The Big Bang Theory has had a plethora of characters, some recurring ones and some significant cameos. Some of the most memorable appearances were of course, by actors who played short-term love interests of the main characters. Be it the sweet and naive Zack who was often mocked by Penny and her friends or the cerebral and gifted Leslie Winkle who was an empowered and self-assured free spirit, they have all left a mark.
However, fans have often talked about how some of the short-term love interests on the show could have panned into something more significant or lasting. Characters like Alice, Lucy, Mrs. Latham all had terrific arcs and could have actually made for great recurring characters. Here are just some short-term love interests on TBBT who deserved better.
Although she only appeared in one episode, Alice had made quite an impression with the fans as many enjoyed seeing the dynamic between her and Leonard. Unfortunately, Leonard was already engaged in a serious long-distance relationship with Priya when he met Alice and had been debating whether he should be unfaithful or not.
Though things did not end well between the two, Leonard and Alice did share a lot of camaraderies and also had similar interests. Both of them were comic book nerds and had creative pursuits. Even if she didn’t re-appear as a love interest, she could have actually been a great addition to the squad.
Another character who had a lot of potential was Emily, Penny’s friend from spin-class who was also deaf. As many fans remember, Raj had been excited to be in a relationship that wasn’t hampered by his selective mutism – which is actually why Penny set them up in the first place as she had the same thought. The chemistry between them was great and they looked rather happy. Unfortunately, the writers then decided to depict Emily as a gold-digger, who simply enjoyed being with Raj because he was wealthy and would shower her with gifts.
For fans, this was quite disappointing as there was something very compelling about their dynamic. Given the lack of representation for people with disabilities in sitcom culture, Emily’s character could have proved that the show was heading into a progressive and inclusive direction. Instead of a one-dimensional approach, perhaps the writers could have considered something more thoughtful and introduced Emily as a recurring character. The writers could have easily added more information about Emily’s background and helped the viewers connect with her.
Elizabeth was a nonconformist who wanted to explore her options sexually. She had sex with Leonard, and propositioned Raj soon after, and was keen on a three-way with Raj and Howard. Her character design was quite refreshing since it was so unpredictable and her personality was so quirky and buoyant.
Elizabeth’s character was written to be freedom-loving and empowered, and the writers could have explored the character in many interesting ways. She was a respected scientist and was already on great terms with Sheldon. She could have easily stayed in touch with the other guys, especially vis-a-vis professional connections.
Leslie’s character was one of the most well-crafted roles on the show and it’s a shame she wasn’t given more prominence as a recurring character. No one expected to see a self-aware, sexually empowered female scientist on a male-led sitcom, especially who is so original and edgy. This is why Leslie’s character on The Big Bang Theory was such a hit with fans; romantically she never had any expectations from Leonard and was always very open about exactly what she wanted from him.
But she definitely deserved a better arc, perhaps a better exit too, since her last appearance at Sheldon’s birthday party doesn’t do a lot of justice to her quirky personality.
Stephanie and Leonard met through Howard and quickly hit it off, but things took a tumble when Leonard realized they were not in the same place in the relationship. Not only did Stephanie and Leonard spend a lot of time together, but Stephanie had also moved into his apartment and was also introducing quite a lot of changes in Leonard’s life.
Their problem was actually a very pertinent one since it’s so relevant to millennial dating culture and actually explores different approaches to commitment between adults. Though their relationship ended rather unceremoniously, Stephanie’s character was really engaging, who also had great chemistry with the other characters. It’s just a shame that the writers didn’t make her arc a bit more likable so the gap in communication between them could be explored in a punchier way.
Technically, Alex wasn’t exactly a love interest but her situation definitely needs to be addressed because she was treated quite poorly. Alex was Sheldon’s assistant and was interested in Leonard. Although it was revealed that she was extremely intelligent and funny, the writers tended to use her character to fuel the narratives of the male characters.
Alex did deserve a more compassionate and interesting character design, especially since she was such a pleasant addition to the show and also got along so well with almost everyone. While it would have been good to see her stay on as Sheldon’s assistant, it would have been even better if fans got to see her collaborate with the other scientists and be fully integrated into the group. Unfortunately, no one knows what happened to her.
Alicia was an aspiring actor just like Penny but was somewhat more successful as she had already scored some big gigs. Except for Sheldon, all the guys had a crush on her and Alicia was friendly to them, often seeking their help to set up her entertainment system or for a lift.
Eventually, she was depicted as a gold-digger – which was quite a shame as they could have used her for several storylines. Considering the viewers didn’t see Penny interact with anyone other than the guys, Alicia could have been another friend and addition to the group. While it was hilarious to see the dynamic between her and Penny, especially since the latter considered her to be a professional rival, they could have bonded over their careers. Alicia could have even helped Penny out with her auditions. It just wasn’t meant to be.
Dave’s character had immense possibilities since he was hilarious and actually quite believable. It definitely helped that the role was being played by acclaimed English comedian Stephen Merchant. As many fans know, Dave was an academic like Amy and was clearly compatible with her. However, things unraveled rather quickly between them when Dave realized Amy was Sheldon Cooper’s girlfriend.
Fans loved that this quirky but enormously funny aspect as it looked as if Amy dating Sheldon’s biggest fan. Unfortunately, Dave never made another appearance after this, which disappointed fans a lot. The character had a huge potential for recurring appearances, and there were plenty of opportunities fans could have seen Sheldon and Dave create an unexpected friendship.
Mrs. Latham was introduced as a wealthy benefactor to the university who was attracted to Leonard. Leonard may have been quite surprised at Mrs. Latham’s proposition but he eventually did spend a night with her. However, the way the show used the same old tired trope of a cougar was unnecessary and quite dated.
Mrs. Latham was played by comedy icon Jessica Walter and there were multiple ways Mrs. Latham’s role could have been incorporated into the show as a more significant recurring character since she brought such an edge to the show.
When Sheldon’s sister Missy comes to visit, the guys behaved really embarrassingly and relentlessly hit on her. And though the character was only seen on TBBT very rarely, Missy’s character has been depicted as innately hilarious, especially in Young Sheldon.
Missy’s character could have easily been utilized more like the show did with Sheldon’s mum, Mary. Though Mary was bought back in later episodes, the contrast between her and Sheldon would have made for some great storylines and some particularly earthy quips.