The 17 Most Famous Nerd Characters in Movies, Ranked

We look at the most iconic nerds from the most iconic nerd movies to see which one reigns as the best movie nerd character of all time!
The 17 Most Famous Nerd Characters in Movies, Ranked

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Long gone are the days being shunned just because you're a nerd. Nowadays, nerd culture has made its way so deep into mainstream culture that it's not hard to be a nerd anymore.

Many of the things that used to be exclusive to the ultra-nerdy are popular with all sorts of people. Things like video games, board games, anime, and comics are all relatively popular with everyone.

And when it comes to nerds in film, there have been some fantastic depictions that remind everyone of just how cool being a nerd can be.

Here are some of the most iconic nerds from movies. Let's see which geek manages to settle into the top spot!

17. Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters (1984)

Watch: My Parents Didn't Believe in Toys

Egon Spengler is one of cinema's greatest minds—the inventor of the famed backpacks used by the Ghostbusters to trap the ghosts that plague New York City in Ghostbusters.

Throughout the films, Egon is the calm one who's opposite Bill Murray's Pete Venkman, yet the one who always finds himself going into the fight anyway, filled with confidence in his machines.

Harold Hamis's character was the director's most famous acting role and made a posthumous return in Ghostbusters: Afterlife despite Ramis dying a few years ago. However, such is the legacy of his nerdy character: Egon's absence couldn't stand, hence his return.

16. Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)

Watch: Harry Meets Hermione

Hermione Granger is a nerd down to her very core. From the first moment she appeared in the movies—to fix Harry's broken glasses and admonish Ron with a glare—Hermione's place was cemented.

Of course, she's Harry and Ron's best friend and the only one of the trio to actually finish studying at Hogwarts. But more than that, she's a fearless witch who can always be counted on to do the right thing.

Her fixation on getting the best grades and being a cut above the rest only play into her nerdy nature, but what makes her a great character is her willingness to apply her knowledge to the right cause—even if it involves a certain amount of rule-breaking.

15. Dr. Ellie Sattler in Jurassic Park (1993)

Watch: The Sick Triceratops

Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm get the biggest moments in Jurassic Park, but it's Ellie Sattler who shines with her intellect and survival instincts.

Laura Dern's character is equal to everybody around her and has a deep passion for dinosaurs that sees her stay with a sick Triceratops rather than continue the ill-fated park tour.

However, when it all goes wrong, she's willing to go out and do the dangerous task of restoring power and communications to the island. She even makes a quip about sexism in survival situations before walking into the Velociraptor-infested jungle.

In the end, she's the character who goes back for Alan and the children, even with the threat of these creatures who are hunting them down. In short, she's a nerd—and a brave one at that.

14. Tracy Flick in Election (1999)

Watch: Some People Say I'm an Overachiever

The story of Tracy Flick is one of the most engaging and relatable in cinematic history, as Reese Witherspoon gives the annoying nerd life in Alexander Payne's Election.

Her actions in pursuing class president are insufferable, something that one of her teachers notices and attempts to sabotage—all following Tracy's affair with one of his friends, which got him fired.

Though she's annoying, Tracy Flick is iconic because everyone has had a Tracy Flick at their own school. You know, the achiever type who will do anything to succeed, no matter the consequences. For that, she earns a spot here. Tracy Flick is a nerd through and through.

13. Mark Watney in The Martian (2015)

Watch: Planting Potatoes on Mars

After he's presumed dead and lost in a Martian storm, Mark Watney is forced to survive alone on the barren planet alone until rescue can come.

Unfortunately for Watney, rescue is years away. That means he has to find a way to feed himself for several years—and he only has a few months of provisions left on his crew's ship.

But Watney is a botanist and full-blown nerd. He's able to apply his knowledge and skills to grow potatoes on Mars and stay alive far longer than anyone else would've been able to, even if that means eating bland potatoes for months on end.

Not only is Watney a fun character who's easy to root for, he's also an everyman. He isn't heroic in your usual sense; he simply has an iron will to live and make it back home.

12. Clark Kent in Superman (1978)

Watch: Faster Than a Speeding Bullet

Clark Kent is the face that Kal-El puts on in public, the one that can blend in and disappear without anybody really seeing him—all before he tears off his outer layers to reveal his true heroic self.

For all of it, Clark Kent is a nerd. He's a character who appeals because of his nerdy and passive nature, and nobody played him better than the late Christopher Reeve.

Forget the superpowers that Kal-El has access to. As Clark Kent, he's a soul who represents every viewer. He's a man who does good wherever he goes, with the guise of nerdiness protecting him from the public glare of Superman.

11. Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Watch: Ichabod Crane Investigates

Ichabod Crane is a character much older than Johnny Depp's performance, but nobody has ever captured Crane's use of his mind as well as Depp did in Sleepy Hollow.

