Give Geeks a Chance

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/geek_1015.jpg
Wait till he tells them about his comic book collection.
Kim: You're weird.
Ron: Ah! K.P!
Kim: Shhh. I like weird.

A trope common in Romantic Comedies and Teen Comedies, in which a dorky (not necessarily ugly, just... geeky) guy ends up with the totally hot babe. Generally, the geek begins the story as an outcast to whom the beautiful girl would never be attracted. He may be a band geek, or a scientist with all the social graces of a tube worm, or a D&D player who still lives in his mom's basement. And through the course of the story, she begins to see through his spaz-like exterior to the decent, love-worthy man within.

Often, the guy will be smitten with the girl the first time he sees her. She, on the other hand, won't be attracted at first, and will often fight the attraction later on in the story. Eventually, despite whatever Three's Company-style misunderstanding crops up (and it will; you can count on it) she comes to realize that there is more to the geek than his pocket protector and love will bloom. It is never Love at First Sight for the babe, in any case.

Related to Ugly Guy, Hot Wife, and subject to the same Double Standard, since gender inversions are practically non-existent; there may be more to the male geek than his pocket protector, but for women, looks are all that should matter. If a Hollywood Homely geek girl (or Hollywood Homely non-geek girl, for that matter) sets her sights on a hot guy, she might be able to make a few slight alterations, but it's more likely she'll just be the Abhorrent Admirer who makes him run away in terror. Hence why this trope is beginning to experience some backlash lately.

Also extremely rare is the male geek that actually considers a similarly geeky girl, due to the latter's rarity in media in general. This holds even for works aimed at a female audience, and therefore any nerdy girl will eventually be revealed to be Beautiful All Along.

In general this is slowly becoming obsolete as "nerd" and "geek" become less pejorative.

Compare Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl and Nerd Nanny. See Nerds Are Sexy, Adorkable and Geeky Turn-On for when the attraction isn't despite nerdiness, but because of it. Contrasts with All Girls Want Bad Boys. Often overlaps with Just Friends.


Examples

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    Advertising 
  • A Go Daddy Super Bowl ad once had a smoking hot model making out with a nerd (who turns out to also play one of the background geeks from The Big Bang Theory.) The reaction to it was pretty much universally negative, mainly because of the apparently intentionally disturbing close-ups and sound mixing.

    Anime and Manga 
  • The ending of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt has "Geek Boy" Brief finally having sex with Panty. It helps that he turns out to be Beautiful All Along. However, after the final battle, their relationship seems to be the same (IE he's still the No Respect Guy), though at least Panty starts using his name.
  • In Bamboo Blade, the character Miyako Miyazaki dates and is VERY in love with Dan-kun. He has a head like an acorn, she sparkles.
  • What the Wife did in Spotted Flower and likes to make the Husband remember that so he can be more confident in himself, despite being a hardore oraku, he got a girlfriend, had sex with her, they married, and now she's is expecting their child.
  • Paprika: Chiba admits to Tokita that she loves him and towards the end, Konakawa is informed that they are getting married.
  • Gender-Flipped in Vandread, where geeky mechanic Parfait is paired with Bishōnen doctor Duelo. The idea is that since both sexes are re-learning about each other, the normal social divide that would say he's out of her league doesn't exist.
  • Variable Geo: We never see how it starts, but it's clear that Reimi Jahana is secretly involved with her personal assistant, Washio. Such as when Chiho happens upon Reimi's private rooftop rose garden and finds them making out with each other.
  • This is the basic premise of I Can't Understand What My Husband is Saying, where an ordinary woman is Happily Married to a hardcore otaku (as happily married as you can be when, 9 times out out of 10, she has no idea what he's talking about).
  • The beginning of Tokyo Ghoul plays out like this, with nerdy and shy Ken Kaneki smitten with a beautiful and mysterious woman that frequents the same cafe. His best friend advises him to give up, because she's completely out of his league and a book-store date is a terrible idea. But Kaneki manages to work up the courage, and scores a date with the beautiful Rize Kamishiro. The two have a fantastic time and he walks her home, before mustering the courage to ask her on a second date. Rize admits that she's interested in him as well......as a meal, that is. Turns out, Rize is a ghoul and she likes to eat her dates.

