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Endearingly Dorky

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"Phffft! No, come on, Dad, he's so weird and awkward, it's like, 'are you an idiot or do you know you're adorable?'"
Mavis about Johnny, Hotel Transylvania

This character is a dork — they are overall physically or socially awkward, uncool, and likely aren't considered conventionally attractive (Hollywood Homely aside). Maybe they are clumsy, overly excited about geeky pursuits, Cannot Talk to Women, or flounder in social situations. Rather than finding this unlikable, however, other characters often find this sheer dorkiness cute, likable, endearing, or even attractive.

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There could be a number of reasons for this. Awkwardness and sweetness or sensitivity often go hand-in-hand, their vulnerability might be seen as attractive, they appeal to Cuteness Proximity or maternal instincts, or their appearance is enhanced by their awkward enthusiasm.

Compare Nerds Are Sexy for when intelligence and geekiness are attractive and see also I'm Taking Her Home with Me!, a verbal reaction to something extremely cute.

This trope is In-Universe Examples Only. See also Adorkable for when the viewing audience finds a character cute for being dorky.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Luck & Logic: Yukari. The newbie when it comes to Logicalist duties, and a former coach, she enjoys helping out her friends, refers to everyone, whether they are older or younger, as "Senpai", was able to get Quetzalcoatl to Covenant with her just by acting "like a miko", and got Quetzie to stay in Septpia just by tearing up.
  • I Think Our Son Is Gay: Hiroki is a young, easily excited and sweet boy that gets easily flustered and is very obviously in love with one of his male classmates. It's shown that a number of people think he is cute too, including his mom, his brother, his brother's friends, and even his crush.
  • In Kill la Kill, a large part of the reason Ryuko loves Mako is that she's so terribly uncool that she doesn't care about being popular or trendy or well-liked, valuing friendship and loyalty over everything else.
  • My Hero Academia: Izuku Midoriya, the protagonist, is one of the most hard-working and dedicated students and also one of the most socially awkward. Fortunately, his classmate Uraraka finds him very endearing because of this.
  • Yandere Kanojo: Wannabe-ace student Shiratori. He thinks he's popular with girls because he's so cool. He's a Bishōnen who's great at athletics and academics, so he should be a natural Chick Magnet. In reality, it's because he gets really shy and flustered when girls flirt with him, which they find irresistible.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animation 
  • Beauty and the Beast: The Beast has his moments. Belle spells out what Endearingly Dorky is in her song "Something There", where he shows a softer and more awkward side to her and she warms up to him.
    Belle: There's something sweet, and almost kind... but now he's dear, and so unsure.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Flint, who is extremely nerdy himself, started falling for Sam when she revealed her nerdy side, i.e. by wearing her glasses and admitting her love of science. She had been hiding that side of herself to help her career as a TV weather person.
  • Corpse Bride: Victor Van Dort. He's extremely clumsy and socially awkward during the wedding rehearsal as he can't speak up or put a ring on Victoria's finger without embarrassing himself. Victor Van Dort? More like Victor Van Dork. However, both Victoria and Emily find him irresistible and fall for him immediately.
  • Hotel Transylvania: Johnny. He's an American surfer-dude backpacker klutz who tends to ramble about random anecdotes from his travels, geeks out over the monsters (once he's through being terrified of them), is quite considerate of the feelings of others, and is a hopeless romantic. However, Mavis is charmed by all this and finds him sweet.
    Mavis: Phffft! No, come on, Dad, he's so weird and awkward, it's like "are you an idiot or do you know you're adorable?"
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Barbarella: Rebel leader Dildano geeks out for Earth culture while being scatterbrained and misplacing everything. That awkwardness doesn't stop Barbarella from having sex with him.
  • In The Edge of Seventeen, Nadine loves best friend Krista because she still sees her as the dorky little girl who dressed like a little old lady and collected bugs. One of the reasons their friendship is strained in the movie is because Krista has grown up and her tastes have changed, whereas Nadine's emotional development has been halted ever since her dad died.
  • Hitch: Although following the spirit of Hitch's advice, Albert mainly manages to charm Allegra by being who he really is...which involves bad dancing, teaching her to whistle, and dropping mustard on his shirt.
    Hitch: So, wait...that stuff worked for you?
    Allegra: It was adorable.
  • Into the Woods: As part of the Adaptational Heroism of Rapunzel's prince, he's made a bit more bumbling and charming. Especially during "Agony" where he's trying to out-ham his older brother. He does a failed attempt at a Tarzan-esque swing out of Rapunzel's tower, but she finds it cute and is charmed by him.

