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The Big Bang Theory / Season Twelve

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With Sheldon and Amy married, the rest of the group contemplate the changes in their lives and where they go from here. Penny confesses to Leonard that she is not interested in ever having kids. Raj gets engaged to Anu via an Arranged Marriage. Sheldon and Amy have a shot at the Nobel Prize for Physics with their new theory, but there are complications along the way.

Tropes in The Big Bang Theory: Season Twelve:

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  • All for Nothing:
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  • And the Adventure Continues: In contrast to the Grand Finale of most shows, very little of it is actually dedicated to typical Grand Finale tropes. Other than Amy and Sheldon winning a Nobel prize and Penny being revealed to be pregnant it comes across more as one more adventure, rather than Nothing Is the Same Anymore. The final shot of the series is the group all together eating take-out, just like in the final shot of the opening sequence for 12 years.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: Sheldon manages to be insensitive to the group again due to being selfish and inconsiderate and wonders why they never remember he doesn't realize when he is behaving that way. Amy tells him point blank that his "I didn't know" excuse is the only reason they stay friends with him, that's how much he pisses them off. Sheldon asks if that holds true for her as well, and after a brief pause Amy says "Sometimes."
  • As Himself:
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    • "The D&D Vortex", along with recurrers Wil Wheaton and Kevin Smith, also includes William Shatner, Joe Manganiello, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
    • Nobel laureates George Smootnote , Kip Thorne and Frances Arnold in "The Laureate Accumulation", as well as Ellen DeGeneres when Dr. Campbell and Dr. Pemberton appear on her talk show.
    • Sarah Michelle Gellar in the final episode, "The Stockholm Syndrome".
  • Babies Ever After: Penny is revealed to be pregnant in the final episode.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Penny is revealed to be pregnant in the last episode. She stated earlier in the season she wasn't interested in kids, which resulted in some strained issues with Leonard and even her father but both ended up supportive of her choice. Getting pregnant was an accident and we don't see the initial discovery, but Penny was glowing with excitement along with Leonard, and they seemed happier than they've ever been.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Amy of all people gives a devastating "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Drs. Campbell and Pemberton for taking the credit for Super Asymmetry.
  • Book-Ends:
    • After returning home from Sweden, the cast goes in to have a living room sit down for Chinese, as they always do at the end of the opening. And while they do so, a slower acoustic version of the theme plays as the camera pans out and fades to black. End series.
      • If you look closely, Penny is wearing the same shirt she wore in the pilot.
    • During the finale, in his Nobel acceptance speech, Sheldon refers to Leonard saying that his and Penny's children would be both smart and beautiful from the first episode of the series.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: At the end of "The Maternal Conclusion", Stuart and Denise try to convince Denise's roommate to move out, arguing that they're deeply in love enough to commit to each other together in the same room. Denise's roommate asks Stuart to tell Denise that he loves her — he does — and then asks Denise to say it back to Stuart (she does), before asking Stuart and Denise to say it to HIM. Cue Stuart and Denise staring back at him in awkward silence.
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: When the group discovers Wil Wheaton has a D&D night with a variety of celebrities (including William Shatner) they immediately start pestering him to let them in on the game. Wil ends up giving them a "The Reason You Suck" Speech because the biggest struggle with being a celebrity is sycophants trying to use you to meet other celebrities.
  • Coordinated Clothes: For Leonard and Penny's Halloween party, Howard and Bernadette go as Bert and Mary Poppins, while Raj and Anu go as Supreme Court judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the U.S. Constitution. Sheldon and Amy were going as Doc Brown and Clara Clayton, but instead they go as Howard and Bernadette as payback for Howard dressing as Sheldon earlier.
  • Creator Backlash: In-Universe. When Bernadette overhears Howard tell Halley a story about how he was scared of the dark while at the ISS and writes it down as "The Scared Little Astronaut", she has Stuart illustrate it and a publisher friend of his wants to sell it. Unfortunately, Howard isn't keen on having that part of him made public and wants to rewrite it as him fighting aliens.
  • Crossover: With Young Sheldon in "The VCR Illumination", via a video taped by Sheldon when he was younger.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Raj ends up breaking up with Anu.
  • Downer Ending: "The Citation Negation" is this for Sheldon and Amy, due to their work being rendered All for Nothing (see above for more details).
