Barry Kripke was a minor character on the long-running series The Big Bang Theory. A Ph.D at Caltech working alongside the other guys, he was a plasma-physicist who eventually got into string theory, the same area that Sheldon studied.
His most defining trait was his speech impediment that saw him unable to pronounce the letters “R” and “L,” making them sound like “W” , instead. And while this shouldn’t be a reason to make fun of someone, it was definitely something that TBBT made a point of pointing out.
He was both a friend and a foe to the group, mostly looking to get under Sheldon’s skin whenever he could, likely due to jealousy. But there are plenty of things that don’t make much sense about him.
The Speech Impediment
There’s nothing wrong with having a speech impediment, of course. But why the character was given an odd Elmer Fudd-like voice doesn’t make much sense and seems unnecessary. Especially since the actor who played him, John Ross Bowie, doesn’t actually speak like that.
The idea of Kripke as Sheldon’s rival at Caltech could have easily been achieved without adding the condition known as rhotacism, where he pronounced the letters “R” and “L” as “Ws.”
His Rivalry With Sheldon
There doesn’t seem to be any logical reason behind Kripke’s rivalry with Sheldon, aside from the fact that they were both physicists who worked on string theory. If they had put their differences aside, they could have probably worked well together and shared research, which could have benefitted the university in the long run (though perhaps they also benefitted from the men always trying to one up one another).
Kripke loved making fun of Sheldon and Sheldon loved ribbing Kripke. It didn’t make much sense: one would think Kripke was much smarter than that.
His Treatment Of Penny
The way Kripke acted around Penny was totally inappropriate. He would do gross things like cleaning his pockets in front of her searching for leftover food, as if she would find that appealing.
He went from fawning over her to insulting her, deciding that the name Penny wasn’t hot enough. After he made this decision, he started to call her “Roxanne,” which annoyed her and didn’t make any sense at all.
He did some really perverse things that seemed to be out of character, like talking about how he took photos of his “junk” to post on Craigslist. In another episode, he attended Howard’s stag party and complained incessantly that there weren’t any strippers.
He even got inappropriately nosy, pushing Sheldon to reveal intimate details about his sex life with Amy. On another occasion, he flirted with Leonard’s mother and sent naked photos of himself to Amy.
Mocking Sheldon And String Theory
As a fellow physicist, one would think that he would be far more sympathetic to Sheldon after the latter discovered that his 20 years of work on String Theory might have actually been useless.
Kripke even gave Sheldon the superhero nickname of “The Retractor” and continuously taunted him about his research falling short. He made fun of Sheldon after he discovered Sheldon drunk dialed Stephen Hawking, his idol. As someone who also worked on string theory, Kripke should have been more supportive.
Even if Kripke and Sheldon didn’t have the best relationship, pursuing Amy after he found out she and Sheldon had broken up, didn’t make any sense at all. He asked Amy out and when Amy turned him down, he inappropriately sent her a naked picture of himself.
If he and Sheldon didn’t really like one another, and were rivals at work, that’s all well and good. But he should have respected boundaries when it came to personal life.
His Inability To Find Love
Perversities aside, which could be a reflection of his inability to get girls, Kripke was a fairly good-looking guy who was smart and had a good job. So why was it so difficult for him to find love?
All of the other guys, including Howard, Leonard, and Sheldon, were as equally awkward as Kripke, with Howard even being somewhat perverse himself. So, it made no sense that through the entire series, Kripke never seemed to have been dating anyone.
Being Unaware (And Aware) Of His Speech Impediment
While Kripke seemed to be very aware of many of his shortcomings, including how bad he was at sports, he was also sometimes completely clueless about his speech impediment, or at least acted as such. But weirdly, at other times, he acted completely aware of it.
One instance where he suggested he wasn’t aware was when he criticized Siri’s voice recognition software, not realizing it was his rhotacism, where he pronounced the letters “R” and “L” as “Ws,” that made it difficult for her to understand him. Siri, for example, understood his name to be “Bawwy” and had trouble understanding him when he asked it to do things like “wecommend a westauwant” (recommend a restaurant).
His Birthday Party
In a season 11 episode, Sheldon and Amy ended up scrubbing grease from barrels in order to convince Kripke to give up a venue he booked for his birthday party, the Athenaeum Club at Caltech, so they could have it for their wedding on that same date.
If Kripke was as lonely as he came across as being, spending most of his time at the strip club by his house, why would he need such an elaborate venue for a birthday party? He seemingly didn’t have many friends.
Challenging Sheldon To A Basketball Match
In a season five episode, Kripke and Sheldon fought over who would get to take over Professor Rothman’s office once he stepped down from his post. After not being able to resolve it through President Siebert, Kripke challenged Sheldon to a basketball match in order to make the final decision.
It made little sense since Kripke knew that he was not good at playing basketball. Sure, he also knew Sheldon wasn’t great either. But why not choose another way to make the decision that involved something they were both good at and not sports?