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December 08, 2009

'The Big Bang Theory': Why Penny and Sheldon will hook up

December 8, 2009 | 10:25 am

I apologize for the diversion: This will be of no importance to those who don't watch "The Big Bang Theory." But I've been wanting to say this for a while.  I believe that Penny and Sheldon are destined to kiss, if not more.

Their chemistry is the best of any two people on the show. Better than Leonard and Sheldon, better than Leonard and Penny, better than Howard and Raj. Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons have firecracker moments in every scene they're in together.

The Leonard and Penny relationship has been handled well by the show's writers, but part of what makes their treatment of it effective is how they depict the struggle for them to find common interests. It's completely clear that they care for each other, but I just get the feeling that they're going to run out of momentum. I do not think they are like Jim and Pam from "The Office."

Penny and Sheldon at this point have even less in common, but I think their fascination with each other — and what I think is an unspoken but clear affection for each other — will transcend that, at least on a short-term basis. 

The biggest argument against Penny and Sheldon becoming an item, the one that has caused everyone who has heard my theory to dismiss it, is Sheldon's asexuality. But Sheldon is definitely an evolving human being. And he's curious about the world. There's no doubt in my mind that over time, the right woman could draw him out of his shell. Penny is definitely curious about Sheldon, not to mention tender and nurturing more times than I can remember. Despite their surface differences, she is coming to understand Sheldon, and could easily be that woman who brings Sheldon's romantic side to life.

I mean, we're in Sam and Diane territory here - with perhaps a dash of Mary Richards and Lou Grant. I'm not saying Penny and Sheldon will get married. But they'll have their moment — and maybe more.

I don't expect Penny to dump Leonard for Sheldon overnight. But "The Big Bang Theory" is a smash for CBS, and should be on for years to come. That's time enough for Leonard and Penny to realize they weren't meant for each other long-term, time enough for Sheldon and Penny to develop more of a bond, time enough for that very, very big episode where Sheldon and Penny are alone together, and the crowd goes wild.

You might keep characters like Penny and Sheldon apart for a long time, but you don't keep them apart forever.

Comments (72)

I believe this will be the last great sitcom.

I completely agree that in time Penny and Sheldon will have their moment. Perhaps as soon as the season finale. They've been very careful with these two characters but it's inevitable they will get together even if it's just for the short term. Their scenes together always seem to hint at something though not deliberate but they haven't pushed the button on it yet. They should hold off as long as they can because I'm not sure what a relationship would do to Sheldon. I suppose that's why they'll eventually do it. The possibilities are endless including Sheldon taking notes this time...

I also agree they have the best chemistry. Last night's physics teaching scene was great.

I don't watch the show, but why does this hot girl hang out with these dorks? Did she get into a car accident with one of them and not have any insurance?

I'd say the short answer is that she has an inner dork side that they've brought out.

Basically, she's discovered that nice guys don't necessarily deserve to finish last.

Penny hangs out with them because they are nice, decent, caring individuals who's company she enjoys. What does it matter if they're not "hot" like her? Friendship and love go beyond the superficial, even on cable TV. :)

Not that there is anything wrong with this; but I think the right man is a lot more likely to bring Sheldon out of his shell than the right woman...

I completely agree with the article. The chemistry between their characters is better than anyone else's on the show. Plus, Penny is always a challenge for Sheldon, and she is always comfortable with him because of his honesty - even if he can be a bit insentitive at times.

I really believe that they can slowly reach a point where a relationship could develop. I think Leonard and Penny don't have what it takes for a long and lasting romantic relationship.

Not only do Parsons and Cuoco light up in their scenes together, but Sheldon and Penny as characters always challenge each other while simultaneously having, like you said, the sweetest moments of the show. I have never believed that Sheldon is asexual; he CHOSE to forgo romantic relationships to focus entirely on his work and hobbies, but the right person can draw him out of his shell.

Of course Sheldon and Penny should not get together right away; a relationhip like this will need a long, slow buildup to get the both of them to a believable point, but much of the foundation has been laid, unwittingly or not, these past few seasons. They have a truly unique relationship.

I think that if Sheldon was ever interested in experimenting with sex, Penny would maybe fix him up with someone, give him advice, etc. Their chemistry is like brother and sister. I hope they never ruin that-- i think it's beautiful to show a completely platonic friendship evolve.

Yeah, I don't see what's building between them as brother-sister. It has more sizzle than that.

I'd buy the gay angle, though I have more trouble seeing that happening on this show.

No, this will never happen and it should never happen. I see the biggest development in their relationship is their friendship continuing to grow.. and nothing more. It would not make sense, Sheldon would never be attracted to Penny. This may sound weird, but he is too good for her. If and when he finds a girl he likes, she will have to be like Sheldon. I agree Sheldon and Penny do have the best dynamic on the show because they are so opposite, however, putting them romantically together would ruin it.

I'm baffled by the furor that arises whenever the possibility of a Sheldon/Penny relationship is mentioned.

This is just a sitcom - it is no great statement on romance or asexuality, or a deep analysis of the many types of relationships, platonic or otherwise - it is a television show created to make us laugh.

