The Big Bang Theory cast suffers from something we like to call the Superman Effect, where they take off their glasses, gel their hair, and put on some spandex, and they're suddenly a totally different person. Johnny Galecki is to Leonard Hofstadter what Superman is to Clark Kent. This could happen to anyone, but the beautiful actors on The Big Bang Theory are put in such terrible outfits and purposefully made to look worse than they actually are so that any of the viewers could actually believe they're unassuming geeks. Doesn't it make you wonder what Johnny, Jim Parsons, Kunal Nayyar, and the rest of the gang look like IRL? Don't worry, we've got you covered.
Laurie Metcalf plays Sheldon Cooper's mother, Mary Cooper. Mary is a sweet, loving, devout Christian Texan with three children. Her husband was an alcoholic who died when Sheldon was a little boy, or a "Young Sheldon." She's very glad that her other two children are dumb, as she's still not 100% Sheldon isn't just a little more than kooky. Laurie, on the other hand, is a character actress with a four-decade-long career that is clearly still going strong. She has won three Emmys, two Tonys, and has been nominated for multiple Academy Awards.
John Ross Bowie
Barry Kripke is, in a word, the worst. Basically, anyone who hates Sheldon Cooper is the worst, but Barry's open antagonism is a bit much. He speaks like Elmer Fudd, and for some reason, he is still invited to basically all of the big events in the main characters lives, like Sheldon's birthday party and Howard's bachelor party. Barry is John Ross Bowe's biggest role to-date, but he's a regular performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. When he wasn't acting, John wrote a book about the best movie of all time, Heathers.
There isn't much of a difference between Wil Wheaton and his Big Bang Theory character, Wil Wheaton. Maybe that's because they're, well, the same person. In the show, Wil is the actor who played Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation. In real life, Wil is the actor who played Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation. As for the on-screen version of Wil, he starts out as Sheldon's mortal enemy, but eventually, the pair become friends after about five seasons of shenanigans.
Brian Thomas Smith
After Penny breaks up with Leonard for the second time, presumably because he never bothered to learn her last name, she dates an actually hot guy, Zack Johnson. Zack is so stupid that he thinks Leonard is going to blow up the moon and drives Penny back to her ex because she can no longer tolerate the dumb. Ironically, Penny is still a lil' dumb herself and accidentally was married to Zack for three years because she didn't realize Vegas weddings "counted." Brian Thomas Smith was a Sig Ep, so he might be dumb, but he got through a good chunk of The Amazing Race with his brother, Greg, so he's probably a pretty smart cookie.
Someone tell us how Christine Baranski just keeps getting hotter? She gives off some serious Sex And The City Samantha vibes that just do not go away. Christine is an Emmy winner and fifteen-time nominee, and she has been in basically every movie in the Western world (a rough estimate). Her 2018 performance in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again showed that BDE has no age. Her character on The Big Bang Theory, Beverly Hofstadter, is Leonard's critical, narcissistic mother who only had children to use them as experiments for her research in neuroscience.
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Raj's younger sister, Priya Koothrappali, is the top attorney at India's biggest car company who seems normal at first, but she gets really jealous of Penny hanging out at Leonard's apartment after Priya and Leonard start dating. Priya tries to convince Leonard to stop spending time with Penny, to break Sheldon's roommate contract, and to keep their relationship a secret from her parents. Priya eventually moves back to India and cheats on Leonard, ending their relationship. Aarti Mann is happily married with a daughter and has appeared in small roles in a lot of television shows, but Priya is her biggest role yet.
Raj's dad, V. M. Koothrappali, lives in India, but that doesn't stop him from meddling in Raj's life. He is constantly trying to set Raj up on dates during their frequent Skype calls. V. M.'s career as a gynecologist has allowed his family to be very, very wealthy, despite Raj's attempts to claim the contrary. Brian George, who portrays V. M., has had a lot of success doing voice acting for D.C. Comics' Batman movies. He also has a main role on I Feel Bad, he appeared in a few episodes of Seinfeld, and you can spot him in a ton of other shows, too.
V. M.'s wife was not given a first name, kind of like how Penny was never given a last name, but she appears frequently with her husband via Skype to beg her son to finally date someone. V. M. and his wife get divorced, and she sets fire to V. M.'s car with the book Eat, Pray, Love, which is a pretty baller move. Alice Amter's best-known role is as Mrs. Koothrappali despite the actress stating in an interview with sundaymercury.net that she has no Indian ancestry.
Bert Kibbler is a well-meaning but kind of sad character on The Big Bang Theory who's in love with literally any woman who breathes near him and then doesn't know how to be normal about it. He used to bring Amy pretty rocks every day, which isn't that creepy because he's a geologist, and he's had a few girlfriends who were only using him for his money. #JusticeForBert! Brian Posehn has had better luck in the romance department, and he's been married since 2004. He used to be known for smoking weed, but he gave it up in 2011. He's also had a massively successful career as a comedian, NBD.
