YEAR-END LIST: The Top 20 Nerdy Things of 2015
It’s the moment you’ve been waiting all year for: your friends at Nerdy Show have once more completed the impossible (and some argue unnecessary) task of ranking the top 20 nerdiest things of the year.
Our list heralds from all facets of society: from science to game shows and pop culture to technology. We’ve run the gamut, collected a host of nerdy topics, and ranked them on a completely arbitrary and unscientific scale (save for the Google Sheets wizardry Jess cast to tally everyone’s votes). It’s always a heatedly debated list, but this year there is one glaring omission you’re sure to notice: The Force Awakens. The Star Wars frenzy is in full effect, pushing global nerd energies to ice cap melting extremes. In this case, that’s a good thing – but we felt it fair to omit the biggest player on the board so the rest could have a chance to shine.
Below you’ll find the full list, ranked from bottom to top. If you’re curious to learn more about why these honored few made it, as well as this year’s honorable mentions and nerdy superlatives, check out Nerdy Show’s annual Final Boss podcast, where we count ’em all off! Think we missed something? Comment on this page or hit us up on the forums!
Now without further ado, we submit for your consideration…
The Top 20 Nerdy Things Of 2015!
#20 John Hendren’s Edward Scissorhands Prank
This lead to our twentieth nerdiest thing of the year: a segment on HLN with anchor Yasmin Vossoughian and supposed Snowden-supporter Jon Hendren (@fart). The segment starts innocently enough with Hendren saying, “he’s been isolated for so long; we should listen to what he has to say.”
Hendren soon shows his troll powers with the following: “But to cast him out, to make him invalid in society simply because he has scissors for hands—I mean, that’s strange. People didn’t get scared until he started sculpting shrubs into dinosaur shapes and whatnot.” It’s a hilarious descent into madness that’s easily one of the greatest nerd pranks in recent memory.
Vossoughian, to her credit, continues the segment absolutely flawlessly. Either she’s completely oblivious or ridiculously good at her job. Regardless, you should certainly check out the full clip above.
#19 Fallout 4
Post apocalyptic sci-fi is always a nerdy affair. Case in point: Mad Max: Fury Road, winner of our Geek Film of the Year superlative. But Fallout 4 digs deep. Not only is it another fantastic entry in the beloved series, mixing nuclear horror with black comedy, not only is it dangerously engrossing (as evidenced in our recent episode of Nerdy Show), but it is rife with nuanced nods to influential pop culture.
Fallout 4‘s Easter Eggs are a nerdy quest that in some cases the whole Internet has to pull together to discover, or even explain. For example the deeply hidden serial number of the Nostromo from Alien. There’s also grim recreations of the final scenes from Jaws and Blade Runner, references to Blues Brothers, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado“. That’s just the tip of the iceberg and there’s certainly still more that’s undiscovered.
#18 Microsoft HoloLens
When you think “incredible innovation,” Microsoft may not be the first company that comes to mind. But when the Bellevue company announced the HoloLens this year, our socks were officially knocked off. According to the site:
“Microsoft HoloLens is the first fully untethered, holographic computer, enabling high-definition holograms to integrate with your world.”
Judging by Microsoft’s videos and the live demos that have taken place throughout the year, HoloLens’ claims are real: it’s the first headset to truly make mixed reality possible. From building Minecraft castles to chatting with friends across the globe, the opportunities for mixed reality to enhance our lives are truly endless.
What’s perhaps most interesting is that HoloLens runs on Windows 10 – showing that Microsoft is betting hard on connecting each of their devices through the same operating system. While it would certainly be cool for the U.I. on your laptop to be no different than the one on your HoloLens, with a price tag of $3000 (developer edition), it’s unknown how quickly this could become a ubiquitous household product.
Regardless, we’re certainly excited to see what comes next.
One of the funniest, most thought-provoking comics of the year. Creative team Mark Russell and Ben Caldwell reimagine an obscure DC Comics title, Prez: First Teen President, for the not-too-distant 21st century. Beth Ross is an accidental viral video star turned Twitter-elected teen dead set on destabilizing America’s corporate-controlled status quo in 2036.
