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Why is being a nerd bad? Saying "I notice you're a nerd" is like saying "Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan.... Why is that?"
Strictly speaking, the Geek
, the Nerd
, and the Otaku
are characters who are, well, uncool. But a rising trend in modern fiction is to show one of these character types as being downright outspoken. Maybe they missed the memo informing us that geek culture is supposed to be uncool, or maybe they think that popular culture sucks and being geeky is the best way to express your individuality in the face of a hopelessly conformist mainstream. But these are the people who are proud of their geekiness and won't hesitate to flaunt it.
And why shouldn't they? After all, we
always come up with the cool stuff years before it's in, we invent the neat gadgets, we made the Internet and video games what they are today...ahem. Sorry.
In fiction, expect the outpouring of this belief to manifest in the form of an I Am What I Am
, Whoopi Epiphany Speech
, or at least sheer shamelessness. In real life
, look more to writers and actors being open and honest about the things they do
which seem, well, almost inappropriate considering how awesome and cool they are.
Bear in mind, of course, that it's quite possible that the geek in question is a Hollywood Nerd
, and when it really happens, it becomes One of Us
. Which can sometimes break the aesop
The perhaps inevitable outcropping of Be Yourself
. Considerably overlaps with Nerdcore
. The polar opposite is the Closet Geek
See also Insufferable Genius
for a more negative take, where 'pride' is warped into outright arrogance and condescension towards others.
Truth in Television
as most geeks are very proud of their status. As seen here
, from Connecticon Cosplay Masquerade 2011
Compare Nerds Love Tough Schoolwork
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Anime and Manga
- The anime series Genshiken stars a cast of Otaku characters more or less comfortable with their hobbies, within limits. Kuchiki, however, has less shame than a drunken frat boy at a toga party and will engage in loud conversations over pornographic doujinshi in public.
- Konata of Lucky Star certainly doesn't hold reservations about her hobbies. Her dad's, on the other hand...
- Also Patricia, who works at the same Cosplay Cafe as Konata. In the Comptiq continuity she downright broadcasts her geekery, to the level Hiyori commented, "Her communication issue is not language per se, but industrial terminology."
- Great Teacher Onizuka himself is kind of a complete loser (and he's cosplayed as Devilman in class), but he still manages to be really, really confident in his ability to do everything but reach the kids in his class.
- Nobunaga Asakura in Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu is openly Otaku; he doesn't mind showing off anime figures and magazines, and speaks about them with enthusiasm. As opposed to Haruka herself, who had to be a closet fan due to... things in the past. She may be getting out of it as of late.
- Eitaro, Professor Stein and Agaliarept in Macademi Wasshoi are three of the most powerful men in the show. They're also huge geeks and demand that the world bow down to their fetishism or else. This combination of power and fanboy madness is a major driving force of the show.
- Keima Katsuragi from The World God Only Knows is obsessed with games (specifically dating sims) and is very vocal about that fact.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!: It takes a lot to get her to admit it, but deep down Chisame is proud of her geeky-ness. Haruna also qualifies in a big way.
- She's actually so proud and comfortable with it that when Negi's party were attacked by Poyo's Lotus-Eater Machine, she was not affected by it. And that is even taking into account that she has been complaining how crazy it has been for a normal girl like her to be thrown into such a crazy world. She wasn't exactly happy about the revelation though.
- Revenge of the Nerds has what amounts to being the most well-known epiphany speech, where at the end, in front of all the fraternities, the geeks go on about how great it is to be a nerd and how empowering they feel. In front of a giant room filled with fraternity men, no less.
- Toby Radloff in American Splendor feels much the same way and was quite empowered by the movie. Indeed, he had a brief but memorable 15 Minutes of Fame based on his popularity in the comics for his forthrightness.
- Ironically, all of this comes up largely because Harvey Pekar, writer of American Splendor, felt very strongly the opposite way about this trope. He dismissed the nerds in the movie as being Hollywood Geeks and saw the whole thing as insulting to "genuine" nerds like Radloff, who didn't go to college but had built his own computer over one summer through true grit.
