The Big Bang Theory
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|The Big Bang Theory|
|Created by||Chuck Lorre
|Directed by||Mark Cendrowski|
|Theme music composer||Barenaked Ladies|
|Opening theme||"Big Bang Theory Theme"|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||129 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Chuck Lorre
|Producer(s)||Faye Oshima Belyeu|
|Running time||18–22 minutes (without commercials)|
|Production company(s)||Chuck Lorre Productions
Warner Bros. Television
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|Audio format||DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1|
|Original run||September 24, 2007 – present|
The show is centered on five characters: roommates Leonard Hofstadter and Sheldon Cooper; Penny, a waitress and aspiring actress who lives across the hall; and Leonard and Sheldon's equally geeky and socially awkward friends and co-workers, aerospace engineer Howard Wolowitz and astrophysicist Raj Koothrappali. The geekiness and intellect of the four guys is contrasted for comic effect with Penny's social skills and common sense.
Over time, supporting characters have been promoted to starring roles: Leslie Winkle, a physicist colleague at Caltech and, at different times, a lover of both Leonard and Howard; Bernadette Rostenkowski, Howard's girlfriend (later his wife), a microbiologist and former part-time waitress alongside Penny; Stuart Bloom, the cash-strapped owner of the comic book store the characters often visit, and neuroscientist Amy Farrah Fowler, who joins the group after surreptitiously being matched to Sheldon on a dating website.
On January 12, 2011, CBS announced that the series had been renewed for an additional three years, extending it through the 2013–14 season. As of the 2012–13 television season, the series is in its sixth season, which premiered on September 27, 2012.
ProductionThe show's initial pilot, developed for the 2006–07 television season, was substantially different from its current form. The only characters from the initial pilot that were kept for the reshot pilot for the series were Leonard and Sheldon (portrayed by Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons respectively and named after Sheldon Leonard). The cast was rounded off by two female leads: Canadian actress Amanda Walsh as Katie, "a street-hardened, tough-as-nails, woman with a vulnerable interior" who the boys meet after she breaks up with her boyfriend and invite to live in their apartment (Katie was replaced by Penny in the second pilot); and Iris Bahr as Gilda, a scientist colleague and friend of the boys who was threatened by Katie's presence. The initial pilot used Thomas Dolby's hit "She Blinded Me with Science" as theme music.
The series was not picked up, but the creators were given an opportunity to retool the show and produce a second pilot. They brought in the remaining cast and retooled the show to its final format. The original unaired pilot has never been officially released, but it has circulated on the Internet. On the evolution of the show, Lorre said "We did the 'Big Bang Pilot' about two and a half years ago, and it sucked... but there were two remarkable things that worked perfectly, and that was Johnny and Jim. We rewrote the thing entirely, and then we were blessed with Kaley and Simon and Kunal." As to whether the world will ever see that original pilot, maybe on a DVD, Lorre said "Wow that would be something, we will see. Show your failures..."
The first and second pilots of The Big Bang Theory were directed by James Burrows, who did not continue with the show. The reworked second pilot led to a 13-episode order by CBS on May 14, 2007. Prior to its airing on CBS, the pilot episode was distributed on iTunes free of charge. The show premiered September 24, 2007, and was picked up for a full 22-episode season on October 19, 2007. However, production was halted on November 6, 2007 due to the Writers Guild of America strike. The series returned on March 17, 2008 in an earlier time slot and ultimately only 17 episodes were produced. After the strike ended, the show was picked up for a second season airing in the 2008–2009 season, premiering in the same time slot on September 22, 2008. With increasing ratings, the show received a two-year renewal through the 2010–11 season. Since then, the show has been picked up for three more seasons. The show is filmed in front of a live audience, and is produced by Warner Bros. Television and Chuck Lorre Productions.
David Saltzberg, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles, checks scripts and provides dialogue, mathematics equations, and diagrams used as props. According to executive producer/co-creator Bill Prady, "We're working on giving Sheldon an actual problem that he's going to be working on throughout the [first] season so there's actual progress to the boards ... We worked hard to get all the science right."
