The "Geeks" in Best Buy's Geek Squad ads for its IT services look like they walked across the stage from a Calvin Klein ad. Either that, or they walked to the Calvin Klein ad afterwards.
Another ad actually lampshades this. It's for a laptop, and the many options for the product are symbolized by an array of "nerds" in action figure casing in the wall of the store. A teenage boy and his mom go into the store, and while his mom is interested in a sensible one, who does the boy go for? The super hot nerd girl. "I'll take this one."
Anime and Manga
Mizuno Ami, to some extent Meioh Setsuna, and Chiba Mamoru from Sailor Moon are all nerds, but not one of them is unattractive.
Yui and Chiriko from Fushigi Yuugi are both bigtime bookworms. But they're both adorable-looking (... poor Chiriko). Yui even had long hair once upon a time, but cut it short because the boys just kept coming her way.
Bleach: Uryuu is the top academic performer in his year group, the joint best sewer (with Orihime) in the Handicraft's Club, and also very much the class loner. Until he develops an incurable case of Fire-Forged Friends with Ichigo, whereupon he attempts to nurture an Aloof Ally image that utterly fails since everyone knows he and Ichigo are really Vitriolic Best Buds. This is completely averted with his father, Ryuuken, however, who is not only intelligent enough to keep up with the story's acknowledged genius, Urahara, but was also the school heartthrob when he was a teenager.
Tomoe Amamiya (eventually Tomoe Kaburagi) from Tiger & Bunny was an unrepentant nerd in every sense of the word (a studious Class Representative who spent her free time fangirling superheroes) who just happened to be rather attractive on top of it. Kotetsu claims in the Hero Gossip Book that he fell for her hard and fast.
Played with in the case of Barnaby from the same series. Word of God has it that he shows several tendencies leaning towards nerdiness — which his eccentric behaviour, the fact that he wears glasses, usually prefers to be alone, and was top student at his school seem to attest to. In-series he has a huge number of fangirls, but Nerds Are Sexy is averted because they're only interested in his goodlooks and charming facade.
Ginta Toramizu in MÄR is a pretty big geek in the real world, but from the beginning he looks like a typical shonen hero with Opaque Glasses on.
Keima of The World God Only Knows is a nerd genius who avoids relationships and spends all his free time playing Dating Sims. But, when he's forced to, he can win the hearts of real girls with minimal effort. He thinks he's simply playing the real world like a video game, but his conspicuous handsomeness and confidence are big assets, too.
Kitty Pryde of the X-Men used to be one. She was a skinny little computer nerd who was jealous of the older X-Women's looks and even needed glasses at one point, though she still had her share of admirers. Moreso in real life than the comics, in fact: so many of today's comic book creators grew up with a huge crush on Kitty that nowadays she's generally just accepted to be an extremely attractive woman who's also really smart.
However, as her attractiveness increased, references to her brains shrank in number... back in the 80s it was hinted that she'd grow up to be another Reed Richards. She's 20-something in comics these days, and her genius-level computer skills can't even hack The Beast's computers. Not to mention, very few modern day adaptations even make reference to her geniusness. The X-Men films didn't even refer to it, and X-Men: Evolution it was only hinted at, in a manner that when it did crop up, some viewers were confused as to how she was suddenly so smart. This got to the point that the recent X+X team-up book's story with her and Tony Stark lampshaded it, with Tony trying to convince her to come work for them so she can actually use her supposed smarts.
Kyle Rayner of the Green Lantern Corps: Self-professed manga-nut who looks like a movie-star, and it shows in his constructs.
Captain America is an Ascended Fanboy who loved comics and art when he was younger, and prior to the war he worked as a Promoted Fanboy, drawing and writing comics for a living. He also tends to play Mr. Fanservice at times, being that he's, you know, Captain America. Though, this case is justified in that he underwent a scientific procedure that transformed him into an Adonis.
Peter Parker, Tony Stark, and Henry Pym, and many other Science Hero types. While Tony is an intentional case; he's a guy who grew up to make millions off of his genius and has been a major celebrity since he was a child, but Peter and Henry Pym, they're more unintentional. As almost everyone in comics tend to be pretty, especially with modern day art styles, Peter and Hank once upon a time did look like more stereotypical geeks, only to evolve into being...not. Peter especially is now often referred to as handsome and boyish.
In Peter's case he is almost always presented as being much more active after he got his powers. All the exercise he gets putting in hours of web-swinging every night has likely given him a physique the old "nose in a book" Peter never had.
Mockingbird/Bobbi Morse tends to avoid this, as like Kitty Pryde, her status as a science major is almost never brought up, more focus is put on the fact she's a Badass Normal and Deadpan Snarker. Some writers, especially ones who're fans of her, such as Jim McCann and Nick Spencer, do remember this, and like to bring it up.
