Before The Big Bang Theory gang became some of the highest paid TV actors in Hollywood (the three main actors: Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, and Kaley Cuoco all make $1 million per episode!), they all started with very humble beginnings. In some cases, The Big Bang Theory has been the biggest sitcom success for them to date. They may not have worked extensively in TV in the past but they've been fortunate to be a part of a show that has evolved into one of the most beloved, endearing and not to mention hilarious series in recent history. Many of the cast members, including regulars, reoccurring characters and guests, have worked their way up the entertainment ladder slowly but steadily. Some have appeared in various episodes of TV shows of the past while others have even dabbled and spent some time filming blockbuster movies. You've likely seen the movies and the actors but have long since forgotten or didn't make the connection.
The actors and even the characters that they play so expertly, have become extremely popular. In many cases the actors personify their characters; can you look at Jim Parsons and see anything other than Sheldon? No, right? That's why it's so interesting to take a look back at their previous roles and see the types of characters they played and how they've evolved since then.
Check out the list below of actors who've appeared on the show and prepare to say things like, "Oh yeah, that's right! I remember she starred in that show" or "Oh my goodness, yes! That's the guy, I loved him back then!". Or you may have been thinking, "Where have I seen him before"? Well, here are the answers!
13 Judd Hirsch - Taxi
12 Christine Baranski - 3rd Rock From the Sun
11 Laura Spencer - Bones
10 Laurie Metcalf - Roseanne
Metcalf plays Sheldon’s ultra conservative Christian mother Mary. Always ready with a Bible verse or different point of view, she's become an endearing part of the cast. Metcalf is the first of a handful of cast members who appeared on Roseanne back in the 90s. As such, The Big Bang Theory is somewhat of a Roseanne reunion. Metcalf starred as Roseanne’s uptight sister Jackie Harris who suffered from low self-esteem. She was considered a cool aunt but experienced her fair share of heartache. This character couldn’t be more different from that of Mary. Mary is a proud woman who won't let anyone get away with anything!
9 Kevin Sussman - Ugly Betty
8 Melissa Rauch - 12 Miles of Bad Road
Sweet voiced Bernie has been Howard’s better half since 2009. Much like Raj, it was great to see Howard finally settle down, especially with someone so unlike anyone he'd dated in the past. Her character took his quirkiness and often times, questionable relationship with Raj, in step. This TV series is Rauch's first high profile TV appearance. Prior to her role as the level headed and sometimes temperamental Bernadette, she appeared in a handful of episodes of 12 Miles of Bad Road with the very talented Lily Tomlin and Kath & Kim with Molly Shannon and Selma Blair. Since settling into her role, she's really made a name for herself while on The Big Bang Theory.
7 Mayim Bialik - Blossom
Bialik joined The Big Bang Theory cast in 2010 and shortly thereafter, began dating Sheldon Cooper, to everyone's surprise. She's basically the female version of Sheldon but more in tune with the world around her and the impact her actions may have on others. What makes them so great together is their occasional awkwardness with each other and their friends. Prior to starring in this series, Bialik appeared in Blossom in the lead role for 5 seasons back in the 90s. It was a huge hit while it was on air and turned her character into a fashion icon. It was your typical 90s sitcom in that she played a smart young woman adjusting to life's changes while learning a lesson or two along the way. Side note, Joey Lawrence also starred in this series, he played the middle brother and provided eye candy for young women all over North America. I mention this because he's connected to another Big Bang cast member.
6 Sara Gilbert - Roseanne
5 Kunal Nayyar - NCIS
4 Simon Helberg - MADtv
Howard is the only member of the Big Bang crew without a PhD. However, he's been just as successful as his peers in that he's been to space. Before dating Bernadette, Howard was Raj's other half. Do you remember MADtv? Well, you may not know that Helberg played various roles for five episodes of the extremely funny sketch comedy show (think SNL). His time on that show gave us a peek into his comedic abilities which are constantly on display in The Big Bang Theory. Whether he's imitating Raj's accent, dancing to Dance Dance Revolution or recounting his time in outer space, he has us laughing.
3 Kaley Cuoco - 8 Simple Rules
Ever notice that Penny is the only character on the show who doesn’t have a last name? I suppose that now that the character's married to Leonard we can safely assume that she’s finally earned herself a shiny new last name. Anyway, I digress. Cuoco has starred as Penny since the beginning when the show first aired in 2007. It's safe to say, and she's even admitted this herself, you didn't know who she was until she dated Superman a.k.a Henry Cavill. Right? After this she started to pop-up everywhere. Remember the RAV4 genie or the Priceline.com commercials?
2 Johnny Galecki - Roseanne
Galecki has starred as Leonard Hofstadter since the show first took over our airways. Let’s face it, since then we’ve all fallen for the lactose intolerant nerd who used to spend his evenings either playing video games and attending Comic Con before finally marrying Penny. The immense amount of patience that he shows Sheldon even when he's at his most annoying is absolutely amazing.
1 Jim Parsons - Judging Amy
By far the most popular character on the show, Parsons has been playing the quirky, much loved character for nine seasons. It may be surprising to note that Parsons auditioned for several roles on pilot series before hitting it big with The Big Bang Theory. Fortunately for us, the previous pilots weren't picked up so Sheldon has graced our airways instead. It's pretty clear that Parsons is a very gifted actor. This is further proven by the fact that he's won several awards stemming from his ability to bring Sheldon's character to life. You can't picture Sheldon as anything other than a tall, lanky guy who loves to wear superhero T-shirts, right?
If you’re a Judging Amy fan then you might remember that he played Rob Holbrook for one season on the former hit TV series. He played a very different character from that of Sheldon Cooper. He was a court clerk who was a bit of a suck up and wanted to please Amy whenever he could. Very different from Sheldon who marches to the beat of his own drum. In addition to this, for those of you who have seen the 2015 movie Home, Parsons voiced the character Oh, a lovable but clumsy alien.
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