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The Big Bang Theory: Every Major Character, Ranked

The Big Bang Theory entertained audiences for almost 12 years, using tales of socially-awkward scientists as they work to make major breakthroughs in their careers and their love lives. The interweaving plot lines of the series would endear audiences to the characters that helped drive the show forward, and today we are shining a spotlight on those very same people.

Here, we will be going over any character that was given a “Main Cast” credit at any point throughout the show, whether that be the core five members from the beginning of the series to any number of romantic or supporting characters that were introduced or promoted during the series’ evolution.



10 Emily Sweeney

Warner Bros.

Raj (Kunal Nayyar) spends the majority of the series unable to talk to a woman, let alone be in a relationship with one. Enter Emily Sweeney (Laura Spencer), a doctor who has an attraction to the macabre. While she and Raj have a rocky start to their relationship, the couple becomes more understanding of each other the more time they spend together.

After spending a couple of seasons becoming more ingrained in the dynamics of the cast, Spencer was promoted to the main cast and would enter a love triangle storyline, where Raj was in love with another woman, leaving Emily. Emily would remain a part of the series, becoming an on-again, off-again girlfriend to Raj.

9 Leslie Winkle

Leslie Winkle standing across from Leonard
Warner Bros.

Originally a recurring character, Leslie Winkle (Sara Gilbert), would be promoted to the main cast as she began a complicated relationship with Leonard (Johnny Galecki), using him to satisfy her own desires and constantly getting into fights with Sheldon (Jim Parsons).

Leslie’s character arc would consist of being a selfish woman, often using the boys to satisfy her own needs, turning her manipulative ways towards Howard (Simon Helberg) after breaking up with Leonard when she realizes they have no future together. After cutting ties with Howard, she would disappear from the boy’s lives, briefly returning for the series’ 200th episode.

8 Stuart Bloom

Stuart sitting on the couch
Warner Bros.

Stuart (Kevin Sussman) has a long history of great misfortune and misery. Introduced in season two as the owner of a comic book store frequented by the boys, Stuart often pined for Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Amy (Mayim Bialik), despite both women falling for Leonard and Sheldon, respectively. He had even lamented once that his therapist had taken their own life, blaming Stuart in the letter of intent.

Stuart would soon be promoted to the main cast as he became more ingrained in the group, living with Raj and acting as a replacement for Howard during Howard’s venture with the International Space Station. He would then take care of Howard’s ailing mother, live with Howard and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch), and offer to help care for the couple’s child. Stuart would soon find his happy ending, falling in love with Denise (Lauren Lapkus), his new assistant manager.

7 Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz

Warner Bros.

Bernadette was introduced in the show’s third season, acting as a date for Howard. While the two initially found no common ground on their date, they soon discovered they both had complicated relationships with their mothers. While they had to clear some hurdles in their relationship, their love would prove to be so passionate that the pair would agree to an impromptu wedding before Howard left for his venture on the International Space Station.

Bernadette is often the loyal friend of the group, helping to settle squabbles, such as taking charge of Sheldon when he becomes too stubborn and providing an ear for her close friends, Penny and Amy. Bernadette and Howard’s family grew when she gave birth to their daughter, followed by their son in the show’s penultimate season.

Related: The Big Bang Theory: Each Nerd Culture Cameo Ranked by Sentimentality

6 Howard Wolowitz

Howard (1)
Warner Bros.

The first of the original five to make the list, Howard Wolowitz is only outdone by Raj in awkwardness. Though Howard’s bold advances on Penny can be overbearing, audiences learn more about Howard’s passionate art after he is introduced to Bernadette.

While Howard’s impulsive decision to propose to Bernadette after a brief dating period is declined, the pair would have an impromptu wedding as Howard prepares to live out a dream of going into space. One of the show’s running gags is Howard’s relationship with his mother, being one of both love and slight contempt. Howard’s life would turn upside down when his mother passed away, though he would soon become a family man when he and Bernadette gave birth to their first child, followed by their second child a couple of seasons later. Howard’s relationship with the guys is tested on a few occasions, with his friendship with Sheldon being the most strenuous, though they would eventually prove to be loyal to one another despite their differences.

5 Raj Koothrappali

Warner Bros.

