The Big Bang Theory: Tropes T to Z

The Big Bang Theory

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  • Take That: Quite a few, largely to non-geeky movies.
    Bernadette: "So we are just going to sit here and wait for something to happen?"
    Howard: "I did that with you when we watched The Notebook..."
    • There are several examples of "geeky" movies and series taking a slam too
      Sheldon: ...and after breakfast, I thought we'd watch the final season of Babylon 5 with director's commentary
      Leonard: But you HATE Babylon 5!
      Sheldon: I do; it fails as science fiction, drama, and is hopelessly derivative, but you like it and you're my friend.
    • "The Flaming Spittoon Acquisition" takes a jab at card battle games with the guys being initially disgusted with "Mystic Warlords of Ka'a'"s latest expansion adding Wild West characters to a fantasy-themed world, but find themselves unable to resist buying and playing it.
    • After a long episode of slagging off Star Trek V: The Final Frontier ("Dude, Star Trek V is the standard by which all badness is measured!"), the Vanity Plate included the following, after the main text: "Oh, and William Shatner, director of Star Trek V? Go ahead. Sue us." In the same episode, Sheldon insists The Motion Picture is worse than V, and the same vanity card includes a shot at George Lucas.
    • Heroes.
      Sheldon: They can't just cancel a show like Alphas. They have to help the viewers let go. Firefly did a movie to wrap things up, Buffy the Vampire Slayer continued on as a comic book, Heroes gradually lowered the quality season by season, til we were grateful it ended.
    • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
      • Leonard mentions the fourth film in a Franchise Killer movie marathon.
      • In "The Raiders Minimization", Sheldon says that Amy and the fourth film ruined Indiana Jones for him.
  • Take Our Word for It: Sheldon running a red light while driving Penny to the hospital in "Rubber Duck Deficiency", as revealed in "The Excelsior Acquisition". The scene of him driving her ends with him stopping at a red light, without taking Penny's advice to even go the speed limit.
  • Thanks for the Mammary: Sheldon, to Penny. He didn't bump into her, though; he was helping her get dressed when she dislocated her shoulder in the bathtub — with his eyes closed.
    • Although he later admits that he was lying when he said he hadn't looked.
    • Amy was constantly wanting more physical contact with Sheldon, even coercing him to snuggle . Later Sheldon and Leonard went to pick her up from a liquor store parking lot Leonard helped her to her feet and walked her to the car and she happily exclaimed "Looks like someone finally found 'Second Base!'"
  • That Came Out Wrong: In "The Roommate Transmogrification" when Raj proves himself to be a better roommate than Leonard, Sheldon compares Leonard to Homo Erectus saying that he, like Homo Erectus, has been replaced by something better. Raj then makes a comment he regrets.
    Raj: I'm the new homo in town... that came out wrong.
    • Sheldon would often say Double Entendres and not recognize what he was saying as sounding weird or odd, with everyone explaining why. When the group offered to help Sheldon overcome his stage fright, they suggested that they name them after the X-Men. Sheldon appreciated the sentiment but suggested that since the X-Men were named after Charles Xavier, his team should be named after Sheldon Cooper and be called the C-Men.
      Howard: Oh, no... that's not a good name.
    • Penny when she's doped up on painkillers and she asks Sheldon to help her get into bed.
      Penny: *laughs* Sheldon has to get me into bed!
    • Bernadette has an argument with Amy, stemming from a feud between Howard and Sheldon over a parking spot, and ends up storming out after taking a shot at Amy and Sheldon's celibate relationship.
    Bernadette: I'm going home and I'm going to have SEX with my husband! Maybe I'll even let him do it to me in a parking spot! (beat while she realizes what she said) ...which sounds dirty but I didn't mean it that way!
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: Sheldon is not good at reading people's emotions at all, so about the only way to tell they are upset or uncomfortable at all is for them to tell him outright.
    Penny: Of course this makes me uncomfortable, can't you tell?
    Sheldon: I really have no idea, I don't really excel at reading facial expression and body lang...
    Sheldon: ...thank you. That's very helpful.
  • The "The" Title: With the exception of the pilot, all episode titles are in this form. In general mimicking the names of scientific principles and making a reference to the events or dialogue of the episode. Starting with The Big Bran Hypothesis (episode 2), and continuing with The Fuzzy Boots Corollary (episode 3), etc.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: Subverted. Howard's ringtone is the theme that was only used in the unbroadcast pilot.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Penny to pre-Character Development Howard, after enduring two seasons of his unwelcome advances:
    Penny:I know you think you’re some sort of smooth-talking ladies’ man, but the truth is, you are just pathetic and creepy.
    Howard: Um, so what are you saying?
    Penny: I am saying it is not a compliment to call me doable. It’s not sexy to stare at my ass and say, “Ooh, it must be jelly ’cause jam don’t shake like that.” And most important, we are not dancing a tango, we’re not to’ing and fro’ing. Nothing is ever going to happen between us. Ever.
    Howard: Wait a minute. This isn’t flirting, you’re serious.
    Penny: Flirting? You think I’m flirting with you? I am not flirting with you, no woman is ever gonna flirt with you, you’re just gonna grow old and die alone.
