At the start of season eight in The Big Bang Theory, Penny quits her job as an actress and becomes a pharmaceutical rep in the same company where Bernadette Wolowitz works in. Apparently, she's good at her job, so much so in S8 E20 The Fortification Implementation, Leonard discovers she is earning twice as much as he does

Penny: Okay, instead of protecting me, why don't you try being excited when something good happens?

Leonard: I'm always excited for you! I'm excited that you found this new job where you're making decent money.

Penny: Decent? I make twice what you make.

Leonard: Wait, twice?!

Penny: Yeah.

Wheaton: For those of you at home, Leonard just found out his fiancée makes way more money than he does.

Penny's lucrative job as a pharmaceutical salesperson is briefly mentioned in the following episode, "The Communication Deterioration" and then... never again. It is now season nine, eleven episodes have been aired, and not once does anyone mention about Penny's work. Not her husband, whom we see still works in Caltech, not Bernadette who is her co-worker, nor Penny herself. Penny's past as an aspiring actress who waited on tables in the Cheesecake factory is never mentioned either. I realize that as a character, Penny could not continue waiting at tables forever while attending the odd audition. The writers either had to give her an acting break, or she had to ‘give up’ her dream and find a job that offered her financial security. And it's great that the show has two strong female characters who excel in their professions, so why have the writers ignored Penny's career in season nine?

  1. Have the show's writers and producers justified their decision to write all of Penny's scenes either in her apartment or at Sheldon's? She doesn't appear to go to work, she never talks about her clients, her boss, her old dreams of being an actress, nor her dreams about the future. She doesn't say whether she loves or hates her new job.

  2. What exactly is her role in the show? Is she just Leonard Hofstadter's wife?

  3. Despite the fact that she has this financially rewarding job, it hasn't been mentioned since Season 8 episode 21, which aired April 16, 2015. Why would the writers stop talking about Penny's “new” job?

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    We rarely see or hear about anything of their day jobs unless 1) One of the scoobies visits the other during work to ask sometime plot related, or 2) the job is part of the plot that day. Entire seasons have gone by without showing any of their jobs.
    – cde
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 20:05
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    @cde not true, what about all the cafeteria scenes where Sheldon, Leonard and Howard meet up? Sheldon will mention about some paper he is writing on. No, Penny's role is ...what? Leonard's wife and the girl who lives next door to Sheldon.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 20:09
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    @Mari-LouA You forgot Raj. But that makes sense in context because those 4 work at the same place, while Penny and Bernie work in the field (driving around a lot, no single place to get together) and Amy works at a different school/laboratory. As a sales rep, I barely saw some of my coworkers in the morning before heading out, that's it.
    – cde
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 20:14
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    @cde but you would talk about your work at home, and she earning big bucks, supposedly, she can afford to buy things. No one mentions about the sales rep job, Penny is a big character in TBBT, she's not a secondary character, or maybe she is now...
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 20:18
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    @Richard where is the confirmation. It's never been mentioned, not once in eleven episodes. I'm pretty sure about it. Anyway, let's see if someone else can provide a more satisfying answer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 20:26

2 Answers 2


Here's my take, and supported by some external evidence.

The writers have recently been busy focusing on Sheldon and Amy's relationship, in fact the last episode showed the two scientists finally consummating their love in The Opening Night Excitation, aired 17 December on CBS; finally ending up in bed together after five years of dating. Sheldon chooses to miss the premier of the Star Wars sequel, The Force Awakens, because it is Amy's birthday, and he wants to give her ‘his genitals’ as a birthday present. (Would the "old" Sheldon ever have made this choice “Coitus vs. Star Wars” three or two years ago? But I digress...)

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Raj seems to be single again, Howard and Bernadette do not argue nearly as often as they used to, and Leonard and Sheldon are still sharing the same apartment. It's important to note that neither Leonard nor Penny have actually moved in together, they either spend the night in Penny's apartment or at Sheldon's.

