The Big Bang Theory is one of the most successful TV sitcoms ever. Whilst you will find many who disagree based purely on overall quality, the shows 12 seasons and ridiculously high viewership numbers allow it to lay a claim to that prestigious title.
The Big Bang Theory is a tough show to judge. You could essentially cut it in half (by seasons) and present it as two completely separate offerings. The Big Bang Theory fell into the trap that befalls most long running TV sitcoms. The shows plots became nonsensical, the characters grew into caricatures and the genuine humour simply disappeared. It’s hard to be too critical, after all, most people would run out of good ideas when they’ve created 279 episodes of a TV show.
Despite this, the show’s first few seasons are fantastic and produced many brilliant episodes. That’s not to say that the latter seasons didn’t produce the odd pearl, but The Big Bang Theories magic lays predominately in the shows first 5-6 seasons.
In this article, we’ll be looking at The Top 20 Best Big Bang Theory Episodes Ever.
Leonard, Sheldon, Raj & Howard stumble across a mystery box at a garage sale. Within the box of goodies they discover a legitimate ring from the Lord of the Rings. The group fight over ownership of the ring, going to extreme lengths to keep it for themselves. Leonard pretends to send it back to Peter Jackson in New Zealand; however, it’s discovered he kept it for himself.
They never talked about what happened to the ring again, so that’s one thing I’d like to find out.
The visuals of Sheldon transforming into Gollum is terrific and incredibly freaky.
As Howard is about to rocket into space (literally), The Countdown Reflection shows the previous few (eventful) days of his life.
When Howard’s planned trip to the International Space Station is put back on the radar, he and Bernadette must amend their wedding plans. They decide to have the wedding on the roof of Leonard, Sheldon and Penny’s building. The wedding is officiated by the entire group in a wonderful ad hoc ceremony.
Taking inspiration from major Universities, Raj plans a scavenger hunt for the gang.
Leonard attempts to avoid partnering with Penny and instead is partnered with the uber competitive, Bernadette. Howard and Amy discover a mutual admiration for Neil Diamond, while Penny struggles with Sheldon’s meticulous habits.
This episode has some terrific moments, none more so than Howard and Amy belting out Sweet Caroline.
The only thing i didn’t quite take to was Howard relentlessly making fun of Leonard & Princeton. Not so much that it was mean or untrue (i have no idea if it is?), but more that it came out of nowhere.
The Staircase Implementation tells the story of how Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj all came to meet.
When Leonard and Sheldon have a fight, Leonard hides out in Penny’s apartment, proceeding to recount the story of how the gang came to be. Leonard’s story shows that Sheldon was even more quirky and difficult when they first met in 2003.
The episode gives an origin to Sheldon’s favour spot as well as emphatically answering why the elevator has always been broken.
Special mention goes to the outfits and especially the hair styles of the gang from their 2003 selves.
Penny has a new boyfriend, Zack. To say he isn’t up to the rest of the gangs intelligence level would be putting it nicely. Penny doesn’t take too kindly to the gang insulting Zack. They approach him to apologise, and invite him to the comic book store.
When he returns, he lets penny know that they’re going to be spending New Years Eve in the comic book store dressed as the Justice League.
This is Zack’s first appearance in the show (he shows up a handful of times through the series). His work in the episode is terrific and really adds to the laughs. Seeing the gang dressed as the Justice League is great. Raj’s work insulting Aquaman is a highlight.
Determined to see the scientific wonders of the future, Sheldon sets out on a quest to prolong his life by taking on healthier habits. This leads to a variety of very ‘Sheldony’ scenarios in which he realises just how feeble and vulnerable the human body truly is.
At one point, Penny quips that she can’t see the difference between Sheldon’s robotic body and his regular body. This blink and you miss it joke perfectly sums up what makes this episode so clever. Sheldon has always been compared to a robot, and seeing him transform into a virtual presence device was fantastic.
The Bow Tie Asymmetry is the episode in which Sheldon and Amy get married. Of course, it’s also the episode where Sheldon and Amy discover the idea that would lead to their Nobel Prize, Super Asymmetry.
Although it’s not the final episode of the series, it was, in a way, a fitting conclusion to Sheldon’s personal growth. For 80% of the shows run, it seemed impossible that he would ever be in a position to marry or even love another person. But Amy found a way to turn Sheldon into a real boy, and this episode was a great way to celebrate that.
Luke Skywal…I mean, Mark Hamill appearing was a wonderful touch. If Mark Hamill officiated my wedding I think I’d literally faint, so I was genuinely surprised that Sheldon didn’t.
Sheldon’s super sweet moments with his Mother and Leonard are two of the best moments in the episode. I’m not crying, you’re crying!
The Hawking Excitation was one of the very first episodes in which Howard finally got the wood over Sheldon.
