Geeks and nerds often have it rough in the romance department, especially in popular culture. Typically, they are stereotyped as being so unattractive that only fellow nerds would find them desirable mates. However, it is interest and intellect that makes the nerd, not looks. And for some folks, intelligence is very, very
This trope shows what happens when a character finds that a nerd is, indeed, sexy. The nerd's "objective" looks could fall anywhere within the wide spectrum of human attractiveness; all that matters is that a character finds something about the nerd that arouses his or her interest. If said character is in high school, he or she may grow up to be a Hot Scientist
See also Hot Librarian
, Hot Scientist
, Geeky Turn-On
, Lovable Nerd
and Give Geeks a Chance
. Sometimes overlaps
with Matzo Fever
. Can be caused by a case of Hollywood Nerd
Only add examples here that are acknowledged in-universe.
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Anime and Manga
- In Haruhi Suzumiya, Yuki seems to have a large "fanbase" within the story, exactly because Nerds Are Sexy. Kyon finds her appealing too, although not at the scale of Mikuru.
- Even Dragon Ball runs into this trope, as a number of girls in Orange Star High (particularly Erasa) spend much of their screen time in the anime trying to undress Son Gohan with their eyes. Jerk Jock Sharpener isn't very pleased to learn that he's runner up to "Nerd-Boy".
- Taken to the extreme as the premise of The World God Only Knows. Keima Katsuragi is a proud nerd who spends all his time playing video games and prefers 2D girls over real girls. Yet his vast knowledge of Dating Sims has made him an expert at getting girls to fall in love with him (in order for him to exorcise the evil spirits possessing them... It Makes Sense in Context!), all the while remaining an unrepentant otaku. Not to mention he is pretty good looking and dresses pretty properly. It's hinted that a lot of the girls are impressed by his defiance of authority, even if the defiance comes through geeky activities that they don't really approve of.
- Professor Kiyama Harumi from To Aru Kagaku no Railgun, and she is thought of as this even before she started stripping in public... again.
- Legend of the Galactic Heroes; Felicia Greenhill had been carrying the torch for the socially awkward Yang Wenli ever since she first met him.
- Amadeus Cho, the 7th smartest person on Earth (as verified by a soap company - oh, and Reed Richards), who managed to win the heart of a Perky Goth Amazon Gorgon girl.
- Peter Parker, aka The Amazing Spider Man. A science geek and somewhat socially awkward, but none of this has stopped him from being a Chick Magnet.
- Ellie Dee from Cherry Comics, who manages to nail the science teacher all of the girls are lusting after.
- This trope is practically the mission statement behind Gold Digger, a comic about Gina Diggers a really hot, really ... "friendly" woman who's also a bespectacled supergenius, and her friends, many of whom are just as hot and almost as smart as she is (though they're generally less nerdy).
- Girl Genius is basically Gold Digger set in a Steampunk fantasy universe instead of a superheroic modern Earth, and the main character, Agatha Clay, is less ... "friendly" than Gina Diggers.
- The Girl Next Door's diffident, gangly Klitz (Paul Dano) is a member of the protagonist's clique of nerds, but meets a porn star who finds him highly attractive and it is hinted that he becomes one himself.
- Not Another Teen Movie has Janie who is supposedly nerdy even though all she really does is paint, wear overalls, wear glasses, and has a ponytail.
- There is a scene in a used bookshop in The Big Sleep: Humphrey Bogart spends an afternoon in an antiquarian bookshop with the clerk (Dorothy Malone). An unexpected rainstorm, a bottle of rye, and the line "I'd rather get wet in here", transforms Malone from book-worm to babe, who closes the shop an hour early (and the film fades to black).
- In How to Marry a Millionaire, Marilyn Monroe's character avoids wearing much-needed glasses as long as she can to retain her beauty. When her love interest finally persuades her to put them on, he immediately says, "You're crazy."
- Tanguy is a nerdy intellectual but he manages to chat up attractive girls (mostly Asian ones) with ridiculous ease.
