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Nerd Glasses

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A must-have accessory for a Hollywood Nerd.

Sherri & Terri: (to Bart) Nice glasses, four eyes.
Nelson: Yeah, nice shoes ... uh, two feet.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that nerds wear glasses. Usually ugly, unflattering glasses. There are several types of glasses that are signifiers of deeply-entrenched nerd-dom:

  • Chunky black plastic (tape on the bridge optional), sometimes chunky tortoiseshell plastic instead—as worn by the classic Hollywood Nerd, though these have lately come back into fashion again, style being a Cyclic Trope.
  • Coke-bottle glasses so thick they're opaque—have their own page at Opaque Nerd Glasses
  • Unflatteringly large glasses poorly proportioned to the wearer's face—often with thin frames; in live-action these have the advantage that they don't block the wearer's face
  • Old-fashioned round hornrims—sign of an Absentminded Professor or academic-nerd
  • Half-moon glasses—around the 50's, these were the eyewear of choice for the original nerds, although nowadays they're more of an old lady librarian style
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  • Browline glasses—a two-piece frame with thick plastic upper frames and thin wire lower frames popular in the fifties and sixties. Most often seen on highly intelligent and well-read types, or people who like to think they are.
  • "Cat-eye" glasses—once ultra-fashionable for women in the 50's, now usually restricted to lady nerds (and the occasional hipster)—unless they have rhinestones or are purple, in which case they are Impossibly Tacky Eyewear.
  • Repaired glasses—broken frames held together by a shoddy repair job involving improvised materials like paper clips and adhesive tape.

Compare Meganekko. You may also be interested in the other Glasses Tropes.


Examples of the concept of Nerd Glasses in general:

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    Video Games 
  • In the world of Disco Elysium, the word 'binoclard'/'bino' - a French word for a wearer of glasses, with a connotation similar to 'four-eyes' - is used whenever, in our world, we would say 'geek' or 'nerd' (e.g. tabletop role-playing games are described as 'binoclard stuff'). This shows off both the role that Fantasy Counterpart Culture France has had in the game's 'immigrant melting-pot fantasy' setting, but also implies that glasses aren't that commonly seen.
    • Kim Kitsuragi has atrocious eyesight which forces him to wear big bino glasses, which he views as 'mostly just cumbersome'. Despite his elegant dress sense and socially insightful personality, the combination of the glasses and his Seolite ancestry lead to him getting stereotyped as Asian and Nerdy, which he is subtly defensive about. The player can also make fun of his glasses and call him a "bino", which doesn't get a rise out of him.
    • An item in the game is a pair of "Mega-Bino's Prescription Lenses" which are beige plastic square frames with impenetrably thick Coke-bottle lenses. The description comments that beige does not look good on anyone and that they are 'nausea-inducing hell glasses', but they give you a +2 boost to your Encyclopedia skill due to letting you 'unleash your inner bino'.

Examples of thick-framed Nerd Glasses:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Ouran High School Host Club: Haruhi is introduced wearing thick black frames that are a clue to her frugal and resolutely practical nature—she normally wears contacts, so why waste money on fashionable glasses? They also serve to the make The Glasses Gotta Go more dramatic by disguising her "secret identity" as a girl.
  • Saruhiko Fushimi, SCEPTER 4's resident hacker (and third-in-command) wears the thick black frames kind. They don't get in the way of his good looks, though.
  • Sgt. Frog: Kululu.
  • Sayaka Kanamori in Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! has a pair of these, which she tends to wear on her forehead. A bit unusually, while she is somewhat awkward and doesn't seem particularly popular, she's the least nerdy person in her social circle.