The way Sheldon and Penny's relationship is presented changes every week. One episode she is his mother, another they are like siblings (the "Seafood" bit from 3.10), and then another, he is the hero to her heroine, taking peeks at her whilst she's getting dressed. None of these is the 'absolute definition' of their dynamic. They're written differently depending on the tone of the episode, or the specific writer chosen - at the end of the day, the comedy always comes first above perfect character consistency.
And there is a great deal of comedic potential for seasons to come, if the writers ever decide to give in and go for a romantic relationship between the pair.

We Sheldon/Penny fans are not 'delusional', as the 'shipper' cliche goes. I don't have any proof that they'll ever go there, nor will it negatively impact on my life if I am denied a 'Shenelope' narrative. (In the end, this is what fanworks are for.) But I do think it's likely the writers will return to this idea, and maybe test the waters a few more times. A dream sequence, or alternate reality episode perhaps? I hope so, anyway - it seems a great loss to have two characters who play off eachother with so much 'spark' and not at least try it within the safety net of "unreality".

"For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: 'It might have been!'"

I missed the line about this entry being a diversion, and thought we were talking about Brad Penny. I figured Sheldon might have been his new pitching coach, and their relationship was going to explode and Penny would return to All-Star form. Scary stuff.

Needless to say, I'm glad now that this entry had nothing to do about baseball. I hope Brad's mediocrity continues.

Thanks so much for bringing this up. Everyone thinks I'm seeing things when I say they will get together. Parsons and Cuoco have crazy chemistry, its electric!

I have to agree with Jon. I'm not seeing the brother/sister thing at at. Nor do I believe that Sheldon is asexual, either. I know plenty of geeky guys like Sheldon who have buried their sexual/romantic selves because 1) they're so focused on their work/research/geeky pursuits and 2) they are befuddled by the whole romance thing and would rather opt out, at least temporarily, than risk rejection and failure. And I've seen several of those guys eventually find the right person and go on to have lasting relationships.

The chemistry between Sheldon and Penny is unmistakable and I think the showrunners would be doing the characters a great disservice if they didn't explore this angle at some point.

Oh, I posted without complimenting you on the article (ridiculous, as that was why I began the comment in the first place, I seem to have been sidetracked by other things I wanted to say but had not found a place to write, hah).
I agree with everything you have written, really, and you've written it much more coherently and rationally than I could ever put it. Wonderful stuff.

Jon, great post and agree 100%. I definitely think that you're right and that in the long run, these are the two characters who will end up having the most chemistry but that is also the moment, I think, that I will stop watching the show.

"Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur..." This is my favorite Penny/Sheldon moment.

Lovely article and I could not agree more with every word. They really have all the elements combined of what make a truly memorable television couple. Their relationship is so wonderfully unique, having both the sugar and the spice to make it fabulous to watch unfold on screen. The creators would be downright silly not to pursue it. I completely agree with your assessment that Sheldon needs the right woman to draw him out; Penny is most definitely that woman. And this is all before even mentioning the incredible chemistry of the actors', Jim Parsons/Kaley Cuoco.

I don't think the show-runners could have predicted what Sheldon and Penny have become but this is one of those rare couples that people adore watching evolve. I honestly see their "get-together kiss" going down as one of the most remembered of all time.

Thanks for the article!

I think that Penny and Sheldon have the best chemistry-BUT not all chemistry is romantic. They banter, and they argue, and I can totally see it-plus the scenes I laugh at the most are when they are alone. But a lot of what is funny most of the time-her inability to understand the way he thinks and vice versa-would cease to be funny if they got romantic. I'm not a fan of Sheldon with anyone, but if he does ever fine this "right woman" she would be someone he could connect with over science. To me the idea of Sheldon getting romantically involved with ANYONE is a bad idea. It would totally eliminate his lack of comprehension in the social sciences and I think he would cease to be the funny, out-there Sheldon we all know and love. So sure, I'm one of Platonic-Penny-Sheldon's biggest fans. But Sheldon with a girl-ANY girl! No, no, no! That episode would be called "The Jump The Shark Catastrophe."

"If and when he finds a girl he likes, she will have to be like Sheldon."

I dont agree. A girl like Sheldon would be the worst for him. He needs someone with common sense, someone who can guide him through social situations, someone who knows when and how to wind him up and when and how to calm him down. Sheldon is consciously very logical, but subconsciously, such as his need for Soft Kitty when hes sick and certain things a particular way, he really isnt, and a female version of Sheldon wouldnt understand that and would most likely resist it.

Not to mention that Sheldons intelligence is a huge source of pride for him; he NEEDS to be the smartest. Hed compete with, belittle, and argue with anyone that threatened that. Look at his previous relationships with characters, scientists like Leslie and Gabelhauser and Ramona and even his friends: he needs to be on top in this area.

A character like Penny who already understands and accepts his quirks, who is forward where he is reserved, and balances him out in the areas hes lacking is the best candidate for him if hes ever in a romantic relationship.

Also with Penny he was more or less FORCED to grow to accept her; I dont see him as a guy who has interacted long term with any other sort of people besides scientists and his family, and hes always bagging on Wolowitz for not having a Phd. So the fact that he *has* this respect and affection for Penny (other than a few side remarks) says a lot about their relationship.

100% agree with you on all accounts. Sheldon and Penny have great chemistry. As someone who has lived with/worked with guys like this, I don't doubt this relationship has some great potential.

