The Main Cast from The Big Bang Theory
Leonard Leakey Hofstadter, Ph.D.
Ostensibly the main character, Leonard is the most normal of the guys by having no outlandish quirks and generally operates as the Only Sane Man. He (and his friends) work at Cal Tech, his field being in Experimental Physics. He has lived with Sheldon since late 2002 and is his best friend, though Sheldon's quirks annoy him to no end. He instantly gained a crush on Penny when she moved into the apartment across the hall and much of the show is about how they both change from interacting with each other.
- Adorkable: This is even lampshaded in a Season 6 episode, when Sheldon's new assistant reveals her crush on him. Penny feels very insecure and angry that Leonard didn't tell her personally, so Leonard comes to apologize by playing his cello in the melody of "Mary Had A Little Lamb."Leonard: Sorry Alex hit on me, hit on me, hit on me,
Sorry Alex hit on me,
I had no idea I'm cute. [goofy grin]
Penny: [beat] Damn it, you are cute.
- Afraid of Needles: Leonard is so afraid of having to get stitches for his hand that he vomits — and when Howard sees them, so does he.
- Better as Friends: His relationship with Penny goes back and forth from this. Even though things are less complicated when they aren't together, there is no denying their attraction to each other.
- Big Guy, Little Guy: The Little Guy to Sheldon's Big Guy. Sheldon is 6' 1" (1.86 m) and towers over the 5' 5" (1.65 m) Leonard.
- Blind Without 'Em: When Leonard's glasses are accidentally broken at the movie theatre, his eyesight is so bad that he doesn't have any hope in watching the film, so has to return to his apartment (and risk running into a sick and needy Sheldon) just to get his spare pair.
- Brainy Brunette: A male version of this trope, he did go to Princeton and holds a Ph.D.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: According to Sheldon and his mother, since Leonard does very little original research of his own. Although his work in confirming the results of others' experiments is crucial work in validating modern scientific theories, but people like Sheldon and Mrs. Hofstadter are unlikely to appreciate this even though they rely on scientists like him regularly.
- Broken Bird: The emotional abuse he suffered from his mother (being apathetic to his accomplishments and using him as examples in her psychology books) is the reason behind his insecurities and neediness. It's hinted at repeatedly through the show that part of Penny's attraction to him is recognizing he sometimes just needs a hug and the positive response from her affection. Leonard discovered that truth in the seventh season after questions about his mother's book for a psychology class brought on another depressed stage, with Penny being much more attentive to him afterwards (which he tried to exploit, which ended badly).
- Butt-Monkey: The show has gone out of its way, particularly in later seasons, to make his life MORE AND MORE miserable...and it's always Played for Laughs, regardless of Leonard's progressively damaged psyche.
- Character Development: He was always friendly and desired to be more social, but he had a hard time making friends and dealing with the opposite sex, the first season especially had him as painfully shy when in awkward situations. Interacting with Penny his already existent skills multiplied to where he is far less likely to put his foot in his mouth in the process. Penny even comments that she is the one who crafted him into becoming decent boyfriend material.
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: To Sheldon, to the extent that Leonard sometimes appears in Sheldon's dreams to advise him on real life.Leonard: I'm not here, Sheldon. You're having a guilt-ridden dream.
Sheldon: Do you have any evidence to support this hypothesis?
Leonard: How about that gorn sitting on the couch?
- Clueless Chick Magnet: He is still stuck in a frame of mind where he is a nervous geek who has to work really hard to get a girl's attention, when the truth is he has actually become far more social and friendly, and that has made him be far more attractive to the opposite sex.Alex: You're cute, you're funny. Maybe you're getting hit on and you don't even know it.
Alex: [stunned] I'm... pretty sure...
Leonard: [beat] Hahahahaha! I gotta get back to work, thanks for listening.
Alex: [disappointed] No problem.
Leonard: Hope — hope no girls rip my clothes off on the way! Hahahaha!
- Cool Loser: Attractive and gregarious enough as a person, his previous problems with women were due more to his awkward personality.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Notably, the only time he starts doing the "crazy" part was in a sixth season episode regarding Penny working with a classmate, confronting the guy with an anonymous tip that her boyfriend has "gang" connections. Before this, he could certainly seethe with jealousy at times, but rarely did it manifest in something crazy. In the Thanksgiving episode, he ends up hounding Penny to divorce Zacknote . Sheldon suggests that it frustrates him because Penny resolutely rejects Leonard's proposals but could easily get married to Zack
- Deadpan Snarker: Around Sheldon, at least. Sheldon, being Literal-Minded and often Sarcasm-Blind, doesn't always catch it, even occasionally interpreting Leonard's snarky responses as genuine.
- Dogged Nice Guy: He could provide a trope image, spending the first two seasons pining after Penny.
- Embarrassing First Name: He mentions that he doesn't like the name Leonard because it ends in the syllable "-nerd". Then again, he was off his tits on cannabis cookies at the time, so whether this was a spontaneous expression of a long-held resentment or a drug-induced epiphany that he forgot when he stopped rattling is up in the air. Although he is aware that his name is dorky when sober on some levelPenny: You play the cello?
Leonard: Yeah, my parents though that naming me Leonard and putting me in all AP classes wasn't getting me beat up enough.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Leonard Leakey Hofstadter, after the famous anthropologist Louis Leakey. (It has nothing to do with his history of bed wetting.)
- Even the Guys Want Him: When Leonard demonstrates to Raj how he can be more popular with girls by being more confident (and removing his glasses). Raj is mesmerized by it.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: What does Leonard do when he sees Penny as Sleeping Beauty aka "Princess Aurora"? He starts getting naked!
- Extreme Doormat: He rarely tries to stand up to Sheldon (snarky comments aside) and will usually put up with his antics, no matter how ridiculous and unreasonable they are. He also has shades of this around Penny, as lampshaded in one episode.Leonard: Fine, I'll do it. But not because of them, because I love you.Penny: Thank you.Raj: Pushover.Howard: Spineless.Sheldon: Still hasn't bought milk even though I told him two days ago!
- Fatal Flaw: Leonard's own insecurity about being considered a good match for Penny is one, which may be why it fuels his Crazy Jealous Guy tendencies.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Phlegmatic. He is the resident Nice Guy, the one his friends (particularly Sheldon and Penny) can depend on, incredibly patient, and tends to forgive slights on his person.
- Frickin' Laser Beams: His specific field of study usually goes towards experiments involving lasers. He got a government grant to experiment on their weapons application but jokes on how far they are from practical use "I can remove hair from 2 miles away!"
- The Glasses Gotta Go: Played with. It's been noted that he has nice eyes/looks more handsome without his glasses, but he's Blind With Out Them and his attempt at using contacts left him with an eye patch.
- Happily Married: To Penny.
- Height Angst: He had always been complaining about how short he is, and is often mocked for it, but it doesn't quite bother him anymore since he is taller than Howard, Amy, and Bernadette.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: While their relationship isn't quite as good as Howard and Raj's, ultimately Leonard and Sheldon are inseparable and both need the other despite the many times they irritate each other.
- Hollywood Dateless: At times, though it has been made pretty clear that interacting with Penny has greatly improved his dating life (even outside of Penny herself).
- Hollywood Nerd: Big time. Johnny Galecki may be short, but he's also gorgeous and ripped. However, a combination of makeup, wardrobe, and Galecki's performance actually manage to make his nerd status almost believable.
- I Just Want to Be Loved: His cold and neglectful upbringing has left him with a very strong need for affection. Much of his Character Development over the years centers on him figuring out the difference between sexual pleasure and genuine love, and he grows to appreciate the latter more as his relationship with Penny progresses.
- I'm a Man; I Can't Help It: You'd think the guy would have more sense than Howard around women, yet decides to pursue a relationship with both Alice and Priya. Even worse, he asks Penny if it's alright being unfaithful if it means he can get non-stop pleasure.
- Insecure Love Interest: Even during his wedding speech to Penny, he says, "I donít think Iíll ever understand how someone like me could get to be with someone like you. Maybe I donít need to understand it, I just need to be grateful." Due to his insecurities and self-deprecating humor, he still thinks Penny is too good for him even after they've been together for years.Sheldon: Oh, look who's in favor of compromise, the woman who married Leonard Hofstadter.Leonard: Hey, she didn't compromise. She settled. There's a difference.Penny: Yeah. You tell him, babe.
- In-Series Nickname: His aunt called him "Lenny". The nickname is used occasionally by Sheldon and Penny. However, when it was used by Kurt in "The Financial Permeability", Leonard didn't like it ("I don't really go by Lenny, but that's okay").
- Limited Wardrobe: Tends to wear a khaki jacket with a built in hoodie and "dorky" t-shirts like the recycle symbol or the chemical composition of caffeine, along with flat soled shoes and corduroy pants. But he does have two different Star Trek uniforms, dress and casual!
- Literally Loving Thy Neighbor: With Penny. Sheldon's mother points this out almost word for word in an episode.