Prez is about the world of 2036 as much as it’s about Beth’s journey, and casts a scathing lens on our own reality. Sometimes it’s hilarious, such as the government subsidized taco drones, and sometimes it’s horrifying: bro soldiers in bean bag chairs munching Doritos while manning mecha sentries – indiscriminately mowing down Middle Eastern children. It’s sci-fi social satire at its best; in the grand tradition of Steve Gerber’s Howard the Duck and Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan. Volume 1 of Prez has just wrapped and will be collected early next year, with the remaining 6 issues (volume 2) following shortly.
#16 Rush Fan Wins Jeopardy with Neal Peart’s Sticks
You could tell right away there was something different about her. Morrow’s high-energy, casual attitude was a true anomaly on the quiz show, but it wasn’t until the break to learn more about the contestants that she put all her cards on the table:
“I was always inspired by tales of knights in shining armor who would ride into battle with a token of favor from somebody they admired. So I thought I would do that here.” Morrow fought her way to the front row of a Rush concert and held up a banner reading, “May be on Jeopardy! Request token of favor to carry in thy honor.” And having told that tale she pulled the sacred sticks from a hip holster.
Morrow went on to further prove her cred by betting $2112 on a Daily Double (the title of Rush’s legendary 1976 album) and clean up two nights in a row. A fitting tribute to the nerdy rock legend who recently announced his retirement.
#15 Chamber Band – Careers
Chamber Band are no strangers to our Top 20 Nerdy Things list. Their debut record, Deities, ranked in the upper echelon of our 2013 list. They specialize in luscious folk rock grown from the fertile soil of nerdy tales. Deities drew heavily from the world of Dungeons & Dragons – crafting stories of love and betrayal that anyone could enjoy, but that the keen-eared could discern had a definite fantasy flavor. Careers takes a page from that same playbook, but with an entirely different subject: The Hunger Games.
Using the characters and struggles of that world as a launching point, Chamber Band have compiled another fiery record that’s sure to simultaneously rend your heart, rev your engines, and tickle your nerd cockles in the best of ways. Whether you’re familiar with The Hunger Games or not – heck, even if you’re not a fan – this record is a must-listen.
- Buy Chamber Band’s Careers
- Our most recent interview with Chamber Band
- Our full review of Careers
- Chamber Band’s music video for “In The Colosseum”
Spider-Verse was a multiversal Marvel comics event featuring every Spider-Man (and Spider-Woman…and Spider-Ham, to be fair) that has ever appeared in any media. Yes, folks, that includes the animated 1960s Spider-Man who’s become a meme celebrity, the Spider-Man who battled in the name of Hostess Fruit Pies, and the 1970s Japanese TV Supaidaman, in all his glory. While the storyline technically started in late 2014, most of the event spilled over into 2015 including Supaidaman becoming canon (which, let’s face it, really put things over the top).
Plus, the event also gave us Spider-Gwen, one of the coolest superheroines to hit comics, since, well, ever (in Jess’ not-so-humble opinion). Her popularity was so great that this new web-slinger has landed her own series, Radioactive Spider-Gwen.
#13 A Home-Made, Functional Mijolner
That was the case for YouTuber Allen Pan, aka Sufficiently Advanced. He set out to create a Mijolner with an electromagnetic field that could only be disabled when his thumbprint is successfully scanned. Set it down on a piece of metal and watch the foolish Midgardians attempt in vain to lift it! First Pan took it to Venice Beach (as seen in the video below), and then he brought it to Comikaze where a modification let 1-in-10 users lift it (and Stan Lee signed it).
#12 Other Space
Other Space was easily one of the biggest surprises of 2015. A web series in the grand tradition of sci-fi comedies like Red Dwarf, Galaxy Quest, and MST3K from Freaks and Geeks and Ghostbusters reboot writer/ director Paul Feig.
The series follows the catastrophic adventures of the UMP Cruiser – a starship whose crew is either inexperienced, incompetent, or somehow damaged, and whose mission of discovery is derailed by a wormhole into another universe. It’s sci-fi situational comedy at its best with an incredible cast (including MST3K alums Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu).
We voraciously ate up all eight episodes as the crew deftly stumbled through surreal situations and social dramas and we’re hungry for more. Sadly, even with awesome shows like Other Space and Community, Yahoo’s original programming platform tanked, leaving the future of Other Space in stasis. #SaveOtherSpace
#11 Japan’s First Robot-Operated Hotel
Let’s face it: Japan gets all the cool shit.
