scientists


Clumsy as hell with a habit of turning themselves or others into monsters, God bless the fictional science expert.

Madcap, haphazard and with delusions of world domination - the illustrious role of the movie scientist is one of great comic value, regardless of how many million lightyears they may be from the real thing.

Pop to the CERN offices in Switzerland and you'll find a team of frightfully intelligent professors making truly mind-blowing strides in science, but their exploits wouldn't make for the most exhilarating movie.

Give thanks, then, for the rarely believable, though always enjoyable big-screen scientist. They've taken us into the past, the distant future (now also the past) and saved us from such grave danger as ghosts, Armageddon and massive piles of dinosaur poo. Pray silence please, for cinema's 10 finest big-screen boffins...

1. Dr. Henry Jekyll (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)

Like many a movie scientist, Henry Jekyll's intentions were good - inventing a groundbreaking elixir to separate a man's natural impulses to be an upstanding citizen from those that make him a rotten dirtbag. And, well, you know the rest. By day the mild-mannered man of science would be just that, but before long would inevitably transform (through a process that, in the above 1931 film, involves a worrying amount of heavy breathing) into the evil, destructive force of Mr. Hyde. Though we have indeed heard the rumours that ingredients from Dr. Jekyll's original potion can be found in Stella Artois, we unfortunately could not possibly comment.


2. Dr. Ellie Sattler (Jurassic Park I & III)

As a rule, any scientist whose commitment to their job is such that they'll gladly go elbow deep in dino dung, is alright by us. A proud Paleobotanist (a fossilised plant specialist, obviously), Dr. Sattler is impressive in Jurassic Park firstly by not falling into the age-old scientist trope of bringing about global disaster - the short-sighted plonker who thought resurrecting dinosaurs would be a wise move did that - but she also manages to finish the film with all of her limbs correctly attached. A luxury sadly not afforded to her ultimately one-armed colleague, Ray Arnold (Samuel L. Jackson).


3. Dr Seth Brundle (The Fly)

Before he became the 'Chaos Theory' proffering mathematician of the aforementioned dinosaur flick, Jeff Goldblum had already earned his scientific chops in 1986 epic, The Fly. Though an enigmatic inventor of endless talents, Brundle clearly isn't the most observant - given that he fails to spot the errant fly who joins him in his teleportation machine during its maiden run. A grisly mutation from grown man to massive fly ensues, and is all rather disgusting. However, there's a lesson there for us all - always check your telepod for rogue insects before use.


4. Wayne Szalinski (Honey I Shrunk The Kids/Honey I Blew Up The Kid)

Granted, bumbling Wayne Szalinski did once accidentally reduce his own children to the size of cashew nuts with his electromagnetic shrinking machine. And yes, just a few short years later he did inadvertently inflate his next born son to over 100ft with a similarly disastrous invention, therefore by rights his only future correspondence with his kids should be via email or through prison bars. And yet, you simply cannot question the man, as he gave to the world a helmet that simultaneously shaves your face, brushes your teeth and combs your hair. Why we still can't find the product listed on Amazon some 20 years later remains a glaring error.


5. Dr. Evil (Austin Powers trilogy)

Dr. Evil is a man of simple pleasures: Grey suits. Global domination. Sharks with laser beams on their heads. He's much like the now departed Kim Jong-il in that respect. But behind that icy cool exterior is a scientific brain bursting with ideas. It's not his fault that his idea of raising the risk of skin cancer by burning a hole in the o-zone layer occurred before he had the chance to pitch it (due to being cryogenically frozen for three decades). Nor is he at fault for George Lucas snaring the term 'Death Star' before him, or that The Alan Parsons Project formed some 20 years before his plan to destroy the Whitehouse - bearing the same name - came to light. But then, you know what they say: get cryogenically frozen, get behind on the news. We think that's what they say, anyway, though there's a good chance we may have made it up.


6. Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Young Frankenstein)

With 'The funniest comedy of all time' emblazoned on its DVD cover and with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 100%, Gene Wilder's Frankenstein stole a march on his more maudlin, gloomy contemporaries, with his version of the much celebrated mad scientist adding a welcome laughter track to the scientific field. Though not technically the Dr. Victor Frankenstein of Mary Shelley's 1818 novel, the film sees his grandson - Fred Frankenstein - ape the work of his ancestor and create a monster of his very own. And is very funny too, by all the accounts - just read the film's packaging.


7. Doc Brown (Back to the Future trilogy)

Though bonafide professors may despise him for setting back the 'mad scientist' stereotype another generation or two, Doc Brown is the quintessential crazy-haired, plutonium-toting, white coat wearing poster boy of half-baked science. And what's more, he's good at it too. Sort of. Besides, he's got a big, fluffy dog called Einstein, and what's not to love about that?


8. Dr. Strangelove (Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb)

Given the oft-forgotten, rarely spoken full title of Stanley Kubrick's 1964 classic, there's little wonder why most film fans just refer to the movie by the name of its eponymous doctor. And, though he superbly portrays half the film's cast on his own, it is Peter Sellers' take on ex-Nazi scientist Doctor Strangelove that is firmly etched in movie history. Wheelchair-bound and stricken by alien hand syndrome, Strangelove's solution for nuclear war is a bold one for a scientist, in that 200,000 people should be housed in a bunker and left to repopulate the Earth. With 1 man to every 10 women, naturally.


9. Peter Venkman (Ghostbusters series)

A cynic, womanizer and bored parapsychologist (paranormal psychologist, duh), Peter Venkman is clearly the most laid back of the Ghostbusters trio, but also undoubtedly the coolest. A cliched New Yorker with a big mouth and bigger attitude, Venkman would sooner use his fists than a proton pack to slay an opportunistic ghost. He's also the proud owner of the finest line in the Ghostbusters series (consult above video), which has been used by real-life scientists on average twice a week, every week, since it was first uttered in 1984.


10. Mr. Spock (Star Trek series)

By now we all know better than refer to the pointy-eared half-Vulcan as Doctor Spock (a tsunami of militant Trekkies put paid to that), but the ever logical science officer could well be the greatest scientist in history, irrespective of his lack of a PhD. A lover of facts and figures, Mr. Spock doesn't indulge in unnecessary displays of affection or (dare we say it) banter, instead spending his time saving the lives of his crew members through scientific reasoning, and a superior knowledge of energy fields than you or I could ever wish for.



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