    Literature 
  • Orr from Catch-22, whose curious, giggle-prone and careless nature makes even the snarky, apathetic protagonist Yossarian want to hug him. It helps that his constant and comical habit of crashing his planes into the ocean wound up being all part of his plan to escape the military.
  • In Queens of Geek, Alyssa thinks Charlie's hyperactivity and enthusiasm in her video game reviews is adorable.
  • Simon from Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda. He's a huge fan of Harry Potter, incredibly awkward, and manages to catch the eye of a few guys over the course of the story because of it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ally McBeal:
    • Ally is a quirky and dorky Ms. Imagination who sometimes sees unicorns, dancing babies or hears music in her mind. Many men on the show find her quirks charming and fall in love with her. It helps that she's also very pretty.
    • John Cage is a nebbishy Bunny-Ears Lawyer who has many quirks and Character Tics. Women who feel attracted to him find him adorably weird. His Inuniverse Nickname is Biscuit.
    • Larry Paul often comes off as a Cloudcuckoolander who snarks adorably and charms practically every woman he meets. He wears scarves and geeky glasses. He's a fun dad who can ride a monocycle. Ally considers him her soul mate.
    • Jenny Shaw is a dorky young lawyer and essentially Ally lite. Ally considers her adorable and sees her as her own younger version. Jenny's clumsy and weird, has freckles and slightly sloppy bob haircut.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Rajesh Koothrappali is so shy around girls that he can't talk in their presence. Some girls find him interesting and cute; for instance, the chick from university who found his Green Lantern battery really cool. He once hit on Summer Glau, and she found him adorable and charming!
    • Raj's girlfriend Lucy (Kate Micucci). She's extremely shy and awkward, but Raj genuinely likes her looks and personality. They spend one date night just texting while sitting in a library, and both love it.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Amy Santiago is an intelligent and attractive detective who is straight-laced to the point of embarrassing herself in front of authority figures she wants to impress, gets excited about organization and research, and a proud Teacher's Pet. Her typical reaction to receiving a compliment is to giggle like a five-year-old. This contrasts her with her eventual love interest, the playful and rule-shirking Jake, who adores and supports her drive and brains and finds her enthusiastic nerdy awkwardness attractive. In fact, he decides he wants to marry her after seeing her getting worked up over a crossword puzzle.
    Amy: How do we keep it light and breezy... I know. A comprehensive set of rules.
    Jake: How am I attracted to you? Doesn't matter. I am. Go.
  • Community: Eccentric, Sarcasm-Blind, pop-culture-obsessed Abed, with little to no social skills, has no problem attracting girls because he's weird in a cute way and his aloofness reminds them of their daddy issues.
  • Played with in Everything's Gonna Be Okay, where autistic Matilda's awkward-cheerful personality means that there are quite a few people who find her cute, like her crush Luke... which frustrates her, because she wants to be seen as "cool" and sexually attractive, which she's too awkward to pull off. A large part of her character arc in season one is learning to appreciate her siblings Nicholas and Genevieve, and her eventual girlfriend Drea, who all love her for who she is rather than the person she wishes she was.
  • Fabian from House of Anubis is known primarily as the shy, geeky, and socially awkward guy who's nice to everyone in the House. While this makes him an easy target for teasing, it also means he endears himself quickly to everyone, such as Nina, who is gushing about him in her diary within a few days of knowing him and mentions him as being "geek chic" and "really sweet".
  • How I Met Your Mother: Tracy, the mother from the title, is as cute as a button and very dorky, but Max and Ted, two big loves of her life, find it charming and irresistible. Among her favorite activities (that many find dorky) is painting robots playing sports, singing showtunes with the breakfast food, playing the ukulele, collecting coins, calligraphy sets, Renaissance Fair goodies and enjoying random road trip trivia. Once her first love Max gives her a one-man-band suit. When her friends question why she would like something like that, she responded "It's not something I want. It's something I need". She has an innate understanding of the quirks behind the rest of the cast, letting her fit right in, like when she repeats the gang's in-joke: "Why would they call a bar 'Puzzles?' (dawns on her) Unless that's the puzzle."
  • Lauren from Lost Girl. She murmurs "isotopes" in her sleep and is recognized as a dork in-universe. Bo even states that she loves it when Lauren "totally geeks out".
  • Monday Mornings: Dr. John Lieberman is a bit insecure and awkward doctor, though fairly good-looking. Best friends Drs. Tina Ridgeway and Sydney Napur discuss whether he's attractive or dorky. They settle on "dorky enough" and Sydney, a very attrative, outspoken and tough woman, decides to date him.
  • Sex Education:
    • Otis starts the series as an unpopular teenage boy, so awkwardness is a given. Maeve persuades him to do sex therapy sessions for his peers which he does despite being inexperienced himself which earns him some popularity among his schoolmates. And it turns out his awkwardness also carries a definite charm that attracts both Ola and later Maeve. (Maeve especially is considered a cool and aloof girl who previously dated the school golden headboy.)
    • Mr Hendricks is an awkward science teacher and conductor of the swing band with cheerful demeanor which is pretty endearing. He dates Miss Emily Sands who is a very Hot Teacher.
  • The Umbrella Academy (2019): In season 2, Klaus lets his dead ghost brother Ben possess his body so Ben can talk to a girl. Because Ben's been dead for sixteen years, this is his first time feeling physical sensations in a long time, and so Ben reacts to everything with almost childish exuberance and awkwardness. When face-to-face with Jill, she notices that something's different about Klaus — he's dorkier, and she likes it.
  • Veronica Mars: Cassidy Casablancas and Mac Mackenzie both attract this in each other and, in Mac's case, Butters in Season 2 and Max in Season 3. Both are teen geniuses and Mac is an easily-flustered, shy hacker, and she develops a crush on Cassidy when helping him to set up his own illegal property company. After breaking up, they even hook up again due to arguing over the best way to tutor Weevil. It gets lampshaded multiple times as a major appeal of both characters. In Cassidy's case, it's at least partially an act, to detract from the fact that he's a sociopathic mass murderer.
    Butters: [to Mac] You're a weirdo, I'm a weirdo, I thought we could be weirdos together.
    Dick: They're hooking up. Or playing Dungeons & Dragons. Or both, since they're both total dorks.

