12 March 2013 12:00 PM, PDT | Vulture | See recent Vulture news »

It feels like the nerd is as old as time, but it's a relatively young term and younger phenomenon. The first documented appearance of the word was in Dr. Seuss's If I Ran the Zoo, but it would be decades before the classic nerd would materialize: smart, if not too smart; socially awkward; obsessive; glasses (often with tape); ill-fitting clothing; into sci-fi and/or computers; high and/or nasally voice. However, over the last 40 years or so the archetype has evolved beyond the Revenge of the Nerds stereotype into something more nuanced. And TV comedies had a lot to do with that. In celebration of the Inspector Spacetime–obsessed Abed, whose Community competed in today's Sitcom Smackdown quarterfinals, we present the evolutionary ladder of the TV nerd, from its earliest appearance on Happy Days through Screech, Carlton, Lisa Simpson, and The Big Bang Theory. 1974: Potsie, Happy Days Happy »


- Jesse David Fox

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"The Big Bang Theory" (2007)
Dr. Seuss
Revenge of the Nerds (1984)


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