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Smart People Wear Glasses
Homestar tries his hardest to subvert this trope.

Customer: I like these glasses. They make me look more smarter!
Customerís boyfriend: Yeah, well looks can be deceiving.
Not Always Romantic

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.

Examples:

Please do not list aversions, seeing as then it would be just a list of characters with glasses

Anime & 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.
  • Shizuko from Maid-Sama!, who is Good with Numbers.
  • Shin, the Cute Bookworm and Smart Guy in Saint Beast
  • 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.
  • Kyoya of Ouran High School Host Club is the one that keeps the club afloat and one of the highest ranking students in the school. Naturally, he wears glasses.

Comics
  • Dilton Doiley in Archie Comics.
  • 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.)
  • Prof. Calculus (and quite a bunch of other scientists) from Tintin.
  • 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.

Film
  • 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, Blue is smart in that Dangerously Genre Savvy way.
  • 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.

Literature

Live-Action TV
  • Cookie from Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide.
  • The one and only Steve Urkel, an Extraverted Nerd from Family Matters.
  • A weird example as it's something of an informed trait: scientist Bennett on Dollhouse 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.
  • 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.
    • Also Wesley, although once he got on Angel, he lost them after a while.
    • Gibbering Genius Fred also is seen wearing glasses, which she also lost after a while.
  • 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.
  • Daniel Jackson in Stargate SG-1.
    • And in an alternate universe episode where she never joined the SGC, we find Sam Carter wearing huge Nerd Glasses. Presumably in the regular timeline she just wears contacts. Either way, there's no denying that her (excellent) combat skills are NOT the 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.
  • Billy from the original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
  • 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: Crime Scene Investigation, at least some of the time. Apparently they're mostly reading glasses.
    • Sid Hammerback and probably Danny Messer from CSI NY too.
  • Amy, Bernadette, Leslie and Leonard on The Big Bang Theory.
    • Penny got a pair that once made her look smarter, and sexier, simply by tilting them off and saying, "Molecule."
  • Brains from Thunderbirds.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Video Games
  • 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.

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation

Real Life
  • Pol Pot hated intellectuals, so he had people killed for wearing glasses.
    • There is some (rather Machiavellian) justification for this beyond Insane Troll Logic, however. Eyeglasses, while not an extravagant luxury, would be hard to come by in a poor, non-industrialized country like Cambodia was. Anybody capable of affording them would almost certainly be involved, if only indirectly, in the exploitation of the lower classes.
  • 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.


The Short Guy with GlassesGlasses TropesSpecs of Awesome
Smart People Speak The Queen's EnglishIntelligence TropesThe Social Expert
Red Boxing GlovesImageSource/InternetSorry, Billy, But You Just Don't Have Legs

alternative title(s): Glasses For Geniuses; Smart Spectacles; Bespectacled Brainiac
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