Customer: I like these glasses. They make me look more smarter!
Customer’s boyfriend: Yeah, well looks can be deceiving.In the media, smart characters have a tendency to wear glasses. The association with the Hollywood Nerd archetype helps in modern works, although this trope is possibly older than that. May be Truth in Television, as some say that since smarter people typically do more reading, they place more strain on their eyes and are more likely to develop myopia (nearsightedness). Some studies have gone so far as to claim that myopia itself is linked with open-mindedness and intelligence. On the other hand, glasses are expensive, so people wearing them will not risk them in sports or fights (but some may use contact lens instead). In anime, there is a commonly-used variant of this called Glasses-Kun: A Lancer who has black hair, is taller than The Protagonist, is always smarter than the main character, is relatively quiet, somewhat broody, and wears glasses. In Real Life, there are lots of different types of people who wear glasses, but in fiction they are more rare. This is due to problems such as glare from the cameras in Live Action media, difficulty reading facial expressions, etc., and is the reason why when such characters are present it seems more significant. As proven by the examples, it is also why this trope occurs more so in Live Action, animated programming, and other pictorial media and less so in literature; it's a visual cue to the audience that the character is intelligent, yet is used sparingly because of the aforementioned difficulties involved. This trope is an inherent part of The Glasses Gotta Go and Beautiful All Along, and often Hollywood Nerd. Supertrope to Nerd Glasses. The invoked form of this is Purely Aesthetic Glasses. Compare The Short Guy with Glasses.
Please do not list aversions, seeing as then it would be just a list of characters with glasses
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- Explicit use of the trope as symbolism: Ads for the mental-exercise website Lumosity show people giving testimonials while various background and foreground animations appear. In one of them, glasses are drawn on the speaker's face as she says the site helps her stay sharp.
Anime And Manga
- Ishida Uryuu from Bleach wears glasses and is number one in his class. He also perfectly fits the description for a "glasses-kun". He takes after his father, Ryuuken, who also wears glasses and ends up being revealed to be so intelligent he can keep up with Urahara. To put that into perspective, even the hyperintelligent Big Bad Aizen admits that Urahara is the most intelligent shinigami alive. Urahara first realised Ryuuken was capable of keeping up with him when Ryuuken was only a teenager, and was stunned.
- Highschool of the Dead doesn't reveal that Saya wears glasses until the second chapter, when she finally removes her contact lenses. But wastes no time in establishing her as the smartest girl at Fujimi High, by illustrating her analytical and decision making abilities right from the start. In addition, she not only serves as the brain of Takashi's group, she's usually the one to provide exposition as well.
- Both Franz Heinel and Shinsuke Maki in Future GPX Cyber Formula. One is a Gadgeteer Genius with cars and a computer expert, and the other is a computer machinist who makes computer games in his free time.
- Played with in Detective Conan. Shinichi is already very smart without glasses, but as Conan, he wears glasses so he wouldn't be recognized as a younger version of Shinichi.
- Minamo Kurokawa and Chika Kodama in Yubisaki Milk Tea, who are best and second best of their year, both wear glasses. Later Hidari Morii who Minamo teached as well.
- In Axis Powers Hetalia, America's glasses are a hint that he isn't as stupid as he seems. One of his hobbies turns out to be archaeology.
- Firo invokes this trope in Baccano!!. After taking the position of the Martillo Family bookkeeper, he immediately takes to wearing a pair of Purely Aesthetic Glasses. Why? Because he's doing a smart-person job now, so he has to look smart (and because he wants to look slightly less like the perpetual teenager he is).
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha INNOCENT, Stern Starks, who is this Alternate Universe's version of the Material of Wisdom, is depicted as regularly wearing glasses in the real world.
- Defied in Yuyushiki, where the local Ditzy Genius Yuzuko said she doesn't usually wear glasses since she does not want to appear too smart.
- Hazuki Fujiwara from Ojamajo Doremi, the resident smart girl in The Team, wears glasses and consistently makes very high grades in school. She is able to use those smarts to help solve issues in the series as well.
