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

Why The Big Bang Theory Fans Can't Stand Sheldon And Howard Butting Heads

The banter between Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) and Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) is one of the many recurring threads in the iconic CBS comedy "The Big Bang Theory." While they belong to the same band of friends, the two never seem to cease locking horns with each other, no matter how trivial the reason. Be it Howard's car being parked on Sheldon's spot, or a petty bet involving the nomenclature of an insect, their constant rivalry yields some pretty hilarious events, especially when they take things too far.

However, there are times when their rivalry could also be interpreted as annoying or even genuinely harsh. Sheldon's many dismissive comments about Howard's profession as an engineer (with a Master's Degree from MIT, no less) may sometimes cross the line from good-natured ribbing to cold-hearted insult. Due to his signature lack of empathy, Sheldon seldom realizes how much his words actually hurt Howard. However, Howard's pain is normally quite evident to viewers and other characters. In fact, some "Big Bang Theory" fans took to Reddit to discuss exactly why Sheldon treats Howard so poorly and why it bothers them so much.

Fans aren't sure why Sheldon and Howard argue so much

In a thread posted to the r/BigBangTheory subreddit, u/amy_michelle6 posed a straightforward question: "Why is Sheldon such a jacka** to Howard all the time? It goes behind just thinking engineering is a lesser field. He genuinely seems to hate Howard ... Is Sheldon intimidated by him or something? It's really infuriating to watch sometimes, especially since Howard is usually so nice to him." 

Although Howard is also rather mean to Sheldon at times, as this user pointed out, he is also excessively nice to him on occasion. For instance, Howard jumps into action as soon as he hears that a hacker has stolen Sheldon's in-game possessions in "World of Warcraft." The NASA astronaut also goes to great lengths to ensure the security of Leonard and Sheldon's apartment when it is broken into. With these thoughts likely in mind, other fans commented on the Reddit post with their theories about why Sheldon gives Howard such a hard time.

One of the most popular replies came from u/AnnaK22, who wrote, "Howard seems to be the person to least put up with Sheldon's demands ... In other words, Howard is the hardest for Sheldon to control." Of course, this exact dynamic has an interesting origin story. According to a story that Sheldon tells Bernadette (Melissa Rauch), he is mean to Howard because of all the pranks Howard played on him earlier in their friendship, like a surprise subscription to a "Granny magazine" or replacing the slides of Sheldon's presentation with lewd images. 

Of course, Sheldon's general hatred toward engineers can be traced back to an unpleasant encounter with an engineering professor (played by Lance Reddick) shown in "Young Sheldon."

However, it's not like the two 'hate' each other

In the same Reddit post, many other fans pointed out that although Howard and Sheldon cannot seem to stop giving each other a hard time, there have been moments when the two have proven to be caring friends to each other. In one reply, u/Comprehensive_Bug391 pointed out that Sheldon "gave a large part of his money from the military project to a fund for Howard's baby as a sign of respect and he is seen to be trying every now and again to better himself, although not always successful." 

In another comment, u/JHorbach wrote, "Two of the best moments of the whole show were when Sheldon recognizes Howard." Longtime fans of the series will surely remember both of these scenes. In Season 5, Episode 24 ("The Countdown Reflection"), Sheldon proclaims, "Boldly go, Howard Wolowitz," just as Howard's rocket leaves for the International Space Station. Equally as memorable is the scene in the series finale when Sheldon calls Howard "Astronaut Howard Wolowitz" in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

Yet another example of kindness between the two can be found in the words Sheldon says to Howard in Season 8, Episode 15 ("The Comic Book Store Regeneration"), when the latter loses his mother: "When I lost my own father, I didn't have any friends to help me through it. You do." It seems no matter how much two of the smartest characters in the series pull each other's legs, in the end, they have each other's backs.