Big Bang Theory: Character Analysis

The Big Bang Theory is a sitcom on television staring Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch. It takes place in an apartment building in Pasadena California. A man named Leonard, a short, quirky guy with social anxiety and a man named Sheldon, a tall, gangly man with too many ticks to count.

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They are two experimental physicist who work at Caltech and their lives get flipped upside down when a very attractive waitress named Penny moves into the next-door apartment. Penny quickly becomes a part of their little group. Leonard and Sheldon introduce Penny to two of their best friends Howard Wolowitz and Rajesh Koothrappali. Both Howard and Raj work with Leonard and Sheldon at Caltech and are equally as nerdy. In the later seasons Amy Farrah Fowler, a neurobiologist and Bernadette Rostenkowski a microbiologist, are brought into the picture. They become best friends with Penny and eventually Sheldon and Amy get married and Howard and Bernadette marry and have two children. Throughout each season they find themselves at different places in their lives. From going on expeditions, getting married, having kids to breaking new ground in the world of physics all while making us laugh. The Big Bang Theory is relevant to psychology because every single character of the show has different personalities. They learn differently, speak differently, and think different. They all somewhat have abnormal behaviors and they all go through different conflicts. They were all raised in a different way. Some were nurtured as children and some were not. Some were brought up in religious background and some were brought up believing only in science. They may get on each other’s nerves sometimes, but somehow, they work through it all and become a family. The following consists of character analysis for each of the main characters. (The Big Bang Theory Wiki, 2019)

Amy Farrah Fowler studied at Harvard and did a semester in Norway. She obtained a Ph.D. in Neurobiology and believes that Neurobiology is superior to both microbiology and theoretical physics. She is from Glendale California and resides in Pasadena California. She was born to Larry and Mrs. Fowler in the early eighties. She has no siblings and she was raised by a quiet and unhappy father and an over baring mother who she had a strained relationship with. She was very lonely as a child. She once said that the closest thing she ever had as a friend was a janitor in high school. In her first appearances on the show, she is monotone, awkward, and emotionless. The only reason she agreed to go out on a date with Sheldon is because she promised her mother that she would once a year. Her personality seems to transition from season to season. As the seasons grew, so did she. She evolved into a friendly, fun loving and caring person. She sometimes is a somewhat narcissistic to the point of being callous and her bluntness makes others feel awkward. She occasionally displays signs of a bisexual infatuation or curiosity that she plays off as a joke. She is very intelligent and learns new things very quickly. She is very good a solving problem and is level headed. In the later seasons she is the voice of reason for Sheldon and deals well with his shenanigans and idiosyncrasies. Her conflict is wanting to be a social butterfly and be one of the girls but sometimes her low self-esteem gets in her way. She is a little awkward and her knowledge of science and microbiology tends to shine though at inopportune times. She is a great addition to the Big Bang Theory. (The Big Bang Theory Wiki, 2019)

In the early seasons, Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz worked as a waitress at the Cheese cake factory to pay for her college tuition. She eventually got her Ph.D. in microbiology and would later on work for Zangen, A pharmaceutical research center. She is very smart but far from being a genius like her husband and his friends. She was born to Mike Rostenkowski and Mrs. Rostenkowski in Yorba-Linda California. She currently lives in Pasadena California. She grew up in a very large catholic family consisting of five siblings. Her father is a retired police officer who is very traditional and straight forward. Her mother was very caring and over protective of her. Her mother ran a day care when she was growing up. This is why in the beginning Bernadette did not want children. She is very petite and short, and she is very sensitive about it. It makes her appear to be easily manipulated and a push over. She shows people right away that she is not. She is easy going and makes friends easily, but she has a very short temper and can be passive aggressive. When she was young her father taught her not to take any abuse from anyone, so she sometimes bullies others without realizing it. She is a bit snarky and sarcastic, but she can also be a little goofy. Growing up with a house full of siblings makes her competitive and she has a history of being vicious, underhanded and manipulative to her way. In her relationship with Howard she is the higher paid of the two. Because of this she tends to constantly, albeit unintentionally, emasculate him. She is not interested in the same pass times as Howard, so she often makes fun of him for being nerdy. She and Howard go on to have two babies and she is a very good mother. She gets over worked and stressed but ultimately, they have a happy family. (The Big Bang Theory Wiki, 2019)

