For nearly 12 years, the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory has made fans laugh, cry, research new fandoms, consider careers in science, and shout “BAZINGA!” while popping out of children's ball pits. And, with the series set to end next year, fans are looking to the final season to answer some burning questions. What is Penny's last name? Will the elevator get fixed? Is Sheldon just Spock wearing a disguise? Okay, maybe not that last one, but it did give us something to think about. That's the fun thing about fan theories: we know they're not true (at least, not yet), so we can ponder their possibilities in our minds to our heart's consent.
While The Big Bang Theory, a show centered on four scientists working to uncover factual information (and spending their spare time partaking in the same comic books, movies, and games we do), doesn't seem to be a place where much more than meets the eye could happen, don't be fooled. According to the internet, for every show and movie, there is at least one fan theory. Okay, that may not be an official rule, but it's certainly true. Most 0f the theories on this list come from Reddit and some have even been discussed with cast members, so they obviously have the potential to gain some ground among the TBBT fan community.
So, let's set aside math, science, and history to unravel the mystery of these 20 Weird Big Bang Theory Theories (That Make Too Much Sense).
20 The Show Is All In Sheldon's Head
Several movies and shows have the “it's all in one character's head” theory, and The Big Bang Theory is no exception. According to Reddit user thetheoryguys, Sheldon is imagining the events of the series while incarcerated in a mental asylum.
Supposedly, after a successful attempt to take his father's and his paramour's lives, Sheldon was declared insane and transferred to an L.A. institution. There, he interacts with fellow inmates Penny (who had a mental breakdown due to her unsuccessful acting career) and Leonard (who was lobotomized by the government for giving information to North Korea). Also, Amy is his doctor (obsessed with studying his brain), Raj is his also doctor (depressed and holding a resentment toward women), and Howard is the asylum's caretaker (involved in an after-hours “relationship” with Raj). Talk about a wild imagination.
19 Penny Is Under Witness Protection
One of the series' biggest unsolved mysteries is undoubtedly Penny's last name, which has become a hot discussion topic for fans. While she is now sometimes called Penny Hofstadter, fans can only guess what her maiden name is. In a forum discussion on The Big Bang Theory Fan Site, multiple ideas, some more humorous than others, can be found on the subject, ranging from “Lane” to “Jones.”
One user even suggested her real maiden name will never be revealed, as she is currently under witness protection and had to change her name after “turning over evidence and testifying against her family members back in Nebraska.” Whatever the answer, Kaley Cuoco is right there with fans about wanting to find it out.
18 The Four Scientists Will Cause The Apocalypse
It all started with the Big Bang... and it'll all end thanks to the show's four main geniuses. While Cracked is known for its humorous videos, one in particular gives an interesting idea about what the show has been building up to. The video's host explains the series is “a history of the end of the universe.”
Describing Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, and Raj as “the Newtons and Teslas of our time,” he states that because of focusing their lives on nerd culture and women, the geniuses are not using their full intellectual potential and will inadvertently cause the apocalypse. This is further evidenced by the opening credits' timeline ending on a shot of the main characters. The guys have certainly made some irresponsible choices, perhaps ending the world is the next logical step?
17 Sheldon Is Really Spock
While this is certainly one of the most unlikely theories on this list, it's still worth thinking about. Sheldon and Spock both share a near-emotionless attitude, which results in difficulties interacting with others, a fascination with outer space, and Sheldon has even heard Spock's voice talking to him through an action figure. While Star Trek is still a science fiction series in the show, Spock could've simply ended up in an alternate dimension where his adventures with Starfleet were documented and turned into a beloved sci-fi franchise, before donning a disguise to live out his days as a human.
On a Late Late Show segment, Jim Parsons responded that, while he could see it as being possible for fans, the role would be “unplayable.”
16 Bernadette Is A Cyborg...
Howard's never been classified as a “ladies' man,” even though he thinks he is, but that hasn't stopped him from finding his true love in Bernadette Rostenkowski. Honestly, it's amazing Howard found someone like her. It's almost like she was made for him...wait.
Seeing as how Howard is an accomplished aerospace engineer, has terrible luck with other women he encounters, and not only does Bernadette love him for who he really is, but also displays similar traits to his mother, this seems to make a lot of sense when compared to other theories. This theory was also given to Jim Parsons on The Late Late Show with James Corden, to which he responded by saying: “In a literal way, no.”
15 ...Or A Series Of Clones
Even if Bernadette isn't a cyborg made by Howard, this still doesn't mean she's entirely human. Reddit user ConspirOC theorizes that Bernadette has changed since her first appearance in the series, going from a shy, sweet person, to a ruder, more spiteful wife for Howard, and the pharmaceutical company where she works is behind it.
As she has previously mentioned the dangerous environments she sometimes encounters in her microbiology job, it may be that she has been through multiple work accidents several times over the years and the company is hiding it from Howard by cloning her. As a result, repeated cloning has developed her warped personality. Clones? Why'd it have to be clones?
