Hollywood Nerd

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"Don't let her complete and total hotness fool you! She would much rather be reading than go to some party!"

In Real Life, nerds can run the entire spectrum of "beauty" and social prowess, from unattractive and socially inept to drop dead gorgeous and a social butterfly. Like most people, most nerds are simply of average looks and social skills. The only thing that really differentiates nerds from anyone else is their intense interest in niche topics.

However, in Hollywood, nerds come in two (and only two) varieties:

Type 1: Pasty, weak, Geek Physiques, probably with Nerd Glasses or a Nerdy Inhaler, bullied by the jocks, Cannot Spit It Out if a girl is anywhere within range, working on odd projects in their basements and garages. Has brown or red hair, never blond. May be obese instead of scrawny. These are the nerd stereotypes that were most prevalent in the 70s and 80s, the ones that feature in movies like Revenge of the Nerds, the sort that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs looked like back in the day. ...Okay, Gates still looks kinda like that, but he's a billionaire now, wanna make something of it? You would think the nerds ruling the world nowadays would make this a Discredited Trope, but there's enough Truth in Television to Geek Physiques to keep this one running.

Type 2: Take your average attractive actor or actress and stick on Nerd Glasses, a lab coat and some mussed hair and clothes to make them Hollywood Homely. They are probably also Hollywood Dateless, and the social ineptitude may only be an Informed Flaw. They may even shoot straight into Hot Scientist or Hot Librarian territory without help from their smarts to pull it off. May be involved in an Ugly Duckling Beautiful All Along story if they do get paired off with someone.

There's typically nothing in between.

The important thing to note is how the fictional universe treats both as identical, while in Real Life they would be described as polar opposites. In both cases, The Hollywood Nerd will have an interest in some 'geeky' subject such as comic books, science fiction, or baseball, helping identify them as a loser, especially if they still live in their parent's basement. However, this will rarely be shown with sufficient detail to make it realistic to someone 'in the know', or it will be a mismatch of fandoms. In Hollywood, there is a very set list of what you can be a "geek" about.

See also Geek, Nerd. Compare Hollywood Homely, Geek Physiques, Cool Loser, Give Geeks a Chance. For Real Life version, see One of Us. The Meganekko is the common anime equivalent. See also Nerds Are Sexy, in which the nerdiness is what makes someone attractive, and Adorkable, which is when the nerdiness makes someone cute.

Examples of Hollywood Nerd include:

Type 1[edit | hide | hide all]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • Umino Gurio ("Melvin" in the dub), Usagi ("Serena") and Naru ("Molly")'s classmate in Sailor Moon. Originally the girls are creeped out by him whenever he shows up, to only later find out he's a decent guy - he and Naru end up dating. And according to Word of God, he's actually completely Bishonen under his swirly glasses.


Film: Live Action[edit | hide]

  • The Gamers not only knows its subject very well, but also has many in-jokes that only D&D players will get, the first one more than the second one. Both have a cast that was probably cast from D&D players (though some in the second movie are doubtful). It is often referred to as "A D&D movie that mocks D&D players."
    • Jen Page (aka female Luster) was at the time of filming an editor at Wizards of the Coast.
  • Live Free or Die Hard: "the Warlock", a notorious hacker, is played by Kevin Smith. Yes, that Kevin Smith. Then the Kid Sidekick is played by Justin Long with his "gonna get beat up in high school" looks. The villain has a team of pizza eating mini-Smith working for him but he himself, meant to be the uber-hacker, is a very sharply dressed Timothy Olyphant with a hot kung fu fighting assassin girlfriend. However the contrast with those two and everyone else just underlines Evil Is Sexy.
  • The three main characters in Superbad all look like believable teenage outcasts. In fact even the popular cute girls in the movie are only normal-school pretty rather than drop dead gorgeous models.
      • It's questionable if Michael Cera really averts this, as he is quite a cutie and wanted by every geeky—and many non-geeky—girl.
      • Michael Cera's appeal is arguably more down to his onscreen persona as a sweet natured, geeky Deadpan Snarker than his actual looks which are average to gawky - he's not without his charms but he's no more conventionally attractive than (say) the young Tom Hanks, another fairly average looking guy whose appeal started when he opened his mouth.
  • Napoleon Dynamite. The freaks and geeks are all Type 1's.
  • The two computer hackers David (Matthew Broderick) consults in WarGames. David's more a Type 2.
    • One of the nerds in the above mention was played by Eddie Deezen who built his entire career playing nerds starting in the late 70s in such films as Grease, I Wanna Hold Your Hand and 1941.
  • Real Genius shows a wide variety of nerds. Most of the physics students are Type 1, including an Asian and Nerdy student, a Basement Dweller (sort of), and a Teen Genius. Chris Knight (Val Kilmer), however, is handsome, witty, and outgoing.
  • Max Knight Ultra Spy has this in droves. The villain (Seth Green) is an uber hacker who, along with his girl posse and various followers, looks and acts like contenders for "the popular kids of the popular kids at high school", and the story takes place at one point at a party that seems to mix hip-hop, R'n'B and rave, people drink out of test tubes, and you have to prove your superior intelligence to get in. You meet one awkward, sweaty nerd (who gets shot down by the female lead) near the start, and the female lead's Mcguffin Girl sister is a borderline case (until the villain takes off her glasses and lets down her hair).
  • You may not know his name, but you almost certainly know his face: Eddie Deezen has made a career out of playing Type 1 Nerds in film and TV.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The Big Bang Theory. Needless to say, they have a lot of fun playing with this trope. Just as you're expecting the lone female physicist to be a Type 2 (which might have been good enough, given the supermodel casting of the girl next door), the camera pans to a poofy-haired, flannel-wearing nerd, with a voice in a reasonable register, who's using high energy physics lab equipment to heat up her ramen.
    • Averted with microbiologist Bernadette, who is a Type 2.
    • Played straight with Amy Farrah Fowler.
  • Dollhouse - Dr. Claire Saunders. Yes, she's played by Amy Acker but she also has serious facial scars. However their visibility seems to vary from episode to episode.
    • Even with the scars, some think she's still smoking hot.
    • And she's a Doll anyway. All Dolls, male and female, are supposed to be attractive enough for "romantic engagements".
    • Topher on the other hand personifies this trope, though even he isn't exactly unattractive.
    • Also heavily lampshaded with Doctor Bennett Halverson, Summer Glau's character. She's so drop dead gorgeous (except for the gimp arm, and that's really not that bad) that Topher assumes she is a doll who "broke" and was imprinted with some important skills - but proves otherwise. Also slightly subverted in a later episode, when we see Bennett at school before a friend gave her a makeover. She's still far from what any sane person would call ugly, but combined with her personality her geekiness becomes believable.
  • Family Matterss Steve Urkel and Saved by the Bells Screech are the flagships for the male version of Type 1.
    • The background "nerds" from Saved by the Bell make Screech look like a Type 2 by comparison. Not to mention his nerdy girlfriend Violet, played by Tori Spelling in Nerd Glasses and ugly hairstyle.
  • Alias 's Marshall Flinkman
  • Malcolm from the Doctor Who special "Planet of the Dead." Very much a Doctor fanboy, too.
  • iCarly has Freddie himself as a straight example. Especially in season 1 when the actor's voice hadn't changed and he was shorter than the actresses playing Carly and Sam (to the point of needing a Scully Box pair of shoes). In the episode 1 of season 2, when Freddie enters, Sam asks "What happened to your voice?" and Freddie replies "I dunno, puberty?" Season 4 he's become a full blown Hot Scientist as the actor is now nearly 18, spent time in the off-season break working out and is all muscled up.
  • All the geeks of Freaks and Geeks.
  • Stuart Minkus on Boy Meets World.
  • "Doc" Soto in Series/Alcatraz who when he's not helping catch time traveling criminals runs a comics shop.
  • Harold on The Red Green Show.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Myron of Fallout 2, though he is also far more evil than most other examples here, being the inventor of the drug Jet and having killed countless slaves in testing.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

