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Why? They're not my accomplishments
~ The reason Beverly Hofstadter is never proud of her children

Dr. Beverly Hofstadter is a famous neuroscientist, author of psychiatric books, and the overarching antagonist of The Big Bang Theory.

She is played by Christine Baranski.

Biography

Beverly was mentioned multiple times throughout season 1, described by her youngest son Leonard as the main source of his misery, from bluntly favoring his elder siblings to experimenting him for her studies. However, her first official appearance was in middle of season 2. She left her son half broken, like many times throughout his life, but created a surprising bond with Sheldon Cooper.

Season 3

She reappeared in "The Maternal Congruence", where she visits Leonard for Christmas. She's surprised to find out about Leonard's relationship with Penny. Leonard never told her about her, because he was afraid she'll disapprove Penny for her lack of education. Sheldon, whom Beverly talks frequently, revealed that the habit of hiding information is mutual, as Beverly spared Leonard details such as her divorce from Leonard's father and his dog's death. Penny decided to takes Beverly drinking at The Cheesecake Factory to get her loosened up and less harsh, and eventually bonded. Ironically, her intoxication gave her the clarity to realize Leonard's reasons to distancing himself, and gave him an uncharacteristic genuine hug. While being driven to the airport by Leonard, she gave her blessing to his relationship.

Beverly is mentioned again in "The Pants Alternative", where it is revealed that she humiliated Leonard and negatively compared him to his siblings ever since he was 8, or even before. On one instance, she even forced Leonard to give up a prize just because his research about lima beans' growth thanks to classical music was slightly similar to a research about lima beans' decay due to Rock n' Roll, which made him regress to bedwetting.

Season 4

Beverly is absent in all episodes in Season 4, but is mentioned in "The Engagement Reaction" a textbook example of a crazy and abusing mother

Season 5

She appears via Skype in the premiere episode, "The Skank Reflex Analysis". Leonard tells her about his conflicting emotions regarding current girlfriend Priya Koothrappalie and Penny. She coldly responds by calling him a coward, and advice him to get one of her books instead of asking for her motherly advices again.

In "The Speckerman Recurrence", Leonard mentions her as the real reason he regressed to bedwetting.

In "The Shiny Trinket Maneuver", Leonard, Howard and Raj are discussing about Howard's possibility to have a child in the future. Leonard says that he might not develop parental feeling toward the child, giving his own abusing mother as an example of such situation.

In "The Recombination Hypothesis", she is mentioned when Sheldon theorize about Leonard's wish to distant himself from his mother as his main motive to be attracted to someone completely different, namely Penny.

Season 6

Beverly is absent in all episodes in Season 6, only mentioned throughout the season regarding bad memories and encouraging Leonard to become a scientist.

Season 7

In "The Raiders Minimization", Penny purchases one of Beverly's psychology books about Leonard's problems growing up, called The Disappointing Child. Leonard gets motivated by his embarrassment and his anger to make Penny join his favorite activities. After Penny learns about his behavior, she tempting him for sexual engagement, only to drag him into a Skype conversation with his mother, and falsely accuses him for involving her in his intimate moments.

In "The Status Quo Combustion", Leonard contacts his mother for telling her his engagement to Penny, unaware Sheldon has already told her. While initially having doubts about Penny, Sheldon's admiration convinces her to appreciate Penny more. Leonard shows deep frustration from the fact his mother is focused on herself and treating Sheldon better than her own son. Beverly responds by wondering why Leonard is always clinging on her approval.

Season 8

Beverly was mentioned in "The Expedition Approximation", as part of Leonard tells Penny's financial conversation. Leonard explains that he's perfectly content with the fact he isn't the main breadwinner, as his father had a much worse time due to being completely emasculated by his mother.

In "The Maternal Combustion", she visits Pasadena to see Sheldon and Leonard get an award. She meets Mary Cooper and wants to know about Sheldon when he was growing up. Though warned to be nice to Mary, she starts a heated argument after Mary mentions her religious beliefs. Later talking to Sheldon, she admits that there are other methods of raising children. She tries unconditional love by trying an awkward hug with Leonard.

Season 9

Beverly returns in "The Line Substitution Solution", where Penny tries to connect with her, only to see her bonding with Amy and Bernadette instead. When Penny has had enough and it is the last straw for her, she gets very angry with Beverly and yells at her for being an insult all day and asks Beverly if she even knows what an insult is. Beverly then tells Penny says she feels insulted that she wasn't invited to her son's wedding, nor even being told that it was taking place. To make up for that, Penny decides on doing a re-wedding while Beverly is still in town, which is okay with the latter and they finally bond.