- Lovable Nerd: Leonard is adorably geeky, and easily the nicest and most likable of the four guys. It helps he's very often The Woobie.
- Love Interest: For Penny, thus providing much of the show's plot impetus.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Feminine Boy to Penny's Masculine Girl. It's a product of Penny's personality that she doesn't take any crap from people while Leonard will just suffer through humiliation to avoid conflict. It's also sometimes played with, as she certainly likes girly things and can be quite emotional at times.
- Meaningful Name: Named for television producer Sheldon Leonard, anthropologist Louis Leakey, and the Hofstadters (Richard, Douglas, etc.).
- Nerd: Even amoung the group, Leonard is not considered to be handsome. His inhaler and collection of allergies also cement his status as being socially awkward and undesirable.
- Nice Guy: Despite sometimes being a little snarky, Leonard is the nicest out of the main four guys.
- Oblivious to Love: See Clueless Chick Magnet above, Sheldon's assistant, Alex, makes it blatantly obvious that she likes him by listing reasons why other women would like him. He just laughs it off. Later in the episode, he gets a blatantly-flirty text from her and just thinks aloud: "What a friendly girl..."
- Official Couple: With Penny, as it is pretty clear they are the main romantic relationship of the series.
- Only Sane Man: Easily the most "normal" of the geeks. He even frequently acknowledges what he and his friends are doing is completely insane, although he usually participates anyway. He does have his moments of insanity though such as in "The Itchy Brain Stimulation" which ironically has Sheldon at his sanest.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: Unlike Sheldon, he comes from a family of well-educated people who apparently are far more famous in their respective fields: an anthropologist father, a psychologist/neurobiologist mother, a medical researcher sister, and a lawyer brother.Alex: Oh, hi, Dr. Hofstader!
Leonard: Hi Alex, but please, call me Leonard. Dr. Hofstader is my father... and my mother... and my sister... and our cat. Although I'm certain Dr. Boots Hofstader's title is honorary.
- Parental Substitute: He takes on a fatherly role to Sheldon at times: taking care of his transportation needs, shopping for food and clothing, making sure he goes to bed on time and is often the one he goes to for advice on relationship matters. When he and Penny were dating they served as surrogate parents, when they broke up Sheldon was like a child in a divorce. That led to a lot of Does This Remind You of Anything? dialogue as he and Penny renew their friendship for Sheldon's sake.
- Proud to Be a Geek: Subverted. The only one of the main guys who is actually embarrassed by his geekiness, especially when in the presence of "normal" people. He once mentions that he doesn't like his name Leonard because it ends in the syllable "-nerd".
- Puppy-Dog Eyes: Used almost exclusively around Penny, not even when dating other women. Heavily lampshaded in the sixth season opener when Penny wanted to talk about her doubts on their relationship but his undivided attention lead her to skipping the discussion and take him to bed as a distraction.
- Self-Deprecation: He's a master at it (though not as much as Stuart or Raj), even joking to Alex about the idea that he'd be a Chick Magnet
- Shipper on Deck: Clearly supports Howard/Bernadette and Sheldon/Amy. He even unwillingly sets Penny back up with a guy she brutally dumped!
- The Short Guy with Glasses: 5 foot 5 inches (1.65 m), highly intelligent and wears glasses. Befitting the trope. Albeit a protagonist in an Official Couple.
- Shrinking Violet: He started out really shy and awkward in the first season and he still kind of is in the later seasons.
- Sickly Neurotic Geek: He's the complete package. Poor eyesight, asthma, lactose intolerance, deviated septum, crippling psychological issues, the list goes on.
- Smart People Play Chess: He plays and in a Season 5 episode, teaches Penny to play. She beats him in their very first game.
- Smart People Wear Glasses: He is a highly intelligent man who wears glasses. Although interestingly enough he is the only one out of the main four to actually wear glasses.
- Straight Man: Leonard plays this role, largely for Sheldon's comic lines, and sometimes for funny lines from other characters as well.
- Team Dad: Despite his snarkiness Leonard increasingly becomes this throughout the series, especially the "tough but fair" stereotype, particularly towards Sheldon.Penny: [to Sheldon] Leonard and I are in a relationship, and occasionally we're gonna fight. But no matter what happens between us, we will always love you. Right, Leonard?
Leonard: [apprehensive] "Always" is a long time. (they stare at him) Sure, always.
- Took a Level in Badass: Leonard was always one of the more normal and friendly of the group, but in the early seasons he was very timid and strove to avoid conflict whenever possible just because he was too much of a pushover to win. In later seasons, his relationship with both Penny and Sheldon became much more even handed as he isn't as easy to manipulate.
- Totally Radical: His attempts at being cool usually end up as this, even if the slang is fairly contemporary. His use of phrases like "Later, bro." come across (purposefully) awkward.
- Translator Buddy: Leonard spends much of his time translating Sheldon's sayings (and explaining his habits) to Penny and other strangers.
- Trekkie: Like his friends, he loves Star Trek, especially ''Star Trek: The Next Generation'. He once dressed as Captain Picard for a convention.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Leonard is quite Adorkable and isn't that bad looking (although he's still short, socially awkward, horribly dressed and has a receding hairline), but compared to the stunning Dude Magnet Penny sure looks that way. It's actually a deconstruction when you think about it, since Leonard is hopelessly insecure about his flaws and gets jealous when Penny is around better looking guys, while Penny feels insecure about Leonard's intelligence and passion, fearing that she brings nothing to the table in their relationship besides her good looks.
- The Unfavorite: His mother favours his older brother and sister over him. Leonard's brother is a tenured law professor at Harvard University. Leonard's sister is a cutting-edge medical researcher, working with gibbons to cure diabetes. They are more successful in their chosen fields, so their mother considers Leonard her disappointing child. She has published a book with that as its subject.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between him and Penny. Resolved as of their marriage in Season 9.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Tries to prove himself as a brilliant scientist to his cold igloo of a mother. Doesn't help that Sheldon has a closer relationship with her and that she somewhat admitted his siblings' success, but she treats Leonard as some kind of scientific experiment.
- Will They or Won't They?: With Penny, although his interest in her is admittedly much stronger. The show built upon the first two seasons of flirting and false starts just to get them officially together in the third. They break up before the end of the season and don't get back together until mid way through the fifth season. They spend the next year or so trying to feel secure enough being together (Leonard's insecure about her attractiveness, Penny's insecure about his intelligence) and once they both come to grips with what they want out of their relationship they get engaged at the end of the seventh season. And even from there their engagement takes time.
- With Friends Like These...: His friend Sheldon shows him no respect, and regularly ridicules his work. Sheldon is also stubborn, selfish and demanding, getting on Leonard's nerves. Leonard still usually goes along with Sheldon's wishes.
- Your Cheating Heart: In Season 5, Leonard has a Long-Distance Relationship with Priya. In "The Good Guy Fluctuation" (Season 5, episode 7)he asks out Alice for a date. Before anything sexual happens, Leonard has second thoughts and confesses to already having a girlfriend,
Leonard's roommate. A child prodigy, he graduated from college at the age of 15 from East Texas and specializes in Theoretical Physics. Supposedly the smartest of the guys, but he only ends up dominating arguments and debates (both in science and in nerd trivia) because he's too stubborn to quit and resorts to crazy logic to win. His dedication to science and geekdom is so complete that he has almost no interest in social skills, regular pop culture (current fads, celebrity gossip, etc) or even romance. He thinks he's superior to... well, to everyone.
- For tropes related to Sheldon, see here.
Nebraska-born neighbor of Leonard and Sheldon, moved there in the pilot. She aspires to be an actress, but to pay the bills she works as a waitress at the Cheesecake Factory. Initially friendly but distant to the guys, she grew to become One of the Boys. She has an average intelligence which is overshadowed by being around these super-geniuses, but displays common sense and social awareness that the others almost completely lack. Her relationship with both Leonard and Sheldon opened her up to the concept of higher thinking and she has found some difficulty going back to keeping "regular" people as company.
- For tropes related to Penny, see here.
Howard Joel Wolowitz, M.Eng.
Of the four male leads, the only one without a doctorate (for which he gets made fun of a lot despite that he has a master's degree from MIT and is an aeronautical engineer). As no group of geeks is complete without a Basement-Dweller, he lives at home with his mother, despite being in his late 20's at the start of the show. In addition, he is Jewish and practices the faith but enjoys not eating kosher from time to time. Also, among the group, he was a mixture of the Casanova Wannabe and Extraverted Nerd until he met and started dating Bernadette.
- Abhorrent Admirer: To Penny, he behaved rather perverted until she gave him a verbal beatdown.
