Lewis' name is a play on the name of the famous American physical chemist, Gilbert N. Lewis; who studied acids, bases and photo-phosphorescence. He is credited with coining the term "photon" and was the first to produce pure deuterium oxide, otherwise known as "heavy water".
These things were ad-libbed: The Coach's "Shit, we forgot to practice"; Takashi's "salad" comment in the locker room scene; Gable's "Do you know karate?"; The Dean saying he has allergies; Poindexter's painful scream during the Pi-watching scene; Poindexter's date grabbing his crotch during the party; Lewis' "We love you when you're mad!"
Robert Carradine moved to the University of Arizona two weeks before shooting to get into character as Lewis Skolnick. He brought only his "nerd" clothes to wear. He couldn't bring himself to leave his hotel room for three days.
James Cromwell has said that when he came up with the nerd laugh, that the other actors imitated, he realized while driving home from the studio on the first day of production it was his ex-wife's laugh.
Although many of the actors had reservations about appearing in a movie called Revenge of the Nerds, they had a terrific time filming it. The actors described the filming as a "fraternity atmosphere", and frequently partied with the University of Arizona students, many of whom appear in the film as extras.
Robert Carradine says that when he read the script, Lewis' laugh was described as a "goose honk" he was not sure how to do it. But by chance, the first scenes shot were of his father dropping Lewis and Gilbert off at college. When actor James Cromwell did the laugh, Carradine mimicked it.
On the documentary for the Special Edition DVD, it was revealed that many of the actors (including Robert Carradine, Curtis Armstrong and Timothy Busfield) initially did not want to do the film but gave in because the movie either paid well or it was a chance for some of them, who were struggling actors, to get into a movie.
When Jeff Kanew was interviewed by the producers, they asked what kind of movie he thought he could make given the material. He responded, "One I would be embarrassed to have my name on." They hired him immediately.
Although Booger is arguably Curtis Armstrong's most famous character, he initially did not want the role. According to his comments on the Panty Raid DVD edition, he originally read for the role of Gilbert, but was later asked to read for Booger. He recalls telling fellow actor Bronson Pinchot that if he was offered the role of Booger, "They could just fucking forget it. I'm not picking my nose on camera for anyone."
Curtis Armstrong, Michelle Meyrink and Timothy Busfield all play their own musical instruments. Timothy Busfield is not a violin player, and he was told his inept practicing would be overdubbed by a proper violinist. He was dismayed when his discordant screechings made it into the film.
Because the script did not have much of a plot (as the interviewed actors and filmmakers have stated), many of the actors were allowed to ad-lib scenes. Timothy Busfield recalls that he ad-libbed Poindexter's painful scream when watching the video of the girls dorm. Robert Carradine remembered that in the scene where he "serviced" Betty in the funhouse, his line was originally "All jocks think about is sports. Ever since we're ten, all we nerds ever think about is sex." He did not like the line and dropped the "Ever since we're ten" part. Curtis Armstrong recalls that it was by pure chance that Booger and Takashi ended up bunked next to each other in the gym and they improvised the running gag of them playing cards and Armstrong's line "What the fuck is a frush?"
The University of Arizona agreed to let the filmmakers shoot at the campus, then revoked permission after reading the script. Eventually, they changed their minds and let them shoot. Many students were used as extras.
There were two scenes in the movie that were either cut or not given context, that deal with the fact that Stan Gable was a nerd at heart but was too afraid and ashamed to reveal it. Curtis Armstrong discussed the cut scene during an online interview where he praised Ted McGinley's acting; it shows Stan leaving the endless Alpha Beta party and going to his room, after which he puts on a pair of glasses and begins reading a textbook, but when one the frat brothers calls at the door for him to rejoin the party, he puts the glasses and book in a drawer and sadly walks out. This scene informs another sequence the ending of the movie, where the nerds triumph, Stan Gable was not sad for losing to nerds, but sad because he knew he was a nerd at heart and was not able to reveal it out of fear of being bullied and humiliated. In the third film, this idea is used for the film's final scenes, where Stan (who once again had been bullying nerds) tells a courtroom that he is a nerd himself and will no longer hide it; he even uses the phrase "come out of the closet" in reference to admitting this publicly.
To test the effectiveness of their "nerd" makeup and wardrobes, Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards attended a college rush-week, when real fraternities were reviewing prospective pledges (wanna-be members). The fraternity leader of the first house took one look at them both and said, "No way!"
Contrary to the common anecdote, the belching sound was not the sound of two camels mating. Rather, it was the combination of a person's belch with that of a camel (added for resonance and longevity.) The man who donated his belch to the film was a studio craftsman by the name of Bill Livengood (uncredited).
