Easily one of the most successful sitcoms of the modern era, The Big Bang Theory has a very devoted fan following. Thanks to those fans, The Big Bang Theory's cast became very rich. On top of that, The Big Bang Theory was on the air long enough for the cast to reportedly become close.
Given how great starring in The Big Bang Theory seemed to be, Sara Rue likely would have loved to join the cast. Given that and the popularity of her TBBT character, many fans are curious why Rue left the show so quickly.
As anyone who has been on the internet for a moment should already know, virtually every topic can be extensively debated online. As a result, there is no way to conclusively state that The Big Bang Theory fans like Dr. Stephanie Barnett.
On Reddit, there is a subreddit dedicated to being a home for The Big Bang Theory fans to communicate about the show. Based on what can be found on that subreddit, it can be said that many devoted fans of the show really liked Dr. Stephanie Barnett.
On a post titled "What did y'all think of the relationship between Leonard and Stephanie in S2?", all the top posts were positive. The most upvoted post reads, "I liked her. I didn't like that they made her so extremely needy. It would have been nice to have her in more shows. She's funny."
The second highest upvoted response expresses a similar sentiment. "Maybe a little needy, but she handled Sheldon better than anybody. Wish we got more of her. I think Sara Rue is absolutely gorgeous, so I might be biased."
It is also worth noting that several other threads on the subreddit were dedicated to Dr. Stephanie. While there is no denying some Reddit users aren't fans of Rue's character, the consensus appears to be mostly positive.
Throughout television history, there have been several story archetypes that have come up time and time again. Perhaps the most obvious example of that is the will-they-won't-they relationship that has been a big part of countless TV shows.
Some examples of TV will-they-won't-they relationships that captivated viewers include Sam and Diane, Pam and Jim, as well as Janine and Gregory. During the '90s and early 2000s, there was one TV will-they-won't-they relationship that left a huge mark on pop culture history, Ross and Rachel.
Given how successful will-they-won't-they relationships have been for many shows, it makes sense that The Big Bang Theory had one too. During the early seasons of The Big Bang Theory, Penny and Leonard's will-they-won't-they relationship was a huge part of the show.
For the storyline revolving around Leonard and Penny to work, the show's producers had to come up with obstacles. Some examples of story elements that kept Penny and Leonard apart include Zack Johnson, the North Pole expedition, and Priya Koothrappali.
Another example of an obstacle that got in the way of Leonard and Penny's relationship was introduced during the second season. After Howard tried to impress Dr. Stephanie Barnett with the Mars Rover, she was introduced to Leonard, and they hit it off.
Before long, Leonard and Stephanie became a couple and their relationship briefly was a big part of the show. However, after only appearing in three episodes, Stephanie disappeared from the show and Sara Rue never returned to portray the character again.
Given how many viewers enjoyed Dr. Stephanie, some fans find it very surprising that the character disappeared so quickly. Even now that it has been almost fifteen years since the last TBBT episode with Rue first aired, many fans want to know why she left the show.
As it turns out, there is a simple reason why Rue's character disappeared from The Big Bang Theory so quickly. When TV producers bring in obstacles to get in the way of will-they-won't-they relationships, they are usually designed to be short-lived.
As Express reported in 2020, Rue's The Big Bang Theory tenure was well-defined from the moment she was hired.
"Rue's time on The Big Bang Theory simply came to an end as her character's story was over. She had always been signed to for a 'multi-episode run' and not in a recurring for main cast role."
That report makes perfect sense when fans consider some of the other characters that came between Penny and Leonard. An example of that is after Priya Koothrappali became a part of the show, her storyline played out, and she was never seen again.
It is worth noting that another factor may have played a role in Dr. Stephanie's disappearance. When Rue was hired to appear in The Big Bang Theory, it was only for a trio of episodes. However, that doesn't necessarily answer why Rue's character never was brought back later on.
After the character Zack Johnson was first brought in to come between Leonard and Penny, he came back several times. It seems pretty obvious that the reason for that is the character was very popular with TBBT fans.
Given that Dr. Stephanie also was popular with viewers, it would have made sense for her character to show up again too. However, Rue's character not getting the same treatment as Zack makes perfect sense if fans look at things from a wider view.
As an actor, Brian Thomas Smith has accomplished something most performers can only dream of. After portraying Zack Johnson in several The Big Bang Theory episodes, Smith used his acting abilities to delight millions of people.
While Smith deserves to be proud, the fact remains that his filmography was sparse during the years TBBT was on the air. On the other hand, Sara Rue was very busy during those same years between landing recurring and starring roles in several shows. Given Rue's busy schedule, bringing Dr. Stephanie back would have been a lot more challenging.
It is important to note that nobody involved with The Big Bang Theory has confirmed Rue wasn't brought back partially because of her schedule. However, it seems reasonable to believe that. After all, Chuck Lorre clearly likes working with Rue as he later hired her to star in his pilot for a failed show titled B Positive.