This year, Henn’na Hotel (translation: “Strange Hotel”), the world’s very first fully robot-operated hotel opened in Nagasaki. Robots will check you in, clean your rooms, carry your luggage, and even deliver room service. The hotel boasts that the use of robots makes the hotel run more efficiently, but let’s face it, the real reason they opened is because it’s only the coolest thing in the world.
Because, yeah, that raptor above? It’s a concierge that English-speakers can check in with. #winning
#10 Bartkira Gets an Animated Trailer
Bartkira is the parody brain child of artist Ryan Humphrey – mashing up Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira and Matt Groening’s The Simpsons. The mashup was lightning in a bottle and over the past couple years has spread into a massive project edited and coordinated by James Harvey; where artists from all over the world are recreating the six Akira graphic novels page by page as Bartkira. But clearly that’s not all… this year we were surprised by the release of a Bartkira trailer – the entire original Japanese Akira trailer recreated shot-for-shot by over 50 artists.
#9 Soylent 2.0
What’s the bane of every nerd’s day? That’s right, eating. Whether we’re lost in the world of Fallout or in the midst of an epic coding jam session, pausing for nutrition can be awfully inconvenient. Plus, when we do eat, we’re probably not eating the most balanced of meals.
Enter Soylent 2.0, not to be confused with it’s predecessor, which was kind of terrible. (Also not to be confused with Soylent Green because, “It’s peeeeeeeeeople!” totally doesn’t get old.) Soylent is a perfectly balanced meal in a bottle, which pretty much tastes like the milk at the bottom of the cereal bowl. Never be a slave to chewing again! Soylent 2.0 comes in bottles, is totally vegan, and is pretty much life-changing – grab a bottle today!
#8 The Talos Principle
There’s not too much we can say about Talos Principle without spoiling the whole experience. It’s a game based around big questions and uncovering deep mysteries. Like Portal you find yourself at the mercy of a 3D puzzle mechanic in a first person perspective. Like Myst you must observe everything that happens closely to piece together the real story. Time and time again your perceptions of reality will be challenged as you communicate with a godly voice and find strange relics in the worlds you explore. When the true nature of (your) existence starts to become clear, the geeky qualities of this puzzle narrative truly come into focus. You’ll just have to trust us, but suffice it to say, it’s the highest raking video game on this list.
#7 Transparent Aluminum
In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home it was revealed that the windows of Federation starships weren’t glass, but an ultra-durable transparent aluminum. It sounds ridiculous – that not only could aluminum be made to be nigh-impenetrable, but that it could be as transparent as glass. Turns out the idea was kicking around for a while, but it took three decades and some high-functioning Trek-fueled boffins to make it happen.
Officially called aluminum oxynitride, this “transparent aluminum” is actually an aluminum based ceramic that, after a complex molding and baking procedure, becomes bullet-proof, shatter-proof, scratch resistant, and remains clear. A piece at least three inches thick can stop an armor piercing bullet and it’s half the weight of other transparent armors. It’s still extraordinarily expensive to make, but as of this year it’s starting to gain public awareness and get some practical applications in the form of lenses in battlefield cameras and windows over the sensors in missiles. Give them enough time and who knows – we might be one step closer to joining the United Federation of Planets.
#6 Camp Fangamer
The 1995 Super Nintendo roleplaying game, EarthBound, boasts the biggest, most devoted following of of any “cult” video game ever. It’s fanbase is also one of the most passionate and proactive fan groups, period. This year they celebrated the game’s 20th anniversary and official re-release in an unprecedented way: sucking a Tucson, Arizona Hilton into the world of EarthBound.
Camp Fangamer was one part convention, one part alternate reality game with a hybrid game show/ talk show/ playthrough at the epicenter. Live music, real life boss battles, strange late night meetings, evil piñatas, and of course friends and summertime fun. And it wasn’t just a super-awesome, once-in-a-lifetime experience for all the game’s fans to congregate in real life; it was also a charity event raising $39,332 for Speak Your Silence, an organization devoted to conquering the stigma of child sexual abuse. This description… it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Check out Cap’s comprehensive article chronicling the whole event: “EarthBound Comes to Life: This Was Camp Fangamer 2015“.
