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Every Season Ranked by Rotten Tomatoes

The Big Bang Theory may have been just another sitcom to watch in the nighttime, but the comic-book loving, Wil Wheaton-hating nerds and their anti-social behaviors tapped into a dedicated fanbase that relates somewhat to the stereotypes. Starring Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Kunal Nayyar, and Simon Helberg in the main cast – and later Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch – the series earned itself many awards, despite mixed reviews in its early days.

The series highlighted character development over a gradual timeframe, allowing viewers to become invested in each season: particularly Sheldon (Jim Parsons) relaxing his routines and rules, and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny’s (Kaley Cuoco) blossoming relationship. Spanning across twelve seasons, The Big Bang Theory has had its highs and lows, but let’s see how they rank according to Rotten Tomatoes.



12 Season 1

Sheldon and Leonard playing video games in 'The Big Bang Theory'

Rotten Tomatoes score: 59%

Surprisingly, the first season of The Big Bang Theory didn’t produce the spark that most series have to draw viewers in, ranking least popular on Rotten Tomatoes. An introductory season to the relationships of the cast, the snappy dialogue and gags created by the characters’ blissful unawareness to social norms garnered enough interest for casual viewing, and whilst not a breakthrough star, satisfied sitcom audiences.


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The true reason for the ongoing success of the series falls on Leonard and Sheldon’s shoulders, as the dynamic lead actors who balanced their respective relatability and zany attitude left viewers intrigued by their characters.

11 Season 6

Stuart, Raj, and Sheldon in the comic book store in 'The Big Bang Theory'

Rotten Tomatoes score: 67%

The halfway mark of the series failed to keep viewers entertained as much as the previous seasons, with season 6 scoring low on Rotten Tomatoes. The main plot lines across season 6 involved Howard (Simon Helberg) working on the International Space Station, leaving Stuart (Kevin Sussman) to unsuccessfully take his place within the group; Leonard and Penny working through jealousy with Sheldon’s flirty assistant Alex (Margo Harshman); and Sheldon and Amy’s continued path to attempt normality in a relationship.

Primary complaints about the season resulted from a lack of humor within the formulaic episodes, as well as a strong focus on emotional distress within all the characters, taking away the lighthearted nature of the show.

10 Season 8

Raj, Bernadette, Amy, Sheldon, Leonard, and Penny in 'The Big Bang Theory'

Rotten Tomatoes score: 67%

Season 8 of The Big Bang Theory has a heavy focus on the state of relationships – with Penny and Leonard unable to commit, Sheldon and Amy having different ideas about the future, and Raj and Emily (Laura Spencer) negotiating their different personalities.


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Again, the complaints centred around the lacklustre humor and forced drama, but the season was also praised for a long-awaited shift in dynamics, as the central characters begin to bond outside of their usual pairings.

9 Season 9

Sheldon, Penny, Leonard, Bernadette, Howard, Raj, and Raj's partner

Rotten Tomatoes score: 67%

Season 9 followed suit with its previous season, allowing the series to hit a slump. The overall darker tone shift removed laughs and left the running gags high and dry, where an uneven balance bore viewers.

Leonard and Penny’s relationship became the forefront of distaste amongst viewers, losing the ever-present curiosity when they finally wed, as Sheldon and Amy’s love took their place in garnering interest. Like always, viewers were left wanting more from Bernadette and Howard’s relationship and individual personalities, as well as some screen time for the ever-quiet Raj.

8 Season 11

Sheldon and Amy embrace in 'The Big Bang Theory'

Rotten Tomatoes score: 75%

Season 11 managed to drastically change the pace for a dull slump, showcasing a new chapter for the main cast. The primary storyline across the season was Amy and Sheldon’s chaotic attempts at their wedding plans, as well as the news that Bernadette and Howard were expecting their second child.

Raj and Stuart had more screen time, between their insertions into Bernadette and Howard’s relationship, as well as their own attempts at dating. However, the season has also been criticized for abandoning the original premise – a bunch of nerds struggling with their social ineptitude.