  • There Are No Girls on the Internet: Sort of. When Penny walks into a comic book shop, all the guys - and there are only guys - stop and stare. A far more egregious example: a Running Gag to the effect that, while female scientists exist, few if any are "doable", so they don't really count as women. Of course, the latter was said by Howard.
    • Odd given that of all the female scientists on the show (main characters and guest stars) are at least reasonably attractive.
    • Lampshaded by Stuart: "Blink twice if you are here against your will."
    • Also inverted as that was the only reason Amy Farrah Fowler was found as match to Sheldon.
  • There's No "B" in Movie: Penny has had roles in the (fictional) B-movies Serial Ape-ist and Serial Ape-ist 2: Monkey See, Monkey Kill''. Howard found and watched the first film, probably enjoying Penny's Shower Scene. Amy and Bernadette found and watched the second film, where Penny had a more substantial role. By their reactions, the film was So Bad, It's Good.
  • There Is Only One Bed: Played with, Penny couldn't sleep in her hotel room due to Amy's night terrors and asked Leonard to stay with him and Sheldon, who was already asleep. 's bed (and his idiosyncratic method of sleeping, described as "Like getting into Dracula's coffin") and Penny knew she couldn't share his bed. So she and Leonard tried sharing a bed as platonic friends, with awkward enough results.
  • Think Happy Thoughts:
    Sheldon: Look on the bright side.
    Leonard: What bright side?
    Sheldon: Only nine more months until Comic-Con.
    Leonard: [smiling] Oh yeah!
  • This Is Going To Be Huge: In the flashback episode at the end of Season 3. While making out the roommate agreement, Leonard asks if Friday night being Firefly night needs to be in the agreement. Sheldon responds that they might as well decide now, because the show is going to be on for years.
  • This Is My Chair: Sheldon's spot on the couch.
  • This Loser Is You: At least if you're a nerd. Or if you're not a nerd.
  • Those Two Guys: Howard and Raj, and their "ersatz homosexual marriage". Although they aren't as directly connected to Sheldon, Leonard and Penny (by virtue of not being neighbors or roommates), they do manage to do activities separate from each other and the others but do play up the Ho Yay undertones in certain episodes.
    • Raj becomes this with Stuart in Season 6 after Howard gets married.
  • A Threesome is Manly: Raj drunkenly reveals during Howard's bachelor party that they once had a threesome with a overweight Sailor Moon cosplayer;
    Raj: "Don't worry, there was no funny business between us, not with two hundred pounds of Sailor Moon between us!"
  • Time Machine: Amy's Little House on the Prairie Fanfic includes a Back to the Future-type machine. Cooper uses it to travel from the 21st century to the 19th century. The machine comes with him and is damaged. He manages to repair it with some ease.
    • In the episode "The Nerdvanna Annihilation", Leonard buys the original time machine used in the film The Time Machine. (He thought he was buying a miniature replica, but it turned out to be the actual movie prop.)
  • Time Travel Romance: In "The Troll Manifestation", Penny, Bernadette, and Leonard read a Little House on the Prairie Fanfic written by Amy. It uses this trope as its main theme. The protagonist, Amelia, is a 19th century woman who discovers an unconscious time traveler from the 21st century. His name is Cooper and when he wakes up, he talks to her about "the strange and incredible things that the future would hold". She finds him fascinating and falls hard for him. Cooper attempts to return to his own time period, and she is saddened by the loss. He has a last minute change of heart, realizing that he is attracted to her. He stays in the past and they become a couple. All three characters reading the story find it very interesting, though they stop reading when a sex scene is about to begin.
  • Toilet Humour: Toilet Humour IN SPACE to be specific, in "The Classified Materials Turbulence", where the gang has to fix a malfunctioning zero-gravity toilet. To quote Sheldon: "Apparently there is no law of diminishing comedic returns with space poop".
    Howard: All right, this is an exact duplicate of the Wolowitz zero-gravity human waste disposal system as deployed on the international space station.
    Raj: Don't you mean the Wolowitz zero-gravity human waste distribution system?
    • Sheldon had some flatulence problems after eating Brussels sprouts in an episode where he becomes hyper health-conscious.
      Sheldon:' "Thursday night will no longer be cruciferous vegetables night."
    • Sheldon insists on having a specific time to use the bathroom and is proud to say that he is "as regular as a German train schedule."
      • Sheldon also kept a journal of his bowel movements since childhood.
      Penny: That's disgusting!
      Leonard: No, what's disgusting is that he still keeps track.
    • There are many jokes referencing Leonard's lactose intolerance too, which makes him flatulent; although, this is never shown on-screen.
      Sheldon: "Leonard, if you can eat this piece of cheese without farting you can sleep with my sister."
    • Almost every scene containing the sound of a flushing toilet is, for some reason, followed immediately by uproarious laughter, whether from the studio audience or otherwise.
  • Toilet Seat Divorce: During Leonard's brief "official" relationship with Leslie, she broke up with him over the fact he had a preference towards String Theory (which Sheldon brought up) while she is on the Loop Quantum Gravity. To the average viewer this is ridiculous, but to these super-geniuses it is Serious Business.