"I missed the line about this entry being a diversion, and thought we were talking about Brad Penny. I figured Sheldon might have been his new pitching coach, and their relationship was going to explode and Penny would return to All-Star form."

HA! Now THAT would be great know Sheldon would put his vast knowledge of physics to use for baseball. Bonus points if Sheldon and Manny got to interact!

But I agree with the original may not have been the creators' intention, but they cannot deny that the episodes that feature Sheldon and Penny interacting have been among the series' funniest, and to not explore that relationship further would be a huge wasted (comedic!) opportunity.

Just as some of us do not understand either L/P's relationship or the brother sister ange on S/P, some do. I think that Penny and Sheldon have the best chemistry-BUT not all chemistry is romantic. They banter, and they argue, and I can totally see it-plus the scenes I laugh at the most are when they are alone. But a lot of what is funny most of the time-her inability to understand the way he thinks and vice versa-would cease to be funny if they got romantic. I'm not a fan of Sheldon with anyone, but if he does ever fine this "right woman" she would be someone he could connect with over science. To me the idea of Sheldon getting romantically involved with ANYONE is a bad idea. It would totally eliminate his lack of comprehension in the social sciences and I think he would cease to be the funny, out-there Sheldon we all know and love. So sure, I'm one of Platonic-Penny-Sheldon's biggest fans. But Sheldon with a girl-ANY girl! No, no, no! That episode would be called "The Jump The Shark Catastrophe."

Okay! So this week, I just loved it. My favorite part was probably when Penny went through The Sheldon’s Spot Rant, but the whole episode was great-I also loved at the end when Penny though she was just discussing his work and proving her knowledge (to impress him) but didn’t realize she was actually insulting him. Clearly Sheldon appealed to the wanna-be-actress in her and gave her a few sentences to memorize. And man-usually I understand the science stuff, but I had to really listen to catch on to what Penny was saying-I bet she had a five-syllable word for, like…”is” or something! Haha too many good parts to mention!
Penny: Can we back up a little?
Sheldon: Where did you get confused?
Penny: Where were we looking at the sky?
Sheldon: Greece.
Penny: Dang!
This was amazing! Haha or Sheldon getting all bent out of shape at the shoes conversation or the “family style” food.

“You’ve got a really good point,” she said, cocking her head. I think that Penny and Sheldon have the best chemistry-BUT not all chemistry is romantic. They banter, and they argue, and I can totally see it-plus the scenes I laugh at the most are when they are alone. But a lot of what is funny most of the time-her inability to understand the way he thinks and vice versa-would cease to be funny if they got romantic. I'm not a fan of Sheldon with anyone, but if he does ever fine this "right woman" she would be someone he could connect with over science. To me the idea of Sheldon getting romantically involved with ANYONE is a bad idea. It would totally eliminate his lack of comprehension in the social sciences and I think he would cease to be the funny, out-there Sheldon we all know and love. So sure, I'm one of Platonic-Penny-Sheldon's biggest fans. But Sheldon with a girl-ANY girl! No, no, no! That episode would be called "The Jump The Shark Catastrophe."

^ To Whinnie: why the repetition? I think we all get your point...?

As for this article: I think it's HILARIOUS and completely AWESOME that such a widely-read publication is rooting for this particular 'ship. For each one of us that supports it, I know there's a good 50 that will refute it 'til the cows come home. (And to diverge a bit myself, it sounds an awful lot like the same reasons everyone jumps on top of the Nu!Spock/Uhura fans...)

So KUDOS, author, for explaining why Sheldon/Penny work so VERY well. :D

I thought this was going to be a thread about Brad Penny.

So I gather that some are very unhappy with how the Leonard-Penny relationship has gone. What are your beefs?

Jon, it's not that I have a beef with the Leonard-Penny relationship, in fact, I still have a lot of hope for it but in a show about geeks and nerds, Leonard is honestly, the most normal guy and for this show, normal guy in normal relationship = boring.

That said, I think the writers have done the relationship a disservice as well, we're what, 10 or 11 eps into this season and how many Leonard-Penny only storylines have there been?

Jon, it's not that I have a beef with the Leonard-Penny relationship, in fact, I still have a lot of hope for it but in a show about geeks and nerds, Leonard is honestly, the most normal guy and for this show, normal guy in normal relationship = boring.

That said, I think the writers have done the relationship a disservice as well, we're what, 10 or 11 eps into this season and how many Leonard-Penny only storylines have there been?

I have to agree 100% with this article, and I'm so glad someone in the media has taken the time to detail what is so wonderful about these two characters, these two actors, when they share a scene together. I have never seen this as a brother-sister deal. Those moments the die-hard Leonard/Penny fans are calling "brother-sister"? Yeah, those are classic playground-behavior moments, sorry. Sheldon may as well be pulling her hair, and Penny may as well be pushing him down in a sandbox somewhere.

Another thing you forgot to add: even the platonic moments between Sheldon and Penny (their hug last Christmas, and their round-robin singing of 'Soft Kitty' just a couple episodes ago) STILL garner more screaming from the audience than any amount of awkward Leonard/Penny kissing and groping. Johnny and Kaley just do not have the chemistry, whereas Jim and Kaley have it in spades.

Thanks for this. :)


I have been thinking the same thing, but only because the show has nowhere else to go. The story line of nerd pines for the blonde has already been completed. The show definitely lost some of its tension when Leonard and Penny finally hooked up. It's definitely not as funny this year as in season's past. Going forward, the only story arc left is to see whether opposites finally attract in Sheldon and Penny.

