I love geeky television characters. If you’re reading this, there is a good chance you do too. Granted, a lot of them are stereotypically pudgy or socially awkward, but in general television is beginning to show us geeks a little more respect.

Geeks are the stars of shows like New Girl or N3mbers. They’re problem solvers with advanced knowledge in their field that the very non-geeky detectives go to for answers in detective dramas like NCIS and Bones. The CSI franchise celebrates the work done in the lab to bring criminals to justice — even if the science isn’t quite in touch with reality.

Below are five of my favorite TV geeks. They not only stand out among the rest of the cast for being a little nerdy, but they also inspire something in the audience that many viewers can relate to.

Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory)

Good old Sheldon. He’s socially awkward (a stereotype of geeks everywhere) though among a cast widely made up of geeks and (gasp) nerds, he stands apart from the pack as a combination of unique personality and incredible genius. He’s certainly the breakout character of the show in my mind.

Despite his obsessive-compulsive nature and awkward mannerisms, he’s not afraid to let his geek flag fly. He’s proud of his own accomplishments and profession in a way that many people would be proud of a war hero in the family. His personality reflects that of many geeks I know (especially those in the IT arena… you know who you are), and that’s exactly what inspired the character in the first place.

Sheldon is well played by Jim Parsons, and he will undoubtedly be a figure in modern television well into syndication.

Charlie Eppes (N3mbers)

I have to admit this: Charlie Eppes is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time (geek or no). He’s a math prodigy and a college professor with a humble personality and an excellent teaching method. Every episode of the show is like a lesson in advanced applied mathematics, but you really don’t get that impression watching from home.

As a character, he’s both a scholar and the average Joe. He’s inspirational for his genius and ability to work through problems that even the most seasoned of investigators couldn’t crack. His friends, some of which are intellectuals themselves, tend to be a little more socially advanced though it’s hard to fit social events into a schedule filled with hours in front of a chalkboard breaking down the fundamentals of the universe.

When all is said and done, Charlie Eppes is perhaps the most believable character on this list.

Abby Sciuto (NCIS)

If you have to be stuck in a lab for eight or more hours per day, you might as well make the best of it. Abby Sciuto is not afraid to express herself despite working in an environment that is filled with military folks locked into a neat and orderly way of doing things.

Abby is the only character of the series that doesn’t lock in step behind a commanding officer. In fact, her lab is maintained as a sort of safe zone from rank and file. After all, when there’s science to be done, isn’t it always better to have fun doing it?

I’ll admit that it’s kind of cool to think about solving murder mysteries to the sound of industrial music. It really can’t get any more fun than that.

Spock (Star Trek)

Few geeks on television are as recognizable as Spock. He’s the science officer on the most famous starship in Star Fleet, and he can answer the most complex math, science, and history questions in an instant. He’s quite possibly the most intelligent person on the USS Enterprise, and he has the logic to prove it.

His list of accomplishments in the movies alone is vast. He traveled through time and communicated with humpback whales.

How many geeks don’t know the Vulcan hand sign?

Just to prove that Spock is indeed a hit with the geek crowd, here’s a video of Sheldon (featured earlier) explaining the game: Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock.

As Spock would say, “Fascinating.”

Dr. Temperance Brennan (Bones)

Dr. Temperance Brennan is both an inspirational geek and an inspirational woman. The character’s rise to the top of her field and academic prowess makes her a cornerstone of the series. In fact, the series is named after the character’s nickname given to her by her slightly less academically talented FBI agent partner.

The character Temperance Brennan is loosely based on real-life anthropologist, Kathy Reichs. In fact, the idea for the show came about because of a documentary the show’s creator was doing on Reichs.

If anything, this is a clear example of how a geeky character and its inspiration can both be incredibly fascinating.