No sitcom, cartoon, or treasure-seeking tale would be complete without the classic brainiac, right? Some of our favorite characters in books, movies, and television are the famous nerds who provide us with comic relief, fun factoids, and catchy phrases. Whether these nerds’ knowledge is based in reality or made up science, we think they’re worth talking about.
Dexter from Dexter’s Laboratory
Only 90s kids will remember. Many millennials alike can reminisce about the “good ol’ days” of Cartoon Network. Among these memories is one of our favorite boy geniuses, Dexter – a child genius with a secret lab and a strange accent. Dexter’s questionable motives and struggles to prevent big sister Dee Dee from ruining his experiments has those with siblings sympathizing.
Combining the problems of a typical young boy in a nuclear family with that of a young genius made us feel like Dexter’s life wasn’t completely impossible, secret lab and all.
Jimmy from The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
Another boy genius, Jimmy Neutron, earned a place in our hearts with his debut animated film and resulting animated television series. Unlike Dexter, Jimmy’s friends and parents are fully aware of his genius status and not-so-secret lab. They even support his inventions, including the family robot dog, Goddard.
Surrounded by friends a little below his level of intelligence to say the least, Jimmy’s adventures (and mistakes) in science are endlessly entertaining. We’ll never forget the phrase “Brain blast!”.
Steve Urkel from Family Matters
Whether or not you’ve seen the show, the phrase “Urkel” used to describe the nerdy type may be familiar. Going from an iconic character to an entire adjective, Steve Urkel is perhaps the penultimate nerd. Clad in suspenders, arguably unfashionable glasses, and high water jeans, his nasally antics stole our hearts. Ironically, his unpopular character became the most popular outside the world of the show.
In fact, he was so lovable that he went from being an intended one-time character, to the most popular character on the show.
Hermione Granger from Harry Potter
The brightest witch of her age needs no introduction, but we’ll give her one anyway. Harry Potter fans know and love Hermione for her strength and cleverness. She initially came off as a nosy know-it-all, but she quickly became our favorite smartypants.
Let’s be real, would Harry have survived as long as he did without Hermione’s ingenuity? Not likely. The fact of the matter is that there would be no Harry Potter without Hermione Granger. We should just name the series after her, right?
Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory
Going from a not-so-hot rated show to one of TV Guide’s best series’ of all time, there’s no one that doesn’t at least recognize the title The Big Bang Theory. There’s also likely no one that doesn’t recognize the show’s hit meme-able character, Sheldon. A modern nerd who earned a PhD at 16, Sheldon is a key reason viewers come back to the show.
Despite all his knowledge, his lack of social know-how keeps us laughing. We even learned a few things about quantum mechanics on the way. Now that’s worth a “Bazinga!”.
Sherlock Holmes from Sherlock Holmes
Whether you’re a fan of the classic novels, feature films, or hit BBC show, Sherlock Holmes remains a household name. Sherlock’s insane deduction process inspires us to channel our inner Trivia detectives when it comes to answering those difficult questions in our weakest categories.
His lack of social graces also make us feel better about our own interpersonal mishaps. We’ve learned to laugh at ourselves when our social knowledge fails to reflect our factual knowledge.
Spock from Star Trek
The age-old debate of Star Trek vs. Star Wars aside, no one can deny that Spock remains a space nerd icon. His awkwardness and intellect are just as endearing to us as it is to Captain Kirk and crew. “Spockmania” is such a phenomenon that Isaac Asimov gave praise to the star Vulcan and even NASA made him an informal mascot.
We like to think that the final frontier wouldn’t be the same without our favorite pointy-eared alien. His no-nonsense approach to presenting information and analyzing situations makes him unforgettable.
Evelyn Carnahan from The Mummy
Although Rachel Weisz didn’t continue this role through the series, it’s her portrayal of Evelyn (Evy) in the beginning of The Mummy saga that gets her character a place on this list. Her archaeological knowledge proves to be crucial in preventing Imhotep from wreaking havoc on the world during his resurrection.
Surely, Rick would’ve never gotten to where he was going, or it would’ve taken him significantly longer, without Evy’s ancient Egyptian knowledge.
Velma Dinkley from Scooby Doo
One of the most recognizable animated nerds is none other than Velma Dinkley. She is the reason that Mystery Inc. has such a high success rate at solving mysteries. Without her, it’s doubtful that the crew could solve anything. Supposedly, Velma’s well-read nature eventually leads her to pursue and impressive career at NASA.
We relate to her struggles when she loses her glasses and love her shining moments of sass. There’s a reason her character remains a popular Halloween costume for many.
- T.J. Henderson from Smart Guy
- Wade from Kim Possible
- Brainiac from the DC universe
- Brian Ralph Johnson from The Breakfast Club
- Peter Parker from the Marvel universe
Tony Stark from the Marvel Universe
- Brain from Pinky and the Brain
Some of our favorite tales wouldn’t be the same without a big-brained character to show off cool inventions, smart skills, and awkward social graces. Without them, many main characters would never achieve their goal, or potentially even survive. We love them for their smarts and their humor, showing us that there’s more to being a nerd than just intelligence. This list certainly doesn’t begin to cover all the great nerd portrayals out there. We can’t wait to see what the future of entertainment holds for this trope.