Well, it’s finally over. The Big Bang Theory, perhaps the last popular sitcom on broadcast television there will ever be, is coming to an end after twelve seasons. In a matter of months, we’ll know how the saga of Sheldon Cooper, Leonard Hofstadter, Raj Koothrappali, Howard Wolowitz, and Penny (we still don’t know her last name) ends. Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady’s show has had a heck of a run.
Writing a long-running sitcom can be hard. Telling over 200 stories about the same five characters is such a difficult task that the writers of The Big Bang Theory expanded their main cast to include three more characters. They’ve given their band of nerdy scientists wives and kids and new jobs. They even sent one of them to space. Naturally, with deadlines and network pressure and the need to produce 24 new episodes a year, there are going to be a couple of unusual or outlandish or uncharacteristic storylines that the show ends up regretting.
The Big Bang Theory has had plenty of storylines like this, especially during the dark period that put off a lot of long-time viewers who still have yet to return. Some characters have made stupid decisions or dated annoying people who had nothing in common with them or invited someone into the group who fans hated.
Here are 20 Storylines Big Bang Theory Wants Everyone To Forget.
Remember Raj’s ex-girlfriend, Lucy? As soon as the verdict was in from the audience that she was not welcome, the writers quickly wrote her out of the show and swept her under the rug, but she’d been in eight episodes by then – eight episodes too many. It’s nothing against Kate Micucci, the actress who plays her – she is great in Garfunkel and Oates and in her recurring role in Netflix’s anthology comedy Easy. Lucy’s just a bad character, that’s all.
Lucy’s nervousness and social awkwardness made her one of the most annoying characters in the history of the series. Plus, she never treated Raj well or even wanted to be in a relationship with him. Frankly, she was more effective as a character in the dramatic moments than in the comedic moments – in a sitcom.
19 Howard dated Leslie Winkle
Leslie Winkle as a character was never particularly great, but at least her on-and-off romance with Leonard made sense. Her relationship with Howard was just beyond the pale. Leonard was the guy whose naivety and desperation she could manipulate and that’s where the humor came from.
The inclusion of the Leslie Winkle character was a Roseanne reunion for Johnny Galecki and Sara Gilbert more than anything else – Big Bang co-creator Chuck Lorre was a writer for that show and pretty much only created Leslie to get those two back on-screen together. So, she has never been an integral part of the series and dating Leonard’s friend was a silly story decision made just to keep her around. Thankfully, the Howard and Leslie romance only lasted for one episode.
18 Raj is in love with Bernadette
Bernadette was the best thing that ever happened to Howard’s character, but one of the worst things that happened to Raj’s character. He’s secretly in love with her, and she’s his best friend’s wife, so it’s pretty strange. Rather than being happy for his friend when Bernadette accepted his proposal like everyone else was, Raj was furious, because he wanted her for himself.
Raj used to have fantasies about Bernadette in which he imagined scenarios that would end with him replacing Howard as Bernadette’s husband, usually by Howard dying and leaving Raj to “take care of her.” Not only does he want his best friend’s wife all to himself, but he also wants his best friend out of the picture. The show has since phased out these fantasies, probably because the writers realized how messed-up it was.
17 Howard's unsuccessful pursuits
The deviant has long been a character archetype in sitcoms – Barney Stinson, Charlie Harper, Joey Tribbiani – but this character is usually successful in his endeavors. In the early seasons of The Big Bang Theory, Howard Wolowitz took on this role, and because he was unsuccessful in his pursuits of women, he came off as a little too needy. He posted a picture on Facebook that he took of Penny while she was asleep with the caption: “Me and my girlfriend.”
Howard has shaken his image as the deviant of the show in later seasons. Since he met Bernadette, he has become known as a loving husband and father, but we can’t forget that he used to be a total creep in the early seasons.
16 Sheldon and Amy's breakup
There is one group of fans who believe that Sheldon and Amy shouldn’t be together, since they clearly want different things. Amy wants an intimate, physical, romantic relationship, while Sheldon wants anything but that. Still, even those people have to admit that they do make a cute couple. As long as they make each other happy, if occasionally uncomfortable, that’s all that matters.
So, it could end one of two ways: they could either stay together forever and live happily ever after, or they could break up and move on with their lives. Although it was clear that they were heading towards the happily-ever-after ending, the writers felt it was necessary to have the two break up. We knew the breakup wouldn’t last and they would eventually get back together, so why bother?
15 Sheldon and Amy dated other people during their break
Sheldon and Amy taking a break from their relationship at all felt wildly unnecessary, since it undid the progress they had been making at an already painfully slow rate. They were clearly going to get back together eventually; it was just a matter of time. And in the meantime, the writers made yet another unwise move: they had Sheldon and Amy date other people.
