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The Big Bang Theory / Season Eleven

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Sheldon and Amy finally get engaged. Howard and Bernadette are expecting again. Raj briefly cuts Howard from his life after finding that his constant ridicule has affected his confidence, then gets a job presenting the planetarium show.

Tropes present in The Big Bang Theory Season Eleven:

  • April Fools' Plot: "The Gates Excitation" has Penny meeting with Bill Gates, but Sheldon doesn't believe her because she's meeting him on April 1 and thinks Penny is pranking him, despite her never having pranked him before. He finally realizes it's true when Leonard shows him a photo of him with Gates, but then Leonard pranks him by sending him to the wrong hotel.
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  • Bait-and-Switch: In "The Proposal Proposal," Amy walks over to Ramona, but instead of confronting her for kissing Sheldon, she thanks her because it caused him to propose.
  • But You Were There, and You, and You: In "The Novelization Correlation", in the sequence depicting a scene of Leonard's novel, Leonard himself and the rest of the main cast take the roles of the novel's characters.
  • Character Development: After years of Will They or Won't They?, Commitment Issues, Romantic False Leads, True Love Is Exceptional, True Love Is Boring and Poor Communication Kills, Leonard and Penny have reached a place where they are more in tune with what each other is feeling and what they want. The previous season they had a big fight where Penny expected Leonard to surprise her with a romantic evening, the season premiere Leonard got her a cake, worried that she was feeling ignored after all the attention given to Sheldon and Amy getting engaged and Bernadette being pregnant. Later on, Leonard was struggling with writing a Christmas card and how mediocre their year has been (Leonard was removed from the Air Force project and Penny is making good money but hates her job, meaning all they can really say is "still employed"), and Penny consoles him that they don't need to do anything big but just enjoy their time together.
    • Sheldon finally realizes that Amy and everyone else walk around on eggshells around him and aren't able to do things that they want to do. So, he takes steps to change and encourages Amy to go on Wil Wheaton's show.
    • Raj realizes that he has attached himself too much to Howard, and Howard's jokes at his expense is partially to blame for his lack of self-esteem. Standing up for himself and telling off Howard gave him a big boost in confidence, allowing him to get a new job at the planetarium. This resulted in him and Howard being at odds for a time, though they make up.
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    • Howard has been trying to be more attentive to household chores and parenting duties so that Bernadette doesn't have to deal with Parenting the Husband as much. After their second child is born he even goes into overdrive taking care of the kids and prove to Bernadette he could be a House Husband and she could continue her career. He burns out really quickly but she appreciates the effort.
    • When Raj realizes that Howard persistently mocks him and how it has impacted his self-esteem, he makes a comparison with how Penny teases Leonard in a similar way. Penny actually takes it to heart and makes an effort to be more positive towards Leonard. Later episodes show her complimenting him more often and not tease him for its own sake.
  • Chirping Crickets: Invoked when Raj invites the others to watch a cricket match.
    Howard: That sound you hear? Ironically, crickets.
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  • Cliffhanger: Notably averted! The Season Finale is actually the first one of the entire show to not end with a To Be Continued type of resolution. As a result, a number of people felt it had a Series Finale vibe to it, thus running into Series Fauxnale.
  • Commitment Issues: A Flashback episode explores more of why Penny broke up with Leonard back in season three. They end up finding a web video she made while drunk where she confesses that she knew the next step with Leonard was going to be marriage and she was seriously considering it, and that prospect terrified her.
  • Composite Character: A possible interpretation of the issue in "The Novelization Correlation." Leonard's novel contained characters that were easily identifiable as others in the cast, but different people had different interpretations of the demeaning blonde Ilsa character. Bernadette saw Penny in that role while Penny saw Bernadette in that role. Leonard later realized it was probably based on his mother, but the implications of that didn't settle right either.
  • Conversational Troping: Raj and Howard came across a downed drone in Howard's backyard. Checking out the camera memory, they saw it belonged to an attractive girl. Tracking her down, Raj returned it and only asked for her number in return, which she seemed flattered by. Raj later talked with Howard excitedly about the Meet Cute and how they will look at all those events transpiring to bring them together. The girl watches drone footage of Raj excitedly talking about meeting her, which quickly turns creepy and she shuts off the video.
