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  • Faint in Shock: Sheldon tends to faint when he can't process the stimulus his brain is receiving; for example, when his hero Steven Hawking points out an arithmetic error in a paper Sheldon wrote.
  • Fake Crossover: The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson did a Cold Opening where he was applying to be friends with the group, filled with quite a few character bits (Raj didn't like his accent) and Self-Deprecation. Craig later interviewed Johnny Galecki that same night.
    Sheldon: It was a humorous conceit on the violation of the fourth wall and I did NOT care for it.
  • Fake High: In one episode Raj starts hitting on Summer Glau (and skillfully at that), until Howard points out the beer he had been drinking was non-alcoholic, and he can't continue.
  • Fake Shemp: In-universe use. Penny is the protagonist of the (fictional) B-Movie Serial Ape-ist 2: Monkey See, Monkey Kill. But she is fired after shooting the last scene featuring her human face. The director plans to replace her with another actress, who will wear a gorilla mask. The mask includes blonde hair to make it look like Penny.
  • Fanservice Faux Fight: The (fictional) B-Movie Serial Ape-ist features a pillow fight between Penny's character and her sorority sisters. It features "side butt" according to Raj, who clearly enjoyed the Fanservice.
  • Fast-Forward Gag: Played with; when the main characters buy a Time Machine replica, they pretend they're moving in fast forward.
  • Fate Worse than Death: In a purely silly sense, it's taking care of Sheldon when he's sick, or if someone aside from Leonard drives him to work. Or sits in his spot or changes his schedule.
  • "Fawlty Towers" Plot:
    • Subverted in an episode where the lie works perfectly, but Sheldon overcomplicates it when he notices minute flaws in it. The lie never actually falls apart.
    • Subverted in "The Recombination Hypothesis" Leonard ended up having to explain to Sheldon why he was returning to the apartment at 3 in the morning, when Sheldon was getting out of the bathroom. The real reason was Penny dragged Leonard over to her apartment to have sex and start seeing each other again, but Leonard didn't want to tell Sheldon about it. So it slowly got more and more implausible as Sheldon poked holes into the explanation, until Leonard actually had some evidence to back up his claim (an asthma inhaler brought up in the previous scene).
  • FBI Agent: Angela Page is an FBI agent who was sent to investigate if Howard is suitable for top-level security clearance. She interviewed his friends about his past.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: In-universe and Played for Laughs. When Leonard is invited to see the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland on Valentine's Day and insists on making it a romantic holiday with Penny, instead of taking Sheldon as was agreed to in the Roommate Agreement, Sheldon is very angry and plays a driving game with him called "Traitors" where he names three historical traitors and Leonard is to put them in the order of the magnitude of their treachery. First round: Benedict Arnold, Judas, and Dr. Leonard Hofstadter. When Leonard protests against being included in the same category as these men, Sheldon even hints that Judas ranks somewhere below Leonard.
    • When talking about the horrible things that would happen at his birthday parties, Sheldon confessed to Penny with great anguish that he got a motorized dirtbike instead of a titanium centrifuge. Sheldon simply could not understand what child would like such a gift, and was genuinely perplexed when Penny said that most kids would love it.
  • Femme Fatale Spy: Joyce Kim, as portrayed in "The Staircase Implementation." She was a North Korean spy who seduced Leonard in an attempt to learn about his research.
  • 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.
  • Fight for the Last Bite:
    • The episode "The Dumpling Paradox" gets its name for a scene in which the guys minus Howard, who is dating one of Penny's friends, are eating at a Chinese restaurant and debate what to do with the leftover dumpling.
    • In "The Lizard-Spock Expansion", the guys play Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock to see who gets the last dumpling. They all draw Spock.
    • In one episode, Sheldon mentions that in Thai culture, the last morsel of food is reserved for the most important person. He reaches for it, but Penny beats him to it and says "Thank you for this high honor."
  • First Kiss:
    • Sheldon gets one from a drunken Amy. It's mostly awkward for both of them.
    • Sheldon received one earlier from a drunk Mrs. Hofstader. No one really wants to talk about it after the fact.
    • Leonard gets his first one from Penny when he came back from the Arctic.
      Howard: Dammit, I should have gone over to tell her we were back.
      Raj: Yeah, because it was first come, first served.
  • First Rule of the Yard: Parodied when Sheldon Cooper - a character who might otherwise be thought to be vulnerable - is briefly imprisoned. Thrown into a holding cell, he is appraised by the other inmates in a way that he is oblivious to and which might not augur well if played for drama. Instead, Sheldon glares at the big, hard, tough looking con in the place nearest the door and says "You're in my spot". Figuring that anyone that harmless-looking who is willing to get in his face must be a real maniac psycho, the tough-looking con surrenders the spot. Sheldon is unmolested.
  • Five-Man Band: Done through Conversational Troping, Sheldon has grouped the cast into his own Star Trek-based version and crossing over into the Command Roster.
    Sheldon: If you fail at this relationship, and history suggests you will, then we risk losing the medical officer our landing party has always needed.
    Leonard: What landing party?
    Sheldon: You're Kirk, I'm Spock, Wolowitz is Scotty, Koothrappali is the guy who always gets killed [looking at Leonard's doctor girlfriend at the time] and now we've got McCoy.
  • Flanderization:
    • Sheldon started off as slightly more neurotic and less interested in socializing than Leonard, but quickly grew to where his Neat Freak and Schedule Fanatic traits were more dominant. In addition his disinterest in socializing was eventually explained, in part, by his Asexuality.
    • Raj started off just as nerdy as the rest, his primary quirk being so shy he couldn't speak in front of women and a few jokes around him being a Funny Foreigner. His shyness and the Homoerotic Subtext in his relationships with the guys (since he rarely talks to women) eventually grew into him being Ambiguously Gay with a lot of Innocent Innuendo, and very rarely is there not a joke about him being the Token Minority. Despite being unable to speak to women except when drunk, Raj is initially portrayed as the most likely of the guys to get girls — for example, Raj is the only one of Sheldon's friends that Missy is actually attracted to — but this is gradually phased out, so that by Season 6 he's terrible with women even when he can speak to them; even when he started dating a woman more socially awkward than him, he scared her away, and when they ended the season by showing him able to talk to women while sober, up.
    • Bernadette, when she was first introduced, was very nice and polite, though rather ditzy. Occasionally the writers would have her say something uncharacteristically mean or violent, the joke being that because she was normally so sweet, seeing her act that way was funny. As the show went on though, these outbursts became more and more common, and the Bernadette of later seasons is a very short-tempered and competitive person. The ditzy aspect of her personality was dropped, probably to differentiate her more from Penny, and she eventually Hand Waved it by saying she initially acted dumb to make her boyfriend Howard feel smart.
    • Penny undergoes a bit of Flanderization as the series goes on. Initially, though clearly not as smart as the geeks next door, she is presented as fairly intelligent, but later in the series she gets dumbed down some, most noticeably when contrasting the season two episode where Penny makes hair accessories and is competently gluing them together, while by season seven, there is an episode where she's incapable of using glue without getting it stuck all over herself. She is also a very competent waitress initially, but dialogue later in the show implies that she is actually terrible - although curiously, there is no onscreen evidence of this change.
    • Leonard a bit. For one thing, Penny is initially very impressed with his bedroom skills, once commenting that he really is a genius after he does something in particular (he admits he Googled how to do it, but that's not a bad thing), but remarks crop up in later seasons suggesting he's a mediocre lover at best.
  • Fleeting Passionate Hobbies: Sheldon after losing his job. One of them has him at a loom.
    Leonard: This one is particularly disturbing.
    • Brought back in season 4, Leonard does say that he got good at it and made them matching serapes.
      Raj: "I still wear mine when there's a nip in the air."
  • Flipping the Bird:
    • Played with. After Sheldon made an insult about Wolowitz's robotic arm, he gave it a command and it held up the peace sign, which confused Sheldon and Howard tries fixing the code.
    • Sheldon once quoted the Rubiyat to Penny after she made him miss an autograph signing with Creator, explaining that it was too late to make reparations. Penny, confused, thought he was giving her the finger
      Sheldon: "The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on."
      Penny: Did he just somehow give me the finger?
    • In one episode, on a road trip, Sheldon irritates Howard over a walkie talkie to the point that Howard flips him off off-camera in the car ahead
      Sheldon: Radio contact is sufficient, no need to extend your middle finger.
    • Sheldon is upset about Leonard coming home early and not telling him in favor of spending the extra time with Penny. He keeps up this running thing about how whatever Leonard says or does, he means the opposite. Leonard says he's not going to drive Sheldon to work because he's being annoying? "You're driving me to work because I'm delightful." Then Leonard walks off screen:
      Sheldon: I assume the other four fingers are extended.
  • Food and Animal Attraction: In one episode, Sheldon is chased by a vicious dog because it can smell the hot dogs Sheldon was hiding in his pants.
  • Food Coma: Very common after a meal at Howard's house, as his mom is a Supreme Chef who specializes in briskets, roasts, casseroles, and other comfort foods, and happily feeds her son and all his friends until they're stuffed. Soon after she dies, a power outage forces Howard and Bernadette to either throw out all the food she had saved in the freezer... or invite their friends over, warm the food up in the gas stove, and enjoy her cooking one last time. In a moment that is both funny and heartwarming, the last scene shows all the main characters collapsed around the living room, completely ready to fall asleep from all the carbs they ate.