    Comics 
  • Spider-Man
    • By all accounts Peter Parker is an average-looking guy who is incredibly nerdy, he still managed to date three bombshells before marrying a supermodel.
    • This hasn't gone uncommented — Pete's friend Johnny Storm (otherwise known as The Human Torch) has pointed out the sheer number of gorgeous women that Spidey has dated, including Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane Watson, and the Black Cat (although Black Cat is more about Spidey than Peter).
    • He's also recently caught the attention of Ms. Marvel.
    • His cause is helped by the fact that most artists post-Steve Ditko have given him a significant amount of male polish.
    • Also lampshaded in the Ultimate Universe. When Johnny Storm tells Peter that he met a hot girl from the world of Spider-Man, Peter starts listing off every super powered female he'd ever run into. Much to the annoyance of Gwen Stacy and the envy of Johnny, Bobby, and (again) Gwen Stacy.
  • Spider-Girl has a Gender Flip, though not with the main character—the real reason why Moose keeps clashing with the title character's nerdy friend, Jimmy? He sees Jimmy as competition for their other nerdy friend, Courtney, whom he has a crush on. Played Straight when Jimmy hooks up with Heather, though.
  • Amadeus Cho, the 7th smartest person on Earth (as verified by a soap company - oh, and Reed Richards). Managed to win the heart of a Perky Goth Amazon Gorgon girl. It must be noted that the looks are (kind of) inverted, as the aforementioned Amazon Gorgon got her looks from Medusa, while Cho is always drawn quite handsomely.
  • Dr. Victor Fries was quite the shy, timid, and introverted scientist, but that didn't stop him from marrying the late Nora, a smoking hot blonde. And they lived happily ever after.
  • Runaways provides a rare Gender Flip: short, chubby, average-looking nerd Gert ends up with tall, blond athlete Chase.
  • Spider-Girl has another Gender Flip: one of the school's jocks, nicknamed Moose, incorrectly believes that geeky Courtney is Spider-Girl and becomes infatuated with her. Their romance extends after he figures out the truth. Played Straight with May's other geeky friend, Jimmy, who hooks up with the school's Defrosting Alpha Bitch.
  • Elongated Man Ralph Dibny's marriage to Sue is depicted in this manner on occasion. Although The Flash was Central City's premier hero and got most of the town's adulation, when Sue met them both for the first time when Flash and Ralph both appeared together at a society function, she was clearly enamored of the more gangly Ralph.
    "He came by at the end to get me out of there. It was like trying to compete with Sinatra. But that's why ice cream stores don't just sell chocolate and vanilla. Every once in a while, someone walks in and orders butter pecan."

    Fanfiction 
  • In What She Wants, a story in the Facing the Future Series, this trope is prominent when Sydney Poindexter hooks up with Desiree, the Wishing Ghost, with it lampshaded by Tucker.
  • In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, canonical character Ponder Stibbons is pretty much the resident supernerd, a scholarly research wizard with an intellectual bent. Being forced out of the university to do hazardous and practical things in real life does not appeal to him very much but it is his fate that these excursions happen with depressing regularity. On one such mission he encounters Action Girl, Assassin Johanna Smith-Rhodes, who is seemingly his complete opposite and well out of his league. He discovers Johanna has her own deep-down inner geek. She appreciates his competence in a crisis. Romance happens. note 
  • Author Rufus T. Serenity is certainly a fan of this trope. Many of his Total Drama fanfics feature the geekier contestants (Cody, Harold, Cameron, etc) having girls considered far out of their league (Lindsay, Heather, Bridgette, etc) coming onto them.