- Adorkable: His song to Bernadette in the episode in the episode "The Romance Resonance" qualifies. He is singing what would his life be if he did not have her. He fills it with science and science fiction references in his usual nerdy style. Among the lines are: "I'd be Doctor Who without the TARDIS", "Jobs without the Wozniak", "You're like uranium-235, and I'm uranium-238; Almost inseparable isotopes", "I'd be string theory without any string", "I'd be binary code without a one". "A cathode ray tube without an electron gun", "I'd be Firefly, Buffy and Avengers without Joss Whedon", "I'd speak a lot more Klingon" (immediately followed by a line in the Klingon language), and "We're like changing electric and magnetic fields; You can't have one without the other". The whole song is dorky, but adorable in revealing how much Howard values his wife.
- All Men Are Perverts: A classic example, at least in early seasons, the Season 7 premiere even has Sheldon tell Penny that Howard looked up her nude scene online shortly after meeting her.
- Always a Child to Parent: His mother always treated him like a little kid despite being an engineer at Cal Tech. That he usually indulged her when it suited him didn't help matters.
- Anti-Hero: Despite his over the top and offputting ways of trying to get with women and having no qualms about basking in his friends' misery sometimes, he still is a decent person and softened big time after meeting Bernadette.
- Basement-Dweller: Finally removed in the sixth season when he marries and moves in with Bernadette. Long beforehand the show had gone to great lengths to give this trope some Hidden Depths, acknowledging the cultural tendency of Jewish children to live with their parents until marriage. Howard's father also left them when he was eleven, he was always hesitant to leave because he knew she would be left all alone without him.
- Berserk Button: He doesn't like being reminded that he doesn't have a Ph.D. Every time he tries to start something, Leonard tells him to sit down and he complies. He might not have a Ph.D but he recognises he's too puny to do anything about it.
- Beta Couple: With Bernadette. Likely implemented because of the irony that the pervy swinger ends up being the first of the group to get married.
- Book Dumb: According to Sheldon, for being "just" an engineer and the only one without a Ph.D. As Howard points out, many engineers simply don't bother going for a Ph.D after getting their Masters, since they are already more than qualified for most of the jobs in their field.
- Brainy Brunette: He fills this role along with over half of the other characters, including Leonard, Sheldon, and Raj. He even once notes that (stereotypically) brunettes tend to be the smartest girls.
- Brief Accent Imitation: He sometimes mimics Raj's accent, the first time was a lot more cartoony making him "sound like a Simpsons character." Later times it's accurate and uncanny similar to Raj's specific voice. He sometimes does the same with Bernadette by imitating her vocal pitch, which she has expressed annoyance towards.
- Butt-Monkey: He's often made fun of by Sheldon and everyone else (sometimes, even Penny) for his lack of a doctoral degree, his relationship with his mother and his Casanova Wannabe status. He was also the Butt Monkey to the other astronauts who constantly picked on him and bullied him when he was in space.
- Casanova Wannabe: His success with women is inversely proportional to the effort he puts into trying to get anywhere with them. Mainly because his idea of "effort" consists of skeevy pickup lines, pretending to be a goth, hookers, and generally being a creepy, sexist bastard. When he initially doesn't try hard with Bernadette, he finds himself doing much better, and eventually bonds with her by being himself, rather than trying to act out his inaccurate self-image.
- Character Development: After getting together with Bernadette, he's actually started to become nicer, more honest and less sleazy. He could still be a Jerkass from time to time, but he's still better than before. The few times his sleazy personality shows up (i.e. ogling women at a gym), it only serves to remind you of how far he's come. This comes to a head in Season 5's "The Stag Convergence" where he openly admits to Bernadette he is disgusted with how he was before and that he changed because of her.Penny: That was the most beautiful thing I've ever heard, and it came out of you!
- Cultural Rebel: Enjoys not keeping Kosher. His favourite meal at the Cheesecake Factory is a bacon cheeseburger — "breaking two Jewish dietary laws at the same time."
- Cunning Linguist: Or so he thinks. In reality, he only knows enough of each language he claims to speak in order to hit on women unsuccessfully. However he's the only one in the group who knows sign language.
- Deadpan Snarker: Over the course of time, he evolved into the second-biggest one among the group, after Penny. From the second biggest snark-catcher (after Sheldon), no less.
- Disappeared Dad: Howard's father left his wife and his son when Howard was 11.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Is hit by this when he comes back to earth after getting into space. Most of his friends got sick of him talking about his trip in space.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Was dubbed "Fruit Loops" by the other NASA astronauts. Named after his favorite brand of cereals. The other astronauts overheard his mother mentioning his taste for the cereal.
- The Engineer: His official status in the group. Howard has a master's degree in engineering from MIT and works for NASA as an aeronautical engineer, which eventually earns him a coveted spot on the next Soyuz rocket to the ISS.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: When Bernadette greeted Howard as Cinderella, he stripped off his shirt and said in a deeper voice, "My lady." (And tried to mime riding a horse to her.)
- Extraverted Nerd: Howard actually knows he's a nerd, but chooses to ignore this and act like he's cool in the hopes that people (especially women) will be fooled. He fits this trope so well he could perfectly be the Trope Codifier for younger viewers.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Sanguine. Typically friendly and cheerful, confident of his skills, a charmer at his best moments (though he started out as a creep), very talkative, and has a talent for comedy.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Leonard and Raj get along with him fine, but it's made very clear that he and Sheldon are not really friends, otherwise. Penny also disliked him immensely in the first few seasons, until he learned to show her some respect.
- Friend to All Children: Sort of. At least in contrast to his wife.
- Geek Physiques: His small size and thin build are the source of many jokes for people who know him. Howard is 5 feet, 4 inches (1.63 m) tall, and weighs 118 pounds (53.52 kilos).
- Henpecked Husband: To Bernadette. He bonds with his father-in-law over the fact both are this.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: He and Raj are close. Many a joke on the show is about how they are perhaps too close and perhaps not so heterosexually...
- Hidden Depths:
- He was at least somewhat aware of how women viewed him but felt that if he didn't try so hard he would never have a shot otherwise. In a Season 5 episode, he admits he's always wanted children, showing behind the sleazy flirting he's always wanted to settle down and raise a family.
- He is almost always the one to display a talent that would be put to use, such as sign language. He's a pretty good singer, and, as demonstrated on the show, a phenomenal pianist.
- Hollywood Nerd: Played with, he dresses in severely outdated clothes and an unflattering bowl haircut, yet is proud of his small and skinny build.
- Homoerotic Subtext: With Raj, Dr. Beverly even stated they behaved like a committed couple.
- House Husband: After coming to terms with the fact that Bernadette isn't good with kids, he reluctantly agrees to be this once they decide to raise a family.
- In-Series Nickname: Bernadette calls him "Howie".
- Insistent Terminology: He does not live with his mother—she lives with him.
- Irony: The biggest sleaze and perv of the group is the first to settle down. Despite not having a Ph.D, he has probably done the most in terms of accomplishments.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While this becomes a more apparent factor of his character as the series progresses, there have been indications even from earlier episodes. He clearly possesses an ostensibly sensitive nature, there are severe implications that his flirtatious nature was based on a desire for genuine companionship (lampshaded to an extent when he enters a relationship with Bernadette). He undeniably possesses some degree of compassion and genuinely cares for his friends, most of his undesirable characteristics are associated with his overly confident and sexually frustrated nature (which are almost completely nonexistent when he and Bernadette officially enter a relationship).
- Jewish and Nerdy: He's a Jew and frequently makes self-deprecating comments about it. He works for NASA and holds a degree in space engineering. Like his friends, he's a lot into sci-fi, comic books, video games, robots, and other geeky stuff.
- Kissing Cousins: He lost his virginity to his second cousin Jeanie when he was 15 years old.
- Like Parent, Like Spouse: Howard thinks it's hot when Bernadette yells at him and sounds exactly like his mother.
- Limited Wardrobe: He always wears a turtleneck, which Amy later suggests might be connected to the fact he was circumcised. He also typically wears fairly tight clothing, unique belt buckles and an alien lapel pin (that apparently has some meaning but will never be revealed to the world).
- Lovable Sex Maniac: He was obsessed with sex and women, making him a rather sympathetic sleaze. He calms down a bit when he gets into a long-term relationship with Bernadette.
- Manchild: He's very dependent on his mother to take care of many of his basic needs. When he (briefly) moves in with Bernadette, he sees nothing wrong with expecting her to cook his meals and do his shopping and laundry for him.
- Momma's Boy: While he makes jokes about his mother's weight, voice, and even makes quips about her dying, he nonetheless becomes very angry when Raj lampshades it, saying, "Don't you bring my mother into this!" There's also the fact he lets her treat him like a child half the time. Eventually explained that this developed from his father leaving them... he stayed her little boy so she could focus on loving him instead of feeling alone and worthless.
- Nice Jewish Boy: At the beginning of the series, Nice Guy was probably the last thing you'd use to describe him. Though by the end of the second season, he had learned at least some manners, he was still way too oversexed. With the introduction of Bernadette, he's become a Nice Guy. Granted, he can get angry, but he's at least not dropping DoubleEntendres in every single one of his lines.