    • Could be Informed Attractiveness in this case. Her friends tell her she's Beautiful All Along and boys have hit on her, but her artwork hasn't changed, her clothing hasn't changed and her social skills around strange boys CERTAINLY haven't changed.
  • The "cloner nerds" from Sluggy Freelance seem like a pretty extreme example. Then they release a plague that exponentially increases the intelligence of whoever it infects, while decreasing their attractiveness and social skills to the point where they become extremely nerdy zombie analouges.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Hey Arnold!! has all Type 1 nerds. Unfortunately there was an episode where Rhonda is forced to wear glasses and is immediately classified as a type 2 nerd despite looking perfectly normal. And this episode was made AFTER Harry Potter came out in America.
  • Total Drama Island has the three geeky guys (Cody, Harold, Noah) who are thin/not in great shape and clearly act geeky, as well as Beth, one of few girls who doesn't look like a supermodel.
  • Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman's Glen, or as he likes to be known as, "Glendalf"
  • Gretchen and the Pale Kids in Recess


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Any University's Engineering Department.
  • Maybe with some Unfortunate Implications, Many C.E.O.s of Tech Companies used to look like this in their youth (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Page, among many others), and some still do. However, they are incredibly rich now, so this trope gets somewhat subverted.


Type 2[edit | hide]

[edit | hide]

  • The "Geeks" in Best Buy's Geek Squad ads for its IT services look like they walked across the stage from a Calvin Klein ad. Either that, or they walked to the Calvin Klein ad afterwards.
    • Another ad actually lampshades this. Its for a laptop and the many options for the product are symbolized with a wall of "nerds" in action figure casing in the wall of the store. A teenage boy and his mom go into the store, and while his mom is interested in a sensible one, who does the boy go for? The super hot nerd girl. "I'll take this one."
      • It's not supposed to be symbolic. The ad was for a support service.


Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • Mizuno Ami, to some extent Meioh Setsuna, and Chiba Mamoru from Sailor Moon are all nerds, but not one of them is unattractive.
  • Yui and Chiriko from Fushigi Yuugi are both bigtime bookworms. But they're both adorable-looking (... poor Chiriko). Yui even had long hair once upon a time, but cut it short because the boys just kept coming her way.
  • Uryu from Bleach.
  • Hakkai from Saiyuki.
    • And Tenpou from Saiyuki Gaiden who was actually reincarnated as Hakkai
  • Fujioka Haruhi from Ouran High School Host Club in the first episode/chapter. Without the clunky glasses it's found she's quite cute.
  • Tomoe Amamiya (eventually Tomoe Kaburagi) from Tiger and Bunny was an unrepentant nerd in every sense of the word (a studious Class Representative who spent her free time fangirling superheroes) who just happened to be rather Tall Dark and Bishojo on top of it. Kotetsu claims in the Hero Gossip Book that he fell for her hard and fast.
    • Played with in the case of Barnaby from the same series. Word of God has it that he shows several tendencies leaning towards nerdiness—which his eccentric behaviour, the fact that he wears glasses, usually prefers to be alone, and was top student at his school seem to attest to. In-series he has a huge number of fangirls, but Nerds Are Sexy is averted because they're only interested in his good looks and charming facade.


Film: Live Action[edit | hide]

