That thing where geeks and scientists are always fragile, skinny guys without a shred of muscle to their names. Except when they're morbidly obese and/or neckbearded. Rarely do we see an athletic, rugged, or only mildly pudgy geek, because they are Squishy Wizards
While both versions of geek have been around for some time, the "geeks are skinny" image is slowly being displaced by "geeks are fat" as the world obesity rate rises and the average weight of "attractive" Hollywood actors falls. The hours of inactivity and unhealthy eating habits are sufficient justification, and can cause this to be Truth in Television
. The older form also has justification in the "Forgets to Eat
" aspect of things, or possibly because Crack Is Cheaper
and therefore the geeks only spend the bare minimum amount of money on food that they need to in order to stay alive while pouring the rest of their income into their hobbies (which explains why the Basement-Dweller
is almost always a fat geek, he doesn't buy his own food so he has more of it to eat). The reverse is also true as those entering such industries age and realize they're losing their youthful metabolisms and as such professions become more of a career and less a stepping stone to other things.
Compare Hollywood Nerd
. Occasionally coupled with a Nerdy Inhaler
to try and justify
it. Badass Bookworms
often, but don't always, avert this. May overlap with Fat and Skinny
if both are in the same scene together.
Anime and Manga
- Code Geass: Lelouch, the genius who plays chess on a country-sized game board, is regularly teased for being out of shape compared with Suzaku, Sayoko and even Milly.
- Death Note: L, a pale, skinny man who eats like a fat geek. He's partial to sugar.
- Nozomu Itoshiki the protagonist of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei is a good-looking nerd, but is quite thin and physically puny, not to mention very pale. The only exercise he seems to do is strengthening his neck muscles, so he can attempt suicide without killing himself.
- Arguably Verde, Shouichi, and Spanner, from Katekyo Hitman Reborn!. All three are rail-thin (especially Verde), and painfully intelligent (especially Verde) in their respective fields (science for Verde, mechanics for Shou, and robotics for Spanner). The three of them hardly ever leave their labs (once again, especially Verde).
- Eyeshield 21: Yukimitsu is incredibly skinny, which really doesn't help when playing American Football.
- Slam Dunk: Yoshinori is a Lethal Joke Character who looks every bit the stereotypical nerd.
- Harris, Clark, and Martin, Cindy's three colleagues (and fellow MIT grads) in Shinryaku! Ika Musume, are respectively on the skinny side of average, emaciated, and obese. At one point they sink into depression; Harris and Clark become fat, while Martin starves himself thin.
- In Genshiken, Kousaka and Madarame are skinny, while Kugayama and Tanaka are fat. Resident asshole Haraguchi is also fat. Everybody else is pretty normal.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! is fundamentally a series about gaming nerds, and the style gives basically everyone elongated proportions. Dark Yugi, Kaiba, and Bakura (both versions) are all particularly skinny and nerdy.
- Sherlock Holmes is thin as a rail, because he simply Forgets to Eat half the time. This doesn't concern him, because he considers the only important part of himself to be his brain, of which everything else is merely an appendage. Otherwise inverted, though, as he is trained in several forms of fighting and can easily defend himself if need be. He's also likely ripped: in "The Speckled Band" he straightens a steel fireplace poker after a client's stepfather tries to threaten him by bending it. Straightening it would actually require more strength than just bending it.
- The Canterbury Tales has the clerk, making this trope Older Than Print. The clerk is described as a student of philosophy or theology at Oxford, who is wire-thin because he forgets to eat and would rather spend what little money he scrounges together on Aristotle works than food or clothing.
- In Cory Doctorow's When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth, a major character is a "type-two sysadmin, over six feet tall, long pony-tail, bobbing Adam's apple. Over his toast-rack chest, his tee said CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON and featured a row of polyhedral RPG dice."
- Fitz, from the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novels, who is described as looking like he's made of pipecleaners. He's quite into Speculative Fiction, particularly The Lord of the Rings, and once dubbed a sea monster "Cthulhu", although his characterization generally isn't overtly geeky.
- Ponder Stibbons in the Discworld novels, a computer/science geek wizard who is "by [his] own admission, a wet and a weed".
- The titular character of the Mediochre Q Seth Series is unquestionably a massive nerd, and is permanently stuck in the form of a weedy teenager.
- It's a running gag that the only muscle that the titular character of the Artemis Fowl series cares about is his brain. The rest of him is scrawny, and he's uncoordinated and small in stature.
- Sherlock, like his literary counterpart, is ridiculously skinny and claims not to eat on cases - the number of times he is shown eating in six episodes could be counted on one hand. Prior to filming, Benedict Cumberbatch had another role as a cancer patient, but didn't want to shave his head because he was growing out his hair for Sherlock. He opted to lose 15 lbs. instead, giving his character an emaciated appearance, then kept the weight loss for Sherlock because he wanted the impression of "mind over body."
- Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory is one of these. He was described by another character as looking like a praying mantis. The other three geeks also have skinny physiques. It's just that Sheldon's is more pronounced due to being a head taller than the other three.
