Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz is a microbiologist who has a high-paying job at a pharmaceuticals company, Zangen. She is married to Howard Wolowitz, with whom she has two children, Halley and Neil Michael.
Although Bernadette is generally nice and good-natured, she has shown a dark side and admits she is a very vengeful person. When Bernadette suggested to Penny that they spy on Amy's date with Dave, Penny remarked that Bernadette is sneaky. Bernadette agreed with the remark saying "Yeah, but I'm little, so it's adorable." Howard and the gang have noticed that when Bernadette is angry she sounds a lot like Howard's late mother, Debbie Wolowitz.
Early Life and Family
Bernadette is from Yorba-Linda, California and is of Polish heritage. Bernadette comes from a large Catholic family with five sisters and brothers. During her childhood, Bernadette often took care of her younger siblings, which is one of the reasons she doesn't like kids.
Bernadette's father, Mike Rostenkowski, is a retired police officer who reportedly holds many right-wing views. When Howard first met Mike, Bernadette told Howard to avoid the following subjects: Jimmy Carter, Gardeners, Foreigners, Homosexuals, Sean Penn, Vatican II, Gun Control, Organic Food, the designated hitter rule, recycling and Howard being Jewish.
Relationship with Howard
Howard was introduced to Bernadette by Penny, who was a waitress with her at the Cheesecake Factory. Howard and Bernadette soon bonded over their overbearing mothers. When Howard realized this could become a lasting relationship, he quickly proposed to Bernadette. Although she did not accept his proposal, the pair continued to date.
Towards the end of Season 3, Bernadette abruptly broke things off with Howard. It was later revealed she dumped Howard after catching him having cyber sex with "Glacinda the Troll" on World of Warcraft. Howard and Bernadette got back together early in Season 4 with Bernadette wanting to take it slow. When Howard proposed to Bernadette near the end of Season 4, she accepted.
When Wil Wheaton uploaded a video from Howard's bachelor party of Raj drunkenly describing some of Howard's sexual conquests, Bernadette questioned their impending wedding. A heart-felt apology from Howard for his past behavior won Bernadette over.
After gaining her PhD in micro-biology, Bernadette was head-hunted by a big pharmaceutical company and offered a well paying job. Bernadette's higher earning potential than Howard has occasionally caused a rift in their relationship. Howard's desire to start a family has also created tension in their marriage as Bernadette does not like children and doesn't want to put her career on hold.
Although she was initially against Howard becoming an astronaut, Bernadette eventually supported her fiance in his dream to go to space. As Howard's space mission approached, Bernadette decided that they should get married before he goes into space. After the couple were unable to wed at City Hall, they agreed to marry on the roof of the guys' apartment as the Google Earth satellite passed above. Sheldon, Leonard, Penny, Raj and Amy became ministers and performed their wedding.
Bernadette supported her husband Howard while he was in space and, when he returned home and wouldn't shut up about it, helped him adjust back to civilian life. Bernadette was not in favor of living at Mrs. Wolowitz's house as a married couple. After Bernadette finally convinced Howard to move his stuff away from his mother's house, his sentimental story of how he helped his mother through her husband leaving her gave Bernadette second thoughts.
For the anniversary of their first date, Howard decided to write a song for Bernadette and have his friends sing it to her. After an accident at the lab, Bernadette didn't make it to the date. Instead, Howard and his friends visited her in quarantine to sing the song, titled "If I Didn't Have You", for her.
Following Mrs. Wolowitz's death, Howard and Bernadette moved into her old house. Bernadette is taking the lead on renovating the house. When Bernadette organized a garage sale to clear out some of the junk, she wanted Howard to sell his prized life-sized Doctor Who TARDIS. In the end, the guys had a ping pong battle to decide who should get to keep it, and Amy won. When Bernadette wanted to work on redesigning the house, Howard was reluctant to change his childhood home. He eventually agreed to let Bernadette redesign the dining room.
