It’s a battle of two mad scientists!
In one corner, we have Futurama’s Prof. Farnsworth, the oldest, crotchetiest, maddest scientist you’ve ever seen!
In the other corner, we have Fringe’s Walter Bishop, the not quite as old and crotchety but certainly equally as mad scientist!
(Have you ever come across a madder scientist than these guys?)
Let’s see who comes out on top or, alternately, who keels over and dies first!
Physicality. Prof. Farnsworth is a cartoon character and an American one at that. Those guys are hardly ever attractive. Also, his head resembles an eggplant.
Walter Bishop is a dignified looking man with great hair and variable posture. Winner? Walter Bishop.
Has nearly destroyed an alternate universe? Why, yes, as a matter of fact! Prof. Farnsworth created and nearly destroyed an alternate universe, while in the same instance, his alternate counterpart simultaneously created and nearly destroyed our universe! Science is hard! Walter Bishop nearly destroyed the alternate universe (we’ll call it Universe A) when he went to rescue his alternate son from his alternate death. Winner? It’s a tie!
Has an interstellar spaceship? Prof. Farnsworth has an interstellar spaceship. Walter Bishop takes a lot of acid. It’s not quite the same thing. Winner? Prof. Farnsworth.
Has a better relationship with his relatives? Prof. Farnsworth has one living relative, his great (to the 30th degree) uncle Philip J. Fry from the 20th century. He constantly sends Fry on extremely dangerous missions and probably has tried to kill him in his sleep when no one was looking. Prof. Farnsworth also has a clone, but I’m not sure that’s the same thing as a “relative.” Walter Bishop has (as far as I can tell) one living relative, his son, Peter. Actually, it’s not really his son, since his son died and he replaced him with the alternate universe Peter. Still, they get along okay, when Peter can get past the whole “you kidnapped me from an alternate universe” issue. Winner? Errrrr … Walter?
Lives in a cooler city? Prof. Farnsworth lives in New New York, which was built upon the ruins of Old New York, which hosts sewer monsters and mutants galore. Also robots. Walter Bishop lives in Boston, which has a really cool comic book store that I went to one time. Also, lots of crazy things happen there like shapeshifters come to visit and stuff. Winner? Well, because most of the cool stuff happening in Boston seems to end up with someone dying horribly, we’re giving this one to Prof. Farnsworth, who lives in a city where people only sometimes end up dying horribly.
Has a better lab assistant? Walter Bishop’s lab assistant is the beautiful Astrid Farnsworth, which is possibly a coincidence but maybe not. (She’s actually an FBI agent, but she’s always stuck in the lab with the guy, assisting him, so it counts.) Prof. Farnsworth’s lab assistant is whomever he can get a hold of at the time, so it varies from Fry to Bender to Dr. Zoidberg and the rest of them, which is pretty cool. Still, Astrid is awfully sweet and awfully pretty. Winner? Walter Bishop.
Sports a better fashion sense? Prof. Farnsworth is generally found wearing a white lab coat and his bedroom slippers. Once, in the past, he wore a zoot suit.
Walter Bishop has a habit of wearing worn-out old sweaters or nothing but socks. Winner? We’re all losers here.
Has saved more people than he’s killed? Prof. Farnsworth’s delivery company has a motto: “Our crew is replaceable. Your package isn’t.” As such, he’s gone through several crews already and, as a mad scientist, is probably responsible for tons of deaths he’ll never admit to. Walter Bishop has doomed the alternate universe, as well as invented a bunch of stuff that people in our universe use for killing. Sure, now he’s on a team that’s trying to save the universe and the other universe, but has he really managed to reach a karmic balance here? Winner? We’ll give this one to Walter. At least he’s trying.
Has reached his 17th decade? You know who’s really old? Prof. Farnsworth is really old. He’s, like, in his 170s. 170s divided by 10 is 17 decades! Walter Bishop is not that old because he’s not from the future. Or is he? No, he’s not. Well, except for that one episode in Season Three, but whatever. Winner? Prof. Farnsworth.
Has created an actual, working time machine? Eh, not so much. Prof. Farnsworth traveled through time accidentally, created a non-working time machine and then created the “only going to the future” time machine, which he was forced to travel in through two incarnations of our universe. I mean, I guess that counts as “working,” but the “going back in the past” thing would be pretty nice too. Walter Bishop sent some pieces of a doomsday machine back in time, but not via a time machine he had created. Rather, it was a worm hole that led back to some dinosaur era (shut up, I don’t care which one it was). Winner? Prof. Farnsworth, kind of.
Wow, this one’s gotten a bit long. Let’s move on to a tie-breaker, shall we?
The tie-breaking question: Which of these two mad scientists has a more frightening alternate universe counterpart? Walter Bishop’s alternate universe counterpart is Walternate (a name Walter himself coined, proving that, deep down, he is a fanboy at heart), the Secretary of Defense who is willing to do anything (except experiment on children) to save his universe. Prof. Farnsworth’s alternate universe counterparts are sundry and varied, and include the one with no eyes. Which is frightening, but not as frightening as that Twilight Zone movie where the girl didn’t have a mouth. Winner? Walter, because the professor’s alternate universe counterparts really were intended to be played for comedic effect.
Overall winner? Walter Bishop, but only just barely.