Raj’s character arc early on in the series immediately endeared him to audiences because he became a complete mute whenever he had to speak to women. Though the group would discover he could surpass this if he were drunk, Raj would often clam up whenever he was around women, only eventually learning to talk with Penny sober when she worked with him on it.

Halfway through the series’ run, Raj would finally get over his fears, though this would be accompanied by the heartbreak of being cut out of his girlfriend Lucy’s (Kate Micucci) life. Raj would then begin casually dating Emily and Claire, constantly torn between both women, though he ultimately decided to break up with them. While Raj would have more romantic storylines, he would ultimately end the series single, going on a Platonic date with Sarah Michelle Gellar to Sheldon and Amy’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.

4 Amy Farrah-Fowler

Mayim Bialik and Jim Parsons on The Big Bang Theory
Warner Bros.

Amy’s character arc is one of loneliness until she meets Sheldon. Amy is shown to be Sheldon’s equivalent in social awkwardness and genius-level intellect. Slowly blossoming from a cold analytical woman to a kind-hearted and laid-back friend, Amy would be the woman responsible for teaching Sheldon empathy, whereas Sheldon would always encourage her to pursue great things in her scientific field, thus the two would constantly push each other to be better.

Another notable arch throughout the series would be Amy’s friendship with Penny, as while she and Sheldon were highly similar, Amy and Penny were polar opposites. They would eventually become close friends, often with Amy appreciating Penny more than the other way around. When Amy is preparing to be married to Sheldon, Penny realizes how much Amy means to her and demands Amy make her the maid of honor, since they were best friends. This moment would cement the duo’s bond. Amy would end the series being an inspiration to female scientists everywhere, winning the Nobel Peace Prize alongside her husband.

3 Penny Teller-Hofstadter

Simon Helberg, Keith Carradine, Kaley Cuoco, and Jim Parsons in The Big Bang Theory
Warner Bros.

The character that almost didn’t happen. Penny wasn’t featured in the show’s initial pilot episode, though she was brought in as a replacement after audiences proved more favorable to her character arc than that of the streetwise Katie (Amanda Walsh). Playing the “dumb blonde” archetype to help the audience better understand the geniuses, it would be clear that there was an attraction between Penny and Leonard from the beginning of the series.

Whether she’d be dating Leonard or acting as a big sister to Sheldon, Penny would become the only member of the original five not to hold a genius intellect but to help the group in their social advances, be it talking to women or having a better understanding of their interactions. Penny would also go on a journey of self-discovery, revisiting old dreams such as her wish to be an actress, her previous marriage, and her thoughts on having children. Ultimately she marries Leonard, initially eloping, though they would hold a proper ceremony with their friends and reveal she’s pregnant with their child.

Related: A New Big Bang Theory Spin-off Is in Development From Co-Creator Chuck Lorre

2 Leonard Hofstadter

Nathan Fillion, Johnny Galecki, and Kunal Nayyar on The Big Bang Theory
Warner Bros.

The leader of the boy’s Social Group, Leonard, would be the glue that holds everyone together, becoming the first person capable of putting up with Sheldon’s often condescending and antagonistic attitude towards other people. After finally dating Penny, the two would soon break up after Leonard admits he loves her.

Leonard would spend some time trying to date other people, though he still had reserved feelings for Penny, with Penny finally revealing that she does love Leonard back. Throughout the series, Leonard’s main arc is interwoven with Penny’s. The pair would either work together to help solve their friend’s problems or focus on their future together, such as getting married and eventually having children.

1 Sheldon Cooper

Jim Parsons on The Big Bang Theory
Warner Bros

The best character of the series and the one that audiences became most enamored with was Sheldon Cooper. Cooper would be a savant and, at times, narcissistic toward others. He had multiple displays of OCD and lacked empathy early on, always believing his way of thinking was absolute.

While Sheldon’s friendship with Leonard, Howard, and Raj would give him a chance to experience social interaction more often, and his sibling relationship with Penny would provide him with room for growth, it would ultimately be his relationship with Amy that would help break the mold that Sheldon’s character arc had formed. Sheldon would end the series by having a better understanding of empathy, and his arcs of learning more about the emotions of love and kinship would appeal to audiences everywhere.

This story originally appeared on Movieweb

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