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Big Bang Theory: 20 Things That Make No Sense About Leonard

Penny and Leonard Hofstadter in The Big Bang Theory

As most fans already know, The Big Bang Theory is ending after twelve seasons. There’s been over a decade of sarcasm, derision, fandom, and bazingas. You've seen heartbreaking and heartfelt moments, lives changed with children and marriages, and relationships rise and fall dramatically.

A few things remained constant: Leonard's love for Penny, Sheldon's self-proclaimed superiority, and the cast of characters' deep affection for one another. Oh, and don't forget the broken elevator. In the real world, the ratings have stayed consistent and the humor – though sometimes predictable and obvious – kept the seasons coming back. The writers and creators have given us the perfect cliffhangers by episode or season to keep fans wanting more.

With as many seasons as The Big Bang Theory have had, it's inevitable that scenes, storylines, or characters won't make sense at times. Leonard Hofstadter is one such character from the series. He and Sheldon are the focus of the show for most of the episodes, but Leonard is designated the Kirk of the group-- referring to Captain Kirk at the helm of the starship Enterprise in Star Trek. You might ignore the things that don't add up about Leonard because you love the character or because you enjoy watching Johnny Galeki play the character as he does. Many of the things that should be hard to ignore are occasionally plot holes or themes the creators and writers purposely left that way, but they simply don't make sense.

Here is Big Bang Theory: 20 Things That Make No Sense About Leonard.

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20 The Siblings

Leonard’s immediate family is mentioned often, with only his mother and father making a physical appearance in the show up to the current season. His mother Beverly and father Alfred are still alive, but they are divorced. He has one brother, Michael, and one sister, who has not been named.

Alfred made appearances starting in season 9, and Beverly has been on the show throughout the series beginning in season 2. Both siblings have several children and successful lives of their own, but Leonard doesn’t make plans to see them or even contact them, as far as fans know. With all the technology Leonard uses, it would be easy for him to at least call, Skype, or e-mail them. Wouldn’t he at least want to talk to his nieces and nephews more?

19 He's a nerd who's actually a bully

The Big Bang Theory Barry

While Sheldon is abrasive towards the others in mostly ambivalent ways, Leonard seems to be actual bully of the group. Though he should know how it feels to be picked on, Leonard purposely triggers Sheldon’s obsessive-compulsive tendencies-- and he enjoys it. Mostly it’s for his own amusement, but on some occasions, Leonard does it for personal gain. When Howard and Raj make mistakes, Leonard often mocks them for it.

Probably most telling is that, even though he has deep feelings for Penny, he makes far too many mean and sarcastic comments about her commitment issues. Those are things he does just to his closest friends. He’s been seen giving Stewart, Kripke, and Zach a hard time in several episodes. He should know better.

18 His IQ compared To Sheldon's

Sheldon and Leonard in The Big Bang Theory

Sheldon is smart. His IQ of 187 (as stated in “The Pancake Batter Anomaly”) places him at genius-level and in the top 0.1% of the world. Leonard's not-too-shabby score of 173 is bizarrely mocked by Sheldon. However, Leonard’s IQ is exact IQ is never mentioned. In the pilot episode, he states that Sheldon and he have a combined IQ of 360-- simple math extrapolates Leonard’s IQ. With only a 14-point different, Leonard never considers himself an intellectual peer of Sheldon's.

Plus, Leonard lets Sheldon make fun of him about his experiments and job, which isn’t that different from Sheldon’s. Sheldon once said that Leonard’s whiteboard theories are “common enough to be scribbled on the wall of every men’s room at MIT,” but apparently they aren't that different after all.

17 His time management

Johnny Galecki as Leonard Hoftstadter in The Big Bang Theory

It’s amazing that Leonard can do everything we see him do in the show. He must have incredible time management skills. How does Leonard pursue all his hobbies while maintaining his job and all his relationships? The question could be asked of any of the main characters, but the biggest difference between Leonard and Howard, Raj, and Sheldon is that Leonard still has time for romantic relationships and enters into more of them than the other three.

What else does Leonard do? He collects comic books (and reads them), seems to watch all the new sci-fi movies and TV shows (and re-watches them), and can play video games for hours. What about all the side projects away from CalTech University? It’s a wonder Leonard was still able to woo Penny the way he did.

16 The broken elevator

Leonard, Penny and the Broken Elevator in The Big Bang Theory

The broken elevator on The Big Bang Theory is one of the show's longest-running gags. Because it’s never been fixed, it forces the characters to trudge up four flights of stairs, chatting to each other. The reason it broke, as said in “The Staircase Implementation”, is that Leonard was testing experimental rocket fuel and mixed it wrong. Sheldon was aware of this and took the batch and tossed it down the shaft. The mixture exploded, severely damaging the elevator.

Leonard has often stood up for himself and others in the show, so it’s unclear why he hasn’t done so with the landlord. Are there laws, either state or city, that would make the landlord get the elevator fixed in a timelier manner? Of anyone, wouldn’t Leonard or Sheldon know the statutes?

