If you somehow have not heard about Big Bang Theory, it’s a sitcom that started out featuring a bunch of science, comic, and video game nerd men interacting with a woman (Penny) whose interests and traits are the complete opposite of theirs. With the boys being into space, dungeons and dragons, and physics, Penny was more into shopping, partying, and make-up.
Sounds like just a bunch of stereotypes doesn’t it? That’s where the real fun begins, because either love or hate this show and there is rarely an in-between. If you are a woman who is a nerd, chances are more likely that you’ll hate the show. As you may discover in reading this list, if you haven’t discovered it for yourself already, Big Bang Theory is about nerds, but it definitely is not written for nerds.
Like the show, you either love or hate Penny and there are few people in-between. One big trend we have been noticing is that Penny is far less loved now than she was in the early seasons of the show. This list sheds some light as to why her character has become less loved with time.
So here is a list of what doesn’t make sense about Penny’s character.
So here's 20 Things That Don't Make Sense About Penny From Big Bang Theory.
18 Why Didn’t Her Sister Attend The Wedding?
We’ve met Penny’s father, mother, and brother. A sister has been mentioned and we haven’t met her yet. Why didn’t she attend Penny’s second wedding with everyone else?
From what we know about Penny’s sister, she sounds like a total mess. Penny mentioned in one episode that her sister shot her husband, while they were both drunk. Her sister, also, has a son, so let’s hope she and her husband’s drunken mistakes no longer happen for the kid’s sake.
It was confirmed in the episode, “The Bachelor Party Corrosion,” that Penny’s sister was pregnant when she got married. Penny told a story about her sister’s water breaking during the father-daughter dance at the reception
In the episode, “The Parking Spot Escalation,” Penny also mentions giving her sister a bikini wax with melted crayons and duct tape. You know what? Maybe that’s the reason her sister didn’t go to the wedding, because that sounds like the worst idea in history and she probably hates Penny.
More theories go behind the scenes to the writers and money that make the TV show tick. Maybe the writers forgot Penny had a sister or they had a limited budget to get an actress to play Penny’s sister.
17 How Is She Closest to Sheldon out of everyone?
It’s not just me is it? The most interesting relationship in this show is between Penny and Sheldon. The two seem most honest with each other than with anyone else in the group. If Penny has an issue with Leonard, chances are that she talks to Sheldon about it. The same works vice versa with Sheldon and Amy.
Sheldon is definitely as sexist as the other characters, as he once has mentioned they belong more in the kitchen instead of the lab, but he is probably the one male character that doesn’t focus highly on Penny’s physical appeal. He sees her more for who she is on the inside. That said, he does majorly make fun of her intelligence.
Out of all the characters in the show, Sheldon is probably treated as the weirdest one. He’s definitely treated like that by his friends. However, Penny is the one who seems to catch on the quickest to Sheldon’s quirks, without a roommate book needed, which feels odd since the others have known Sheldon for longer.
Personally, I think the scenes with these two characters are the most fun to watch. A lot of fans actually ship Sheldon and Penny because of all this! I don’t think it’s ever going to happen, because they will NEVER see each other equals despite actually being the closest to having that relationship.
16 Does She Have No Other Friends?
It’s easy not to think about the fact that Penny could be hanging out with people more like herself. Why not seek to be friends with others who wanted to be actors? She could easily find nerdy girls who also like to drink, party, and be sarcastic like her. Yet, Penny has sort of stuck herself in this snow-globe with Raj, Leonard, Howard, Amy, Sheldon, and Bernadette. What’s up with that?
Well, it wasn’t always like that. Earlier in the series, we saw Penny throw big parties and have her own life outside of the nerd group. She had other interests like going out and dancing. Now she doesn’t seem to have a life outside their nerd group. We don’t see those parties or hear that she is doing anything for herself anymore.
That’s...actually kind of sad and unhealthy. Sure, she’s at an age where there is a lot of change and we kiss some old habits and friendship goodbye, but ever hear the term, “too many eggs in one basket?” Penny is the most different from the rest of the group. Isn’t that a little lonely? The friend group is tight knit, but that comes with a whole new set of demons like a lack of privacy and (in Penny’s case) self-care. Just thinking about it gives me a sense of cabin fever.
15 What’s her last name?
All Big Bang Theory fans are asking this question. It’s a small detail, but apparently a lot of fans are wondering. Who knows? Maybe it’ll reveal something more about Penny’s character too. There are rumors that this is something about Penny we will never find out. So far we still don’t know it and it’s been a really long run! Executive producer Steve Molaro told Vulture, "We're kind of a superstitious lot here. We've made it this far without knowing Penny's last name. I think we're good not finding out."
