Jews are, perhaps, the originators of the modern Nerd
stereotype. Why? Maybe their long, scholarly tradition, maybe their immigrant past (comparable to Asian and Nerdy
and the Bollywood Nerd
), maybe their overbearing Education Mamas
, maybe for some other weird reason. But for whatever reason, you will rarely see a stupid Jewish character on TV (unless he or she is more of a Ditzy Genius
or Genius Ditz
This can, of course, bring up controversy as to what, exactly, constitutes a nerd, whether Jewish or otherwise. Is a nerd any extremely smart person, or an extremely smart person without social skills, or
an extremely smart person without social skills and
a grotesque appearance? Then, of course, there's the controversy over what makes a person Jewish: is it race, religion, or a certain cultural je ne sais quoi
? Whatever the case, there have been many 'nerdy' people wearing eyeglasses who have been mistaken for Jews, and vice versa. (It sounds like a joke
, but it did happen often in the past, so much that Arthur Miller actually wrote a play about the concept.) This can also lead to the Unfortunate Implication
that every Jewish person is naturally
a nerd, to the point that a Jew would have to stuff his face with beef jerky, scratch his ass, and guzzle down gallons and gallons of beer just to have a chance at proving this stereotype false.
Compare Asian and Nerdy
and Bollywood Nerd
, two other ethnic nerd stereotypes; and Hollywood Nerd
for the general appearance. Contrast Matzo Fever
and Black and Nerdy
, both inversions of a more prevalent ethnic stereotype. Intelligence as a character trait may lead to instances of Ambiguously Jewish
, thanks to this trope. Finally, contrast Hipster
, which often deals with Jewish or Ambiguously Jewish characters acting stereotypically 'cool.'
Anime and Manga
- Billy Kaplan / "Wiccan" from Young Avengers. In a team where every member is some degree of Ascended Fanboy, he's still one of the biggest nerds, and goes from Ambiguously Jewish to canonically Jewish during The Children's Crusade.
- Gert(rude Yorkes) from Runaways.
- Kitty Pryde from X-Men; in the comic she wears a Star of David necklace. She is a computer nerd.
- Jessica Stein, from Kissing Jessica Stein, is a huge literature and grammar nerd.
- Insert Woody Allen, Jeff Goldblum or Rick Moranis character here.
- All of the Jewish Harvard students in The Social Network. The Jewish fraternity's party is pretty lame and filled with nerdy looking guys.
- Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle: Rosenberg and Goldstein — Harold and Kumar's neighbors.
- While Egon Spengler from Ghostbusters (and its various Spin Offs) is only Ambiguously Jewish, he's a stellar example of the trope.note
- The title character in Barton Fink is a particularly tormented example.
- Joel Glicker (David Krumholtz) in The Addams Family Values.
- According to writer Travis Beacham, Dr. Hermann Gottlieb of Pacific Rim has Jewish ancestry but is non-practicing.
- Subverted by Donald "Boone" Schoenstein (Peter Riegert) in Animal House. Though Ambiguously Jewish, he is arguably the fourth coolest guy in the Delta Tau Chi fraternity, as well as The Lancer to the supercool Eric "Otter" Stratton. (His girlfriend does think he's a loser, though.)
- Marv Murchens (Daniel Stern) of the Home Alone movies is a double subversion. Though certainly geeky in appearance, he has a mind scarcely superior to that of a young child. However, on occasion he will be the voice of reason and more intelligent than his partner.
- Butters (no, not that one) from The Dresden Files is also a total geek and mentions in Dead Beat that he is Jewish.
- Everybody in The Chosen by Chaim Potok, a novel about a friendship between two Talmud students.
- Most of Chaim Potok's characters embody this trope, especially his protagonists. In The Beginning has an interesting contrast: the protagonist's father is a Badass Polish Jew whose backstory includes joining the Polish army against his family and community's opposition and killing an unspecified, but quite large, number of Cossacks. He is very clear that the appropriate response to a pogrom is violence, and passes this belief on to his son, the protagonist... who couldn't possibly act on it, being a pale, skinny, glasses-wearing, utterly brilliant, chronically-ill bullying target.
- Stanley Uris (from Stephen King's It) must count, what with loving birdwatching, being almost obsessively neat and smartly-dressed, and growing up to become an accountant.
- The entire Emmerich family line from the Metal Gear series, but Otacon most of all.
- Ethan Siegal of Shortpacked! and Dumbing of Age is a toy collector, a near-fanatical editor of the Transformers Wiki, and can recite He-Man audio books from memory.