* AlternateCharacterInterpretation:
** Sheldon:
*** Sheldon Cooper seems to have Asperger's Syndrome, despite the creators denying this. He displays the usual signs of Asperger's: heightened vocabulary, lack of caring towards people's feelings, monologue-like speeches, difficulty in understanding social norms, obsessions, altered brain chemicals with coffee, etc. Asperger's Syndrome only got added to the DSM-IV in 1994, so if Sheldon was tested earlier in time...
*** He could be "Clark Kenting" to what he thinks all geniuses should be, copying a professor/doctor/whatever who had Autism whom he idolized when he was growing up in a highly religious part of Texas. Now he has become the mask.
*** Given that, according to Sheldon, his mother had him tested, and that this presumably occurred when he was a child, it is possible that he has a personality disorder that would not have been diagnosable in a child. Since a personality disorder is not "insanity" -- and given that Sheldon is extremely LiteralMinded he may be just [[MathematiciansAnswer reacting]] to the terms "insane" or "crazy" [[ExactWords only]].
*** There have been lots of hints (some subtle, some not so subtle) that Sheldon's family life was not exactly ideal: his father was an abusive drunk and his mother uses religion as a form of denial. Losing his father no doubt added to the trauma. And then there was the analogy Sheldon once drew between schmoozing wealthy university donors for grant funding to being molested in the back of a van... [[{{Squick}} which was probably a little ''too'' descriptive]] for the otherwise overly literal Sheldon to be making an extended metaphor. One gets the impression that Sheldon's childhood was horror even leaving aside the bullying he experienced as a result of his obnoxious personality. Combined with at least three severe emotional breakdowns we've seen him have, Sheldon's arrogance and aloofness may well be a defense mechanism which is breaking down over time.
*** Another aspect of his home life that might be affecting his social ability: Sheldon is extremely logical and scientific. His mother is TheFundamentalist. He was raised by someone who, from his perspective, believes in irrational superstitions that there is no evidence for. He would have been terrified at living with and being raised by a person who went around talking about, or even to, a being that doesn't exist; imagine hearing the story of Abraham (almost) sacrificing his son, and worrying that your own mother will act this out on you.
*** Considering the overwhelming majority of EpilepticTrees insists that Sheldon -- along with nearly every other intelligent, eccentric character in fiction -- has Asperger's, the notion that he ''doesn't'' may well be the AlternativeCharacterInterpretation.
*** Sheldon may be a genuinely nice person. He's genuinely concerned when he thinks Penny's been hurt, runs to get her and takes her to hospital. Rather than just telling Leonard that he wouldn't cover for him sleeping with Priya, he constructed an elaborate and detailed cover to help him. When Leonard lied to Penny about her singing, Sheldon could again have simply said he didn't care and told the truth, but instead chose to follow through and help. He went to great extremes to get Howard's forgiveness when he'd ruined his chances of getting security clearance. When he felt that it would be construed as disloyal to have dinner with Penny, he almost killed himself trying to keep both she and Leonard happy. He couldn't ignore the possibility that Amy was hurt when he didn't hear from her. As much as he may pretend otherwise, he actually cares about his friends. When given the option of being trapped in one of the coldest parts of the planet with anyone, he chose his three friends. He maybe even values their friendship more than any of the rest of them and, even if it may be seen as condescending, is the least frequent to ever intentionally insult any of them (try watching an episode and counting the number of insults Sheldon gives that would actually be considered an insult to his mind, then compare them against those Leonard makes).
*** How much of Sheldon’s ecentricies are real and how much are merely done to get his way as he seems to lose the majority of them when he wants to be a {{Jerkass}} to Leonard as shown in "The Irish Pub Formulation" and "The Itchy Brain Simulation".
**** "The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplication" shows that when it's something Sheldon wants, he is willing to ride the bus.
*** Sheldon's CelibateHero status is typically attributed to having the emotional maturity of a 10-year-old, although he seems to simply ignore it to focus on his work, referring to sexuality at one point as ‘the cross we all have to bear’; later on, he reveals to simply have issues with intimacy he’s working on. He is, however, definitely not {{asexual}}, despite previous speculation on the issue.
*** He's not nearly as smart as he thinks he is. He grew up a Big Fish In A Small Pond and has taken that attitude to college and now to his job at USC, but now he's surrounded by people who were similarly large in similarly small pools. Making an elementary math mistake on ''page 1'' of a paper is a good example. He also doesn't have a PhotographicMemory as he claims, or else he'd know that his NotTheFallThatKillsYou Superman explanation is completely at odds with what actually happens in the film.
*** He could have made that mistake for many reason-distraction, spelling mistake etc. That is grasping at straws argument, that only works if you ignore the fact that he started writing science papers at the age of five, started going to college at the age of eleven, was a visiting professor at the age of fifteen, has an IQ 187, etc...
** Sheldon's mom is usually played as nice, but some of her comments, which are racist if unwitting, really show she's not much better than Leonard's mom. She's a fundamentalist who seems to have a very old-fashioned and limited view on the world, which she took just to compensate for her husband's cheating and uses it as a crutch to keep going. Everyone just tends to look the other way because she's nicer than Leonard's mom and tends to put a leash on Sheldon's antics, but she may very well BE the reason for Sheldon's antics. She's once described him as "one of God's special children", so she thinks, or at least once thought, he was retarded or insane, and seemingly preached this idea to Sheldon's sister. Sheldon's slightly autistic behavior could be the result of being treated as having autism.
** In the episode of Bernadette wanting Howard to move in, was Howard pulling a BatmanGambit? He knew Bernadette would keep bugging him about moving in but he wasn't ready so he had to make a plan. Move in, piss her off by his neediness and make her stop. Notice that in his explanation he said he wrote an email to his mother about moving out and her saying she never reads email since she doesn't know how to properly work a computer.
** Leslie Winkle: OnlySaneWoman or an immature, inconsiderate bitch who gets off of any punishment for immature behaviour in the workplace? Not to mention the cold way she treats Leonard and Howard when she's in a relationship with them.
* AngstWhatAngst: Sheldon after [[spoiler: a brief "break up" with Amy.]] Instead of being sad like a normal human being, he hides it and buys 25 CATS.
* {{Applicability}}: The show covers a wide spectrum of personality types and situations, leaving a lot of viewers to see parallels of themselves within. While these guys are on the extreme side of smart and nerdy, they accurately portray a lot of the behaviors that are evident with any sort of obsessive fandom. Sheldon's desire to get in line early for a movie can be compared to getting to the stadium early for a [[UsefulNotes/AmericanFootball football game]], for example.
* AssPull: Sheldon running a red light. [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtRcuBJBWKc The scene of him driving Penny to the hospital]] shows him refusing to even drive the speed limit (despite Penny begging him to), then stopping at a red light. It's a little hard to believe he would run a red light, much less that he would let Penny talk him into it. The ticket was issued by a traffic camera, though, and their accuracy for deciding what counts as "running" a red light is pretty notoriously questionable, although Sheldon and Penny's dialogue would seem to indicate he did drive through an intersection after the light turned red.
* AwesomeEgo: Sheldon.
* BaseBreaker:
** Viewers tend to either think Sheldon is the best part of the show, or wish that he'd remove that gigantic stick from his ass for once.
