He was born in New Jersey to his neuroscientist mother and anthropologist father. Penny is six years younger than he, a waitress with acting aspirations. She originates on a farm just outside of Omaha, Nebraska. The feelings remained, however, and their friendship soon became stronger than ever. Shortly afterward, in May of , Leonard and his closest scientist friends departed for a three month expedition to the magnetic North Pole, leaving Penny alone for the summer.
The day before they leave, she gives him a blanket, that is "not just a blanket, see, it has sleeves! He gives her a snowflake that was preserved on a slide while he was at the North Pole, telling her that "it'll last forever. Everything went well until April of , when Leonard told Penny that he loved her. So, the relationship ended, even though both of them cried over it. She was unhappy about the whole thing, and when Zack pressured her to wear a wig to complete her Wonder Woman costume she announced that she wouldn't go and returned to her apartment.
Upon Zack and Sheldon's failures to convince her to reconsider, Leonard gave it a try. At first, she didn't want to speak to him either, saying "Go away, Leonard," when he knocked on her door, but then she let him in.
He entered the apartment and told her that she didn't have to wear the wig if she didn't want to. She told him that it wasn't the wig, and it wasn't anything he did either. She said that she felt pathetic because she'd gotten back with Zack just so she wouldnt' be alone on New Year's Eve.
Leonard told her that it wasn't as pathetic as dressing up to go to a costume contest at the comic book store. Penny told him that he looked cute in his costume. Then she said, "if Zack and I had gone to a regular club or a party it would have been fine, but all of this, with the costumes, and you Leonard told her that she'd be the prettiest girl there. Later that night, when Zack kissed Penny at midnight, she stood stiffly, looking at Leonard the entire time.
In season four, episode thirteen, Leonard and Penny temporarily share a bed when she is driven out of the room that she is sharing with Amy and Bernadette at a hotel. She and Leonard double up, separating when Sheldon vacates the other bed for fear that they will hook up. Then they talk about how their relationship ended, the first real talk that has been seen. Penny suggests that they 'violate the neutral zone' for the night, and they end up sharing the bed for the night-although things go no farther than a kiss due to Raj entering the room and claiming the other bed.
Penny tells Amy that she's happy for them, but even Amy knows better. After several inquiries about how she was handling the relationship, Penny begins crying, breaking down while saying "if anything I'm quite pleased Leonard has found someone who makes him so happy. About a week into Leonard and Priya's relationship, Amy and Bernadette decide to take Penny out to a dance club for a girls' night.
She doesn't want to go and says she doesn't feel like hooking up with a guy because she always experiences self-loathing afterwards, but agrees to get ready because she doesn't want the women talking about Leonard and Priya anymore. While she is getting ready, Amy finds the snowflake that Leonard had given her from the North Pole. It was sitting right on Penny's bedside table. Bernadette says that such an action was romantic, and Penny agrees.
Bernadette states that Leonard is one of a kind. Penny takes the snowflake, looks at it, and says that now she's in the mood for some self-loathing. Soon after, Priya asks Leonard to "cut the cord" with Penny, because to her, Leonard having Penny still in his life is a signal to Priya that he isn't ready to move on. Leonard tries and fails to effectively have the "get lost" conversation with her, perhaps weakened by her affectionately asking him "what would you do without me?
She understands this time, agreeing that they needed to "shake hands and part friends. Leonard started to go after her, but due to the contacts Priya had been insisting he wear, he hit the doorframe and gave up, heading up the stairs.
Despite Priya's demands, however, the two do see each other occasionally. Leonard calls Penny to come and pick him up when his car breaks down, and they share bits of gossip when walking up the stairs together.
In the season four finale, Penny admits to Raj that she should not have ever broken up with Leonard. The same night, in a different location, Leonard tells Priya's parents about their relationship, and Priya leaves, heading back to India. Even though Leonard is now single and Penny has stated she wants to be with him again, the situation is further complicated when, not knowing that Leonard and Priya are having problems, Penny has a drunken one night stand with Raj, Leonard and the other guys witnessing the following morning's walk of shame.
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