  • Most characters James Spader has played, including even such villainous examples as Lee in 2 Days In The Valley and Stewart in Wolf.
  • A majority of the cast of |Twenty One. 21 also provided a counterpoint in his old friends, who really ARE nerdy-looking, making the fact that it expected us to believe the protagonists even more ridiculous.
  • Every character in Anti Trust, with the possible exception of the very cute Rachael Leigh Cook who is The Mole and presumably deliberately chosen as someone the hero would fall for.
  • Hackers stars Angelina Jolie, for crying out loud. (Although her makeup was awful.) And super-hot Jonny Lee Miller!
  • Emma Watson playing Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter Film of the Book?! To be fair, Hermione was never really portrayed in the books as unattractive, just not all that concerned with her image, at least not to the extent that the other girls were. In fact, when Hermione actually tries to be pretty, such as during the Yule Ball in Goblet of Fire, both Ron and Harry wonder who this beautiful girl is and what she has done with Hermione. Still, she started out as buck-toothed, with bushy hair. Her teeth were fixed after a mis-aimed spell, and her hair is too much trouble to deal with except for special occasions. Emma Watson was cast at the age of nine, at which point she was cute for a little girl. It's not really the film's fault that nobody was able to predict that puberty would turn her into a stunningly attractive young woman.
    • The part of Severus Snape, played by Alan Rickman, also suffers. In the books, Snape is supposed to be a greasy, unpleasant, hook-nosed recluse who spends most of his time in a lightless dungeon. He is often compared (unfavorably) to a bat, and it is revealed that in his childhood he was beaten up and picked on near constantly for his unwashed hair and ugliness. Alan Rickman can't help being a gorgeous man. This is only slightly helped by the fact that Snape is supposed to be in his late thirties and Alan Rickman is well over 60. JKR herself chose Alan Rickman for the role of Snape. Also this was after first choice Tim Roth turned it down.
  • In the "Pottersville" sequence of It's a Wonderful Life, Mary Hatch is shown to be a "mousy" spinster librarian in glasses and dowdy clothing. Still, she's played by Donna Reed.
  • The Matrix. The protagonists are mostly hackers, yet we've got Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Belinda McClory (Switch), and so on. Your Mileage May Vary, but none of these people look like stereotypical nerds. Mouse is the only one who looks or acts like a nerd. Justified, in that they actually have to know a lot of stuff just to survive and to try and save the human race.
    • Let's see, Pasty white, thin and weak looking, poor sleeping habits... I can buy Keanu Reeves being a computer nerd. Once unplugged he (and the rest of the crew) can change their outward appearance when inside the matrix.
    • Aside from their ragged clothing and lack of shades, however, do they really look very different outside the simulation than in it? Particularly the female cast members, whose hairstyles stay exactly the same whether virtual or real.
  • Evie, at least in the first Mummy movie, is a bumbling, awkward, accident-prone librarian/archaeology geek played by the fantastically gorgeous Rachel Weisz.
  • Henry Higgins, as played by Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady, may qualify. He's a phonologist/linguist/dialectician with few social graces—a nerd even for his time—but he's not unattractive for a fella his age. He even gets away with attending that royal ball he's testing Eliza Doolittle with, and while he might not have been super-refined, he wasn't kicked out early, either.
  • Sandra Bullock's character in The Net.
  • Dave in Kick-Ass the movie version. "Oh, he's such a ugly nerd, no wonder girls don't like him!"Yeah.
    • Not completely true. No one ever says Dave is bad looking. He has trouble with the girls because he is socially awkward and has no other personality traits outside of being a nerd before he becomes Kick-Ass.
  • Swordfish features Hugh Jackman as a top computer programmer. The guy he's replacing isn't bad either.
  • Likewise, Sandra Bullock as Diane Farrow in the 1992 film Love Potion No. 9 actually succeeds at a more extreme version of this, probably because she undergoes a Beautiful All Along transformation in the later half of the film, and they made an effort to contrast the two looks.
    • It also helped that she got real work done, her teeth were awful and hair horribly bushy, it took a lot of money for her to become Sandra Bullock.
  • This was sent-up in Not Another Teen Movie in which the jocks discuss who the target of the makeover should be. After highlighting some obvious freaks, they come upon the heroine. The lead jock expresses his disgust by pointing out the girl's ponytail and glasses! And she had paint on her jeans! Not even jeans! Overalls!
  • The Pygmalion / My Fair Lady remake known as She's All That, in which the unpopular bookworm is played by Rachel Leigh Cook.
  • Dr. Emma Russell (Elisabeth Shue!) in The Movie version of The Saint. She starts out with glasses and needs medication for a heart defect. She becomes less nerdy though, to the point of no longer needing her pills, the longer she spends in the presence of Simon, the titular character.
  • In the original Stephen King novel The Stand, the character of Harold started out as a fat pathetic nerd. When they made it into a TV miniseries, he was played by Corin Nemec. It would have been averted, considering that by the time the group reached Boulder Harold was described as having become rather attractive because his skin cleared up and he lost weight, if they would have done more to hide Nemec's looks.
  • The humans in Tron.
  • Gabriella, Taylor, and, to a lesser extent, Martha and Kelsi in High School Musical.
    • Olesya Rulin, who plays Kelsi, is absolutely stunning. It's a shock that they've gone through three films without anyone taking off her glasses and exclaiming 'But Kelsi, you're beautiful!' This sort of happens at the end of the first movie, except with her hat. Just as the last song is about to start, her hat is discarded and she is gorgeous enough to participate in the final song.
  • Denise Richards tried this twice: as math nerd/pilot Carmen Ibanez in Starship Troopers and as nuclear physicist Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough.
  • Please Teach Me English—a little known (at least in the US) Korean film about a woman, nicknamed "Candy" in English, trying to speak the English language. She looks absolutely gorgeous whenever she takes off her thick-rimmed glasses.
    • This actress is also a model in South Korea, oddly enough.
  • Needy in Jennifer's Body may have giant nerd glasses and unflattering clothes but she is still played by the beautiful Amanda Seyfried. In fairness the film does note that Needy is plenty attractive but dresses down to not upstage her best friend and she has little trouble with boys, having a steady boyfriend and another male character with an obvious crush on her.
  • Steve Carell as The 40-Year-Old Virgin, enough said. Granted the film does make a better justification and never pretends that he's not a good-looking guy.
  • In Rising Sun, Tia Carrere plays a video footage analyst who helps Sean Connery and Wesley Snipe's cop characters analyse doctored surveillance footage. They just have a pair of glasses slapped onto her, her hair done up and some techno-babble dialogue to help make her seem nerdy.
  • Both the protagonist and villains, plus numerous background characters are type 2 in Max Knight: Ultra Spy - the movie depicts the nerd culture crossing over with rave on many occasions, the protagonist takes the Fish Out of Water love interest to a dance club that requires you to show off your Geek Cred to get in (say something smart and scientific) and Seth Green plays the Big Bad. On the other hand, the start features a very classic type 1 who invites the love interest out for lunch (and she just gives him a patronising "you can't be serious" look, like it's so natural she'd reject him) while her genius sister straddles the line and gets a glasses-removal makeover by the Big Bad.
  • Subverted by Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class, who is stunningly attractive... and aware of it. In fact, in his first scene as a grown man, he is seen using nerd-talk to pick up coeds in a bar. Played straight with Hank, however.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Most of the core cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer were supposed to be nerds and outcasts, but they were all sexy - most notably Willow, who was played by nerd goddess Alyson Hannigan (and her whippet-thin body) for the series. When Jonathan, a more "normal"-looking nerd, was introduced, he was rejected for friendship by Buffy for being too short. Thus, he never made it into the core cast.
    • In fact, they had a lot more unattractive Willow in the pilot.
    • A special emphasis should be placed on Xander, the "unattractive" nerd played by the thoroughly Hollywood-looking Nicholas Brendon. Stick him side by side with David Boreanaz, the famously hunky actor playing Angel, and the two could easily be mistaken for each other. Joss Whedon mentions this in the DVD commentaries, stating that he knows that Nick is way too good-looking to be a social outcast, "but this is Hollywood, so get over it."
    • Another nerd outside the core cast, Wesley, fit the nerd stereotype increasingly less after he jumped to Angel. By the end of that series, after many rough experiences, he had changed dramatically. And he was a fine-looking man from the get-go, glasses or not.
  • On Smallville, to allot for having very few friends and being constantly picked on by Jerk Jock Whitney in the early episodes, Clark was portrayed to be a nerd. Yeah... Well, the idea isn't all that hard to swallow, ya'know, once you get past the fact that Tom Welling was an underwear model. If you think about it though, it makes perfect sense considering the way Clark is as an adult.
    • Absurdly gorgeous Chloe, who was treated as the perfect "nerd." (Then was elected Prom Queen, so obviously they didn't think she was too horrible.) Although in the Prom episode, it's implied that Chloe is actually much more well-liked than she ever realized, and that her social status is largely because she's incurred the wrath of the resident Alpha Bitch and her Girl Posse. It is implied that the Silent Majority of Smallville High kids actually do like Chloe, and see her as being a hero to the "outcasts" of the school hierarchy, but that for years they've been cowed into silence by "fear of [the Alpha Bitch's] rumor mill," until Clark nominates Chloe for Prom Queen, at which point the Silent Majority finally speaks up and votes Chloe in. Clark himself lampshades this by telling Chloe that "For years we've all been fighting to break out of the stereotypical roles that we've been forced into...and you're the battle cry."
      • Look at the background characters in the early-season High School crowd scenes. Models, models everywhere! No wonder it's easy for The Beautiful Elite to blend in, the Smallville-verse has no ugly teens, except for one, count her one fat chick and one really over-the-top uggo "scabby Abby", and that was only due to a skin condition called "untalented Makeup Artists". Oh, and the fat girl was just Amy Adams in a fat suit.
  • The cast of CSI are supposed to be the police equivalents of the spods at the front of the chemistry class, but they're all good looking - one of them is even supposed to be an ex-stripper!
    • Lampshaded in one episode where a television producer is walking through the lab and looks at the people working there.

