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The Mathematical TV Database
by Burkard Polster and Marty Ross
Last updated: June 30, 2019.
(Recent additions have been marked with a $$$)
This page, along with our Movie Database, complements our book Mathematics goes to the movies. It contains a growing list of TV series and TV episodes that contain mathematics.
In 2016, we split off our TV entries into this separate webpage. It is still clumsy, with many titles to add, and reformatting to be done. Some TV series, such as The Simpsons and Futurama, clearly require their own dedicated webpages. Other series, it's a judgment call whether to document every episode containing mathematics or to simply give a global statement describing the mathematical content of the series. Either way, this page is very much a work in (very slow) progress.
Contact. If you know of any mathematical movie or TV episode not on our list, if you spot a mistake, or if you would like to get in touch with us about anything whatsoever, we'd be delighted for you to contact us:
Must-See mathsy TV SERIES (criteria: fun, full of maths, enjoyed watching)
(This is a work in progress: there are a number of very promising series we still have to work through.)
Futurama (1999 − 2008) IMDB ***** Lots of very funny maths in the background. Everything about maths in Futurama can be found in the maths section of the amazing site La indoblable pagina de Bender bending Rodriguez.
Hard Nut (2013) IMDB ***** A great series centred on Kurumi, a dizzy but brilliant student, helping out detective Tatsuhiko. It's clunky and has poor production values, but Ai Hashimoto is very funny as Kurumi, and there's tons of excellent mathematics. The mathematics is mostly correct, even if the plots are incredibly contrived.
The Simpsons (1989 → ) IMDB ***** Tons of clever maths. Check out simpsonmaths.com. Clips on Oliver Knill's page.
The Complete List of TV Episodes
77 Sunset Strip − Ep 6.17: Not Such a Simple Knot (1964) IMDB ** A boy genius supposedly figures out a winning gambling system. A couple good 1-liners but no real maths.
The A-Team − Ep 1.7: The Rabbit Who Ate Las Vegas (1983) IMDB ** A mathematician figures out a system to win at gambling, using "the infinity concept of declining numbers".
ABBA : When I Kissed the Teacher (1976) (Music Video) *** A music video featuring a maths teacher and geometric formulas on a blackboard.
The Abbott and Costello Show − Ep 1.2: The Dentist's Office (1952) IMDB *** Bud asks Lou a puzzle, where Lou is 40 years old, in love with a little girl who is 10 years old. So, Lou is four times as old as the girl, and in 5 years, he'll be three times as old as the girl (45 and 15). In a further 15 years, he'll be twice as old the girl (60 and 30): "Hey, she's catching up!" "Yes! How long do you have to wait before you and the little girl are the same age?"
The Abbott and Costello Show − Ep 1.8: The Army Story (1953) IMDB ***** Abbott and Costello perform an excellent version of their 7 x 13 = 28 routine.
The Abbott and Costello Show Ep 1.19: Bingo (1953) IMDB *** Very funny bit where a vendor gives Costello two bananas and tries to convince him it's three: "That's a-one banana ain't she? [shows Costello one banana]. That's a-two banana? [shows him two bananas]. One banana, two banana, that's a-three banana".
The Abbott and Costello Show − Ep 2.26: Barber Lou (1954) IMDB *** Very strange scene, where a cop gives Costello a speeding ticket. "How many people you got in this car?" "Seven." "How many in the front seat?" "Three." "How many in the back seat?" "One." "... How much is three and one?" "That's a hard one, ain't it?" "No it's not a hard one!". "Well, that's seven ain't it?" "No it's not seven! Now how many in the car?", and they go around again.
The Adventures of Robin Hood − Ep 3.29: The Genius (1958) IMDB *** Nicodemus is a mathematical genius who comes to Sherwood Forest and builds a superior catapult. For a 12th Century mathematician, he knows a hell of a lot about projectile motion.
$$$ All in the Family − Ep 3.23: Gloria the Victim (1973) IMDB ** "Forty thousand arrests in this country for rape last year, and less than 10% convictions." "Well, this guy will make 11%." Later, Archie is looking forward to his footlong hotdogs but has to make do with six inch ones. "Oh, Daddy, what's the difference? Just put two of them together." "No good." "Why? They taste the same." "No, they don't. They taste shorter."
All in the Family − Ep 4.23: Pay the Twenty Dollars (1974) IMDB *** Archie has accidentally given Jefferson a phoney twenty dollar bill, with hilariously tangles as they try to resolve it. Best exchange: Jefferson: "I checked these serial numbers against our list. This is 8, 9, 1, 7, 0, 4, 1, 2. These are counterfeit serial numbers." Edith: "They sound like real numbers to me!"
The Andromeda Strain (2008) IMDB ** A bit of exponential growth and binary code. IMDB lists the first lines as "There's a lion out there, and a triangle". It turns out to be a misquotation of "There's Orion out there, and Drago".
The Andy Griffith − Ep 5.30: Opie Flunks Arithmetic (1965) IMDB *** Opie (Ron Howard) gets a D in arithmetic. Andy helps him with long division, though Andy doesn't cope very well with Opie's persistent "why"s.
Arthur − Ep 1.14: Arthur and the True Francine (1996) IMDB ** Muffy cheats on a maths test.
Arthur − Ep 5.13: It's a No-Brainer (2000) IMDB *** Buster beats Brain in the Mathathon, confusing everybody. A fair bit of maths, and a weird definition of hypotenuse.
The Avengers − Ep 3.20: Trojan Horse (1964) IMDB *** Tony Heuston is a mathematician who strayed into gambling: "At University my mathematics tutor said to me, mathematicians could rule the World. So, this gave me a big idea ...". Catherine Gale infiltrates Heuston's bookmaking racket by reeling off some impressive probability calculations.
The Avengers − Ep 4.23: The House that Jack Built (1966) IMDB ** A Long and very cool scene, with Emma Peel caught in a house which seems to loop back on itself.
Batman − Ep 2.43: Penguin Sets a Trend (1967) IMDB ** Batman and Robin are about to be catapulted, and Batman uses the cube root of π to calculate where they'll land. Later the Penguin steals army papers from Army headquarters, known as the Hexagon. Clip on our maths clips page
Battlestar Galactica − Ep 4.20: Daybreak Part 2 (2009) IMDB ** In the last scene (the angel) Caprica waxes philosophical:"Mathematics, law of averages. Let a complex system repeat itself long enough and eventually something surprising may occur. That, too, is in God's plan."
The Benny Hill Show − The Crazy World of Benny Hill (1988) IMDB ** A young child has to work out 3+2 on a slate, and Benny gives a hint by holding up his hand. She responds by drawing a picture of his hand.
The Berenstain Bears − Ep 3.16 The Wishing Star (2003) IMDB ** Sister Bear works hard to improve upon her C in maths. She gets 4 x 6 correct, and is praised by Papa for working it out slowly and thinking it through.
Beyblade Burst − Ep 1.2 Kerbeus: Guard Dog of the Underworld! (2016) IMDB * Sister Bear works hard to improve upon her C in maths. She gets 4 x 6 correct, and is praisd by Papa for working it out slowly and thinking it through.
The Big Bang Theory (2007 →) IMDB *** Comedy about some science nerds. Mostly physics jokes, but some good maths ones as well.
The Big Bang Theory − Ep 1.1: Pilot (2007) IMDB *** "There's some poor women who's gonna pin her hopes on my sperm. What if she winds up with a toddler who doesn't know if he should use an integral or a differential to solve for the area under a curve?" "I'm sure she'll still love him." "I wouldn't."
The Big Bang Theory − Ep 2.1: The Bad Fish Paradigm (2008) IMDB *** "Maybe we should slow things down a little ...". "No I didn't mean to go into your apartment to go fast." No, I know. I know what you meant. It's just, this is only our first date." Yeah o.k. sure, no problem. Why don't we just figure out where we're going, and when we want to get there, and then rate of speed equals distance over time... Solve for R ..."
The Big Bang Theory − Ep 2.8: The Lizard-Spock Expansion (2008) IMDB ** "Oh, look, Saturn 3 is on." "I don't want to watch Saturn 3. Deep Space Nine is better." "How is Deep Space Nine better than Saturn 3?" "Simple subtraction will tell you it's six better." "Compromise. Watch Babylon 5." "In what sense is that a compromise?" "Well, five is part way between three... never mind."
The Big Bang Theory − Ep 2.9: The White Asparagus Triangulation (2008) IMDB *** "More to the point, it's about finding a way to keep Leonard and Stephanie together." "Oh, I don't think you can." "Why not?" "Look at Leonard's record! 27 days with Joyce Kim." ("During which she defected to North Korea.") "Two booty calls with Leslie Winkle." ("For which she awarded him the nickname 'Speed of Light Leonard'.") "And the three hour dinner with Penny." ("Which would have been two and a half if they ordered the soufflé when they sat down.") "Based on the geometric progression, his relationship with Stephanie should have ended after 20 minutes." "Yes, I'm aware of the maths. Y equals 27 days over 12 to the N'th. The issue remains."
The Big Bang Theory − Ep 2.13: The Friendship Algorithm (2009) IMDB *** Sheldon is rockclimbing, and freezes. "You alright there, Cooper?" "Not really. I feel somewhat like an inverse tangent function that's approaching an asymptote." "Are you saying you're stuck?" "What part of an inverse tangent function approaching an asymptote did you not understand?"
The Big Bang Theory − Ep 2.15: The Maternal Capacitance (2009) IMDB *** Sheldon connects with Leonard's mother. "What are the odds that two individuals as unique as ourselves would be connected by someone as comparatively workaday as your son?" "Is that a rhetorical point or would you like to do the math?" "I'd like to do the math." "I'd like that too."
The Big Bang Theory − Ep 2.16: The Cushion Saturation (2009) IMDB *** Sheldon is upset that Penny is in his spot on the couch. "That is my spot. In an ever-changing world, it is a single point of consistency. If my life were expressed as a function on a four dimensional Cartesian coordinate system, that spot at the moment I first sat on it would be zero zero zero zero." "What?" "Don't sit in his spot."
The Big Bang Theory − Ep 2.20: The Hofstadter Isotope (2009) IMDB *** "Come on, Howard. The odds of us picking up girls in a bar are practically zero." "Oh, Really? Are you familiar the Drake equation?" "The one that estimates the odds of making contact with extraterrestrials by calculating the product of an increasingly restricted series of fractional values such as those stars with planets and those planets likely to develop life N equals R times Fp times Ne times Fl times Fi times Fc times L?" "... Yeah. That one ... You can modify it to calculate our chances of having sex, by changing the formula to use the number of single women in Los Angeles, the number of those who might find us attractive, and what I call the Wolowitz coefficient." "The Wolowitz coefficient?" "Neediness times dress size squared. Crunching the numbers, I come up with a conservative 5812 potential sex partners within a 40 mile radius." "You're joking." "I'm a horny engineer, Leonard. I never joke about math or sex."
