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When they're not Hollywood Nerds, they must be one of these.

"When will you Australians learn? In America, we stopped using corporal punishment and things have never been better. The streets are safe, old people strut confidently through dark alleys, and the weak and nerdy are admired for their computer programming abilities. So like us, for as the old saying goes, "Let your children run wild and free."

That thing where geeks and scientists are always fragile, skinny guys without a shred of muscle to their names. Except when they're morbidly obese and/or neckbearded. Rarely do we see an athletic, rugged, or only mildly pudgy geek, because they are Squishy Wizards.

While both versions of geek have been around for some time, the "geeks are skinny" image is slowly being displaced by "geeks are fat" as the world obesity rate rises. The hours of inactivity and unhealthy eating habits are sufficient justification, and can cause this to be Truth in Television. The older form also has justification in the "Forgets to Eat" aspect of things, or possibly because Crack Is Cheaper and therefore the geeks only spend the bare minimum amount of money on food that they need to in order to stay alive while pouring the rest of their income into their hobbies (which explains why the Basement-Dweller is almost always a fat geek; he doesn't buy his own food so he has more of it to eat). The reverse is also true as those entering such industries age and realize they're losing their youthful metabolisms and as such professions become more of a career and less a stepping stone to bigger and better things.


Compare Hollywood Nerd. Occasionally coupled with a Nerdy Inhaler and/or a nasally voice to try and justify it. Badass Bookworms often, but not always, avert this. May overlap with Fat and Skinny if both are in the same scene together.

Skinny Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Code Geass:
    • Lelouch, the genius who plays chess on a country-sized game board, is regularly teased for being out of shape compared with Suzaku, Sayoko and even Milly.
    • Lloyd is an example of the skinny type.
    • The two students credited as "otaku" - the racist ones seen in episodes 5, 6, and 18 - are an example of a pair of both types.
  • Death Note: L is a pale, skinny man who, in spite of being a Big Eater, uses so much energy to think that he's rail thin. He also turns out to be an adept martial artist.
  • Nozomu Itoshiki the protagonist of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei is a good-looking nerd, but is quite thin and physically puny, not to mention very pale. The only exercise he seems to do is strengthening his neck muscles, so he can attempt suicide without killing himself.
  • Arguably Verde, Shouichi, and Spanner, from Reborn! (2004). All three are rail-thin (especially Verde), and painfully intelligent (especially Verde) in their respective fields (science for Verde, mechanics for Shou, and robotics for Spanner). The three of them hardly ever leave their labs (once again, especially Verde).
  • Eyeshield 21: Yukimitsu is incredibly skinny, which really doesn't help when playing American Football.
  • Slam Dunk: Yoshinori is a Lethal Joke Character who looks every bit the stereotypical nerd.
  • Harris, Clark, and Martin, Cindy's three colleagues (and fellow MIT grads) in Squid Girl, are respectively on the skinny side of average, emaciated, and obese. At one point they sink into depression; Harris and Clark become fat, while Martin starves himself thin.
  • In Genshiken, Kousaka and Madarame are skinny, while Kugayama and Tanaka are fat. Resident asshole Haraguchi is also fat. Everybody else is pretty normal.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! is fundamentally a series about gaming nerds, and the style gives basically everyone elongated proportions. Dark Yugi, Kaiba, and Bakura (both versions) are all particularly skinny and nerdy, although Kaiba subverts this by only looking the part and actually being genuinely athletic. Averted with Joey, who basically grew up on the streets and can solve a problem with his fists as easily as with his cards.
  • Bleach: During the early stages of his fight with Uryuu and Renji, Szayelaporro's clothing is so badly damaged by Uryuu's Sprenger explosion that his entire torso is exposed revealing how thin his body is. However, unlike other thin characters, such as Uryuu, Nnoitra or even Ichigo, there is no muscle definition to his form and every clear shot of his body heavily emphasises the shape and position of his ribs. While other thin characters are muscled or well-toned, Szayel simply looks emaciated. Unlike most other Espada, he doesn't fight physically. He takes the time to research his potential opponents in advance so that, by the time he's confronting them, he's figured out how to negate their abilities; for him, battle is a scientific puzzle to be solved through the power of intellect. When physical fighting is required, he can create copycat dolls of his opponents, forcing his opponents to fight the dolls instead of him.
  • Actually a plot point in My Hero Academia. Izuku is a scrawny nerd at the start of the story, which means that if he tried to accept One For All immediately, his limbs would explode and go flying off his body. All Might puts him through Training from Hell over ten months to give him the lean, muscular physique he needs to take the Quirk without dying. Even then, he seriously damages himself whenever he uses too much of it.