- Ouran High School Host Club:
- Kyoya is the one that keeps the club afloat and one of the highest ranking students in the school. Naturally, he wears glasses.
- Haruhi is also explicitly described as exceptionally intelligent. She initially wore glasses in the series until Tamaki insisted on replacing them with contact lenses.
- Tokyo Ghoul plays it completely straight on numerous occasions.
- Nishiki Nishio wears glasses, and is described by others as being a "prodigy". He's Good with Numbers and excels in a prestigious Pharmacy program at Kamii University, even though his childhood involved very little formal education.
- The legendary Investigator Kishou Arima wears glasses, and the prequel about his teen years shows him to have been a brilliant student that memorized text books and able to deduce things from small details.
- Novelist Sen Takatsuki turns out to wear glasses when she's not making public appearances and is famous for having published her first, bestselling work as a teenager.
- In the sequel, Badass Bookworm Haise Sasaki has typically nerdy reading glasses.
- Invoked in the sequel, with Ginshi Shirazu borrowing Sasaki's glasses in order to try to look more intelligent.
- Ami Mizuno from Sailor Moon wears glasses occasionally but only for reading, as does Mamoru Chiba.
- Fullmetal Alchemist:
- Maes Hughes works in the military's intelligence division for a reason.
- Also Sheska, the bookworm who memorizes every single thing she reads - to the point where she can rewrite entire alchemy journals from memory.
- Rune Soldier Louie: Ila, is only a novice mage from the Magician's Academy, but what she lacks in prowess, is made up for by her extensive knowledge of ancient tomes and magical artifacts. Which has often helped Louie and his travelling party on their adventures.
- Kousei from Your Lie in April is not particularly book smart however he is a Child Prodigy at the piano. Other similarly gifted musicians lack glasses however Kousei was well-known for his abilities at a young age.
- The glasses wearing Eddie from Yo-kai Watch is the smartest and most tech savvy major character in the anime.
- Discussed in episode six of Kimi to Boku. Chizuru buys novelty glasses and says they make him feel smarter when he puts them on. One of the twins says "Illness starts in the mind and studying starts with glasses".
- In K, the Blue Clan, Scepter 4, has three glasses guys, all of whom are the smart ones - one is an expert hacker; another, his subordinate, assists him in computer things and is a nerd in his own right; and the Blue King himself, something of a super-genius.
- The Red Clan's Smart Guy wears sunglasses - smart enough to wear glasses, but cool enough to fit with HOMRA.
- The Beast from X-Men (who's a Genius Bruiser) wears glasses when he reads. (And it looks kind of funny, considering that he's a muscular guy covered with blue fur.)
- The Polish comic book Tytus, Romek i A'tomek has A'Tomek (a nerdy, math-minded kid), professor T. Alent (a genius inventor) and "Papcio Chmiel" (the Author Avatar).
- Brainy Smurf from The Smurfs. (Although he's more of a Know-Nothing Know-It-All than truly smart.)
- Klik and Teela from Pocket God are Gadgeteer Geniuses and are the only pygmies that wear glasses. Klik usually keeps on the top of his head, however.
- Discussed in Superman: Secret Origin. When attempting to sell his old science books, Lex Luthor targeted Clark Kent, who had started wearing glasses, stating that glasses meant one of two things: genetic inferiority, or he read a lot. Somewhat subverted since in actuality, Clark's heat vision had just developed, and the lenses from the glasses shielded it in case it was accidentally triggered.
- Suske en Wiske: Professor Barabas wears two large glasses without a bridge to support them on his nose.
- Tom Poes: Professor Zbygniew Prlwytzkofsky and Professor Sickbock both wear glasses.
- Lampshaded in an issue of Amazing Spider-Man. Black Cat mugs a female scientist for her clothes, and states that none of the other researchers will suspect her as an impostor since she's wearing a pair of glasses.