Season 10

In "The Conjugal Conjecture", Beverly does not want to be humiliated again and attend the ceremony. Penny convince her to stay, if only to spite Alfred. At the wedding ceremony, Stuart sits between them since they refuse to sit next to each other. When asked for comments, Alfred stands and says that even though they brought the worse out of each other, the best thing to come out of their relationship was Leonard. Beverly agrees.

She is mentioned again in "The Birthday Synchronicity", when Leonard says that he has come to peace with his relationship with his parents, likely suggesting that there may have been some improvement in the relationship between Beverly and Leonard.

Beverly reappears in "The Escape Hatch Identification", where Sheldon asks for her professional advice in order to deal with the fact that someone else is taking his room. Beverly says that Sheldon has insecurities about his relationship with Amy and needs his room as an escape hatch for their relationship. Amy retorts that their relationship is sound, but realizes his need for a back up plan. She slightly reverts to her old ways by bugging Leonard and Penny, interpreting their generosity toward Raj and Randall as attempts to find roommates in order to distract themselves from marital problems.

Season 11

In "The Explosion Implosion", after Penny answered a phone call from Beverly for Leonard, the pair developed a close bond with Beverly dishing on her recent amorous activities. Amy was jealous of Penny's close relationship with Leonard's mother, while Leonard was more annoyed that his mother told Penny she was proud of her, which is something Beverly has never said about him. When Leonard confronted his mother, Beverly told him how great Penny was, that out of all of her children's spouses, Penny was the best one and admitted she was proud of Leonard, if only for marrying well. Beverly also noticed that Leonard was trying hard not to cry, so she let him hang up quickly since Leonard was already being driven to tears.

Season 12

In "The VCR Illumination", Leonard and Penny asking her professional help for comforting Sheldon, whom she was uncharacteristically quick to help due to him being one of the few people she truly cares about.

Her final appearance is in "The Maternal Conclusion". She visits Leonard and Penny, asking nice and seems to be truly interested in Leonard's new physics project. However, she eventually admits that she is doing research for her new book. Leonard gets very angry, until finally decides he forgives her. She doesn't understand why is she being forgiven, yet bursting in tears and embrace Leonard, finally having a true and long term bond with him.

Personality

Beverly's overly analytical nature turned her into a cold and bitter woman, who diagnose the behavior or neuroses of those to whom she's speaking while breaking them from the inside. She's completely lacking of empathy, as shown when her analysis of Penny's relationship with her father prompts Penny to burst into tears within minutes, but Rather than attempt to console Penny, Beverly merely continued to psychoanalyze her.

Her cruelty and blindness to other people's feelings seems driven less by sadism and more by the fact she tend to force clinical analysis on people around her, distantly insulting and abrasively mocking people around her before using psychological jargon to distance herself from the antagonism which she has created. She see not problem, or even any moral faults, in humiliating and belittling people around her.

Despite her high intelligence, Beverly's extremely arrogance and narcissism makes her very ignorant at times. Leonard's multiple attempts to have a mother-son relationship with her are interpreted by her as absurd and unnecessary, even an Adipose complex. Beverly also insensitively rebukes Leonard's attempts to impress her, or even communicate with her at all. She also have the bad habit of projecting her own narcissistic personality disorder into Leonard, and overall blaming him for her own faults.

Perhaps the most prominent example of Beverly's extreme ignorance is represented by her own husband, Alfred. Despite being just as accomplished and brilliant as her, she showed just as little emotion to him as she did toward their son Leonard, which eventually led Alfred to have an affair with a more loving and caring woman. Beverly showed a self-righteous rage about their inevitable divorce, believing they went to separate ways before of Alfred's affair, refusing to acknowledge her own emasculating and misanthropic behavior that led to the end of their relationship.

with all of her faults and psychopathic nature, Beverly showed a true bond with Sheldon Cooper, Leonard's friend and roommate. She had no such bond with Leonard himself, but their reconciliation in the final season showed that deep down, Leonard's respect and acceptance were important to her.

Trivia

  • As the direct responsible for most of Leonard's misfortune, from unsolved self-esteem problems to hang out with underappreciating people, Beverly is ultimately the heavy of the whole The Big Bang Theory franchise.
  • Beverly is based on Sofia Lamb, as both looks almost the same, and while not sadistic, are abusing mothers to the protagonists. However, unlike Sofia, Beverly have an honorable side and genuine connection to a selected few.
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