    Comic Books 
  • Robin Series: While Ives did eventually fill in a bit he was a twig in his freshman year of high school, he also towered over all his friends by at least a foot so a growth spurt was likely a cause of his physique.
  • Wonder Woman: Warbringer: Theo is a gamer, programmer and hacker who is skinny as a pole and the least muscular person in the cast, which is mostly made up of teenage girls.

    Fan Works 
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Izuku starts out as a scrawny nerd as he does in canon. But the fact that he manifested his Kryptonian Super Strength at an early age means that nothing he encountered as a civilian could really make him exert himself, which only enforces this trope along with Muscles Are Meaningless. He subverts this after ten months of training, becoming as leanly muscular as most of his classmates thanks to making far more liberal use of his strength on Korusan Island.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Anthony Michael Hall in The Breakfast Club and maybe a couple of other movies of that era.
  • More skinny ones were in Revenge of the Nerds.
  • Owen in Let Me In is rather stereotypically nerdy. He gets horribly bullied alot, he wears unfashionable clothes and his room has an outer space theme. He is extremely skinny, to the point he looks emaciated in his two shirtless scenes, with almost every bone in his upper body visible.
  • Matt Farrell in Live Free or Die Hard. Warlock (played by Kevin Smith) is an example of the other type.
  • Eddie Deezen, famous for playing (among other roles) stereotypical nerd Eugene in Grease, Malvin in WarGames and Eddie Lipschultz in The Whoopee Boys.
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire has one.
    Kida: (to Milo) "You are a scholar, are you not? Judging from your diminished physique and large forehead, you are suited for nothing else!

