Movies, television shows, and books all borrow from the same well of reusable characters that are able to fit into most stories. These stock characters run the gamut of things that we've seen on countless occasions, although that doesn't make them any less effective. They originally began in theater, and as the arts developed, so did these characters. A brave Roman soldier eventually becomes a superhero, and a studious learner develops into the modern nerd. Despite nerd culture becoming prevalent in recent years, these characters often fall into the same mold, although not all of them are created equally. You see, despite Hollywood's attempts at repeatedly shoving the same thing down our throats, these characters don't always resonate with audiences, while some become far too popular for their own good.
In this list, we used our wealth of knowledge of all things pop culture in an attempt to track down 10 overrated and 5 underrated nerdy characters. It wasn't always easy along the way, and the 15 entries that we have for you today are bound to spark a great debate that will be waged in the comments section. You're going to find characters on the list that will make you cringe, and some will make you question why you don't write your own television show to help fix the nerd problem in Hollywood. You see, there are 10 overrated nerds for a reason. The market is saturated these days, and it's a crying shame that some of these characters are so loved by fans.
15 Underrated - Abby Sciuto
NCIS might be considered a show for old people, but it's been on television since 2003, and there's a reason for this. The seasons have consistently delivered entertaining storylines as well as character development. After 15 seasons and 331 episodes, NCIS is one of the most successful television programs of all time, and its cast of characters has propelled the show toward this incredible achievement. While the agents are in the field taking down criminals and solving cases, Abby Sciuto is back in her lab doing the behind-the-scenes work that's integral to solving each case. She's funny, intelligent, and has a unique relationship with Gibbs. Abby is well-liked by her peers, and while she has her downfalls, her brain has aided the team as a whole on countless occasions.
So, why is she considered underrated? Given its status on TV, NCIS has a stigma for being geared toward older audiences, leaving many to ignore it entirely. In a world where a character like Sheldon is massively popular, it’s time that Abby Sciuto gets some love.
14 Overrated - Amy Fowler
The Big Bang Theory, in and of itself, is one of the most annoying shows on television, and its cast of characters is a huge reason why it is so. Branded “smart comedy” by uptight individuals who spent way too much time on their algebra homework in high school, the show seems to try its hardest in only appealing to a tiny section of society. The jokes often fail to land, the episodes are predictable, and the characters are unbearable. If you haven't been able to tell already, this show is not one of our favorites, but we'll give credit where it’s due because The Big Bang Theory has been dominating television for an incredibly long time. It remains one of the most popular shows in the United States, so it must be doing something right. Unfortunately, its characters are annoying to watch, and Amy Fowler is the worst of the bunch.
Sheldon was the initial pick for this list, courtesy of his moronic catchphrase and complete lack of human emotion, but his love interest is who we decided to go with. The show was bad before, but her inclusion has compounded the problem. Sorry folks, this show isn’t nearly as smart as it wants you to believe.
13 Underrated - Samwell Tarly
For all of the praise and adoration that most characters get on Game of Thrones, Samwell Tarly usually comes across as an afterthought in the eyes of fans. He’s fat, slow, and has spent the better part of the series acting like a complete coward. But as the show progressed, Sam finally learned to stand up for himself, and he'll be an instrumental part of the show’s final season. Samwell is an outcast in his family, and this trend continued upon him reporting to serve in the Night’s Watch. Thanks to his dear old pal Jon Snow (or Aegon if you want to be overly technical), Samwell has developed into a fine young man who'll help take down the Night King.
For what it’s worth, Gilly could have landed on this spot. Since running away with Sam, she's proven to be quite studious, and her intelligence has only grown since we first met her back in her incestuous household. But Sam gets the nod here as being completely underrated.
12 Overrated - Leslie Knope
Bust out the pitchforks, folks, because we're making a beeline for Pawnee’s own Leslie Knope. Parks and Recreation became a wildly successful series, riding on the heels of The Office before establishing itself as a legitimate show that could stand on its own. Leslie and her ragtag group of government employees often find themselves in shenanigans, all while we watch Leslie’s career in the government slowly progress. Let’s start by saying that this has nothing to do with the acting, but more of the character herself. Early on in the series, Leslie was an annoying character who desperately sought to push her own agenda without contemplating the view from the opposing side. She's so wrapped up with her career and her ideas that she often finds herself in hot water, leading many to wonder why she's lasted this long as the head of her department.