- The film adaptation of The King of Fighters is trying to invoke this trope in actor interviews, in a desperate attempt to attract fans of the games. It fails miserably.
- Mr. Fantastic's speech in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer counts as this.
General Hager: [to Reed] Let me make this clear for you and your pack of freaks. I'm the quarterback, you're on my team. But I guess you didn't play football in high school, did you, Richards?
[Hager starts to walk away]
Reed Richards: You're right. I didn't. I stayed in and studied like a good little nerd. And fifteen years later, I'm one of the greatest minds of the 21st century. I'm engaged to the hottest girl on the planet. And the big jock who played football in high school, he's standing right in front of me asking me for my help, and I say he's not going to get a damn thing, unless he does exactly what I say and starts treating me and my friends with some respect.
General Hager: [understandingly] Give him what he wants.
[Hagar walks away]
Susan Storm: [to Reed] I'm so hot for you right now.
[hugging Reed and switching powers] Me, too!
- This was, of course, taken word-for-word from an exchange with Nick Fury during the Ultimate Galactus storyline. (But it was much more badass because, among other things, he was saying it to Nick Fury).
- Pirates Of Silicon Valley has some elements of this, especially with the relationship between Hollywood Nerd Bill Gates and drunken fratboy Steve Ballmer, and all the money Bill Gates scores when signing the MS-DOS licensing deal with IBM.
- In Sydney White, the title character, running for student body president, gives a speech that explains how everyone is a dork in their own way. Several people in the crowd then stand up one at a time and explain what makes them a dork. By the end, of course, everyone cheers for Sydney.
- Pretty much everyone in Real Genius, except the main character Mitch, who has to grow into his geekdom with the help of his more worldly roommate, Chris.
Live Action TV
- Spencer Reid of Criminal Minds could be argued to be this. He certainly makes no secret of the fact that his brain is of a higher order than the average person.
- Heroes: Hiro Nakamura openly and proudly proclaims his geekiness at nearly every opportunity, regardless of how inappropriate. He is dedicated to being a superhero and cites actual comic books as his guide - he never strays from his mission even when faced down by his disapproving father who clearly sees Hiro's attitude as being, well, kind of shameful.
- Eagle-eyed tropers will notice that in Hiro's first scene, his desk at work is littered with popular manga figurines. This is at work. Where he's the son of the company's president.
- Hiro also refers to himself and his comrade as being "on the team of good guys"... this is the source of the utterly incomprehensible English translation issue, where his friend says "We?" in a very querulous tone.
- Hiro also appears to refer to that sword as if it was Gourry's Sword of Light (aka something uniquely his and a part of him). This also doesn't come through in the English, at all. I swear, heroes was written with a much more international audience in mind.
- The actor, Masi Oka, based much of Hiro's geekiness on his own.
- Hiro has a blog, and he once wrote there that he wants to fight evil like JoJo.
- In Family Matters, Steve Urkel was like this most of the time, except when they wanted to give (or screw up) An Aesop about being happy with who you are. Most of the time, however, he seemingly didn't give a rats ass that everyone referred to him as a nerd, especially since he was probably the coolest person in the school despite his labeling.
- His being a complete klutz, however, ruins a lot of the coolness.
- Stephen Colbert, in the very first episode of The Colbert Report, explained to Stone Phillips how much he admired "the greatest neck in news".
Stone Phillips: Thank you very much, pencil-neck.
Stephen Colbert: Sir, I believe the term is pencil-necked geek.
- Sara Sidle on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Sara: Geeks should be revered.
- House. His geek culture references are plenty, and he knows when things should go to eleven.
- House obsessively follows soap operas, and when he discovers that one of the members of his team does as well, but refuses to ever admit to it in public, he berates him for being ashamed of his position as a geek.
- Chuck. Chuck Bartowski's geekiness is almost always the key to saving the day in any given episode. He once saved the day playing Missile Command for crying out loud.
- While, if memory serves, Rush was blaring in the background.