- Not So Different: Even if Sheldon is usually dismissive of him, in "The Explosion Implosion" they bond over old model rockets and their respective bad childhoods (particularly daddy issues).
- Only Sane Employee: When forced to babysit Sheldon, unlike Leonard or Raj who are resigned to attempting to appease him, Howard rarely cuts Sheldon any slack or puts up with his crap for very long.Howard: Well, my power is the ability to pretend like I give a damn about your piddly-ass problem.
- Overshadowed by Awesome:
- Played for Laughs, despite having the most tangible affect on world progress than his friends (major engineering projects with NASA) and having a Masters degree from MIT, his lack of a doctorate is a frequent Running Gag.
- Averted in Season 5 when he fully shines. Even Sheldon is impressed that Howard is going into space. Well, impressed but certainly not more respectful, since in Season 7 he outright tells Howard: "Truth be told, as a child, I did dream of going to space. Those astronauts were my heroes. And when you got to go, it was hard for me. Because it made me realize theyíll just send anyone up there."
- Proud to Be a Geek: Like Raj, while aware of the social awkwardness it can cause, he seems quite content with their geekiness.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: He was unabashedly sleazy around Penny until she tore into him mid-Season 2, which devastated him until Leonard coerced her to apologize. While a joke was made he didn't learn his lesson, it is notable that he was no longer behaving like that around Penny afterwards.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Manly Man to Raj's Sensitive Guy. His interpretation of manly is more just being unabashedly sleazy.
- Sickly Neurotic Geek: He is asthmatic, allergic to peanuts, almonds, and walnuts, prone to canker sores and pink eye, succumbs to seasickness, has an incredibly high genetic risk of heart illness, and has transient idiopathic arrhythmia.
- Small Name, Big Ego: With regards to his skills with women. Howard thinks he is a pickup artist, while his advances tend to creep them out
- That Man Is Dead: Regarding his sleazy persona.
- The Runt at the End: Much is made of the fact that he's the only one of the guys (and the only one of the group besides Penny) who doesn't have a Ph.D. Played straight in "The Griffin Equivalency"
- They Do: With Bernadette. They married in the episode "The Countdown Reflection", season finale of 5.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Used to be a humongous sleazebag. While he still retains some of these tendencies, he's grown out of it a lot, which he attributes to Bernadette.
- Trekkie: Star Trek is one of the group's favourite franchises. They especially dig Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation. When they went to a con once, he was dressed up as a Borg drone from TNG.
- Two Decades Behind: His outfits are over the top, always very bright and colourful. For example in "The Lizard-Spock Expansion", Howard wears "a shiny blue rayon turtleneck, an obnoxious belt buckle with a golden crown inside a shield, a black and gold studded belt; pointy gold slip on shoes; and black leather pants." His outfits would be more in place in the 1980s and 1990s.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Downplayed, they've simply acknowledged that there is an attractiveness gap between him and Bernadette. In addition, we actually see the courtship in full so we can see how well they match up in intelligence and sense of humor.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Mostly with Sheldon and Penny.
- Voice for the Voiceless: Raj often whispers what he intends to say and Howard interprets for him. Sometimes he says nothing or something completely else for laughs.
- Your Cheating Heart: In "The Hot Troll Deviation" (Season 4, Episode 4), Bernadette catches him playing World of Warcraft and having cybersex with Glisinda the Troll. This is treated as actual cheating and results in a temporary break up.
Rajesh Ramayan "Raj" Koothrappali, Ph.D.
The Token Minority, Raj is from New Delhi working in America on a visa as an astrophysicist. He is so shy around women, he is incapable of talking in their presence (even if not speaking to them, he can't talk if they are a part of the social group), eventually identified as Selective Mutism. The most consistent method of overcoming this is through alcohol, but he has tried several anti-anxiety medications with varying results.
- Adorkable: Many women find him "a cutie-pie" and if any of the guys is to succeed in one of their from-time-to-time escapade for wooing girls, it's usually Raj.
- Alone Among the Couples: He's the one in the group without a girlfriend for much of the time. Lampshaded frequently in later seasons. He sometimes acts like a jerk because of it.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Rather interestingly, Leonard's mom eventually diagnosed him as having "selective mutism." A good deal of his stories involve him trying to get around or push through his psychological issues, which hinder him a lot more than Howard's overcompensation or Leonard's low self-esteem.
- Ambiguously Bi:
- He is the go-to guy for the Homoerotic Subtext, but even then the only guys he exhibits that behavior around tend to be close friends he feels comfortable around. Most of the time he recognizes that something he says came out sounding weird or effeminate, but other times he is completely unaware of the Innocent Innuendo. By and large it's clear he is attracted to women (why else would he clam up in their presence?) it's just filtered through his personality quirks "Dance number aside, I'm SO not gay."Raj: [to Howard] Last night, I had a dream, we got so rich from the app we made, you and I bought matching side by side mansions. But, there was a secret tunnel connecting your front yard to my back yard. What do you think it means?
Howard: It means next time we play handball, I'm showering at home.
- While playing Dungeons & Dragons:Raj: The first ogre I see, I'm gonna run up behind him, whip out my wand, and blast my magic all over his ass!
- He has participated in a threesome containing Howard and an overweight female Sailor Moon cosplayer, though Raj said there was no contact between the two of the because there was "200 pound of Sailor Moon" between them.
- He is the go-to guy for the Homoerotic Subtext, but even then the only guys he exhibits that behavior around tend to be close friends he feels comfortable around. Most of the time he recognizes that something he says came out sounding weird or effeminate, but other times he is completely unaware of the Innocent Innuendo. By and large it's clear he is attracted to women (why else would he clam up in their presence?) it's just filtered through his personality quirks "Dance number aside, I'm SO not gay."
- Berserk Button: More Hysteric Button, but he collapses in panic when anything threatens his residency status and the prospect of having to return to India looms.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Howard points out that it's his inability to talk around women that keeps his less pleasant traits hidden in some contexts.
- Bollywood Nerd: He's Indian, nerdy, and the Token Minority of the group.
- Butt-Monkey: His inability to speak around women occasionally makes him this, as he has to whisper his comments to Howard, who pretends he said something completely different.
- Camp Straight: He fits many of the Camp Gay stereotypes but is attracted to women. According to Raj: dance number aside, he is definitely not gay.
- Cannot Talk to Women: When sober. Now completely cured ever since Lucy broke up with him.
- Character Development: Despite his selective mutism being almost his primary character trait, he is slowly working through it. One issue brought up in Season 6 was that despite his handicap he was rather superficial when it came to women "I want them to love me for me... but they have to be super-hot, like a 9 or a 10." He then met Lucy, a mousy, timid girl with a lot of social anxiety and they bond over their struggles. When she dumps him for pushing her too hard to meet his friends, he is shaken up enough to talk to Penny sober, finally cured of his mutism.
- Cloudcuckoolander: He definitely has his moments of this.Raj: [completely out of nowhere] I'm thinking about adopting some sort of quirky affectation like a pipe or a monocle or a handlebar mustache.
Leonard: Why, for all the girls out there looking for the Indian Monopoly Man?
Raj: This is not a safe place. You can't share anything here.
- Cultural Rebel: Raj hates India and everything to do with it, including and especially Indian food. He dreads talking to his parents for this reason, knowing they're going to try to guilt him into returning there.
- The Cutie: In the early years. He was very shy, a Cute Mute around women, and he has been described in-universe as "a cutie-pie".
- Everything Is Racist:
- Interprets many comments as racist and insulting to his Indian identity.Raj: Did you have to make me sound like a Simpsons character!
- You kind of have to agree with him about the cell phone voice recognition software.Leonard: Let me try one! Calling Mcflono Mcfloonyloo!
Cell phone: Calling... Rajesh Koothrappali.
Rajesh: Impressive! ...and a little racist.
- After Howard imitates the Bollywood Breakdance routine that Raj performed whilst heavily inebriated the night before:Raj: That's very offensive.
Howard: Yeah, we thought so too.
- This even applies when the potential racism isn't aimed at Indians:Raj: Spiders give me the jeebie jeebies.
Howard: Itís heebie jeebies.
Raj: I know, but that sounds anti-Semitic.
- Interprets many comments as racist and insulting to his Indian identity.
- Foreign People Are Sexy: More cute than actually sexy...but Raj still tries to milk this for all it's worth.
- Flanderization: He started off just as nerdy as the rest, his primary quirk being so shy he couldn't speak in front of women and a few jokes around him being a Funny Foreigner. His shyness and the Homoerotic Subtext in his relationships with the guys (since he rarely talks to women) eventually grew into him being Ambiguously Gay with a lot of Innocent Innuendo and very rarely is there not a joke about him being the Token Minority.
- Formerly Fat: Subverted. In "The Mommy Observation", Raj narrates a sob story about being fat as a child. "I was 200 pounds (90,72 kilos) by the time I was in middle school. Kids were mean. Cows may be sacred there, but it doesnít help if you look like one." Leonard then reveals that Raj is lying. He has seen pictures of Raj in his school years and knows his friend was never a fat kid. Raj then admits it, saying "No, I was svelte as a gazelle."