- While not as smart as Reed Richards or Charles Xavier, Spider-Man himself has above-average intelligence and originally wore glasses in his civilian identity as Peter Parker, before they were broken in an altercation with Flash Thompson. Depending on the Writer and the continuity, he either never truly needed them to begin with (the glasses having a weak prescription that he wore due to his aunt's concern over eyestrain due to him reading so much) or his vision was corrected by the spider-bite that gave him his powers.
- In Sucker Punch, both Dr. Gorski (in the asylum) and Blue (in the nightclub) have glasses, though they mostly only wear them when they need to take a closer look at something (They might merely be reading glasses, rather than corrective lenses). While Dr. Gorski is a psychologist.
- Invoked by Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, when she dons glasses to appear smarter and more professional in order to help Paulette get her dog back.
- Peter Parker, Richard Parker, Curtis Connors and Norman Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man. Unlike in Raimi's movies, this version of Peter doesn't get his myopia cured by Spider-powers, so he keeps using glasses and contacts even after he's become Spider-Man.
- You can tell that David Talbot in Queen of the Damned is intellectual, although not clever enough to accomplish much with his knowledge of vampires, by the fact his office looks like a library and he wears glasses which he draws attention to by taking them off and putting them back on a lot.
- Mia Thermopolis from The Princess Diaries. It's part of her early Geek Physiques look, though it turns out she was Beautiful All Along. (Of course, it's freaking Anne Hathaway).
- Milo Thatch from Atlantis: The Lost Empire. He is actually the only Disney leading man (or woman) wearing glasses.
- Napoleon Dynamite and his brother Kip both wear glasses but are more stereotypically nerdy than intelligent.
- In Ghostbusters (1984), Egon Spengler, The Smart Guy, Gadgeteer Genius, and Mr. Exposition of the group, wears glasses.
- Noge, the hero of No Regrets for Our Youth, is a studious and serious young man who joins the anti-war underground Japanese left after graduating from college. Naturally, he wears glasses. Significantly, they are knocked off his face when he's arrested by State Sec.
- Invoked in the 2007 St. Trinian's, when the PR guru advises the posh totties to wear fake specs as part of their image to make themselves look smarter.
- Referenced in Hidden Figures: When Jim Johnson expresses surprise that women work at NASA, Katherine Goble (who does wear glasses) goes on a rant, culminating in this memorable put-down:
So yes, they let women "do some things" at NASA, and it's not because we wear skirts, it's because we wear glasses!
- Tris from The Circle Of Magic is the most academic of the main characters, and the only one to wear glasses.
- While the Oxford Clerk from The Canterbury Tales lacks the requisite glasses from this trope (they were just starting to come into fashion during the time period), he is specifically noted as having poor eyesight from staying up and reading books by candlelight.
- Intentionally invoked in Divergent by the intellectual Erudite. Purely Aesthetic Glasses are part of their "uniform".
- Don't Call Me Ishmael! has Scobie and Prudence, the resident Teen Geniuses, who both wear glasses. Scobie is brilliant at debating and very good at all his school subjects. Prue plays three instruments and is usually seen reading doorstoppers.
- Uesugi from Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note, whose epithet is "the numbers guy".
- George "Sticky" Washington from The Mysterious Benedict Society wears glasses and has a nervous tic of cleaning them. While all the children are some form of smart, be it book smart or street smart, Sticky has been shown to be on a different level from the others due to his Photographic Memory.
- Tumpkin in "The Sixty-Two Curses of Caliph Arenschadd" is bookish, and intelligent enough to solve the problem that has every other character stumped. The power of trope is strong enough that he wears glasses despite them technically being an anachronism in an Arabian Nights/Days setting.
- Kosma of The Girl from the Miracles District is a walking encyclopedia and a tech genius, and he wears glasses.
- Worm has the Number Man, The Smart Guy/Evil Genius (depending on how you see him) of Cauldron, who deliberately dresses like a stereotypical accountant down to the glasses, and is so Good with Numbers it goes right into Badass Bookworm.
Live Action TV
- Garcia, a computer genius, and her boyfriend Kevin Lynch both wear glasses. Though he apparently switched to contacts, flashbacks to Reid's youth in Criminal Minds shows that he had some of the largest glasses any child has ever worn, ever.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Giles, while not the resident genius, is the resident Mr. Exposition.