Image is everything in the public eye, and altruism is not one of Leslie’s strong suits. She does what she does to look good to advance her career. Though she can be funny, Leslie Knope is a massively overrated character.
11 Overrated - Willow Rosenberg
Willow Rosenberg has to be one of the oddest characters in television history, and her legions of fans have helped catapult her to the top of many lists involving geeky women. The character, mind you, is played to perfection, but the character is vastly overrated. She can be annoying, and as a relative loser of an adult, she was unbearable to watch at times on the show. What was crazy to see was her development into an evil and powerful character. But because of her stigma as being a loser and meek, the development had little believability to it.
Take all of this negative stigma and partner it up with other flaws, and you have yourself a pretty terrible character. Of course, because she's attached to a fandom, people are going to go ballistic when they see this. But it is what it is. The series had plenty of other problems, but Willow was the worst part of the show.
10 Overrated - Adrian Monk
After 8 seasons and 125 episodes, it may seem that Monk was a great show on the surface, and you would be right to an extent. The series could be very entertaining, and some of the episodes were a blast to watch. Many detective shows are similar in nature, but Monk, thanks to its quirky lead, stood out from the pack, eventually achieving some impressive feats while on the air. With all of the praise we just gave it, you may be wondering why we included the lead character on our list. After all, he's what helped make the show unique in a genre that has been done far too many times to count. Well, if you've actually seen the show, you would know why we can’t stand Adrian Monk.
Monk is an insanely annoying character whose personal quirks and twitches are more irritating than endearing, and while this may have worked for its viewers, others found it to be a huge detractor. Howard Hughes is hot, and Adrian’s insane bouts with OCD and various phobias made for some hard-to-watch television at times.
9 Underrated - Liz Lemon
30 Rock is a series that should've been far more popular than it actually was. It had everything that was needed for a breakout show, and despite being successful and winning prestigious awards, it never reached its true potential while on television. By the time it ended its initial run, 30 Rock aired 138 episodes over the course of 7 seasons. Liz Lemon, the show’s lead character, was a huge reason why the series reached its level of success. As a whole, 30 Rock boasted a bevy of excellent and funny characters, but Liz Lemon was the cream of the crop, and the series would've crumbled without her presence. Liz was funny, hard-working, and was the reason why her The Girlie Show became a hit in the first place.
Liz can be annoying and a bit self-righteous, but she's the backbone of 30 Rock. The character delivered some of the best lines in the series, and because the show never reached a Seinfeld level of fame, we think that she's super underrated.
8 Overrated – Penelope Garcia
Do you remember everything that we said about Abby Sciuto? Well, a lot of the same can be said for Penelope Garcia. But given Criminal Minds' status with a younger audience, she gets far more praise than she deserves. A lot of the quirky antics that are endearing with Abby come off as annoying with Penelope, making her an easy choice for this list. Criminal Minds, much like NCIS, has been an enormously popular show since its debut. Thus far, Criminal Minds has aired 12 seasons, and the show, currently at 277 episodes, is nearing the 300-episode mark. While it still has some catching up to do with NCIS, you cannot ignore the amazing run that it's had on television.
While comparisons have been made to Abby, Penelope isn’t nearly as gifted, and she's far more annoying than Abby is while at work. They don’t share the same job, but the characters receive plenty of comparisons, and Penelope is not on Abby’s level.
7 Overrated - Dwight Schrute
As the manliest and most arrogant person working at Dunder Mifflin, Dwight Schrute is one of the show’s most popular characters. He has a knack for pissing people off, and he continuously steps over the line in order to prove his point. When it was on television, The Office was one of the most popular shows in the country, and the characters are a huge reason why. Michael Scott and Jim Halpert are the two most popular characters, but Dwight isn’t that far behind. The volunteer Sheriff’s Deputy and beet farmer can be overbearing, rude, and downright terrible to people. He slept with his coworker’s fiancee and has repeatedly tried to get Jim fired, although this isn’t unwarranted.
Because of the success of The Office, Dwight is considered to be among the most popular nerds in television history, but he's vastly overrated. He's often wrong in his claims, messes things up at an alarming rate, and is a complete psychopath.
6 Overrated - Lisa Simpson
Admittedly, this is more of an entry due to a character being on television for way too long. Everything that needs to be said about The Simpsons has already been said, so we'll spare you the usual praise the show receives. For as successful as it's been, The Simpsons is home to some of the most annoying characters in television history, and Lisa Simpson is the biggest culprit on this list. Each member of the family is unique in his or her own way, and Lisa, the overly intelligent child, can be downright terrible to watch. Bart is notorious for his antics, and Homer is famous for his stupidity. Outside of being smart and playing saxophone, Lisa seems to be around to torture Milhouse. Episodes that feature her as the primary character are hardly as interesting as ones featuring Bart, and she's easily the worst character on the show.