The Big Bang Theory − Ep 3.11: The Maternal Congruence (2009) IMDB *** Sheldon wants to put a bust of Isaac Newton on the top of the Christmas tree, because Newton was born on Christmas Day. When Leonard objects, Sheldon assumes it's because Leonard is arguing for Leibniz to be at the top.
The Big Bang Theory − Ep 3.12: The Psychic Vortex (2010) IMDB *** Raj tries to get Sheldon to accompany him to a mixer, but Sheldon suggests that instead they imagine they're in Flatland: "Oh, look! There's a sexually attractive line segment. You should chat her up. Tell her you're a circle. Flatland gals are all hot for circles".
The Big Bang Theory − Ep 3.18: The Pants Alternative (2010) IMDB *** Sheldon gets drunk before giving a speech: "Alright, you people ready to have some fun? You have a basic understanding of differential calculus and at least one year of algebraic topology? Well, here come the jokes ... Why did the chicken cross the Möbius strip? To get to the same side." Later, Sheldon discusses how in a 4-dimensional world he could take his pants off over his head, and then proceeds to demonstrate.
Blackadder II &minus Ep 2: Head (1986) IMDB **** Blackadder: "Right Baldrick, let's try again. This is called adding. If I have two beans and then I add two more beans, what do I have?" Baldrick: "Some beans." Blackadder: "Yes ... and no. Let's try again, shall we? I have two beans, then I add two more beans what does that make?" Baldrick: "A very small casserole." Blackadder: "Baldrick, the ape creature of the Indus have mastered this. Now, try again. One, two, three, four! So how many are there?" Baldrick: "Three." Blackadder: "What?" Baldrick: (Pointing) "And that one." Blackadder: (Picking it up) "Three and that one. So if I add that one to the three what will I have?" Baldrick: "Ah! Some beans."
$$$ The Bletchley Circle (2012 → 2014): IMDB ** Fun miniseries about four female codebreakers from Bletchley Park solving murders after the war. A few coding references and the like, but no real mathematics. $$$ The Bletchley Circle &minus Ep 1.2 : Cracking a Killer's Code, Part 2 (2012) IMDB * A couple of clumsy and optimistic 1-liners about factor analysis and "vector analysis of a crime scene", to "track the changes in the pattern". $$$ The Bletchley Circle &minus Ep 1.3 : Cracking a Killer's Code, Part 3 (2012) IMDB ** Unintentionally funny scene, with Susan using truth tables and Russell's Principles of Mathematics to sort out the various clues to the murderer's identity. $$$ The Bletchley Circle &minus Ep 2.1 : Blood on Their Hands, Part 1 (2014) IMDB ** "If this was a vector plot they'd all be flat lines pointing in the same direction. There is no code to crack". A funny scene, with Susan checking out a boarding school for girls, and clearly unhappy with the standard of maths. $$$ The Bletchley Circle &minus Ep 2.4 : Uncustomed Goods, Part (2014) IMDB * The villain uses an enigma machine to encode her messages. Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo − Ep 1.64: Geometry 101 - Painful, Perplexing and Pungent Polygons! (2005) IMDB *** Crazy episode of a crazy series, where all the animated characters turn in to polygons: "Your days of roundness are over!" Lots of polypuns.
Bogan Pride − Ep 1.3: The Maths Olympiad (2008) IMDB **** Boonelg High School competes in the regional championships. "Your lovelife is like the square root of negative 1". "???" "Imaginary!".The Maths Olympiad song has to be seen to be believed.
The Brady Bunch − Ep 1.17: The Undergraduate (1970) IMDB ** Greg gets a crush on his maths teacher. Some base 5 arithmetic on the blackboard.
Bromwell High − Ep 1.2: Police Story (2005) IMDB *** Martin the maths teacher accidentally draws an incredibly dirty Venn diagram.
Bromwell High − Ep 1.4: No More Teachers (2005) IMDB *** "Maths is as easy as 1, 2, 7". Later, a monkey takes over teaching of the maths class; the union objects because the standards have improved.
Bromwell High − Ep 1.7: Goodbye Mr. Crisps (2005) IMDB *** Bromwell High can't afford whiteboard markers, so Martin does an imaginary sum on the whiteboard. "Then, uh, we can multiply these two factors here to, uh, produce a solution where Y equals ... 5? Yes, Y equals 5." "I don't think that sum is right, sir." "Ah! But how can you tell? Because it's invisible." "You forgot to carry the one." "What? [he checks his work] ... Fuck!"
Bromwell High − Ep 1.12: Drama Queen (2005) IMDB *** There's a fight over what to do with some extra money which has come to the school. "What about maths?" "Oh, no one cares about maths, Martin, you little shit." "You're just saying that because of the trial separation." "No, she's quite right. No one does care about maths, Martin, you little shit."
Buffy the Vampire Slayer − Ep 1.9: The Puppet Show (1997) IMDB ** Willow discusses a brain-hunting demon with Xander. "What could a demon possibly want from me?" "What's the square root of 841?" "29 ... Oh, yeah."
Buffy the Vampire Slayer − Ep 3.16: Doppelganglang (1999) IMDB ** Anya weeps for her fate as an ex-demon: "For a thousand years I wielded the powers of the wish. I brought ruin to the heads of unfaithful men. I brought forth destruction and chaos for the pleasure of the lower beings. I was feared and worshipped across the mortal globe. And now I'm stuck at Sunnydale High. Mortal. A child. And I'm flunking math!"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer − Ep 5.19: Tough Love (2001) IMDB *** "We were acting out a geometry problem ... so we made a triangle with our bodies, and that's when I called Xander obtuse, and he got really grumpy. And then Dawn said we were a cute triangle and, well, hilarity ensued."
Burn Notice − Ep 3.5: Signals and Codes (2009) IMDB ** The episode features Spencer, a crazy mathematician who believes murders are being committed by aliens. He's supposedly good at cryptography, but there's no actual maths.
Castle − Ep 5.18: The Wild Rover (2013) IMDB * A murdered baker was found with $50,000. At $4 a pop, he would have to sell 12,500 cupcakes.
$$$ Catch-22; Ep 1.5 (2019) IMDB * A little arithmetic on Yossarian failing to complete his quota of missions.
Cheers − Ep 3.13: Whodunit? (1985) IMDB ** Coach has a hilarious version of the guess-your-age trick.
Cheers − Ep 3.16: Teacher's Pet (1985) IMDB ** Coach can't remember whether he was good at geometry or geography.
Cheers − Ep 4.3: Someday My Prince Will Come (1985) IMDB ** "Woody would you add up these receipts for me, please?" "Sure ... There's eight of 'em."
Cheers − Ep 7:10: Bar Wars II: The Woodman Strikes Back (1989) IMDB * "Hey, big shot, we won this contest the first two years they had it." "Well since I opened I won the last four." "All that proves is you've won it twice as much as we have."
City Homicide − Ep 3.11: Hot House (2009) IMDB **** A mathematics professor and another get killed, with equations written all over their bodies: we wrote the equations! Your humble movie collectors acted as consultants on the epsiode, and we put in as much good maths as we could. Lots of Riemann Zeta functions on the professor's whiteboards (and body), and beautiful maths of all kinds on the boards of the professor's student. Burkard's clay paraboloid is the "blunt object" used to stun one of the victims, and the QEDcat even makes an appearance!
The Colgate Comedy Hour − Ep 2.36 (1952) The Colgate Comedy Hour − Ep 2.36 (1952) IMDB **** Abbott and Costello reprise their famous routine where Costello proves that 7 x 13 = 28. More hammy, and a bit tired, but still very funny.
Columbo − Ep 6.3 (1977) The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case IMDB *** A crappy episode of one of our favorite programs. The victim and murderer are members of a Mensa-like club for people with high I.Q.'s. The murderer sets Columbo a puzzle: In a room, are several sacks of gold pieces, as many sacks as you like. Each sack contains several of these gold pieces, again, as many as you like. One sack, however, is full of artificial gold pieces, and they weigh differently. Now, the solid gold pieces weigh let's say, a pound each. And the artificial pieces weigh whatever you like, say a pound and an ounce each. You have a scale to calculate just one weight. Which sack has the artificial gold pieces? Needless to say, Columbo solves the puzzle.
The Comedy Company (1988) IMDB *** Kylie Mole discusses her love of maths. "... we just hate doing stupid subjects like maths and that, 'cause maths is so spac. 'cause, um, aw fair dinkum, you know like Venn diagrams and that? You know oh whoopy doo oh through a party, you know? Where uh where uh um real that's really knowin' about, that's really gonna help you get guys an' that, you know? You know, and real and unreal numbers, you know? Oh great, you know, 'That's a really unreal number'. Far out, you know. 'I'm so so spaced out, Man.' Ehw! So stupid! Everyone hates maths. Except Amanda. She goes, 'Oh, Excellent! Maths! Ehw!" Just to spite me. So, when Sir wasn't looking I went I went, I just stuck my compass in her. So good!"
"And um, then Sir went, "Um, if you had twenty-five apples on your desk and um I took a fifth what would you have?' and Deano goes 'A punch up!'. And Sir goes 'That's enough' and then he went 'Alright, if you had two balls and you took away 100% of them, what would you have?' And um Johnno goes 'A maths teacher' ... And um then he goes 'Now if you had a five dollar note and asked your father for another five dollar note, how much would you have?' and Deano goes 'Sir! Sir! A five dollar note." And Sir goes, 'Deano, you don't know your arithemtic.' And Deano goes,'You don't know my Dad.' "
The Cosby Show − Ep 2.12: Mrs. Westlake (1986) IMDB ** Theo's "dragon lady" maths teacher asks to meet Theo's parents. It turns out the dragon lady is incredibly hot. A bit of fun with whether Theo's test score is 89 or 68.
The Closer − Ep 1.1: Pilot (2005) IMDB ** A murder has been committed and Dr. Collier, "an important mathematician", has disappeared. Seems more like a computer scientist, and no maths.
Criminal Minds − Ep 4.8: Masterpiece (2008) IMDB *** Really stupid episode, with a psychopath planning his murders according to the Fibonacci numbers and the golden ratio. All the usual mumbo jumbo.
$$$ Deadwood − Ep 1.1: Deadwood (2004) IMDB * A couple of bits of arithmetic, with a sinister edge.
$$$ Deadwood − Ep 1.6: Plague (2004) IMDB ** Some arithmetic about how much to pay some horsemen to go fetch a smallpox vaccine "assuming they all survive."
$$$ Deadwood − Ep 2.3: New Money (2005) IMDB * Some arithmetic to do with selling Wild Bill Hickok's last letter.
$$$ Deadwood − Ep 2.9: Amalgamation and Capital (2005) IMDB * "3 plus 3 would equal 6." "Well I sometimes put 9 to amuse myself."
Doctor Who − Ep 3.30: The Celestial Toymaker (1966) IMDB ** In the only surviving episode of this story, the Doctor has to complete a 10-piece Tower of Hanoi in the minimum 1023 moves, in order to defeat the Toymaker.