- However, Leonard's default outfit appears to put about 20 pounds on him.
- Howard is described as looking "like a human chicken wing" in his bathing suit. He also has only 3% bodyfat, and is very proud of this. Of course, he also appears to have only 3% muscle.
- It was mentioned on the making of that Leonard's clothing is deliberately oversized to hide the fact that the actor is quite well built in order to fit in with this trope. Likewise, Howard's clothing is overtight to make him look even more skinny.
- Screech from Saved by the Bell.
- Steve Urkel in Family Matters.
- Jerry Steiner of Parker Lewis Can't Lose.
- Lucas on Pretty Little Liars, a photography nerd. Plus points to the writers who actually made him look threatening and scary at one point. Then Hanna smacked him with a boat oar and knocked him into a pond.
- Doctor Who:
- The Doctor's incarnations tend to be on the skinnier side, particularly Ten and Eleven. Ten's case gets lampshaded the most - Donna jokes about it more than once, and Eleven's immediate reaction on meeting him was...
"How very skinny. That is proper skinny! I've never seen it from the outside, it's like a special effect! Oi, ha, matchstick-man!"
- Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor is continuing this. Clara calls him a "grey-haired stick insect".
- The Fourth Doctor usually just looked like a big bulky pile of clothes, but as Tom Baker was a starving actor before he started on the show, he was pretty lanky underneath all the layers.
- Dr. Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds almost looks like he's made of wire. From the episode "Identity":
(Reid knocks on a guy's door)
Militia Man: (answers door, points to a no soliciting sign) What the hell do you want? Can't you read?
Reid: I'm not a salesman, I'm with the FBI.
Militia Man: FBI? You're not serious? You look like a pipe cleaner with eyes. I could snap you like a twig.
: (stepping into view)
But then, he isn't alone.
- Eric Forman from That '70s Show is often teased for his skinniness.
- Chuck, although it takes Adam Baldwin on the male side, and Yvonne Strathotski on the female side to really count as this.
- Murray 'Boz' Bozinsky from the Riptide series.
- Phillip from Kamen Rider Double is on the skinny half of the trope - and while he may not be much skinnier than his co-star Shoutaro, his very tight clothing under a billowing coat emphasizes his skinniness.
- Abed in Community, though it's very much averted with Troy.
- Ally of Austin & Ally is short and skinny, but still cute via Adorkable and She's Got Legs.
- Wesley from Degrassi fits very cleanly into the thin and dorky mold, his geek cred being science and academics based. Adam, meanwhile, was the short thin comic book nerd variety.
- Sylvester from Scorpion fits the "geeks are fat" dynamic.
- Otacon in Metal Gear Solid was going to be fat, but wound up a skinny nerd in the finished product.
- Bernard and Laverne on Maniac Mansion and Day of the Tentacle.
- The "Super Nerd" trainer class in Pokémon.
- In Bully, there's an entire clique of nerds. Three of them (Algie, Fatty and Melvin) are fat, and the others (Earnest, Bucky, Cornelius, Donald and Thad) are scrawny with hunched postures.
- Tedd from El Goonish Shive. He even sees himself as this during an Imagine Spot where he compares himself to other, "better" men Grace might meet at school.
- Hanna from the eponymous Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name. Tiny (around 5'3,) and skinny as a rail, but with wide shoulders and big hands that make him super awkward.
- Jessica from Freakwatch is quite nerdy, with an obvious fascination with puzzles, horror movies and electronics, and is somewhat on the chunky side. Warren, a fellow horror fan and RPG enthusiast, is rail-thin by contrast.
- Gary in Ménage ŕ 3 initially looks to fit the skinny pattern, exacerbated by his frequently poor posture. Really, though, he's just slim, and he seems to be in pretty good shape for someone who's never seen to take any exercise, to the point of averting the trope; the comic's female cast have no trouble finding him cute, even or especially when he's stripped. See below on his friend Jung.
- Teenager Alex of Sandra on the Rocks more or less claims to fit the trope ("I'm a gamer! How would having abs help ME?"), but actually, he's pretty Adorkable from the start — and then his friend Marie (herself a slim teenage Gamer Chick) catches the physical fitness bug, and becomes determined to get him ripped.
- Zodon of PS238. Or at least his hologram. His true appearance appears to be rather normal, at least for a person with a oversized cranium whose lower body is never shown due to his hover chair.
- Oscar in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao—the 2008 Pulitzer Winner—is a hugely overweight Star Wars nerd from the Dominican Republic.
- One of Lisbeth Salander's few friends in Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy is an obese geek with poor social skills (except online).
- Harold Lauder of The Stand was overweight (in the novel, anyway; the miniseries turned him into a skinny geek or arguably a Hollywood Geek).
- Sherlock Holmes' brother Mycroft: possibly even more brilliant than Holmes but completely uninterested in physical activity beyond the minimum.