When Stephen Hawking visits Caltech, Howard is afforded an opportunity to work with him. This drives Sheldon crazy, as he’s been a long term Hawking admirer. Desperate to organise a meeting and show off his work, Sheldon agrees to take on a serious of jobs for Howard. Naturally, all of the work is either horrific (the pea-stained belt buckles) or embarrassing (the French Maid outfit). Howard eventually gives in, setting up a meeting for Sheldon. Sheldon passes out in front of Dr. Hawking when he realises he made an error in his work.
Stephen Hawking appeared several times throughout the shows run, which really was a tremendous boon for the show.
The Luminous Fish Effect is a momentous episode as it introduces us to the ever-charming, Mary Cooper, Sheldon’s delightful Mother.
When Sheldon insult his boss, he loses his job from Caltech. Determined to make the most of his time away from work, Sheldon sets out on a series of increasingly ridiculous experiments and hobbies. Leonard calls in Sheldon’s mother to help break him out of his slump and get him back to work.
This episode has a lot of gems throughout. One thing that has always stuck with me is how cool it would be to actually have a variety of luminous fish. Where do i sign up?
Laura Elizabeth Metcalf was wonderfully cast as Sheldon’s mother and her presence in episodes always contribute positively throughout the shows run.
Ah yes, our very first introduction to a sick Sheldon – and what an introduction it was. Sheldon’s deliances with influenza was always one of the shows great fallback jokes. The man simply took ‘man flu’ to a whole new level.
However, as great as Sheldon was as, the performance from Leonard, Howard, Raj & Penny takes the cake in this episode.
When Leonard first hears the sick cries of his roommate, he bounds out of the apartment with the speed of an Olympic sprinter. Determined to stay clear for several hours/days, the group decide to watch a Planet of the Apes marathon at a local cinemas. Penny is forced to take care of a sick Sheldon when he finds his way to the Cheesecake Factory. The boys go to extreme lengths to ensure Sheldon doesn’t stumble across their path.
Sheldon and Penny go to war when Sheldon bans Penny from the apartment due to his “Three Strikes And You’re Out” policy. This causes a tit-for-tat retaliation which continually escalates. Meanwhile, Howard and Raj use military equipment, as well as their advanced intellects, to track down the house of the America’s Top Model contestants.
Despite their bickering, Penny and Sheldon share an amicable acquaintance relationship during the early seasons. But this was the first time we saw their personality conflicts come to a head and it made for great entertainment. Sheldon showed he could be rather conniving when motivated, while Penny, with an assist from Leonard, proved that Sheldon’s kryptonite is his Mother.
Sheldon gets “Theorist Block” while trying to figure out a new Graphene theory. His block extends to losing sleep and acting in exponentially irrational ways. After being inspired by Albert Einstein, he starts working a “menial” job at the Cheesecake Factor to allow his subconscious mind to work on the problem. This distraction allows him to clear his thoughts and discover a solution for his problem.
This episode shows off Jim Parson’s exceptional acting skills. His portrayal of a fully-grown man acting like a petulant child in a ball pit is one of the shows great highlights.
Penny becomes depressed when she starts to feel like a failure in life. When she locks herself out of her apartment, Sheldon allows Penny to wait in their apartment while she waits for the locksmith. While waiting, Penny watches Sheldon play Age of Conan, an online multiplayer game. She begins to play herself with quickly turns into an obsession. When Penny’s obsession begins to effect Sheldon’s life, he tasks Leonard with ensuring she stops.
One of the great joys of The Big Bang Theory is the ability for a character like Penny to transform their personality to fit the narrative. We often associate her with being carefree and simple in nature, with a general disinterest for most of the things that Leonard, Sheldon, Howard & Raj enjoy. But in The Barbarian Sublimation, we see her take on one of their great loves, online gaming. This sets up a wonderful episode, as we see a great dynamic between Penny & Sheldon and a shift in narrative for the show.
While Leonard and Priya are showering, Sheldon barges in desperately needing to pee. Due to the “overcrowded” nature of the shower, Sheldon is unable to and must utilise Penny’s facilities. This causes Sheldon to charge Leonard with 2 roommate agreement infractions. Priya acts as Leonard’s lawyer and nullifies the charges thanks to her legal skills.
Sheldon becomes depressed when Priya further reduces the Roommate Agreement, pulling apart the contract. Amy provides Sheldon with some words of wisdom, helping him to win back what he wants.
Sheldon’s dominance over the group is generally undeniable, but Priya’s presence in the situation allowed the group to get a few cheeky wins, and that was a nice site to see…as short-lived as it was. Priya character was, in general, a bit of a door-stop for the overall quality of the show. It was no fault of Aarti Majmudar, but rather her characterisation of a villain for Penny. However, in this episode, it was great to see someone gain an intellectual win over Sheldon and it made for a very good episode.
