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* AcceptableHobbyTargets: The show is infamous for its rather bitter and insulting humor towards science and nerd culture. Ironically enough, a lot of the show's dialogue and references can only be fully appreciated by those with an interest in the aforementioned subjects.
* AlternateCharacterInterpretation:
** Sheldon:
*** His mom mentions that she had the option to take him to a specialist in Houston,which she regrets not doing. Who knows what said specialist would have concluded.
*** 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 reacting to the terms "insane" or "crazy" 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 a materialist. His mother is TheFundamentalist. He was raised by someone who, from his perspective, believes in irrational superstitions (and since her fundamentalism is a method of denial and [[AssociationFallacy she is heavily implied to be very controlling, he's likely been hidden away from the positive aspects of religion, assuming all religious people are like his mother]]). He would have been put off at living with and being raised by a person who went around talking about, or even to, a being that doesn't exist.
*** 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 the 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 eccentricities 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.
** 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.
*** This makes her '''far''' better than Leonard's mom. She does have a limited world view (and her view is from the Deep South), but aside from spouting stereotypes, she treats Howard and Raj with decency and respect. Leonard's mom, on the other hand, is very well read, brilliant, extremely educated, and just doesn't give a damn about anyone (except maybe Sheldon). She openly mocks her son for not being as good as his siblings, despite the fact that he is a brilliant researcher himself, she treats her family like an experimental group, and shows no regard for anyone except herself. She may not spout Mary's casual racism, but she's a far more destructive person. Sheldon's family may not known how to deal with a brilliant mind like his (driving many of his idiosyncrasies), but given that both of Leonard's parents are professors, they should know how their behavior would affect him as he grew.
*** Worse yet when you consider that Leonards mother knew full well what she was doing, and '''didn't care'''. She treated him as nothing more than an experiment to take notes on. And when she finished taking her notes[[note]]Which was when he left for college mind you[[/note]], she turned them into a book that she titled ''"Needy Baby, Greedy baby"''. That's right, you just read that. Leonards mother gave birth to him for the ''sole'' purpose of writing a Child Psychology book after messing with his mind for eighteen years.
** 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 behavior in the workplace? Not to mention the cold way she treats Leonard and Howard when she's in a relationship with them.
** Raj being so opposed to Leonard dating his sister Priya. He puts up a "big brother" front stating he's just looking out for his sister and not wanting to see her get hurt. However, given the way Priya treated Leonard, it's possible that Raj knew exactly how Priya treats her boyfriends, and was actually trying to protect ''Leonard''.
** Wil Wheaton: {{Jerkass}} MagnificentBastard, or a generally nice guy reacting like anyone would to Sheldon's asshole behavior?
%%* 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.
* ArcFatigue: After 10 years, Raj has ''still'' been unable to find a steady girlfriend, even when Leonard, Howard and Sheldon all have. It's become more difficult to be invested in any relationship he pursues since they all seem to end in break-ups.
* 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.
* BaseBreakingCharacter:
** 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.
* 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 and frequency 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 Karma Houdinis]] who took the coward's 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 softened 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...
* CharacterShilling: Sure, Kaley Cuoco is definitely conventionally attractive, but the fact that the entire male cast think so can get a little grating. It gets more annoying when she gets away with things that no-one else would because of her looks, or when she calls Leonard out for doing things she herself did.
* 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 and it's obvious she's doing it purely out of petty jealousy.
* 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. 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.
* EarWorm
** "Our whole universe was in a hot, dense state..." ("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:
** Both Sheldon's parents are very popular given their screen time.
** 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.
** Bob Newhart as Professor Proton in "Proton Resurgence" was so popular among the fans and cast that he was brought back in a recurring role the following season. The fact that Newhart won his first Emmy for his portrayal 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.
** Also with ''Manga/{{Genshiken}}'', for having more or less the same idea, only ''Genshiken'' was more nerdy.
* 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.
* 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 Cuoco and other famous actresses, this comment is a lot harder to laugh at.