Doctor Who − Ep 5.1 - 5.4: The Tomb of the Cybermen (1967) IMDB IMDB IMDB IMDB *** The Cybermen set a careful puzzle-trap, so that only an excellent logician will unfreeze them. The foolish Klieg obliges. Lots of logical and mathematical mumbo jumbo: "If you take the sum of the integrals and express the result as a power series, then the indices show the basic binary blocks".
Doctor Who − Ep 6.6 - 6.10: The Mind Robber (1968) IMDB IMDB IMDB IMDB IMDB ** " For twenty-five years, I delivered five thousand words every week." "Well that's over half a million words!" True: it's six million over.
Doctor Who − Ep 8.11 - 8.14: The Claws of Axos (1971) IMDB IMDB IMDB IMDB *** The Axons are looking to travel in time, demand equations from Doctor Who, and accuse him of lying: "Pure mathematics cannot lie!" The Doctor also uses arithmetic questions to stop the Axons getting inside Jo's head. "What is three 7's", "21", "times 4", "84", "minus 35", " ... 49", "twice that", " ... 88" (sic!), "plus 10", "108", "divide by 9", "12", "divide by 4", "3", "three 7's" ...
Doctor Who − Ep 13.9 - 13.12: Pyramids of Mars (1975) IMDB IMDB IMDB IMDB *** Doctor Who quickly solves the Liar Puzzle. And he does some quick (and weird) arithemtic: "120.3 centimeters, multiplied by the binary figure ten zero zero. That's 162.4 centimeters, correct?" "Show off!".
Doctor Who − Ep 18.25 - 18.28: Logopolis (1981) IMDB IMDB IMDB IMDB *** Logopolis is a world populated by mathematicians. They perform a sort of mental/manual mathematics that influences physical matter.
Doctor Who − Ep 19.19 - 19.22: Earthshock (1982) IMDB IMDB IMDB IMDB *** "Tell me, what is the square root of 3.69873" "About 1.92321" (Astonished at the speed) "That's not possible!" "Oh, he's very good".
Doctor Who − Ep 20.9 - 20.12: Mawdryn Undead (1983) IMDB IMDB IMDB IMDB ** The Brigadier, a maths teacher at a posh English school, gets tangled up in the Doctor's time travels. "You don't have to be a Time Lord to cope with A level maths." Later, the Doctor gets frustrated at the at the Brigadier's confusion: "You never did understand the interrelation of time". "Not much call for that in the A Level syllabus, Doctor."
Doctor Who: The Five Doctors (1983) IMDB ** Dr Who figures out that the key to crossing a deadly chessboard lies in the digits of π.
Doctor Who − Ep 21.21 - 21.24: The Twin Dilemma (1984) IMDB IMDB IMDB IMDB ** Romulus and Remus are mathematically brilliant twins. They are playing a game of equations when they are abducted by Mestor, who wants to use their abilities to move some planets.
Doctor Who − Ep 25.8 - 25.10: Silver Nemesis (1988) IMDB IMDB IMDB ** A mathematician in 1638 calculates the period of a comet, which is scheduled to crash into the Earth in 1988.
Doctor Who 2005 − Ep 3.7: 42 (2007) IMDB *** To get through the door security during an emergency, they have to type the next number in the sequence: 313, 331, 367. Doctor Who immediately realizes the answer is 379; "It's a sequence of happy primes ... Any number that reduces to 1 when you take the sum of the square of its digits and continue iterating until it yields 1 is a happy number... A happy prime is a number that is both happy and prime. Now type it in! I dunno, talk about dumbing down. Don't they teach recreational mathematics anymore?".
Doctor Who 2005 − Ep 4.10: Midnight (2008) IMDB *** Sky is taken over by some intelligence, immediately repeating whatever anyone else says. The Doctor tests her accuracy, with Sky repeating a half a second behind him: "The square root of pi is 1.772453850905516027298167483341 wow".
Doug − Ep 4.1: Doug's maths Problem (1994) IMDB ** Doug's maths problem is a sealed note from his teacher. Problems on time and distances of trains keep appearing.
Der Elefant - Mord Verjährt Nie − Ep 1.2: Liebesbrief eines Toten (2004) IMDB *** A maths student was murdered 20 years ago, and a fellow student, now professor, is a suspect. One of the detectives apparently understands the maths: "The arithmetic mean of omega plus 1.23 to the power of phi equals the limit of the inverse function lambda and the square root of k, whereby k must be a constant. Simple." "Sure. For someone who never had any friends in school."
Eleventh Hour − Ep 3: Kryptos (2006) IMDB ** A brilliant meteorologist uses the Fibonacci numbers to model climate change. Clip on Oliver Knill's page.
Eureka (2006 → ) IMDB ** Quirky series about a town populated by brilliant scientists and their families. A statue of Archimedes is on Archimedes street at the town centre, Lake Archimedes is nearby. There's some humorous maths around the edges: blackboards with PDEs and a few very funny 1-liners. The credits show some children working out ODEs and matrix eigenvalue problems.
Eureka − Ep 1.1: Pilot (2006) IMDB *** Kevin is an autistic child prodigy. He works on complicated equations, and given a calendar date he can tell the day of the week. In this episode he fills in the missing parts of an equation to help save time from unravelling. Plenty of equations and some pretty funny "geek" dialogue.
Eureka − Ep 1.2: Many Happy Returns (2006) IMDB * A little arithmetic from Kevin.
Eureka − Ep 1.3: Before I Forgot (2006) IMDB * Some integral calculations on a transparent glass blackboard.
Eureka − Ep 1.5: Invincible (2006) IMDB * A funny probability 1-liner.
Eureka − Ep 1.7: Blink (2006) IMDB ** Two ditzy-looking cheerleaders are chatty as they walk to class: "... which basically means certain nonlinear dynamical systems, extremely sensitive to initial conditions ..." "exhibits a phenomenon known as chaos. Come on Courtney, that's a textbook definition. You gotta take specific evaluation ..."
Eureka − Ep 2.3: Unpredictable (2007) IMDB ** A 1-liner about the water from Lake Archimedes sourcing a perfect storm. Kevin does the day of the week calendar trick, though gets it wrong.
Eureka − Ep 2.4: Games People Play (2007) IMDB ** "Do you remember Ockham's razor?" "Um, yeah. Uh, ... simple things ... are true." "Close enough."
Eureka − Ep 2.5: Duck, Duck Goose (2007) IMDB ** A little chat about probability, topology and tomography.
Eureka − Ep 2.8: E = MC ...? (2007) IMDB ** A funny scene with Sheriff Carter testing a biologist whether she's dumb by asking for the square root of 3006. Later, a "math theorist" is listed as someone able to help solve an epidemic of dumbness.
Eureka − Ep 2.9: Sight Unseen (2007) IMDB * Probability equations on a blackboard in one scene.
Eureka − Ep 2.10: God is in the Details (2007) IMDB * A 1-liner about the need for faith beyond mathematics.
Eureka − Ep 2.12: All That Glitters (2007) IMDB *** A statue of Pythagoras turns to gold. A little chat about chaos, and math having "no wiggle room".
Eureka − Ep 3.4: I Do Over (2008) IMDB ** A time loop episode with a pretty funny equations scene.
Eureka − Ep 3.10: Your Face or Mine (2009) IMDB ** Zoe is doing her homework, and Jo and SARAH (the house) are no help: "So, if you differentiate the cross product of r and p, with respect to time, that should equal zero, right?" "Can't SARAH help you?" "I'm sorry. I'm not programmed to cheat."
Eureka − Ep 3.11: Insane in the P-Brane (2009) IMDB *** Sherriff Carter is stuck in the fifth dimension with a couple bickering scientists. "Why do you have such a problem with me?" "The whole scientific community has a problem with you." "Oh, why? Because I disproved Cook and Moore's half-baked theory about fractals not needing a Hausdorff dimension greater than their topological one?"
Eureka − Ep 3.13: If You Build It (2009) IMDB * A refrence to exponential growth and a little arithemtic.
Eureka − Ep 3.14: Ship Happens (2009) IMDB ** Kim returns as a clone, the remains of a spaceship computer. She downloads her information by writing equations all over the walls of her room.
Eureka − Ep 4.1: Founders' Day (2010) IMDB * Some blackboard equations.
Eureka − Ep 4.12: Reprise (2011) IMDB ** A quick and funny reference to "Gauss-Bonnet theory".
Eureka − Ep 4.14: Up in the Air (2011) IMDB ** A couple funny 1-liners on checking the math, and mathematicians counting to 50 (push ups).
Eureka − Ep 5.9: Smarter Carter (2012) IMDB * Some blackboard equations.
Eureka − Ep 5.10: The Honeymooners (2012) IMDB * Some blackboard equations.
Eureka − Ep 5.12: Double Take (2012) IMDB ** "Really? You served? Which division?" "Um, ... long division."
Everybody Hates Chris − Ep 1.2: Everybody Hates Keisha (2005) IMDB ** Chris tries to help Drew with his maths, but Drew is distracted by the lacing of his shoes. "So, you move the decimal point over two places." "Hey which one you like better? The spiderweb, or the stepladder?"
Everybody Hates Chris − Ep 1.16: Everybody Hates the Gout (2006) IMDB *** Very funny episode where Chris gets an F in maths. "The only place Martin Luther King didn't work was in maths." "Chris, what's the square root of 144?" "... 1963? The same year that Martin Luther King led the march on Washington?"
Everybody Hates Chris − Ep 2.21: Everybody Hates maths (2007) IMDB *** Chris tries to learn algebra, with some questionable help from Rochelle. The funniest scene is a deleted scene, a flashback of Doc as a child being quizzed by his white teacher: "Doc, what's the square root of 46 562?" "215.7823." "Very good! Now can you mop the bathroom?"
Everybody Loves Raymond − Ep 9.5: Ally's F (2004) IMDB *** Ray and Debra go to see Ally's maths teacher. He is unsympathetic: "The thing about maths is, numbers are constant, they're clear. They're ... logical, they're organized. Thirteen year olds are ... not. ... Their home lives and their love lives and their social lives, are not my problem. That is my problem, and the answer is pi!" Ray sums him up: "If X equals lame, that guy is four times X".
Family Guy − Ep 2.9: If I'm Dyin' I'm Lyin' (2000) IMDB *** "I think you just lied to Mom." "Chris, everything I say is a lie. Except that ... And that. And that, and that, and that, and that, and that ...... and that."
Family Guy − Ep 2.10: Running Mates (2000) IMDB ** The teacher recites Pythagoras's Theorem while flirting with one of the students.
Family Guy − Ep 2.14: Let's Go to the Hop (2000) IMDB *** Flashback to a pilgrim correctly reciting the quadratic formula. She is praised; then, being a girl who can answer maths problems, she is declared a witch.