If this were real life, these two would find some basic level of friendship, and perhaps a one-night stand based on Sheldon finally discovering he does have a libido. But they have absolutely nothing in common, dooming any meaningful relationship between them.

And Jon, to answer your question as to why so many of us are against Leonard and Penny, it's simple really (and I touched on it briefly in my last comment): chemistry. It all boils down to chemistry.

It's just not there. It has felt forced and awkward since the pilot episode, and the only times they are actually enjoyable together are when they are just being good friends. Plus, let's not forget that all of their "hot" moments? Are when they're either driven by nothing more than absence-hormones, or when they've both consumed tons of liquor. THAT is the grand-passion we're supposed to be rooting for? Please.

Now I'm aware that the writers of this television show are intelligent, but many other "intelligent" shows have fallen into the trap of still trying to push a pairing that is just constantly awkward. CSI did that with Grissom and Sara and it completely ruined their ratings. The House M.D. writers were wise and took note of *chemistry* over original intent; they salvaged what could have been a major shark-jump by instead focusing on House and Cuddy versus where they were originally going with House and Cameron. Let's hope the writers of TBBT follow the House M.D. formula rather than the CSI formula.

Another angle that hasn't really been mentioned here is that Leonard is really the straight man to Sheldon and that by being the more er... quirky character, Sheldon is the main thrust to the show. Since when does the main character _not_ get the girl?

I don't know, I think this has been the show's funniest season. I feel like it keeps getting better as the characters all become more fleshed out.

By the way, I may be in the minority here, but whoever said that this is the last great sitcom should watch Modern Family. I think that show is so well written despite having such a basic family sitcom formula. That show is one of my favorite shows in quite some time. On the other hand, How I met your mother has been a big disappointment this year. I hope that show did not peak last year.

The Big Bang Theory... will Sheldon and Penny hook up? I can see it happenning, but right now I am firmly in the Sheldon-is-asexual camp, and I don't see any reason to mess with that. But like Jon said, his character will evolve over time and they might eventually go down that road. But the episode a couple of weeks ago where he is helping her get dressed and is basically holding her naked breast without any kind of sexual tension between them leads me to believe that the writers are not currently headed down that road. But it was hilarious when Penny asks him if that (the breast) feels like her arm.

Big Bang is definitely not the last great sitcom.

I don't think Leonard and Penny getting together was forced. They both had genuine affection for each other. Learning to appreciate Leonard was also a big deal in Penny's character development.

The fact that it doesn't seem to have marriage written all over it is another issue. They've been dating for a very short time, and they still like each other. Eventually, I suppose, one of them might want to have "the talk" about where this relationship is going - a talk that could go badly - but I wouldn't break them up yet.

Here's where this show goes if Sheldon and Penny don't hook up:

2010-11 Leonard and Penny get married.
2011-12 Penny gets pregnant.
2012-13 Their baby is finally born. Sheldon must babysit. Hilarity ensues.
2013-14 Sheldon perfects time machine that causes baby to age six years, so that he may be portrayed by that cute kid from The Blind Side. More hilarity ensues.
2014-15 New character added to show: Poochy.

zak - modern family is great; the ensemble cast is excellent, from the grandfather all the way to the youngest kids

I think House jumped the shark back in the 3rd season when they had the cop arc (the mean guy er... edward moses?) when they were screwing with each other.

In response to Tina:

I agree with you. When I said he would need a girl more like him I meant he would need someone who is smart and interested in the same things he is, i.e. video games, sci fi, science - and truly love these things like he does. I could see him with a "Penny" but a geekier version. Not a girl with all of his traits, but a girl with his same interests.

And for now, I really like the Penny/Leonard relationship. In my opinion he is the only one of the guys who goes with Penny. Penny and Sheldon have the best chemistry but not romantic chemistry.

If they ever went there with Sheldon and Penny it would have to make sense and be believable. You never know.. if they thought up a fantastic, realistic, situation where they did start having feelings for each other, then maybe i'll buy it.

I vote for Howard. That would be completely awesome. Howard, workin it and also because he becomes luckily famous due to a frivolous invention and wealthy... moving him and his mom into a new Penthouse and landing Penny.

that would cause

a. The Indian guy to transform into a girl talking machine
b. Sheldon to reconsider his whole life
C. Leonard to loose it and become a different character but still Leonard.

Though Sheldon would be fine too. I don't care just stay funny!!

Sheldon and Penny reminds me somewhat of Joey and Phoebe in Friends; two characters who are on the fringes in terms of personality and having great personal chemistry and not romantic chemistry, like Lenny mentions above.

Just look at Ausiello's scoop for next week's show, and it will tell you lots about Sheldon's sexuality.

Why must people always assume that just because 2 actors/actresses work well together that they MUST get together. It simply isn't true and in this case, goes against the very fabric of the show.

People seem to forget that most of the funniest Sheldon/Penny moments are when they are pissing each other off. It seems to me that building a relationship on how different the 2 characters are and how much they bicker is a rather silly way to do things.