Despite Leonard’s determined pleas, his Mother, Beverley, makes her way from New Jersey to Pasadena to spend time with her son. It becomes clear that Sheldon and Beverley have a lot in common, sharing similar brilliant minds as well as some abrupt social nuances. The visit brings Leonard and Penny closer together as the two share a drinking session in order to avoid Beverley. This results in the two engaging in a passionate tryst, before an unfortunate faux pas causes Penny to kick Leonard out.
The Maternal Capacitance was our first introduction to Leonard’s Mother, Beverley Hofstadter, played by the irreplaceable Christine Baranski. Her chemistry with Sheldon, both in this episode and throughout the series, is one of the highlights of the show. Beverley’s direct line of questioning, lack of filter and condemnation of people with a lower intelligence, makes for some great lighthearted fun. Beverley and Sheldon belting out a version of “Any Way You Want It”, in a pitch that surely only dogs can hear, is one of the funniest things you’ll see.
The gang return from the Renaissance Fair to find Penny and a new flame in the hallway. Freshly out of their disastrous first date, this leaves Leonard feeling pretty low. To compensate, he rushes into a rebound relationship with his colleague, Leslie Winkle. Leonard’s new relationship causes issues for Sheldon, as he views Leslie as an intellectual rival. Sheldon takes advice from Penny in order to deal with the new arrangements, which ultimately breaks the relationship.
The Codpiece Topology gives us a look at the potential life of Leonard without the constant fawning over Penny. Leslie Winkle’s rivalry with Sheldon is one of the highlights of the earlier seasons. Her highly intellectual, dominant personality, is a terrific foil for the wildly egotistical Sheldon. Sheldon sitting on the steps playing Super Mario on a “badly coded Nintendo emulator” makes for a good giggle.
Howard celebrates the launch of his “Zero Gravity Waste Disposal System” on NASA’s International Space Station by shouting his friends a round of comic books. His joy quickly vanishes when he realises his design has a flaw that will cause it to fail after only a handful of flushes. The team work an all-nighter to try and find a solution using available space station parts.
Stuart enlists Leonard’s help for an upcoming date with Penny. Leonard gives Stuart intentionally bad advice which causes him to feel tremendous guilt. Stuart tells Leonard that while making out, Penny accidentally said Leonard’s name instead of Stuart’s.
I enjoy the episodes where the gang go full genius mode and stretch their brains. This episode is a great example of this, as their forced to pull an all-nighter fixing the Zero Gravity Waste Distribution Disposal System. Leonard shows us all that he’s not a straight up and down good guy (which isn’t necessarily a good thing), when he sabotages Stuart’s date. This episode is also the first real indication we get that Penny is totally into Leonard, as well.
It’s Christmas time in The Big Bang Theory world. Leonard and Penny are about to share their first Christmas together as a couple. As they decorate the Christmas Tree, much to Sheldon’s disdain, Penny discovers that Leonard’s Mother, Beverley, will be visiting, and that Leonard has failed to mention it as he’s worried his Mother will disapprove.
Leonard yells at Beverley after realising she is failing to keep him informed of major life events, leaving Penny to drive Beverley back to her hotel. They stop over at the Cheesecake Factor and get drunk. When they return, Beverley and Leonard share an embrace before Beverley, who is quite drunk, plants a big kiss on Sheldon.
This episode had a lot of great laughs. The chemistry between Beverley and Penny, and Beverley and Sheldon, is top drawer. Beverley kissing Sheldon was one of those fantastic Sheldon moments that shows how awkward he can be in the right circumstances.
Leonard, Raj & Howard go on a camping trip to watch a scheduled Meteor shower. Howard and Raj scour the camping grounds for potential female conquests, and stumble across 2 middle-aged woman who provide them with cookies. They head back to their camp site and eat the cookies with Leonard. They turn out to be pot-cookies and three geniuses become extremely high.
Meanwhile, Penny dislocates her shoulder while showering. She leans on Sheldon for support who drives her to the Hospital, despite not having a license.
I’m a big fan of episodes where there are two separate groups who can split the storylines – taking a “less is more” approach. Seeing Raj, Leonard and Howard high is one of the best scenes from the show. It’s also the moment we find out that Howard slept with his second cousin, which becomes a recurring theme. To dull her pain, Penny is provided with pain killers from the Hospital. This brings about some great scenes between her and Sheldon showing a shift in the usual dynamic between the two.
After finding out that Penny had bought him a Christmas present, Sheldon forces Raj and Howard to take him shopping. Sheldon takes a logical approach to gift giving that drives his friends crazy. Meanwhile, a handsome colleague of Leonard begins dating Penny. Leonard becomes wildly jealous, not understanding why Penny is happy to date one genius but not Leonard. Penny is left distraught when she finds out her new flame is married.
On Christmas Day, Penny and Sheldon exchange gifts. When Penny gives Sheldon a signed napkin from Leonard Nimoy (that he wiped his mouth with), Sheldon freaks out and gives Penny a hug. This was a brilliantly acted scene and of the best bits that The Big Bang Theory has created.