Howard Joel Wolowitz studied and obtained a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from MIT. Since he is lacking a doctoral degree, he is often ridiculed by his friends and colleges. In later seasons he would gain recognition for working for NASA as an astronaut on the space station. He is from Pasadena California and was raised by his mother Debbie Wolowitz. His mother was a very dominant woman who was over protective and over baring. Howard did not like to acknowledge it, but he was completely dependent on her until he married Bernadette. His father left he and his mom when he was very young, so Howard grew up without a father figure in his life. When his mom would date men, he would purposely sabotage her dates because he wanted all her attention. He would then often get angry and claimed she was smothering him. He was raised Jewish but often made fun of Judaism. Howard grew up a genius. He can speak many languages including, French, Mandarin, Russian, Arabic, Persian, Japanese, and Klingon. He also can interpret sign language. Howard if by all definitions a nerd. He loves science fiction, fantasy, comics, and role-playing games. He would hit on and make passes at any woman around him and he would invent elaborate schemes and back stories to meet women. He would troll the internet looking for any kind of hook up. He told his friends he was a “ladies’ man,” But all attempts to gain the interest of the opposite sex would fail. His personality has changed over the years from being a perverted, inappropriate, creepy man to be the first to settle down and have kids When he finally settled down with Bernadette, he became a one-woman guy. He often over reacts and freaks out but he eventually figures things out. He is happy with his little family of four. (The Big Bang Theory Wiki, 2019)

Leonard Hofstadter graduated from high school at sixteen and earned his Ph.D. from Princeton at 24. He works at Caltech as an experimental physicist. Leonard lives in Pasadena California. He was born to Dr. Alfred Hofstadter and Dr. Beverly Hofstadter in 1980. His mother is a psychiatrist and neuroscientist and his father, an anthropologist. He was born into a high achieving family with intelligent siblings. His mother was cold and distant and didn’t show him love or affection like a normal mother would. It was implied that he was born as a science experiment and his mother would conduct research on him growing up. His father was mostly absent always working in the field. He and Leonard’s mother would later divorce. Leonard is a genius with an IQ of 173. He excels in history, literature, science and he can solve complex puzzles in seconds. While his work is very important and hard, the lack of impact on the world of physics leads him to feel inferior in comparison to his friends. His friends still hold him in the highest esteem. He loves “nerdy” things but is often embarrassed by it. He wants to be more social, but he is very insecure when it comes to social interaction. He is easy going, easy to get along with, and he empathizes with others. He is caring, loyal and fair. He also falls in love easily. It was love at first sight when he first saw Penny. It took him a year to finally ask her out. After being off and on-again multiple times through the seasons, they were finally married. Penny is a strong-willed woman and her and Leonard often quarrel and disagree with one another. He tries to avoid conflict and tends to internalize frustration and resentment until it explodes out of him. Once he explodes, he stands his ground and does not back down. He is probably the most well-adjusted out of all his friends. Even though he was bullied in school and raised by and absent father and an emotionally absent mother, he turned out to be a great man and a loving husband. (The Big Bang Theory Wiki, 2019)

Penny is a pharmaceutical sales representative for Zangen Pharmaceuticals. She was formally a waitress at the Cheesecake Factory. This is where she met Bernadette. She was born in Omaha Nebraska and was raised on a farm by her mother and father, Wyatt and Susan. We don’t know much about her mother, but her father raised her like a boy because he wanted a son. This leads to her having some issues with her father. Evern though he raised her like a boy, they still had a good relationship. When she left Omaha, she moved to Pasadena California with big dreams of becoming a famous actress. She soon realizes it is not so easy. Penny is not like the rest of the characters. She does not have a formal education and she is not nerdy as the rest. This makes her feel inferior to the rest of the characters. She has street smarts and is a social butterfly. She is kind, caring and a little flaky. She is out going and out of their league. She was the popular “girly” girl with tons of friends. She is very pretty with long blonde hair. She is skinny and tall and looks like she doesn’t belong in their group. She believes in ghost, psychics, astrology and voodoo. Everything that goes against science. Penny is horrible with money and has managed to obtain a vast amount of debt. She may suffer from borderline personality disorder. At first, she wasn’t attracted to Leonard. She just liked him as a friend. It wasn’t until a year or so later that she realized her love for him. Sheldon and Penny got off to a rocky start, but eventually she grew a soft spot for him. Penny turned out to be a great addition to their group. (The Big Bang Theory Wiki, 2019)

