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Popular Big Bang Theory Characters We Wound Up Hating By Show's End

"The Big Bang Theory" (2007-2019) dared to ask the question: Would audiences laugh at a show where every punchline was a joke about how weird and unattractive nerds and geeks are? The answer turned out to be a resounding "Yes!" Throughout its run, "The Big Bang Theory" was a ratings juggernaut even as the list of questionable things it tried to pass off as humor got bigger and bigger.   

The centerpiece of the show was the relationship between aspiring actress Penny (Kaley Cuoco), and the group of scientists/engineers/all-around-geeks who lived or hung out in the apartment opposite from hers. Chief among them was Leonard (Johnny Galecki), who nursed a hopeless crush on Penny, and his roommate Sheldon (Jim Parsons), the most insufferable genius you could ever hope to not meet.

Despite his issues with social interactions, Sheldon's personality changed for the better over the show's 12 seasons. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for a lot of other characters on "The Big Bang Theory." Here are the characters, some of whom only showed up for a few episodes, who started out fairly likable and then became rather unbearable by the end of their time on the series.  

V.M. Koothrappali

Raj's (Kunal Nayyar) dad V.M. Koothrappali (Brian George) started out as one of the better examples of a parent on "The Big Bang Theory." Mr. Koothrappali lived on the other side of the world in India, and that made it difficult for him to interfere in Raj's life to the extent the parents of the other characters did in their kids' lives. 

At first Raj's dad was only seen on occasional video calls, where Mr. Koothrappali always sat next to his wife Mrs. Koothrappali (Alice Amter) and joined her in castigating Raj over not having settled down. While Mr. Koothrappali appeared strict, he was also revealed to be fabulously rich, and did not seem to mind spending money on his son up to a reasonable limit. 

But Mr. Koothrappali's character changed for the worse after he got divorced from his wife in Season 8. He celebrated his new life as a bachelor by cutting off Raj's allowance, and bad-mouthing his mother to anyone who would listen. Mr. Koothrappali also started treating Raj like a pawn in his efforts to out-do his ex-wife by showering Raj with gifts — something his son is thrilled with — but which ultimately makes Raj more co-dependent than ever.  

Pemberton and Campbell

In the final season of "The Big Bang Theory," Sheldon and Amy (Mayim Bialik) discover a brand-new branch of physics relating to "Super-Asymmetry." The only catch is that it will be decades before Sheldon and Amy's theory can be confirmed with real-world results. Then they discover that a couple of scientists named Pemberton (Sean Astin) and Campbell (Kal Penn) have already found a way to confirm their theory.

At first Amy and Sheldon are excited to meet the two men who helped confirm their theory. Pemberton and Campbell also seem like nice guys at first as they are thrilled to meet Sheldon and Amy. They freely admit that they do not even understand the concept of Super-Asymmetry, and the results of their own experiment would have been a mystery to them if a colleague had not shown them the papers Amy and Sheldon published regarding the ground-breaking discovery. 

And so, Sheldon and Amy think they will be teaming up with Pemberton and Campbell to win the Nobel Prize for Physics for their discovery. But then the latter duo start claiming — in front of the media — that they alone are responsible for theorizing about and proving Super-Asymmetry. It takes a long and hard-fought battle for Sheldon and Amy to show they were the ones who came up with the theory, and that Pemberton and Campbell simply got lucky with their results. 


In "The Dead Hooker Juxtaposition" (Season 2, Episode 19), a new girl Alicia (Valerie Azlynn) moves into the same building as Leonard, Penny, and Sheldon. At first Alicia seems like a taller, blonder, better version of Penny, who has a more successful career as an actress and also flirts outrageously with the guys. 

Unfortunately, it quickly becomes clear that Alicia is only flirting with Leonard, Raj, and Howard (Simon Helberg) in order to take advantage of them and get them to do things for her for free. The guys are too smitten with Alicia to realize her manipulative nature, and are happy to spend all their free time running errands for her and fixing up her apartment.