Several of the actors in The Big Bang Theory worked together previously on Roseanne including Johnny Galecki, Sara Gilbert, and Laurie Metcalf (who plays Sheldon's mother, Mary Cooper). Additionally, Lorre was a writer on the series for several seasons.
Theme songalternative rock band Barenaked Ladies wrote and recorded the show's theme song, which describes the history and formation of the universe and the Earth. Ed Robertson, lead singer and guitarist in the band, was asked by Lorre and Prady to write a theme song for the show. Having been asked to write songs for other films and shows only to have them rejected in favor of another artist's, Robertson agreed to write a theme only after learning that he was the sole writer whom Lorre and Prady had asked. He drew inspiration from Simon Singh's book, Big Bang, which he had coincidentally just finished reading.
On October 9, 2007, a full-length (1 minute and 45 seconds) version of the song was released commercially. A music video was also released via special features on The Complete Fourth Season DVD and Blu-ray set. The theme was included on the the band's greatest hits album, Hits from Yesterday & the Day Before, which was released on September 27, 2011.
Creating a space environmentThe season finale of season 5 depicted Howard Wolowitz traveling to the International Space Station (ISS) on board a Soyuz rocket, and season 6 featured him working in the ISS. Thanks to technical consulting from Astronaut Mike Massimino, who also played himself on the show, the production crew was able to put together sets that realistically depicted the Soyuz capsule and the ISS. The Soyuz capsule was constructed based on photos from NASA, the Kansas Cosmosphere for dimensions, and scavenged parts from an aerospace junkyard in Los Angeles. A small 20-foot (6.1 m) portion of a chamber that is a model of the ISS was rented and used as the set for the ISS. "Unique camera angles and creative framing" were used to make the set look larger. To simulate weightlessness, the production crew decided to use "long skinny platforms" to support the actors from below, rather than use tethers to suspend from above. The actors were required to act out "motions of microgravity" in order to create "theatrical authenticity".
Actors' salariesFor the first three seasons, Galecki, Parsons and Cuoco, the three main stars of the show, received at most $60,000 per episode. The salary for the three went up to $200,000 per episode for the fourth season. According to their contracts, their per-episode pay will go up an additional $50,000 in each of the following three seasons, culminating in $350,000 per episode in the seventh season.
- Johnny Galecki as Leonard Hofstadter, Ph.D. – An experimental physicist with an IQ of 173. He received his Ph.D. when he was 24 years old. He is originally from New Jersey. The straight man of the series, he shares an apartment with colleague and friend Sheldon Cooper. The writers immediately implied potential romance between him and neighbor Penny, and their sexual tension is frequently explored including occasional dating. In Season 3, Leonard begins an on-again, off-again romantic relationship with Penny, although the two continue to live separately.
- Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper, B.S., M.S., M.A., Ph.D., Sc.D. – Originally from East Texas, he was a child prodigy with an eidetic memory who began college at the age of 11 (after completing the fifth grade), started graduate studies at 14, and earned a Ph.D. at 16. A theoretical physicist researching quantum mechanics and string theory, he has a master's degree, two Ph.D.s, an Sc.D., and an IQ of 187. He exhibits a strict adherence to routine and a lack of understanding of irony and sarcasm; he is also uninterested in many of the romantic hijinks of his friends. Sheldon shares an apartment with Leonard Hofstadter, across the hall from Penny, and relies on both for advice in social situations. Sheldon is very egotistical, and he often boasts about his intelligence, although he lacks social skills. Sheldon relies on his friends to drive him around, and he eventually tries to go for his driver's license but is unable to complete the task. In the fourth season, he begins a relationship with Amy Farrah Fowler, who becomes his first girlfriend during the fifth season, even though he is wary of germs and physical contact. He is a very introverted character. He is also famous for knocking on a door before saying the name of whom he's addressing, repeating this three times.
