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Revenge of the Nerd

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An attractive woman appears to seduce the protagonist, but ends up humiliating and rejecting him. He then finds out she is the acne-ridden wallflower he ridiculed in High Schoolall grown up, but still bitter.

If she's really pissed off, this plot can morph into Reunion Revenge and always has undertones of Revenge Against Men.

These characters will often be introduced through Chic and Awe. Not often seen gender-reversed, but it's not unheard of. In this case, he's probably a little more buff, and she finds out he is the scrawny pimply-faced dweeb who, for example, did all her homework for her while she was with the captain of the team (for which the nerd was probably the waterboy).

A related but generally more idealistic storyline is the Cinderella Plot, which has similar elements such as a downtrodden girl (or more rarely boy) who gets a makeover and shows up everyone by getting with the most eligible bachelor in town. See also Old Friend, New Gender, where he hits on her... only to find out she used to be a "he".

(Note: Despite being the possible Trope Namer, Revenge of the Nerds is not an example.)


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  • Genderflipped by Takefumi Tonami in His and Her Circumstances. He was still angry at Tsubaki for their past (in which he thought she protected him willingly but she did it only as a request from the teachers) and tried to use his Tall, Dark, and Handsome new looks and charm against her, helped by how she didn't recognize him at first. Then he falls in love for real, and she comes to like him back.
  • Masamune-kun's Revenge: It's less of being a nerd and more of being pudgy, but the premise of the story is that Masamune was a chubby boy whom everyone made fun of, and Aki, the girl he had a crush on, called him "Pig's foot" leaving him devastated. Now as a teenager, he's grown into a handsome young man, and is determined to make Aki fall for him then dump her, making her feel the same pain he did as a child. Things get complicated when he starts falling in love with her again, making him question his motives, and it's later revealed that it wasn't Aki who rejected him, but her servant Yoshino because she was jealous of their relationship.

     Comic Books  

  • Empowered gives a gender-flipped example. Most superheroes in the setting are assholes with undeserved praise heaped upon them. At a superhero award show, the heroes nominated an unpopular, D-list superhero for a major award, only to humiliate him onstage. The guy used his shapeshifting powers to create a new identity for himself, and his new persona let him become a respected superhero. At first, he was content with his new life, until he learned that the heroes who humiliated him were planning to pull the same trick on the protagonist. As a result, he snapped and attempted to kill everyone during the ceremony.

     Fan Works  
  • The Last Son: A variation happens in the sidestories A Hero Among Us and A Day at the Mall With Superman (both of which Crossover with Six Teen). In the first one, local Alpha Bitch Tricia spots the Galleria Shopping Mall gang hanging out with a young Clark Kent, and immediately dismisses him as a fashion disaster due to his tacky flannel clothes, and even takes a photo of him as proof. Somewhat downplayed given that he still gets the last laugh in that encounter, but in the second story (when he already has established himself as a superhero) she spots him again and is completely smitten, only to get the shock of her life when he reveals himself as the same guy she made fun of seven years ago, and end up ditched and humiliated by him. To top it off, she accidentally discovers that he's Superman when he changes and flies off to attend an emergency, which only adds to it.


  • The '70s TV movie The Girl Most Likely To has Stockard Channing as a campus ugly duckling who gets in a car accident and subsequently undergoes plastic surgery that turns her into a knockout. She spends the rest of the movie finding the pretty people who'd picked on her before the accident and bumping them off one by one.
  • This is the real goal of the Big Bad in Josie and the Pussycats (2001). In high school, Lisa Snyder was a nerdy girl with a lisp and buck teeth who was mercilessly tormented by her classmates. When she grew up, she changed her name to Fiona and became the Evil Diva CEO of MegaRecords, putting subliminal messages in her label's music in order to get people to like her and think she's the coolest person in the world.
  • A double gender-flipped version in Just Friends: Former nerd turned suave pick-up artist Chris flips between trying again with his school friend Jamie and being bitter at her for rejecting him at school. His foil is another former nerd rejected by her who has a single-minded goal of seducing Jamie and humiliating her for the same reason.
  • Royal Pain in Sky High (2005) is a former student at the titular Superhero School who became a supervillain due to bullying. Specifically, she was originally Sue Tenny, a technopath in a time when that power wasn't seen as particularly useful, causing her to get shunted into the "Hero Support" track. An accident with a de-aging ray that turned her into a baby gave her a second chance, and she returned to Sky High as the popular girl Gwen Grayson in a more high-tech time when her powers over technology make her the coolest person in school.