- Liberty, Toby, and Claire on Degrassi: The Next Generation. Actually, if a character wears glasses on that show, it's almost a given that they're intelligent.
- Stargate SG-1: In an alternate universe episode where she never joined the SGC, we find Sam Carter wearing huge Nerd Glasses. It may be that in the regular timeline she wears contacts. Either way, there's no denying that her (excellent) combat skills are not the only reason she's on the team.
- Alex Dunphy from Modern Family is the only one of the Dunphy kids to wear glasses, and is definitely the brains of the family.
- Ted Kasselbaum, the resident private investigator and genius computer hacker on Just Cause, wears glasses with blue tinted lenses.
- Peggy, a paralegal with three graduate degrees, also wears glasses.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: In the series' original incarnation, Billy (the Blue Ranger) was shown to be a straight A student, and actually suffered a mild Heroic B.S.O.D. the one time he scored a "B" on a test. However, he got rid of the glasses in Power Rangers Zeo.
- FBI computer genius Winifred from General Hospital wore nerd glasses, even though the guy she was a Distaff Counterpart of (Spinelli) did not. The same actress wore a different pair of glasses as another computer genius in Vengeance Unlimited.
- Gil Grissom from CSI, at least some of the time. Apparently they're mostly reading glasses.
- Among the main cast of The Big Bang Theory, Leonard, Amy, and Bernadette. The trope was once invoked by Penny, who wore a pair of Purely Aesthetic Glasses that made her look smarter, and sexier, simply by tilting them down and saying, "molecule".
- Lampshaded in the first episode of Dollhouse, when Echo's programmed personality is a hostage negotiation specialist. Topher explains that the glasses aren't to make her look smarter; her implanted personality is short-sighted and her intellect comes from the drive to overcome such imperfections.
- A weird example as it's something of an informed trait: scientist Bennett wears, as Topher so gleefully puts it, "glasses. On a chain!" She's apparently far-sighted because she only wears them when looking at computer screens.
- Van Kooten En De Bie: Their characters O. den Beste, a German language teacher, and professor Kipping, a Dutch language specialist both wore glasses.
- George Costanza from Seinfeld claims in the episode "The Cafe" that he is not intelligent and that people only think he is, presumably due to his glasses.
- Mona from Pretty Little Liars evil genius. She loses the glasses when she leaves her Adorkable past behind her, in order to become the not-so-ditzy Alpha Bitch of Rosewood High.
- Spencer, the smartest PLL, is also sometimes shown with glasses.
- Prof. Shane from Vampire Diaries is another villainous example.
- Lane Kim from Gilmore Girls. Lampshaded by her mother and boyfriend when she get contacts. It was a big moment in the series, when the strict mother and slacker boyfriend finally agreed on something - the glasses suit Lane because they show that she's smart.
- Andrea Zukerman, the Go-Getter Girl from Beverly Hills 90210, is always shown wearing glasses, except in her very rare Beautiful All Along moments.
- Walter White and Gus Fring in Breaking Bad
- Dr Harrison Wells, from The Flash (2014). He works alongside a Gadgeteer Genius, a brilliant geneticist and a smarter-than-average forensic scientist, but there's no denying that even compared to them he's a genius. This is emphasised by the fact that he is the only member of Team Flash to wear glasses.
- Earth-2 Harrison Wells is similarly indicated to be a genius by his glasses, although he is seen with them off much more frequently because he's been forced into the role of action hero.
- Person of Interest. In "Bury the Lede", Reese decides the best way to protect the Victim of the Week is to take her on a date. Because her profile on the dating website says she likes the intellectual type, Finch gets Reese the appropriate Nerd Glasses. Reese is understandably reluctant to wear them, but does.
- Ben Urich, veteran journalist with the New York Bulletin, wears a pair of spectacles that give him this image. After he dies, his editor Mitchell Ellison takes up the mantle.
- Admittedly he only wears the glasses because he's blind, but Matt Murdock graduated from Columbia Law School summa cum laude.
