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That thing where geeks and scientists are always fragile, skinny guys without a shred of muscle to their names. Except when Geeks are fat. Rarely do we see an athletic, rugged, or only mildly pudgy geek, because they are Squishy Wizards.
While both versions of geek have been around for some time, the "geeks are skinny" image is slowly being displaced by "geeks are fat" as the world obesity rate rises and the average weight of "attractive" Hollywood actors falls. The hours of inactivity and unhealthy eating habits are sufficient justification, and can cause this to be Truth in Television. The older form also has justification in the "Forgets to Eat" aspect of things. The subversion is also true, especially as those entering such industries age and realize they're losing their youthful metabolisms and as such professions become more of a career and less a stepping stone to other things.
Anime and Manga
- Code Geass: Lelouch, lampshaded in that he gets teased for being out of shape compared with Suzaku, Sayoko and even Milly.
- Death Note: L, a pale, skinny man who eats like a fat geek.
- Nozomu Itoshiki the protagonist of Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei is a good-looking nerd, but is quite thin and physically puny, not to mention very pale. The only exercise he seems to do is strengthening his neck muscles, so he can attempt suicide without killing himself.
- Arguably, Verde, Shouichi, and Spanner, from Katekyo Hitman Reborn. All three are rail-thin (especially Verde), and painfully intelligent (especially Verde) in their respective fields (Science for Verde, mechanics for Shou, and robotics for Spanner). The three of them hardly ever leave their labs (once again, especially Verde).
- Eyeshield 21: Yukimitsu is incredibly skinny, which really doesn't help when playing American Football.
- Slam Dunk: Yoshinori is a Lethal Joke Character who looks every bit the stereotypical nerd.
- Harris, Clark, and Martin, Cindy's three colleagues (and fellow MIT grads) in Ika Musume, are respectively on the skinny side of average, emaciated, and obese. At one point they sink into depression; Harris and Clark become fat, while Martin starves himself thin.
- In Genshiken, Kousaka and Madarame are skinny, while Kugayama and Tanaka are fat. Resident asshole Haraguchi is also fat. Everybody else is pretty normal.
- Anthony Michael Hall in The Breakfast Club and maybe a couple of other movies of that era.
- More skinny ones were in Revenge of the Nerds.
- Matt Farrell in Live Free or Die Hard. Warlock (played by Kevin Smith) is an example of the other type.
- Eddie Deezen, semi-famous for playing (among other roles) stereotypical nerd Eugene in Grease, Malvin in War Games and Eddie Lipschultz in The Whoopee Boys.
- "You are a scholar, are you not? Well, I can tell from your diminished physique and large forehead that you are not something else. What is your country of origin? When did the floodwaters recede?"
- Sherlock Holmes is thin as a rail, because he simply Forgets to Eat half the time. This doesn't concern him, because he considers the only important part of himself to be his brain, of which everything else is merely an appendix. Otherwise inverted, though, as he is trained in several forms of fighting and can easily defend himself if need be. He's also likely ripped, in "The Speckled Band" he straightens a steel fireplace poker after a client's stepfather tries to threaten him by bending it. Straightening it would actually more strength than just bending it.
- Somewhat ironic, in that the need for a relatively-high caloric intake in humans, compared to body size, is due specifically to the size of our brains.
- In Cory Doctorow's When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth, a major character is a "type-two sysadmin, over six feet tall, long pony-tail, bobbing Adam's apple. Over his toast-rack chest, his tee said CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON and featured a row of polyhedral RPG dice."
- Fitz, from the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novels, who is described as looking like he's made of pipecleaners. He's quite into Speculative Fiction, particularly Lord of the Rings, and once dubbed a sea monster "Cthulhu", although his characterization generally isn't overtly geeky.
- Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory is one of these. He was described by another character as looking like a praying mantis. The other three geeks also have skinny physiques. It's just that Sheldon's is more pronounced due to being a head taller than the other three.
- However, Leonard's default outfit appears to put about 20 pounds on him.
- Howard is described as looking "like a human chicken wing" in his bathing suit. He also has only 3% bodyfat, and is very proud of this. Of course, he also appears to have only 3% muscle.
- Screech from Saved by the Bell.
- Steve Urkel in Family Matters.
- Jerry Steiner of Parker Lewis Can't Lose.
- The Eighth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors from Doctor Who
- Dr. Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds almost looks like he's made of wire. From the episode "Identity":
(Reid knocks on a guy's door)
- Eric Forman from That 70s Show is often teased for his skinniness.
- Chuck, although it takes Adam Baldwin on the male side, and Yvonne Strathotski on the female side to really count as this.
- Murray 'Boz' Bozinsky from the Riptide series.
- Phillip from Kamen Rider Double is on the skinny half of the trope - and while he may not be much skinnier than his co-star Shoutaro, his very tight clothing under a billowing coat emphasizes his skinniness.
- Abed in Community, though it's very much averted with Troy.
- Otacon in the Metal Gear Solid games was going to be fat, but wound up a skinny nerd in the finished product.
- And by Sons of Liberty, they'd forgotten he was even supposed to be a nerd at all.
