Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory: Why Howard Is Actually The Show’s Main Character

Although many assume that Sheldon is the central protagonist of The Big Bang Theory, some may argue that Howard was a better fit.

The Big Bang Theory is one of America’s most popular sitcoms and has built a legacy that has been carried on with spin-off shows like Young Sheldon. It is the titular Sheldon that many assume the series is based around. Indeed, thanks to his blossoming relationship with Amy, his apartment becoming the meeting ground for the group, his career culminating in a Nobel Prize, as well as his key friendship with Leonard driving the series, it’s a natural assumption to make.

However, an argument could really be made for any one of the leads to actually be the main focus of The Big Bang Theory. Howard in particular is often overlooked in this regard, but when analyzing his journey throughout the show’s 12 seasons, several factors emerge which point to him being the main character of the show.

Biggest Character Arc

Howard talking on the phone at his office in Caltech

Each of the leads in The Big Bang Theory has some form of character arc to focus on. Whether it’s Sheldon’s acceptance of both his friends and his final choice to build a family, Raj’s bid to find love, or Penny finally finding her place in the working world and allowing her ambitions to flourish.

However, when looking at Howard’s own path, it’s clear that he might have come the furthest. From being a creepy, rude (and shady) kind of guy, who was completely dependent on his mother, Howard eventually grows into a husband and father who makes significant contributions to society. His core character has evolved completely.

Significant Relationship

The Big Bang Theory Howard And Bernadette Holding Hands In The Kitchen

When it began, not a lot made sense about Howard and Bernadette’s relationship. She was far too good for him, as Howard continued to objectify women and take part in less than savory actions in his video game worlds. What could have been a short-term pairing really took off though.

Audiences got to see far more from Howard as the lovestruck, in over his head, hopeless romantic than they ever did the slimy wanna-be womanizer. Often, the lead character of a show will have a significant relationship to base the story around. While Sheldon may have Amy, and Penny and Leonard make a happy couple, it’s really Bernie and Howard who could be considered the stars.

First To Marry

The Big Bang Theory Howard And Bernadette's Wedding

On that same narrative thread, therefore, it’s also important to note that it was Howard and Bernadette who were the first to be engaged and married. There were certainly large question marks over which of the couples would be the first to tie the knot.

While Sheldon hopelessly struggled with his own romantic feelings and Leonard and Penny continued their on and off again rollercoaster of a relationship, Howard finally overcame his fear of commitment and was wedded to the love of his life Bernadette.

His Journey To Parenthood

A pregnant Bernadette lying on the couch looking annoyed in TBBT

First comes marriage, then comes kids and for this couple, there were a lot of them. It certainly seemed that way considering how difficult it was for the pair to cope with one child before another one came along much to Howard’s despair.

However, the couple overcame their problems and managed to become fantastic parents, with Howard even giving advice to his friends, who now had less life experience than him. This was perhaps the final stage in Howie’s journey into adulthood, with Howard and Bernadette once again being the first couple to make it to this significant milestone.

Trip To Space

Howard Wolowitz at the International Space Station in The Big Bang Theory

There were plenty of exciting storylines for the other lead characters to play around with, but for Howard, he got to have his dream come true. He became an astronaut. His trip to space was one of the most memorable narrative arcs of the show, for both the right and wrong reasons.

Regardless of the reaction to the story, it did demonstrate a completely different side of Howard, who had to overcome his great fear to achieve all of his ambitions. The story felt like it should have been given to the protagonist and added an extra wrinkle to the character, where he finally had something to brag about.

Importance Of Friendship

Howard Wolowitz and Raj Koothrappali in The Big Bang Theory playing guitar

Bernadette may be the love of his life, but there’s another special person in Howard’s heart who can’t be forgotten about. Wolowitz’s friendship with Raj is perhaps one of the purest in the whole show; it much easily surpasses that of Leonard and Sheldon, which is supposed to be the main friendship.

They might bicker and banter, but Howard and Raj are more like brothers than friends. They have faced a lot, and while the show finishes with Raj as the only single member of the group, there’s an implication here that his bond with Howard is perhaps stronger than the other emotional connections he has tried to forge.

An Emotional Death

A still of the moment Howard finds out his mom died while sitting with Bernadette on TBBT

Howard’s mother began as a joke; another strange aspect of Howard’s life to laugh about. This then developed into a conflict that Howard and his new girlfriend had to overcome if their relationship was to ever grow into what it would later become.

No one expected just how hard-hitting the absence of the character would be though. For the whole show, Howard’s mother could only be heard, never making an appearance on screen. When voice actor Carol Ann Susi sadly passed away, the writers would eventually allow the impact to be felt on screen. The death of Howard’s mother was a deeply emotional moment, one that showed how close audiences had come to the Wolowitz family.

Interests And Activities Outside Of The Group

Big Bang Theory Group Final Scene

The group of friends who star in The Big Bang Theory doesn’t have much of a life outside of their work and their small-knit group. In fact, it’s difficult to point to any singular interests of these friends, perhaps with the exception of Raj’s dog, Fun With Flags, and Penny’s acting ambitions (which, granted, is also a career).

Somehow, Howard’s world managed to open up a little further, outside of comic books and scientific equations. He has a passion for music, forming a band with Raj, and is also an extremely talented magician. Layers were continuously added to Howard, which demonstrated he had a much larger world outside the apartment.

The Odd One Out

The Big Bang Theory Christmas Episode with the gang sitting in the apartment

While Howard may have been expanding his horizons, amongst the men, he was actually the odd one out. In fact, besides Penny, Howard is also the only member of the mainline cast who does not have a doctorate. This is something he is continuously mocked about.

He is the odd one out in many ways, with his background in engineering putting him on quite a different career path that parallels the rest of the group, surpassing them and sometimes falling behind in many areas. However, this also comes in useful with his talents, providing help to Amy, for instance, on her own project. The show has singled him out, almost as if he is the lead.

A Complete Story

Bernadette and Howard in The Big Bang Theory

Howard is the only character to have had a completed story within the confines of the show. All the other characters may have faced marriage, kids, career changes, dream fulfillment, and a long journey of self-development. However, Howard is the only one to have ticked every box.

He completely evolved into a new man. He got married, had children, and was shown to be a brilliant father. He fulfilled his dream of going to space. He surpassed all of his goals in his career and formed a lifelong friendship. He bought a house, settled down roots and there’s really nothing else to show from the character. He has had the most completed journey and should therefore be considered as the protagonist of The Big Bang Theory. 

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