Revenge of the Nerds

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For the 1983 TV special "Revenge of the Nerd", refer to "CBS Schoolbreak Special"
Revenge of the Nerds
Directed by Jeff Kanew
Produced by Ted Field
Peter Samuelson
Screenplay by Steve Zacharias
Jeff Buhai
Story by Tim Metcalfe
Miguel Tejada-Flores
Steve Zacharias
Jeff Buhai
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography King Baggot
Edited by Alan Balsam
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • July 20, 1984 (1984-07-20)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $6 million[1]
Box office $60.4 million (Including rentals)[2]

Revenge of the Nerds is a 1984 American sex comedy film from 20th Century Fox, produced by Ted Field and Peter Samuelson, directed by Jeff Kanew, and starring Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards, with Curtis Armstrong, Ted McGinley, Julia Montgomery, Brian Tochi, Larry B. Scott, Michelle Meyrink, John Goodman, and Donald Gibb.

The film's plot chronicles a group of nerds at the fictional Adams College trying to stop the ongoing harassment by the jock fraternity, the Alpha Betas, who are aided by their sister sorority Pi Delta Pi.


Best friends and nerds Lewis Skolnick and Gilbert Lowe enroll in Adams College to study computer science. They are kicked out of the freshmen dorms by the Alpha Betas, a fraternity composed primarily of football team members, after the Alphas carelessly burn down their own frat house. Dean Ulich sets up the freshmen in temporary quarters in the school's gymnasium, but allows them to rush the fraternities to alleviate their housing situation. Lewis, Gilbert, and other nerds fail to gain fraternity membership, but are able to rent and completely renovate a rundown two-story campus house.

Their success irks Stan Gable, the lead Alpha Beta and Adams' star quarterback; he sets his fellow fraternity members against the nerds, pulling several pranks. The nerds approach the campus police for help, but are bound by the fraternities' Greek Council that adjudicates all such pranks; the only way to appeal the Greek Council's inaction is to join a national fraternity. The nerds attempt to gain national membership, eventually selecting the black fraternity Lambda Lambda Lambda (Tri-Lambs). The head of the Tri-Lambs, U. N. Jefferson, is not thrilled by the notion of granting a charter to a primarily nerd chapter, but the fraternity's bylaws obligate them to give any chapter applicant a 60-day probationary membership. The nerds invite Jefferson to a Lambda party with the Omega Mu sorority, which contain similar nerdy women including Gilbert's girlfriend Judy; their party is livened up when Booger supplies joints with high quality marijuana. The Alpha Betas, along with the Pi Delta Pis, to which Stan's head cheerleader girlfriend Betty Childs belongs, let a herd of pigs into the party, disrupting it, allowing Jefferson to see the discrimination the nerds face. The nerds later take their revenge on both groups by staging a panty raid on the Pi Delta Pis and pouring liquid heat into the Alpha Betas' jock straps. Jefferson is impressed by the nerds' willingness to stand up for themselves, and he officially names them a Tri-Lamb chapter.

Despite their fraternity membership, Lewis and Gilbert find their prank charges stonewalled by Stan, who is also president of the Greek Council. The nerds realize they can only stop Stan by the Tri-Lambs winning the upcoming Greek Games during homecoming, becoming the heads of the Greek Council. Using their high intelligence, the nerds, working with the Omega Mus, doggedly stay in second place behind the Alpha Betas and Pi Delta Pis throughout the sporting events. During the costume/charity sale events, the nerds use nude photos of Betty (taken during their earlier revenge pranks) to outsell the Alpha Betas. During this, Lewis, who has fallen in love with Betty, steals Stan's costume and tricks her into having sex with him. Betty is surprised when Lewis reveals his identity, but later admits to Stan that she is in love with a Tri-Lamb.

With the Alpha Betas and nerds in close running, the final event is a musical competition. The nerds readily outdo the Alpha Betas with a techno-computer-driven musical production and win the competition; Lewis quickly nominates Gilbert to become the new president of the Greek Council. Enraged, Coach Harris demands the Alpha Betas take revenge, and Stan, having just learned that Betty has fallen for Lewis, orders the Alpha Betas to trash the nerds' fraternity house.