    • Also played as Does This Remind You of Anything?:
      Leslie: How can we have a relationship if we don't believe the same thing? How are we going to raise the children?
      Leonard: I guess we'll wait until they're old enough and let them decide what theory they would like for themselves.
      Leslie: You can't let them decide, Leonard; THEY'RE CHILDREN!
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Has a variation called Too Socially Inept To Live. Many of the things Sheldon says and does would, in the real world, cause one to be arrested, hospitalized, possibly even killed. One episode even reveals he doesn't even cash his paychecks because nothing available to buy in the present interests him, while in another he claims he's afraid Automated Teller Machines will start a "robot revolution". Apparently he's never heard of stale dated checks, inflation or compound interest.
    • And apparently the university's payroll department has never heard of direct deposit, or even modern accounting practices. Somewhere an auditor is having a field day...
    • Sheldon's not the only offender - in the real world, Howard would have been done for sexual harassment half a dozen times by now, and there'd be injunctions blocking him from about half of Pasadena.
    • Howard has been sued for sexual harassment a lot more times than six. But there are no injunctions blocking him from about half of Pasadena.
    • Sheldon actually did go to jail in "The Excelsior Acquisition":
    Leonard: Sheldon's in jail?! For what?
    Penny: For doing the same crap he always does, except to a judge.
    • All in all, Sheldon and Howard would not fare well at all in the real world, and they are so lucky to not exist in the real world.
  • Too Much Information: Usually involving Amy Farrah Fowler.
  • Took a Level in Badass: For a certain qualification of "badass." Leonard started off the series being painfully shy and uncertain of himself, it took him the entirety of the first season to officially ask Penny out. It's implied that interacting with Penny has helped boost his sense of self-worth and he progressed from being a nice, generic guy to becoming scathing Deadpan Snarkers and having more of a potential love life than just with Penny. Just with his interactions with Penny he is much more comfortable being assertive and teasing her than he was before, no longer feeling he has to be submissive to stay on her good side.
    • In parallel Character Development, we've also seen Penny Take A Level In Nerd. (The first [1] with a Double Take at herself, while the studio audience applauds.) In addition to random science-fiction analogies, she has quite a bit more patience and higher standards when it comes to dating.
    • In ''The Werewolf Transformation", after missing a haircut, Sheldon "enters a world of chaos" and becomes about as badass as he could be.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Whenever the eating together, it's Chinese food. Although it's not so much trademarked for Sheldon as it is ISO.
    Sheldon: Did you get the chicken shredded?
    Leonard: Yup.
    Sheldon: Even though the menu says it's cubed, not shredded?
    Leonard: Yup.
    Sheldon: Did you get the low-sodium soy sauce?
    Leonard: Yup.
    Sheldon: Did you get the good spicy mustard?
    Leonard: Yup.
    Sheldon: Excellent. (beat) What took you so long?
    • But when it's just them, they seem to have (slightly) greater variety in their diet. They go to various restaurants, including the Cheesecake Factory where Penny is a waitress. Also, at work they have generic cafeteria food together in some cafeteria presumably on the Caltech campus.
      • It completely covers Sheldon though. He has a strict menu that he eats per day, for all days, and presumably snacks as well. The Chinese food has to be from Szechuan Palace. (Unfortunately for Sheldon, they closed years ago. Now his cashew chicken comes from Golden Dragon.) He's similarly disappointed to see that they've got Mumbai Palace, not their usual Tandoori Palace. When Penny makes french toast for breakfast, he complains that it's "oatmeal day". When Leonard and Penny leave, he comments that the food does smell good, then finishes with "too bad it's not french toast day" and dumps it into the trash. He also seems quite fond of milk and tends to drink it more often than expected, especially if the other diners have wine or champagne.
    • Inverted with Raj, who has expressed his distaste of Indian food many times.
    • And then there was the time Sheldon was alone and ordered Kadai Paneer. Consider: He can only order it when the others are away, because of Raj's distaste for Indian food, Howard's peanut allergy, and Leonard's lactose intolerance. His meals are usually very regimented, but in this instance he was willing to break the pattern to order it. No wonder he called it "a symbol of my independence."
  • Training Montage: Parodied when Sheldon and Raj intently study a whiteboard... complete with fast cuts and "Eye of the Tiger" playing in the background to a bunch of different camera angle cuts. Twice.
  • Trigger: in the (fictional) B-Movie Serial Ape-ist 2: Monkey See, Monkey Kill, Penny's character is a Half-Human Hybrid with both human and gorilla DNA. She has killer urges, triggered when she sees bananas.
  • Troll Fic: Carolina and Penni MST here is a fic written by an author who is apparently very interested in My Immortal (they wrote a startical sequel and favorited a MST of it). The first lines are "Heyyyy! I am Carolina Watson and first off Im waaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy hawter then that bitch Penni. I'm 17 and syuper dyuoper hawt! Yeah, I'm tan and blonde and I'm 17 year old! I'm sexi and Im dating Sheldin. I'm also syuper smart and I'm Byeseckshyoowell!" It gets worse from there. The author's note at the end of the second chapter claiming it is *not* a parody did nothing but convince even the doubters it's a parody.