Besides, if the relationship as currently constituted is so great why would anyone want to take the chance of screwing that dynamic up and getting them romantically involved? It just makes no sense...

by season end Leonard will get Howard's girl the microbiologist and Sheldon will get Penny. Then we can have the awkward neighbor/girlfriend/ best friend plots, because Leonard will be embarrassed by this, but Sheldon won't.

MC, I'm not making any generalities about what should happen on every show. I'm only writing about this show.

Perhaps the greatest moment in the series was when Penny gave Sheldon the Leonard Nimoy napkin. There have been plenty of great moments that don't involve them bickering.

Not that a producer should be risk-averse, but I really don't see this idea as taking a big chance. If they grow closer - as they undeniably have since the show's inception - what's so nonsensical?

When Hawkeye and Hot Lips finally got together, it kinda blew.

RE: Beefs about Leonard/Penny

As well as the previous comments about how the relationship requires a ton of liquor, how it's dull, I also find it shallow. To Leonard Penny is the unattainable hot girl. To Penny Leonard is the non-jerk that worships the ground she walks on and doesn't cheat on her.

I would be able to better stomach the Leonard/Penny relationship if, first, we were given a reason that they're actually together and how she developed feelings for him in the first place. All of that happened off-screen, and all the L/P storylines were pushed to the very end of S2 as if they realized that they hadn't quite wrapped it up yet.

2x19: The Dead Hooker Juxtaposition. A hot girl, a "new Penny", moves upstairs. Leonard completely forgets about Penny for this new girl and even snaps at her for "nagging" him when she reminds him that he promised to set up her printer. Doesn't seem like love to me. (He also does the same thing in 1x15 in The Pork Chop Indeterminancy, when Sheldon's sister comes to visit.) Oddly enough, Penny didn't even seem to be jealous of Leonard chasing after Alicia, but rather Alica stealing the whole group (except Sheldon who doesn't give a darn about Alicia other than how noisy she might be) from her.

2x20: The Hofstadter Isotope. Directly after this whole Alicia debacle Leonard gets insanely jealous and possessive because Penny sets up a date with a geek, a guy who is "just like him." (I don't agree with that, Stuart at least at first wasn't very similar to Leonard at all except for the shared love of comic books.)

2x21: The Vegas Renormalization. Nothing really here, it was an S/P A-story and L/R/H B-story episode.

2x22: The Classified Materials Turbulence. Penny continues to date Stuart and Leonard continues to try to sabotage it. Then Penny gets massively drunk with Stuart, makes out with him, and blurts out Leonard's name. Leonard is smug. Not only does most of this happen off-screen, but her sexual attraction toward Leonard came out of nowhere. In fact, the only other instances she has displayed such attraction was when she was drunk. (The Maternal Capacitance, where her and Leonard got hammered after having all their daddy/mommy issues respectively stirred up.)

2x23: The Monopolar Expedition. They're going on a trip to the Arctic and Penny is all sad that Leonard is going. I can see her sad that her bud is going, but they way the scene was played suddenly she has feelings for him? Once again, the romantic attachment came out of nowhere. Considering she had more screentime with Sheldon in S2 (platonic, of course), I'd at least think they'd at least show her as missing all of her friends, but they confine it to Leonard and Penny, for sentiment I guess? IDK.

Then as soon as they get back from the arctic they jump down each other's throats and enter a relationship.

They had two years to do at least a believable build up, but aside from the lackluster date S1 finale/S2 premier, they decided to squeeze it all into the last four/five episodes.

"To Penny Leonard is the non-jerk that worships the ground she walks on and doesn't cheat on her."

Actually, Leonard cheating on Penny would be a very funny story arc. It could pave the way for a Penny/Sheldon hookup and a Raj speaks to women occurrence.

I still can't believe Billy Joel dumped Christie Brinkley.

I wholly agree with this article--both the fact that Sheldon/Penny have the best chemistry on the show, AND the fact that it doesn't have to happen anytime soon. To rush the idea would be to ruin it.

Sheldon also seems to have a value system that best match's Penny's--him from East Texas and her from the midwest. He's commented before when he's thought one of the other guys was behaving inappropriately (lusting after Summer Glau when already in a relationship, for example) and, similarly, Penny has forced Leonard to Do the Right Thing more than once. This could be brilliant.

"Actually, Leonard cheating on Penny would be a very funny story arc."

Nah =/ I don't like disliking Leonard, and when he wasn't pining after Penny (such as when he was with Dr. Stephanie) they had some great friendship scenes. I don't want to ruin that for the future. Yeah it's going to be awkward after the breakup, but I don't want it to be hostile and bitter.

DSieya -

I can't cite chapter and verse the way you can, so I don't know that I can win this argument. All I can say is that it has seemed to me from the get-go that Leonard and Penny were heading for a relationship, and the only question in my mind was how long could they hold it off.

I think it's been pretty obvious how she developed feelings for him. She was a good person, and she was tired of dating jerks. She became attracted to his kindness and intelligence - and even the way he shepherded Sheldon through life. I don't think this is imagined - nor is it insignificant. She genuinely liked Leonard and really just had to get past her own concept of what a boyfriend should look like.

The Leonard-Penny relationship wasn't an ongoing obsession with the show, and at one point I do feel the writers were afraid of it. But I have to disagree with you that the groundwork wasn't there.

It's Emma all over agin (or Clueless, for those that prefer a modern take).

Main character helps secondary character hook up with object of adoration.

