All 16 Major 'Big Bang Theory' Characters, Ranked

Kelly Bryant | Aug 4, 2017 TV
Image: IMDb

Big Bang Theory cast

There's a reason Big Bang Theory has been going strong for a full 10 seasons -- the characters keep pulling us back in for more. What could have been a two-dimensional show about a hot girl who lives across the hall from two nerds turned into a really sweet and hilarious look at relationships. 

And not just the romantic kind. Meeting the characters' quirky family members over the years has offered a ton of insight into what makes each one tick, adding depth and lots of layers to the main crew. It's not easy to play favorites with the BBT gang, because each episode gives you a reason to either fall a little more in love or get a little more annoyed with these on-screen pals. But, because we love a solid, ranked list, we're gonna try.

Without further adieu, here are 16 of the most notable BBT characters, ranked.

  • 16. Zack Johnson


    Whenever the show brings back cute but oh-so-dumb Zack, it's a real treat. We were worried we'd seen the last of Penny's ex after the Thanksgiving episode where she forces him to get their quickie Vegas marriage annulled. But every so often BBT delivers the funny guy again, and we hope they keep surprising us. However, since his presence isn't vital to the show, we've put him at #16.

  • 15. Dr. Beverly Hofstadter


    Christine Baranski is so amazing at playing Leonard's cold, cruel psychiatrist mother Beverly that we actually cringe a little when she appears on-screen. Dr. Hofstadter had very strong opinions on how to raise her little boy, and, oh, how they have played into his modern-day personality. We're ranking her at #15 purely because she frightens us ... and her son.

  • 14. Leslie Winkle


    Sadly, we haven't seen Sara Gilbert make an appearance as Leslie Winkle in a while, which is a bummer because we love when the actress reunites with her Roseanne costar Johnny Galecki. But, more importantly, Leslie is a fantastic foe for Sheldon. She can deal out zingers even faster than the genius can spurt out facts about string theory. Their banter is fun and clever, plus it's always fun to see Sheldon squirm. We can't imagine how the show would bring her back in any regular capacity, so we'll leave Leslie here at #14.

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  • 13. Barry Kripke


    Ohhhh, Kripke ... always a thorn in the side of his colleagues. Barry Kripke is another character whom we haven't laid eyes on in a while (more than likely because actor John Ross Bowie is tied up with his lead role on ABC's Speechless), but it's fun to watch him throw a wrench into Sheldon and Leonard's plans. Sometimes annoying, sometimes too clever for his own good, Kripke is an exceptional nemesis for the boys, which lands him the #13 spot on our list.

  • 12. Halley Wolowitz


    Even though we've never actually seen Baby Halley's face (and likely never will), we love the fact that the newborn has picked up right where her grandmother Mrs. Wolowitz left off before her untimely death. With her distinctive cries, she fits right into Bernadette and Howard's household. Plus, she holds the title as first Big Bang Theory baby, and that means something, at least enough to bring her to #12.

  • 11. Mrs. Wolowitz


    Mrs. Wolowitz's shtick was that we only heard her distinctive, booming voice and never had the opportunity to see her face, yet her presence was still a powerful one. Sadly Howard's mom passed in 2014 (coinciding with death of the actress who portrayed her, Carol Ann Susi). We'll never forget the scene where the gang honors her life by gathering in the Wolowitz home to feast on the freezer full of food she left behind. Thankfully, we have Baby Halley to carry on her legacy, which is why we're placing Mrs. Wolowitz right next to her on our list at #11.

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  • 10. Stuart Bloom


    Who knew that comic book store owner Stuart would become an integral part of the BBT gang when the show originally started airing? Sweet, confused, and trying to find his place in this world, this guy comes through for his friends and definitely deserves more of his own story lines. After all, he's part of the Wolowitz family now and full deserving of cracking our top 10.

  • 9. Mary Cooper


    Mary Cooper is the polar opposite type of mother to Sheldon as Beverly Hofstadter is to Leonard. Calm, caring, and deeply religious, Mary isn't as naive as she may initially look. She has her son's number and knows exactly how to get him to fall in line, in a thick southern accent, of course. The fact that she is able to connect with the out-of-touch Sheldon is a testament to her amazing character. Three cheers (and #9 on our list) for Mary!

  • 8. Wil Wheaton


    So, we sorta miss the days when Wil Wheaton (playing himself) was a formidable foe for Sheldon, wielding his Star Trek fame around to get the upper hand in nerdy situations. But, really, it's just as much fun to watch him pal around with the gang as a friend. Wil playing an exaggerated version of himself is such a perfect fit for the series -- and the actor pulls it off flawlessly.

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  • 7. Bernadette Rostenkowski


    When Bernadette debuted on BBT, she somehow managed to effortlessly blend in with the core five characters and normalize Howard (well, as much as one person can). Neither one of these things is an easy feat. We love how she can be sweet and supportive, hyper-competitive, and a total boss babe in a single episode, landing her at lucky #7.

  • 6. Howard Wolowitz


    If you had told us wannabe lothario Howard Wolowitz would be the first character married off with a kid after the pilot episode, we never would have believed it. Our BBT astronaut evolved in a major way. And even though he still makes us roll our eyes at some of his comments, we love him anyway, parking Howard at #6.

  • 5. Raj Koothrappali


    Somewhere along the way, we became very protective of Raj, much like his group of friends. We're ready for this insecure softie to find true love already. Sure, he gets a little crazy when he drinks (remember when that was literally the only way he could talk to women?), but one day he's going to make a girl very happy. Because he still has some work to do on himself before he can have his happily ever after, we're going to leave him right here at #5. 

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  • 4. Amy Farrah Fowler


    Amy Farrah Fowler has evolved so much since she came on the BBT scene in 2010. Once a lonely, awkward scientist desperate for human connection, Amy quickly found friendship with the gang and proved herself to be the perfect match for Sheldon (even if it took him a while to appreciate it). Still awkward, Amy gets the #4 slot on our list, because we love what she brings to the group and the unique way in which she sees the world and relationships.

  • 3. Leonard Hofstadter


    Leonard has had a lot to overcome over the years, not the least of which includes being raised by a mom that was more about psychiatry than offering up the warm fuzzies. His relationship with wife Penny has provided him with confidence and love, helping him to grow into a fully fleshed-out character. And the way in which he's always there for Sheldon (even when he really doesn't want to be) makes Leonard one of the most endearing characters on BBT.

  • 2. Penny


    Penny is probably our spirit TV character. Rarely without a glass of wine in her hand, she seems like she would totally get us. And she proved herself to be a heck of a go-getter when Bernadette helped her snag the pharmaceutical sales job. Nothing made us happier than when she and Leonard got hitched. They complete each other, and it's awesome. While we'd love to give her top honors on our list, there's one character who surpasses Penny for a very specific reason...

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  • 1. Sheldon Cooper


    While often completely infuriating, yes, Sheldon Cooper lands in the #1 spot in our ranking of BBT characters. He's rigid, ridiculous, and awfully self-centered, but there's a kind heart buried under all of the scientific jargon. We love the "risks" he's taken to keep his relationship with Amy afloat and how he has managed to maintain strong friendships with the gang despite his often crazy demands. Considering there's a prequel coming to CBS in the fall called Young Sheldon, clearly fans want to learn more about the guy. And so do we.