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Top 10 Nerd Icons

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Be nice to nerds: you may end up working for one. Fanboys and geeks everywhere flock to certain celebrities because of their contributions to nerd culture – and frankly we can’t blame them. These guys are awesome. In honor of Carl Sagan’s death on December 20th, 1996, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 nerd icons. For this list, we’re ranking some of the real-life people who’ve brought nerds the most joy – whether in the form of scientific advancement, entertainment or just by being awesome. To be clear, we’re not saying these people are nerds, just that nerds tend to love them. And yeah, we’re nerds, what of it?
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Transcript

Top 10 Nerd Icons


Be nice to nerds: you may end up working for one. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 nerd icons.

For this list, we’re ranking some of the real-life people who’ve brought nerds the most joy – whether in the form of scientific advancement, entertainment or just by being awesome. To be clear, we’re not saying these people are nerds, just that nerds tend to love them. And yeah, we’re nerds, what of it?

#10: The Writer
Joss Whedon

Whether you’re a fan of “Buffy,” “Firefly,” “Toy Story” or “The Avengers,” Whedon’s your source for self-referential, sarcastic, pop-culture-reference-heavy nerd comedy. He’s also known for creating some of the most badass female protagonists ever – as well as the angstiest characters y’ever did see. Even though he tends to kill off everyone’s fave characters, Whedon’s projects almost always earn cult status, making him a king among nerds.

#9: The Edutainer
Bill Nye

Nye put his mechanical engineering background to good use once he became a comedy writer, using his trademark energy and humor to bring edutainment to kids. With his never-ending stream of bowties and scientific info, Bill Nye the Science Guy is a fond memory for anyone who grew up in the ‘90s. Today he still spends his days spreading the gospel of science and denying evolution deniers.

#8: The Trekker
George Takei

The “Star Trek” universe is replete with actors and characters who’ve struck a chord with nerds; but Takei transcended his role as Sulu to gain fans from all walks of life. Not only a trailblazer for Asian Americans in Hollywood, he’s also at the forefront of the gay rights movement – and, he’s a remarkably popular and incisive social-media presence. We hope he lives long and prospers.

#7: The Director
George Lucas

“Star Wars.” “Indiana Jones.” Need we say more? While he may’ve gone off the rails in terms of his movie-making choices since “Jedi” was released, no one can deny that Lucas created one of the most epic fictional universes this side of Tatooine. Not only that, he built his own “empire” by making the dreams of fanboys come true – and yes, we’re talking about Leia’s bikini.

#6: The Teacher
Neil deGrasse Tyson

Astrophysics ain’t no thang for this world-famous scientist. Like his mentor Carl Sagan, he has made science accessible with his easy-to-understand explanations of the mysteries of the universe. When he’s not busy demoting Pluto to a dwarf-planet or ripping on the scientific inaccuracies of Hollywood films, deGrasse Tyson is bringing his quirky personality to talk shows, podcasts and his own version of Sagan’s “Cosmos.”

#5: The Skeptic
Carl Sagan

The true definition of a science communicator, Sagan was one of the first to explain complicated theories in layman’s terms, producing “billions and billions” of thinkers and skeptics. Known for his stance against nuclear weapons, his connection to the U.S. space program, and his interest in planets and extra-terrestrial life, this astronomer, astrophysicist, and cosmologist inspired a generation with books and films like “Contact,” and his TV series “Cosmos.”

#4: The Entrepreneur
Bill Gates

While Steve Jobs is another important tech entrepreneur, Gates gets credit for spurring the personal computer explosion. The richest man in the world, depending on the year, he started small with a childhood interest in computer programming. Aggressive business strategies turned that into Microsoft and the rest is history. He and his wife Melinda are also noted philanthropists, so you know Gates doesn’t just lie around on his piles of money.

#3: The Superhero
Stan Lee

Judging by fan excitement over his many film cameos, Stan Lee truly is the man. After all, he co-created the Marvel universe and iconic characters like Spider-Man, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and many, many more. He also dispensed with traditional comic book rules to tackle real-world issues and themes. In the process, he became a dynamic Marvel spokesman that any fanboy would die to meet. Excelsior!

#2: The Genius
Stephen Hawking

Diagnosed with ALS in his early-20s and given only a few years to live, Dr. Hawking defied the odds to become one of the world’s most famous theoretical physicists and cosmologists – with the coolest wheelchair we’ve ever seen. Eventually writing books like “A Brief History of Time” and forming groundbreaking theories about black holes – most of which we don’t understand – Hawking cemented his status as a brilliant badass.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Michio Kaku
- Mark Zuckerberg
- Kevin Smith
- Richard Dawkins
- Nikola Tesla
- William Shatner & Leonard Nimoy
- Patrick Stewart & Ian McKellen
- Steve Jobs


#1: The Mad Scientist
Albert Einstein

With his twinkling eyes, childlike wonder and unkempt hair, Einstein is the quintessential mad scientist; and he’s got the goods to back up his reputation. His landmark research built the foundation on which physics is based, and altered the accepted perceptions of space, time and matter. But he is perhaps best remembered for formulating the most famous equation of the 20th century, and for being an unpretentious genius.

Do you agree with our list? Who do you think are the biggest nerd icons? For more geeky top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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