While I was growing up, the stereotype remained that if you wore glasses, you might as well have worn a sign that said, “Kick me.” Instead of contemplating why you couldn’t have perfect vision like your classmates, embrace the stereotype: accept the nerdy stereotype with open arms.

The next time someone yells a “Hey four-eyes” your way, or when you get frustrated that your contact has slipped out of place yet again, simply shrug it off. After all, you’re a part of a long list of people who simply wouldn’t be as cool without their spectacles. Interestingly, a drastically fewer number of females make the list of vision impaired characters.  Optometrist Dr. Kenneth Guthrie notes that “male eyes are more sensitive to small details and moving objects—perhaps due to their hunters’ instincts. Female eyes are more perceptive to changes in color.”  Perhaps male characters are seen as more observant with eyeglasses.  Or, it could be hypothesized that in general, it is generally agreed upon as more attractive for men to wear eyeglasses than women.  Divine Caroline reveals insight into why females may be more insecure behind their spectacles than men are.  This stereotype is easily reflected in the Hollywood culture. Whether gender distributed or not, there a large number of tv and movie characters whose eyeglasses are absolutely essential to their role as protagonist.  

Here’s the top 21: 

21. Noah Bennet, Heroes: Any pseudo-fan of the series Heroes will know Bennet as the ‘Man in Horn-Rimmed Glasses’. Bennet travels the world looking for superhumans. A man defined by mystery, the only tell-tale sign of his personality is his undying love for his family.

noah-bennet

20. Dwight Schrute, The Office: Mr. Schrute is notorious for his survivalist tendencies and can’t-make-this-stuff-up one-liners. His glasses are as much a part of his character as are his practical footwear and mustard-hued shirts.

dwight

19. Geordi La Forge, Star Trek: The Lieutenant Commander, born blind, wears the future– a VISOR—that allows him a sense of vision for a small, painful price. Not only did he run the starship, he also continuously tinkered away on machinery: a less-impressive feat for those with perfect vision.

jordy

18. Professor Hubert, Futurama: What professor doesn’t need a good pair of coke-bottle glasses? Hubert, a self-described “mad scientist,” spends his days creating doomsday devices and atomic supermen, as well as chirping, “Good news, everyone!”

professor-hubert-famsworth

17. Betty Suarez, Ugly Betty: The heroine for the not-as-glamorous twenty-somethings everywhere, Betty couldn’t quite represent the fashion-confused if not for her eyewear. The purple lenses help to make the high-fashion magazine job, the power suits, and the perks seem more relatable.

ugly-betty

16. Ralphie, A Christmas Story:  When all you want for Christmas is an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle, life can seem simple. The complications of an overstuffed wool jumper and forbidden curse words wouldn’t seem quite as endearing in the holiday spirit if not for the oversized glasses.

ralphie-christmas-story

15. Walter Sobchak, The Big Lebowski: Prone to waxing poetic on his service in the Vietnam War, Walter is not shy about expressing unpopular opinions. Walter only removes his tinted aviators in times of stress; most of the time, they help maintain his hardened exterior.

the-big-lebowski-walter

14. Barton Fink, Barton Fink: As endearing as any disturbed playwright could be, Barton Fink peers at the noisy disturbances from his Hollywood hotel from beyond the safety of his circle-round plastic frames.

barton-fink

13. Milton Waddams, Office Space: Every good office comedy needs a rule-stickler character: enter, Milton. In addition to a delightful stutter, Milton suffers frustration from changes in the office, including a switch from his beloved stapler. Without the glasses, Milton would just be your average office sociopath.

milton-waddams

12. Tom Ripley, Talented Mr. Ripley: The 1999 hit movie featured a bespectacled Matt Damon sent from 1950s New York City to Italy to fetch a wayward son, before ultimately stealing an identity. What better way to con the masses than from behind luscious glasses?

talented-mr-ripley

11. Austin Powers, Austin Powers Lest you think this international man of mystery more shagadelic than savvy, the creators of this character opted to outfit him in a thick-rimmed, Buddy Holly-esque pair of glasses. Besides hinting at an impressive mind, Austin’s statement specs serve to exaggerate his expressive eyebrows and mischievous grin.

austin-powers

10. Chuckie Finster, Rugrats: As though a constant sense of fear and phobia weren’t enough for this red-headed child, Chuckie added some purple glasses to his attire to really draw coos from viewers (and their mothers).

chucky

9. Horatio Caine, CSI Miami: The main squeeze of TV’s crime drama series wouldn’t be the same without his permanent sunglasses, ritually ripped of with an unparalleled flair prior to opening credits (and several times each episode).

csi-

8. Napoleon Dynamite, Napoleon Dynamite: America’s favorite underdog, Napoleon would not be nearly as memorable without his signature gesture of pushing his specs up his crinkled nose. Whether he’s donning a Vote for Pedro tee or a powder blue tux, Napoleon’s awkward swag would be impossible without his thick glasses.

napoleon dynamite

7. Tina Fey – Saturday Night Live: Vying for the title of America’s Funniest Sweetheart, Fey not only rocks the movie scene but also the hot-librarian look. Why am I tearing up? Because on the cover of her book,  Bossypants, Tina Fey takes ‘em off and bares all.

tina-fey

6. Drew Carey, Drew Carey Show: The hero of a hit series that mimicked the woes of real life in the 1990s, Drew Carrey’s lenses lent to the ideal of a hilariously sad day-to-day existence.

drew-carey

5. Hiro Nakamura, Heroes: While a computer programmer and CEO, this Bill Gates doppelganger also harbored the ability to bend time and space. Ultimately, this power turns out to be life-threatening, although undoubtedly cool.

hiro

4. Morpheus, The Matrix: Instead of debating the red or blue pill, ask yourself, instead: glasses or no glasses? Neo couldn’t have thoroughly confused everyone without the help of this sunglass-clad, secretive man. I mean… how did those lenses stay on with no earpieces?  Only in the matrix could such cool shades be possible.

morpheus

3. Stephen Hyde, That 70s Show: The definition of cool in the ‘70s included rose-colored glasses and a killer attitude. Look no further than this parachute pants-clad hero sitting in a questionable smoke-filled basement.  I’ve adopted the look myself for the past 5 years, sporting rose-faded prescription Ray Bans aviators.  I’m not going to compare myself to the impressive Danny Masterson, but check out my profile pic; the glasses definitely help!

stephen-hyde

2. Steve Urkel, Family Matters: Perhaps everyone’s favorite television geek, Urkel was known for both his spectacles and suspenders alike. And I don’t need to remind you of his signature phrase, “Did _____________”. (Extra props to those of you who said it aloud!)

urkel

1. Harry Potter, Harry Potter: You knew it had to be him.  Not only was Harry the stereotypical downtrodden child, he was also the adorable and admirable hero in a book and movie series inspiring kids everywhere to persevere in spite of a noseless villain threatening to kill all things loved.  Many Muggles have imitated the eyeglasses of the beloved character.  I saw them myself, standing in a mile long, mall-snaking line to see the last HP film.

harry-potter

There you have it: no more down-turned glances because of your bespectacled look. You have joined a list of elite, impaired-vision characters who simply would not be the same without their glasses. After all, what would you spend thirty minutes per day cleaning, if not your specs?

Images from Wikipedia.org