So, where is the next conflict going to come from? Because as any good sitcom writer knows, creating a conflict is essential to keep the viewers' interest high. It appears the next conflict will arise between Penny and Leonard.

(UPDATED SPOILER ALERT Do not read further, if you prefer not to hear what happens in the next couple of episodes episode)

The Big Bang Theory, season 9 episode 12: Penny and Leonard to seek marriage counseling?

The leaked spoiler reveals that pair will be seeing a psychiatrist when the hit series "The Big Bang Theory" returns for the second half of season 9.

In episode 12 titled "The Sales Call Sublimation," Wikia reports that the newly married couple will be discovering some martial issues after talking to Dr. Sarita Gallo (Jane Kaczmarek). Penny will meet her when she makes a sales call to her office [After 11 episodes of silence we finally get to see Penny working at her new job] and the latter refused to entertain her. Because of this, she will reportedly ask her husband to pretend to be a client so that they can get her to buy the drugs Penny are selling. Leonard's wife is currently working as a pharmaceutical sales representative, which she started doing in season 8.

Although Leonard is supposed to be the one who will attend the sessions with Dr. Gallo, Penny will also find herself having sit ins with her. The psychiatrist will even tell her she has anxiety issues and that she is serving as a mother figure to Leonard and not his wife. Dr. Gallo will also suggest to Penny that she should ingest the drugs she is selling, but the latter says no, as her company's product may give her "fits of homicidal rage."

What are these “marital issues”? Has Leonard gone back to wearing socks in bed again? Does Penny want to rekindle her career as an actress? Is she acting like Leonard's mother? Or will the writers shift their focus on Penny earning more money than Leonard as suggested here:

The Major Way The Big Bang Theory Is Changing Penny's Role Next Season

At the show's TCA presentation, creator Chuck Lorre dropped this bit of context: "She's going to start making some money, which will unbalance their relationship as the power shifts," he said, referring to Penny and Leonard

(July 24, 2014, Glamour.com, Entertainment)

  • Not to criticise what's a very well thought-out answer, but didn't you berate me for quoting what the writers had said a couple of months before the current season started?
    – user7812
    Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 12:39
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    @Richard This at the very least attempts to answer the question, your answer was about Penny going back to work as an actress, which I never asked about. You had over a week to improve on it.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 12:43
  • The Cuck Lorre quote at the end is about Season 8, not 9 (it is from July 2014, after all). Penny making more money has been a story in e.g. The Expedition Approximation (8x06) and The Fortification Implementation (8x20). - I haven't started watching Season 9 yet, so I don't know if that continues.
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 18:27
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    @Oliver_C the whole point of the original question, which happens to be mine, is that for 11 episodes nobody, not even Penny, talks her job. I set up the bounty because I felt the story had made an important leap forward, and I wanted to hear if there was a plausible explanation. If the leaks are correct, the issue of Penny earning more money should resurface in the upcoming episode.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 18:34

According to showrunner Steve Molaro, Penny's career as a pharma-rep is coming along very nicely in season 9 and she has no immediate plans to pick up her failed acting career, thank you for asking.

What about Penny's acting career? Now that she's married, are we going to see her go back to that at all?

There are no plans at the moment. She's moving forward to pharmaceutical sales and seems to have found a thing that she's pretty good at and enjoying.

So there won't be more Serial Apeist?!

[Laughs.] Not at the moment.

  • But she's not moving forward at all, she's stuck in the house all day, and that quotation is dated 9 September 2015.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 20:02
  • @Mari-LouA - A) How do you know that her career isn't progressing? B) How do you know that her scenes aren't being filmed at the weekend or on her days off work?
    – user7812
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 20:11
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    -1 This doesn't answer any of my questions, this post answers whether Penny will return to acting. If you look through the OP's edit history, it never asks if or why Penny doesn't resume her previous career.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 6:38

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