  • Dream Within a Dream: Leonard in "The Meteorite Manifestation" dreams that he got infected by the meteorite, got possessed by a space virus and attacked Bert and Raj. He wakes up in his sofa, and then attacks Penny. Then he wakes up for real.
  • Finale Season: Advertised as such, and much of the season is about resolving various character goals like Sheldon winning a Nobel Prize, Raj getting married, Leonard and Penny starting a family, etc.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Referenced in "The Citation Negation" when Penny finds Bernadette playing Fortnite.
    Penny: Is this a Freaky Friday situation where you're actually Howard?
    Bernadette: If I were really Howard, I'd be doing this. *looks down her blouse* And I'm telling ya, he's not wrong.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Raj's Arranged Marriage with Anu catches everyone else by surprise, with their primary concern being that Raj is very romantic in nature and he barely knows her.
  • Geeky Turn-On: When Leonard takes a decision involving distribution of excess grant money seriously, Penny is actively engaged with his stronger, take-charge attitude, even if it is just denying fund proposals.
  • Guinea Pig Family:
    • In "The Conference Valuation", Sheldon brings a book of science experiments to perform on babies so they could try them out on Howard's kids. This reminds Leonard of the way his mother did psychological experiments on him, and she calls her about it. Beverly reveals that the experiments are still ongoing. (The book, by the way, was Amy's way of getting Sheldon interested in having children.)
    • In "The Maternal Conclusion", Beverly comes to spend the day with Leonard and takes an interest in his work. At first Leonard is happy that he's finally getting validation from his mother, until the next day when she asks questions about how that made him feel, and he realizes she's just been using him as research for her latest book.
  • Hands Go Down: In "The Decision Reverberation", the question and answer session at the planetarium goes awry when Raj mentions the possibility of aliens.
    Raj: Are there any more questions? [hands go up] Not about aliens. [all hands go down]
  • Hollywood Mid-Life Crisis: When Howard and Raj see a scooter for sale in "The Inspiration Deprivation", Howard purchases it so he and Raj can ride it together like they did when they were both younger and single. Too bad for him Bernadette makes him sell it once she finds out, arguing that it's too dangerous. Howard then sells the scooter to Bert late in the episode.
  • Humiliation Conga: Sheldon suffers from this at the end of the episode "The Citation Negation". First the work he and Amy put into for months turns out to have been done and disproved, and then he gets a few things wrong (such as skipping work because he thought it was Saturday when it is Friday), which prompts Leonard correcting him. Finally, when he requests dinner, Leonard, nudged by Penny, gives him the take-out Thai food Leonard was going to have... except the dinner in question doesn't include the mango sticky rice Sheldon likes.
    Sheldon: And the hurt just keeps on coming.
  • Impact Silhouette: Referenced in "The Paintball Scattering". After Stuart runs out of the store when Penny asks him if he wants to move in with Denise, Raj jokes that "If it was a cartoon, there would be a Stuart-shaped hole on the wall."
  • Innocently Insensitive: In the Grand Finale, Amy points out that the reason why their friends and even herself tolerate most of Sheldon's behavior and remain his friends despite it is because they know he genuinely doesn't know better most of the time.
  • Irritation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery: For Halloween, Howard goes as Sheldon. Sheldon doesn't catch on until it is pointed out; until then he just found Howard annoying.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Leonard gets upset that Sheldon referred to Penny's unborn child as "it".
  • It's Been Done: The "Super Asymmetry" concept turns out to have been brought up in the past and then disproved, much to Sheldon and Amy's devastation when Leonard informs them.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Amy in "The Confirmation Polarization" is willing to withdraw her name from the Nobel Prize nomination after two physicists confirm their Super Asymmetry theory (the committee only allows three names) if it means that Sheldon finally gets his coveted Nobel Prize.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Commented on in the finale, as Leonard complains about how Sheldon still enforces certain rules in the apartment even though he doesn't live there anymore, specifically the thermostat temperature. Raj wonders if that is why Leonard always wears a hoodie, which Leonard confirms.
  • Married to the Job: In "The Maternal Conclusion", Anu moves to London for her dream job when she's offered it at the conference she attends in London. This is why Raj Did Not Get the Girl.
