It’s hard for sitcom writers to create inventive, original, and interesting characters that viewers can easily relate to. They have to strike an odd balance: if the character is too relatable, they’ll be commonplace and potentially boring (a struggle with the characters on the show 2 Broke Girls); if the character is too extraordinary or unrelatable, viewers won’t see a reason to continue watching an outrageous character deal with outrageous situations (a struggle with the characters on Agents of SHIELD). Writing for sitcoms is certainly trickier than one might think!
Consider what characters you find most relatable in TV shows. Usually they’re not the superpowered hero who spends all their free time saving lives and neglecting their personal life, and usually they’re not the quiet and reclusive landlords that say things that make people around them uncomfortable. Sure, those characters are plenty of fun to watch and they play key parts in the furthering of the plots of their shows, but they aren’t the characters we love most. Typically, our favorite characters are the ones who reach us on a different level – a nerdy level.
Shows in which characters are written as stereotypical nerds aren’t entertaining. We don’t believe it when actors are delivering forced lines, having conversations just for the sake of reaching out to the nerdy demographic of viewers. A true nerd doesn’t need to prove their interests; it’s all in the subtleties. Sometimes, something as subtle as a tee shirt can prove a nerd’s metal, though the occasional full blown costume is always appreciated. Here are fifteen of the nerdiest outfits worn by TV characters!
15. Titus Andromedon As Iron Man
The hilarious, sassy roommate of Indiana mole woman Kimmy Schmidt in Tina Fey‘s Netflix sitcom Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt starts the show with a job handing out flyers in New York City’s time square for a video arcade. For this job, he’s required to wear an Iron Man costume. Oh, pardon, not Iron Man; Metal Hero Friend. Ray Ray’s Costume Depot doesn’t have the rights to even have the rights to rent a properly named costume.
Titus Andromedon (which is really a stage name; his real name is Ronald Wilkerson) is the ambitious, starry-eyed, disillusioned, sarcastic, and sedentary person we all want to be. He works hard and is extremely talented, but he’s just a small fish in a big pond – like all of us! Even when he’s acting outrageous and ridiculous, like when he produces his “Pinot Noir” music video or when he disguises himself as a werewolf in New York City, he’s completely relatable.
14. Jessica Day As A Zombie
Zooey Deschanel plays a lovable nerd that comes off as a stereotype of what all men want in a manic pixie dream girl: the dorky, bubbly, doe-eyed, girl who enjoys baking and wears lots of polka dots. Truth be told, she’s more than just a stereotype of what guys want out of a woman. Plenty of women relate to Jessica Day, with her silly phone cases, her love of pink wine, her quirky optimism, and her social awkwardness in romantic situations.
It’s also easy to love how hard she commits to the things that she cares about. For example, in season two of the show she worked at a haunted house and went all out on her zombie costume. With fake eyebrows, a wig, pale makeup, fake blood, and a torn to shreds suit, she rocked her zombie costume; even if she did sort of look like an undead Woody Allen.
13. Cisco Ramon Wears Big Bang Theory Shirts
Cisco Ramon, the tech guru and inventive genius behind the DC superhero The Flash, is a total dork. He makes nerdy jokes and references all the time, like when he analyzed the science behind the movie Ghostbusters or when he interrupted his (sort of) wheelchair bound boss to complete a Yoda quote, or when he casually compared Barry’s relationship with Caitlin to Ross and Rachel’s on Friends. He is a total, real-world nerd.
Further proof of his nerd-dom lies in his clothing selection. He constantly wears nerdy Big Bang Theory tee shirts, usually the kind that have to be special ordered from independent vendors like ThinkGeek or Etsy. He’s worn shirts featuring Sheldon quotes (from “bazinga!” all the way down to “that’s my spot”), and shirts featuring key elements of the show (such as rock, paper, scissor, lizard, Spock). The casual subtlety of his nerdy interests is totally relatable and makes him one of our favorite characters on The Flash.
12. Frank As Spiderman
In this hilarious season six episode, Dee announces to the guys that she is pregnant (a character choice the writers of the show made to accommodate the actresses, Kaitlin Olson’s, growing belly due to her real-life pregnancy) and that one of them is the father, due to a hookup at a Halloween party at Paddy’s Pub. As the group of idiotic men try to figure out who the father is, they attempt to piece together their “browned-out” memories of the recent Halloween party in order to determine who the father is.
While there are plenty of hilarious moments in the episode, just like in any episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the most hilarious has to be the costume that Frank chose to wear to the Halloween party: Spider Man. Or rather, Man-Spider (which is totally different). Danny Devito dressed up in a superhero costume is pretty hilarious. It’d be great to see him swinging from rooftops.