Producer: Pretty people doing science...there's a show in that.

  • 24 tends to have a 50/50 split between realistic nerds (fat Edgar Styles, frumpy Chloe O'Brian) and conventionally attractive ones, such as Morris O'Brian, a brilliant hacker and womanizing, alcoholic ladies' shoe salesman. As Chloe has become more popular with fans, her character has received far more makeup and hairstyling, which (atypically) brings with it an increased amount of attention from the opposite sex.
    • Perhaps pulled off successfully with Chloe, as while she's rather frumpy on the show, her actress, Mary Lynn Rajskub, is very attractive after being dolled up.
    • Chloe still got noticeably more attractive as the show went on. Compare her hair, outfits, etc. in a season 3 episode with her appearance in a season 8 episode and it's pretty obvious.
  • Connor, the irritating Plucky Comic Relief in British scientists-vs-dinosaurs show Primeval, often makes cack-handed 'geek' references and is shown to be clueless around women. However, he looks like a cross between Johnny Depp and a young Rob Newman. His two best friends are more conventionally unattractive nerds.
  • Similarly The Office and its US adaptations. Whereas the original has distinctly-average looking people, the US version falls prey to this trope. Steve Carell may not be everyone's fantasy man, but he's certainly not unattractive, and is a world away from an unkempt Ricky Gervais.
    • His personality, however, is still brutal enough that it's easy to believe he's still single. At least most of the supporting cast is fairly realistic looking, and when certain tactless characters compare people's looks, they do so accurately.
    • Even Pam and Jim are attractive the way real people are attractive. They're cute, but they aren't perfect looking, and a lot of it is the characters personalities.
  • Carter from Stargate SG-1 is supposed to be one of the most intelligent people on the planet. She's also an attractive blonde. (Both of these were intentional on the part of the writers). Ah well, at least she dresses like you would expect from a military officer. Daniel Jackson fits the trope as well.
    • While Carter's physique is explainable given the fact she's career military, if we were to believe that Daniel is an Omnidisciplinary Scientist of languages how does he find the time to hit the gym for the two hours or so a day to keep himself in that shape? This is particularly baffling given the film set up the stark contrast between weedy Dr Jackson and the Space Marines as a source of its humour; couldn't the casting agents find someone who didn't look like he could out-bench-press the rest of the supporting cast military officers to play their Egyptologist with allergies?
      • it could be that spending that much time being shot at, blown up, running away/towards extreme danger, might result in some sort of need for fitness... he has after all survived 10 years of stargate(except the times he didn't) To be fair, Daniel's physique isn't the fault of the casting agents. He was definitely on the slender side at the beginning of Season 1, and the actor bulked up noticeably throughout the series' run.
    • The show later subverted this in a Lower Deck Episode which featured geeky scientists who followed every stereotype, down to the action-figures collection. The show also subverts this every single time it shows Dr. Lee.
    • In the same verse, Jennifer Keller (played by Jewel Staite) from Stargate Atlantis. Plus Carson Beckett, Radek Zelenka, Elizabeth Weir... Rodney McKay is somewhat less attractive, but he has his fans too.
  • Sanctuary's Will Zimmerman is supposed to be a somewhat reclusive nerdy scientist. Robin Dunne, who plays him, is ridiculously attractive. There was a certain scene the first season finale that, while incredibly hot, strained the bounds of credulity: Will strips to his boxers to make the Invisible Girl, who has to get naked for her power to be effective, less self-conscious. Cue biceps and abs that VERY few real-life scientists have.
    • Henry's not half bad either, and the nipple/belly button piercings aren't exactly conventionally nerdy in any case.
  • Cute, goofy computer geek and budding hacker Mac of Veronica Mars is a Hollywood Nerd in the grand tradition, and particularly owes much to Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Willow. Mac is not a stick figure and has the shape of someone healthy but who could perhaps benefit from more exercise and less sitting in front of the computer.
    • Ironically, played by the same actress as one of the nerds from Napoleon Dynamite, which is listed as an aversion above. Also, Mac is far from even chubby, never mind overweight - she's just standing next to the 5'1" stick-thin Kristen Bell most of the time. In the Josie & The Pussycats movie, Rosario Dawson looked like an elephant next to Rachael Leigh Cook and Tara Reid - just look at her in Sin City to see how not true that is.
  • Every season of Power Rangers with a geek for a Ranger (except a Cousin Oliver in season 5) suffers horribly from this, generally shifting between Calvin Klein-worthy Blue Rangers who just speak a lot of Techno Babble, to stunningly beautiful Pink Rangers who overwork themselves while on the job. Insert dorky glasses where necessary, on either gender.
    • The original series had both, only with the Yellow Ranger instead of Pink.
    • Amusingly, of the original MMPR cast, David Yost (the Blue Ranger) was built like a brick shithouse in spite of being cast as the "weak nerd" character. The costuming department tried very hard to disguise this fact, with varying levels of success.
  • It could be argued that Thirty Rock's Liz Lemon is an example. However, this is somewhat excusable given that the character is essentially a fictionalized version of Tina Fey, who also plays her. Fey says that "I'm really not that attractive. Until I met my husband, I could not get a date. I promise you it's true." This is lampshaded during the first season. When Liz leaves New York to visit Cleveland, suddenly people can't stop complimenting her looks.

