Bernadette Maryann Rostenkowski-Wolowitz, (née Rostenkowski), Ph.D., is a former waitress at the Cheesecake Factory and has earned her Ph.D in microbiology and a lucrative job at a pharmaceutical company. She began dating Howard Wolowitz in "The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary" and eventually married him in "The Countdown Reflection", Season 5 finale. She has her own apartment in Pasadena which Howard eventually moved into finally leaving his mother's house. In Season 7, they start thinking about raising a family after Howard's mother has to convalesce.
Bernadette, like Howard, is on bad terms with her mother, whose over-protectiveness caused issues for her when she was growing up. Bernadette's height is a sensitive topic for her, similar to Howard and Leonard, as well as she believes her small stature is linked to her mother smoking cigarettes while she was pregnant with her. In her teens she entered beauty pagaents including one for Miss California Quiznos of 1999. Bernadette went to Catholic school, then to into college to study microbiology and got a job at the Cheesecake Factory to pay her tuition, where she met Penny. She received her Ph.D. in microbiology in "The Roommate Transmogrification" and subsequently accepted a job with a big pharmaceutical company called Zangen in which she earned a lot more money.
Bernadette is almost 5' (1.52 m), with blonde hair and blue eyes. Her wardrobe mainly consists of red-frame glasses, petite cardigans, knee-length floral skirts, nylons and black flats. She also wears necklaces, most notably a cross as she was raised in a Catholic family. Her hairstyle is wavy with bangs and is usually untied, though occasionally is worn in a low side ponytail or with a headband. Bernadette is very cute and almost pretty as Penny.
Not much is known about Bernadette's family. Howard joked that her parents' names were Adolf and Eva and her brother's name was Ricky even though he hadn't met him yet. Her surname indicates she has Polish descent, which makes sense as she claims her family is Catholic, Poland's most common religion. Howard's mother refers to her as "that little Catholic girl". This fact is further reinforced by Howard's mother refers to her as "little polish girl" when Howard was on ISS. Bernadette's mother used to make Bernadette crazy like Howard's mother does to Howard. She used to run an illegal daycare in the basement, which was part of the reason that Bernadette has a dislike of children. She used to smoke cigarettes when she was pregnant with Bernadette, which is a reason, according to Bernadette, as to why she is short. She wouldn't let Bernadette ride a bike because she was worried she would hit a bump and lose her virginity (which she eventually lost in a Toyota Camry). When Bernadette first appeared, her mother was still picking out her clothes daily.
Bernadette's father Mike Rostenkowski is a retired police officer and she was always worried for his safety. According to Bernadette, he is a rude person and often bullies others. In "The Vacation Solution", Bernadette said that her father was retired, but still carried his gun as a fashion statement. She also gave Howard a list of topics to avoid when talking to him, implying that he is far-right wing. This list included:
- Jimmy Carter
- Foreign people
- Sean Penn
- Vatican II
- Gun Control
- Organic food
- designated hitter rule
- Howard being Jewish
She also says that if he yells, it is a good sign, but if he is quiet, Howard should quickly back away, but in zig-zags. Mike Rostenkowski appeared in the last two episodes of Season 5 and in the "The Fish Guts Displacement", in which he appears to have befriended Howard. Her father describes her as four feet tall though she is four foot eleven inches.
Bernadette has five sisters and brothers, as revealed in "The Scavenger Vortex" (S7E03), one of them is named Joey. She often took care of her younger siblings as a child, as Mrs. Rostenkowski worked full time, which was also another reason she doesn't like little kids ("The Shiny Trinket Maneuver", S5E12) and makes her competitive for she had to fight for everything with them ("The Scavenger Vortex"). She had a grandmother who died during Christmas 2009 ("The Maternal Congruence", S3E11). Her grandmother had a parrot, and once she lost her marbles, treated the remote control as if it were her pet parrot ("The Ornithophobia Diffusion", S5E09),
- Father: Mike Rostenkowski
- Mother: Mrs. Rostenkowski
- Brother: Joey Rostenkowski
- Siblings: Four Unnamed Siblings
- Husband: Howard Wolowitz
- Father-in-law: Mr. Wolowitz
- Mother-in-law: Mrs. Wolowitz
Main article: Howard and Bernadette
Bernadette has been with Howard since the episode "The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary". Bernadette was introduced to Howard by Penny because of a pact Leonard made with Howard. After that, Bernadette dated Howard for a few more episodes until Howard announced that they had broken up "a few weeks ago" in "The Plimpton Stimulation". In "The Hot Troll Deviation", Howard revealed the reason they broke up and after he apologized they started dating again. In "The Herb Garden Germination", Howard proposed to Bernadette and she accepted; however, Bernadette's relationship with Howard, though loving and generally accommodating, is often strained due to Howard still living with his mother and his sensitivity. The tension in their relationship further worsens when Bernadette starts to yell like Howard's mother and gets a Ph.D, further rubbing in the fact he does not have one.