That superstition aspect gives me a lot of questions. Do they think something bad will happen if Penny’s last name is revealed? Maybe the real Penny has been gone all along and this Penny is an alien in disguise that doesn’t know what last names are. That would explain a lot about Penny actually. She’s a secret alien agent and the end of the series is her big reveal and her leaving the planet. The scientists are then shown as stupid, as Penny outsmarted them this whole time and has left no evidence that they can use to warn the government. That ending would have made this the best sitcom ever.
14 Penny is All Bark, Little Bite
As much as the show wants us to think it, Penny isn’t tough. If she was tough, the male characters would have perished by now.
I don’t know why fans agree that she is a tough woman. A tough woman isn’t just someone who is blunt and sarcastic. With the kind of horrible stuff she puts up with from the male characters, she needs to be tough. This means not allowing them to objectify her.
The fact that Penny has clung on to this group shows she’s not tough. In fact, it’s like she’s insecure and desperately needs men around her even if they don’t treat her right. Sure, she calls them out and is mean back at them, but then nothing changes! She allows herself to be objectified over and over again.
She even apologized to Howard for yelling at him after he constantly made uninvited advances, despite her obvious disinterest. He even tried to kiss her, after she had to take on a motherly role to help him bear with the fact she wasn’t interested in him. She (rightly so) punched him and had to apologize for that too.
Stop apologizing! If they suck this much, you either stop hanging out with them or stand your ground! That’s what a tough person would do!
13 Why Does She Hang Out With People Who Are Mean To Her?
A big reason some people hate this show is that the characters are pretty cruel to each other. That’s where a fraction of the shows humor comes from. If you take the laugh track out, the mean comments are just plain mean.
Penny deals with a lot from the men in this show. A huge issue is the sexism. Oh man, oh man, there is a lot of sexism. What really bothers us is Penny is often shown to be the tough and social aspect of the friend group. But how can she be tough is she is complicit in constant objectification from her own friends?
The characters constantly make jabs at Penny for her looks and her intelligence.
There is a ton of evidence that Penny is very insecure, so she probably tries to hang out with the group to feel better about herself. That’s actually kind of a real issue insecure people deal with all the time. But that’s drama material, not comedy!
Why is it all considered funny? A detective of pop culture, Jonathan McIntosh, coined a term for the very thing Big Bang Theory excels at: it’s called “adorkable misogyny.” The show paints the cruel comments as cute ignorance, because of the stereotype that nerds don’t really know what they are talking about.
12 Why Did She Marry Leonard?
Even people who love this show have admitted that this marriage was in poor taste. This partly factors in that the two characters are just plain mean to each other, with Leonard constantly seeing Penny as stupid and Penny constantly seeing Leonard as a loser. It’s like they are in a relationship with each other for the sole purpose to look down on the other and feel better about themselves. You don’t have to be equals in terms of class, race, or anything to have a decent relationship, but you need to see each other as equal enough to respect each other.
Some have argued that the characters have developed into better people. Others are into the whole “opposites attract” aspect of the relationship. But, the truth is that their incompatibility only increases with every episode and many fans have been finding it difficult to watch. It’s even bad enough to be called “toxic.” The jealousy they feel when the other hangs out with someone else is rampant. That gives off the feeling that these characters are seeing each other as possessions and that is a red flag.
Honestly the love doesn’t feel real either when you learn about their insecurities. Leonard seems to just want a pretty girl and Penny wants security.
11 Real Life Nerds Hate Penny’s Character
You know what real nerds love? Not judging a book by its cover. That’s probably why most of them hate Penny’s character since she’s a huge stereotype who offers few to no surprises. Of course it’s all incredibly ironic, since she’s supposed to be seen as desirable for the nerds in this show.
Presently nerd culture is becoming more and more inclusive to women, which severely dates how Big Bang Theory treats its female characters. Penny is supposed to be an example of how pretty girls can’t be nerdy and Amy is supposed to be an example of how nerdy girls can’t be pretty. That’s crazy! Some nerd girls look like goddesses who’ve just walked out of a comic book and some literally are that in the cosplay world.
Penny is a bully. There is nothing grosser to nerds than someone making another person feel bad for loving something. It’s a culture where weird is embraced, while Penny is a character who thrives off of belittling others.
There is also a dark side to nerd culture where there is a lot of sexism towards Penny’s character that makes real life nerds hate her. For example, the way she dresses. Come on guys, that’s just lame. There are plenty of other things to dislike in this character.
10 Not A Normal Person
Penny is the surrogate character for the audience. That means she’s supposed to be the “normal” one who we identify with the most. Some aspects for a surrogate character were done well, like Penny’s insecurities and struggling to achieve the dream of being an actress.
