The Big Bang Theory has gone through a number of changes during its long run on CBS, and the changes started from the very beginning. Believe it or not, Penny wasn't even a character in the pilot of the comedy sitcom, but was instead added to the show in the first episode when audiences didn't accept the original female lead with positive remarks.
From that p0int on, the changes after that involved adding characters to the cast in both supporting and lead roles. Some of the changes hurt the show, causing fans to vocally complain, as they negatively impacted the flow of the series and never seemed to fit in with the rest of the cast.
However, there were also character additions that helped save the sitcom. When the series debuted, it focused mostly on Leonard, his relationship with Penny, and his strange collection of friends.
When Sheldon started to stand out as the breakout character of the show, though, changes were made, and when it looked like the original lead cast of four nerds and their attractive neighbor would not have the legs the network wanted, they added more female characters, which helped the series achieve great success. However, not all the additions were always positive.
Here is a look at the 10 New Character Additions That Hurt The Big Bang Theory (And 10 That Saved It).
20 HURT: PRIYA
Priya made her first appearance on Big Bang Theory in the fourth season. While she is Raj's younger sister, she actually ended up as the antagonist for the gang in that season because she was the rival to Penny for the affections of Leonard. However, fans did not care so much for the character and she only appeared on the fourth and fifth season. While she dated Leonard, he eventually broke off their relationship after her character returned to India.
At the end of the day, Priya was just used as a plot device to help the show bring Penny and Leonard back together again.
She was unnecessarily cruel and manipulative and was quickly a scorn to many fans. After leaving the show, Priya was only mentioned in the future and never appeared again.
19 SAVED: BARRY KRIPKE
Not all of characters that appear on The Big Bang Theory as antagonists are despised by fans. When it comes to Barry Kripke, he may be a vindictive and dishonest person, but there is a lot more to the character than those traits. It also goes a long way to show the talent of John Ross Bowie when you consider the fact that he is able to use cheap humor and a speech impediment, and still make his character multilayered.
Barry showed up for the first time in season 2 and immediately became a direct antagonist to Sheldon. What makes this character so great is that the show doesn't just rely on his speech impediment to deliver humor. Instead, it goes a long way to show how brilliant he is in his own right, making him a perfect nemesis for the boys.
18 HURT: LUCY
With rare exceptions, The Big Bang Theory has always struggled with its portrayal of female characters. While Penny and Amy are both great, Priya and others have come across as stereotypical and awkward in all the wrong ways. While the guys' neurosis has been done in a way to make them sympathetic and likable, someone like Lucy turned fans against her from the start.
Lucy was the girlfriend of Raj and was a character who was always anxious and very unreliable. This was sad for Raj, who has never felt comfortable around women, so someone like Lucy just made this worse. It also doesn't help that Lucy was rarely funny and just seemed like a square peg trying to fit into the round hole that the series has developed into.
17 SAVED: MARY COOPER
Parents on Big Bang Theory have been mostly solid additions to the show, and this includes Sheldon's mother. Laurie Metcalf is an Emmy-winner and she portrayed Mary Cooper -- someone who steals almost every scene she appears in.
While Sheldon is awkward in the most disturbing ways, his mother is also not what anyone expected.
While Sheldon is a brilliant scientist, his mother is anti-science and devoutly Christian. She is always at odds with Sheldon and what he represents but she also does it with great love, giving her moments of awkward confrontations as well as genuinely emotional scenes. Laurie Metcalf's real-life daughter also plays the younger version of Mary Cooper on the spinoff Young Sheldon.
16 HURT: LESLIE WINKLE
There is one major reason to like Sara Gilbert's time on The Big Bang Theory. It was nice to see Gilbert and Johnny Galecki back together on the small screen again after their hugely successful run on Roseanne. However, once you get past that reunion, there are a lot of reasons why her character Leslie Winkle hurt the series rather than helped it.
Leslie was an academic rival to Leonard who showed up in the third episode of season 1. While the two had instant charisma on Roseanne, they were not able to replicate it on Big Bang Theory and it never seemed to work. Gilbert also didn't seem to fit in with the awkward nerds on the show and was gone after season three, though she did return for one more appearance in season 10.
15 SAVED: STEPHEN HAWKING
The Big Bang Theory loves to take characters entrenched in the world of science-fiction and place them into the world of the television series. However, if there is one person who really deserves a spot on the TV show about brilliant nerds, it is one of the greatest scientific minds in the world -- Stephen Hawking.
