by Aprille Hanson
As the nerd comedy “The Big Bang Theory” gets ready to wrap up, it’s a final goodbye to an incredible cast that’s made us laugh for 12 seasons. The main characters have all changed significantly since the show began -- here’s how they rank:
8. Stuart Bloom (Kevin Sussman)
Stuart, the owner of the comic book store, is a character on the outskirts of the main friend group, but seems to always pop up here and there, trying hard to fit in. He’s that character who is easily forgotten, but he has provided that laughable Charlie Brown-esque attitude to the show once Raj stepped up in confidence. While not an important character by any stretch, it’s been nice to see him get some wins.
7. Bernadette Wolowitz (Melissa Rauch)
A tiny spitfire with the squeaky voice, Bernadette packs a punch. If you go back and watch the beginning of the series, you’ll see just how much of an immature pig Howard was and his transformation is almost solely because of his relationship with Bernie. Her character added such a nice balance to the show, making Penny not the lone gorgeous wolf in the nerdy bunch. She is not only beautiful, but smart and is the one woman on the show that seemingly has it all -- a great job, husband, kids, career and an amazing group of friends. She went from waitressing with Penny at the Cheesecake Factory to pay off graduate school debts to being a microbiologist with a Ph.D at a pharmaceutical company. Her character not only provided more humor, but really added to the show.
6. Raj Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar)
In the beginning of the series, fans were introduced to the nerdy Indian scientist Raj, who had a complicated issue -- he could not talk to women or around women. Then, they found out he could when he was drunk. I don’t know if the creators intended it to be this way throughout the series, not realizing how big of a hit the show would be and how long it’d last, but eventually, that storyline fell away. He soon became the character who couldn’t make a relationship work. He became the one character that seemingly couldn’t catch a break in the girlfriend department -- hell, even Stuart landed a comic-loving lady. Raj’s character went from a neurotic weirdo to a confident, suave scientist and while not one of the best characters, he’s certainly beloved.
5. Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg)
Oh short, piggish Howard Wolowitz who wanted nothing more than to get into the pants of any girl that would let him -- and there were few. All the characters have been transformed, but if you had told me at the beginning of the series that this magic-loving tiny man would become this loving husband and father, I would have been shocked. I love how the writers evolved his character because he could have easily remained one dimensional. But instead, we watched him find love with Bernadette that turned him into a man, heartache when his mother passed and seeing him become an astronaut.
4. Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik)
The robotic awkwardness of Amy Farrah Fowler when her character debuted was so perfect for Sheldon, it was pretty magical. But like Sheldon, she has evolved into a more confident friend and now wife. The way Amy handles Sheldon with both love and at times tough love is something to admire. She truly was the girl that waited for not only Sheldon to catch up to her level of love for him, but did eventually demand the respect she deserved. For a long while, it was hard to watch their relationship because, as so many in her life did, he seemed to walk all over her. Her character added another dimension to the show -- not the gorgeous one, but an intelligent woman who could go to toe-to-toe with any of the science-driven guys. She’s a beautiful-hearted neurobiologist who I hope gets that Nobel Prize.
3. Penny Hofstadter (Kaley Cuoco)
In the early episodes, Penny was the stereotypical ditzy blonde, who dates the hot guys and is pursuing an acting career while working as a waitress. Everything changes for her when she moves across the hall from two nerds. Fans have watched Penny grow into a strong, career-driven, hilarious woman, leaving behind the dumb guys for her husband Leonard. From someone who used to be the popular girl, she’s the odd-man out on paper in this group of friends, but still fits right in. As one of the original three, she’s one of the most beloved and unique characters in the cast and by far the most relatable. It’s nice to see a pretty girl naturally end up with a genius and not have it seem like a big joke anymore.
2. Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons)
Sheldon Cooper is the most unique character on “The Big Bang Theory.” In the beginning, he was a socially awkward genius there to provide the sidekick humor to the main love story of Leonard and Penny. Even in the pilot, he delivered one of the best lines of the series –
“Leonard: Our babies will be smart and beautiful; Sheldon: Not to mention imaginary.” He was kind of the genius version of Barney Fife to Leonard’s Andy Taylor.
After the first season, things evolved and Sheldon, because of his beloved bluntness, became the main character, even spinning off a series “Young Sheldon.” What made his character truly lovable though was when he asked Amy Farrah Fowler to marry him. It’s something that never would have happened in season one. The writers did a phenomenal job with his painstakingly slow progression toward love that never once betrayed who he was or made me as a fan think, “Oh, they made him move too fast,” from dating Amy, to their first kiss, to sleeping together. Everything was slow moving and it was beautiful to watch it unfold. The final season has really been the best time for his character because for so long, he truly treated Amy terribly and while the laugh track would play on, I just didn’t find it funny. Now, his love is so effortless and Parsons has handled this progression with Sheldon flawlessly. From “Bazinga” to “soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur,” Sheldon Cooper has become a part of pop culture and TV history.
1. Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki)
OK, calm down and put away the proverbial pitchforks, i.e., your fingers ready to type in angry comments about how it’s insanity that Sheldon Cooper is not ranked No. 1. I get it. But let’s remember that “The Big Bang Theory” began as a love story -- a pretty girl moves in across the hall from two nerds and one, Leonard, instantly falls in love with her. Galecki played this nerd trying desperately to show how much he cared for Penny so wonderfully that all the fans were rooting for this David in a string of Goliath boyfriends Penny wasted her time with. I remember at each point in their up and down relationship how much I rooted for Leonard. I wanted him to not just win Penny’s love, but to see the two of them be on equal respectful footing. And it happened -- it’s not so much the nerd marrying the pretty girl, but two people who are genuinely good together. Their love story is just more impactful and endearing to the show than even Sheldon and Amy. Leonard’s character has balanced Sheldon’s over-the-top neuroses with smart humor and has just been the most consistently hilarious character throughout the show’s run. He will not be remembered as the most popular character on the show for most, but he is the best all around.