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The Worst Choice Penny Made On The Big Bang Theory

Penny (Kaley Cuoco) proves to be a tough cookie during her long run in "The Big Bang Theory." During the show's tenure, she does a lot to change the direction of her down-at-the-heels life. She switches ambitions and goals, manages to endure the nonstop shifts in her relationship with Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki), gains real friends in the form of Leonard's friends, and even manages to make a reliable friend group of her own with Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik) and Bernadette Rostenkowski (Melissa Rauch). 

Yet, due in part to her innate sense of impulsivity, not all of the choices Penny makes in her life are smart or good for her. Before the show begins, she marries her ex-boyfriend Zack Johnson (Brian Thomas Smith) in Las Vegas and never realizes the "joke" ceremony was real, forcing her to seek an annulment from her ex so she can marry Leonard in Season 8. There's also the fact that she and Leonard elope to Las Vegas to marry during Season 9, a completely impulsive gesture that cuts their family and friends out of the equation and forces them to orchestrate a bigger private ceremony for them later. Also, incredibly, after insisting she doesn't want to have kids for the entirety of the show's run, in Season 12, she ends up pregnant by Leonard thanks to a fumbled prophylactic. 

But despite all of this, there's another decision of Penny's that is arguably the worst one she ever makes in "The Big Bang Theory." 

Penny's choice to give up acting was a bad decision

Penny makes a number of choices that might be considered faulty during "The Big Bang Theory," but it's hard to argue against the statement that her decision to give up her dreams of becoming an actress just to sell pharmaceuticals is the poorest one she makes.

Her life as a working actress is what drives the character from Season 1 to Season 8. It's why she moves to California in the first place. While her acting career definitely has its ups and downs — including an embarrassing incident in which she shows up for a cat food commercial and finds out it's an audition for a pornographic film in Season 4's "" — she seems to weather these bumps with panache in the hope of making her dreams come true. For much of the show, this means that she has to live a few inches above the poverty line while bartending and waiting tables at the gang's local Cheesecake Factory. Though the show sometimes makes fun of her failed ambitions, her own wry point of view on the subject helps to alleviate any sense that she feels like she's wasting her time.

But after quitting The Cheesecake Factory to focus on her acting career in Season 7's "The Hesitation Ramification," Penny experiences extreme embarrassment when her role in an "NCIS" episode is cut after she tells her family and friends she'll be in the program. Her confidence in her acting dreams is shaken, and though there's hope she might land a role in the new "Star Wars" film thanks to Leonard's support, she switches vocations and becomes a sales representative for Bernadette's pharmaceutical company in Season 8. 

Penny seems suited to her new career but has no passion for it

"The Big Bang Theory" generally portrays this as a positive career move for Penny, who climbs the corporate ladder and is such a good rep she's nearly scooped up by Bernadette's competitor. But it's not a job she shows any particular passion for, even though it's a role for which she displays a decent aptitude and which increases her sense of confidence. 

It's also not exactly a safer position for her either. She has to deal with just as much sexual harassment promoting drugs as she does when she's trying to land a role in movies like "Serial Apeist" and avoid creeps while slinging food. She ultimately has no real emotional attachment to the job and nearly leaves it when Zack offers her another career opportunity in Season 10 — which she doesn't take because the idea upsets her new husband, Leonard. 

As tough as her acting career is to maintain, Penny shows both a passion for acting and an aptitude for it throughout "The Big Bang Theory." She may make more money in pharmaceuticals, but there's never an accompanying sense of joy and triumph like the sort she experiences in Season 6's "The Monster Isolation," when her performance in a play draws emotional plaudits from Sheldon (Jim Parsons), Leonard, and Amy.

Fans posting to the official subreddit for "The Big Bang Theory" have expressed their disappointment over the direction of Penny's professional arc before, calling her sales rep career demeaning to the character. The switch definitely takes a little pizzazz out of her storylines, making the career swap the worst choice she ever makes throughout all seasons of the CBS series.