The only good thing about the arrival of Alicia was that she forced Penny to realize she herself used to take Leonard and the others' devotion to her for granted. When Penny finally asked Alicia to stop emotionally manipulating the guys, the new girl showed her true colors. She called Penny a "b**ch" and also got into a physical brawl with her. Alicia didn't stick around after that one episode — few people watching were sorry to see her go. 


In "The Wiggly Finger Catalyst" (Season 5, Episode 4), Raj was going through yet another bout of being single and hating it. Penny gets sick of hearing about how miserable he is and fixes Raj up with a deaf girl she knows named Emily (Katie Leclerc), figuring that Raj's selective mutism wouldn't be a problem for a girl who couldn't hear him.

At first the relationship goes well. Emily seems sweet and understanding, and Raj quickly falls head-over-heels in love with her as is his habit. After dating for a few weeks, Raj's friends begin to notice that he is spending huge chunks of money to buy Emily presents. Things get so bad that Penny has to tell Raj's parents about his reckless splurging. Mr. Koothrappali and his wife confront Raj, and force him to choose between Emily and the monthly allowance they give him.  

Raj chooses to stay with Emily, but she dumps him after learning that he can no longer afford to buy her presents. Once again Raj is left crying and broken-hearted. Emily played a return date in "The Emotion Detection Automation" (Season 10, Episode 14) where she told Raj that his biggest problem was that he allowed his parents to dominate him. She also informed him that she was dating a new fabulously wealthy man, indicating that she has not given up on her gold-digging ways.

Mrs. Fowler

Amy Farrah Fowler had a lot of character growth throughout "The Big Bang Theory," and not all of it was consistent. In the beginning, Amy was basically a female clone of Sheldon, a genius-level intellect who looked down on normal people and regular social customs. At that time, Amy's mom Mrs. Fowler had a brief appearance at the end of "The Desperation Emanation" (Season 4, Episode 5). 

In that scene Mrs. Fowler (Annie O'Donnell) was portrayed as a mild and well-meaning mom who just wants her daughter to have a normal life. But as Amy began to appear more regularly on the show, and her characterization changed over time, it began to be revealed that many of Amy's mental neuroses are a direct result of her mother's strict, bordering-on-abusive upbringing. 

Recalling memories of childhood, Amy has stated that her mother forbade her from doing many normal kid things — making friends and being in plays, for instance — because she believed such activities led to drugs and intercourse. When Kathy Bates was recast in the role of Mrs. Fowler for Season 11, her characterization worsened. She was presented as the kind of person who would not let her husband utter a word, and who thought Amy was waiting for her to die so her daughter could get her china cutlery.    

Emily Sweeney

While all the other characters on "The Big Bang Theory" settled down and found love, the writers of the show could never seem to decide on a girl for Raj. The one who got closest to the mark before everything fell apart was Emily Sweeney (Laura Spencer), who first showed up in "The Friendship Turbulence" (Season 7, Episode 17).  

At first Emily seems almost too good to be true. She's gorgeous, funny, understanding, and seems genuinely fond of Raj. She even accepts his many personal foibles instead of reacting to them negatively like so many women before her. But as Emily started appearing on the show more regularly, her perfect façade started to crack.

She was revealed to have a twisted sense of humor that Raj often found disturbing. Emily also initially and unnecessarily saw Penny as a rival for Raj's affections. After she and Raj broke up, Emily tried to emotionally manipulate him until he put his foot down. When Emily made her final appearance in "The Emotion Detection Automation," she hinted that she had dumped Raj because she did not enjoy his performance in the bedroom.

Beverly Hofstadter

There are plenty of instances of bad parenting on "The Big Bang Theory," but Leonard's mom Beverly (Christine Baranski) makes all the other parents look like saints. Unlike the other entries on the list, Beverly did not start out making a good impression on the audience. Leonard often told stories of his mother withholding love and affection at a young age which led to many of his emotional hang-ups.  