  • Enhance Button: Parodied. When Raj and Howard find a downed drone, they review the memory card footage to see if they can locate its owner. Using a laptop, they see a button on her shirt and Raj instructs Howard to zoom in. Howard says "Okay" and then physically moves the laptop closer to Raj's face.
  • From Dress to Dressing: Parodied. Leonard writes a novel and we see the imagined scenes play out. When the detective character is shot his boss rips off her sleeve to apply to the wound, literally the entire sleeve, which pops off the rest of the shirt at the shoulder seam.
  • Eureka Moment:
    • Sheldon reached a new discovery about the nature of string theory by explaining it to Penny. She has functionally no clue what he is actually talking about, but the process of simplifying the problem and her asking basic questions made him look at it in a different perspective.
    • He gets another breakthrough at his wedding when he mentions that he let his bowtie stay askew, and Mary says that sometimes things need to be a little asymmetrical to be beautiful. This gives Sheldon the idea of introducing asymmetry to his black matter formula, coming up with "super asymmetry".
  • Fence Painting: In "The Collaboration Contamination," Sheldon is jealous that Amy is collaborating with Howard on a project, and Bernadette uses this to get him to do chores around the house, telling him that Howard loves doing chores and Sheldon doing them for him would upset him. She even mentions the Trope Namer when she asks Sheldon if he's read Tom Sawyer. Of course, Sheldon is a Neat Freak and enjoys cleaning anyway, and couldn't leave the oven half-done.
  • The Food Poisoning Incident: In "The Celebration Reverberation," Sheldon makes an authentic pioneer meal for Amy's birthday, based on her love of Little House on the Prairie. They spend much of the rest of the episode throwing up.
  • Forgotten Anniversary: In this case, both Leonard and Penny forgot their anniversary. Leonard made a cake for Penny in "The Celebration Reverberation", worried she was feeling left out after the attention given to Bernadette's pregnancy and Sheldon and Amy getting engaged. Penny thought it was for their anniversary, and after Leonard checked his phone to confirm it WAS their anniversary Penny already had a mouthful of cake while exclaiming "Happy anniversary!"
  • Friendship Moment: "The Matrimonial Metric" revolves around Amy and Sheldon making decisions on who was going to be their best man/maid of honor. Amy was torn between Penny and Bernadette, because while she considered Penny her best friend, she was Bernadette's maid of honor and felt an obligation to reciprocate. Penny, surprisingly, was ambivalent about being chosen because she considered Amy to be A friend and not her best friend. But then she realized that Amy is the one she talks to the most and spends the most amount of time with, meaning that she IS her best friend. At this point Penny becomes angry, because Amy is her best friend and hasn't asked her to be her maid of honor. She storms over to Amy's place and demands to be maid of honor, which Amy is overjoyed to give to her and embraces her "bestie."
  • Gambler's Fallacy: Apparently averted in "The Monetary Insufficiency", where Sheldon uses rigorous statistical analysis to discover an actual bias in one of the roulette tables at a casino, but excitedly blabs about it to a guard while preparing to place a bet, oblivious to the fact that this would be a problem. (Note that real-life roulette wheels are very specifically designed and managed to prevent this).
  • Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue": Leonard tries writing a novel about a crime-solving physicist, and openly admits he is projecting himself as the main character.
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes: Amy's Fairytale Wedding Dress, with layer upon layer of frills. Penny and Bernadette don't like it, but have trouble telling her without hurting her feelings. Sheldon, on the other hand, loves it, comparing it to "a pile of swans".
  • Incredibly Lame Fun: In "The Reclusive Potential", Penny throws Amy's bachelorette party according to what she thinks Amy likes best...a quilting bee. Amy is not pleased.
  • It Was with You All Along: In "The Bitcoin Entanglement", Leonard, Howard and Raj look for the bitcoins they mined seven years ago. Sheldon reveals that he took the bitcoins and uploaded them in Leonard's Batman keychain USB drive, so they had it with them all the time. Unfortunately, Leonard lost that drive years ago.
  • It's All About Me: When Sheldon and Amy are figuring out wedding details, they become concerned about choosing the right people for the best man/maid of honor positions, in part because they don't want to hurt any feelings for not being chosen. After a long episode where they run tests on their friends to see who would be best suited for the jobs, Leonard tells him that since it is his wedding day he is ALLOWED to be selfish and everyone will understand. "You kind of have been training for this your entire life."
