Jewish and Nerdy
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
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.' Compare Nice Jewish Boy
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.
- Gertrude Yorkes of the Runaways is both incredibly well-read and Jewish.
- 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.
- Likewise, Albert Kaussner from The Langoliers, a spaghetti western buff and Indiana Jones fan with a yarmulke on his head. He's also the resident Badass Normal, being the one who finally takes down the insane Craig Toomy.
- The Rules of Supervillainy protagonist, Gary Karkofsky, constantly references Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, and other pop culture. He's also very-very Jewish. Curiously, he's also a Kavorka Man and Pop-Cultured Badass.
- Minerva Green, better known as Min, is the protagonist of Why We Broke Up and applies. She's Jewish and a smart, bookish movie buff with a quick wit. She shares qualities of both a nerd and a Hipster, and falls somewhere between the two.
- In Goodbye To Berlin, Natalia Landauer is a well-read Jewish heiress who wields her book smarts like a cudgel.
- Noel Shempsky from Frasier is probably the Trope Codifier. He's heavy into all things Star Trek, to the point Scott Bakula and William Shatner have both legally required him to remain at least 100 feet away from them. His crush on Roz has him envisioning her as "Queen Rozalinda", a Green-Skinned Space Babe with four breasts.
- Howard Wolowitz from The Big Bang Theory. Leonard Hofstader could also be an example: he's never implied to be even ethnically Jewish and he's a bit more 'jockish' than the other nerd characters, but his mother does fit many of the stereotypes.
- Willow Rosenberg from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- Rachel Berry from Glee is a musical-theater nerd, though the show also has a rare stupid (or at least Book Dumb) Jewish character in Jerk Jock Puck.
- And then, of course, there's Jacob Ben Israel.
- Seth Cohen from The O.C.
- Ross Geller from Friends.
- The two nerdiest characters from Beverly Hills 90210, Andrea and David, are both Jewish.
- In the Sequel Series, Navid is by far the nerdiest main character and is also Jewish.
- Robbie from Victorious.
- Annie Edison from Community.
- Barbara Brownstein from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, a Twofer Token Minority who is also Asian and Nerdy.
- Craig and Eric, the two nerds from Drake & Josh.
- Felicity Smoak from Arrow.
- Neal Schweiber from Freaks and Geeks.
- Simon Lewis on Shadowhunters
- 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.