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The Best Big Bang Theory Episodes of All Time

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CBS // The Big Bang Theory Fan Site

Best Big Bang Theory Episodes of All Time

For eleven seasons, The Big Bang Theory has delighted audiences with the antics and misadventures of four nerds and the women who have come to love them. What started out as a quartet of brilliant, yet socially awkward scientists, friends and colleagues Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki), Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) and Raj Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) are juxtaposed against pretty-girl-with-street-smarts Penny (Kaley Cuoco).

Over the years, the gang grew to include two more members: neuroscientist Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik) and microbiologist Bernadette Rostenkowski (Melissa Rauch). While all of the others are science-minded, Penny remains the only one who understands how to navigate normal social situations—but still manages to be surprised by their cluelessness.

Fans of the show have their favorite moments—like when Sheldon has to save Penny after a fall, when the guys go to Vegas, any moment involving sports, Raj being unable to talk to girls unless he was drunk, Sheldon and Amy’s first kiss, Wolowitz getting stuck in a robotic arm, the guys building robots and battling Kripke, Amy and Wolowitz belting out Neil Diamond songs, Sheldon’s rivalry with Leslie Winkle, and whenever Sheldon and Leonard’s moms make appearances.

But with more than 230 episodes to choose from, it’s still challenging to pick favorites.  To help drill down to a list of the all-time bests, Stacker has ranked the top 50 episodes by IMDb rankings, based on viewer ratings, and compiling them into a helpful list. 

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CBS // The Big Bang Theory Fan Site

#50: The Beta Test Initiation

Season 5, Episode 14
IMDb Rating: 8.4
IMDb Votes: 2,030

Penny and Leonard are a bit tentative about dating again, but they agree not to take things too fast. Their mutual connection and affection, despite their differences in expertise, comes out while they plan a beta test for their relationship, drawing on software development lingo. Meanwhile, poor Raj finds a temporary love connection with his phone.

3/
CBS // The Big Bang Theory Fan Site

#49: The Parking Spot Escalation

Season 6, Episode 9
IMDb Rating: 8.4
IMDb Votes: 2,041

Wolowitz delivered one of his biggest Sheldon wins by placing his bare bottom on Sheldon’s sacred spot on the couch. Wolowitz gets the use of Sheldon’s university parking spot following his celebrity as an astronaut; Sheldon gets jealous and a battle ensues. Amy had her first experience with bikini waxing. She may have lost weight from the ordeal, but that is nothing compared to the shade that Bernadette sends her way when they took sides with their manly men. Penny tries to calm the moment, but she’s more successful at relieving her bottle of wine.

4/
CBS // The Big Bang Theory Fan Site

#48: The Monopolar Expedition

Season 2, Episode 23
IMDb Rating: 8.4
IMDb Votes: 2,049

Penny learns that the guys are about to go on an extended trip to the North Pole when Sheldon asks if they can use the freezer at The Cheesecake Factory to prepare for the cold climate. True to form, the guys didn’t really think it through before they ventured into the giant appliance. Elsewhere, the romantic tension between Leonard and Penny continues to escalate in a way that’s on par with the first Ross and Rachel kiss.

5/
CBS // The Big Bang Theory Fan Site

#47: The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary

Season 3, Episode 5
IMDb Rating: 8.4
IMDb Votes: 2,057

Leonard and the guys (sans Sheldon) had a deal: if one of them got a girlfriend, they would work to set the others up. Penny reluctantly agrees to set up Wolowitz with Bernadette. Although their love connection isn’t instant, they bond on account of their mutually difficult mothers. 

6/
CBS // The Big Bang Theory Fan Site

#46: The Re-Entry Minimization

Season 6, Episode 4
IMDb Rating: 8.4
IMDb Votes: 2,082

Amy, Penny, and Leonard embark on a game night with Sheldon, whose tendency to overthink things is out in full force. Meanwhile, Wolowitz returns from space to a very hot but sickly Bernadette. 

7/
CBS // The Big Bang Theory Fan Site

#45: The Gothowitz Deviation

Season 3, Episode 3
IMDb Rating: 8.4
IMDb Votes: 2,090

In an effort to score with goth girls, Wolowitz and Raj wear tattoo sleeves and venture to a club. Penny declines her invite—perhaps because Sheldon was using Pavlovian reinforcement to train her into more agreeable behaviors.