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Sheldon bemoans how nobody is throwing money out to test his theories in theoretical physics (comparing it to the Higgs Boson and needing a multi-billion dollar particle collider). Leonard points out that his theories are so extreme that he isn't sure how to even test them, which Sheldon points out is actually his job as an experimental physicist. Leonard actually takes it to heart and suggests creating micro-black holes via 500 million dollars worth of lasers.
  • Maternally Challenged: With both Howard and Bernadette on bed rest for a few days Penny offered to help take care of Halley. They react nervously, as they didn't consider Penny to be particularly nurturing or good with babies, and she takes some offense to their reactions. While Penny joked about sharing bourbon with the baby, she actually performed well, and ended up getting the last laugh as Halley ended up calling her "mama" as her first words.
  • Odd Friendship: Raj slept with a girl and found out that she was technically still married, she had separated from her husband just a few weeks prior. He ended up meeting the husband when he came looking for him, despite seemingly like he was there to attack Raj he instead broke down in tears over what happened to his marriage. They ended up becoming friends and Raj ended up creeping out the girl enough that she went back to her husband. And they STILL hang out.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: When Raj gets upset noticing how mean-spirited Howard can be as a friend, Penny realizes she unfairly teases Leonard in a similar way and tries to be more positive around him. Leonard was not prepared for that, feeling like it is another form of Sarcasm Mode.
  • Outdated Outfit: Amy tries on a number of wedding dresses, the first two very modern and trendy, which she, Penny and Bernadette really like. The third one is a very old fashioned looking dress that would be more appropriate for the 1800's (it has a high collar, lace shawl, long sleeves, layers of ruffles and petticoats). Penny and Bernadette struggle expressing their real opinions on the dress since Amy adores it. Sheldon, no stranger to preferring an Outdated Outfit himself, loves the dress. Some Fridge Brilliance is involved, as Amy is a known fan of Little House on the Prairie and was even looking for a more rustic wedding.
  • Out of Focus: Bernadette gets very little to do in a given episode after she is put on bed rest. Deliberate because it is Melissa Rauch's actual pregnancy.
  • The Rashomon: Done in a unique way. Leonard tries writing a novel and when others read it they catch hints of their friends projected on to the fictional characters, and the scenes are played out by the same actors. It was easy to see who was inspired by Raj, Howard and Stuart, but different people perceived the "ball-busting blonde" as either Penny, Bernadette or Beverly Hofstader, with each briefly taking on that role and seeing how the context changes.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Something of a subversion, Raj breaks away from Howard after realizing his "friendly jabs" have had a cumulative effect on his confidence and self-worth, which impacted a job opportunity. This was not a one-episode ordeal but the start of a Story Arc.
  • Relationship Revolving Door: It's mentioned that the other characters have nicknames for the different times Leonard and Penny broke up. Which is kind of interesting, as officially they got together in the beginning of the third season, only one actual break up later in the season and they get back together tentatively in the fifth season (becoming more affirmative in the sixth) so they were never really depicted as constantly on-again, off-again. So it is something of a Retcon, but multiple episodes do depict them as ending with a big argument with no real resolution (such as the season seven "The Hesitation Ramification" episode where a drunk Penny proposes to Leonard), and that might be what the other characters are referring to.
  • Revival: In-Universe. A new version of Professor Proton is being planned, and Sheldon is not too happy about it. Especially when Wil Wheaton is cast as Proton.
  • Running Gagged: Stuart is finally free of his Perpetual Poverty status after a tweet from Neil Gaiman gives his comic book shop the promotional push it needs to get Stuart financially secure — permanently, given that his financial stability allows him to afford an assistant, Denise, who would appear for the rest of the series' run.
  • Show Within a Show: "Professor Proton" is revived with Wil Wheaton taking over for the deceased Arthur Jefferies. Sheldon struggles with the change, but comes to adore it for the same reason he loved the original show. Amusingly, as the original show was apparently an inspiration for the 90's Bill Nye the Science Guy, the new show takes some cues from the Netflix series Bill Nye Saves the World.
  • Significant Haircut: Raj stops straightening his hair and letting his hair get curly after leaving Howard, because he only did it to look like Howard when they first met.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: At Amy and Sheldon's wedding they end up getting distracted by a new theory, setting the ceremony behind while guests are waiting. Amy's mother decides this was a bad sign and was going to grab Amy and leave, but Penny jumps in telling her to shut up and sit down, affirming that Sheldon is the best person for her. Mary Cooper tries starting a Slow Clap, but Penny tells her to shut up too!
