The high tendency in fiction for young nerds, geeks, and other social outcasts to have red hair.
They're often gingers, redheads with pale skin and freckles, but not necessarily. They might have intellectual hobbies like reading. Their clothes are probably far from stylish and they are likely to have minor health problems. They are easily picked on for these things, not necessarily for their hair color, unlike the Red-Headed Stepchild. They also have a tendency to be a Shrinking Violet. If they're not then they'll be an uncontrollable Fiery Redhead who gets into big trouble. Despite how different they are, they can grow out of it and by the time they mature they can be expected to blossom into a self-assured person who is calm, strong, and elegant. In the mean time they will probably make a loyal friend.
The character might think that it's just their hair color making people look down on them like the Red-Headed Stepchild, but if it was a different color they wouldn't be so self conscious and make themselves look bad. Dye jobs tend to backfire though. A sign of maturity is fixing up their hair but keeping it red.
The Brainy Brunette can similarly not fit in, but their geeky intelligence gives them a calm confidence that the redhead lacks. If the character has red/brown hair they only count if it's noticeably red and they have that lack of confidence among their peers.
- Robin Series: Philmont Denlinger is a readheaded geek with freckles who gets relentlessly bullied.
- In A.A. Pessimal's Discworld continuations, Mariella Smith-Rhodes, despite being no plain jane in her own right, is continually eclipsed by a stunningly beautiful best friend who crosses a continent breaking hearts and attracting, at the final count, a hundred and seventy-eight offers of marriage. Mariella is the disregarded companion, and a running joke is that whatever culture or civilization she is in, she attracts a name in the local language meaning "Oh, Her? Ginger With Freckles". When the adventure is at an end and she is conscripted into her country's army for National Service, her Army nickname is, inevitably, Sproetjie or somply Sproet. note Her older sister Johanna, also red-haired, pale skinned and freckled, points out she got it too: her best friend at school was an archetypical gorgeous blonde who attracted all the attention, leaving the red-haired best friend disregarded on the sidelines. Read about Mariella's rite of passage in Gap Year Adventures.
- In Tales of the Undiscovered Swords, Kiriha Sadamune the quiet and reserved boy who spends most of his time writing a diary has two red pigtails, which are often mocked as "carrots" by his Big Brother Bully. He later becomes a Fiery Redhead who trounces said deranged brother in a violently bloody duel.
- Anne of Green Gables is a very cheerful person, but at times could get very careless and cause mishaps. Her relationships with the people of Avonlea began unusually friendly or openly hostile because they teased her about her red hair, which she hoped would some day darken into a real handsome auburn.
- Harry Potter:
- Rowling introduces Ron Weasley as "tall, thin and gangling, with freckles, big hands and feet, and a long nose." He quickly becomes Harry's best friend, but feels overshadowed by his older brothers, and feels embarrassed to have to use second hand supplies and wear second hand clothes. Harry choosing to befriend him over the posh, snobbish Malfoy sets the tone for both relationships from that point on.
- His older brother, Percy, and his father, Arthur, may also qualify for their own reasons. Percy is pompous, bossy, and sucks up to authority to get ahead, but generally treated as an afterthought or a mere annoyance by most except his parents. Arthur, while a very kind and intelligent man, is seen as a loser of sorts for his lower-class financial status, his keen interest in all things Muggle-related, and his refusal to suck up to his superiors and co-workers to advance. Incidentally, Percy also looked down on Arthur for these very things.
- Averted with most of the rest of the (notably redheaded) Weasley family. Fred and George are very popular at Hogwarts, Ginny seems to come into her own as she gets more comfortable in her skin, Charlie works with dragons, and Bill is - as Harry succinctly put it once - just cool. Molly is also quite well-liked, even if she can be overbearing.
- As Mallory Pike of The Baby-Sitters Club is the only one in her family with red hair, glasses and braces. Mallory often feels unattractive and an ongoing plot arc of hers was trying to convince her parents to let her spice up her look with contacts, pierced ears, and a new wardrobe. She also feels like her parents treat her like a baby.
- Trisana Chandler, Tris for short, is a character in Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic series. She has curly red hair (her friend Briar calls her "Coppercurls"), gray eyes, and wears spectacles. She believes herself to be fat and is called "Fatty" a few times by some of the series' crueler characters. Before she learned control over her magic, strange things would happen when she got angry or emotional, such as causing it to hail indoors or to strike lightning nearby.
- Joyce from Joyride is prudish to the point that even her only real ally in her circle of "friends" is prone to being agitated by her.
- The eponymous Eleanor of Eleanor & Park gets picked on for being a Fat Girl and having red hair, which she's suitably insecure about. Her time with Park leads her to rise above this.
- Beatrice Löwenström of Överenskommelser by Simona Ahrnstedt belongs to the fiery cathegory. She's both an intelligent book lover and a plucky tomboy, not to mention that she's a proto-feminist, which turns a lot of people away from her. She's described as not conventionally beautiful, with too many freckles and a too wide mouth, and she also seems to often wear unflattering clothes.