- Kaley Cuoco as Penny – From a small town outside of Omaha, Nebraska, a blonde who lives across the hall from Sheldon and Leonard. She is pursuing a career in acting, and has been on casting calls and auditions but has not been very successful thus far. To pay the bills, she is a waitress and occasional bartender at The Cheesecake Factory. To date, her last name has not been revealed. She dated Leonard at the end of the first season, and during the third, fifth, and sixth seasons. By season four, Bernadette, Amy and Penny have formed their own group, who like to hang out in Penny's apartment or go out together.
- Simon Helberg as Howard Wolowitz, M.Eng. – He works as an aerospace engineer. He is Jewish, and lives with his mother. Unlike Sheldon, Leonard, and Raj, Howard lacks a Ph.D. He defends this by pointing out that he has a master's degree in engineering from MIT and that the apparatus he designs are launched into space, unlike the purely abstract work of his friends, including going to space himself in the Season 5 finale. He fancies himself a ladies' man and devises outrageous pick-up lines, with suitably unimpressed reactions from Penny and limited success with other women. He claims to be a polyglot. He dates and later marries Bernadette Rostenkowski. In the fifth season, he trained as an astronaut, and blasted off into space in the season finale to serve as a payload specialist on the International Space Station.
- Kunal Nayyar as Raj Koothrappali, Ph.D. – Originally from New Delhi, India, he works as a particle astrophysicist at Caltech. His family is very wealthy. He communicates with his parents, Dr. and Mrs. V.M. Koothrappali, via webcam. He is very shy around women and is physically unable to talk to them (except for his mother and his sister) unless he drinks alcohol, or at least thinks he has been drinking alcohol, or has taken experimental medications provided by the pharmacology department at the university. However, he has often had better luck with women than his overly-confident best friend Howard. He has very feminine tastes and often takes on a stereotypical female role in his close friendship with Howard, but he insists that he is not gay. During the fourth season, his sister Priya (Aarti Mann) stays with him and becomes Leonard's girlfriend.
- Sara Gilbert as Leslie Winkle, Ph.D. (recurring season 1, starring season 2, recurring season 3) – a physicist who works in the same lab as Leonard. In appearance she is essentially Leonard's female counterpart, equipped with the black framed glasses and sweat jackets. She is an enemy of Sheldon's, due to their conflicting scientific theories. Though each considers the other to be intellectually inferior, Leslie is much wittier than Sheldon, regularly calling him "dumbass", and she usually bests him in their repartee. Leslie has had casual sex with Leonard and later Howard; in the case of the former, it reunited Gilbert and Galecki on-screen after the two played the on-screen couple of Darlene Connor and David Healy during the run of Roseanne. Gilbert was promoted to a main cast member during the second season but was demoted again because producers could not generate enough content for the character. Gilbert left the series after season 3 concluded to focus her efforts on The Talk, on which she serves as executive producer for CBS.
- Melissa Rauch as Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz, Ph.D. (recurring season 3, starring since season 4) – a young woman who is initially a waitress and co-worker of Penny's, paying her way through graduate school microbiology studies, she defends her doctoral thesis and lands a high-paying science position at the end of season 4. Bernadette is introduced to Howard by Penny. At first they do not get along, apparently having nothing in common. When they find out that they both have overbearing mothers, they feel a connection. During season 3 they date and then break up off-screen, then get back together in season 4. They become engaged near the end of season 4, and marry at the end of season 5.
- Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler, Ph.D. (guest starring season 3, starring since mid-season 4) – a woman Raj and Howard met on an online dating site after secretly setting up an account using Sheldon's name and information. The site matches her to Sheldon, and the two share many similar traits though Amy is more interested in social and romantic interaction. Once she and Sheldon meet, she becomes, as Sheldon puts it, a girl who is his friend, but not his "girlfriend". Their relationship slowly progresses through seasons 5 and 6. Amy also believes she and Penny are best friends ("besties", by her own definition), a sentiment that at first Penny respectfully indulges but doesn't share. Penny eventually becomes a real friend, overlooking Amy's "Sheldon"-like qualities. Amy's admiration for Penny has at times bordered on attraction. Amy Fowler has a Ph.D. in neurobiology, while Bialik herself has a doctorate in neuroscience; in the season 1 episode "The Bat Jar Conjecture", Raj suggests recruiting the real-life Bialik to their Physics Bowl team.
