Fry's career in television began with the 1982 broadcasting of The Cellar Tapes, the 1981 Cambridge Footlights Revue which was written by Fry, Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson and Tony Slattery. The revue caught the attention of Granada Television, who, keen to replicate the success of the BBC's Not the Nine O'Clock News, hired Fry, Laurie and Thompson to star alongside Ben Elton in There's Nothing To Worry About! A second series, re-titled Alfresco, was broadcast in 1983 and a third in 1984; it established Fry and Laurie's reputation as a comedy double act. In 1983, the BBC offered them their own show, which became The Crystal Cube, a mixture of science fiction and mock documentary that was axed after the first episode. Undeterred, Fry and Laurie appeared in an episode of The Young Ones in 1984, and Fry in Ben Elton's 1985 series, Happy Families. In 1986 and 1987 Fry and Laurie also performed sketches on the LWT/Channel 4 show Saturday Live.
Forgiving Fry and Laurie for The Crystal Cube, the BBC commissioned a sketch show in 1986 that was to become A Bit of Fry and Laurie. The programme ran for 26 episodes spanning four series between 1986 and 1995, and was very successful. During this time Fry starred in Blackadder II as Lord Melchett, Blackadder the Third as the Duke of Wellington, and notably in Blackadder Goes Forth as General Melchett. In 1988, he became a regular contestant on the popular improvisational comedy radio show Whose Line Is It Anyway?. However, when it moved to television, he only appeared three times: twice in the first series and once in the ninth.
Between 1990 and 1993, Fry starred as Jeeves (alongside Hugh Laurie's Bertie Wooster) in Jeeves and Wooster, 23 hour-long adaptations of P.G. Wodehouse's novels and short stories.
In 2000, Fry played the role of Professor Bellgrove in the BBC serial Gormenghast which was an adaptation of the first two novels of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast series.
In 2003, he began hosting QI, an intellectual panel game that has become one of the most-watched entertainment programmes on British television. In 2006, he won the Rose d'Or award for "Best Game Show Host" for his work on the series.
A foray into documentary-making has seen Fry fronting the Emmy Award-winning The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive in 2006, and in 2007 a documentary on the subject of HIV and AIDS, HIV and Me. Also in 2006, he appeared in the genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?, tracing his family tree to discover his Slovak Jewish ancestry. His six-part travel series Stephen Fry in America began on BBC One on 12 October 2008. A five-part companion series, More Fry in America, has been commissioned for BBC Four; it will feature in-depth essays that Fry couldn't include in the former documentary because of time constraints.
As of 2008, Fry is appearing in, and is executive producer for, the second series of legal drama Kingdom. He has also taken up a recurring guest role as psychiatrist Dr. Gordon Wyatt in the popular American drama Bones. While filming in Brazil for the series Last Chance to See, Fry broke his right arm.
On 7 May 2008, Fry gave a speech as part of a series of BBC lectures on the future of public service broadcasting in the United Kingdom, which he later recorded for a podcast.
Having made his film debut in the 1985 film The Good Father, Fry had a brief appearance in A Fish Called Wanda (in which he is knocked out by Kevin Kline, who is posing as an airport security man) and then appeared in the lead role for Kenneth Branagh's Peter's Friends in 1992. Portraying Oscar Wilde (a man of whom he had been a fan since the age of 13) in the 1997 film Wilde, he fulfilled to critical acclaim a role that he has said he was "born to play". In 2001, he played the detective in Robert Altman's period costume drama, Gosford Park. In the same year he also appeared in little known Dutch film The Discovery of Heaven, directed by Jeroen Krabbé and based on the novel by Harry Mulisch.
In 2003, Fry made his directorial debut with Bright Young Things, adapted by himself from Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies. In 2001, he began hosting the BAFTA Film Awards, a role from which he stepped down in 2006. Later that same year, he wrote the English libretto and dialogue for Kenneth Branagh's film adaptation of The Magic Flute.
Fry continues to make regular film appearances, notably in treatments of literary cult classics. He served as narrator in a film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and in 2005 he appeared in both A Cock and Bull Story, based on Tristram Shandy, and V for Vendetta. In 2006, he played the role of gadget-master Smithers in Stormbreaker, and in 2007 he appeared as himself hosting a quiz in St Trinian's. In 2007, Fry wrote a script for a remake of The Dam Busters for director Peter Jackson.
In 2008, he released a film celebrating the 25th anniversary of GNU, Happy Birthday to GNU. Fry has a support role in Valkyrie (film).
Fry became famous to radio listeners with the creation of his supposed alter-ego, Donald Trefusis, whose "wireless essays" were broadcast on the Radio 4 programme Loose Ends. In 1988, Fry wrote and presented a renowned six-part comedy series entitled Saturday Night Fry; frequent radio appearances have ensued (notably on panel games Just a Minute and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue). In 2000, he began starring as Charles Prentiss in the Radio 4 comedy Absolute Power, reprising the role for three further series on radio and two on television.
In 2007, he hosted Current Puns, an exploration into wordplay, and Radio 4: This Is Your Life, to celebrate the radio station's 40th anniversary. He also interviewed Tony Blair as part of a series of podcasts released by 10 Downing Street
In February 2008, Fry began presenting podcasts entitled Stephen Fry's Podgrams, in which he recounts his life and recent experiences. In July 2008, Fry appeared as himself in I Love Stephen Fry, an Afternoon Play for Radio 4 written by former Fry and Laurie script editor Jon Canter.
In August 2008 he hosted Fry's English Delight, a three part series on BBC Radio 4 about metaphor, quotation and cliché.
Fry wrote a play entitled Latin! (or Tobacco and Boys) for the 1980 Edinburgh Festival, where it won the "Fringe First" prize. The Cellar Tapes, the Footlights Revue of the following year, won the Perrier Comedy Award. In 1984, Fry adapted the hugely successful 1930s musical, Me and My Girl, for the West End, where it ran for eight years. He also famously starred in Simon Gray's 1995 play, Cell Mates, from which he left three days into the West End run, pleading stage fright. He later recalled the incident as a hypomanic episode in his documentary on bipolar disorder. In 2007, Fry wrote a Christmas pantomime, Cinderella, which ran at London's Old Vic Theatre
Fry's voice has been featured in a number of video games, including an appearance as a main character in the Xbox 360 game Fable II, and as the narrator in LittleBigPlanet on Playstation 3. He also served as narrator on the first two Harry Potter games (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets).