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  • Leonard Leakey Hofstadter, Ph.D., is a fictional character on the CBS television series The

  • Big Bang Theory, portrayed by actor Johnny Galecki. Leonard is an experimental physicist,

  • who shares an apartment with colleague and best friend Dr. Sheldon Cooper. For his portrayal,

  • Galecki was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award in 2011.

  • Leonard has been described as the straight man of the series. Penny is Leonard's next-door

  • neighbor and main love interest, and the teasing of romance between the two of them is a major

  • force driving the series. In "The Gorilla Dissolution", they finally become engaged.

  • Creation and casting Leonard is named after actor/producer Sheldon

  • Leonard, and Nobel Prize Laureate Robert Hofstadter. Johnny Galecki was originally asked to play

  • the role of Sheldon Cooper, but thought he would be "better suited" for the character

  • of Leonard. Personality

  • Originally from New Jersey and a graduate of Princeton University, Leonard works as

  • a Caltech experimental physicist, mainly working with lasers, and shares an apartment with

  • colleague Sheldon Cooper in Pasadena, California. He is usually seen wearing his characteristic

  • black thick-framed glasses, low-cut black Converse All Stars sneakers, pastel hoodies

  • or neutral-colored sweat jackets or a combination of the two, brown or red trousers, and physics-themed

  • T-shirts. His various girlfriends have tried to change his outfits: Penny had no success

  • while Stephanie got him to wear dress shirts and sweaters, and Priya got him to briefly

  • switch to dress shirts, waistcoats and dark slacks; he reverted to his original outfits

  • after she leaves for India, but started eschewing his hoodies in favour of unbuttoned safari

  • shirts and non-hooded jackets towards the end of the seventh season, a trend that continued

  • into the eighth season. Although Leonard feels at home with his geek

  • colleagues, he wants to be more social. Among the main characters, he generally has the

  • least amount of difficulty interacting with "non-geek" individuals. He is instantly captivated

  • by Penny, and from the beginning sets out to date her.

  • In early episodes, Leonard is reluctant to let Penny know about his recreational activities,

  • as he does not want her to see him as a geek. While certainly a geek by most definitions,

  • he is less socially inept than Sheldon, Raj, and Howard.

  • Leonard can also play the cello, although he holds the bow upside down and plays on

  • the finger board. As seen in the season 1 episode "The Hamburger Postulate", he and

  • Leslie Winkle practice their instruments and then leave to have intercourse

  • Despite his attempts to not appear to be a geek, Leonard owns, among other things, Star

  • Wars hygiene products, a prop of the One Ring, an expansive Superman comic book collection

  • and a Battlestar Galactica Colonial warrior's flight suit. Early in the series, Leonard

  • tried to get rid of his collectables to impress Penny with his maturity. However, he changed

  • his mind when he saw that Penny was already dating another man.

  • Because he has lived with Sheldon for many years, Leonard knows him better than his other

  • colleagues: this has led Sheldon to believe that Leonard is his best friend. Nevertheless,

  • Leonard often finds himself explaining Sheldon's behavior or serving as a mediator between

  • him and other people in many situations. For instance, when Penny and Sheldon engaged in

  • a fierce dispute, Leonard gave Penny Sheldon's mother's phone number so she would call her

  • son and scold him for his behavior, thus ending the fight. "The Staircase Implementation"

  • features a flashback to when Leonard first moved in with Sheldon. Leonard explains to

  • Penny that he moved in despite the difficulty of living with Sheldon because the rent was

  • so reasonable. Shortly after moving in, during a rocketry experiment Leonard, Raj and Howard

  • conducted, Sheldon observed miscalculations Leonard made in mixing the rocket fuel and

  • managed to avert disaster by grabbing the fuel and placing it in their apartment building's

  • elevator. The resulting explosion disabled the elevator, thus explaining why the elevator

  • is out of order for the duration of the series. Leonard explains that Sheldon, despite his

  • tendency to alienate others, kept quiet about Leonard's destruction of the elevator.

