This is the notion that Nerd interests can be tiered, and that what's on the lower tiers can make other nerds glad they aren't that nerdy.
Sometimes expressed in the form of "You're the kind of nerd that other nerds would beat up and steal your lunch money". Often when Nerds Love Tough Schoolwork, the regular nerds will mock those nerds. This can also stem from the idea that Nerds Are Virgins doesn't apply to moderate or light nerds. The more nerdy you are, the more You Need to Get Laid.
In Real Life, this can lead to Broken Bases accusing the other side of being more nerdy, but we don't need to note that here. Besides, articulation of such arguments tends to be nerdier than either side.
References to nerd standards:
- A zig-zagged/inverted example in Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun: Mikoshiba is a closet gaming otaku, and also helps Nozaki as a manga assistant, but keeps it a secret to maintain his "cool guy" image. Wakamatsu is another of Nozaki's assistants, who's well known around the school as a basketball player. When they both find out that the other draws manga, Mikoshiba admits he was hiding it because he sees it as an Embarrassing Hobby. Wakamatsu tries to be supportive by admitting his own interest in manga and saying if Mikoshiba is an otaku, then so is he, but Mikoshiba yells at him for daring to call himself an otaku at that level.
- Charlie Weiderman was such a big nerd in high school that even Peter Parker once picked on him.
- Weasel was also a classmate of Peter in ESU, and was said to be so much of a geek that even Peter wouldn't hang around him.
- In Gotham Academy, a flashback to The '80s shows that the school's tiny role-playing club (the Gilkey Warlocks) was mocked by the honor students, the chess club, the drama group and the choir.
- In Shrek the Third, even the school nerds pick on class loser Arthur.
- Even the eccentric quasi-recluse Dr. Emmett Brown in Back to the Future is appalled when he sees how nerdy and socially inept the teenage George McFly is.
- Roger Ebert described the title character of Napoleon Dynamite as "the kind of nerd other nerds avoid."
- Welcome to the Dollhouse: Dawn "Weiner Dog" Weiner sees some kids beat up some nerdy kid. She goes over to him, asking if he's okay. His response: "Get away from me, Weiner Dog!"
- In Ted, even the kid getting beat up tells John to get lost.
- Towards the start of About a Boy, two of Marcus's nerdy-looking classmates tell him that they can't hang out with him anymore, because the bullies only pick on them when Marcus is with them.
- Cass from The Gamers: Hands of Fate is a dedicated RPG and board game player and initially utterly dismissive of CCG players. His playgroup straight-up calls him out on this, since if anything they're a better fit for his playstyle. He later refuses a LARP invitation as beneath his dignity, which royally pisses off his new friends who consider it the highlight of their annual Gencon trip.
- When Douglas Adams revealed that the question which produced the Ultimate Answer (42) was What do you get if you multiply six by nine?, somebody pointed out that the math actually did add up... if you use base 13. Adams responded, "I may be a sad individual, but I don't make jokes in base 13."
- Stanley Howler from the Discworld book Going Postal is so obsessed with his pin collection, even the other pin collectors in Ankh-Morpork think he's "a bit weird about pins". Then Moist von Lipwig invents the postage stamp, and Stanley proceeds to obsess over those, inventing stamp collecting (and becoming incredibly dismissive about people who are "still" collecting pins).
- In the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy Johnny and his friends are pals because they don't fit into any of the school cliques, even the uncool ones. Wobbler in particular is described as "He wanted to be a nerd, but they wouldn't let him join", and Johnny reckons trainspotters are cooler than Yo-less.
- Comedian Jackie Kashian had a bit about this, concerning Civil War re-enactors.
"Do you know how far into the Dork Forest you have to go before you find the Civil War re-enactors? You have to go past the Star Wars fans, the Star Trek fans, the people who collect Beanie Babies. You have to past Harry Potter himself."
- Arnold Rimmer from Red Dwarf is practically an Extraverted Nerd except for the fact that he's in his mid-20s/early 30s, but is the first member of the team to throw out insults comparing his crew members negatively to various nerds. Even getting his negativity drained by an Emohawk and turning him into Ace Rimmer doesn't stop him from proclaiming Dwayne Dibbley (Cat with all his "Coolness" drained out of him) to be "so geeky he couldn't even get into a science fiction convention".
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: When Buffy fails to get on the cheerleading squad early in Season 1, her mother suggests that she join the yearbook staff. Buffy responds, "Have you seen the people that work on the yearbook? Nerds pick on them."
- Some of the Krelboyne kids in Malcolm in the Middle.