During "The Stag Convergence", Bernadette was telling Penny about a website set up by Howard with facts about their family histories, she said that at one time in Poland both their families were neighbors and Penny said "Aww, that's cool." In reply, Amy whispered to Penny, "No, it's not. I will explain it to you later." (Amy is referring to the Holocaust). Later in the same episode, Bernadette got mad with Howard after hearing about some of his previous creepy sexual exploits which Raj mentioned during his toast at Howard's bachelor party. She tells Penny that she thought he was a sweet little guy who lived with his mother and questioned how she could now marry a man that she didn't really know. Howard apologizes and tells her that all that was past and that she has made him a better man. After this apology, Bernadette forgives him.
In "The Launch Acceleration", Howard is relieved when his space flight is canceled. Then NASA reschedules it to before the wedding. Bernadette tells him to go and that the wedding can take place after he returns because she won't stand between him as his dream of traveling to space, the final frontier.
In "The Countdown Reflection", Howard gives her a necklace with a star pendant. After he puts it on her, he tells her that she must briefly return it to him so that he can take into space with him. In this way, Bernadette will have a star that was in space after which he says, "Take that every guy who ever bought you anything!"
Just before Howard left for Russia, he and Bernadette get married. They are unable to have a ceremony at the City Hall because there are limited spots available before he is to go to space and naturally, the office does not believe his reason for being unable to delay the wedding. Their friends, however, all get ordained as ministers and married them instead.
During "The Date Night Variable", Bernie insists that Howard tells his mother that they are moving out of her house, though Howard told his mother that they were reconsidering the move. Howard returns from space in "The Re-Entry Minimization" and Bernadette meets him at the airport and has him all to herself, but falls asleep due to her allergy medication.
In "The Habitation Configuration", Bernadette gets Howard to move his stuff out of his old room. Even though he does do it, she doesn't want her husband to break his mother's heart and they go back to spend the night there. In "The Bakersfield Expedition", she develops an interest in comic books and Thor's hammer.
In "The Deception Verification", Bernadette must deals with the effects of her mother-in-law's estrogen cream after Howard absorbs at lot applying to his mother's back. He becomes very moody, cranky and effeminate. In "The Workplace Proximity", after Amy starts working at Caltech, Howard mentions that he wouldn't want to be working with Bernadette all day long. Sheldon repeats his comments in front of Bernadette who confronts Howard and then tells him not to come home after he lies about it. Later they apologize to each other. Howard promised to turn over a new leaf and make her his priority, after he finished the new Batman game with Raj making Bernadette mad again.
In "The Romance Resonance", Howard writes the song "If I didn't have you" to be accompanied by his friends for the anniversary of their first date. Bernadette misses the date since she has to go into quarantine so Howard brings his piano to the hospital and everyone sings it to her. She finds the song amazing.
In "The Cooper Extraction", Amy points out to the gang that most of them would not know each other if Sheldon had not been part of their lives. Bernadette feels that if she had seen Howard at The Cheesecake Factory, she would have found him cute, but would have been turned off by Raj and Howard's close interaction: Raj was spoon feeding him.
In "The Septum Deviation", Raj learns that his parents are getting divorce lawyers. It seems over the years they did not communicate and let a lot of little things boil over until they hated each other. Bernadette worries about their marriage and Howard is reluctant to describe what bothers him about Bernadette. Howard has been through couple's therapy (with Raj) and one trick is to describe what one loves about the other. It starts out fine, but then gets petty as they sarcastically tell each other what bothers in pseudo-supportive terms.
Howard started calling her Bernie after hearing it from his ex-boyfriend, the very tall, Glen.
Bernadette knew Penny before the rest of the gang, as she worked as a waitress at the Cheesecake Factory with her. Penny was the person who introduced Howard to Bernadette due to a pact made by Howard and Leonard.