  • Artemis Fowl: It's a running gag that the only muscle that the titular character cares about is his brain. The rest of him is scrawny, and he's uncoordinated and small in stature.
  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series: In "The Mule", Magnifico Giganticus, a geek in the more archaic sense of the word, is a clown. He's physically deformed in a way that makes people laugh at him, so he has been forced into the role of circus geek or jester. His short stature and long, spindly limbs has been the cause of years of ridicule and mockery. His enormous nose is assumed to be capable of holding onto things.
    The clown was close enough now to be seen clearly. His thin face drew together in front into a nose of generous planes and fleshy tip that seemed all but prehensile. His long, lean limbs and spidery body, accentuated by his costume, moved easily and with grace, but with just a suggestion of having been thrown together at random.
  • The Canterbury Tales has the clerk, making this trope Older Than Print. The clerk is described as a student of philosophy or theology at Oxford, who is wire-thin because he forgets to eat and would rather spend what little money he scrounges together on Aristotle works than food or clothing.
  • Discworld: Ponder Stibbons, a computer/science geek wizard who is "by [his] own admission, a wet and a weed".
  • In Cory Doctorow's "When Sysadmins Ruled The Earth": (link here) A major character is a "type-two sysadmin, over six feet tall, long pony-tail, bobbing Adam's apple. Over his toast-rack chest, his tee said CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON and featured a row of polyhedral RPG dice."
  • Doctor Who's Eighth Doctor Adventures: Fitz is described as looking like he's made of pipecleaners. He's quite into Speculative Fiction, particularly The Lord of the Rings, and once dubbed a sea monster "Cthulhu", although his characterization generally isn't overtly geeky.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar: In Vows And Honor, Kethry says that magic takes so much energy that you'll almost never see a fat mage, and if you do it is an indication that she or he has a serious eating disorder.
  • The Locked Tomb: Necromancers have an in-universe reputation for being scrawny and unmuscular. If Harrowhark is anything to go by, it's from a combination of obsessive study, skipping meals, putting their Life Energy to other uses, and doing everyday tasks with magic instead of physical effort.
  • Mediochre Q Seth Series: The titular character is unquestionably a massive nerd, and is permanently stuck in the form of a weedy teenager.
  • Parrotfish: Grady's friend Sebastian is a skinny, 5'0 teenager. He's bullied for being a nerdy and geeky kid, but he brushes it off.
  • Brandon Sanderson: In The Stormlight Archive, the Parshendi are a humanoid species that can adopt specialized forms to suit their role in society at the time. Scholars use nimbleform (the closest they can get to the long-lost scholarform), which is thin and markedly lacking in endurance.
  • Sherlock Holmes: Holmes is thin as a rail, because he simply Forgets to Eat half the time. This doesn't concern him, because he considers the only important part of himself to be his brain, of which everything else is merely an appendage. Otherwise inverted, though, as he is trained in several forms of fighting and can easily defend himself if need be. He's also likely ripped: in "The Speckled Band" he straightens a steel fireplace poker after a client's stepfather tries to threaten him by bending it. Straightening it would actually require more strength than just bending it.
  • Skippy Dies: Skippy, a studious and quiet nerd who love video games as well as science, is slight and skinny.
  • Supergifted: Donovan Curtis describes Noah's physique in the first chapter in this manner.
    He was short and skinny, with an eager, slightly bent posture that always reminded me of an oversize praying mantis.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Sherlock, like his literary counterpart, is ridiculously skinny and claims not to eat on cases — the number of times he is shown eating in six episodes could be counted on one hand. Prior to filming, Benedict Cumberbatch had another role as a cancer patient, but didn't want to shave his head because he was growing out his hair for Sherlock. He opted to lose 15 lbs. instead, giving his character an emaciated appearance, then kept the weight loss for Sherlock because he wanted the impression of "mind over body."
  • The Big Bang Theory: The main cast plays with a broad spectrum here.
    • Sheldon is described by another character as looking like a praying mantis. His Limited Wardrobe also emphasizes his lanky frame.
    • Leonard has Height Angst and his Limited Wardrobe makes him look heavier than he is, contributing to a pseudo Fat and Skinny pairing he has with Sheldon. But, especially in the earlier seasons, Johnny Galecki is actually fairly slender himself, which can be seen whenever Leonard is just in a t-shirt.
    • Howard is described as looking "like a human chicken wing" in his bathing suit. He also has only 3% bodyfat, and is very proud of this. Of course, he also appears to have only 3% muscle.
    • Raj is as close to an aversion compared to everyone else. He's taller than Leonard and Howard but shorter than Sheldon with an average build, although his own vanity makes him often bring up his love handles.
  • Screech from Saved by the Bell.
  • Steve Urkel in Family Matters.
  • Jerry Steiner of Parker Lewis Can't Lose.
  • Lucas on Pretty Little Liars, a photography nerd. Plus points to the writers who actually made him look threatening and scary at one point. Then Hanna smacked him with a boat oar and knocked him into a pond.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor's incarnations tend to be on the skinnier side, particularly Ten and Eleven. Ten's case gets lampshaded the most - Donna jokes about it more than once, and Eleven's immediate reaction on meeting him was...
    "How very skinny. That is proper skinny! I've never seen it from the outside, it's like a special effect! Oi, ha, matchstick-man!"
    • Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor continues the trend. Clara calls him a "grey-haired stick insect".
    • The Fourth Doctor usually just looked like a big bulky pile of clothes, but as Tom Baker was a starving actor before he started on the show, he was pretty lanky underneath all the layers.
  • Dr. Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds almost looks like he's made of wire. From the episode "Identity":
    (Reid knocks on a guy's door)
    Militia Man: (answers door, points to a no soliciting sign) What the hell do you want? Can't you read?
    Reid: I'm not a salesman, I'm with the FBI.
    Militia Man: FBI? You're not serious? You look like a pipe cleaner with eyes. I could snap you like a twig.
    Rossi: (stepping into view) But then, he isn't alone.
  • Eric Forman from That '70s Show is often teased for his skinniness.
  • Chuck, although it takes Adam Baldwin on the male side, and Yvonne Strathotski on the female side to really count as this.
  • Murray 'Boz' Bozinsky from the Riptide series.
  • Phillip from Kamen Rider Double is on the skinny half of the trope - and while he may not be much skinnier than his co-star Shoutaro, his very tight clothing under a billowing coat emphasizes his skinniness.
  • Community Abed is rail thin in spite of constantly eating buttered noodles.
  • Ally of Austin & Ally is short and skinny, but still cute.
  • Wesley from Degrassi fits very cleanly into the thin and dorky mold, his geek cred being science and academics based. Adam, meanwhile, was the short thin comic book nerd variety.
  • American Gods (2017): The Technical Boy, god of the internet, looks like a skinny teenage hipster.

