Remember back in the day when all it took was a pair of glasses and a ponytail to make someone look like a nerd? It was a strange and beautiful time. Nowadays, being a nerd is something that you have to work for. You can’t just say you like video games and fit in. You have to prove it. Nerds are now a select group that people want to be part of. It’s something to strive for. Obviously, there are different subgroups here–some worse than others–but traditional nerds are in. Back in the old days (and by that we mean 10 years ago or more), TV shows would try to ensure that nerds were less attractive than the popular girls. Of course, this just meant less makeup, some big ugly glasses, and a muted wardrobe. Nerds needed to show us that they were more than glitter and bright colors. There was something deeper within them, and those women who spent time making themselves look better were fools with cold and lonely hearts. The non-caring aspect of the nerds was all part of their allure. But there was often a hidden beauty under it all.
We’ve all seen what nerds really look like. Sometimes, we saw a transformation from nerd to princess right in front of our eyes in movies like She’s All That and pretty much every other teen movie from the 90’s and early 2000’s. So, that got us thinking. What about looking at the other nerds from our childhood, the ones that we never got to see transform? We know that most actresses are attractive. We also know how many child stars have turned into beautiful adults, so why not combine all these and see if our favorite nerdy girls from our favorite childhood shows ever made their own transformations? For many of these women, they just needed time to grow up. Others needed to change their look a little. Whatever the process, the results are amazing. Here are 15 Of TV’s Biggest Nerds Who Grew Up Really Attractive.
15. Alex Dunphy – Ariel Winter
In 2009, Ariel Winter was introduced to us on Modern Family as the nerdy younger daughter in the Dunphy family, Alex Dunphy. She made a habit of making her family feel stupid on the show and embraced the nerd role. In real life, Winter looked very similar to Alex when she was young. As she got older, however, she became less and less like her character. These days, Winter is a stunning 19-year-old. She’s got a healthy social media following who enjoy watching videos of her workouts from behind because that’s a real thing that people enjoy watching. In Modern Family, Alex is still a nerd, but it’s becoming more difficult for the showrunners to keep her beauty muffled. They try, but then we don’t expect it to last very much longer.
14. Teddy Duncan – Bridgit Mendler
While some fans might know Bridgit Mendler more for playing Juliet van Heusen on Wizards of Waverly Place, we’re more interested in her character of Teddy Duncan on Good Luck Charlie. Now, it may be a bit of stretch to call Teddy a nerd, but she was known as G.G. (Goody Goody), so it’s not totally out of line. Teddy may not have done all the nerdy things we’ve been conditioned to expect from that category of person, but she was really intelligent and got excellent grades. Compared to her friends, she was definitely more of a nerd. Nowadays, aside from being super hot, Mendler is primarily acting in shorts and TV movies. She was also on the series Undateable, which we never saw and know nothing about, so enjoy that wealth of information. Just look at the pictures. She got hot. End of story.
13. Agent Scully – Gillian Anderson
It may be a bit silly to include Gillian Anderson in this list because she was already an adult when she burst on the scene in The X-Files. But, we’re going to be honest here, and it’s a little embarrassing. There was something about her (or us) that kept her very low on our radar back when she was on the show. Sure, she was always attractive, but we didn’t quite grasp just how attractive she was. So, maybe this entry is more about us. Maybe we grew up and realized that this nerd was mind-blowing the entire time. Shame on us and shame on you if you felt the same way we did. That being said, Anderson, despite whatever work may or may not have been done, has aged incredibly well. At almost 50, Anderson looks fantastic, and we just want to celebrate her beauty.
12. Jenna Hamilton – Ashley Rickards
The character of Jenna Hamilton on Awkward may not have been the classic nerd, but she was nerdy. She was also a bit of a loser, however harsh that may sound. But the actress behind the character, Ashley Rickards, is really good-looking today. Rickards has been in a few other big shows, including American Horror Story and most recently, The Flash, in which she plays Rosa Dillon (The Top). Her film career has been fairly positive as well, appearing in At the Devil’s Door, A Haunted House 2, Behaving Badly, and The Outcasts. While Rickards looks similar to how she did when she was younger, maturity looks incredible on her.