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Melancholic. He is the group's sensitive guy. He is also moody, goes through periods of depression, is insecure about his chances with women, and bashful to a fault.
- Fridge Logic: He tends to start these kinds of discussion In-Universe, regarding the guys' various comic book, sci-fi, and fantasy fandoms.
- Friendless Background: Ambiguous use. In "The Mommy Observation", Raj narrates a sob story about being fat and lonely as a child, entertaining himself through inventing his own stories and games. Promising to himself that if he ever gets any friends, he will play these games with them. The story was supposed to elicit sympathy and guilt his friends to play murder mystery dinner with him. The fat part is immediately revealed to be a lie, but it is left unclear if he really was lonely in his younger years.
- Funny Foreigner: This trope is even name-dropped by Sheldon when describing everyone's respective roles.
- Heroes Want Redheads: At different times he dated two redheaded girls, coincidentally both named Emily. Lampshaded in the episode where the two girls meet.Raj: Uh, heads up, both of you are named Emily, so we'll call you "red-headed Emily" and you, "red-headed Emily, Junior."
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Howard.
- Hidden Depths: He has some talent in make-ups and party-planning. You want metrosexual stuff, go to him.
- Hollywood Dateless: He started to become this once the Leonard/Penny, Howard/Bernadette and Sheldon/Amy pairings became more prominent, as that left him as the single guy of the group, and became even more pronounced when he overcomes his mutism. Although plenty of times it is shown that he is genuinely weird and creepy on first dates, and if he can get through that he has a better chance at longer relationships. But in the eleventh season he ended up with multiple women he managed to sleep with after first dates, making it unclear if it is this trope or Character Development as he became more self-reliant and confident.
- Hollywood Nerd: His awkward mannerisms and outfits (oversized, mismatching clothes) seem to impair his ability to score with women. He is otherwise handsome.
- Homoerotic Subtext: With Howard, they actually kiss once, not intentionally, though. He and Howard also indirectly kiss when they're testing some internet software... He is also enticed by Leonard's demonstration of confidence and as of Season 6, he's been getting these moments with Stuart.
- Innocently Insensitive: At times, especially with Janine Davis after her husband left.
- In Touch with His Feminine Side: He's a self-labeled 'Metro-sexual' and has most of his family and friends thinking he's gay. The fact that he's more feminine than the show's female characters doesn't help.
- In Vino Veritas: Can only talk to girls if drunk or medicated until the Season 6 finale when he finally is able to speak to Penny, Bernadette, and Amy while sober. He has no problems talking to his mom or sister, though, thankfully.
- Jerk Justifications: In later seasons, he seems to be more bitter about being the only one of his friends still single.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He morphed into this in the later seasons due to his bitterness about being the only one without a girlfriend in his group and becoming more selfish as a result but he's still ultimately a good guy.
- Limited Wardrobe: Almost always wears a sweater-vest and switches off between a tan and blue jacket.
- Lovable Nerd: Like Leonard, though he becomes less lovable in later seasons.
- Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Among his failed crushes and love interests we have: his best friend's girlfriend, the female computerized voice of his IPhone, a deaf girl who turns out to be a Gold Digger, a socially anxious girl who can barely talk to people, a Nightmare Fetishist, a Cuban cleaning lady, and more. After many years, all his friends are married or almost married and he's still the only one without a girlfriend.
- Nice Guy: More so in the beginning. See Took a Level in Jerkass.
- Non-Idle Rich: Raj's family apparently is very wealthy, but he still chooses to have a career. According to Sheldon, they are halfway between Bruce Wayne and Scrooge McDuck.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: "Raj" is his nickname and is used more often than his actual first name. Amy is the only one who calls him Rajesh.
- Out of Focus: He never completely disappears from the show but among the primary cast in the later seasons, he typically gets a couple of A Day in the Limelight episodes and not a whole lot else to do in between. This is more noticeable after Amy and Bernadette became more prominent, as they ended up taking time away from his interactions with Sheldon and Howard.
- Proud to Be a Geek: Like Howard, while aware of the social awkwardness it can cause, he seems quite content with their geekiness.
- Pungeon Master: Most of the Incredibly Lame Puns come from him.
- Queer People Are Funny: Most of the gay jokes of the show comes from Raj.
- The Quiet One: His inability to talk to girls while sober aside, he is decidedly the one of the foursome who talks less - in many scenes, his participation consists basically of throwing a snarky comment here and there.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Sensitive Guy to Howard's Manly Man.
- Shrinking Violet: Around women.
- Spoiled Brat: Sometimes, though it's underplayed and when it is brought up it's usually Played for Laughs, such as when his father cut off Raj's allowance for spending a month's rent on a toy helicopter, and then Raj manipulated both of his parents for money.
- Spoiled Sweet: All things considered, he usually fits into the more likable variation and still works hard for his salary.
- That Came Out Wrong: Raj is pretty much the poster boy for this.Raj: Oh, great! The first monster I see, I'm gonna sneak in behind him, whip out my wand, and blast my magic all over his ass!
- Throw the Dog a Bone: In the earlier seasons, if any of the guys were going to get lucky when at a party, it would end up being him, the guy with the most trouble talking to girls. In the later seasons, as the others have become more successful, he has slowly spiraled into depression over how much more pronounced his issues are. Still, every so often he does manage to get a girlfriend for a brief time and in the sixth season he meets Lucy, who stuck around longer than most.
- Throwing Off the Disability: After a rather heartbreaking experience in Season 6, Raj can finally talk to women without being drunk.
- Token Minority: He is the only Indian guy in the group, and the only one not white. He actually likes to play this up, hoping his exotic looks give him an edge.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Has started going down this direction. At the beginning of the series, he was actually one of the nicest ones in the group. But as of Season 4, has advocated for Howard and Bernadette to break up so he could get with her, to the point where he has a dream about Howard dying and him getting with Bernadette, and instead of congratulating them upon their engagement, cries to himself . Then he supposedly sleeps with Penny. In Season 5 premiere, he is unapologetic about any of it, even keeping it a secret that he and Penny did not actually have sex. Howard did say that Raj has always been obnoxious, but his inability to speak to women when sober prevents others from experiencing his jerk-ass tendencies as much. This is highlighted in the Season 7 opener, where after being cured of his mutism he still has problems with saying the completely wrong thing. In Season 9, he spends most of the show dating two women at the same time and bragging about it with his friends.
- Totally Radical: Tends to add "Dude" at the end of/beginning of sentences.
- Trekkie: Like his friends, he's a Star Trek fan.
- The Voiceless: Whenever a woman is around.
- Walking Spoiler: He was cured of his mutism in the finale of the sixth season, after a break-up with Lucy shocks him out of it. SIX full seasons of holding to the "can't talk to women without alcohol" quirk, a lot of episodes gave him a beer in hand just to get through an episode. Now, in the seventh season and beyond, his problems are slightly more normal but may be confusing to anyone who didn't catch the few episodes explaining his "rehabilitation."
- Wham Episode: The Season 6 finale. Lucy dumps him and Penny goes to console him, discovering he is now cured of his mutism.Penny: That's the booze talking.
Raj: No, it's not! I haven't had a drink since last night.
Amy Farrah Fowler, Ph.D.
Sheldon's nerdy Distaff Counterpart, the group found her during a dating site prank they pulled on Sheldon. She grows attached to Penny and becomes both her best friend and Foil. As a result she formed a distaff relationship compared to Sheldon and Leonard. While she mirrored Sheldon in almost every aspect initially, over time she branched out through both her friendship with Penny and feeling a romantic attraction to Sheldon.
- Abhorrent Admirer: Not so in looks, but in behavior. She starts off as a subversion of this trope (only wanting to fake a relationship with Sheldon to placate her concerned mother), but then goes on to make unwanted advances at both Sheldon and Penny. Played for Laughs, naturally.
- Adorkable: When Stuart expressed an interest in Amy, his reasons for it was that she didn't look upon him "with ball-shriveling contempt." Basically saying that she was cute and not intimidating.
- Air Guitar: It might be unconscious, but when listening to harp music, Amy moves her fingers as if she's playing along.
- All Women Are Lustful: In clear contrast to the largely-asexual Sheldon.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Even more so than Sheldon at times, although she is more outgoing.
- Ambiguously Bi:
- Though her interest in males has developed a bit since her initial appearance, she's very appreciative of Penny and fawns over her more than any other character seen in the show thus far. She's made a few sparse comments of the same type about Bernadette as well. For an example she gave Penny a very large painting of the two of them, and told her that it originally had the two of them nude but she had it changed as she didn't want it to "challenge their heterosexuality".
- An alternative to this is more of a perpetual Stupid Sexy Flanders, she's straight but openly appreciates the attractiveness of her own gender.
