Homer Simpson: When will you Australians learn? In America we stopped using corporal punishment and things have never been better. The streets are safe, old people strut confidently through dark alleys and the weak and nerdy are admired for their computer programming abilities. So like us, for, as the old saying goes, "Let your children run wild and free.".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 bigger and better 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.
open/close all folders
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.
- Lloyd is an example of the skinny type.
- The two students credited as "otaku" - the racist ones seen in episodes 5, 6, and 18 - are an example of a pair of both types.
- Death Note: L is a pale, skinny man who, in spite of being a Big Eater, uses so much energy to think that he's rail thin. He also turns out to be an adept martial artist.
- 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 Katekyō 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.
- Anthony Michael Hall in The Breakfast Club and maybe a couple of other movies of that era.
- More skinny ones were in Revenge of the Nerds.
- Matt Farrell in Live Free or Die Hard. Warlock (played by Kevin Smith) is an example of the other type.
- Eddie Deezen, famous for playing (among other roles) stereotypical nerd Eugene in Grease, Malvin in WarGames and Eddie Lipschultz in The Whoopee Boys.
- Atlantis: The Lost Empire has one.
Kida: (to Milo) "You are a scholar, are you not? Judging from your diminished physique and large forehead, you are suited for nothing else!
- Tim in About Time.
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), Donnie is the tallest of the four brothers, standing half a head taller than Raph or Leo, and is skinny compared to the others.
- 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.
- In Creator/Mercedes Lackey's Vows & Honor, Kethry says that magit takes so much energy that you'll almost never see a fat mage, and if you do it is an indication that she or he has a serious eating disorder.
Live Action TV
- 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."
- The Big Bang Theory: All of the geeks have skinny physiques. Sheldon is described by another character as looking like a praying mantis. 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.
- 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:
"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!"
- 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...
- 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.Rossi: (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.
- Community Abed is rail thin in spite of constantly eating buttered noodles.
- 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.
- American Gods: The Technical Boy, god of the internet, looks like a skinny teenage hipster.
- Otacon in Metal Gear Solid was going to be fat, but wound up a skinny nerd in the finished product. And by Sons of Liberty, they'd forgotten he was even supposed to be a nerd at all.
- 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.
- Ferret of the Whateley Universe. So was Jobe, before he accidentally pulled a Professor Guinea Pig and turned himself into a statuesque drow elf girl.
- Karl Hadrika's "Becky Prim" proof-of-concept pilot has Norville, who's described in Hardika's Tumblr blog as a "horny sock puppet", which is not to far off of a description as he's pretty skinny chump with a pencil neck that takes up a majority of his body.
- The Simpsons also had Homer's roommates when he was in college. Two thin, one fat, all geeks.
- Total Drama Island:
- To a lesser extent, Cody and Noah are both skinnier than any of the non-geeky guys, not to mention shorter.
- One of the scariest examples was found in an early episode of King of the Hill.
- Flint Lockwood in Sony's Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, who also has messy mad scientist hair.
- Gretchen Grundler.
- Vince's brother Chad as well. In fact, he looked nearly identical to Steve Urkel.
- Steve, Snot and Toshi on American Dad!
- Ned from Kim Possible.
- Zoey from The Proud Family.
- 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.
- In American Gods the Technical Boy, new god of the Internet, is more often referred to as "the fat kid" because he looks like a portly Basement-Dweller crammed into a Matrix-reject trenchcoat. The tv series went for the opposite stereotype.
Live Action TV
- Sylvester from Scorpion fits the "geeks are fat" dynamic.
- William Barfée from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, at least in most productions.
- Sal Manella from the Ace Attorney games, more like a fat Otaku.
- Ultimate Otaku Hifumi Yamada from Danganronpa is so fat that his weight becomes a key point in solving his murder case.
- In Steins;Gate, Mad Scientist Rintaro Okabe is very skinny. Playful Hacker Itaru Hashida, on the other hand, is extremely fat.
- Erfworld: Parson Gotti was a classic roleplaying nerd till he was summoned. 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.
- In 1/0, when Marcus is walled, he asks Junior and Terra to describe Tailsteak to him. Terra figures that as a computer geek he must be either really fat or really skinny. Junior just lists a string of insults — but since one of them was that he's fat, Marcus concludes that as one of the few points the two agreed on, it must be true, and his Tailsteak effigy is made in that image.
- The Board-tan representing 4chan's /tg/ (the board for discussing tabletop games) is drawn as either skinny or fat depending on the drawfag.
- 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 Simpsons: The Comic Book Guy. 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
- Cousin Larry
- 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.
- American Dad!
- Barry is obese. 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
- At first glance, Hajime from I Can't Understand What My Husband is Saying appears to be a skinny example. Then he took off his shirt in episode 7. It's explicitly noted in the manga that he does exercises to keep himself fit, particularly the abdominal region.
- Matt from Death Note. For someone who spends most of his time sitting around playing video games and appears to have a taste for junk food, he does have nice biceps!
- Tales from the Borderlands: Vaughn is a typical short, skinny, bespectacled nerd, but when he takes his shirt off in the desert, both his best friend and worst enemy are shocked by how "weirdly buff" he is. He explains that he's been using the gym equipment in his office.
- Justin from El Goonish Shive works at a comic shop, and has pretty much the personality you would expect considering his workplace, but since he's been doing martial arts for years he's actually in shape. Catalina's remark upon seeing him is "Holy crap! Aren't comic book guys supposed to be grapefruit shaped?" like the nameless extras in the last panel (later identified as Rich [fat] and Larry [skinny]).
- Naps from S.S.D.D actually works out, which is why Anne doesn't believe he worked in IT (not that he actually did, but his former co-workers did fit into both stereotypes.)