Superman. Clark Kent is seen as the naive, rube in the big city who Lois Lane wouldn't give the time of day. However, the moment he's out of his suit and glasses he's suddenly a 6'4", 225 lb chiseled specimen of masculinity. This does lead to the logical problem that, however nervous and clumsy Clark acts, he's still a 6'4" hunk.
While Clark's nerdiness was emphasised through The Golden Age of Comic Books and The Silver Age of Comic Books, this has been alternately averted, subverted, and lampshaded in more modern comics, where Clark Kent is much less "bumbler" and more "former high school football star who actually stayed in shape" and also manages to portray a less milquetoast personality, to boot.
However, he's still considered nerdy, but nerdiness just isn't seen as negatively today as it once was. Also justified in that Clark Kent, who is Superman's natural persona, actually is a nerd ... just a really buff one.
Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely paint a rather nice picture of Clark Kent as a huge, clumsy, hunched over farmboy that even Lex Luthor spoke positively about.
Averted, albiet slightly, by Christopher Reeves' portrayal. The bulky glasses and unflattering hairstyle (in addition to drawing attention away from his facial features), make the otherwise-handsome Reeve look fairly ordinary and dorky. This coupled with Reeves' stammering, milquetoast attitude do a decent job making Clark Kent into an easily-forgettable, unattractive wuss. It's joked that to make the Clark Kent disguise work, Superman must be at least as good an actor as Christopher Reeve.
Film: Live Action
Most characters James Spader has played, including even such villainous examples as Lee in 2 Days In The Valley and Stewart in Wolf.
A majority of the cast of 21. 21 also provided a counterpoint in his old friends, who really ARE nerdy-looking, making the fact that it expected us to believe the protagonists even more ridiculous.
Every character in Antitrust, with the possible exception of the very cute Rachael Leigh Cook who is The Mole and presumably deliberately chosen as someone the hero would fall for.
Hackers stars Angelina Jolie, for crying out loud. (Although her makeup was awful.) And super-hot Jonny Lee Miller!
The part of Severus Snape, played by Alan Rickman, also suffers. In the books, Snape is supposed to be a greasy, unpleasant, hook-nosed recluse who spends most of his time in a lightless dungeon. He is often compared (unfavorably) to a bat, and it is revealed that in his childhood he was beaten up and picked on near constantly for his unwashed hair and ugliness. Alan Rickman can't help being a gorgeous man. This is only slightly helped by the fact that Snape is supposed to be in his late thirties and Alan Rickman is well over 60. JKR herself chose Alan Rickman for the role of Snape. Also this was after first choice Tim Roth turned it down.
Henry Higgins, as played by Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady, may qualify. He's a phonologist/linguist/dialectician with few social graces — a nerd even for his time — but he's not unattractive for a fella his age. He even gets away with attending that royal ball he's testing Eliza Doolittle with, and while he might not have been super-refined, he wasn't kicked out early, either. Again, this likely has to do with the casting of Rex "Sexy Rexy" Harrison, who was married six times.
Swordfish features Hugh Jackman as a top computer programmer. The guy he's replacing isn't bad either.
Likewise, Sandra Bullock as Diane Farrow in the 1992 film Love Potion No. 9 actually succeeds at a more extreme version of this, probably because she undergoes a Beautiful All Along transformation in the later half of the film, and they made an effort to contrast the two looks.
It also helped that she got real work done, her teeth were awful and hair horribly bushy, it took a lot of money for her to become Sandra Bullock.
This was sent-up in Not Another Teen Movie in which the jocks discuss who the target of the makeover should be. After highlighting some obvious freaks, they come upon the heroine. The lead jock expresses his disgust by pointing out the girl's ponytail and glasses! And she had paint on her jeans! Not even jeans! Overalls!
Dr. Emma Russell (Elisabeth Shue!) in The Movie version of The Saint. She starts out with glasses and needs medication for a heart defect. She becomes less nerdy though, to the point of no longer needing her pills, the longer she spends in the presence of Simon, the titular character. Don't think about that too much.
In the original Stephen King novel The Stand, the character of Harold started out as a fat pathetic nerd. When they made it into a TV miniseries, he was played by Corin Nemec. It would have been averted, considering that by the time the group reached Boulder Harold was described as having become rather attractive because his skin cleared up and he lost weight, if they would have done more to hide Nemec's looks than just give him a bad hair do and ugly clothes.
This actress is also a model◊ in South Korea, oddly enough.
Needy in Jennifers Body may have giant nerd glasses and unflattering clothes but she is still played by the beautiful Amanda Seyfried. In fairness the film does note that Needy is plenty attractive but dresses down to not upstage her bestfriend and she has little trouble with boys, having a steady boyfriend and another male character with an obvious crush on her.
