In 2007, The Big Bang Theory created from humble beginnings. Airing just before the writer’s strike shut down Hollywood, the show centered on a group of nerdy, geeky Cal Tech scientists. After its well-received first season, the show quickly gained momentum, and by the mid-2010s, The Big Bang Theory had become the most-watched show on television and was even ranked among the best shows of the 21st century.
What makes all this even more extraordinary is that on the surface, the main characters were not friendly. They weren’t cool. They weren’t sexy. They weren’t mean. They weren’t usually such desirable Hollywood brands.
And yet, because of their reality, authenticity, and authenticity, the cast of The Big Bang Theory resonated with viewers. Many real-life scientists even praised the show for making STEM fields cool and inspiring a whole generation of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers. But who among the cast turned out to be the friendliest?
10. Rajesh Koothrappali
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Rajesh (Raj) was originally unable to talk to women as he suffered from an anxiety disorder called ‘selective mutism’. This instantly made Raj likeable. He was so vulnerable and shy that you couldn’t help loving him. Granted, it has to be said that once Raj started talking to women, he had some very unkind moments, like the time he went out with one of the school janitors and then lied to that topic. Or the time he was dating two women at once.
Although horrific, his actions make sense. He is an adult, but he has never been able to go out with him because of his silence. Romantically and sexually, he is still an inexperienced teenager. Yes, he can be selfish, but it’s mostly because he doesn’t know any better. He wasn’t able to grow and learn like most others did in their youth, so he’s making those mistakes now.
Absent completely from Season 1 and only in a few episodes in Season 2, Stuart continued to grow as a character and become a series regular. He is the ever-unlucky owner of the comic book store the group often visits. But something about him drew the audience in. Chronically ill, poor and lonely, Stuart always delivered hilarious lines about his misery, such as “I like all kinds of music, but my favorite genre is ‘free’.”
One of the reasons he’s so likeable is that, despite living a life of utter misery and failure, Stuart never gives up. He tries again. He’s always genuine, and despite his constant self-deprecation, he can be quite funny and admirable. It’s no wonder he went from being a non-existent character in Season 1 to living with Howard and Bernadette in later seasons. The audience just couldn’t get enough.
8. Beverly Hofstadter
Played by the fabulous Christine Baranski, Beverly is Leonard’s high-performing therapist mother. As a mother, she is terrible, often never even showing Leonard the slightest shred of love or respect. Instead, she generally likes Sheldon more, often admiring his genius.
As viewers, we shouldn’t like it… but it’s just impossible not to like it. Her forgetfulness of motherhood is cruel and heartless, and she essentially uses Leonard as a test subject, often documenting his moods and actions for her research. As a person, she’s 100% horrible. But as a character, she’s downright hilarious. Every time Beverly walked into a scene, viewers knew they were in for a treat.
7. Howard Wolowitz
When the show started, Howard was living with his mother and thought he was a ladies’ man, despite being completely lonely, uncool, and out of touch. By the end of the series, he had been to space, was married, lived alone, and even had children. He is sympathetic because he has grown and evolved. He has changed – and for the better.
He started out as a joke-only character. He was a skinny, old-fashioned little nerd who was constantly trying to get the hot girls. In previous seasons, he had almost become a one-trick pony. Watching him grow and mature over the years has made him incredibly likable and helped him resonate even more with viewers.
6. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz
Let’s be real: Howard would never have become the man he is today without Bernadette. Her love, patience, and strong will are what helped convince Howard. When she was first introduced, she and Howard didn’t get along very well. They didn’t have similar interests and Bernadette came across as bored and distant, but once Howard opened up and revealed he had a stuffy mother, the two instantly bonded. From there, she continually pushed Howard out of his comfort zone, challenged him to grow, and even worked on his own career as a microbiologist.
On top of that, she often elicited laughs with lines like this, delivered in her signature high-pitched voice: “I told you you shouldn’t have an espresso after dinner.” I know small cups make you feel big, but it’s not worth it!