  • Milholland Relationship Moment: In a variation, Bernadette finds herself feeling overworked and instead of coming straight home she hides out in their backyard playhouse for a time before going back to the craziness of her kids. She is worried how Howard would feel that she is essentially bailing out on her family for an hour, but it's revealed that Howard knew almost instantly where she was and why, and was fine letting her have a moment to herself. She doesn't actually learn that he knows, but it makes for an amusing back-and-forth when Howard and Raj are in the hot tub while Bernadette, Penny and Amy are in the playhouse.
  • Paintball Episode: "The Paintball Scattering", where the guys and girls get together to play. While it continues breaking normal paintball rules, it does bring up that being shot from close range hurts.
  • Pinch Me: In the finale, Sheldon falls asleep while waiting for a call from the Nobel Prize committee on whether he and Amy won or not. Leonard wants to slap him awake, but he's woken up by his phone. When the call saying that they won comes, Sheldon thinks he's dreaming. A slap from Leonard proves him wrong.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: When Leonard is talking about Wil Wheaton's guests to Penny in "The D&D Vortex", she is shocked that he has no idea who Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is. Played with Joe Manganiello, whom Leonard recognizes from True Blood, while Penny and (especially) Amy know from Magic Mike.
  • Product Placement: A really blatant one with Fortnite and Bernadette trying to learn how to play it in "The Citation Negation".
  • Real Award, Fictional Character: In the Grand Finale, Sheldon and Amy win the Nobel Prize in Physics for confirming Super Asymmetry.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Raj is tired of being alone and asks his father to arrange a marriage for him. His father sets him up with a woman named Anu, and the two get along great, with her proposing to him on their first date. However, Raj spots Anu hugging another man and immediately assumes she’s cheating on him, when she tells him he needs to trust her he blurts out “How can I trust you, I barely know you!”. The next episode, they agree that they were both rushing into marriage with a near stranger for the sake of being married and call off the wedding, but decide to give dating a try since they do still like each other.
    • Being an Insufferable Genius, Sheldon has managed to piss off even scientists he respects, and as such when he is looking to gain favor for a Nobel Prize nomination he has few allies in the scientific community.
    • After Amy explodes at Dr. Pembleton and Dr. Campbell, she and Sheldon are forced to do damage control by the university in order to not lose their chances at winning a Nobel. They also have to apologize to Pembleton and Campbell.
    • Despite having dreamed of winning the Nobel Prize all his life, Sheldon is totally unprepared for the level of fame that comes with it, hiding from the hordes of reporters wanting to interview him.
    • After realizing that Beverly's attempts at bonding were just more "research" for her next book, Leonard finally accepts that his mother is never going to change (Truth in Television regarding most Abusive Parents) and rather than tear into her, he decides it's better to just forgive her and move on, even though she doesn't deserve his forgiveness (forgiveness is about letting go of one's own pain rather than letting the one who harmed you off the hook.)
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Wil Wheaton gives one to the guys in "The D&D Vortex" (see Celebrity Is Overrated above for further details).
    • Amy unloads a devastating one on Drs. Pembleton and Campbell for taking credit for super asymmetry.
    • In the final episode, Amy again gives one, this time to Sheldon on his tendency to be self-centered and thoughtless to those around him. Sheldon takes this to heart and when accepting his Nobel Prize, he forgoes his prepared speech and thanks his friends by name.
  • Red Herring: In "The VCR Illumination", it's actually Sheldon's father that gives Sheldon the right advice and not his younger self.
  • The Reveal: The Grand Finale rather casually shows Halley and Michael Wolowitz played by child actors for the first and only time (barring brief glimpses).
  • Rhetorical Request Blunder: When Amy is too busy with her own work to help Sheldon with super asymmetry in "The Planetarium Collision", she says she wishes she didn't have to work. Sheldon then convinces President Siebert to remove Amy from her project, which naturally makes her very upset.
  • Rousing Speech: In "The VCR Illumination", Sheldon had taped one as a child for his older self. Unfortunately, his father taped over it. However, later in the tape there's a video of George Sr. giving his team a pep talk. It was this speech, not the one he made for himself, that ends up motivating Sheldon.
  • Running Gagged: In the finale the elevator in the building is finally fixed.
  • Schedule Fanatic: Sheldon, as usual. In the season premiere, Amy argues about him scheduling marital sex with each other.