** Howard, pre-CharacterDevelopment. Either he's hilarious or he's a prick who needs a punch to the face occasionally.
** Penny as well -- she's either a cute, lovable person, who's a nice addition to the group(s) or an ungrateful bitch who deserves to be thrown out on the street.
** Bernadette is either adorable or annoying and bitchy. [[MostAnnoyingSound Her voice]] certainly doesn't help.
* BigLippedAlligatorMoment: Lampshaded. Leonard and Howard walk in on Sheldon and Raj with a bird, shooting NERF and marshmallow guns at each other, listening to Indian music and screaming nonsensical insults at each other. They promptly walk back out again.
-->'''Leonard''': [[{{Beat}} ...]] Anyway.
* BrokenBase:
** The episode "The Good Guy Fluctuation". Leonard briefly making out twice with a girl has earned more scorn than Priya [[TheUnfairSex sleeping with her ex-boyfriend]] in India.
** The audience laughter -- either worth it because the show's that funny, or teeth-grinding levels of annoying that quickly overstay their course and ruin the show.
** Priya and Leonard's relationship, both in and out of universe.
** The biggest example is probably when Leonard and the guys faked the readings they took during their North Pole expedition. Either you see the others as {{Jerkass}} KarmaHoudini’s who took the cowards way out or Sheldon as an insufferable ass who got exactly what he deserved.
*** Some people TakeAThirdOption by seeing both parties as in the wrong. Sheldon got a job dealing with two things: subordinates and data, and proved himself incompetent at both of them. The simple fact that they were able to falsify the data without him noticing shows that he was just dictating to them while they did all the work while periodically checking the results. However they had plenty of time during the trip home to tell him the truth which would not only have given him time to redact his statement but might have soften the blow.
** Over Penny's pixie cut in season 8.
* CargoShip: Howard/[[ADateWithRosiePalms the robot hand he got stuck on]], Sheldon/his spot, Amy/Gerard (her [[ADateWithRosiePalms electric toothbrush]]), Raj and his mobile phone Siri...
* CliffhangerCopOut: The Season 4 finale and Season 5 opener, dealing with the ramifications of [[spoiler: Raj and Penny waking up in bed together]]. At the Comic-Con panel over the summer Bill Prady said they had worked out a solution that should make everyone happy, which ended up being [[spoiler: Penny couldn't remember what happened because she was so drunk but Raj revealed they technically didn't have sex because he was done when the condom was put on, the simplest solution was to admit it happened and just move forward]]. However you landed on what happened, it still came across as a RatingsStunt.
* DesignatedVillain: Wil Wheaton in The Habitation Configuration was helping Sheldon out with his Web Show about Flags. Amy repeatedly stops filming to berate him for being a poor actor, and Wil tries to take it in stride the first few times. After a while he says that he can't do it if Amy's being a pain in the ass, and Amy gets angry at Sheldon for not calling him out. We're led to believe that Sheldon was wrong for not taking her side, even though Amy's the one who initiated the conflict.
* DracoInLeatherPants: Sheldon. He isn't really a bad guy, but correspondingly to the RonTheDeathEater effect that Leonard can be subject to, Sheldon's character flaws, arrogance and {{Jerkass}} tendencies can be drastically downplayed.
* DieForOurShip:
** Leonard. [[FanPreferredCouple Sheldon/Penny]] fans never seem to catch Leonard a break even once, guy isn't allowed to so much as make a tiny mistake without them calling him a prick.
** There's also Amy. Comes with the territory since she gets in the way of Sheldon/Penny, the FanPreferredCouple.
* DudeNotFunny:
** The episode where Leonard and Sheldon come home to find their apartment broken into. Sheldon has trouble sleeping alone and asks for a high-tech security system installed. The LaughTrack to go with these moments can be inappropriate as much of the episode is him being worried the burglar will return.
*** For that matter, this episode is especially upsetting to some who have been robbed before.
** Amy's story of the little Vietnamese girl dying in the hospital and Penny's nail salon being a front for human trafficking in the same episode, "The 21 Second Excitation", especially in the light of emerging evidence that many Asian-immigrant-owned nail bars in Great Britain are exactly that -- effective slavery of illegal immigrants forced to work long shifts to repay the gangs who got them into the country as illegal immigrants. The wage-slaves are too scared to complain for fear of being deported.
** When they reveal the characters' tragic pasts. When Howard cries and asks the Alf doll where his dad is or when Leonard breaks down while giving a speech in "The Pants Alternative", the LaughTrack [[MoodDissonance doesn't feel quite appropriate.]]
** Similarly, Amy's ImagineSpot of her life without Sheldon -- her being completely alone and crying, is ''played for laughs''.
** Another example that is, if not unfunny, but very grim by the standards of the show -- when President Siebert asks the gang to a fundraising party, Sheldon mocks his proposal using an incredibly dark and out-of-character reference to ''child rape'':
--->'''Sheldon:''' ''Hold on. Just because the nice man offers you candy doesn't mean you should get in the back of his van. What's the occasion?''\\
'''Siebert:''' ''Well, we're having a fundraiser-''\\
'''Sheldon:''' ''Ah, there it is. The tear-stained mattress and the locked rear doors.''
** When the guys are made fun of at a diner when they're in their costumes after having their car stolen. This was aimed at the right demographic!
** Stuart's therapist killed himself. He blamed Stuart in the suicide note.
** In one episode Penny swipes the last dumpling from the takeout box to spite Sheldon. He replies, "I've seen pictures of your mother. Keep eating." Based on the look on Penny's face that one hit her pretty hard. That was really mean, even by Sheldon's standards.
** Sheldon's (if unintended) sexual harassment of his new assistant, saying she was just a slave to her reproductive cycle, showing her graphic pictures of genitalia afflicted by [=STD=]s, and boasting he "saved" her from a life of promiscuity.
** When Stuart's comic book store burns down, a piece of debris falls where he was standing a second ago. He laments that it couldn't have fallen earlier so it would've killed him. Even though Stuart's depression is a driving force for his character, that's just too much.
** The constant fat jokes about Howard's mom were okay at first, but then we see a glimpse of her, and she's nowhere ''near'' big enough for them to be making the kinds of joke they do.
** In season 7, Raj finally starts learning to talk to women... cue Howard jabbing at him at every possible opportunity, particularly in one episode when Raj laments how he'll never find anyone. Because that's sure to help his self-esteem!
** In a Season 2 episode, Howard tries to make out with Penny, and instead of pushing him away, she "sucker-punches [him] when [his] eyes are closed". When they show up at the guys' apartment, his face a complete mess, he lies about "slipping and falling" in order to protect Penny's character. The "slipped and fell" excuse is one of the best-known, classic lines from battered spouses and abused children, for exactly the same reason (and, presumably, to keep the abuser from hitting them again if they tell the truth).
** In "The Hot Troll Deviation", Penny, in a completely off-hand manner, reveals Howard once gave her a teddy bear that she later discovered concealed a ''webcam''.
* EarWorm
** [[RealSongThemeTune "Our whole universe was in a hot, dense state..."]] ([[SugarWiki/AwesomeMusic "The History of Everything"]] by the Music/BarenakedLadies)
** Soft Kitty
** [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmKuAe5MgxM You are my heart, my universe]]
** [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gk7HXuQE5pw To life, to life, l'chaim. L'chaim, l'chaim, to life.]]