- Tedd from El Goonish Shive. He even sees himself as this during an Imagine Spot where he compares himself to other, "better" men Grace might meet at school.
- Hanna from the eponymous Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name. Tiny (around 5'3,) and skinny as a rail, but with wide shoulders and big hands that make him super awkward.
- Ferret of the Whateley Universe. So was Jobe, before he accidentally pulled a Professor Guinea Pig and turned himself into a statuesque drow elf girl.
- The Simpsons also had Homer's roommates when he was in college. If I recall correctly: two thin, one fat, all geeks.
- Lampshaded in another episode by Comic Book Guy: "The average Trekker has no use for a medium-size belt."
- Harold from Total Drama Island.
- To a lesser extent, Cody and Noah are both skinner than any of the non-geeky guys, not to mention shorter.
- One of the scariest examples was found in an early episode of King of the Hill.
- Flint Lockwood in Sony's Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, who also has messy mad scientist hair.
- Gretchen Grundler from Recess.
- Vince's brother Chad as well. In fact, he looked nearly identical to Steve Urkel.
- Zodon of PS238. Or at least his hologram. His true appearance appears to be rather normal, at least for a person with a powerpowered oversized cranium whose lower body is never shown due to his hover chair.
- Kalish of Universal War One.
- Jurassic Park: Dennis Nedry
- Maury Chaykin's "Jim Sting" in War Games (he's the one who calls Eddie Deezen "Mr. Potato Head").
- The titular character in The Brief Wonderous Life Of Oscar Wao - the 2008 Pulitzer Winner - is a hugely overweight Star Wars nerd from the Dominican Republic.
- One of Lisbeth Salander's few friends in Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy is an obese geek with poor social skills (except online).
- Harold Lauder of The Stand was overweight (in the novel, anyway; the miniseries turned him into a skinny geek or arguably a Hollywood Geek).
- Maximum Ride's ter Borcht is described as fat. Is he evil? You get three guesses and the first two don't count.
- Sherlock Holmes' brother Mycroft: possibly even more brilliant than Holmes but completely uninterested in physical activity beyond the minimum.
- In Cory Doctorow's When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth, the main character is "a type-one admin, with an extra seventy or eighty pounds all around the middle, and a neat but full beard that he wore over his extra chins. His tee said HELLO CTHULHU..."
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, there's the bookish Samwell Tarly of the Night's Watch.
- William Barfée from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, at least in most productions.
- Sal Manella from the Ace Attorney games
- In Steins;Gate, Mad Scientist Rintaro Okabe is very skinny. Playful Hacker Itaru Hashida, on the other hand, is extremely fat.
- Parson Gotti was a classic roleplaying nerd till he was summoned to Erfworld. He's slimming down recently.
- Those daily patrols through the whole city and the long rooms and tall stairwells in the main building must be helping.
- Whateley Universe examples: Overclock, the Mountain Dew guzzling computer deviser, and Erlenmeyer, the chem deviser both. Belphegor (yes, his codename is Belphegor) definitely counts too.
- The Board-tan representing 4Chan's /tg/ (the board for discussing tabletop games) is drawn as either skinny or fat.
- Something Awful once featured a Xkcd parody with a shop that only sold T-shirt in sizes small and XXXXX-large.
- Open Source Greg of 4 Gregs is fat. The other 3 are skinny-ish, but in a Stick Figure Animation that's nothing unusual.
- Belphegor of the Whateley Universe. He even named himself after a demon of sloth.
- The Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons
- Kim Possible: Wade Load, the overweight variety
- Reginald "Skull", a video-game crazed comic geek from "Monster House."
- On Total Drama Island, both Beth and Ezekiel could count as minor examples--she's plump and he's at least flabby, in contrast to the other characters who are mostly skinny girls, athletic guys or skinny geeks listed above.
- Naps from SSDD actually works out, which is why Anne doesn't believe he worked in IT (not that he actually did, but his former co-workers did fit into both stereotypes.)
- Roy, form The IT Crowd. He is tall, oafish and slightly pudgy in the middle. His attire could be described as geek-chic, though somewhat boyish,and is shown to be socially confident to a fault. In fact, his love life cases him trouble on more than one occasion. Moss, however, is an example played hilariously straight.
- Billy on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Justified because he, you know, fights monsters every week.
- Early on, the costume department made a valiant attempt to make him look like a Thin Geek, but they gave it up for a bad job after a season or two (FYI, David Yost was a GYMNAST before playing Billy.)
- Connor Temple from Primeval. One hell of a geek, but managed to carry Cutter, who is at least as tall as him, maybe taller, out of a collapsing building. If you ever see him sleeveless, you'll see why.
- Justin from El Goonish Shive works at a comic shop, and has pretty much the personality you would expect considering his workplace. Catalina's remark upon seeing him is "Holy crap! Aren't comic book guys supposed to be grapefruit shaped?"
- And then promptly played straight for the nameless extras in the last panel.
- Hardison is pretty fit for a guy who spends days at a time staring a computer screen. Even before the team formed and he had to do more physical stuff he was only lanky not out of shape.
- This point is driven home in the hazing scenes of "The Experimental Job" where he is forced to stripped down to his underwear and run the length of a college campus and he's basically the most cut guy of the group.