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, book smart, 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.
No one can deny the longevity of Dr. Egon Spengler, founding member of the Ghostbusters and creator of the proton packs they wield against apparitions. Always speaking matter-of-factly even when it might seem uncalled for, Dr. Spengler is the smartest member of the team and is able to calculate the probability of survival when he suggests breaking one of his own rules.
Whether he's making new gadgets for the team or investigating a river of ooze just below New York City, Egon always has his nerd flag flying high.
A shining example of Hermione Granger's unrepentant nerdiness comes when she takes the time to correct schoolmates and friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) on the pronunciation of a levitating spell. Her exasperated instruction, "It's leviOsa, not levioSA!” lets readers and movie viewers alike know exactly where Miss Granger stands when it comes to attention to detail and a drive to educate not only herself, but also those around her in the wizarding world.
Her strengths throughout the series lie in her ability to find and condense, apply, and translate information in order to save herself and her friends from certain doom. Her nerdiness definitely saves the day more than once.
Evie Carnahan may be clumsy, but she's also a highly intelligent woman navigating the 1920s and beyond - and holding her own in many respects. She uses her skills as a librarian and expert on Egyptian texts and lore not only to push forward the adventure in The Mummy, but also to save her future husband Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) from doom several times.
Even as she grows into a more confident version of herself, Evie never loses the nerdy edge that put her on the path toward her new life.
As the nerdy father of Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), George is awkward, complacent, and pathetic as an adult. However, his tendencies toward sci-fi and "bird-watching" in high school prove he's always been a dorky target for bullies.
Excellent at his studies, George spends most of high school completing homework for Biff (Thomas F. Wilson) and pining over the lovely Lorraine (Lea Thompson) from afar. It isn't until his son travels back in time that George gathers the courage to stand up for himself while refusing to give up the nerdy hobbies he loves, leading to a better future for the whole McFly clan.