It seems quaint that there was a 1984 movie called "Revenge of the Nerds." Decades later, it's clear that the nerds have won. They dominate movies and TV with their superhero and sci-fi sagas. They've made Comic-Con the central pop cultural event of the year. They got us all to care about Jedi knights and hobbits and Lannisters. They built the hardware and the software that you're using to read this article.

Of course, TV nerds have come a long way since they first attracted notice 40 years ago on "Happy Days." Back then, a nerd was simply someone who wasn't cool. Now, it's someone whose braininess and obsessiveness (usually about sci-fi or other genre storytelling) give then an intensity that makes them seem socially awkward and uncool. Or used to -- since, as we've seen, nerd is the new cool.

Here, then, are the nerds we've loved on TV over the years, a species whose evolution has made us realize how indispensable they are.