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Moonbase

Character Popularity - Ups And Downs

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Over the last two years, I had noticed a change in popularity of the characters, particularly Sheldon. There was a time, when he could do no wrong but now there seems to be complaints. This newer Sheldon is not quite as popular. And since some people want proof if you voice an opinion now, I have attempted to get what little I can.

There is a poll on the main site which asks casual visitors (you don't have to be a member) who their favourite character is. Lucky for me, the infamous Tripper archived the old poll, when he updated the site. Which presents an opportunity to compare old and new statistics. Of course, the new poll doesn't have as many votes at 28,698 to 90,031, but the percentages are what counts. The old poll was archived in Sept 2012. The new poll was started from then. I rounded the figures.

 

Sheldon from 66% to 49% (26% down)

 

Penny from 12% to 20% (40% up)

 

Leonard from 10% to 16% (38% up)

 

Raj from 6% to 5% (17% down)

 

Howard from 6% to 4% (33% down)

 

Amy coming in at 4% (new)

 

Bernadette coming in a 2% (new)

 

Stuart coming in at 1% (new)

 

The old poll did not include the new characters but as they are only taking up 7% of the vote, this doesn't account for the big shifts. Penny's popularity as favourite character has gone up the most, with 19.5% of the vote, rounded up to 20%. Closely followed by Leonard.

 

Sheldon, Howard and Raj have taken the biggest hits. Sheldon is still the most popular at 49% but he used to hold a massive 66% of the vote. So yes, I was right in sensing a drop. I will compare this again next year and see how these figures are moving.

 

Another interesting thing to note (which I suspected) was the even bigger drop, in those who chose Howard as their favourite.

 

The polls :

 

http://the-big-bang-theory.com/polls/viewpoll/11/Who-is-your-favorite-character/archive/

 

http://the-big-bang-theory.com/polls/viewpoll/43/Who-is-your-favorite-character/
 

Edited by Moonbase
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Thanks for the update Moonbase.

Interesting what can happen after so many seasons. But Sheldon is still my favourite character.

Penny and Leonard are more popular now I like it.

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Yes I know. I was sure Sheldon and Howard had gone down but I was surprised to see the rise was mostly in favour of Leonard and Penny. I wonder if this will continue and eventually give Sheldon a run for his money.

Edited by Moonbase

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A few thoughts on this subject.

1. When the show first came out the fans were more hard core and appreciated the nerdiest of the characters. Thus Sheldon would be the favorite. Now that it is more popular, more "less nerdy" people are watching the show and they would relate more to Lenord and Penny who are the most mainstream of the characters.

2. The other thing I would note is that the first poll included 90,000 votes while the second poll has less than 30,000. What this tells me is that many people are not re-voting. So the later poll is mostly new people (see point one). A more accurate overview of popularity might be to combine the two polls. Yes Sheldon is less popular because of point one but not as much as indicated by looking at the second poll.

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Over the last two years, I had noticed a change in popularity of the characters, particularly Sheldon. There was a time, when he could do no wrong but now there seems to be complaints. This newer Sheldon is not quite as popular. And since some people want proof if you voice an opinion now, I have attempted to get what little I can.

There is a poll on the main site which asks casual visitors (you don't have to be a member) who their favourite character is. Lucky for me, the infamous Tripper archived the old poll, when he updated the site. Which presents an opportunity to compare old and new statistics. Of course, the new poll doesn't have as many votes at 28,698 to 90,031, but the percentages are what counts. The old poll was archived in Sept 2012. The new poll was started from then. I rounded the figures.

 

Sheldon from 66% to 49% (26% down)

 

Penny from 12% to 20% (40% up)

 

Leonard from 10% to 16% (38% up)

 

Raj from 6% to 5% (17% down)

 

Howard from 6% to 4% (33% down)

 

Amy coming in at 4% (new)

 

Bernadette coming in a 2% (new)

 

Stuart coming in at 1% (new)

 

The old poll did not include the new characters but as they are only taking up 7% of the vote, this doesn't account for the big shifts. Penny's popularity as favourite character has gone up the most, with 19.5% of the vote, rounded up to 20%. Closely followed by Leonard.