** In the Season 6 premiere, Penny and Sheldon are left wondering why they're missing Leonard so much when he's just having a good time in the North Sea. Sheldon hypothesizes that Penny is thinking that he might have drunken sex with one of the researchers there. Come the Season 8 finale, and it turned out that Leonard had a drunken kiss with one of the researchers there.
* GermansLoveDavidHasselhoff:
** It is the number one comedy in Latin America, comparable to the love for ''Series/{{House}}''.
** ''The Big Bang Theory'' is one of the most watched shows in Canada.
** It's also extremely popular in China.
** Though it's not reached total cultural saturation in the UK quite as much as ''Series/{{Friends}}'' did, no one would know that from how often it's shown on UK TV, with the number of ''The Big Bang Theory'' reruns on E4 comparable that of ''Friends'' before they lost the rights to the latter. They regularly run somewhere between four and six older episodes twice a day and have done for years, which seems to be a fair judge of its popularity. Plus, if someone has a British friend who only watches one American sitcom, odds are ''very'' high that it's either ''The Big Bang Theory'' or ''Modern Family'' (and ''[=BBT=]'' has the added advantage of being on a [=FreeView=] channel).
* 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 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.
** The problems Leonard and Penny have after their wedding. Shortly after the Season 9 premiere aired, it was announced that Kaley Cuoco and Ryan Sweeting were separating, and they have now divorced.
** In season seven, the gang was talking about whether any of them had dated more than one person at the same time and lied about it. Penny scoffed her disbelief that Leonard would do that to her. Come to the end of season eight, when Leonard revealed that he did cheat on her at one point while on a boat for months.
** In "The Jerusalem Duality", 15 year old Dennis Kim told Sheldon that his work in string theory was a dead end, and that he will soon see that. Come to season seven, where he DOES see that, and ends up having to basically start his career over.
** In season two, Sheldon was having a hard time getting rid of Ramona, so he went to Penny for advice. When she wondered why, Sheldon stated that due to "man after man leaving her apartment", she seemed to be an expert at ending relationships. Come season nine, when it's revealed that someone did go to Penny for advice on ending relationships: [[spoiler: Amy!]] [[FridgeBrilliance It also casts Penny's earlier interactions with Sheldon in the eighth season finale in a new light: she was subtly warning him not to get Amy to end things.]]
* 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 ''ComicBook/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 dated [[Film/ManOfSteel Henry Cavill.]]
** Hard to believe Sheldon's sweet mom used to be a [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXDK5aNCQUo psychopath]].
** 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.
** In the episode "The Justice League Recombination", the gang, plus Penny's boyfriend Zack, dress up as [[Comicbook/JusticeLeague The Justice League of America]] for a costume contest, with Raj, unwillingly, dressing up as Comicbook/{{Aquaman}} and later finding it ridiculous that their Aquaman will be Indian. Cut to 2014, when it's announced that ''Film/BatmanVSupermanDawnOfJustice'' will introduce an Aquaman played by Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa.
** ''Film/{{Her}}'' is more difficult to take seriously if one has seen the episode in which Raj falls in love with Siri.
** In "The Solder Excursion" Leonard and Howard end up as part of a test screening for ''Film/SuicideSquad'', and Howard teases Raj with spoiling the movie. ''Suicide Squad'' ended up famous for setting up test screenings of different cuts of the film and using audience response to blend the different cuts together, resulting is a very uneven film upon release.
** The recurring joke of Sheldon making fun of Howard for being "only" an engineer at NASA becomes this when Sheldon's actor, Jim Parsons, ''plays a lead engineer at NASA'' in the 2016 film ''Film/HiddenFigures''.
* 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.
%%* HoYay:
%%** Howard and Raj get this a lot.
* 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.