When Beverly did show up in person in "The Maternal Capacitance" (Season 2, Episode 15) she reduced Penny to tears within minutes of meeting her — and she constantly belittled her son's accomplishments. Still, the episode ended with Beverly apologizing to Leonard for her past conduct, and the understanding was that they would have a better relationship moving forward.

Unfortunately, that did not end up happening. Across her next appearances on the show, Beverly continued to be a cold, emotionally-distant mother who looked down on Leonard for his emotional neediness, and made no secret of the fact that she treated his entire childhood like a thesis for an experiment. Beverly also largely refused to accept responsibility for the way her son turned out as an adult. In the end, Leonard realized his mother would never change, and that he needs to stop craving her approval. 


In the annals of "Girls Raj Struck Out With," let's add another name to the list. Lucy (Kate Micucci) was a fellow geek whom Raj met at the comic book store in "The Tangible Affection Proof" (Season 6, Episode 16). She seemed as awkward as Raj, but the two managed to strike up a conversation that turned into a first date.

Like Raj, Lucy was an extremely shy and underconfident person. This seemed adorable at first, until Lucy ditched Raj on their first date by climbing out of the window in the women's washroom. It turned out that Lucy was not shy so much as pathologically avoidant, to the extent that she had trouble developing new relationships or being with another person. At first Raj thinks his own neuroses are the perfect complement to Lucy's social anxiety issues. 

But no matter how hard Raj tried to make things work, Lucy proved again and again that she was a flight risk. She kept breaking up whenever Raj tried to take their relationship to new levels. Finally, Lucy ended things with Raj for good, and his feelings of heartbreak over the situation were so extreme they helped Raj overcome his selective mutism. Even the perpetually-peppy Penny was so disgusted by how Lucy ended things with Raj that she shouted at Lucy in public in "The Itchy Brain Simulation" (Season 7, Episode 8).   

Priya Koothrappali

Raj's sister Priya (Aarti Mann) was yet another attempt by the writers of "The Big Bang Theory" to give Leonard something to do in between mooning over/breaking up with Penny. Priya was like a more competent version of Raj — a smart, empathetic person who stood up to others when the occasion demanded it, but was generally sweet and caring toward her loved ones.

One of the most impressive things Priya does in her time on the show is find a way to thwart Sheldon's will by employing his own "Roommate Agreement" rulebook against him using her lawyer skills. Even Penny can't help but feel jealous as Priya seems to be better than her at everything and a better fit for Leonard. Unfortunately, Priya's golden sheen begins to wear off over time.  

Initially, she is ashamed of introducing Leonard to her parents. She also tries to stop Leonard from being friends with his ex Penny, and is openly disdainful of Leonard's more geeky interests. In one of the final times she appeared on the show, Leonard almost cheated on Priya with another girl but was able to control himself. That is when Priya admitted she cheated on Leonard by sleeping with an ex, and the two broke up. 


The writers of "The Big Bang Theory" seemed to take a perverse pleasure in making Rajesh Koothrappali as pathetic as possible in later seasons. And considering Raj started out in the series as a shy, awkward guy who could not talk to women, it's quite impressive how the writers were able to plumb even more lows for the character to sink to later on. 

It started with the constant jokes about Raj's sexuality, from him enjoying wearing a Catwoman costume in public, to making lots of gay innuendo jokes regarding Raj's relationship with Howard. When Raj learns that getting drunk allows him to talk to women, he goes overboard and acts creepily toward his dates in a drunken haze. By the end of the series, any merits Raj had as a smart, sensitive, self-made astrophysicist were taken away from him. 

Instead, he was made out to be a clingy, petty loser who depended on his parents' money to get by, and was unable to find someone to settle down with until the very last episode. The character's actor Kunal Nayyar has his own thoughts on the disappointing end for Raj. "I find it quite poignant that the one character that believed in true love so much was the one who didn't, in the end, find it," Nayyar told Metro.co.uk. "It's beautiful! It doesn't have to be so formulaic, that's what I loved about the show — it doesn't have to be a certain way, you know?"