- Cap’s article on Camp Fangamer
- Cap’s Camp Fangamer panel, “Deep Darkness” in article form
- Above photo by Ann Kornuta/Luke Schirmer
#5 Underground VR Drone Racing
When you’re strapped into a VR helmet, flying a drone at breakneck speeds through an abandoned factory – you know you’re living in the future. Drone racing groups are springing up all over the world. Some of them are above board, getting funded by pro sports moguls, and some are still underground – where tinkerers become race heroes in arenas of urban decay. Whether the race is public, or in undisclosed locations, Internet viewers can tune in – shuttling between different first-person drone cameras to view the action first hand, from half a world away. These races are small in stature and scale but have the distinct vibe of the future sports long promised by science fiction.
#4 Licensed, Bionic Prosthetics for Kids
In January of 2015, e-NABLE 3D printed a Clone Trooper-styled arm for 7-year-old Liam Porter – a very cool arm and a very awesome gesture. Then in March things took a massive leap as Robert Downey Jr., acting as Tony Stark himself, surprised a 7-year-old named Alex with an Iron Man arm of his very own (as seen in the above video). The arm doesn’t just look awesome, it’s an impressive 3D printed, bionic model created by the University of Central Florida organization, Limbitless Solutions in conjunction with OneNote, and #CollectiveProject. Finally, in October, Open Bionics officially partnered with Disney to make low-cost, highly quality, licensed prosthetic robotic hands. As a part of the Disney Accelerator Techstars program they have royalty-free access to properties, like Star Wars, Marvel, and Frozen and worked alongside Industrial Light and Magic to provide needy kids with incredible, futuristic, themed prosthesis.
- A kid’s 3D printed Clone Trooper arm
- Downey Jr. gives a kid an Iron Man arm
- Officially licensed Disney prosthetics
#3 TIE Fighter Animated Short
For the past four years, Paul Johnson has been spending his spare time bringing this incredible space fighter anime to life. Not only is this an amazing take on the classic trilogy era, the short is heavily inspired by the classic TIE Fighter computer game from the 90s. What are you waiting for? Click play and see Star Wars as you’ve never seen it before – not just from the cockpit of some way cool top-gunning Imperials, but in glorious anime style!
#2 IRL First Person Shooter on Chatroulette
Realm Pictures teamed up with escape room and treasure hunt company Red House Mysteries to create an unprecedented interactive narrative: a live action video game. Random people were given command of a zombie-slaying, wise-cracking FPS dude who had to do everything he’s told as he journeys through a church yard to slay a massive demon. It’s an impressive feat requiring tons of tech, prep, and a command center of people to stage the operation – and that’s just Level 1.
In Level 2 they upped the ante tenfold – taking unsuspecting Chatroulette folks to a derelict space station (filmed in an old power plant) for an intense and unbelievable Dead Space-style confrontation. We have never, ever seen anything as crazy as this in all our years of Internetting. This is mind-blowing stuff, people!
Yes, there’s going to be a Level 3 too – but that’s a whole other story because Realm Pictures is turning the series into an ongoing narrative and putting fans at the steering wheel. Check the links below to find out how you can get in on the action and hear their master plan.
#1 GET SCHWIFTY (Rick and Morty Season 2)
I’m pretty sure “Get Schwifty” is a shoo-in for the new US National Anthem. Maybe, like, a global anthem? What a jam! It’s, like, the jam. It’s so fresh! Fresh enough to make those big heads stay the hell away from ol’ Earth, right? So weird that it’s classified who wrote it – but at least it was made in the U. S. of A.! How many times have we saved the world again? It’s at least a few.
Anyhow, have you noticed how much weird stuff has been happening lately? I wonder what’s up with that. This guy who smells like reefer gave me some DVD-R for a documentary called Spare Parts that said some old dude and his grandson are responsible for all of it. Seems a little unreasonable to me. I mean, that’s not what you’d call “likely suspects” in a global conspiracy. I’d sooner believe it’s got something to do with lizard men or Illuminati werewolves.
Speaking of DVD-Rs, my friends have been on me to watch this show called Rick and Morty. They said “the first season is good but wwwwoooooow, the second season is bonkers awesome – it should top a nerdy list or something.” They said it just like that. Said it’s a really, really hardcore sci-fi show, but gunked up with some really weird shit. I guess that sounds okay. I don’t really know if that’s my kinda thing, but I’ll try it out.
…Right after I listen to “Get Schwifty” one more time! Ohhhh yeeeaaaaahhhhhhhh!
2015 Nerdy Superlatives
The Top 20 isn’t all the kudos we’ve got this year! Check out our five 2015 superlatives: