It’s a small world we nerds live in. There are so many of us, with interests in such varying facets of nerdom (from bookworms and theatre-dorks to tabletop gamers and RPG-ers to fan boys and Trekkies), yet we all seem to mingle together in the same nerdy world! Nerds seem to cross-pollinate in each others’ favorite forums and fandoms all the time; it’s easy to find Doctor Who fans who’ve gotta catch ’em all, or Batman junkies who can’t get enough of The Walking Dead.
Twenty years ago, someone might’ve been insulted to be labeled a “nerd.” These days, it’s practically a compliment and plenty of people assign the label to themselves. While some nerdy followings are pretty typical and well-known, such as Trekkies (Star Trek) and Fan-Boys (Star Wars), there are plenty of cult nerd followings that stray outside of the normal nerdy realm, such as Orange is the New Black fans and general stalkers of Simon Pegg/Edgar Wright films. It’s a badge of pride to be called a nerd! It means you’re devoutly loyal to a brand, a story, a set of characters; it proves you’re invested in something more than a show or a game or a movie, but a culture and a community.
Sometimes, occasionally, once in a blue moon, our nerdy passions address each other; sometimes with a respectful nod and other times with a blatant shout-out. These moments are glorious and remind us how awesome it is to be a nerd! So take a second from your day to remember how awesome “Nerddom” is- here are fifteen times our nerdy favorites made nerdier references. And be warned, as always: SPOILERS AHEAD!
15. New Girl And Hiding Her Nerd
This quirky comedy about a young woman looking for love in all the wrong places isn’t really for the typical sitcom audience; the audience is made up primarily of equal parts millennial men and women. Since the show has more male leads than female leads and the female leads are stereotypical wet dreams, it’s actually a well-watched show across all genders and young adults.
It’s also especially beloved because all of the characters are fairly nerdy. While Coach and Winston are definitely more of the ‘jock’ types, Jess and Nick are a total and utter nerds. In the pilot episode of the show, Jess has this interchange with Schmidt where she seriously cannot drop her Lord of the Rings trivia, even as he’s trying to get her off the couch and into a rebound date. To be fair, we’d all want a Gandalf to lead us through our breakups and rebounds.
14. Hot Santa
Speaking of The Lord of the Rings, director Peter Jackson is a sneaky little bugger that’s wormed his way into some other nerdy movies that we love! For instance, he made a hilarious little cameo in Edgar Wright’s movie, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, Hot Fuzz. He showed up in the opening montage (which runs down all of Sergeant Nicholas Angel’s-played by Simon Pegg-commendations, training, and skills), as a violent and assaulting Santa Claus that stabs the Sergeant through the hand. Yep, those crazy eyes belong to our beloved Lord of the Rings director!
Edgar Wright is actually an expert, when it comes to sneaking in celebrity cameos. In the same movie, he actually snuck Cate Blanchett, who played Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings movies, in as Sergeant Nicholas Angel’s ex-girlfriend Jeanine- though it was hard to tell, since she was covered head to toe in a sterile garb at a crime scene!
13. A Taystee Hand
Orange is the New Black has an enormous following. If you don’t have Netflix, you’re definitely missing out on one of the most popular shows of the past few years. While the show certainly has themes of #BlackLivesMatter and women’s rights (rightfully so), it’s an award winning drama that is well-deserving of any nerd’s time.
Once of the greatest quirks of the show is that all of the women at Litchfield’s prison are nerdy in their own right. One of the most adorable nerds is Tasha ‘Taystee’ Jefferson, the surprisingly ambitious, incredibly sassy, and certainly well-read inmate. She spends a lot of her time, especially in seasons one and two, hanging around the library and her time reading has paid off. In season four, when she gets the coveted job as Warden Caputo’s personal assistant, she brags about the position in a Game of Thrones reference, saying that “If George R. R. Martin wrote about prisons, I’d be like the hand of the warden!” Poussey goes on to spoil Taystee’s fun and reminds her that the hand always dies in the books!
12. The Norman Reedus Show!
No matter what fandom you take part in, you probably recognize the name or face of Norman Reedus. He first came to fame in the cult classic The Boondock Saints, where he starred alongside Sean Patrick Flannery in a blood and gore filled film about ridding Boston of criminals. He’s one of the few well-known names that starred in the early episodes of The Walking Dead and he’s become one of the most dynamic characters on the show – in fact, fans are all quite terrified that his character might kick the bucket at the start of season seven.
In season four, episode eleven (“Claimed”), the production staff of The Walking Dead paid tribute to Norman. You’ll notice as Rick is creeping around the house, trying not to be spotted by Joe and his Claimed-Gang, that there’s a Boondock Saints poster in one of the smaller bedrooms of the house! Though it was initially an unintentional nod at Norman Reedus’ career, editors caught it and producers excitedly approved it before it was released.