In Rising Sun, Tia Carrere plays a video footage analyst who helps Sean Connery and Wesley Snipe's cop characters analyze doctored surveillance footage. They just have a pair of glasses slapped onto her, her hair done up and some techno-babble dialogue to help make her seem nerdy.
Part of the characterization also relies on her having a physical deformity that makes her an outcast. She's still Tia, mind.
Both the protagonist and villains, plus numerous background characters are type 2 in Max Knight Ultra Spy - the movie depicts the nerd culture crossing over with rave on many occasions, the protagonist takes the Fish out of Water love interest to a dance club that requires you to show off your Geek Cred to get in (say something smart and scientific) and Seth Green plays the Big Bad. On the other hand, the start features a very classic type 1 who invites the love interest out for lunch (and she just gives him a patronising "you can't be serious" look, like it's so natural she'd reject him) while her genius sister straddles the line and gets a glasses-removal makeover by the Big Bad.
Even Jessica Alba - JESSICA ALBA - qualifies as mousy, troubled teacher Mona in An Invisible Sign. However deglamourised she is, she still looks (at worst) like the more attractive sister of Cece from New Girl.
In the film adaptation of The Mortal Instruments, Clary's best friend Simon is a shy, awkward, D&D-loving nerd who can't get her to notice that he's in love with her (and is eventually rejected in favor of the dashing hero Jace.) He is played by the gorgeousRobert Sheehan.
Most of the core cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer were supposed to be nerds and outcasts, but they were all sexy - most notably Willow, who was played by nerd goddess Alyson Hannigan (and her whippet-thin body) for the series. When Jonathan, a more "normal"-looking nerd, was introduced, he was rejected for friendship by Buffy for being too short. Thus, he never made it into the core cast.
In fact, they had a lot more unattractive Willow in the original pilot.
A special emphasis should be placed on Xander, the "unattractive" nerd played by the thoroughly Hollywood-looking Nicholas Brendon. Stick him side by side with David Boreanaz, the hunk playing Angel, and the two could easily be mistaken for each other. Joss Whedon mentions this in the DVD commentaries, stating that he knows that Nick is way too good-looking to be a social outcast, "but this is Hollywood, so get over it."
Another nerd outside the core cast, Wesley, fit the nerd stereotype increasingly less after he jumped to Angel. By the end of that series, after many rough experiences, he had changed dramatically. And he was a fine-looking man from the get-go, glasses or not.
Averted in Lost Girl by Lauren, a smart blonde scientist who wears no glasses, and is socially accepted (though a member of a slave race).
On Smallville Clark Kent, the future Superman, and of course, the nerdy everyman who kept his virginity until he was out of high school, and folded into an awkward mess when a hot cheerleader was throwing herself at him. And he's played by an underwear model. Yeah... Its not so much that Clark's a nerd per se, in fact he's shown to be baffled by real-nerd behavior, he's just socially awkward due to having to keep the secret that he's got super powers and is an alien.
Chloe, who while for the first four seasons she's constantly playing the part of the nerdy sidekick and best friend, she ends up being a massive subversion. In the first few seasons, she has no trouble getting male attention, with two different Meteor Freaks, Pete Ross, and Jimmy Olsen all finding her attractive, but her main problem is that herattitude is rather off-putting to those who don't know her well. The Prom episode, however, reveals that most of the student body actually rather like Chloe, but a resident, though not-previously seen, Alpha Bitch (Smallville High has a lot of them, they all jut seem to be off-camera for most of it then end up dying or turning evil) picked up a strong dislike of Chloe and uses her rumor mill to keep people from befriending her, which also explains why her friends are stuck as outcasts too. Clark himself lampshades this by telling Chloe that "For years we've all been fighting to break out of the stereotypical roles that we've been forced into...and you're the battle cry."
"Allison (the actress for Chloe) was listed #22 among the 50 Sexiest Women in the Femme Fatales magazine in its January–February 2005 edition." Does any more need to be said?
The cast of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation are supposed to be the police equivalents of the spods at the front of the chemistry class, but they're all good looking - one of them is even supposed to be an ex-stripper!
Lampshaded in one episode where a television producer is walking through the lab and looks at the people working there.
The New Normal: David is shown as having been a textbook example of this when he first graduated from med school and met Bryan. Played by handsome, well-built actor Justin Bartha, David was literally given nerd glasses, unfashionable clothes and frizzy hair in order to create the nerd look. Bryan is immediately smitten when David removes his nerd glasses, allowing an unobstructed view of his startlingly blue eyes.
24 tends to have a 50/50 split between realistic nerds (fat Edgar Styles, frumpy Chloe O'Brian) and conventionally attractive ones, such as Morris O'Brian, a brilliant hacker and womanizing, alcoholic ladies' shoe salesman. As Chloe has become more popular with fans, her character has received far more makeup and hairstyling, which (atypically) brings with it an increased amount of attention from the opposite sex.
