Skip to main content

The Big Bang Theory, at its core, was a sitcom about a group of friends who also happened to be scientists. As the years wore on, additional members were added to the group. Penny was the only member of the core group who didn’t work in a STEM field. Still, she did have one thing in common with her friends. Penny, just like Howard Wolowitz, Sheldon Cooper, Leonard Hofstadter, and Raj Koothrappali, had a less-than-ideal relationship with her family.  

Sheldon, Penny, and Howard all had issues with their fathers

Sheldon, Penny, and Howard didn’t appear to have much in common at first. In fact, they didn’t even seem to like each other. They all noted problems with their respective fathers, though. Fans have seen the most of Sheldon’s father on Young Sheldon, but his storyline started on The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon described his father as a heavy drinker and suggested he didn’t understand his interest in science. His father was also unfaithful to Sheldon’s mother. 

Howard’s father abandoned his family when Howard was young, an indiscretion that seemed to affect Howard’s life greatly. Penny’s father, who was shown on The Big Bang Theory occasionally, wasn’t perfect, either. Penny suggested her father had wanted her to be a boy and was disappointed when she was born. That disappointment was apparently voiced to Penny at some point.

Leonard Hofstadter’s troubled relationship with his mother was mentioned often

Leonard was characterized as a classic people pleaser. He often went out of his way to make other people happy, even if it was detrimental to his own happiness. Fans noticed it most often with Sheldon, but he did the same for the other important people in his life. Rather early on, it was revealed that his adaptability was directly linked to his distant relationship with his mother. 

Penny and Leonard Hofstadter
Penny and Leonard Hofstadter | Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Image

Leonard once noted that his mother put him in therapy when she thought he was “breastfeeding co-dependently.” He later revealed he never had a birthday party because his mother didn’t consider his birth an achievement for him. Their odd relationship was presented comically, but it was clear it negatively impacted Leonard.

Raj’s parents were overbearing and controlling

Raj didn’t get away unscathed, either. While he lived thousands of miles away from his mother and father, they largely controlled his life. Raj, unlike his pals, was from an exceedingly wealthy family. At one point, Sheldon claimed that the Koothrappali family was dealing with wealth at the level of Scrooge McDuck. Raj’s father, a doctor, used the money to keep Raj close, dulling out an allowance to his astrophysicist son.

Penny and Leonard Hofstadter
Penny and Leonard Hofstadter | Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Image

‘The Big Bang Theory’: When Did Sheldon Develop His Need to Knock Three Times Before Entering a Room?

While generous with money, his father was not quick to praise his son, labeling him a disappointment for not making his own fortune. His mother, however, seemed to be more accepting. Raj’s father was the first father to appear on the show. Penny and Leonard’s fathers didn’t make appearances until later seasons, according to Fandom.