Family Guy − Ep 3.3: Mr. Griffin Goes to Washington (2001) IMDB *** Peter imagines his kids learning maths on the street: "Louis left his house at 2:15, and has to travel the distance of 6.2 miles at the rate of five miles per hour. What time will Louis arrive?" "Depends if he stops to see his ho". "That's what we call a variable". Later, a senator proposes fining the El Dorado Tobacco Company infinity billion dollars; another senator suggests that fining them a real number would be more effective.
Family Guy − Ep 3.22: When You Wish Upon a Weinstein (2003) IMDB *** Fantasy scene demonstrating Chris's need to learn maths to function in the real world, getting directions at a gas station: "OK, now whatcha gotta is go down the road, past the old Johnson place, and you're gonna find two roads, one parallel and one perpendicular. Now keep going until you come to a highway that bisects it at a 45 degree angle. Solve for X." Peter dismisses this by declaring maths to be the lesbian sister of biology.
Family Guy − Ep 4.16: The Courtship of Stewie's Father (2005) IMDB ** "How do I get him to like me again?" "Well, that depends. You really want my advice, or you just asking random questions again?". "What's a hypotenuse?"
Family Guy − Ep 7.2: I Dream of Jesus (2008) IMDB ** Peter incessantly sings The Trashmen's Surfin' Bird − "the bird is the word". The Mayor's scientists investigate, and prove the bird is only greater than or equal to the word.
Family Ties − Ep 7.13: The Wrecker's Ball (1989) IMDB ** A pretty funny scene, with shiatsu removing a mental blockage.
Firefly − Ep 1.1: Serenity (2002) IMDB ** Jayne does the math of collecting 10% of nothing.
Firefly − Ep 1.7: Jaynestown (2002) IMDB ** River fixes Book's bible.
Firefly − Ep 1.12: The Message (2003) IMDB * Kaylee describes how River killed three attackers with her eyes closed: "... and it weren't autofire, or luck. She just ... she just did the math."
FlashForward − Ep 1.2: (2009) IMDB ** The FBI ponders why everyone on the planet blacked out at exactly 11 am (Pacific time). "There are 60 minutes in an hour, 60 seconds in a minute, so the chances of something happening at exactly the top of any hour are 1 in 3600". Well, sort of.
The Flip Wilson Show − Ep 3.4: (1972) IMDB **** Flip Wilson and Michael Jackson perform Abbott and Costello's famous 7 x 13 = 28 scene, with Wilson doing Abbott's bit, and Jackson Costello's. They do a very good job of it!
Freaks and Geeks − Ep 1.11: Looks and Books (2000) IMDB *** After a long absence, Lindsay rejoins the mathletes. In the World's longest blooper, every answer in the resulting competition is wrong, but is treated as correct: the hour hand of a clock moves 0.4 radians in 48 minutes; a rhombus with long diagonal 10 and large angle 100 degrees has area 42; if arcsin x = 2 arccos x then x = 0.9; the inscribed sphere of a cube has 0.52 the volume of the cube.
Friends − Ep 1.10: The One with the Monkey (1994) IMDB * Phoebe dates a physicist. A little vector calculus in the background.
Fringe (2008 → ) IMDB ** Some occasional maths, usually associated with Walter, the resident mad scientist. The sine rule and a couple Taylor-like formulas go zipping by in the opening credits.
Fringe − Ep 1.2: Same Old Story (2008) IMDB *** The combination lock to Walter's garage is 31, 41, 59. At the end of the episode, Walter tries to lull himself to sleep by reciting the Fibonacci numbers: intentionally or otherwise, he misses 5. He then starts naming apparently random Fibonacci numbers: 1, 233, 377, 2, 21, 610.
Fringe − Ep 1.8: The Equation (2008) IMDB ** An unsolved equation is the key to abductions.
Furuhata Ninzaburõ: Ep 1.13 Murder of Mathematician (1995) IMDB ***** The Columbo-like Furuhata introduces the epsiode with a fingerman trick for calculating 7 x 8. In the epsiode proper, two mathematicians receive the prestigious Australian Arbuckle award (for mathematicians under 40), for their work on dynamical systems in 4-dimensional manifolds. When one is killed, Furuhata solves the mystery: the other mathematician has killed him to take credit for the solution of Fermat's last theorem. Throughout the episode, Furuhata and the murderer play a simple Nim-like game: Furuhata shows his mastery at the end by winning, and by describing the mod 4 calculation behind it.
Futurama (1999 − 2008) IMDB ***** Lots of very funny maths in the background. Everything about maths in Futurama can be found in the maths section of the amazing site La indoblable pagina de Bender bending Rodriguez.
Futurama − Ep 1.6: A Fishful of Dollars (1999) ** IMDB Fry checks out his bank account, which he left with a balance of 93 cents. After a thousand years, at 2.25% annual interest, he winds up with 4.3 billion dollars. There's also some ancient Egyptian algebra. Clip on our maths clips page.
Futurama − Ep 2.11: The Lesser of Two Evils (2000) *** IMDB The robots Bender and Flexo share a laugh over their serial numbers, that both are expressible as the sum of two cubes: 3370318 = 1193+1193 and 2716057 = 9523+ (-951)3.
Futurama − Ep 3.14: Time Keeps on Slipping (2001) *** IMDB Professor Farnworth is unimpressed with The Harlem Globetrotters' mathematical expertise. "No wonder we failed to stop the time skips: diverting chronotons is mathematically impossible. I knew I should have checked your showboating Globetrotter algebra".
Futurama − Ep 5.10: The Farnsworth Parabox (2003) **** IMDB Terrific episode in which Professor Farnsworth invents a box containing a parallel universe. And, the parallel universe contains a box containing the first universe.
Futurama: Bender's Big Score (2007) IMDB *** The Harlem Globetrotters use their "razzle-dazzle globetrotter calculus" (variation of parameters and expansion of the Wronskian) to prove the possiblity of paradox-free time travel: "Man, that cube root was a real buzzer beater, Clyde".
Futurama: The Beast With a Billion Backs (2008) IMDB *** Very funny Flatland scene in the 2D Tunnel of Love: "Wow! You even look beautiful in 2D." "I do? But from your perspective I'm just a line segment." "A really hot line segment!" Dr. Wernstrom makes fun of Professor Farnsworth for only having one Fields medal. Later, in Heaven, the two collaborate and find "another" elementary proof of the Goldbach Conjecture.
Futurama: Bender's Game (2008) IMDB ** Mom controls the Earth's energy, dark matter in the form of an icosahedral crystal. To defeat her, the dark matter must come in contact with the antibackwards crystal, in the form of a dodecahedron. There's also a very funny scene with a boomerang coming back Pacman style.
Futurama − Ep 6.3: Attack of the Killer App (2010) ** IMDB Fry and Bender each have a million followers on their Twitcher accounts, so Mom concludes she can download a twitworm to their eye-phones to create two million zombies. Her son Walt corrects her, to conclude that "all we can say for sure is that there will be between one million and two million zombies". Mom whacks him.
Futurama − Ep 6.5: The Duh-Vinci Code (2010) *** IMDB Hilarious spoof of The Da Vinci Code. Dan Brown's book is one of the ancient texts: "... Some preposterous hogwash about the Fibonacci sequence ...". It turns out that Leonardo was an alien, too stupid to make it on his own Planet Vinci. Professor Farnsworth attends a calculus lecture, where all the answers have to be in the form of an opera; the lectures includes the Riemann Zeta function, and ellipses and linear transformations. Later, the humiliated Professor advocates using Leonardo's doomsday machine to "kill them all, starting with the maths teacher". There's also a maths museum in the form of the fifteen puzzle.
Futurama − Ep 6.6: Lethal Inspection (2010) *** IMDB Hermes and Bender search for Inspector 5, and confront a huge cube of administrator cubicles: "Wow. Until now I thought giant cubes were exciting." It turns out to work like a 4-dimensional Rubik's cube. They can't find any record of Inspector 5. "Maybe if I kick the ass of Inspector 2 plus Inspector 3 ..." "Addition never solved anything, Man!".
Futurama − Ep 6.10: The Prisoner of Benda (2010) ***** IMDB The only TV epsiode ever to have its own theorem. Professor Farnsworth's mind-switching machine can't directly switch the same two minds back into the original bodies. The characters' bodies and minds get hugely tangled, but the Harlem Globetrotters prove that any such tangle can always be inverted using two extra people: "And they say pure maths has no real world applications!" The complete proof is shown. At one point Bender, in Amy's body, has to prove he's a robot, but he fails when he doesn't know the square root of 9: "OK, look, I'm not that kind of robot."
Get Smart − Ep 1.1: Mr. Big (1965) IMDB * "Can you swim, Professor?" "No, but I am familiar with Archimedes' principle of displacement of water."
Get Smart − Ep 2.7: The Decoy (1966) IMDB *** Maxwell Smart is given a truth serum, but goes back to childhood memories. He recites the 2x tables and gets stuck on 2 x 7. Clip on our maths clips page.
The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show − Ep 1.16: Teenage Girl Spends the Weekend (1951) IMDB *** Gracie helps Emily with her homework. "I wish geometry were as easy as Spanish!" "Well maybe I can help you. Say something to me in Geometry." "Say something in geometry?" "Yeah. Go ahead." "Well alright. ... uh, Pi R squared." "Is that what they teach in school these days? Pi R squared?" "Yes!" "Emily! Pie are round!"
Gokusen (2002 → 2008) IMDB IMDB ** Kumiko is a cute and ditzy maths teacher by day, and the heir to a Yakuza clan by night. Not much maths. A very funny scene in Episode 11, when a preening Kumiko teaches quadratics, while being photographed for a magazine.
Gokusen (2004) IMDB *** Anime version. Still not much maths. In Episode 3 Kumiko gets really pissed when a dumb Yakuza member tells her that arithmetic and mathematics are the same thing.
The Good Place − Ep 1.4: Jason Mendoza (2017) ** IMDB A funny scene about Beyoncé being 104% perfect.
The Good Place − Ep 1.10: Chidi's Choice (2017) ** IMDB A funny scene, where Chidi apparently gets stressed because Rock-Scissors-Paper has too many variables.
The Good Place − Ep 2.4: Existential Crisis (2017) ** IMDB A funny little scene, with a scale going up to 13, but 8 is best.
The Good Place − Ep 2.9: Best Self (2017) ** IMDB A funny 1-liner about love being a five-dimensional blob.
The Good Place − Ep 2.11: Burrito (2018) * IMDB The torus thing; Eleanor and Chidi go through doors leading back to the same room.
$$$ Gravity Falls − Ep 2.7: Dreamscaperers (2013) ** IMDB An episode featuring a weird cult. A right-triangle with accompanying squares appears in the background.
Hard Nut (2013) IMDB ***** A great series centred on Kurumi, a dizzy but brilliant student, helping out detective Tatsuhiko. It's clunky and has poor production values, but Ai Hashimoto is very funny as Kurumi, and there's tons of excellent mathematics. The mathematics is mostly correct, even if the plots are incredibly contrived.
