Science fiction is a genre of ideas, and the best ideas are the ones connected to reality. This two-week theme presents 14 real-life people who inspired the names of characters in sci-fi TV shows, including shows with fantastical elements not normally considered sci-fi. Dr. Who, I presume?



Mikhail Bakunin

publication date: Saturday, February 13, 2021

category: Philosophy

clue: This Russian anarchist lost his membership in a labor association when Karl Marx accused him of forging secret alliances, but at least he didn't lose an eye.

explanation: Bakunin inspired the name of Mikhail Bakunin on Lost. more…

difficulty: hard

solved by: Russ Wilhelm, Steve West, LaVonne Lemler, Samir Mehta, Chris Lemler, Richard Slominsky, Denise Sawicki, Aaron Shurtleff, and Alexis Andino


Alfred Bester

publication date: Friday, February 12, 2021

category: Literature

clue: One of the most acclaimed science-fiction shows of the 1990s cast an actor from one of the most popular science-fiction shows of the 1960s to play a character named for one of the best-regarded science-fiction writers of the 1950s.

explanation: Bester inspired the name of Alfred Bester (played by Star Trek's Walter Koenig) on Babylon 5. more…

difficulty: hard

solved by: Russ Wilhelm, Steve West, LaVonne Lemler, Samir Mehta, Chris Lemler, and Denise Sawicki


Beth Schwartz

publication date: Thursday, February 11, 2021

category: Television

clue: It must have been strange for this writer and producer to take over showrunning duties on a comic-book superhero show that had already named a fictional doctor after her.

explanation: Schwartz inspired the name of Dr. Eliza Schwartz on Arrow. more…

difficulty: hard

solved by: Russ Wilhelm, Steve West, LaVonne Lemler, Samir Mehta, Chris Lemler, and Erik Bates


Paul Stamets

publication date: Wednesday, February 10, 2021

category: Science

clue: This mycologist's input as a consultant was so invaluable to TV writers that wanted their ship to exceed warp speed by traversing an interstellar mycelial network that they named an astromycologist after him in gratitude.

explanation: Stamets inspired the name of Paul Stamets on Star Trek: Discovery. more…

difficulty: medium

solved by: Russ Wilhelm, Steve West, LaVonne Lemler, Samir Mehta, Chris Lemler, Richard Slominsky, Erik Bates, Aaron Shurtleff, Ruth Cichoski, and Alexis Andino


John F. Kennedy

publication date: Tuesday, February 9, 2021

category: Government

clue: His assassination in November 1963 birthed many conspiracy theories about lone gunmen, and one lone gunman was literally birthed on the same day.

explanation: Kennedy inspired the name of John Fitzgerald Byers, who was born on November 23, 1963, on The X Files. more…

difficulty: very easy

solved by: Russ Wilhelm, Steve West, LaVonne Lemler, Samir Mehta, Chris Lemler, Richard Slominsky, Denise Sawicki, Erik Bates, Aaron Shurtleff, Ruth Cichoski, and Alexis Andino


Larry Bird

publication date: Monday, February 8, 2021

category: Sports

clue: This three-time champion athlete was known for his demeaning trash talk on the court, not the sort of person you'd want as a neighbor even if you lived in Boston.

explanation: Bird, who won three championships with the Boston Celtics, inspired the name of Larry Bird on The Neighbors. more…

difficulty: very easy

solved by: Russ Wilhelm, Steve West, LaVonne Lemler, Samir Mehta, Chris Lemler, Richard Slominsky, Denise Sawicki, Erik Bates, Aaron Shurtleff, and Ruth Cichoski


David Hume

publication date: Sunday, February 7, 2021

category: Philosophy

clue: This Scottish philosopher believed that our idea of self derived entirely from our lived experience, for example the experience of your partner being killed by rogue androids and your captain assigning you an advanced android as your new partner.

explanation: Hume inspired the name of David Hume on Total Recall 2070. more…

difficulty: medium

solved by: Russ Wilhelm, Steve West, LaVonne Lemler, Samir Mehta, Chris Lemler, Richard Slominsky, Denise Sawicki, Erik Bates, Aaron Shurtleff, and Ruth Cichoski


