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"The 2003 Approximation" is the fourth episode of the ninth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. The episode aired on Monday, October 12, 2015.


Leonard and Penny finally tell Sheldon that they moved in together leaving Sheldon very upset. He wants to go back to a time when he had no emotions in 2003 before he met Leonard, Penny and Amy. Raj and Howard attempt to form a rock band after Stuart wants to host live music in his store.

Extended Plot[]

The 2003 Approximation 0310

Sheldon upset when he finds out Leonard is moving out.

Leonard, Penny and Sheldon are returning from the container store with an extremely happy Sheldon until he notices them taking his new bin to Penny's apartment. Penny tells Sheldon that since they are married it makes sense for Leonard and her to be living together. Sheldon gets upset claiming that the whole wonderful day was to deliver bad news to him. He adds that there was not a bin at the container store that could hold his disappointment in them.

Advice from Bernedette

Sheldon seeking advice from Bernadette.

Sheldon is visiting Bernadette to seek female comfort and encouragement about Leonard moving out to live with Penny since his relationship with Amy is strained. Bernadette was honored that he turned to her until she found out she was a picked after his mother, Leonard's mother and his Meemaw were unavailable making her seventh. Siri kept giving him the same answers. Sheldon is feeling abandoned so Bernadette suggests that this is an opportunity to find a new roommate since he has had others in the past. Sheldon muses that maybe he can find a better roommate and then rub that in Leonard's face; maybe he could get Chris Pratt. Bernadette then suggests that he take Stuart as his roommate; however, Stuart says that he is much too happy living with them.

The 2003 Approximation 0307

Stuart expresses his desire to have live music in the store

Stuart, Raj and Howard are hanging out at the comic book store and Raj finds a comic book where Archie is taking on Predator. Howard wonders how that could be, then suggests that Jughead may be a Terminator. Stuart asks if the guys know any musicians since he would like to have live music in The Comic Center of Pasadena a few times a week giving the place a "staying in business" vibe. Any kind of music is fine, but the music he likes best is free. Raj and Howard have always wanted to play together. Raj wants to play filk music, a mixture of folk and sci-fi themes. Howard likes the idea and even has a band name he has been holding since middle school - "Footprints on the Moon".

The 2003 Approximation 0306

Sheldon going through paperwork to un-roommate Leonard.

Sheldon and Leonard are going over the paperwork to officially ‘unroommate’ him. Leonard has to return his apartment key and then as his new neighbor Leonard gets an apartment key. Also he signs up for the ten year roommate reunionand turns ownership of the couch over to Sheldon in every parallel universe. When it gets to the point for Leonard to sign and make it official he hesitates and says “Man, this is harder than I thought”. Sheldon says “Oh, it’s easy..L..e..o..n...” And then Leonard signs out of annoyance.

Raj and Howard are working on their filk song. Raj suggests a David and Goliath story where the Norse god Thor goes up against Indiana Jones. The hammer versus the whip which blows Howard's mind. "Thor and Dr. Jones. One plays with lightning and the other plays with bones." Raj figures that like with the Ark of the Covenant, they are going to melt faces off with their song.

Sheldon starts to interview new roommate applicants and asks the chemist which element on the periodic table is too big for its britches. The answer is argon. The next candidate is asked if on average his Odor smells better or worse than he does at the present time. The next one is dismissed because he has a Band-Aid on his arm. Up next, he describes the candidate as being healthy and in the sciences, though he is running a credit check. He is on Skype with Amy who is not going to be his roommate. Eleven people have walked out on him. He asks Amy what has happened to him. He used to be disengaged from his emotions and as happier then. Feelings are a part of life she replies. Sheldon blames Leonard, Penny and Amy with poisoning him with emotions. He's like the Tin Man who was given a heart by the wicked wizard. Amy tells him that he is missing the point of the movie. Then Sheldon is like Pinocchio made into a real boy due to the wicked Geppetto.

Penny and Leonard are going out to eat and Leonard suggests the usual weekly Thai food. Penny tells him that he can choose anything he wants since he no longer lives with Sheldon. He goes through a dozen possible cuisines and finds himself most comfortable with Thai food. They run into Sheldon in the lobby who has reset himself to his 2003 self. He is too emotionally vulnerable and is going back to his last stable version like any operating system before he met Leonard and had to deal with emotions. Therefore, he doesn't know who they are since he hasn't met them and they must exit the premises before he calls the police on his new stylish flip-phone.