11. “Alien In Boots”
Kids movies can be great because, when written and produced well, they have just as many jokes for the adults supervising the kids as they do for children! Shrek, which came out back in 2004, was rife with adult jokes and movie references. For example, in just the opening honeymoon sequence, there were allusions to Lord of the Rings (when Fiona catches her wedding ring on her finger), From Here to Eternity (when Shrek and Fiona make out in the rushing tide), and Spiderman (when Fiona wipes off half of Shrek’s mud soaked face to kiss him). But perhaps one of the most subtle and hilarious references was made by Puss in Boots in Shrek 2.
During the attack scene, Puss crawls into and around Shrek’s clothing until he bursts out of his stomach; just like in the 1979 movie Alien. It’s a brief moment in the movie, but any true sci-fi fans don’t need long to catch the reference!
10. Juggernaut Almost Flattens Harry Potter
If you’re a fan of comic books, you’ve probably heard of the New Excalibur comics. In the comic, as you can read above, the ex-villain turned X-men Juggernaut, also known as Cain Marko is on a mission in England when he almost plows over a group of three teenagers that emerge from seemingly nowhere.
When you look a little closer, you can see that these teenagers are none either than Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, and Harry Potter! Furthermore, they aren’t emerging from nowhere; they’re emerging from Diagon Alley! Check out those twisted bricks that opened on to this secluded alley where Juggernaut expects no one to be; the writers were definitely giving a shout out to J. K. Rowling and Harry Potter fans(you’ll notice it’s definitely a reference to the books and not the movies, based alone on Hermione’s character design). It’s hilarious to think of wizards and mutants existing in the same universe; muggles would have so many disadvantages!
9. Hamilton Touches The Musical Theatre Nerd
Are you the kind of nerd that prefers the finer things in life? Rather than nerding out to Marvel universe movies or Pokemon, do you prefer to get your dork on to live theatre? Are you that obnoxious person that can sing the entire Wicked soundtrack in order; that person everyone’s kind of afraid to go on a road trip with? There’s no shame in being that nerd! If that is your brand of nerdiness, you’ll love Hamilton.
Firstly, if you’re a theatre-nerd and you don’t know anything about Hamilton, you need to up your game. But more importantly, this musical is on top of its game! If you listen carefully to the lyrics of all the raps, you’ll catch references to The Last Five Years, Camelot, The Pirates of Penzance, and plenty more. Honor your inner musical theatre nerd and dork out to one of the most revolutionary musicals ever produced.
In the DC Universe show The Flash, the sometimes quirky and goofy sidekick Cisco Ramon, played by Carlos Valdes, is the nerd we all identify with. He’s not the competent superhero that can vibrate through walls or run around the world in the blink of an eye, but he is the totally awesome gadget-inventing dork that we could all see ourselves hanging out with.
Hilariously enough, it seems Cisco Ramon is exactly our type of nerd: he’s a huge Big Bang Theory fan. At different times in the show, he wears different Big-Bang themed shirts! In the pilot episode, he wears a “Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock” shirt; he wears a “This is My Spot” shirt in the twelfth episode of season one; and he wears a “Bazinga!” shirt briefly at the end of the pilot episode. Even better, almost all of his Big Bang shirts were obtained from indie shops like ThinkGeek. Forget the Flash; Cisco’s a nerdy role model for us all!
7. Up For Throwbacks?
Even those of us who don’t go ga-ga for the animated children’s features of Dreamworks, Pixar, Disney, and the like can respect a good kids movie, especially when it returns its respect for us with things like shout outs to our favorite fandoms! Up!, which largely takes place sometime in the 1970s, is one of the most popular and acclaimed of Pixar’s films, ranked right beside Wall-E and Inside Out. It’s adorable and precious themes of family bonding, finding love in unexpected places, and putting faith in the people you care about are relatable to any film-goer.
If you’re patient enough to wait for the credits, you’ll see some of the cutest parts of the film. Throughout the credits, a cute montage plays of pictures of Carl Fredricksen bonding with Russell; one of this pictures is of Carl taking Russell to see Star Wars! Just look how excited Russell is to experience George Lucas’ universe!
6. Dr. Who Is A Potter-Head
In 2007, back in season three of Doctor Who when David Tennant was playing the Doctor, there was an episode called “The Shakespeare Code” in which he takes Martha (played by Freema Agyeman) back to London in 1599 to stop three evil witches from using one of Shakespeare’s plays in an evil plot. Sounds weird, if you’re not an avid Doctor Who fan; if you are, it just sounds like the undertakings of another day in the life of the Doctor!