Besides those aspects, Penny doesn’t really come across as normal. All the other factors on this list are proof enough for how odd Penny is as a character. I guess what should be underlined is how much she calls people losers for liking things that are completely considered as normal by today’s standards. That one factor really has made Penny feel more alien than the other characters.
Something we did notice with the show was in an attempt to make Penny seem normal. The writers REALLY try to milk awkwardness and ignorance out of the other characters. For example, Raj not being able to speak to women unless he drinks or well...everything about Sheldon. The writers have done this to a point that I feel like we are in someone’s mind and seeing different disorders and anxieties personified rather than actually seeing real people. It’s like they are trying to turn the show to “Penny in Wonderland” with how oddly they’ve written all the other characters.
9 Not Street-Smart
Another trait the show tries to pin on Penny is street-smartness. The writers figured that Penny needed to bring a skill that the others in the group lack, so they went with street-smart. Despite this, I have yet to figure out what makes her street-smart.
I don’t see how street-smartness is shown, when she constantly makes terrible decisions. She left her hometown to live in California to try in make it in Hollywood. If she succeeded in making it, then she would likely be considered street-smart. Instead, she’s on the verge of alcoholism, sometimes fails to pay her bills, failed at countless relationships, and has even lost her car.
It sounds like the streets kicked her to the curb!
There is nothing wrong with those mistakes, as it is a part of growing up. But, those are signs that you are not street-smart! When I picture street-smart, I picture someone who literally knows the streets. They are a traveler, someone who can easily talk others down and gain people’s trust. They are also the last people to be considered as needy. Being street-smart is not the same as being blunt. Street-smart people use bluntness as a tool to catch people off-guard or as a sign of informality. Penny just uses it willy-nilly.
8 Losers Like Indiana Jones
There is an episode where Penny calls all the guys losers for being excited about a movie. What movie is it? Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Arc. I’m sorry, what? Forget about whether she’s seen it or not, that ship has sailed, but has she never heard of Indiana Jones? No, even that is fine. But, calling people losers for liking it? What is wrong with the writers of this show?! It’s not even that nerdy, it’s a classic movie! It’s a piece of classic Hollywood culture! Doesn’t she have a dream to be a famous Hollywood actress? This makes no sense.
The show tries to stay in mainstream culture, (since they know their audiences actually aren’t nerds) while also trying to show nerds as weird and it really backfires. You want to show weird nerds with entertaining content? Get out the anime like One Punch Man or Attack on Titan! Get out the crazy games like Hatoful Boyfriend where you date pigeons! Get out the weird nerd merchandise like body pillows and kigurumis you cowards! Then, and maybe then, will Penny’s reactions actually make sense. We know the small population of nerd women who like Big Bang Theory were probably super disappointed by Penny, if not in general, then definitely at this moment.
7 A poor moral compass
Despite not having her life together, Penny is shown to be the moral compass of the group. When an issue happens and she has an opinion, chances are the show will make her right. As I already said, this woman is a master of making bad decisions. Why make her the moral compass of the group then? Just about everyone on the show is too mean to be considered a moral compass in the first place. I think a good comedy would make sure to use a moral compass sparingly in the show.
A good and successful moral character can solve issues too fast to be entertaining, so someone as flawed as Penny makes sense.
On the other hand though, her being shown as a moral compass just feels like poor taste after all is said and done with what I’ve written on this list. Maybe it’s just annoying that this character that is cruel to the others and constantly putting them down, is also held highly for being right most of the time. We don’t want a moral compass who calls people losers for doing what makes them happy. That’s just annoying.
6 Eyes rolling forever
This bit may be part of why Penny’s character has been losing momentum with the show’s fans lately. How long can Penny act like she’s surrounded by weird people, when she has been hanging out with them now for ten years?
Her whole purpose was to be the surrogate character who is the one we connect to while seeing the others as weird. Now with time passing and the environment changing, Penny’s behavior has been a little stagnant in some places. At this point, we and Penny should be completely used to Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, and Raj along with Amy and Bernadette.
Sure Penny is used to them and may have grown, but the writers will not drop her eye rolls for the nerdy antics. It’s like she still doesn’t believe this is her life! In fact, some fans think she’s even getting worse. Maybe now she’s just more comfortable in showing how much she dislikes the others, rather than getting used to them for the past ten years.
After ten years I feel like you’d either beat them or join them at this point, but Penny has accomplished the feat of just eye rolling at them in the middle. It’s really just an old joke the writers refuse to let go of.
5 A gender role nightmare
Some women actually like Penny and see her as a tough girl. Like if you put all her flaws on a man, it’s more acceptable to people so it shows inherent sexism to dislike her character.