Secondary character succeeds in hooking up with said object.

Main character realizes own feelings for object of adoration.

Supporting character conveniently exits stage.

Main character and object of adoration live happily ever after.

I'm going to go on a limb here and guess that more women prefer Sheldon and Penny. Correct me if I'm completely wrong, it's just a hunch. Sheldon is the leading guy, no matter how quirky he is. He's also taller, smarter and better looking than all the other guys. And he's the alpha male in the household. All the other guys follow his rules. He appears to be unattainable (having shown no weakness for women), which makes him even more attractive to most women (the allure of the challenge). You cannot make the lead male asexual. Women don't want that.

And the constant banter? That is the classic set up in romantic comedy world, in the tradition of screw ball comedies. Until the last scene, they fight and bicker and make snide comments about each other. Then in the final scene they kiss, and declare their eternal love for each other. Women are so used to this formula that when they see a constantly bickering attractive couple, they assume love must follow. Maybe guys look at it and see incompatibility? I have no idea what the writers intended, but Parsons stole the show and now he needs a girl. Penny or not.

Lol! It's the product of two two-hour train rides per day to and from school. TBBT really helps me pass that time. I've also been in a lot of pretty awesome discussions with other fans.

Yeah, she developed feelings for him. My problem is that you can't point to a moment that explains it, just that it happened. We're told and not shown. Obviously they were going to go there, because his infatuation with her was introduced in the pilot. However, they went there at the end of S1 and S2 started with the end of a lackluster date where it was pretty clear that Penny wasn't attracted to him or didn't want to begin a relationship with him.

I never /saw/ it happening. Any moment where they could have put a romantic spin on their interactions--for example, jealousy on her part when he was in a pretty good relationship, or sweet moments between them, they didn't take up on the chance. All the episodes between 2x02 and 2x19 featured a platonic friendship in their interactions, aside from like I said the drunken makeout session The Maternal Capacitance. (The only instance, really, is in 2x02 in a weird kissing war with Penny/Man-Hunk and Leonard/Leslie, that was never explained and never revisited, so I don't really know exactly what to think of it.)

What I'm trying to say is that I can see WHY Penny developed feelings for him, if solely because I'm told why. It's the basis of the show--Beauty and the Geek. But I can't point to an instance outside those last few episodes where I actually saw it organically developing, and that trumps the believability factor for me and as a result I see no real connection between Leonard and Penny as a romantic pairing.

Like I said earlier, I like that they grew to care about each other, and that they became friends. She became friends with all the guys, even Howard despite his frequent come-ons. And I agree that it's good Penny got over, as you said, her concept of what a boyfriend should look like. But I wish they had cut off that relationship in S2 when they had a chance. Obviously they didn't so I'm glad they're getting it over with now, but honestly, L/P doesn't do wonders for Leonard's character, or Penny's character, or ratings. Leonard becomes slightly mean (especially in 3x01, where he spent the whole episode complaining that he couldn't spend the night with Penny while his best friend was going through an emotional and career crisis), Penny--at least in the earlier episodes of this season--became bland. And I LOVE Penny, she's my second favorite, and a close second at that--I always enjoyed watching her, and not just with Sheldon even though she's at her best then. I just don't think the pairing is well-handled if they were supposed to be endgame (which, as proof of my loving your article, I don't think they are endgame anymore).

Sorry if I rambled!

Excellent article! Thank you for this! I assure you that you are not the only one who sees the potential for where Sheldon/Penny could/will go.

Re: Beefs with Leonard/Penny

Besides Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco not possessing the sexual tension (at all imo!) I simply don't think there are any stories to tell with these two in a romantic relationship. (Sheldon and Penny in a relationship on the other hand? Where would the stories ever end? Where would the comedy ever stop? The writers are sitting on a gold mine with them and that is not even factoring in the chemistry between the actors - Jim/Kaley - that does embody a romantic/sexual tension in every part of the word from where I'm sitting.) Simply put: Leonard/Penny are boring, imo, whereas Sheldon/Penny sizzle and light up the screen.

Going one futher though, I just do not see any substance behind Leonard/Penny's "development". Though I do think this is where the show had initially planned on going, I don't feel like I know at all WHY these two people are in or even wanted to be in a relationship with each other (aside from maybe sex?) in the first place. What was given was weak. They don't appear to know very much about the other and we have never seen any kind of real development of feelings beyond "Leonard wants the hot blonde neighbour". The entire idea is brought up once, dropped all together for strings of episodes and then all of the sudden in the Season 2 finale we see Penny suddenly indicating that she has been harbouring these feelings for Leonard all along? Since when? I just wasn't buying it. There should have been more behind them if fans were expected to root for them. There wasn't and there isn't, imo.

But whatever their failings for Leonard/Penny, they all but disappear with the brilliant progression of the Penny/Sheldon budding relationship in contrast. I could easily rhyme off a thousand moments each where we are privy to their growing affection/respect/understanding of one another. And on top of that, we are constantly being shown that they do confide in each other about real issues and things going on in their lives. (Penny more often than Sheldon for the moment but that's a given.) Anyway, at the end of the day, it is these two characters who have been given a foundation for something solid in the future. It should not happen right away but in a season or two or three? Definitely. It would be the ultimate waste of a fantastic chemistry and pairing of characters not to go there.