    Music Videos 

    Theatre 
  • Be More Chill: Jeremy is a stammering, nerdy, clumsy dork who believes his behavior is getting in the way of his chances with his crush Christine, hence why he gets a SQUIP to teach him to be cool. However, Christine is also pretty dorky herself, being pretty shy in public but having an extremely excited song about play rehearsal while Jeremy watches her with awe, and she connects best with Jeremy when he just acts like himself. Their connection is best seen at the Halloween party while Jeremy's squip is off: when he awkwardly lets out a weird noise while talking to her, she ends up making a weird noise right back, and they just make weird noises together while laughing.
  • Little Shop of Horrors: Seymour is a nervous, clumsy slob who thinks the only way the beautiful Audrey would love him is if he were wealthy. However, Audrey loves Seymour early in the show, mostly because he's one of the few men who treats her with any sort of kindness; she just doesn't believe she deserves that kindness.
  • The chorus of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 calls Pierre "dear, bewildered, and awkward" in "Prologue".

    Video Games 
  • 10 of Spades in Fallout: New Vegas is a New California Republic Friendly Sniper; one of the friendliest characters in the game, in fact. He stutters even when talking about how good a shot he is, wears thick glasses, and has comic books under his bed. He has a Charisma stat of 10, the maximum possible.
  • Fate/Grand Order:
    • Jeanne Alter is Endearingly Dorky in a very weird way. She's wrathful, doesn't really care about morality, and not entirely sane, but she tries so hard to hide her softer sides and play to the "evil" image that she undermines her own villainy and comes across as much goofier than the other Alter Servants. It's lampshaded constantly in "Da Vinci and 7 Counterfeit Heroic Spirits" by ally and enemy alike, with the fake Hector in particular referring to her as "adorable".
    • Altera has her moments, such as in her second Interlude where she remembers one of her old names Etzel. If the protagonist states it sounds cute, she starts blushing while denying that, and it's so adorable even Siegfried agrees with the others about it.
  • Alois in Fire Emblem: Three Houses is optimistic and loves making puns. They don't impress the other knights, and The Comically Serious Dimitri only laughs at the jokes because he finds they're so unfunny that they go full circle to hilarity. Nevertheless, many characters like Alois for his positivity and good humor and don't try to dissuade him from telling jokes.
  • Persona has several of these.
    • Persona 4:
      • Chie Satonaka is a tough, energetic Tomboy who loves meat and kung-fu, so one wouldn't expect to fit in here at first... at least, until more and more of her personality is revealed. She can be incredibly awkward socially or when presented with any flustering situation, has a fear of bugs and thunder, gets scared by scary movies/stories and response with almost a childlike glee whenever taken out to see any of the Trial of the Dragon movies. This in itself is pretty explicitly noted by both Yu (in a romantic route) and any of the IT who happen to catch onto that behavior, given they themselves would often comment that Chie's a lot cuter than she feels she'd be otherwise, such as Yu complementing Chie's freak-out when a praying mantis lands on her back. This is only exacerbated when romanced, as she has a complete disbelief anyone would notice her.
      • Ayane Matsunaga can get highly flustered and anxious when presented with any sort of relationships, especially romantic, tends to flouder about her words a lot and has next to no social skills, being every bit as effeminate and cute like Chie is and very much a Butt-Monkey relative to some of her luck in-story. This is something that's frequently examined through both character interactions with observers and even partaken by Yu himself, given how many options calling Ayane cute or generally messing with her for a reaction. She is also extremely enthusiastic about music and a genuine desire to have her music reach other people; in her date on New Years', she even tries to say she wants to "become one" with the Protagonist, before realizing retroactively how awkward that sounds.
    • Persona 5:
      • Makoto Niijima is a girl that definitely gives an imposing and tough air, but get to know her better and she suddenly becomes very much a Naïve Everygirl whom even she admits she's quite sheltered relative to the workings of the world, even moreso than her more savvy best friend Haru. Her idea of "stealth" is following Joker with a magazine acting as cover, and when recruited proper she has a tendency of going into hammy theatrics from her poses to screaming "FIST OF JUSTICE!" whenever defeating an enemy. This is something that is very often used to mess with Makoto by virtue of a romantically-inclined Joker, with even other Phantom Thief members admitting it's quite endearing the way she acts. When properly socialized with, she's revealed to have a crippling fear of the dark and scary things, still has a love for Buchimaru-kun plushies (a girl's show that's outside her age range by now), and generally devolving into a flustered and embarassed mess of social awkwardness whenever romanced.