8/
CBS // The Big Bang Theory Fan Site

#44: The Dead Hooker Juxtaposition

Season 2, Episode 19
IMDb Rating: 8.4
IMDb Votes: 2,123

When a beautiful actress neighbor moves upstairs, Penny feels both protective and defensive—resulting in an altercation between the two, as well as an excellent Star Trek reference. True to form, Wolowitz makes ill-fated attempts to hit on each of the women.

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CBS // The Big Bang Theory Fan Site

#43: The Cooper-Nowitzki Theorem

Season 2, Episode 6
IMDb Rating: 8.4
IMDb Votes: 2,238

Someone has a crush on Sheldon! It’s Ramona Nowitzki—a name that strikes loathing in the hearts of most Amy fans. However, her initial appearance prompts Penny to ask something that the audience may have wanted to know since the beginning of the show: “What’s Sheldon’s deal?”

10/
CBS // The Big Bang Theory Fan Site

#42: The Terminator Decoupling

Season 2, Episode 17
IMDb Rating: 8.4
IMDb Votes: 2,274

The guys are on a train with Summer Glau (Firefly, The Sarah Connor Chronicles). Wolowitz and Raj try to win her over, but it doesn’t go smoothly. Nor does it when Sheldon forgets his flash drive (holding his scientific paper) and has to rely on Penny to retrieve it from his room in its secret hiding spot. 

11/
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#41: The Bad Fish Paradigm

Season 2, Episode 1
IMDb Rating: 8.4
IMDb Votes: 2,364

In the Season 2 opener, Wolowitz and Raj spy on Penny and Leonard after their first date and offer unsolicited advice. Penny confides her insecurities about not feeling like she is smart (or dorky) enough for them to be together. As he does not like being involved with keeping a secret, he stresses out and it doesn’t take much for him to break. 

12/
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#40: The Grasshopper Experiment

Season 1, Episode 8
IMDb Rating: 8.4
IMDb Votes: 2,425

Although it had always seemed like Raj was bad at talking to women, Penny (while practicing her bartending skills) discovers the contrary. But there’s a catch: he has to be juiced for it to work. Raj’s parents meet the gang via webcam and they offer to set him up on a date with a childhood friend who develops a crush on Sheldon.

13/
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#39: The Pork Chop Indeterminacy

Season 1, Episode 15
IMDb Rating: 8.4
IMDb Votes: 2,455

The guys learn that Sheldon not only has a twin sister, she’s a stunner—which leads to the guys immediately competing for her attention. In order to improve his chances at winning her over, Raj enters a drug trial to help with his mutism around women.

14/
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#38: Pilot

Season 1, Episode 1
IMDb Rating: 8.4
IMDb Votes: 3,832

In the show’s very first episode, we meet Sheldon and Leonard—and their new neighbor Penny, a gorgeous blond actress/waitress who is unfamiliar with the worlds of comic books, video games, science, and academia. Things only get more interesting when Penny meets Wolowitz and Raj. Cool side note: there’s a controversial line in the script about a sperm bank that has been removed for most rebroadcasts, but you can find it online.

15/
CBS // The Big Bang Theory Fan Site

#37: The Romance Resonance

Season 7, Episode 6
IMDb Rating: 8.5
IMDb Votes: 2,026

Most members of the gang have issues when it comes to romantic gestures. Wolowitz turns out to be the exception when he sings his love for the temporarily quarantined Bernadette. 

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CBS // The Big Bang Theory Fan Site

#36: The Psychic Vortex

Season 3, Episode 12
IMDb Rating: 8.5
IMDb Votes: 2,033

Penny is mocked when the guys discover that she believes in psychics, and gets especially angry at Leonard for being so judgy. Meanwhile, Sheldon accepts a bribe to be Raj’s wingman at a university mixer, where one of the girls instead takes a liking to him instead of Raj.

17/
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#35: The Vengeance Formulation

Season 3, Episode 9
IMDb Rating: 8.5
IMDb Votes: 2,089

Kripke delivers a worthwhile prank while Sheldon is on the radio, so Sheldon and the team plot revenge. Wolowitz and Bernadette consider taking their relationship to the next level.

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#34: The Bakersfield Expedition

Season 6, Episode 13
IMDb Rating: 8.5
IMDb Votes: 2,141

En route to Comic-Con, while dressed in full costume to do a photoshoot in the middle of the desert, Leonard’s car gets stolen. The ladies use the time to discover what’s great about comic books.