By the fourth season, they become good friends and along with Amy they form a social group, hanging out together in Penny's apartment and occasionally go on a girls' night out. Like Penny and Amy (and even Sheldon), Bernadette doesn't like Raj's sister, Priya, because of her arrogance and controlling attitude.
In "The Wildebeest Implementation", Priya invites Bernadette and Howard over to dine with her and Leonard. Amy talks her into spying on Priya and Leonard for Penny, but she eventually can't handle the pressure of lying and leaves abruptly.
During her marriage to Howard in "The Countdown Reflection", Penny is Bernadette's bridesmaid and is one of the ordained ministers who marry her and Howard.
Bernadette gets Penny and interview at Zangen as a pharmaceutical sales representative in "The Locomotion Interruption". Though she does poorly in the job interview, Penny and her interviewer bond over their mutual fear of Bernadette. Penny calls her scarey and something of a bully. She gets the job because neither of them wants to confront her. Later on, Penny shows a great deal of maturity in wanting to do a good job especially after Bernadette pestered her to study up on the company's products. Bernadette thinks Penny got the job because her interviewer really loves her. Bernadette gives Penny some advance material to studying before she begins her training and pushes her to study it and they get on each others' nerves. Amy is in the middle and finds them both confiding in her making her feel very popular. Finally Penny and Bernadette settle down and she helps Penny learn her company's product line.
Penny makes Bernadette face up to her bullying ways in "The Champagne Reflection". Her boss Dan is still afraid of her and she yelled at him and his grandson after they lost the three-legged race at the company picnic. His grandson called her the mean kid with the big boobies. Bernadette is horrified when she realizes how everyone perceives her. Her father had taught her to not take any crap, and she can be even cruel with some of her comments without even knowing it. She thought she was the sweetest person she knew and should be in a tree baking cookies like a Keebler elf. She goes to apologize to Dan and finds out that due to his fear of her, they were paying for her daily coffee even after the company stopped doing that and gave her a private toilet on her floor that was meant for everyone. She now feels like she has to leave the company and starts crying. Dan wants her to stop and promises to keep paying for her coffee and then ups it to getting her an espresso machine. Bernadette has found a new way to get what she wants.
Amy and Bernadette are good friends, though not to the same extent as their individual friendship with Penny. Both of them do have doctorates in biology. All three of them are in the same social group. Although they are ultimately good friends, Bernadette does seem more uncomfortable around Amy when she makes outside of the box social comments, which Penny is more used to having put up with the guys, especially Sheldon, for five years, but does not comment on it if Amy is present. Amy often overshadows Bernadette and thinks of her as "not as cool as the rest of them" or tells Penny that she is "so needy and "so insecure" in "The Recombination Hypothesis".
In the episode "The Wildebeest Implementation", Bernadette had been given the nickname 'Wildebeest' by Amy, but doesn't really appreciate Amy calling her that. In "The Isolation Permutation", due to the guilt she felt for leaving Amy out and going bridesmaid dress shopping only with Penny, she decided to make Amy her maid of honor.
Even though she has known Penny longer than Amy and gets along better with Penny, she still has more similarities with Amy in terms of academics. Both of them are doctorate holders with majors under the branch of Biology. In "The Ornithophobia Diffusion", Sheldon called both of them biologists and asked them to get rid of the blue jay that had flown into his apartment and landed on his spot on the couch.
In "The Parking Spot Escalation", Amy and Bernadette get into the middle of Sheldon and Howard's fight over Sheldon's former parking space. First they start insulting each others' guy's professional life and then get into their own sex lives. Bernadette has Amy's car towed and scratched, while Amy takes a swing at her with her purse, but breaks Penny's nose instead. They do make up over dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.
In "The Hofstadter Insufficiency", Bernadette spends time with just Amy at a medical convention. They like getting able to talk shop without Penny around who prefers to talk about boys. While at the bar, two guys send drinks over to their table which excites both of them. Then Bernadette remarks that no one would blame her for following up because her boyfriend is so "Sheldon" making Amy mad. That night they make up and bond over having been hit on. When asked which guy they would have liked, each of them chooses a guy similar to each other's better half, suggesting Bernadette is attracted to Sheldon.
