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In the world of television, geeks are often portraited in a negative light. They’re made fun of, beaten up by bullies, and often treated as less than. But some shows have actually given geeks such prominent roles that they’ve become legendary.
Here are the most iconic geeks from popular TV shows! You’ll notice that most of these shows are sitcoms, but don’t let that take away from how awesomely geeky these characters are. A geek is a geek!
1. Steve Urkel (Family Matters)
When you think of television characters who are massive geeks, Steve Urkel is probably the first name that comes to mind (at least for anyone who grew up in the 90s). You simply need to drop a “Did I do that?” and just about everyone will know who you’re referencing. Steve Urkel ended up being such a popular character among viewers that the show itself shifted its focus from the Winslow family to Steve Urkel over time.
2. Lisa Simpson (The Simpsons)
Lisa Simpson might be a cartoon, but she’s definitely an iconic nerd who’s been going strong since The Simpsons started all the way back in 1989. What makes Lisa stand out is the fact that her geekiness isn’t played negatively—it ends up being one of her most favorable qualities. The show was on long before geekdom was considered cool, so she was actually quite an empowering character for nerdy outcasts.
3. Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory)
Sheldon Cooper and the rest of his Big Bang Theory castmates are geeks, dorks, and nerds in just about everything they do. While the show has rightfully received its fair share of criticism, it most definitely brought many aspects of geek culture to the mainstream, and it has helped to take away some of the negative stigma in being a nerd. While we included Sheldon as the most iconic of the geeks on the show, Leonard, Raj, and Howard could easily have made the cut, too.
4. Carlton Banks (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air)
Carlton Banks was the exact opposite of his cousin Will on The Fresh Prince. Will got all the girls, had tons of friends, and was the popular kid at school; Carlton most definitely didn’t get the girls and wasn’t beloved by all of his classmates. But yet, he was still awesome. From his swaggy dances to the overall way he carried himself, Carlton is one of TV’s greatest geeks.
5. Abby Sciuto (NCIS)
Abby is a mix between geek and goth, but she’s all awesome. Interestingly, she’s the only geek on the list who isn’t from a sitcom, what with NCIS being a serious crime drama. The character serves as a forensic scientist on the show. She’s not exactly a traditional geek like most of the others on the list, but that’s part of what makes the character so special. She shows that geeks don’t have to look or dress a certain way to still be a geek!
6. JD (Scrubs)
Dr. John Dorian (or JD as he’s more commonly known) is a gigantic geek. While he’s a geek through and through, he’s also quite cool in his own way. He’s proof that being a geek doesn’t mean you can’t attract a mate while not changing your personality. In fact, JD’s success with the ladies might even make you question his geekiness, but then you remember that he’s a grown man who’s constantly daydreaming (and don’t forget that he wrote Dr. Acula!)
7. Ross Geller (Friends)
Much like JD, Ross isn’t your typical geek (he goes out with Rachel after all). But his personality quirks and love of dinosaurs certainly qualifies him for the list. Let’s not forget the dance moves displayed by Ross and his almost-as-geeky sister Monica on the show.
8. Samuel Powers (Saved By The Bell)
Samuel Powers (or “Screech” as he’s more commonly called by his fellow classmates on Saved By The Bell) is a geek in just about every way. The writers of the show apply just about every nerd stereotype to the character, and yet he’s still beloved by fans of the show. In spite of his super geeky features, the character has plenty of redeeming qualities and is actually quite likable. He’s even best friends with the coolest kid in school in the show’s main character, Zach Morris.
9. Dwight Schrute (The Office)
Dwight K. Schrute is what every young geek dreams of growing up to be. The character shows fandom of popular geek shows and movies all over the place, and he displays all kinds of nerdy personality traits. Dwight believes himself to be a master of many different things, including karate, which is definitely something a lot of us geeks can probably relate to!
More Geeky TV Shows
We’ve touched on some of the most popular geeks and nerds in TV history, but really we’ve only scratched the surface of it all. There are so many awesome geek characters on TV now, if you only know which shows to watch.
Not sure where to start? Check out these hilariously smart TV sitcoms!