  • Trolling Translator: In one episode, Howard would "translate" for the selectively-mute-around-girls Raj via Raj whispering in his ear. At one point Penny and Bernadette ask the guys how Amy found out they went brides maid dress shopping without her. Howard immediately blames Raj. When Raj angrily whispers his protest to Howard, Howard takes the opportunity to put more words in Raj's mouth. It's this trope and not quite Translation with an Agenda because everyone knew Howard was being ridiculous.
    • In another, Raj whispers to Howard to suggest Sheldon start jogging with Penny. Penny asks how he knows she jogs. Howard says "He watches you from his car through high powered binoculars". Penny is naturally horrified so Raj whispers something else in Howard's ear. Howard says "And he says he isn't going to stop!"
  • True Love Is Boring/True Love Is Exceptional: Ultimately runs the gauntlet of both tropes with Leonard and Penny. Penny's "type" at the beginning was the dimwitted, muscular, Jerk Jock kind of guy and gave Leonard a shot because he was so different and interesting. They enjoy being together but Penny was attracted to the other guys because they seemed a little dangerous and doesn't feel that kind of excitement with Leonard. Because he and the guys she used to date were both boring and exceptional in different ways her dating life crashed in season four.
    • Season six plays both ends, as Penny teased the idea of breaking up with him (again) because while she loved him it was a "different, boring kind of love," ultimately backing off only because of his Puppy-Dog Eyes. But when encouraged by the girls to visit him at work she was awestruck over seeing him in his comfort zone playing with lasers and holograms, finding the exceptional part of him again. A few episodes later in "The 43 Peculiarity" she said "you know I love you...", which was the first time she said it to him, and that manages to stabilize their relationship on both ends remarkably well.
  • Truth-Telling Session: On "The Irish Pub Formulation", Leonard's confession of having slept with Raj's sister Priya snowballs into one of these.
  • TV Genius: Parodied in , where Sheldon and Raj have a Hard Work Montage to Eye of the Tiger. It's literally just them staring at a whiteboard of equations.
  • Twenty Minutes into the Future: In "The Mommy Observation", Leonard, Penny, Amy, Bernadette, Raj, and Stuart make a pact. Per Leonard: "Whether we’re friends, not friends, scattered around the world, no matter what, let’s all promise to meet in front of this building exactly 20 years from tonight at 8:00 p.m. and have dinner like we always do." Everyone enters the date in their phone, except Stuart who writes it on his hand. The scene shifts to 20 years in the future in front of Leonard, Sheldon, and Penny's apartment building. Stuart is the only one who remembered the pact and came to the meeting. He is disappointed that no one is coming. The scene includes a brief glimpse of a futuristic car.

  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Downplayed, as Leonard is considered to be handsome and looks good together with Penny but he is ever aware that she is normally out of his league. The trope is deconstructed in the sixth season when he explains that it is hard to have guys far more attractive than him (at the least taller) hit on her when they are out together.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Lots of characters get away with all kinds of crap at their respective jobs:
    • Sheldon seems to become rude and insulting to pretty much everyone he comes across, drives a robot through the hallways (and closed doors) in the university in "The Killer Robot Instability", and covers the university president and board of directors with foam and keeps his job without apparent consequence.
    • In the early seasons, before he got serious with Bernadette, Howard hit on pretty much every woman he met, even at work (in "The Egg Salad Equivalency", he says he practically lived at the H.R. office) and was never even reprimanded on screen.
    • Penny is, by her own admission, bad at her work (this is especially apparent in the later seasons), forgetting orders, sampling liquor behind the counter and neglecting customers, and yet only leaves The Cheesecake Factory when she quits by her own will.
  • Uncle Pennybags: Sheldon, surprisingly. When Penny falls behind on her rent and her car breaks down, he freely gives her enough money to pay for both of them. Despite her assumption that Sheldon's obsessive tendencies would lead him to hound her, it turns out that he's incredibly lax when it comes to lending his money. He honestly doesn't care when it's paid back, as long as it eventually is.
  • Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: The elevator's been broken for the entire series, so instead, awkwardness occurs while climbing the stairs. Penny and Raj's sister Priya share (intentionally drawn out to make the audience uncomfortable) in Season 4.
  • Understatement: After he worked up the nerve to ask her out in the first season finale, Penny admitted to Sheldon that she knew Leonard had "a little crush" on her. Sheldon responded with "A little crush. I suppose so, like how Menelaus had "a little crush" on Helen of Troy."
  • Undisclosed Funds: Raj's parents are apparently "Richie Rich"-rich, according to Sheldon. When asked how much that is, he just says that it's somewhere between "Bruce Wayne"-rich and "Scrooge McDuck"-rich.
  • Un Evil Laugh: Raj, in the Bat Jar Hypothesis, contemplating Sheldon's impending humiliation when he takes on Leslie Winkle in a Physics Bowl general knowledge quiz.