- One time, Amy mentions Penny has a better chance of getting with her than Leonard does.
- Attention Whore: ... would hardly begin to describe her.Amy: Today is not about you! Today is about Howard and Bernadette and me!
- Beta Couple: With Sheldon.
- Bi the Way: Amy is attracted to both Sheldon and Penny, although her crush on Penny is Played for Laughs due to how awkward her flirting tactics are.
- The Bore: Initially an even worse case than Sheldon was, considering she has none of the same interests in entertainment as any of the group. After Character Development, she makes an effort to be less boring.
- Brainy Brunette: She's a neurobiologist, after all.
- Broken Bird: Unlike Sheldon, who is implied by family members to have always been as he is, there's hints that Amy had a very lonely and troubled childhood that resulted in her current character.
- Brutal Honesty: Amy is a firm practitioner of this.
- But I Would Really Enjoy It: Frequently invokes this whenever she tries to convince Sheldon to turn their relationship physical.
- Catch-Phrase: "Hi, bestie" to Penny.
- Celebrity Paradox: In an episode before her introduction, Raj referred to "that girl from Blossom being really smart." Evidently Amy and her actor Mayim Bialik co-exist here.
- Character Development: She actually gets more development than any other character (except maybe Howard). When Amy was first introduced, she was emotionally repressed, The Stoic and basically a female Sheldon. Since she's become friends with Penny and Bernadette she's opened up socially and has become a far more friendly person who, unlike Sheldon, makes genuine efforts to get along with other people. Despite her improvements, in late Season 4 and Season 5 (and to a lesser extent, Season 6), Amy often comes off as blunt, desperate, eccentric, and even creepy (her pseudo-lesbian comments about Penny), and her desire to be normal and accepted sometimes made her an Attention Whore. However in the last few seasons her weirdness and annoying traits have become almost completely nonexistent; she's now one of the most normal characters on the show, much Closer to Earth than Sheldon (who is still the weirdo of the group), well aware of her boyfriend's quirks, but still endlessly patient and willing to put up with him.
- Characterization Marches On: Two-fold. Her first few episodes she was almost an exact, if female, copy of Sheldon, complete with having similar character tics and vocabulary. She eventually grew to be some combination of Extraverted Nerd and Shrinking Violet, one who was ecstatic to be friends with Penny, a cheerleader type. It's been explained as rapid character growth because of her friendship with Penny, but still causes a strange contrast with her earlier portrayal. In a second example, throughout Season 4 and nearly every episode of Season 5 she would make some sort of flirtatious remark in Penny's direction, with Penny switching off between being flattered and disturbed. It hasn't shown up since the start of Season 6.
- Chastity Couple: With Sheldon, much to her dismay. Initially they agreed there would be no physical relationship, but over time Amy developed into wanting one. While Sheldon has no interest in it (and doesn't recognise certain behavior, like helping her bathe and rubbing VapoRub on her chest is arousing to her) he has admitted to her and others that she influenced him and he considers theirs a deeply intimate relationship even if they aren't physical. As of "The Opening Night Excitation", she and Sheldon are in a physical relationship.
- Closer to Earth: While she's Sheldon's intellectual equal, she gloats less (though she's just as blunt), is more aware of social norms, and actually has some desire to be normal. She also doesn't seem to have any geeky interests like Sheldon. Except the harp. And, in Season 4, she connected Penny to an EEG while she cries.
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Later episodes have often her being this to her boyfriend Sheldon (especially when he's being unintentionally tactless and insensitive), and she plays this role more often than Leonard or Penny.
- Covert Pervert: Though she doesn't actually make any attempt to actually hide it, it's still pretty surprising whenever she not-so-subtly talks about her masturbatory habits. Subverted, however, with bananas. She eats them horizontally.My mother says that's how good girls eat them.
- Distaff Counterpart: Began as one to Sheldon, but her friendship with Penny and Bernadette has lead to...
- Divergent Character Evolution: Was originally a female Sheldon, but grew out of it.
- Extreme Doormat: Said that she had promised herself, that if she had gotten friends she'd do whatever they said, and admits it's lucky for her the group found her before a cult did.
- First Kiss: Sheldon and Amy kiss for the first time in "The Locomotive Manipulation" (Season 7, Episode 15). They both enjoy it.
- Former Teen Rebel: Sort of inverted. She was not actually this when she was a teenager but clearly wants to be this in the present. Whenever one of the others take her along on legally dubious activities (like repainting Sheldon's parking spot) she seems to get a thrill over it.
- For Science!: Seems to really enjoy performing experiments on her friends.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: There are only three women in the ensemble, but she is the Phlegmatic. She is incredibly patient and accommodating in her dealings with Sheldon, a good listener, and rather shy and insecure.
- Friendless Background: She has a preoccupation with friendship activities, especially with Penny, because this is the first time in her life she's been able to experience anything of the sort.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: She was this at first in her trio with Penny and Bernadette, it becomes a plot point in one episode when Amy gets upset because the girls go shopping without her. She seems to mostly grow out of it as the three of them become better friends, and Amy even grew closer to Bernadette (even though she considers Penny her best friend). In one of the later episodes we actually find her and Bernadette ditching Penny and hanging out together so they can have more intellectual conversations.
- Generic Cuteness: Played with. There is a stated attractiveness gap between her and someone like Penny or Bernadette. As is common with the Hollywood Homely trope She Cleans Up Nicely, but her default state is very unflattering clothes, hairstyles and even hygiene (her "perfume" is dandruff shampoo, and she has a stated dandruff problem). One of the most interesting things about her relationship with Sheldon is that it began as a pure Strange Minds Think Alike companionship where they appreciated someone else who thought the same way they did, and from that they became appreciative of each others physical attributes even though it is not what is considered traditionally attractive. note .
- Give Geeks a Chance: An extremely Rare Female Example.
- Harp of Femininity: She is seen owning one and often plays it for recreation or when she's sad.
- I Am Not Pretty: Averted, considering she's a traditional Hollywood Homely character. She knows what's attractive about her and can appreciate Penny's looks without being insecure or jealous.
- I Can Change My Beloved: One of the reasons she puts up with Sheldon is because she believes she can change him into a more "normal" person, just like she herself changed. She even wrote a fanfiction about how she would wish it to go. Once Amy realizes she can't change Sheldon and he will never change, she breaks up with him. Ironically, it is after the breakup that Sheldon opens up more emotionally and physically, bringing them back together.
- I Just Want to Have Friends: She craves companionship and friends because she was very lonely in her childhood, teenage years and young adulthood until she met Sheldon and his social group. She's willing to do many things to make Penny, a cheerleader type, her particular friend.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Amy demonstrates this in "The Weekend Vortex", explaining that she spent a lot of time throwing coins into wishing wells during her childhood, hoping for friends.Amy: At a certain point, you start doing trick shots just to keep things interesting.
- Innocently Insensitive: Told Bernadette during wedding dress shopping that she's beautiful but still not as beautiful as Penny.
- In-Series Nickname:
- Insufferable Genius: In the early seasons, she was a toned-down version of Sheldon, and thus wouldn't hesitate to tell you the brutal details of how the universe or neurobiology worked. As of the sixth season, though, her insufferability has nearly vanished, especially in her almost... normal boyfriend-girlfriend complaints with Sheldon.
- Intelligence Equals Isolation: Unlike Sheldon, she went unwillingly through this; hence, her craving for social interactions in general, especially with other women.
- It's All About Me: Shows tendencies at times. Her speech at Howard and Bernadette's wedding:Amy: Bernadette, I want to thank you for allowing me to be your maid of honour. I also want you to know, that I will be happy to do it again if this marriage craps out.
Leonard: Thank you, Amy. Very touching.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She genuinely doesn't seem to realize how rude she can be (especially to Penny), but when she thinks Penny's depressed she rushes to cheer her up. Or she's thrilled about being a bridesmaid in Howard and Bernadette's wedding. When they decide to get married at the courthouse before he gets into space, she wears her bridesmaid dress and tiara, and angrily stops the others from fighting.
- Last Episode, New Character: In Season 3. Notable in that it was a very brief appearance and all we knew of her was her name and the fact she was almost identical to Sheldon. Nothing was known of whether she was a scientist like the others, and by the following season Mayim expressed amusement that they matched their degrees.
- Limited Wardrobe: Although her sense of fashion has changed extensively via contact with Penny, she is typically seen in very old-fashioned sweaters and skirts, once admitting her entire outfit once belonged to her grandmother.
- Meganekko: Mostly beacuse Smart People Wear Glasses.
- Meta Casting: Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler, a neurobiologist, is played by Dr. Mayim Bialik, a neurobiologist and a child star on Blossom.
- Mother Nature, Father Science: She forms a classic scientific duo with Sheldon with her in Biology (nature) and Sheldon in Physics (hard science).