 

Sheldon, Howard and Raj have taken the biggest hits. Sheldon is still the most popular at 49% but he used to hold a massive 66% of the vote. So yes, I was right in sensing a drop. I will compare this again next year and see how these figures are moving.

 

Another interesting thing to note (which I suspected) was the even bigger drop, in those who chose Howard as their favourite.

 

The polls :

 

http://the-big-bang-theory.com/polls/viewpoll/11/Who-is-your-favorite-character/archive/

 

http://the-big-bang-theory.com/polls/viewpoll/43/Who-is-your-favorite-character/

 

 

Through those polls may not be scientific, I think they are an important gauge on the effects of the emphasis of the writing of the characters in season 6.

 

Steve Molaro became the main show runner last season and he is a self proclaimed Lenny. His main thrust was to turn Penny from a vacillating love object into an adoring mate for Leonard. All the baggage that they dropped on her in season 4 is pretty much gone. And Leonard is showing signs of a backbone, which we can assume will grow next season. I know my feelings for those two grew more positive with each new show.

 

Sheldon, on the other hand, has become more and more of an irritant. The writers merely ramped up character traits he has always had but with the changes to Amy, to make her less like Sheldon, I had less tolerance of his clueless, though unintentional, cruelty. The writers wanted to reassure us that Sheldon would not be quickly changed by Amy's longing for him but because of the changes (growth) of all the other characters, it is more noticeable that he is a 30-something, unlearning, child.

Edited by BangerMain

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A few thoughts on this subject.

1. When the show first came out the fans were more hard core and appreciated the nerdiest of the characters. Thus Sheldon would be the favorite. Now that it is more popular, more "less nerdy" people are watching the show and they would relate more to Lenord and Penny who are the most mainstream of the characters.

2. The other thing I would note is that the first poll included 90,000 votes while the second poll has less than 30,000. What this tells me is that many people are not re-voting. So the later poll is mostly new people (see point one). A more accurate overview of popularity might be to combine the two polls. Yes Sheldon is less popular because of point one but not as much as indicated by looking at the second poll.

 

The first poll started in 2007 and was closed in 2012. The second poll has only been up since September. That the second poll got 30K votes already makes it a pretty remarkable sample of current fan sentiment.

 

We can only speculate the makeup of this explosively growing fan base. Some may be old-timers like me who have been with the show since the first promos of 2007 and others may have entered this season.

Edited by BangerMain
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@ Kevin Brazee
@ BangerMain

You both make good points. It's not very scientific, but it's all we have available. If Tripper has yearly results, that might make it more interesting. I voted on both the polls myself and I think most of us here did. But I assume the 30,000 who voted in the last 9 months are mostly new visitors.

The overall fanbase is increasing and the rise in popularity for L/P could indicate more overall support for the two characters and/or a change in voter. It's hard to know. I do agree that they have 'ramped up Sheldon's traits' and made him super irritating though. And I also agree that Molaro has done a lot of work on L/P this season.

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Moonbase, good work finding and writing it up. As for being not scientific, a quick eyeball estimate, with a lack of caffeine, off the top of my head calculation, would make it appear that the only Sheldon's (and possibly Penny's)are statistically significant.

For instance Leonard's 10%, with errors means the real values could be from 7 to 13%. His 16%, again with error, could be from 12 to 20%. Note that the highest value for the 10% (13) is higher than the lowest value of the 16%. Statististicly, that means Leonard's percentages could be considered the same.

A couple of things to make sure you take this with a grain of salt. These were done in my head, and that doesn't work as well as it used to. I had to estimate several values, which could change the results. Oh, the reason the errors are high for the sixteen percent is that there were fewer total votes in the survey. Which increases the error. And finally, I didn't try to calculate several other things. Which means I think you comparison is good for an estimated trend.

Again good job finding the data.

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Moonbase, good work finding and writing it up. As for being not scientific, a quick eyeball estimate, with a lack of caffeine, off the top of my head calculation, would make it appear that the only Sheldon's (and possibly Penny's)are statistically significant.

For instance Leonard's 10%, with errors means the real values could be from 7 to 13%. His 16%, again with error, could be from 12 to 20%. Note that the highest value for the 10% (13) is higher than the lowest value of the 16%. Statististicly, that means Leonard's percentages could be considered the same.