14 Sheldon Is Just In Leonard's Head
Poor Leonard. For a long time in the show, he had to endure the difficulties of being Sheldon's roommate. From picking up particular foods to enduring constant criticism, Leonard's life with Sheldon was never easy. However, what if this is because Sheldon is simply a figment of his mind?
In a video by British TV channel E4, which broadcasts The Big Bang Theory, a theory is given that Leonard suffers from schizophrenia, and he only sees Sheldon because his mind is projecting a person that follows him around to criticize his insecurities and shortcomings. Leonard's mom also wrote a book on him called The Disappointing Child, so it's clear his relationship with his mother hasn't helped matters as well.
13 Howard's Mom Never Existed
In 2014, fans mourned the passing of actress Carol Ann Susi, who famously brought the voice of Howard's mother to life, but was there ever any life in Mrs. Wolowitz to begin with? Reddit user Pick234 believes Howard's mother exists only in his mind, similar to Norman Bates in Psycho, and he uses ventriloquism to bring her to life so he won't be lonely. His friends might know about it, but only play along to keep him happy.
We've already seen Howard's knack for different voices, so being able to impersonate his mother wouldn't be completely unfathomable. Mrs. Wolowitz's shouting matches with Howard were a highlight of the show, but this theory certainly puts a darker twist on them.
12 Penny Is A Spy...
We always knew Penny wasn't a typical “girl next door.” According to this theory from user numbertheory, after the apartment building's elevator was damaged, the federal government was made aware of two highly-intelligent physicists (Sheldon and Leonard) that work on government projects, one of whom was previously in a relationship with a North Korean spy (Leonard's fling with Joyce Kim). So, they naturally wanted to monitor them to see what they know and what they may have told others. That's where Penny, if that is her real name, comes in.
During her time as a struggling actress, she was always able to pay her bills because the government took care of them for her. Plus, she frequently uses the guys' Wi-Fi connection to monitor their internet activity. Wonder what she was really doing while she was addicted to online gaming?
11 ...And So Is Leonard
Penny isn't the only one leading a double life, according to Reddit user Cwade03. In fact, Leonard's entire friendship with the other guys could be based on a lie.
The theory states that Leonard was hired by Caltech to monitor and protect them. Why? Because President Siebert is aware of Howard and Sheldon's potential for reckless actions and Raj's concern for deportation, which he believes stems from him being on the run from Indian officers, but wants to keep them around for their scientific knowledge and the benefits this brings to the university. So, he sent Leonard to move in with Sheldon. Wonder if there's a clause anywhere in Sheldon's Roommate Agreement for this type of situation?
10 The Guys Are In A Coma Or Limbo
One issue that has yet to be fixed in the series is the apartment building's broken elevator, which was damaged by Leonard's experiment with rocket fuel. However, could it have a much deeper meaning than fans think?
Reddit user, Theluckygal, came up with the idea that the four scientists were injured in the accident and the show's events are actually stuck in limbo or in a coma, with the "big bang" representing the experiment that sent them into this alternate reality. The broken elevator represents personal issues the guys must overcome: Howard's dependency on his mother, Leonard's low self-esteem, and other issues before they can move on. Perhaps Raj needs to get married in order for this to happen?
9 Penny And Leonard's Relationship Stems From Mental Issues
Fan-favorite couple Penny and Leonard are two very different people, but Reddit user, SeraniumFilledClock, pointed out a very disturbing trait the two may have in common: psychological problems.
This theory states that while Penny started off the series with other friends, over time she alienates herself from them to hang out with Leonard and the rest of the guys. Because of her multiple relationship issues and substance problem, she comes to depend on the guys for “familial loyalty.” As for Leonard, he has suffered from a bad relationship with his mother and friends, especially Sheldon, whose controlling and obsessive nature can sometimes be too much to handle. In a nutshell, their shared mental issues are what keeps them together, or we could just say opposites attract and leave it at that.
8 Raj's Dad Was Not Around Often During His Childhood
One of Raj's key characteristics on the show is his inability to talk to women without some liquid courage (though, this is later resolved). While selective mutism can have differing origins, Reddit user, Theluckygal, thinks Raj may have developed this due to childhood father issues.
According to the theory, his father was not around much during his son's childhood, possibly due to his job or separation from his wife. Because of this, Raj's mother acted as his sole parent and the only person that could truly be there for young Raj. However, as Raj begins interacting with other women in new environments, he has trouble speaking with them since they aren't as kind or nurturing as his mother was. This could also be the reason behind Raj's friendship with Howard, as they both grew up with a dominant mother.
7 Sheldon Is A Robot Created By Professor Proton
Remember that time Sheldon stayed in his room and used the robot with a face monitor to perform his daily tasks? Well, this theory takes that a step further. Sheldon isn't known for his wide range of emotions or ability to understand others, but this could be because he simply wasn't programmed that way.
