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October 18, 2013

Ten Famous Nerds of TV and the Movies

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

They could be evil. They could be sloppily dressed. They may hang with a group, but most likely they’re loners. They are the famous nerds of television and film. No matter what the show, live or animated, sit them down in front of a computer and they’ll know exactly what to do.

In no particular order:


Steve Urkel from the TV show Family Matters.

Steve Urkel from the TV show Family Matters.

Steve Urkel reigned supreme as king of all Nerds in the 1990’s TV sitcom Family Matters. He was brilliant, no doubt, and also possessed the prime nerdly qualities of being socially awkward and aggressively annoying. Sadly, as the show progressed Urkel became more of a caricature and less of a character, almost to the point where some animated (cartoon) nerds were more believable.


The Professor from Gilligan's Island.

Russell Johnson as The Professor from Gilligan’s Island.

His real name is Roy Hinkley Jr. and what they say about this character is true: He could construct anything electrical or mechanical by using palm fronds, bamboo, and coconuts — yet he could not construct a boat or other floatation device that would get the castaways off that damn island. While the professor doesn’t ever construct a simple computer, it is mentioned in the show that he authored two books, Rust: the Real Red Menace and Fun with Ferns.


Desmond Llewelyn as Q from many of the James Bond films.

Desmond Llewelyn as Q from many of the James Bond films.

His name originally wasn’t “Q,” but rather Major Quintin Boothroyd. He was simply the head of the “Q branch,” where Q stood for Quartermaster in the novels. In real life, the Q branch of British Intelligence makes things like radio transmitters and tracking devices. But on film, the Q branch makes all sorts of wonderful gadgets, from cars with ejector seats to laser pens and jet backpacks. Q himself delights in creating those gizmos and showing them to James Bond, who disappoints Q by destroying nearly every one.


Wayne Knight as Dennis Nedry in Jurassic Park

Wayne Knight as Dennis Nedry in Jurassic Park

The rare evil nerd in this list, novelist Michael Crichton packed every nerd stereotype into the bumbling bonfire of Nedry’s personality. Even his name is a feeble anagram of nerdy. Dennis Nedry was an untidy, obese, overeater, underachiever, anti-social, Unix geek. It seems only fitting that he was consumed by a dinosaur.


Velma from Scooby Doo

Velma from Scooby Doo.

It’s regrettable that you never see Velma sit down at a computer and hack out some descent code, or a at least some sort of AI program that would indicate to her that all her friends’ adventures follow the same plot line. While it’s cool that Velma is one of the first female nerds in cartoon fiction, it’s sad that they had to slap on her those horn-rimmed glasses. Personally, I think Velma is teh hot.


Martin Prince of The Simpsons

Martin Prince of The Simpsons.

Honestly, The Simpsons offers up more nerdy characters per square foot than you could once find outside the old Quantum Books across from MIT. Martin is one of the smart nerds, but so is Lisa Simpson. Mad scientist Professor Frink could also be considered a nerd, as would be the Comic Book Guy. Even hapless Milhouse Van Houten is a nerd of sorts. But I feel that Martin epitomizes the best of all nerdly qualities. Although I don’t recall ever seeing him operate a computer, I’m certain that he has at least two, one laptop and a second desktop PC that dual-boots into Linux.


Brainy Smurf

Brainy Smurf.

While not one of the original Smurf folk, Brainy Smurf is definitely one of the smartest (and that’s not saying much). Granted, the glasses are a bit cliché. While the appeal of this character to all of nerdom seems moot (Smurfs are generally despised in the computer community), Brainy Smurf does show the need for smart people to help resolve a complicated plot line — even if you have to inject the word smurf into your speech some way. Smurfarific!


The nerd gang from Revenge of the Nerds.

The nerd gang from Revenge of the Nerds.

I adored the 1984 film Revenge of the Nerds. Rather than cramming all nerd types into a single character, the film showcased the nerd pantheon. I found that perspective charming because most people believe that they’re nerdy in one way or another. It’s more realistic than being a one dimensional stereotype, as demonstrated elsewhere in the mdeai. Plus the film showcased nerds as having great spirit. Their triumph over the jocks at the end of the film was sweet justice for anyone who’s felt detached from society’s social elite. Nerds rule.


Leonard Nimoy as Star Trek's Mr. Spock.

Leonard Nimoy as Star Trek’s Mr. Spock.

If being a nerd meant that you joined a religion, then Mr. Spock would be one of the gods — if not the god. Mr. Spock demonstrates what all nerds achieve to be: a walking, precise database and calculator, oblivious to emotions yet completely necessary for others to have around. Spock did the one thing that no nerd in real life could ever achieve: knowing that he’s the smartest guy in the room while maintaining his humility. Use a computer? You bet! In fact, not satisfied with the version of GNU Chess that came with the Starship Enterprise’s computer, Spock programmed his own version of the game. Now if only mere mortal nerds could master the Vulcan nerve pinch.


Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory

Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory.

Sheldon Cooper is the nerds’ nerd in residence on TV’s The Big Bang Theory. He is the epitome of all nerds, primarily because over his overt, anti-social / Mensa / Asperger’s persona. As such he’s extremely dangerous. Not only to actor Jim Parsons (paging Adam West, typecasting devision), but because people actually like Sheldon. Sure, they admit that he showcases the worst of all nerd stereotypes, but the problem is that he’s likable. Trust me, if you knew someone just like Sheldon in real life, you would not like him let alone be amused by his antics.


  1. If you enter ‘tv nerds’ into a google search you will find you missed A LOT of obvious ones, here are few favoriates of mine you missed:
    Birkoff- La Femme Nikita
    fat blond chick- Criminal Minds
    Dwight- The Office
    Stewie- Family Guy

    Comment by BradC — October 18, 2013 @ 3:44 pm

  2. Other than Family Guy, I don’t really watch any of those shows! Never seen La Femme Nikita (other than the film) or Criminal Minds. I know of Dwight, but I’ve not watched a full episode of The Office. And of course, I know Stewie, but he’s more of an evil genius nerd, a category I completely omitted. I’ll have to do a special on them…

    By the way, this post was written about eight years ago for a book that was never published. It was a computer humor book that kind of died due to lack of interest by the publisher. I updated the post to reflect current nerds. Well, as I know them.

    Last week’s post on Disastrous Second Acts and Bill Gates Says were also from that book.

    Comment by admin — October 18, 2013 @ 3:53 pm

  3. Thats another thing worth googling is “computer jokes”, what you’ll find on the internet is Im sure better than what anyone could put in one book.

    Comment by BradC — October 18, 2013 @ 4:43 pm

  4. Yes. Why read any book when we have the Internet and all its quality?

    Remember: You’re writing to an author. 🙂

    Comment by admin — October 18, 2013 @ 4:50 pm

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