- Darla, the band nerd from My Best Friend is a Vampire - once she takes her glasses (and possibly a dorky hat) off, she's hot, though only the male lead sees it at first.
- Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class turns his knowledge of genetic mutation into a successful pick-up line.
- And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird!: Beth is attracted to Josh specifically because he's a computer/robotics genius.
- In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs the female lead isn't truly sexy to the male lead until she sheds her "model" looks.
- Amy in Time After Time is attracted by the nerdy H. G. Wells character.
- Betty Childs can't help falling for Louis Skolnick in Revenge Of The Nerds, once she discovers his sexual prowess.
- Despite being a tough gangster moll, Honey Swanson in A Song Is Born can't help falling for nerdy Hobart Frisbee.
- Fiore from Moony Witcher's La Bambina Della Sesta Luna ("The Girl of the Sixth Moon") is a typical know-all, with special interest in history and Latin (she really likes to show her knowledge of Latin phrases). At the same time, she's beautiful, romantic and sometimes demonstrates a sense of humor. Given that Fiore means "flower" in Italian, this seems to be a case of Meaningful Name.
- In 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".
- Bennett keeps hitting on the somewhat nerdy, glasses-wearing socialist Tommy Judd in Another Country, whom he claims to be the only guy in college to be immune to his charms.
- The Dukes of Hazzard: Daisy Duke, in the 2005 TV remake/prequel The Beginning, where she wears thick glasses, large sweaters and baggy pants, and her hair in a bun. She is also very shy and mousy. Underneath it all – as everyone sort of sensed – was this blooming butterfly, to put it mildly. When she takes a job at the Boar's Nest, the nerdy Daisy emerged from her cocoon – and what a babe she turned out to be. Needless to say, her social skills improved 1000 percent and she was soon asked out by every guy in Hazzard County. (Alas, this is non-canon for true Dukes fans, as the original series bible has Daisy always being popular ... in fact, getting crowned prom queen at Hazzard High School.)
- From the original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers we have Billy, who got more romantic subplots than pretty much any ranger in the history of the franchise (damn) but was played by David Yost, who is incredibly charming and built like a plow horse.
- This is pretty much the entire point to The Big Bang Theory. The boys on the show don't get laid in spite of their geekiness (except Sheldon, for whom sex is less exciting than video games), they get laid pretty much because of it.
- The Tag Line is "Smart is the new sexy".
- David Henrie◊, who plays Justin, in Wizards of Waverly Place. He's the nerdy boy that builds robots, collects action figures, and can't do more pull-ups than his younger sister. Surprisingly (or not), in the show he has a lot of girlfriends.
- A Town Called EUReKA is this trope in a nutshell, seeing as Eureka is a town full of super geniuses/nerds. Good examples are Zane and Henry. Alison Claudia counts if you include both Warehouse 13/Eureka crossovers.
- Ben Wyatt in Parks and Recreation is into math, model trains, skinny ties, plaid shirts, and Game of Thrones, but that doesn't stop Leslie Knope, Shauna Malwae-Tweep, Marlene Griggs-Knope, and Joan Callamezzo from hitting on/chasing after him.
- Supernatural's Castiel, despite being labeled in-universe as "nerd angel", is also referred to as "sexy" and "pretty" by demon and angel alike.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Xander, Willow, and Wesley are all sexy nerds in their way, but It's Giles who's sexy because he's a nerd (or, as a love interest put it, "a sexy fuddy-duddy").
- Played with later in the series when Xander comments that smart girls are hot, and Willow, who at that point is a lesbian, mournfully asks him why he couldn't have figured that out when they were in 10th grade (i.e. during the time Willow had the hots for Xander).
- Angel also had Fred (Winifred), the nerdy yet cute science girl who joined the cast late in the second season. During the third season, her sexy nerdiness had two of the male leads fighting over her for half the season. This was lampshaded in the famous scene where Lilah Morgan dresses up in Nerd Glasses and Girlish Pigtails to taunt Wesley over his attraction to Fred.
"Did it turn you on? Watching her up there in front of all those braniacs knowing she was the smartest one in the room?"