15 His two-timing

Leonard and Maggie in the Big Bang Theory

Leonard is purportedly a good guy. His friends usually consider him the leader of their little group because of his strong values and work ethic. But when it comes to woman, Leonard sometimes degrades his relationships by two-timing his girlfriends.

In both of his major relationships – Penny and Priya – Leonard is smitten and will to do anything for either girl, so why did he risk both relationships by getting with other girls? When he was with Penny, Leonard went on a scientific expedition on the sea. On the trip, he kissed a colleague. Another time, Leonard went further with a girl named Maggie while dating Priya.

14 His glasses

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but Leonard is the only male of the group that wears glasses. He attempted contacts in 7th grade, but never got used to them. When he started dating Priya, she suggested contacts, so he tried them again. However, he had trouble with them and eventually returned to glasses.

For most of the series, you’ll see Leonard in glasses, even when he’s in a costume, but they don't have lenses! Johnny Galecki wanted Leonard to wear glasses, as he said in an interview, but he usually looked up to talk to Jim Parsons. This sometimes caused a glare, so Johnny popped the lenses out. “Oh man. You’re killing the magic,” Galecki said when the interviewer asked about lens-free glasses.

13 His Sister

Leonard and his Dad Big Bang Theory

Viewers and fans of The Big Bang Theory know the name of Leonard's brother, but not his sister. She is also a scientist; a medical researcher who is attempting to cure diabetes with gibbons. She has been mentioned in only a handful of episodes: “The Maternal Capacitance", “The Cohabitations Formulation”, “The Celebration Experimentation”, “The Procreation Calculation”, and “The 43 Peculiarity”.

In that last episode mentioned, Leonard does call his sister "Dr. Hofstadter," but she is married, as mentioned in a previous episode. This might be because it’s common for academic professionals to keep their maiden names if they became an established figure in their discipline before marriage. Leonard is open with how his relationships with his mother, father, and brother, but his sister remains a mystery.

12 His career goals

The Big Bang Theory Eric Gablehauser

One of Leonard’s life goals is to win a Nobel Prize. He also mentioned that he would even settle for a nomination. It would make sense if before the show ends, the writers give him that nomination - either as a single scientist or as a collaboration with Howard, Raj, or Sheldon (or all three somehow).

In order to win a Nobel Prize, Leonard should probably do experiments or work on theories that aren’t “derivative." Leonard performed experiments to prove dark matter didn’t exist, but the work of Dr. David Underhill gave evidence that galactic dark matter existed. This made Leonard’s work “moot.” Maybe if Leonard switched back to rocket fuel or additional laser work or the research that got him the Newcomb Medal, he would be on track for at least that Nobel Prize nomination.

11 Lack of Support For Penny

Penny in Sheldon's spot in The Big Bang Theory

Leonard clearly has a crush on Penny from the first moment they meet. He pines for her constantly, even though Penny sometimes doesn’t reciprocate those feelings. Even early on in their courtship and after they finally get together, Leonard doesn’t always provide the support he should.

He belittles her for her lack of education. He didn’t believe that Penny could be an actress, though he had no problem accepting the Serial Apeist fandom’s admiration for landing the actress at a convention. Leonard doesn’t trust Penny that much, becoming jealous a number of times when they were (and weren’t) together. While he did help Penny, he didn’t quite believe Penny Blossoms would take off like she thought it would.

10 Experiments At The University

Leonard at a Caltech Lab

As a senior experimental physicist at CalTech, Leonard probably receives more grant money than others at the University except for Sheldon. Leonard does a lot of work with lasers, which can’t be inexpensive. There were a set of experiments that most likely cost CalTech a lot of money. At one point, Leonard was working on anti-proton decay experiments. He did approximately 20,000 “data runs," but all of them had negative results. This means all the experiments failed or, in the context of the experiment, they had no statistically significant results.

This couldn’t have been cheap for the university. With that many runs of the experiment, shouldn’t someone from the university - maybe Sheldon - have mentioned something? Or at least suggested Leonard stop after a reasonable amount of experiments?

9 Leonard's Space-Time Theory

Sheldon and Leonard have worked together on occasion. Once, the two co-authored a paper called “Paradoxical Moment-of-Inertia Changes Due to Putative Super-Solid.” They were to present the paper at a conference. Later, Sheldon wrote a paper that stated a theory describing space-time is like a super-fluid. This theory was based on something Leonard discussed. The theory was published in Scientific America and Physics Today, but the first paper had no mention of Leonard.

It’s surprising that Leonard wasn’t upset about that, and that he didn’t push Sheldon to have the paper correct the mistake. It was an important paper, and both were already well-known scientists. Appearing in one journal and not the other seems disrespectful.

8 His Emotional Well-Being

Of the main group, Sheldon is the one seen the most with outward emotional and social hindrances and misunderstandings, but Leonard also has some of the same problems as Sheldon. Leonard is shown to be depressed and unhappy. He’s also obsessive-compulsive about some things and is very insecure, especially when it comes to intimate relationships. The problem is he never gets time to work on his emotional well-being.

