Dr Leonard Leakey Hofstadter Ph.D.
Leonard Hofstadter is played by actor Johnny Galecki, who has been nominated for both a Golden Globe and a Primetime Emmy award for his work. The Name Leonard Hofstadter is homage to the actor/producer Sheldon Leonard, and the Nobel Prize winner Robert Hofstadter. The middle name Leakey was given to Leonard by his mother in reference to the British archaeologist and naturalist Louis Leakey. Leonard does not like the name Leakey as he feels it has too many connotations with his childhood bedwetting. He is not too keen on Leonard either as it can easily be shortened to ‘nerd’. If Leonard had a choice he would rather be called ‘Angelo’, as this is made from the words ‘Angel’ and ‘Jello’.
Leonard was born in New Jersey, 1980. His exact birth date is unknown, but he was born in May, which makes him either a Taurus or a Gemini. Leonard did not celebrate his birthday (or Christmas) as a child due to his parents’ beliefs that it was better to study these festivals and events rather than participate. The nearest Leonard came to a party was when his granddad passed away on his birthday, which meant that his cousins and other family members came round and they all ate German chocolate cake. Leonard’s childhood seems quite depressing. He was not only bullied at school, but also a home by his over-bearing mother.
Despite Leonard being an accomplished physicist and a child prodigy, his mother is dismissive of his intelligence, and very cold towards him. Apparently Leonard even built himself a hugging machine at one point. Sadly it seems that affection was not very forthcoming from his father, Dr Hofstadter, either. He is an anthropologist who spent more time with a 2000 year old skeleton of an Etruscan boy than with Leonard. His Mother, Dr Beverly Hofstadter, is a psychiatrist and a neuro-scientist.
Leonard has an elder sister, name unknown, who conducts medical research on Gibbons and also a younger brother, Michael Hofstadter, a Harvard Law professor who is engaged to New Jersey’s youngest appellate court judge. Leonard’s mother frequently reminds him of how much more successful his siblings are in comparison. She gets on far better with Sheldon than Leonard, as their personalities are very similar (she even snogs him at one point!). This probably explains why Leonard accepts Sheldon and is so tolerant of his behaviour. In Season 2, Leonard’s father has an affair which leads to a divorce. This is not very surprising, as Leonard’s mum states that they had not engaged in ‘coitus’ since his conception! We have not met the Senior Dr Hofstadter yet, but Dr Beverly Hofstadter has made several guest appearances on the show. She is played by Christine Baranski, who for her role as Beverly, was twice nominated for an Emmy Award for ‘Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series’ (2009/2010).
Leonard Hofstadter received his doctorate from Princeton University in 2004. He has an IQ of 173 and is employed at Caltech as an experimental physicist. His work is a lot more ‘hands on’ than Sheldon’s. He designs and carries out experiments to validate theories, often involving lasers and particle generators. He has grown isotopically pure crystals, and worked with holograms. Leonard also has an expertise in theoretical physics. Sheldon is dismissive of Leonard’s accomplishments, claiming that he has no original ideas of his own. However, they did co-author a paper together, “Paradoxical Moment-of-Inertia Changes Due to Putative Super-Solids”, which suggests that Sheldon does on some level see Leonard on an equal (or at least somewhere near) intellectual footing as himself.
He also travelled to The Magnetic North Pole, along with Raj and Howard, to assist Sheldon in ‘The Monopolar Expedition’. Unfortunately, this was unsuccessful, and the gang ended up tricking Sheldon into believing that he had indeed confirmed String Theory, when in fact the results of the experiment were influenced by an electric can opener.
Earlier in his career, Leonard worked on a classified government project involving rocket fuel. This must have been important research, as the North Koreans sent a female spy, Joyce Kim, to seduce Leonard and learn his secrets. She was unsuccessful in this (due to Sheldon’s interference) and defected back to her own country. Due to an error in calculation, the experiment with the rocket fuel went badly wrong. Sheldon had to grab the rocket and only just threw it down the elevator shaft in time before it exploded. This is why the elevator does not work. As a side note, this was a deliberate ploy on behalf of the show’s creators, who use the stairway a lot for the ‘walk and talk’ scenes. As the actors go up and down the stairs, they do not have to film them walking along a long street or something similar.