** [[http://youtu.be/FJgi-Lou1NA?t=1m16s Ay, ay, ay ay... Hava Nagila]]
** [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Vf3PYF-r7A&safe=active If I didn't have you, life would be blue.]]
* EnsembleDarkHorse:
** Amy Farrah Fowler in her early appearances. [[CharacterizationMarchesOn She went from being]] "female Sheldon" when introduced to being best friends/"besties" with Penny. She is more receptive and reasonable when giving Penny advice than Sheldon would be if Penny went to him. It helps that she gained a degree of CharacterDevelopment. In her first few appearances she was cold and distant, but she now flips out both positively and negatively when Penny hangs with her, i.e., in the first episode of Season 5, she was [[SugarWiki/HeartwarmingMoments overjoyed]] at the thought of Penny staying the night with her and in the second episode she's on the verge of tears when Penny threatens to throw her out for "betraying her" (i.e. helping Sheldon). Her dynamic with the group was so well-liked that in her later seasons, she's a part of the cast as a prominent character.
** Both Sheldon and Leonard's parents are very popular given their screen time. Sometimes they get just one scene, but steal the show with it.
** Bernadette. She's the first "brainy" character who's not socially inept, snarky, or frumpy. That combined with her [[{{Moe}} sheer cuteness]] has endeared her to many fans (especially the male ones). Also, she made Howard behave, and generally is a perky little breath of fresh air.
** Zack Johnson. Despite being a BrainlessBeauty and ex-boyfriend of Penny, he's remembered fondly by many viewers because of his friendly personality, love of comic books, and OddFriendship with the guys even ''after'' Penny broke up with him.
** Stuart the Comic Book Guy. He's hilarious and [[TheWoobie Woobie-esque]].
** Alex, Sheldon's assistant. She is one of the preciously few people who manage to work under Sheldon. Her occasional ShipTease with Leonard also accounts for her Darkhorse status.
** Howard's mom, thanks to tons of hilarious lines and excellent delivery courtesy of Carol Ann Susi.
** Professor Proton. The fact that he won his first Emmy for his portrayal of the guy really bolstered it.
* FandomRivalry: With ''Series/{{Community}}''. Besides having a geeky appeal there is little in common with regards to the two series, but when ''TBBT'' was moved to compete with NBC's comedy lineup on Thursdays (which includes ''Community'' in the exact same time slot) it sparked the rivalry.
* FanPreferredCouple:
** Sheldon/Penny, enough that Chuck Lorre even commented on that prospect, saying that while they have an amazing rapport Penny would probably kill Sheldon if they hung around each other too much. Other TV writers have remarked that just the idea of Sheldon being ''[[{{Asexual}} Sheldon]]'' is what makes their relationship work, the lack of romantic entanglement. Going for SlapSlapKiss is too generic a description of their chemistry.
* {{Fanon}}:
** Many fans and even ''[[http://www.avclub.com/articles/jim-parsons,27415/ the actors]]'' believe Sheldon has UsefulNotes/AspergerSyndrome.
** Penny's last name being Queen is common in fanfics, possibly due to her VideoGames/AgeOfConan name being Queen Penelope
* FreudWasRight: The light-stick size duel between Sheldon and Leonard. Big time.
* FridgeBrilliance: Real discussions in a comic shop usually involve the merits of real comic book series, which would be problematic from a copyright perspective and inaccessible to non-fans. That's why they usually wind up making fun of how nerdy comic book fans (and themselves) are instead.
* FunnyAneurysmMoment:
** In the episode "The Griffin Equivalency", Raj tells the patron next to his table, Creator/CharlieSheen, that he's going to be in People's Magazine for discovering a celestial body. Sheen then tells him "Yeah? Call me when you're on the cover." This line becomes less funny when Sheen does end up on the cover of various magazines, and not in a good light, nor for any positive things he did.
** In the ending of the same episode, Raj is forced to verbally apologize to Penny about his behavior towards her, and she hugs him right when Leonard and Sheldon walk out, with their getting the wrong idea that she and Raj spent the night together (she was wearing a bathrobe). Come the Season 4 finale, Penny and Raj, while drunk, do end up sleeping together, and the consequences of which are made apparent in the Season 5 premiere, where it almost shattered the group's friendship..
** Several times when together with Leonard, Penny would tease about finding another dumb guy when Leonard is caught up in one of his geeky activities. Come the Season 3 finale, Penny realized that being with Leonard actually made it impossible for her to enjoy dating dumb guys again.
** In "The Zarnecki Inclusion", Raj jokes that Priya was talking to her ex-boyfriend Sanjay. Then in "The Good Guy Fluctuation" where it's revealed that she slept with him.
** "The Roommate Transmogrification" in Season 4, Bernadette gets her Ph.D and a good job, and the guys joke she's now the female of the relationship, Howard protesting he still has his own life. Leonard snarks "until you have kids". As of Season 5, Howard has discovered Bernadette doesn't like kids and if they choose to have them once married she wants him to stay home to take care of them while she works.
** Bernadette's comments about crossing the Ebola virus with the common cold don't seem as funny as it was, now that we have an actual Ebola epidemic taking place. So far, the virus is not airborne, but such a mutation taking place is one of the biggest fears, since containing the virus in its present state has already proven troublesome.
** Every single joke Howard's made about his mother's poor health is this now that Carol Ann Susi passed away after a short period of battling cancer.
*** Related: When Howard returns home to find five of his friends staging an intervention (to prevent him from returning to space) his first thought is that they're about to break the news his mother has died [[note]] He discounts this, as if his mother really had died there'd be party balloons and everyone would be looking happier [[/note]]. A few months after screening of this episode, Carol Ann Susi passed away.
** Penny once made a comment that Howard gave her a teddy bear which contained a hidden webcam. Come the news of the leaks of private nude photos of Kaley Cucuo and other famous actresses, this comment is a lot harder to laugh at.
** Every joke aimed at Stephen Hawking will inevitably fall into this category the second he passes away.
* GeniusBonus: A staple of the show's humor.
** Surprisingly accurate math and physics jokes at times. Geek culture references can get ''very'' obscure.
** When Penny mentions that she's used to getting free drinks due to her... less than modest attire, Sheldon offhandedly says that she has a lot of money tied up in 'promiscuity futures' (''futures contracts'' are derivatives where two parties agree on a trade that will take place at some point in the future).
** This is one of the few sitcoms with science advisers. The producers said they went about a day before they realized there was no way they could study the proper material for all of the science, and so recruited David Salzberg from the University of California, Los Angeles, to help with the dialogue and even certain plot points (Sheldon's search for Magnetic Monopoles for instance). [[note]]Other shows like this are ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' and ''Series/ThirdRockFromTheSun''.[[/note]]
* GrowingTheBeard: The show wasn't quite certain what tone they were going to have for the show in the early episodes, focusing on the characters getting themselves into awkward situations and barely climbing out of it unscathed. It wasn't until the Halloween party in the 8th episode where the real strengths of the series came into play, showing the characters trying to navigate relatively common social situations and coming up short but wiser for it. This continued into the later half of the first season that cemented its characters better.
* HarsherInHindsight:
** In "The Prestidigitation Approximation", Sheldon hacks into a military database for the trivial reason of wanting to figure out how a card trick is performed. Despite being a federal crime, he apparently only gets a slap on the wrist for this. However when [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_McKinnon Gary [=McKinnon=]]] did the ''same thing'' in 2002 to find out if Aliens were being covered up. If the US had managed to extradite him, he potentially would have faced over ''60 years'' in prison. Ultimately averted, as [=McKinnon=] got away scott free.