  • The villain of the Mary Higgins Clark novel Nighttime Is My Time has set out to kill the women who ridiculed and/or rejected him in high school at their 20th reunion.
  • Played with in the short story "One of Those Days". Alex, who used to be bullied in high school by the football team captain Ric for being fat and gay, admits that he used to fantasize about running into Ric again after becoming gorgeous and getting his revenge on him. However, when he does run into Ric as a thin and good-looking adult, he's still too terrified of him to do anything more serious than repeatedly misnaming him "Dick" or realize that Ric is actually trying to flirt with him, and he drops any ideas of revenge when he learns that Ric was an Armored Closet Gay who feels remorse for the way he bullied him.

     Live Action Television  

  • Caroline in the City featured a subversion: Annie was seeking revenge on several people who made her life hell during high school, only to be prevented at the last minute (for instance, her sadistic gym coach became a nun). This culminated in her parading in front of the apparently happy and successful ex-boyfriend showing him "what he missed" and finally asking him "Well, like what you see?". His response? "I can't see anything, I'm blind."
  • Two examples from across the CSI franchise.
    • In CSI: Miami, a girl slimmed down after being humiliated by three men while they were on vacation, then tracked them down, seduced them, and killed them. She thought it was Worth It at the time, only to realize how petty her revenge really was once she's in prison.
    • In CSI: NY, one man had humiliated a woman during a basketball game in front of a large crowd as well as on national TV. She was so humiliated that she had to slim down anyway so she wouldn't be recognised... and ended up becoming a cheerleader on the team she was humiliated in front of. She rigged a draw to get him to take a chance at a million-dollar hoop shot so she could discreetly poison him in front of the entire stadium.
  • The Drew Carey Show has flipped example where Oswald, who was likable enough in high school, had dumped a girl because she was extremely fat and never talked to her again after the second date (he specifically goes out of his way to avoid her). As an adult, the same girl, now 140 pounds lighter, gets him to agree to be handcuffed on the bed where all the guests' coats are for a party. She then pulls his underwear down and tells him who she was; she actually told him her name at the beginning but Oswald had only remembered her as "porky" the fat girl
  • Gender-reversed: Donny Doyle in 8 Simple Rules
  • In one episode of Fantasy Island, Adrienne Barbeau played an overweight woman whose fantasy was to become thin and beautiful so that she could seduce the man who humiliated her in high school (who also happened to be on the island) and get revenge on him.
  • Friends, in at least one episode. Chandler has always been a Manchild, apparently since he was a child, and there was one incident in high school where he pantsed a girl during a school play or something. When they happen to bump into each other as adults she's played by Julia Roberts. Since at this point in the series Chandler is a Butt-Monkey, he's grateful for the attention from someone so hot, and very grateful that she seems to have forgiven him. In fact, he's so grateful for it that he goes along with it when she expresses an interest in him wearing woman's underwear for a day, and then having sex in a bathroom stall. Of course, she takes his clothes and leaves. Turns out she hadn't forgiven him.
    • There was also the Thanksgiving episode where it revealed that a now slimmed-down Monica attempted to do this to Chandler in revenge for him calling her fat the previous Thanksgiving. Monica hilariously tries and fails to act aroused by everything leaving Chandler more confused than anything else. Unfortunately, one of the things she tried to pretend to be aroused by was a knife... which she accidentally drops, and it in turn lands right in Chandler's foot, cutting off one of his toes.
  • Completely averted in Ghost Whisperer. Jim is being haunted by the ghost of a girl he knew in high school. She was a supermodel before she died, but the ugly duckling in school. The twist is she's trying to communicate with him because he was the only guy who ever made her feel pretty back before all the plastic surgery. And she wants him to save her sister from the same fate she suffered.
