Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Penny Scene That Went Too Far On The Big Bang Theory

Actress Kaley Cuoco played Penny on "The Big Bang Theory" for 12 seasons, and in some sense, the entire series is predicated on her entrance into the lives of the show's principal nerds, and the various ways she lives up to and defies the blonde stereotypes that provide an early source for the show's unique brand of humor. 

Fans will of course be familiar with the setup: Penny makes her debut in the pilot as the beautiful girl who moves in across the hall from the brilliant but socially awkward Caltech scientists Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) and Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki). The latter immediately becomes infatuated with The Cheesecake Factory waitress and wannabe actress. The tough Nebraska farm girl who prefers wine, shoes, and celebrity gossip to video games and comic books embarks on a nine-year will-they-won't-they relationship with Leonard that ends with the twosome tying the knot at last in the Season 9 premiere, "The Matrimonial Momentum."

Much of the humor on "The Big Bang Theory" is derived from Penny making fun of Leonard, Sheldon, and their friends for being geeks and from her own ditzy and flirty behavior. Penny and Leonard's unlikely romance is also the butt of countless jokes, reminding the audience time and again that when opposites attract, wacky and weird hijinks ensue. However, there are times when it's hard to ignore that Penny and Leonard are woefully mismatched, infusing the sitcom with moments that can be hard to watch. In fact, Season 7, Episode 12, "The Hesitation Ramification," contains a scene in which fans agree that Penny goes too far in her mistreatment of Leonard.

Many people hate Penny's Season 7 drunken proposal

In Season 7, Episode 12, "The Hesitation Ramification," Penny is cast on an episode of "NCIS." After her scene is cut, a depressed and drunken Penny tells Leonard she's spent 10 years in California and she has nothing to show for it. Leonard points out that she has him, and Penny tells him he's right and proposes. When Leonard hesitates, Penny gets upset, takes back the proposal, and storms out of Leonard's apartment. Leonard begins to question if he and Penny have a future together, and it's obvious Leonard is heartbroken. Throughout the entire episode, Penny treats Leonard badly, particularly when he does something she perceives as criticism or rejection.

Fans took to Reddit to discuss this episode and specific scene, and their comments do not paint a flattering picture of Penny, with everyone firmly on "Team Leonard." 

"I believe Leonard did the right thing by saying no to Penny's drunken proposal. If he did say yes to the proposal, I think he would feel like he would have been taking advantage of her in her drunken state," wrote u/j0shcon123

Another Redditor was particularly unkind in his assessment of Penny. "Penny is a legitimate alcoholic ... I don't remember an episode where she hasn't had a drink. Is there one?" asked u/Siwix

"Penny is selfish, rude and sometimes cruel to the man she's supposed to love. Leonard doesn't seem to have any dignity left," stated u/epeters208.

It's a pretty harsh take on our towheaded heroine — especially considering the delicate state the episode finds her in. It's worth noting that Penny has just experienced a major career disappointment, one that quite reasonably might make her a tad sensitive to any additional rejection in her life.

Not all viewers are fans of the couple

Perhaps Penny's reaction to Leonard's hesitation to accept her proposal on "The Big Bang Theory" would have generated more sympathy from viewers if fans didn't already have issues with their relationship. 

There is no shortage of Reddit chatter devoted to why Penny is a terrible partner for Leonard. One Reddit thread simply titled "I hate Penny" consists of ruthless takedowns of the character. "She constantly fights with Leonard and walks all over him," wrote u/spolarium. Considering Penny's negative behavior after Leonard doesn't respond the way she wants him to after she asks him to marry her, this opinion is not without merit. Penny attempts to exploit Leonard to make herself feel better, while also taking advantage of his feelings for her.

Leonard actually proposes to Penny long before she pops the question. He first asks her in "The Big Bang Theory" Season 5, Episode 23, "The Launch Acceleration," and she responds with frustration and anger because of Leonard's poor timing (in part, anyway). As you might be able to guess, she ultimately tells him no. As some disappointed fans interpret it, in Penny's mind, rejection is only understandable or acceptable if she's the one saying no.