Dabney: I know you think I'm a mama's boy.Malcolm: No, Dabney, the mama's boys are getting together and laughing at you. With their mothers!
- From Two of a Kind:
Mary Kate: Dad, you know those kids who blow their nose and then spend just a little too much time looking at it in the tissue?Kevin: Yeah...Mary Kate: Well, even THEY won't talk to Ethan!
- The Big Bang Theory: When Sheldon and his arch-nemesis Barry Kripke, have to settle a dispute, they go with a basketball match, since sports are the one thing that neither of them have an overwhelming advantage in.note They are so terrible at it that the guys cannot help but find them pathetic, enough to where they briefly empathize with their schoolboy tormentors.
Raj: YeahLeonard: I get it.Raj (nods in agreement)
- The Flash (2014): Cisco Ramon, the Gadgeteer Genius, had no friends in high school as he was apparently such a nerd that 'even the nerds hated [him]'. It's no wonder that he was so happy to get a job working for Harrison Wells at STAR Labs, since he was finally in an environment where nerdiness and genius was celebrated.
- QI: In the "Invertebrates" episode, this was the reaction to the teams learning about the Worm-Charming Festival (which failed to charm any worms):
Alan Davies: At least when you go trainspotting there are trains!Johnny Vegas: That's the best thing - The trainspotters are sitting on a hill going "Losers! Get a life!"
- In one Saturday Night Live skit involving the Spartan Cheerleaders, the eponymous cheerleaders decide to pep up a chess match with their routine. One member of the chess club takes umbrage at this:
Glen: You two are freaks! Do you know how far you've fallen when the chess team makes fun of you?
- In the Frasier episode "Frasier's Reunion", Frasier complains that every five years, his high school reunion coincides with his life being a mess, and he ends up sitting with "the most pathetic people there".
Niles: The chess club?Frasier: Worse. The chess club's barbershop quartet!Niles: Oh, the Checkmates.
- During the summer camp arc, Eugene Wu was the first nerd that Jason and Marcus couldn't stand. This was less because of his interests and more because of his Insufferable Genius behavior.
- Jason once tried to pull this on Eileen when she was cosplaying for a Harry Potter film, but that was just Hypocritical Humor since he thought his cosplaying for a The Lord of the Rings film made him cooler. They apparently compromised on the issue since later strips would show them attending movies in cosplay together.
- In the John Finnemores Double Acts episode "This is What We Do", the somewhat pretentious 18 year old Pidge is horrified to discover that while he was at Uni, his friend Gavin has got into Dungeons & Dragons. Less because he's got anything against the game itself ("Of course it's fun!") as because it cements their nerd status. (Later, when admitting that everything he previously told Gavin about what they're doing is a lie, he confesses to being in the university's Settlers of Catan team, and not the squash team).
Pidge: People like us cannot do Dungeons & Dragons. If we're going to remain in that crucial third quartile of popularity — not popular, but not bullied — we've got to keep people like the D&D lot below us.
- DM of the Rings had a roleplaying specific version in strip #10.
Even more reviled than a typical roleplayer is a roleplayer who insists on roleplaying. When the dorks need to feel superior, this is the guy they denounce as a dork. Honestly. The only person worse than him is the DM himself.
- In this Ctrl+Alt+Del strip, Ethan said that Lucas had "crossed over into the realm of supernerds, whereby even regular nerds steal your lunch money and throw rocks at you" over his excitement on having discovered the A Song of Ice and Fire CCG.note
- The hierarchy is referenced in this page of Weregeek. Despite this one instance, though, the comic in general averts this, showing all forms of Geek as people out to have harmless fun (who also may or may not be monsters of some kind).
- Dork Tower has a running joke about furries being the absolute bottom rung of the gaming community.
- And then there's...
Ken: The geeks beat you up in school when the jocks were finished with you, didn't they...
Matt: The math club developed a special 'take a number' system just for me!
- In one strip, Matt imagines strangling and screaming at an overexcited roleplayer who can't stop telling strangers everything about his character, because it makes normal people think all roleplayers are freaks like him.
- And then there's...
- A variation in Mac Hall here. It claims when nerds arrive at a con, each one finds someone even worse than themselves in order to feel better about themselves.
- In Furthia High, Bruce calls Kale and Campy nerds for chatting online and reciting poetry, respectively, while talking about how his LARPing is much cooler than what they'll be doing. This is intended as Hypocritical Humor.
- Another time Bruce made fun of a couple guys playing a TCG in the cafeteria, while wearing his LARP costume.