- From Supermarioglitchy4s Super Mario 64 Bloopers, a Chuckya teacher who appeared in "Sob story: Tale of a Bob-omb".
- Lex from Bookworm. He's a regular old bookworm who is able to tell if the paper he eats has letters on it and if said letters form words. As a result, he chooses to only eats words.
- Shad from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is an archaic researcher and Cunning Linguist at age seventeen. He's the first prominent character in the entire Zelda series to sport glasses.
- Invoked in Shantae and the Pirate's Curse. Resident Ditz and assistant relic hunter Bolo is given a pair of X-Ray Specs to help with his nearsightedness. While it doesn't help with his vision, it does make him feel super smart, and he proceeds to identify the fossil he was given with a series of smart-sounding words. Some time later, the Techno Baron employs him as his assistant simply because of how super smart he looks with his glasses... whereupon this gets subverted as Bolo accidentally installs the circuit panel of the Targetting Module backwards, upside down, and inside out, causing the Disruptor Cannon to miss its intended target wildly and hit the Techno Baron several islands over. While Shantae initially believes that he did that on purpose, talking to him in Propeller Town afterwards proves that he had no idea about what happened and removes any doubts about him still being the same dunderhead as before.
- BlazBlue: Characters originating from the science-based Sector Seven, such as Kokonoe, Tager, Litchi, Roy (before he became Arakune) all wear glasses. The rare physical-based hard-hitters like Azrael or Makoto do not wear glasses and they're usually the lesser smart (in book-learning manner) characters from that faction.
- Dangan Ronpa: The Mastermind AKA Junko Enoshima wears these as part of her "intelligent" side.
- Overwatch: The two characters that wear glasses are particularly intelligent people. Mei is a brilliant Chinese climatologist who has a lot of research notes about trying to stop global warming. Winston is a sentient, particularly intelligent gorilla.
- Miitopia: The Goblins Mages and the Banshee Brainboxes both wear glasses, invoking this trope. The Banshee Brainbox's description even alludes to her highly educated status.
- Iggle Pop!: Both Dr. Iggle and his assistant Rizzo are geniuses, and both wear glasses.
- El Goonish Shive. Tedd Verres is a highly intelligent Gadgeteer Genius with a dash of Mad Scientist. He normally wears Opaque Nerd Glasses that have... other features.
- Magick Chicks: Sandi Mnemonic is a member of her school's student council and serves as Faith's personal secretary. She's so knowledgeable, that the cast page of the comic's print edition describes her as (quote): "a living Google". Plus, she can predict the outcome of future events with 97.09% accuracy, provided she has all the pertinent data to work with.
- Sinfest: Monique donned them for a strip, to look intellectual.
- In The Dragon Doctors, this trope lay behind Sarin's monocle pre-Gender Bender.
- The blue guy with glasses in Irrelevator is stickman wearing glasses. Being smart is his thing◊, he does earn the◊ title of being the◊ smart◊ guy though◊.
- Monster of the Week lampshades it in its first strip. In his first scene, Mulder wears glasses. There's an arrow pointing at them with "smart glasses" written next to it.
- The Director in Red vs. Blue is a brilliant AI theorist who, of course, wears glasses.
- In The Nostalgia Critic, Linkara and Spoony's joint-review of the Alone in the Dark (2005) movie, Linkara points this out regarding Tara Reid's character.
- Spoony: (scoffs) As if wearing glasses make anyone look smarter! (Critic and Linkara, who both wear glasses, glare at Spoony) I need glasses.
- The dictionary website The Free Dictionary has a logo featuring a pair of glasses, because dictionaries are smart or something like that.
- Alvin and the Chipmunks has Simon and Jeanette. Simon excels academically and Jeanette is his Distaff Counterpart, but she's also a Cute Clumsy Girl and Ditzy Genius. Which makes her more adorkable.
- Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: In evey incarnation of the series, Velma Dinkley is the group's resident genius. Though it's subverted since it's Fred who determines the group's actions and devises their plans for capturing whatever "spook" they're after.