I think we can both agree that Leonard likes Penny romantically from the start, and the relationship is just waiting on Penny to feel the same way.

That actual transition for Penny doesn't have to be a long, slow process. It can be something that comes rather quickly. In this case, it was the threat of losing him in the season two finale that was the final straw pushed her over, and the time apart cemented it. In other words, I CAN point to a moment that explains it. I understand "show don't tell," but I honestly don't think we need to see more than we saw. Not the way their relationship has developed.

Perhaps I'm biased as someone whose wife turned him down the first time he asked her out, but I find what happened with Penny and Sheldon completely believable – and tangible. When you realize you're in love, whether it's on first sight or 100th sight, it happens in a moment. And at that point for Penny, there was plenty of reason for it to happen.

I love you SO MUCH right now.... I was really depressed over the promo stills from the upcoming Christmas episode, but this article really comforted me. Thank you so much...

Mr. Weisman, I think you had a little Freudian slip there towards the end of your post! ;)

Sheldon and Penny for the win, please. So much more chemistry, so much more laughs. Leonard deserves to be with somebody more like Bernadette, and Penny deserves to be with somebody different. And I think that Sheldon is that person. :)

I'm definately rooting for the Sheldon/Penny relationship. I believe the writers have a real good thing going between them, and I hope they don't let it slip away.

Excellent article, Jon!

I started watching BBT in the early second season, and then kind of watched it backward, but the first episode I ever saw was the ep where Sheldon and Penny are pranking each other, and he hung her underwear on a telephone wire. My friend made me watch the episode and then demanded to know what I thought as regards to chemistry between characters. I'm afraid that it gave me a bit of a biased entry into these character's lives, since that episode epitomized everything wonderful about KC & JP screen chemistry.

Even with all that, though, my favorite episode is the one where they work together to make penny blossoms, and in perfect tandem they sing work shanties and psychologically and physically dominate the group.

I think that's one of the things that appeals to me about their scenes together that I just don't get from P/L or S&L scenes: the way Penny and Sheldon end up resolving or overlooking their differences to get at their respective goals, often doing so right beside the other. They're the two most strong-minded of the group, and when they have scenes together it's never boring. Her creativity and his intellect go together wonderfully.

I agree with you that Penny and Leonard have a genuine emotional foundation for starting something. As a viewer, I believe her affection for him is real, and that his romantic interest is real. Unfortunately, I can't bother feeling interested in them. I think I've figured out the two reasons why:

1. As one person said, Leonard being the most normal of the group means him being involved with a normal girl is going to be boring compared to that normal girl being involved with a more eccentric character. And when the more eccentric character is constantly in the same scene, it's hard to feel any enthusiasm over the normal guy. I certainly don't identify with him--primarily I identify with Penny (as a normal person) and Raj (as a sane and stable person, albeit shy.)

2. Penny's lack of character development is the source of a host of problems with the show, but what it means in terms of relationships is that we the viewers don't know a tenth of the things about Penny that we know about Leonard, Sheldon, Raj, or Howard. The effect of that in the episode writing, intentional or unintentional, is that Leonard doesn't appear to know Penny that well either, or being interested in her for herself beyond what she represents as a hot girl next door. I can believe that Penny is genuinely fond of Leonard, but I can't see (or the writer's haven't bothered to show) why Leonard is interested in her except for her looks and the idea of status her looks bring to him. He's more into the idea of having a beautiful girlfriend than he is in dating Penny the person.

But, again, that's a general flaw in the writing (and broader premise of the show) that could be fixed if the writers wanted to fix it. They could show us more about Penny's character, and have Leonard bond with her beyond the fact that she's beautiful and somehow, magically, condescended to date him.

Leonard and Penny have been dating for a short time. I happen to think he likes her sweetness and her (for him) street smarts, but let's face it - for a guy like Leonard, it's still early enough in the relationship for looks and regular sex to be enough to keep him going. I can't understand anyone wondering why Leonard is still into Penny at this point.

I would like to see more done with Penny's character - I will say that. Glimpses of the fake Cheesecake Factory aren't enough for me. But I think it's safe to glean that she's still a struggling actress, and Leonard sees her as someone pursuing her dream.

I don't see Penny having "condescended" to date Leonard. I believe the writers have given them both strengths and weaknesses, pride and humility. There are reasons for each to be attracted to the other, just as there are reasons for each to ultimately grow apart from the other.

Hi Joe, I also believe this is probably the last great sitcom. I stopped watching sitcoms when Brandon Tartikoff (the one and only TV guru) stopped programming the great Thursday nights at NBC, and the Big Bang Theory is the only show that has captivated my attention since then. However, I think there are better shows to write about this week. The most recent episode of Friday Night Lights titled "The Son" was filled with absolutely brilliant writing.

I touched on FNL last week, ReyTogo - I completely agree with you.

about FNL, that is.

I would love, love to see Penny and Sheldon as a couple. They have the nest interactions and the possibilities for comedic potential are inmense. Go Penny/Sheldon!

Terrific article and one that's already a long time coming! I'm glad another in the media is finally stepping up to tell the world what a lot of the show's fans have been seeing for quite a long time.