  • Forgot to Pay the Bill: Penny asks if she can watch TV in Sheldon and Leonard's apartment because there's nothing but static on her TV. Howard asks if she paid her cable bill and Penny says, "Ugh, you sound just like the cable company."
  • Formerly Fit: In "The Cooper Extraction," several What If? scenarios are depicted. Two of them revolve around this trope. In the first, 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. In the other, Leonard moves in with Raj. They both let themselves go, ending up morbidly obese. Stuart turns up as their only friend and also morbidly obese.
  • Foreshadowing: In the "The Jerusalem Duality" Dennis Kim points out that Sheldon's long-term string theory research is a dead end. This foreshadows the events of "The Relationship Diremption", where Sheldon finds out his string theory research is going nowhere.
    • In the "The 21-Second Excitation" Amy and Bernadette inform Penny that she could lose Leonard due to her decision to break up with him because another girl could realise he's "a great guy". This is an instant foreshadowing of "The Cohabitation Formulation" where Leonard begins to date Raj's sister, Priya much to Penny devastation and heartbreak.
    • At the end of "The Roommate Transmogrification" Penny leaves Sheldon and Leonard's apartment saying "it's not what it looks like" after waking up in bed with Raj. In the following episode, Raj reveals that he and Penny didn't actually have sex and just fell asleep.
    • In the "The Decoupling Fluctuation" Penny expresses doubts whether she truly loves Leonard as her passion for him is "boring" compared to her previous relationships. This foreshadows "The Holographic Excitation," where Penny's passion for Leonard is reignited again and culminates in her telling him she loves him later on.
    • In the "The Anything Can Happen Recurrence" The psychic tells Sheldon to give himself to his relationship with Amy and that once he does all his other pursuits will come into focus. Once Sheldon and Amy are preparing to get married, he gets inspired by Amy for his Asymmetric String Theory that results in both of them winning a Nobel Prize.
    • After discovering his big scientific discovery in "The Romance Resonance", was based on a blunder, Sheldon hates all the attention he receives since the team who discovered a new element based on his research shouldn't have, This foreshadows "The Discovery Dissipation" where Leonard ends up disproving Sheldon's discovery.
  • For Science!
    Leonard: You put ground-up moth in my food?!
    Sheldon: For Science!!
  • Four-Man Band: Even lampshaded when Sheldon determined the roles of this trope.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sheldon (choleric, minus the charisma), Leonard (phlegmatic), Raj (melancholic), and Howard (sanguine).
  • Fourth Wall: A literal example in Season 8 episode "The Colonization Application." While watching Sheldon's video application, we see the fourth wall of the boys' apartment for the first time.
  • Freaky Fashion, Mild Mind: Alice from "The Good Guy Fluxuation" was a female geek (very rare on the show) and dressed in a combination of punk rocker and goth, along with a noticeable tattoo on her chest and a wide assortment of piercings. She turned out to be really friendly and well-mannered in addition to her geeky passions.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Howard's mother, never actually seen before on the show, can be seen from above in the zoom out from Howard's wedding in the Season 5 Finale.
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • Averted by Raj, when he decides to be a douche for no apparent reason on the penultimate episode of season 4.
      Raj (amused): You'd think it's because my parents didn't love me, but actually they loved me a great deal.
    • The reason why Leonard is so needy in relationships, likely comes from the fact that his mother maintains a cold detachment from him and treats him as more like a test-subject. His need for intimacy resulted in him building a hugging machine as a child. The worst part is, his father used to borrow it.
  • Freudian Trio:
    • Confirmed by Word of God, the Penny/Leonard/Sheldon relationship was designed to be like this. Sheldon is The Spock, who represents "logic" and the aspirations of science over all else. Penny is The McCoy, who represents "emotion" and the promise of a full life to experience. Leonard is The Kirk, who is torn between those two worlds.
    • Amy incidentally describes the trope when depressed and analyzing her relationship with Bernadette and Penny, but done in her own neurobiology terms. Penny is the creative and spontaneous right half of the brain while Bernadette is the scientific and analytical other half. Amy is the one of the group caught between the two halves, but her comparison comes out to her being a tumor.
  • Fridge Logic/Fridge Horror: In-universe, Raj's specialty is pointing this out, such as remarking that, since zombies only eat living brains, they would ultimately run out of food, but, being undead, cannot starve to death, leading one to wonder why they need brains in the first place. Or that, on Pandora, their ponytail is "like their junk, right?" and so, if one is a pterodactyl or a horse, one ought to be very nervous around James Cameron. For meta/fan examples, see this page
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Sheldon. Holy crap, Sheldon. He acknowledges this himself at times.
    Sheldon: "Those are traits associated with a psychopath."
    Leonard: "Are you worried about me killing you in your sleep?"
    Sheldon: "No, I imagine if you were to do so you would have done it years ago."
    • In an episode with Arthur Jeffries, he persistently asks Leonard on why he was friends with Sheldon. Leonard kind of dodged the question because he wasn't sure himself, but once he got a chance to think about it he explains that Sheldon is tough to deal with but can be a really good friend. They grew up with a similarly bullied and ostracized childhood, like many of the same things and Sheldon does appreciate how patient and helpful Leonard is with him, and that he needed Sheldon in his life more than he would like to admit.
    • Howard is like this to a different level. Him and Sheldon rather explicitly don't get along, and even Leonard is sometimes put off by his sex-mania. Penny is rather hostile towards him, softening up a little by the third season but doesn't seem to really like or respect him until the sixth.
  • Friendship Moment: With regularity. They like to prank each other and often don't get along, but all the guys came from the geek end of the social pool and so they've banded together really tight. Sheldon, in particular, did not have many friends growing up and when the moment comes he is very grateful for the friends he has. This happened as early as the second episode, where Penny freaked out over a violation of privacy (Sheldon cleaned her apartment while she was sleeping). After thinking it over she forgave them, and even told Leonard everything was okay when he came over to apologize.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Played with, in that Penny being in Perpetual Poverty is a part of her character. In fact more questions are brought up in how and why a struggling actress living on tips from waitressing can afford an apartment next to a couple of collegiate physicists. It's not as bad as it could be, since they aren't living in a luxury New York suite, but a smaller building with a broken elevator in Pasadena. Unlike other examples of this trope, rent issues are relatively common. Penny has had to leave work from time to time because of the guys, and she always points out that losing a day's pay is not helpful.
  • Friends with Benefits: Discussed, with Sheldon not really understanding the concept. "What exactly does that expression mean, 'Friends with Benefits?' Does he provide her with health insurance?"
    Sheldon: Are you and Leonard "Friends With Benefits?"
    Penny: No! Did he say we were?
    Sheldon: Leonard said nothing, but who knows what goes on over here when he pretends your mail was misdelivered.
    Penny: What? Just mail, no benefits.note 
  • Full-Name Basis: Amy is often referred to by her full name, Amy Farrah Fowler.
  • Fun T-Shirt: There's even a website that keeps track of the characters' shirts and where you can buy them. In one episode, a gag was about Raj having a shirt with a speaker built into it. It could play everything from the Imperial March to the Final Jeopardy theme. You can get it here.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • In "The Bat Jar Conjecture" the guys decide to enter the university's Physics Bowl and have a debate on what to name their team. Sheldon prefers the Army Ants while Howard suggests Perpetual Motion Squad. Later, Sheldon has a fallout with the others and actually enters the Physics Bowl against them... so it's AA vs. PMS.
    • Sheldon's suggestion for the name of Leonard's iPhone app.
      "Suprisingly Helpful Equation Link Differential Optimise Numerator"
  • Fun with Subtitles: Howard knows sign language. He's a terribly lazy translator.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: When Howard's mother got on his nerves (which happened constantly), he'd frequently joke about her having "that coronary I've been hoping for", or waiting until "her heart explodes from all the salt she eats". When she actually dies from a massive heart attack, it makes those jokes all seem a lot harsher.
  • Funny Background Event: In "The Financial Permeability," Raj runs to the bathroom after Penny yells at him, with Howard explaining that stress gives him a nervous bladder. He later comes back just as Penny starts yelling at Sheldon — then turns tail and runs back.
  • Fuzz Therapy:
    • In early season one episode "The Fuzzy Boots Corollary," Leonard pines after Penny, his attractive newly-moved-in neighbour, and he sees her kissing another guy which gets him depressed. He tries to date someone else, but it doesn't work out. He starts listening to sad emo music and wants to get a cat. He gets a scratching post and starts thinking about names. He doesn't get the cat in the end as he invited Penny for a date (though she doesn't realize it was a romantic gesture).
      Leonard: I know what youre thinking, I've taken your asthma into account. There’s a feline geneticist in San Diego who has developed the cutest little hypo-allergenic calicos. I've been thinking about names, I'm kind of torn between Einstein, Newton and Sergeant Fuzzy Boots.
      Sheldon: Leonard, do you really think you can satisfy your need for a relationship with a genetically altered cat?
      Leonard: Maybe, if it's a cute little cuddly cat.