7 Season 4

Leonard and Sheldon standing outside their apartment door in 'The Big Bang Theory'

Rotten Tomatoes score: 80%

In the fourth season of The Big Bang Theory, relationships are at the forefront of almost every episode. Penny and Leonard attempt to move past their break-up, only to rupture further when Raj’s sister Priya (Aarti Mann) comes to town, as Bernadette and Howard also try to reconcile their relationship.

Meanwhile, Sheldon and Amy realize their original agreements to each other may not suffice long term. Season 4 was well-regarded for its choice to add Bernadette and Amy into its main cast rotation, which added a dynamic to Penny’s character, as well as to deepen plot points of other characters. Reminiscent of the friendships and comedy in Friends, the season established itself within its final form, creating a successful template to continue into the subsequent seasons.

6 Season 12

Sheldon holding a cup of tea in 'The Big Bang Theory'

Rotten Tomatoes score: 83%

The final season portrayed the ending points of the navigation of the characters’ careers, relationships, and contrasting personalities, perfectly summing up The Big Bang Theory experience. Season 12 successfully tied together the lives of the main cast, while highlighting the fact that all of them have changed in some way between the first episodes to the current point.


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The most tear-jerking part of the season? Well, it has to be the sight of the elevator working again – a symbolic moment that gracefully moves the beloved characters onto the next chapter of their lives.

5 Season 10

Leonard and Sheldon in 'The Big Bang Theory'

Rotten Tomatoes score: 83%

Season 10 of The Big Bang Theory reinvigorated the disappointing content of seasons 8 and 9, bringing in fresh storylines into the mix of character development. Opening with Penny and Leonard’s vow renewal ceremony, season 10 also follows Bernadette’s pregnancy, Raj’s failed relationships, and Sheldon, Leonard and Howard’s work to create a guidance system in the military.

While the season was battered with critiques of abandoning the nerdish antics, season 10 showcased the inevitable coming-of-age the crew faced, with their lives focusing on maintaining relationships and climbing the corporate ladder for their dreams.

4 Season 7

Sheldon Cooper in 'The Big Bang Theory'

Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%

Coming in as the fourth-best season of The Big Bang Theory is season 7, with new comedic highlights coming from a shift in central characters, as well as the decent celebrity cameos (James Earl Jones, Wil Wheaton, and Bob Newhart to name a few).

Sheldon’s persistent struggles with change and affection towards Amy came to a head during the season, marking a development in his storyline. Breaking characters off into unfamiliar pairings worked best to highlight their individuality, while also giving breathing space away from the typical troupes and antics the show relied on between the normal pairings.

3 Season 5

Penny, Amy, and Bernadette in 'The Big Bang Theory'

Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%

Season 5 received a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes, protecting its acclaimed status with a low-fault recipe for success. The season had a focus on building up the female characters – Penny, Amy, and Bernadette – to become more dimensional through their interactions with their love interests and each other, forming an equally zany group to rival the original boys group.


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The season also featured several high-profile cameos from Leonard Nimoy, Stephen Hawking, and astronaut Mike Massimino.

2 Season 3

Penny and Leonard in 'The Big Bang Theory'

Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%

The second-most successful season of The Big Bang Theory, season 3 received the highest-viewer count of the initial seasons. The first season to dive into the potential of a relationship between Penny and Leonard, Howard and Bernadette, and Sheldon and Amy (leaving poor Raj alone and jealous), season 3 peaked viewer interest with the clashing personalities of the future final main cast.

The introduction of Bernadette and Amy to the cast was well-received among viewers, opening doors for character development for both Howard and Sheldon, as well as taking the focus away from the Penny/Leonard storyline.

1 Season 2

Howard, Sheldon, Raj, and Leonard playing video games

Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%

The most popular season in The Big Bang Theory series happened to be season 2: a refined version of the original season that viewers were enticed to watch.

The follow-up season proved to be more well-loved than the original season, through its development of humor and the spotlight on Sheldon’s eccentric behaviors, as well as the striking chemistry between Penny, Leonard and Sheldon as the main stars. Despite The Big Bang Theory centering around a group of nerds and their antics, the series leans into caricatures that can be enjoyed by all.


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