Deborah "Debbie" Melvina Wolowitz (most often known and credited as Mrs. Wolowitz) was the mother of Howard Wolowitz and the mother-in-law of Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz. Howard always simply calls her "Ma" (usually while screaming). The name "Debbie" was revealed in the Season 7 finale "The Status Quo Combustion" by Stuart (and may or may not be a pet name); up until that point, she had only been referred to as "Mrs. Wolowitz." Despite her over-controlling, loud, over-protective, sometime desperate ways, she is not only nice and caring, but is also a loving motherly figure to both her son and his friends.
The on-going joke or running gag in the series is that we never saw her face; she made her presence known by her loud and obnoxious New Jersey-accented voice (provided by the late Carol Ann Susi). There have been quick glimpses of her; however, in Season 5's "The Countdown Reflection", the overhead view of the rooftop Wolowitz wedding ceremony shows her sitting off to the side in a pink dress. In Season 6's "The Spoiler Alert Segmentation", she can be seen (from the neck down) walking past the open kitchen door while Rajesh Koothrappali sits at the dining room table, and the tag scene in that same episode shows her arms pulling Raj back into the house through an open window as he was trying to escape the house.
Mrs. Wolowitz said she used to be quite a looker in her younger days. She got big with age and apparently growing a bit of a mustache.
After her husband Sam has abandoned her, she seems to be more insecure about her self-confidence. She seems to be quite lonely with her son, who she affectionately calls Howie being the center of most of her life. She and Howard don't get along and sometimes Howard wants to leave the house, she always belittling him and treat him like dirt.
While she appears to be loud, overbearing, and lonely, she is not only a nice and well-meaning person but a loving motherly figure to not only her son but also his friends. This was seen when she allowed Stuart into her home after he was nearly rendered homeless and they bonded. All of the others were saddened by her death paid tribute to her. Prior to her death, she approved of Howard's fiancé (later wife) Bernadette and they bonded enough that she picked up her mannerisms.
Verbal descriptions depict her as an immensely overweight (obese) woman with a mustache, as she takes water aerobics classes for overweight women ("The Spaghetti Catalyst"). She once mentioned that she had been a beautiful woman to whom the boys used to flock and give candy ("The Hawking Excitation").
Clues to her appearance have been provided in several episodes, including the episode "The Hot Troll Deviation", in which she states that she was spilling out of her shrunken girdle like "the Pillsbury Doughboy." In the episode "The Engagement Reaction", in which Penny doubts Howard's ability when he stated that he lifted his mother up to take her to the hospital. Penny's doubt was founded in the belief that Mrs. Wolowitz's own legs were barely able to lift her up, never mind her petite son. Another mention of her size was in the episode "The Hawking Excitation," Sheldon states that he strained his wrist while helping Mrs. Wolowitz lift her bosom when he takes her dress shopping, further confirming her excessive weight. According to Howard in "The 43 Peculiarity", Mrs. Wolowitz's neck size is 43 inches.
In the flashback episode "The Staircase Implementation", Mrs. Wolowitz had a younger, louder and more masculine voice, that makes Leonard mistake her for Howard's father. Howard promptly points out that with any more facial hair, she could pass off as his dad.In "The Countdown Reflection", in which Howard and Bernadette get married on the roof of Leonard and Sheldon's apartment building, Bernadette's father Mike says that Debbie has "a bigger mustache than [him]". As the couple have exchanged rings and start kissing, an overhead view zooming out shows Debbie from the top of her head. It is the first time her figure is shown in the series, but not many details can be seen.
In "The Spoiler Alert Segmentation", Debbie Wolowitz is finally seen in comprehensive detail: the camera scene is that of Rajesh Koothrappali sitting in the dining room whilst the door to the kitchen is visible in the background. Howard's mother is seen walking across the kitchen (visible by the kitchen door) three times in this scene, but the appearances deliberately fail to show her face. The third time she walks by the door, it shows she has long curly black hair just like her actress Carol Ann Susi's. Although Debbie's face is still left to mystery, this episode confirms that she is immensely overweight. Comically, the background audience gasps slightly the first time she is seen walking across the kitchen. Also, in the tag scene when Debbie catches Raj trying to sneak out and pulls him back in the house, her hands and part of her hair can be seen.In "The Thanksgiving Decoupling", she invites the gang over for Thanksgiving dinner, but cannot cook it due to her gout. After shouting at Howard about her big toe hurting, she is heard whenever anyone mentions food. (Did someone say pie?) She also has a lot of creepy looking clowns decorating her bathroom.
