Sheldon's childhood friend from Texas, Tam, is visiting the university with his son. Sheldon does not want to see him and the others wonder why Sheldon has never mentioned Tam. Tam is unaware Sheldon is angry with him, thinking they just naturally drifted apart. Sheldon's brother George does not know the reason either. Sheldon eventually reveals Tam promised he would move to California with Sheldon, but then got a girlfriend and stayed with her, leaving Sheldon feeling abandoned. Tam and Sheldon make up and Sheldon has Leonard take Tam to the airport. Meanwhile, Penny and Bernadette want to get to know Anu, impressed by her connections in the hotel industry. They tell her embarrassing things about Raj and wonder if they can go out with her again after Raj confronts them.

Science has also interfered with the characters' romantic lives. Leslie breaks up with Leonard when he sides with Sheldon in his support for string theory rather than loop quantum gravity.[70] When Leonard joins Sheldon, Raj, and Howard on a three-month Arctic research trip, it separates Leonard and Penny at a time when their relationship is budding. When Bernadette takes an interest in Leonard's work, it makes both Penny and Howard envious and results in Howard confronting Leonard, and Penny asking Sheldon to teach her physics.[71] Sheldon and Amy also briefly end their relationship after an argument over which of their fields is superior.[72]
After the birth of Michael, Howard and Bernadette are unsure who should stay home with the kids. Howard decides to look after the kids one day to show he has what it takes to care for them. While Bernadette falls back in love with her job on a trip to the office, Howard is quickly tired and realizes he might not have what it takes to be a stay-at-home dad. Howard and Bernadette realize neither them is ready to give up their job.

Initial reception for the series was mixed. The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 52% approval rating for the first season based on reviews from 23 critics, with an average rating of 5.18/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Big Bang Theory brings a new class of character to mainstream television, but much of the comedy feels formulaic and stiff."[91] On Metacritic, the season holds a score of 57 out of 100, based on reviews from 23 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[92] Later seasons received more acclaim and in 2013, TV Guide ranked the series #52 on its list of the 60 Best Series of All Time.[93]