** In "The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary" Leonard initially refuses to hold up his end of the girlfriend pact saying "What am I supposed to ask? Hey Penny, you got any friends you never want to hear from again?" Come "The Stag Convergence" when Bernadette finds out about Howard's sleazy past and that Penny knew all along when she set them up, Bernadette runs out the run crying that she thought Penny was her friend.
** When the group are imagining what their lives would be like without Sheldon in "The Cooper Extraction", Howard imagines that his mother would've ended up dead somehow in a situation akin to ''Film/{{Psycho}}'', but regardless of how, "the important thing is she's dead". Almost exactly 11 months after the episode aired, Carol Ann Susi passed away.
* HilariousInHindsight:
** "Shelbot", the mechanical stand-in for Sheldon. "Shelbot" is a remote-controlled stand with a Webcam and tablet computer screen attached that projects Sheldon's face and voice to the outside world while he stays in his bedroom. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLPMLJgGsiA This video]] was eerily reminiscent of that creation. The concept was picked up again for Conan O'Brien's Web series, "The Cone Drone," where Conan sends out someone dressed in a papier-mache costume of Conan, while wearing a tablet screen projecting Conan's own face, to irritate or annoy random people.
** "Shelbot" may also be a ShoutOut. In ''Series/RedDwarf'', when Queeg demotes ship's computer Holly to a lowly night watchman/janitor position, Holly's mobile persona looks ''exactly'' like Shelbot. (Except for the night janitor's onscreen avatar wearing a flat cap and raincoat as he aimlessly wanders the corridors of the Dwarf).
** One episode focused on Howard's space toilet having a possible malfunction and trying to fix it. Well, on July 2009, it became an actual issue.
** In the second season finale, the guys left to try to find magnetic monopoles. About two weeks before the Season 3 premiere, [[http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/40302 real-life scientists found]] something that ''sounds'' similar: magnetic monopolar ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quasiparticle quasiparticles]]'' -- something completely unrelated to Sheldon's experiment.
** The Mars Rover got stuck in a ditch, just as it did in Season 2. (But it didn't accidentally find life on Mars.)
** In the first-season episode involving the physics bowl, after Sheldon leaves the other geeks' team, they discuss people who they might be able to recruit as replacements, and one of the people they consider is the actress who played {{Blossom}}. Guess who ends up getting the last laugh as Sheldon's date at the end of the third season?
** When Sheldon and Stuart argue about who will succeed Batman after ''FinalCrisis'', Sheldon contends that it must be Dick Grayson while Stuart believes it has to be Jason Todd. The argument is basically Stuart being awesome and smacking down Sheldon's position, calling it "as wrong as calling a tomato a suspension bridge". In "The Battle for the Cowl", Jason Todd [[spoiler: actually tries to become a Batman with guns, but in the end Dick kicks his butt into the ground and takes on the Bat mantle]]
** The entire episode "The Barbarian Sublimation", where Sheldon gets a guy named Tom to date Penny, as he was the result of an dating site Sheldon submitted Penny on to try to find a boyfriend in order to get rid of her MMORPG addiction, but is implied to be gay and thinks ''Sheldon'' is the one he's dating, is even better with the knowledge that Sheldon's actor, Creator/JimParsons, is gay.
** Similarly, in "The Recombination Hypothesis", Sheldon receives a life-size cutout of Spock that he bought on the Internet, and is dismayed to discover that it's Creator/ZacharyQuinto, who plays Spock in the reboot, rather than Creator/LeonardNimoy. His response -- "Live long and suck it, Zachary Quinto!" -- is doubly hilarious in light of ''both'' Parsons and Quinto having come out as gay.
** Related to the two above, a season 7 Thanksgiving episode has Sheldon (played by the now openly gay Jim Parsons) get along very well with Bernadette's father, who was hinted in an earlier episode to be homophobic.
** Penny dressing as Franchise/WonderWoman to go to a New Year's Eve party with Zack, who is dressed as Franchise/{{Superman}}, gets funnier knowing that Kaley Cuoco is dating [[Film/ManOfSteel Henry Cavill.]]
** Hard to believe Sheldon's sweet mom used to be a [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXDK5aNCQUo psycopath]].
** The gang has often made jokes about Sheldon being an alien in human disguise. In the ''[=DreamWorks=]'' movie ''WesternAnimation/{{Home}}'', Jim Parsons voices an obnoxious alien invading on Earth.
** In one episode, Creator/WilWheaton receives a call about being in Film/Sharknado2TheSecondOne. He actually was in the movie, though strangely uncredited.
* HollywoodHomely:
** Averted to a degree. None of the characters would be considered unattractive, but they do make efforts to explain their lack of social success. For example, Johnny Galecki combines the glasses with unflattering hair, awkward posture, unflattering facial expressions, and nervous character tics (he frequently plays with his fingers when talking to someone). He also wears slightly oversized clothing to hide the fact that Galecki is actually in pretty good shape.
** Zig-zagged with Bernadette, who is considered to be very cute on the show, but Howard's hesitation towards getting serious with her stemmed from him hoping for someone more conventionally pretty like Creator/KateeSackhoff, MeganFox, or even Penny. It's more reflective of Howard's shallow personality [[CharacterDevelopment at the time]] and the show tries to hide it via the glasses, long skirt, and dressing her in (sometimes frumpy) layers, but there is no denying that Melissa Rauch is about as [[http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3332942592/nm1851981 pretty as they come]]. Amy is similar, where she only wears large cardigans, has lank hair and big glasses, and wears long skirts with stockings that are nearly the opposite of the much more conventionally attractive Penny.
* HoYay:
** Howard and Raj get this a lot.
** Raj and Stuart are getting a lot of this now that Raj is the only single guy in the core group, and Stuart's getting more face time.
* InformedWrongness:
** Sheldon on occasion. The show likes to play up how he overreacts to things and is generally a Know-Nothing Know-it-All, but there are times where the viewer may side with him but he is still treated as being ridiculous.
** There's an episode where Sheldon accidentally causes Howard to lose his clearance to work on something he really wanted to work on because he accidentally let slip that Howard got the Mars rover stuck in a ditch. Even though Sheldon is treated as the bad guy for costing Howard something really wanted to work on, that still doesn't change the fact that Howard '''let a girl into a secure area to pilot the mars rover, which eventually ended with her crashing it in a ditch, all in a vein attempt to get laid.''' Even ''if'' it was something Howard really, ''really'' wanted to do, it still doesn't change the fact that he really, ''really'' didn't deserve the clearance because of that.
* InternetBackdraft: While the characters are portrayed positively and sympathetically, the show still relies on a lot of nerd stereotypes as a shorthand and that can and has sparked some antagonism towards the show. When a promo for "Bakersfield Expedition" had the girls venturing into the comic book store alone the tagline went "[[Franchise/StarTrek Where no woman has gone before]]!" and all sorts of female geeks took umbrage at it (ironically the episode itself had the girls get caught up in a nerdy argument after reading a comic because they were wondering why the guys liked comics so much). And the show gets a lot of comedic mileage by showing the guys doing nerdy things, to quote ''Webcomic/PennyArcade'': "[[http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2013/01/21 In Big Bang, being like me is the punchline.]]" [[http://butmyopinionisright.tumblr.com/post/31079561065/the-problem-with-the-big-bang-theory Many articles]] have [[http://www.destructoid.com/my-personal-crusade-against-anti-nerd-humor-249755.phtml been written]] about this.
