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Geek Love: 30 Nerd Sex Symbols

Astrophysicists and sci-fi TV icons, comic-book obsessed porn stars and Cylons: these are the men and women that are likely to up the BPM of the Geek Nation’s pulse

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The phrase "Nerd Sex Symbols" usually refers to one of two things: Smart celebrities who get the pulse racing; or sci-fi characters and superheroes who inspire NSFW fan-fiction and beaucoup cosplay among nerds and nerdettes. (George Clooney is hot, but how many people do you see dressed up like him at Comic-Con? The Walking Dead's hillbilly hunk Daryl Dixon, on the other hand….) There are legendary characters from intergalactic sagas and fantasy epics that we all love, sure. But there are also actors who obsess over comics, astrophysicists with swagger, jocks who love gaming, and babes and hunks whose knowledge of Middle Earth, mathematic theory, and how a TARDIS works can put the average fanboy to shame. Being a geek isn't just cool these days. It's downright white-hot.

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With that in mind, we decided to combine the best of both worlds (Universes? Galaxies?) to come up with a definitive list of the most alluring — conventionally or not — movie stars, scientists, robots, alien warriors, tech gods, comedians, wizards, zombie killers, musicians, and more. By Dan Reilly

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Nate Silver

A master of statistical analysis, Silver first became popular thanks to his groundbreaking work in baseball's sabermetrics community (think Jonah Hill in Moneyball). His fame skyrocketed in 2008, however, when his site — — posted stats-based presidential-election predictions that correctly called 49 out of 50 states. In 2012, when he did the same as an employee of the New York Times, he went 50-for-50. Soon after, the openly gay Silver was named Out magazine's person of the year, certifying him as a hero in the LGBT and geek communities. He left the Times for ESPN, where he's currently the editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight.

Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures

Daniel Radcliffe and the ‘Harry Potter’ Crew

Whoever decided to cast Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint as the leads in the Harry Potter films must have had a crystal ball — or at least the magical gift of foresight to realize those kid actors would grow up into remarkably good-looking adults. Even Matthew Lewis, who played the ultimate Hogwarts dork Neville Longbottom, aged into a dashing young fellow.

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Tina Fey

Fey is adept at everything from highbrow feminist humor to fart jokes, and her tenure as the head writer for Saturday Night Live made her a comedy-nerd superstar. Throw in those Lisa Loeb-like glasses and the copious Star Wars references on 30 Rock – Liz dressing up like Leia, an Ewok alive and well in New York, Carrie Fisher's amazing cameo – and you have a genuine geek goddess. Our only complaint about her brilliant sitcom, in fact, was its running-too-long joke that Liz Lemon was considered unattractive.

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‘Community’s Danny Pudi

For all the insanity that ran rampant through Greendale's dysfunctional halls, Pudi's Abed Nadir was always the heart and soul of the show's misfit study group; despite suffering from an inability to read social situations or be emotionally expressive, he was the most likely to act as the voice of reason for his fellow students as well. Of course, he was also the college's biggest nerd, with his Dreamatorium, love of the  Doctor Who rip-off Inspector Spacetime, the Kickpuncher franchise, his terrific Bale-Batman impression, and much more. The actor's handsomeness didn't exactly hurt his appeal among Community fans either.

Justin Stephens

‘Battlestar Galactica’s Tricia Helfer

The rebooted series garnered critical acclaim thanks to its terrific writing, deeply developed characters (give it up for Katee Sackhoff's hard-living, hard-drinking pilot Starbuck!), and themes and conflicts that resonated with the post 9/11 era regardless of the space-opera trappings. But let's just say you weren't likely to find posters of the ships in a fanboy's high-school locker; that space would be reserved for the show's main Cylon bombshell Tricia Helfer. Even among a cast full of photogenic performers, you could say the statuesque blond held a special place among the show's more cybernetically-inclined viewers.

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Rivers Cuomo

As unlikely a rock star as could be in the post-MTV era, the Weezer frontman made it to stardom with singles about sweaters and looking like Buddy Holly, not to mention the D&D-praising "In the Garage." Turns out, Cuomo was not having trouble when it came to attracting the ladies — see the groupie lament "Tired of Sex," which leads off Weezer's second album Pinkerton. (Make fun of him all you want, but the guy has publicly talked about getting down with four women at once.) He later went celibate for a couple years and got married in 2006.

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Seth Meyers

His political humor was a huge part of his tenure at SNL, and the current Late Night host even helmed the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner. But when he's not in front of the camera, Meyers has shown a big-time love of comic books. In fact, he and SNL pal Bill Hader wrote a one-off 2009 Spider-Man issue called "The Short Halloween," in which Spidey is knocked out during the holiday's annual Greenwich Village parade and a drunk fan takes the hero's place. Starting in 2013, he co-created and stars in the Hulu animated series The Awesomes, about a reunited group of ragtag superheroes; Hader, Rashida Jones, Taran Killam, Cecily Strong, and Bobby Moynihan are among the all-star cast.