  • The Unfair Sex: The show zigzags this. Especially in the early seasons the point of view was on the guys and it was them who needed to change while the women rightfully scorned them. The show evolved when Leonard and Penny get together in the third season, as now Penny would make mistakes as Leonard is proven to be in the right or at least with a valid opinion. In the third season finale, after breaking up a drunken Penny came home after a bad date and took Leonard to bed. He thought it was a move to get back together and Penny insisted otherwise. He is LIVID over being used for cheap sex, and attempts a similar move on her a few days later (getting drunk and propositioning sex). She kicks him out of her apartment and he makes note of the Double Standard.
    • The Howard and Bernadette relationship uses a lot of Parenting the Husband, where she is mature and responsible while he is a kid with a chore list and gold stars to be awarded. But a few times she recognizes that she talks down to him and he can't grow if she treats him that way. In one episode it was a full Heel Realization, with Amy and Penny nodding along until she realized how badly she acted.
    • With Amy and Sheldon, most of the humor comes from Amy wanting more affection from him while he is only willing to offer tiny steps along the way. At worst she might be needy or even manipulative to get what she wants from him, but everyone else is amazed by her patience.
    • In Priya and Leonard's relationship, she slowly started twisting his life to what she wanted including not being friends with Penny anymore and changing his wardrobe. He went along with it, even sticking with her as she moved back to India, but in confessing a minor infidelity she admitted to sleeping with an ex-boyfriend, trying to pass it off as the same thing and he had none of it.
  • The Unfavorite: In "The Itchy Brain Simulation" Leonard reveals he was this to his aunt as well. When he went to college, he got an itchy sweater that made him breakout. His brother got a car.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Downplayed. Amy's Time Travel Romance character, Cooper, never says "thank you" to his love interest Amelia, no matter how hard she works to please him. The story in set in a 19th century prairie house and there is no indoor plumbing. To prepare a bath for him, Amelia has to do hard work.
    Amelia: "Is the water warm enough?"
    Cooper: "“Given the fact you took the time to build a wood fire, draw the water from the well and heat it, it would be rude to complain. But since you asked, it is a little nippy."
  • Unishment: Amy pretends to be sick far longer than she's actually ill because Sheldon takes it upon himself to treat her illness, including rubbing Vaporub on her chest and bathing her. When he finds out she's been lying, he regretfully informs he has to spank her. She can't believe her luck.
    (After the first spank which causes Amy to just giggle excitedly) Sheldon: "Excuse me! You're not supposed to enjoy this!"
    Amy: "... Then maybe you should spank me harder...?"
    Sheldon: "...Maybe I will!"
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Partially averted. While the characters have a very extensive wardrobe, they do repeat outfits from time to time, mostly the guys.
  • Units Not to Scale: An American space probe sent to Mars failed and crashed because two sets of engineers confused Imperial and Metric measurements in critical components. The confusion between inches and centimeters was not noticed by quality control and the mission became a multi-million dollar embarrassing failure. Lampshaded by Amy Farrah-Fowler when both Sheldon and Howard perpetrate similar lapses of detail.
    it demonstrates that Americans have problems with the metric system, huh?
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Leonard/Penny/Priya
  • Unreveal Angle: Howard's mother is the comedic version of The Voice, but some episode tease the viewers by having her in situations where she could appear, like her son's wedding. She once appeared in "The Spoiler Alert Segmentation" in the background, but her face was hidden. It confirmed that she's obese.
  • The Unsmile: Sheldon provides the current page image in the episode "The Griffin Equivalency":
    "We're here to see Koothrappali, not kill Batman!"
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Sheldon's self-centered egotism and condescending behavior of him the source of conflict for any given episode, even just by being sick and asking for help (his obnoxious neediness at that stage is dreaded by everyone). Howard's Casanova Wannabe and outright pervy behavior of the earlier seasons were also not meant to be endearing, although he gradually grew out of it. That said the show is based on every character being unfairly humiliated at some point, which has occasionally made them more sympathetic than intended.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Frickity Frack, not this again!"
  • Unwanted Gift Plot: Amy gives Penny a bad painting of the "The Rothman Disintegration".
  • Unwanted Assistance: In the second episode Leonard and Sheldon got a spare key to Penny's apartment, which Sheldon used to clean her apartment in the middle of the night (with Leonard begrudgingly helping), leaving a note confessing to the act and offering advice on further organization. When she understandably freaks out, Leonard demands Sheldon apologize, to which he tells Penny, "I would like to apologize for what happened and I take full responsibility... and I hope this doesn't color your perception of Leonard... who I hear is a gentle and thorough lover."

  • Valley Girl: Penny falls into this from time to time, even though she's originally from Nebraska.
  • Vanity Plate: The Chuck Lorre Production notes which give you a split second to read a long paragraph. Even the short ones with a picture and a caption usually takes a Freeze-Frame Bonus to appreciate.
  • Verbal Tic: Penny likes to call people "Sweetie." In a bout of confusion Sheldon used it as evidence that she has feelings for him.
    Penny: "I call everyone sweetie."
    Sheldon: "You tramp."
  • Visual Pun: Coupled with Stealth Pun. Raj enters the comic book store with a [2] playing the Imperial March...which of course means he's wearing a loud shirt. Leonard even tells him to turn his shirt off.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Sheldon with everyone.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Bernadette normally has a fairly high pitched, squeaky voice. But there are times when she yells and sounds exactly like Howards mom. Which he finds to be hot.