    • When Sheldon breaks up with Amy for an episode, he gets about a half dozen cats, whom he plays with affectionately. He denies that he's compensating for the loss of Amy's companionship. When they get back together, he "sells" the cats (actually gives money to people to take them).
    • Related in thought: whenever Sheldon feels sick or depressed, he asks Penny to come over and sing a song called "Soft Kitty" to him. It was a song that him mom sang to him when he was sick as a kid.
      Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur
      Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr, purr, purr

  • Gallows Humor: In "The Cooper Extraction" Howard is helping decorate a Christmas tree. It is mentioned his mother would likely die at the sight of it. Bernadette agrees and they take photos of Howard.
  • Gamer Chick: Penny isn't a gamer, but in S1 Ep 07, "The Dumpling Paradox", she fills in for Howard for the guys' Halo night, and the first time she picks up an Xbox controller, she manages to outclass all of them on her first try. And yes, the guys are 30-year-old geeks who play Halo religiously. However, considering Penny's more rounded characterization, this is surely less Positive Discrimination and more Rule of Funny.
    Penny: (As Sheldon tries to leave for his bedroom) Wait, wait! Sheldon, come back! You forgot something!
    Sheldon: What?
    Penny: This plasma grenade! (Sound of large explosion) Ha! Look! It's raining YOU!
    • Sheldon clearly doesn't believe in this trope.
      Sheldon: I don't know how, but she is cheating. Nobody can be that attractive and this skilled at a video game.
    • S2 Ep 03, "The Barbarian Sublimation," also has Penny getting addicted to Age of Conan.
  • Geek Physique: Both Sheldon and Howard are very skinny, and once Howard boasted of having 3% body fat (described by Raj as a "Human Chicken Wing"). Raj and Leonard are of average size (though there is a reason we rarely see Leonard barechested or in simple T-shirts, as Johnny Galecki is in pretty good shape). The only "geek" on the show who is overweight is the minor background character "Captain Sweatpants."
  • Geek Reference Pool: Averted. Their pool runs deep, although they seldom leave it.
  • Geeky Analogy: Most explanations of anything involving social conventions.
  • Geeky Turn-On: To be expected given the premise of the show. One episode had Raj and Sheldon together with Sheldon holding a Green Lantern Power Battery and it actually attracted the attention of a couple of girls, thinking it was cool. An unfortunate side-effect of this trope shows up when Leonard and Penny are together in bed and Penny references a line from Star Wars and even knew the exact movie. Leonard was so excited being with her in that moment he said a premature "I Love You" and it caused a storm of awkwardness that lead to them breaking up.
    • When dating, Penny suggested that she and Leonard make out on Sheldon's spot on the couch. This was seen as quite a taboo thing to do.
    • Amy figured that she could best assimilate herself as a romantic interest to Sheldon by influencing him with all the things that he loves. Thus they have a romantic evening with music from Super Mario Bros., Strawberry Nesquik and spaghetti with hot dogs cut up in it. Sheldon surprised himself with how well it was working, and the subplot ended with Amy dressed up as Nurse Chapel and "playing doctor" with Sheldon Star Trek-style.
    • "The Holographic Excitation" had Penny admit to Bernadette and Amy that she really did not understand what Leonard does as an experimental physicist. After some prodding she surprised him at work and asked to see some of his experiments. When he gave her a short presentation musing on a theory of the universe she was awestruck and said "Sometimes I forget how smart you are." They ended up fooling around in his lab and apparently repeated the pattern of science project/sex over the next few days.
    • "The Egg Salad Equivalency" ends with Penny revealing she bought a pair of nerd glasses in order to invoke this. Leonard's skeptical at first... and then she puts them on.
      Penny: Molecules.
      Leonard: Oh my god you look so smart and hot!
  • Genetic Memory: In the (fictional) B-Movie Serial Ape-ist 2: Monkey See, Monkey Kill, a Mad Scientist clones his deceased LoveInterest from her DNA. Her DNA gets accidentally mixed with that of the Killer Gorilla that killed her. The clone is a Half-Human Hybrid. She seems to have the memories and personality of the human original, along with with the killer urges of the gorilla.
  • Genre Savvy: Penny manipulates Sheldon into re-rolling dice by pointing out "Doubles. Roll again."
  • Gift of Song: Howard writes a song for his future wife Bernadette as a present for the anniversary of their first date. He recruits the rest of the friends to accompany him on various instruments, but trouble arises when Bernadette, a microbiologist, ends up stuck in quarantine due to potential exposure to a virus. Howard then rallies the group to perform the song outside of Bernadette's hospital room instead, and she's moved to tears by the gesture.
  • Gilligan Cut: The Nerdvana Annihilation
    Sheldon: "I still don't understand why no one else bid on the (what he thinks is a miniature) time machine." (Switch to the foursome standing around the recently delivered full-size time machine) "I understand why no one else bid on the time machine."
    • "Fish Guts Displacement" has Howard asking Leonard and Raj if they knew how to fish, which they laughed over. Howard then asked "Who are we going to find that knows how to do this kind of manly stuff?" Cut to the guys at Penny's door, who opens wearing an oversized T-shirt and eating a slice of cold pizza. "What?"
  • Girlfriend in Canada: Amy Farrah Fowler admits she once told her family she had a boyfriend who was a miniature horse breeder. The lie unraveled when she was asked where they met. She panicked and said "Woodstock."
  • Girl Next Door: Penny, in both senses of the word.
  • Girl of the Week: The nerds do have such type of girls in their lives:
    • Dr. Elizabeth Plimpton slept with both Leonard and Raj, and tried to seduce Howard.
    • Mrs. Latham, a wealthy older woman, slept with Leonard.
    • Alice, a comic book artist, dated Leonard.
    • Joy, a fitness fanatic, dated Leonard.
    • Lalita Gupta, a dental student, dated both Raj and Sheldon.
    • Ramona Nowitzki, a graduate student, was attracted to Sheldon and temporarily grew close to him.
    • Martha dated Sheldon.
    • Mikayla, a Las Vegas prostitute, gave howard the "girlfriend experience."
    • Christy Vanderbel dated Howard and briefly moved in with him.
    • Lisa, an unseen character, dated Howard.
    • Bethany, a Goth girl, dated Howard.
    • Glisinda the Troll was an avatar in World of Warcraft that Howard had cybersex with. Though "she" might count as a Guy Of The Week. According to Leonard, Glisinda is actually Steve Patterson. Who Howard recognizes as "the greasy old fat guy in Facilities Management."
    • Abby dated Raj.
    • Angela was a girl briefly smitten with Raj. Though his drunken antics caused her to run away.
    • Emily, a deaf woman, dated Raj.
    • Siri was a more unusual case. She was the "feminine computerized voice command personal assistant" of his iPhone. Raj grew infatuated with the voice.
    • Yvette, Raj's veterinarian, was attracted to him and passed on her phone number. Leaving open the possibility of a date.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot:
    • Averted, when a very tipsy Amy gave Penny a mouth kiss ("Give me some sugar, Bestie") it was not only very underplayed but Penny even gave an embarrassed laugh after it happened. In addition, there wasn't any rising laughter by the Laugh Track.
    • A similarly understated moment happens when Penny and Bernadette discuss the awkward things Amy likes to talk about with them such as painting fertility symbols on Bernadette's naked body as being a wedding ritual. The guys noticeably quiet down after they say that, with Raj in particular (being silent anyway) subtly staring off into space.
  • Give Geeks a Chance: As the show has continued it has actually started poking holes into this trope with the relationship between Leonard and Penny. Both are worried that the other will grow tired of the other, Leonard for the fact Penny is so much more attractive than him and Penny for the massive intellectual gap between them. Then the show tries putting it back together showing both Penny trying to understand his work and Leonard dealing with his insecurities.
  • Godzilla Threshold: In one episode involving a war between Sheldon and Penny, Leonard gives Penny what is more or less (as he described it) Sheldon's kryptonite. His justification for doing so is that it would "cut five years off the war and save millions of lives." Said kryptonite being the phone number of Sheldon's mother.
  • Gold Digger: Raj's Disabled Love Interest lets him shower her with many, many gifts. Penny also muses that Raj is hotter now that she knows he's rich.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The foam in Kripke's office was supposed to be a prank on just Kripke, Sheldon didn't expect it to fall on the president of the university and the board of directors.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Very much Depending on the Writer, Sheldon, who combines this with Jerk with a Heart of Gold and Innocently Insensitive.
  • "Good Luck" Gesture: In "The Holographic Excitation," Stuart says to Raj that he tries to use Halloween parties as means of meeting women. He crosses fingers and says: "The ninth is the charm." Hang in there, buddy!
  • Goofy Print Underwear: On one episode Howard talks Leonard and Raj into being his wingman at a bar. They all change out of their standard Superhero symbol boxer shorts .... just in case.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: Sheldon when drunk at Howard's bachelor party starts saying "Jeepers!"
    Leonard: Whoa, its a little early to be dropping J-Bombs, don't you think?
  • Goth: Bethany and Sarah, two goth girls that Howard and Raj met at a goth nightclub. Both men were also dressed as goths at the time. Bethany was close to agreeing to have sex with Howard. She was disgusted when she found out Howard was only a poser.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: Almost mentioned by name.
