When it first aired, The Big Bang Theory was met with rave reviews that praised pretty much all of its characters, as well as its brilliant writing and unique setting. It’s impossible to deny that the show had some all-time great sitcom characters and a few really heartfelt moments.
Updated on July 11th, 2022, by Shawn S. Lealos: The Big Bang Theory has been off the air for three years now after an impressive 12 seasons and 279 episodes. While fans can still enjoy shows in the world of the show thanks to Young Sheldon, there is a hole in the schedule where the idea of a group of friends just hanging out used to be. However, there are plenty of options – both old and new shows like Big Bang Theory – that can fill the gap in that schedule. From quirky shows about friends living day to day, to more unusual shows about friends trying to survive the world, there are plenty of options streaming right now to binge anytime.
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Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015)
The Big Bang Theory was about a group of friends who barely knew how to communicate with people outside of their own geeky social circle. For a more extreme version of that, the Netflix original series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is about a woman who has no idea how to interact with regular people at all.
RELATED: 10 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Characters Ranked By Likability
For Kimmy, the reason was much worse than just being an awkward geek. She was held captive by a cult minister for 15 years and she never had a chance to live her childhood years normally, now released into the real world that she doesn’t know. What also connects the two is that, deep down, this is about decent people trying to make it in the world their own way.
The Good Place (2016)
Streaming now on Netflix.
While The Big Bang Theory was about a group of college friends, and their hot neighbor, The Good Place had a very different combination of people. This show was about a group of people who were in the afterlife together, and all were trying to prove they deserved a spot in Heaven.
In The Good Life, Ted Danson played architect Michael, as he pretended that the deceased made it to Heaven and then watched as they tried to be better people than they were on Earth. If there is one thing about shows like Big Bang Theory that remains constant, it was that the characters all made mistakes and always tried to cover up their sins.
Rick & Morty (2013)
Streaming now on Hulu and HBO Max.
The biggest source of comedy from The Big Bang Theory was nerdy jokes, where the smartest people in the show often used their high intelligence to make puns or otherwise hilarious commentary that lived in the realm of pop culture. From science fiction to comic books to science itself, nothing was off-limits.
If there is one animated show that the characters of The Big Bang Theory could probably relate to the most, it is Rick and Morty. There is a good chance that Rick might be a role model for someone like Sheldon at the end of the day.
The Orville (2017)
The guys on The Big Bang Theory have an unhealthy obsession with science fiction and space in general. There was even an episode where a lifelong dream came true with a trip to outer space. With so much mention of Star Trek, it is a great idea for fans of the show to check out The Orville if they haven’t.
Created by Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy fame, the show is a loving comic homage to Star Trek and offers some stories that are even better than recent output by the iconic sci-fi series itself.
That 70s Show (1998)
Available to buy on Amazon.
One interesting thing about The Big Bang Theory is that it almost takes place in its own time capsule that is not like the current world. A similar show is the 1990’s classic That 70s Show. The series was based in the world of the 1970s, or at least what people remember that era to look like.
Much like shows like The Big Bang Theory, the characters in That 70s Show are unlike anyone around them and they seem almost unable to communicate with those outside their circle. There is also a sequel series coming to Netflix with several returning characters.
Young Sheldon (2017)
Streaming now on HBO Max and Paramount+.
Possibly the most obvious entry here is the direct prequel to The Big Bang Theory. It might be set many years early and not involve any of the cast we know and love (except Jim Parsons, who provides voiceover as an older Sheldon) but it does provide a lot of the same humor and, technically, younger versions of characters we’re all familiar with.
RELATED: The 10 Best Young Sheldon Episodes, According To Ranker
It doesn’t seem like the sort of show that would do well, but thanks to some great writing and acting from Ian Armitage in the lead role, it has been an unexpected critical success.
The IT Crowd (2006)
One of the finest sitcoms to come out of the UK in the 2000s was The IT Crowd. The show, in essence, has a Sheldon-Leonard-Penny trio of its own. Richard Ayoade plays Maurice, the Sheldon of the group: a socially inept, very strange man who happens to be obsessed with nerd culture.