- In Cory Doctorow's When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth, the main character is "a type-one admin, with an extra seventy or eighty pounds all around the middle, and a neat but full beard that he wore over his extra chins. His tee said HELLO CTHULHU..."
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, there's the bookish Samwell Tarly of the Night's Watch.
- Bill in Don't Call Me Ishmael!. He is bullied for both his weight and being a fan of Fantasy and science-fiction. He loses weight later in the series and becomes more self-confident, but even then he is still quite big.
- Parson Gotti was a classic roleplaying nerd till he was summoned to Erfworld. He's slimming down recently.
- Those daily patrols through the whole city and the long rooms and tall stairwells in the main building must be helping.
- Natural Signamancy (the magic of making the appearance of things reflect their roles and personalities) would also play its part; Parson's determination to be more personally involved in the battles he directs is being represented in his physique.
- Jung in Ménage ŕ 3 definitely matches the plump version of the trope — though he's not morbidly obese. See above on his "skinny" pal Gary.
- The Board-tan representing 4Chan's /tg/ (the board for discussing tabletop games) is drawn as either skinny or fat.
- Something Awful once featured a XKCD parody with a shop that only sold T-shirt in sizes small and XXXXX-large.
- Open Source Greg of 4 Gregs is fat. The other 3 are skinny-ish, but in a Stick Figure Animation that's nothing unusual.
- Whateley Universe examples: Overclock, the Mountain Dew guzzling computer deviser, and Erlenmeyer, the chem deviser both. Belphegor (yes, his codename is Belphegor) definitely counts too.
- The Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons
- In one episode Comic Book Guy attempts to return a Star Trek belt he won as a prize because it was sized medium, and "the average Trekker has no use for a medium-sized belt".
- Kim Possible: Wade Load, the overweight variety
- Reginald "Skull", a video-game crazed comic geek from Monster House.
- On Total Drama Island, both Beth and Ezekiel could count as minor examples—she's plump and he's at least flabby, in contrast to the other characters who are mostly skinny girls, athletic guys or skinny geeks listed above.
- Barry on American Dad! is obese.
- However, it's implied that the anti-psychotic meds he takes make him eat more.
- Steve is unusually strong when he's angry, but always comes across as weedy whenever Stan tries to encourage him to do anything that involves strength. This is largely a case of Depending on the Writer.
- Lenny the obsessive Powerpuff Girls nerd in The Powerpuff Girls episode "Collect Her".
Anime & Manga
- The protagonists in Free Enterprise are hardcore sci-fi nerds (especially concerning Star Trek), but are both in pretty good shape and are occasionally shown shooting hoops. One of them gets laid on a regular basis.
- Billy on Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Justified because he, you know, fights monsters every week.
- Early on, the costume department made a valiant attempt to make him look like a Thin Geek, but they gave it up for a bad job after a season or two (FYI, David Yost was a GYMNAST before playing Billy.)
- Connor Temple from Primeval. One hell of a geek, but managed to carry Cutter, who is at least as tall as him, maybe taller, out of a collapsing building. If you ever see him sleeveless, you'll see why.
- He also manages to survive in prehistoric times for a year and comes out pretty Bad Ass to the point where it's strange to him after coming back to London that he doesn't constantly have to worry about survival and that both him and Abby can sleep at the same time without a dinosaur eating them.
- Hardison is pretty fit for a guy who spends days at a time staring a computer screen. Even before the team formed and he had to do more physical stuff he was only lanky, not out of shape.
- This point is driven home in the hazing scenes of "The Experimental Job" where he is forced to strip down to his underwear and run the length of a college campus and he's basically the most cut guy of the group.
- Daniel Jackson on Stargate SG-1 is given as much action as any of the other members of the team. While they try to hide his actor's actual physique, it's never implied that he's physically less able than the other members - sporting heavier weapons in later seasons as he becomes a more experienced combatant. Of course, he is an archaeologist by profession and presumably did a certain amount of field-work, which can be pretty physical.
- On a related note, most of the field archaeologists on Time Team, particularly Phil Harding.
- Roy, from The IT Crowd. He is tall, oafish and slightly pudgy in the middle. His attire could be described as geek-chic, though somewhat boyish,and is shown to be socially confident to a fault. In fact, his love life cases him trouble on more than one occasion. Moss, however, is an example played hilariously straight.
- Freddie from iCarly in later seasons. Puberty has been kind to him.
- While K.C. and Connor both check off all the appropriate geek checkboxes as Gifted Program students that built a robot, then went on to join the academic quiz team? They also are both on the football team. K.C. was always a bit physical, but Connor's actor was blessed by puberty and gained several inches in height since he started on the show.
- Will from The Inbetweeners is actually the least slim of the four protagonists, but he is still not overweight by any account.
- Whateley Universe has a fair number of attractive geek types, though most of those seem to be female, for some reason. Anyone who is both a Devisor or Gadgeteer and an Exemplar will count. Several GSD cases, such as Montana and Gadget (who resemble a sasquatch and a humanoid squirrel, respectively), would also be subversions, but not in a positive sense.