Debbie was abandoned by Sam Wolowitz when her son was 11, before then, they just stayed together in silence without saying a word or being drunk all the time, as mentioned in "The Grasshopper Experiment". Howard lived with her until his marriage and often referred to her as "living with him," even though it's obvious that she's the responsible one when it comes to living standards.
Debbie often talks to her son like he is still a child and isn't aware of his adult accomplishments, filling the cliche of a Jewish mother: referring to his colleagues and friends as "playmates" or "little friends" and referring to his work at the university as "going to school."
Howard often makes references to his mother as being a "crazy old lady", but deep down, he is still attached to his mother, being such a mama's boy. The attachment is primordial, as he relies on her to wash his clothes, as well as alimentary needs. Howard has no problems with this, as he gets to keep eating his old-time favorite childhood foods.
Her cooking skills are mixed. She is able to cook a brisket to the point where it just melts in the mouth, but she takes things beyond edible on Thanksgiving with her "tur-briske-fil" (which is turkey stuffed with brisket stuffed with gefilte fish, like a turducken). Also, her meatloaf lacks breadcrumbs and has been used over the generations to test diverse plumbing systems, including Howard's famous "space toilet."
Howard's mother is rigorously Jewish. She evaluates Howard's partner choices vociferously (like insisting that the latter be Jewish too), but she does not take kindly to strangers taking control inside her house (as in her argument with Howard's partner, Christy in "The Dumpling Paradox"). Despite these actions, she stated in "The Engagement Reaction" that she likes Bernadette, even though Bernadette is not Jewish, considering she went to Catholic School. Bernadette has developed some of the same personality quirks as Howard's mother including shouting like her when upset and mothering her husband.
As of "The Habitation Configuration", Howard no longer lives in his mother's house, having moved out to live with Bernadette as husband and wife; however, he and Bernadette continue to sleep over there from time to time to give her company and remind her that she is not alone.
In "The Thanksgiving Decoupling", the gang is fixing Thanksgiving dinner at the Wolowitz house. Mrs. W is not feeling well and in the basement. She can be heard every time food is mentioned. Raj does fix her annual tur-briske-fil" (which is turkey stuffed with brisket stuffed with gefilte fish).
In "The Cooper Extraction", the gang is considering what their lives would have been like if Sheldon weren't in them. If Howard had not found Bernadette, he thinks his mother would have ended up as a skeleton in the house and he would have assumed her personality like Norman Bates in Psycho. Amy, confused, asks if either Debbie died of starvation or Howard killed her. Howard shrugs it off and responds that it doesn't matter; "the important thing is she's dead." Mrs. W 's corpse is wearing the same dress she did in "The Spoiler Alert Segmentation," when she is seen briefly walking by the kitchen door.
In "The Comic Book Store Regeneration", Debbie is visiting Howard's Aunt Gladys in Florida and passes away in her sleep. After her funeral, Howard and Bernadette fly back home in "The Intimacy Acceleration". However the airline loses Debbie Wolowitz's urn that was packed in their luggage but by the end of the episode it is returned to the airport.
In "The Leftover Thermalization", the gang gathers for a final meal of Debbie's cooking when the freezer fails to honor Howard's mother. The meal consists of three briskets, four meat loafs, ravioli, noodle kugel, a tub of matzo ball soup, two pound cakes, and no vegetables.
After this episode, Howard obtains full ownership of their home and he and Bernadette move in, with Stuart still staying there until "The Sales Call Sublimation", but then moving back in with them in "The Property Division Collision".
In "The Comic Book Store Regeneration", the gang (minus Howard and Bernadette) is back at Leonard and Sheldon's apartment. The gang reflects on Debbie's passing. Stuart can't believe she's gone, and will always be grateful to her for taking him in in his time of need, as he would have been homeless otherwise. Raj is going to miss her, and reflects on how she made him feel welcome when he first came to America (even though she thought that Raj was the gardener the first few years). Penny reflects on how Mrs. Wolowitz had told her that she was too skinny and should eat more. Amy remarks that she had said the same thing to her, and Penny tells Amy not to take this moment from her. Sheldon didn't like the way that she yelled, but will miss it. Leonard offered to yell at him if he wanted, but Sheldon said it just wouldn't be the same. Leonard offers to make a toast with the rest of the gang to honor Mrs. Wolowitz, saying she was a great mother to all of them (which doubled as a toast by the cast to their own "mother," the late Carol Ann Susi).
Mrs. Wolowitz did appear one last time in "The Bitcoin Entanglement" in a flashback where her audio from a previous episode was used.