- Daria is famous for her coke-bottle glasses, and for being one of very few Lawndale residents with a rapier-wit.
- Characterization Marches On makes aversions of several characters, when in later seasons, most characters are given redeeming moments, often of intelligence.
- Invoked in Through a lens, darkly, where resident Ditzes Kevin and Brittany start wearing glasses to become smarter.
- Jeremie from Code Lyoko. (And Franz Hopper, when he had a physical body.)
- Carwash the Cat in Willo The Wisp, by far the most intelligent and sarcastic of the cast, and consequently the most rarely used character.
- Invoked on Rocko's Modern Life, when Rocko's idol (a professional Jackhammer-er) says he wears contacts while on the job, but prefers glasses when off because they make him look like an intellectual. Cue a Fangirl approaching and asking him questions about Friedrich Nietzsche. Heffer then claims he needs glasses because he doesn't know who Nietzsche is.
- The Simpsons:
- Professor Frink, Data, and Waylon Smithers are all among the smartest characters on the show and wear glasses. Inverted with Milhouse who is nerdy and wears glasses but isn't particularly intelligent.
- Homer Simpson attempts to exploit this trope when get first finds abandoned glasses in a bathroom. He recites a version of the Pythagorean theorem (quoted verbatim from The Wizard of Oz) when he looks in the mirror but it backfires when someone points out his version is incorrect.
- Chief Quimby in the new Inspector Gadget cartoon now wears glasses, possibly to add emphasis to him being smarter than Gadget.
- Chloe from We Bare Bears is a Child Prodigy who is in college. She wears large glasses.
- The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle: Mr. Peabody is likely the smartest being in existence, being an Omnidisciplinary Scientist who built a Time Machine. And he wears glasses.
- Shy Violet from Rainbow Brite wears glasses. She is the most science savvy of the main characters and uses large words often.
- Dexter's Laboratory: Both Dexter and his equally brilliant rival Mandark wear glasses. Averted with Dexter's Dad who also wears glasses and is the typical clueless Bumbling Dad (though he may be a Genius Ditz).
- Chicken tried to invoke this trope in Cow and Chicken thinking glasses would make him smart after Cow seemed smarter once she started wearing hers. He even went so far as to deliberately flub his vision test. Chicken thought he was smarter, but was really a Know-Nothing Know-It-All. Cow even tried to tell him that glasses didn't work that way.
- In Episode 72 of Kaeloo, Stumpy is granted intelligence by a spirit after his stupidity causes him to die. Immediately after he rises from the grave, having been brought Back from the Dead, he dons a pair of glasses.
- Dib from Invader Zim, who's the only human smart enough to instantly recognize Zim is an alien (and suffers for it). Downplayed by the art style◊, since his glasses function as an Expressive Mask and are oddly drawn without temples, making the bridge the only way to notice them visually.
- In Gravity Falls, both Stan and Ford wear glasses in their old age, but the Whole Episode Flashback reveals that Ford, being a genius, had them even as a child.
- Invoked in the Adventure Time episode "The Real You," when Finn wore a pair of magic glasses that made him The Omniscient.
- Steve on American Dad!, along with his friend Toshi. His other friends don't wear glasses and, while geeky, are less likely to be shown as smart. (Especially Barry.)
- Played With on The Cleveland Show—Junior wears glasses, but his intelligence is somewhere between Ping-Pong Naïveté and straight-up Depending on the Writer, which the show itself sometimes Lampshades. If a character is going to be portrayed as unusually intelligent, however, it's usually him.
- Pol Pot hated intellectuals, so he had people killed for wearing glasses.
- Myopia actually does correlate with IQ. #4 of Cracked's 5 Unrealistic Movie Cliches That Are Scientifically Accurate points out a study finding that intelligence and education are somehow correlated with nearsightedness in real life. Confirmed by The Other Wiki as well. Contact lenses, laser correction, and fake glasses can still throw this trope off, however.
- In 2014, then-Texas Governor Rick Perry invoked this trope for a time.