11. Topanga Lawrence – Danielle Fishel
Way back 1993, Danielle Fishel started on Boy Meets World as a 12-year-old little flower child named Topanga Lawrence. Every boy and most of the girls who were watching were in love. By about the year 2000, when Boy Meets World was ending, we fully realized just what we had on our TV screens each day. Fishel had blossomed from a nerd to a stunner, and now she was gone. After the show, Fishel would do a few movies, which showed off another side of her, but we missed seeing her every week. It was tragic that as soon as Fishel had finally grown into one of the hottest women out there, her career was fading. Well, she would come back in Girl Meets World, but most of us had moved on to other things by then.
10. Angela – Demi Lovato
It wasn’t just the glasses and the ponytail that made Angela a nerd on Barney & Friends, but they were a big part of it. Angela was your classic nerdy girl in many different ways. She liked music, she loved cats, and she believed in dancing purple dinosaurs. What says nerd more than loving music and fuzzy little cats? At the time, no one could have predicted that the actress playing Angela would become one of the biggest stars in the world, but that’s about where Demi Lovato is today. After Barney & Friends, Lovato moved on to Camp Rock and then Sonny with a Chance. Since then, there’s been X-Factor and a lot of music. Lovato has just released her sixth album and is looking wildly attractive.
9. Rory Gilmore – Alexis Bledel
Even though Alexis Bledel was already in her late teens when she started on Gilmore Girls, she was a young-looking woman. In fact, Bledel is in her mid to late 30’s now, and she still looks very young. Because of this, she tended to play characters younger than her real age, which made people feel uncomfortable judging her. In Gilmore Girls, Rory was a different kind of nerd. She didn’t wear large-framed glasses with tape in the middle; she was the homely type. She’s a Dawson’s Creek kind of nerd.
While people were definitely attracted to Rory and/or Bledel, it wasn’t really until she got older and started playing adult characters that most of us truly began to take notice of her attractiveness. Now, we’re going to be honest. We were never big fans of Rory on Gilmore Girls. Her pretentiousness was offensive and about the most unattractive thing on television, but she got hot, so she makes it to this list and that’s the most important thing.
8. Gabriella Montez – Vanessa Hudgens
It’s not really fair to call Gabriella Montez from High School Musical a nerd because she really wasn’t. She was smart, yeah, but she was also the eye candy for the young boys on the show. She was kind of the total package. Still, considering how beautiful Vanessa Hudgens grew up to be, we’re including her in the list. Technically, High School Musical is a film series, but let’s be honest, it was basically just a long television show. It was 2005 when this franchise started and Hudgens was about 16. Now at 29, she has become a much more serious actor and performer. She’s also an enormous social media star. It is Hudgens’ hotness that makes her interesting on social media.
7. Mindy Crenshaw/Claudia Donovan – Allison Scagliotti
Allison Scagliotti really played two nerdy girls on popular television shows. First, she played Mindy Crenshaw on Drake & Josh. Mindy was the intelligent arch rival of Josh. Nerd might not be the proper term, but she was smart enough that if she was in a 90’s show, she would have had massive braces and red frizzy hair. Different times. After that, Scagliotti took on the role of Claudia Donovan on Warehouse 13. Claudia was also really intelligent but nerd, again, might not be the right term. It was on this show that people really started to see how gorgeous Scagliotti had become, though. Nowadays, she’s just a regular rocket and no amount of nerdiness can hide it.