    Film — Animated 
  • A Bug's Life: Flik is a bumbling inventor and Princess Atta is the Queen Ant's gorgeous but stressed out daughter. While it's strongly implied that Flik has liked her all along, Atta's just annoyed and frustrated with him since his inventions often cause more problems for the colony, and injury to herself. No surprise, she warms up to him over the movie.
  • Milo and Kida from Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Milo fits perfectly the nerd description being lean, with glasses and a bookworm; Kida even lampshade it when they met:
    Kida: You are a scholar, are you not? Judging from your diminished physique and large forehead, you can be suited for nothing else!
    • Kida herself is a princess in a stripperiffic outfit, (for the standards of the era) but she soon learn to appreciate Milo. She always had interest in him though, because he can read her forgotten language.
  • Played straight with Hiccup in How to Train Your Dragon. He's smitten with Astrid first thing, but she is largely indifferent to him until she finds out his mindblowingly cool secret and, more importantly, how brave and principled a warrior he actually is. Unlike most examples of this trope, however, Hiccup is far from bad looking.
  • Deconstructed and played straight in Megamind: Intrepid Reporter Roxanne Richie's camera guy Hal is introduced as a painfully awkward nerd who is completely in love with her, but she just sees him as a workmate. Later, after he gets superpowers and makes his move, he's revealed to be an Entitled to Have You Psychopathic Manchild who doesn't take rejection well. What? Just because he's a nerd and likes her doesn't automatically make him a good person or secretly the man of her dreams. However, Roxanne eventually falls for Megamind, who's quite the "dweebie intellectual" himself.]]
  • Doctor Doppler and Captain Amelia in Treasure Planet. He's a bespectacled doctor in astronomy and not quite fitted for adventure. Thus the Captain and him develop a Belligerent Sexual Tension until they're kidnapped together and begin to warm up.
  • The Ship Tease of Po and Tigress in Kung Fu Panda: the roly-poly overenthusiastic Ascended Fanboy and the Amazonian Beauty action Cat Girl. He may be geeky, but he proves in both films that he can succeed where she fails. In the first film, it's by being his own wacky, clumsy self. In the second, he masters a highly-advanced technique in a matter of days or weeks, a feat that took Master Shifu many years.

    Literature 
  • The Hunt for Red October:
    • It is stated that Jones, the sonar technician of the USS Dallas, because of his nerdy looks and knowledge, gets enough action on the beach to "wear down a squad of marines".
    • Oliver Tyler, a former nuclear submarine officer (retired after losing most of his left leg) and computer nerd, though also a former American football player, has "five and two-thirds" children with his wife, "making up" for lost time while a submariner.
    • The latter bit about a male geek never pursuing a female geek is subverted in the later book, The Cardinal of the Kremlin. Major Gregory, a huge geek and the head of the book's US SDI program is in a relationship with another, female geek, who specializes in mirrors, which Major Gregory uses in his laser defense system. A match made in Heaven. If the universe, a certain jealous lesbian, and the Russians didn't conspire against them, that is. It all turns out fine in the end, though.
  • Harry Potter being set in a British Boarding School generally doesn't quite have the same coding, and most students tend to be Academic Athlete in general:
    • Ron and Hermione reverse this. By Prince, Ron's technically a jock, and Hermione's still a geek. Not to mention Cormac, who is also a good-looking Quidditch player (though it's subverted in that Hermione thinks he's an idiot and only dates him once, to annoy Ron). Before that there was also Goblet of Fire, when the popular and athletic Viktor Krum is smitten with Hermione, but Krum is also an Academic Athlete, and a brilliant and talented wizard in his own right. Ron was also an Insecure Love Interest who felt overshadowed by Harry, even if Harry wasn't an especially brilliant student himself, and was likewise a jock.
    • Harry felt this way in Goblet of Fire in the small Love Triangle between him, Cho and Cedric. Cho and Cedric were both Academic Athlete, highly popular and quite smart, while Harry was a famous celebrity with little experience in talking to girls, and who was also resented by Hufflepuff House for overshadowing Cedric who got selected by the Goblet out of merit. Despite everything, he and Cedric actually become good friends.
    • Some of this dynamic is there in the Love Triangle ofSnape, Lily and James. All of them were brilliant students but Lily and James were popular and socially charismatic while Snape was asocial and unpopular. Nonetheless Lily and Snape, owing to their childhood friendship remain friends Rowling states that if Snape had never gotten into the Dark Arts and the Death Eaters, a romantic relationship might have developed between him and Lily. She only dated and married James long after their friendship was over, thanks entirely to him.
  • Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Again, Percy is not so much a geek as he is the new guy. Once he gets used to being at Camp Half-Blood, they settle into a more Battle Couple style of coupledom. Arguably inverted, since Annabeth's much more of a geek with her architecture than Percy, who starts to develop into more of a jock with his swordsmanship.
  • Another gender-inverted example is good-looking, popular athlete Calvin and bookish, frumpy Meg from Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quartet who eventually get married. (Although A Swiftly Tilting Planet implies that Meg, like her Hot Scientist mother, grew up quite nicely from her 'awkward geek' teenage years.)
  • In Rachel Flynn's Messing Around, Thadeus talks about how his similarly geeky father is writing a romance novel. From the brief excerpt we see of it, the novel invokes this- with no small amount of Wish Fulfillment on the side. (In this case, it's the hot girl who notices the clumsy, bookish guy, not the other way around.)
  • In Heart of Steel Alistair is a super-intelligent cyborg Mad Scientist. Julia is less intelligent but smart in her own right, minus the madness. While he is instantly smitten with her, she spends more than half the novel getting to know the man under the metal before she ultimately warms up to him.