    Sheldon: Oh gravity thou art a heartless bitch.
  • Gray-and-Grey Morality: In "The Speckerman Recurrence," Penny, Bernadette and Amy have a change of heart after nearly taking clothes from a donation bin. Bernadette goes back for suede boots, screaming her justification, "It's OK, I serve soup to poor people!"
  • Greens Precede Sweets:
    • In "The 21-Second Excitation," Raj defends his ordering dessert at the Cheesecake Factory which causes his friends to be late for the movie showing. Raj asserts to Sheldon that he ate all his broccoli!
    • In "The Einstein Approximation," Sheldon, obsessed by a physics problem, steals Raj's lima beans to use as part of an atomic model to study particle physics better. Raj protests, saying that he can't have his cookie if he doesn't eat the beans first.
  • Greeting Gesture Confusion: Used a few times by Sheldon:
    • At one point, Leonard tries to give him a fist bump. Sheldon just kind of looks Leonard's fist before grabbing it and turning it into awkward fist bump/handshake combo.
    • In another episode Sheldon assumes that because Mrs. Davis is black she'll want to do an elaborate school yard handshake with him instead of shaking hands normally. She just looks at him after he finishes jumping around and says "I'm going to pretend that didn't happen."
    • Barry Kripke attempted a fist bump with Sheldon who just grabbed his fist and shook it awkwardly.
  • Groin Attack: Sheldon's sister's method of keeping Sheldon in line.
    • Penny administers one to the guy who hacked Sheldon's World of Warcraft account in "The Zarnecki Incursion."
    • Howard sets Leonard up with a date that knows 100 ways to rip a guy's nuts off. She's not shy about demonstrating them in a restaurant.
    • Penny threatens Amy with this in one episode after the latter accidentally hits her in the nose. This is after Amy had gotten a bikini wax for the first time.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: Leonard shooting himself in the shoe. Penny clears the pistol, then inserts a magazine, but does not actually load it, making it impossible for Leonard to have shot himself.

  • Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: In the flashback episode late in season three, Leonard had long, wavy locks, Howard had a Jewish Afro and Raj had something of a mullet. Sheldon was the only one with the same hair-style, and with the exception of Howard their current looks are big improvements.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: In the film Serial Ape-ist Penny's character is killed by a Killer Gorilla. In the sequel Serial Ape-ist 2: Monkey See, Monkey Kill, a Mad Scientist uses her DNA to clone her and bring her back to life. But her DNA gets mixed with that of the Killer Gorilla, resulting in her coming back as a human-gorilla hybrid. As seen in scenes depicting her, the hybrid retains most of Penny's features but has "gorilla hands and feet." She has also inherited the killer urges of the gorilla, and slowly transforms into a full gorilla. According to the director, it is important to the story that her breasts are the last human feature to transform.
  • Halloween Cosplay: The group, plus Penny's then-current boyfriend Zach dress up as the Justice League of America for a costume contest.
  • Hard on Soft Science
    Amy: If your friends are unconvincing, this year’s donations might go... say, the geology department.
    Sheldon: Oh dear, not the dirt people!
    Amy: Or worse, it could go to... the liberal arts.
    Sheldon: No.
    Amy: Millions of dollars being showered on poets, literary theorists and students of gender studies.
    Sheldon: Oh, the Humanities!
  • Harp of Femininity: Amy. Despite her femininity being...well, Amy Farrah-Fowler.
  • Have You Tried Rebooting? Joked about in "The Einstein Approximation." Sheldon is acting even crazier than usual because he is attempting to solve a difficult physics problem and losing sleep over it.
    Howard: Have you tried rebooting him?
    Leonard: No, I think it's a firmware problem.
    • Done for real in "The Robotic Manipulation" to have the robot arm release Howard's penis.
  • Headdesk:
    Sheldon: Why is Leonard softly banging his head against his bedroom door?
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Invoked in-universe with none other than Debbie Wolowitz, Howard's mom. One episode sees the guys visiting Howard at his house and watching Wheel of Fortune together. Howard then demonstrates his mother's amazing ability: he gives her the category, length of the words, and the first two or so letters guessed for each puzzle, and she instantly solves them all. Even Sheldon is impressed by this "superpower," which is all the more impressive because Mrs. Wolowitz, as an Unseen Character, is correctly figuring out the puzzles without seeing them.
  • Heartbreak and Ice Cream: Raj Bookends a brief relationship with a Disabled Love Interest by comforting himself first with pie then with cheesecake.
    • In one early episode Penny is seen eating an entire tub of ice cream while crying her eyes out due to a breakup.
  • Heel–Face Turn: In "The Russian Rocket Reaction," one of Sheldon's mortal enemies crosses himself off of Sheldon's list.
  • Height Angst: Leonard is always complaining about how short he is, and is often mocked for it. Howard is also shorter than average and is made fun of for that, but Leonard is the only one who openly angsts about it.
  • Helium Speech: Kripke fills Sheldon's office with helium while the latter is on call for an NPR interview. The pitch of his voice increases throughout the entire interview.
  • Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue": The episode where Penny becomes addicted to Age of Conan everyone's characters were clearly named after them: Sheldon was Sheldor (The Conqueror), Penny was (Queen) Penelope and Howard was... Sir Howard of Wolowitz.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Our protagonists have dated a few redheads, Leonard with Stephanie (Sara Rue) and as of Season 8, Raj with Emily.
  • Heroic BSoD: Sheldon when he discovers that Leonard, Howard and Raj lied to him about the results of his experiments at the North Pole after he has already boasted about changing the face of physics to everyone, earning him a ton of ridicule when he has to print a retraction.
    • Then Penny's attempt to cheer him up, by comparing his situation to when Young Spock was teased for being half-Vulcan, leave him in further despair when he discovers even she has seen Star Trek (2009) before him.
    • A great example was the episode in which Sheldon gives his reasoning for hating gift-giving, in that he hates it because he always assigns a dollar value to any gift and does not want to feel like he is in someone's debt because they bought him a more expensive gift than he bought for the person. So, his solution for Penny is to go to a gift-basket store and buy a variety of baskets in various price ranges so he can reciprocate properly. Penny's gift to Sheldon? A signed, used napkin from Leonard Nimoy. When Sheldon realizes what she has given him, he goes to his bedroom and returns with all of the baskets. He has his BSOD moment when he thinks in his mind that what he has given to Penny does not even come close to her gift value-wise. He then gives Penny a hug!
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Sheldon in "The Skank Reflex Hypothesis."
    • "Geology is not a real science!" with Platoon-style "death."
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Howard and Raj argue like a married couple, and are generally paired together in team activities and usually serve as each other's "wingman." Leonard and Sheldon are a milder version, as Leonard can only stand Sheldon for limited periods of time.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Leonard, to the point where the government would have taken him away from his mother had they known about the psychological torments she put him through. Sheldon to a lesser extent, being more of a case of a loving family to which he was well out of step (as evidenced by his complaints about not receiving a titanium centrifuge as a child, as no child would want a dirt bike). Though all the male characters appear to have been regularly bullied in school.
    • Amy's mother had a Sin Closet—Amy could still see the TV through the slats, but still...
  • Hilarious Outtakes: You can only imagine the slip-ups that occur due to all of the terminology the characters throw around. Jim Parsons in particular had no end of trouble with the "Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock" explanation, just by the sheer length, the hand motions, timing and not letting the audience laughter throw him off.
    • For a treat to their studio audience they organized a Flash Mob, dancing to "Call Me Maybe" and other songs.
    • In preparing for another take the director went up to guest star Bob Newhart and gave him a laundry list of things he needed to reset and do. While he walked off set Newhart jokingly exclaimed "I'm 83! What the hell do you want from me!" which got an ovation from the cast and audience.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Zigzagged throughout the show:
    • Sheldon is a relatively straight example, as he is openly critical of his mother's Baptist religion, and Christianity in general. This can be attributed to being raised in the "Bible Belt" of Texas. Though he seems to zig-zag between atheist, agnostic and Nay-Theist Depending on the Writer.
    • Amy is a subversion of the trope. In her first episode, she remarks, "I don't object to the concept of a deity; however, I am baffled by the notion of one that takes attendance." This implies that she's an agnostic—someone who believes that the existence of God, or any higher power, cannot be definitely stated either way.
    • Raj fully averts it, as he frequently attends a Hindu temple (though not on screen). In "The Space Probe Disintegration," he and Howard talk about it. Howard seems to be a typical Hollywood Atheist, asking how Raj can possibly believe in deities as a scientist. Raj points out that several major scientists—including Newton, Blaise Pascal, Michael Faraday, and Einstein—were believers, and explains that he enjoys spending his time in temple, and remarks that the inherent connection between humans—whatever it's called—makes him feel as though a higher power is at work, and that brings him contentment.
    • Beverly Hofstadter is even worse than Sheldon, having open contempt for religion and religious people. Leonard's father, by contrast, is agnostic, but interested in religion and respectful to those who practice it.
