The Top Seven Movie Nerds of All Time
Few character archetypes in cinema have the ability to entertain us as much as movie nerds do. Perhaps it’s because nerdiness has become trendy. Or perhaps it’s just that nerds in the movies are really the coolest guys on the screen.
Source: Universal Pictures
7. Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Cameron is awesome because he was way ahead of his time. He’s not your standard nerd, and he’s definitely not your standard ‘80s nerd. The guy wears a jersey, he skips the f*** out of school, and he’s got some personality disorders and neuroses that will take years of high-priced therapy to work out.
But the guy is really cool, too. I mean, not only does he let his best friend -– who happens to be the most popular guy in school –- jack his dad’s most prized possession, at the end of the day he destroys it on a whim. Yeah, he’s kind of crazy, but he doesn’t fit into any molds. One second he’s tripping balls and going catatonic at the bottom of a pool, the next he’s blasting his dad’s prized 1961 Ferrari 250GT California out of a two-story garage. The guy has balls.
Will Cameron win any awards for nerdiest nerd ever? Probably not. But he has the distinction of being one of the most original nerds the movies have ever seen.
6. Duckie from Pretty in Pink
For some reason the people making high school films in the ‘80s decided that the girl most likely to cause dorks to swoon was the red headed, puffy lipped Molly Ringwald, and she broke a lot of nerdy hearts in her time. One of the nerdiest of them was Duckie, and he proved that just because you’re a nerd doesn’t mean you can’t have style. Guy had style in spades, and he knew how to dance, too. That’s gotta count for something.
Unfortunately, the way this movie ended was pretty dang unsatisfying for everyone, but it’s nice to know that there was another ending that John Hughes much preferred. In it Duckie actually does get the girl, and we have a kind of male equivalent to the ending of Some Kind of Wonderful. Why they decided to have Andie hook up with the bland-as-butter Blane is beyond me, but it’s nice to know that in the world as conceived by the writer – i.e., the real world of Pretty in Pink – Duckie’s ballsy nerd-swagger actually did win him the lady in the end.
Now, whether or not Duckie and Andie did the f***ie is another question altogether. You can discuss that one in the comments section.
5. McLovin from Superbad
Yeah, I know, this is a new one. A lot of people will take issue with the fact that McLovin took the place of Lazlo and Mitch from Real Genius, Booger from Revenge of the Nerds, or any other number of nerds who deserve to be on this list. But McLovin – a.k.a. Fogell – did something very important for the evolution of the movie nerd.
With one brilliant performance, McLovin bridged the nerdiness of nerds past and present. A lot of people had written nerds off as a character contrivance without much freshness or originality, and then along came McLovin, doing nerdy, unpredictable things left and right. When was the last time you saw a nerd fire a cop’s gun in a movie, or having sex, for that matter? Movie nerds the world over owe a lot to McLovin for opening a lot of doors that didn’t exist before he came along.
But I think McLovin’s greatest contribution to cinema was his unflinching nerdiness in the face of adversity. At the end of the day, McLovin was about as close to a nerd-badass as they come: the jocks, stoners, and metal heads have nothing on him.
4. Data from The Goonies
Data is everything we love about nerds, without all the stuff we hate about them. He doesn’t chase after the prettiest girl in school, he’s not the game master of a weekly Dungeons & Dragons game, and he doesn’t have a beef with the captain of the football team.
Here’s what Data is: a genius inventor who mispronounces funny words at the funniest possible moment. The guy shoots slippery gunk out the back of his high tops, he has a homemade grappling hook, and his trench coat is hardwired to defend against members of the local mafia. And he’s only five feet tall! That’s a nerd we’d all like to have on our side.
Data’s precociousness notwithstanding, he’s what I like to call a Utilitarian Nerd. River Phoenix in Explorers, Val Kilmer in Real Genius, Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science, and the number one nerd on this list are all good examples of the Utilitarian Nerd, but Data is perhaps the most endearing of them all.