Star Trek’s Hidden Connection To The Big Bang Theory

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

The Big Bang Theory Star Trek: The Next Generation

During its insanely successful 12 seasons, The Big Bang Theory included plenty of references to Star Trek and even had Wesley Crusher actor Wil Wheaton as a frequent guest star. Historically, though, this was a one-way street, with the sci-fi franchise never directly referencing the ensemble CBS comedy. However, Star Trek: Discovery snuck in one homage to The Big Bang Theory in the most unexpected way: Harry Mudd’s insect helper, “Stuart,” was named after the hapless comic store owner who frequently sold issues to characters like Leonard and Sheldon.

The Stuart Bloom Connection

The Big Bang Theory Stuart

If you’re a Star Trek fan who has never watched The Big Bang Theory, you may need a little context. In the latter show, Stuart Bloom isn’t a member of the core gang…instead, he’s the owner of The Comic Center of Pasadena, a place that the core characters frequently visit to buy and discuss all things nerdy. Even as Stuart became a steadily more prominent member of the show (with actor Kevin Sussman becoming part of the regular cast), he was often presented as even nerdier than the original gang, someone whose meek nature and poor social skills made him unlucky in both love and business. 

Frequent Star Trek Guests In The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory Will Wheaton

Over the years, Star Trek became a more prominent part of The Big Bang Theory episodes, with characters doing everything from debating which Enterprise captain was better to frequently dressing up as Starfleet characters and even playing Boggle in the Klingon language. Star Trek stars frequently made guest appearances on the show, including LeVar Burton and George Takei. By far, the most frequent guest star is Wil Wheaton, who (despite some bumps along the way) becomes a good friend to Sheldon and the other characters.

As we mentioned before, Star Trek never explicitly referenced The Big Bang Theory, which makes sense. After all, the franchise can get away with characters referencing literary giants like Shakespeare and even re-enacting the adventures of Sherlock Holmes. It would be significantly more of a stretch, however, to portray characters as far into the future as the 32nd century as fans of a 21st-century sitcom.

Star Trek: Discovery Returns The Favor (Kind Of)

Star Trek: Discovery Rainn Wilson Harry Mudd

Interestingly, though, Star Trek: Discovery included a sly homage to The Big Bang Theory, one subtle enough to go over most fans’ heads. In the episode “Choose Your Pain,” Rainn Wilson plays Harry Mudd, a character first portrayed in The Original Series. He is stuck onboard a Klingon prison ship along with Discovery officers Ash Tyler and Captain Lorca, and Mudd has a trained insect friend that fetches him food and (thanks to a listening device) spies on others.

Does Kevin Sussman Approve?

Originally, this Star Trek script gave the creature the imaginative name “Bugsy,” but co-executive producer Ted Sullivan (apparently a big fan of The Big Bang Theory) gave the critter a new name. You guessed it: he was renamed “Stuart” explicitly as an homage to Stuart Bloom. It’s a neat connection between the two shows, though we’re not sure how Kevin Sussman would feel knowing that a producer looked at a tiny annoying insect and immediately thought of his Big Bang character.

Waiting For Sheldon To Weigh In

The Big Bang Theory Sheldon

Certainly, Star Trek referencing someone from The Big Bang Theory would make the characters of the latter show happy. Considering that both Leonard and Sheldon prefer The Original Series over The Next Generation, we can’t help but wonder how they would have felt about Discovery as a TOS prequel. Of course, if we ever get that previously announced Big Bang revival show on Max, we might just get Sheldon’s thoughts on NuTrek, one cringe-inducing “bazinga!” at a time.