In the real world, being a nerd is the last thing that most people want. After all, no one looks forward to being singled out or made fun of for not being part of the ‘in crowd’. In the entertainment industry, however, nerds have proven to be some of the most interesting characters. In fact, many of them have left lasting impressions – some of which have continued for decades. From cartoons to sitcoms, nerdy characters have played important roles in countless storylines. It’s actually impossible to envision some of the most popular shows without their nerdy characters. Keep reading to see our list of the most memorable TV nerds.
1. Steve Urkel
Portrayed by Jaleel White, Steve Urkel was the star of the 1990s sitcom Family Matters, and he is arguably the most recognizable TV nerd of all time. Interestingly enough, Urkel wasn’t originally meant to be a main character on Family Matters. The Winslow family was initially supposed to be the center of the show, but it didn’t take Urkel long to steal the show. Even now, nearly 25 years after the show’s end, Jaleel White is still often referred to as Urkel.
2. Samuel “Screech” Powers
Even though Saved by The Bell only lasted for four seasons, it was one of the most iconic sitcoms of the 1990s. Samuel Powers, BKA Screech, was one of the show’s main characters and his quirky personality made him a fan favorite. Despite being a nerd, however, Screech was friends with some of the most popular kids in school and they always had his back.
3. Dr. Sheldon Cooper
Dr. Sheldon Cooper is easily one of the most popular on-screen nerds in recent years. So popular, in fact, that he went from a character in The Big Bang Theory to the star of his own show, Young Sheldon. Portrayed by Jim Parsons as an adult and Iain Armitage as the younger version of Sheldon, the character is incredibly smart which led to him being bullied in school. Despite that, Sheldon has a great sense of humor.
4. Lisa Simpson
The Simpsons is the longest-running scripted show in the United States which means that Lisa Simpson is an OG when it comes to being a TV nerd. Even though she is only in elementary school, Lisa has already formed strong opinions about several serious topics and she enjoys learning new things. Lisa is the most intelligent person in her family and she often acts as a moral compass for the entire group.
5. Carlton Banks
Carlton Banks may be a big nerd, but he’s the only person on this list who has his own dance. Portrayed by Alfonso Ribeiro, Carlton is somewhat of a goody two shoes who often tries to talk his cousin Will out of doing crazy things. Somehow, though, Carlton often gets wrapped up in those things himself.
6. Dr. J.D. Dorian
As the main character on the TV series Scrubs, Dr. J.D. Dorian (Zach Braff) is also one of the most memorable characters from the show. J.D. is very smart and good at his job, but he also tends to be awkward in social situations. Still, however, people tend to gravitate towards J.D. and he is well-liked.
7. Dr. Niles Crane
Fraiser was one of the most popular shows of the 1990s and Dr. Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce) was one of the most popular characters. In addition to being smart, Niles was also somewhat obsessive with his habits and interests. He also suffered from some psychological medical conditions one of which resulted in him being overly afraid of germs.
8. Carol Seaver
As a character in Growing Pains, Carol Seaver (Tracey Gold) was a stereotypical high school nerd. She was very smart and excelled in all of her classes, but she wished she could be popular and more well-liked among other students. This was only made worse by the fact that her brother, Mike, is considered cooler.
9. Alex Dunphy
Oftentimes on TV shows, the middle child is the one who is depicted as being the nerd and Alex Dunphy (Ariel Winter) in Modern Family is no exception. She is seen as the smartest of her siblings and she is an overachiever. Alex also has a somewhat dry sense of humor that is often lost on the rest of her family.
10. Dwight Schrute
Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) is such a popular character that you’ll probably recognize him even if you’ve never seen an episode of The Office. Dwight’s poor social skills make it difficult for him to connect with others, but he’s so successful in his career that that doesn’t really seem to bother him.