Jenna: "We're all models west of the Allegheny."

  • Seth from The OC. He is supposed to be an unattractive nerd due to his social awkwardness and huge interest in comic books and science fiction. This doesn't really work since he's also sweet, funny, and played by the attractive Adam Brody.
  • The title character from Chuck qualifies as one of the cutest of the Nerd Herd at Buy More.
    • Aside from Chuck, Anna Wu, and arguably Morgan, the rest of the Nerd Herders generally live up to their name (especially Jeff).
    • This is Truth in Television, Chuck and Morgan are played by actual nerds.
  • Fox Mulder on The X-Files is a prime example. Look at the catastrophe that is his private life, his vast collection of porn videos, the fact that he sleeps on the sofa since his bedroom is filled ceiling-high with old junk in cardboard boxes, the scenes in which he is shown throwing pencils at the ceiling in his office to see if they stick, the fact that he happily spends his free time hunting for space aliens, or his habit of expounding at length his wild theories about aliens or monsters from folklore in front of total strangers until they think he's crazy. Scully is routinely getting exasperated with him. (Scully, on the other hand, while very attractive and smart, is a scientist, NOT a nerd.) And yet Mulder is tall, fit and attractive, to the extent that in the episode Humbug one of the circus "geeks" (the scrawny one who hammered nails up his nose and ate glass) sarcastically remarked how one day all the freaks like him and the tattooed Enigma would be done away with by science and society and everyone would be "perfect" and boring like Mulder.
    • Being an active FBI agent he would presumably be required to occasionally pass some physical fitness tests. And anyway Mulder was less a nerd and more just plain a weirdo. Indeed, Mulder is one of the few TV characters shown practicing the kind of physical training which might lead to a physique like the actor's; he is seen swimming laps in a pool and playing basketball in the gym.
    • Mulder's trio of sidekicks, a team of tech-geeks and conspiracy theorists calling themselves The Lone Gunmen, are far less attractive and very bad with women.
  • Charlie Eppes (and thus the man who plays him, David Krumholtz) on Numb3rs. And his improbably-good-looking computer/math/physics geek girlfriend, Amita.
  • For a forensic pathologist, Emilia Fox's Nikki Alexander from Silent Witness is seriously attractive.
  • The absolutely gorgeous engineer Trip on Star Trek: Enterprise.
    • Hoshi Sato would be an appropriate example.
  • iCarly played with this when Freddie brought over a fellow AV club member who the girls found so attractive that the whole episode was about their fighting over him.
    • Freddie himself is also an example, especially in the later seasons.
  • Rusty Cartwright (Jacob Zachar) on Greek straddles the types. His roommate Dale is a type 1, with a dash of southern hick. Meanwhile, his TA Max is a Type 2. He has good nerd-ish qualities, but he's played by Michael Rady. And he scores with Rusty's sister, who is a sorority chick. How many nerds (who aren't frat boys themselves) get to say that?
  • John Crichton in Farscape. Though it's justified since, being an astronaut at first and a refugee constantly getting into fist- and gunfights after the show begins, he would have to be in excellent physical condition.
    • Astronauts aren't necessarily nerds, though. As stated above, scientists aren't nerds and today not all astronauts are scientists. While shuttle pilots and other astronauts throughout the beginning of the space program typically had advanced degrees in engineering or hard-science fields they tend to fall into a usually non-nerdy class of folk: fighter pilots.
    • Crichton, however, was flying the test flight of his module because he designed it. This is why he's even able to deal with all that wormhole knowledge in the first place, he was a trained physicist from day one. He would still need to be in pretty good physical shape, though. Young Crichton in the Halloween 1986 episode seems to fit the bill a little better, even still.
    • Also, given the sheer amount of pop culture references Crichton drops, he is most definitely a nerd
  • Bones at least has the good grace to lampshade Brennan's looks.
    • Sweets? Yes please.
  • The Keeper on The Invisible Man.
  • With Supernatural filled with beautiful people, the two Ghost Facer nerds are two attractive men. But seeing as how they're both jerkasses, you can see why very few people like them.
    • And Sammy. Ruby even tells him that he's "pretty buff for a nerd."
    • Castiel. He never smiles, his hair is never combed, his face always has that 5 o'clock shadow, and thanks to his angel powers, he will never need to change out of his ratty trenchcoat, wrinkled suit, and loose tie. Dean calls him "nerd angel", but that doesn't stop people in canon and fanon from drooling over him.
  • Quinn in Zoey 101.
  • Quinn Mallory in Sliders.
  • On Heroes, Gabriel Gray was a withdrawn and lonely watchmaker who kept an eerily neat apartment stacked with books about anything and everything. Then he discovered Evil Tastes Good and Evil Is Sexy, and ditched the glasses and tweed.
  • Luke Girardi in Joan of Arcadia although it may be more a case of personality than looks. He does get himself a girlfriend but it's another outcast. His friend Friedman is a more realistic portrayal physically and far more obnoxious.
  • Spencer Reid in Criminal Minds. The show tries hard to nerd him up with bad hair and clothes, but Matthew Gray Gubler is still sex on a stick.
    • And to the show's credit, they never try to pass him off as unattractive (just overwhelmingly awkward); he has, after all, had two girlfriends during the show's run, and that's not even mentioning Ethan. Then there's Morgan's nickname for him.
    • Kevin Lynch, one of the shows main technical analysts could also qualify for this trope. The show's casting department seems to think a little pudge and bad clothing sense helps avert this trope. Kevin Lynch is played by Nicholas Brendan, again in a "too hot for this role" paradigm.
  • Fargo's current (the only one for all we know) girlfriend Julia Golden on Eureka. She's a Hot Scientist (or research assistant?), but fits this trope better, because during one episode she kept yammering about how invisible she is and that she wants to be like Deputy Lupo. Not just living her exciting life, no, be as beautiful as her. Boo hoo!
  • The titular character in Jake 2.0, played by Christopher Gorham, is yet another TV geek who is 18 varieties of hot by any real-world standard. One can argue that the Nanomachines in his bloodstream are what give him a physique that could cut glass, but still ...
  • Eric Forman on That '70s Show, though he's not a total nerd (it's referenced several times he's an average joe with rather pitiful grades), but he does have quite the obsession over Star Wars and is a square compared to his friends.
  • Justin in Wizards of Waverly Place is a nerdy sci-fi geek who is absolutely attractive. During the big crossover he's dressed solely in trunks at one point showing that he has got absurdly well defined pecs and abs.
    • It would be interesting to point out that despite his nerdiness Justin has no problems with finding a girlfriend. Even the main character's best friend has a huge crush on him.