When Bernadette's father, Mike, helped them with the redesign work, he told Howard that they could easily change the room into a nursery, but he probably didn't want to hear that. After Howard questioned why he wouldn't want to discuss starting a family, Mike revealed that Bernadette had told him that it was Howard who didn't want kids. Howard and Bernadette eventually discussed the issue, and Bernadette agreed to think about having kids when Howard agreed that he wouldn't leave all the hard work to her. Howard told her he wanted to be the type of father that's always around, since his father walked out on his family.
When Bernadette revealed she was pregnant, Howard's excitement quickly turned to dread as he realized how difficult and expensive raising a kid would be. With the help of his friends, Howard pulled himself together and made sure Bernadette knew how much this meant to him and that he would fully support her. At a karaoke bar, Howard and friends sang a few songs in appreciation of Bernadette.
Bernadette was sometimes been mopey about the pregnancy and the things it prevented her from doing, such as drinking, having sushi or going in their hot tub. When the rest of the gang went to a wine tasting event, Bernadette spent the evening with Sheldon playing a Dungeons & Dragons game he designed especially for her. Bernadette enjoyed taking a break for being "Bernadette the Pregnant".
After Bernadette learned her colleagues knew she pregnant even though she was keeping it a secret, she was angry to find out that Penny was the one who had inadvertently revealed her secret. Bernadette admitted she was scared that people at work would treat her differently and she might not get the big study she was hoping for.
When Raj tried to help Bernadette get ready for the arrival of her baby by clearing out the future nursery room, Bernadette found her old doll house and remembered that even as a child she never dreamt of being a mother. Bernadette later admitted to Raj that she was not interested in anything baby-related, and was worried that she might never feel maternal. Raj called his gynecologist father to talk to Bernadette, and he told her that not everybody gets maternal feelings right away but it doesn’t mean she won’t love her baby when it’s born.
Bernadette and Howard decided not to learn the sex of their baby while they had their prenatal scans at the OBGYN, but Raj admitted that he took a peek at their folder and knew the gender of their child. Bernadette and Howard went back and forth on whether to find out - making many abandoned phone calls to Raj - but they eventually settled on keeping it a surprise until the baby was born.
After Stuart gave Bernadette a baby gift of homemade coupons for chores, Bernadette noticed that one of the coupons was on the back of an eviction notice. Stuart admitted he had been evicted and was in need of a place to stay, so Howard and Bernadette decided to let Stuart move back in as he would be able to help them out with the baby. With Stuart living with them again, he and Raj got competitive over who could be the most helpful “third wheel” in the final weeks of Bernadette’s pregnancy.
When Bernadette’s water broke, Howard freaked out while Stuart and Raj put the plan into motion and got Bernadette to the hospital. At the hospital, Bernadette’s contractions were too far apart, so she was sent home and told to return when she was closer. Back at home, Raj was filming a video for the baby when he inadvertently revealed that Howard and Bernadette were expecting a baby girl. The couple were so angry with Raj that they sent him away, even though he’d been a huge help during their pregnancy.
After they returned to the hospital, Howard and Bernadette talked about baby names now they knew they were expecting a girl. When their baby was born a few hours later, Howard told the rest of the gang that they had chosen to name her Halley and that Raj was going to be her godfather.
Motherhood and Second Pregnancy
When Bernadette returned home with Halley, she started to feel like a failure as a mother when she couldn’t get her to stop crying while Howard and Stuart could. Bernadette had a few rough nights where Halley was crying and she was crying because she couldn’t comfort her. Eventually, Bernadette was able to get Halley to settle down and stopped feeling like her baby hated her.
Bernadette’s first girls’ night out since Halley’s birth didn’t go to plan when Raj and Stuart, who were looking after her, kept phoning for advice. When Penny said she was jealous of Bernadette for living such an adult life now, Bernadette said worrying about a baby and its future isn’t fun, it’s terrifying.
As Bernadette’s maternity leave was coming to an end, she realized she was conflicted about returning to work. She felt like her choice was either to abandon her baby or give up on her career which she’d worked so hard to achieve. When she finally discussed her feelings with Howard, he said he didn’t know whether there was a right choice either, but whatever they decide they could always change their mind if it isn’t working out. When Bernadette returned to work, she found it hard to leave Halley at daycare, as did Howard and Stuart.
