The Big Bang Theory is currently in its twelfth and final season. In a few weeks, the series finale will air and we’ll know how the story of these characters ends. Out of those characters, a few of them have become TV icons over the years. Sheldon Cooper is such a recognizable icon that his younger self has been given his own TV show.
But as popular and famous as he has become, Howard Wolowitz is also the most problematic character on the show, especially in today’s climate. He’s become more likable now that he’s married and has kids, but we mustn’t forget that in the early days of the show, he was a total creep.
There’s a lot to criticize about his relationships with the other characters, particularly women, and a lot of his story arcs contain egregious plot holes. Simon Helberg has become a star from the role of Howard and he’s also won a Critics’ Choice Award and been nominated for a Teen Choice Award for his performance, but in order to enjoy the character’s antics and schtick, there’s a lot that fans have to ignore about him. The Big Bang Theory might be the last ever really popular show on broadcast television. Once it’s off the air, it’ll be all streaming and VOD for the rest of time.
So, in anticipation of the final episode of The Big Bang Theory – one of the most highly awaited series finales in the history of television – here are 20 Things About Howard Wolowitz We All Choose To Ignore.
20 He went to space despite failing the training and having asthma
When Howard was being trained for the harsh conditions of outer space, he was so emotionally scarred by the training that he abandoned the training ground in floods of tears and had both his mother and wife come out to comfort him. Plus, he has terrible asthma as well as a severe allergy to nuts (a lot of astronaut food contains nuts).
The only way he would still get to go to space after all that is if no one on NASA’s board of astronaut screeners managed to notice it before the launch. But since they’re handling millions of dollars’ worth of government equipment in the quest for scientific knowledge, it’s unlikely they’d make that kind of oversight.
19 He doesn’t observe any Jewish customs
With the last name Wolowitz, a troubled relationship with his mother, and a penchant for wearing dickies and getting a Beatles-style bowl cut, Howard embodies a lot of Jewish stereotypes. He also exhibits the quips, neuroses, and self-deprecation that Jewish comedians like Woody Allen and Mel Brooks have made Jewish comedy famous for.
But despite having a decidedly Jewish identity, Howard does not observe any of his faith’s customs: he eats pork, married a Catholic girl, and constantly makes fun of Judaism. He also told Sheldon’s gentile sister Missy that he would eliminate his rabbi to be with her and, in an encounter with Penny’s ex-boyfriend Kurt, he did the Christian sign of the cross.
18 He uses magic tricks to pick up women
Despite the fact that one of Howard’s leading techniques as a pick-up artist is using magic tricks to impress women, he still considers himself a “ladies’ man.” And he’s not even that good at doing magic tricks. It’s the one lame thing he has up his sleeve and he can’t even do it that well. When he tried to use a magic trick to ask out Sheldon’s sister Missy, the deck of cards flew out of his hands and landed on the floor.
Howard’s other ill-fated attempts to pick up women have included wearing tattoo sleeves to pick up goth chicks and then cowering at the sight of an actual needle.
17 We’ve seen his mom a bunch of times
Debbie Wolowitz is The Big Bang Theory’s unseen character – that’s the line, anyway. It’s supposed to be a recurring gag that she remains unseen, like Maris Crane in Frasier or Ugly Naked Guy in Friends. But some sitcoms play it fast and loose with the “unseen character” rule. For example, in Will and Grace, we see Stan standing behind a plant. Some sitcoms stick more closely to the rule, like Seinfeld and its unseen character Bob Sacamano.
The Big Bang Theory is an example of the former. Although we’re not supposed to see Mrs. Wolowitz, we’ve seen her from above at Howard’s wedding, in photographs on the walls of the house, and through the kitchen door one time when Raj came over for dinner. Still, we’ll never fully see Mrs. Wolowitz, since the character passed away following the real-life passing of the actress who voiced her, Carol Ann Susi.
16 He gets his girlfriends from Leonard
Howard has often disregarded loyalty to his friends in favor of any chance of getting laid. For example, when Penny’s friend came to stay with her, he basically spent her entire visit in bed with her. But perhaps the lowest point he sank to was getting into a relationship from one of his best friends.
Many fans objected to Howard’s “friends with benefits” relationship with Leslie Winkle. In fact, she was never a particularly popular character to begin with, even when she only served as Leonard’s sarcastic fall-back when he failed to impress Penny. Luckily, the Howard and Leslie romance was short-lived and ended up being one of the shortest story arcs in Big Bang history.
