Over the course of its record-breaking 12 season run, CBS’s The Big Bang Theory was routinely one of the most popular and most beloved series on television. The series followed the lives of a core group of nerds, consisting of best friends Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, and Raj, as well as the women in their lives, Penny, Bernadette, and Amy.
Along the way, the group expanded and shrunk as new friends and relationships came and went. But by the end of the series, most of the characters’ journeys were wrapped up. Here, we take a look back at which characters got the happy endings they deserved, and which ones definitely deserved better.
When she was first introduced in the series, it was clear that Amy was someone who was just as driven by her scientific interests and intellect as the rest of the guys were. It was also clear that she was designed to complement Sheldon in many ways, and that the series would do whatever it took to get the two characters together.
So at the end of the series, Amy essentially completed the purposes of her character’s journey, both by co-winning the Nobel Prize with and marrying Sheldon. She got the happy ending her character was designed to have.
Deserved More: Stuart
Poor Stuart. As one of the series’ essential punching bags, Stuart often finds himself in the most unfair of situations. While he does wind up finally finding a girl that loves him toward the series’ end, and the comic book store becomes increasingly successful, Stuart’s storyline still feels profoundly unfinished by the time the series comes to an end.
This is most clear in his relationship with the main group of friends. Though Stuart has been a fixture in their lives, and in the series, for so long, he never quite seems as though he’s accepted fully into the group. And that’s a real shame.
Fitting: Wil Wheaton
Wil Wheaton served one main role over the course of The Big Bang Theory‘s twelve season run – and that is, of course, the role of Sheldon’s on-again, off-again frenemy. So what better way for Wheaton to wrap up his memorable run on the series than by reigniting that feud that proved so enjoyable and hilarious?
When a new Professor Proton is sought for a revival of the beloved series, Sheldon tries out for the role, only to lose out to none other than Wheaton himself. We couldn’t imagine a more fitting end for his character, and for this relationship.
Deserved More: Bernadette
Bernadette has been one of the series’ most interesting characters from the moment she was introduced. Fiercely outspoken and loud despite her tiny size, Bernadette has been a successful career woman, a supportive wife, and a loving friend and mother.
But we can’t help but feel a little disappointed with the way her character was handled in later years. It was difficult enough for Bernadette to learn she was pregnant the first time around, given that she never wanted children before. But Bernadette would wind up with a second, unplanned pregnancy soon after her first one, and after that point, her career wound up taking a backseat to her domestic comedy.
While Bernadette’s ending may have felt insufficient, in many ways, that same ending felt deserved and satisfying for her husband, Howard. When the series began, Howard was perhaps the most immature character of them all, selfish and sleazy and struggling to match up to his friends’ careers and ambitions.
But by the end of the series, Howard is an accomplished astronaut and scientist, a loving husband, a protective father, and a better friend than he ever had been before, after some much-needed periods of reflection and self-discovery.
Deserved More: Bert
Bert was a character that came into the series later than most, but he was also one of its most well-utilized and most adorable. As a similar fifth (or sixth, or seventh…) banana in the way that Stuart was, Bert never really fit into the main friendship circle at any point throughout the series, even though he developed close friendships with Raj, Howard, and Amy.
He does get to feature in the series finale, at least, with the job of dogsitting Cinnamon when Raj travels abroad for the Nobel ceremony. But beyond that cameo, Bert’s story is left unfinished. And we wish that weren’t the case.
Leonard’s character arc over the course of the series is driven by many things, but one of the most important and emotionally resonant of them is his fractured relationship with his mother. In the series’ final episodes, Leonard and his mother finally come to understand one another, and make amends for the years of pain and distance between them.
When it comes to his relationship with his wife Penny, Leonard also gets a happily ever after that’s satisfying, at least for him, when Penny learns that she’s pregnant. But as the next point reveals, sometimes, an ending can be satisfying for one character, but completely unsatisfying for another.
Deserved More: Penny
Despite being one of the series’ original main characters, Penny still feels like one of the more unfinished and unknown characters in the entire series. We never learn her last name, and her career trajectory – from Cheesecake Factory waitress, to aspiring actress, to failed actress, to pharmaceutical saleswoman – is confusing at best.
But the worst thing the series decided to do to her comes in the second half of its series finale. After spending the entire series expressing a lack of desire to ever have children, Penny finds out she’s pregnant, and suddenly, that’s the happily ever after the series feels she deserves.
For the entire series, Sheldon Cooper worked toward his dream of achieving greatness in the sciences, something that came to its satisfying conclusion in the series finale as he received the Nobel Prize. But Sheldon’s growth and success in the world of physics was paralleled by his personal growth, too.
In the series’ final episode, Sheldon finally learned to reflect on his behaviors and feelings, and in turn realized the strength of his relationships with those closest to him. At the end of the series, Sheldon learned to express his gratitude and love for his friends, representing the most satisfying conclusion of all.
Deserved More: Raj
On the contrary, the character who received the most disappointing ending of them all is the one who the series most often made fun of and overlooked. Raj was the long-suffering punchline of many of the series’ jokes. He was also the series’ most unfaltering romantic.
But at the end of the day, Raj winds up alone, and often mocked for his career choices. He gets a confusing, out of nowhere date with Sarah Michelle Gellar to the Nobel Prize award ceremony, but beyond that, Raj is the only main character whose storyline feels truly unfinished.