  • A one-shot antagonist (protagonist?) in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia was getting engaged to and then breaking it off with everyone who ever turned him down in high school due to his acne problem, including the Waitress, and had been planning on going after Dee next. It is unknown if Charlie giving him a box of hornets after finding out his plans for the Waitress deterred him, because we never hear of it again.
  • Married... with Children
    • Inverted by having Bud (the protagonist/nerd) winning over the girl for the purpose of humiliating her (usually it is the guest character who wants revenge), also inverted in the sense that it is gender-reversed. Then it is averted by having Bud relent at the last moment because he falls for the girl again. She then proceeds to humiliate him again, an example which probably belongs in some school bitch trope. Kelly, figuring this would happen, managed to bind and gag her, dress her in nothing but a towel and then tie a string to Buck's mouth while waiting for morning classes in the school. She then called Buck over and had him tug off the towel just as kids were filling the halls.
    • There was another example and a gender-reversed one. This time it was Kelly who played the part of the bitch, standing up a nerd late at night outside in the middle of winter so that he lost some toes to frostbite. Years later, Kelly attends a class reunion only to find that the nerd has become a handsome millionaire whom Kelly and all of her Alpha Bitch friends fall for. The former nerd enacts his revenge by standing Kelly up on a date out in the cold and by arranging for Bud to secretly take his place on a date under the bleachers with one of the other bitchy girls. Oh, and then once that date is over, a nerdy girl whom Bud had blown off earlier that night traps him under the bleachers and starts having her way with him.
  • Sports Night: Bobbi Bernstein is a substitute anchor who rails against Dan for having slept with her in Spain and then never called her. Dan claims to have never met Bobbi before she started working on his show—and, in fact, insists he's never been to Spain. Bobbi is presented as a nutcase for a couple of episodes, but it turns out that she was right all along. Dan was on a trip to France, got drunk, he and his friends crossed into Spain for a night...and Bobbi was far less attractive and went by "Roberta." When he figures all this out, Dan's apology is sincere and quite moving.
  • That '70s Show in an episode where Eric's attractive female cousin convinces Eric that she's not really his cousin and pretends to be interested in him, then humiliates him when he makes advances on her.
  • Interesting variation in Two and a Half Men where it happens to Alan of all people. The girl was very attracted to him in high school and gave him many not so subtle hints. Alan wasn't mean to her, in fact, they were great friends, but his general obliviousness towards women kept him from making a move. Still, she was quite pissed.
  • Ugly Betty

     Video Games  

  • Variation in Tokimeki Memorial. Mira Kagami wasn't ugly by any standards, but apparently she wasn't pretty enough in Junior High so guys kept dumping her. So she deliberately became the prettiest and more stuck up girl in Kirameki High not just to have male attention, but as her revenge on men. If the player wants to romance her, they have not only to focus on the Player Character's looks and charisma but work hard into making her see that the MC really cares for her.

     Western Animation  

  • Parodied on The Simpsons; when Moe's plastic surgery makes him attractive, he begins hunting down everyone who's rejected him for being ugly, ranging from women to the soap he tried out for. It doesn't progress very far, he only manages to get revenge on one person, Duffman, who Moe blames for covering up his face on the Duff calendar. Their next stop is a girl who rejected him, but she sincerely apologizes, and Moe doesn't know how to which point Homer throws a cinder block through her window and they run away. Finally, they end up at the studio that turned him down for a role, but since he's now attractive, he ends up getting hired instead.
  • When Leela returns to her Orphanarium in Futurama she attempts to show off her, legitimately, better life to the kids who bullied her as a child. Even though they're all pathetic (most of them are homeless bums, junkies, or prostitutes) they still feel they're better off than her since she's still a cyclops.