6. Cynthia Sanders – Tania Raymonde
Cynthia Sanders was one of Malcolm’s crushes in the early years of Malcolm in the Middle. She was very smart and had a ridiculous vocabulary. Nerd is a pretty apt descriptor for this character played by Tania Raymonde, but the Raymonde back then is nothing like the Raymonde today. While that role qualifies her for this list, Raymonde is probably best known for playing Alex Rousseau from Lost. It was on this show that people first spotted the change in Raymonde’s looks. In 2013, she got some more attention for her portrayal of Jodi Arias in Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret. Currently, Raymonde is on the TV show Goliath with Billy Bob Thornton. If you are one of those people who have not seen her since Malcolm in the Middle, you might be shocked at the woman she’s turned into. The 29-year-old looks completely different and we like it.
5. Claire Addison – Emmy Rossum
In 1999, when she was only 13, Emmy Rossum caught the eye of a lot of people in Genius, a TV movie about a kid who was a genius. Rossum played the love interest of the main boy in the movie. Her character wasn’t your typical nerd, but she was intelligent and she was the guy’s tutor when he was pretending to be a bad boy. Rossum won a Young Performers Artist Award for the role. These days, Rossum is considered one of the most beautiful actresses on the planet and one of the most talented too, so she’s doing alright for herself, especially since she started out as such a nerd. Of all the stars on this list, you could make a good argument that Rossum has had the best acting career.
4. Grace Sheffield – Madeline Zima
Grace Sheffield was the youngest in the Sheffield family, the rich folk on The Nanny. Grace was the precocious little brainiac who, somehow, was the smartest in her family by the age of 6, which doesn’t really put the Sheffield family in the greatest of lights. Grace was played by a very young Madeline Zima, an actress who has continued on in the industry nabbing roles in Californication and Heroes. For the purposes of this list, it’s worth noting that Zima is also incredibly good-looking these days. The 32-year-old blossomed into a beauty and was even named to FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women back in 2009. Most recently, Zima was spotted in a couple of episodes of the latest Twin Peaks season.
3. Quinn Pensky – Erin Sanders
If you ever watched Zoey 101, you would know Quinn Pensky as the lovable genius and roommate of Jamie Lynn Spears‘ character, Zoey. Quinn was played by the now-gorgeous Erin Sanders. But, during most of her younger years on the show, her nerdiness was quite exaggerated. After Zoey 101, Sanders took a role on The Young and the Restless. Then, it was a few spots on TV shows such as Mad Men, Castle, Weeds, and CSI Miami. Sanders hasn’t been acting in the last few years, so we’re unclear if she’s officially hung up her acting shoes or if she’s just taking a break, while transitioning into her adult career. Whatever she’s doing, she’s probably looking great doing it.
2. Claudia Salinger – Lacey Chabert
Nerd is a pretty aggressive way to describe Lacey Chabert‘s character, Claudia, on Party of Five, but since she was the really intelligent and gifted one in the family, we decided to include her. It also helps that Chabert became incredibly hot as a young woman. Many of us first got familiar with this remarkable transition in movies like Not Another Teen Movie and of course, Mean Girls. Over the last several years, Chabert has been in several Hallmark movies, including about 10 Christmas movies. If you’re into watching the cheesy but harmless TV Christmas movies, you’ve probably become accustomed to seeing Chabert’s beautiful face quite a bit. It’s crazy to think that Chabert is 35 now, but she makes that number look amazing.
1. Ren Stevens – Christy Carlson Romano
Ren Stevens was the perfectionist sister of Louis (Shia LaBeouf) on Even Stevens. Ren is a typical nerd build. She’s smart. She’s good. She applies herself to her education and extracurricular activities. The one difference between Ren and the typical nerd is that she would get involved in non-nerd activities from time to time. Incredibly, Even Stevens wasn’t the biggest show for the actress behind Ren, Christy Carlson Romano. Nope, Romano is probably better known for voicing Kim Possible from Kim Possible. Other than that, Romano has been in a few other films, mainly TV movies. But, forget all that stuff. Romano is also very good-looking, which has to be her biggest achievement to date.