Justin: "Why does everyone think I don't date? Remember the centaur, the werewolf and the goth girl?"

  • Eli Loker in Lie to Me.
  • Subverted somewhat in Leverage; while Hardison is a card-carrying, computer-hacking, WoW-playing geek, he's also a charming and outgoing conman, and he looks fine in a suit.
  • Psych featured a character in one episode who was both. As a kid, he was a fat, UFO-obsessed geek who wore a wizard cape. As an adult, he'd dropped the pounds and hidden his geekiness from his hot wife, who he thought would disapprove of it, becoming a literal closet geek. As it turns out, his wife is also a geek.
    • Even better is the fact that he is played by Freddie Prinze Jr. who was the popular male lead in She's All That.
  • Simon from Misfits is a geeky, friendless, sci-fi loving virgin who has zero luck with the ladies and gets bullied and ignored by everyone (particularly during season 1). And who do they get to play him? Iwan Rheon. Admittedly the show makes a valiant attempt to play down the actor's obvious attractiveness - he's constantly made up to look deathly pale and is forced to sport a horrendously unflattering hairstyle for the full duration. But still.
    • In fairness, no one in-universe accuses Simon of being ugly, and he does seem to be getting a bit more attention in the second season. In any case, his alienation probably has less to do with his looks and more to do with his crippling shyness and appalling social skills (this may endear him to the audience at times, but in real life situations most people would find his manner pretty unsettling). Plus he's a convicted arsonist, a bit of a stalker, he listens to Kraftwerk and he urinates through people's letterboxes. It's still fair to say that he's a total Hollywood Homely, but it's not as if there aren't a few compelling reasons as to why he might be single.
    • Oddly enough, it seems that Simon's geek stylings (such as they were) actually did fool a fair amount of viewers into believing he was unattractive. In the second season the character appears as a future incarnation of himself with tousled hair and no shirt on - cue a huge portion of the fanbase suddenly noticing the Estrogen Brigade Bait. A few fans even asked who this new actor was, despite the fact that he was very, very clearly the same person with a slightly different hair-do. This may have been partly due to Iwan Rheon's impressive performance - he actually did manage to convey both "versions" of the character very cleverly, but looks-wise, very little had changed.
  • Spinelli from General Hospital appears to be a type 1, though anyone who's seen Bradford Anderson outside the show will probably put him into type 2 range. Ditto for his short-lived Distaff Counterpart Winnifred.
  • Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties probably counts, though his character breaks the stereotype in that he was never intended to be a 'nerd,' per se. He's a hypercompetitive, straight-A Young Republican who was also constantly chasing after girls (at least in the earlier seasons).
  • Glee has a few examples of this, notably Rachel Berry, who although being a music 'geek' and a member of a host of nerdy clubs, is rather attractive. Her high socks and leg-warmers seem to be the only reason shes 'uncool'.
    • Actually, the in-universe reason for Rachel's uncoolness is her thoroughly objectionable personality, not her appearance, which has been described as 'sneaky hot'. Hollywood nerdism in Glee is played straight more with Artie. And thoroughly averted with Jaocb ben Israel...
      • Who is very much type 1
  • Modern Family: Alex Dunphy. It's a little difficult to believe any of Haley's comments about her having issues with boys when she's played by Ariel Winter.
  • Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation probably counts—he corrects people on their scifi references, wears skinny ties and color-clashing plaid shirts with horrifying frequency, occasionally lapses into awkward, and one of his in-series nicknames is "Nerd". But most state auditors/city managers probably don't look like a guy who can model raincoats for GQ.
  • Phillip from Kamen Rider Double is effectively a walking computer with very poor interpersonal and social skills, since he spent most of his youth in a lab. Most of his "nerdiness" seems to come from the unusual and somewhat effeminate clothing he wears, though that could be seen as an endearing quirk by some, and it certainly doesn't stop one of his partner's high school-age informants from developing a huge crush on him. He's also played by newcomer actor Masaki Suda, who looks like this.
  • Annie in Community.
  • Ethan and Benny in My Babysitter's a Vampire.
  • Jess from New Girl. No one pretends she isn't pretty, but she still acts ridiculously awkward.
  • Parodied in SD:SUV::. All the characters refer to the "nerds" as unattractive, despite being played by models wearing lab-coats and glasses.