- No Social Skills: Zigzagged. Amy has no natural social skills, but as a neurobiologist, she is fascinated with societal behavior, and knows about a lot of them. However, it's all book knowledge, and she's both poor at application, and there are rather big holes in her knowledge.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: In Season 4.
- Punny Name: Her name is a play on "Fair or Foul" but has never been called out inverse.
- Queer People Are Funny: She's the go-to girl for when the gay jokes turn lesbian, in Season 5 she would make a remark towards Penny Once an Episode. This was almost eliminated outright in Season 6. However it made a resurgence in Season 8.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: She typically wears rather dowdy clothing with a long skirt and shapeless sweaters (along with Mayim Bialik's self-described "ethnic" looks), but in part due to Penny's influence she sometimes manages to dress up for special occasions and catch others off-guard with how well she turns out. Fans also noticed how attractive she became in the Nurse Chapel costume while "Playing Doctor" with Sheldon Star Trek-style. She also wasn't bad looking as Snow White either when the girls hit Disneyland. When she goes wedding dress shopping, she looks absolutely beautiful in the first couple dresses she tries on. Penny and Bernadette are both stunned by how great she looks.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Two-fold, her kindred relationship with Sheldon makes her the only person he has even been remotely attractive to romantically (he has otherwise enjoyed attention from others, but in an It's All About Me sort of way). She has also shown a lot of uncomfortable interest in Penny, while not really demonstrating interest in women as a whole.
- Sixth Ranger: She join the group in Season 4 and becomes part of the regular cast.
- Smart People Wear Glasses: Like Bernadette and Leonard she wears glasses. She is also highly intelligent.
- The Stoic: At first. She gets better after awhile.
- Too Kinky to Torture: at one point she gets sick, and Sheldon is induced to come take care of her. She enjoys his solicitous behavior so much that she starts faking her illness to keep him around. Once he finds out, he decides that his only recourse is to take her over his knee and spank her. She can barely hide her glee.
- Took a Level in Badass: Starts becoming more mature and as Penny put it, her life has improved since she first befriended the group. She starts asking more of Sheldon in their relationship and even decided to temporarily separate from Sheldon after he's been selfish far too many times.
- TV Genius: Being a Distaff Counterpart to Sheldon (more evident in her early appearances).
- Woman Child: Amy shows on several occasions a level of immaturity, quite like her boyfriend. However unlike most examples, she's closer to a teenager than a child. She treats her friendship with Penny and Bernadette as if she's in the cool girl clique at high school, has a very teenage attitude towards sex and relationships, tries on several occasions to act cool (as in like a teenager from the 1990s) and reacts to attention other girls don't want positively. A lot of this stems from simple isolation, and never having the experience she dreamed of when she was a teenager.
Bernadette Mary-Anne Rostenkowski-Wolowitz, Ph.D.
Howard's miniature-sized romantic interest. A microbiologist, she is often the voice of reason and by far the gentlest character of the show. In a contrast to the other scientists of the show, she doesn't have much difficulty in navigating a successful social life. Despite being sweet and bubbly, she can and has gotten angry enough to scare the others. She started out as a friend of Penny who also worked at the Cheesecake Factory to pay for her schooling, she later graduated with her doctorate and is working a very lucrative job for a pharmaceutical company.
- Adorkable: Petite and cute with a squeaky voice and a love for "Cinderella".
- Ambiguous Disorder: One has to wonder whether her (more recent) angry behavior could stem from this, she can switch from Passive-Aggressive Insults, Hair-Trigger Temper and adorable sweetness depending on the scene or just from one line to the next. It doesn't help that she can be very manipulative at times and her temper is known to scare people away (just ask her colleagues). Her reaction to being called out on this also changes depending on the situation: either she doesn't take it well or is seriously hurt by it.
- Bad Liar: Never, ever get Bernadette to lie. It will go very badly indeed. For tropes involved see: Suspiciously Specific Denial, Hurricane of Excuses, Acting Unnatural, and Invention Pretension indeed.
- Beta Couple: With Howard. Their relationship is actually a bit more of a roller coaster than most examples, as they had broken up for some six months between the third and fourth seasons and every other episode of the fifth season was introducing a new relationship hurdle they had to get through. Although them getting through the tough parts showed how good they are for each other, leading up to their marriage.
- Berserk Button: Though not quite as insane as Sheldon, she is a walking panel of tiny berserk buttons. Don't try and dress as Cinderella when she called it. She's also shown to be extremely competitive during scavenger hunts.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Despite being possibly the nicest character on the show, she has a real temper when angry. Her line of work is also extremely morally sketchy — she makes bioweapons for God's sake! Her vicious side comes out in full in "The Parking Lot Escalation" with an argument between Howard and Sheldon spilling over between her and Amy. She will go from demure to outright venomous in a second.Bernadette: I'm the one who had your car towed!
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: More and more after each season.Penny: Damn, you're sneaky.Bernadette: Yeah, but I'm little, so it's adorable.
- Buxom Is Better: She is fairly well endowed, and this was mentioned in the show.Howard's Mom: [regarding a custom made vest] She has a tricky figure, she's short and stacked like me!
- The Bus Came Back: She returned in "The Hot Troll Deviation" and got back together with Howard.
- Characterization Marches On:
- One of her defining traits in her introductory episode is that she didn't really get any of the jokes the others would share, and behaved a little bit like Sheldon. Her second episode was similar (In response to Howard seriously proposing to her "Is this one of those jokes I don't understand?"). In her third episode she admitted to laughing just because it made Howard smile, while still not getting them (though she would try to explain some jokes to the others). Since then it's never reappeared.
- Mid-Season 4, her personality started to evolve to what she is best known for, a sweetheart with an undeniable vicious side. A Season 7 episode lampshades it, after a minor subplot with her mistaking a "Get Well Soon" card for a co-worker in the hospital for a Retirement card ("Good luck with wherever you end up"), she expresses some relief that the co-worker is in no shape to actually read it. Howard, bemused, asks if she was like that before they got married.
- In her first episode, she mentions her mother behaves similar to Howards's Mom, with overprotectiveness, establishing a Birds of a Feather scenario with Howards. This fact is never brought again. This can be contributed to the fact that Bernadette's mom has only appeared once and is a Satellite Character at best.
- Child Hater: It stems back to when she was forced to take care of her younger siblings because her mother worked full time. This caused problems for Howard, who always dreamed of becoming a father.
- Closer to Earth: Compared to pretty much everyone (even Penny).
- Competition Freak: During Raj's scavenger hunt, she is merciless, berating Leonard for moving slowly (despite the fact that he has asthma and running quickly could potentially trigger an asthma attack), and was willing to run over pedestrians so that she could win.
- Contralto of Danger: Bernadette usually has an adorably squeaky voice... until she gets pissed off. Then her voice drops low and the other characters know she means business.
- Covert Pervert: Don't let her cuteness fool you. She is not above putting on schoolgirl and Disney Princess outfits to turn on Howard. It was lampshaded early on, she and Howard broke up offscreen in the third season and when she reappears in the fourth she confesses that she was frustrated that Howard never put the moves on her. Howard was flustered, as he was trying to be a gentleman and didn't realize she was ready.
- Cute, but Cacophonic: When she gets angry she yells a lot, at which can match Howard's mother.
- Cuteness Proximity: Loses it with recreating prom and when it comes to Disneyland and dressing as Cinderella.
- The Cutie: She's cute, small, sweet and her high-pitched voice is Adorkable.
- Daddy's Girl: Her father appears to have a soft spot for her, calling her his "little girl".
- Dating What Daddy Hates: Played with, her father barely hides his contempt for Howard as a person but has expressed some admiration for Howard's accomplishments.
- Deadpan Snarker: More so after she Took a Level in Jerkass, but she has a surprisingly snarky streak even in the early days, that just gets more pronounced over the years.
- Ditzy Genius: Her original characterization in Season 3 and early Season 4. She's introduced as a microbiologist with an interest in physics as well (every bit Howard's intellectual equal) but also rather ditzy, seemingly oblivious, and unable to understand Howard's jokes. However the ditzy aspect of her personality was dropped, probably to differentiate her more from Penny, and was replaced by her aggressive nature and Tsundere traits.
- Flanderization: In early seasons, the writers occasionally would have her say something uncharacteristically mean or violent. The joke was that because she was normally so sweet, seeing her act that way was funny (in a Beware the Nice Ones way). As the show went on, these outbursts become more and more common, and the Bernadette of later seasons is a very short-tempered and competitive person.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: There are only three women in the ensemble, but she is the Sanguine. Typically friendly and cheerful, compassionate when her friends have problems, forgiving of Howard's flaws and indiscretions, and personally charming.
- Fun Size: Bernadette is the sweetest, cutest member of the gang. At 4' 11" (1.50 m), she's also the shortest. She needs a stepping stool just to see through her peephole.Bernadette: I've never seen you wear this dress, it's adorable!
Penny: That's because on me, it's a shirt.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Her short-tempered and aggressive nature becomes a Running Gag in later seasons.