    • Howard being the stereotypical television Jewish man will never be rid of his mother, in any form.
  • Vocal Evolution: Melissa Rauch's voice for Bernadette was always pitched higher than her own natural voice, but her first few episodes it was still fairly natural sounding. Later episodes it is quite higher, almost to Helium Speech. Funny enough, when Bernadette gets angry her voice lowers in pitch.
    • Carol Ann Susi as the voice of Mrs. Wolowitz has always had No Indoor Voice, but was slightly more muted and with less enunciation in her earlier "appearances."
  • The Voice: Howard's mother, Mrs. Wolowitz, She Who Must Not Be Seen.
  • The Voiceless: Rajesh, whenever he's with a woman — unless he's drunk.
    • Voice for the Voiceless: Howard, who usually just relays what Raj whispers into his ear (though sometimes Howard's annoyed comebacks imply what Raj said well enough). There are also times when Howard will lie about Raj said in order to deflect blame on to Raj. Since Raj can't talk to them, he has no way of refuting the comments.
  • Volleying Insults: Sheldon hates Leslie Winkle for being the only woman able to be actually more deliberately unpleasant and insulting to him than he could be to anybody else. Cue their constant rows when both meet.

  • Wacky Marriage Proposal: Howard pulls this on Bernadette when she asks where their relationship is going.
    • His proposal is both cringeworthy and utterly hilarious. Subverted in that Bernadette sees it as the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for her.
  • Walk and Talk: The central hallway set is redecorated to represent characters consistently have to climb (usually Once an Episode). They use it for a Walk and Talk in addition to a couple of Uncomfortable Elevator Moments. The creators are actually quite proud of this, as it is a unique piece of set design that no other show can claim. Similar shows only get away with an "L" shaped hallway.
  • Wet T-Shirt Contest: Penny has won several wet t-shirt contests she never even entered, or at least knew she'd entered. As she explains to Leonard Hofstadter, it was usually when she was drunk enough to have spilt a lot of drinks over herself.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back: In a variation Sheldon balked at switching up his regimented dinner plans and refused to go to Raj's place with his friends. The rest of the group spent the Sheldon-free evening talking about how annoying he could be, only to realize the group felt empty without him around.
    Howard: I think it's like Beetlejuice...we mentioned his name too many times!
  • Wham Line:
    • From "The Grasshopper Experiment": "Where did my life go, Penny?" Context? Raj was drowning his sorrows and that was technically his first spoken words to Penny, establishing that being drunk counteracts his selective mutism.
    • When Raj behaved obnoxiously while drunk with Penny as his date to a People Magazine function, he tried to apologize while sober via handwrit. Penny refused to read the letter and demanded something verbal, after a few seconds of mustering up the courage he squeaked out "Sorry." which was the first words he has consciously spoken to her without alcohol.
    • After Leonard wondered what Penny's feelings were towards him, they had an argument over his neurotic, jealous behavior and she says "You're too hard on yourself, you know I love you so can you please relax because you are driving me crazy." Both are stunned almost to the point of tears.
    • When Sheldon permits a rumor that he and Amy are having sex (to distract from his subpar work) Penny asked him straight up if they will ever have sex. After a short monologue about his struggles in dealing with emotional and physical intimacy he concludes with "It's a possibility." Once he turns his back Penny silently starts freaking out, clawing Leonard's arm.
    • In the sixth season finale, Raj's female friend Lucy breaks up with him and he has a tearful conversation with Penny the next day. When Penny says that it's just the booze talking, Raj responds "No, it's not... I haven't had a drink since last night..." Pause as they both realize that he's been conversing with her TOTALLY SOBER.
    • In season eight, Amy goes through the motions of telling Sheldon she loves him, reassuring him that he doesn't have to say it himself and especially not if he just thinks that social convention dictates it...but he stuns her by responding "I love you too".
      • Given more impact because he said it first.
    • Two in the Season 8 finale:
      • After a discussion with Sheldon over Leonard & Penny's hesitation on choosing a wedding date, Penny turns to Leonard...
    Penny: I'm free tonight...
    • At the end of the episode(which featured a lot of relationship turmoil between Sheldon and Amy), Amy tells Sheldon via Skype that she wants a break. After ending the conversation, Shelton turns to his Gollum action figure...
    Sheldon: Well,'re an expert on rings...*gets engagement ring out of drawer*...what do I do with this one?
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Season 2 episode arc where Leonard dates a medical doctor, Stephanie, who sort of stealth-moves into his apartment. He spends that whole third episode trying to find a way to get her to move back out, but being diverted because she keeps jumping his bones. She isn't explicitly stated to have broken up with him (when he finally does spit it out, her response is to, well, jump his bones)... but by the next episode Leonard appears to be single again, with no mention of Stephanie.