Hard Nut − Ep 1.1 (2013) IMDB ***** A great intro, with Kurumi talking mathematics being everywhere. Kurumi helps decipher the codes and tricks behind the bombings from a mathematical genius. A hilarious subplot has Kurumi trying to beat some thugs at poker, first through probabilities and then through sleight of hand.
$$$ Hard Nut − Ep 1.2 (2013) IMDB **** A good scene on the probabilities of false positives, and some very funny bits on kinematics and on Kurumi trying to impress Tatsuhiko with mathematical tricks. There's also coding with prime numbers, and some vague discussion of chaotic differential equations.
Help − Ep 1.5 (2005) **** IMDB Hilarious scene of a mathematician trying to explain Fermat's last theorem to his clueless psychiatrist.
House − Ep 4.15: House's Head (2008) ** IMDB House is being examined after being in a bus accident. "Did you just forget his name?" "No! Lesbian, find out if anybody on that bus was taken to other hospitals." "He just forgot mine." "No, '13'. I just wanted to call you a lesbian." "I'm not a lesbian". "I was rounding up, from 50%."
House − Ep 7.6: Office Politics (2010) ** IMDB Martha Masters, the new assistant, is a med student with a PhD in applied mathematics. A couple of very funny 1-liners; her favourite constant is e.
House − Ep 7.9: Larger than Life (2011) ** IMDB A very funny jibe about Masters caring about the proof of the Pythagorean Theorem. e.
House − Ep 7.12: You Must Remember This (2011) ** IMDB House makes a funny QED joke. e.
$$$ House − Ep 8.4: You Must Remember This (2011) * IMDB A little 2 x 2 x 3 arithmetic. e.
$$$ House − Ep 8.13: You Must Remember This (2012) * IMDB "You brought a protractor?" "You never know when you might need to make a pie chart." e.
How Not to Live Your Life − Ep 2.1: Don's New Flatmate (2009) IMDB *** A very short but very funny parody of Good Will Hunting, when Eddie completes some graph theory calculations on a hallway blackboard. All he does is write a = b, but later we see an astonished professor declaring it a breakthrough.
Ironside − Ep 4.15: The Quincunx (1971) ** IMDB The murderer is a hippy singer, who leaves mathematical clues in his songs. The quincunx indicates the location of the missing girl.
It's About Time − Ep 1.23: School days, School Days (1967) ** IMDB The Some pretty funny dialogue when Breer goes to school and learns addering and subtractering.
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius − Ep 2.7: Return of the Nanobots (2004) IMDB *** Similar to the Star Trek episode Wolf in the Fold. Jimmy Neutron stops the nanobots from zapping people by assigning them to calculate the exact value of π.
Kim Possible − Ep 4.11: Odds Man In (2007) *** IMDB After taking her to a thrilling evening at the Actuary of the Year Awards, Ron becomes obsessed with calculating the risks during Kim's crimefighting.
Kim Possible − Ep 4.14: Mathter and Fervent (2007) *** IMDB Kim and Ron fight The Mathter, who seeks revenge after being denied funding for his "unethical mathematical experiments". The climax is a fight in the Infinity Dome, between The Mathter and Ron's actuarial father.
Kodomo no Omocha − Ep 1.24: An Idiotic Life of Mathematics (1996) *** IMDB An impending maths test freaks out Sana: "Well my hatred for mathematics has a lot of passion behind it". She sings "Sana's life of Mathematics" and "What's the big deal about math?", both pretty crazy.
Kolchak: The Night Stalker − Ep 1.3: They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be (1974) ** IMDB Pretty funny version of using Lincos, to try to communicate with the wrong type of alien. "Your present location is the third planet of our star system. We are peaceful. I will now address you in Mathmatico, the universal language ... AGGHH!!"
Kyle XY − Ep 1.5: This Is Not a Test (2006) IMDB *** Kyle is a brilliant teenager who appears out of nowhere. On his first day at school, he solves the "Everest" challenge problem on a junior class blackboard: a Neumann problem for the wave equation on a disk.
Law and Order: Criminal Intent − Ep 2.2: Bright Boy (2006) IMDB *** An episode centering on young kids being accelerated into university. Theyr'e supposedly working on the Riemann Hypothesis.
Legend of the Seeker − Ep 1.18: Mirror (2009) ** IMDB "A hundred thousand divided by three leaves ten carry the one. No, carry the three. Wait. Thirty goes into ninety ...". "OK, let me just make it easier for you. Just divide by two". "But there's three of us ...".
Lost in Space − Ep 2.11: West of Mars (1966) ** IMDB Zeno, a super-villain, is a double for Dr. Smith. Both know the difference between differential and integral calculus, and Zeno was a mathematician before he became a murderer.
The Magic of David Copperfield XIII: Mystery on the Orient Express (1991) IMDB ***** The part of this show in which DC invites the TV audience to participate is based on an ingenious trick involving odd and even numbers.
The Magic of David Copperfield XIV: Flying - Live the Dream (1992) IMDB ***** The part of this show in which DC invites the TV audience to participate is a variation of the Nine Mystery explained in Martin Gardner's book Mathematics, Magic and Mystery.
The Magic of David Copperfield XVI: Unexplained Forces (1995) IMDB ***** The clock illusion, the part of this show in which DC invites the TV audience to participate, is based on maths.
Majo No Joken (Forbidden Love) (1999) IMDB ** A maths teacher and her student fall in love. A number of maths scenes, on coordinate geometry and quadratics and the like.
Malcolm in the Middle (2000 → 2006) IMDB *** Malcolm is the smark kid in a very pedestrian family. There are numerous funny maths scenes.
Malcolm in the Middle − Ep 1.1: Pilot (2000) IMDB *** After hilariously acing a perception test, Malcolm reluctantly joins the Krelboyne class for smart students. He is immediately confronted by a boy who wants to race him reciting π to 50 places. "Mark, set, go! Three point one four one five ..." "Turn around, or, I swear to God, I'll kill you."
Malcolm in the Middle − Ep 1.2: Red Dress (2000) IMDB *** Malcolm and his brothers are confined to their room, and Reese is staring at their ceiling. "I wonder how many holes are up in those tiles." "186,480." "You counted all of those?!" "No. You just count one tile's holes across and down, multiply it, then multiply it again by the number of tiles." "... You're doing that more and more." "Doing what?" "That brain thing."
Malcolm in the Middle − Ep 1.3: Home Alone 4 (2000) IMDB ** Malcolm calculates that 1 in every 17.4 family meal is pleasant. Malcolm's mother finds out her nickname among her in-laws: Lois Common Denominator.
Malcolm in the Middle − Ep 1.4: Shame (2000) IMDB *** The Krelboyne class is rehearsing a play, and the Director is unhappy: "Stop! Can't you put some life in it? It's 1969! The slide rule's about to be replaced by the pocket calculator! You have to feel the panic in the air!"
Malcolm in the Middle − Ep 1.8: Krelboyne Picnic (2000) IMDB **** The Krelboyne class are the entertainment at a picnic. Malcolm performs some impressive mental arithmetic, but the other acts are less gripping. "Our next act needs no introduction, having been the buzz of last year's maths fair. Please welcome Flora Mayesh, and Fermat's Last Theorem!! ... hello, is this, testing ..."
Malcolm in the Middle − Ep 1.13: Rollerskates (2000) IMDB *** Malcolm is carefully making a fair division of the french fries, and Reese and Dewey object. "This isn't fair!" "Yes, it is. It's absolutely fair." "I'm getting hungry." "We're doing it my way." "They're getting cold." "You want them divided up fairly or not?" "You have more than me." "No I don't. We all have 29 inches of fries so far. I have two 4-inchers, five 3-inchers and three 2-inchers. You have five 5-inchers and a 4-incher ..." At the end, Malcolm speaks to the camera: "Last week, we had curly fries. It took us three hours!"
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel − Ep 1.2: Ya Shivu v Bolshom Dome Na Kholme (2017) IMDB *** Mrs. Maisel's father, Professor Weissman, is an applied mathematician at Columbia University. This episode contains a very funny scene with Weissman teaching a class about linear independence and nullity.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel − Ep 1.6: Mrs. X at the Gaslight (2017) IMDB ** Professor Weissman is talking to Mrs. Maisel's husband in his office. Some dynamical systems on the blackboard in the background.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel − Ep 1.7: Put That on Your Plate! (2017) IMDB * Professor Weissman is interviewed for a job at Bell Labs. Some Sputnik talk, and some linear algebra in the background.
$$$ The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel − Ep 2.2: Mid-Way to Mid-Town (2018) IMDB ** An accountant struggles to figure out the company books: "I think it's a numerical system that has eliminated the number 6".
$$$ The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel − Ep 2.3: The Punishment Room (2018) IMDB *** A funny scene with Weismann waxing lyrical about the 3 body problem and Poincaré and Zeno. The calculation of the series solution of y" + y = 0 is in the background. And "Do not get the crab meat salad ... It's Monday, crab's delivered on Tuesday. Do the math."
$$$ The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel − Ep 2.9: Vote for Kennedy, Vote for Kennedy (2018) IMDB ** A very funny bit with Midge and Susie trying to figure out how a 24 hour clock works.
$$$ The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel − Ep 2.10: All Alone (2018) IMDB ** "And if you EVER threaten my daughter again I'm gonna punch you right in the nose. It won't hurt, I'm not strong. But at the very least you will be embarrassed that you got punched in the nose by a not-strong mathematician."
Maverick − Ep 1.17: Rope of Cards (1958) IMDB *** Great scene, with Maverick using a con trick, "Maverick Solitaire", to persuade the last holdout on a jury to acquit. Maverick bets that dealt 25 random cards from a deck, he can form five "pat hands": straights, flushes and full houses. Since the odds of a single pat hand from five cards is over 100:1, it may feel like the odds against Maverick are very high, but in fact his chances are over 98%.
Meet Corliss Archer − Ep 1.6: The Algebra Problem (1954) IMDB **** Remarkable episode, completely taken up with people trying to solve Corliss's "algebra" homework problem: "There are 17 prisoners in a jail, and there are 9 policemen in the courthouse, but they have one police car that holds 6 people, including the driver, and only a policeman can drive it. At no time can there be more prisoners than policemen, in the courthouse, in the jail, or in the car. The policemen have to bring the prisoners to the courthouse... How can all the prisoners be moved in 5 round trips?" The problem is impossible for a number of simple reasons, but no one seems to notice. At the end of the episode, it turns out that the teacher made a mistake: there are 15 prisoners, and 7 trips are permitted. Of course, the problem is still impossible.
Minder − Ep 2.3: You Lose Some, You Win Some (1980) IMDB ** An episode based around some people, including a maths teacher, successfully employing a roulette scheme. The scheme is of course never explained. A few percentages as the punters divide up their winnings.
Mister Eleven (2009) IMDB *** A silly 2-part comedy about a maths-obsessed maths teacher. Saz is concerned to marry her eleventh sexual partner, because that's what happens on average. Some nicely weird fantasy scenes, where Saz is trying to solve the problems of her love life by talking it out to her maths class. Also, there's an unstated quiz question for which the answer is apparently "The factors of 13".