15 He doesn’t have a doctorate yet
There’s been a running joke since the beginning of The Big Bang Theory that all the guys have doctorates except for Howard. But Howard is clearly intelligent. He is clearly as intelligent in his field as his friends are in theirs. So, why, after years of being mocked for not having a doctorate, doesn’t he just get one?
It’s tough to become a doctor of something, but Howard has already expressed interest in it and bragged about the possibility of getting one to silence his critics. He even tasked Sheldon of all people with tutoring him for his upcoming doctoral studies to show off how much smarter he’s become. Why doesn’t he just go for it already?
14 He burned the letter from his dad
In one episode of The Big Bang Theory, the gang gathers around Howard as he considers whether or not to read a letter his absent father wrote him when he was eighteen. They all suggest to Howard their own ideas of what might be in the letter before he decides not to read it. Instead, he burns the letter in the sink, forgets all about it, and moves on with his life.
As much as we have to respect Howard’s emotions and the decision he made, didn’t you really, really want to hear what was in that letter? Now, the series will be going out with a huge, unresolved loose end, bothering fans. Maybe Howard’s father will show up in the series finale, but it seems unlikely.
13 He doesn’t remember Leonard breaking the elevator
The fact that the elevator in Sheldon, Leonard, and Penny’s apartment building doesn’t work is one of the oldest running gags in the series. Seriously, it’s been twelve years – is no one going to fix this thing? It’s given the writers opportunities to toss in long conversations between the characters as they’re forced to climb the stairs instead of a zippier and more convenient elevator ride.
One episode has Howard trying to “figure out” what happened to the elevator, while another one shows in a flashback that he was there when Leonard broke it. How does he not remember being there when Leonard broke the elevator? It was a pretty major incident involving an explosion that has affected his life greatly in the years since – you don’t just block out something like that.
12 He cosplayed as a Borg drone
When the guys cosplayed as Star Trek: The Next Generation characters for a sci-fi convention, Leonard went as Picard, Sheldon went as Data, and Raj went as Worf. But Howard chose to dress as a Borg drone – one of the merciless villains of the TNG universe – when there are so many other great heroes to choose from.
Okay, Wil Wheaton’s character Wesley Crusher might be a touchy subject for the group and it would be inappropriate for a white guy to play Geordi La Forge. But he could’ve played Commander Riker. Or Q, a recurring character who always had great chemistry with Picard (especially comic chemistry) – that role would’ve been perfect for Howard.
11 He always sits in Sheldon’s spot
Sheldon always makes a big deal about his spot. If someone comes close to sitting in his spot on the couch, he throws a hissy fit and makes them move. He also makes a big dramatic scene if he has to sit elsewhere in the apartment.
However, Howard can often be seen sitting in Sheldon’s spot during group activities. He’ll be sitting there in the middle of a scientific discussion in which Sheldon is writing on the whiteboard and Sheldon won’t make a peep. It seems that the Big Bang writers only have Sheldon kick up a fuss about his spot if a scene is light on jokes and they want to throw in some extra cheap laughs to balance it out.
10 He crashed the Mars Rover to impress a girl
The Mars Rover is one of the most impressive pieces of scientific equipment ever invented. It roams around the surface of Mars and is responsible for many of the recent discoveries we’ve made about the red planet. However, as far as Howard Wolowitz is concerned, it’s basically a toy. He once took a girl he had just met at a bar, who hardly showed any interest in him, to take the Mars Rover for a spin.
Of course, he ended up crashing it into a ditch and the girl quickly lost whatever scrap of interest she had in him. This is extremely negligent behavior and it’s a wonder how his career in science even continued after that.
9 He almost stopped being Leonard’s friend over a girl he’d just met
Howard has always been a jealous guy. When he bumped into Bernadette’s ex at a science conference and discovered she’d dated a tall black man before him, he was furious with absolutely no right to be. But one early case of his jealousy really took the cake.
A girl Howard was interested in turned out to be more interested in Leonard and began dating him. Howard was so mad about this that he almost cut Leonard out as a friend. But Howard had just met this girl at a bar a couple of hours ago. They hadn’t made any commitments to each other. They barely knew each other. Howard had no grievance whatsoever.
8 He’s still friends with Sheldon
When Penny once asked why Howard is friends with Sheldon, he said it was simply because he likes Leonard and they’re a package deal. But after years of being belittled and mocked and put down, why doesn’t Howard just cut Sheldon loose? He gets nothing good out of that friendship.
