Famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson can be credited with bringing science into mainstream pop culture, offering hot scientific takes on everything from Godzilla to Game of Thrones and its dragons. As it turns out, Tyson also contributed his science know-how to an episode of Family Guy, but he didn't know it at the time. Yes, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane tricked Neil DeGrasse Tyson into sharing science thoughts for Family Guy, as Neil deGrasse Tyson shared in a fantastic story:
So, we have lunch, he asked me 20 questions about the Big Bang. And I go, 'Oh, he's a curious guy and I love it, because he likes science.' Later on I watch an episode of Family Guy and Stewie's time machine goes back to before the Big Bang. But then at the end it says, 'Science consultant: Neil deGrasse Tyson.' So, what I'm saying is, 'I'm there for the artists when they need me.'
In the Cosmos: Possible Worlds panel at San Diego Comic-Con, Neil deGrasse Tyson shared the story of the time Seth MacFarlane asked him to lunch, prompting Tyson to clear his schedule and sit down for a meal with the Family Guy bigwig. At first, Tyson believed that MacFarlane was simply into science, which must have been a nice surprise. After all, as enthusiastic as Tyson seems to be regarding the application of science to pop culture, I'm guessing he was happy to carry on a conversation about pure science rather than TV or movies. As far as he knew, MacFarlane was simply a celebrity who happened to have an interest in the Big Bang!
Fortunately for Seth MacFarlane, Neil deGrasse Tyson wasn't upset at the reveal that their lunch had really been all about research for an episode of Family Guy. A less magnanimous man might have been furious to discover that his lessons were really for the sake of a TV show, but not Tyson. If Family Guy was going to do an episode touching on the Big Bang, Neil deGrasse Tyson had to be pleased that Family Guy was doing it right. Besides, he got a "science consultant" credit. The episode -- called "The Big Bang Theory" -- aired back in 2011 and followed Stewie and Brian on a mission to go back in time. It's not the weirdest thing to possibly come out of a Seth MacFarlane project!
Interestingly, Neil deGrasse Tyson contributed to Family Guy in a way other than as science consultant. In an episode that aired five years after "The Big Bang Theory," Neil deGrasse Tyson provided his voice. Viewers got to see an animated version of Neil deGrasse Tyson, and that's not something you get every day. Tyson can boast that he's been part of Family Guy as both a consultant and a guest star! Good for him.
If you're now in the mood to relive some Family Guy fun, you can find 14 seasons of the show streaming on Hulu. If you're in the mood for something more current, check out our summer TV premiere schedule. If you'd like some more Neil deGrasse Tyson wisdom, take a look at what Star Wars gets right and what it gets wrong in his scientific opinion.