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • The core principle of the Clark Kent persona is, of course, the implausibility of Superman wearing dorky black nerd glasses.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Arnie Cunningham from Christine wears thick black glasses; later on, they're broken by school bullies and fixed with the stereotypical white tape. Even later, however, after Christine has made him cool, he discards them altogether.
  • Doll Factory: Melvin wears glasses, and is as nerdy as they come.
  • The titular Eddie from Eddie the Eagle. The real life Eddie Edwards wears these too.
  • From Russia with Love has Rosa Klebb wearing particularly hideous thick-framed and thick-lensed glasses in many scenes.
  • Rick Vaughn, in Major League, was fitted with these, curing the vision problem that got him branded with the nickname "Wild Thing". Although the glasses didn't hurt his persona and still had fangirls (and, oddly, fanboys).
  • Newt Geiszler from Pacific Rim. His vitriolic best friend Hermann Gottlieb also has nerd glasses, though his are of the grandpa Coke-bottle variety and he only needs them for close looks at stuff.
  • Revenge of the Nerds: Nerd-in-denial Lewis Skolnick has thick black half-frame glasses.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In A Bad Case of Stripes, the doctors all wear huge black glasses.
  • The Big Bang Theory: In a cast chockablock with Hollywood Nerds, Leonard is the only character to wear Nerd Glasses, in the "thick black plastic" variety. Interestingly, the Finnish name for it happens to be Rillit huurussa which literally means 'Frosted glasses'.
  • Young Reid in Criminal Minds and adult Reid, too, in the earlier seasons.
  • Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor's Purely Aesthetic Glasses.
  • When Drew Carey did a behind the scenes segment for his show, The Drew Carey Show, he mentions that he needs to get in costume. He then simply switches from a pair of wire-rim glasses to his iconic Nerd glasses.
  • The Flash (2014):
    • Dr Harrison Wells wears glasses with thick plastic rims that are black on the upper half and clear on the lower half. They manage to suit him very well, despite being obvious nerd glasses that help to indicate that he is a genius even compared to the other highly intellectual characters. Flashbacks to before Eobard Thawne killed and replaced the original Harrison show him wearing similar glasses with completely clear frames that look significantly dorkier.
    • Wells' Earth-2 doppelgänger wears similar glasses, although he tends to save them for when he's working in the lab. As a more action-oriented character, he often goes glasses-less.
    • Hartley Rathaway and Martin Stein are the only other characters anywhere close to Wells' intellectual league, and they also wear black plastic glasses.
  • Lily on Hannah Montana wore these during an Unwanted Glasses Plot.
  • Early in the run of the show, Adam Savage of Mythbusters wore large, chunky plastic glasses that even other members of the team called "coke-bottle lenses". He wears smaller frames in more recent seasons, but they're still thick, black plastic.
  • Sloane, in The Newsroom, occasionally wears thick-framed and unstylish glasses while dressed down to remind us that she's a nerd. While not wearing them, she's usually very fashionable.
  • Stargate SG-1: Whenever Samantha Carter appears in an Alternate Universe scenario, she tends to have this. One dorky Alternate Timeline Daniel also had thick-framed nerd glasses, to contrast with the regular glasses the character wears, which were large-framed nerd glasses — but by this point in the series, Daniel had undergone enough character development to no longer be dorky, and to emphasize the extreme dorkiness of the alternate version they needed something different.
  • The X-Files: The Doll Episode "Chinga" had a Sadist Teacher named Jane who slapped an autistic girl because she had a tantrum (true, she was a Creepy Child with a Perverse Puppet, but still) and would like to burn her mother. Jane's glasses exhibited nearly every feature of the Nerd Glasses: very unflattering, with thick coke-bottled lenses and strangely-shaped large chunky frames. Could she be more unlikeable?

  • Elvis Costello, at least early in his career, when he seemed to be consciously projecting an awkward/Buddy Holly style.
  • Buddy Holly chose thick, black frames for his glasses after deciding that he could not perform without them, so he'd better make them a part of his image.
  • Rivers Cuomo of Weezer.
  • John Frusciante, formerly of Red Hot Chili Peppers, never wore the glasses onstage with the band, but off stage and in most of other performances, they're almost always present.
  • Jarvis Cocker alternated between these and contact lenses during Pulp's heyday. Nowdays, the specs are an integral part of his image.
  • Morrissey, occasionally.
  • Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo. You may notice that the band tends to dress identically, save Mark with his glasses/goggles; this is because he has been legally blind since a child and can't see much without them.
  • John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants wears these most of the time, so much that it became part of his image. His bandmate, John Linnell, later started wearing the glasses but unlike Flansburgh, he usually doesn't wear them on stage or in publicity photos.
  • The Proclaimers are famous for not only being identical twins with near identical singing voices, but both wear the same glasses too. Poor eyesight is particularly common in Scotland where the band is from, compared to the rest of the UK, so this is something of a fitting trope.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic is the quintessential example of a nerdy musician wearing a pair of nerdy glasses. They were a key asset to his image for a majority of his career before his ultimate LASIK surgery on January 24th, 1998.