  • Despite Leonard's reasonable nature and friendly personality, he occasionally demonstrates

  • a mean streak. These include deliberately triggering Sheldon's obsessive compulsive

  • problems, mocking Howard and Raj whenever they slip up, and making sniping comments

  • when Penny's commitment issues flare up. In addition, he is often shown to be quite jealous,

  • often feeling insecure and defensive whenever Penny interacts with another guy, and on one

  • occasion trying to frighten off a British college student she was doing a project with,

  • because Penny commented positively on his accent.

  • Leonard's primary health concern is his lactose intolerance: his consuming melon or any dairy

  • products results in flatulence. Leonard wears eyeglasses because of myopia, and cannot see

  • without them. On one occasion, when his glasses were broken at the movie theater, he had to

  • surreptitiously return to his apartment and retrieve his backup glasses. In order to avoid

  • detection by a sick Sheldon and Penny, who was nursing him, Howard and Raj helped him

  • to navigate through the living room by using a helmet camera. Leonard states in one episode

  • that he suffers from sleep apnea. During his relationship with Leslie Winkle, he tells

  • her that many members of his family have died from heart disease and thus he has a genetic

  • disposition to the condition. At various points in the show, Sheldon also

  • says that Leonard gets carsick unless he sits in the front seat. In season four, it was

  • revealed that Leonard has asthma as well, and also has to use the inhaler after intercourse.

  • Family All of the members of Leonard's family are

  • accomplished scientists, except for his younger brother Michael, who is a tenured law professor

  • at Harvard University. Leonard's mother, Dr. Beverly Hofstadter,

  • is a psychiatrist and neuroscientist. She has a personality almost identical to Sheldon's,

  • including strict speech patterns, lack of social conventions, and attention to detail,

  • and she is principally responsible for Leonard's difficult childhood. Sheldon and Beverly have

  • a friendly relationship where they share details of each other's lives with Sheldon often failing

  • to pass on significant information such as Leonard's parents divorcing and the family

  • dog Mitzy's death. Leonard is upset with that fact that she tells Sheldon more than she

  • tells him. After a night out of bonding and drinking with Penny, Beverly kisses Sheldon,

  • but realizes there are no romantic feelings involved.

  • Due to his mother's views, Leonard never celebrated his birthday when he was a child, and when

  • she visited him she was not impressed with his unoriginal research. Leonard revealed

  • to Penny that he built a "hugging machine" when he was young in order to compensate for

  • the lack of affection from his mother. He further stated that his father used to borrow

  • it. Beverly also belittles Leonard by pointing out that his brother and sister are more successful

  • in their respective fields than he is. Leonard's brother, Michael, is a Harvard law professor

  • and is engaged to the youngest appellate court judge in New Jersey history, and his older

  • sister is a cutting-edge medical researcher working with gibbons to cure diabetes. Leonard

  • also dislikes Christmas because instead of gifts the Hofstadter kids had to turn in papers

  • to "Santa" which were graded the next day and in the course of six years he never got

  • over a "C minus", which in Sheldon's view was a true gift, because, by Sheldon's thoughts,

  • he never deserved over it. Leonard had a childhood pet, a cat named Dr. Boots Hofstadter.

  • Leonard's father is briefly mentioned as an anthropologist. Sheldon reveals that Leonard's

  • middle name, "Leakey", comes from famed archaeologist Louis Leakey, with whom Leonard's father had

  • worked. Leonard is embarrassed by his middle name and its humorous connotations, and rarely

  • mentions it, as the name is an obvious embarrassment. Apparently his father was not very affectionate

  • towards him either, when he mentions that he had to compete with the bones of an Etruscan

  • kid for his father's favour. Though little is known about Leonard's extended

  • family, a few references to it have been made. In the first episode, Sheldon and Leonard

  • discuss Leonard's grandmother, who had visited them on Thanksgiving the year before. She

  • has Alzheimer's disease and apparently "had an episode" during her visit, which resulted

  • in her stripping off her clothes and carving the turkey. On Beverly's first visit, she

  • tells Leonard that his uncle Floyd has died, which greatly upsets him. Leonard also has

  • several other uncles, which Sheldon says are all very bald, and when they gather together,

  • they look "like a half carton of eggs." Leonard describes his aunt, however, as being "one

  • of the hairiest women you'll ever meet". Work

  • Leonard has an IQ of 173, and was 24 years old when he received his PhD from Princeton

  • University. Leonard also received a dissertation of the year award for his doctoral paper on

  • experimental particle physics. Leonard has been established to have been

  • a child prodigy, and a gifted scientist with an impressive knowledge of theoretical physics.

