The Big Bang Theory is currently in its ninth season, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The ratings juggernaut was granted a nearly unprecedented three season renewal back in 2014, ensuring that the show will be around for at least one more year. While the show’s faced some criticism for mocking geek culture instead of celebrating it, it has nevertheless continued to pull in new viewers, geeks and non-geeks alike, thanks in part to syndication. It’s also aided by stand-out leads in Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, and Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting.
And fortunately, when the show does celebrate all things Star Wars and Dungeons and Dragons, the episodes really hit.
Here is Screen Rant’s list of the 12 Best Episodes of The Big Bang Theory.
The Troll Manifestation (Season 8, Episode 14)
Big Bang sometimes catches a lot of flack for negatively portraying geek-stereotypes and focusing too much on relationship drama, which is why this episode was a welcome reminder that the main characters are actually really intelligent and well-respected scientists. After Penny (Cuoco-Sweeting) comes up with the idea for Leonard (Galecki), he teams-up with Sheldon (Parsons) to write a scientific paper. With all the friction Sheldon sometimes causes as a roommate, it was nice to see Leonard and Sheldon acting like two colleagues and friends, and the two actually did work well together, with Sheldon staying up all night to finish the calculations for their paper.
But the best part of the episode occurred after the paper was published, when the guys decided to check out the comment section. Online harassment isn’t exactly a groundbreaking topic, but as is often the case when television shows address anonymous commenters, the episode allowed the show to explore some more meta-humor. Meanwhile, the girls got caught up in Amy’s (Mayim Bialik) Little House on the Prairie erotic fan-fiction. In the end, we were treated to a very funny scene with Sheldon and Amy acting out some of the story.
The Proton Transmogrification (Season 7, Episode 22)
Every time Professor Proton, played by Bob Newhart, appears on the show, you can be assured that it will be a great episode. Newhart’s dead-pan delivery and self-deprecating shtick bring in some pretty consistent laughs. While he’s appeared in three episodes so far, this was his most memorable (and likely final) appearance.
The show is at its greatest when it celebrates geek culture, which was the case in this Star Wars-themed episode. Proton’s confusion over Star Wars (“Is that an Internet?”) and seeing him dressed as a Jedi Master brought some humor to an episode touched with sadness and emotional growth for Sheldon as he loses his childhood mentor. The episode also had the benefit of airing on May the Fourth (Star Wars Day), making the Star Wars puns and the girls’ Death Star cake all the more enjoyable.
The Table Polarization (Season 7, episode 16)
Sheldon having to deal with change is basically The Big Bang Theory’s bread and butter, and Parsons always shines when he gets to play an angry Sheldon adjusting to the latest perceived crisis. This episode revolves around Leonard attempting to get the gang an actual dining room table, so that they could finally put an end to gathering around the small coffee table. While this episode could have just focused on the war of wills between Sheldon and Leonard, instead it brought in Amy and Penny, controlling the situation from behind the scenes.
The episode also comes right after Amy and Sheldon’s first kiss, effectively using the prior weeks’ relationship growth to show how much both characters have changed over the series. And while the subplot involving Howard possibly going back to space felt a little overly-familiar, it made effective use of Raj, Bernie, and Howard, consistently bringing in laughs to counter the relationship drama.
The Love Spell Potential (Season 6, episode 23)
The main three couples of the show are successfully brought into focus in this episode, using Dungeons and Dragons to bring the gang together. When the girls’ trip to Las Vegas falls through, they decide to use a D&D game with the guys as a stand-in for a night of gambling. Howard’s impressions are spot on – who wouldn’t want to play D&D with him as the Dungeon Master?
But D&D hits a little too close to home for Amy, who is growing tired of her relationship with Sheldon, and their lack of intimacy being mocked by their friends. Once she stands up for herself, the couple finally address Sheldon’s lack of intimacy with the help of some dice and role playing. The episode also touched on Raj and Lucy’s budding romance, which is always sweet, even if a little weird.
The Santa Simulation (Season 6, episode 11)
This show is surprisingly successful every time Dungeons and Dragons makes an appearance, and it also consistently delivers quality holiday episodes. Since this episode had a holiday D&D campaign, it was bound to rank amongst the best. It was especially fun to see the resulting holiday meltdown for Sheldon.
This was also one of the first episodes where Raj, who skipped out on the D&D game, was paired with the girls of the show as he joined in on their “girl’s night out” at the bars. His presence created a different dynamic for the trio, and watching him bond with Amy for the first time was particularly satisfying. The two characters are so often made the butt of everyone’s jokes that it was nice to see them come together.
The Transporter Malfunction (Season 5, episode 20)
While Big Bang has had several Star Trek-themed episodes, this is probably the best one in terms of humor and character growth. When Penny buys Leonard and Sheldon matching collectable Star Trek transporter toys, the boys carefully put the boxes away so as not to ruin their collectables. But after the voice of Leonard Nimoy (in the form of a toy Spock) visits Sheldon in a dream and tells him to play with the new toy, he finds it much harder to resist.