Media[edit | hide]

  • This article from Jezebel is a highly critical look at the trope (specifically, it asks why Hollywood Nerds never end up paired with each other rather than the jock / popular girl of the day.


Music[edit | hide]


Theater[edit | hide]

  • Elphaba in the stage versions of Wicked. Being dressed in a gray schoolmarm outfit with glasses, frumpy hair, and green skin to boot, does nothing to detract from the stunning beauty of Idina Menzel, or any of her successors.
    • Still, she's not ugly because she's a nerd, she's ugly because she's green. And though she has a beautiful face (and stunning body), she still has an unnatural color, and that's mainly why people are scared of her.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Metal Gear Solid's Otacon was initially intended to be a skinny, perpetually nervous-looking geek. As time went on, though, he became more and more attractive, and as of the fourth installment he looks positively beautiful and easily the best-looking male in the cast (ironic as originally he had grey hair and was about the same age as Snake. With each installment Snake gets older and uglier, and Otacon gets younger and more attractive). But knowing the series, knowing its love of deconstruction, and knowing Otacon's Character Development, it's possible this is entirely deliberate. For the uninitiated, that means gallons of Hot Defly-Maycember Homoeroticism(TM).
    • Note: Word of God says that Otacon was originally designed to be fat and constantly eating a chocolate bar.
    • Otacon's sister E.E. in Metal Gear Solid 2. Portrayed as somewhat socially crippled due to her dysfunctional family and as a ridiculously brilliant hacker and scientist, and very cute too.
    • Paramedic is actually really cute too, and she's DEFINITELY a nerd (specifically, she's a movie geek).
    • Lampshaded in the original Metal Gear Solid: Snake points out that he didn't expect Mei Ling, designer of his communications Codec and the Soliton Radar, to be cute.
    • Also, Naomi Hunter and Nastasha Romenenko certainly didn't look too bad either.
  • Ema Skye from the first and fourth Ace Attorney games as well as the Gaiden Game, Investigations. During the 10-year gap between her main series appearances she never loses her passion for forensic science. In her first appearance she was cute as a button, and as an adult in Apollo Justice she's still attractive.
  • Half-Life: Gordon Freeman. MIT grad? Check. Doctoral thesis with a hideously-long title about a topic that would bore Muggles to tears? Check. Theoretical physicist? Check. Nerd Glasses? Check. No apparent social skills? Check. Hot? Check.
    • Additionally, it is mentioned in passing that Black Mesa has a fitness program, apparently expecting its faculty to be in reasonably good shape, not just the security personnel. After Black Mesa gets cratered, the good Dr. Freeman is battling for the fate of all humanity alongside other refugees. Survival situations = fit scientists.
  • Shad from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Dresses like a dork (argyle socks? bow tie wider then a mile? implausibly high collar? and don't ask about the creepy buttons) and spends most of his free time studying an ancient race of bird-people, yet has a very large fangirl following thanks to his curly auburn hair, huge blue eyes, smooth skin and decently muscled physique. His participation in the Resistance movement puts him just this side of Badass Bookworm.
  • Tails from the Sonic the Hedgehog series fits this trope quite well. His mechanical expertise rivals Dr Robotnik's, and his cuteness is legendary. In Sonic Chronicles, Rouge refers to Tails and Eggman's conversation as 'Nerd Speak'.
  • Zip and Alister in Tomb Raider Legend. Even wimpy Alister has HUGE pecs. Lara even lampshades this when she asks Zip when he has time to work out. "I never see you leave this room!"
  • Reese is a nerd. And he's cute, too.
  • Bernard from Maniac Mansion and Day of the Tentacle is a arguable subversion, what with his hiked up pants and odd looking face.
  • It's easy to forget that Resident Evil's handsome, confident, sexy-voiced Magnificent Bastard Albert Wesker is a brilliant scientist who actually created (or helped create) many of the viruses found in the series.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Most of the cast of Sodium Eyes are beautiful girls with very geeky hobbies.
  • Doug from Fletcher Apts is rather scrawny but makes up for it with Puppy Dog Eyes and Cute Little Fangs.
  • Prettily thoroughly averted in Narbonic. Dave and Helen may be cute, but they're by no means conventionally attractive.
  • Gary in Ménage à 3. Even Zii admits that he's attractive.
    • One of his coworkers also says of the female characters (who he thinks are attracted to Gary) "Punk rocker chick. Big breasted amazon who gives assplay. Nympho Japanese girl. Gary is the luckiest guy on the face of the Earth."
    • Given that Gary bears a striking resemblance to Dick Grayson in geek glasses (he even fills in as Nightwing at a play), this may be intentional.
  • Emily the witch in Our Little Adventure. She's dorky and somewhat awkward, but doesn't look half bad in her little magic school uniform here.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • James Rolfe, The Angry Video Game Nerd. When not in his stereotypical nerd getup, he actually looks quite robust.
  • The Nostalgia Chick.
    • Team Nostalgia Chick member Elisa so qualifies.
  • How many guy-nerds do you know in real life can pull off wearing eyeliner (smudged or slatherings of it) like The Nostalgia Critic?
  • She very well might disagree, but Marz Gurl definitely qualifies, as do her fellow TGWTG compatriots Obscurus Lupa and JesuOtaku. Also JO's fellow D 2 Brigade member Vixen, and (for the ladies) Arkada.
  • Noah Antwiler. A nerd? Most definitely. Attractive? Yes.
  • That Dude in the Suede is a very attractive, well-spoken anime fan.
  • The title character in Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog is a nerdy mad - well, he's just a little miffed, really - scientist played by Neil Patrick Harris. Arguably a subversion—like every other trope in the thing—since it's implied that Billy actually is considered attractive and likable in-universe (at least to Penny); it's instead his extreme shyness and insecurity that's the real problem.
    • Apparently all of Billy's clothes were purposefully too big so that no one would notice that the nerdy loner is quite buff. Although it helps that he was contrasted with the taller and more muscular Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion). That Billy wore a loose lab coat much of the time and Hammer wore a muscle shirt didn't hurt either.