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CBS // The Big Bang Theory Fan Site

#33: The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification

Season 4, Episode 2
IMDb Rating: 8.5
IMDb Votes: 2,150

Sheldon realizes that he won’t live long enough to download his consciousness into a robot to achieve immortality, so he takes steps to be healthier—including eating better and going running with Penny. In order to eliminate unnecessary risks, he develops a “Mobile Virtual Presence Device” that he controls from his bedroom.

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#32: The Euclid Alternative

Season 2, Episode 5
IMDb Rating: 8.5
IMDb Votes: 2,219

Weary of driving him around all of the time, the gang forces Sheldon to get his driver’s license—but he doesn’t quite impress at the DMV.

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#31: The Electric Can Opener Fluctuation

Season 3, Episode 1
IMDb Rating: 8.5
IMDb Votes: 2,262

The guys return from the North Pole, and not a moment too soon. Spending so much time with Sheldon in a remote place drove the others to madness, causing them to mess with his data to keep him happy. Hurt that his friends would lie to him, he retreats to Texas—which throws a wrench in Leonard’s plans to finally get romantic with Penny.

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#30: The Peanut Reaction

Season 1, Episode 16
IMDb Rating: 8.5
IMDb Votes: 2,291

After learning that Leonard has never had a birthday party, Penny plans a surprise celebration for him. Wolowitz goes to extreme measures to attempt to get Leonard to the party.

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#29: The Bat Jar Conjecture

Season 1, Episode 13
IMDb Rating: 8.5
IMDb Votes: 2,324

Sheldon’s hubris gets him kicked off the University Physics Bowl team, and the guys replace him with Leslie Winkle. Penny later challenges the roommates to another kind of trivia test.

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#28: The Big Bran Hypothesis

Season 1, Episode 2
IMDb Rating: 8.5
IMDb Votes: 2,968

In an effort to impress new neighbor Penny, Leonard offers to help her complete her move-in. Upon seeing her disorganized apartment, Sheldon is compelled to clean it without her permission while she is sleeping in the next room. Not surprisingly, it doesn’t turn out well—and Sheldon gets a needed lesson in sarcasm.

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#27: The Long Distance Dissonance

Season 10, Episode 24
IMDb Rating: 8.6
IMDb Votes: 1,410

Dr. Ramona Nowitzki has returned, and she still has a thing for Sheldon. To complicate matters, Amy is away at Princeton. The gang does their best to keep her away from Sheldon as they know she is up to no good. The episode ends on a heartwarming note with Sheldon making a surprise visit to Amy.

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#26: The Boyfriend Complexity

Season 4, Episode 9
IMDb Rating: 8.6
IMDb Votes: 2,034

This episode involves Penny asking Leonard to pose as her boyfriend when her dad comes to town. Not knowing that this is a charade, Sheldon demands changes be made to the roommate agreement. Wolowitz tries to get Raj and Bernadette to bond over some wine in the lab and Raj takes the moment a bit too far.

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#25: The Pants Alternative

Season 3, Episode 18
IMDb Rating: 8.6
IMDb Votes: 2,083

Sheldon has to overcome his fear of public speaking in order to accept an award, and is given some very bad advice by the group. He drinks too much wine and ends up embarrassing himself—and the university—with a whole new view of “Uranus.”

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#24: The Gorilla Experiment

Season 3, Episode 10
IMDb Rating: 8.6
IMDb Votes: 2,116

Now that Bernadette has joined the crew, Penny feels out of touch during their frequent conversations about physics. She asks Sheldon to give her a tutorial, but his lesson is a bit more than she bargained for. However, she wants to learn more so she can impress Leonard and show that she cares about his work.

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#23: The Countdown Reflection

Season 5, Episode 24
IMDb Rating: 8.6
IMDb Votes: 2,118

In this heartwarming season finale, Wolowitz is about to go into outer space, and Bernadette reflects on their relationship. He gives her a touching gift and she decides that she wants to get married before his launch—so the gang jumps through hoops to give them a beautiful wedding before lift-off.

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CBS // The Big Bang Theory Fan Site

#22: The Precious Fragmentation

Season 3, Episode 17
IMDb Rating: 8.6
IMDb Votes: 2,124

The guys return from a garage sale with a bunch of cool stuff, including one of the actual rings used in Lord of the Rings. (What could possibly go wrong?) Naturally, all want to take possession of it, but Leonard ultimately suggests sending it back to Peter Jackson.

