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Why Penny Was The Worst In The Big Bang Theory

Even the most die-hard "Big Bang Theory" fans don't watch the show because the main characters are breezy and likable. In fact, the prickly nature of the core crew is one of the show's main selling points. A lot of the humor comes from watching the characters bicker with one another and bumble through social interactions like bulls in a proverbial china shop.

While you could easily make an argument for most of the main characters being the absolute worst behaved on the series (we're looking at you, Leonard), it's hard to ignore the particular offenses of Penny (Kaley Cuoco). The across-the-hall neighbor of Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) shows a lot of growth over the course of the series. However, it's hard for the character to fully shake the stain of her selfishness and irresponsibility, two qualities that manifest in a number of ways throughout the show's 12 season run.

Everyone has their own pick, but here's why we think Penny is the absolute worst on "The Big Bang Theory."

Penny has a mean side

All of the characters on "The Big Bang Theory" have their own reputations for being nasty to one another and Penny is no exception. In fact, you could argue that she's one of the worst offenders. From her mutually cruel friendship with Sheldon to the way she sometimes treats her BFF Amy (Mayim Bialik), Penny has an unsavory history of letting her mean-spirited side get the better of her.

One of the most egregious examples of this comes in the Season 8 episode "The Locomotion Interruption." After deciding to step away from acting, Penny gets put up for a job as a pharmaceutical sales rep by Bernadette (Melissa Rauch). While Bernadette is sure that Penny's people skills will make her a shoo-in for the gig, Penny herself is apprehensive and self-conscious about being underqualified.

When she goes into the interview, Penny initially bombs, opting to end early after it's clear that she's not going to get the job. But things turn around when she asks the interviewer to not mention how bad she did to Bernadette because, "She'll get upset and, honestly, I'm a little terrified of her."

It turns out, the man interviewing Penny is equally scared of Bernadette, and after the two bond over a gossip session, Penny lands the gig. While Penny is right that Bernadette can be more than a little intense, trash-talking your friend to one of her co-workers is a pretty rotten thing to do. Especially when that friend was just trying to get you a job.

Penny has a reputation for being a mooch

Penny's bad behavior at the job interview provides a clean segue to another way that her propensity toward selfish and irresponsible behavior manifests: she has a reputation for being a mooch. In the early seasons, she famously steals food and WiFi from the guy's apartment, among other self-serving indiscretions. One of the best storylines that illustrates this particular habit of hers comes in the Season 2 episode "The Barbarian Sublimation."

Much of the narrative of that particular episode involves Penny becoming addicted to an online "World of Warcraft" style game called "Age of Conan." This would be fine if she was doing it on her own time, but in addition to using the guy's internet to play the game, she also obsessively makes Sheldon drop whatever he's doing to give her a hand.

Throughout the episode, Penny invades the guy's apartment on multiple occasions to demand that Sheldon give her tips and tricks to level up her character and complete difficult raids. Giving a friend some helpful pointers can actually be fun and rewarding, but Penny's appeals go far beyond a request for some basic advice and become downright rude. Sheldon even tries to get her away from the game by arranging a blind date to no avail.

It's not until Penny encounter's Howard (Simon Helberg) in the game world and realizes who she is at risk of becoming that she finally goes cold turkey.

Drinking exacerbates Penny's problems

As anybody who has ever had a row with a friend during a night of heavy drinking can attest to, alcohol has the ability to bring out the worst in people. Penny has demonstrated that multiple times on "The Big Bang Theory" when her drunken escapades tip over from goofy fun to emotionally damaging.

Take, for example, "The Lunar Excitation." This Season 3 episode sees Penny dating the attractive, yet dim, Zack (Brian Smith) in the aftermath of her breakup with Leonard. However, after the guys inadvertently demonstrate exactly how dumb Zack is, Penny loses confidence in her new choice of beau. Instead of dealing with this issue maturely, she instead gets drunk and shows up at Leonard's apartment looking for trouble.

After blaming Leonard for her fizzling feelings for Zack, she pulls him into his bedroom for an ill-advised hookup. This is far from the worst thing a drunk person has ever done, but it's clear the following day that Penny regrets her decision. She tells Leonard, "I was drunk, I was lonely, I hated Zack. Can we just forget it ever happened?"

The drunken tryst leads to Leonard feeling used and confused about the state of their relationship. It stirs up a lot of emotional turmoil for both of them that could have been avoided had she just handled her problems rationally and soberly.