    • This was also played with in an episode where Penny decides to stay in Leonard and Sheldon's apartment for the night. Raj walks out of the shot right before she walks into the room and asks to stay. Leonard, Penny, and Sheldon all have the whole argument about her staying there and then, once that's all over and it's decided that Penny stays, they turn out the lights and all go to bed. Cut to Raj, who was in the middle of eating a sandwich in the kitchen. He quietly leaves the room, looking like he has no idea what just happened.
    • In "The Psychic Vortex" Raj and Sheldon managed to acquire dates with intelligent and slightly geeky girls (one being played by Danica McKeller) named Abby and Martha, and even got a second date shortly after. What made these girls really unique was that the ice-breaker was Sheldon carrying Green Lantern's power battery at a party and they fully knew what it was; they ended up playing Rock Band back at Sheldon's apartment. Not to mention that Sheldon even appeared to enjoy talking with Martha (discussing Flatland among other things) with Raj and Abby making out on the chair. It can be assumed that Sheldon's asexual nature really disappointed Martha, and that took Abby away from Raj. But these were girls who could relate to them in interests, intelligence and were attracted to them because of it (not even Penny can really claim that with Leonard), so with no follow up episode it almost seems to be a waste.
  • What If?: In "The Cooper Extraction", the gang is considering what their lives would have been like if Sheldon weren't in them. The premise is that none of them would know Amy, Bernadette would never have met Howard, and Leonard would not have been dating Penny. Scenarios depicted in the episode include:
    • Leonard tries to pick up Penny and fails to say anything other than asking for directions to the restroom. He is intimidated enough by her presence to piss himself.
    • Bernadette meets Howard at the Cheesecake Factory and finds him cute. However she notices Howard having an overly affectionate moment with Raj, and figures they are a gay couple. She does not even speak to them.
    • Penny ends up with nice but dimwitted Zack Johnson. They live together in Penny's apartment. Zack is so naive that he spends their rent money to buy magic beans, in a Shout-Out to Jack and the Beanstalk.
    • Penny and Sheldon end up neighbours. Penny tries to seduce him in the laundry room. Sheldon is not interested as he is saving himself for someone special.
    • Howard never moves out of his mother's home. We hear Debbie Wolowitz shouting for food, claiming that she is starving. Howard brings her food. The face of Debbie is revealed to be that of a mummified corpse. We hear "Mother" say: "You’re a good boy, Howard, such a good boy." Howard has simply gone insane, treating his dead mother as still living, and having conversations with her. Howard, who narrates this scenario, leaves ambiguous if his mother died of natural causes, starved to death, or if he killed her. The entire scenario is a Shout-Out to Psycho.
    • Leonard moves in with Raj. Giving up on ever having a girlfriend, Leonard no longer cares about the way he looks. He keeps eating Raj's delicious cooking and ends up morbidly obese. Raj remains his usual slim self.
    • Leonard moves in with Raj. They both let themselves go, ending up morbidly obese.
    • Amy remains friendless and has a One-Person Birthday Party. She tearfuly sings the "Happy Birthday" song to herself:
    Happy birthday to me
    Happy birthday to me
    There are tears in the frosting
    Happy birthday to me.
    • A morbidly obese Leonard meets Penny at the Cheesecake factory. He tries to pick her up, and Penny tells him that she already has a boyfriend. Said boyfriend then arrives, revealed to be a swave-looking Stuart.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In "The Justice League Recombination," Penny and Zack stop by Leonard and Sheldon's apartment. Zack is eager to "talk science with the science dudes," prompting Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, and Raj to make fun of him with snide questions and remarks. He doesn't catch on, which only leads to further insults. When Zack eventually does figure it out, he leaves, hurt, and Penny points out that, despite the guys' constant talk of being bullied and mocked, they're acting like complete jerks.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: When Barry Kripke is first introduced with his strange speech impediment (reminiscent of Elmer Fudd), Raj asks "What part of America is that accent from?", but his question is summarily ignored. For the record, it's called rhotacism.
  • With Due Respect: In the episode "The Luminous Fish Effect", Sheldon uses the phrase before delivering an insulting comment to his superior:
    Sheldon: I can't believe [the new department head] fired me.
    Leonard: Well, you did call him a glorified high school teacher whose last successful experiment was lighting his own farts.
    Sheldon: In my defense, I did preface it by saying "with all due respect".
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The episode "The Staircase Implementation" has Leonard narrating to Penny his first meeting with Sheldon and the events occurring after they moved in together. All happening years before the start of the series. The present-day scenes are only used as a framing device.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Louie/Louise, the previous occupant of Penny's apartment, was a tranvestite. Mentioned in the Pilot and "The Big Bran Hypothesis" (Season 1, episode 2), seen in The episode "The Staircase Implementation" , a Whole Episode Flashback. He/she was a physically imposing African American, presented in a neutral way. Sheldon at least appreaciated his/her orderliness: "Because it was immaculate, I mean, you open that man’s closet, it was left to right, evening gowns, cocktail dresses, then his police uniforms."
  • Who's on First?: D"The Alien Parasite Hypothesis" with Amy telling Sheldon about her reaction to Penny's ex, Zack. "Hoo."
    • Played with in "The Bozeman Reaction", where Raj ends it quickly.
    Sheldon: General Tso’s Chicken is no longer listed under specialties. It’s now under chicken.