Warner Bros. Television controls the online rights for the show.[159][160] Full episodes are available at tv.com, while short clips and recently aired full episodes are available on cbs.com.[161] In Canada, recent episode(s) and pictures are available on CTV.ca.[162] Additionally in Canada, the first six seasons are available for streaming on Bell Media's CraveTV.[163] After the show has aired in New Zealand the shows are available in full online at TVNZ's on demand web service.
Science has also interfered with the characters' romantic lives. Leslie breaks up with Leonard when he sides with Sheldon in his support for string theory rather than loop quantum gravity.[70] When Leonard joins Sheldon, Raj, and Howard on a three-month Arctic research trip, it separates Leonard and Penny at a time when their relationship is budding. When Bernadette takes an interest in Leonard's work, it makes both Penny and Howard envious and results in Howard confronting Leonard, and Penny asking Sheldon to teach her physics.[71] Sheldon and Amy also briefly end their relationship after an argument over which of their fields is superior.[72]
By season seven, Galecki, Parsons, and Cuoco were also receiving 0.25% of the series' back-end money. Before production began on the eighth season, the three plus Helberg and Nayyar, looked to renegotiate new contracts, with Galecki, Parsons, and Cuoco seeking around $1 million per episode, as well as more back-end money.[36] Contracts were signed in the beginning of August 2014, giving the three principal actors an estimated $1 million per episode for three years, with the possibility to extend for a fourth year. The deals also include larger pieces of the show, signing bonuses, production deals, and advances towards the back-end.[37] Helberg and Nayyar were also able to renegotiate their contracts, giving them a per-episode pay in the "mid-six-figure range", up from around $100,000 per episode they each received in years prior. The duo, who were looking to have salary parity with Parsons, Galecki, and Cuoco, signed their contracts after the studio and producers threatened to write the characters out of the series if a deal could not be reached before the start of production on season eight.[38] By season 10, Helberg and Nayyar reached the $1 million per episode parity with Parsons, Galecki, and Cuoco, due to a clause in their deals signed in 2014.[39]
Simon Helberg as Howard Wolowitz:[45] An aerospace engineer who got his Masters at MIT. Howard is Jewish and lived with his mother, Debbie (Carol Ann Susi). Unlike Sheldon, Leonard, Raj, Bernadette and Amy, Howard does not hold a doctorate. He goes into space, training as an astronaut and serving as a payload specialist. Howard initially fancies himself as a womanizer, but he later starts dating Bernadette, and they get engaged and married. Howard also has a tendency to waste money on toys and argues with Bernadette because of his oddly low income as an engineer and her high income as a pharmaceutical biochemist.
When Amy sees Sheldon obsessively tying and untying his bow tie the day before their wedding, Amy tells him it doesn't need to be even because sometimes a little asymmetry looks good. On the day of the wedding, Sheldon stops his mother from trying to straighten his bow tie, saying it's supposed to be a little asymmetrical. When Mary comments that sometimes it’s the imperfect stuff that makes things perfect, Sheldon has a flash of inspiration and rushes to see Amy. Sheldon and Amy’s wedding is delayed as they excitedly work on a new theory of “super asymmetry”.
In the show, the song "Soft Kitty" was described by Sheldon as a song sung by his mother when he was ill. Its repeated use in the series popularized the song.[83] A scene depicting the origin of the song in Sheldon's childhood is depicted in an episode of Young Sheldon, which aired on February 1, 2018. It shows Sheldon's mother Mary singing the song to her son, who is suffering with the flu.[84]
Two months after the events of "The Change Constant", Sheldon and Leonard repair Sheldon's DNA molecule model as everyone prepares to fly to Sweden for the Nobel Prize award ceremony. Howard and Bernadette nervously leave their kids for the first time with Stuart and Denise, while Raj leaves his dog with Bert. Penny has become pregnant, though she and Leonard are keeping it a secret. On the flight, Raj thinks he spots Sarah Michelle Gellar. Penny's frequent bathroom trips make Sheldon fear she is sick. Leonard reveals the pregnancy to Sheldon, but instead of being excited for Penny, Sheldon is only selfishly relieved that he will not get sick and he exposes the pregnancy, offending Leonard. At the hotel, a series of minor incidents with their kids make Howard and Bernadette want to go home. Much to their dismay, Sheldon is still insensitive. Amy furiously tells Sheldon he broke their friends' hearts and they only tolerate him because he does not intentionally do so, which she also sometimes does. Everyone decides to stay for the ceremony and Raj brings Gellar. After they are awarded their medals, Amy encourages girls to pursue science while Sheldon thanks his family and then individually acknowledges each of his friends and Amy as his other family who always support him. The episode closes with the gang eating in Apartment 4A (an allusion to the final scene in the opening credits) as an acoustic version of the theme song's chorus plays.
When Leonard receives a braggy Christmas letter from his brother, he feels bad about how little he and Penny have achieved in the past year. Leonard wonders if he and Penny should be thinking about the next step after two years of marriage, like buying a house or having a baby. Penny tells him she wants to do all those things someday, but she has a bunch of stuff she would like to do first.
In scenes set at Howard's home, he interacts with his rarely-seen mother (voiced by Carol Ann Susi until her death) by shouting from room to room in the house. She similarly interacts with other characters in this manner.[85] She reflects the Jewish mother stereotype in some ways, such as being overly controlling of Howard's adult life and sometimes trying to make him feel guilty about causing her trouble. She is dependent on Howard, as she requires him to help her with her wig and makeup in the morning. Howard, in turn, is attached to his mother to the point where she still cuts his meat for him, takes him to the dentist, does his laundry and "grounds" him when he returns home after briefly moving out.[86] Until Howard's marriage to Bernadette in the fifth-season finale, Howard's former living situation led Leonard's psychiatrist mother to speculate that he may suffer from some type of pathology,[87] and Sheldon to refer to their relationship as Oedipal.[88] In season 8, Howard's mother dies in her sleep while in Florida, which devastates Howard and Stuart, who briefly lived with Mrs. Wolowitz.
Sheldon and Amy are surprised to find that Wil Wheaton's new Professor Proton show is actually very entertaining and that Wil had Howard on as a guest. On Howard's suggestion, Sheldon apologizes to Wil, mending their friendship, and tells him he wants to be on the show; but Wil asks for Amy. Sheldon tells her to do it, but she says she often doesn't do things to avoid upsetting him. Sheldon is horrified when he realises how selfish he has been, especially when he finds out that the men do the same for him. Sheldon encourages Amy to go on the show to inspire girls to pursue science while trying to control his obvious jealousy for her. Meanwhile, Leonard writes a book about a physicist that solves a murder, the protagonist Logan Dean is based on himself. Bernadette points out Logan's mean boss Illsa is similar to Penny, who thinks it is based on Bernadette, though Leonard does not correct her. However, Bernadette tells Penny the truth, upsetting her and making her mad at Leonard. After calling his mother for advice, Leonard learns that Illsa is actually like her; but abandons the book when he realizes he wrote romantic tension into the relationship between the characters.
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