    Puppet Shows 

    Video Games 
  • Formerly sold as a rare cosmetic item in Animal Jam.
  • Jack wears an astoundingly huge pair of these with his Hat of Authority in Cave Story.
  • Jeff of EarthBound wears the classic thick square frames. They go well with his suit and bowtie and bowl cut, and he's a Gadgeteer Genius extraordinare. They're also Opaque Nerd Glasses, as seen on both his clay model and sprite.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas the Four Eyes trait increases the Courier's Perception with glasses, but decreases it without them. The Old World Blues DLC introduces Dr. Klein's and Dr. Mobius' glasses, which boost Intelligence and provide bonuses to the Courier's Repair and Explosives skills respectively.
  • Mid Previa of Final Fantasy V, whom the party meets in the Ancient Library, wears glasses with thick orange frames. They also have very large lenses.
  • Gordon Freeman from Half-Life has a pair of these. However, instead of losing them once he starts ripping zombies apart with a crowbar, he keeps them and becomes a Badass Bookworm.
  • An unusual case of Purely Aesthetic Glasses appears in Persona 5: After the Miscarriage of Justice that lands him on probation at the start of the story, the protagonist starts wearing big, clunky circular glasses to appear more mild-mannered. He takes them off when reading, whenever he's in the Velvet Room, and whenever he's in the Metaverse, and he can see perfectly fine without them. An actual case where the user does legitimately need glasses, meanwhile, is the extremely shy and anxiety-ridden Futaba Sakura, a programming prodigy and nerdy gamer who spends all of her time on the computer.
  • Ernie Eaglebeak from The Spellcasting Series.
  • Sheldon from Splatoon is the owner of the local weapons store. He wears thick, binocular-looking glasses.

  • In El Goonish Shive, this is Invoked as Sarah is given a pair of costume nerd glasses.
  • Tarvek in Girl Genius wore a pair of these as a child but had upgraded to his current pince nez set by the time he went to Paris to study.
  • Eridan from Homestuck, contributing to his Hipster appearance. You could make a case for John and Jake having this type of too, though to a lesser degree.
  • Played with, with Gary of Ménage à 3. He's certainly a geek, if not much of a nerd, and he wears glasses with black plastic frames. But, in keeping with his general dorky image, they're relatively neat and don't look too bad on him.
  • Thaddeus Euphemism the goofy scientist from The Petri Dish wears glasses.

    Web Original 
  • Squeaks from Scrub Club wears glasses and is described as an "absent-minded professor".
  • Whateley Universe: Elaine "Delta Spike" Fleischer wears Nerd Glasses and a lab coat in a deliberate attempt to invoke the Hot Scientist trope. She's also a Genius Ditz known as the "Explosion Queen" around the labs.

    Western Animation 
  • Steve Smith of American Dad! In the unaired pilot he had much nerdier looking round glasses, but for the main series they were retooled into rectangular black framed ones, resembling what are commonly known as emo or hipster glasses. He is mentioned as being far-sighted yet doesn't seem to have a problem seeing without them on the occasion that he breaks them. It is likely he exaggerates his condition because he feels smarter wearing them.
  • Tina, the awkward oldest daughter of Bob Belcher of Bob's Burgers wears them.
  • Penny Sanchez on ChalkZone has quite thick frames but she's no less adorable with them.
  • Jérémie Belpois, the Teen Genius and Mission Control from Code Lyoko. Not too thick, but noticeable.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: Dexter has thick framed glasses that double as Eye Glasses. He is also a Child Prodigy and Science Hero and owns a huge underground laboratory. Dexter's rival Mandark wears thick framed glasses as well.
  • Mort, Muriel, and Neil Goldman from Family Guy.
  • Mitchell from Ready Jet Go! wears thick-framed glasses, emphasizing his nerd tendencies.
  • Recess: Butt-Monkey Gus Griswald is a stereotypical geek kid with high-water pants and thick-framed glasses, His dad also wears similar glasses, and while not smart he is definitely dorky.
  • Shelton Klutzberry in The Replacements. In one episode it's revealed they're so heavy they cripple his posture and distort his voice; without them he instantly turns into an unwilling Chick Magnet.
  • Filburt from Rocko's Modern Life is a downright extreme example of this.
  • Rugrats and All Grown Up!: Chuckie has glasses with extremely thick frames, although as a preliterate child his nerdiness is primarily manifest in his visual appearance (Rummage Sale Reject and later braces) and more timid personality.
  • Velma on Scooby-Doo. She's just not Velma without them.
  • As revealed via flashback Peter Parker from The Spectacular Spider Man used to have these.