Alyson Hannigan

Before How I Met Your Mother's turned her into sitcom royalty, Hannigan had her big break as Willow on Joss Whedon's era-defining Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The character, arguably more popular than star Sarah Michelle Gellar's titular heroine, was involved in a lesbian relationship that was praised for its subtlety and realism (outside of the fantasy setting, of course). While less poignant but still boundary pushing, there was also that time Hannigan's American Pie character, Michelle, went to band camp….

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Stephen Colbert

The man's commitment to playing a megalomaniacal political pundit is brilliant in the winkiest of ways; even conservatives (those who get the joke, that is) are fans. But Colbert is also a full-fledged Tolkien geek — his former employer Jon Stewart once played a recording on The Daily Show of Colbert explaining, in detail, the origin story of Viggo Mortensen's Lord of the Rings  movie character Aragorn. Once Colbert got his own show, it seemed as though the host showed off his knowledge of that universe whenever he could. As a reward, director Peter Jackson enlisted him for a cameo in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which the comedian might appreciate as much as being Letterman's successor.

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Mila Kunis

The star of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and That '70s Show, not to mention the voice of Family Guy's Meg Griffin, was once a big World of Warcraft fan, playing constantly with ex-boyfriend Macaulay Culkin. As an anonymous member of one of the MMORPG's guilds, a fellow player once recognized her voice, forcing her to find new online friends. Furthermore, Kunis most likely created an ultimate nerd fantasy when she admitted in an interview that she would often play in her underwear, but eventually the game became such a habit for her that she had to quit it cold turkey.

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Taran Killam

SNL's current leading player owns several Xbox consoles and has apparently spent over $1,000 on replacements for the controllers he's smashed after tossing them against walls in frustration. That's not to mention the fact that he has an arcade version of NBA Jam in his 30 Rock office. On the comics front, the X-Men devotee co-created his own book, The Illegitmates, about a team of spies who are the bastards of a Bond-like character. For the cherry on top, he's married to How I Met Your Mother star Cobie Smulders, who's now part of the Marvel movie universe and voiced Wonder Woman in The Lego Movie. Talk about unlocking a nerd's dream achievement.

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‘Parks and Recreation’s Adam Scott

While Leslie Knope is the hottest female political dweeb in Pawnee, she can't compete with the dork mastery that is her devoted husband, Ben Wyatt. The former teen mayor grew up to love numbers, but never got over his obsessions with some of the major sci-fi and fantasy series, including Wars, Trek, Rings, and Thrones; he also spent his unemployed time creating an intensive role-playing game called the Cones of Dunshire. Few would have guessed that when the sitcom brought Adam Scott on the hapless Wyatt, the result would be a nerd sex symbol — one that, if Knope's constant crowing about his butt is any indication, has quite the posterior.

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April O’Neil

It doesn't take a unique porn actress to star in Game of Bones or other adult-film parodies, but April O'Neil comes from a legit geek background. Her stage name is taken from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' best pal, she goes to Comic-Con as a fan, and has an obsession with Doctor Who. Lots of geeks fantasize about porn stars; O'Neil, however, may be one of the few triple-X performers they'd actually run into in line for a panel on sci-fi TV shows or at a TARDIS exhibit.

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Chris Kluwe

Punters are rarely remembered for their on-field contributions, and while Kluwe had some solid seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, the retired NFL player will always be known for his vocal, sometimes vulgar, support of same-sex marriage and other no-brainer civil rights. Case in point: In an open letter, he told one homophobic politician that gay couples "won't magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster." An obsessive gamer – his Twitter name is @ChrisWarcraft – Kluwe recently found a way to, ahem, marry both causes in one tweet that referenced a newly struck-down marriage ban and  the classic computer program Oregon Trail: "This makes up a little bit for dying from dysentery so many times."

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Jesse Eisenberg/Michael Cera

We couldn't decide which of these talented kings of the beta-males to include — so we're putting them both on this list. While both have range, Cera may have the edge when it comes to comedy thanks to Arrested Development, while Eisenberg wins out for drama on the strength of The Social Network. Cera might be too soft to play Zuckerberg and Eisenberg is too severe to play George Michael, but each of them have that vulnerable, offbeat vibe that makes them simultaneously appealing and versatile.

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Harrison Ford

The ruggedly handsome star would be a strong contender for any sex-symbol list, really, but when it comes to the world of serious nerdom, Ford may be the sexiest man alive — the George Clooney of the Geek Nation. If the star has one character that he can call his own, it's the gritty hero who's in it for the gold, whose heart gets the best of him for better or worse, and who gets the job done while trying to avoid the glory. He's also got a wisecrack or a too-cool-for-school remark at the ready: A princess says he loves him as he heads into a cryogenic prison and he replies, "I know." That takes almost as much courage as crawling through a pit full of snakes or fighting off Daryl Hannah and Rutger Hauer. Almost.

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