    Raj: So?
    Sheldon: Yes, General Tso.
    Raj: Not Tso the chicken, so the question. So?
  • Will They or Won't They?: For the first season, Leonard and Penny. In the first episode of season 3, they do, although they break up at the end of the season. They get back together in season 5, for the 100th episode.
  • Wimp Fight: Leonard and Sheldon get into a fight at a seminar in the first season, which is largely a push, shove and slap fight. They are subsequently shown on YouTube and are clearly embarrassed over how silly they look:
    Leonard: Oh geez. Does this suit really look that bad?
    Sheldon: Forget your suit, look at my arms waving. I'm like a flamingo on Ritalin.
    • The wrestling match between Howard and Raj also counts, the fight being which of the two would be the superhero and which would be sidekick in their imaginary hero team. It consisted of over a half-hour of circling each other on the mat. Leonard fell asleep waiting for something resembling a fight to happen, though their "superhero banter" was above average.
    • Also the time Sheldon and Barry played one-on-one basketball for a vacant office. (They chose sports so that they would have a level playing field, since it's they're both equally bad at.) They go forty shots without sinking a single basket.
  • With Friends Like These...: It's not entirely clear on why Leonard, Howard and Raj are friends with Sheldon and vice-versa. They see him as a source of irritation and make fun of him behind his back. Sheldon meanwhile shows them no respect, ridicules Leonard and Howard's work, and is so stubborn, selfish and demanding that the gang agrees with whatever he wants to do because it's easier than arguing with him.
    • Penny once questioned how Jerkass Sheldon got any friends to begin with. The answer: "We liked Leonard." Sheldon managed to save Leonard's life and kept Leonard out of prison, so he's indebted to Sheldon, but Howard and Raj fall back to "We liked Leonard".
    • Although a scene in begin with cheerfully toasting having effectively driven Sheldon out of their lives, it ends with them all lamenting that they actually miss him. Apparently despite his personality faults and aggravation, they actually do like him... they're usually just distracted from doing so by how annoying he is.
  • Women Are Wiser: Played with. Usually Penny or another female character is the common sense of the group, but sometime Leonard or others, including Sheldon are the ones to point out things the others never seen.
  • Women Prefer Strong Men: All of Penny's ex-boyfriends are muscular and dumb.
  • Worthless Foreign Degree: The episode "The Bat Jar Conjecture" features Dmitri, a physicist from the former Soiet Union. His degree is worthless in the United States, forcing him to work as a janitor. He is still more knowledgeable in quantum electrodynamics than both Sheldon and Leslie Winkle.

  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: An in-universe example. Sheldon complains that a renaissance fair gets away with any inaccuracies simply by writing "Ye Olde" in front of everything.
    • In another episode he complains that Christmas brings with it overuse of the words "tis" and "twas".
  • You Answered Your Own Question: When Penny tells Leonard that everything goes wrong with their relationship when they talk, she adds that she had a relationship with a guy named T.J. and they never talked.
    Leonard: "Wait, if you guys never talked, what did you... Never mind. Stupid question."
  • You Look Familiar: In The Intimacy Application, the hostess who shows Emily, Raj, Amy and Leonard into the "escape room" (where they have to solve a puzzle to get out) appeared in an earlier seriesnote  as one of two Goth girls picked up by Raj and Howard.note 
  • You Never Did That for Me: Penny mentions Leonard hasn't let her talk him into cooler dressing/hobbies as much as he let Priya.
  • Your Favorite: For Sheldon - Strawberry Quik
    Sheldon: "Strawberry Quik!!! My favorite pink beverage! Just beating out Pepto-Bismo!
  • Your Mom: Invoked by Raj in order to try to get Howard to let go of "The One Ring". Then Sheldon gleefully notes that if they turn on each other, he will get The Ring by default, Raj and Howard to decide to team up against him. Sheldon lists his mother's faults before they get a chance to, leaving them to bring out the big guns.
    Raj: All right, not your mother. How about... your grandmother.
    Sheldon: No! I call no Mee-maws!
    • Howard's mother is a living Your Mom. It's implied that every single thing said about Mrs. Wolowitz is true, but since she's never visible on-screen, the audience simply must Take Their Word For It per Rule of Funny.
    • Sheldon has his own take on the insult. In "The Pulled Groin Extrapolation", both Penny and Sheldon covet the last dumpling left. Sheldon gives a rather lengthy explanation of why he should have it. Penny replies by simply grabbing the dumpling and eating it. While she still chews, Sheldon says: "I’ve seen pictures of your mother, keep eating." The implication being that Penny's mother is fat and this will be Penny's fate if she keeps eating.
    • Brought up by the gang while fighting about who should get tenure.
  • "You're Not My Type": In "The Cooper Extraction", several What If? scenarios are depicted. In one of them, Penny tries to seduce Sheldon. It doesn't work even when she strips off most of her clothings. Sheldon is simply not attracted to her, and says that he is saving himself for someone special. He suggests his type is "a cute bespectacled neuroscientist with hair the color of mud." In other words Amy, who he doesn't know in this scenario. Naturally this entire scenario is narrated by Amy.