- Played with briefly when David Nabbit gives Angel financial advice in "First Impressions."
David: "Oh. That's easy. You could look into seller financing, take over the owner's payments and skip the bank completely, or you could make a play for a preservation grant. Offer to restore the original décor and get the city and the feds to give you a tax break and a loan at a sweetheart rate. Or you could apply for an FHA and get a PMI in lieu of a down payment."
- Stargate SG-1 presents an Alternate Reality Episode in which Samantha Carter is a frumpy, awkward nerd. Alternate O'Neill still thinks she's hot.
- In the main Stargate Verse, Daniel Jackson is paired up (or at least implied to have paired up) more often than anyone else in the series. O'Neill even comments on this once.
O'Neill: "Man, that kid's got a way with women."
- On NUMB3RS, Charlie asks Amita on their first date after she solves a particularly tricky mathematical analysis. Later they find out that math is really all they have to talk about, but this doesn't seem to be a problem since they're still together.
- And FBI agent Megan has a relationship with professor Larry.
- Ahem, "Luckily, I speak l33t," "That's so hot."
- Lampshaded in The IT Crowd when Roy and Moss make a Nerds Are Sexy calendar and it ends up being less "hot supermodel with glasses" and more "fat bloke with his shirt off".
- Degrassi: When Connor and Dave created a sorting algorithm deciding the hottest girl in Degrassi, Clare is ranked 3rd. Pretty good given she's supposed to be the plain jane girl next door type.
- Before that, Damian once referred to Liberty as a "sexy genius."
- In the NCIS episode "Singled Out", the team was looking for a killer who believed in this trope, and Ziva goes undercover as a nerd in an attempt to identify him.
- A 2009 Intel commercial featured a male Asian office worker freshening his cup of coffee. Semi-porn background music can be heard. All the women are staring hungrily at this guy, who sees it but acts too cool to respond to it, like this is normal for him. At the end, a voice over identifies this normal-looking nerd as the inventor of the USB port. (He was actually just an actor, but it gets the job done.)
- In Gilmore Girls, there's an episode where Rory is seen sitting in the college cafeteria wearing a t-shirt with the logo, "Reading is Sexy." Considering she wears it while thinking about Logan, the third guy in the series she's attracted to for his intellect, it is a reflection of what she honestly believes.
- Dr. Spencer Reid of Criminal Minds graduated from high school at 12, had two BAs by 16, has an IQ of 187, and an eidetic memory. In one episode, fellow profiler Hotch mentions that he "was propositioned by every prostitute we talked to."
- The Doctor, from Doctor Who, at least in the incarnations where he's allowed a love interest. Many characters seem attracted by just how intelligent the Doctor is, with such a wide range of knowledge that it vastly out-scopes anything we know. Of course, being good looking and having a time machine probably doesn't hurt, either.
- As Scully of The X-Files says of the two scientists in "War of the Coprophages" who walk off into the sunrise together: "Smart is sexy".
- Ugly Betty gets a lot of it. The title character may be cute and even beautiful upon certain occasions, but her sexy turns on only in the last few episodes of the series. Most of her boyfriends are often the embodiment of the trope, with nerdy accountant Henry having some serious male model-like body going for him.
- Modern Family's Alex is both absolutely gorgeous in all her nerdiness and "has her fans", as she says, literally:
"You have your fans, I have mine. And one day, your fans are going to work for my fans."
- Sherlock gets some of this too. "Brainy is the new sexy" indeed...
- In Beauty and the Geek just about every season one or two of the Beauties would wind up hooking up with one or two of the Geeks.
- The Smallville episode Crusade is when we first met Lois Lane. After Martha says "Trust me, that can happen to the best of us" about falling for a "farm-boy type", Lois replies "Not me, give me a nerd with glasses any day of the week".
Mythology and Religion
- Mad Scientist Kokonoe from BlazBlue.
- Super Robot Wars's Ryusei Date is the epitome of otakuness, having more interest in the features of whichever Fembot was currently in the hangar than real girls. Nevertheless, Latooni Subota and Mai Kobayashi fall for him, the former going as far as imitating his geeky speech out of affection. Ryusei himself doesn't seem to mind, though.