- It gets even better. He saved the day by playing Missile Command in time with a Rush ballad.
- The Knight Rider reboot gave us Billy and Zoe, who were both proud of their skills with computers and who came to work dressed up as characters from Torchwood and Heroes on Halloween.
- Obnoxiously turned inside out on fourth season episode of The West Wing, where a woman wearing a Star Trek pin in the office tells Josh that she wears it because the Starfleet symbol is, to her, a symbol of honor and civic duty, and Josh should commend her for such pride in her job— Josh quickly grinds what would be a nice little speech into the ground by basically saying "it's okay to like Star Trek, but do it in the privacy of your own home". By explicitly comparing her display of a pin to a fetish. (Note that it's apprently fine to be a sports fan in the White House, as several of the leads have sports paraphernalia in their offices.) Way to go, Sorkin.
- Hardison on Leverage is the resident hacker and very proud of his geekery, with such lines as, "Age of the geek, baby. We rule the world." (He's also a fan not only of Star Wars but also of Doctor Who.)
- Even if the other three male leads are not, Sheldon of The Big Bang Theory is proud of his geekiness (or he's just that obtuse).
- Leonard, as the straight man, is most frequently embarrassed by his geekiness when in the presence of "normal" people. Howard and Raj, while aware of the social awkwardness it can cause, seem quite content with their geekiness. Sheldon...simply refuses to be anything else.
- And even Leonard's had his fair share of proud moments, such as when he declared himself to be "king of the nerds" during a daydreamed date with Penny and outdid Sheldon's glow stick power with his lightsaber (worth noting during that instance Penny had a proud "that's my geek" smirk on her face).
- A less sympathetic example is Dwight Schrute who is obsessed with archaic weapons, Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica. Recently, he created Recyclops as a mascot for recycling, but his geekish tendencies have given Recyclops a bizarre and tragic narrative to the point that Recyclops now seeks vengeance upon the environment.
- Gus of Psych tries to deny it at first but eventually has a Crowning Moment Of Awesome explaining to Shawn how cool geeks are and how proud he is to be one in "Shawn Vs. the Red Phantom".
- Subverted rather unsympathetically in 90210 where the Lovable Alpha Bitch Naomi fell in love with the geeky Max and had to put up with a lot of crap from his similarly geeky friends because her tastes were more mainstream.
- The entire point of QI. If you're not prepared to show off your bucketloads of useless knowledge... You're on the wrong show.
- Abed from Community, who views the world through the lens of tropes and is proud of it. Much of ex-quarter back Troy's arch is coming to realize his own geekiness, and eventually show pride in it, too.
- Fabian on House of Anubis gave us this little gem- (After everyone teased him for being a nerd)
- "So I'm a massive nerd. There's nothing wrong with that! It's geeks like me who invented the telephone, the internet, and basically all the things you couldn't live without..."
- A number of bands take this route. See the page quotes.
- The Nerd Anthem by Marian Call.
- The "White and Nerdy" video by "Weird Al" Yankovic is so upfront about geeking out that it actually makes geeks seem cool, despite superficially about a guy wanting to embrace thug life.
"When my friends need some code who do they call?"
- The popular web music video for Lemon Demon's "Geeks In Love" is a stellar example of the 'geekiness is an expression of individuality and helps you find what truly makes you happy' viewpoint. Good song too.
- The Arrogant Worms song "Great To Be A Nerd".
- Five Iron Frenzy loved this trope: "Suckerpunch," "You Can't Handle This," "Wizard Needs Food Badly," and much of "At Least I'm Not Like All Those Other Old Guys."
- Felicia Day (see Real Life) and her song I'm the One that's Cool
- Canadian electropo singer Lights. She's an avid gamer as well as a fan of comic books and other nerd culture, and it really shows in some of her music videos. It's also worth mentioning that her song "Lions!" was inspired by one of her favorite computer games, World of Warcraft.
- Rapper ZeaLous1 in his songs Level Up and Headshot.
- The members of Machinae Supremacy
- Devo probably originated the trope among mainstream bands.