- Heel Realization: In an interesting subversion of The Unfair Sex, she was unsettled when Howard announced his chance to go to outer space because he didn't discuss it with her first. Howard apologized and tried to backtrack with a formal couple discussion on the matter, and she flatly stated he wasn't going and dragged his mother into the argument. It was only after talking with Amy and Penny did she realize that she was in the wrong. Quoth Amy, "We're not here to judge. We're just here to be supportive until you realize what a despicable thing you've done."
- Height Angst: Like Leonard, she is annoyed by how short she is (4'10"-5'0"). She sometimes blames her mother for smoking during her pregnancy with her and laments she's too short for most amusement park rides and some grade school children are taller than her.
- Hidden Depths: Normally polite, sweet, and kind. This does not translate to being soft or a pushover. When the girls cosplay as princesses, however, her demeanor changes... "I'm driving the car, it was my idea, I'm gonna be Cinderella. You bitches got a problem with that, we can stop the car right now!"
- Hot Scientist: In-universe, she has been picked as one of the fifty most beautiful female scientists in California for an article in a magazine.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Not with Howard, who is only a few inches taller, but with an old boyfriend Glenn, played by 6'7" (2.01 m), former basketball player Rick Fox.
- The Ingenue: She's rather oblivious to Howard's double entendres at first. Subverted because she later mentions that she puts on this facade to make Howard feel more secure in his own intelligence.
- In-Series Nickname: Her former college professor and boyfriend Glenn calls her "Bernie". Howard heard the nickname from Glenn and took up using it.
- Limited Wardrobe: She typically likes flower-print skirts and button-up sweaters.
- Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: The Light to Penny's Dark. Penny is the more seductive of the two, more sexually experienced, and has a more noticeable temper. Bernadette is less overtly flirtatious, has a more stable love life, and she is slower to anger. (Though Bernadette can be more intimidating as seen in Season 8). They are close friends.
- Mad Scientist: Some of her work in microbiology seems to veer into this territory, if she wasn't joking!
- Magical Girlfriend: Howard seems to see her as one. He actually was a geeky loser, and terribly unlucky at love before meeting her. Then she entered his life. She is beautiful, sweet, and devoted to him. Although she is not extraordinary, other than her Mad Scientist tendencies.
- Maternally Challenged: Played with. Her mother ran a day care, in addition to being the eldest Bernadette ended up having to take care of a lot of kids growing up. That means she is actually extremely skilled at dealing with children, including Sheldon, but got burned out having to deal with children for so long. So even though she has the skills she rarely has the patience. She was initially not even interested in having kids of her own, but gradually came around to it because of Howard.
- Meganekko: A petite blond microbiologist who always wears glasses.
- Ms. Fanservice: She wears normal clothes to work, but in later seasons she wears a lot of fanservicey clothes at home.
- Noodle Incident:
- She and her fellow microbiologists apparently crossed the Ebola virus with the common cold. Not that they'd ever admit it. "That would be a terrible, terrible thing!"
- In another incident:Bernadette: So Amy, what are you gonna be working on at Cal Tech?
Amy: I'm leading a study to see if deficiency of the monoamine oxidase enzyme leads to paralyzing fear in monkeys.
Bernadette: Well, if they're anything like humans, the answer's yes.
Amy: Wait, you've... you've done this experiment on humans?
Bernadette: You mean like death row inmates with nothing to lose? No, that would be unethical.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: In early seasons, she admits to doing this around Howard at times, to make him feel smart.
- Older Than They Look: Bernadette is in her thirties, but her short stature and high pitched voice gets her mistaken for an adolescent. A child of a co-worker even calls her a "mean kid with big boobies"."Look at me, listen to me. The first thought when you see me isn't 'That's scientist' it's 'I wonder if her mommy knows where she is.'"
- Out of Focus: In season 11, she gets very little to do in most episodes after she is put on bed rest. Deliberate because it is Melissa Rauch's actual pregnancy.
- Overly Long Name: After her marriage, she is, officially, Bernadette Marianne Rostenkowski-Wolowitz. Penny jokes that she should claim the website of that name before someone else does, only for Bernadette to reveal that Howard already has.
- Parenting the Husband: To Howard, who is still a Manchild Momma's Boy.Bernadette: Why are you being a baby?
Howard: I'm not a baby. I'm a grown man, and I made the bed. Now where's my star?
- Perpetual Smiler: Bernadette is always smiling. And it's the always same smile, (see her picture above) whether she's enjoying time with her friends or saying some incredibly creepy and threatening things. Seriously, she wears the same damn smile when offhandedly commenting on her lab crossing Ebola with the common cold. And denying having done so a second later. Not to mention the conversation she has with Howard about how to talk to her father.
- Pink Means Feminine: She is seen wearing pink outfits in several episodes.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: In Season 4.
- Put on a Bus: In "The Plimpton Stimulation". Offscreen, no less.
- Raised Catholic: One reason she and Howard bond is because of their shared rebellion against their religious traditions.
- Really Gets Around: When she was in college.Bernadette: Okay, if it's not Michael, then what do you want to name him (the baby)?Howard: Harry, like Potter or Houdini.Bernadette: It doesn't bother you that I have an old boyfriend named Harry?Howard: Okay. How 'bout Al or Max or Ted or Kevin?Bernadette: Same answer.
- Shiksa Goddess: The Shiksa Goddess to Howard. She fits the type by being blonde and blue-eyed. They initially connect over freaking out their families. Bernadette, being Catholic, is thrilled at the prospect of freaking out her parents. Their relationship has since moved beyond that joke.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: More apparent in her earlier appearances as her sweetness and affection towards Howard is what tempered his lecherous behavior. She would often describe him in an affectionate way that oddly enough just reinforced What Does She See in Him?, like calling him a "Jewish Greyhound." It ends up being discussed late Season 10 that whenever one of them are in between projects they tend to focus more time and affection on the other, the big example was Howard tracking her down at a park, giving her a big hug and a lot of sloppy kisses.
- Silk Hiding Steel: Despite her height, her apparent meekness and her mannerly behavior, she's among the rare characters able to make Sheldon shut up and abide. She can even handle Howard's mother, which is NO easy feat.
- Sixth Ranger: Is introduced in Season 3, and joins the main cast in Season 4.
- Smart People Wear Glasses: She's got a Ph.D in microbiology and wears glasses.
- Smarter Than You Look: People tend to forget she is a microbiologist due to her personality. She once said she either wanted to be a microbiologist, physicist, or an ice dancer.
- Stalking Is Funny If It Is Female After Male: Bernie, who has spying equipment on the car from her times walking in behind her boyfriends, is a believer on this trope, and lampshades it in "The Mistery Date Obsession":Penny: we should have brought binoculars.(Bernadette crossly produces a pair of binoculars)Bernadette: Right here.(Penny takes the binoculars off Bernadette)Leonard: We just happen to have those in the car?Bernadette: Kinda. Before I met Howie, I liked to keep close tabs on my boyfriends.Leonard: By stalking them?Bernadette: (she is not amused) No. Stalkers are creepy. I'm just a harmless little girl with military-grade spy equipment.
- Sweater Girl: Wears formfitting cardigan sweaters as part of her regular wardrobe.
- Teacher/Student Romance: She dated one of her college professors, Glenn, for a year.
- Team Mom: She and Penny take turns on this. She can even handle Sheldon.
- They Do: With Howard. They married in the episode "The Countdown Reflection", season finale of 5.
- Tiny Tyrannical Girl: She's under 5 ft but still scares the bejesus of her friends, husband, and co-workers (this includes her boss).
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Girly Girl to Penny's Tomboy. Bernadette loves to dress as a Disney Princess, dresses in florals and skirts, and gets excited about her prom do-over. She makes Penny look butch.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Seems to get more and more pronounced each season. Most of this is belittling Howard. Season 8 especially. Penny only nabs the sales rep job because the hiring manager was too afraid of her to say No to Penny. A later episode revealed she once called said hiring manager's 7-year-old grandson a wuss at a company picnic. Another episode of said season paints her as the mean girl of the group.
- Tsundere: Type B. She's usually a sweetheart, but when she gets angry... Due to Flanderization, she becomes more of a type A in later seasons, especially to Howard.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Let's face it. Bernadette is way out of Howard's league, who is also a perverted creepy loser in addition to being far less attractive than sweet, beautiful Bernadette. Often lampshaded by Penny who wonders what she sees in him.
- Vocal Evolution: Bernadette's voice was always pitched higher than Melissa Rauch's natural voice. Her initial voice is much less "squeaky" than her later voice (although that also varies depending on the episode).
- What Does She See in Him?: Sometimes invoked by Penny when it comes to her relationship with Howard. The funny part was that Penny herself set them up and was dumbfounded that it worked out as well as it did.
- What the Hell, Hero?: To Raj when Leonard reveals to Howard that Raj used to have a thing for her. Of course, she also calls him a "Cutie Pie" after she's done chewing him out.