For being so boring, Lisa makes for some bad television, and because the characters are still kids, don’t expect her to leave the show anytime soon. The show isn’t as great as it once was, making Lisa even worse than she was during the show’s golden years.
5 Underrated - Rory Gilmore
Outside of being ridiculously hot, Rory Gilmore is a character that receives little fanfare outside of the Gilmore Girls fan base. Considered a show geared towards young women, Gilmore Girls captivated its audiences, and it received excellent reviews during its time on television. Late in 2016, a brief revival of the series swept the country, and Netflix had yet another home run on its hands. You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing people talk about Gilmore Girls giving you a pretty good idea about the type of impact that it had during its prime.
Because of the show’s fan base being predominantly female, most people don’t realize how great of a character Rory actually is. She's very intelligent, well-spoken, and acted to perfection. Due to the revival’s popularity, expect to see a second set of episodes appear on Netflix. Rory took some flack during the revival, but we have a feeling that fans will come around to her again.
4 Overrated - Vince Masuka
Talk about a show with one of the worst possible endings. For those of you who haven’t watched the early seasons of Dexter, we recommend that you drop whatever you’re doing to start binge-watching it immediately. Early on, the show was so gripping, and the tension in each episode was palpable. Eventually, the show petered out, and it ended in an awful way. Nevertheless, the early seasons are great, and the characters really drive the series. Vince Masuka, however, is a terrible character. He's wildly inappropriate, not nearly as funny as he thinks, and genuinely hard to stomach most of the time that he's on screen. While the character was acted out brilliantly, we couldn’t help but cringe at some of his dialogue.
For as much praise and admiration as Dexter has received, the ending of the series makes it bittersweet. Give it a watch, and let us know how disappointed you are with the ending. And while you’re at it, let us know how much you despise Masuka.
3 Overrated - Topanga Lawrence
For as hot and beloved as she is, Topanga could be the absolute worst at times, but most people choose to remember the good things about the character. Originally, Topanga was perhaps the most annoying character on the series, and most people seemed to totally dislike her. She was a nerd, and she seemed destined to marry Minkus. Throw in the whole hippy schtick and you had yourself a character that was the worst. Over time, Topanga developed into an overbearing female who seemed intent on controlling every situation. The show did a massive character change to Eric as well, and we'll never understand it. Eric went from being a lady’s man to a complete moron by the time the series ended, and he definitely deserved better.
Topanga could've been a much better character had the show decided to ease her into the woman that she would become. Instead, we were forced to watch this geeky annoyance turn into the ruler of Corey’s world.
2 Underrated – Chuck Bartowski
Looking back on it now, Chuck was the little show that could amaze its audience, and the fact that it lasted as long as it did was quite surprising. This isn't to say that it was a bad show by any means. We're just pointing out that if it were released today, it wouldn’t have been nearly as successful as it was. The slacker computer nerd who would become a CIA agent made for some funny television, and the series aired from 2007 to 2012. Under different circumstances, maybe Chuck would've had a better run on television, as it just missed out on the 100-episode mark. But fans of the show will tell you that it was funny, smart, and totally overlooked by most.
Chuck Bartowski snuck his way onto our list due to the series itself being constantly overlooked by most audiences. Had it been a little sharper, Chuck could've been on television for a lot longer, and we wouldn’t have had to include him on this list.
1 Overrated - Dana Scully
If you were expecting us to put Dana Scully as underrated on our list, well, you're sorely mistaken. Dana Scully has been built up to be one of the greatest female characters of all time, and some consider her to be the greatest nerd character of all time. The X-Files is one of the most popular shows in history, and its fan base remains as loyal as ever. Finding someone with a negative thing to say about the show is virtually impossible. Dana Scully may be a smoking-hot nerd, but she's also criminally overrated by mostly everyone who's watched the series.
Yes, we understand the character’s importance in the development of females in the realm of science fiction, but anointing her as the greatest is ridiculous. She may have had a sizable impact on pop culture, but the character itself isn’t as great as some think. For as beloved as she is, she finds herself as the damsel in distress quite often.
Sources: Syfy, Ranker,