Come to think of it, it’s a wonder that any of Sheldon’s friends still want to hang out with him. He constantly undermines Penny, Leonard, and Raj, too. Any relationship with Sheldon is all give and no take. He needs a ton of emotional support and special treatment and he returns none of it. All he does is insult his friends and he’s indifferent to every social situation. If his friend is upset, he doesn’t help them; he openly expresses that it’s a burden to him. He’s a terrible boyfriend to Amy. If they knew what was good for them, they would all cut and run.
7 He used to be awful to women
While Howard is a husband and father now, he used to make passes at every woman he met. He tried to use a camera to look up Penny’s skirt and gave her a bear with a webcam hidden in it so he could watch her sleep. Howard can’t shrug off his past behavior as a chauvinistic “ladies’ man” as horseplay.
In the past, the way he has acted around women borders on criminal. He once said he was an expert in the laws on those criminal a, so he’s clearly run into legal trouble with this kind of thing before and wiggled his way out of it with a series of loopholes. Maybe justice will be done in the series finale as a bunch of women build a case against him.
6 He thinks he’s a romantic
Despite all the creepy things he does to women, Howard considers himself something of a romantic. When he posted an image of Penny sleeping on him on Facebook with the caption, “Me and my girlfriend,” he thought that was some sort of romantic gesture that would go a long way towards wooing her.
Every shallow pick-up attempt we’ve ever had to endure on the show is more cringe-worthy than the last – and that’s when he bothered to give the women a choice whether to let him get uncomfortably close to them. It’s a miracle that this so-called “romantic” managed to find a woman who was willing to settle down and start a family with him.
5 Penny confronted him about it and he got her to apologize to him
It all seems to be water under the bridge now that he’s married to her best friend, but in the early seasons of the show, Howard used to constantly bother Penny. He’d hit on her, ogle her, make crude innuendos about her – it was straight-up sexual misconduct.
When Penny finally decided she’d had enough and confronted Howard about the creepy way he treats women – including how his behavior had affected her personally – he became depressed to the point that Penny had to come and apologize to him. In today’s climate, that storyline seems astoundingly unjustified.
4 Anyone who knew Howard wouldn’t have let him take that robotic arm home
We all remember the episode in which Howard had designed a robotic arm and took it home to do you know what with it. But he didn’t design the whole thing himself. He was working with a team in a lab at Caltech, so if he wanted to take it home for personal use, someone would’ve had to sign off on that.
If they knew Howard at all or even read a report of the many claims filed against him, then there’s no way they would’ve let him take that robotic arm home, because it was obvious what he was going to use it for and that it would inevitably backfire.
3 He constantly makes fun of his best friend
Although the characters of The Big Bang Theory are a foursome, they can be divided into two pairs of best friends. Sheldon and Leonard live together and often collaborate on projects – as much as Leonard might hate to hear it, he and Sheldon are best friends. Similarly, Howard and Raj are best friends. However, Howard is terrible in the relationship.
Raj struggles with his self-confidence and Howard does nothing to help that – in fact, he might contribute to it. He constantly mocks Raj for his ethnicity and his loneliness and his effeminate behavior – all things he’s sensitive about. In a recent episode, Raj even realized what a toxic relationship he has with Howard and asked to take a break. He was smart to do so.
2 He should be out of a job
Caltech is a prestigious institution that runs a pretty tight ship. So, how does Howard still have a job? He has been called into HR enough times to be on first-name terms with the head of HR and the space toilet he designed didn’t even work. How has he not been fired yet?
If Sheldon has been forced to take sabbaticals for refusing to use string theory in his research and talking back to his superiors, why has the same not happened to Howard for the way he treats his female colleagues? The science community is finally getting on board the #MeToo movement with accused scientists like Neil deGrasse Tyson losing work. Maybe it’s time Howard faced the music for his actions.
1 He hates his mother with no good reason
Howard always says terrible things about his mother and even once said he dated Bernadette, who was raised Catholic, just to annoy her. But what has his mother ever done to him? She raised him alone, provided for him, supported him, and gave him a home well into his thirties. If anything, he should be singing her praises to anyone who will listen.
Howard’s unjustified hatred of his mother isn’t the only thing wrong with her portrayal on the show. Mrs. Wolowitz is not an original character – she is a total stereotype who adheres to every cliché ever attached to a Jewish mother role. She has the squawky, nasally voice, she’s overprotective of her son, and she always tries to make him feel guilty.
What else is wrong with Howard from The Big Bang Theory? Let us know in the comments!