** One of the answers to this is, of course, that it's a SitCom and sitcoms always make fun of the main characters for who they are, be they [[Series/{{Frasier}} stuffy intellectuals]], [[Series/WillAndGrace gay people]], [[Series/{{Friends}} self-absorbed twenty-somethings]] or (in pretty much every other sitcom ever) [[Series/{{Roseanne}} working-class suburbia]]. The response to this argument is generally "But this is different! Now they're making fun of ''me''!"
* JerkassWoobie:
** Leonard. Yeah, he may be considered a DesignatedHero and an ass, but the insults that [[{{Jerkass}} Howard]] and other characters throw at him about his height or romantic life can seem mean a lot of the time. Also his mother can be quite a bitch. Once Leonard is actually with Penny his retorts to them are basically "You said it would never happen, well I made it happen." In fact most of the time whenever he does something mean or socially stupid you can trace its origin to what someone else did to him.
** Sheldon can be highly difficult to be around, his quirks constantly interrupt the lives of everyone else, he outright insults the intelligence of ''everyone'' and berates people for not conforming exactly to his schedule. However, his emotional maturity is that of a 10-year old and whenever he is in distress he responds much like a child would and the few times he will PetTheDog will sometimes backfire on him. For a few specific examples:
*** "The Excelsior Acquisition", Sheldon is taken to court for a traffic violation and Sheldon's style of defending himself (insulting the judge, among other things) ended up getting him thrown in the courthouse jail. The problem was he doesn't drive much and the ticket happened in the same episode when he "played the hero" taking Penny to the hospital when she dislocated her shoulder; it was Penny's coaching that led to the violation and she directed the ticket to him to avoid an insurance hike. It basically ended up as NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished. However, being that he was in control of the vehicle (and the ticket was issued by a ''camera'', which photographed Sheldon driving, not Penny), he is 100% at fault. Penny convincing him into running a red light is not a defense, as he was driving and could have ignored her at any time. He is in fact trying to deflect the blame onto his incapacitated passenger.
*** A TearJerker moment (as well as a case of MoodWhiplash) comes in Season 6's "The Santa Simulation", the guys play a Christmas themed ''Dungeons & Dragons'' game with Sheldon being annoyed by the theme and eventually leaving Santa, who they were supposed to rescue, to the ogres that captured him. Jerkass, for sure. The Woobie comes in when he tells "Santa" his story of why he hates him and Christmas -- the last time he saw Santa was at a mall where he asks for [[spoiler:his grandfather back, who had died earlier that year and was the only one in the family who encouraged Sheldon's interest in science]]. Instead, he got Lincoln Logs. "You can build a lot of things out of Lincoln Logs, but [[spoiler:a new Pop-Pop's]] not one of them."
*** "The Itchy Brain Simulation" REALLY made Sheldon look vindictive toward Leonard for the sake of "a teaching experience".
*** "The Guitarist Amplification" suggests that much of Sheldon's colder aspects were his defense against being hurt emotionally when his parents fought, as seeing his friends engage in vitriolic bickering has him on the edge of a full-fledged breakdown.
** Raj. Yes, doubtless, he TookALevelInJerkass since around Season 3. Only one catch: living without being able to talk with women is especially hard. It's a wonder he hasn't ended up a bitter drunk yet. He may put a SmugSnake face in front of his friends, but once or twice, we see [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoCfMOkVX6Q&feature=relmfu he]] [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kk5kPPO-7HI cracks.]]
** Pretty much every character with any development save for Stuart (due to being too friendly to qualify) will have shades of this. Everyone has moments where they act selfish, intolerable, or just generally disdainful, but they all also have so many issues and problems that it's hard not to feel bad for them.
* LauncherOfAThousandShips: All the main characters have been shipped with all the others at one point or another.
* MagnificentBastard:
** Creator/WilWheaton, especially when [[spoiler:he implies he indirectly broke up Leonard and Penny to win a bowling game.]]
** When one of the gang plays an antagonistic role, they usually fill this trope.
--->'''Priya:''' Don't push me Leonard.
--->'''Sheldon:''' He does that all the time, doesn't he. Ten seconds.
* MemeticMutation: Sheldon tends to generate these.
** "Bazinga!" ()
** Oh, the Humanities! (An UnusualEuphemism, substituting "Humanity", the typical word, for "Humanities", the collective fields of study of Human culture, which Sheldon tends to reference on occasion)
** Yes! Yes! My brain is better than ''EVERYBODY'S!'' (A reference to Sheldon's typical InsufferableGenius behavior)
** (knock knock knock) "Penny?" (knock knock knock) "Penny?" (knock knock knock) "Penny?" (A reference to Sheldon's compulsive door knocking quirk)
** [[ImageBoard On /co/]], show is commonly made fun of in variations of "Hey guys, Green Lantern!" (audience laughter shakes the studio, snowballing into an apocalyptic event)
** There are lots of extremely surreal MS Paint productions that rival ''Webcomic/SweetBroAndHellaJeff'' in terms of StylisticSuck. They almost always have extremely botched English, with the punchline usually being some warbled variation of "bazinga" ("bandingo", "bonswazzle", "bazooper", "carabooda", "jumanji", "bepzinky", "vajazzle", etc.) or some African/Asian country (Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Botswana, etc). [[https://www.google.com/search?q=sheldon+cooper+zimbabwe+imgur&espv=2&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=lCxiVcivKcXqoATtrYBA&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1366&bih=667#imgrc=wS_r4RzskzekFM%253A%3BWWDLijW3XZ_7wM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fi0.kym-cdn.com%252Fphotos%252Fimages%252Fnewsfeed%252F000%252F465%252F269%252F435.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fknowyourmeme.com%252Fmemes%252Fbazinga%3B639%3B720 Have a look for yourself.]]
* OlderThanTheyThink: Check out the movie ''Film/BallOfFire'' (1941) sometime.
* OneSceneWonder:
** Alice from "Good Guy Fluctuation" was incredibly popular, being an attractive, friendly and quirky female nerd played by Courtney Ford. Martha and Abby from "Psychic Vortex" are similar, given how they double date Raj and ''Sheldon'' based on him carrying a Franchise/GreenLantern prop around.
** Bob Newhart as Professor Proton in "Proton Resurgence" was so popular among the fans and cast that he was brought back in a returning role the following season.
* ParanoiaFuel: In one episode, it's revealed Howard once gave Penny a teddy bear that she discovered had a ''webcam'' inside it.
* PortmanteauCoupleName: In-universe. "Shamy" in the Season 4 Premiere for Sheldon and Amy. Amy is quick to put an end to it, though. The fans still use the term to discuss the Sheldon/Amy pairing.
** "Lenny" is the term used by fans to discuss the Leonard/Penny pairing. Somewhat confusing since Lenny is a nickname of Leonard.
** The term "Shenny" is used by fans to discuss Sheldon/Penny shipping. The Big Bag Theory Wiki has [[http://bigbangtheory.wikia.com/wiki/Shenny_(Sheldon_and_Penny) a small article]] on the subject.