** Near the end of "The Engagement Reaction," Bernadette berates Howard for thinking that his mother had suffered a heart attack on hearing the news that the two were engaged, when in fact she actually passed out from food poisoning and it was purely coincidental that this happened at the exact time Howard told her about the engagement. While Howard was perhaps a little tactless into jumping straight to the assumption that it was a heart attack instead of his mother simply passing out from shock, and his inability to break down the bathroom door indicates that he should add a little muscle, Bernadette is portrayed as being completely right to yell at him for not working out that such an absurdly improbable coincidence had taken place.
** While the show tries to show the guys' interests as not being a bad thing in general, it also has a tendency to say the opposite. In season 8, it's revealed Howard had a replica life-size prop TARDIS from ''Doctor Who'' in a shed behind his mother's house after he and Bernadette moved in. He wanted to keep it and store it in the basement, but Bernadette kept treating him like keeping it was the end of the world. She's continued on with similar instances where she treats his love of pop culture as something that's wrong with him rather than just one facet of his personality. Penny also gets into this as well a bit in a subtle way. While she won't openly state Leonard's love of pop culture is outright wrong, she sometimes passive aggressively acts like it is, such as when he found out she slowly replaced most of the nerdy items in his room with what would be considered "normal" substitutes in season 9 and put them somewhere else without asking him or seeing if it was ok. The audience laughter even gets in on it where a good degree of the laughing they're told to do is directed ''at'' the guys rather than ''with'' them. Whenever they make a reference, it's always followed by a pause by the actors, then a laugh from the audience, as if it's somehow bad to bring up instances in pop culture than apply to the situation, especially if you are a fan of the things that they talk about.
** There are also episodes where the guys will bring something up about their relationships, mainly Leonard and Howard, with legitimate reasons as to why they would, and yet will be berated or labelled as wrong by the girls for some reason, mostly petty ones. There isn't exactly ''Series/TwoAndAHalfMen''-levels of it, but it's definitely there if you pay attention.
* 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.
* JerkassWoobie:
** Leonard. Yeah, he may be considered a DesignatedHero and an ass, but the insults that 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 even if she was far more experienced than him, traffic lights are a pretty black and white indicator that even people who've never been in a car at all would know not to drive through. 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.
** Dr. Crawlie from "The Jiminy Conjecture" would be a full-on Woobie if not for being played by ''Creator/LewisBlack''.
%%* 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.]] Of course, it's more likely he was screwing with Sheldon when he said that.
** 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)
** On /co/, the 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.
* OlderThanTheyThink: a number of tropes that seem original actually show up in episodes of The Office.
** Angela's CreepyCleanliness prevents her from submitting to a group handshake without first laying a napkin on the pile of her coworkers' hands. Sheldon makes the same move in "The Zarnecki Incursion".
--->'''Sheldon:''' I'm hell-bent on catching a cyber criminal, not the common cold.
** Sheldon's Roommate Agreement and his Relationship Agreement with Amy seem unique and quirky, but Angela and Dwight had a formal contract regarding procreation. Like Sheldon, Dwight was also a notary public and validated the agreement himself. The contracts on both shows were used to invoke ReadTheFinePrint and MagicallyBindingContract and served as plot devices in several episodes.
** A few of the main characters having really bad parents, and bad relationships with them as a result, is a trait this show shares with ''Series/TwoAndAHalfMen''. It's, for some reason, a favorite trope of Chuck Lorre's, since he's also had the trait show up in ''Series/MikeAndMolly'' as well, to have some of the main characters have bad relationships with their bad parents and also explore the psychological aspects of them. Leonard's mother in particular shares an ''immense'' amount of traits with Evelyn, Charlie and Alan's mother, in that they show absolutely ''no'' understanding of why their children hate them, blame their children for their problems with them rather than actually examining their ''own'' actions that have screwed up their kids' lives, are ''very'' hypocritical when they're blamed for their problems, despite how true the claims are, and show absolutely ''no'' signs of changing for the better. She even shows more genuine appreciation for Leonard's ''siblings''' accomplishments rather than ''his''. They even have Leonard ''proud'' of the fact that she's his mother, as it's lead to his success, rather than saying he would've wanted a more traditional mom who supports everything he sets out to do, is full of genuine warmth, and loves all of her children as much as she can. Even Penny had this happen to her early on with her father, as it's established that he wanted a son and, consequently, pushed Penny away as a result of not having one rather than appreciating her for being his daughter...at least they established that ''before'' he actually showed up in the show, with absolutely ''none'' of those traits as a part of his characterization as you'd expect. Sheldon seems to be somewhat of a subversion of this as, while his mother and he don't see eye-to-eye most of the time, she does genuinely love him and he genuinely loves her and they, generally, have a good relationship outside of their thoughts on religion and Sheldon's tendency to act like a big baby when she comes to visit. Even Bernadette has a good, normal, family life with her parents.