Penny and Leonard at dinner.

At dinner, Leonard is still worried about Sheldon. Penny explains that he is fine and is just a man in his 30's living like he is a man in his 20's. Leonard doesn't live with him anymore. He can set the thermostat to whatever temperature he wants and go to the bathroom at any time. He still feels like they are abandoning him though he can still be contacted on Facebook once they invent the iPhone in his universe.

Bernadette and Amy are having a drink with Amy saying that she can't believe Sheldon ran a credit check on her. Bernadette offers her a $1000 bill, to take in Stuart if she is looking for a roommate. Amy declines; however, Bernadette thought she had a pasty, weirdo-shaped hole in her life. Amy defends him as quirky, but brilliant and insightful. Calling him a weirdo is not fair, she adds as...


Sheldon arranges his apartment as it looked in 2003.

Penny and Leonard visit the apartment which is now empty except for two lawn chairs, the TV on cinder blocks and a giant cable reel for a table just as Leonard found it when he first met Sheldon. It is now 2003. Everything has been moved into the spare bedroom. Sheldon is dealing with everyone abandoning him. Leonard tells him that they are just across the hall. "Talk to the hand" replies Sheldon to Penny who says that people don't say that now or in 2003.

The 2003 Approximation 0303

Raj playing for Emily.

Raj plays the song for Emily who thinks that it is cute, but that she likes music that people can dance to. Also she gives him several words that rhyme with boulder that Raj couldn't come up with. Raj tries to dance to it and then tells Howard the problem. Howard insists that their group does songs that make people think. Finally Howard realized that Raj played it for Emily and he was asking on her comments. Howard accused her of breaking up the band, quits himself and orders Raj out of his house. Raj storms out, but they quickly reunite.

Leonard and Penny have brought over dinner with Penny telling him that it seems like a big change, but it isn't. Sheldon disagrees and starts that Amy is gone and soon they will be. They'll buy a house and instead of getting together a couple times a week, they will get together a couple times a month, and mainly for special occasions "Like when Howard and Bernadette divorce, or when Raj’s creepy girlfriend finally tells where she hid his body or at Amy’s wedding when she is marrying someone better than me."


Their band "Footsteps on the Moon".

After that Penny feels bad and then agrees that they won't change things that much and they will stay at his place. At least half the time, adds Sheldon to which Penny agrees to Leonard's confusion. Sheldon is going to be like their dog which is fine with Sheldon who runs off to create a revised roommate agreement.

The gang (except Amy) is at the comic book store listening to Howard and Raj. Everybody is polite and acting like they are enjoying the music. When the song ends, Stuart asks if they could play something that they could dance to.



  • Title Reference: The title refers to Sheldon wanting to return to the unemotional state of his personality before he met Leonard in 2003.
  • Taping date: September 9, 2015
  • This episode was watched by 14.96 million people with a rating of 3.9 (adults 18–49).
  • Total viewers including DVR users 20.03 million. And the title has 2003 in it.
  • The Big Bang Theory was ranked #5 for the week ending 18 October 18, 2015.
  • This episode aired in Canada on October 12, 2015.
  • In the United Kingdom, this episode aired on Thursday November 11, 2015 on the E4 channel. 
  • In Australia, it aired on Tuesday October 27, 2015, with 2.49 million viewers.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card [1]
  • Episode transcript [2]


  • Jesse Schedeen at IGN - Of all the character drama brewing on The Big Bang Theory lately, perhaps no subplot is more compelling than Sheldon's fear of having to live his life without Leonard and Penny as his constant companions. For most close groups of friends, marriage means moving on and new lives for all involved. But for a guy like Sheldon, phrases like "moving on" and "starting a new life" are the stuff of nightmares. This episode was notable for diving headlong into this ongoing conflict and Sheldon's inability to embrace change. And it made for an enjoyable conflict, even if it felt like the writers were forestalling the conflict rather than trying to bring it to a head. [3]
  • IMDb user reviews [4]