I do sincerely believe that the writers had Leonard and Penny as the pairing when they first started. What they didn't anticipate was the amount of chemistry the two actors Jim and Kaley have, which is also reflecting on the amazing electricity between their respective characters, Sheldon and Penny. And here is where I've come to believe everything that's been going on in this season, showing Leonard and Penny's relationship as shallow as well as humanizing Sheldon is the writers paving the way for the future romance that will blossom between Sheldon and Penny. And like Pixley and El had said, it would be a waste of fantastic chemistry if an even deeper relationship is not explored between the two.

Another thing which I've garnered from studying writing is the Show Vs Tell Method. Writers are always taught to show rather than to tell for a story to be effective: to treat their readers (and in this case viewers) as intelligent people (and this show IS intelligent after all). Leonard and Penny is the Tell method: it's there because it's there; they're dating, though no in-depth explanation has been given as to why, except maybe for a few drunken hook-ups and spiked libidos. Sheldon and Penny are the effective SHOW method. They're SHOWN to hold each other with respect and affection. They're honest with each other, they turn to each other if and when they need help, they confide to one another and share moments (try remembering any significant Leonard/Penny moments and you come up with little to nothing compared to all moments shared by Sheldon/Penny). They don't have to pretend to be someone else to be comfortable with each other (unlike Leonard, who puts up a farce and is ashamed of his being a nerd...Len-Nerd). Although for now, Sheldon and Penny's relationship is not yet in the romantic territory, the episodes have shown and built a foundation for that to happen.

And believe me, once that first onscreen kiss is televised, that's when the ratings will go off the roof.

The problem with Penny and Leonard is that they have NOTHING in common. Penny is hot and Leonard is a nice guy who will do anything for her. That's the basis of their relationship. It was love at first sight for Leonard, and I firmly believe that is what it is now. He is "living the dream" but it's not going to last long. And that is where Sheldon will come in. But not in some "zomg I am suddenly not asexual" moment, but in a slow ... "hey... Penny isn't here for Halo night... that's odd" to a "what is this feeling so sudden and new."

And yeah, that last bit = lyrics from Wicked.

I look up Sheldon/Penny and find this. Jon Wiseman, hello, I love you.

I am a proud Penny/Sheldon shipper. Those who do not like it? Kiss dis.

It was not an immediate thing for me. It happened gradually. My BFF was the first to admit her Penny/Sheldon affliction. I crinkled my nose.

Then came Panty Pinata and Leonard Nimoy's napkin.

After that, there was soft kitty and, now my favorite episode of the entire series - where Sheldon informs Penny that "the hero always peeks."

I don't want big sexy scenes with Penny and Sheldon on the show. I want the producers and writers to tease us. I was a Jam fan on The Office for the first three season. Got those two together and now I am bored beyond boredom with them. No. Don't give us big ol' sexy on the show. Just give us bread crumbs. Sometimes BIG bread crumbs until that last episode - where Sheldon lets Penny sit in his spot. Whether or not he's sitting in that spot when she takes a seat, well, who knows.

As for Leonard and Penny: BORING. No chemistry. Completely trite and annoying. Leonard whines. Penny gives in. Rinse, repeat. Hate them as a couple. Oh poor dumb Penny. She doesn't have a college degree. I'm such a good boyfriend for loving her despite it.

Funny how the only one who has invested any energy in her, beyond trying to get into her pants, is Sheldon.

Who was it that told her that "there may be hope for her yet?" Who was it who couldn't lie to her about her show that Leonard purposely avoided and then went to all kinds of trickery to cover Leonard's lie? Who was it who gave Penny the money she needed when she was strapped for cash? Who was it who drove Penny to the hospital despite the fact he is terrified of driving?

Looks like: Sheldon, Sheldon, Sheldon and Sheldon.

Leonard does a damn good job at making Penny feel useless. From his problems with her intellect that he tries to hide behind a veneer of "awww," which ultimately doesn't work with Penny, to making her feel incompetent on the last ep with lines such as "It's good to have someone I can talk about my passion with."

What. An. Ass.

May I remind any of you who was the one sitting beside her with an encouraging nod to show off her new found information to impress Leonard?


Sorry. I got a little heated there. Am calm.

Leonard's only interested in her bawdee (it's her hawt bawdee, after all, she can do what she wants, but...). Sheldon's relationship with Penny is ultimately more emotional - oddly enough - seeing as Sheldon is so socially awkward. Ain't that a kick in Leonard's head?

No. It's all about the Penny and Sheldon. Alllll about it.

And lest we forget: Sheldon did have quite a hard time letting go of Penny's boob. Perhaps he found something he'd like to experiment with some time?

And to all you guys who just can't seem to get it in the comments, let me tell you: Dr. Sheldon Cooper could have quite a harem if he wanted. Just do a little Googling. Or pay a visit to ONTD_Star Trek. We girls love our Shelly. Just like Sheldon loves his Mee-maw. Okay, maybe not just *like* it. At least, let's hope not.

Every character has chemistry with Sheldon and I disagree that Sheldon and Penny have the best chemistry. Sheldon is really the only character Penny works with but that is no reason to force them together. The reality is that Sheldon is way out of Penny's league. Yes he's annoying, but he is one of the most brilliant people on the planet. Penny is your common bubble-brained, fake blond, snarky, silly girl. She can't even take a shower or remember that she took a biology class. Again, she's a clumsy, ditzy airhead (and not even that funny.). If anyone, they need to pair Sheldon with a smarter, more interesting less cliche character.

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