* 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.
** Yvette from "The Locomotive Manipulation" is one of the more popular love interests for Raj among the fanbase, despite appearing in only one episode, due to the fact that they shared a lot of the same values and seemed quite well-suited generally. The casting of Tania Raymonde was made quite a big deal of at the time, suggesting that the character might originally have been meant to be recurring.
* 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.
** Also in universe, Raj has suggested "Koothrapemily and "Emipalli" as one for himself and Emily.
** "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.
* 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.
** 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.
* 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]].
%%
%% New examples of the Scrappy must be discussed and approved by the community in the following thread: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=13598973560A64980100&page=16#376
%%
* 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.
** There are problems that are ''very'' apparent in the later seasons that were in the earlier ones, but are more noticeable because the show's writing has taken a serious decline in quality, as stated above. For instance, some of the characters being flanderized to a degree. While Sheldon was annoying earlier in the series, he's been upped to 11 in his annoying tendencies and isn't generally sympathetic anymore at all, Raj has turned from a guy who can't get a woman, with some gay tendencies, to a guy who gets bored with a relationship if it's going too well, and Bernadette has, for some reason, started to ''hate'' Howard's geeky tendencies when she showed no signs of it before. Plus, all of the characters have just devolved into just spewing insults, that are mistaken for comedy by the writers and studio audience laughing, at each other left and right, which makes you wonder why they all still hang out together. The show also has developed a knack for putting things in episodes that had no prior set up or development, such as Sheldon's feelings for Amy developing above what it's been shown as; an elevated friendship at best and a mild interest at worst, a penchant for forcing along developments unnaturally because the writers have no idea how to establish things beforehand to later develop, such as Leonard and Penny getting married just because Sheldon suggested their relationship was going to fail again ''because'' they hadn't talked about getting married up until that point as if that's an indication that their relationship's doomed to fail again, and having huge, clickbait-like, ratings traps of weak cliffhangers, such as Leonard's father and Sheldon's mother maybe hooking up at the end of season 8 and the beginning of season 9. With all of these in place, it's really a wonder more people haven't turned from the show with the realization that the show's been running out of steam for a while and the writers have just been running on fumes for a while.
* ShipMates: Those who ship Leonard with someone other than Penny (like Alex), which leaves Penny open to be with Sheldon.
* 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 UsefulNotes/{{syndication}} deal they started breaking records as a scripted show, they are the first since ''Series/{{Friends}}'' to dethrone ratings giants like ''Series/AmericanIdol''.
* SmallReferencePools: Many of the guys' conversation involves name dropping various science figures, the vast majority of which are ones familiar to the general public (Einstein, Tesla etc) rather than more obscure ones someone of their education would discuss. Also their pop culture interests are rather limited; such as only basic Marvel and DC characters for comic books, Lord of the Rings and Dungeons and Dragons for fantasy media, and Star Wars and Trek for sci fi (though others like Battlestar Galactica are occasionally mentioned).
* 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.
* SnarkBait: One of the more popular ones in modern live-action TV, be it due to accusations of SeasonalRot, the portrayal of nerd culture which many see as insulting or just plain wrong, or simple ItsPopularNowItSucks reactions.