31/
CBS // The Big Bang Theory Fan Site

#21: The Egg Salad Equivalency

Season 6, Episode 12
IMDb Rating: 8.6
IMDb Votes: 2,145

Leonard is getting a little too much attention from Alex, Sheldon’s attractive research assistant, and Penny isn’t happy about it. Sheldon attempts to help, which gets all of the guys sent to the university’s HR department for being a little too honest about their previous actions and words.

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CBS // The Big Bang Theory Fan Site

#20: The Einstein Approximation

Season 3, Episode 14
IMDb Rating: 8.6
IMDb Votes: 2,156

Sheldon is stumped by a tough physics question and has been losing sleep over it. His constant obsessing is driving his pals crazy as he tries a series of stunts to solve the problem—like going into a children’s ball pit at the mall and working with Penny at The Cheesecake Factory.

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#19: The 43 Peculiarity

Season 6, Episode 8
IMDb Rating: 8.6
IMDb Votes: 2,162

Raj and Wolowitz are determined to know where Sheldon vanishes to for 20 minutes every day uttering the number 43, so they stalk him in order to find out what he’s doing. Meanwhile, Leonard is jealous of Penny’s new study partner, and Sheldon’s research assistant Alex enlightens him to the fact that people do not always realize when they are being flirted with.

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#18: The Middle Earth Paradigm

Season 1, Episode 6
IMDb Rating: 8.6
IMDb Votes: 2,592

In another episode that nods to Tolkien, Penny invites the guys to her Halloween party (after the guys get bullied by some teenagers). While at the shindig, Leonard finds himself in a threatened position with Penny’s ex-boyfriend, Kurt. But ultimately, Penny and Leonard share a moment and get closer.

35/
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#17: The Roommate Transmogrification

Season 4, Episode 24
IMDb Rating: 8.7
IMDb Votes: 1,966

Raj rushes out of his apartment when his sister Priya and Leonard are having a Star Trek-themed romantic moment. He moves in with Sheldon, who is initially appalled, but ends up being delighted by Raj’s considerate behavior. Wolowitz feels he needs to “man up” when Bernadette earns her PhD and gets a high-paying job in a scientific field. And in a strange turn, Raj and Penny have an ill-advised romantic moment.

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CBS // The Big Bang Theory Fan Site

#16: The Lunar Excitation

Season 3, Episode 23
IMDb Rating: 8.7
IMDb Votes: 2,091

After a bad date, Penny realizes that Leonard’s intelligence has made an impression on her and she can’t deal with vapid men anymore. This leads to an awkward romantic encounter that  leaves Leonard confused, and he turns to Leslie Winkle for comfort. (She doesn’t give it to him.) On the Sheldon front, the guys decide to create a dating profile for him—they’re shocked when Amy responds.

37/
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#15: The Vegas Renormalization

Season 2, Episode 21
IMDb Rating: 8.7
IMDb Votes: 2,220

Wolowitz is left devastated after his break up with Leslie, so Leonard and Raj take him to Vegas to help lift his spirits. At home, Sheldon accidentally gets locked out of his apartment and turns to Penny for comfort. They attempt to bond—and (sort of) succeed.

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CBS // The Big Bang Theory Fan Site

#14: The Hawking Excitation

Season 5, Episode 21
IMDb Rating: 8.7
IMDb Votes: 2,227

Sheldon finally gets to meet his idol Stephen Hawking. The only problem is that Wolowitz has the key to this introduction—and because Sheldon was rude to him,  Wolowitz makes him jump through many hoops in order to meet the famous physicist.

39/
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#13: The Tangerine Factor

Season 1, Episode 17
IMDb Rating: 8.7
IMDb Votes: 2,420

Sheldon believes a conspiracy is afoot—that his favorite Chinese restaurant isn’t using the right ingredients. Meanwhile, Penny is humiliated when an old beau posts intimate details online and finally agrees to go on a date with Leonard. This episode is also the first time we see a Schrödinger’s Cat reference in the show.

40/
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#12: The Good Guy Fluctuation

Season 5, Episode 7
IMDb Rating: 8.7
IMDb Votes: 2,438

Leonard is flattered when an attractive comic book artist takes an interest in him, but there’s a problem—he’s dating Priya. He decides to turn to Penny for advice. As it’s Halloween, the guys take great pleasure in giving Sheldon a fright.

41/
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#11: The Justice League Recombination

Season 4, Episode 11
IMDb Rating: 8.8
IMDb Votes: 2,226

In another holiday episode, Penny is dating her former ex—the attractive but dimwitted Zack—and they agree to go to a New Year’s Eve costume party at the comic book shop dressed as the Justice League. She is at first reluctant to go, hinting that she is not over Leonard, but she dons a wig and ventures to the party anyway.