- Kevin Sussman as Stuart Bloom (recurring seasons 2–5, starring since season 6) – Stuart runs the comic book store that the guys frequently visit. He is also a nerd, but he has a talent for drawing, is a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design and possesses more social skills than the rest of the guys. During Stuart's first appearance, the guys brought Penny along to the store and he managed to ask her on a date. They go on a few dates until Penny mistakenly calles him "Leonard", leaving him devastated. As Stuart runs a comic book store, he has vast knowledge of comic books and superheroes. In the Season 4 episode "The Toast Derivation", he implied he was in financial trouble and that the comic book store is now also his home. At Howard's bachelor party during the "The Stag Convergence" episode, Stuart uses his toasting turn to tell Howard how lucky he is and compares it to his own situation of living in the back of a comic book store. In Season 6, he is invited to be part of the guys' group while Howard is in space. Sheldon is not very accepting of this due to Stuart's art degree, but relents after Stuart offers him a 30% off discount in the comic book store.
Recurring themes and elements
ScienceMuch of the show focuses on science, particularly physics. The four main male characters are employed at Caltech and have science-related occupations. The characters frequently banter about scientific theories or news (notably around the start of the show), and make science-related jokes.
Science has also interfered with the characters' romantic lives. Leslie broke up with Leonard when he sided with Sheldon in his support for string theory rather than her support for loop quantum gravity. When Leonard joined Sheldon, Raj, and Howard on a three-month Arctic research trip, it separated Leonard and Penny at a time their relationship was budding. When Bernadette took an interest in Leonard's work, it made both Penny and Howard jealous and resulted in Howard confronting Leonard, and Penny asking Sheldon to teach her physics. Sheldon and Amy also briefly ended their relationship after an argument over which of their fields was superior to the other's.
David Saltzberg, who has a Ph.D. in physics, has served as science consultant for the show for five seasons. While Salzberg knows physics, he sometimes needs assistance from Mayim Bialik, who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience. Salzberg sees early versions of scripts which need scientific information added to them, and he also points out where the writers, despite their knowledge of science, have made a mistake. He is usually not needed in a taping unless a lot of science, and especially the whiteboard, is involved.
Sci-fi, fantasy, comic book fandom and gamingThe four main male characters are all avid sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book fans and memorabilia collectors.
Star Trek in particular is frequently referenced and Sheldon identifies strongly with the character of Spock; when he is given a used napkin signed by Leonard Nimoy as a Christmas gift from Penny he is overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude ("I possess the DNA of Leonard Nimoy?!"). Star Trek: The Original Series cast member George Takei has made a cameo, and Leonard Nimoy made a cameo as the voice of Sheldon's vintage Mr. Spock action figure (both cameos were in dream sequences). Star Trek: The Next Generation cast members Brent Spiner and LeVar Burton have had cameos as themselves, while Wil Wheaton has a recurring role as a fictionalized version of himself. All four male characters can speak Klingon to varying degrees—the opening of the episode "The Panty Piñata Polarization" shows them playing "Klingon Boggle". During the "The Launch Acceleration" episode, Amy and Sheldon were seen playing doctor with Amy dressed in a Star Trek medical uniform. In the episode "The Bakersfield Expedition", the four male leads dress up as Star Trek: The Next Generation characters for a Star Trek convention. When they return home, they hear the women discussing comic books. They believe that they have crossed into an alternate reality in which their girlfriends care for such things, and set their phasers to stun and investigate.