In "The Anything Can Happen Recurrence", Amy and Bernadette go out to dinner lying to their significant others after they get tired of Penny and Sheldon's complaining and they get caught.
In "The Focus Attenuation", Bernadette and Amy go out partying in Las Vegas while Penny stays in her room studying for her job. They return quite drunk urging Penny to join them at a male strip club. Amy steals Penny's laptop and Bernadette wants to get cozy with the male dancers.
In "The Prom Equivalency", Bernie suggests that they throw a new prom on the roof since no one, except Penny, had a memorable one. They can get all dressed up, dress up their guys in tuxedos and slow dance with them too. Amy is equally excited and helps decorate the roof. Bernadette sends out the "E-vites" and they're all accepted. She gets so excited her voice goes up so high that the beagle next starts to howl.
Bernadette became friends with Leonard shortly after Penny introduced her to Howard. She became interested in Leonard's experiments, but they are only friends, as Howard and Bernadette are in a relationship (even though Howard felt threatened). Leonard is impressed how she can get Sheldon to do things such as go to bed, but then her mother ran an illegal daycare center and she was used to dealing with stubborn children ("The Einstein Approximation"). In "The Scavenger Vortex", Leonard and Bernadette are matched in their scavenger hunt and she keeps pushing him around because she is very competitive.The Einstein Approximation", she is able to send Sheldon to bed with a few stern words, much to the surprise of the group. On another occasion, she was able to help him overcome his ornithophobia in "The Ornithophobia Diffusion", by persuading him to stroke the bird he was scared of. Finally, in "The Hawking Excitation", when Howard was getting his own back on Sheldon by being mean to him, she argued that he was being mean himself and stated, "Sheldon doesn't know when he's being mean because the part of his brain that should know is getting a wedgie from the rest of his brain," before ordering him to stop with his actions, with the exception of using Sheldon to get out of having to go dress shopping with Mrs. Wolowitz. In "The Clean Room Infiltration", Bernadette takes Sheldon to Amy's Christmas dinner, while singing cheery Christmas songs at the top of her lungs. Sheldon gets tired of it and turns off the music. She also takes him to the mall so Sheldon can buy a present to get revenge on Amy for kissing him in public. The evil plan backfires and Amy loves it. Sheldon also shows a great affection for Amy and admits that he loves her impressing Bernadette. The Countdown Reflection", she grabs Raj's hand as they watch Howard being launched into space. By season 7, when Raj can speak directly to her, Bernadette is asking his advice when it comes to dealing with her husband. They are great friends. Bernadette is loyal to Ray and so is Raj.
In "The Occupation Recalibration", Bernadette visits the comic book store to replace one of Howard's comic books that she damaged with her curling iron. She doesn't want Howard to know since he already warned her about leaving her curling iron lying around. Stuart can't obtain on for a few days so he takes her to a rival store, Capitol Comics, who has one in stock. The owner is a condescending jerk that patronizes Stuart. Bernadette gets mad at him and leaves. Finally she goes back to buy it since she couldn't find one elsewhere also accepting a free cappuccino and a chocolate chip scone, though she originally wanted a blueberry scone. In the end she helps Stewart get back at him.In "The Bakersfield Expedition", the girls visit Stuart's place and Stuart helps them pick out some comic books to investigate their guys' interest in them. Bernadette also feels that Stuart is the perfect date for Raj in "The Hesitation Ramification".
In "The Commitment Determination", Howard and Bernadette want Stuart to move out of their house. Howard wants Bernadette to break the news to him, but they can't because they learn that it's his birthday so they serve him a cupcake with a candle in it rather than serving him an eviction notice.
In the present, Bernadette has received her Ph.D and was offered a job at a big pharmaceutical company named Zangen. Although her exact income is never specified, it is stated that she makes very good money (a "butt load") and that it greatly exceeds Howard's income.
- Bernadette was raised Catholic (though Melissa Rauch is Jewish). Given her her father's disapproval of Vatican II, it is implied that she grew up in the Traditionalist Catholic household.
- Bernadette's normal speaking voice is much higher than her actress's (Melissa Rauch's) normal speaking voice. Melissa once said that she based Bernadette's voice on her mother's voice, minus the New Jersey accent.
- Bernadette is 4 ft 11 in (1.50 m) tall  the height of Melissa Rauch. Her character has been described as "only four feet tall" by Mr. Rostenkowski in "The Fish Guts Displacement".