5. Mary Cooper
Sheldon’s mother, Mary Cooper, is a devout Christian from Texas who is always a laugh. The humor is derived from their opposing beliefs: the fact that Sheldon is a scientist who only believes in empirical facts leads to endless arguments with his mother. On top of that, Mary is played by veteran actress Laurie Metcalf, who really turned the character into someone hilarious, yet lovable and relatable.
One of the reasons she’s so likeable is because she looks like so many real moms across America. Many viewers know and identify with the Sheldon/Mary dynamic, as most young people are less religious than their parents, especially those whose parents are from the baby boom generation.
Mary Cooper delivers incredibly funny lines like, “The Lord never gives us more than we can handle. Fortunately, he has blessed me with two other children who are dumb as soup. She also treats Sheldon with love and patience, proving that despite their differences in beliefs, she still loves him more than anything.
Neurotic, anal-retentive, but ultimately absolutely brilliant, Sheldon is something of a savant, struggling in every area of his life outside of science and geography, where he’s a chilling genius. But despite his extremes, he’s also incredibly likeable and relatable. Sheldon struggles socially, something we can all relate to at times. He also gets anxious, which many of us can relate to as well. And he gets angry when things don’t go his way…again, something most of us (whether we admit it or not) can surely relate to.
Because of this, as viewers, we can’t help but love Sheldon, even when he does things that annoy us or drive us crazy. It’s hard to blame him because he’s so socially different from everyone around him. Although it was never expressly stated on the show, it is implied that Sheldon might have some form of Asperger’s and OCD, making it hard for viewers to hate him. Instead, all you can do is accept and love Sheldon for who he is…and that’s exactly what big Bang the fans did.
3. Leonard Hofstadter
He puts up with Sheldon as his roommate and has to live with the fact that Beverly is his mother – poor Leonard has been through a lot. But all the time, he does it with composure and kindness, which makes him incredibly likeable. Few people in the real world could be friends with Sheldon, let alone live with him, which proves that Leonard has a lot more tolerance than most of us.
On top of that, he’s probably the most “normal” of all the guys on the show, making him the de facto main character many viewers most identify with. He has trouble attracting girls, feeling unattractive, and believing he’s unpopular. He’s an underdog you can’t help but get attached to.
2. Amy Farrah Fowler
When Amy Farrah Fowler is first introduced in the Season 3 finale, she had nothing to do with the character she has become. Robotic and cold, Amy was essentially a female version of Sheldon. But over the years, her character has grown into something warmer and more complex. As viewers, we found out that she never had any friends growing up, had overbearing parents, and was madly in love with Sheldon.
And thanks to this love, she is able to bring Sheldon out of his shell. She even gets Sheldon to acknowledge that he’s in love with her too, allowing him to feel that emotion for the first time in his life. Plus, to top it all off, she always has hilarious lines like, “From the first moment in that cafe, I knew there was something special between us…even though I worked on a study who refuted the thunderbolt. ”
1. Penny Hofstadter
When you think about it, Penny really is the star of the show. His arrival at the building in the pilot episode triggered the snowball effect that became The Big Bang Theory. From all the guys who have a crush on her, to introducing Howard and Bernadette, to giving Sheldon a gift so amazing he hugs her, to helping Raj talk to women, and even becoming the first real Amy’s friend, Penny has literally changed the lives of everyone on the show.
And beyond that, Penny herself has changed throughout the show. At the start of the seasons, she’s a struggling, jobless (and talentless) actress earning money serving tables at The Cheesecake Factory. She has very low self-esteem and dates hot guys who have absolutely no brains. In the end, she is a highly paid pharmaceutical sales rep and is married to Leonard. She not only improved those around her, but she also improved herself. She is not only big Bangis the most likable character, but it’s also the most important character in the series.
Yesou can stream all 12 seasons of The Big Bang Theory on HBO Max.