Monkey (Saiyûki) − Ep 2.4: Pigsy Learns a Lesson (1978) IMDB **** Remarkable episode. The four travellers come to a village, with posters of incorrect factional calculations on all of the walls. It turns out that there is a beautiful Fraction Demon, who captures any child good at fractions. The Demon feeds their entrails to her child, who is bad at fractions. At the end, she releases the fractions back into the remains of the dead children, and they are revived. Pigsy is attracted to the Demon: "A fraction obsession. Ain't that sexy?" However, Pigsy and the others struggles with the fractions. "To me, wonton is more important than won tenth." "3/4 plus 1/4 is one. O.K., but one what?"
Moonlighting − Ep 2.13: In God We Strongly Suspect (1986) IMDB ** A morgue worker is talking to David (Bruce Willis) and Maddie (Cybill Shepherd). "Do you know what I don't understand?" "Logarithms? [then, responding to Maddie's annoyed look] What? You understood those?"
Mr. Bean − Ep 1.1: Mr. Bean (1990) IMDB ** Mr. Bean's first ever skit. He flails helplessly in a maths exam full of calculus, having instead practised trigonometry. With two minutes to go, he discovers the alternative trigonometry exam.
Mr. Bean − Ep 1.13: Good Night, Mr. Bean (1995) IMDB *** To get to sleep Mr. Bean counts sheep in a picture. Losing patience, he uses a calculator to count them as 27x15, and immediately drops off. Clip on Oliver Knill's page.
Mr. Lucky − Ep 1.4: The Money Game (1959) IMDB ** A mathematics professor, complete with books and a slide rule, has a system to win at roulette. Pretty funny, though no real mathematics.
Mr. Lucky − Ep 1.22: Cold Deck (1960) IMDB ** A bit of probability of coin tossing, and some fake poker odds
Mr. Lucky − Ep 1.27: Hit and Run (1960) IMDB ** Mr. Lucky uses a compass and car mileage to determine where to search for a hit and run victim.
Musik ist Trumpf − Ep 1.1 (1975) IMDB *** Peter Frankenfeld does a solo version of the 7 x 13 = 28 routine.
Northern Exposure − Ep 4.3: Nothing's Perfect (1992) IMDB **** Amy is working on her doctorate, on π. A mixture of nonsensical maths talk and some deliberately funny maths scenes.
Numb3rs (1995 → ) IMDB ***** Too much maths to mention: a project in itself. Wolfram's Numb3rs website is a good place to start. Clips on Oliver Knill's page.
The Office − Ep 5.9: The Surplus (2008) IMDB *** Michael asks that "surplus" be explained to him as if he's a six year old. Then he goes for the five year old version. Clip on Oliver Knill's page.
Outer Limits − Ep 2.3: Behold Eck! (1964) IMDB **** In this great episode, a two-dimensional alien gets stranded on Earth, walks through walls (sideways!) and slices through buildings.
$$$ Person of Interest − Ep 4.28: Ep 5.2 SNAFU (2016) IMDB ** Pretty funny blooper, when the computer has a bug that makes it think all days are the same; the computer thinks it is "Day R", with R (in blackboard bold font) representing the set of real numbers.
Petticoat Junction − Ep 4.28: That Was the Night That Was (1967) IMDB ** An "alien" comes to Petticoat Junction and introduces himself as Dr. Isaac Newton. "Isaac Newton?!" "Something wrong?" "No, no. It's just that Isaac Newton is a well-known name." "Yeah, he was a pretty famous baseball player."
Pinky and the Brain − Ep 1.1: Das Mouse (1995) IMDB ** The Brain steals a submarine, but because of the Sub Club, he can only steer it in a spiral. His route is interpreted as a cunning "circular course, based on the golden mean, based on the nautilus shell".
Pinky and the Brain − Ep 2.11: The Maze (1997) IMDB ** Pinky and the Brain are put into a hologram maze, which has a terrific Escher section in it.
Pinky and the Brain − Ep 3.23: Bah, Wilderness! (1997) IMDB *** The Brain is a camp counsellor telling a scary campfire story. "My story begins on a night just like this one. Dr. Bill Hubbard of the Institute for Advanced Studies was computing algorithms to the power of 27,000, when the cosine button of his calculator became stuck, causing his results to increase exponentially! Unaware of the problem, he continued to use the Briggsian system. Needless to say, the sine curves of his indices were distorting along a quadratic progression! And what he say when he looked down filled him with an unspeakable terror! For it was the largest prime number ever computed!!"
Pinky and the Brain − Ep 3.46: Dangerous Brains (1998) IMDB ** "Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?" "I think so, Brain. But Zero Mostel times anything will still give you Zero Mostel."
Recess − Ep 3.2: A Genius Among Us (1999) IMDB *** A pretty good cartoon take-off of Good Will Hunting, with a healthy dose of maths talk. The mysteriously solved problems seem to be arc-length integrals, one of which is later referred to as the "genralized Fermat-Wiles equation".
Rocky and Bullwinkle − Ep 1.7 (1959?) IMDB ** The Brave Little Tailor proudly sings his killing seven flies with one swat: Town's gonna know, World's gonna know, about seven laid out in one blow. Two and two plus one add two, Town's gonna know, World's gonna know, about seven laid out in one blow.
Rocky and Bullwinkle − Ep 1.13 (1959?) IMDB *** Mr. Peabody and Sherman visit the Wright Brothers, who turn out to be two hillbillies who can't count up to three. "One. Uh, Uh ..." "Two, Orville". "Oh yeah. Two. That number always throws me. Two. What comes next?" "Uh, try nine". Later, they try seventeen.
Rocky and Bullwinkle − Ep 1.15 (1959?) IMDB ** In the Fractured Fairy Tale version of Cinderella, the Prince is trying to understand why he's broke: "This balance can't be right. My fortune runs into six figures". "Yes, you're Highness. But they're all zeroes".
Rocky and Bullwinkle − Ep 3.2 (1961?) IMDB *** In a very funny episode, Mister Peabody and his boy Sherman go back in time to visit Isaac Newton. Newton is having trouble proving the law of gravity, because his apples (and banana) keep going up rather than down.
Rocky and Bullwinkle − Ep 3.13 (1961?) IMDB ** A Fractured Fairy Tale stars a rotund knight called Sir Cumference. There's also a dragon who can't finish Dragon University, because he's weak in calculus. In the same episode, Snidely Whiplash Dudley uses the Dick Powell - Ruby Keeler method of cracking a safe: "Pick a number from 1 to 10, double it, and add a million".
Rocky and Bullwinkle − Ep 3.16: Boris Lends a Hand, or Count Your Fingers (1961?) IMDB *** Boris Badanov calculates the angle to shoot their rocket: "Let's see, 2 x 2 is 4, 6 x 13 is 78, 7 x 8 is 54, put down 7, carry 2, aha! 32 degrees". Too late, Natasha points out that 7 x 8 is 56.
Rocky and Bullwinkle − Ep 3.18: Rocky Takes the High Road, or Missile in the Thistle (1961?) IMDB *** Fearless Leader is in a rocket that loses its momentum: "Any Pottsylvanian schoolchild could tell you. When the progressive inertial momentum of an orbiting vehicle is diminished, the gravitational declination increases as π times the quatity V over H". "Which means ..." "I fall down". The Fractured Fairy Tale is about Little Fred Riding Hood, who was not very smart, "for he could only count up to 1 ... and he did that badly".
Rocky and Bullwinkle − Ep 3.20: Bullwinkle Makes His Bid, or Going! Going! Gun! (1961?) IMDB ** This adventure centres on the Kirward Derby, which makes the wearer the smartest person on Earth. There are flashbacks to Newton and Galileo wearing the Derby. (In episode 3.19, "Aristotle" is wearing the Derby in a bathtub, and cries "Eureka!" when he finds the soap).
Rocky and Bullwinkle − Ep 3.22: Million Dollar Carton or Jack in the Box (1961?) IMDB *** Boris as Art Looklater asks Bullwinkle a fake quiz question: "Tell me, do you know Plank's constant of quantum mathematics?" "No". "That's right! No, you don't. Congratulations!" This allows Bullwinkle to buy the Kirward Derby, and he tries it on. "Say, it fits like a dream". "Yeah, and the square of the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the two sides".
Rocky and Bullwinkle − Ep 3.24: Boomerang Bowler or Boris Makes a Comeback (1961?) IMDB *** Bullwinkle puts on the Kirward Derby, to figure out when the train will get them to Washington. "Easy. We'll figure the circumference of the standard wheel disk, times the rate of speed computed sigma times the inverse squared of the logarithm of the cosine and tangent". "Sure, we will". In the second instalment, there is a flashback to Prince Nazmo the 1/2 taking his final exam: "How, much is two and two?" "Uh ... what's a two?"
Rosario + Vampire − Ep 1.8: maths and Vampire (2008) **** Very weird anime. In this episode, the femme fatale maths teacher Ririko-sensei gives extra-curicular assistance. Lots of trig formulas, and some geometry and calculus, helped along with whips and brain-sucking plants.
Rosario + Vampire − Ep 2.8: Youth + Vampire (2008) *** Ririko-sensei is back, with her special teaching techniques. Not much maths this time, but the windmill proof of Pythagoras's Theorem can be seen in the background.
Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In − Ep 1.3 (1968) ** IMDB Judy Carne, Jo Anne Worley, Ruth Buzzie and Cher try to split a tip of $11.34. Some pretty silly arithmetic.
S.W.A.T. − Ep 1.6: Octane (2003) IMDB ** Yet another failed attempt at the formula for the volume of a sphere. Plenty of pontification to go with the incorrect answer.
Sang-doo, Let's Go To School! − Ep 7 (2003) IMDB *** Enh-wan is not a very good maths teacher. She is writing up telescoping sums, when a student challenges her to solve a matrix problem. The solution requires the Cayley-Hamilton Theorem. She solves it with some outside help.
Seinfeld − Ep 4.20: The Handicap Spot (1993) IMDB ** Jerry draws a triangle doodle, and Kramer is impressed. "Why that's a nice triangle." "It's isosceles." "Ooh. Isosceles. You know I love the name Isosceles. If I had a kid I would name him Isosceles. Isosceles Kramer".
Seinfeld − Ep 9.15: The Wizard (1998) IMDB ** Jerry buys a Wizard organizer for his father, who uses it to calculate a 12.4% tip. Jerry claims the tip is $4.6666, which is in fact impossible.
Seinfeld − Ep 9.19: The Maid (1998) IMDB ** "646?" "It's a new area code." "What area? New Jersey?" "No no, it's right here in the city. It's the same as 212. They just multiplied it by 3 ... and then they added 1 to the middle number."
Sex and the City − Ep 2.9: Old Dogs, New Dicks (1999) IMDB ** "Hey. If 85% aren't circumcised, that means I've only slept with 15% of the population. Tops." "Wow. You're practically a virgin".