In addition to Star Trek, the group are also fans of Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who; numerous quotes from Star Wars are made and references to Battlestar Galactica can be seen in some episodes. In season two, Raj once likens Sheldon to C-3PO, an intelligent, yet semi-annoying protocol droid in the Star Wars series. In episode 5 of season 2, Sheldon wants to return a set of white Star Wars sheets to Pottery Barn as they are too exciting for sleeping in. In 2009, Katee Sackhoff of Battlestar Galactica appeared as herself in "The Vengeance Formulation" episode as Howard's fantasy dream girl. She appears again in season 4, in the same role. Leonard likes Babylon 5, but Sheldon refuses to watch it, calling it derivative.[n 1] Sheldon also expresses a great liking of Joss Whedon's Firefly, as he is shown to be quite upset with the Fox network for cancelling it.[n 1]
The four males are also fans of fantasy and make references to The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter novels and movies. Howard can speak Sindarin, one of the two Elvish languages from The Lord of the Rings. In one episode, they find a prop of the One Ring and they all fight over who gets to keep it. Leonard once wore a Frodo Baggins costume and Raj once bought what he thought was a "hand crafted" Harry Potter wand on eBay. Raj is a fan of Harry Potter making many references to the franchise. Sheldon in one episode gave Leonard a spoiler to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince that Dumbledore dies. Sheldon can be seen as fond of The Lord of the Rings franchise. He has a Gollum action figure on his desk. Next to football, Sheldon knows a lot about the fantasy sport of Quidditch in Harry Potter. Leonard and Sheldon have a fantasy sword collection.
Wednesday night is the group's designated "comic book night" because that is the day of the week when new comic books are released. The comic book store in question is run by fellow geek and recurring character Stuart. On a number of occasions, the group members have dressed up as pop culture characters, including The Flash, Aquaman, Frodo Baggins, Superman, Batman, Spock, The Doctor, Green Lantern, and Thor (albeit as the original Norse god and not the Marvel Comics character). As a consequence of losing a bet to Stuart, the group members are forced to visit the comic book store dressed as Catwoman, Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Supergirl. Sheldon often wears t-shirts depicting Batman, Superman, Flash, or Green Lantern. DC Comics announced that, to promote its comics, the company will sponsor Sheldon wearing Green Lantern t-shirts.
The characters are also fans of the Indiana Jones series, and willing to spend several hours in line outside of a theater to watch a special screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark with 21 seconds of new footage.
Various games have been featured on the show, including fictional games like Mystic Warlords of Ka'a (which became a reality in 2011) and Rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock.
Leonard and Penny's relationshipOne of the recurring plot lines is the relationship between Leonard and Penny. Leonard becomes attracted to Penny within seconds of seeing her in the pilot episode. The first season frequently featured Leonard's attraction to Penny as a basis for humor. Leonard and Penny go on a date that started the final episode of the first season and ended at the start of the second season; however, Penny quickly breaks up with Leonard because she is afraid that her educational attainments aren't good enough for Leonard and that he may become bored in "The Bad Fish Paradigm" episode. Her excuse for breaking with Leonard was when he showed her some brochures from a local community college and she took it as a knock against her education level and that she felt that he would only date a girl with a college education.
They both date other people throughout the second season, but clearly still have feelings for each other as when Penny admits this to herself in "The Monopolar Expedition". When Leonard returns from a 3-month expedition to the North Pole in the season 3 premiere, they commence a relationship which lasts for most of the season until Leonard tells Penny that he loves her and she realizes she cannot say it back, and she reluctantly breaks up with him after Wil Wheaton meddles with their relationship in order to beat Sheldon at bowling per "The Wheaton Recurrence".
Again, both Leonard and Penny go on to date other people; most notably with Leonard dating Raj's sister Priya for much of season 4. Penny has shown regret towards her decision to break up with Leonard by admitting to Raj that she misses Leonard in "The Roommate Transmogrification". She also exhibits jealousy towards Priya, especially after Priya demands Leonard stay away from her as in "The Prestidigitation Approximation". After dating Leonard, Penny also has negative reactions to her male dates who are not very intelligent after dating Zack in "The Lunar Excitation".
