“The Big Bang Theory” has an interesting and polarizing legacy. If you hadn’t watched a single episode and read conversations about the sitcom on social media, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was hot garbage. However, the numbers don’t lie, and the evidence shows that the CBS comedy had plenty of fans. “The Big Bang Theory” was frequently the highest-rated show on television, ran for 12 seasons, and won 10 Emmys. Clearly, plenty of people enjoyed it — unless most of that audience was made up of naysayers looking for more reasons to criticize it.
Over the course of 12 seasons, fans watched as a group of socially awkward scientists — Leonard (Johnny Galecki), Sheldon (Jim Parsons), Raj (Kunal Nayyar), and Howard (Simon Helberg) — navigated life, love, and their careers while spending too much time playing video games, reading comic books, and debating “Star Trek.” Some commentators have credited “The Big Bang Theory” for turning “nerd culture” into a mainstream phenomenon (per The New Yorker), and that’s a cool legacy to leave behind.
“The Big Bang Theory” was mostly good-natured and its impact on pop culture cannot be overstated. Every once in a while, though, it featured uncomfortable moments that went too far. Howard was regularly at the center of the sitcom’s more problematic scenes, but there is one moment, in particular, that’s very questionable.
Howard technically broke the law
Prior to settling down with Bernadette (Melissa Rauch), Howard’s main purpose in life was trying to hook up with women. His pursuits were often outright creepy and stalkerish, and many fans felt he crossed the line on several occasions. During the early seasons, Penny (Kaley Cuoco) regularly found herself on the receiving end of Howard’s gross behavior, but the scene in which it’s revealed he gave her a teddy bear so he could spy on her through a hidden webcam is arguably his worst moment.
During the Season 4 episode titled “The Hot Troll Deviation,” Bernadette catches Howard engaging in risqué behavior with an online “World of Warcraft” player, which is questionable in its own right. Afterward, Howard visits Penny to ask if Bernadette has talked about him, but the scene takes a dark turn when Penny shines a spotlight on his previous obsessive infatuation with her. During their exchange, she brings up his creepy voyeuristic past, stating that she wouldn’t have opened the door if she knew it was him when he chapped.
Some fans took issue with the scene. As one Redditor points out, what he did was illegal, noting that Howard would have ended up on a registry if she took action over the webcam incident. Furthermore, the Reddit user believes that she should have contacted the authorities. “He deserved it, he deserved worse,” they wrote.