Ranking the 10 Best Professors In Pop-Culture History – WITH BONUS PROFESSOR FACTS!


Professor Farnsworth



Just going to take a moment here to hopefully sway the final rankings for the Professor on this list that I stan the hardest. Hubert J. Farnsworth might be the most heightened yet refined versions of the “wacky professor” archetype in pop culture history. Combining cold unfeeling scientific drive with the delirious obsessions brought on by old age, he’s everything you could want for in this kind of character. Simultaneously the wizened sage and amoral senile fool, he provides exposition, conflict, and resolution all through his bizarre and reality warping inventions which are all-but necessary for sci-fi comedy as a genre. Quotable, memeable, and essential, an upvote for Hubert is an upvote for Professor posterity.

BONUS PROFESSOR FACT: Professor Farnsworth is named after Philo Farnsworth, an American inventor who developed several key inventions that made early television transmissions possible.


Professor McGonagall



Minerva McGonagall is a rarity in the world of Harry Potter, a faculty member of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry who DOESN’T have some crazy dark secret or double-cross motivation. A veteran of two wizarding wars and an expert in Transfiguration, she embodies the ideal educator, someone strict and straightforward with her expectations, while also caring and protective of her students. As portrayed with aplomb by Dame Maggie Smith, McGonagall has thrown down with Dolores Umbridge, Severus Snape, and led the resistance to victory in The Battle of Hogwarts. It just proves the old adage, b*tches get stuff DONE.

BONUS PROFESSOR FACT: The film version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone the tabby cat who played Minerva in her animagus form was named “Mrs. P. Head”.


Professor X



The history of Professor Xavier is as twisted and convoluted as the X-Men themselves. While initially a kindly old-fashioned intellectual with a grand Utopian vision for the future, he’s since been complicated by mind melds, secret evil twins, and a handful of deaths/resurrections. Over the years we’ve had some iconic interpretations of the character, from the high-pitched whine of the 90s animated series to the warm gravity of Sir Patrick Stewart’s cinematic version. Whether you’re a misunderstood mutant or just an idealistic comic fan, this hairless omega-level telepath has always been on our minds when it comes to fictional professors.

BONUS PROFESSOR FACT: Recent comics revelations included that the Professor had a secret marriage with shape-shifting super villain Mystique.


Professor Oak



One of the most recognizable “professors” in gaming history, Professor Samuel Oak is the first face you see in the original Pokemon Games, and under whose guidance your naive 10 year-old avatar takes their first bold steps to… uh… fill a pokedex that this supposed lifelong expert has left completely blank. While the stern-faced old man in the original Game Boy games has since given way to the accident-prone nutty professor we know today, it’s vital to remember that this sicko decided to casually throw you into a life-or-death rivalry with his own grandson just for shits and giggles.

BONUS PROFESSOR FACT: The name “Oak” is a shortened version of his Japanese surname “Okido” which means “orchid”, this started a tradition where ENGLISH pokemon professors were always named after trees while JAPANESE professors were named after flowers.


Professor Utonium



Sugar, spice, and everything nice… these were the ingredients chosen by our next entry before he accidentally added an extra ingredient to create the most kickass kids in basic cable animation history. Professor Utonium might not be the best father-figure in the world, having created many of the Powerpuff Girls’ rogues gallery, but he was always supportive and loving to the best of his abilities. By the way if you’re already posting that fan-theory that he is secretly Samurai Jack from a divergent timeloop please stop wasting time because yes I agree that is 100% the truth.

BONUS PROFESSOR FACT: In series creator Craig McKracken’s original pilot animation, the professor was designed to look like an aged version of Dexter from Dexter’s Labororatory, which was a project developed by Craig’s friend Genndy Tartakovsky.


Professor Moriarty



This one goes out to the fangirls out there still churning out those SuperWhoLock fanfics and living their best life. While the character of Professor James Moriarty revolutionized the idea of the supergenius nemesis in popular fiction back in 1893 (he’s manages to “kill” Sherlock Holmes in his first story appearance by Arthur Conan Doyle), he didn’t achieve full internet obsession status until 2010. His manic yet charismatic portrayal by Andrew Scott in Sherlock made the criminal mastermind larger than life (and added a smidge of queerbaiting humor that you’ll just have to trust seemed lovely and progressive back in the day). To this day many fans of Sherlock still remember the agonizing wait to see the ending to Season 2’s “The Reichenbach Fall” resolved with many competing fan theories that were arguably even better than what the series writers actually came up with.

BONUS PROFESSOR FACT: Arthur Conan Doyle didn’t initially give his villain a first name. The name “James Moriarty” was first given to his brother, and a later stageplay that Doyle co-wrote referred to the character as “Robert Moriarty”.


Professor Layton



What if you threw together Sherlock Holmes, TinTin, and the Goddamn Batman into a single whimsical form spawned from a million idealized misconceptions that Japan has about Europe? You’d have the raddest top-hat wearing videogame hero since Scrooge McDuck. While Hershel Layton is a consummate gentleman and a scholar, you’d better have your hint coins saved up because there’s no greater feeling of disappointment on earth than when English VO Christopher Robin Miller lets you know “Frankly, I’m ashamed” with that he buttery warm voice.

BONUS PROFESSOR FACT: Christopher Robin Miller has ALSO provided the voice for “Bubbles” King Kai’s mischievous chimpanzee from Dragonball Z


Professor E. Gadd



Eccentric inventor of such memorable Gamecube-era gadgetry such as the water-pumping F.L.U.D.D. from Super Mario Sunshine and the Poultergust 3000 from Luigi’s Mansion, Professor Elvin Gadd was kind of an odd addition to the Mushroom Kingdom when he first appeared in 2001. Fulfilling the role of the eccentric scientist, E. Gadd allowed the Mario Bros. to go on adventures and adopt gameplay mechanics that were perhaps a little too “sci-fi” for their established lore, but it also raised a bunch of questions as to why this tiny old-ass human was just kind of “around” without having been previously mentioned. Nonetheless, he is an honored member of the Mario family regularly made appearances in the the spinoff games.

BONUS PROFESSOR FACT: In other languages his name changes to fit some sort of misfortune-based pun, such as “D. Sastre” (disaster) in Spanish or “K. Tastroff” (catastrophe) in French.


Professor Plum


He’s the purple piece from the game Clue. His role as a professor has little bearing on how the game is played (some “house rules” versions of the game say that he can start in the Study, gaining easier access to the Kitchen). He was played by Christopher Lloyd in the movie and that was pretty neat. He is on this list because our nostalgia-addled brains are broken and he’s one of the names that come into play when you say “Professor”.

BONUS PROFESSOR FACT: The original version of the game as patented in 1944 was named MURDER!


Professor Klump



Only 90s kids might remember this mind-bending cgi body horror (slash flatulence comedy) about a sincere and tragically obese college professor, but back in the day The Nutty Professor was a juggernaut and is still one the most successful comedy remakes of all time. Eddie Murphy played Sherman Klump with a relatable pathos (I mean, relatable if you too were a chunky shy nerd in 1996 whatever shut up) and the at-the-time cutting edge effects blended practical makeup prosthetics with digital morphing technology to create some truly genuinely disturbing imagery.

BONUS PROFESSOR FACT: According to Box Office Mojo, The Nutty Professor ranks 6th in total box office earnings in the “Comedy – Fat Suit” catergory behind Mrs. Doubtfire and The Santa Clause 2.

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