Unfortunately, his transporter breaks, and things go further downhill after he replaces his collectable with Leonard’s, before imaginary Spock finally convinces him to confess to everything. Watching Sheldon use Spock as a logical argument to play with his new transporter, only to see him push against Spock after his transporter breaks, is great insight into Sheldon’s character, and it’s genuinely funny.
We also see Raj struggle with his growing women troubles, with him going so far as requesting his parents arrange a marriage for him. In the end, Raj doesn’t get married, but he does get a dog as a gift from Bernadette.
The Herb Garden Germination (Season 4, episode 20)
While Amy may have taken a little longer to catch her footing on this show, this episode really highlighted her growing relationship with Sheldon and helped remind viewers why she deserved to be there. After a rumor that Howard and Bernadette are about to split up starts spreading through the group, Amy and Sheldon propose a gossip based social experiment.
The gossip experiment plays out just like it would in real life, with the sexual rumor spreading much farther and faster than a rumor about the couple’s herb garden. We also got to see Raj’s parents, who are always a funny and welcome addition.
The Justice League Recombination (Season 4, episode 11)
Occasionally, The Big Bang Theory splits its ensemble cast with an A-plot and a B-plot, but episodes like this one remind us how good the cast is when they’re all together, especially the original gang. The group decides to dress up as the Justice League for a New Year’s Eve costume contest. Bernadette and Amy were noticeably absent, but the writers took care to explain it away, so that they didn’t feel forgotten.
Seeing Sheldon as the Flash and Raj as Aquaman were highlights in the humor department, and Penny made a pretty great Wonder Woman. Her boyfriend Zack took the brunt of the boys’ teasing for his failure to know his comic book lore, but he took most of it in stride and even helped them out by dressing up as Superman.
The Jiminy Conjecture (Season 3, episode 2)
Sheldon and Howard together is one of the greatest underutilized team-ups on the show. Whereas you get the feeling that Leonard and Sheldon love each other deep down, it seems that Howard and Sheldon merely tolerate each other for the sake of the group. And sometimes, like in this episode, they don’t even do that. But, Sheldon always plays well off Howard’s jabs.
The two friends engaged in a bet about the species of a bothersome cricket they heard chirping in the apartment. The episode was elevated by a guest starring appearance from Lewis Black, who played the slightly crazed Entomology professor assisting in the identification. The casting choice was so perfect that Black’s few, short scenes are enough to push this episode into best territory.
The Vegas Renormalization (Season 2, episode 21)
Do you remember when Howard dated Leslie Winkle? While the relationship was short-lived, it had a surprisingly rough emotional fall-out for Howard, which more or less served to set up the conflict in this episode. At Sheldon’s insistence, Raj and Leonard decide to take Howard to Vegas to help him forget his troubles, leaving Sheldon home alone.
While the guys’ trip to Vegas was funny, what with the prostitute Leonard and Raj hired for Howard, it was watching Sheldon embrace (and eventually wallow) in his alone-ness that makes this episode stand out. When Sheldon gets locked out of his apartment, he has no other option than to turn to Penny for help. As always, Penny and Sheldon are a great pairing, and this episode, filled with awkward small-talk, started the two on the path to the great friendship they now share on the show.
The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis (Season 2, episode 11)
Holiday themed episodes are generally successful on The Big Bang Theory, largely thanks to Sheldon’s various dilemmas around social constructs like gift-giving, but this one may be one of the best thanks to Penny and Sheldon’s gift exchange at the end. A majority of the episode focused on Penny’s attraction to a handsome and smart visiting physicist who stopped by to work with Leonard. After a season and a half of turning down Leonard for being too smart, it was almost cathartic to see Penny’s short-lived relationship with the ultra-handsome physicist crash and burn.
But the best part of the episode was when Penny presented Sheldon with his Christmas gift – a used, autographed napkin from Leonard Nimoy. Sheldon’s present to Penny was a measly basket of bath soaps, which was a huge failure by comparison. Watching Sheldon try to even the gift-giving playing field was one of the funniest moments in Big Bang Theory history.
The Dumpling Paradox (Season 1, episode 7)
This episode turned out to be the stand-out of Big Bang’s first season, as it showcased Howard’s surprise ladies’ man status and Penny’s disinterest in the guy’s video games. When Penny’s friend Christy from Omaha visits, Howard and her quickly become an item, forcing Penny to stay with Leonard and Sheldon for a short period of time.
Sheldon handles his new roommate situation predictably poorly – almost as poorly as he handles not having a fourth for Halo and splitting the food at the Chinese restaurant. But Penny does come in handy when the guys realize she can play Halo while Howard is busy. She picks up the game quick, but unfortunately for the boys, she has very little interest in being their permanent fourth. When watching this episode with some of the more recent episodes, it’s a great reminder of how far Penny has come in embracing the guys’ interests.
Those are just some of our favorite episodes. Did we leave any off? What’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
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