A couple of things to make sure you take this with a grain of salt. These were done in my head, and that doesn't work as well as it used to. I had to estimate several values, which could change the results. Oh, the reason the errors are high for the sixteen percent is that there were fewer total votes in the survey. Which increases the error. And finally, I didn't try to calculate several other things. Which means I think you comparison is good for an estimated trend.

Again good job finding the data.

 

Thanks, it's good to have someone with a head for this stuff. I wasn't aware about the error margins.

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Has a sit com ever had slowly evolving main characters? TBBT could just focus on the apartment; and whoever lives there(+friends). If a fan poll showed a character was 'exhausted', he could be sent back to India, and then bring in a 'challenging' character.

Edited by gaqo

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Off the top of my head, MASH and All in the Family in the US. I don't know if the British version of All in the Family(Till Death do us Part)on which All in the Family was based had evolving characters

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Has a sit com ever had slowly evolving main characters? TBBT could just focus on the apartment; and whoever lives there(+friends). If a fan poll showed a character was 'exhausted', he could be sent back to India, and then bring in a 'challenging' character.

 

 

I don't think that would work, people all have their favorite characters, so they are invested in their charactes and if they leave the show, I think those viewers will leave.  Stuart could be said to be a newly introduced main character this season, however, not too many people really liked him or gave him much thought as a main character.

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Sheldon, on the other hand, has become more and more of an irritant. The writers merely ramped up character traits he has always had but with the changes to Amy, to make her less like Sheldon, I had less tolerance of his clueless, though unintentional, cruelty. The writers wanted to reassure us that Sheldon would not be quickly changed by Amy's longing for him but because of the changes (growth) of all the other characters, it is more noticeable that he is a 30-something, unlearning, child.

I agree. Also I think the way Jim Parsons is playing him has changed. In the earlier seasons when he was expounding on something or correcting someone it was usually done in an unemotional, matter-of-fact way with a somewhat deadpan delivery.  In the later years he's become much more animated and emotional by waving his arms and raising his voice much more often. To me it's had the effect of changing  the character from odd, quirky and innocent to just kind of a goofball. It's like when Star Trek:TNG gave Data the emotion chip.

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I don't think the poll can be used to gauge anything really, because the polls rotate each time you access the home page.  You could vote for your favorite character whenever that particular poll shows up, or you could do like I do, and not vote in any of the polls, or vote in some of them and not others, etc.

 

So, if I vote for Sheldon every time I see the poll, or never vote for anyone, or voted once but never bothered to vote again, what does that say about his popularity?  Does it mean that I don't like him as much because I voted for him once but didn't feel like voting at all the next time around?

 

Just because I didn't vote more than once, or if I never voted, doesn't mean that I like his character less than I did before.  Unless someone were to do some kind of real scientific poll, I don't think there's any real way to say anything one way or another.

 

There have always been people who complained about Sheldon, his behavior, etc.  If you go back and read episode threads from the early seasons, there was always someone complaining that they didn't like him, or the way he behaved, or certain aspects of the character and so forth.

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I don't think the poll can be used to gauge anything really, because the polls rotate each time you access the home page.  You could vote for your favorite character whenever that particular poll shows up, or you could do like I do, and not vote in any of the polls, or vote in some of them and not others, etc.

 

So, if I vote for Sheldon every time I see the poll, or never vote for anyone, or voted once but never bothered to vote again, what does that say about his popularity?  Does it mean that I don't like him as much because I voted for him once but didn't feel like voting at all the next time around?

 

Just because I didn't vote more than once, or if I never voted, doesn't mean that I like his character less than I did before.  Unless someone were to do some kind of real scientific poll, I don't think there's any real way to say anything one way or another.

 

There have always been people who complained about Sheldon, his behavior, etc.  If you go back and read episode threads from the early seasons, there was always someone complaining that they didn't like him, or the way he behaved, or certain aspects of the character and so forth.

 

Same old, same old! :icon_rolleyes:

 

There are only about 50 active members on these forums who post regularly. Personally I rarely go to the main site anymore. The majority of those votes will be coming from regular fans. Unless you have voted 30,000 times.