When the nerds return home and find their house destroyed, Gilbert barges into the pep rally for the football team and tries to demand that he be given the chance to speak. Stan, Coach Harris, and the other Alpha Betas stop him, but Dean Ulich, U. N. Jefferson, and a group of national Tri-Lamb members arrive in force to ensure that Gilbert is allowed to speak. Gilbert speaks out on the discrimination the nerds have endured, causing Lewis to join him and finally to admit his nerd status. Judy and Betty then join their respective boyfriends on stage, and Gilbert asks all alumni who have ever been picked on or made to feel inferior to join them. Most of the audience does so. Dean Ulich then orders Coach Harris and the Alpha Betas to repair the nerds' house while allowing the nerds to stay in the Alpha Beta's house until the repairs are completed. When Burke and Ogre protest, asking where they will live, Dean Ulich retorts, "You're jocks, go live in the gym". The nerds and alumni celebrate their victory.



Jocks and their female companions[edit]



Exterior scenes such as the arrival of the nerds at college and the fraternity houses were filmed at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. The original Nerds residence, from which they were ousted by the Alpha Betas, was actually Cochise Hall.[3] Their subsequent residence was U of A's Bear Down Gymnasium.[citation needed] The original Alpha Beta fraternity house that is burned down was filmed at the Alpha Gamma Rho house and the Beta Theta Pi house (on University Boulevard). The Pi Delta Pi sorority house was actually the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house.[citation needed]


Revenge of the Nerds
Soundtrack album by various artists
Released July 20, 1984
March 31, 1998 CD
Genre College rock, new wave, synthpop
Label Volcano
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[4]
No. Title Artist Length
1. "Manhattan" Andrea & Hot Mink 3:45
2. "Don't Talk" Ya Ya 4:02
3. "One Foot in Front of the Other" Bone Symphony 3:10
4. "Breakdown" The Rubinoos 3:34
5. "Revenge of the Nerds" The Rubinoos 3:19
6. "They're So Incredible" Revenge 3:54
7. "Are You Ready?" Ya Ya 4:02
8. "Are You Ready for the Sex Girls" Gleaming Spires 4:10
9. "Right Time for Love" Pat Robinson and Jill Michaels 4:00
10. "All Night Party" Gleaming Spires 2:31

Ollie E. Brown, of Ollie & Jerry fame, wrote and performed as Revenge the song "They're So Incredible" for the film. "They're So Incredible" is performed with different lyrics by the nerds in the film at the final event of the Greek Games.[citation needed]


The film holds a 69% approval rating and 5.9/10 average at the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 42 critics' reviews. The consensus is: "Undeniably lowbrow but surprisingly sly, Revenge of the Nerds has enough big laughs to qualify as a minor classic in the slobs-vs.snobs subgenre."[5] It also holds a 41 out of 100 ration on Metacritic based on five critics' reviews and signifying "mixed or average reviews".[6] Revenge of the Nerds is #91 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies".[7]

About three decades after the film's release, commentators have looked back at the film and considered some of the scenes, particularly when Lewis pretends to be Stan and has a sexual encounter with Betty, to be rape, and a misogynistic remnant of a male-dominated culture of that time.[8] William Bradley of The Mary Sue stated that after viewing the film again as an adult he "was immediately struck by the way the film plays sexual exploitation and assault for laughs".[9] Amy Benfor of Salon wrote that the Revenge of the Nerds scene, and a similar scene in John Hughes' Sixteen Candles, were evidence that at the time of these films' productions, "people were stupid about date rape".[10]


  • Due to the popularity and influence of the nerds in the film, several real life chapters of Lambda Lambda Lambda have sprung up in different locations around the United States. The real life fraternity has six chapters in Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and Washington.[11]
  • The song played over the first of the homecoming events (a Japanese rendition of "Daisy Bell") is parodied in the American Dad! episode "Home Adrone" from its sixth season.[citation needed] The series also features a regular character named "Snot" voiced by Curtis Armstrong who portrays "Booger" in the Nerds film series.[citation needed]
  • The song "They're Incredible" by the group Revenge, the song that wins Tri-Lambda the Adams College homecoming presidency, is used in the 16th episode (Peter's Progress) of Family Guy's 7th season.[12]


Three less successful sequels followed, two of which were television films.