- Bernadette seems out of character during her first appearances on the show. It seems she was originally supposed to be portrayed as almost a dim-witted blonde by taking things literally and not understanding even the simplest of ideas. She mentions this fact in "The Alien Parasite Hypothesis", where she says she is much smarter than Howard, but in order to protect his manhood, she acted dumber.
- Despite being an adult and living on her own, her mother still picks out her clothes for her.
- Bernadette says the most exciting thing she gets to work with in microbiology is yeast.
- In "The Shiny Trinket Maneuver", Bernadette revealed that she hates children because she was forced to babysit her younger siblings as her mother worked full-time.
- Bernadette met Howard while she was still waitressing at the Cheesecake Factory with Penny.
- Her last name is revealed to be Rostenkowski in "The Love Car Displacement". The name is of Polish origins, although in Czech "rostenka" means "rumpsteak" or (sexy) "girl".
- Bernadette also knows a lot about physics (mostly experimental physics). In "The Gorilla Experiment", she expressed her interest in Leonard's area of work involving fundamental tests of quantum mechanics and electron accelerator.
- Bernadette says that if she hadn't taken up microbiology, she would have either become a physicist or an ice dancer.
- Bernadette isn't good at lying as she went to a Catholic school when corporal punishment was still allowed and they "whipped" the ability to lie out of her.
- When she gets very angry, her voice changes to one similar to Howard's mother, to which Howard said "she sounds sexy when she's angry".
- In "The Roommate Transmogrification", she announced that her dissertation had been accepted and she will get her Ph.D. soon. She also announced that she had been head-hunted by a big pharmaceutical company.
- Bernadette doesn't like magic, science fiction, high school and role playing games, either in the bedroom or as in Dungeons and Dragons. However, in "The Weekend Vortex", she is shown to enjoy the MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic.
- A puppy once bit Bernadette in the face, causing her to fervently dislike puppies.
- She is 4 ft 11" tall and has to use a stool to reach her apartment door peephole. She also complains about having trouble seeing over the dashboard while driving, being unable to play Twister, to go on roller coaster rides, or to reach the floor when she sits on chairs (although this latter difficulty is not normally seen).
- Bernadette once dated a former teacher of hers who stood 6'7", which made Howard jealous.
- In "The Psychic Vortex", Bernadette revealed that she gets hungry by watching flesh-eating bacteria skeletonize small rodents.
- In "The Gorilla Experiment", Bernadette claimed that she does not get a lot of Howard's jokes, but laughs anyway since he lights up every time she laughs.
- Bernadette compares Howard's sense of humor to those of stand-up comedians.
- In "The Vengeance Formulation", when Howard sang a song and played the piano at the Cheesecake Factory as a way to apologize to Bernadette, she said that it was the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for her.
- She blames her small size on her mother smoking during pregnancy.
- Bernadette was bullied in school by a girl called Tammy Bodnick, who once hid her clothes from her locker after gym and left an elf costume in there. The problem was, the costume was too big.
- Bernadette has a younger brother named Joey.
- Bernadette has some of the qualities of Howard's mother like when she yells and how she dotes over Howard without Howard really noticing the similarities.
- Howard's mother seems happy with Howard dating Bernadette, but never gave an answer to marriage. She did call her "my daughter-in-law, the doctor", though.
- Bernadette is Polish and some of her family lived near Howard's family in Poland in the 20th century.
- The logo on Bernadette's lab coat indicates that the pharmaceutical company she works for is called Zangen, though the name has never been discuss by the characters out loud.
- Bernadette and Raj are the only characters of the social group whose parents have both been seen on-camera - Sheldon's father is deceased since Sheldon was a child, Howard's father abandoned him and his mother when Howard was eleven, while Leonard's father and Penny's mother and Stuart's mother and father have both/all been mentioned and presumed alive, however there has been no mention of Amy's father.
- Bernadette has the longest personal name of the social group.
- After Bernadette had joined the regular cast Melissa Rauch said that the writers were going to show that Bernadette had a darker side. This can probably be seen in her confrontational nature and the fact that she gets hungry watching flesh-eating bacteria devour rodents.
- Bernadette is the only female character in the current main cast who never dated Stuart Bloom.
- Bernadette, as well as Stuart, is the only member of the current main cast who hasn't met Sheldon's mother Mary Cooper.
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