  • Sexiled: Stuart brings home Denise and retreats to his room, putting on background music. Howard and Bernadette are not accustomed to that kind of situation and not sure what to do about it, and end up just holding hands in terror.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Bernadette encourages Howard to audition for the Magic Castle in the episode "The VCR Illumination". Howard does try out at the end of the episode, but he botches it when his attempt at magic trick ends with him accidentally breaking the Rolex he borrows from his audition judge for said magic trick.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: After winning a Nobel Prize Amy is caught off guard by the media attention, and seeing her picture all over the internet she never realized how frumpy she looked normally. Raj helps her out with a wardrobe and hairstyle makeover, which was a shocking transformation.
  • Spanner in the Works: When Amy and Sheldon hand over the proof of Dr. Pemberton plagiarizing Barry Kripke's thesis late in "The Plagiarism Schism" with the intention of not sabotaging Drs. Campbell and Pemberton, the discovery of said plagiarism proof nevertheless causes the saboteur effect anyway due to Campbell's anger that Pemberton's plagiarism could jeopardize Campbell's own career and, in the ensuing argument between Campbell and Pemberton, Pemberton discovers that Campbell is sleeping with Pemberton's ex-wife, which results in them brawling and Campbell exposing Pemberton's plagiarism later on.
  • Swear Jar: During Wil Wheaton's Dungeons & Dragons game in "The D&D Vortex".
    Wil Wheaton: Okay, where were we?
    William Shatner: I was about to go all "Wrath of Khan" on the ogres.
    Kevin Smith: Oh, man, that's it. Put another dollar in the Star Trek jar, Bill.
    William Shatner: Worth it!
  • Take a Third Option:
    • Leonard is put in charge of deciding who to give excess grant money to in "The Grant Allocation Derivation". Instead of choosing one of three eligible recipients (Raj, Kripke and a woman working with crows), he uses the grant money on himself and gets a high-powered laser. That way instead of at least two people hating him, all three hate him but he at least gets a laser for himself.
    • When Penny convinces Leonard to be more assertive in "The Decision Reverberation", Leonard makes decisions with the assertion that Penny approves, culminating in him demanding President Siebert in their meeting to approve of a plasma physics project idea, or he quits if his demand isn't met. In the end, his demand isn't met, but he's not quitting, either — Siebert gives him co-leadership over a photon entanglement project, which Leonard accepts.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Played for Laughs in "The VCR Illumination" when Leonard, Penny, Sheldon, and Amy give a Viking Funeral (see below). Amy expresses doubt about its safety, so Leonard assures her that it IS safe, since it's in a bathtub filled with water. Barely a second after Leonard's statement, the curtains are set on fire, prompting the "funeral attendants" to throw bathtub water at the curtains to put out the fire.
    • In the finale, Amy changing her look was the last straw for Sheldon, who was overwhelmed with all the changes in his life. Just as he says "I can't take anymore!", there's a ding and the elevator doors open with Penny inside, marveling at how they finally fixed it.
  • The Un-Reveal: "The VCR Illumination" revolved around a tape Sheldon made for himself as a kid in case he ever needed motivation. Young Sheldon's advice to Older Sheldon was taped over with a football game by his father at the most crucial moment.
  • Viking Funeral: Given to Sheldon and Amy's Super Asymmetry theory paper. Rather than a boat on the sea with a flaming arrow, it's a cake pan on a bathtub with a lighter. It sets the curtains on fire.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot:
    • Done with Sheldon throwing up on William Shatner in "The D&D Vortex". The Cold Open shows the scene leading up to it, then cuts to the guys watching a video of it on a phone, followed by the sound of Sheldon vomiting.
    • This happens to Penny during the final episode. The fish she consumes in the hotel doesn't seem to mesh well with her, and the scene of the next day opens with the shot of the empty hotel bedroom and the sound of Penny vomiting in the bathroom, while Leonard tries to help her through it.
    Leonard: I guess we'll be staying.
  • Write Who You Know: In-Universe. Bernadette overhears Howard tell Halley a story about how he was scared of the dark while at the ISS and writes it down as "The Scared Little Astronaut". She has Stuart illustrate it and a publisher friend of his wants to sell it. Unfortunately, Howard isn't keen on having that part of him made public and wants to rewrite it as him fighting aliens.
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