Television series[edit]

The pilot episode of the 1991 attempted series of the same name was mostly a condensed version of the film's events. The only character created for the series was the nerds' resident advisor, P.T. Turner (Richard Gant). The pilot aired on FOX in 1991 to fairly negative reviews. This pilot is available on the "Panty Raid" DVD release.[citation needed]

In 2012 a game show based on the series was announced, called King of the Nerds. Airing on TBS, the show is hosted by Robert Carradine (Lewis) and Curtis Armstrong (Booger). The series premiered in January 2013 and ran for 8 episodes. In the show 11 players are placed on two teams and compete in a team challenge called the Nerd War. The losing team must send two members (One selected by the losing team, the other by the winning team) into an elimination challenge called the Nerd Off where the loser is sent home. Players are consecutively eliminated in this matter until the number of total players reaches five, and the teams merge. The winner of the first individual Nerd War chooses one Nerd Off-ee, while the losers choose the other. The next episode is the four-person finale, with two Nerd wars where the losing player is eliminated, leading to the final Nerd Off to decide the winner. The series was renewed for a second season that premiered January 2014, and ended in March. The third season ran from January to March 2015.[citation needed] On September 4, 2015, it was announced that the series was cancelled.

Planned remake[edit]

A remake of the original Revenge of the Nerds was slated for release in 2007, the first project for the newly created Fox Atomic, but was canceled in November 2006 after two weeks of filming.[13] The cast included Adam Brody, Dan Byrd, Katie Cassidy, Kristin Cavallari, Jenna Dewan, Chris Marquette, Ryan Pinkston, Efren Ramirez, and Nick Zano. The film was to be directed by Kyle Newman, executive produced by McG, and written by Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson, and Adam F. Goldberg.[14]

Filming took place in Atlanta, Georgia at Agnes Scott College, the Georgia State Capitol, and Inman Park.[15] Filming was originally scheduled to take place at Emory University, but university officials changed their minds after reading the script.[16][17] The film was shelved after producers found the movie difficult to shoot on the smaller Agnes Scott campus and studio head Peter Rice was disappointed with the dailies.[13] 20th Century Fox personnel have stated that it's highly unlikely that a remake will be picked up in the future.[17]


  1. ^ Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p260
  2. ^ "Field Marshal". Newsweek. Retrieved December 22, 2010. 
  3. ^ "ResLife: Cochise Hall". Retrieved November 24, 2010. 
  4. ^ AllMusic
  5. ^ "Revenge of the Nerds". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 5, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Revenge of the Nerds". Metacritic. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies" on Lists of Bests". June 2, 2006. Retrieved November 24, 2010. 
  8. ^ Hefland, Michael (July 1, 2015). "Abusing women was cool in the 80's". Chicago Now. Retrieved November 5, 2015. 
  9. ^ Bradley, William (April 3, 2015). "Reconsidering Revenge: How Revenge Of The Nerds' Misogyny Is Evident In Current Nerd Culture". The Mary Sue. Retrieved November 5, 2015. 
  10. ^ Benfor, Amy (October 9, 2009). "The "Sixteen Candles" date rape scene?". Salon. Retrieved November 5, 2015. 
  11. ^ Melissa Bishop (January 25, 2007). "Friends Start Fraternity From Scratch". The Daily Campus. 
  12. ^ Haque, Ahsan (May 18, 2009). "Family Guy: "Peter's Progress" Review". IGN. Retrieved December 29, 2009. 
  13. ^ a b LaPorte, Nicole; Alex Romanelli (November 21, 2006). "Atomic blast to 'Nerds'". Variety. Retrieved June 8, 2008. 
  14. ^ ""Nerds" Get Revenge on Agnes Scott Campus". November 3, 2006. Retrieved June 8, 2008. 
  15. ^ Longino, Bob (October 14, 2006). "'Nerds' will hang out in Atlanta". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved June 8, 2008. 
  16. ^ Grossberg, Josh (November 22, 2006). "No Revenge for New Nerds". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 8, 2008. 
  17. ^ a b "Naughty `Nerds' remake is shut down - Chicago Tribune". November 23, 2006. Retrieved November 24, 2010. 

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