Sheldon considered seeing other women, while Amy got into online dating. She dated another gangly weirdo named Dave, played by Stephen Merchant, and then Sheldon saw her kiss him, which affected him enough to want her back. So, the breakup happened and they were only brought back together because Sheldon was driven by jealousy. It’s all so wrong.
14 Raj's one night with Penny
This plot development felt more like something out of Chuck Lorre’s other sitcom Two and a Half Men. That show has more of a raunchy and promiscuous vibe, so two mismatched characters waking up together after a wild night is the kind of plot twist you might expect. However, The Big Bang Theory is a show about nerds who can hardly speak to women.
This plot twist feels totally out of place. Okay, at the moment, it comes as a huge surprise and feels like an exciting turn, but afterward, it doesn’t sit right. Another thing that makes this storyline feel like a bad idea is the fact that it goes nowhere. Raj and Penny sleep together, but they don’t suddenly become friends with benefits or start dating – they just go back to their lives as usual.
13 Howard went to space
With his severe peanut allergy, a bad case of asthma, and failures during the physical testing where he needed to be comforted by both his wife and his mother, there is no way NASA would’ve let Howard go to space. Astronauts need to be in peak physical condition, perfect health, and able to withstand the brutal climates of space. That’s why they have the tests. So, they wouldn’t send a guy to space who failed those tests.
Plus, the mere concept of a character going into space in a multi-camera sitcom seems absurd. It’s a storyline that doesn’t seem far-fetched in a cartoon like The Simpsons or Family Guy, both of which have sent characters into space and gotten away with it, but it certainly does in a live-action sitcom like Big Bang.
12 Sheldon’s assistant Alex was in love with Leonard
Sheldon’s assistant Alex Jensen is the Cathy Simms of The Big Bang Theory. In The Office, Cathy came into the workplace as Pam’s replacement while she was on maternity leave and decided to seduce Jim. In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon’s new assistant Alex is the usurper all the girls are wary of. At first, Amy is the jealous one, because she thinks Alex might be into Sheldon. When it’s revealed that she’s actually infatuated with Leonard, it comes off as unlikely.
Even Leonard points out the fact that he’s supposed to be the jealous, insecure one in his relationship with Penny. She’s the one who gets hit on and Leonard’s the one who gets worked up about it. When it happens the other way around, it’s not subversive – it’s just unrealistic.
11 Penny's acting career
When we first met Penny in the pilot episode, she was a starry-eyed waitress at the Cheesecake Factory with hopes and aspirations to make it as an actress and become famous. She has since given up her dreams of being a movie star and moved on to a career as a pharmaceutical rep.
But right before Bernadette set her up for the interview, she did one last low-budget B-movie and it felt pointless. In Friends, Joey Tribbiani did some bad movies and plays, but his journey ended with him finding success as an actor, so it was all leading to that. It’s not the same in Penny’s case. Her journey has taken her away from acting and into the pharmaceutical industry. On the set, she butted heads with the director as she strived for some artistic control and creative freedom in a movie called Serial Ape-ist 2: Monkey See, Monkey Kill. It all seemed so unnecessary and the showbiz gags felt out of place in a show about scientists.
10 Howard’s dad wrote him a letter
Remember the letter Sheldon found that Howard’s dad wrote to him? No one in the show seems to remember it. Howard’s long-lost father had written him a letter before abandoning him and when Sheldon found it, Howard wasn’t sure if he wanted to read it or not.
So, everyone offered up their own theories on what was in the letter and then left it in his hands to decide whether or not he wanted to actually read it. In the end, he chose not to and it was never spoken of again. It didn’t even get a passing reference or a bit of follow-up drama. Beyond that one episode, the letter was never mentioned again. It’s probably because the whole thing is a little dramatic and weighty for the lighthearted tone of The Big Bang Theory.
9 Leonard was not a good boyfriend to Penny
Infidelity is difficult to come back from. It’s arguably the worst thing someone can do in a relationship, so it’s hard to pull it off with the “perfect sitcom couple.” Leonard Hofstadter hurting Penny like that seemed unrealistic.
They were together, they were perfectly happy, and just because he was away at sea working for a few weeks, he decided to kiss someone else. Not only that, but he also chose the worst possible time to tell her about it: the second she agreed to marry him. Since they’re now happily married, the show hopes you won’t remember Leonard’s infidelity, because it’s an ugly left turn in their twelve-season storybook romance.
8 Priya joined the gang
At the beginning of The Big Bang Theory, the core friendship group at the heart of the show consists of Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, Raj, and Penny. Over the years, a number of other characters have come and gone, and luckily, only the ones that actually improved the dynamic have stuck: Amy, Bernadette etc.
One addition to the gang was the worst possible candidate: Priya. She was Raj’s sister and she was dating Leonard, which Raj was unhappy with, so that made Raj uncomfortable whenever he was with his friends and caused a rift between him and Leonard. Plus, she made everybody awkward around Penny with her open displays of affection towards her ex. So, in addition to being an unfunny character, Priya’s presence broke the entire group apart.