  • Hostile Show Takeover: At one point in "The Valentino Submergence", Sheldon's special live Valentine's Day episode of Fun with Flags with viewer calls gets hijacked by Raj and Barry wanting to discuss their love lives with Amy instead. Frustrated by Amy essentially stealing the show, Sheldon calls this out and starts erasing words from the logo on the whiteboard — including his name (because he wasn't doing much), "Fun" (because it wasn't very fun anymore), and "Flags" (because flags were rarely being brought up), leaving "Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler present: (beat) With".
  • Hollywood Dateless: We are supposed to believe Leonard is awkward with women, and in a way, he is. However, his dating history includes many hot women — Penny, Dr. Stephanie, Joyce Kim, Leslie, and now Priya — so one has to wonder why would he think he is unlucky with women.
    • Also part of his rather obvious Character Development during the show is that he gets better around women thanks to spending time with Penny. Same with Howard. Averted with Raj, who still can't speak to women who aren't relatives without drugs.
      • Until Season 6, when Raj finally gets over his selective mutism after being dumped.
    • Add in that Joyce Kim was only trying to get government secrets from Leonard, Leslie was only using him, and Priya was ashamed of her relationship with him.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Type 1 is first played straight in the pilot where Leonard pines after Penny, and he and Sheldon get bullied and humiliated via Comedic Underwear Exposure trying to get her TV back from her stereotypically Jerk Jock ex-boyfriend. Later, we learn that scientists, academics, comic book geeks, and Wil Wheaton are perfectly capable of picking on each other without outside help.
    • It's also worth noting that both the male and female members of the main cast who are supposed to be nerds (Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, Raj, Amy, and Bernadette) are all attractive people. It really falls to the hair, makeup, and wardrobe departments to make the characters look unappealing, while the writers have tried to make it clear that their bad luck with the opposite sex is based on personality traits rather than their appearances. This photograph proves that when you replace the bowl haircuts, frumpy dresses, and formless sweatshirts with more stylish choices, you're dealing with a very good-looking group.
      • The crew didn't even really bother with Bernadette, who's played by Melissa Rauch. The best they could do in that case was glasses.
  • Hollywood Pudgy: Poked at when the guys managed to convince Penny and her date Zach to join them at a costume party as the Justice League of America. Penny got upset over things both overt and subtle and refused to go, and Sheldon tried to convince her to come by claiming to know why she was upset... that she thought she looked fat in the Wonder Woman costume. That was obviously not the reason she was upset (and clearly not the case in the show) but Penny then started to worry that maybe she did look fat... and Sheldon tried to "comfort" her saying it doesn't matter since Amazons were supposed to be "beefy gals."
    • Invoked again by Sheldon when, after Penny takes the last dumpling, supposedly one reserved for a guest of honor, he curtly tells her, "I've seen your mother. Keep eating." The downcast look on Penny's face says she really took that one to heart.
    • Averted as practically the poster child for the trope, Sara Rue, guest starred in a short story arc in season two as a Love Interest for Leonard (and briefly Howard). She is depicted as being exceptionally attractive and that Leonard was lucky to have her.
    • Invoked in "The Deception Verification" when Sheldon tells Amy to lay off the donuts since she and him will Cosplay as Popeye and Olive Oyl for Halloween, though it's more of the point that Olive Oyl is exceptionally skinny.
    • "The Closet Reconfiguration" has Bernadette mention that she hates that her pants look bigger when her scrawny husband wears them.
    • When Howard gets affected by estrogen, he becomes bloated and complains that he has to shop in the Men's department (as opposed to the children's).
    • Raj often complains about being pudgy, especially when cooking is involved. Kunal Nayyar is barely overweight.
  • Homoerotic Subtext:
  • Honesty Is the Best Policy: In "The Indecision Amalgamation" Raj ends up getting two dates, one from the redhead Emily and the other from his ex-girlfriend Lucy within a week of the other. Unable to cope with what he considers wrong, he tells Emily the truth and about how his relationship with Lucy never reached consummating it with sex. Noting she did know things could get weird on the date, she is smitten by his need for such a level of honesty, she continues the date with him and would have a few more. Averted with Lucy who didn't take the news well, but that wasn't seen.
  • Honey Trap: As found out through flashbacks, Joyce Kim. She was a North Korean agent who seduced Leonard to obtain information on his work for the American government. Fortunately, Sheldon caused the "relationship" to end before Leonard had a chance to reveal anything.
  • Hot Scientist:
    • In one episode, Bernadette has been picked as one of the fifty most beautiful female scientists in California for an article in a magazine.
    • Dr. Elizabeth Plimpton, a cosmological physicist and famous author. Played by the attractive Judy Greer.
  • Humans Are Bastards: So much so, it overlaps with Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy. A lot of strangers the friends come across are just horrible people in general, from Sheldon being repeatedly insulted by a clerk for asking a legit question if they have books on how to make friends, to the gang being taken advantage of and robbed on several occasions.
  • Humiliating Wager: The guys lose a bowling match and therefore have to show up at the comic book shop dressed as superheroines.
  • Humorless Aliens: Frequently referenced when people call Sheldon an alien, ask what planet he's from, etc.
  • Hybrid Monster: Sheldon mentions a desire to create a Griffin and a "Dog-topus". Mankind is thankful he hasn't... yet.
  • Hypocrite: Lampshaded. Leonard complains about a co-worker and stating how his achievements aren't so impressive. Said co-worker then comes over and asks if Leonard wants to help him with a project that Leonard is completely excited over. After the co-worker walks away his friends look at him.
    Leonard: What? Haven't you ever seen a hypocrite before?
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Sheldon runs into this frequently due to his complete lack of self-awareness.
      • He often expresses annoyance at being treated like a child, usually followed by a child-like response.
      • Sheldon claimed that Barry Kripke "lacks the basic social skills that we take for granted", accused Leonard of having Narcissistic Personality Disorder and when Howard refused to drive him home because he didn't want to use a hospital bathroom, Sheldon complained that friendship is not supposed to be "all give and no take".
      • Sheldon's claim that Leonard has NPD is delivered in the context of him discussing with Leonard's mother the NPD they think he has. This from a woman who doesn't see why her son should be upset that his parents are divorcing, because she's the one getting divorced, or why she might be happy about who her other son is marrying, because she isn't the one getting married. The irony could choke a horse.
      • Sheldon calls Kripke childish for having called dibs on Professor Rothman's now-vacant office... roughly thirty seconds after having done so himself. When Leonard points this out, Sheldon irritatedly tells him to "Shut it!"
      • Sheldon wake Leonard in the middle of the night, complaining of abdominal pain, which he puts down to cholera, mentioning a number of other improbable causes he's considered. Leonard suggests it's the more prosaic and likely appendicitis, and gets ready to take him to the hospital. Sheldon melodramatically assumes that he is dying; he then farts, and realizes it was digestive problems caused by the brussels sprouts he'd eaten. Sheldon then says, "Appendicitis. What a nervous Nelly."
    • When the guys buy a life sized time machine replica.
    Leonard: Sheldon, you can't be selfish. We all paid for it so it belongs to all of us. Now get out of the way so I can sit in my time machine.
    • While she is normally very sweet and bubbly, Bernadette once raked Raj over the coals for implying there was something between them:
      Raj: "You are always so nice to me. I thought maybe you liked me."
      Bernadette: "I'M NICE TO EVERYONE!!!"
    • When on a "non-date" as friends hanging out, Leonard and Penny argued over the things they hated doing together (Leonard doing karaoke at 2AM and Penny watching a documentary). But when trying to strike up a conversation with other people, they used those same things to make themselves seem more interesting.
    • When Sheldon points out that Hindu customs mean that Raj does get to say who Priya dates. Also that by disobeying it, she'd be "reborn as a jackal with many diseases". She counters that by eating beef, Raj would have to "live with a cow for several months and drink their urine".
      Raj: Some of it makes sense and some of it is crazy, the point is I forbid you to date Leonard!
    • Amy once said that Penny and Leonard are the strangest couple ever. While they have have some unusual quirks because of the massive educational gap between them, Amy and Sheldon's relationship is bound by a written contract.
    • The night Raj met Lucy. At the comic book store, Stuart is throwing a Valentine's Day party that isn't exactly going quite well, and Raj gives a speech to the rest of customers about how they shouldn't value themselves only for being dateless. Then Lucy talks to him about it and she agrees to go have a coffee with him... and when Raj already was on his way out, he turns around and shouts "Later, losers!".
  • Hypothetical Fight Debate:
    • One episode had the characters reworking the battle of Gettysburg with additional units ranging from real-world military units to Hindu gods.
    • There's a scene where the guys discuss the bravest person in the Marvel Universe.
    • The guys discuss an esoteric expansion set of their favorite card game and start to debate whether the White Witch or Billy the Kid would win a fight, and are persuaded to buy the cards to find out, telling themselves off for doing so.

  • I Call It "Vera": Bert has a saw named “Terry Bradsaw”.
  • I Choose to Stay: Amy's Time-Travel Romance Fan Fic uses this trope. Cooper is a time traveler from the 21st century, temporarily stranded in the 19th century. He has gained a love interest, Amelia, during his stay. He prepares to use his Time Machine to return to his own time period. But at the end, he can't bear leaving Amelia and chooses to stay. “There is no future without you".