Perhaps pulled off successfully with Chloe, as while she's rather frumpy on the show, her actress, Mary Lynn Rajskub, is very attractive after being dolled up.
Chloe still got noticeably more attractive as the show went on. Compare her hair, outfits, etc. in a season 3 episode with her appearance in a season 8 episode and it's pretty obvious.
Connor, the irritating Plucky Comic Relief in British scientists-vs-dinosaurs show Primeval, often makes cack-handed 'geek' references and is shown to be clueless around women. However, he looks like a cross between Johnny Depp and a young Rob Newman. His two best friends are more conventionally unattractive nerds.
Samantha Carter from Stargate SG-1 is assumed to be one of the most intelligent people on the planet. She's also an attractive blonde. (Both of these were intentional on the part of the writers). Ah well, at least she dresses like you would expect from a military officer. Daniel Jackson fits the trope as well.
The show later subverted this in a Lower Deck Episode which featured geeky scientists who followed every stereotype, down to the action-figures collection. The show also subverts this every single time it shows Dr. Lee.
In the same verse, Jennifer Keller (played by Jewel Staite) from Stargate Atlantis. Plus Carson Beckett, Radek Zelenka, Elizabeth Weir... Rodney McKay is somewhat less attractive, but he has his fans too.
Sanctuary's Will Zimmerman is supposed to be a somewhat reclusive nerdy scientist. Robin Dunne, who plays him, is ridiculously attractive. There was a certain scene the first season finale that, while incredibly hot, strained the bounds of credulity: Will strips to his boxers to make the Invisible Girl, who has to get naked for her power to be effective, less self-conscious. Cue biceps and abs that VERY few real-life scientists have.
Henry's not half bad either, and the nipple/belly button piercings aren't exactly conventionally nerdy in any case.
Cute, goofy computer geek and budding hacker Mac of Veronica Mars is a Hollywood Nerd in the grand tradition, and particularly owes much to ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Willow. Mac is not a stick figure and has the shape of someone healthy but who could perhaps benefit from more exercise and less sitting in front of the computer.
Ironically, played by the same actress as one of the nerds from Napoleon Dynamite, which is listed as an aversion above. Also, Mac is far from even chubby, never mind overweight - she's just standing next to the 5'1" stick-thin Kristen Bell most of the time. In the Josie and the Pussycats movie, Rosario Dawson looked like an elephant next to Rachael Leigh Cook and Tara Reid - just look at her in Sin City to see how not true that is.
Every season of Power Rangers with a geek for a Ranger (except a Cousin Oliver in season 5) suffers horribly from this, generally shifting between Calvin Klein-worthy Blue Rangers who just speak a lot of technobabble, to stunningly beautiful Pink Rangers who overwork themselves while on the job. Insert dorky glasses where necessary, on either gender.
Amusingly, of the original MMPR cast, David Yost (the Blue Ranger) was built like a brick shithouse in spite of being cast as the "weak nerd" character. The costuming department tried very hard to disguise this fact, with varying levels of success.
It could be argued that 30 Rock's Liz Lemon is an example. However, this is somewhat excusable given that the character is essentially a fictionalized version of Tina Fey, who also plays her. Fey says that "I'm really not that attractive. Until I met my husband, I could not get a date. I promise you it's true." This is lampshaded during the first season. When Liz leaves New York to visit Cleveland, suddenly people can't stop complimenting her looks.
Jenna: "We're all models west of the Allegheny."
Seth from The O.C.. He is supposed to be an unattractive nerd due to his social awkwardness and huge interest in comic books and science fiction. This doesn't really work since he's also sweet, funny, and played by the attractive Adam Brody.
The title character from Chuck qualifies as one of the cutest of the Nerd Herd at Buy More. Aside from Chuck, and Anna Wu, the rest of the Nerd Herders generally live up to their name (especially Jeff). Lester. This is Truth in Television, Chuck and Morgan are played by actual nerds.
Fox Mulder. His private life is non-existent, he has a vast collection of porn, he sleeps on the sofa since his bedroom is filled ceiling-high with cardboard boxes, he throws pencils at the ceiling in his office to see if they stick, he spends his free time hunting aliens, and he likes theorising about aliens or monsters from folklore in front of complete strangers. And yet Mulder is tall, fit and attractive, to the extent that in the episode "Humbug" one of the circus "geeks" sarcastically remarked how one day all the freaks like him would be done away with by science and society and everyone would be "perfect" and boring like Mulder. Being an active FBI agent, he would be required to occasionally pass some physical fitness tests. Mulder is one of the few TV characters shown practising the kind of physical training which might lead to a physique like the actor's; he is seen swimming laps in a pool, jogging and playing basketball in the gym.