- Tom Lehrer was the musical geek of the 1950s, having written songs to show off his knowledge of the chemical elements, math, and physics. He even put on a stage show with several colleagues at Harvard, entitled The Physical Revue, which consisted of his own parodies and original songs about science.
- Starting to spill over to country music as well. At least one song on every Brad Paisley album celebrates geekdom in one way or another (Paisley himself is a confessed geek).
- "Hail to the Geek" by Deaf Pedestrians.
- Building on the Nerdfighter example below, the artists on DFTBA Records tend to exemplify this:
- Hank Green has to his credit no fewer than 4 wizard rock songs, and songs about particle physics, historical figures such as Queen Ranavalona the First and Phineas Gage, anglerfish and their mating habits, as well as a traditional Irish song about a homicidal squirrel.
- Chameleon Circuit, the band that started time lord rock.
- ALL CAPS (made up of two people from wrock bands) have many love songs, between people such as Ron and Hermione, Katniss and Peeta, Ash and Misty, robots, and zombies.
- The Protomen, who are creating a rock opera based upon what little plot the Mega Man games have.
- Lady Gaga, whose videos have included shout-outs to One Piece and Dune.
"I am very nerdy every day. Right now the Haus of Gaga and I are in the middle of trying to extract the effect the smell of blood has on people. We really want to know."
- Singer Grimes on the album Geidi Primes which is Dune-themed.
- Allegra Rosenberg, possible the most adorable ukulele Trock star ever. She's recently diversified from Doctor Who for her subjects, doing songs about Teen Wolf, Homestuck, Gravity Falls, Sherlock and shipping
- Del The Funky Homosapien and Busdriver as evidenced by their G4TV freestyle raps.
- Adam Warrock is the physical embodiment of this trope.
- The growing popularity of the video game industry has helped push this trope, since the gamer geek sub-culture has become an object of nostalgic reverance.
- Travis Touchdown in No More Heroes.
- Not sure this counts. It's not that Travis is proud to be a geek, it's that he's completely oblivious to his being one in the first place.
- Otacon, in the Metal Gear series, is very up-front about his love for things nerdy, especially anime and manga. The guy's self-selected codename is after the frigging Otaku Convention (Otakon), after all!
- Warrick Kaine in The Descendants. Many in the supporting cast and also Juniper to a lesser extent, but Cyn is geeky but mocks geek culture constantly.
- The Totally Rad Show: "Nerd is the new cool".
- In the Whateley Universe, at Superhero School Whateley Academy, all the gadgeteers and devisers are this, but Generator (Jade Sinclair) fits this too. She sings anime theme songs in public. In Japanese. She invents shoulder angels. Working shoulder angels, which start a fad across campus. She is one of the founding members of Team Wondercute. She says she is building a working model of Raising Heart.
- In Worm, Über and Leet's main goal for their crime sprees in Brockton Bay has been to raise awareness of classic video games.
- Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, is a notable example of the rising popularity of geekdom. In the eighth Simpsons Halloween special (aired in 1996), just before dying, he sadly realizes he wasted his life. In the 2007 movie however, when he believes he will die he looks over his collection, and happily concludes he had a perfectly worthwhile existence.
- Lisa usually follows this trope, though many episodes involve her giving in to peer pressure and trying to act "cool" or otherwise reinventing her social persona. They always end with an aesop about being yourself, and with Lisa regaining her geek pride.
- Played with in "Lard of the Dance," where Lisa is pressured to both give up being nerdy and to act like an adult. She ends up making a speech about how she's not ashamed of her geekiness, and that she wants to enjoy being a kid while she still can. Which is a bit of a Broken Aesop since Lisa will always be a kid.
- Martin Prince is a more straightforward example. Like Lisa, he may wish for popularity, but he'll never give up an ounce of his geekiness to accomplish this.