Leonard as a character is portrayed as being the more ‘normal’ one of the group. He is keen to fit in with other non-scientific people, and would like to be seen as less of a ‘geek’. He is more successful with women than the others and has several relationships, ranging from one night stands with Leslie Winkle to longer-term romances with Dr. Stephanie Barnett, Priya Koothrappali and Penny. Although he tries to hide it, he is still a geek at heart. Leonard has Star Wars Shampoo, enjoys Klingon Boggle, loves Babylon 5, visiting the comic book store, online gaming, video games, Age of Conan (he is an assassin) and science fiction. He also owns various superhero outfits, including ‘the Flash’, a Battlestar Galactica Colonial warrior’s flight suit and a Superman Costume that adds 3 inches to his height. Leonard is 5’4 ¾” tall, having stopped growing in the eighth grade. Leonard is a massive Superman fan. As well as the costume, he has superman underwear, all the films and an extensive comic collection. Sheldon revealed that Leonard’s password for everything is Kal-El, which is Superman’s Kryptonian name. Leonard also wears Clark Kent style glasses, due to his myopia, and is practically blind without them.
Leonard seems plagued with a host of medical conditions. His lactose intolerance is his main concern. He will not eat even the smallest amount of dairy produce, as this would cause his intestines to swell and produce ‘noxious gases’. He also suffers from asthma, sleep apnoea, car sickness, migraines, ear infections, nose bleeds and has a family history of heart disease. It seems that male pattern baldness is also inherent in the family, with Sheldon describing Leonard’s uncles as ‘a half carton of eggs’ when they sit round a table. Despite these complaints Leonard is a cheerful and sweet character, though prone to sarcasm. He is best friends with Sheldon, and often the peacemaker in the group when Sheldon gets too much for the others. He has lived with Sheldon since his Princeton graduation, having to submit to much initial questioning, bazaar behavioural requests and signing a roommate agreement just to be allowed to live with him. Leonard is obviously pretty easy-going to put up with all that!
Leonard’s main love interest is Penny, whom he has adored since she moved into the neighbouring apartment in the Pilot show. The relationship between Leonard and Penny is a major plot in The Big Bang Theory, with viewers constantly wondering if and when they will get together. After a few unsuccessful attempts, Leonard finally asks Penny out at the end of the first series. This romance is short lived, and Penny breaks off the relationship fearing that she is not clever enough to be Leonard’s girlfriend. When Leonard goes away for three months to the North Pole, Penny realises how much she will miss him. Upon his return they get together, and finally make love (or engage in coitus!). Things seem set for a long and happy future, but Penny has commitment issues and problems telling Leonard that she loves him. This leads to another break-up, though they remain good friends. It is not until ‘The Beta Test Initiation’ mid- season 5 that the pair resume their relationship, all be it tentatively. They run into problems when Leonard proposes to Penny, but Penny manages not to ‘freak out’ as she usually does to expressions of love and proposals from Leonard. She turns down the proposal, but stays in the relationship.
There is a major turning point when Penny finally tells Leonard that she loves him during an argument in ‘The 43 Peculiarity’. He is shocked, and happy, that she has finally said it. Penny runs off to work to avoid talking about her feelings. In ‘The Tangible Affection Proof’ Penny finally opens up and confides in Leonard about her commitment issues. She says that she is happy with him, and knows that they will eventually marry, but is scared. Leonard suggests that she should propose to him when she is ready.
Fun Facts about Leonard:
- Leonard plays lead guitar in Rock Band
- Leonard, like Johnny Galecki, can play the cello
- Leonard describes himself as ‘the king of foreplay’
- He usually wears low-cut black Converse All Stars sneakers.
- Leonard uses extreme amounts of hair gel.
- He has to wash his feet in a separate tub before getting into the bath, as stated in the roommate agreement.
- Leonard has Darth Vader ‘No More Tears’ Shampoo
- Leonard and Howard made a pinky swear that neither of them would hit on Raj’s sister, Priya
- He broke this promise and hooks up with Priya whenever she is in Pasadena.
- Leonard is team captain in Wii Bowling.
- At School, Leonard would get bullied and locked in his cello case.
- Leonard was replaced by Zack as Superman when the group dressed up as The Justice League.
- Sheldon says Leonard is a homunculus, which means a fully formed, miniature human being.
- Leonard is ¼” taller than Howard.
- Leonard wears boxer shorts, preferably superman themed.
- According to the unaired original pilot, Leonard is unable to process corn.
- He sweats profusely when under stress
- He often changes his wardrobe to suit his girlfriends, only to revert to his usual attire once the relationship ends.