Mulder's trio of sidekicks, a team of tech-geeks and conspiracy theorists calling themselves Lone Gunmen, are far less attractive and very bad with women. They have their short-lived spin-off The Lone Gunmen.
Charlie Eppes (and thus the man who plays him, David Krumholtz) on NUMB3RS. And his improbably-good-looking computer/math/physics geek girlfriend, Amita.
For a forensic pathologist, Emilia Fox's Nikki Alexander from Silent Witness is seriously attractive.
The absolutely gorgeous engineer Trip on Star Trek: Enterprise, though his case is also justified by the nature of his job; being the Chief Engineer of a starship owned and operated by a paramilitary organisation whose role is somewhat analogous to the US Coast Guard presumably involves some minimum physical-fitness standards. Hoshi Sato counts as well, perhaps even more so as her specialisation is Xeno-Linguistics.
On The Big Bang Theory, Howard's fiancee/wife Bernadette, who earns a Ph.D. in Microbiology. He is at first afraid to get into a serious relationship with her because she was "not Megan Fox in Transformers". Take a look at Melissa Rauch out of costume and these objections fly straight out the window.
iCarly played with this when Freddie brought over a fellow AV club member who the girls found so attractive that the whole episode was about their fighting over him. Freddie himself is also an example, especially in the later seasons.
Rusty Cartwright (Jacob Zachar) on Greek straddles the types. His roommate Dale is a type 1, with a dash of southern hick. Meanwhile, his TA Max is a Type 2. He has good nerd-ish qualities, but he's played by Michael Rady. And he scores with Rusty's sister, who is a sorority chick. How many nerds (who aren't frat boys themselves) get to say that?
John Crichton in Farscape. Though it's justified since, being an astronaut at first and a refugee constantly getting into fist- and gunfights after the show begins, he would have to be in excellent physical condition.
Astronauts aren't necessarily nerds, though. As stated above, scientists aren't nerds and today not all astronauts are scientists. While shuttle pilots and other astronauts throughout the beginning of the space program typically had advanced degrees in engineering or hard-science fields they tend to fall into a usually non-nerdy class of folk: fighter pilots.
Crichton, however, was flying the test flight of his module because he designed it. This is why he's even able to deal with all that wormhole knowledge in the first place, he was a trained physicist from day one. He would still need to be in pretty good physical shape, though. Young Crichton in the Halloween 1986 episode seems to fit the bill a little better, even still.
Also, given the sheer amount of pop culture references Crichton drops, he is most definitely a nerd
Bones at least has the good grace to lampshade Brennan's looks.
Sweets? Yes please.
Just about all members of the Jeffersonian fall under this trope, with the notable exception of Angela, who inverts it. She's an emotionally intuitive, sexually liberated party girl Visual Arts major who often acts as The Heart of the team and is acknowledged as gorgeous by men and women alike, yet is also a top notch forensic reconstructor using software she made herself. (She minored in Comp Sci.)
It's telling that Carla Gallo, who plays the geeky, socially awkward Daisy, previously played a stripper in Carnivàle.
And Sammy. Ruby even tells him that he's "pretty buff for a nerd."
Castiel. He never smiles, his hair is never combed, his face always has that 5 o'clock shadow, and thanks to his angel powers, he will never need to change out of his ratty trenchcoat, wrinkled suit, and loose tie. Dean calls him "nerd angel", but that doesn't stop people in canon and fanon from drooling over him.
On Heroes, Gabriel Gray was a withdrawn and lonely watchmaker who kept an eerily neat apartment stacked with books about anything and everything. Then he discovered Evil Tastes Good and Evil Is Sexy, and ditched the glasses and tweed.
Luke Girardi in Joan of Arcadia although it may be more a case of personality than looks. He does get himself a girlfriend but it's another outcast. His friend Friedman is a more realistic portrayal physically and far more obnoxious.
Dr. Spencer Reid. The show tries hard to nerd him up with bad hair and clothes, but Matthew Gray Gubler is still sex on a stick. And to the show's credit, they never try to pass him off as unattractive (just overwhelmingly awkward); he has, after all, had two girlfriends during the show's run, and that's not even mentioning Ethan. Then there's Morgan's nickname for him.
Kevin Lynch, one of the shows main technical analysts could also qualify for this trope. The show's casting department seems to think a little pudge and bad clothing sense helps avert this trope. Kevin Lynch is played by Nicholas Brendan (aka Xander Harris, again in a "too hot for this role" paradigm.
Fargo's current (the only one for all we know) girlfriend Julia Golden on Eureka. She's a Hot Scientist (or research assistant?), but fits this trope better, because during one episode she kept yammering about how invisible she is and that she wants to be like Deputy Lupo. Not just living her exciting life, no, be as beautiful as her. Boo hoo!
The titular character in Jake20, played by Christopher Gorham, is yet another TV geek who is 18 varieties of hot by any real-world standard. One can argue that the Nanomachines in his bloodstream are what give him a physique that could cut glass, but still ...
