While CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” may be a comedy, its 12 seasons include a few particular moments capable of inciting strong, angry reactions from some of its viewers. Many of these scenes happen to involve Raj Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) and the poor treatment he experiences at the hands of those closest to him throughout the series.
At first glance, Raj and his intellectual buddies Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki), and Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) appear to be a tight-knit foursome. On numerous occasions, however, Raj is made to feel left out from the group. This is especially true when Sheldon, Leonard, and Howard begin dating Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik), Penny (Kaley Cuoco), and Bernadette Rostenkowski (Melissa Rauch) respectively. Before long, they then start abandoning Raj in order to spend more time with their girlfriends.
Raj is oftentimes the odd one out, particularly with women
Raj has undeniably horrible luck with women — one romantic interest of his even climbed out of a window to escape from him on a date (ouch, right?). As if that wasn’t enough, “The Big Bang Theory” concludes with each of its main characters enjoying a happy ending … except for Raj. Though he revels in bringing “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” star Sarah Michelle Gellar to Sheldon and Amy’s Nobel Prize ceremony, their time together doesn’t constitute a romantic outing by any means.
While fans of Raj surely feel for him in each of these and other, similar occurrences, one particular conflict between him and Sheldon had his proponents truly seeing red.
Sheldon abandons Raj in a steam tunnel filled with rats
In Season 8, Episode 6 (“The Expedition Approximation”), Sheldon and Raj aspire to participate in a government-funded experiment on dark matter. As it turns out, this involves remaining in a tiny, 100-degree-fahrenheit salt mine for a total of 12 hours. To prepare, Sheldon and Raj conduct a simulation within the steam tunnels of CalTech. Though Sheldon walks confidently into the experience, he quickly becomes claustrophobic once it’s underway. Raj then tries to calm him by recounting the history of “Hannah Montana.”
Sheldon’s breaking point comes 11 minutes into the ordeal when he spots two massive rats behind Raj, prompting him to abruptly leave his supposed friend behind. Sheldon flees upstairs, slams the tunnel’s door shut, and informs lookout Amy, “It’s too late for Koothrappali, let’s go!” The episode ends with a sweaty, frazzled Raj confronting Sheldon: “You call yourself a friend? I was trying to help you and at the first sign of trouble, you ran away leaving me to fend off a family of rats.”
It’s close to unanimous among TBBT fans that Raj gets the shaft
A number of fans were angered by the CalTech steam tunnel situation after watching it unfold. Redditor u/Crazypandathe20th, for example, wrote, “I feel like they treated Raj like s*** for a lot of the show. His dad was right in the last season when he told him his friendship with them was toxic.” Meanwhile, u/kabovetti said, “And [Sheldon] doesn’t just leave him there he actually closes the metal hatch door.” Similarly, u/SheldonitaCooper pointed out that Amy doesn’t even attempt to reopen the hatch door and help Raj escape, despite seeming fully capable of doing so.
Contrary to his character’s poor treatment on “The Big Bang Theory,” Kunal Nayyar has assured fans that, in real life, he and the cast of “The Big Bang Theory” are on good terms. Speaking to HeyUGuys, Nayyar had nothing but the highest praise for his fellow cast members and his experience on the hit CBS sitcom on the whole. “We’re a family and we’ve got each other’s backs,” he said. “We have from day one.”
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