  • Leonard and Penny finally move in together.
  • Sheldon fears that Amy could meet and marry someone else which upsets him greatly.
  • Despite breaking up with him, Amy still defends Sheldon.
  • Bernadette is once again dismissive of Sheldon and Amy's relationship by trying to offload Stuart on to her instead.
  • This could also be considered a reversal of the events in "The Spoiler Alert Segmentation" (S6E15), where Amy wanted to move in with Sheldon, but he didn't want to.
  • First time Laura Spencer is listed in the opening credits.
  • Sheldon gives his new neighbor (Leonard) a key to his apartment despite Penny already having an emergency key.
  • During the scenes when Leonard moves out and Sheldon changes the apartment back to '2003', Sheldon is wearing the same black Flash t-shirt that he wore the day he met Leonard in 2003, in "The Staircase Implementation" (S3E22)
  • Amy only has two appearances in this episode.
    • 1. One appearance via Skype telling Sheldon that she'll not be his roommate and consoling him over feeling abandoned.
    • 2. One physical appearance at the wine bar having a discussion with Bernadette including her defending Sheldon.
  • Amy shares no scenes with the six other members of the gang (Howard, Raj, The 'Lenny' couple [Leonard & Penny], Emily and Stuart) in this episode and she also does not come to the comic book store with Stuart, Sheldon, Bernadette, the 'Lenny' couple (Leonard & Penny) and Emily to watch Raj and Howard sing their song at the end of this episode.  
  • The second time Sheldon mentions his mother (The first time was in "The Agreement Dissection" (S4E21) when Sheldon was out with Penny, Bernadette and Amy at the bar) and the first time Leonard's mother to Bernadette, of whom she still hasn't met once again as of this episode since four previous season episodes ago:
    • Bernadette still hasn't met Leonard's mother since "The Maternal Congruence" (S3E11) of which is an episode in Season 3 that she didn't have a guest appearance in before becoming a main cast member from Season 4 onwards.
    • Bernadette still hasn't met Sheldon's mother since Season 4's "The Zazzy Substitution" (S4E3) and Season 5's "The Rhinitis Revelation" (S5E6) of which were two episodes of the entire show that she didn't appear in as a main cast member.
    • Bernadette still hasn't met both Leonard's and Sheldon's mothers since "The Maternal Combustion" (S8E23) of which was an episode in Season 8 where she was busy getting Raj, Howard and Stuart to clean up after themselves at the Wolowitz house. 
  • Both mothers (Sheldon's and Leonard's) of whom Sheldon has mentioned to Bernadette do not get featured in this episode because there are no guest appearances by Laurie Metcalf and Christine Baranski in any scenes of this episode.
  • Bernadette is only seen with three appearances in this episode.
    • 1. One physical appearance with a speaking part with Sheldon on the couch at the Wolowitz house discussing about a number of things. Before one quick chat with Stuart before he leaves the Wolowitz house.
    • 2. One small speaking appearance with Amy at the wine bar discussing about defending Sheldon.
    • 3. One small silent appearance with the 'Lenny' couple (Leonard & Penny), Emily, Stuart and Sheldon at the comic book store watch Raj and Howard sing their song at the end of this episode.
  • Bernadette has no speaking appearances with Emily, Howard, Raj, Penny and Leonard in this episode.
  • Sheldon had previously shouted about his mother whilst Bernadette finishes a girly conversation about shoes with Penny in the apartment dinner scene of "The Gorilla Experiment" (S3E10) to which Sheldon's mother didn't appear in that episode and Bernadette still hasn't met Sheldon's mother since then.
  • During the scene where Howard and Raj perform their song to everyone at the comic book store, it is obvious that Kaley Cuoco is struggling to contain her laughter at the scene. It isn't unreasonable that Penny would find this funny considering her friendship with the gang.
    • In the season 9 blooper reel, there is a take of the scene where Kaley Cuoco burst out laughing in the song, causing the other cast members to break character as well.
  • Sheldon's twin sister Missy does not seem to be in his top seven list of women that he could turn to for comfort. Sheldon does not mention to Bernadette about trying to reach out to her, although he did with his mother and Meemaw. If Bernadette was not available, then maybe he would try Missy.