In this film, Crane isn't a burly, grizzled, rough-around-the-edges detective as is often the trope. Instead, he's a fightless nerd who invents new methods for detecting clues to crack cases.

His power is his extraordinary mind, which keeps him on the trail of the Headless Horseman—and the person directing the undead phantom.

Crane's nerdy nature leads him to uncover the truth of the case and how the Horseman is able to take those he captures back to hell with him.

10. Evelyn Carnahan in The Mummy (1999)

Watch: Evelyn Receives a Gift

Evie in The Mummy is an awesome nerd. She's incredibly smart but a bit socially awkward.

In the end, she manages to come through and actually ends up saving the day, reminding us that geeks can be badasses when they need to!

"Look, I... I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seeker, or a gunfighter, Mr. O'Connell, but I am proud of what I am."

9. Harold Lee in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)

Watch: Harold and Kumar Make It to White Castle

Harold from Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle is the very definition of a nerd. Well, he's a nerd and stoner, but a nerd nonetheless. He's an investment banker who doesn't like to live on the edge.

But when he's convinced to, he'll pull out all the stop, as he does in all of the movies. "Oh, nice. Sixteen Candles is on, man."

8. Chuck Sherman in American Pie (1999)

Watch: The Shermanator

Chuck Sherman aka The Shermanator is vastly nerdier than anyone else in the American Pie movies.

But like all great movie nerds, he finds a way to overcome his social issue and actually ends up with some of the most attractive women in the film—living way above his station.

"I am The Sherminator. I'm a sophisticated sex robot sent back through time, to change the future for one lucky lady."

7. Brian Ralph Johnson in The Breakfast Club (1985)

Watch: Brian Is a Virgin

Brian Ralph Johnson is the quintessential geek in his school. When he finds himself in detention with a rather motley crew of other students, we learn that there's far more than meets the eye with deep character.

As the movie progresses, we learn a lot about him, and he ends up giving nerds everywhere a good name! "Could you describe the ruckus, sir?"

6. Data in The Goonies (1985)

Watch: Finding One-Eyed Willy's Treasure Map

Data aka Richard Wang is sort of like a caricature of a nerd. He's a master of inventions, and his skills end up helping the group tremendously as they face some pretty serious trials and tribulations.

He ends up being one of the most important characters in the movie, empowering young geeks everywhere. "I'm setting booty traps."

5. Dennis Nedry in Jurassic Park (1993)

Watch: Dennis Nedry Selling Secrets

Interestingly, geeks and nerds in movies tend to be good guys. That's not the case with Dennis Nedry.

He's a despicable excuse for a human being whose actions cost lots of people their lives and spring on the events that make up the conflict in the Jurassic Park film.

The annoying hacker and his "Ah ah ah, you didn't say the magic word" computer is enough to make anyone hate him.

"Dodgson, Dodgson, we've got Dodgson here! Nobody cares. Nice hat. What are you trying to look like, a secret agent?"

4. Peter Parker in Spider-Man (2002)

Watch: Peter Parker's Transformation

Is there a bigger contrast than Peter Parker to Spider-Man? While technically one-in-the-same, Parker and his superhero alter ego couldn't be more different.

Peter Parker is quiet, awkward, and sheepish while Spider-Man is boisterous, smooth, and fearless.

What geek wouldn't want to throw on a spider suit and become one of the toughest superheroes in the world? "With great power, comes great responsibility."

3. Doc Brown in Back to the Future (1985)

Watch: The DeLorean's First Successful Trip

Doc is easily one of the most famous geeks in the world. He created a time machine out of a DeLorean and he talks about gigawatts all while being one of the most eccentric individuals to ever grace the silver screen.

While he might accomplish the impossible, make no mistake about it, he's one of the nerdiest characters in any movie and he rocks it with pride. "Roads? Where we're going we don't need... roads!"

2. Napoleon Dynamite in Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Watch: Girls Only Want Boyfriends Who Have Skills

Love him or hate him, you can't help but acknowledge that Napoleon Dynamite is a giant nerd. You also can't deny how quotable his lines, to the point where people who haven't even seen the movie know him.

He's definitely one of the movie world's most recognizable nerds, and for a period, he was one of the most well-known characters across all genres.

"Nunchuck skills... bowhunting skills... computer hacking skills... Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills!"

1. McLovin in Superbad (2007)

Watch: McLovin's Fake ID

Superbad is one of the funniest movies ever made, and that's in large part due to a character who isn't even in a large part of it.

McLovin aka Fogell is involved in one of comedy's funniest scenes. He decides to get a face ID using only one name: McLovin. No last name. Just McLovin. "Old enough... to party."