One of Sheldon's biggest idols has always been Arthur Jeffries, AKA Professor Proton, the former host of a children's science show. While performing at children's parties didn't earn him a lot of recognition from the scientific community, maybe Jeffries would've been welcomed back once he showed them his greatest achievement: an adaptable android named Sheldon. This time around, Young Sheldon star Iain Armitage reacted to the theory on The Late Late Show, responding: “I guess I sort of do agree with that one.”
6 Mary Cooper Is Jackie From Roseanne In Witness Protection
Johnny Galecki and Sara Gilbert have appeared in both The Big Bang Theory and Roseanne, but Laurie Metcalf (Jackie Harris in Roseanne and Mary Cooper in TBBT) may be the true connection between the two iconic sitcoms.
In Roseanne, Jackie is no stranger to bad relationships, with her central one being her marriage to the selfish Fred before divorcing him and becoming a single mom to her son, Andy. However, according to Reddit user greengrass88, Jackie and Andy may have been put in witness protection after she witnessed a crime, resulting in them moving to Texas and changing their names. Jackie, now Mary, soon married George Cooper, who helped provide a new life for Andy, now Sheldon. If this were true, fans of Young Sheldon would certainly be in for a surprise.
5 Amy Is Using Sheldon As A Test Subject
Sheldon may have only just gotten married, but, if this theory proves correct, he might need to sign some divorce papers immediately. E4 is at it again, and now they're saying Amy is only using Sheldon, who the channel describes as “a worthy subject” due to his “genius mind” as the focus for one of her experiments.
Around the beginning of their relationship, Amy grabs his hand, which she calls “an experiment.” Plus, after the two began getting more serious, she began to interact with the rest of the gang and tried getting involved in some of Sheldon's interests. Who's to say this wasn't all part of one big social experiment? Her career in neurobiology has seen her study smoking monkeys before, so wouldn't Sheldon be the next scientific leap in her studies?
4 Cooper From Interstellar Is Sheldon's Descendant
Christopher Nolan's 2014 sci-fi space film may seem like it's on another level when compared to The Big Bang Theory, but the two stories might be more connected than fans think.
Reddit user Oh_he_steal suggested that Joseph Cooper (played by Matthew McConaughey) is actually a descendant of Sheldon. Seeing as how the film takes place in the mid-20th century, this could make him his son. While the two may seem vastly different, particularly in their face and voice, they both share the same last name and a high intelligence, both may have had experience with farming, and Joseph's father is never actually shown, instead, it's his father-in-law (played by John Lithgow). Even though the film has its sad moments and ends on an uncertain note, we can't help but feel this theory is alright, alright, alright with us.
3 The Show's Main Joke Is The Irony Of The Characters' Roles
The Big Bang Theory stands as one of the most popular comedies of the 21st century, with the tale of four nerdy men meeting a not-so-nerdy woman resonating with millions of fans every episode, however, are fans missing the big joke?
Reddit user NewLeaf37 theorizes that the show's main humor doesn't come from its nerdy dialogue and relationship drama, but from the roles of the characters themselves. In a show titled The Big Bang Theory, there's surprisingly little to do with the creation and expansion of the universe. Instead, we're treated to a group of friends spending their time talking fandoms and dating. In the words of NewLeaf37, “in the big picture, everything they hold to be important is just stupid and meaningless. They become the cosmic joke.” Um...Bazinga?
2 Sheldon Was In iCarly
Another Reddit theory dealing with Sheldon in a mental hospital, this one suggests that he may have interacted with characters from a more family-friendly series: Nickelodeon's teen sitcom iCarly. In the episode iLost My Mind, Carly, Freddie, and Gibby visit the Troubled Waters Mental Hospital to get Sam out, who had herself committed after developing romantic feelings for Freddie. There, they encounter a patient named Caleb (played by Jim Parsons) who claims he is from the year 2077 and makes all sorts of strange predictions.
However, according to user Jojo836, this was Sheldon, who imagines the events of The Big Bang Theory while staying there. Another user, niblik42, commented that it may also be Sheldon from the future, who found a way to go back in time but went crazy doing so. Either way, this could make for one crazy fanfiction.
1 Sheldon Has Asperger Syndrome
Probably the most popular and believable theory on this entire list is that Sheldon has Asperger syndrome (AS). For those who don't know, AS is a developmental disorder related to autism and characterized by difficulties with social interaction and a repetitive and restricted personality. Not trying to diagnose Sheldon, but this sounds remarkably like his character.
Not only did he start off by having almost no social skills, but he has also displayed repetitive tendencies, particularly when he knocks on doors three times in a row. Alan Sepinwall of The Star-Ledger said co-creator Bill Prady told him that while Sheldon “certainly has traits in common with people with Asperger's,” he would feel uncomfortable labeling Sheldon as such. Even if Sheldon does have Asperger's, it wouldn't take away from his character and we wouldn't love him any less.
Which TBBT theory makes the most sense to you? Let us know in the comments!