    Real Life 
  • New US military recruits who report to their respective boot camps are not allowed to wear any prescription eyewear they bring with them. Within the first week, they are prescribed a pair of durable yet unflattering thick brown specs called BC (birth control) glasses (or, alternately, BCDs, for BC Devices or BCG for Birth Control Goggles). So named because wearing them in public is the surest form of birth control known to man.
    • Comedian Drew Carey, who did a hitch in the Marines, has made this type of glasses part of his public persona. Lampshaded in the (full) second opening of The Drew Carey Show, where Drew's glasses are broken and by his friend's advice he replaces them by going to the nearby Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and stealing Buddy Holly's.
    • Adam Savage of MythBusters wears this style of glasses while filming, though he tends to wear more subdued glasses when off the set. Fridge Brilliance or Fan Wank: That particular style of glasses would also grant him some additional protection in the occasional event where something might explode.
    • The official "BCD" prescription eyeglasses were changed in 2012 to a more 2012-friendly eyeglass style. In 2014, eventually, they did away with mandating official eyewear in favor of a broad permission on "conservative" civilian prescription eyeglasses for all uniforms, as long as they're not "trendy" or otherwise garish.
  • Mac Lesggy, host of the French science show E=m6, still wears thick-framed glasses, though they are now tamer than his once-iconic zebra-framed glasses.
  • Hipsters

Examples of large-framed glasses:

    Anime & Manga 
  • Ginga Teikoku Kouboushi: Volume 1: Foundation: Dr Lewis Pirenne is of short, round stature with large, round eyeglasses (with frames so thin, the artists sometimes neglect to draw the temple stems). Dr Pirenne is in charge of the Encyclopedia Galactica that the Foundation has been working on for fifty years.
  • Ping Pong: Sakuma, and to a lesser extent Smile.

    Comic Books 
  • In Robin, Tim's nerdy friend Ives wears large round glasses which when coupled with sweater vests and his tall stringy physique are not at all flattering. He eventually starts filling out and wearing more flattering clothes but the glasses stay.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Cassie's Black and Nerdy hacker extraordinaire best friend and Secret Keeper Georgia Redmond wears large wire framed glasses.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "Ragtag", agents Coulson and May wear these as part of their "nerdy executive" disguise when visiting Cybertek.
  • Child Prodigy Galina on Daddy's Daughters wears giant glasses.
  • Extraverted Nerd Steve Urkel from Family Matters.
  • Bill from Freaks and Geeks wears them.
  • Uncle Junior on The Sopranos wears these. Dominic Chianese, who played Junior, said that these glasses pretty much were Junior.
  • Dr. Daniel Jackson, the Adventurer Archaeologist of Stargate SG-1, wears large wire-framed glasses. In fact, looking at how the use of Daniel's glasses changed over time is an interesting way to visualize his character development. His initial characterization was as a naive, dorky academic and the unfashionable hair and glasses emphasize this, but over time as the character toughens up, many of the "dorkiness markers" are dropped. By the last few seasons, Daniel apparently wears contacts 20-30% of the time, and finally in season 10 his glasses are replaced with more fashionable ones, which fits with the Badass Bookworm character type he has picked up.

  • Havi from QDND has this as one of his defining features. They're not exactly flattering on him, but his The Glasses Gotta Go transformation doesn't actually go any better.

    Pro Wrestling 

  • Holly from Lightning Made of Owls has this as her defining feature.
  • Amber in early Shortpacked! until she got a Makeover, with a Lampshade Hanging that she'd discovered nobody even made glasses like that any more.
  • Ruby of Sticky Dilly Buns is relatively subtle in her nerdiness, but her outsize round lenses are one sign. However, she's good-looking enough to make them at least a little bit cute.
  • In Weak Hero, Timothy Park is an information gatherer for Jake Ji, and totes a pair of oversized square glasses.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, A.K. "Daring Do" Yearling wears these while incognito.
  • Recess: Lovable Nerd Gretchen Grundler has huge thin-framed round glasses that show off her adorkableness.
  • Steven Universe: Connie Maheswaran, a geeky friend of Steven's, originally wore large thin-rimmed glasses. She needed them due to being Blind Without 'Em, but after "An Indirect Kiss", thanks to Steven's healing saliva, her eyesight is restored to normal and no longer needs them. She still wears them but without the lenses, so her parents don't get upset, but eventually explains it to them after about a year and stops wearing them entirely.