  • I Have This Friend...: While Penny admits it's her own story, she tells Sheldon in "The Flaming Spittoon Acquisition" about how she never took the chance to tell a guy about her feelings for him until it was too late. It's fairly obvious to the audience she was talking about Leonard (the episode even shows her with signs of depression by drinking excessively) but Sheldon mistakes "the guy" she liked as being him, which she corrects him for.
    • Penny shared another story with Sheldon that was expressly not her, but a co-worker who was also an actress and got a toothpaste commercial she also auditioned for. With the details of "work at the cheesecake factory" and "fake blonde hair", Sheldon continually assumed it was really her, although the point of the story (being happy for a friend despite being jealous) would have been lost if it was.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Scattered around various episodes are claims of knowing how to perform a certain sport by practicing with video games. Sometimes not even that, Sheldon claims to know how to swim by practicing in the living room.
    • Inverted in that Sheldon claims to be good at archery on the Wii because his father taught him actual archery.
  • The "I Love You" Stigma: In a moment in bed, Penny quotes The Empire Strikes Back and Leonard told her he loved her. This led to a great deal of awkwardness because Penny wasn't expecting that and knew Leonard was waiting for a reply...
    • This comes up a second time in the sixth season when they start dating again and Raj finds out she's never said it to Leonard. When she was in an exasperated mood in "The 43 Peculiarity" she said "You know I love you, so could you please relax because you are driving me crazy!" and they both freeze as they realize what she said. When Leonard leaves for the summer at the end of the season, she instigates the "I love you" and he responds in kind.
    • An interesting contrast is shown during the time they were broken up, when Penny recruited Leonard to have gotten back together as a ploy against her dad. Leonard had a blast with the play acting and generally made Penny suffer for the idea, including a sugary "I love you" that forced Penny to say "I love you too" in order to keep up the deception. Because it was a sham there wasn't any repercussions for the phrase.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Penny drives Sheldon to work and he's concerned about her drinking coffee in the car:
    Sheldon: Studies have shown that performing tasks such as eating, talking on a cell phone or drinking coffee while driving reduces one’s reaction time by the same factor as an ounce of alcohol.
    Penny: Do you have any alcohol?
    Sheldon: Of course not.
    Penny: Too bad.
  • Informed Ability:
    • Beverly Hofstadter is referred to as being an award-winning psychiatrist and author, with Penny ended up with one of her textbooks for a psychology class and guest stars have mentioned hearing her name. In practice, while she is an adept psychoanalyst, she tends to force clinical analysis on people around her, insulting and abrasively mocking people around her before using psychological jargon to distance herself from the antagonism which she has created. Overall, she comes across as so cold, robotic, and overly analytical that it’s hard to see how she could be a good psychiatrist when she seems to see other humans as merely test subjects and will ask if they would be willing to have their brain scanned. The show generally plays this for laughs, given her cold relationship with Leonard despite being an expert on childhood development. She argues that parents should "focus on celebrating achievements" (which does not include birthdays), this is despite the fact that she is never actually shown congratulating Leonard for any accomplishment even if earned. This makes it even more hypocritical when she claims Leonard has an Oedipus Complex every time he tries to seek her approval. Eventually Leonard and Penny meet a psychologist who states that she doesn't approve of Beverly's conclusions.
  • I Owe You My Life: When Sheldon saved Leonard from the rocket fuel explosion that destroyed the elevator, the main reason Leonard lets Sheldon get away with as many demands as he does.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: When Leonard's mother claimed that Howard and Raj were in an "ersatz homosexual marriage", they are bothered by this... and instantly start arguing the point Like an Old Married Couple.
    • When Penny and Leonard had a fight, Sheldon goes to Penny to try and rectify the situation, only to end up confessing to her that Leonard is highly annoyed by some of her habits but has never told her because, according to Leonard, Penny "is overly sensitive and has a temper". Penny's response is to tell Sheldon to tell Leonard to drop dead.
    • Howard often responds to his mother's treating him like a child by reminding her that he is 26 years old. Followed by agreeing for her to bring him a Popsicle.
    • Also:
    Leonard: You're a big boy, you'll figure it out.
    Sheldon: Don't talk to me like I'm a child. Now take me to return my Star Wars sheets!
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!:
    • Subverted, when playing a 20 Questions game Raj managed to guess Leonard's item of C-3PO by saying "Does he look like a shiny Sheldon?" Sheldon perks up as Raj guesses correctly and appears at first miffed, only to say that he is flattered but doesn't see the resemblance.
    • In defense of having Amy around, Sheldon once listed off all the things he had to silently put up with having Penny around. Leonard didn't argue any of the things listed, but got rather upset with the "silently" part.
  • I Think You Broke Him: In one episode, Penny is giving Sheldon acting lessons, and they are acting out a Star Trek fanfic Sheldon wrote when he was 10. He is acting as his mother, and begins to improvise, relating it to his real life. When he breaks down and starts crying, Penny calls up his mother and says, "Mrs. Cooper? Hey, it's Penny. Yeah, I think I broke your son," and hands the phone to Sheldon. "Mommy, I love you!" *sobs* "Don't let Spock take me to the future!"
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
    • Penny breaking up with Leonard because she didn't want to hurt someone so vulnerable and inexperienced at long-term relationships. It was Wil Wheaton who planted the idea in her head just to win a bowling match (or let Sheldon think he had just to screw with him), but that doesn't, necessarily, mean there wasn't truth in that reasoning.
    • Somewhere between this and Can't Spit It Out, Penny doesn't want Leonard to leave to go to the North Pole with the other guys but at that moment Leonard and Penny had no commitment to each other. She didn't want to interfere with his science projects and also wasn't ready to confess her feelings for him.
    • In an odd version of this trope, Dave Gibbs, Amy's date, wanted his beloved, Sheldon Cooper, to be happy - to the point of openly working to get him back together with Amy.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: There are several people on this show who also featured in Roseanne, first and foremost Johnny Galecki as Leonard. Sara Gilbert plays Leslie Winkle who briefly dates Leonard and Laurie Metcalf plays Sheldon's mom. Galecki also pointed out at a convention that his first kiss was with Mayim Bialik when he guest starred on Blossom years ago.
  • I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: The flashback episode have shown the guys, sans Sheldon, looking like fashion refugees from the late 60s to early the 2000s. Raj in Miami Vice menswear, Leonard with frizzy long hair, and Howard looking like a nerdier version of Stan Rizzo.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Mrs. Wolowitz, apparently...
    Mrs. Wolowitz: You should've seen me when I was young, Sheldon. The fellas used to line up and give me boxes of candy. Why did I eat it all?!
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Amy and Bernadette were introduced only in Season 4, and have since become part of the core cast.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Leonard turned a non-date "hanging out" activity with Penny into an opportunity to confess to all the things that he let her get away with when they dated, generally acting very obnoxious and the evening turned into dirty laundry being aired out. Leonard later apologized for his behavior, only to learn except for the "dirty laundry" part Penny liked seeing him take charge and stand up for himself (showing signs of attraction to him). As they parted ways for the evening, he mused to himself "I am such an asthmatic dumbass."
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Episodes are titled as theorems, postulates, conjectures, et cetera. And it is usually descriptive, i.e. "The Nerdvanna Annihilation" involves Leonard contemplating selling his nerdy collection. Sometimes it's about something major to the plot, other times it's a throwaway line.
  • Ignored Epiphany: On numerous occasions, Sheldon's subconsciousness showed remarkable insight into the feelings of the people around him as well as an awareness of his own idiosyncrasies. Almost always, his conscious mind will wave these thoughts away or twist their meaning to his own purposes.
  • Ignore the Fanservice:
    • In "The Big Bran Hypothesis" (Season 1, episode 2), the guys are working on building a TV shelf from Ikea, and are paying no attention to Penny. Trying to get their attention, Penny mumbles that she'd take off her clothes. Silence ensues as the boys ignore her.
    • In "The Dumpling Paradox" (Season 1, episode 7), the guys are playing Halo when Penny walks in with a bunch of lady friends and says that they want to have sex. The guys don't even seem to hear her and continue playing, to which Penny then tells her friends "Told you so." Leonard pauses the game ten seconds after they have left, thinking he heard "something."
    • In "The Contractual Obligation Implementation" (Season 6, episode 18), the girls go to Disneyland and come back dressed as the Disney Princesses. Bernadette and Penny easily turn on Howard and Leonard with their costumes, but Sheldon ignores Amy.
    • In "The Cooper Extraction" (Season 7, episode 11), several What If? scenarios are depicted. In one narrated by Amy, Penny is trying to seduce Sheldon. When stripping down to her bra and shorts, all Sheldon says is that her breasts look asymmetrical.
  • Illness Blanket:
    • In one Valentine's Day Episode, Sheldon and Penny get flu so they need to stay at home instead of going to Switzerland with Leonard. They are seen in the living room, wrapped in heavy blankets and eating soup.
    • Leonard once fakes illness to avoid going to a party with Penny. He exploits this, by wrapping himself in a blanket to look sicker when she video-calls him.
  • Imagine Spot:
    • The episode "The Recombination Hypothesis" has a big one, almost the entire episode is Leonard considering whether to ask Penny out and the consequences that would follow. Later at the end, Penny imagines herself at a Shotgun Wedding heavily pregnant and at Leonard's side. She promptly decides to stop at the drug store before meeting up at the real date.