** The term "Howardette" is used by fans to discuss the Howard/Bernadette pairing.
* RefugeInAudacity: Most of everything Sheldon's mother says.
* RescuedFromTheScrappyHeap: When Amy was initially introduced she came across as a DistaffCounterpart of Sheldon competing for the BrutalHonesty lines, which many fans did not appreciate. Once she started up a friendship with Penny, calling her "My Bestie" (best friend), and demonstrating her own personality outside of a female Sheldon fan response has switched around. Particularly her instigation of the rumor-mill in "The Herb Garden Germination" and Sheldon calling her a "vixen" for getting him into the social sciences.
* RewatchBonus: Give Season 5's "The Recombination Hypothesis" a 2nd look, and you'll spot some subtle clues throughout that most of the episode is [[spoiler: a daydream Leonard is having.]] The most telling clue being that Sheldon is seen ''flirting'' with Amy at one point.
* RonTheDeathEater:
** Leonard is frequently turned into this in order to promote the Sheldon/Penny pairing. Correspondingly, Sheldon becomes a DracoInLeatherPants where Leonard is a horrible person for teasing, pranking or otherwise making fun of him, supposedly because Sheldon is a child and unaware of the hurtful things he says and does.
** Penny is susceptible to this as well complete with a healthy dose of slut-shaming for having a healthy sex life while single. Some examples are the below mentioned EscalatingWar with Sheldon over the rules at his apartment yet no mention is ever given of the fact that he basically forces his rules everywhere he was going, including Penny’s house. Or her keeping all the horrible things Howard did from Bernadette in "The Stag Convergance" while forgetting that Penny has told Bernadette how sleazy Howard is many times from repeatedly bad mouthing him after they broke up to repeatedly asking her if she really wanted to marry him. Plus the things they saw in the video were things Penny had no knowledge of.
*** Sheldon does not "force" his rules everywhere. He is APPLYING them to people who spend time in HIS apartment. Nobody forced Penny to hang out with the guys or spend time in Sheldon's apartment: she decided to do so in order to get free food. And it is no way that she was unaware of his rules-at least the ones applying to eating-since she was shown to be eating with guys multiple times up until that episode. Even if she was unaware, that is a proof of her ignorance more than anything else. Sheldon's obsession with rules is clearly a product of his OCD, which is a serious thing. He doesn't want people to touch his food because he has a fear of germs.
It is always possible to make a mistake, and Sheldon does have a habit of overracting even when he is wronged, but the problems started when she started acting like his rules were irrelevant and that she shouldn't even get called out on breaking them. 
** Just about every character over the course of the show has had only their flaws focused and their positive traits ignored, often but not always when in comparison to Sheldon.
* RootingForTheEmpire: Although not exactly a villain, Sheldon is portrayed as a childish, controlling, and demanding InsufferableGenius who can't address others without a tremendous amount of condescension. It doesn't stop many viewers from sympathizing with him when his friends try to call him out on his behavior. Fan speculation that he has [[AmbiguousDisorder autism, Asperger's, or some other related condition]] generally helps. (Jim Parsons has stated he plays him as suffering from Asperger's, for what it's worth.)
* TheScrappy: Priya Koothrapali, Raj's sister, is hated by most fans. This was due to her [[DieForOurShip dating Leonard]] and starting to [[TheUnfairSex treat him horribly]].
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* SeasonalRot: Debated in whether this show has gone too cushy with the higher ratings, resulting in weaker stories that rely more on stock jokes and RunningGags.
** Many agree that the writing and comedy of season 7 and 8 weakened a lot, which arguably began somewhere in season 6.
* ShipMates: Those who ship Leonard with someone other than Penny (like Alex), which leaves Penny open to be with Sheldon.
* ShipTease: ''The Adhesive Duck Deficiency'' is usually used as exhibit A when Sheldon/Penny shippers argue their case. Sheldon (while keeping his eyes closed) is trying to dress Penny and grabs her breast. And doesn't let go for a while... He later confesses to peeking and seeing the "soup" tattoo on her butt. He drives her to the emergency room, which he was very uncomfortable doing, and later sings "Soft Kitty" with her.
* ShippingBedDeath:
** Leonard and Penny's relationship had a lot more fan support in the first two seasons than after they get together in the third. The thing was that much of the CharacterDevelopment of the first two seasons was about getting them to that point and resolving their UnresolvedSexualTension while trying to otherwise keep the [[StatusQuoIsGod status quo]] left the third season feeling very stale. Their relationship had little impact on the stories other than a couple of fights and token episodes where they try to learn more about each other (Leonard tried to learn about sports, Penny tried to learn physics) and they eventually broke up towards the end.
** Leonard and Penny getting back together in the fifth season has produced [[BrokenBase a mixed reaction]]. Some like that the characters are actually trying to interact with each other on a more personal level (avoiding the stale feeling from before) while others feel that the whole story had run its course and the show is just putting the audience through another round of drama.
* ShoutOut:
** In ''The Holographic Excitation'', there is a blatant shout-out to Sir Terry Pratchett's ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' books. Specifically, the ''Discworld/TheScienceOfDiscworld'' series, co-authored with prominent British scientists, in which Pratchett's fantasy world is used to mirror and illustrate developing scientific thought. In the books, the wizards of Unseen University (among them a rather nerdy type with glasses who affects a big baggy parka) accidentally create a bizarre pocket universe centered on a spherical world which orbits its sun. Stuck for what to do with it, it ends up gathering dust inside a protective glass sphere on somebody's desk. Meanwhile a geeky glasses-wearing scientist in a parka fires up holograms of Earth, planets and solar system to please his girlfriend. Leonard speculates that everything might just be one giant information-gathering hologram, being read by intelligences an unguessable distance away... The creation of the pocket universe in the Discworld -- including Planet Earth -- was done with the specific intention of ''averting'' a seriously Big Bang, by diverting a lot of dangerously destructive energy down a harmless path...
** One of the authors of ''Discworld/TheScienceOfDiscworld'', Professor Jack Cohen, is well-known in US academic circles. In one of the books he explains the torrid time he had trying to convince a hostile audience of the truth of evolutionary theory. He was in East Texas at the time getting heckled by Creationists. ''The Science of Discworld'' books -- especially the second -- are peppered with "common ground" references to people, science and events in science also covered in ''TBBT''. These occur so often that beyond all reasonable expectation of coincidence.
* SleeperHit: The show opened to mediocre reviews (some of which were very harsh) and this was after a highly disliked [[WhatCouldHaveBeen original pilot]]. But the show built up some steam and when it came back after the [[TVStrikes 2007 Writers Strike]] it managed to actually ''improve'' in quality, unlike a lot of other shows. The ratings gradually increased until they took a small hit moving from Mondays to Thursdays in the fourth season, but after a {{Syndication}} deal they started breaking records as a scripted show, they are the first since ''{{Friends}}'' to dethrone ratings giants like ''Series/AmericanIdol''.
* SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped: Penny tells Leonard to go against a DoubleStandard and put his foot down and tell Stephanie that he wasn't ready for her to move in.
* SpecialEffectsFailure:
** In the Season 5 premiere, Sheldon has a nightmare where several bugs start crawling all over him. The bug effects look like something out of windows movie maker. Though that does not stop it from being disturbing.