Eventually, as the episodes rolled on, Leonard became more and more interested in Priya. However she seemed to become less and less interested in Leonard as they went on dating.[episode needed] Later in the season, in "The Roommate Transmogrification" episode, Leonard is at Raj's apartment, making out with Priya, when her parents call from India, and she has Leonard leave the room as she answers the call. Unknowing of Leonard's presence or his secret relationship with Priya, her parents state that they will be so happy when Priya moves back to India. Leonard comes in, shouting out that he is shocked she is moving back to India, and assumes it means he and Priya are breaking up. Leonard goes home to his apartment, where Raj has been sleeping because of Leonard staying at Raj's apartment. Penny and Raj, while enjoying a friendly evening, got drunk and ended up in bed. Leonard assumes the worst when they emerge from his room, although Penny assures the group "It's not what it looks like." In "The Skank Reflex Analysis," Penny learns from Raj that they did not have sex, but agrees not to tell anybody. Leonard forgives both Raj and Penny, and never learns the truth about what really happened.
In season five in "The Infestation Hypothesis", Leonard resumes his relationship with Priya online. It seems to work for Leonard, but he is conflicted when he meets Alice, a girl who is really into him, at the comic book store. Leonard decides he must be faithful to Priya, ending things with Alice. Leonard confesses to Priya about going out with Alice, only to discover that Priya has slept with an ex-boyfriend, and they break up in "The Good Guy Fluctuation".
Penny is still single and dating, though when drunk has confessed that she regrets breaking up with Leonard, as in "The Roommate Transmogrification". In "The Ornithophobia Diffusion", Leonard and Penny go to the movies as friends. Leonard decides that since they are no longer dating he can be honest and does not have to pay for everything or do whatever Penny wants to make Penny like him and have sex with him. The two bicker all evening and sabotage each other's attempts to chat up people in the bar. Penny decides that she likes the new, more assertive Leonard. Leonard sees this as another opportunity to grovel and try to get Penny to sleep with him, so she leaves.
On the spur of the moment in "The Recombination Hypothesis", Leonard asks Penny out on a date after he imagined what getting back with her might be like. Their real date ends successfully, and they agree to try to renew their relationship slowly in "The Beta Test Initiation". They share a kiss. During her renewed relationship with Leonard she has dismissed comments about him ever leaving or dumping her or about worrying about his unfaithfulness around other women and strippers as in the episode "The Stag Convergence". After Penny suggested having sex in "The Launch Acceleration", Leonard breaks the mood by proposing to her. They later meet and Penny has the courage to tell him "no" and not break up with him as she did two years previously when he told her that he loved her in "The Wheaton Recurrence". In the sixth season episode, "The 43 Peculiarity", Penny finally tells Leonard that she loves him. When Alex Jensen asks Leonard out to dinner, the dynamics of their relationship is reversed with Leonard feeling good at the extra female attention and Penny insecure about their relationship.
Showrunner Bill Prady has hinted that Leonard and Penny's relationship may get "rocky" in season six. Prady explained that the series' on-again-off-again couple will continue to face "challenges", such as their conflicting views about when to "settle down". "What we've always said about Penny and Leonard is they met each other at the wrong time in their lives," he told E!. "Leonard is ready to settle down and Penny isn't yet and it will make things rocky for a while. I think that until she grows up a little bit – and I don't mean emotionally, I mean chronologically – I think they have challenges [ahead]."
Sheldon and Amy's relationshipA storyline that began in the third season finale is the relationship of Sheldon and Amy Farrah Fowler, Ph.D., a neurobiologist. Raj and Howard found her as a possible match for Sheldon through an internet dating service (without Sheldon's knowledge) in "The Lunar Excitation". By Sheldon's own admission, she is most like him by any standard to his mother in "The Zazzy Substitution". Like him, she has previously avoided relationships (whether romantic or otherwise is unclear), and only participated in the online dating herself to fulfill an agreement with her mother that she date at least once a year (in exchange, her mother does not discuss Amy's lack of a love life, plus she gains use of her mother's George Foreman Grill) as told to Penny on her date with Sheldon during "The Robotic Manipulation".
