There is a raging debate in academic circles about our fascination with nerdy characters on TV and on the silver screen. Perhaps the old aphorism, "there's a little nerd in each of us," is true. Maybe we all feel like bumbling smartypants misfits in one way or another and need to laugh at characters who exaggerate these traits. A better and more peer-reviewed theory is that they are simply friggin' hilarious because they are. Whatever your ideological leanings are on this issue, you will definitely get a kick out of the following TV nerds

Skippy Handelman from "Family Ties". Nerd characters were quite popular between the years 1982 and 1989 when this sitcom featuring Nixon-loving teenager Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox) was a prime time hit. Marc Price plays Irwin "Skippy" Handelman, the awkward nerdy neighbor who always seems to mess things up for Alex and his sister, Mallory (Justine Bateman). Skippy normally has a crush on Mallory. That is, except for the times when he has a crush on someone else who happens to have a crush on Alex instead of him. 

Comic Book Guy from "The Simpsons". Comic book store owners in film and television are ALWAYS funny. Jeff Albertson, known as Comic Book Guy, is a socially awkward trekkie and "Lord of the Rings" fan, as well as a 45 year old virgin. His MA degree in mythology doesn't seem to get him anywhere, so he opens the Android's Dungeon store and resides in his parents' basement. Comic Book Guy has two archenemies. They are the owners of the Mylar Baggins store and Frodo's of Shelbyville, both fellow nerds

Data from "Star Trek: The Next Generation". Nerds are timeless, and this futuristic and emotionless brainiac is a testiment to this fact. Lieutenant Commander Data (Brent Spiner) of the Starship Enterprise is an android computer with some signs of human adaptability. He strives to attain his one main wish by emulating human emotional behavior. Data finally gets his wish after the invention of the emotion chip. The nerdiness comes through when Data regularly speaks about nearly everything in terms that only an egghead psychology professor from Stanford would understand. After he reluctantly takes the chip, he regularly goes berzerk from the overload. Data's sidekick is a spotless cat named Spot. Out of all the characters in this 1990's TV series, Data was in fact the one who received the most fan mail from women claiming to be in love with him. Apparently, nerds rule the Internet age. 

Carlton Banks from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air". This nerdy character from the 1990-1996 television series is best known for the "Carlton Dance." There's no description of the dance here, because it's just plain weird. You just have to see it. One thing that can be said is that he often does this dance to "It's Not Unusual" by Tom Jones. When he's not wiggling and flopping his arms around, he often uses his talent for tap dancing and moonwalking. Played by Alfonso Ribeiro, Carlton is friends with the "Fresh Prince" (Will Smith). In one episode, they enter a "Soul Train" dance competition together.