11. Barney Stinson And Top Gun
Barney Stinson, the ladies man himself (played by Neil Patrick Harris, America’s sweetheart), knows exactly how to get the ladies. He’s run the gambit (he INVENTED the gambit) of plays for picking up women: from dressing up in a Mrs. Doubtfire style costume to pose as a sorority house mom to dressing up as a member of the rock band Cheap Trick, Barney Stinson is a master of elaborate tricks to lure women into sleeping with him (he may be the only disgusting character in television that women still strangely love).
One of his sexiest costumes and characters to pick up women (though it was unsuccessful) was early on in the show. In season one, Barney toted around a boombox playing Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” while dressing up as a character from Top Gun. Best yet, he asked Ted to be his wingman and demanded he “flight-suit up!”
10. Big Bang Theory Cast As The Justice League
Some nerds get very up in arms about The Big Bang Theory. A lot of the forced nerdy jokes and faked social awkwardness have proven to be a bit offensive to self-proclaimed nerds, and many people that the show claims to represent and identify with shun and shame the show. However, no matter how nerdy you are, though, you’ve got to give props to the cast for their on point costumes and representation of The Justice League.
Though it’s hard to imagine the allergy-ridden Howard Wolowitz terrorizing criminals of Gotham from darkened corners, or the socially awkward Sheldon Cooper being the fastest man alive when his relationship with Amy moved at a glacial pace, the costumes somehow seem to fit with the character’s personalities! The brazen Penny as Wonder Woman; the dumb but sexy Zach as Superman; the bumbling and shy Raj as the reclusive Aquaman? That’s a tight squad.
9. Richard Castle Dressing As Captain Mal Reynolds
Nathan Fillion is a totally beloved and cherished actor of the nerd universe. Whether people love him for his amazing, though albeit brief, time on Joss Whedon‘s space western show Firefly, or his hilarious impersonation of superhero tropes in the Neil Patrick Harris short musical Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, or his awesome and exciting cameos in a variety of nerdy shows and movies like Guardians of the Galaxy, Lost, and The Big Bang Theory, one thing is for sure: everyone loves Nathan Fillion.
Producers of his current show Castle, which is about an author of mystery novels that assists in investigations of a serial killer basing his murders off of the author’s books, are grateful for all of the nerds that love Nathan and they often honor his fans. One of these great instances was when Nathan Fillion’s character, Richard Castle, dressed up for Halloween as a space cowboy… in the Captain Malcolm Reynolds costume he used to don in Firefly!
8. Dwight Schrute As Queen Of Blades
Dwight Schrute is a very odd man, there’s no arguing that. Played by actor Rainn Wilson in the hilarious domestic comedy The Office, Dwight is none for his offbeat personality. A very meticulous and particular man, he has a weird sense of ambition and loyalty to his boring Dunder Mifflin paper company. However, as weird as Dwight is behind his desk, his personal interests are even weirder. When he’s not selling paper or farming his beets, he’s very passionate about video games and the science fiction genre.
Every Halloween, Dwight tries to dress in a costume that involves weapons. Though he attempted Freddy Kreuger (Nightmare on Elm Street), Pinhead (Hellraiser), and Billy (Saw), his season eight costume tops them all: Kerrigan from Starcraft, the Queen of Blades. Though not pictured because human resources officer Toby confiscated them, Dwight also had wings with blades attached to them (just like Kerrigan’s). To his credit, his commitment to his Halloween costume cannot be questioned!
7. Liz Lemon As Leia
Liz Lemon doesn’t have time for a lot of tomfoolery in her day. The lead character of the hit comedy 30 Rock spends her days writing and producing a Saturday Night Live style sketch comedy show, playing along with Jack Donaghy’s crazy and hilarious schemes, and making sure Jenna Maroney and Tracey Jordan don’t get each other killed in their ridiculous and sometimes dangerous shenanigans. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for having fun and messing around.
Yet, Liz Lemon manages to find time for fun! When called in for jury duty that she doesn’t want to attend and doesn’t have time to endure, she has a strategy of donning a Leia costume (not the sexy kind, but the other one), twisting her hair up into side buns, and talking nonsense to the interviewers (“I don’t really think it’s fair for me to be on a jury because I’m a hologram).
6. Shirley Bennett As Leia
Liz Lemon isn’t the only Leia you’ll find in popular sitcoms. In fact, as much as Tina Fey rocks that Leia costume, Yvette Nicole Brown may pull it off even better! In a season four episode, the Community study group gets together to go to a Halloween party but ends up having to rescue Pierce from his mansion’s panic room instead. The costumes donned by this study group (which seems to rarely get any actual studying done) are fantastic! Troy and Abed look adorable (though Troy always seems a bit annoyed) in their Calvin and Hobbes costumes; Jeff wears an appropriately stupid boxer’s costume; Britta is weird and indecipherable as always in her ham costume; and Allison is strangely adorable in her Samara costume from The Ring. But none of them get close to beating Shirley in her Leia costume! As always, the sweet and sassy Shirley is rocking her outfit.