Larry B. Scott, who plays the homosexual Lamar, claims on the DVD Documentary that he had to over-compensate for his masculinity because people really thought he was gay. Beside this role, his other post-Nerd movies have been either action or drama. For example, he played a communication soldier in Extreme Prejudice (1987), an astronaut in SpaceCamp (1986), and a Cobra Kai in The Karate Kid (1984).
In Spain, the film was translated into "La revancha de los novatos" (Revenge of the Freshmans), because in that time there wasn't an official translation for the word "Nerd", until several years later.
The song the Pi's sing to offer themselves as dates to the the Tri-Lambs (Hello Lambdas we're the Pi's/And we're here to say/We think you are special guys/Lambdas all the way...) is sung to the tune of "Aura Lee," an American Civil War song written by W. W. Fosdick (words) and George R. Poulton (music). Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender" is a derivative of it, and a version with different lyrics is sung in "Trading Places", as well (sung as "Constance Fry").
The Greek Council scenes were shot in a Masonic Hall. Earl, the old man who assists with showing the Nerds in, was the caretaker of the Masonic Hall. Additionally, on the commentary, the actors claim that the "extra" Nerds do not appear in this scene because they would have to have paid them.
The scene of the telephone conversation with U.N. Jefferson, welcoming the Nerds to Tri-Lambda, was a last minute addition to the film. It was to serve as a "bridge" since a subplot regarding the Nerds going to Las Vegas was removed from the movie (these deleted scenes are bonus features on the "Panty Raid Edition" DVD and the Blu-ray).
The exterior shots of the Pi sorority house were actually the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house at the University of Arizona. Donald Gibb is a brother of Phi Delta Theta from the University of New Mexico, which helped securing permission from the chapter.
Booger's real name is Dudley Dawson. According to the cast and crew on the DVD commentary, this was the name of the president of the University of Arizona, who was opposed to having the movie being shot there.
The film deleted a subplot of the Nerds visiting the Tri-Lambda national conference in Las Vegas, in which the Nerds are outcasts and in which Gilbert talks to his uncle at the hotel where the conference is being held. These deleted scenes can be found on the new "panty raid edition" DVD. The producers then took the idea of the Tri-Lambs going to a convention and having to fight anew against anti-nerd prejudice, added new elements (the convention was an national inter-fraternity gathering that took place in Fort Lauderdale during spring break) and used it as the second film's storyline.
20th Century Fox green-lit a remake of the film under its then-existing Fox Atomic label, with the intent to release it in 2007. Filming began in Atlanta, Georgia in 2006 with a cast including Adam Brody (who also co-produced), Jenna Dewan, Chris Marquette and Efren Ramirez with Kyle Newman directing. The film was originally going to be shot on the Emory College campus until college officials objected to the film's raunchy content. The production experienced difficulties of shooting on the smaller Agnes Scott campus, particularly the outdoor scenes. The film was scrapped early on in production after studio head Peter Rice disliked the dailies. Plans to remake the film have been indefinitely shelved.
There was a deleted subplot in which Stan Gable had a nerd brother, and a scene was written in which Gable's nerd brother steps in to prevent him from being beaten by the tough Tri-Lambdas near the ending of the film.
Timothy Busfield ad-libbed Poindexter's painful yelp during the Pi-watching sequence. It was inspired by the sound of a former neighbor having sex. Many crew members had to run away to keep from breaking out in laughter and ruining the take, but the director can be heard snickering just before the camera cuts away to the next scene.
On the DVD commentary, it is revealed that the scenes of renovating and fixing up the Lambda Lambda Lambda house was actually the last scene filmed. They had deconstructed things and torn down the interior to make it look like they were fixing it up.
On the DVD commentary, it is revealed that most of the people came to the premiere of the film came in their own cars - but the two minor actors who played the Plaid Brothers in the Homecoming Carnival skit scene showed up in a limo.
A display in the background of Tri-Lambda's performance at the end is provided by a Tandy Color Computer using the Audio Spectrum Analyzer cartridge. One of the nerds carries a board with shoulder straps that has a CoCo attached to it.
While standing in the gym in a queue for food Gilbert, Lewis and Booger have a conversation about Judy. This conversation is quoted in a song called "Computer Camp Love" by the Norwegian band Datarock. The quoted conversation is the following: "Her name is Judy/That's a nice name/Yeah she's a nice girl/Big deal/Did you get in her pants/She's not that kind of a girl booger/Why? Does she have a penis?"
The trichloromethylene given to Takashi to counteract the alcohol is not an actual chemical compound and does not exist. A common misconception is that they are talking about chloroform, which is also known as trichloromethane. Regardless, ingesting chloroform would have adverse effects very different from those depicted.