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Big Bang Theory Characters, Ranked By Intelligence
2023/08/17

Summary

The Big Bang Theory features a group of highly intelligent characters with different areas of expertise, including engineering, astrophysics, and experimental physics.While Sheldon has the highest IQ, other characters like Penny and Howard bring their own strengths and knowledge to the group.The show emphasizes the importance of friendship and how each character has something to teach and learn from one another, showcasing a wide range of intelligence among the characters.

centers itself around the incredible minds of Dr. Sheldon Cooper, Dr. Leonard Hofstadter, Dr. Rajesh Koothrappali, and Howard Wolowitz, so the smartest character in

might not be a surprise. With the foursome working in separate departments at Cal Tech, viewers learned more about science through engineering, astrophysics, String Theory, and experimental physics. Seeing this group of intellects join together for dinner night after night proved that each person brought their own strengths and weaknesses to the group, and so did their wider circle of friends, colleagues, and significant others.

Sheldon may have had the highest IQ, but there was no way he had more street smarts than Penny. Likewise, Howard may have had a cushy job at Cal Tech and worked for NASA but was he smarter than his wife who has her doctorate in microbiology? Although the show was about the characters' jobs and what they were working on, it was also widely based on friendship. This group of friends helped each other with everything from String Theory to parenthood. Considering everyone's own wits and charm, the likes of Sheldon, Leonard, Raj, Howard, and beyond all had something to teach each other, giving a wide range of intelligence among the smartest characters in the

.

Penny Never Graduated College, But Don't Count Her Out On Street Smarts

When fans first meet Penny (Kaley Cuoco), she tells Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and his friends that she's an aspiring actress but in the meantime, she's a waitress at the Cheesecake Factory. When she starts casually dating Leonard, viewers learn that she attempted community college but dropped out. High school was her highest form of education, and she is admittedly not book-smart, but that doesn't mean she isn't intelligent.

When she and Leonard get more serious, Penny starts taking classes at the local community college to try and get her degree. However, there isn't much talk of her classes once she quits acting, waitressing, and gets a cushy job in pharmaceutical sales. And while

and common sense than the others, her lack of formal education puts her last on the list.

Stuart Had A Degree From A Prestigious Art School

Stuart (Kevin Sussman) may seem like a depressed comic shop owner who goes to therapy more than he goes on dates but when taking a step back to look at what he's achieved, he's not lacking in intelligence. Not only is he a business owner who brought his shop back to life after it burnt down, but he's also a college graduate.

As an artist, going to the Road Island School of Design is a big deal and that's exactly what Stuart achieved. If his depression wasn't so consuming throughout the years, fans would have seen more vigor from him career-wise. He has a decent head for business and an eye for design, even though he's not the smartest character in

.

Leslie Winkle Is The Female Counterpart To Leonard

Dr. Leslie Winkle (Sara Gilbert) is a co-worker of Leonard's over at Cal Tech. As an experimental physicist, she and Leonard had a lot in common (and even dated for a little while). She pops up regularly throughout the show's 12 seasons and has a spiteful relationship with Sheldon.

Thanks to Sheldon Cooper's high IQ, he often thinks Leslie's ideas are childish and dumb. Likewise, she thinks he's a "dumbass" who's full of himself. Leslie has a high (if not similar) IQ to the main male characters because they asked her to join their team to replace Sheldon in the Physics Bowl. Had it not been for Leslie, the guys wouldn't be able to compete or win. Leslie demonstrates that she's just as knowledgeable about them in a wide range of topics, and she's able to compete with Leonard academically. Unfortunately, the show doesn't spend enough time with her to gauge her intelligence further.

Howard Is The Only One Without His Doctorate (But His Skills Took Him To Space)

Aside from Penny and Stuart, Howard (Simon Helberg) is the only person in the main friend group without his doctorate. He is constantly picked on for only having a master's degree. Howard, however, is an engineer with a master's degree from the prestigious MIT, so having a doctorate never intrigued him, especially after he got his job with NASA.

Howard goes head-to-head with Sheldon quite often and the two try to prove who's smarter. When Sheldon begins teaching Howard in a class at Cal Tech, Howard surprisingly proved that he was just as smart as Sheldon when he wanted to be. Due to him not having his doctorate, he falls behind his best friends and wife, Bernadette, purely from an academic standpoint.

