The 10 Best Pop Culture PennysErin Mallory Long

So, I consume a lot of pop culture, right? Well, I also want to name my Future Daughter Penny (don’t get excited – I am not pregnant, Everyone In My Family) and as a result, I’ve noticed there are a LOT of Pennys in pop culture.  Some of these Pennys are from my childhood so maybe that’s why I like the name so much but a lot are from more recent things. (I think I’m the only person who watched the short-lived show Eastwick where Sara Rue played a character named Penny, so she’s not included here. And I love the song “Penny & Me” by Hanson but I don’t think I KNOW enough about that Penny, you know?)

Anyway – here are The 10 Best Pop Culture Pennys (in no particular order):

PENNY – Pee Wee’s Playhouse

I used to watch a LOT of Pee Wee’s Playhouse and I basically loved every second of it. But I also loved the little cartoons in the middle of the show starring Penny. Who was, of course, a girl with pennies for eyes, duh. She also has a cute little kid voice like the kids on Charlie Brown so I always loved that.

PENNY – Inspector Gadget

I mean, another childhood favorite. She was the first I thought of when I thought, “Wait, where’d I get this obsession with the name Penny?” Inspector Gadget is an awesome character and Penny is his niece. She’s super smart and has a dog called Brain. She also has an awesome computer hidden in a book and a fancy technological watch. She’s the actual hero of most situations in Inspector Gadget and is therefore awesome.

PENNY HARTZ – Happy Endings

Hey, a brunette Penny!

YEAR OF PENNY! Guys, if you’re not watching Happy Endings yet, you need to start. It’s quickly become one of my favorite shows and most of the reason for that is Penny played by Casey Wilson. Penny is “ah-mah-zing” and insane and there’s a whole episode where she starts hanging with these cool girls from the local high school and they all wear onesies as shirts and it is…genius.


I really JUST wanted to include the “not Penny’s boat” picture but then you don’t get to see what she looks like. Remember Penny? She and Desmond are in love and her dad is Kirsten’s dad from The O.C. Duh. As someone who had a HUGE crush on Desmond I was very invested in his relationship with Penny and her quest to find him. Poor guys.

Poor Charlie

PENNY HARDWICK – High Fidelity

Poor Penny Hardwick. When Rob Gordon (John Cusack) is going back through past relationships, Penny is the one he dated in high school who wouldn’t have sex with him. He meets up with her later and she’s a film critic (awesome) and has a light-up pen to take notes during movies (double awesome). Rob Gordon is a jerk and Penny doesn’t let him off the hook for that so she is awesome.


Hey, look at this! A real person on this list. Penny Marshall is awesome. She was Laverne on Laverne & Shirley. She directed Big and A League of Their Own (that’s some SOLID Tom Hanks work right there) and numerous other things. AND, maybe my favorite thing about her, she was the voice of Ms. Botz in The Simpsons episode called “Some Enchanted Evening” where the kids discover their babysitter is The Babysitter Bandit! Amazing.

PENNY LANE – Almost Famous

I mean, please let me have that jacket!

Now, Penny Lane is tricky. Obviously her name is from The Beatles song of the same name. She’s a “band aid” in Almost Famous and she pretty much was the coolest person ever to me when I saw that movie. (Drug use and stomach-pumping ASIDE). She wears awesome outfits and she has that great line of “you already are home” to William on the bus when he’s like, “hey, I like have high school to get back to.” I don’t think we should aspire to BE this Penny but she’s certainly entertaining.

PENNY – Big Bang Theory

Penny is great because she’s able to move (mostly) seamlessly between the world of geekdom and “good-looking normal people.” She can be the girlfriend of a physicist and the mother-figure to another physicist. She can take Sheldon to Disneyland and protect him from Goofy. And she can tell them to go $&@#% themselves if they try to put her down. She’s also played by Kaley Cuoco who I still love from 8 Simple Rules (John Ritter is one of the handful of celebrity deaths that REALLY affected me).

PENNY – Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog

(Man, these Pennys sure have rough lives!)

I mean, clearly, I love Joss Whedon. I also, as a result, have a huge crush on Nathan Fillion, so all of this combined with NPH and singing meant I was WAY excited about Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. Penny is the center of the love triangle that is Dr. Horrible and Captain Hammer and it’s pretty great to see. She’s the Good Person character in this and just like, you should watch it. I’m crying now.



Hairspray (1988)

Hairspray (2007)

So, first there was the movie Hairspray. Then there was a musical version on Broadway. THEN there was a movie based on the musical and therefore we have two movies of Hairspray. Well, luckily for us, Penny Pingleton is in both. We love a good sidekick and she is main character Tracy Turnblad’s best friend and awesome in her own right for sticking up for herself against her weird mom.


Who knew there were so many blonde Pop Culture Pennys?!

(Images from here, here, here, here, here, screengrabbed by me, here, here, here, here, here, here)
  • Jennifer Saurage

    The FIRST Penny I thought of was Penny from Disney’s The Rescuers because I was born in 1972 & that movie REALLY affected me at a young age. So you’ve probably never seen it. Although I don’t even know your age but assume you’re a young chick. :-) I also had the little book that had a 45 record inside of the sleeve that you played on your little plastic record player. Anyone else remember those Disney books/records? ha!

    • Erin Long

      I actually love and thought of The Rescuers too! I’m 27 but I definitely spent a lot of time watching that movie and remember being scared during a lot of it. :)

  • Sarah Kate Neunzig

    I can’t believe Penny from Dirty Dancing didn’t make the cut!

  • Sandra Byles

    My dad apparently wanted to name me Penelope, but my mom never cared for the nickname “Penny” so she nixed it. But I like to think that deep down inside, I’m really a Penny.

  • Clemencia Mora

    I <3 Happy Endings because of Penny and her abrevs :P the funniest character of the show (and all of them are funny!)

  • Elizabeth Christina Burns

    The little girl Penny from The Rescuers, love that movie. Unfortunately my mum is called Penny otherwise I would definitely name a kid Penny!

  • Rachael Berkey

    I love all of these but I actually squealed when I saw you had Felicia Day on there. :)

    • Erin Long

      How could I NOT?! :)

  • Ashley Nicole Sadilek

    *knock knock knock* Penny!
    *knock knock knock* Penny!
    *knock knock knock* Penny!

  • Mariealaena Margret

    I loved Eastwick and miss it lots and lots. Why do the best shows always get canceled! It was just getting juicy.

  • Emma Jones

    Penny Crayon!

  • M.C. Silver

    Oh my goodness…so many awesome people/characters named Penny! How did I not realize this???

    • Erin Long

      I. Know. I was so overwhelmed and there are even MORE too!

  • Amanda Alguire Vredenburgh

    I love “Penny and Me” too. Oh, Hanson!

    • Erin Long

      It’s…so good.

  • Aoife Munro

    I watched Eastwick too – it had such potential! But yes, I was very sad about John Ritter ): the point: Penny is an awesome name.

    • Erin Long

      :) Agreed!

  • Rebecca Fernandez

    Penny Hartz is my world.

    • Erin Long

      No, she’s MY world!

  • Carly Herron

    8 Simple Rules is still one of my favorite shows ever; totally agree about John Ritter!

  • Tish Chambers

    I loved Eastwick, too!

    • Erin Long

      YESSS! No one watched that show! Haha

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