- Generally averted quite in many of R.L. Stine's Fear Street books, wherein his fondness for redheads seems to shine through. Many protagonists or very beautiful, usually popular or mysterious girls, are described as redheads. (Usually, green-eyed redheads.) Although that doesn't stop them from dying horribly (Marla Newman), suffering severe brain damage that renders them mentally retarded (Rachel from Broken Hearts), or just being a nasty, horrible person in general (Karma Houdini Reva Dalby from the Silent Night series).
- Willow of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is presented as a bookish nerd with considerable computer skills, dowdily dressed and easily intimidated by more popular girls in school. Willow becomes much more confident in college, finally finding a place that respects her intellect, and to show that, she has embraced the redness of her hair by having dyed it a brighter red.
- 7th Heaven has an episode where Mary's high school friends tease a girl with frizzy red hair for wearing flannel and being fat.
- In the pilot of Smallville, nine-year-old Lex Luthor is being chastised for being scared and keeping his eyes closed while on the helicopter ride. Once he opens them he gets more scared and needs to use his inhaler because he has an asthma attack. That day the meteor shower caused him to lose all his red hair.
- Amusingly enough, the writer/artist of SMBC is a ginger, and as his comics would imply, a MASSIVE nerd. Also played straight with several of his comics.
- Tyler Dawn from morphE, a red-headed college student who makes obscure pop culture references to compare his strange new situation. In canon he is barely tolerated for being annoying and uncool.
- Rachel Tice from The Most Popular Girls in School is the one of the most unpopular girls at Overland Park High School.
- The titular character of Dexter's Laboratory. Dexter is a geeky redheaded boy-genius, complete with giant glasses, lab coat and awkward speech.
- The Goldman family, father, wife and son from Family Guy are all gingers and are walking clichés of uncool tropes.
- Twist of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic shows several stereotypically nerdy traits, such as a curly red mane and tail, pale coat, large, large glasses, and a nasal Speech Impediment (she has a hard time pronouncing W's and S's). She is the last one in her class to get her cutie mark before the cutie mark crusaders.
- Carl from Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron is chubby, awkward, and frequently uses his inhaler as well as receiving other injuries (specifically injuring his scapula.)
- Nathanael from Miraculous Ladybug spends a lot of his time drawing, and is made fun of by Chloe for his crush on another classmate. This leads him to turn into a villain for one episode and attempt to get revenge on her.
- Chuckie Finster of Rugrats is danger prone, cowardly, wore glasses that would break from time to time, had a perpetually stuffy nose, and was often picked on by other kids. So much so that there were entire episodes devoted to him having an operation that temporarily cleared his nose, him trying to dye his hair black to fit in with the rest of the kids, and his other quirks.
- The "Ginger Kids" episode of South Park features Cartman turning his bigotry on red heads, claiming that they're soulless and unattractive to the point of being frightening. Subverted halfway through when the other boys make Cartman look like a ginger to teach him a lesson: Cartman immediately starts a ginger supremacy group and tries to kill all of the non-ginger kids. Several seasons later, this becomes a double subversion: 201 sheds some light on Cartman's true father, and Scott Tenorman, whose parents had been previously murdered by Cartman reveals that they are half-brothers on their father's side, meaning Cartman himself is in his own eyes half-ginger. Cartman is also one of the most unpopular kids at South Park Elementary, not at all helped by the fact he's a sociopath.
- Zoey of The Proud Family. She has glasses, braces, a lanky body, and a desperate attempt to be cool.
- Eliza Thornberry from The Wild Thornberrys can be geeky at times. She has red hair (always in braids), large glasses, braces, an overbite and a chimpanzee as a best friend, all the while being homeschooled while traveling the world and hiding her secret ability for talking to animals.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy:
- Ginger from As Told by Ginger is presented this way, especially in early episodes, however her being unpopular doesn't stop her from being a Dude Magnet or befriending the most popular girl in her middle school.
- Total Drama:
- Harold has a lot of traits that make him look strange in the eyes of the other contestants, such as his nerdiness, know-it-all persona and rather poor hygiene. These traits (especially the first two) are the main reasons he usually isn't respected by the others, especially Duncan, who enjoys picking on him. He does, however, have more than enough moments where his "mad skills" help him lead his team to victory, earning their respect.
- Sam from Revenge of the Island is an overweight video game geek who farted at his first and only date with a girl before Dakota and his first interactions with her are rather awkward. However, after Dakota becomes an intern, he soon starts to break through her shell.
- Averted with Scarlett from Pahkitew Island. While she is a genius who tends to say things the others don't understand, she doesn't display any of the negative stereotypes associated with nerds. Also, she is secretly an Evil Genius.
- Rodney on the other hand, seems to be a straight example. While not exactly a nerd, he's extremely socially awkward towards girls, as a result of living with several brothers and his father being single. He develops a crush on three of the female contestants, but his attempts at trying to talk to them are terrible.