Michelangelo

publication date: Saturday, February 6, 2021

category: Art

clue: As beloved by children as it was, a cartoon about anthropomorphic turtles who practice ninjitsu in sewers was not exactly timeless art on par with, say, the statue of David or the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

explanation: Michelangelo inspired the name of Michelangelo on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. more…

difficulty: very easy

solved by: Russ Wilhelm, Steve West, LaVonne Lemler, Samir Mehta, Chris Lemler, Richard Slominsky, Denise Sawicki, Erik Bates, Ruth Cichoski, and Alexis Andino


Robert Singer

publication date: Friday, February 5, 2021

category: Television

clue: Television science fiction shows as divergent as Timecop, Smallville, V, and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman have this man in common, so eventually the writers of another of his shows about supernatural phenomena decided to honor him by naming a character after him.

explanation: Singer inspired the name of Bobby Singer on Supernatural, one of the many shows that he has had a hand in producing, directing, or writing. more…

difficulty: hard

solved by: Russ Wilhelm, Steve West, LaVonne Lemler, Samir Mehta, Chris Lemler, Denise Sawicki, Erik Bates, and Ruth Cichoski


Albert Einstein

publication date: Thursday, February 4, 2021

category: Science

clue: This physicist so profoundly advanced our understanding of the universe that it's possible to imagine aliens someday visiting our nation.

explanation: Einstein inspired the name of Albert Einstein on Alien Nation. more…

difficulty: very easy

solved by: Russ Wilhelm, Steve West, LaVonne Lemler, Samir Mehta, Chris Lemler, Richard Slominsky, Denise Sawicki, Erik Bates, Ruth Cichoski, and Alexis Andino


Harry S. Truman

publication date: Wednesday, February 3, 2021

category: Government

clue: Being the president of the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s was a far more important elected office to hold than, say, being sheriff of a very strange valley town in Washington state roiled by a teenager's murder.

explanation: Truman inspired the name of Harry S. Truman on Twin Peaks. more…

difficulty: very easy

solved by: Russ Wilhelm, Steve West, LaVonne Lemler, Samir Mehta, Chris Lemler, Richard Slominsky, Denise Sawicki, Erik Bates, Ruth Cichoski, and Alexis Andino


Art Bell

publication date: Tuesday, February 2, 2021

category: Radio

clue: This paranormal investigator spent years shining a light into the blackest shadows of supernatural mysteries on his bicoastal AM show, which would have made him the right man to look into a case of identical cloned orphans.

explanation: Bell, who hosted Coast to Coast AM, inspired the name of Arthur "Art" Bell on Orphan Black. more…

difficulty: easy

solved by: Russ Wilhelm, Steve West, LaVonne Lemler, Samir Mehta, Chris Lemler, Richard Slominsky, Denise Sawicki, Erik Bates, and Ruth Cichoski


Syd Barrett

publication date: Monday, February 1, 2021

category: Music

clue: Pink Floyd's original frontman shocked legions of fans when he was fired for the band for schizophrenic illness, a topic that might make for an interesting show set in the world of the X-Men.

explanation: Barrett inspired the name of Syd Barrett on Legion. more…

difficulty: easy

solved by: Russ Wilhelm, Steve West, LaVonne Lemler, Samir Mehta, Chris Lemler, Richard Slominsky, Denise Sawicki, Erik Bates, Ruth Cichoski, and Alexis Andino


John Locke

publication date: Sunday, January 31, 2021

category: Philosophy

clue: This English philosopher is known for developing the theory of empiricism and connecting consciousness to the notion of self, not for getting lost on a mysterious tropical island with his wheelchair after a plane crash.

explanation: Locke inspired the name of John Locke on Lost. more…

difficulty: easy

solved by: Russ Wilhelm, Steve West, LaVonne Lemler, Samir Mehta, Chris Lemler, Richard Slominsky, Denise Sawicki, Erik Bates, Ruth Cichoski, and Alexis Andino