Join or Sign In

Sign in to customize your TV listings

Continue with Facebook Continue with email

By joining TV Guide, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

Geek out with our roundup of the bube tube's biggest dorks

1 of 19 DreamWorks/The Kobal Collection

Sam, Neal and Bill, Freaks and Geeks

Leave it to the McKinley High trio to represent every type of nerd on the spectrum. Sam has more of an "in" with the cool kids (hey, Cindy Sanders!), but remains as devoted to sci-fi as Neal and Bill are. Neal oozes confidence that's proportionate to his ventriloquist-act smarts, and while Bill doesn't have as much self-belief, you've got to love a guy who wore his mom's clothes to dress up as the Bionic Woman for Halloween.
2 of 19 ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images

Urkel, Family Matters

Perhaps the greatest nerd ever, Urkel fulfilled all the requirements on the nerd checklist: a squeaky voice, large glasses, highwaters, suspenders, cardigan, multiple catch phrases, a funny gait and yearning after unrequited love (Laura Winslow). We'll try to forget the fact that he temporarily transformed himself into ladies' man Stefan Urquelle. Just wasn't the same, you know?
3 of 19 Bob D'Amico/ABC/Getty Images

Minkus, Boy Meets World

While most nerds are ostracized by others, it's safe to say Minkus was one of the few who ostracized himself. Using his brain for evil instead of good (as much as a sixth-grader could), he frequently tormented Shawn and Cory and conspired to pick up Topanga. Minkus disappeared after the first season, but turned up in the high school graduation episode to explain that he's been "on the other side of the school" the past few years. Get it?
4 of 19 NBC/Quincy Jones Ent./The Kobal Collection

Carlton, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Is there a whiter black guy than Carlton? Socially inept, straight-laced, short, a Macaulay Culkin-idolizer and preppier than Sunday brunch at a Connecticut golf club, Carlton was the perfect foil to Will, and he was damn proud of it. (At least they both found common ground with their love of Beverly Hills, 90210.) You have to be self-assured to continuously rock out to Tom Jones with such impeccable timing that your golf sweater never flies off your shoulders.
5 of 19 Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

Samuel "Screech" Powers, Saved by the Bell

The classic nerd with book smarts, but no streets smarts, Screech often fell victim to humiliation at the hands of Zack's wacky scams, but you never doubted that the gang enjoyed his company just like he did his robot pal Kevin. (You can't say the same in real life for Dustin Diamond now.) And like many nerds before and after him, he lusted after one, unattainable gal, Lisa Turtle, but instead had to settle for the dorky Violet Bickerstaff. Because, you know, nerds only date nerds.
6 of 19 Trae Patton/ABC TV Studio/Getty Images

J.D., Scrubs

As a doctor, J.D. obviously has got the brains, but he isn't a nerd in the traditional sense. He gets the ladies and isn't socially inept, but is full of random quirks, most notably daydreaming nearly every chance he gets. And then there's the fact that he and Turk dork out and regress to little boys whenever they're around each other, and are basically the poster boys for "bromance." They just prefer to call it "Guy Love."
7 of 19 Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

Chuck and the Nerd Herd, Chuck

How can you ignore a group of guys whose (day) job has "nerd" in the title? Chuck doesn't necessarily look the part of a nerd, but his mastery of Klingon would beg to differ. He's also a bit of a brainiac — remember, he was at Stanford on scholarship — which is a good thing since that noggin had been used as a gigantic government database. As for Jeffster!, the fact that they're a cover band says it all. ("Push It" is our fave.)
8 of 19 Ali Goldstein/NBC

Kenneth, 30 Rock

Perennially cheerful, overly polite and ageless, Kenneth — real name Dick Whitman (!) — seems like a simple man on the outside who loves his TV and sees everyone as muppets (and appears as a muppet in high-def). But he isn't as aw-shucks and innocent as he seems, especially when you considered Jack & Co. fear he might either be in charge one day... or kill them all.
9 of 19 Lewis Jacobs/NBC

Abed, Community

Is there a greater pop culture junkie on TV &mdash or ever — than Abed? Between his meta references and Cougar Town affection, he's really the gift that keeps on giving. But our favorite Abed moment may be when he wasn't Abed, but a cardigan-wearing grown-up who's grown out of his entertainment-loving self. Except that he didn't and it was all a stealth homage to My Dinner with Andre. Well played, Abed, well played.
10 of 19 Adam Rose/CBS