As expected, Hawking was one of the biggest heroes of the guys. He is even mentioned in the pilot, making him a hugely important character in the boys' lives. However, in the fifth season, fans got a huge treat when Stephen Hawking appeared on the TV show, and he even made one appearance in each season after that until his passing. In each episode, he was always a highlight.
14 HURT: STUART BLOOM
Stuart is an interesting character. He made his first appearance in season 2 as the owner of the Comic Center. While his early appearance showed him as a rival for Penny's affections -- albeit unintentionally -- he later became a solid supporting character. He was also someone who inadvertently also helped the antagonistic Wil Wheaton achieve his infamous plans to foil Sheldon.
However, as the years went on, Stuart transformed from a good side character to someone who always seemed to bring the series down whenever he appeared.
He has the worst love life of anyone on the show, and while he was awkwardly charming early in his tenure, he soon became too morose and depressed all the time with almost no confidence.
13 SAVED: HOWARD'S MOM
It is completely to the credit of actress Carol Ann Susi that Mrs. Wolowitz became such an important part of the show. Her first "appearance" came in the seventh episode of the first season, but throughout her entire existence on the show, no one ever saw her face and only caught a glimpse of her twice. Despite this, Mrs. Wolowitz was a huge part of the show and brought a lot of laughs.
Of course, fans heard her all of the time, as she yelled down at Howard from her room in her annoying New Jersey accent and drove him completely nuts time and time again. She was an unseen, yet hilarious part of the cast until the eighth season. This is when Susi passed away and The Big Bang Theory honored her by creating an episode where Mrs. Wolowitz also passed on.
12 HURT: HALLEY
Howard and Bernadette have two kids, which seems almost ludicrous to people who started watching from the first season. Seeing the man-child Howard turn into a husband and father has been inspiring and it has almost made his character's journey more important that the two leads on the show -- Leonard and Sheldon.
However, there is a problem with little Halley. When actress Carol Ann Susi passed away, The Big Bang Theory had the character of Howard's mother also pass on. Since her nagging voice such a great part of the series -- and always a distraction for Howard -- they replaced it with the loud distinctive cries of Halley, which were nowhere near as funny or memorable as Mrs. Wolowitz.
11 SAVED: LEVAR BURTON
While Wil Wheaton had a great run on the show as a rival of Sheldon, another member of the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast also made some memorable appearances as well. LeVar Burton, who starred on the sci-fi series as Geordi La Forge made his debut appearance on The Big Bang Theory in season four. In this episode, Sheldon is trying to find new friends since he feels that the group is gravitating towards Leonard instead of him.
One of the people he invited to a gathering was Burton. He was late, so Sheldon gave up and left.
This was a running gag when he showed up in season six and eight, and the actor seemed to enjoy playing a heightened parody of himself through his three appearances.
10 HURT: ZACK
When it comes to the main story of Big Bang Theory, the focus was on Leonard and Penny falling in love. Though Leonard was never as popular as Sheldon, that story continued on, but it was just one of many different plots that drove the series to huge success. Of course, with a romantic relationship, there had to be obstacles in the way, and the worst of them was Zack.
Zack first appeared in season 3 as a new guy who started dating Penny. Immediately, he was a nemesis for Leonard and while this could have worked, Zack was so unintelligent that it just seemed to easy for Leonard and the boys to make him look stupid. Then, there was the Las Vegas marriage. Luckily, that was it for him outside of a handful of cameos in later years.
9 SAVED: STAN LEE
Stan Lee only appeared in one episode of The Big Bang Theory, but for a man who has developed the reputation as the best cameo actor in movies today, that in itself warrants an inclusion on this list. Of course, Lee is the man who helped create Marvel Comics and has appeared in every Marvel Cinematic Universe movie -- as well as an animated appearance in DC Comics Teen Titans Go! To the Movies.
His appearance in The Big Bang Theory, of course, is due to the fact that Stuart owns a comic book store. Sadly for Sheldon, he couldn't make it to the autograph signing because he got a ticket driving Penny to the hospital. Penny takes him to Stan Lee's house to meet him anyway to make it up to Sheldon, which results in one of the many restraining orders that Sheldon has against him.
8 HURT: BERT KIBBLER
None of the instances of a character hurting the show is in any way indicative of the actor or actress portraying that character. A perfect example comes with the character of Bert Kibbler.
Brian Posehn is a fantastic actor and a very funny comedian and this character has his moments of hilarious humor thanks to his comic timing, but there were more than a few problems with Bert.