- The title characters of Phineas and Ferb and most of their friends, if you think about it; at the very least nobody ever objects to having the title bestowed on them. In "Nerds of a Feather" the only characters who seem embarrassed at their geekiness are Candace (who fears being outed for her love of a childish toy) and Buford, who uses his "bully" label as an excuse for Cosplaying at a sci-fi/fantasy convention:
- Gretchen Grundler from Recess.
- Tucker Foley from Danny Phantom.
- Donald Faison's (of Clueless and Scrubs fame) admitted to seeing The Empire Strikes Back over 300 times, and has apparently been working on his Dr. Evazan impression. He was mentioned in the VH-1 special "undateable" by one of his girlfriends as to partake in long, multihour D&D sessions
- Vin Diesel once related a story about how, during the filming of The Chronicles of Riddick, he and Karl Urban (both D&D fanatics) were discussing games, when out of the blue Judi Dench came along and started a conversation about the campaign she regularly GMs for her grandchildren. Turns out the old broad was as much a D&D geek as the two guys were. And let's face it: A campaign narrated by Dame Judi Dench would be awesome.
- The "I Am A Gamer" keynote speech at the 2007 Penny Arcade Expo, courtesy of Wil Wheaton. There's a reason he's known as King of the Nerds. Wheaton is such a geek icon and so proud of it that he has redeemed himself in the eyes of nerds even though he was the original Wesley. He openly admits that when he views a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, he never misses a chance to yell "Shut up Wesley!" at his younger self.
- Seth Green has a huge collection of action figures and has written a few comic books. Said collection was featured in the "White and Nerdy" video. He also turned his love of action figures into a popular TV show.
- Joss Whedon is pretty geeky, as are almost too many of his characters to list.
- Say what you will about the quality of Christopher Paolini's work, but the guy is clearly proud of his geekiness. He never misses an opportunity to speak Dwarvish.
- ...and then you remember it's the Dwarvish language he himself invented. Also his Shout-Out in Brisingr, explained in the Acknowledgements section in the back:
Also, for those who understood the reference to a "lonely god"
when Eragon and Arya are sitting around the campfire, my only excuse is that The Doctor
can travel everywhere, even alternate realities.
Hey, I'm a fan too!
- Barack Obama as of the radio and television correspondents dinner.
- Albert Einstein may be the trope originator.
- Kevin Smith. He makes films featuring nerds debating which Star Wars movie was best, the ethical implications of the destruction of the second Deathstar, the status of the Transformers as a gift from God, and whether Star Wars or Lord of the Rings is the true trilogy of Geekdom.
- In addition to being a charming fellow and a stellar voice actor, Crispin Freeman wins over many because he is a "first generation otaku"...as in, he's been a huge anime fan himself since the day they started popping into the states. In addition to acting, he also hosts discussion panels about certain topics related to anime (and animation in general) and even runs voice acting classes.
- John and Hank Green of the Vlog Brothers/Brotherhood 2.0 have successfully developed a community of "Nerdfighters" centered around this pride.
- Felicia Day. After a two-year addiction to World of Warcraft, she decided she needed to do something productive with her time and began writing a television show pilot. What was it about? Online gaming.
- In the commentary of the first Resident Evil movie both Michelle Rodriguez and Milla Jovovich talk about their love of video games, especially the Resident Evil games.
- Lewis "Linkara" Lovhaug of Atop the Fourth Wall is a proud comic book nerd, Star Trek fan, and Power Rangers fan.
- Megan Fox. No, seriously, she is a major anime fan. And it's confirmed in COSMO of all places.
- Gene Simmons of KISS and Gene Simmons Family Jewels is a proud comic book geek. He has even based his costume off of Black Bolt, Godzilla, and various stuff.
- Geek Is... knowing of a speech that sums up the meaning of the term, and our identification with it.
- Long-time comic-book critic Matt Morrison, whose personal blog is called My Geeky Geeky Ways.
- Simon Pegg. Writer and star of Shaun of the Dead, a 'love letter' to zombie films, Hot Fuzz, an Affectionate Parody of action films, and Spaced, a show made by geeks for geeks.
And that tropes page you just read? Yeah, we wrote that. You're welcome.