    Music 

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • During a Mars Needs Women strip in Sin Fest, the meek and bookish Criminy is told Sextron needs nerds.
  • The trope is played with slightly cynically in later Ménage ŕ 3 strips, as hopeless geek Gary is frequently pursued by various members of the comic's stunningly attractive female cast (plus at least one gay guy and one transsexual). However, not many of them like him for his geekiness; their reasons include his blushing, bumbling cuteness, his supposedly glamorous status as a (wannabe) artist, and his fabled skill at cunnilingus. Zii’s attraction to him fits the trope more closely, but she fights it furiously.
  • Larisa from Sandra and Woo (who is openly stated to be the hottest girl in school) started going out with Landon after he helped her get a B- on a math quiz (more so that that he was willing to help her than because she actually passed). Despite her self-admitted promiscuity, she has remained faithful to him the entire time they've been together (well over half a decade real world time), and there's no sign that they're going to break up any time soon.

    Web Original 
  • In Thalia's Musings, Hephaestus tries to invoke this in his marriage to Aphrodite. It doesn't work. After his divorce, he inverts the trope by falling for Aglaea, a science-obsessed demigoddess who's had a crush on him for awhile.
  • In the Whateley Universe story "The Big Idea", Reach is enamored with cute scientist Spark who is European and doesn't see him. (He has a bad Kentucky accent and wants to join the Intelligence Cadet Corps.) He eventually gets the girl, but by then they have both been transmogrified so they're both much better looking.
  • The happiest married couple in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe is mathematics professor-turned-mystic-superhero Moishe "Doctor Kabbalah" Rothstein (5'8, skinny, glasses, jewfro) and his wife, the smokingly hot former supermodel Greta von Hapsbach-Rothstein (6'1", statuesque Nordic goddess).
  • Inverted in The Guild, where the geeky Codex tries to get with the attractive stuntsman Wade. Of course, Codex is played by Felicia Day, so it's a clear case of Hollywood Homely. Played straight with Zaboo and Riley, although, technically, Riley is also a gamer (let's not get into an FPS vs. MMORPG discussion).