Abby, NCIS

With her raven hair, multiple tattoos, dangling jewelry and plaid mini-skirts, Abby doesn't scream "geek." But we know never to judge a book by its cover. The forensic specialist holds three bachelor's degrees and two master's degrees, loves her Caf-Pow and can always lighten the mood with Bert, her farting hippo. Is there a portmanteau for a gothic nerd?
11 of 19 Michael Yarish/CBS

Reid and Garcia, Criminal Minds

A genius and a former hacker. What more do you need in the FBI? What Reid lacks in social skills, he makes up for with his 187 IQ, eidetic memory (Yale wasn't his safety school for nothing) and robotic but charming tendency to spew out info at, by our guess, 794 words a minute. As Prentiss would say, "he's so lifelike." Garcia doesn't match Reid in brain power, but her coding skills are nothing to sneeze at since it landed her on the FBI hackers list and eventually her tech analyst job — for which she applied with homemade pink stationery, natch. Good thing she's learned to cool it with the MMOGs (massively multiplayer online games for you non-nerds) at work though after the whole Sir Kneighf case.
12 of 19 Fox

Chloe, 24

Behind every badass man is a badass woman, and that's precisely what Chloe is to Jack, continuously hacking and passing off intel to Jack while he's out in the field for nearly the entire show run. (She appeared in the most episodes outside of Jack himself). His most trusted colleague and confidant, Chloe broke all our hearts when she tearfully turned off the drone feed in the series finale to allow Jack to flee the country.
13 of 19 Sonja Flemming/CBS

Sheldon, Leonard, Raj and Howard, Big Bang Theory

The preeminent nerds on TV — who else would freak out over a signed Leonard Nimoy napkin like Sheldon did? — this quartet can probably solve any science problem anytime and anywhere. And after five seasons, we're happy to see them make headway in social skills too between Howard's engagement, Leonard dating Penny and now Priya, Sheldon bonding with Amy Farrah Fowler and Raj, um, having a one-night stand with Penny. Let's hope he actually talk to ladies after this.
14 of 19 Paul Drinkwater/NBC

Dwight, The Office

Power-hungry and ridiculously clueless, Dwight is, as Rainn Wilson describes him, a "fascist nerd." Hey, he did kill Angela's cat. (RIP Sprinkles!) Raised on a beet farm with no electricity, Dwight isn't the most technically savvy, but he is partial to Second Life, Battlestar Galactica, The Crow, table tennis, survivalism, weapons and Jack Bauer.
15 of 19 Barbara Nitke/Fox

Walter, Fringe

The maddest scientist of all, Walter isn't all quite there after spending nearly two decades in a mental institution, but that's precisely why we love him. His laundry list of quirks — usually with food — is only rivaled by his intelligence, scientific breakthroughs and his love for Peter.
16 of 19 Matt Groening/Fox

Lisa, The Simpsons

Wise beyond her 8 years, Lisa is the brightest member of the clan and quite possibly most adults. Precocious and opinionated, she is a proud feminist and never holds back on her views of current affairs. We can totally see her working at the U.N. one day... if she ever ages.
17 of 19 NBC

Hiro Nakamura, Heroes

It's not every day that a superhero fan becomes one himself, but that's exactly what happened to Hiro. (In case you never got the pun.) He could teleport, manipulate time and time travel so he could save that cheerleader and thus, the world. How many nerds can say they did that?
18 of 19 The WB

Willow, Buffy

Willow became less of a nerd and more of a wicked witch (as in "wicked awesome" not "of the West") as the series progressed, but who could forget the awkward, bookish and meek computer-hacking teen at Sunnydale High? Speaking of Sunnydale High, it was Jenny Calendar who introduced Willow to witchcraft and sent her on her merry Wiccan way.
19 of 19 ABC

Marshall, Alias

Armed with a photographic memory and expertise in practically every single subject you can think of, Marshall was invaluable as the SD-6 op tech head. Coupled with his habit of speaking long after he should be done, the adorkable geek provided some great chuckles too, so you could imagine how distraught we were when he was shot by Lauren. Luckily, he survived and is happily married to fellow nerd Carrie.