Bernadette Was Born To Be The Boss

As much as it might irk Howard, his wife Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) is often smarter than him. In the beginning, when Bernadette and Howard started dating, Bernadette loved Howard's odd combination of intelligence and wit. As time went on though, Bernadette graduated with a focus in microbiology, and the company she was working for paid for her to get her Ph.D.

Bernadette works for the same company as Penny, but as a scientist, not a salesperson. Bernadette has one of the and often makes jokes about making a "buttload" more than Howard. After the couple has two kids, her education and her job would even allow the couple to live comfortably if Howard decided to stay home with the kids. Bernadette has a higher degree of emotional intelligence compared to most of the group, able to comfortably converse with the scientists as well as Penny and her friends, demonstrating two different types of intelligence fluidly.

Leonard Has An IQ Of 173

In the pilot of , viewers learn that Sheldon Cooper has an IQ of 187. It's a fact that he loves to tell everyone, actually. He later says he and Leonard have a "combined IQ of 360," which would mean Leonard's IQ is 173. While it is known in the scientific community that IQ tests can be biased and can vary in accuracy, it allows for a decent measurement of the intelligence of the fictional characters in the show.

Regardless of his IQ, Sheldon wouldn't live with someone who didn't have similar intelligence to him. He also graduated from an Ivy League university, Princeton, and has his Ph.D. He and Sheldon also put their minds together to create a new scientific theory that broke ground in the field of science. Leonard is, more often than not, the only one who can keep up with Sheldon's line of thinking, even when he doesn't really want to, but he's still not the smartest character in

.

Raj's Lack Of Romance Overpowered His Smarts

Many believe that Leonard is smarter than Raj (Kunal Nayyar), but Sheldon has noted time and time again how intelligent Raj can be. He is even recognized by People's "30 Under 30" in season 2. Sheldon feels so strongly about the work that Raj is doing that he tries hiring him at the university so that he won't be deported back to India. The trouble is that in the early seasons, Raj's intelligence is overshadowed by his fear of social situations and women specifically. over the course of the

though.

Being a graduate of Cambridge University with his doctorate in astrophysics, Raj helps the group differently than Sheldon, Leonard, and Howard do. He has even helped Sheldon work on Dark Matter. Raj may not get the same attention as the other three do, but he's definitely one of the most intelligent characters in the series.

Barry Kripke Gave Sheldon A Run For His Money

Barry Kripke (John Ross Bowie) may be Sheldon's nemesis, but that's mainly because Barry's intelligence threatens Sheldon. With his Ph.D., Barry also works on string theory at Caltech. Viewers first catch a glimpse of Kripke in season 2 when he challenges Sheldon and company in a robot battle. Kripke's robot is far better than Sheldon's, but this isn't the only time that his smarts are superior to Sheldon's intelligence.

In season 6's "The Cooper/Kripke Inversion," Barry and Sheldon have to work together on a grant proposal. Sheldon mocks the fact that anyone could compete with his brain but as he finds out, Barry's research is far beyond his own. It is the one time fans see Sheldon completely fall apart, realizing that someone else out there could have been better, making it clear that Barry Kripke is one of the smartest characters.

Amy Farrah Fowler Isn't Far Behind Sheldon

As smart as Barry Kripke is, many believe Amy Farrah Folwer—Sheldon's wife—is smarter. One fan even suggested that due to her position and intellect, her IQ would be

. Amy has her doctorate in neurobiology, a highly specialized field, and from Harvard, one of the world's top universities.

She also gets the chance to work at Caltech to finish one of her studies, proving she's an important part of the science program. Without her help, Sheldon wouldn't have gotten that Nobel Prize he's been gunning for since birth. Regarding her relationship with Sheldon, she seems to know him more than he knows himself. She plays small mental mind games with him to get things to fall in her favor. She's so crafty with this that Sheldon doesn't even know she's doing it until it's too late.

Sheldon Has An IQ Of 187

It can't be much of a surprise that Sheldon Cooper comes out as the smartest (intelligence-wise) character in . He did attend college at the age of 11, after all, and never misses a chance to remind everyone that his IQ is 187. And although he's missing crucial social and emotional cues in understanding other human beings, he does try to use logic to understand them when things he's missed are pointed out to him. That's a running theme in his friendship with Penny and as he learns to better understand the people around him.

Sheldon is a "wunderkind" who is so intelligent and odd that he's the go-to person for everyone's scientific problems, questions, and theories. The show is basically about Sheldon and his buddies which prompted a spinoff once ended (). While Sheldon's ego has long been fueled by his intelligence, there's no denying that he's the smartest character.

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