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Sickly Neurotic Geek

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"It's like God spilled a person."
This character is frequently seen as a sidekick to the lead. Think of him as the guy who will grow up to become a neckbearded Basement-Dweller. He will likely speak as though his nose is constantly congested, be allergic to practically everything in existence, pack a Nerdy Inhaler for his asthma, and go to absurd lengths to avoid any further ailments. Constantly fending off (real or perceived) threats to his health may leave him a Nervous Wreck. Expect him to talk about his long list of medical issues openly and graphically whether he's asked to or not. His health issues are often implied to be psychosomatic, or Hypochondria: If this character Takes a Level in Badass, expect them to clear up pronto.

Whatever the actual level of ill health, it will be a sign of physical incompetence and social awkwardness — or at least that's what everyone will assume.

Compare Geek Physique, where a geeky character is comically weak or awkward. Genius Cripple can be this taken to its logical extreme. Compare Fat Comic Relief, another character whose physical awkwardness is the butt of jokes. These can overlap, of course.

Compare Jewish Complaining, Drama Queen, Playing Sick.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Films — Animated 
  • Melman from Madagascar has this as his main personality trait, being constantly health-aware, meek and paranoid. The first thing he does after finding out that he and the gang are leaving N.Y. is to panic over his health treatment.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Joel Glicker from Addams Family Values, a nerdy kid who states he’s allergic to “almost everything”.
Joel: Do you know what happens if my mother uses a fabric softener?
Wednesday: What?
Joel: I die.

  • Eddie in Stephen King's IT, courtesy of his mother's apparent case of Munchausen by Proxy.
  • Joly from Les Misérables, who is a hypochondriac, though due to the large cast of characters, isn't actually a sidekick. He aligns his bed to fit with the magnetic poles!
  • Secret Agent Dingledorf and His Trusty Dog Splat: I.Q., one of Bernie's close friends, is a very smart kid who Bernie imagines would excel at any sport that involved reading hundreds of books or curing cancer. He's also almost as clumsy as Bernie's cousin Wally McDoogle and suffers from such severe allergies that he's sniffling in every scene.

    Live Action TV 
  • Cyrus from Andi Mack complains of low blood sugar, needs an inhaler in order to participate in physical activity, and becomes nauseous to the point of vomiting from motion sickness... riding a merry-go-round.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Howard Wolowitz. He is asthmatic, allergic to peanuts, almonds, and walnuts, prone to canker sores and pink eye, succumbs to seasickness, has an incredibly high genetic risk of heart illness, and has transient idiopathic arrhythmia.
    • Leonard Hofstadter, on top of having Nerd Glasses (which he is Blind Without 'Em) and asthma, is also lactose intolerant and has a deviated septum.
    • Sheldon Cooper is usually healthy due to his highly regimented lifestyle but succumbs very easily to illness (and becomes even more insufferable than usual when he does). Any deviation from his dietary routine results in serious intestinal distress.
    • In one episode, Penny lampshades this trope when she asks Amy if there was any part of her body that was working properly.
  • Community: Garrett Lambert. This Greendale student is usually an Unlucky Extra whenever he gets involved in the protagonists' antics. His appearance is dorky and awkward, and his manner seems perpetually flustered, anxious, and out of breath.
  • Chidi Anagonye from The Good Place is a nerdy professor of philosophy who's The Ditherer to an extreme degree and is prone to psychosomatic stomachaches whenever things go wrong.
  • All of the Dorfmans from iCarly, and Jeremy. Freddie's mom treats him as though he is; this has gotten more and more ridiculous as his actor has gotten bigger and her character has gotten Flanderized.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: Lisa Zemo, who started off with braces, Nerd Glasses, and a perpetually-stuffy nose. Subverted, however, because a season or two later, she comes back looking less nerdy and on a new allergy medication. One episode has her temporarily revert to this, as she had allergies again and had to wear hypoallergenic clothing and glasses. This time without the curly hair and braces, though.
  • Felix from The Odd Couple (1970), especially the TV series which Flanderized his allergies.
  • Stargate SG-1: Downplayed severely with Dr. Daniel Jackson. He wears glasses, is often referred to as a "nerd" by Jack (albeit affectionately), and takes allergy pills (said pills were a plot device in an early episode when they provided the key to curing an alien disease). Despite that, he is a Badass Bookworm with plenty of combat experience and knows how to use all manner of firearms very well, he has refused to break under torture multiple times, and he's at least in the same ballpark as the rest of the team when it comes to physical and athletic skills.