    • Leonard imagines how he could have handled a situation with Penny differently in "The Nerdvanna Annihilation" and has him become the hero by opening the elevator shaft and taking her down himself.
    • Raj has a series of daydreams about how Bernadette could leave Howard and they get together. Each one starts off normal only to progressively become weirder, culminating in a Bollywood dance number.
    • Amy has one which has Sheldon admitting he didn't like Amy because she was a distraction and he thought about her so much it made doing work even harder. It leads to him kissing her.
  • Imaginary Friend: Sheldon has imaginary colleagues.
  • I'm Standing Right Here:
    Penny: Howard, you're going to throw away a great girl like Bernadette just because you're holding out for some ridiculous fantasy?
    Howard: Hey, just because you settled doesn't mean I have to.
    Leonard: Excuse me, I'm sitting here.
    Penny: Hey, I didn't settle for Leonard. I mean, obviously he isn't the kind of guy I usually go out with. You know, physically.
    Leonard: Again, I'm right here!
    Penny: My point is, I do not judge a book by its cover. I'm interested in the person underneath.
    Leonard: (To Sheldon) I am here, right? You see me.
    • Raj gives a silent one, when everyone went to bed and turned off the lights, forgetting Raj was still there.
  • Important Haircut : Penny sports new short hair in Season 8, the beginning of her "more serious" character development, including getting a better paying job.
  • Impossible Pickle Jar: Sheldon asks Leonard to open a pickle jar for him in order to impress Leonard's date. Not only can he not open the jar, Leonard ends up breaking it and cutting his hand, which causes him to throw up.
  • Improbably Predictable: In "The Lunar Excitation":
    Sheldon: Please. Even assuming you could answer any question the way I would, the algorithms used by matchmaking sites are complete hokum.
    Howard: And that's exactly the answer we gave to the question, "What is your attitude towards online dating?"
    Raj: Howard wanted to write mumbo jumbo, but I said no, our Sheldon would say hokum.
  • Incessant Music Madness: Sheldon plays the bongos at three in the morning, wakes Penny and Leonard up, and doesn't stop playing when they tell him to.
  • Incredibly Lame Fun: A Running Gag was that Raj organizes murder mystery dinners, which his friends find extremely boring. One of his dinners is finally depicted as one of two plots of "The Mommy Observation" (Season 7, episode 18). Amy wants to leave immediately, though Raj stops her. Penny gets into a conversation, revealing how lame she thinks is the game:
    Penny: Are you gonna make us pretend to be a bunch of lame characters with silly accents?
    Raj: Lame characters with silly ac…, what kind of actress are you?
    Penny: You’re right, I’m sorry. Sounds like fun.
    Raj: Thank you.
    Penny: That kind of actress. This sucks.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Raj is full of them.
    (to Penny) Welcome to the Raj Mahal!
  • Innocent Innuendo: Sheldon will often say things without making the connection that what he said is inappropriate or just sounds strange. One time Sheldon was on the receiving end when Leonard told him about his date with Amy that went well, although he hurt himself while dancing the Hokey Pokey. "Turns out she really knows how to get a guy to relax and have a good time. Though truth be told my groin is a little worse for wear."
  • Innocently Insensitive: Amy's Fan Fic character Cooper (based on Sheldon) has this tendency. He is speaking to Amelia, a 19th century woman, and expects her to understand Time Travel. Forgetting that the concept was known but obscure in this time period. When she does not understand, he treats her like a moron.
    Amelia: Time travel? I don’t understand.
    Cooper: Which word don’t you understand? Time or travel?
  • Insane Troll Logic:
    • Sheldon hates being wrong, and when he can't refute something with normal logic, he resorts to this trope to get his way, such as claiming to be a new evolution of mankind that is far more intelligent but incapable of driving properly.
    • It appears that Sheldon and Amy's made-up game "Counterfactuals" runs on this trope. For example, a question asks "In a world where mankind is ruled by a giant intelligent beaver, what food is no longer consumed?" The correct answer is "cheese danish" rather than "cinnamon" which is made of tree bark. They explain this as because of the dams built to worship and appease the beaver overlord, which would have left low-lying countries like Denmark completely flooded and thus deprived the world of its namesake confectionary. Which is completely wrong; the Danish was invented in Vienna.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • Sheldon is not a rocket scientist. He's a theoretical physicist! Also, Sheldon takes great pains to point out that his team t-shirt spells "The Wesley Crushers" (Those Who Crush Wesley) and not "The Wesley Crushers" (Multiple People Named Wesley Crusher). Dr. Sheldon Cooper would also have you know that he's not crazy; his mother had him tested. She later confirms this (...though she should have followed-up with that specialist in Houston). Sheldon also does not play "pranks"; he subjects people to his classic pranks.
      • He also prefers it when accurate terms are used. One of the more notable things he prefers is to refer to sexual intercourse as 'coitus', probably to separate it from sex as in 'male or female'. (Note: Coitus actually strictly refers to heterosexual intercourse in which a vagina is penetrated by a penis and nothing else, so calling any other type of sex this is inaccurate).
    • Repeated reminders that Howard does not have a doctorate:
      "Doctor Gablehauser"
      "Doctor Koothrappali"
      "Doctor Gablehauser"
      "Doctor Hofstadter"
      "Doctor Gablehauser"
      "Doctor Cooper"
      "Doctor Gablehauser"
      "Mister Wolowitz"
    • Howard would like to point out that he does not live with his mother. She lives with him. Though she owns the house and has since he was a child.
    • Amy's Time-Travel Romance character Cooper insists that his undergarments, should properly be called "underoos," “underwear that’s fun to wear." They feature Spider-Man.
  • Insomnia Episode: In "The Einstein Approximation" (Season 3, episode 14), Sheldon is unable to sleep as long as he's left a specific science problem, one he's having a lot of trouble with, unsolved. Over the course of the episode he steals peas, then makes diagrams with marbles, and when those are not big enough he breaks into a generic Chuck E Cheese type place to use the balls from the ball pit.
    • A later episode, "The Anxiety Optimization" (Season 8, episode 13), has a similar plot, with Sheldon raising his anxiety levels in an attempt to optimize his performance. Again, he ends up sleep deprived and hallucinating about armadillos.
  • In the Original Klingon: Raj maintains that Sherlock Holmes, despite appearances, originated in India and was merely copied by Arthur Conan Doyle. He believes the original detective character is Byomkesh Bakshi. This is verifiably not true, since this character was created in 1932 and is derivative of Holmes.
  • Instant Expert:
    • A mild example: Penny, at computer games.
    • Sheldon often thinks he's this. His attempts at learning Mandarin met with failure.
    • Penny also beats Leonard at chess the first time she plays it.
    • Penny at HALO when Howard was in her apartment with her friend from Nebraska in the middle of HALO night.
  • Instant Web Hit: Penny Blossoms and the "fighting physicists" video.
  • Insufferable Genius: There's a reason why Sheldon is the page image.
    Missy: I am so proud to tell friends my brother's a rocket scientist.
    Sheldon: You tell them I'm a rocket scientist? I'm a theoretical physicist!
    • Despite being presented as "exceptionally brilliant", he seems almost depressingly clueless to anything that isn't science-related (especially the most basic of social situations) making him something of a Genius Ditz.
    • He's not even infallible in his own area of expertise, having been corrected by Leslie Winkle, Raj, and the kid genius from Korea who turned out to be just as much an Insufferable Genius as Sheldon was. And the one time he gave Stephen Hawking a paper with a simple arithmetic mistake in the first pages. Meaning the entire 20+ page paper proving Hawking wrong was wrong.
    • Surprisingly averted more recently, when Sheldon discovered a process to create a new element completely by accident because of an error he made in reading the units on a chart (centimeters instead of millimeters). Oh, he certainly started insufferable, but to his credit once he learned of his error he insisted the others stop praising him, even though his discovery was confirmed by independent experiments, and his friends tried to remind him that many major breakthroughs came by similar strokes of luck.
  • The Internet Is for Cats: Sheldon makes a disparaging reference to Penny doing this a lot on the Net (when she isn't looking for shoes). to which Penny replies along the lines of "So what's your point?"
  • Interrupted Intimacy:
    • Sheldon is quite happy to interrupt Leonard and whoever his partner is in the middle of the act — for example, with Joyce Kim. Sheldon decided to interrupt by knocking on the door. Leonard was thinking of ignoring him, but Sheldon knew he was being ignored. Sheldon then came in to remind Leonard of their Roommate Agreement. Due to its terms, Joyce decided to leave.
    • By definition, this happened with Raj and Penny with the cliffhanger scene from the end of Season 4, showing them in bed together naked. However, Raj reveals in the Season 5 opener that they didn't actually have sex; Raj climaxed prematurely. Penny uses this information on him later to get him to stick with a reasonable explanation for the incident.
  • Intimate Hair Brushing: Amy is brushing Penny’s hair in Penny's apartment. Amy craves to be Penny's best friend and sometimes acts like she has a crush on her. After she's done, she asks Penny to brush her hair, too.
    Amy: Ninety-nine, one hundred. It’s like a waterfall of liquid gold. My turn.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Several examples.
