Revenge of the TV Nerds

The age of the nerds is upon us. No longer stuck in the background as the source of amusement for leading characters, they are now leading!
We love watching the heart-throb, the jock, the bad boy, the cheerleader, the sexpot, the mean girl, and the Fonz. The cool ringleader is always everyone’s favourite character, right? Not anymore! What we really love to see is the nerd standing behind them. Smart is the new sexy and being the social misfit brings its own level of uber cool. They’re the most interesting, the most fun, the most relatable; and have the best one-liners. Nerd-chic is in the zeitgeist... and now is the time for their revenge on all the hipsters, fashionistas, glitterati and celebutantes. 

The Nerd Hall of Fame: Potsie and Ralph Malph from 1970’s TV series Happy Days
potsie and ralph
Source: Paramount TV

So let’s cheer all the four-eyed, fact-sprouting, list-loving, megabrainy dweebs who rule TV – Get ready to geek out to the rise of the nerds – and all hail the original nerds Potsie and Ralph Malph.

Sheldon, The Big Bang Theory


Sheldon Lee Cooper, Ph.D., Sc.D., B.S., M.S., M.A., the undisputed, pre-eminent star and break-out fan favourite from The Big Bang Theory proves again and again that nerds rule! Probably TV’s most iconic self-professed nerd – he speaks Klingon, wears superhero themed T shirts, professes historical and cultural anecdotes and went ape over a signed Leonard Nimoy napkin. In a cast loaded with nerds (Leonard, Raj and Howard, we’re talking about you!), Sheldon is our one true love. Even though he thinks all human contact is unhygienic.

Liz Lemon, 30 Rock

liz lemon
Source: NBC

If the term ‘brains behind the operation’ means anything, it means Liz Lemon’s role at 30 Rockefeller Centre. She’s the heart, soul and brains of the hit variety show ‘TGS with Tracy Jordan’, dealing with massive egos (Jack), divas (Tracy and Jenna), dimwits (Kenneth) and delusional writers (the rest of the cast). When she’s not wrapped in her snuggie on the couch eating ‘night cheese’, she can be found dressed as Princess Leia. As well as calling Liz’s sensible shoes ‘bi-curious’, Jack had the best description for this loveable nerd: “I got you. New York third-wave feminist, college educated, single and pretending to be happy about it, over scheduled, undersexed, you buy any magazine that says 'healthy body image' on the cover and every two years you take up knitting for...a week."

Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation

Leslie knope
Source: Universal Media Studios

Loved by Hilary Clinton, Leslie Knope is Pawnee’s mid-level bureaucrat who teaches real-life politicians a thing or two about honesty and authenticity in the public sphere. National Public Radio’s ‘Monkey-See’ column called it “the most sympathetic, realistic portrayal of grown-up nerds currently airing... the best show about nerds (and the nerds who love them) on television”. There’s nothing one-dimensional or embarrassing about Leslie’s nerdiness - it’s just part of the wonderful whole that is her. Parks and Recreation gives us many geeky characters, but presents them all in a warm and loving way, the likes of which we have never seen on TV before. They’re not the butt of the joke; they’re the centre of the story.

Lisa Simpson, The Simpsons

lisa simpson
Source: Network Ten

An eternal child nerd, never to grow old and bitter; it’s hard to believe Homer fathered a daughter like Lisa. She wears her intelligence like a badge of honour, without shame or false modesty. Lisa is an out and proud nerd. She treads her own path in life, refusing to be shackled by a family who can never quite comprehend how special she is. But they love her to bits all the same- just like we do. All cheer: Lisa for President! 

Ross Geller, Friends

ross geller

A science nerd, a dinosaur nerd, a ka-ra-tay nerd. But this nerd got the girl... and positioned himself as TV’s first nerd sex symbol. With his doe-eyes, hang-dawg expressions and thick mop of unruly hair, Ross pioneered the geek-chic movement that’s still going strong.

Dwight Schrute, The Office

Dwight Schrute
Source: NBC

From the nerd sub-genre called ‘Fascist Nerd’, Dwight doesn’t come from the likeable school of dorkdom, he is one power-hungry and ironically clueless nerd. He does have prototypical nerd obsessions though – Second Life, Battlestar Galactica, The Crow, table tennis, survivalism, weapons and Jack Bauer. 

Cosima, Orphan Black


So here’s a nerd sub-genre you don’t hear every day: ‘Clone Nerd’. When you have 13 or so clones, one is bound to be the resident dork – and that’s our Cosima from Orphan Black. She’s a PhD student from San Francisco who helps Sarah in the pursuit of her origins. Cosima also puts the L in the LGBTQI. Her steamy, yet tumultuous love story with Delvene plays out over many seasons. But we have to remember what first brought them together – their love of science. Pure nerd through and through.

More TV News

Chris Pratt Jennifer Lawrence Passengers Movie

The most iconic onscreen couples

Fall in love all over again with the movie couples guaranteed to make hearts flutter, temperatures rise and pulses race. These are some of the best onscreen couples of our time.

8 Alternate Endings That Will Blow Your Mind

When you’re making a box office smash or much-loved TV show, getting the ending right is everything – no pressure.
Jon Snow dying in Game Of Thrones cliffhanger

The Coolest Cliffhangers in TV History

Cliffhangers- they can be agony, they can be ecstasy – but they work. They keep us glued to the screen, chatting afterwards and coming back for more the next season.

Get the latest movie updates sent directly to your inbox!

Want more from inside of Australia's biggest movie and home entertainment company? Join the crew today for news, exclusive offers and competitions.

Thanks. We'll be in touch soon.