      • Futaba Sakura is very much a character you want to hug given her mother was killed and for years she led herself to thinking she hated her, before her Palace ended up helping her depression immensely, but to absolutely nobody's surprises, she's this. She is extremely perky and socially awkward, having a near-obsessive love for otaku culture, a tendency to sort out her friends and gear by Eastern RPG terms (like referring to a romantically-bonded Joker or anyone important to her as a 'key item'), and just the most hilariously adorable social awkwardness and flustered reactions whenever flirted with, from her blanking out temporarily when she realizes Joker would be fine with dating her in their Confidant Rank 9, to trying and failing miserably on a Valentine's Day date to seduce Joker with a sexy gaze only to accidentally give a Kubrick Stare. And, naturally, this is something that often causes people to find Futaba in-universe incalculably adorable, with many people being extremely protective of her as a result of this.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright as a college student. "Feenie" spends most of the time with his eyes closed, open adorably wide, or crying. He wears an oversized hot pink sweater to court and blunders through much of his testimony. Iris, who was posing as his college girlfriend, was head over heels in love with him for it, though.
  • Vanessa from Havenfall Is for Lovers. In her first season, she tries to offer some words of comfort to the heroine after a brush with a powerful vampire but ends up accidentally emphasizing the danger she's in. The heroine's internal reaction is: "she's so bad at this, it's actually kinda cute." After Vanessa realizes the implication of her words, she flushes in embarrassment, which the heroine finds even cuter.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club!: Despite Yuri's shyness and embarrassment at how passionate she gets about literature, the player character reassures her that her enthusiasm is actually quite endearing, and internally marvels at how "accidentally cute" she is when she's shy.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • Although Oscar is a child prodigy with huge, barely-tapped potential due to his unique relationship with Professor Ozpin, he is very shy, sweet, unassuming and polite. When he first meets Team RNJR, he's very nervous and apologetic for being caught staring at the first Huntsmen he's ever met. Nora is very quick to label the pair "Little Cute Boy Ozpin" and, even though Ozpin asks her to never call him that again, "Cute Boy Oz" does become her nickname for Oscar, who panics when she uses it because she glomps him. Although Ozpin behaves with confidence when in control of Oscar's body, Oscar lacks it and his constant habit of trying to be polite at all times makes him react with extreme embarrassment if he's touching someone when he regains control of his body, such as when Ozpin patted Yang reassuringly on the shoulder before leaving Oscar to jerk away from her as if he'd done something wrong. His colleagues and other characters tend to find this shy, excessively polite behaviour cute and amusing, and often laugh affectionately at his embarrassed reactions; after combat training with Team JNPR and FNKI, Neon comments "that cute little farmboy" was surprisingly skilled, and laughs in amusement at his blushing, flustered reaction.
      Oscar: [while Ozpin is in control] Just don't make us do anything embarrassing...
    • Sun is an extremely enthusiastic, larger-than-life personality who likes to encourage people to enjoy life as much as he does. When his team wins their match during the Vytal Festival tournament, he and Neptune start engaging in a really bad, funny victory dance which leads to Team RWBY affectionately calling them dorks. When he first meets Blake's parents, he can't stop digging himself in a hole with her father when his attempts to compliment Blake accidentally make it sound like he's sexualising her; when he eventually attempts to change the subject by desperately complimenting the tea, Blake's mother whispers to Blake that she really likes him. When he learns that Blake tends to think of people as symbolising certain words, Sun asks her what characteristic she'd describe him as: she calls him 'earnest'; his response is to pull a trick with his tail and a coconut drink that makes Blake laugh and smile.