    Video Games 
  • Otacon in Metal Gear Solid was going to be fat, but wound up a skinny nerd in the finished product. And by Sons of Liberty, they'd forgotten he was even supposed to be a nerd at all.
  • Bernard and Laverne on Maniac Mansion and Day of the Tentacle.
  • The "Super Nerd" trainer class in Pokémon has this appearance.
  • Resident Evil: Dr William Birkin (while he's still human) is quite skinny and scruffy, and always wearing a labcoat.
  • In Bully, there's an entire clique of nerds. Three of them (Algie, Fatty and Melvin) are fat, and the others (Earnest, Bucky, Cornelius, Donald and Thad) are scrawny with hunched postures.
  • The PROGRAMMER cheat in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City makes Tommy skinnier.
  • Futaba Sakura in Persona 5 is noted to have a serious case of this. Due to her lifestyle as an agoraphobic shut-in, she's noted by a doctor to have a serious lack of growth and muscle tone for her age, making her a skinny nerd and generally very petite; this doesn't really improve when she becomes more social, since her main hobbies involve staying in anyway. Her trailer for the spin-off game Persona 5: Dancing Star Night has her remark that her athletics skills are mediocre at best and her coordination isn't that good either.

    Web Comics 
  • Tedd from El Goonish Shive. He even sees himself as this during an Imagine Spot where he compares himself to other, "better" men Grace might meet at school.
  • Hanna from the eponymous Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name. Tiny (around 5'3,) and skinny as a rail, but with wide shoulders and big hands that make him super awkward.
  • Jessica from Freakwatch is quite nerdy, with an obvious fascination with puzzles, horror movies and electronics, and is somewhat on the chunky side. Warren, a fellow horror fan and RPG enthusiast, is rail-thin by contrast.
  • Gary in Ménage à 3 initially looks to fit the skinny pattern, exacerbated by his frequently poor posture. Really, though, he's just slim, and he seems to be in pretty good shape for someone who's never seen to take any exercise, to the point of averting the trope; the comic's female cast have no trouble finding him cute, even or especially when he's stripped. His friend Jung fits the overweight pattern (and lives in his mother’s basement), but is plump rather than morbidly obese. Other geeks seen in the comic mostly tend to the skinny, if only because they seem mostly to be gawky teens.
  • Teenager Alex of Sandra on the Rocks more or less claims to fit the trope ("I'm a gamer! How would having abs help ME?"), but actually, he's pretty cute in a dorky way from the start — and then his friend Marie (herself a slim teenage Gamer Chick) catches the physical fitness bug, and becomes determined to get him ripped.

