The Big Bang Theory’s 5 Best Episodes (series)—And the Stories Behind Them

1. The Pilot (season 1, episode 1; September 24, 2007)

In the series premiere, roommates Leonard and Sheldon meet new neighbor Penny, whom Leonard has a secret crush on.

The first scene starts out at a sperm bank, where Sheldon is planning on making a donation. When I mention that I can’t believe Sheldon would do that, Steve Holland jokes, “Neither can [cocreator] Chuck Lorre!” In fact, it was so out of character that the scene was later cut from reruns. “I’m sure it’s on the DVDs,” Holland says, “but Chuck felt that scene was a mistake.”

It’s still an iconic episode (series) high on laughs as Penny, Leonard, and Sheldon meet for the first time and go back and forth saying hi and bye. Other great moments: a MySpace reference, Howard’s Nintendo-controller belt, and Penny unknowingly sitting in Sheldon’s spot. “I look at them and get emotional because they’re babies,” Molaro says. “It’s like looking at old movies of your kids.” It’s also when Leonard says he’s going to be the father of Penny’s babies and they’ll be “smart and beautiful”—a line echoed in the finale when Penny and Leonard find out she’s pregnant.

2. The Adhesive Duck Deficiency (season 3, episode 8; November 16, 2009)

Penny dislocates her shoulder in the shower and Sheldon has to come to her rescue. Meanwhile, Leonard, Howard, and Raj get high while camping in the desert.

“Boy, that’s so good,” Steve Holland says of the episode that saw Sheldon awkwardly come to Penny’s aid. Whether it was driving Penny to the E.R. or helping her get her shirt over her head (and accidentally touching her breast), Sheldon had to come to terms with his fear of intimacy—both physical and emotional. And unlike “The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis,” which saw Sheldon and Penny separated for most of the episode, “The Adhesive Duck Deficiency” put Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons together, which is always advised. If there was ever an odd couple, this was it. Says Cuoco of the episode, “Jim and I laughed so hard while shooting the scene where he puts my shirt on. We couldn’t keep a straight face.” Oh, and Penny asks for a “Soft Kitty” duet at the end. Says Holland, “We didn’t try to overuse it, but every time we brought it out it felt good and fun.”

3. The Proton Resurgence (season 6, episode 22; May 2, 2013)

Sheldon and Leonard hire their childhood TV series hero, Professor Proton, to perform science tricks just so they can spend time with him. Raj enlists Howard and Bernadette to watch his beloved dog, Cinnamon.

Two words: Bob Newhart. Guest stars—especially iconic ones—are great, but sometimes they slow down the story of the series rather than help drive it. Not in the case of Newhart, who was absolutely brilliant as scientist Arthur Jeffries, the star of Sheldon’s favorite kid’s show growing up. From his trademark deadpan delivery to his wise-cracking sarcasm, Newhart stole the show (and won his first ever Emmy as a result).

4. The Scavenger Vortext (season 7, episode 3; October 3, 2013)

A dejected Raj proposes a scavenger hunt for the gang after no one RSVPs for his murder mystery party. Thanks to random pairings (Amy and Howard, Penny and Sheldon, Leonard and Bernadette) and a love of Neil Diamond, the episode ranks as one of the cast members’ personal favorites.

“That’s a great one,” Holland says of “The Scavenger Vortext.” “That’s in my top two or three of all time, definitely.” The episode literally gets started with a bang when Raj plays loud arena music accompanied by smoke bombs going off in Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment. The entire race to find a gold coin proves that Penny has the most street smarts, Bernadette’s competitive spirit could rival that of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, and Mayim Bialik should have won an Emmy.

5. The Opening Night Excitation (season 9, episode 11; December 17, 2015)

Shamy has sex. The episode is brilliant. The end.

“It’s definitely one of my favorites,“ Molaro says. “Definitely. Absolutely,” adds Holland. Fans were already beside themselves when Sheldon and Amy got back together (another stellar moment), so you can imagine how they felt when Shamy finally had coitus. “That goes back to another instance of that pressure and how we can’t screw this up,” Molaro remembers. “This was such a big moment that we had been building to for years and years. We thought, We have to nail this.”

Adds Holland, “I remember early on, before we even knew they were going to sleep together, it would be Amy who got nervous at the last minute and Sheldon has to calm her down.” Molaro says the writing team decided long before they wrote the episode that when Sheldon and Amy finally consummated their relationship, it should be on her birthday or Valentine’s Day, so it could be an annual event. (They settled on Amy’s birthday.)

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