** In Season 6, the boys (in Star Trek cosplay) get ready to take some photos by Vasquez Rocks. Or rather, in front of a backdrop portraying said rocks -- it's rather painfully obvious they're on a set! Possibly intentional, as a reference to the obvious sets in the original ''Series/{{Star Trek|The Original Series}}''.
* {{Squick}}: Howard's subplot in the fourth season premiere qualifies as this. He [[spoiler: built a robotic arm, and after showing it to his friends, when he's at home he gets it to massage his shoulder. Then, as soon as he realizes "it's just like a real hand", well... [[ADateWithRosiePalms guess what he tries to get it to do.]] [[FromBadToWorse And it doesn't even stop there]] -- the hand misinterprets what it's been programmed to do, mistakenly believing its duty is about [[GroinAttack twisting a screwdriver]]]]. As soon as Howard no longer has any control over the situation (which is pretty quickly), he has to ask Leonard and Raj for help, [[HilarityEnsues and then everything goes downhill from there.]]
* StrawLoser: Played with. With Penny, it can be that she's too stupid to know who Adam West is without bringing up WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy and basically is set up so the guys can be geeky. With the guys, it could be that they're too geeky for a normal person like Penny or Bernadette to relate to.
* StrawmanHasAPoint: Sheldon is a difficult person to get along with and is often assumed to be wrong on certain matters because of his selfish behavior and desperate arguments. But there are a few times when you have to admit he has a point in his argument.
** After they return from the North Pole after several months of experimenting Sheldon discovers the others interfered with the results so Sheldon would be more tolerable. The problem was Sheldon immediately sent out an email to the University about their findings before they clued him in on what happened; the forced redaction hurts his career and turns it into DisproportionateRetribution. Sheldon is utterly hollowed out when he finds out, and while the others offer a light apology they don't recognize how hurt Sheldon must be[[note]]With the possible exception of Raj, who is the only one to actually show any signs of sincere regret[[/note]](Leonard was more concerned with having sex with Penny, who was waiting for him during their absence). In the end all three are EasilyForgiven, though it should be noted that Leonard stated that the real (inconclusive) data was kept - just hidden from Sheldon.
*** It's arguable that had Sheldon not been in such a rush to brag about the findings without verifying them, his career would not have been affected: the thinking is that his ego caused him to take credit for what he considered a paradigm-shifting moment in science, so he received the lion's share of the fallout. However, falsifying data in the academic community is considered a MoralEventHorizon in itself. Even excluding the emotional hurt done to Sheldon, the group's actions could have resulted in the total ruin of their friend's (legitimately distinguished) career, humiliation for the university they work at, as well as calling into question the validity of any of their own current or previous work because they were part of the research team. That none of this seems to have occurred to gang, despite two holding [=PhDs=] and the third a Masters, strains credulity.
** One particularly event that really sticks out is in "The Deception Verification" Sheldon's treated as if he's in the wrong for being angry when he discovers that his best friend intentionally lied to him, because he didn't want to spend time with him.
** Amy is this in "The Spoiler Alert Segmentation" due to the fact that both she and Penny were shown to be in the right even though they were on opposite sides of the argument. Moving in with Sheldon wasn’t just a big step like it was for Penny and Leonard, it was A STEP. As she herself stated she does a ridiculous amount of things for Sheldon while getting nothing in return and like with Leonard the things he is required to do he can [[MoralMyopia choose not to do at his discretion]]. It’s shown just how much this episode affected Amy’s character because after it, while she still adores Sheldon, she has been shown to be far less tolerant of his actions.
* TheyChangedItNowItSucks: A good portion of the fandom is upset that the guys are having some success in long term companionships, claiming that the show has become just another stereotypical sitcom with a focus on relationships. The thing is that even the early seasons were focused on relationship stories, mostly on how the guys would strike out (especially [[CasanovaWannabe Howard]]). Whether or not the changes to the cast and the formula have been handled well (balanced cast, creative stories, insider jokes, etc) is a different subject altogether.
* TheyWastedAPerfectlyGoodPlot: At the finale of "The Santa Simulation," Sheldon reveals to "Santa" (in a Christmas-themed game of ''Dungeons & Dragons'') why he dislikes Christmas; [[spoiler: Sheldon had asked Santa when he was a child to bring back his grandfather, who had died earlier that year and was the only family member to encourage his interest in science. Sheldon instead got Lincoln Logs]]. In TheStinger, Sheldon meets Santa Claus during a dream, in which Santa apologizes for letting Sheldon down as a boy. Rather than a heartwarming moment where Sheldon's Pop Pop comes back for one dream so Sheldon can say good bye and make amends, [[spoiler: Santa blows Sheldon away with a cannon, making the ending a CatapultNightmare]].
** In The Bozeman Reaction, at no point does Sheldon point out that Bozeman is the future sight of the test of the first warp engine & first contact with the Vulcans in the film Star Trek: First Contact. Given his love of Star Trek, and TNG in general, this would surely have been a factor in his decision to move there.
* UnintentionallyUnsympathetic:
** Penny has sometimes been put into conflict with the others where we are supposed to side with her but some feel that she ends up being mean and cruel while the others were at worst ignorant of how it would affect her. She gets into an EscalatingWar with Sheldon over the rules at ''his'' apartment. She gets angry at Leonard for sneaking a look and fixing her bad history paper because she wanted to do it herself, only to recruit Amy and Bernadette to help her rewrite it to stick it to him (prompting a reference to the AlphaBitch trope from them). There's also the time when Sheldon decided to try alcohol, and made a complicated drink order (that he would happily have paid and tipped for), and Penny simply poured him a shot of whiskey saying "everyone makes it different." If it had been anyone but Sheldon the audience's sympathy may have been with him for the crappy customer service.
** Lucy, Raj's girlfriend. She is afraid of anything and everything, but unlike our geeks she never actually makes an honest effort to correct her fear. The joke of her abandoning Raj in the middle of their dates may be funny on her first appearance, and yet as the season progresses it becomes clear that Raj is the one pulling all the weight on their relationship.
** Raj after being dumped, when the episode showed him pressuring his socially anxious maybe-girlfriend to meet his friends and to say whether she was his girlfriend or not.
** When Penny gives Howard a TheReasonYouSuckSpeech, we are supposed to feel sympathy toward Howard when he hides himself away in his room, despite his prior consistent, unrelenting harassment of Penny and her consistent, unrelenting lack of interest in him. On top of this, he ignores her apology and tries to kiss her.
*** Penny never straight out told Howard "this is making me uncomfortable, I want you to stop". She would mostly ignore his comments or throw back a sarcastic remark. Up until that episode she didn't seem to find his behavior any worse than Leonard's, Howard's or Sheldon's, and she never hurt them that much (she punched Sheldon but he was technically trespassing and she never told him such hurtful things). That kind of comments wouldn't turn Howard away because that was similar to the relationship he had had with the guys-bickering, teasing each other but they are still friends. Still, I think that her speech was justified... until the "grow old and die alone" part. It felt like by that point she was more interested in hurting Howard's feelings than making a point. Only because he tried to kiss her doesn't mean that he ignored everything that she had told him up until that point. She could have easily pushed him away. Heck, if she wasn't that inconsiderate she wouldn't have to go over there to apologize in the first place. He simply leaned over to kiss her-he didn't threaten her or even touched her, his action wasn't a sexual assault, not even an attempted one, like so many people seem to claim. And sure, when they are angry people can say and do things that they don't mean too, nobody is perfect, but she never seemed to feel any remorse over what she had done. She even forced him to lie about "slipping and felling" to explain his injury. If the gender roles were reversed, that episode would have never been made. Really starting to think there's a double standard here...