* 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}}''.
** More like ''Scenery'' Effect Failure, but the brief scene of the women at Disneyland in "The Contractual Obligation Implementation" can be a bit of a MindScrew to those who actually have been to Disneyland. The scene is ''very'' quiet, and it looks as if Penny, Amy and Bernadette are the ''only'' guests in the park!
* {{Squick}}: Howard's subplot in the fourth season premiere. 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... guess what he tries to get it to do. And it doesn't even stop there -- the hand misinterprets what it's been programmed to do, mistakenly believing its duty is about 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.]]
%%** Leonard dressed as a "naughty carrot". Although it could possibly be...
* 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. While he is not free of fault due to his own haste in taking credit for the discovery, Sheldon is the victim in this, and is utterly hollowed out when he finds out. The others only offer a light apology, with only Raj actually seeming to regret it, and Leonard was only worried about getting back to he could have sex with Penny. This also doesn't get into the fact that falsifying data in the academic community is a huge breach of ethics; 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.
** One particular 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 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 shoots Sheldon 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. On a side-note, this counts as a GeniusBonus, and might be deliberate on the part of the writers.
** The ShipTease between Leonard and Alex Jensen in Season 6 ended up not going anywhere due to the latter character [[WhatHappenedToTheMouse suddenly not appearing anymore]].
* UnintentionallySympathetic: Howard is this in the story arc dealing with Howard's feeling unwelcome and underappreciated after returning from space. While the episode tries to play him off as having AcquiredSituationalNarcissism. Howard has been the butt of his friends jokes since the beginning of the series for not having a doctorate. Even Penny and Bernadette have mocked him for this. So when he finally has something to brag about they just come across as petty for not letting him do it.
* 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 (though it's also Leonard's apartment, and he ought to be able to have guests over). 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.
*** Raj again after breaking up with Emily spends the rest of the episode as a thoroughly depressed mess. The problem with this is that he only broke up with her after obsessing over another woman (who clearly told him she wasn’t interested) for days before breaking up with her right before Valentine’s Day. He then went crawling back to her when this stupid decision blew up in his face. All in all, he comes across looking more like a sleaze than someone you should feel sorry for.
** 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. And then, even after she ''punches him in the face'' and breaks his nose, he still won't let up, claiming he's "halfway to pity sex." Pre-CharacterDevelopment Howard was a creep and a half.
** Even Sheldon falls victim to this. There are a number of episodes where Sheldon gets his way and the audience is supposed to be happy at his triumph even when his motives are petty and childish. When Priya begins examining some of the (ridiculous) things in the roommate agreement the audience is supposed to be happy when Sheldon ''blackmails'' her into leaving it alone even when Priya is completely right: Sheldon ''constantly'' uses the roommate agreement to make Leonard's life miserable, but fuck forbid he should have to live by the rules set forth in ''his own'' agreement; he blackmails Leonard, through her, into signing a new agreement that favors him even more than the old one. Really, Leonard deserves credit for not brutally beating Sheldon until he signed an agreement that stated, "Sheldon is Leonard's bitch from now on." In another episode, Leonard and Penny decide to buy a dining table so everyone can sit together. Sheldon opposes this decision simply because he doesn't like change (despite Leonard pointing out that he bought the couch against Sheldon's will) and doesn't care that Raj is always sitting on the floor. In the end, he gets his way, even though his motives are entirely selfish.
** Beverly Hofstadter: we're supposed to feel sorry for her in “The Line Substitution Solution” due to the fact that Leonard and Penny didn’t invite her to their wedding or even told her about it. The problem is not only does she act the way she usually does but when confronted she admits that she wouldn’t approve of it and wouldn’t have gone. When you add to this the fact that Beverly has kept important events from Leonard such as the death of relatives and pets but they’ve had this exact same conversation before when she found out about he and Penny dating, it just makes her come across as more of an abusive hypocrite.