Justin in Wizards of Waverly Place is a nerdy sci-fi geek who is absolutely attractive. During the big crossover he's dressed solely in trunks at one point showing that he has got absurdly well defined pecs and abs.
It would be interesting to point out that despite his nerdiness Justin has no problems with finding a girlfriend. Even the main character's best friend has a huge crush on him.
Justin: "Why does everyone think I don't date? Remember the centaur, the werewolf and the goth girl?"
Subverted somewhat in Leverage; while Hardison is a card-carrying, computer-hacking, World of Warcraft-playing geek, he's also a charming and outgoing conman, and he looks fine in a suit.
Psych featured a character in one episode who was both. As a kid, he was a fat, UFO-obsessed geek who wore a wizard cape. As an adult, he'd dropped the pounds and hidden his geekiness from his hot wife, who he thought would disapprove of it, becoming a literal closet geek. As it turns out, his wife is also a geek.
Even better is the fact that he is played by Freddie Prinze Jr. who was the popular male lead in She's All That.
Simon from Misfits is a geeky, friendless, sci-fi loving virgin who has zero luck with the ladies and gets bullied and ignored by everyone (particularly during season 1). And who do they get to play him? Iwan Rheon. Admittedly the show makes a valiant attempt to play down the actor's obvious attractiveness - he's constantly made up to look deathly pale and is forced to sport a horrendously unflattering hairstyle for the full duration. But still.
Oddly enough, it seems that Simon's geek stylings (such as they were) actually did fool a fair amount of viewers into believing he was unattractive. In the second season the character appears as a future incarnation of himself with tousled hair and no shirt on - cue a huge portion of the fanbase suddenly noticing the Mr. Fanservice. A few fans even asked who this new actor was, despite the fact that he was very, very clearly the same person with a slightly different hair-do. This may have been partly due to Iwan Rheon's impressive performance - he actually did manage to convey both "versions" of the character very cleverly, but looks-wise, very little had changed.
Spinelli from General Hospital appears to be a type 1, though anyone who's seen Bradford Anderson outside the show will probably put him into type 2 range. Ditto for his short-lived Distaff Counterpart Winnifred.
Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties probably counts, though his character breaks the stereotype in that he was never intended to be a 'nerd,' per se. He's a hypercompetitive, straight-A Young Republican who was also constantly chasing after girls (at least in the earlier seasons). Skippy on the other hand...
Glee has a few examples of this, notably Rachel Berry, who although being a music 'geek' and a member of a host of nerdy clubs, is rather attractive. In-Universe, the reason for Rachel being considered uncool is her thoroughly objectionable personality. A more traditional example would be Artie, portrayed by former Boy Band member Kevin McHale, though it's less noticeable in later seasons. On the other hand, the trope is thoroughly averted with Jacob Ben Israel.
Modern Family: Alex Dunphy. It's a little difficult to believe any of Haley's comments about her having issues with boys when she's played by Ariel Winter.
Played with in one episode where Haley is shocked to discover that Alex has just as many boys after her, they're just not the same boys. They're the nerds.
Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation probably counts—he corrects people on their scifi references, wears skinny ties and color-clashing plaid shirts with horrifying frequency, occasionally lapses into awkward, and one of his in-series nicknames is "Nerd". But most state auditors/city managers probably don't look like a guy who can model raincoats for GQ.
Phillip from Kamen Rider Double is effectively a walking computer with very poor interpersonal and social skills, since he spent most of his youth in a lab. Most of his "nerdiness" seems to come from the unusual and somewhat effeminate clothing he wears, though that could be seen as an endearing quirk by some, and it certainly doesn't stop one of his partner's high school-age informants from developing a huge crush on him. He's also played by newcomer actor Masaki Suda, who looks like this.
Oliver in Faking It could pose for the page pic. He's a socially awkward good looking guy with glasses.
Portlandia deconstructed this trope in a sketch. It begins with an attractive woman in a bar, wearing glasses, talking herself up as though she were a geek. This is then interrupted by a real geek who proceeds to give a PSA about how real nerds aren't proud to be called nerds, and are hurt by people pretending to be nerds because they think it's cool.
Katy Perry in her video for the song "Last Friday Night". The makeup people did a pretty impressive job of making the extremely beautiful (and almost 30 year-old) Perry into a nerdy teenage girl complete with huge glasses and an elaborate set of braces/retainer. During the video she gets an extreme makeover that leaves her with a distinct resemblance to Kelly LeBrock.
Elphaba in the stage versions of Wicked. Being dressed in a gray schoolmarm outfit with glasses, frumpy hair, and green skin to boot, does nothing to detract from the stunning beauty of Idina Menzel, or any of her successors.