Rajesh Koothrappali is an Astrophysicist and he obtained a Ph.D. from Cambridge University and he works at Caltech as an Astrophysicist. He was born to Dr.V.M. and Mrs. Koothrappali in New Delhi India. He came from a wealthy background and enjoys a privileged lifestyle. He greatly relies on his family’s wealth to live. He tells people he had to overcome poverty and prejudice to make himself appear interesting and mystical. Often associating himself with Slumdog Millionaire. Raj enjoys American culture and does not want to move back to India. He has an ambiguous attitude and opinion about his own country and upbringing. He is of Hindu religion, but most of the time he makes fun of it and eats things that he’s not supposed to eat like beef. He is very sweet but pompous. His sometimes lean toward the female demographic; enjoying romance movies, party planning and he has sort of a metrosexual vibe. Even though he acts conceded sometimes, he often needs reassurance of his value. Raj has a hard time reading the room. He speaks and acts inappropriately in most situations. He constantly obsesses over insignificant details in fiction like, when toilets flush in Atlantis, where does it go? Needless to say, he has more than a few quirky behaviors. Let’s not forget the most obvious one. In the early seasons, Raj suffers from selective mutism. He cannot speak to any woman besides family members unless he is drunk. This poses a problem because when he is drunk, he acts like a jerk. He eventually gets over it and learns to speak to women on his own. He proves to be a good friend to everyone. (The Big Bang Theory Wiki, 2019)

Sheldon Lee Cooper has a BS, MS, MA, Ph.D. and a Sc.D. He started college at age eleven, graduated at four-teen and he was the youngest person to receive the Stevenson Award at age four-teen and a half. He is a genius with an I.Q. 187and an eidetic memory. Sheldon was born in the early eighties in Galveston Texas and his parents are Mary Cooper and George Cooper. His father an alcoholic and his mother is a devout evangelical Christian who loves Sheldon very much but does not understand his way of thinking. He greatly appreciates his mother but is uncomfortable with her religious beliefs. He longs for a mother like his best friend Leonard’s. Cold and distant with a brilliant analytical mind. He lives in Pasadena California and works at Caltech as a theoretical physicist. Sheldon speaks many languages such as Finnish, Spanish, Mandarin, Persian, Arabic and Klingon. He is also fluent in Mores Code. Sheldon avoids all the stimulants he can including, alcohol, caffeine and drugs. He has many behaviors that are out of the ordinary. He may suffer from narcissistic personality disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, or have a high functioning form of autism. Sheldon struggles with things that seem simple to others. He cannot interpret body language, doesn’t pick up on social cues, fails to understand irony, sarcasm or humor. He has many nervous ticks and exhibits signs of compulsive disorder along with social anxiety. Sometimes his brilliant mind gets him in trouble. He is extremely logical, and this comes off as condescending or rude to friends. In some situations, he almost has a childlike quality, especially if it come to trains. His friends sometimes find it hard to put up with all his quirky behaviors and idiosyncrasies. They still love him all the same. (The Big Bang Theory Wiki, 2019)

The characters in the show, The Big Band Theory relate to psychology because they all have different personalities and different way of behaving. Each character comes from a different background and was raised in a different setting. Even though they are completely different they formed a bond with each other anyway. The show is an example of how even if you are geeky, you can still be friends with the jocks. We all see ourselves in at least one of these fictional television characters and we can relate to their relationships and conflicts.  

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