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Sickly Neurotic Geek

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This character is frequently seen as a sidekick to the lead, and will be a Hollywood Nerdly type. 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. 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 Jewish Complaining, Drama Queen, Playing Sick.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Joe from Digimon Adventure, although it's mostly just played up in the dub. In the original, he comes over as the more mature and rational member of the group.

  • Daniel Jackson from the original Stargate movie. His allergies act up while traveling. Daniel's allergies play as a plot point sometimes in the spinoff series.
  • Melman from Madagascar. The first thing he does after finding out that he and the gang are leaving N.Y. is to panic over his health treatment.

  • 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!
  • Eddie in Stephen King's IT, courtesy of his mother's apparent case of Munchausen by Proxy.
  • 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 
  • All of the Dorfmans from iCarly, also 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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 
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • Dr. Mendel Craven from Godzilla: The Series. He's got allergies to everything.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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..."
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Panda from We Bare Bears is a geeky otaku with several allergies, including peanuts, pollen, and cat fur.
  • 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 Disorder.
    • Also Brainy. Word of God says that the reason he talks so little is because he has extremely bad asthma, but that otherwise he would be just as articulate and poetic as Helga.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


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