5. Dan Aykroyd As A Ghostbuster
Alright – so Casper is not a TV show, but it’s just too good to not talk about! In the 1995 children’s movie about Casper the friendly ghost and his significantly less friendly specter buddies, villainous characters Carrigan Crittenden (played by Cathy Moriarty) and Dibbs Plutzker (played by Eric Idle) spend most of the beginning of the film trying to rid the gorgeous mansion of the purgatorial spirits. They call in a few of experts: a priest (played by Don Novello) who attempts to exorcise the spirits and, of course, Dr. James Harvey (played by Bill Pullman) who is a therapist for spirits who haven’t moved on. However, the most hilarious expert they call in is played by Dan Aykroyd: Dr. Raymond Stantz, professional Ghostbuster. He charges out of his house in his ghostbusting attire (looking better than ever, we might add) and insists that they should call someone else for their ghost infestation!
4. Phoebe As Superwoman
In The One With the Halloween Party, this Friends cutie rocked an American classic: the sexy Supergirl costume! With adorable pigtails, and a long, flowing red cape, Phoebe (played by Lisa Kudrow) rocked this sexy and nerdy costume. Better yet was her hilarious interchange with Monica when she arrived at the party.
Monica (played by Courteney Cox), dressed as catwoman (Oh yeah. Friends got so nerdy for this episode and we love it), answered the door and welcomed in a casual and swaggering Phoebe dressed as Supergirl. “Ah, Catwoman. So we meet again,” Phoebe casually banters in her super character. “So we do, Supergirl,” Monica replies in the fun banter. Suddenly, Phoebe breaks character and excitedly confides to her, “It’s me, Phoebe!”
3. Scrubs Goes Star Wars
It’s a regular habit of J.D.’s (played by Zach Braff) on the hit medical comedy Scrubs to daydream and imagine different scenarios and other worlds in his crazy life. Some of his wildest fantasies have included his pro-wrestling impersonation when asked about his upcoming evaluations; his many daydreams of Elliot (played by Sarah Chalke) having romantic encounters with his girlfriends and sexy lady patients; his nightmare about Neena Broderick (played by Julianna Margulies) and her ball-busting personality; and his hilarious and twisted daydreams about the lack of medicine in “Pilgrim-Village.”
However, his most entertaining daydream had to be early on in season one, when J.D. imagined a hostile confrontation between Dr. Cox (played by John C. MicGinley) and Dr. Kelso (played by Ken Jenkins) as the tragic scene from Star Wars when Obi-Wan Kenobi is killed by the evil Emperor. It’s hilarious, and actually a very fitting metaphor for the moment!
2. Ben Wyatt (Parks And Rec) As Batman
Dear sweet Ben Wyatt is a total dork when he’s at work. In the Amy Poehler’s sitcom Parks and Recreation, Adam Scott played the nerdy character of Ben Wyatt, Leslie Knope’s husband and total geek. When we say Ben Wyatt is a nerd, we’re serious. He invented a tabletop game called ‘The Cones of Dunshire;’ he vehemently defends Game of Thrones at every turn, no matter what other stressful things are going on; he’s written a long and elaborate fan fiction story about Star Trek (more specifically, about Next Generation); and he makes the worst nerdy jokes ever (please refer yourself to “calc you later”).
But one of his most enjoyable nerdy moments was when he went with Donna and Tom to treat themselves and he selected the one thing he always wanted but never felt rational spending money on: a full, elaborately detailed bat suit. Though he gets flack from Tom and Donna, he won’t catch us complaining!
1. Jennifer Aniston (Friends) As Leia
Let’s all give a round of applause to Jennifer Aniston, who must be the sexiest woman to ever wear the slave Leia outfit (yeah, we’re including Carrie Fisher in that estimation too. Jen rocks this outfit).
In this season three episode of Friends, Ross confided that he’s always had a secret sex fantasy: to make love to a woman in a slave Leia costume. While the secret was the source of a lot of drama throughout the episode, Ross’ fantasy came to be reality at the end of the episode when Rachel donned this sexy Leia costume with side buns. She is a vision in the costume, making it clear why any man (or woman) would have a fantasy such as Ross’.
Unfortunately, Ross ruins the fantasy by imagining his mother in Rachel’s place; quite an unsavory and unwanted thought. That would be enough to ruin the fantasy for any man!