  • His work as an experimental physicist often includes the use of lasers, such as a heliumneon

  • laser or free-electron laser, and his research topics have varied from BoseEinstein condensates

  • and foundations of quantum mechanics to soft cosmic rays at sea level and development of

  • novel rocket propellants. Leonard designs experiments in order to test theories but,

  • according to Sheldon, his work is mostly derivative and thus unimportant.

  • Although Leonard's attempts to disprove the existence of dark matter were made moot by

  • the work of another physicist, Leonard helped to solidify proof of the hypothetical matter's

  • existence with a photomultiplier, and was invited as keynote speaker to a topical conference

  • by the Institute of Experimental Physics for his successful research on super solids.

  • From the season 6 finale, The Bon Voyage Reaction" Leonard heads to the United Kingdom to work

  • on a physics project searching the hydrodynamics equivalent of the Unruh effect, sponsored

  • by Professor Stephen Hawking, for three months on a ship in the North Sea.

  • Relationships Leonard became interested in Penny almost

  • immediately after seeing her for the first time. His infatuation with Penny becomes the

  • major force that drives the series during the first seasons. By the end of the first

  • season, Leonard finally managed to ask Penny out, and they had their first date. Subsequently,

  • they broke up because Penny felt she was not as smart as Leonard would like.

  • Besides Penny, Leonard has been involved with only a few other women. One of Leonard's former

  • girlfriends that is mentioned in several occasions is Joyce Kim, who did not appear until the

  • third season. Leonard's friends recalled on many occasions that they were together for

  • only 27 days, after which Joyce, later revealed to be a spy, defected to North Korea.

  • Initially, after feeling that Penny was not for him, Leonard turned his attention to fellow

  • scientist Leslie Winkle. The first time Leonard asked Leslie out, she rejected him, and his

  • further relationships with her proved to be only short-lived casual sex encounters that

  • only happened to satisfy Leslie's libido. Leslie briefly started dating Leonard during

  • Season 2, but when he failed to back her up in an argument with Sheldon, she dumped him.

  • In the second season, Leonard began a stable relationship with a physician named Stephanie

  • Barnett. Although the relationship went well, even earning Sheldon's approval, Leonard felt

  • uncomfortable with Stephanie moving in with him, and the relationship ended.

  • On another occasion, when Leonard's mother was visiting, he and Penny came very close

  • to having sex, but Leonard ruined the moment by suggesting that they were burying their

  • lifelong issues with their parents by doing so, which offended Penny. In the second season

  • finale, when Leonard, Sheldon, Howard, and Raj were due to leave for a three-month scientific

  • expedition to the North Pole, Penny privately expressed sadness, and wish that he would

  • not leave. In the third season premiere, Leonard and

  • Penny finally started a romantic relationship and had intercourse for the first time. However,

  • the relationship ended after eight months, after Leonard told Penny he loved her and

  • took umbrage at her inability to reciprocate, which led to friction that was exploited by

  • guest star Wil Wheaton who appeared as a fictionalized version of himself, who observed and exacerbated

  • it in order to break them up in the middle of a bowling match Wheaton's team was having

  • against Leonard, Penny, Sheldon, Howard and Raj.

  • Shortly after his breakup with Penny, in "The Plimpton Stimulation", Leonard has a one-night

  • stand with Dr. Elizabeth Plimpton, a physicist he admires, when Sheldon invited her to stay

  • in their apartment for a brief visit. This encounter causes some tension between Leonard

  • and Penny, who is somewhat judgmental of Leonard's doing so. However, the two later resolve their

  • feelings and their friendship continues. In the third season finale, "The Lunar Excitation",

  • after Penny's failed attempts to move on from her relationship with Leonard, she becomes

  • intoxicated and has sex with him. In the morning, Leonard believes that their relationship has

  • resumed, though Penny tells him that the previous night was a mistake. This causes a strain