Still, she's not ugly because she's a nerd, she's ugly because she's green. And though she has a beautiful face (and stunning body), she still has an unnatural color, and that's mainly why people are scared of her.
Chrono Trigger's Lucca is practically the poster girl for this in the world of gaming.
Metal Gear's Otacon was initially intended to be a skinny, perpetually nervous-looking geek. As time went on, though, he became more and more attractive, and as of the fourth installment he looks positively beautiful and easily the best-looking male in the cast (ironic as originally he had grey hair and was about the same age as Snake. With each installment Snake gets older and uglier, and Otacon gets younger and more attractive).
Otacon's sister E.E. in Metal Gear Solid 2. Portrayed as somewhat socially crippled due to her dysfunctional family and as a ridiculously brilliant hacker and scientist, and very cute too.
Paramedic is actually really cute too, and she's DEFINITELY a nerd (specifically, she's a movie geek).
Lampshaded in the original Metal Gear Solid: Snake points out that he didn't expect Mei Ling, designer of his communications Codec and the Soliton Radar, to be cute.
Also, Naomi Hunter and Nastasha Romenenko certainly didn't look too bad either.
Ema Skye from the first and fourth Ace Attorney games as well as the Gaiden Game, Investigations. During the 10-year gap between her main series appearances she never loses her passion for forensic science. In her first appearance she was cute as a button, and as an adult in Apollo Justice she's still attractive.
Additionally, it is mentioned in passing that Black Mesa has a fitness program, apparently expecting its faculty to be in reasonably good shape, not just the security personnel. After Black Mesa gets cratered, the good Dr. Freeman is battling for the fate of all humanity alongside other refugees. Survival situations = fit scientists.
Shad from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Dresses like a dork (argyle socks? bow tie wider then a mile? implausibly high collar? and don't ask about the creepy buttons) and spends most of his free time studying an ancient race of bird-people, yet has a very large fangirl following thanks to his curly auburn hair, huge blue eyes, smooth skin and decently muscled physique. His participation in the Resistance movement puts him just this side of Badass Bookworm.
Tails from the Sonic the Hedgehog series fits this trope quite well. His mechanical expertise rivals Dr Robotnik's, and his cuteness is legendary.
In Sonic Chronicles, Rouge refers to Tails and Eggman's conversation as 'Nerd Speak'.
Zip and Alister in Tomb Raider Legend. Even wimpy Alister has HUGE pecs. Lara even lampshades this when she asks Zip when he has time to work out. "I never see you leave this room!"
Lara herself qualifies, but especially in 2013's Tomb Raider. She's only a grad student, but displays remarkable knowledge of the various artifacts she discovers during the game, wears an artifact she found on one of her father's digs (her own first find) as a necklace, and her enthusiasm for archaeology is outright Adorkable. Information you learn later in the game reveals Sam needed to practically drag her away from her books to get her to go out, and that "adventures" to Europe's hot spots had Lara more interested by libraries and historical sites than the clubs, bars and parties. However even before Taking Levels In Badass Lara is an athletic and quite beautiful young woman, who showed no problems meeting guys whenever Sam could get her nose out of her books.
It's easy to forget that Resident Evil'shandsome◊, confident, sexy-voiced Magnificent Bastard Albert Wesker is a brilliant scientist who actually created (or helped create) many of the viruses found in the series.
Gary in Ménage à 3 is probably more geek than nerd, but still illustrates this trope. He can pass as Nightwing on stage with no problems aside from his glasses, and even Zii, who regards him as a total geek and has him firmly friend-zoned, admits that he's attractive. One of his coworkers says of various female characters who he thinks are attracted to Gary, "Punk rocker chick. Big breasted amazon who gives assplay. Nympho Japanese girl. Gary is the luckiest guy on the face of the Earth." The funny thing is, those characters aren't interested in Gary at that point, but all eventually develop at least twinges of interest, as do others — and this has to be credited to his looks, because his social skills are geekily negligible.
Prettily thoroughly averted in Narbonic. Dave and Helen may be cute, but they're by no means conventionally attractive.
Emily the witch in Our Little Adventure is dorky and somewhat awkward, but doesn't look half bad in her little magic school uniform here.
Most of the cast of Sodium Eyes are beautiful girls with very geeky hobbies.
Ruby of Sticky Dilly Buns is a slightly unusual nerd, lacking any geeky features, but is still essentially a nerd; she privileges mental over physical or social skills, and she has no great interest in being sexually appealing. And yet, she's slim, with a good figure, and is described as a graceful mover; amongst other things, when she puts on a pair of designer jeans, she automatically attracts the attention of every passing straight man.