** ''The Apology Insufficiency'' really makes Howard this, and to an extent everyone who sides with him. They're all mad at [[UnintentionallySympathetic Sheldon]] for damaging Howard's career by...telling a government agent something completely true about Howard, that demonstrates the he is indeed an irresponsible person who really shouldn't have security clearance...
** This was most likely the point of their plot of the episode, but Bernadette ''really'' showed off her bitchy tendencies in the episode where she and Howard were going to sell things from his house after his mother passed away and they moved into her house. They find Howard's life-sized TARDIS police box prop replica in the backyard shed. While no one explicitly takes either one of their sides outside of the Ping Pong match that ensues, Bernadette really comes off as a cold-hearted bitch for trying to sell it, even though Howard still wanted it for sentimental reasons, since he's a fan of the show it comes from, Series/DoctorWho. She also had been, for some reason, developing a growing resentment towards his more geeky tendencies in a more passive aggressive manner, but this was one of the first overt instances of this, despite not a lot of establishment of it prior. She tries to get rid of a prop replica TARDIS...on a show where the main male characters are geeks and the audience is made up of similar-minded people. Granted, Bernadette's not stated to be in the right, but she treats Howard like he's wrong for wanting to keep it. They didn't even need to have it out in the open, it could've stayed where it is, or be moved to the basement, or something. It's even more awful when no one calls Bernadette out on the blatant ignoring of Howard's feelings. This isn't an instance where he acts like a child either. He didn't do anything to deserve such harsh treatment. The show seems to have a lot of problems with Bernadette in this area in the later seasons. She's justified when Howard overtly acts like a baby/child, but there's really no reason she couldn't let him have things to show what he's a fan of.
%%* UnpopularPopularCharacter: Sheldon, whose {{Jerkass}} and ButtMonkey status seems to increase with each season.
* 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/DoogieHowserMD'' 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 premiere, Leonard gets hoisted off of a boat by a Kraken's tentacles. It really looks believable.
* WereStillRelevantDammit: The show has made pop culture jokes and references relatively close to their original air date, but avoids trying to be TOO topical by not making them the focus of an entire story. I.e., references to the guys missing '09 ''Film/StarTrek'' because they were on an expedition over the summer. One exception was the guys playing ''VideoGame/{{Halo 3}}'' in the first season, with [[PacManFever a couple of factual mistakes made]] because the episode was obviously written and filmed before the game actually came out. A season six episode had Sheldon angsting over which game console to buy, UsefulNotes/{{X Box One}} or UsefulNotes/{{Playstation 4}}, but made the point that Sheldon has backed the wrong format over the years, i.e. Zune over [=iPod=], Betamax over VHS, etc.
** Two episodes in Season 9 actually revolve around an upcoming pop cultural event - the imminent release of ''Film/StarWarsTheForceAwakens'' and the premiere of ''Series/GameOfThrones'' Season 6 were both the focus of episode-long story arcs. They got around any potential issues by being aired a few days ''before'' the RealLife events they were depicting, and to avoid spoilers focusing on the interactions between the group prior to the premieres and the guys geeking out blissfully in the aftermath, rather than the content of the show/film being watched.
* 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 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.
*** Hell yes, Howard's mother qualifies. She used to be thin and beautiful until she became a chocolate addict from eating the candy her dates brought her. Her husband up and leaves her alone with a young child to raise alone and she clearly suffers from a fear of abandonment because of it. Her controlling and manipulative nature just seems to be her way of keeping the only person who loves her close to her. Then she dies while on a great vacation and only a short time after developing probably her closest friendship in years.
** 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 Priya, 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''. Even when she gets a job that pays a lot of money, she eventually admits to Leonard that she hates it because having to flirt with doctors all day to make sales doesn't feel good, but she also isn't sure if she wants to go back to acting because she remembers how miserable the auditions and failure made her.
* WhatAnIdiot: In "The Speckerman Recurrence", a simple threat of calling the police would have solved that problem.
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