Examples of round hornrims:

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Ponder Stibbons, Discworld's resident Magitek geek, wears glasses, which cover artist Paul Kidby draws as these.
  • Ultra-stickler Percy in the Harry Potter novels.

    Live-Action TV 

  • Andy Fletcher from Depeche Mode wore a pair during the band's early days: [1]

    Video Games 
  • Lloyd of EarthBound Beginnings wears the round glasses, and they double as Opaque Nerd Glasses. He's extremely pasty, with a strong interest in computer software, and a he's frequent target of bullying at his elementary school. The MOTHER Encyclopedia mentions that they're his prized possession and that he's never seen without them, and that's a point of pride for him.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Actor Harold Lloyd first helped popularize horn-rimmed glasses in America in the 1920s.

Examples of cat-eye glasses:

  • Lisa Loeb's glasses are a major part of her public image.


  • Aranea of Homestuck is a lady nerd and exhibits 1970s fashion sense.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • As mentioned above, these were very popular in the 50s for women up to the early 70s. Many famous stars sported wearing these as well. Nowadays, they indicate someone who is hopelessly, intentionally or "ironically" note  unfashionable.
  • Marilyn Monroe is the first star to come to mind when sporting your run of the mill 50s lady, glasses and all. But it's far from nerdy as far as she's concerned.
  • Dame Edna's "face furniture".

Examples of repaired glasses:

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Harry Potter, despite not being much of a nerd, wears such glasses until they are magically fixed by Hermione.
  • Boris the Russian Hacker wears Glasses fixed with red adhesive Tape in James Bond GoldenEye.
  • One of the Hansen Brotheras in Slap Shot has some.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The Dudley Boys were known for wearing glasses held together with tape during their intros in ECW.
  • Jamison, the dyed-in-the-wool ultimate mark who dressed like a nerd and wore glasses like a nerd. Several times, the repaired glasses had to be repaired after he got punched ... right in the glasses.

Examples of other types of Nerd Glasses

    Comic Books 
  • Batman Black and White: In "Broken Nose", Batman hunts down a man who robs banks wearing Powered Armor. Out of the armor, he turns out to be a skinny geek wearing half-moon glasses.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The TRON films go a little wild with these. Aside from Flynn and Dillinger, almost every other human member of the cast has thick, very '80s nerd glasses. Justified as this is a software and electronics company, and Exploited Trope in the first film as the thick glasses help distinguish the human Users from their cyberspace counterparts, but Downplayed as of TRON: Legacy's ARG as Lora apparently got contacts or Lasik, Alan's frames are wire-rim and more subdued, and Roy (in the extras) still has a pair of coke bottle glasses. Averted with Sam, who apparently has 20/20 vision in or out of cyberspace. In the Alternate Continuity video game sequel, however, Alan still has thick and unflattering glasses and son Jet has black-framed "hipster" glasses in the analog world, but The Glasses Come Off once they hit cyberspace.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Black Sails: 18th century pirate Dufresne wears small, round, wire-framed glasses, which establish him as the ship's nerdy, noncombative accountant.
  • In Lois & Clark, Clark's glasses were originally a set of dark brown tortoiseshell browline glasses. In later seasons he switched to a more modern and stylish pair that didn't work nearly as well at hiding his identity.
  • On the Nickelodeon television show Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Simon Nelson-Cook (More commonly known by his nickname Cookie) has Black Glasses with Tech fitted on them.

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Ivy wears a pair of slim browline glasses which, while actually quite stylish, are an easy indicator of her nerdy personality and interests. Funnily enough, both of her parents also wear glasses.
    • Both Jacob and Rhys have glasses of the thick-framed variety, and are both intellectually inclined (Jacob via his rigorous studying and Schedule Fanatic tendencies, Rhys via working for the school newspaper as an Intrepid Reporter).



Video Example(s):



Bubbles is given big glasses by the Professor, and her sisters find it so funny-looking that they burst into laughter. Blossom is even about to tell Bubbles that she looks like a nerd before the Professor cuts her off.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / NerdGlasses

Media sources:

Main / NerdGlasses