At the end of the day, Bert is there to be an adult version of the main cast members -- the uber-nerd who is often the brunt of jokes both because of what is done to him as well as what he causes to happen with his own actions. While his performance is great most of the time, his sad character is best served in small doses.
7 SAVED: PROFESSOR PROTON
If there is one actor who is a perfect fit for the comedic style of a show like The Big Bang Theory, it is Bob Newhart. As an actor, Newhart is a legend in television sitcoms, with The Bob Newhart Show in the '70s and Newhart in the '80s as two of the most successful in the history of the format. His awkward line delivery made him a perfect character to interact with the gang, and he always delivered.
Newhart debuted in season 6 as Professor Proton -- a fictional version of a Mr. Wizard character, a children's science show television host. Sheldon idolizes him and when Professor Proton fell out of favor on TV, Sheldon hired him to entertain him. Newhart was so popular that even when his character passed away, he remained on the show as a Jedi-like Force Ghost to give Sheldon advice.
6 HURT: RAMONA
It was important for Big Bang Theory to add women to the cast in order to help the main cast grow from man-children into actual men. This worked as well with characters like Bernadette and Amy as it did with original lead character Penny. However, before Sheldon met Bernadette, he had another romantic relationship with a woman named Ramona.
The biggest problem here is that the show used Romona as an obsessive character that came across as a stalker. It was a terrible portrayal of a female figure, as she could have easily been more well-rounded as a genius with quirky problems like the rest of the cast. She ended up coming back in season 10 to push Sheldon into proposing to Amy.
5 SAVED: BERNADETTE
The first two seasons of Big Bang Theory focused on just the four guys and Penny, which became quite creepy and awkward after a time. However, the show made the smart choice of adding two important female characters in season 3 with the inclusion of Bernadette and Amy.
Bernadette instantly became a standout character. She has become one of, if not the most important characters added to the series.
She is brilliant and she helped to tame Howard, allowing him to grow into a respectable husband and father -- something that many fans never saw coming based on the first two seasons of the show. Bernadette added a very important ingredient to a show that might not have survived without her.
4 HURT: BEVERLY HOFSTADTER
Christine Baranski is a great actress who has taken on a number of great roles, including Emmy nominated performances on Cybill and The Good Wife. She also picked up some Emmy love for her role as Beverly Hofstadter on The Big Bang Theory. However, with that said, she brought a level of detached brutality that borders on a cruelty that hurt the show more than it helped it.
Leonard is arguably the least-liked main cast member, possibly because he plays the straight man to the rest of the gang. However, the way his mother treats him when she appears might make us a bit more sympathetic. However, it also delivers uncomfortable, even if brutally honest, moments to a show that is supposed to be a comedy.
3 SAVED: AMY
Amy and Bernadette first appeared in the third season of Big Bang Theory -- Amy was introduced in the season 3 finale as a date for Sheldon thanks to a dating site that Howard and Raj entered Sheldon's information into. While she was very passive-aggressive and seemed to demand attention during her appearances, she soon became a fan-favorite. She was also needed to give the show more female characters to even out the mostly male-dominated main cast.
While there are detractors to Amy's character, she has been necessary to the story of Sheldon's development as more than an awkward human being. She has a relationship with the one person in the group who seemed least likely to ever develop a real relationship with another human being.
2 HURT: STEPHANIE
Stephanie made her debut in the second season when Howard decided that he was going to try to ask her out. She is a doctor and is very smart. However, instead of ending up with Howard, she ends up dating Leonard. This did two things. Firstly, it put her between Leonard and Penny, and secondly, it set up the idea of Leonard dating people he had no business dating -- in this case someone who Howard liked.
Over the season, Stephanie ended up being too clingy and emotionally manipulative.
It was another case of The Big Bang Theory taking a female character that should be strong and interesting and turning her into a stereotype who betrays her positive aspects.
1 SAVED: WIL WHEATON
No one plays Wil Wheaton better than Wil Wheaton. Wheaton, who starred in movies like Stand By Me and TV shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation, plays an exaggerated version of himself in The Big Bang Theory, starting in season 3.
The show has had a number of famous actors from science-fiction television and movies appear, and they always play heightened versions of themselves. Wheaton was a little different because he took on a bigger recurring role, first as a major nemesis for Sheldon and then later as a friend of the gang. It was his recurring gag as the nemesis that made him possibly the best addition to the cast in the show's history.
What do you think? Were there any other new characters who hurt or saved The Big Bang Theory? Let us know in the comments!