    Webcomics 

  • Lackadaisy: When he isn't being an Axe-Crazy Gun Nut, Freckle is a quiet, soft-spoken young man with problems talking to girls and a nervous disposition. Ivy immediately falls for him, and finds a lot of his dorkiness attractive.
  • Ménage à 3: Several of the women in the cast — notably Kiley and Senna — seem to have this reaction to Gary. However, the fact is that despite the script emphasising his nerdiness and previous lack of sexual success, he’s drawn as by no means hideous — at the very least, He Cleans Up Nicely. The idea that he’s so geeky he needs to trigger this trope is a bit of an Informed Attribute.

    Web Videos 
  • The Call of Warr has Soldier Durkin. He's a kind, sweet, and awkwardly dorky fellow, who doesn't really fit in with the other soldiers. In-universe, this attitude certainly works on the girls, who take a quick liking to him, despite Mabel not even trusting soldiers as a general rule. It even works on Prince, who calls him "sweet", "funny", "handsome", etc despite bullying him in other instances.
  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Maria Lu, Charlotte's younger sister. Lizzie tells Charlotte that with Maria being a cute geeky girl, she has won a prize in "younger sister lottery". Maria has decidedly geeky interests like Doctor Who, The Legend of Korra, Sherlock and anime.
  • The Nostalgia Critic's resident Loony Fan Hyper Fangirl falls in love with the Critic because of his nerdiness, love for retro media, and his "half-professional, half-grungy clothes" (quite similar to her love for the Once-ler). Critic is not happy about this. Hyper herself zig-zags this trope: her hyperactive Stalker with a Crush behavior bordering on Ax-Crazy puts off most people at Channel Awesome in her vlogs, but she considers herself "delightfully quirky" and knows her excited fangirling behavior appeals to her fanbase. Later, she finds requited love with Devil Boner, who loves her because she writes fanfiction about him.

    Western Animation 
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: Edd. He's cute, geeky, neurotic, endearingly shy, kind, polite, and quite a Shrinking Violet, especially around girls. And that's why all the girls in the neighborhood find him adorable.
  • Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: Jimmy is the franchise's adorable boy genius. This was especially evident in the shorts, movie, and season one where he was a lot more shy, clumsy, awkward, and naive. This is why he gets a lot of attention from girls in-universe.
  • In the Justice League episode "Comfort and Joy," Superman is revealed to be this in spades. He's excited for Christmas, views it as his job to light the tree, tries to use his X-ray vision to sneak peaks at his presents, and still believes in Santa Claus. And the Kents, as well as Martian Manhunter, find it adorable.
  • Kim Possible: Ron is a huge dork, and often an awkward and clumsy sidekick, but his loyalty to Kim and his unabashed optimism make him adorable. He's the trope namer for Give Geeks a Chance, as his popular and beautiful friend Kim eventually develops feelings for him: Kim admits Ron is weird, but she likes that about him.
  • The Simpsons, "I'm Spelling as Fast as I can": Alex is a kid who competes against Lisa in the Spellympics. George Plimpton wants Alex to win the contest to boost the popularity of spelling bees by having a charismatic champion. Alex is a smart boy who wears big black round glasses, a red bowtie and a baseball cap backwards. He has a speech impediment, replacing "l" and "r" sounds with "w" sounds. Lisa refers to him as the "boy that everybody loves" and Plimton calls him crowd-pleasing and cute.
    George Plimpton: Women in the audience toss their thick glasses at him.

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