Doctor Who has never been afraid to make nerdy references, like the episode that features Agatha Christie’s glorious writings, “The Unicorn and the Wasp.” But this Shakespearean episode, honoring all our theatre nerds, goes even further to honor Harry Potter fans. They defeat the enemies with the Expelliarmus spell, and the Doctor boldfacedly praises J. K. Rowling in it! This shout out is even funnier because David Tennant was in the fourth Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
5. Modern Family Gets Lost
Modern Family may not be considered very nerdy to people that don’t watch it; however, for those of us that are MoFy fans, we know this show is just as nerdy (if not more nerdy) than Big Bang Theory. In the episode “Airport 2010,” in which Gloria invites the whole family on a Hawaiian getaway in celebration of Jay’s birthday, the show flaunted it’s true, nerdy colors with a hilarious reference: Luke Dunphy turns to his mom in an inspired moment and suggests “it would be cool if the plane flew into a storm and crash landed on to an island, like on Lost.” Claire answers the sentiment with a nervous grin.
But any true Lost fan knows this jokes hits on several different levels: Julie Bowen, who plays Claire Dunphy, also played Sarah Shephard on Lost, (ex)wife of Jack Shephard. It would seem Claire has every right to fear flight!
4. Deadpool. All Of Deadpool. (Specifically, The X-Men Call Out)
Deadpool is chock-full of allusions, references, and blatant shout-outs to other nerdy fandoms. Consider when Wade Wilson has a long conversation with Vanessa about Liam Neeson being a bad father in the Taken series; or when he throws a quick and gruesome reference to 127 Hours right before he cuts his own hand off in order to escape Colossus’ custody; or the entire opening credits, where practically ever superhero movie of the last five to ten years is accurately called out on it’s formulaic structure.
However, any nerd that’s been following the movies of the Marvel universe for the last decade had to be entertained by the call out of the X-Men inconsistencies! Not only does he joke about Wolverine’s stake in the franchise and how the professor looks like a “creepy old bald Heaven’s-Gate looking mother-f****er,” he most hilariously asks Colossus which professor he’s dealing with, James McAvoy or Patrick Stewart? He admits he’s just as confused as we are!
3. Breaking Dead
This is one of AMC’s favorite fan theories, and it seems it has to be substantiated given the amount of corroborating evidence. We’ll try to explain it briefly here:
Basically, the theory is that the Breaking Bad series is a prequel to The Walking Dead. If you know the basics of both series, you know it could make sense. Walter White manufactured a blue meth that he called Blue Sky, the same that seems to be in Merle’s belongings in the picture above. Whether writers always intended this theory to be true or not, it seems they let it effect their writing by season four. Daryl talks to Beth about Merle’s drug dealer: a scrawny white boy who was prone to aggressive and threatening outbreaks, who sounds a lot like Jesse Pinkman. It certainly turned into a hearty nod from The Walking Dead to another successful and powerful AMC show, Breaking Bad!
2. Space Cowboys
Castle is a long running crime drama (with moments of stellar comedy) about a mystery novelist, played by Nathan Fillion, who tags along with a New York Police Department detective, played by Stana Katic, to help solve crimes after a serial killer mimics the killings in his novels.
While it’s obviously a successful show for many reasons, as it’s going on it’s eighth season, one of viewers’ favorite aspects of the show is Nathan Fillion’s frequent references to his old, short-running sci-fi show, Firefly. One of the best instances is when the two go out on Halloween together and he dresses up as a “space cowboy” – IN HIS FIREFLY CAPTAIN MALCOLM REYNOLDS COSTUME! For anyone that hadn’t seen the Joss Whedon series, the joke likely flew right over their head; but for the rest of us, we couldn’t contain our excitement that Nathan Fillion is still just as obsessed with Firefly as we are!
1. Spidey And Star Wars (Civil War And Empire Strikes Back)
If you haven’t had the chance to get to the theaters to see Captain America: Civil War yet, you are seriously missing out. It’s practically Avengers 3, with all the superheroes that make appearances. They even introduce a couple new potential additions to the Avengers team, including Black Panther (played by Chadwick Boseman) and Spiderman (played by Tom Holland). The fights are epic and the story leaves you satisfied, but hungry for more.
Tom Holland as Spiderman was awesome. For fans who’ve read the comic, it’s easy to praise his ability to balance Peter Parker’s awkwardness with his penchant for witty banter. During a huge fight against a formidable foe, he makes everyone (both hero and audience members) feel ancient by asking “You ever see that really old movie, Empire Strikes Back?” The group then takes down the enemy Star Wars-style, just like he were an AT-AT Walker! While we want to smack Peter for being such a youngster, it’s so cool to see our favorite nerd-verses learning from each other!