  • Squick: In-Universe example; in "The Solo Oscillation", Amy flushes her sinuses in Leonard and Penny's sink, as they watch in complete disgust.
  • Status Quo Is God: Discussed by Leonard and Penny when trying to write a Christmas letter about their lives in "The Celebration Reverberation", as they both had a tough time with work (Leonard released from the Air Force project and Penny hates her job) and they were in their second anniversary but both forgot to celebrate it, leading to their highlights as being "Still Employed" and "Still Married." They end up discussing where they go from here, even bringing up buying a house and having kids, but end up agreeing that life is good right now and they don't have to rush into any big changes.
  • Stealing the Credit: Penny accuses Raj of this in "The Comet Polarization" when they discover a new comet but only puts his name on the certification, when it was Penny who spotted it first.
  • Stylistic Suck: Leonard tries writing a detective novel, while other characters enjoy it the imagined scenes acting out the novel's story are very stilted with clumsy dialogue. It's implied this comes mostly from Leonard being a novice writer.
  • Talking in Your Sleep: Sheldon in “The Relaxation Integration”, revealing that he dreams about being more relaxed. Amy thinks it’s because he’s too anxious about setting a date for the wedding.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: In-Universe. When Stuart's comic book shop becomes more popular, Sheldon complains about how crowded it is now, and is especially turned off by the new assistant manager Denise. He changes his mind when Denise turns out to be very knowledgeable in helping him with recommendations.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Stuart's comic book shop explodes in popularity after Neil Gaiman tweeted about it. Within days customers started flocking to the store, and he becomes financially viable enough to hire an assistant. It's a rather dramatic turnaround as he becomes more upbeat and cheerful.
  • The Unsmile: In "The Tenant Disassociation", Stuart shows Howard a new flirty smile he's been using on girls.
    Howard: Now, I don't use the word "ghoulish" a lot, but... I-I just can't think of another word.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back: In "The Separation Triangulation", Sheldon rents his old room to work on string theory, agreeing to keep quiet and not interfere in Leonard and Penny's lives. This upsets Leonard, because it means that all those times they were roommates, Sheldon was being annoying on purpose. He tries to kick Sheldon out after the three day trial period is up, but due to a loophole, the trial ended earlier than Leonard thought, and Sheldon gives him grief over violating the agreement and asks for a lemon water. Leonard smiles at this, saying "I missed this."
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Not entirely, but about half of "The Bitcoin Entanglement" involves flashbacks to seven years prior when the characters did some bitcoin data-mining as they retrace their steps to find where they kept the bitcoin files. This involves interweaving a number of established moments of the series such as Penny and Leonard's breakup, Penny and Zack dating and a previously unknown encounter Penny had with Amy before they officially met.
  • William Telling: Invoked (with this exact name) in "The Tenant Disassociation" when Raj puts a bowl over his head so that Howard can knock it off with a drone.
  • With Friends Like These...: Deconstructed. Howard's "friendly jabs" towards Raj end up having a negative effect on his confidence. Raj puts his foot down when Howard's lack of support causes him to mess up an employment opportunity.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: In The Stinger for "The Bitcoin Entanglement" it's revealed that the Batman flash drive containing the now very valuable bitcoins was accidentally left in Stuart's comic book shop, he wiped the drive and resold it for ten dollars.
    • In a variation, the guys learn that Neil Gaiman visited Stuart's comic book shop after he tweeted about it. They expressed disappointment that no one was there when he was, while a flashback showed that he actually contributed to a Seinfeldian Conversation they were having but they were too self-absorbed to notice. He showed up again offering a recommendation to Sheldon, who dismissed him again not knowing who he was.
  • Write Who You Know: Invoked in "The Novelization Correlation". Leonard's mystery book has a character named Ilsa, who is blonde, beautiful, and mean to the main character. Bernadette assumes the character is based on Penny, while Penny thinks it's actually Bernadette. Leonard then realizes that he had unconsciously based her on his mother, but is disturbed by the romantic subtext he decides to stop writing it. The scenes reenacting scenes from the book also feature Howard and Raj as two scientists and Stuart as a bumbling janitor.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: In-Universe, Leonard tries writing a science-based detective novel and it's extremely clear he is making it up as he goes along.

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