Revenge of the Nerds

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Revenge of the Nerds
Directed by Jeff Kanew
Produced by
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 comedy film 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, in addition to the latter's 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. A predominantly black fraternity Lambda Lambda Lambda (Tri-Lambs) considers an Adams College chapter, due to the fact that there has never been a Lambda Lambda Lambda chapter at Adams. The fraternity president, U.N. Jefferson, is not enthusiastic about a predominantly white group becoming a chapter, but is forced to grant an automatic 60-day probationary membership due to bylaws. The nerds invite U.N. 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, disrupt the party with a sounder of swine. U.N.'s attitude changes when he sees 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. U.N. is impressed by the nerds' willingness to stand up for themselves, and he commissions them the Adams College chapter of Lambda Lambda Lambda.

Although now a fraternity, the harassment continues, and Lambda Lambda Lambda finds 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, the winning chapter gaining the presidency. Using their high intelligence, the nerds, working with the Omega Mus, win some sporting events and finish the athletic competition in second place. 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 nerd".

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. Gilbert is nominated by the Tri-Lambs as president-elect of the next 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 Tri-Lambs' fraternity house.

The Tri-Lambs are despondent at seeing their house wrecked, but Gilbert says Lambda Lambda Lambda is the first time he has been in an accepted group and will not let this stand. Attempting to speak at a pep rally, the Alpha Betas stop Gilbert, but Dean Ulich, U.N., 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 that 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 says that the Tri-Lambs will occupy the Alpha Beta house until all damage to the Tri-Lamb house is repaired. 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.



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]

"We Are the Champions" by Queen is played during the finale of the film.


The film holds a 70% approval rating and 5.9/10 average at the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 43 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 ratio 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 by deception, 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 influence of the film, several 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]


Three less successful sequels followed, last two were television films.

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.[12] 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.[13]

Filming took place in Atlanta, Georgia at Agnes Scott College, the Georgia State Capitol, and Inman Park.[14] Filming was originally scheduled to take place at Emory University, but university officials changed their minds after reading the script.[15][16] 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.[12] 20th Century Fox personnel have stated that it's highly unlikely that a remake will be picked up in the future.[16]


In the mid-2000s, Armstrong and Carradine had devised an idea for a reality television show based on nerds competiting against each other in challenges, inspired by Revenge of the Nerds. However, the idea was rejected at the time, due to the competing Beauty and the Geek show. Six years later, Armstrong and Carradine shopped the idea around and were able to get the show greenlit on TBS in 2012. King of the Nerds ran for three seasons from 2013 to 2015, with Armstrong and Carradine hosting the program.[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". Archived from the original on July 28, 2010. 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. Archived from the original on February 2, 2009. 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. ^ a b LaPorte, Nicole; Alex Romanelli (November 21, 2006). "Atomic blast to 'Nerds'". Variety. Retrieved October 12, 2017. 
  13. ^ ""Nerds" Get Revenge on Agnes Scott Campus". November 3, 2006. Retrieved June 8, 2008. 
  14. ^ Longino, Bob (October 14, 2006). "'Nerds' will hang out in Atlanta". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on February 2, 2009. Retrieved June 8, 2008. 
  15. ^ Grossberg, Josh (November 22, 2006). "No Revenge for New Nerds". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 8, 2008. 
  16. ^ a b "Naughty `Nerds' remake is shut down - Chicago Tribune". November 23, 2006. Retrieved November 24, 2010. 
  17. ^ Greene, Andy (February 14, 2013). "Curtis 'Booger' Armstrong on His New Reality Show, 'King of the Nerds'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 10, 2015. 

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