Sex and the City − Ep 2.14: The Fuck Buddy (1999) IMDB ** "You dumped him. Fits a pattern". "I don't have a pattern." "In maths, randomness is considered a pattern." "Yes, and I'm what they call a prime number."
Sex and the City − Ep 2.18 : Ex and the City (1999) IMDB ** Carrie ponders her ex. "In mathematics we learn that X stands for the unknown: A + B = X. But what's really unknown is, what plus what equals friendship with an ex. Is this an unsolvable equation?" Later, she solves the equation: cosmopolitans plus scotch equals friendship with an ex.
Sherlock − Ep 3.3 (2014) IMDB * We learn that Sherlock's mother, who appears to be an old biddy, was a brilliant mathematician.
Shine on You − Ep 1 (2004) IMDB ** A small classroom scene on identifying whether numbers are rational or irrational.
The Simpsons (1989 → ) IMDB ***** Tons of clever maths. Check out simpsonmaths.com. Clips on Oliver Knill's page.
The Simpsons − Girls just Want to Have Sums: Ep 17.19 (2006) IMDB ***** At Springfield primary school the boys do hard maths and the girls easy maths. Too easy for Lisa, who resorts to dressing as a boy to be able to do some real maths.
The Simpsons: Homer3 − Ep 7.6 (1995) (also 3D IMAX) IMDB ***** Homer stumbles into a 3D world, filled to the brim with mathematical bits and pieces.
Six Feet Under − Ep 1.7: Brotherhood (2001) IMDB *** maths class scene, culminating in the teacher's head exploding. Clip on our maths clips page.
Sliders − Ep 1.7 (1995) Eggheads *** Hilarious episode, with the sliders in a world where intelligence is the key attraction. The the biggest college sport is Mindgame. One of the questions in the game is to name π to 13 decimal places.
The Snow Queen (2006 − 2007) **** A Korean romance, between poor maths genius Tae-Woong and spoiled rich girl Bo-Ra. The plot is framed around an event 8 years earlier, when Tae-Woong wins a gold medal in the International maths Olympiad, outshining Jeong-Kyu, his competitive friend. Jeong-Kyu commits suicide, causing Tae-Woong to give up his maths studies. There's a fair amount of maths, mostly number theory, as an excellently quirky maths professor draws Han back to his studies.
The Snow Queen − Ep 1 (2006) **** Set back in school, the teacher presents a weird functional relation, to see how far Korea will get in the World Cup. Jeong-Kyu solves the relation, and Tae-Woong points out that Jeong-Kyu assumed the function was continuous. Tae-Woong writes a report on number theory, and Jeong-Kyu incorrectly accuses him of cheating. Later they become friends, and practice together for the Olympiad. Jeong-Kyu, whose goal is to win the Fields medal, is shattered by his result in the Olympiad and commits suicide.
The Snow Queen − Ep 5 (2006) *** Tae-Woong peeks in on a university class, and notices a student trying incorrectly to use Green's Theorem to calculate the line integral of a singular function.
The Snow Queen − Ep 6 (2006) *** The Professor assigns Tae-Woong some problems, and makes fun of his solution: "The problem can be solved in 5 or 6 lines. Where did you get the talent of filling up the whole blackboard?! ... Do you think stretching it out endlessly like gum, then writing it on the board is math?" After solving the integral with a trigonometric trick, he assigns Tae-Woong to read Serre's A Course in Arithmetic.
The Snow Queen − Ep 8 (2006) ** Tae-Woong writes a paper on Jensen-Rasseas mappings, which the Professor suggests sending to the Proceedings of the AMS.
The Snow Queen − Ep 11 (2006) ** Lots of talk lattices and generators of modules, in regard to Tae-Woong's paper.
The Snow Queen − Ep 12 (2006) *** Tae-Woong gives a lecture to the Professor's students on his paper. Lots of theta functions and tensors.
The Snow Queen − Ep 13 (2006) *** The Professor gets Tae-Woong to start thinking about arithmetic sequences in primes.
The Snow Queen − Ep 14 (2006) *** Tae-Woong tries to explain amicable numbers to Bo-Ra. The Professor suggests suggests studying some dynamical systems and ergodic theory to investigate primes.
The Snow Queen − Ep 15 (2007) **** Tae-Woong describes primes as proud, lonely numbers but Bo-Ra disagrees: they always have 1 as well as themselves as divisors. Tae-Woong makes progress on his primes problem by pondering an array of colored boxing gloves. Unfortunately, he seems to be also be referring to a book called Mathematics for Economists. The Professor complains that it will be hard to get Tae-Woong's work refereed, becuase number theorists don't know ergodic theory and vice versa.
The Snow Queen − Ep 16 (2007) ** Three years later, Tae-Woong returns from America a Doctor and having won the Fulkerson Prize. He gives a lecture on his work.
South Park − Ep 3.14: Pee (2009) IMDB ** The pee at a water park reaches 99%, and Cartman calculates the rate of takeover by minorities.
South Park − Ep 6.10: Bebe's Boobs Destroy Society (2002) IMDB ** Mr. Mackey tells the kids how to cope with the death of their teacher: "What we're gonna do is learn to hide our emotions, with maths problems." Later, Bebe, who now has boobs to attract the boys, gets 6 x 8 correct: "That is an awesome answer!"
South Park − Ep 7.4: I'm a Little Bit Country (2003) IMDB ** "Oh, and by the way Children, there's a walkout scheduled today to protest the war in Iraq. So, uh, if you're against the war, run along outside, and if you're for the war, uh, stay here and we'll do maths problems."
South Park − Ep 7.9: Christian Rock Hard (2003) IMDB ** Cartman and Butters calculate how much money they'll make from their Christian rock album.
South Park − Ep 11.8: Le Petit Tourette (2007) IMDB *** Cartman is faking Tourette syndrome. There's a very funny scene where he repeatedly interrupts Mrs. Garrison, who is attempting to explain the multiplication of negative numbers.
South Park − Ep 13.9: Butters' Bottom Bitch (2009) IMDB * Butters tries to recruit girls as (kissing) prostitutes during Mr. Garrison's maths class.
Star Trek − Ep 1.20: Court Martial (1967) IMDB **** Captain Kirk boosts the computer by a factor of 14.
Star Trek − Ep 2.14: Wolf in the Fold (1967) IMDB *** Spock cures a computer possessed by an alien, by commanding it to calculate π to the last digit.
Star Trek − Ep 2.15: The Trouble With Tribbles (1967) IMDB *** A tribble produces a litter of 10 babies every 12 hours. Assuming none die, Spock correctly calculates that beginning with one tribble trapped in the grain hold, then at the end of three days there will be 1,771,561 tribbles.
Star Trek, The Next Generation − Ep 1.12: Datalore (1988) IMDB *** Pythagoras's Theorem is used to trick Lore into showing he knows more maths than he pretends.
Star Trek, The Next Generation − Ep 2.12 : The Royale (1989) IMDB *** Captain Picard relaxes by pondering (the unproved) Fermat's last theorem.
Star Trek, The Next Generation − Ep 2.13 : Time Squared (1989) IMDB *** The Enterprise gets caught in a time loop, which Lieutenant Worf describes as "the theory of the Möbius". It's not clear why a theory of the cylinder or circle wouldn't suffice.
Star Trek, The Next Generation − Ep 3.9 : The Vengeance Factor (1989) IMDB *** Wesley Crusher: "This is the locally Euclidean metrization of a k-fold contravariant Riemannian tensor field."
Star Trek, The Next Generation − Ep 6.26 : Descent Part 1 (1993) IMDB *** Isaac Newton is summoned in hologram form, in order to play poker.
Star Trek, The Next Generation − Ep 7.10: Inheritance (1993) IMDB ** Data figures out that someone is an android because the "intervals between blinks of her eyes were governed by the Fourier system, the same mathematical formula that my father used to give my blinking pattern the appearance of randomness".
Star Trek, The Next Generation − Ep 7.25: All Good Things (1994) IMDB ** Captain Picard travels back and forth through time. In the future, Data holds the Lucasian chair of mathematics at Cambridge, living in Isaac Newton's house.
Star Trek, Deep Space 9 − Ep 3.25: Facets (1995) IMDB ** Daks says she is working on a proof of Fermat's last theorem that is different from Andrew Wiles's.
Star Trek, Voyager − Ep 2.18 : Deathwish (1996) IMDB ** Isaac Newton is summoned in hologram form.
Stargate SG-1 − Ep 2.6: Thor's Chariot (1998) IMDB *** In order to gain the help of the Asgards, Daniel and Samantha must pass a test of wisdom: the Riddles of the Runes. Daniel interprets the runes as numbers: 3, 14, 15, 9. Samantha then recognizes these as the digits of π.
Stargate: Atlantis − Ep 1.13: Hot Zone (2004) IMDB *** While on a boring exploration patrol, Radek and Rodney while away the time by throwing each other numbers to test for primeness. (Radek incorrectly states that 4021 is not prime, but no one seems to notice). The jockish Lieutenant Ford refuses to play along: "This is some sort of payback for guys like me beating up guys like you in high school, right?"
Stargate: Atlantis − Ep 4.6: Tabula Rasa (2007) IMDB *** A bacterium is causing memory loss in the crew, and McKay is really worried because his memory was always lousy: "I once forgot Mother's Day five years in a row". "What's the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter?" "Well that's pi. It's three point one four one five nine two six five etcetera etcetera. That doesn't count: that's easy".
Still Standing − Ep 2.14: Still Bill's Dad (2004) IMDB ** Brian's macho grandfather is not impressed by Brian participating in the maths Olympics: "You want a bow and arrow, in case one of them refs makes a bad call?" The actual quiz problems don't seem to make much sense.
Taken − Ep 1.3: High Hopes (2002) IMDB *** The mother of some kids doing algebra isn't coping very well with real life: "My best subject in school was algebra. People always say algebra's hard, but that is because they don't get how easy it is. I just loved all those X's. Anything you don't know, you just put down an X, or you can go with Y's, or A's and B's. In real life you have 1 plus 1, and if it doesn't equal 2, you're up a creek. But in algebra it always works, no matter what the answer is. You just have to figure out what X is."
Taken − Ep 1.7: God's Equation (2002) IMDB *** It turns out God's equation is the Fibonacci sequence: "writ large across the Heavens". This coming from two guys who just exploded a hamster. These same guys are trying to use Fibonacci numbers to track the aliens: apparently there are 55 breeding pairs, 46368 aliens in total, and so on. Fibonacci numbers are briefly mentioned again in Episode 9, where people are trying to figure out the alien language.
Taxi − Ep 1.1: Like Father, Like Daughter (1978) IMDB ** A short but funny scene of a guy trying to calculate a 15% tip.
The Tenant of Wildfell − Ep 1 (1996) IMDB ** Judging distances for painting, by "a combination of geometry and experience". "Surely mathematics has no place on the moors." Clip on Oliver Knill's page.