During the four months of their relationship (taking place off-screen between seasons 3 and 4), they communicated on a daily basis via text messages, email and Twitter, but never saw each other in person per "The Robotic Manipulation". Sheldon, however, did not consider Amy his girlfriend. Penny later suggests that they should go on a date and ends up driving them and having dinner with them in "The Robotic Manipulation." Penny refers to Sheldon and Amy collectively as "Shamy" as in "The Shiny Trinket Maneuver", but discontinues this after Amy indicates that she dislikes that nickname.
In "The Agreement Dissection", Amy, Penny, and Bernadette decide to take Sheldon dancing. Sheldon dances only with Amy, which he does not mind. He later follows Amy back to her apartment. They talk for a few minutes before she kisses him on the lips. Instead of getting annoyed, Sheldon just says "Fascinating." This is a catalyst for later events and clash of personalities in the relationship of the more scientific, masculine Sheldon, and the more socially open, feminine, and annoyed Amy.
In "The Flaming Spittoon Acquisition", after Amy agrees to go on a date with Stuart the comic book store owner, Sheldon asks Amy to be his girlfriend interrupting her date with Stuart with the stipulation that no other changes occur in their current relationship. The same night and episode, he draws up "The Relationship Agreement" to verify the ground rules of him as her boyfriend and her as his girlfriend (similar to his "Roommate Agreement" with Leonard). Amy agrees but later regrets not having a lawyer read through it.
After Penny and Bernadette go wedding shopping without Amy in "The Isolation Permutation", Sheldon comforts a depressed Amy by cuddling with her on her couch; however, Amy first suggests that they have coitus.
In the episode "The Launch Acceleration", Amy says she’d like to do an experiment using her neurobiology bag of tricks to increase Sheldon’s feelings toward her. Sheldon is skeptical, but goes with it. Amy says she’d like to put on some romantic dinner music, and ends up putting on the Super Mario Bros. theme song. Sheldon catches on, and calls Amy out on the fact that she’s trying to engage his feelings of the happiest times of his life as he starts to hum along. This is further reinforced when she offers Sheldon his favorite drink, Strawberry Quik. She also prepared "spaghetti with little pieces of hot dog cut up" for dinner, which is Sheldon's favorite since his mother used to make it for him. Sheldon is thrilled, and says they should do this more often – instantly realizing he’s been caught in Amy's "trap" as Amy stands next to him with a big smile. At the end of the episode, they were playing doctor "Star Trek style" (Amy dressed in Star Trek attire). Amy’s actions seem to work on Sheldon, who isn’t happy about it but makes no attempt to stop her.
In the final fifth season episode "The Countdown Reflection", Sheldon takes Amy's hand as Howard is launched into space. Amy glances over at him looking quite surprised.
ReligionReligion plays a minor role in the series. Sheldon was raised in a fundamentalist Christian household. He refers to his childhood as "hell" during his date in "The Robotic Manipulation", and a recurrent theme is his conflict with his devout mother, Mary, who is a creationist, and whose beliefs often clash with Sheldon's knowledge and understanding of evolution. In "The Lunar Excitation", Sheldon mentions his promise to his mother to attend church once a year. Further evidence of Sheldon's agnosticism is seen when he is heard exclaiming "Why hast thou forsaken me, o deity whose existence I doubt?" upon the discovery that his World of Warcraft account has been hacked. Another example is, according to Raj, his begging the deity in which he didn't believe to kill him quickly upon getting food poisoning at the Rose Bowl.[n 1] Despite this, his religious upbringing leads to moments of religious interjection when his emotions are high – on one occasion, he happily exclaims "Thank you, Jesus!" when he scores a strike in bowling. In addition, he frequently uses the word "Lord," as interjections.
At the same time, a running gag in the series is the fact that Howard, who is Jewish and Raj, who is Hindu, frequently defy many of their respective religious customs without worry, such as their constant flouting of dietary prohibitions. They both also tend to give each other grief about them — In the episode "The Financial Permeability," Raj quotes from the book of Leviticus after Howard eats pork, and Howard counters with the fact that he keeps quiet when Raj eats a Whopper. Nevertheless, they are seen to be semi-observant. Raj, for example, occasionally mentions reincarnation and explains his belief in karma, stating that he believes it to be "practically Newtonian – for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." Howard celebrates at least some Jewish holidays, once refused to pray in a Christian church so he doesn't "burst into flames" and also wore tattoo sleeves instead of getting real tattoos so he "still can be buried in a Jewish cemetery".
