Good television characters go on forever and, if you’re as lucky as the ones who populate “The Big Bang Theory,” that afterlife can be just as rich as the first go-round. So it goes for the CBS sitcom’s gang of nerds, who continue to inspire spin-offs and prequels years after their series left the airwaves. Among that pack of nerds was Bernadette Rostenkowski (Melissa Rauch) — whom we haven’t gotten much of an update on since the show concluded.
During “Young Sheldon” — a peek into the titular character’s past, which is narrated from the present day by Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) with very occasional interventions from his friends and wife — we learn a few extra things about how the show’s other characters have gotten on with their lives, but nothing of Bernadette’s future. At the bare minimum, we know that her husband, Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg), is still friends with Sheldon thanks to his vocal cameo on the show during Season 5, Episode 7, “An Introduction to Engineering and a Glob of Hair Gel.”
While the show remains silent on Bernadette’s present, “Young Sheldon” fans do get a glimpse of her past. A younger version of Bernadette is seen during the Season 2 episode “A Swedish Science Thing and the Equation for Toast.” Under the tune of the Supremes song “Someday We’ll Be Together,” viewers are given a montage of shots of younger versions of the gang, all of them living their lives as Sheldon finds himself deserted. A young Bernadette (Aj Coggeshall) can be spied fast asleep, her beauty pageant regalia displayed next to her. It’s a sweet nod toward a future they will share.
Bernadette was a happy woman when the Big Bang Theory concluded
When we last saw Bernadette, she was in the middle of living a very good life with Howard. The two of them had initially met during Season 3’s “The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary” after Penny (Kaley Cuoco) sets them up on a blind date. The microbiologist works two jobs to make ends meet and is a new face at The Cheesecake Factory. Howard is enchanted to find someone else with some pretty serious mommy issues, and they bond over their mutual interests. Things go swimmingly for a while, but they break up toward the end of Season 3.
During Season 4, the gang learns that Howard cheated on Bernadette in a “World of Warcraft” game, leading to their breakup. Nonetheless, the couple finds permanence during the year. They move in together, Howard proposes, and much of Season 5 is dedicated to their wedding plans and marriage, concluding with an emergency wedding when the date of Howard’s launch into space is moved up.
Season 6 sees Howard working for NASA on a space station — his childhood dream is finally fulfilled, though the dream soon turns into a nightmare when he discovers he’s not cut out for life in orbit. While her husband flounders, Bernadette finds steady work at a pharmaceutical company. When he returns from space, they become a comfortably established couple. They have two children — Halley and Michael — and have settled into parenthood, though with some unease. The final episode of “The Big Bang Theory” finds them serenely together.
Melissa Rauch is busy holding court on NBC
What’s Melissa Rauch been up to since “The Big Bang Theory” ended? She’s founded a fresh sitcom dynasty of her own by returning to television for NBC. In “Night Court” — a continuation of the 1980s sitcom — she plays Abracadabra “Abby” Stone, the daughter of the late Judge Harold T. Stone (Harry Anderson). Abby now sits where her father once did and presides over a room in New York’s night court. When she loses her latest defense attorney, she turns to the only man who can fill the spot — her father’s former friend, Dan Fielding (John Larroquette). Alongside a whole host of other associates, Abby tries to figure out her personal life while developing a friendship with Dan that also carries notes of familial fondness.
Rauch isn’t just starring in “Night Court”; she’s also an executive producer for the new series. A major fan of the sitcom, she’s stated that her goal is to make the new version share the original’s sense of humor and sense of comforting nostalgia. She told CNN in 2023 that making a show everyone could watch was a big factor in her decision-making. “I know for myself, sitting on my couch and watching shows that I loved as a kid with my parents and my grandmother, it reminds (me) of those people, even if they’re not here with you anymore. It’s almost like a little time machine back to that part of your life,” she said. With two seasons under its belt, the series seems well on its way to doing that.