Dr. Horrible is a nerdy mad - well, he's just a little miffed - scientist played by Neil Patrick Harris. Billy actually is considered attractive and likable in-universe (at least to Penny); it's instead his extreme shyness and insecurity that's the real problem. Apparently all of Billy's clothes were purposefully too big so that no one would notice that the nerdy loner is quite buff. It helps that he was contrasted with the taller and more muscular Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion). That Billy wore a loose lab coat much of the time and Hammer wore a muscle shirt didn't hurt.
Penny. Captain Hammer says she has a nerdy thing going on and she's played by the real life gorgeous nerd Felicia Day.
Most of the characters in lonelygirl15 fall into this, especially Bree and Spencer.
In The Guild Codex (played by the aforementioned Felicia Day) and Tinkerballa are both quite hot. Zabuu and Bladezz are good looking as well. Vork and Clara on the other hand look the part of the nerd/geek stereotype.
In the Whateley Universe, this is written as a partially Justified Trope: a relatively common superpower makes people really attractive, however the geeks without this power tend to look like believable geeks, and those who have it don't always have fashion sense.
So there are some; Bugs, Widget, Delta Spike, who are all abnormally attractive and some realistic ones; Mega-Death, Knick-Knack, Kew, etc. but mostly they're pretty bad like Make and Overclock, or worse.
There's also Spark, who started out "The Big Idea" as a Type 1 or someone normal, and ended the story a full-blown Type 2 due to some Applied Phlebotinum she built.
This guy. Wait until he takes off the mask - he's pretty scrawny but his face is to die for. And yes, he plays the sinister nerd perfectly - especially watch his "lecture" and "analysis" videos.
The Naked Nerd. Granted, she works for "Naked News," which intentionally employs very sexually attractive women, but she could easily make most supermodels seem homely in comparison. Supposedly she wasn't always that hot, however, and if you see even one of her videos or read her blog, she more than proves her nerd cred. Also, if you read her blog, she mentions a few times that she has a fairly strict exercise and diet regimen that she follows
One of the things Cracked points out in "5 Things TV Writers Apparently Believe About Smart People" is how this perception, along with that of related tropes such as Hospital Hottie and Hot Scientist, has become ingrained in the public due to how Hollywood misrepresents what intelligence and study is like. That is, there's nothing inherently preventing an intelligent person from being physically attractive and it's a matter of course that people in fiction are more attractive than their real life counterparts in general, but TV writers top this by making most of their nerds complete masterminds in their late 20s or early 30s to make them appealing to the core viewer demographic (in other words, every smart adult person is a Teen Genius slightly aged up) and often making them multidisciplinary experts. The problem is that actual mastery of an academic discipline to an expert level takes years if not decades of work, with most not becoming leading authorities in their fields until much later in life. It implies that the Hollywood geniuses simply studied one field after another while maintaining enough time to maintain their appearance and get out of school young enough to be a hot Genius Bruiser. Very few works would actually consider the realistic ramifications of a youth spent only studying.
In the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, Velma was decidedly plain-there was nothing particularly interesting about her face, her hairstyle was at best unflattering, and her sweater (or possibly just her figure) made her look approximately like a barrel on legs. Then, in What's New Scooby-Doo? she was redesigned-her hairstyle and face were subtly changed, and her waist was pinched in, giving her an actual figure. Now she's kind of cute. From aversion to straight as an arrow in one shot.
She didn't look that bad at all in the 1970 episode "A Tiki Scare Is No Fair," first done up as Jane to Shaggy's Tarzan, and later doing the hula in a Hawaiian grass skirt.
Averted, oddly enough, in the Steve Ditko original, where he looked more like a stereotypical nerd. The artist who came after him even said that one of the problems with his own rendition was that Peter Parker was far too traditionally attractive. John Romita (the aforementioned artist who came after Ditko, and the man responsible for the way Spider-Man comics looked from the mid-60's until Todd McFarlane's time) started as a romance artist for DC, so he was adept at drawing good looking people. Just look at Mary Jane. Ironically, this is one of the few instances where it could be completely justified. When Peter Parker was first shown, he was a mid-to-late teenager in high school, getting ready to step up to college soon. Later on when he was looking better, he was already in or graduated from college. The reason? He's just a late bloomer, and puberty hit hard after that radioactive-spider-bite. The other reason, Peter Parker was originally sort of conceived as a Self-Insert Fic for Steve Ditko.
The Simpsons parodied this in one episode where Schwarzenegger parody Ranier Wolfcastle stars in a movie called "Undercover Nerd". Worth seeing for one of the funniestBond One Liners ever:
Danica McKellar (Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years) graduated from UCLA summa cum laude with a degree in Mathematics and has an Erdos number (if you need to ask, you're not nerdy enough) of 4.
Hedy Lamarr co-invented (and got a patent for) a secure communication system (similar to those used today in Bluetooth and CDMA cell phones) in 1942. She was still starring in feature films at the time.
Alicia Witt learnt to read at six months and was reading at college level by the age of two.