All 12 Big Bang Theory Seasons, Ranked by How Much Critics Hated Them
Not every season was as 'extraordinary' as its characters.
For 12 seasons, The Big Bang Theory captured the world's attention with its geek-centric group of friends navigating love, life, and their careers in hilarious ways.
The show was truly unique and, for the most part, genuinely funny, but while it was loved by many, there were parts of the series that were met with critical scorn and some that fans couldn't even defend.
In the eyes of critics and fans alike, the second season of this science-centric sitcom was a far stretch from the first season.
TBBT quickly evolved into something funny and enjoyable, and many attribute this to Sheldon's evolution from an insufferable know-it-all to 'the most side-splittingly riotous' character on the show. All we needed was a little time to get to know the characters for the show to soar to an unexpected perfect rating.
With another perfect score from critics, and 91% from fans, Season 3 continued to grow the hilarious dynamic between Penny and Sheldon, and added two new characters to the mix: Amy and Bernadette. Some fans had begun to find the show a little bit predictable, but the addition of two level-headed female scientists certainly made up for it.
After a big drop in Season 4, Season 5 came back with a vengeance, as Penny claimed a more central role among the brainy bunch, much to the delight of fans, and the comedy aspect was upgraded with better writing and jokes as the storyline developed.
The fourth and final perfect score awarded to TBBT was for Season 7, which saw most of the main cast make notable strides in their lives, from Penny finally deciding to quit acting, Howard being invited back to the International Space Station, and Sheldon meeting his childhood idol. Season 7 struck a perfect balance, the humor was described as 'phenomenal,' by fans, and even the toughest critics were happy to agree.
Season 10 introduced some drama, but this time it was welcomed by fans, who enjoyed both Leonard and Penny's relatives and their awkward exchanges. Critics also loved the season, although some fans complained about the repetitive humor and Penny and Leonard's relationship bordering on toxic, although this certainly wasn't a widely 'popular' opinion.
Did this series end with a bang?
83% is something to be proud of for the final season, but it is not the highest the show has ever seen. Still, TBBT managed to wrap up its 12-season run with a heartwarming ending that served as a sweet and subtle 'Bazinga!' as the characters moved on to the next big chapters in their lives.
The addition of Bernadette and Amy as series regulars increased the show's appeal and added a 'girl power' element that we didn't even know we were missing. Still, there were parts of this season that fans found funny and unique, and other parts that lacked comedy, but critics warmly embraced Season 4, praising it for finding the perfect balance to the group's dynamic.
This season leaned more towards traditional storylines and character development, with Sheldon proposing to Amy, Howard and Penny's pregnancy, and a friendship dilemma between Howard and Raj that added depth to the characters, but this seemed to be at the expense of fans and critics who in turn found the show 'unfunny' and somewhat losing the spark at its light-hearted, nerdy core.
After doing so well in Season 5, Season 6, the series' halfway mark, totally missed the mark. While the main characters' storylines continued to be strong, critics across the board pointed out that many of the jokes were unfunny and generic, and that Sheldon had reverted to being simply annoying. Many fans loved this season as much as previous ones, but could also admit to a sense of stagnancy, as the season seemed to fizzle out like a third-grader's volcano science project.
Season 8 saw the show fall back to its low ratings, and science can't explain it.
After a progressive and near-perfect Season 7, fans for the second time had a problem with the show's jokes, with one critic commenting. 'With the show safe for at least two more seasons, there's no motivation for the writing staff to try harder.' There were really no notable moments for the gang after such an exciting Season 7, but fans were more forgiving than critics, giving Season 8 a 74% rating.
Season 9 was another misfire for the sitcom, with the melodramatic aftermath of Sheldon and Amy's breakup, picking up with Leonard and Penny eloping in the first episode and MeeMaw making a surprise visit, but the rest of the season is stale and bordering on miserable, especially after Sheldon finds out about Leonard and Penny's plans to move in together. The only laughs in this season came from the pre-recorded track.
As the age old saying goes, 'It can only get better from here.'
TBBT's first season was the most hated by critics, and looking back, it's hard to argue with their points. The show didn't start out promisingly, we were introduced to an insufferable lead, along with his painfully awkward friend crushing on the ditzy blonde next door. Once again, the critics said it best: 'this series manages to be smart and lame at the same time, just like the male leads.'
Critics may have been skeptical of the show, but with an audience score of 83%, it seems that despite an uncertain start, fans found it hilarious, and were sure that TBBT had the formula for success, and they weren't wrong.