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Refreshing Archetypes: Nerd

I love Ilona Andrews' books and I read Sapphire Flame literally the day it came out. Don't worry no spoilers here. But it had the character Bug. He is an ADHD nerd. I expressed on the fanpage that I would love for him to have his own romance and some said they could never imagine him with someone. This made me sad because if I had to choose an archetype for myself or my brother it would be nerd. Too often we get nerds who are used as the new wise wizard in stories. The new Spider-man even jokes over this. Or even worse they become the adorkable misogynists.

Nerd archetype done well:

Harry Potter

I actually struggled to find any that were male. It seems that the best nerds are being done by girls. Hermione Granger is the quintessential nerd. Her greatest line ending with, "Or worse - expelled." really illustrates where her priorities lie. The problem that often plagues a female nerd though is that they can end up as a Mary Sue.

Make sure that whatever nerd character you have isn't too physical or has a flaw of some kind. In the books Hermione lacks confidence and second guesses everything she does. In the movie they get rid of this so I want to say that only the book version of her is done right.

I like that we are shown that her skills come through hard work and study. That anyone could be as good as her if they were willing to put in the work.


I had to put in Tinker as she is in my top 10 books ever. I've reread it almost a dozen times. It really plays down her brains in this book. This is because it is from her POV and she doesn't see her brains as anything special. She works hard and has studied hard and doesn't see herself as anything special. This humility is what makes her work but on the other hand she isn't a shrinking flower. She knows she is smart, really smart, and if she wants to create something she can. Her project management skills are more scary than her smarts are.

They mirror this aspect of her character with her not being aware of status or rank. She has the Viceroy courting her and she just thinks he is being nice.

In many nerd archetypes on TV they add arrogance to the intelligence. I think this is what ruins the archetype.


Lirael is a librarian and she feels inadequate as she can't do the same as all her sisters. This means she is humble in her knowledge and her wisdom is her super power instead. One thing I hate though is that her problems could have been solved with someone talking to her. Lack of knowledge is what isolates her. In the end knowledge is what sets her free.

I think making a woman a nerd is a good shortcut but I really do wish we could have a male character that does the nerd archetype right.

That is one of the things I tried to do in Blazing Blunderbuss as I wanted Gideon to be smart but not a jerk. One of the ways this can be done is by doing the same thing that was done with the female nerds. They can't see themselves as superior to others. They have to have a flaw that makes them lose confidence. Like Illona Andrews did with Bug they gave him something that he has to overcome. In his case he doesn't until someone believes in him.

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