Chris O’Dowd plays Roy, the Leonard: a slightly more normal person, but still very weird and confused in a lot of social situations. Katherine Parkinson is the Jen, the Penny of the show: much less intelligent than the other two and uninterested in all of the things they like, but still very much a good friend.
Two And A Half Men (2003)
Streaming now on Peacock.
It might not be the pinnacle of quality programming, but Two And A Half Men did come from the mind of Chuck Lorre, the exact same mind that gave us shows like The Big Bang Theory.
As such, there is quite a lot of overlap between the style of production and comedy on the two shows, even if their overarching setting is quite different. Charlie Sheen stars in seasons one to eight, but if you’d like to avoid him, he doesn’t appear in seasons nine or beyond.
How I Met Your Mother (2005)
Streaming now on Prime Video and Hulu.
How I Met Your Mother is a very strange anomaly in the world of American sitcoms. Typically, a show depends on the group dynamic for its success, but it is almost universally agreed that this show runs almost exclusively off of the limitless petrol tank that is Neil Patrick Harris.
The first few seasons are, mostly thanks to Harris’ Barney Stinson, brilliant, and he is on hand to save the latter few as well. Compare this to shows like Big Bang Theory: where would those latter seasons be without Sheldon?
Streaming now on HBO Max.
The definitive sitcom is probably the most overrated of all time. There are funny moments, the performances are pretty much brilliant across the board and the dynamic between the central group is also nice to see. But is it that good? Really break it down in your head. It’s nice to have on, but it isn’t a work of comedic art.
Aside from both shows being comedies centering on a group of friends, this is how the two shows link up. They’re both the TV equivalent of comfort food in their own ways.
Stranger Things (2016)
Streaming now on Netflix.
While Stranger Things focuses on a group of children, their dynamic is often hilarious. The show’s eighties setting also allows for absorption into the overly-camp world of nerd culture and fantasy references that many fans of shows like Big Bang Theory will surely enjoy.
RELATED: 7 Stranger Things Endings That Fans Completely Reject (& 5 They Think Were Perfectly In-Character)
It might not be a comedy at its core, but there is certainly enough overlap in content and style for fans to find enjoyment in both.
Another American sitcom created by Chuck Lorre; Mom finished after eight seasons. It never caught the same level of fire as shows like Big Bang Theory, but there are unquestionable similarities between the existences of both shows.
Anna Faris shines in the lead role and the show has been praised for touching on tougher subjects that Lorre’s other shows went out of their way to avoid.
The Flash (2014)
Streaming now on Netflix.
The Big Bang Theory and The Flash might not have much in common when it comes to their style, presentation, or characters, but The Flash is Sheldon’s favorite superhero and he’s an important character to understand when looking into the mind of Sheldon Cooper.
Comic book fans watching shows like Big Bang Theory for their superhero franchise references will definitely want to give this one a try.
The reason The Simpsons doesn’t make it onto this list is because of its normalcy. The Simpsons manage to use very clever humor to turn ordinary situations into clever, hilarious, and often touching ones.
Futurama is almost a dumbed-down (in terms of humor) version of The Simpsons, set in space, and, full of much more complex and intelligent (in terms of plot and setting) storyline devices. As such, it’s pretty much perfect for those wanting the intelligent setting combined with more laid-back humor.
Silicon Valley (2014)
Streaming now on HBO Max.
Silicon Valley may have come to a conclusion in 2019, but while it lasted, it was loved. It centers on a group of nerdy young men (tick) who found a start-up company (cross). So we’re halfway there.
The comedy style and intelligence of its central characters certainly overlap, but exploring the world of Silicon Valley shouldn’t seem derivative of shows like Big Bang Theory. In fact, some critics have described it as, effectively, what The Big Bang Theory should have been.
NEXT: 8 Things You Never Knew About Silicon Valley
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