42/
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#10: The Panty Piñata Polarization

Season 2, Episode 7
IMDb Rating: 8.8
IMDb Votes: 2,401

Kicking off the top ten of our list, this episode has Raj and Wolowitz devising a way to find the spot where America’s Next Top Model is taped, in hopes of winning over a rejected former contestant. Penny and Sheldon are at war; he’s trying to get her to stop piggybacking off their internet service. But Penny has a decisive victory after making an important phone call.

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#9: The Robotic Manipulation

Season 4, Episode 1
IMDb Rating: 8.8
IMDb Votes: 2,458

Penny is pressured into being a third wheel on Sheldon and Amy’s first date. Meanwhile, Wolowitz comes up with an unintended use for a robotic arm that lands him in the ER.

44/
CBS // The Big Bang Theory Fan Site

#8: The Scavenger Vortex

Season 7, Episode 3
IMDb Rating: 8.8
IMDb Votes: 2,500

Raj develops a scavenger hunt. Leonard isn’t subtle about his disinterest in partnering with Penny, because he thinks it would be a disadvantage. The friends draw names and form groups of two, before setting off to solve ten puzzles. 

45/
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#7: The Barbarian Sublimation

Season 2, Episode 3
IMDb Rating: 8.9
IMDb Votes: 2,503

Single, underemployed, and a little lost, Penny is going through a rough patch. She attempts to turn to Sheldon for help, but he misses the cues and returns to his gaming. This leads Penny to try her hand at computer games, and once she gets a taste for gaming she finds it nearly impossible to stop.

46/
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#6: The Thanksgiving Decoupling

Season 7, Episode 9
IMDb Rating: 8.9
IMDb Votes: 2,556

In this holiday-themed episode, Sheldon is reluctant to spend Thanksgiving with the rest of the gang on account of the hostess: Mrs. Wolowitz. Things are further complicated when Bernadette’s dad arrives—Wolowitz awkwardly tries to bond with him, but his father-in-law connects with Sheldon instead. The evening takes another bad turn when Leonard learns that Penny accidentally got married to her ex-boyfriend Zack in Vegas years ago.

47/
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#5: The Maternal Capacitance

Season 2, Episode 15
IMDb Rating: 9.0
IMDb Votes: 2,580

When Leonard’s difficult-to-please psychoanalyst mother comes for a visit, he goes out of his way to earn her praise. To cause him further grief, she and Sheldon bond easily. Her overly analytic nature puts the other guys on edge, but her incessant criticism ultimately benefits Leonard and Penny’s relationship by causing a bonding moment.

48/
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#4: The Adhesive Duck Deficiency

Season 3, Episode 8
IMDb Rating: 9.0
IMDb Votes: 2,935

Leonard, Raj and Wolowitz are in the desert planning to watch a meteor show, but are distracted by some substitute teachers who give them a special gift. Sheldon opts to stay home, but Penny has an accident that forces him to come to her aid. Amid his valiant efforts to get her on the mend, he inadvertently gets to second base. During her recovery, a new version of the fan-favorite “Soft Kitty” song is created.

49/
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#3: The Staircase Implementation

Season 3, Episode 22
IMDb Rating: 9.1
IMDb Votes: 2,876

Leonard recounts the tale of how he ended up deciding to live with Sheldon, despite lots of warning signs that this may not be a great idea. Also, the mystery of the broken elevator is finally addressed.

50/
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#2: The Opening Night Excitation

Season 9, Episode 11
IMDb Rating: 9.2
IMDb Votes: 3,016

Sheldon didn’t plan well and missed the fact that the opening of the new Star Wars film coincided with Amy’s birthday. He lets Penny and Bernadette know that he planned a very special birthday gift: taking their relationship to a physical level. 

51/
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#1: The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis

Season 2, Episode 11
IMDb Rating: 9.2
IMDb Votes: 3,772

In the highest rated BBT episode, it’s Christmas time and Sheldon is grappling with the stress of gift-giving. But knowing that Penny has a present for him makes him wonder what to do in order to show an equal amount of thoughtfulness. Leonard has something else on his mind: his handsome, gifted (and somehow non-nerdy) colleague David Underhill takes an instant liking to Penny and he doesn’t like it. Gifts are exchanged and a magical hug is delivered.

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