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The Most Memorable Nerds In Movie History

Updated June 20, 2021 1.3k votes 172 voters 4.3k views17 items

List RulesVote up the nerds who shined when they had a shot in the movie spotlight.

Nerd characters have been around as long as movies themselves, with the trope appearing at least as early as 1925 and continuing into the present day in films from directors including Judd Apatow and Olivia Wilde. The best movie nerds always have a depth to them that sets them apart from one-dimensional portrayals where their sole purpose is to annoy the main character or provide comedic relief.

Whether they're socially awkward, booksmart, scientifically inclined, or some combination of all three, the best nerds in movies leave a mark on audiences with their relatability and real-life vulnerability.

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  • Naive, awkward, and eager to be one of the guys, Andy's brand of nerdiness is evident in his piles of boxed action figures and comic books, and even in his job selling electronics.

    Although Andy attempts to conform to what he believes to be society's standards for a man, in the end, he maintains his personality and dorkiness - and still gets to fall in love. 

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  • Not a single viewer in theaters was properly prepared for the bombshell dropped by Michelle Flaherty in American Pie once she and Jim (Jason Biggs) make their way to prom.

    Shown only as a breathless talker fixated on her time at band camp throughout high school, Michelle is definitely a band nerd with a saucy side. It's that unexpected twist on her geek persona that makes her such a memorable part of a flick full of scenes that cannot be unseen.

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    Ted (Anthony Michael Hall) From 'Sixteen Candles'

    Farmer Ted embodies everything we assume about nerds in the 1980s: braces complete with headgear, an obsession with sex, and an unstoppable drive to accomplish whatever goals they set their minds to. Ted is a legend in his own friend group, but an outcast to the jocks and popular kids.

    In an effort to prove his dominance to friends and make headway with the "regular" kids, Ted hones in on Samantha Baker (Molly Ringwald) in an attempt to win her affections and borrow her underwear. Ted manages to make friends with popular nice guy Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling), get Sam's underwear, and wake up in a convertible with Jake's ex-girlfriend over the course of one night.

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  • Only a legendary nerd would get a fake license from Hawaii when he lives in California, but an unforgettable nerd would do it and choose the name McLovin for it.

    Full of poor fashion choices, lame slang, and endless self-esteem, McLovin rides his unfounded optimism all the way to an intimate encounter with a girl after making friends with police officers and having the adventure of a lifetime. 

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