 

How about some examples of all those complaints from the early seasons? Since I did my best to back up what I wrote.

 

And if what Tensor wrote is correct, the only significant statistic on that list, is Sheldon's.

 

Edited by Moonbase

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Same old, same old! :icon_rolleyes:

 

There are only about 50 active members on these forums who post regularly. Personally I rarely go to the main site anymore. The majority of those votes will be coming from regular fans. Unless you have voted 30,000 times.

 

How about some examples of all those complaints from the early seasons? Since I did my best to back up what I wrote.

 

And if what Tensor wrote is correct, the only significant statistic on that list, is Sheldon's.

 

 

Even so, you can't determine who is voting, how often they're voting, or which poll happens to come up on any given visit to the home page.  If it's my first visit to the home page and some other poll pops up in that corner, rather than the "who's your favorite character", I might never get a chance to vote for my favorite character.  What does that do to the statistics?

Is there any way to know how often that poll pops up for any given visit to the home page or whether or not the decline in votes has to do with people just not bothering to vote (depending on why one is going to the home page to begin with)?

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The poll being on a rotation just makes it a random selection, so it wouldn't make any difference.

The voting numbers have increased rapidly, not decreased. Almost 30,000 votes since Sept 12. The original poll got only 90,000 in 5 years. And as Kevin pointed out may have been a different kind of audience then. Something which has been argued to death on the forum but this may be the first real indication of this.

I have a feeling not many people will vote over the hiatus, except maybe forums members. Once the new season starts and regular viewers know the show is back on air, they will start visiting for information. Then the voting will get interesting. I'll take the figures at the beginning of next season and compare them at the end.

@ Tensor

How much margin for error does there need to be, before we can say there is a definite increase for Leonard?

Edited by Moonbase

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I agree. Also I think the way Jim Parsons is playing him has changed. In the earlier seasons when he was expounding on something or correcting someone it was usually done in an unemotional, matter-of-fact way with a somewhat deadpan delivery.  In the later years he's become much more animated and emotional by waving his arms and raising his voice much more often. To me it's had the effect of changing  the character from odd, quirky and innocent to just kind of a goofball. It's like when Star Trek:TNG gave Data the emotion chip.

 

 

It’s like running the series of Blackadder backwards, starting at the suave and world-weary Captain Blackadder and ending at that gurning gimcrack Prince Edmund. Or Mr Bean. Sheldon began as a rather sarcastic and deadpan Mad Scientist, and has morphed gradually through various stages and combinations of Robot/Child/Super-villain, into some sort of demented hillbilly.

 

Even his posture and defining mannerisms for the first four years have altered. Where once he stood ramrod straight, he now slouches. Once highly-strung (to put it mildly) he is now laconic to the point of somnambulance. Is he half asleep? Once swift and articulate in speech, he now drawls, twangs and brays like an infantile bigot. Naught against Parson’s native accent, it’s my favourite after Glaswegian, but Jim’s voice hasn’t changed, it’s what he’s doing with Sheldon’s that peculiar.

 

I can’t watch season five in particular without gibbering with rage. His character is unrecognisable. Sheldon always had the nobility of an outsider, the unappreciated prophet in his own land. Even when he was maniacally leaping about like a tit in the ballpit he had a certain “master of my fate” attitude. Where the devil is his dignity now? Tiny trains! Girlfriends forsooth! (I shout at the television, evidencing some degree of hypocrisy…)

 

I feel like Brent Spiner has opened an original mint-in-package Sheldon Cooper action figure and is busy arranging it into obscene positions…

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I feel like Brent Spiner has opened an original mint-in-package Sheldon Cooper action figure and is busy arranging it into obscene positions…

 

 

:icon_lol: :icon_lol: :icon_lol:  So do I. Thanks for this post.

 

I completely agree, the execution of Sheldon is nowhere near as good, as it was. I can see hints of Mr. Bean as well and I don't know if this is down to the actor or the writers. I suspect a combination of the two because Sheldon's dialogue is nose-dived.