- Philia Felice from Tales Of Destiny is a really nerdy priestess, complete with nerd glasses, who have a penchant of inventing self-made bombs. However, that turns out to be one of her charms (she also admits that she's plain looking without her glasses), including her nice personality as well as her voice.
- My Sims Agents, in an example of the sentiment, has a music-playing object that plays a little tune called "Nerdy Chicks Rule".
- Alyx Vance from Half-Life. Her attractive is present and universally agreed upon by the fans, but downplayed in her character design.
- Zoey from Left 4 Dead. She is considered one of the most attractive Action Girls ever seen in a zombie game (at least to VAL Ve players) and she still delivers lines about several horror movies (mainly zombie movies) and is interested in pop culture, in general. Sure, that doesn't make anyone "nerdy", but she is kind of adorkable anyway.
- After finding out about this, FoxTrot's Jason Fox once tried to make himself as un-nerdy as possible because Girls Have Cooties.
- Alice from Loserz thinks so. See this strip.
- And Adam from the same strip actually is a sexy nerd (although he usually hides it - being a gaming nerd, not being sexy). See here.
- Tales of MU takes this to the logical extreme — Amaranth is a physically perfect nymph, naked except for her glasses, who believes in science in a world of magic-based technology. Beyond the mere nudism, nymphs in MU follow the more open version in regards to sex and sexuality (the ultimate origin of the term nymphomania) — although Amaranth treats it as an enjoyable part time job / chore more than anything.
- It's later discovered this is because of a teenage geek messing with the process that created her, creating the ultimate geek fantasy girl — a confident, polite nudist who will put up with ANYTHING and literally can't get enough sex. Oh, and she's a geek, too. Unfortunately, he was too shy to talk to her afterward, which left her in the dark about the whole thing.
- Moira and Nanetta in Tales of Gnosis College both seem to fit this trope.
- Times Like This: Cassie, the main character, is a brainiac with a mean sex drive. When she's not banging famous guys throughout history thanks to her self-made time machine, she's sneaking boyfriends into her workplace for some conference-table whoopee.
- In Sandra and Woo Larisa's sudden attraction to Landon seems like just a joke, it's not.
- In Shiniez Ally and Alan are complete geeks over fighting games, and both are sexualised. Ally even attends conventions and cosplays. Moreover Lisa speculates that all practitioners of BDSM are in a way nerds, because (as the comic shows) the advanced stuff uses so much thought and attention to be done safely you naturally have to be an enthusiast type.
- Fuchsia of Sinfest certainly thinks so, if her portrait of Criminy is any indication.
- Sam from Totally Spies! has this appeal In-Universe.
- Starscream and Perceptor from The Transformers continuity.
- Velma from Scooby-Doo. Played with in The Movies.
- Edd from Ed Edd N Eddy has had the most girls crushing on him during the show's run.
- Steve Smith from American Dad!. He manages to get dates with girls more popular than him because they find him cute. Something always happens to ruin it for him, however.
- In the episode of Batman The Animated Series where the Riddler reforms (or rather, attempts to), he ends up with quite a few women fawning over him. Unless that's an example of All Girls Want Bad Boys, or Power is Sexy and/or Gold Digger, due to his newfound fame and wealth from his inventions.
- In The Real Ghostbusters, Janine has a crush on nerdy Egon for his high intelligence. So do a handful of minor female characters.
- Janine's crush was a holdover from the movie where she is quite blatantly hitting on Egon, and Egon is either clueless or doing a good job pretending he's clueless.
- Used in an episode of Robot Chicken. After seeing hell freeze over we are treated to a nerd dance around in his underwear, gleefully singing about getting laid. The hot girl in bed states, in a rather matter of fact manner, that she thinks nerds are hot.
- Tecna from Winx Club, though her boyfriend is even more of a nerd than she is.
- Winston Dunsworth from The Fairly Oddparents had this appeal In-Universe in the episode "A Bad Case Of Diary-Uh!" with teenage girls who attended Vicky's high school.