I guess, technically, we know Penny's last name now because she's married — Penny Hofstadter. Penny is cute and fun, and she works at a Cheesecake Factory for the first seven years of the series. Honestly, keeping *any* job for seven years is an accomplishment to be proud of. She might not have any collegiate or post-collegiate degrees, but she's regularly shown to be the smartest of anyone on this show. Kaley Cuoco has been killing the sitcom game since 2002 when she was on 8 Simple Rules and has worked steadily since, showing her and her character share a knack for gainful employment *and* great hair.
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Regina King is queen of everything. She's won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a few Emmys, she's literally gorgeous, and she's been in the leading cast of nine television shows in addition to being in some of the best movies of all time: Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, and A Cinderella Story. On The Big Bang Theory, Regina played an HR representative at CalTech who had to deal with Sheldon saying racist and sexist things all the time for the better part of a decade.
Leslie Winkle was introduced in the first season as basically the female Leonard. She's Sheldon's arch-nemesis and a sexual partner of both Leonard and Howard. She starts dating Leonard until Sheldon breaks the pair up for sport. Leslie was written off of the show because the writers just couldn't think of anywhere for her storyline to go. What, all of the weird guys get to have storylines where they date hot girls, but they couldn't think of *anything* for Leslie, like maybe a hot guy of her own? A tragedy. Sara Gilbert is doing just fine without The Big Bang Theory, though, as the co-host and creator of The Talk.
We can confidently say that Melissa Rauch has the biggest on- to off-screen transformation of anyone on The Big Bang Theory, hands down. Bernadette Rostenkowski was introduced as Penny's co-worker at the Holy Mecca The Cheesecake Factory, who's waitressing to pay for her microbiology graduate degree. Bernadette is a spitfire who is competitive, ruthless, and really sweet. She ends up marrying Howard, which is also really sweet. Melissa's most well-known role is definitely Bernadette, but she's had a lot of success in voice acting, too.
Everyone knows that Mayim Bialik has a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA, probably because it's such a huge art imitating life moment that no one ever shuts up about it. She was also on Blossom, but nobody seems to care about that. Mayim was nominated for four Emmy awards for portraying Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory, the neurobiologist who eventually becomes Sheldon's wife. It's a really cute progression that was done really well, and if Sheldon can find love, then all of us have hope.
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Stuart Bloom runs a comic book store in Pasadena frequented by the series' leads, and he is a very sad and lonely man. He tries to go out with both Penny and Amy, only to have both of the women realize their feelings for their future boyfriends/husbands while they're with him. Oops! In season twelve, it looks like he may have found a girl that actually wants to date him. Kevin Sussman has been in iconic shows such as Ugly Betty and Wet Hot American Summer: The First Day of Camp.
Emily Sweeney is a Dermatology resident at Huntington Hospital who looks really sweet but is a huge fan of the macabre. Relatable! She dates Raj for a while, but he's kind of freaked by her gothic requests like having sex in a graveyard and cruelly dumps her for a girl he just met because he could see the new girl as the mother of his children. The new girl, Claire, thinks that was a horrible thing to do and does not date Raj, so he tries to get Emily back, who rejects him. Emily is awesome. Laura Spencer is also awesome and was a main character in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on YouTube, a Big Recommend.
Howard Wolowitz is an aerospace engineer who gets teased by his friends for not having a doctorate. He lives with his domineering mother until season six, when he moves in with his girlfriend, Bernadette, and eventually moves back into his mother's house with Bernadette and Stuart after his mother's death. Howard and Bernadette marry and have children, but he still doesn't have a doctorate. Simon Helberg also doesn't have a doctorate, but he does have a Critics' Choice Award for his role in Florence Foster Jenkins alongside Meryl Streep, which is arguably better.
What Kunal Nayyar and Simon Helberg's IRL looks really prove is that confidence is everything. While their characters on The Big Bang Theory suffer from extreme awkwardness, Kunal's character Raj especially, you can literally feel the confidence radiating off of their red carpet pictures, and that makes all the difference. Raj's whole ~thing~ on the show is that he couldn't speak to women (Kunal doesn't have this problem, either — he's married to a former Miss India). Raj has gotten over that, but he's still single on the show.
Leonard Hofstadter gets his dream girl, Penny No Last Name, and that's all you really need to know about him. Their love story is what drove The Big Bang Theory at the beginning of its run, even though Sheldon Cooper became the breakaway star. Funnily enough, Johnny Galecki got that same dream girl for a while — he dated Kaley Cuoco from 2007 to 2009 while working on the series. He also dated his on-screen love interest Sara Gilbert while they were both on Roseanne. Yup, that's the same Sara Gilbert who played Lesley Winkle. Good thing he seems to have a lot of amicable breakups.
Jim Parsons and Sheldon Cooper couldn't be more different. Jim is an endearing actor with a happy marriage to his husband, Todd Spiewak. Sheldon Cooper is a little off-putting with a happy marriage to his wife, Amy. To be fair, the characters share their penchant for massive success. Sheldon is a theoretical physicist with enough degrees to spell out the entire alphabet, while Jim appeared on Broadway in The Normal Heart and was in the Academy Award-nominated Hidden Figures. He has won four Emmys for his work on The Big Bang Theory and a Golden Globe.