    Web Original 
  • Ferret of the Whateley Universe. So was Jobe, before he accidentally pulled a Professor Guinea Pig and turned himself into a statuesque drow elf girl.
  • Karl Hadrika's "Becky Prim" proof-of-concept pilot has Norville, who's described in Hardika's Tumblr blog as a "horny sock puppet", which is not to far off of a description as he's pretty skinny chump with a pencil neck that takes up a majority of his body.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons had Homer's roommates when he was in college. Two thin, one fat, all geeks. The Superfriends also had a mixture of thin and fat geeks.
  • Total Drama:
    • Harold
    • To a lesser extent, Cody and Noah are both skinnier than any of the non-geeky guys, not to mention shorter.
  • One of the scariest examples was found in an early episode of King of the Hill.
  • Flint Lockwood in Sony's Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, who also has messy mad scientist hair.
  • Recess.
    • Gretchen Grundler.
    • Vince's brother Chad as well. In fact, he looked nearly identical to Steve Urkel.
  • Steve, Snot and Toshi on American Dad!
  • Ned from Kim Possible.
  • Zoey from The Proud Family.
  • Techrat from Jem is a lanky Evil Genius who works with Eric Raymond.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), Donatello, "The Brains", is taller and skinnier than his brothers. He also has a gap-toothed overbite.
  • Timmy from Winx Club is rather scrawny compared to the uniformly-sculpted other male characters. This changes latter on when he's no less muscular than the rest of them.
  • Philly Phil from Class of 3000 is built like this despite being a Big Eater. Possibly justified, as he tends to get caught up in Li'l D's shenanigans (which often require a good amount of physical activity) and a growing teenager.

Fat Examples:

    Anime and Manga 
  • Choromatsu of Osomatsu-san generally averts it, as he looks fairly average despite his faux-intelligent attitude and geekery over his favorite idol. In "Osomatsu-san Returns!", however, his popular self goes straight into this territory.
  • Love Me For Who I Am: Kame is a fat otaku and cosplay photographer who wears Nerd Glasses.

    Comic Books 
  • Zodon of PS238. Or at least his hologram. His true appearance appears to be rather normal, at least for a person with a oversized cranium whose lower body is never shown due to his hover chair.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Oscar in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao—the 2008 Pulitzer Winner—is a hugely overweight Star Wars nerd from the Dominican Republic.
  • One of Lisbeth Salander's few friends in Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy is an obese geek with poor social skills (except online).
  • Harold Lauder of The Stand was overweight (in the novel, anyway; the miniseries turned him into a skinny geek or arguably a Hollywood Geek).
  • Sherlock Holmes' brother Mycroft: possibly even more brilliant than Holmes but completely uninterested in physical activity beyond the minimum.
  • In Cory Doctorow's When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth, the main character is "a type-one admin, with an extra seventy or eighty pounds all around the middle, and a neat but full beard that he wore over his extra chins. His tee said HELLO CTHULHU..."
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, there's the bookish Samwell Tarly of the Night's Watch.
  • Bill in Don't Call Me Ishmael!. He is bullied for both his weight and being a fan of Fantasy and science-fiction. He loses weight later in the series and becomes more self-confident, but even then he is still quite big.
  • In American Gods the Technical Boy, new god of the Internet, is more often referred to as "the fat kid" because he looks like a portly Basement-Dweller crammed into a Matrix-reject trenchcoat. The tv series went for the opposite stereotype.
  • Jim Cartright in Cartwright's Cavaliers is a computer geek when he acquires control of his family's mercenary company after bankruptcy proceedings. He's quite fat as a consequence of his sedentary lifestyle and inheriting a genetic predisposition to obesity from his mother's side of the family; his employees finally browbeat him into exercising regularly on grounds that high-g acceleration in space could actually kill him if he doesn't do more aerobics.
  • Parrotfish: Grady's little brother Charlie was born a sickly premature baby. He was spoiled rotten throughout his childhood and, as a result, he grew up lazy and bratty. Charlie's a chubby kid who is allowed to spend most of his time playing video games.
  • Skippy Dies: Ruprecht, a string-theory obsessed Teen Genius with No Social Skills, is very fat and is constantly eating.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Sylvester from Scorpion fits the "geeks are fat" dynamic.
  • Wendell from Key & Peele, a morbidly obese geek with absolutely no social life.


    Visual Novels 
  • Sal Manella from the Ace Attorney games, more like a fat Otaku.
  • Ultimate Fanfic Creator Hifumi Yamada (called Super High School Level Doujinshi Author in the original Japanese version) from Danganronpa is so fat that his weight becomes a key point in solving his murder case.
  • In Steins;Gate, Mad Scientist Rintaro Okabe is very skinny. Playful Hacker Itaru Hashida, on the other hand, is extremely fat.

