The old saying goes, “Be nice to geeks--you'll end up working for them someday.” But in fiction, some geeks go on to even greater things, like fighting crime, changing history, or saving the world. No need to be handsome, muscular, or extroverted here. These fictional geek heroes get the job done in their own dorky way.
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Before discovering the real world, Neo was a computer programmer by day and a skilled hacker in his spare time. His transformation to savior of humanity is noteworthy for granting him an increasingly cooler persona, tarnishing his nerd cred in the process.
The entire premise of Chuck revolves around his standing as an ordinary geek, working as a Nerd Herd computer tech at his local Buy More (get it?). He of course transcends this ordinary existence when the secrets of the spy world are passed into his head. And you thought the Geek Squad folks were know-it-alls.
Doctor Emmett Brown
Not known for anything computer-related, Doc falls under the "science nerd" category of geekiness. A shut-in, he spent most of his time and money building a time machine, and was supposedly the town's scientist-on-call. He didn't begin to shed his social awkwardness until the third film, when he met and wooed Clara Clayton.
Lemon, as she's often simply referred to, draws most of her geekiness from an obsession with Star Wars. But even if you've never seen the episode where she dresses as Princess Leia to avoid jury duty, you'll know she also heads into dork territory with her self-deprecating, yet strangely endearing, humor.
Wildly clever, with access to a seemingly limitless arsenal of homemade gadgets, Data is the geek we all wanted to be as kids. His inventions didn't always execute flawlessly, but they came through in the clutch, and you've got to love that smile of success at about 30 seconds into this video.
In a group of crime-fighters known for being totally radical, Donatello stood out as the geek of the squad. He was usually called on for all things tech, and he excelled. Despite his lack of coolness, he was a favorite Ninja Turtle to play in the classic TMNT arcade game, thanks to his long-ranged Bo.
Who needs magic when you've got the Internet? Willow, a member of book, science, and computer clubs in her high school years, usually took to the computer to gather intel about whatever monster the Scooby Gang was about to face. I'm guessing she got the details from the show's rabid fans.
Despite having no apparent brawn or combat training, Dr. Gordon Freeman became a superhero when experiments at the Black Mesa Research Facility resulted in "unforeseen consequences." Silent yet courageous, he's the geek everyone wants to be, except that none of us could pull off Freeman's quiet cool.
If Peter Parker wasn't such a bookworm and science buff, he might not have taken such heat from “Flash” Thompson and his jock friends. Nor would he have been involved in a bizarre science experiment that gave him spider-like powers and reflexes, and even if he did, he wouldn't have the smarts to develop web fluid. That's a win for staying true to yourself.
The name says it all. Hidden within Gadget's getup were all sorts of helpful, voice-activated gizmos -- helicopters, spring shoes, binoculars -- if only he could use them properly. I'm inclined to give Inspector Gadget a low rating, but he gets bonus points if you throw in his niece Penny, who's even nerdier and more technically proficient than he is.
Abby's goth look isn't exactly geeky, but she exhibits two hallmarks that give her an automatic pass: She talks to her computers, and frequently consumes Caf-Pow, a fictional but highly caffeinated beverage. She'd make a great video-game programmer.
When one of your most famous lines is “I collect spores, molds, and fungus,” you're clearly no Peter Venkman. But Egon was the Ghostbuster whom everyone relied on to explain all the paranormal activity that was going on. Good thing, because that movie would've bombed without technical explanations.
Computer Engineer Barbie
The 125th career-specific Barbie is a role model for girls everywhere, and the one figurine best suited for a demotion from fashion queen to queen of the geeks. She does play it off nicely, though, with the Bluetooth headset, pink mininotebook and binary threads -- maybe a little too nicely.
Like any geek would, David Lightman used his hacking skills to find and play computer games. It's just too bad the one he stumbled upon almost triggered World War III. That he solved the dilemma with brains rather than brute force gives him extra props.
At the end of the day, Dilbert's a hero to all the geeks stuck in cubicles. He's not saving the world, but his subtle mockery of the Pointy-Haired Boss and his love of computers and technology are enough to get him the last spot on this list.
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