Top Ten Nerds from the '80s

Posted at 5:00 AM Dec 01, 2008

By Jennifer Mathieu

Nerds get a bum rap, even if they usually do go on to run the world.  (Despite the mad basketball skillz, we know that Barack Obama is a total nerd, right?)  Anyway, what other decade besides the '80s spawned such memorable nerds as the ones you see below you?  So let's all grab our pocket protectors, raise a glass of Ovaltine and salute these fine young men and women.

10. The Entire Cast of Head of the Class

hotc.jpgAs depressing as it was to watch the former Dr. Johnny Fever (Howard Hesseman, natch) go down-market for this less than stellar sitcom, we'd be remiss not to mention this crew of outsiders simply because you got so many nerds for the price of one.  There was the child prodigy nerd (Janice), the sexy nerd (Eric) and the classic nerd (Arvid).  (There was also Robin Givens, but we mostly try and forget about her.)  This show rolled further downhill when Dr. Fever finally came to his senses and moved back to WKRP in Cincinnati, but it chose to linger on with some Scottish man at the helm for one or two more seasons.  Check this out for more analysis of Head of the Class than you ever thought possible.  

9. Jordan from Real Genius

jordan.jpgSo, how many times did you watch Real Genius?  However many times you say, I promise you I watched it 10 more times than that.  This was one of my favorite junior high slumber party rentals and for good reason.  Yes, Val Kilmer was yummy, yes, there was that weird Lazlo guy living in the closet, and yes, there was that crazy ending with popcorn everywhere as a Tears for Fears song played.  But I mostly loved it because of Jordan (played by Michelle Meyrink).  Finally, a nerdy girl who was cute and smart!  What a shocker to my cute, smart, junior high self!  And she gets the guy in the end!  (Granted, it was that weird Mitch dude and not Val Kilmer, but at least she got a guy.)

8. The Ladies of Omega Mu

Sadly, Jordan was an isolated case when it comes to '80s female nerds.  Remember the ladies of Omega Mu in Revenge of the Nerds?  Frankly, even at the age of 12 I found the whole setup of this film to be totally gross and so stereotypical it ceased to be funny.  I mean, how long can one watch Ted McGinley running around in a jock strap before it gets a little tiresome?  However, I do mention the Omega Mus because they owned their nerdiness and rocked it hard despite the nasty behavior of those mean girls at the Pi house.  Crazily enough, Michelle Meyrink, who played Jordan in Real Genius, was also cast as an Omega Mu in this film.  Typecast much?
7. Skippy from Family Ties

skippy.jpgForever linked in my mind with my favorite brand of peanut butter, poor Skippy was both nerdy and unlucky in love.  (I guess the two do tend to go hand in hand sometimes.)  Destined to play second fiddle to Mallory's hip artist boyfriend Nick, poor Skippy was relegated to the background as a meddling buffoon.  But if Family Ties was real life, you totally know Skippy would be the head of his own Fortune 500 company by now and Nick would be in rehab for that meth problem he just can't kick.

6. Pee-Wee Herman

The debate lingers on: Was Pee-Wee a nerd or simply an overgrown man child whose antics served as great fodder for college students who watched him while high?  The answer is both.  I think Pee-Wee will always be recognized for taking the nerdy image (bow tie, squeaky voice, slicked down hair) and transforming it into something that surpassed nerdiness.  However, since the basis for his persona was the ultimate nerd, he definitely belongs on this list.  AAAAAGGGGHHHHHH!!!!  Oh, forgot to mention that "list" was the word of the day.


Vincent Yuen said:

Hey Jennifer,

I thought this top ten list is amazing, I haven't seen a Skippy reference in a long time. I help run a site which is entirely user generated top ten lists. We have seen that a lot of bloggers who post their lists to our site are getting a lot of traffic back to their site.

You can source your list when you create it, and a link to your site appears at the bottom of the list. A lot of people click on your link because the original source always looks better. Another thing we’ve noticed people do is put your url in the description, and make the list votable, so people can change the rank of your items. Votes are really what makes your list and profile on our site more popular. The more popular your list is on our site, the more people see it, and hopefully will visit your site.

Let me know if you have any questions, and we hope to see your lists on our TopTenTopTen.

Best Regards,

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