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This Why Leonard Was The Worst In The Big Bang Theory

The long-running CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory is a TV series that's beloved by many. However, it's not exactly controversial to say that the characters themselves aren't always the most likable. It's no secret that Sheldon (Jim Parsons) is a bit of an egotist who's often very mean to his friend Penny (Kaley Cuoco). Of course, Penny herself has a history of being cruel to her good friend Amy (Mayim Bialik), who is sometimes unkind to Penny in return.

We could go on and on (don't even get us started on Howard), but the point is, the series is made up of complicated characters who don't always treat each other well. That is extremely true for one Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki). While Leonard is remarkably more well-adjusted than his friend and roommate Sheldon, that doesn't mean he doesn't have his own set of personality flaws that make him uniquely difficult.

When looking back at his history on the show, and particularly his relationship with Penny, it's not hard to see some patterns of behavior that are a little troubling. While everyone is going to have their own picks for the absolute worst Big Bang Theory character, here's why Leonard is definitely in the running for the top spot.

Leonard lets his insecurities turn him into a bully

There are many individual instances that we could point to in order to demonstrate exactly why Leonard can be such a drag and many of them have one factor in common: Leonard is prone to letting his insecurities get the better of him.

One of the clearest examples of this comes early in the run of the series. After he and Penny break up in season 3, she begins dating a new guy named Zack (Brian Thomas Smith). While Zack is very handsome and has a certain je ne sais quoi, he's not exactly an intellectual heavyweight.

During the season 4 episode "The Justice League Recombination," Leonard leads the rest of the guys in mercilessly making fun of Zack for his lack of intelligence. Despite being a bit slow on the draw, even he's able to pick up on their thinly-veiled insults and becomes upset enough to storm out of the apartment. Penny follows him, but not before saying, "You know, for a group of guys who claim they spent most of their lives being bullied, you can be real jerks."

Anyone who has ever been dumped before likely knows the feeling of wanting to get at your ex's current flame whatever way you can. Leonard's mocking of Zack likely does stem from his own feelings about being broken up with by Penny and then seeing her with a new hunk on her arm. However, that's really no excuse for treating somebody so poorly, especially as Zack himself didn't do anything wrong in this situation.

Leonard's issues have caused road bumps in his relationship with Penny

Even after Leonard and Penny get back together, his self-esteem issue still persists. In the season 9 episode "The Platonic Permutation," Penny has the unnerving realization that Leonard has been reading her personal journal. When confronted, he claims he started reading it accidentally. But considering his past behavior, it's hard to not think that his insecurity is part of what drove him to flip through the diary.

Another example of this comes in the season 8 episode "The Expedition Approximation." Earlier in the series, Leonard buys Penny a cheap used car for her to drive to auditions. But once she throws in the towel on becoming an actor and takes a job as a pharmaceutical sales rep, her financial situation changes quickly. She ends up buying herself a new car, selling the old one, and trying to give the money from the sale back to Leonard as a thank you for the help he'd given her earlier.

The gift makes Leonard a bit testy. Penny correctly surmises that his reaction is due to the fact that the new car represents a big change in the dynamic of their relationship, namely that Penny is no longer dependent on Leonard financially. She specifically tells him he's being insecure, which leads to him perfectly articulating the crux of his issues: "I can't believe you'd say that. You know how insecure I am about my insecurities."

Leonard has a history of cheating on his partners

When taken individually, most of these infractions on Leonard's part are relatively minor in the grand scheme of things. The same could also be said of what he confesses to Penny in the season 8 finale, "The Commitment Determination." While the betrothed couple is driving to Las Vegas to elope, Leonard comes clean about the fact that he once kissed another woman while he and Penny were dating.

The actual indiscretion itself isn't exactly earth-shattering — Leonard clarifies that it was one drunken kiss before he put a stop to things — but it's one of many little incidents that combine to form a larger pattern of bad behavior. It's also notable that it's not the first time he found himself in that particular situation.

Back in the season 5 episode "The Good Guy Fluctuation," Leonard cheated on his then girlfriend Priya (Aarti Mann) when he made out with a woman he met at a comic book store. It turns out that Priya had been sleeping with her ex, but that's beyond the point. Leonard made the decision to cheat before he knew that Priya had also done so, and the fact that it's a mistake he made a second time with Penny points to it being a systemic problem for him, not a situational one.

Love him or loathe him, it's hard to deny that even in a sea of other problematic characters, Leonard's particular personality foibles stand out.