    • Penny. Captain Hammer says she has a nerdy thing going on and she's played by the real life gorgeous nerd Felicia Day.
  • Most of the characters in Lonelygirl15 fall into this, especially Bree and Spencer.
  • In The Guild Codex (played by the aforementioned Felicia Day) and Tinkerballa are both quite hot. Zabuu and Bladezz are good looking as well. Vork and Clara on the other hand look the part of the nerd/geek stereotype.
    • Ironically Clara is the least nerdiest of the main cast.
  • In the Whateley Universe, this is written as a partially Justified Trope: a relatively common superpower makes people really attractive, however the geeks without this power tend to look like believable geeks, and those who have it don't always have fashion sense.
    • So there are some Type 2's (Bugs, Widget, Delta Spike, who are all abnormally attractive) and some realistic ones (Mega-Death, Knick-Knack, Kew, etc.) but mostly they're Type 1's (Make, Overclock, ...). Or worse.
    • There's also Spark, who started out "The Big Idea" as a Type 1 or someone normal, and ended the story a full-blown Type 2 due to some Applied Phlebotinum she built.
  • This guy. Wait until he takes off the mask - he's pretty scrawny but his face is to die for. And yes, he plays the sinister nerd perfectly - especially watch his "lecture" and "analysis" videos.
  • The Naked Nerd. Granted, she works for "Naked News," which intentionally employs very sexually attractive women, but she could easily make most supermodels seem homely in comparison. Supposedly she wasn't always that hot, however, and if you see even one of her videos or read her blog, she more than proves her nerd cred. Also, if you read her blog, she mentions a few times that she has a fairly strict exercise and diet regimen that she follows
  • Linda Le, aka Vampy. Probably one of the most gorgeous geek girls you'll ever see.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, Velma was decidedly plain-there was nothing particularly interesting about her face, her hairstyle was at best unflattering, and her sweater (or possibly just her figure) made her look approximately like a barrel on legs. Then, in What's New Scooby-Doo? she was redesigned-her hairstyle and face were subtly changed, and her waist was pinched in, giving her an actual figure. Now she's kind of cute. From aversion to straight as an arrow in one shot.
    • She didn't look that bad at all in the 1970 episode "A Tiki Scare Is No Fair," first done up as Jane to Shaggy's Tarzan, and later doing the hula in a Hawaiian grass skirt.
    • And then there's The Movie(s)... As the felines say, Rrrrrrrroowwwwlll.
  • Peter Parker in every incarnation of Spider-Man. Gwen Stacey in The Spectacular Spider-Man definitely fits this trope. Huge glasses, grade-A student and REALLY cute to boot.
    • Averted, oddly enough, in the Steve Ditko original, where he looked more like a stereotypical nerd. The artist who came after him even said that one of the problems with his own rendition was that Peter Parker was far too traditionally attractive. John Romita (the aforementioned artist who came after Ditko, and the man responsible for the way Spider-Man comics looked from the mid-60's until Todd McFarlane's time) started as a romance artist for DC, so he was adept at drawing good looking people. Just look at Mary Jane. Ironically, this is one of the few instances where it could be completely justified. When Peter Parker was first shown, he was a mid-to-late teenager in high school, getting ready to step up to college soon. Later on when he was looking better, he was already in or graduated from college. The reason? He's just a late bloomer, and puberty hit hard after that radioactive-spider-bite. The other reason, Peter Parker was originally sort of conceived as a Self-Insert Fic for Steve Ditko.
  • Superman. Clark Kent is seen as the naive, rube in the big city who Lois Lane wouldn't give the time of day. However, the moment he's out of his suit and glasses he's suddenly a 6'4", 225 lb chiseled specimen of masculinity.
    • While absolutely true through The Golden Age of Comic Books and The Silver Age of Comic Books, this has been alternately averted, subverted, and lampshaded in more modern comics, where Clark Kent is much less "bumbler" and more "former high school football star who actually stayed in shape" and also manages to portray a less milquetoast personality, to boot.
    • However, he's still considered nerdy, but nerdiness just isn't seen as negatively today as it once was. Also justified in that Clark Kent, who is Superman's natural persona, actually is a nerd...just a really buff one.
    • Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely paint a rather nice picture of Clark Kent as a huge, clumsy, hunched over farmboy.
  • The Simpsons parodied this in one episode where Schwarzenegger parody Ranier Wolfcastle stars in a movie called "Undercover Nerd". Worth seeing for one of the funniest Bond One Liners ever:

"The geek shall inherit the earth!"


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • There's no reason why attractive people can't be nerdy. Sometimes the only difference is a lack of time spent primping. And some of the physical problems could be caused by the nerdiness, not a prerequisite (sticklike figure due to no time spent working out, pasty skin because of life lived indoors).
    • Unfortunately for nerds everywhere, we get stereotyped as Type 1, and when we're Type 2, people think we're too "good" to nerds - just look at the comments about "too good for their role" in the Type 2 section.
  • Similarly, plenty of scientific professions require considerable time spent outdoors (like botany or geology) or strong people skills (like medicine and anthropology).
  • There are quite a few nerds serving in the armed forces, particularly in career fields that require higher academic performance, such as engineers or linguists. These folks are still required to pass the same fitness test as anyone else in their branch of service.
    • The F-16 Fighting Falcon, a fighter jet used by the United States Air Force (and many of America's allies), has the nickname of "Viper", having entered service the same year that the original Battlestar Galactica aired.[1]
  • Christopher Hitchens
  1. It also has the nickname of "Lawn Dart", given by pilots of other airframes, but that's neither here nor there.