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It is a truth universally acknowledged, that Nerds wear glasses. Usually ugly, unflattering glasses. There are several types of glasses that are signifiers of deeply-entrenched nerd-dom:

  • Chunky black plastic (tape on the bridge optional), sometimes chunky tortoiseshell plastic instead — as worn by the classic Hollywood Nerd
  • Coke-bottle glasses so thick they're opaque — have their own page at Opaque Nerd Glasses
  • Unflatteringly large glasses poorly proportioned to the wearer's face — often with thin frames; in live-action these have the advantage that they don't block the wearer's face
  • Old-fashioned round hornrims — sign of an Absent-Minded Professor or academic-nerd
  • Half-moon glasses — around the 50's, these were the eyewear of choice for the original nerds, although nowadays they're more of an old lady librarian style
  • "Cat-eye" glasses — once ultra-fashionable for women in the 50's, now usually restricted to lady nerds (and the occasional hipster) — unless they have rhinestones or are purple, in which case they are Impossibly Tacky Eyewear.

You may also be interested in the Glasses Tropes.

Examples of thick-framed Nerd Glasses:

Card Games

Comic Books

  • The core principle of the Clark Kenting persona is, of course, the implausibility of Superman wearing dorky black nerd glasses.

Films — Live-Action

  • From Russia with Love has Rosa Klebb wearing particularly hideous thick-framed and thick-lensed glasses in many scenes.
  • Rick Vaughn, in Major League, was fitted with these, curing the vision problem that got him branded with the nickname "Wild Thing". Although the glasses didn't hurt his persona and still had fangirls (and, oddly, fanboys).
  • Revenge of the Nerds: Nerd-in-denial Lewis Skolnick has thick black half-frame glasses.
  • Arnie Cunningham from Christine wears thick black glasses; later on, they're broken by school bullies and fixed with the stereotypical white tape. Even later, however, after Christine has made him cool, he discards them altogether.

Live-Action TV


Puppet Shows

Video Games

Western Animation

Real Life

  • New US military recruits who report to their respective boot camps are not allowed to wear any prescription eyewear they bring with them. Within the first week, they are prescribed a pair of durable yet unflattering thick brown specs called BC (birth control) glasses (or, alternately, BCDs, for BC Devices or BCG for Birth Control Goggles). So named because wearing them in public is the surest form of birth control known to man.
    • Comedian Drew Carey, who did a hitch in the Marines, has made this type of glasses part of his public persona. Lampshaded in the (full) second opening of The Drew Carey Show, where Drew's glasses are broken and by his friend's advice he replaces them by going to the nearby Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and stealing Buddy Holly's.
    • Adam Savage of Myth Busters wears this style of glasses while filming, though he tends to wear more subdued glasses when off the set. Fridge Brilliance or Fan Wank: That particular style of glasses would also grant him some additional protection in the occasional event where something might explode.
  • Mac Lesggy, host of the French science show E=m6, still wears thick-framed glasses, though they are now tamer than his once-iconic zebra-framed glasses.

Examples of large-framed glasses:

Live-Action TV

Western Animation

Examples of round hornrims:


  • Andy Fletcher from Depeche Mode wore a pair during the band's early days: [1]

Real Life

  • Actor Harold Lloyd first helped popularize horn-rimmed glasses in America in the 1920s.