* UnpopularPopularCharacter: Sheldon whose {{Jerkass}} and ButtMonkey status seems to increase with each season.
** Actually, he became much better in season eight. Of course, there are always Sheldon bashers who ignore that...
* ValuesDissonance: A very mild example. Some non-British European audiences are surprised by the gang's consumption of takeaway/restaurant food every single night. Whilst not unheard of, this is far less common in Europe than it is in Great Britain [[note]] where the social expectation of university students is that they can't cook, are atrociously bad with money, and will blow their grants/loans on takeaways, regardless of whether they can afford them or not. It's ''expected''. Go to any University campus accommodation, like [[OopNorth Manchester Fallowfield]], and witness that every second business in the surrounding streets will be a cafe, a cheap eatery, or a takeaway. The world-famous "Curry Mile" of Asian eateries is also two or three minutes' walk up the road. The student loan system is sometimes viewed as an indirect British government subsidy of the ethnic food industry, a means of redistributing tax money to keep immigrant catering businesses solvent.[[/note]] or in the United States.
** ValuesResonance:
*** Some British reviewers note that ''The Big Bang Theory'' is unusually vicious for an American comedy. This appeals to the long-standing and proud British TV tradition of laughing at oddballs placed in amusing situations, which is a factor in the show's British success on E4. It still carries a bit more sentiment than the typical British show and the nerd leads can be even heroic despite their innumerable weaknesses. But Sheldon and especially early seasons Howard is almost straight out of British comedy of a socially awkward oddball who refuses to change.
*** In-universe, it is commented upon that India LOVES ''Series/{{Doogie Howser MD}}'' because it features a child genius becoming a doctor, and the Indian culture focuses a lot on higher education and the medical field.
* VisualEffectsOfAwesome: In the Season 7 pilot, Leonard gets hoisted off of a boat by a Kraken's tentacles. It really looks believable.
* WinBackTheCrowd: [[SeasonalRot Season 3]] was criticized for an [[SpotlightStealingSquad overabundant focus on Sheldon]] and a lackluster exploration of [[ShippingBedDeath Leonard and Penny's relationship]]. Season 4 was slightly better with Amy and Bernadette shaking up the character dynamics, but the quality control on Season 5 left a normally reliably funny show as being hit or miss, especially [[DemotedToExtra as Raj became more incidental to the stories]]. But after an iffy start to Season 6, many people started praising it as hitting a new high mark as everyone started getting some really juicy comedic moments, and Raj became important to the show again.
* TheWoobie: Pretty much the entire cast and even side characters take turns at this, since they bonded by having mutual problems with apathetic family members and growing up ostracized for their intelligence.
** Leonard is generally a decent guy who tries to find some sort of emotional attachment and rarely getting it. But then we find out he was never hugged as a child, his parents never celebrated any birthday, and often directly mocked for his struggles (especially by Sheldon, but Raj and Howard also teased him about Penny frequently with no provocation).
** Woobie status will shift to Sheldon sometimes. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PLC0UBuFgE Especially here,]] where he nearly has a panic attack because the guys cut off one of his long rants, and they did it on purpose. Although Sheldon's ZeroPercentApprovalRating attitude makes him an AcceptableTarget for a lot of pranks, this show still probably deserves credit for making TheWoobie out of characters who, in most sitcoms, would merely be one-joke occasional characters. Consider how much of a FlatCharacter Sheldon -- or even the other guys -- would be as extras in a more traditional sitcom.
** When Amy was first introduced she was rather cold and distant to most people, only becoming friends with Sheldon because of feeling a kinship between them. As she became friends with Penny she opened up extensively and often recalls having a rough and lonely childhood, probably more so than any of the guys. While her dialogue is still meant to be funny, a lot of it hints towards her being very sad and depressed before she met them. When Penny is staying at her place and Raj shows up Amy said, "A sleepover ''and'' a man at my door. I wish I could tell my 13-year-old self it '''does''' get better!" Things get worse in the Season 5 episode "The Isolation Permutation" where Amy has an emotional breakdown because Penny and Bernadette don't ask her to pick out [[FelonyMisdemeanor wedding dresses with them]]. She spends most of the episode agonizing over how no one wants to hang out with her and recounting some pretty horrible experiences where people have humiliated her, at one point calling herself "the tumor nobody wants around." Yeah, pretty safe to say she's the show's biggest Woobie by now.
** It's barely YMMV that Stuart is this, due to his growing debt, PerpetualPoverty, and the fact everyone takes advantage of his friendliness and easygoing-ness to get cheaper prices on stuff from his store really makes you feel for the guy. The closest thing he has to a dating life is a cat he doesn't own that occasionally visits to share cans of tuna. He finds it hard to talk with people outside of the nerd community, and is often depressed about his lot in life, and the fact that he's rarely invited to hang out with his friends in their group events. To cap it off, his comic book shop burns down in the Season 7 finale (and no matter what other people say, he didn't do it to collect the insurance), and in Season 8, Debbie (Howard's Mother), who he was getting close to, [[spoiler: passed away right after providing him with the funds he needed to get his shop back in business.]] The poor guy just can't catch a break.
** Alex Jensen, Sheldon's assistant. The poor girl tries ''so hard'', and she still gets talked down to on a regular basis.
** Raj. In Season 6, he and Stuart bonded over their shared loneliness as Raj's best friend was away and both were single. For the past few seasons, he's been feeling really depressed about [[AloneAmongTheCouples being single while all of his friends are paired up]] (especially since one of the couples involves ''Sheldon''). When he does finally get a girlfriend, [[YankTheDogsChain she breaks up with him.]] He also had a girlfriend for an episode who ended up being a GoldDigger.
** Howard. His father abandoned him when he was a kid, forcing him to look after his mother (who may qualify, herself.) Sheldon constantly taunts him about not having a doctorate (at one point, Bernadette joins in), Bernadette goes behind his back to tell his mother about his going to space, he comes close to breaking up with her after his lecherous past is revealed. He is clearly terrified of going into space. There, he's bullied by the other astronauts who dub him "Fruit Loops" and he suffers from SpaceMadness. It doesn't get much better for him upon re-entry, as his wife is [[{{Squick}} trying to seduce him while suffering from a cold.]] His mother is having an affair with the dentist, he finds himself between Raj and Stuart's HoYay, and the rest of the group coldly rebuff him, leaving him to eat cheesecake alone in a diner where he finds out he caught the cold from Bernadette. Poor guy.
** Even Penny can be this at times (just not as often as the others). In the early seasons she had a tendency to fall for JerkJock types only to be devastated when she realized they were jerks. When she and Leonard broke up and Leonard began dating Pria, Penny tried to pull an IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy, but couldn't actually say it out loud without bursting into tears mid-sentence. She's an aspiring actress (and has some genuine talent) but her acting career has been going nowhere. Every now and then, the realization of that hits her ''hard''.
* WhatAnIdiot: In "The Speckerman Recurrence", a simple threat of calling the police would have solved that problem.
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