7 the love triangle
This whole love triangle was just weird. Stephanie was only in the show for three episodes, but it was three episodes The Big Bang Theory could’ve done without. She meets Howard in a bar and he invites her to drive the Mars Rover. When he gets the Mars Rover stuck in a ditch, Stephanie asks Leonard to take her home and they end up starting a relationship.
Howard decides that both Stephanie and Leonard are bad friends after he finds out they’ve started dating, but it’s not like Leonard stole his wife. Howard and Stephanie weren’t serious – they literally met in a bar that night. So, Stephanie was the cause of all of this drama for nothing. It wasn’t a love triangle, because there was never any love, but it had all the fallout of a love triangle.
6 Raj’s relationship with Emily
Most fans agree that Raj’s love life has been one of the least interesting parts of The Big Bang Theory for a few years. He would get together with someone, try to make it work for a few episodes, and then get dumped and complain about it for weeks, then rinse and repeat.
Of all Raj’s love interests, dermatologist Emily Sweeney is the only one who was actually elevated from a guest star or recurring status and made a member of the main cast. Of course, one has to wonder: why? She and Raj had nothing in common and couldn’t have been a worse fit for one another. It’s not like she was particularly funny. Plus by the end of their relationship, by which point Raj was dating another woman on the side, Raj was just a bad person.
5 Stuart dated Penny
Penny and Leonard had a long and complicated journey towards the marital bliss we see today. At various different times, they found themselves single and free to see other people. Penny’s usual type is big, beefy, muscular, cool dude types like Kurt and Zack. She went against type with Leonard, but that was one thing. They flirted across the hall and spent years falling in love before they started dating.
Stuart, on the other hand, had basically no prior relationship with Penny and he is way too dorky, awkward, and insecure for someone like Penny to even consider dating him. And yet, somehow, it happened and ended with a long make-out session where she moaned Leonard’s name. It’s a surprise that after this absurd storyline, there wasn’t a fan theory that the entire thing took place inside Stuart’s head.
4 Sheldon didn’t propose to Amy until another woman kissed him
Ramona Nowitzki was a strong character during her first appearance in the season 2 episode “The Cooper-Nowitzki Theorem,” in which she began manipulating and controlling Sheldon’s life while he was oblivious to her instability and infatuation with him.
However, her reappearance at the end of season 10 was markedly less fun. She flirted with Sheldon while Amy was away, which he seemed totally fine with, and then she kissed him. Straight away, Sheldon is on a plane to see Amy and he asks her to marry him. Sweet, right? Except no, not really. It took another woman kissing Sheldon for him to want to propose to Amy. Even worse is that Amy knows the whole story, and instead of getting mad, she hugs Ramona and thanks her for getting Sheldon to propose. It’s really strange.
3 Raj needed help to speak to women
Today’s Raj spends his days looking for love. Well, he spends ten percent of the time looking for love and the other ninety percent complaining about how he hasn’t found his soulmate and all of his friends have, which can be a real drag. The point is, he is able to speak to women without any special assistance – but that wasn’t always the case.
For the first few episodes of season 1, Raj didn’t speak a word to any of the female characters. He couldn’t even speak to Penny when they were all eating pizza in the apartment. When the writers realized how much this would limit his potential for storylines, they gave him a secret weapon. Penny got him to drink and then he could magically speak to her. So, he had to drink or he couldn’t speak to women. The show paints it as a fun running gag and character quirk, but it does have shades of weird.
2 Stuart moved in with Howard’s mom
Stuart and Mrs. Wolowitz entered into an uncomfortable relationship. They were sitting around the house in their robes, feeding each other and openly displaying affection right in front of Howard. All of a sudden, we weren’t watching The Big Bang Theory anymore; we were watching The Graduate or Harold and Maude, and it wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was kind of creepy.
Plus, it irreparably damaged the relationship between Howard and Stuart. If they could both just accept it, then Howard would realize that, as weird as it was, Stuart was making his mother happy, but instead, they were both talking to each other like a father figure, which is a psychological dynamic that can only be properly examined by Sigmund Freud.
1 Sheldon ran away
When the university made him study string theory, the comic book store burned down, his roommate got engaged, and his loving girlfriend wanted to move in with him, Sheldon decided his life had become unbearable and decided to just leave it all behind and run away. He just got on a train and went off around America on his own for a few weeks without even telling Amy and then just came back one day.
What’s awful about this plot development is not how childish Sheldon’s decision was – it’s that he doesn’t really have anything to complain about. His bosses, who pay him money to work for them, have told him to do something he doesn’t necessarily want to do, the comic book store burning down affects Stuart far more than it affects Sheldon, since it’s Stuart’s store. He has no right to just pick up and run away – he just needs some perspective.
Which storylines do you think Big Bang Theory should have totally forgotten about? Let us know in the comments!