10 Best Sitcom Tropes The Big Bang Theory Embraces

10Romantic Tension

Even if The Big Bang Theory didn't focus quite as much on romance like other sitcoms such as How I Met Your Mother did, the show still had plenty of sitcom-style romantic tension from the very start. The most memorable romance bloomed between Leonard Hofstadter and his lively apartment neighbor Penny, who moved in one day in 2007.

Right away, Leonard decided he'd marry Penny one day, and eventually, he did. Until then, Leonard and Penny were on again and off again with all kinds of drama, including Leonard's time with Priya Koothrappali. Penny even asked herself what she really wanted from her life, with or without Leonard.

9The Uptight Character

Many sitcoms have a "straight man" character who serves as a foil for the goofy antics of everyone around them. Such characters can still crack excellent jokes, whether they realize it or not. The Big Bang Theory's own uptight character was Dr. Sheldon Cooper, and he did a fine job of it.

Sheldon was presented as an eccentric sitcom character who disapproved of horseplay and sloppy schedules, which made life a real headache for Leonard, Penny and the others. Sheldon tried to force everyone's whirlwind lives into neat boxes, but over time, Sheldon came to appreciate how his friends lived life their own way.

8Highly Dysfunctional Families

Some sitcoms focused on happy and normal families with good feelings all around, while many others presented dysfunctional families that stirred up comedy and drama in equal measure. That often involved a troublemaker sibling or an emotionally distant parent, and The Big Bang Theory certainly followed the formula.

The Hofstadter family was one of the show's most dysfunctional of all, with Leonard having serious personal baggage with his unsympathetic mother, Beverly. Meanwhile, Sheldon had family drama with his older brother George in later seasons, and Penny's wacky family struggled to look presentable to the Hofstadters when they met.

7Flashback Sequences

Sitcoms tend to follow a main group of characters in roughly real time as they grow up together, but flashbacks are still welcome to jump around in the timeline a bit. Flashbacks can help show the gritty details of how certain events happened, such as a chance meeting or a hilarious accident.

The Big Bang Theory's main flashback arrived near the end of Season 3, when Penny asked about Leonard and Sheldon's shared history. Most of that episode showed the four friends meeting around 2003, when Sheldon was even more insufferable and Leonard almost blew himself up with a badly-mixed container of real rocket fuel.

6Office Drama & Competition

Many sitcom characters are fully-grown adults with office jobs, such as most of the cast of The Office, hence that sitcom's title. Other sitcoms like How I Met Your Mother and Parks and Recreation also amused viewers with office drama such as fighting over a coveted office space or competing for a promotion, and that included The Big Bang Theory, too.

Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj all worked at CalTech, where they feuded nonstop with rivals like Barry Kripke, who was a complete bully at times. It was mainly Sheldon who clashed with Barry and Leslie Winkle, but sometimes, Leonard and his pals helped Sheldon in those feuds, such as in the robot battle episode.

5Suspiciously Affordable Apartments

Plenty of sitcoms show the main characters' living space, and sometimes, the financial math doesn't add up. It's a recurring trend for sitcom characters to live in a spacious apartment they can't possibly afford in major cities like New York City and Los Angeles, but the shows will gloss over how it's all possible.

These sitcoms present the main characters as making a modest living, but they can still afford serious square footage in expensive coastal cities. The Big Bang Theory could explain that with Leonard and Sheldon splitting rent, but there was no way Penny the waitress could afford a similar space all on her own.

4The Nemesis

Sitcom characters often have a worst enemy, and hilarity will ensue whenever those feuding characters cross paths to exchange vicious verbal jabs or prank one another. In Parks and Recreation, Leslie Knope and councilman Jeremy Jamm were mortal enemies, and Dwight and Jim often feuded in The Office.

Meanwhile, Sheldon Cooper's two nemeses were Barry Kripke and Leslie Winkle, though he got the last laugh when he won the Nobel prize. Even the other The Big Bang Theory characters borrowed this trope, such as Leonard feeling intimidated by Penny's boyfriends, like Zack and Kurt, and even Stuart Bloom had a strong rival who ran another comic book shop in LA.

3The "Main" Apartment

Most sitcoms have a "main" setting to make the story feel stable and make production easier with fewer sets and props. How I Met Your Mother had a main apartment, for example, where Ted Mosby and Marshall Eriksen lived in NYC, and Malcom in the Middle often took place inside the Wilkerson family's home.

In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon and Leonard's Pasadena apartment was the show's hub, and countless scenes unfolded there, from Dungeons & Dragons sessions to studying physics at home or even relationship drama. Having a central hub made even more sense in this sitcom, since it mirrors Sheldon's desire for stability.

2Relatable "Meh" Jobs

Not every sitcom character is working their dream job like Leslie Knope or Sheldon Cooper. Plenty of sitcom characters are relatable because they work underwhelming or even dead-end jobs, and those characters are eager to find work that truly speaks to them. In The Big Bang Theory, Penny handled that familiar trope well.

Penny moved to Los Angeles from Nebraska to become a star actress, but her career was off to a glacial start. She worked as a waitress for years and didn't like it much, but she gradually got her foot in the door with acting and started getting roles she enjoyed. Later, Penny's career really took off when she became a pharmaceutical sales rep.

1Celebrity Guest Appearances & Cameos

Celebrity cameos and guest appearances are a sitcom staple that most TV fans enjoy, including physical appearances and voiced roles. Countless celebrities appeared in The Simpsons, for example, and there were some alum cameos in How I Met Your Father.

news flash