Debbie usually shouted at whoever she was talking to, but on occasions, has been heard to speak in a softer tone. This communication was particularly true in the episode "The Hawking Excitation", when Sheldon Cooper took her shopping for a dress and she asked him to "hold" her after Sheldon made a comment about her inability to fit into a dress. Whenever she spoke, she was usually heard either shouting from another room, off-screen, or over the phone.
Howard is Debbie's son. As one would expect, she had a typical Jewish "Momma's boy" relationship with him. It's apparent that they loved each other very much, despite the fact that they frequently got on each others' nerves. Mostly Howard wanted to move out and a lot of times he really hates his mother.
Obviously, Debbie had a falling out with her then-husband, Sam. Their relationship deteriorated to the point where Sam abandoned both her and their son without even looking back, never to return.
At first, it seemed like Debbie didn't approve of a Catholic like Bernadette with her son and it appeared she got a heart attack from learning of engagement (when it was really food poisoning ). When Mrs. Wolowitz woke up her first thought was to see if Bernadette was alright and it revealed she approves her, and even gave her blessing to their marriage. It is shown that by spending so much time with her Bernadette has picked up some of her mannerisms especially her yelling. These show that she had a good relationship with her daughter-in-law and entrusted her son into her hands. Eventually, Mrs. Wolowitz dies and Bernadette is shown to be upset by the death of her mother-in-law and with her husband she went out to her funeral.
The rest of the gang
Debbie was like a mother-figure to everyone and was kind of enough to let them visit her home. The gang were amused or put off by Howard's attachment to his mother, though they never said anything about it. Sometimes they were happy to have her as company. Raj stated Debbie initially mistook him for the gardener. She let Stuart into her home after he was nearly left homeless, to which Stuart called her a kind-hearted person who helped in his time of need. The rest of the gang were all devastated at her passing, with Sheldon even stating he would miss her yelling and comforting Howard on his loss. At the end, the gang mourned her death by toasting to her.
These appearances are mostly voice, but also 2 cameos.
|The Big Bang Theory Episodes|
|Young Sheldon Episodes|
|Appeared||M = Mentioned||Did not appear||Not aired/Not available|
|V = Voiced||C = Cameo||F = Flashback||I = Indirectly mentioned||P = Pictured|
- In Season 1, she had a low pitched voice.
- She had black hair, as seen in "The Spoiler Alert Segmentation".
- She regularly went to the gym and ate Oreos while in the bath.
- She was extremely good at figuring out the answers with only sparse clues on the game show Wheel of Fortune.
- Carol Ann Susi said that Chuck Lorre decided to never show Mrs. Wolowitz onscreen; however, viewers can see her from the side and see her arms and hair in "The Spoiler Alert Segmentation": her face has still never been shown.
- A photo of her face can be seen in some episodes, having a strong resemblance to her voice actress Carol Ann Susi except with thick glasses and curly hair. An episode where this fact can be seen is "The Engagement Reaction". However, there is no proof that it is her.
- In "The Weekend Vortex", she takes half an hour to walk up Sheldon and Leonard's building stairs, to their apartment.
- In "The Status Quo Combustion", Stuart Bloom becomes her new caregiver and they seem to get along really well. The next season he just moves into her house to live.
- Debbie Wolowitz's voice actor, Carol Ann Susi, died on November 11, 2014 (five days after her voice's final appearance in "The Prom Equivalency"). Her character passes away in the episode, "The Comic Book Store Regeneration".
- Before it was decided to have Debbie pass on as well, another idea that was briefly considered was to have Melissa Rauch take over the part, due to her spot-on impression of Carol Ann Susi in the role. This would have been a meta joke as well, given the running gag where Howard accidentally refers to Bernadette as his mother.
- The Biblical Deborah was a Judge over Israel and a leader and nourisher of her people - Jewish mother to an entire country. She fought battles, leading from the front in her mighty war-chariot (Ref. Book of Judges, Old Testament).
- Her middle name of Melvina was revealed on the day her first grand-daughter Halley was born in "The Birthday Synchronicity".
- Her grandchild sounds like Debbie when she cries.
- Mostly Howard and his mother, Debbie, have a relationship like Norman and Norma Bates. Howard hates her for bullying and belittling him.
- Incidentally enough, this is referenced in Howard's imagination in "The Cooper Extraction".
- Mrs. Wolowitz returned in a flashback in the Season 11 episode "The Bitcoin Entanglement", though pre-recorded audio from previous episodes were used to voice her.
- Mrs. Wolowitz also returned in the final scene of the Young Sheldon season two finale, "A Swedish Science Thing and the Equation for Toast," via archival audio combined with new audio by Pamela Adlon.