Another frequent theme is Penny's confidence in beliefs that frequently conflict with Leonard and Sheldon's scientific beliefs and knowledge, such as ghosts, astrology, psychics and voodoo. This is first seen in her very first appearance, when she makes reference to her being a Sagittarius, to which Sheldon criticises her belief in astrology, but is most frequently seen in an episode in which she and Leonard had a falling out over the validity of psychics.
Howard's motherIn scenes set at Howard's home in which he interacts with his never seen mother (voiced by Carol Ann Susi), he always does so via shouting conversations between the rooms in his house, and she similarly interacts with other characters in this manner, though she did appear momentarily in the overhead photo of Howard and Bernadette's wedding, though her face was not shown. She reflects the Jewish mother stereotype in some ways, such as being overly controlling of Howard's adult life and sometimes trying to make him feel guilty about causing her trouble. She is dependent on Howard, as she requires him to help her with her wig and makeup in the morning. Howard in turn is attached to his mother to the point where she still cuts his meat for him, takes him to the dentist, does his laundry and "grounds" him when he returns home after briefly moving out. Until Howard's marriage to Bernadette in the fifth season finale, Howard's former living situation led Leonard's psychiatrist mother to speculate that he may suffer from some type of pathology, and Sheldon to refer to their relationship as Oedipal. Her tendency to communicate with Howard by shouting between rooms has led Bernadette and Raj to do impressions of her, and Bernadette to attempt to communicate with her in one episode by imitating her style of shouting.
Vanity cardLike most shows created by Chuck Lorre, The Big Bang Theory ends by showing a vanity card written by Lorre after the credits, followed by the Warner Bros. Television closing logo. These cards are archived on Lorre's website.
ReceptionIn a 2010 issue of TV Guide, the show's opening title sequence ranked No.6 on a list of television's top 10 credits sequences, as selected by readers.
U.S. standard ratingsThe Big Bang Theory has been highly rated since its premiere. During its fourth season, it became television's highest rated comedy, just barely beating out eight-year champ Two and a Half Men. However, in the age 18–49 demographic (the show's target age range), it was the second highest rated comedy, behind ABC's Modern Family. The fifth season opened with viewing figures of over 14 million. The sixth season boasts some of the highest-rated episodes for the show so far, with a new series high set with "The Bakersfield Expedition" (Season 6, Episode 13), with 20 million viewers, a first for the series, which along with NCIS, made CBS the first network to have two scripted series reach that large an audience in the same week since 2007. Showrunner Steve Molaro, who took over from Bill Prady with the sixth season, credits this to the sitcom's exposure in syndication, particularly on TBS, while Michael Schneider of TV Guide attributes it to the timeslot move two season earlier. Chuck Lorre and CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler also credit the success to the influence of Molaro, in particular the deepening exploration of the firmly established regular characters and their interpersonal relationships, such as the on-again, off-again relationship between Leonard and Penny.
When the third season premiered on September 21, 2009, The Big Bang Theory ranked as CBS's highest-rated show of that evening in the adults 18–49 demographic (4.6/10) along with a then-series-high 12.83 million viewers. CBS moved the show to Thursdays at 8:00 ET for the 2010–2011 schedule.
Some of the show's success can be attributed to the 2010 timeslot move, the influence of showrunner Steve Molaro (who took over from Bill Prady) on the characters' storylines, and the series' exposure in off-network syndication (program reruns on stations outside of CBS). Thus far throughout the 2012–13 season, The Big Bang Theory has usually placed first place in all of syndication ratings, receiving formidable competition only from Wheel of Fortune (first-run syndication). If the show is to be named the highest rated syndication offering by the completion of the 2012–13 season, it will have dethroned Judge Judy (first-run syndication) which was the syndication leader in the 2011–12 season but has been in 3rd place throughout much of the 2012–13 season.