- Penny Arcade: Gabe, one of the original Two Gamers on a Couch, is not happy about his son LARPing.
- In Pixie Trix Comix, both Jung and Ramona, who are pretty hardcore geeks if not overly nerdy, are very willing to pick on Aaron, whose somewhat nerdy annoying behavior does rather take him into Asshole Victim territory.
- In Berserk Abridged, Guts, who is a Zack Cosplayer, thinks LARPing is too nerdy for him.
- The trope represents a common joke in SF Debris reviews.
- The Nostalgia Chick, who portrays herself as an obsessively geeky shut-in, delights in mocking squealing fangirls and people who write bad fanfiction. She also works a few obligatory swipes at LARPers into her Labyrinth review. That said, the Chick (as opposed to Lindsay Ellis) is a Closet Geek in denial about her own nerdiness.
- Zero Punctuation:
- Yahtzee describes EVE Online players as "the nerds who are to nerds what nerds are to normal people", with an appropriate series of illustrations.
- Another time he mentioned he wasn't as into a franchise as others and said, "This is where the big nerds get to pick on me" with an illustration of a hulking figure with big coke-bottle glasses and nerdy incisors picking him up.
- He also accused Sunset Overdrive of trying way too hard to be like this, setting out to be a game that's deliberately silly and weird and wacky while also mocking the "nerds" who would, despite its protestations, probably make up most of its target audience.
Yahtzee: As is the sandbox way, Sunset Overdrive introduces a number of NPC factions who give us our missions, and all of them seem to be nerds: engineering students and LARPers and the like. It's another thing that comes across as desperate. "Look at the nerds! We're not nerds, we're cool! Video games are cool and not nerdy!" I didn't say they were ner- "Good, 'cos they're not! Let's all laugh at the nerds and their funny nerdy ways! Fa ha ha ha ha ha!" Except let's not laugh, Sunset Overdrive.
- The "Geek Hierarchy"◊ chart by Lore Sjöberg, originally published at the Brunching Shuttlecocks humor site.
- commodoreHUSTLE includes this delightful exchange:
Graham: They're LARPers. It's like what Jer does with the dice and the bits of paper, except that the people Jer hangs out with look down on these guys.
- The Cracked series After Hours is entirely about four geeks who sit around a diner discussing pop culture as Serious Business. Nevertheless one of them, Daniel O'Brien, is even geekier than the others and tends to get a lot of looks of mixed confusion/scorn/pity when he says something particularly nerdy. It's Self-Deprecation, of course, Dan is the show's writer.
- Potter Puppet Pals puts it pretty bluntly.
Ron: Even I look down on you, Neville. Me.
- The Angry Video Game Nerd thinks this way of sports nerds, as revealed in the Atari Sports episode. And hes even more so towards the title character of Lester the Unlikely.
- In Doppelgänger, nerds form an entire clique. Even they consider Victor too nerdy to join them.
The nerds won't even tolerate me!Ironic, yes, but still it really hurts.
- Seanbaby once posted an old Nintendo Power letter on his website, in which a group of college students discussed how they spent Spring Break playing Gameboy... and the editor's response was "You know, Gameboys also work outside." Seanbaby couldn't let the chance pass:
"When a guy whose hobbies include 'play-by-post games' looks up from his Dungeonmaster's Guide and tells you you're a geek, you know you're finished. You might as well knock your own lunch tray out of your hands and save us all the time."
- Once the guy responsible for the Forbes Fictional 15 did an article explaining how he estimated the fortune of Smaug, the comments had people contesting for counting only the gold in which the dragon slept on, ignoring the rest of his hoard - as noted by the following year's revision that boosted the numbers, one commenter was called out by the author because he estimated the whole thing as $870 billion, earning a "I don't find that credible" because that was several times higher than richest man in the world.note
- The Simpsons visit a Brand X version of Ikea:
Lisa: (picks up a pencil holder) Ooh, I want to get the krünk.
Marge: Mmmm, you don't want something that overshadows the pencils. (Holds up another pencil caddy) How about this pöpli?
Lisa: Mom, no! Everyone at school picks on the pöpli kids - even I do. (Under her breath) I just hate them so much.
- And when Bart accidentally revealed that he has a stamp collection in "Homer the Vigilante", even Lisa laughed at him.
Nelson: Stamp collection? Ha ha!
- Lisa also laughed at Bart in "Boy-Scoutz 'n The Hood" when he accidentally joined the Junior Campers during a Squishee bender.
Lisa: The few. The proud. The geeky.