Edited by Moonbase

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It’s like running the series of Blackadder backwards, starting at the suave and world-weary Captain Blackadder and ending at that gurning gimcrack Prince Edmund. Or Mr Bean. Sheldon began as a rather sarcastic and deadpan Mad Scientist, and has morphed gradually through various stages and combinations of Robot/Child/Super-villain, into some sort of demented hillbilly.

 

Even his posture and defining mannerisms for the first four years have altered. Where once he stood ramrod straight, he now slouches. Once highly-strung (to put it mildly) he is now laconic to the point of somnambulance. Is he half asleep? Once swift and articulate in speech, he now drawls, twangs and brays like an infantile bigot. Naught against Parson’s native accent, it’s my favourite after Glaswegian, but Jim’s voice hasn’t changed, it’s what he’s doing with Sheldon’s that peculiar.

 

I can’t watch season five in particular without gibbering with rage. His character is unrecognisable. Sheldon always had the nobility of an outsider, the unappreciated prophet in his own land. Even when he was maniacally leaping about like a tit in the ballpit he had a certain “master of my fate” attitude. Where the devil is his dignity now? Tiny trains! Girlfriends forsooth! (I shout at the television, evidencing some degree of hypocrisy…)

 

I feel like Brent Spiner has opened an original mint-in-package Sheldon Cooper action figure and is busy arranging it into obscene positions…

 

That's a great description of early Sheldon. I miss him.

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I don't entirely disagree with you. I have a recollection he was something of a royal pain in S3. They reined him in (not reigned him in, btw lol, because he was never a sovereign) and then changed him. But that seems to have made more people happy. I do miss that type of uniqueness. He's still out there, differently.

Edited by Nogravitasatall

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@ Tensor

How much margin for error does there need to be, before we can say there is a definite increase for Leonard?

Well, the margins would have to not overlap, to show a definite increase. However, some people will look at the data, and the error bars and conclude that Leonard's popularity has actually increased from 7 to 20 percent. You know, the low side error on the 10% (7%) and the high side error on the 16% (20%). That's why you have to be careful when using statistics or see other people using statistics to analyze data. You know the saying. "There's lies, damned lies, and statistics". What's interesting, is that professionals don't usually use straight percentages or compare two different data sets errors. They prefer to use something called a confidence level, which gives them a percentage of how likely something is to be true based on stats.

I want to make clear that I am not now, nor have I ever been a professional statistician. I do a lot of data analysis, and use stats to do them. But that is basically using preset calculations and equations. I don't have to rearrange the terms, within the equations, or change to a better suited equation to do what I do. I have to and do have an understanding of statistics, just not to the level I need to be considered having a professional understanding.

There are several things that will impact the error bars. I don't know several different things about how the polls are set up, how many people voted multiple times for one person, how often the poll popped up, etc. Without knowing those and other things, I can't give you a good feel on the error bars. I made a lot of simplifying assumptions to get to the numbers I gave you earlier. Basically I made the assumptions neutral. However, those specifics of the polls and possible error sources, will make the assumptions not neutral, which means that, almost certainly, the errors will be larger than what I quoted earlier. Leonard's two poll numbers will overlap, meaning his numbers are the same, statistically. As I said earlier, Penny's numbers may barely be statistically significant, however that was with the simplifying assumptions. Including all the possible errors, hers too, will almost certainly not be significantly different. Sheldon's, on the other hand, are statistically significant.

I hope that clears it up some.

Edited by Tensor
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It's times like this I regret dropping the voting records from the main site. For a while we actually did collect a record of every vote made, which meant we could map the voting over time. I'm not sure if it was for this poll, but I do recall posting some information about how the voting changed over time for one poll a few years back. The voting table would be very large - we have over 1.7m votes on the polls in the database - and wouldn't really add much to the site so on the whole it's not worth keeping.

 

We have kept some interesting polling data at times but most of these features have been dropped. We used to have a world map which would show which options different countries voted for. Not statistically valid of course, but it was interesting for a while ... until all countries started voting for the same option. We also had a similar thing for some world cities, where there were enough votes. The only location feature that remains is the "Latest Votes" section which tells you (roughly) where the last votes came from and who they voted for.

 

The Internet Archive has snapshots of the poll page from 2007 through to last year: http://web.archive.org/web/20071014183348/http://the-big-bang-theory.com/polls/viewpoll/11/

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