    Western Animation 
  • Subverted in Daria. Quinn gets an older, brainy tutor named David, and begins to become smarter as they work together over the summer. She falls for him and asks him out, but he turns her down, noting that she lacks the "depth" he looks for in a girl. Quinn is heartbroken, since David is pretty much the only guy to ever turn her down (or for that matter, the only one she ever seemed to like for more than just looks or popularity). Daria consoles her by pointing A) the guy is kind of a jerk for dismissing her so coldly and B) she's clearly developing depth if she's interested in a guy for personality over looks.
  • Doug: Athletic Patti and the clumsy, shy, Adorkable title character.
  • Dr. Walter Hartford of Galaxy Rangers fits a lot of the usual definitions for a geek; highly educated, computer hacker, fast mouth, and fond of pop culture references. Princess Maya didn't think much of him at first, and was more attracted to Gooseman. Then, Doc turned on the charm...made contact with an alien computer that was protecting the planet, and handed a Crown Empire spy his ass in a swordfight. Maya never mentioned Goose again!
  • Gerald and Phoebe from Hey Arnold! is one of those rare moments that the girl is the "geek" in question here.
  • Sheen and Libby in Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Sheen is the geek.
  • The writers of the Rugrats All Grown Up! series tried to avoid flat out confirming certain pairings (most likely trying to avert a Broken Base) but Ship Tease did happen nevertheless. One example of a pairing that got Ship Tease that fits with this trope is Chuckie and Angelica. (Which of course has received even more attention from fans in fan work.)
  • Octus/Newton and Kimmy from Sym-Bionic Titan, where the redheaded cheerleader falls for the nerd who is actually a robot.
  • Notably played with and then averted in W.I.T.C.H. between Irma and Martin. Early on it seems to be setting up to invoke this trope, as Martin is smitten and Irma rebukes him at every turn. She eventually (and reluctantly, as it was necessary for a distraction) goes on one date with him and is miserable the whole way through. Later though she is visibly jealous when he is interested in someone else. By the end of the series, she's the only main character not in a relationship and her and Martin have settled into a mutual quasi love/hate friendship. Irma took Martin on a Not a Date in the first season as a distraction and while it wasn't really fun for her, she still gave him a peck on the cheek at the end of it. In the comics where she actually gave him a Just Friends speech, Martin then had a cute French penpal that visited and seemed totally enamored of him with the feeling being apparently mutual; Irma quickly turned into a Clingy Jealous Girl while denying it to her amused friends. In one issue a possible (and likely) future version of Martin is All Grown Up with a significant amount of Ship Tease with future Irma. It's more like Irma doesn't want to give the geek a chance while giving him just enough to keep hoping.
    • Will herself could count as the "geek" with her relationship with Matt Olsen who's a budding rock star that is shown to be a Chick Magnet to the extent that Will... doesn't appreciate that aspect of him. Will is not a typical nerd as she's Book Dumb or at least hates math, though she does have an obsession with frogs going by her possessions and in one of the cartoon's openings she's implied to be a fan of TheMuppets and Pokémon. And yet Matt has only ever shown interest in her, even with attractive girls making passes at him. Taranee and Hay Lin are geeky in their own way, being examples of Nerds Are Sexy and a Otaku Surrogate respectively, again have no trouble attracting boys. And it's not just a Guardian thing, either, as Will's own mother dates her history teacher who is a good-looking Nice Guy that is still a total history geek and a contrast to her much smoother ex-husband, though Will's father's failings may be the reason she's looking for someone different and more reliable.

    Real Life 
  • Netscape founder Jim Clark is married to a supermodel.
  • Filmmaker and self-professed comic book/sci fi geek Kevin Smith and his wife Jennifer, who is absolutely gorgeous. In fact, Smith wrote in his book that he fervently hopes their daughter Harley grows to be as tall and shapely as her mother, thus sparing her from what he goes through with his weight. Smith also theorized that geeky and/or chubby men are better catches, as they're much more willing to go the extra mile for a woman.
  • Batman: The Animated Series writer Paul Dini is married to a very lovely magician named Misty Lee whose resemblance to Zatanna is downright uncanny.
    • Interestingly, they met because of her resemblance. Paul Dini has always had an attraction to Zatanna, and a mutual friend convinced him to meet with her by showing him one of her publicity photos.
  • This T-shirt.
  • Mistress Matisse's column in the Seattle Stranger mentions that geeks and nerds make up a frighteningly large percentage of the kink community, and advises those looking to mingle among them brush up on their Robert A. Heinlein and watch some of Joss Whedon's work.
  • James Madison and Dolley Madison. She was 17 years younger than him.
  • John Romero made Stevie "killcreek" Case his bitch.
  • The beginning of an Overdosed Trope perhaps?


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