When Bernadette found out she was pregnant again, she was worried how Howard would take the news. When Howard freaked out, Bernadette realized she was also racked with doubt about going through another pregnancy so soon after Halley, and about their ability to support and care for two children. Bernadette and Howard eventually came to see their second pregnancy as a gift, albeit one they didn't ask for.
Bernadette and Howard were initially disappointed when they found out they were expecting a boy. Howard was unsure how he would relate to a son who might be interested in sports in a way he isn't. Bernadette, who grew up with many brothers, had been hoping that Halley might have a sister.
After Howard had a vasectomy to avoid any future surprises, he was put on bed rest and a pregnant Bernadette was left to take care of him as well as looking after Halley. The stress of the situation led to Bernadette being placed on bed rest for the rest of the pregnancy.
When Bernadette’s second pregnancy dragged on for two weeks past her due date, her friends decided to keep her company and do what they could to try get things moving. After Amy revealed to Howard that Bernadette had already picked a name for their soon-to-be-born son, he confronted Bernadette and insisted he did not want their son to be named Michael after her father. As Howard and Bernadette discussed potential baby names, she deflected Howard’s suggestions by saying they were the names of her old boyfriends. While their friends played a game and offered their own baby name suggestions, Howard had to take Bernadette to the hospital after her water broke. After their son was born, Howard revealed that they decided to name him Neil Michael, though Bernadette insisted they would be calling him Michael.
After the birth of Michael, Bernadette and Howard were conflicted over who should look after the kids. Howard recognized Bernadette is really invested in her job, so he thought he should be the one to stay at home. Bernadette was happy he didn’t expect her to give up her career, but at the same time felt jealous about the prospect of Howard being at home bonding with the kids while she was at work. When Howard got up early and took the kids around town to show how good he would be as a stay-at-home dad, Bernadette was convinced he wouldn’t be able to keep up that pace all day. After she went to the office to meet Penny for lunch, Bernadette admitted she would rather be the one to stay at home with the kids. But when her assistant made her a coffee and a coworker needed her to answer a question, Bernadette quickly fell back in love with her job. Later that day, as Howard realized he might not be cut out to be a stay-at-home dad, he and Bernadette vowed to figure out their situation together.
Bernadette first met Penny when they were both working as waitresses at the Cheesecake Factory. Penny set Howard up with Bernadette after he invoked a pact he had with Leonard. When Howard and Bernadette got back together again, Bernadette started to spend more time with the gang and Penny, in particular. At Leonard and Penny's second wedding ceremony, Bernadette officiated the service. Bernadette has sometimes overlooked how responsible Penny can be, wanting anybody but Penny to look after Halley. While Penny took care of Halley, she said her first words and called Penny "momma". Penny made sure that Bernadette, who hadn't trusted her to look after her daughter, heard.
Bernadette is good friends with Amy, though not as close as they both are with Penny. As the two female members of the group with advanced degrees, Bernadette and Amy have enjoyed speaking at a more intellectual level than they can with Penny. Bernadette and Amy had a bitter spat when Howard and Sheldon fought over a parking spot at the university. Bernadette showed by scary side by keying Amy's car and having it towed. When Amy and Bernadette spent time away at a science conference, they were hit on by two guys who were like Howard and Sheldon. Bernadette and Amy realized they each had a thing for the guy who was more like the other's better half. When Sheldon and Amy secretly auditioned their friends for the roles of best man and maid of honor at their wedding, Bernadette was willing to forgive them when she found out, so long as Amy picked her to be maid of honor. As Bernadette was still on bed rest, she sent Howard to talk to Amy and secure the job. Unfortunately Penny arrived while he was there to finally admit she and Amy were “besties”, leading Amy to give her the role.
Bernadette has shown a compassionate and understanding attitude when dealing with Sheldon. When Sheldon was stuck on a physics problem and stayed up for days on end, Bernadette was able to convince Sheldon to go to bed. Bernadette also helped Sheldon overcome his fear of birds. When Howard was punishing Sheldon by making him do embarrassing tasks in return for introducing him to Professor Stephen Hawking, Bernadette sympathized with Sheldon. Bernadette said Sheldon doesn't know when he's being mean to Howard because "the part of his brain that should know is getting a wedgie from the rest of his brain."