    • "I drank milk that tasted funny."
    • Everyone (except Sheldon) in "The Adhesive Duck Deficiency" — Leonard, Howard and Raj through "special" cookies and Penny through painkillers.
    • Sheldon's diet virgin Cuba Libres "turned out to be kinda slutty." He proceeded to perform a song from Fiddler on the Roof: TO LIFE! TO LIFE! L'CHAIM!
    • Sheldon and Long Island ice tea. "Best tea I've ever had!"
  • Introduction by Hookup: In a non-sex example, Amy was introduced when some characters wanted to find Sheldon a date for fun.
  • Irony:
    • On the show, Howard's mother never appears onscreen while Raj's parents do. The irony is that, in video conferences, Raj's parent can be seen on his computer screen all the way from India, while Howard's mother is only ever heard yelling from the next room.
    • In the fourth season Penny realizes that her love life has tanked (due to both lingering feelings for Leonard and the fact that her standards of intelligent conversation jumped significantly) while Leonard, Howard and even Sheldon are doing better than her.
  • Invented Invalid: Leonard makes up a story about going to a symposium to keep from going to Penny's recital. Sheldon feels that story is insufficient and makes up a more elaborate one that involves going out of state to visit a cousin in rehab, even going as far as hiring an actor to play said cousin.
  • Ironic Name: The Cooper family cat was named Lucky. When Sheldon was 8 years old, Lucky was run over by a delivery van. When hearing the tale, both Howard and Leonard realize that the name "Lucky" combined with its unlucky death make this an Ironic Name. Sheldon fails to realize it.
  • Irritation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery: In "The Imitation Perturbation", Howard dresses up as Sheldon fo Halloween and annoys him by throwing Sheldon's most irritation behavior back at him. As retaliation, Sheldon and Amy dress as Howard and Bernadette at Leonard's party.
  • It Will Never Catch On: "I assure you, you'll be sorry you wasted your money on an iPod when Microsoft comes out with theirs."
    • Inverted as a joke; in a flashback, Sheldon wants to iron out the Roommate Agreement to allow for time to watch Firefly, since he expects it to be on for years.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Sheldon, thy vanity knows no bounds.
      Leonard: Did I tell you that you'd have to make arrangements to get to work for the next few weeks?
      Sheldon: You did.
      Leonard: ...And?
      Sheldon: I didn't. [Beat, as Leonard collapses on the couch] Let's go!
    • Amy is this about Howard and Bernadette's wedding. This goes so far as wearing her dress to City Hall and complaining about her missed opportunity when the wedding might be put on hold.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Justified in a show featuring scientists working at the forefront of their respective fields:
    • Leonard, a native of New Jersey, finished his Bachelor's, Master's and Doctor's degrees in Applied Physics at Princeton.
    • Howard finished his Master's degree majoring in Aerospace Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
    • Before migrating to the United States, Raj took his undergraduate degree at Oxford and continued his graduate studies in Astrophysics at Cambridge.
    • Amy spent her undergraduate years at Harvard, although it is not known where she went for graduate studies.
    • While it is not mentioned where Bernadette studied for her Ph.D. in Microbiology, being a California native and a resident of Pasadena makes it very likely that she attended UCLA or USC in Los Angeles.

  • Jerkass:
    • Of the five major characters, Sheldon.
    • Almost anyone who fits into a role as a Romantic False Lead, including most of Penny's boyfriends and hookups (except notably for Zack, who is just an idiot).
    • Leslie Winkle is this toward Sheldon.
    • Barry Kripke and many minor characters.
    • Leonard's mother.
    • Wil Wheaton (at least, his character, not the man himself) for intentionally increasing the wedge between Penny and Leonard, supposedly just to get back at Sheldon. Or, was he just being truthful to Penny, and did Wheaton spite Sheldon only by making him think it was for spite?
      Sheldon: YOU DID THIS, didn't you!
      Wil Wheaton: Do you really think I would break up a couple, just to win a bowling match?
      Sheldon: No... I suppose not.
      Wil Wheaton: Good. Keep thinking that.
      Sheldon: Wheeeeeatooooon!
    • Jimmy Speckerman, who bullied Leonard in junior high. He gets drunk and apologizes but the following morning he demonstrates he's a Jerk with a Heart of Jerk.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Wheaton said this just to win a bowling match, but he was right in that leading Leonard on would be more cruel than breaking up with him. Given later seasons, it feels like Penny is still stringing him along, since she is a lot more unsure about her own feelings than he is.
    • A more comedic version shows up when Sheldon lists all the things Penny does that he's had to put up with such as pumice stoning her feet in the living room. Leonard calls it a fairly well reasoned argument when Penny starts pumicing them as she's sitting right next to him.
    • Amy makes Sheldon Christmas cookies from his beloved Meemaw's recipe for his Christmas present and he greedily slaps Raj's hand away when he reaches for one. But let's not forget this was a very special gift from Amy to Sheldon and Raj didn't even ask for one.
    • In "The Killer Robot Instability," Howard tries yet again to flirt with Penny, claiming that her constant insults toward him are merely foreplay. When he attempts to make a date with her by saying that she'd be the "only doable girl" at an upcoming science event, Penny tells him that he's disgusting, sad, and pathetic, makes it clear that she is not flirting with him, and ends her rant by declaring that he will die alone, as no woman would ever want to be with him. She clearly goes too far and ends up badly hurting Howard's feelings, but she does have a point: his constant pickup lines and derogatory language are offensive and demeaning.
    • Sheldon spent years telling Penny to pay attention to her check engine light on her dashboard (even though her car wasn't built with one). While Sheldon is annoying and rude, he did have a point that Penny should pay more attention to her car, especially when it finally breaks down for good.
    • In The Apology Insufficiency, Sheldon intentionally tried to ruin Howard’s chance to work on something he really wanted to work using a series of petty reasons that no one but him cared about. Only to accidentally let slip that Howard got the Mars Rover stuck in a ditch. While this is an incredibly jerkass thing to do, especially given his reaction in The Electric Can Opener Fluctuation, it doesn’t change the fact that Howard let a girl into a secure area to pilot the Mars Rover, which eventually ended with her crashing it in a ditch, all in a vain attempt to get laid, then destroyed the evidence of it to cover his own ass. Even if it was something Howard really, really wanted to do, it still doesn't change the fact that he really, really didn't deserve the clearance because of that.
    • Leonard is an insensitive jerk in reaction to the revelation that Penny went to see a psychic. But psychics really are charlatans who just tell people what they want to hear, and believing it really does make Penny gullible.
    • In the finale, Sheldon reacting to the news of Penny's pregnancy by pointing out that she'd previously indicated she didn't want children is treated as the worst thing he's ever said on the whole run of the show. But while the blunt and public way he brings it up is clearly insensitive, checking in with a friend who's just done an about-face on a major life decision they were previously very vocal about isn't a bad call. Even if they're happy about taking a new direction (and the idea that Penny might not be happy about getting pregnant accidentally is treated as a completely off-limits topic by everyone except Sheldon, despite the Truth in Television that an accidental pregnancy doesn't automatically make a woman excited to be a mother), it's not inherently bad to talk openly so you can support a close friend who's going through something life-changing.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Sheldon shows concern and attention for his friends in his own ways, can offer genuinely helpful advice on their problems if he's in the right mood, he's never actively malevolent to them beyond verbal jabs, and is hurt if they slight him in some way. On the other hand, his perspective on social interactions are skewed, so he doesn't understand when he does something offensive or inappropriate, he's constantly flaunting what he considers his superior intellect, and while he can offer helpful advice on a problem at times, he's just as liable to interrupt their explanation of said problem to note he doesn't care. The Heart Of Gold is there, but it's deep down under a lot of arrogance and an Ambiguous Disorder.
      • "Penny ... Please don't hurt my friend."
    • Howard. While this becomes a more apparent factor of his character as the series progresses, there have been indications even from earlier episodes. He clearly possesses an ostensibly sensitive nature, there are severe implications that his flirtatious nature was based on a desire for genuine companionship (lampshaded to an extent when he enters a relationship with Bernadette). He undeniably possesses some degree of compassion and genuinely cares for his friends; most of his undesirable characteristics are associated with his overly confident and sexually frustrated nature (which are almost completely nonexistent when he and Bernadette officially enter a relationship).
    • Amy is a more clear example than Sheldon. She genuinely doesn't seem to realize how rude she can be (especially to Penny), but when she thinks Penny's depressed she rushes to cheer her up.
  • Jewish Mother: Howard's.
  • Jews Love to Argue: Howard and his mother. A lot.
  • Joisey: Leonard is from NJ, which comes up from time to time. Sheldon boasts of his Texan upbringing as making him an expert at retribution, but Leonard manages to turn a prank back on Sheldon.
    Leonard: You may be from Texas, but I'M from JERSEY!
  • Jump Scare:
    • Sheldon's payback prank on Leonard, scaring both him and the audience by popping from underneath a couch cushion.
    • Sheldon also gets Leonard "bazinga"-style through his ShelBot, using an override switch that he used despite Leonard having turned the ShelBot off.
  • Just One More Level: Penny in "The Barbarian Sublimation."

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