For the most part, until Sheldon and Amy get together, Leonard is constantly walking on eggshells around Sheldon and babying his roommate rather than looking after himself. If he had a better relationship with his mother, she might be able to help.

7 Sheldon isn't really his Best Friend

Simon Helberg as Howard Wolowitz in The Big Bang Theory

Leonard has mentioned several times that Sheldon is his best friend. Is this mainly because they are roommates and spend much more time together than he does with Howard Raj? In the context of the show, it’s more plausible that Howard and Leonard have a better friendship.

The two have a girlfriend pact, which states that if one of them gets a girlfriend, the other must have the girlfriend set him up with a friend. Howard activates the pact when Leonard and Penny become exclusive. Also, Howard ingests peanuts - he’s allergic to them - to get hospitalized so that Leonard’s birthday part is a success. That sounds like something a best friend would do.

6 He's the Least Successful person in his family

The Big Bang Theory Beverly

Leonard is the least successful member of his family, according to his mother. It is mentioned that it’s in their respective fields, but that phrase isn’t focused on-- only the “least successful member” part. Shouldn’t that be a subjective opinion? His brother Michael is a tenured law professor who argued a case in front of the Supreme Court and built a hospital in Rwanda. The unnamed sister is doing diabetes research with gibbons. Yet, that’s all fans know they did and it shouldn’t diminish Leonard’s accomplishments.

Maybe Leonard's mom was projecting about Leonard’s journey to find a mate. She hasn’t been fond of her daughter and son-in-law,  and is elated when Leonard finally marries Penny.

5 The Distress Flag

Distress Flag flashback episode

Sheldon, an aficionado of flags, designed the official flag of the apartment. It’s a golden lion with red nails and a red tongue on a solid background of azure. The flag was introduced in the flashback where Leonard applies to be Sheldon’s roommate. If the apartment is in distress, the flag must be flown upside down. If you’ve ever noticed on the fridge, there is a magnetic version of the apartment flag. This is the one has been turned upside down before, but Leonard has never noticed.

One example is in “The Raiders of Minimization". During a scene, the fridge flag is upside down, possibly because Sheldon showed Amy Raiders of the Lost Ark, and she said the movie has “glaring story problems.

4 He doesn't know his wife's Maiden Name

Penny in The Big Bang Theory

No one knows what Penny’s maiden name is-- Leonard included. After 11 seasons, maybe it’s time for Leonard to at least ask. As the show comes to an end, we're running out of time to find out, and it's egregious that Leonard never bothered to learn the name of such an important character-- the love of his life and his wife!

In the final season, Kelly Cuoco has stated that she wants Penny's maiden name to be revealed. “I’d like to learn Penny’s last name,” she said. “It’s never fair, it’s never come up.” She also wants the elevator fixed.

3 Leonard the Atheist

Judd Hirsch

Leonard Hofstadter is an atheist, just like his mother, Beverly. Alfred, Leonard’s father, proclaims agnosticism, maybe because of this anthropology background. One thing that’s hard to ignore is that the Big Bang theory is the one theory that drives Leonard’s career. The theory is also Sheldon’s focus; he, too, is an atheist.

Forget for a moment that it’s also the title of the series. It’s important because the person who proposed and developed the theory was a Catholic priest. Father George Lemaitre, a professor of physics at the Catholic University of Leuven, originally called this theory the “hypothesis of the primeval atom,” which basically meant he postulated the universe is expanding. Later, it was named an easier-to-say Big Bang Theory.

2 He got around as much as Penny

Priya Koothrappali and Leonard Hofstadter in The Big Bang Theory

Leonard and the others often give Penny a hard time about her promiscuity, with Sheldon even calculating how many lovers she had. Over the course of the show, she hasn't had actually any more partners than the other main characters. In fact, Leonard has had just as romantic relationships.

This, of course, is from what we see on the show, not behind the scenes and relying on Sheldon’s estimate of 193 men. Leonard has been involved with: Mrs. Latham, Priya Koothrappali, Alice, Elizabeth Plimpton, Stephanie Barnett, Leslie Winkle, Joyce Kim, and Penny. On the other hand, Penny’s list includes Zack Johnson, David Underhill, Eric, Mike, Doug, Stuart from the comic book store, Kurt, and Leonard. Seems pretty equal.

1 He doesn't need to share an apartment

The Big Bang Theory Roommate Agreement

It’s somewhat strange that Leonard finds it necessary to share an apartment with Sheldon, thereby splitting rent. It’s clear that they aren’t struggling financially, but if Penny can afford the apartment on her Cheesecake Factory and occasional acting job wages, then something is amiss here.

Based on the average salary of an experimental physicist (low six figures) and the average salary of CalTech professors and researchers (low six figures, but a little higher), Leonard could easily afford his own apartment. Not necessarily in the same apartment building.

Granted, part of the show’s premise (and charm) is the fact Leonard and Sheldon live together. So, if you choose to ignore that part of the backstory, you’ll probably enjoy the first season if you’ve never seen the show before.

 

What else doesn't make sense about Leonard in The Big Bang Theory? Let us know in the comments!

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