Bernadette has a warm relationship with Leonard. Soon after she met Leonard, Bernadette showed an interest in Leonard's work, prompting feelings of jealousy in Howard and causing Penny to try learn more about science. Leonard saw a darker side of Bernadette when they were paired up in the gang's Scavenger Hunt.
Bernadette's relationship with Raj is more complicated than with the rest of the gang. Although Bernadette has been supportive of Raj and helping to find him a partner, his feelings for Bernadette caused tension between her and Howard. Bernadette has also been put out by how close Raj is to Howard. When Raj stayed with them, Bernadette and Howard were both angered by Raj's meddling in their marriage. Although Bernadette was initially welcoming of all the attention Raj was paying her during her pregnancy, Howard and Bernadette soon found it creepy. When they asked Raj to back off, they felt guilty and invited him back only for Raj's over-involvement to become weird once again.
Bernadette has a cordial relationship with Stuart, though it's become more strained by Stuart living in their house after Mrs. Wolowitz's death. While Stuart started living with Mrs. Wolowitz, Bernadette tried to calm Howard down when he'd get angry about Stuart's close relationship with his mother. As Stuart tried to re-open his comic-book store with help from Mrs. Wolowitz, Bernadette tried to make Howard see that the used furniture was a reasonable price to pay to get Howard out of his mother's house.
After Mrs. Wolowitz's death, Stuart continued to stay at her house, even as Howard and Bernadette moved in. Bernadette and Howard tried to ask him to leave, but they gave up when Stuart said it was his birthday. When Stuart finally did move out of their house, Bernadette and Howard were initially excited and took full advantage of having the house to themselves, but they realized they missed Stuart. Stuart moved back in with Howard and Bernadette as her due date approached. Stuart has been taking care of some of the household tasks, including caring for Halley, as Bernadette returned to work.
Bernadette worked at the Cheesecake Factory with Penny as she studied to become a microbiologist. After getting her degree, Bernadette was offered a high-paying job at a pharmaceuticals company called Zangen. Bernadette has had the occasional accident in her lab, leading to stays in quarantine.
Bernadette is feared at work, even by her boss. When Bernadette arranged a job interview for Penny with her boss Dan, he wasn't inclined to give Penny a job, but they soon bonded over their mutual fear of Bernie. Bernadette was upset when she found out people at work didn't like her, but she then used their sympathy to ensure she would still have all the job-related perks she had become accustomed to.
Amy and Bernadette bonded when they realized they both have to hide their career success from their partners, but their camaraderie was short-lived when they got competitive with each other over who had the most promising career.
When Bernadette was on bed-rest during her second pregnancy, she was worried that her co-worker, Ruchi, who was romantically involved with Raj at the time, was trying to take over her work. After her fears were confirmed by Raj, he tried to make Bernadette see it was the same sort of stunt she would have pulled at work if the situation was reversed.
- Bernadette's full name is Bernadette Maryann Rostenkowski-Wolowitz.
- When Bernadette gets angry, she sounds uncannily like Howard's mother. Howard says "she sounds sexy when she's angry."
- Bernadette is Catholic.
- Bernadette is of Polish-origin and her family lived near Howard's family in 20th century Poland.
- Bernadette is from Yorba Linda, California.
This page has been updated to episode 1124. The Bow Tie Asymmetry
Bernadette: But we have jobs, we can't babysit her twenty-four hours a day.
Howard: What if we use our vacation time?
Bernadette: I wanted to go to Hawaii, not Hell.
Stuart: Oh, so she's good enough for Howard but not for me?
Bernadette: Yeah. Go have weird relationships with your own mother and cousin. This is his turf.
Bernadette: I told you you shouldn't have espresso after dinner. I know the little cups make you feel big but it's not worth it.
Bernadette: You better find my husband's mother, 'cause one way or another we're walking out of this airport with a dead woman.
Leonard: You don't go into science for the money.
Bernadette: Speak for yourself. Last month my company both invented and cured restless eye syndrome. Ka-ching, ya blinky chumps!