However, the gender role nightmare is much more complicated than that. While she has all those traits we can boast about, she is not treated with the same respect as the men on the show. The top issue is definitely how other characters treat Penny. For example, Howard uses a camera to look up her skirt in one episode and she seriously still thinks of him as a friend. Probably the worst of the worst was when Leonard slept with a drunk and incoherent Penny and she didn’t remember it the next day. That’s something that doesn’t belong in a comedy.
As for the character on her own, I’m still very disheartened. She, along with the other female characters, are all negative overused tropes about women that are usually written by men. Penny is constantly made fun of for being a dumb blonde. Amy sees Penny as a role model because being just smart apparently isn’t enough. Women who are smart and pretty are put in villainous roles, like Stephanie Barnett. Speaking of villainous women, Penny is shown to be territorial around other pretty girls. That’s dumb.
4 Does she drink?
I think a lot of fans are waiting for Penny to ask for help when it comes to her drinking. This issue has not been outright stated yet, but tons of viewers can’t help but notice that Penny has a habit of drowning her sorrows. She seems to drink mostly red wine, but she also takes part in cocktails and hard liquor.
In the episode "The Apology Insufficiency", Penny admits to Sheldon that she drinks to cope with negative feelings like stress and guilt. That’s one out of many times in the series that her drinking alcohol has been mentioned. It hasn’t quite crossed the line of the comedy’s serious issue threshold yet though. Penny seems to drink to help her relax and/or get a buzz. There are some times though where she uses it for comfort or when she has been inflicted with a broken heart.
In a 2011 comic-con interview, Kaley Cuoco said, “Penny has more baggage than any of the guys, let's be honest. That's the truth of it all.” With that said, I wonder what kinds of alcohol abuse she may have had in the past before meeting Sheldon and Leonard? There are also numerous times Penny has gotten black-out drunk, like that one time she woke up next to Raj.
3 A Lot Of Change
To some people, hair reflects a person’s personality. With that in mind, a number of fans were unhappy with Penny sporting her new pixie cut since it got rid of the “dumb blonde” aspect of the character. You won’t find me complaining, but it’s something others have complained about on the web. The haircut does make her look smarter. Actors typically have to change their hair for other projects though, so there is a high chance that this pixie cut was not in the writers control since the actress who plays Penny may have other flicks she’s working on.
This change fit her no longer working for The Cheesecake Factory and picking up the better job Bernadette helped her get. However, a lot of fans were also not happy with that change either. Since, they were really attached to a more underdog sort of Penny.
A lot of the comedy and some of the charm did lean into Penny working as a waitress among a bunch of big-name scientists.
Ethically, the new job is good. Yay Penny. Entertainment and charm wise, it’s shaky.
Most of these changes have happened post-marriage to Leonard, which we're not the happiest about. This plays into the idea that people find themselves and everything works out once they are married. They were married twice though, so that’s a little complicated.
2 Post-Marriage Blues
A huge issue about where Big Bang Theory stands now is Penny’s character is beginning to feel pointless.
Her position at the beginning of the show was sort of the main plot wasn’t it? She’s the pretty girl next door that the protagonist sought after. Now (boringly and predictably so), they are together. So now what? She’s just a normal sitcom wife now! Her character has become pointless and uninteresting.
No seriously, now what?
We have no idea where the show is going anymore and neither does everyone else. There was a big part of us that was so relieved after Penny and Leonard’s first marriage ended. But then they did it again!
Penny ending up with someone else in the group like Raj or Sheldon (never Howard) would’ve been more interesting and the plot of Leonard’s journey of self-worth can continue. I mean, that’s it isn’t it? Like all those outdated love stories, Penny is a pretty girl that makes him feel self-worth. He could’ve found out that he can got that somewhere else or from someone else and the sitcom would be more entertaining and meaningful. I guess it’s not too late to go that direction (a second divorce?).
1 Why Did She Drop Out Of Community College?
At the beginning of series, Penny lied to Leonard that she completed Community College. But, truth is that she dropped out and we still don’t know why. In the sixth season of the show, she does take a history course. Later on, she takes an acting class. Early on in season seven, she is also taking a psychology class. I wonder what she studied in Community College?
There is an endless list of things that could’ve happened to make her drop out of Community College.
College can take an emotional toll on people. There are a number of factors that could have cause Penny to drop out. It could’ve been stress, depression, or a traumatic experience like a fight with another student or darker reasons like a bad experience at a party.
Or am I mistaken? Did she even go to college before dropping out? That can happen. People can get wet feet about the whole college experience, before even getting a taste of what the life is like.
Chances are that Penny didn’t think community college would help her with an acting career. I’m not sure though? It would depend on the classes offered. There are just too many scams out there when it comes for someone looking for an acting career. Classes probably would have helped with that.