    Web Comics 
  • Erfworld: Parson Gotti was a classic roleplaying nerd till he was summoned. He's slimming down recently. Those daily patrols through the whole city and the long rooms and tall stairwells in the main building must be helping. Natural Signamancy (the magic of making the appearance of things reflect their roles and personalities) would also play its part; Parson's determination to be more personally involved in the battles he directs is being represented in his physique.
  • Jung in Ménage à 3 definitely matches the plump version of the trope — though he's not morbidly obese. See above on his "skinny" pal Gary.
  • In 1/0, when Marcus is walled, he asks Junior and Terra to describe Tailsteak to him. Terra figures that as a computer geek he must be either really fat or really skinny. Junior just lists a string of insults — but since one of them was that he's fat, Marcus concludes that as one of the few points the two agreed on, it must be true, and his Tailsteak effigy is made in that image.
  • In Schlock Mercenary Kevyn, resident Mad Scientist, has a bit of a potbelly. Warrant Officer Thurl used to be obese, before he got his head ripped off and the regeneration bot insisted on fixing the problem.

    Web Original 
  • The Board-tan representing 4chan's /tg/ (the board for discussing tabletop games) is drawn as either skinny or fat depending on the drawfag.
  • Something Awful once featured a xkcd parody with a shop that only sold T-shirt in sizes small and XXXXX-large.
  • Open Source Greg of 4 Gregs is fat. The other 3 are skinny-ish, but in a Stick Figure Animation that's nothing unusual.
  • Whateley Universe examples: Overclock, the Mountain Dew guzzling computer deviser, and Erlenmeyer, the chem deviser both. Belphegor (yes, his codename is Belphegor) definitely counts too.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • The Comic Book Guy. In "The Homer They Fall", Comic Book Guy attempts to return a Star Trek belt he won as a prize because it was sized medium, and "the average Trekker has no use for a medium-sized belt" (thus referencing both varieties of Geek Physique).
    • Bart's nerdy classmate Martin Prince is pretty chubby. It's not usually referenced, but he does get sent to fat camp in "Kamp Krusty."
  • Wade Load and Cousin Larry from Kim Possible.
  • Reginald "Skull", a video-game crazed comic geek from Monster House.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants has Bubble Bass, an obese bass. his recent appearances have portrayed him as a Basement-Dweller who obsesses over comic book characters like Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy or Suburban Dad.
  • On Total Drama, both Beth, Ezekiel and Sam are Downplayed examples—she's plump and the boys are at least flabby, in contrast to the other characters who are mostly skinny girls, athletic guys or skinny geeks listed above.
  • American Dad!
    • Barry is obese. It's implied that the anti-psychotic meds he takes make him eat more.
    • Steve is unusually strong when he's angry, but always comes across as weedy whenever Stan tries to encourage him to do anything that involves strength. This is largely a case of Depending on the Writer.
  • Lenny the obsessive Powerpuff Girls nerd in The Powerpuff Girls episode "Collect Her".


    Anime & Manga 

     Live-Action TV 
  • Legends of Tomorrow has Ray Palmer, who despite being the nerdiest on the team also is quite muscular.

    Video Games 
  • Tales from the Borderlands: Vaughn is a typical short, skinny, bespectacled nerd, but when he takes his shirt off in the desert, both his best friend and worst enemy are shocked by how "weirdly buff" he is. He explains that he's been using the gym equipment in his office.

    Web Comics 
    Western Animation 

  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil has an episode in which Marco is arrives at a video store to purchase a rare tape in the hopes of getting his red belt. The store is run by what seems to be a guy that fits all of the stereotypes associated with nerdom. He tells Marco that he has the tape that he's been searching for. The price is two thousand dollars. Marco becomes discouraged but cheers up when the man offers him the tape for free on the condition that they fight for it. Marco agrees at which point the man stands up, revealing his perfectly fit and extremely muscular body.

Alternative Title(s): Thin Geek Fat Geek, Geek Physique


How well does it match the trope?

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