Threshold (2005 − 2006) IMDB *** This shortlived TV series contains the very funny character, Ramsey: a sarcastic dwarf mathematician, who likes to hang out in strip joints.
Threshold − Ep 1.1: Trees Made of Glass, 1 (2005) IMDB *** A four-dimensional alien object intersects our world and drives people insane. Nice graphics.
Threshold − Ep 1.2: Trees Made of Glass, 2 (2005) IMDB *** The mathematician Ramsey refers to isomorphic group therapy (!), monotonic null-sequences, and quadratic reciprocity.
Threshold − Ep 1.11: Outbreak (2006) IMDB *** The mathematician Ramsey is "determining the corresponding probability characteristics of a system of random variables" (by asking people in a market how many tomatoes they just bought and how many people make up their family.)
Thunderbirds − Ep 1.11: Sun Probe (1965) IMDB *** "Now, Brainman, I want you to calculate the following equation. What is the square root to the power of 29 of the trigonometric amplitude of 87 divided the quantative hydraxis of 956 to the power of 77." The answer is apparently 45969.
Torchwood − Ep 1.12: Captain Jack Harkness (2007) IMDB *** Toshiko (the "mathematician") and Jack are trapped in a dance hall in the 1940's. Their return to the present day depends upon some critical formulas. The formulas are actually elementary trig integrals. These formulas also get garbled from scene to scene, and at some point the differential dx becomes cx.
Total Drama − Ep 1.15: No Pain, No Gain (2007) IMDB *** Geoff has to sit in a barrel of leeches for ten seconds, but only lasts for 9.9999999999999999999 seconds.
The Twilight Zone: Little Girl Lost − Ep 3.26 (1962) IMDB *** A little girl is lost in another dimension, and a physicist comes to the rescue. Makes no sense, of course, but very creepy.
The Twilight Zone: From Agnes With Love − Ep 5.20 (1964) IMDB *** Agnes is an erratic, jealous computer. Elwood checks her out by asking for "the first prime number larger than the 17th root of 9 000 355 126 606". Agnes "correctly" gives the answer as "five", when in fact the answer is 7. Agnes's answer would have actually been correct if Elwood had asked for 9 billion instead of 9 trillion.
The Twilight Zone: The Cold Equations − Ep 3.16 (1989) IMDB * A pretty good version of the great Tom Godwin story. A bit of talk about equations but no real mathematics.
The Twilight Zone: I of Newton − Ep 1.12, New Series (1985) IMDB ***** "I'd sell my soul to get this right", exclaims a frustrated mathematician. The devil promptly appears to accept the trade.
Twin Peaks − Ep 1.5 (1990) IMDB ** The sexy Audrey Horne correctly sums up the situation: "I've been doing some research. In real life, there is no algebra."
Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps − Ep 8.4: Ello Ello (2009) IMDB ** Louis is trying to teach her 10 week old baby: "Now, what is the square on the hypotenuse equal to? ... No, it isn't spit-bubble you oaf!". Later, she bemoans the fact that her baby can't even grasp the basics of mathematical philosophy.
Two and Half Men − Ep 6.5: A Jock Strap in Hell (2009) IMDB ** Jake is tutored by his ex-teacher, now a sexy dancer. They discuss algebra with reference to dancing and tips, and the house's cut ("the constant").
The Two Ronnies (1986) IMDB *** "And in a packed program tonight, we shall be talking to a Catholic lumberjack and his mathematician bride to be, who plan to use the Logarhythm method."
A Very Peculiar Practice (1986 − 1988) IMDB *** The main character is Stephen Daker, the new GP at a university. In the first season, his flatmate is a quirky Burmese mathematician named Chen. The flat is full of blackboards, and there are a number of scenes of a happy Chen calculating away. Mostly matrix and tensor algebra.
A Very Peculiar Practice − Ep 1.3: Wives of Great Men (1986) IMDB *** Daker comes home, sees the blackboards covered with Chen's calculations, and comments on his good day's work. Chen explains otherwise: "This is a bad day's work! On a good day, maybe one line, but a good one. Same with poetry".
A Very Peculiar Practice − Ep 1.7: Catastrophe Theory (1986) IMDB *** In the final episode of the season, all Hell is breaking loose. As a metaphoric subplot, Chen has his work on catastrophe theory stolen by a fellow mathematician.
Weeds − Ep 1.12: Higher Education (2005) IMDB ** Sanjay is a maths tutor, whose tutee finds "what percentage is 12 of 75?" too much to handle.
Weird Al Yankovic: I Lost on Jeopardy (1984) (Music Video) ** Parody of the gameshow, to the tune of My Life's in Jeopardy. Weird Al chooses Potpourri for 100, and has to supply the question for which the answer is the Lorentz equations.
Weird Al Yankovic: Jurassic Park (1993) (Music Video) ** Very funny parody to the tune of Macarthur Park. References to Jeff Goldblum's mathematician character: "I admit it's kinda eerie, but it proves my chaos theory ..."
Weird Al Yankovic: White & Nerdy (2006) (Music Video) *** Parody of the rap song Ridin' (Dirty): "MC Escher is my favorite MC ... Yo I know pi to a thousand places ... Do vector calculus just for fun". It appears that the first 1000 digits of π are correctly displayed.
The West Wing − Ep 1.17: The White House Pro-Am (2000) IMDB ** Silly but well-written fluff, designed to make American Democrats feel good about themselves. But, at least this episode has a very funny conversation between the president and her daughter, about her not taking maths at college.
The West Wing − Ep 1.18: Six Meetings Before Lunch (2000) IMDB ** Funny conversation about reparations for slavery, multiplying the number of slaves, by the number of hours worked, by the market value of the labor, arriving at "a very conservative figure". "What is it?" "$1.7 trillion." "... OK ... this is probably a better discussion to have in the abstract."
The West Wing − Ep 2.3: The Midterms (2000) IMDB ** Some pretty funny banter about "acalculia".
The West Wing − Ep 2.16: Somebody's Going to Emergency, Somebody's Going to Jail. (2001) IMDB ** Funny subplot, with the Organization of Cartographers for Social Equality pushing for adoption of the Peters map projection.
The Wire (2002 − 2008) IMDB *** In the fourth season, Prez has been forced out of the Baltimore police force, beginning a new career as a maths teacher in a poor black school. Prez begins very awkwardly, but throughout the season develops an increasing rapport with his students. Somewhat reminiscent of Stand and Deliver.
The Wire − Ep 4.3: Home Rooms (2006) IMDB *** The episode is punctuated by Prez's fruitless efforts to get his students in interested in a word problem. "So, my question for you is [the bell rings to end class, and the students start banging out of the room] ... A, Who arrived in Philly first, Andre or Yvonne? ... And B, by how much time? [the room is now empty] ... And C, who gives a rat's ass?"
The Wire − Ep 4.7: Unto Others (2006) IMDB *** Prez notices his students playing poker very badly. He starts teaching them simple probabilities of cards and dice. In the later episode Know Your Place, two students want Mr. P to order candy over the internet for them to resell. He demands the cash upfront. They bring in the cash, explaining they won it in a corner crap game: "6 beats 4 or 5, and most times 8 is better than 10, right. You schoolin' me good! ..." "You shouldn't gamble." "I know. But I'm just sayin', maths be right, Mr. P".
Without a Trace: Claus and Effect − Ep 6.10 (2007) IMDB *** Glen is a brilliant maths grad, who gives it up to play Santa and blackjack.
Wonder Woman: The Pluto File − Ep 1.8 (1976) IMDB *** Professor Warren uses the harmonic equation and other PDE's to create earthquakes. He then struggles to figure out how to stop them, with Wonder Woman's help: "Integral calculus is always problematical", at which point she shows the Professor the critical substitutions. Clip on our maths clips page.
The Wonder Years − Ep 3.2: maths Class (1989) IMDB **** Kevin has a tough new maths class with Mr. Collins, a terrific character. Lots of algebra, fractions, absolute values and so on. A couple bloopers: the union and intersection of a Venn diagram are interchanged and the Venn diagram changes mid-scene; and, what are clearly meant to be the integers are labelled the rational numbers.
The Wonder Years − Ep 3.9: maths Class Squared (1989) IMDB *** Mr. Collins is back. Some cheaters claim he lives on "Planet Pythagoras". Some completing the square and so on. Mr. Collins (correctly) solves the equation √x + 3 = x + 1. There's a strange dream sequence when Kevin cheats himself into Mr. Collins' advanced maths class, ending in a Twilight Zone scenario.
The Wonder Years − Ep 3.20: Goodbye (1990) IMDB **** The last episode with Mr. Collins. The division of 6x2 + 2y2 + 7xy + 7y +3 by 3x + 2x. A terrific episode on the power of teaching.
The X Files − Ep 1.22: Roland (1994) IMDB *** Roland is an idiot savant, who corrects scientists' fluid dynamics equations when he's not killing them.
The X Files − Ep 3.11: Revelations (1995) IMDB ** The teacher calls Kevin to the blackboard to divide 11 into 170. He writes up the problem, but then his hands start bleeding with the signs of stigmata.
The X Files − Ep 7.17: All Things (2000) IMDB *** Mulder wants to investigate fractal-like crop circles, the appearance of the Mandelbrot set et al. Scully is sceptical: "... I'm not interested in tracking down some sneaky farmers who happened to ace geometry in high school".
Yakitate!! Japan − Ep 1.40 (2005) IMDB *** Pierrot sets the number 104 877 443 673 as a puzzle to decode, as a delaying tactic. But Azuma calculates almost immediately that the answer is Mamadoko: where's Mama. She notes that the number written in base 26 is (13,1,13,1,4,15,11,15), with each base 26 "digit" standing for a letter of the alphabet. Clip on Oliver Knill's page.
Still to Locate (Help!)
There are a number of obscure movies that we are keen to locate, some of which are listed below. As well, there are undoubtedly many maths movies out there that have never even occurred to us. If you think you have something new for us, we'd be delighted to hear from you!
Aventura de Catherine C. (1990) IMDB French romance with a mathematician as a main character.
La Chèvre d'Or (1942) IMDB Blaise Pascal is apparently a character.
Évariste Galois (1984) A short movie by Danièle Baudrier.
Famous Boners (1942) IMDB Isaac Newton appears, presumably doing something clumsy with an apple.
A Lover's Oath (1925) IMDB Early movie about Omar Khayyam. Probably no maths, but we'd like to check it out.
Les Maîtres du Soleil (1958) IMDB Pierre de Fermat is apparently a character.
Matemática Zero, Amor Dez (1958) IMDB An obscure Brazilian musical, about which we know absolutely nothing!
Monsieur Fabre (1951) IMDB Story of the famous entomologist (and maths teacher).
Omar Khayyam (1924) IMDB Another early movie.
Omar the Tentmaker (1922) IMDB Yet another movie about Omar Khayyam.
Unser Fräulein Doktor (1973) IMDB A romance of two mathematicians.
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