Here’s why Howard Wolowitz always wore an alien pin on The Big Bang Theory. Each of the four guys on the CBS sitcom had their own sense of style that reflected their respective personalities and tastes. Among them, however, Howard was arguably the most fashion-forward, not shying away from wearing bold colors, not to mention skinny pants (which are very difficult to pull off)
All that being said, Howard’s sartorial choices weren’t just about what he perceived as good-looking. He also incorporated some sentimental choices into his clothing. Known for his dickies and massive belt buckles, there’s another piece of accessory that he usually sports — an alien pin worn on his collar. In a behind-the-scenes video for The Big Bang Theory, Simon Helberg showed a variety of these pins. Considering how small they are, the pins are difficult for audiences to notice, let alone recognize what they are. Despite that, the actor revealed in the video that there’s a special meaning behind them, something that only he and the costume staff know. There were hopes that the sitcom will eventually reveal why they’re so important, but that didn’t happen.
While The Big Bang Theory didn’t explicitly reveal the reason behind Howard’s alien’s pins, it may have already subtly provided the answer to this mystery during the early years of the show. In season 3, episode 17, “The Precious Fragmentation,” Howard reminisced about his Alf doll after he and the boys found one on a vintage merchandise box. He commented that his mother had bought him the same doll when he was 11 as a way to help him cope with the sudden absence of his dad, Sam Wolowitz. Not much is known about him, but in Howard’s story, he said that he wished Alf would someday bring his father back home from Melmac. Given this, he operated on the notion that his dad’s disappearance was somehow tied to extraterrestrials. The alien pin symbolized this hope; granted it sounds childish, Howard and the rest of the boys were not exactly immune to having an illogical mindset.
There’s another theory that Howard wore alien pins to commemorate his time in space — something that he was very proud of to the point that couldn’t stop talking about it (which annoyed pretty much everyone around him, including his friends). But it’s worth noting that the character was already sporting one in The Big Bang Theory pilot. This was before the show even floated the idea that he was going to go to space, which didn’t happen until the season 5 finale, spilling into the early episodes of the succeeding year. Clearly, the pins were something of personal significance to him and not just in terms of his professional career.
Much has been said about Howard’s close relationship with Mrs. Wolowitz, but while the sitcom gave a clear picture of Howard’s dynamic with his mom, it’s not the same with his dad. Sam Wolowitz presumably abandoned his first family when Howard is 11, but the reason remains to be one of the lingering questions left by The Big Bang Theory. This is the reason why if CBS is looking to do another prequel spin-off like Young Sheldon, Young Howard will be their most interesting option.