  • William Barfée in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Among other things, it's mentioned that a severe allergic reaction forced him out of the previous year's bee. He also has a "rare mucous membrane disorder" that produces chronic nasal congestion and is sensitive about his personal space (among many other problems of socialization).
  • The eponymous character in the several versions old Yiddish play The Two Kuni-Lemls is like this—limps, thick glasses, easily confused. Has a long speech about his health problems, including "I get indigestion when I walk." (The first version was a satire of Hasidism. He's an "ancestor" of the Jerry Lewis character.)

    Video Games 
  • Lester Crest, the geeky Mission Control from Grand Theft Auto V. Justified since he actually has a wasting disease, and needs a cane to walk short distances.
  • Communication Specialist Samantha Traynor from Mass Effect 3: "I'm allergic to dust. And cats. And public speaking. And I take a proton pump inhibitor for my stomach. And an inhaler for asthma." She also takes what Shepard informs her is a placebo for headaches.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Andrew on Big Mouth, who is Jewish and Nerdy, apparently suffers from eczema, hemorrhoids, plantar fasciitis, and a number of obscure allergies. Colophony in particular triggers a very bad allergic reaction. His Kangol hat causes him to suffer from blisters that literally sizzle and ultimately causes his skin to bond with the hat so that when it is ripped off his hair goes with it.
  • Camp Lazlo: Samson is a nerdy guinea pig who has to resort to his "asthma buddy" (his inhaler) once an hour. His ideal camp is one where everything, from the plants to the campers, is contained in a bubble.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: Depending on the needs of the plot, Dexter may be a short weakling averse to physical contact and activity or an outright Badass Bookworm.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • Ed is a sci-fi and comic book geek who has been known to have multiple allergies, like rabbits, dandelions, eels, and butterscotch pudding. It's implied in "Mission Ed-Possible" that he's allergic to cats as well.
    • Double-D is yet another Filburt-inspired example, becoming most prevalent whenever he's in panic (in other words, every few minutes).
  • Dr. Mendel Craven from Godzilla: The Series. He's got allergies to everything.
  • In a creepy example, Cousin Arnie from Hey Arnold!. He's pale and has postnasal drip/sinus problems, and he's also a Creepy Child with some kind of ambiguous isorder.
    • Also Brainy. Word of God says that the reason he talks so little is that he has extremely bad asthma, but that otherwise he would be just as articulate and poetic as Helga.
  • Arnold from The Magic School Bus, though his claims of illness/allergies could be a desperate attempt to avoid being taken on the (frequently bizarre and sometimes very dangerous) field trips that Ms. Frizzle seems to be so fond of. The bus's trip inside a flower did trigger nonstop pollen-induced sneezing from him, though.
  • Subverted by Gretchen from Recess. She has the nasal voice but otherwise doesn't have any known illnesses. Although she did catch a cold in the episode where Gus became Terrified of Germs.
  • Filburt from Rocko's Modern Life who becomes physically ill even from the most mundane of tasks. "I'm nauseous. I'm nauseous. I'm nauseous. I'm nauseous..."
  • In Ruby Gloom Misery's cousin Malady (an occasional guest character) will always treat the phrase "How are you?" as a cue for an epic description of her ailments, usually finishing with something like "'s a scrape. I'll be fine."
  • Bart Simpson's best friend Milhouse Van Houten is this — in an episode where peanut products are banned from Springfield Elementary due to someone (later revealed to be Principal Skinner) having a life-threatening peanut allergy, Bart wonders aloud who it could. He and a bunch of other students initially think it's Milhouse since he suffers from a bunch of different allergies — but Milhouse denies being the reason for the ban on peanut products, explaining that he's "only" allergic to honey, wheat, dairy, non-dairy, and his own tears.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants is occasionally implied to be this. He's certainly pretty geeky to begin with (wears a button-down shirt tucked into his pants and a tie, has dorky interests, etc.) When he gets too worked-up about something, he'll start wheezing loudly. Mr. Krabs also implied in one episode that SpongeBob takes allergy medication. In the first Christmas episode, he's so shocked to see Santa Claus that he basically has an extremely happy, excited asthma attack and then faints.
  • Harold from Total Drama has shades of this. A lot of it is confined to his online bio, though he also has Nerdy Nasalness and is very scrawny (not that this keeps him from having some badass moments.) Cody and Ezekiel are two other nerdy characters who mention having allergies at some point in the series.
  • Panda from We Bare Bears is a geeky otaku with several allergies, including peanuts, pollen, and cat fur.
  • Tino's cousin in The Weekenders is a subversion: when they were younger his health problems were so demanding that he slept with a humidifier and dehumidifier on for each nostril, and Tino dreads hanging out with him because of it. Once he finally lets his cousin get a word in edgewise, though, it turns out that he's now both healthy and cool.