Perhaps the character with the most wasted potential on "The Big Bang Theory" was Stuart Bloom (Kevin Sussman), the owner of the comic book store the main gang frequented. When Stuart first shows up in the second season of the show, he is depicted as that incredibly rare thing: Stuart is a nerd who is actually socially competent.

In his very first appearance in "The Hofstadter Isotope" (Season 2, Episode 20), Stuart is introduced as a small business owner and a talented artist, who draws a skillful sketch of Penny and successfully asks her out on a date. Basically, Stuart is shown as a better version of Leonard without the insecurities and who wears his "nerd" status confidently on his sleeve. After Howard got married, Raj started getting paired with Stuart more often, and that was when the latter character started going downhill. 

He became as scared of approaching women as Raj, lost his business, developed a bunch of health issues, and was hurt by the fact that he is rarely treated as a member of the main group of friends. From being a charming go-getter, Stuart devolved into another version of the needy and desperate Raj, only with even less success in life. And, also like Raj, the character's downward spiral is played for laughs on the show.  


When Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) first showed up on "The Big Bang Theory," the biggest issue with the character was that she was too low-key. Bernadette was sweet and friendly and sympathetic, and the perfect foil for Howard's larger-than-life would-be-lady's-man. But after the two got married, Howard became a more low-key (relatively speaking) and temperate character, and that seemed to bring out the worst traits in his now-wife Bernadette.

It started with little things, like Bernadette suddenly becoming rather sharp-tongued, not just with Howard but the other characters as well. The explanation given was that Bernadette used to be a babysitter, who can become a strict disciplinarian when the occasion demands it. But gradually, that strictness turned into full-on bullying, to the point where it is revealed that her office colleagues are terrified of crossing her.   

Not only does Bernadette become a bully, but she is shown to be perfectly aware of the fear she invokes in her colleagues and her friends — and she enjoys it. The character also starts bragging about her high-paying job, shading Howard for not making as much money as her, and generally rules the roost at home and at work. Bernadette learns to calm down a bit after becoming a mom, but bits of her past aggression still manage to leak out from time to time. 


People might not remember it now, but there was a time when Sheldon was not the main character on "The Big Bang Theory." The show started out being about Leonard's hopeless crush on Penny, and the way his geeky friends got in the way of Leonard's attempts to woo a girl way out of his league. 

Over time Leonard and Penny started dating, and by the last few seasons they had gotten married. But having a happily-ever-after scenario for the two would not have made for interesting television. And so the characters continued to evolve within their marriage, but unfortunately not for the better. Leonard is shown to have become a complete doormat, who lives in fear of offending his wife because he still does not believe himself worthy of her and is afraid she might someday leave him

This behavior is indicated to be a result of Leonard's troubled relationship with his mom, and Penny now replacing his mom as the most important woman in his life. Whatever the reason, later seasons have much less of Leonard having fun, and more of the other characters making fun of Leonard, with Penny leading the charge. By the end of the show, Leonard was reduced to a supporting character, looking on while Sheldon got to live out his dream of winning the Nobel prize for Physics. 


In the beginning of "The Big Bang Theory," Penny was set up as every man's fantasy. She was beautiful, but not stuck up about it. She was also genuinely kind and helpful, who did not mind helping the shy and awkward Leonard as he fumbled his way around asking her out and eventually dating her. 

Despite their differences in personality and interests, Leonard and Penny ended up in what seemed to be a loving marriage. But that soon began to change as the marriage progressed. It seemed to start with Penny learning about Leonard's insecurities regarding women stemming from his relationship with his mom. And then Penny also started making more money than Leonard as a salesperson for a pharmaceutical company. 

Suddenly, Penny's attitude toward Leonard changed from loving and supportive to bullying and overly critical. She no longer even tried to hide her contempt for Leonard's more nerdy hobbies, and threw away his prized toy items without consulting him. Penny was also revealed to have been a bully in high school, and that bullying nature started to extend to the other members of the gang. Many jokes are also made about Penny being a borderline alcoholic, and many viewers did not like the way Penny proposed to Leonard once in a drunken haze, and then acted angry when he appeared to hesitate because of her inebriated state.