- In the episode "Grade School Confidential," Martin's birthday party comes to an end when the oysters his parents served, instead of cake, gave the other kids food poisoning, except for Bart who gave his to Martin's cat, and Lisa who faked getting food poisoning in order to escape the overtly educational theme of the party.
- And when Bart accidentally revealed that he has a stamp collection in "Homer the Vigilante", even Lisa laughed at him.
- Family Guy: Meg, the outcast and loser member of the Griffin family, refuses to date Neil Goldman, an equally geeky outcast of a classmate of Meg's whom Meg finds annoying and a clueless loser. Apparently, the butt-ugly Meg — forever wanting to have sex with desirable football hunks and other desirable young men — doesn't believe in "beggars can't be choosers." Tom Tucker even calls her on it in one episode.
- Not everyone blames Meg for this, since her "butt-ugliness" is largely an Informed Deformity, unlike Neil's.
- Though in one episode, she was jealous when he found another girl, so much that she wanted him if briefly. In one of Neil's later appearances, Meg was happy to go on a date with him without a second thought.
- In a case of this with some uncomfortable implications, the entire family and the show treats Meg as if she is some kind of unlovable, disgusting loser, even when all of them are terribly damaged people who engage in regular, horribly abusive Comedic Sociopathy. For example, Meg is a bit overweight. Peter is morbidly obese. Guess which gets far uglier comments about their weight. While its fans enjoy it thanks to the Rule of Funny, it makes many detractors uncomfortable with Meg and the show's relationship with her.
- On Phineas and Ferb, even Baljeet considers Irving to be a nerd.
- In The Fairly OddParents younger Cosmo, who is apparently the biggest loser in his school, gets beat up by every clique group, even the nerds. And Luther.
- In the episode "Shelf Life" Mr. Crocker makes the class do a 500 page book report over the summer. Elmer says it sounds like fun which nobody takes kindly to, not even Sanjay!
- South Park
- In the episode "Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers", the kids are playing like they are characters in The Lord of the Rings, but Cartman then makes fun of kids who are playing like they are in Harry Potter.
- There are a few episodes in which the kids are playing out a fantasy and look down on the Star Trek kids.
- At the end of the Danny Phantom episode "Lucky in Love", the nerd calls Danny, Tucker, and Sam "losers".
- In the early season, Tucker himself hates being called a "nerd" and "Techno-Geek". In one episode, he has gotten sick of it, but by the end, he started to like being a "Techno-Geek".
- In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Canned", Rocko passes two comic book geeks, one of which is gushing about how he thinks the "elf wenches" in his favorite fantasy comic are way hotter than real women. The other geek responds "Wow... you're an idiot."
- Total Drama inverts this—according to his online bio, the reason Cody thinks of himself as cool is because he hangs out with a bunch of friends even geekier than he is.
- In The Looney Tunes Show, there's a flashback to everyone's high school days, and we find out that even Pete Puma and Marvin Martian, established losers in this particular continuity, refused to sit with Daffy.
- This is a common theme in Codename: Kids Next Door where nerds have superhuman powers that set them apart from other kids (like turning into zombies if you steal from them). In any case, nerds are quick to compete with other nerds over their talents, like in one scene where a nerd calls another one dumb when he doesn't know that he can't catch cooties from his sister.
- In the The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode "Wishbones", when Billy's dad Harold finds the wishing skull he wishes he could live his high school years again because he believed he was one of the popular kids, he approaches the jocks and the cheerleaders who beat him up, he then tries the bullies with the same result, then he attempts to befriend some nerds but even they beat him up and stuff him into the garbage can just like everyone else.
- In Static Shock, Virgil remembers villain Speedwarp as the nerd who all the other nerds at science camp would pick on.
- In the pilot episode of The Oblongs, Peggy is explaining to Milo the social hierarchy at school and notes that not only are they behind the dorks, geeks, and dweebs, but the wild dogs on the soccer field and the boy who lactates as well.
- In the SheZow episode "Friend or Faux", a nerd compares SheZow's fight with Tara to a specific event that happened in a specific comic. Another nerd tells her that she really needs to get a life.
- Bobby in King of the Hill is geeky but Book Dumb so he does see some of Connie's study habits as nerdier than him. He also joins a group of wannabe wizards but after refusing to drink dog's blood in their ritual and see them trying to cast a spell on him he breaks out laughing and admits he almost wants to give them wedgies.
- In the Downtown episode "Night Shift", a group of nerds quickly get exasperated with one of their members who is so socially inept, he thinks 'laid' is the name of a Star Wars character.