Sheldon: Blue Icees and a trip to the container store? It’s like I died and went to the post-mortem, neuron-induced hallucination commonly mistaken as heaven.

(The scene of Sheldon on the couch in the living room at the Wolowitz house with Bernadette putting down a tray of beverages)
Sheldon: Thank you for letting me come and speak with you.
Bernadette: Of course.
Sheldon: My relationships with Amy and Penny are currently strained, I’m turning to you for female comfort and encouragement.
Bernadette: Aww. I’m honored.
Sheldon: I tried reaching out to my mother, but she was in Bible study. Leonard’s mother is on a book tour. My Mee-maw is taking a nap and after a while Siri started repeating her answers.
Bernadette: (she informs him crossly) So I’m your seventh choice.
Sheldon: Yeah, I know. Top ten, pretty exciting.
Bernadette: (asking him crossly) How can I help you?
Sheldon: Well, in addition to Amy leaving me, Leonard's moving in with Penny. It's difficult not to feel abandoned.
(Bernadette thinks crossly for a second)
Bernadette: (she suggests to him crossly) Well, why don't you look at this as an opportunity? You had other roommates before Leonard. (Sheldon nods for one second whilst he is thinking) Maybe this is a chance to find someone new.
Sheldon: Hm. Perhaps I could find someone better than Leonard. Someone I can rub in his face. Chris Pratt's all the rage right now. (Bernadette smiles shiftily for one second) I wonder how he'd feel about taking the smaller bedroom.
Stuart: (coming down the stairs) Hey.
Bernadette: Hey. (Asking Sheldon happily) You know who would be the perfect roommate?
Sheldon: Gandalf, but he's a smoker.
Bernadette: Stuart. He's been living with us for a while now. I'm sure he'd love to get us out of his hair.
Stuart: (he starts to leave immediately) Nope, couldn't be happier.
Bernadette: Well, Sheldon's looking for a...
Stuart: (he's now gone in a hurry) Nope.
Bernadette: He'll think about it.
Stuart: (out of sight) No I won't!
(The sound of the front door slamming is played to the scene of Sheldon and Bernadette gazing round the living room)

Sheldon: Just a few more signatures and then we’ll be finished. Initial here to acknowledge that you returned your key. my future neighbor, I’d like you to have a key. Initial here to acknowledge that you received it.
Penny: I’m proud of you. You’re really taking it well.
Sheldon: It’s not like I’ll never see you two again. Which brings us to article 23 subsection C-please check here to reserve your spot at the ten year roommate reunion.
Leonard: Do I really have to do that now?
Sheldon: NO, but if you want chicken and get stuck with the fish, that’s on you. All right. oh and lastly, please initial here to confirm that ownership of the living room couch is hereby transferred to me in perpetuity all throughout the universe and all alternate universes except for those universes where owning a couch is forbidden by the hive queen. In which case, all glory to the hive queen. All right, all that’s left is to sign and date the document, and we will officially no longer be roommates.
Penny: What’s the matter?
Leonard: It’s harder than I thought.
Sheldon: Let me help you. L..E..O..N..
Leonard: That helped. (Signed)

Sheldon: I appreciate your interest in the apartment. I just need to ask you a few standard questions.
Candidate 1: Sure.
Sheldon: It says here you're a chemist. Which element on the periodic table do you feel is too big for its britches?
Candidate 1: Is that supposed to be a joke?
Sheldon: Looks like argon's not the only one with an attitude problem. (to candidate 2) In general, would you say that you smell better, worse or the same as you do right now? (to the 3rd roommate candidate) I was going to ask you what is the best fruit, but then I realized what I want to ask you is why is there a Band-Aid on your forearm, but then I realized what I really want to ask you is just can you just go? (to his next roommate candidate) You're healthy. You have a job in the sciences. I've got to say, if this credit report comes back good, you're the frontrunner.
(Scene of a really disgruntled Amy on Skype played for five seconds. Sheldon looks at her for a couple of seconds).
Amy: (she is so furious) I'm not gonna be your roommate, Sheldon.
Sheldon: (sighs) But I met with 11 people, and they all walked out. And that Hollywood phony Chris Pratt never tweeted me back.
Amy: (she is still furious) I'm sure you'll find somebody else.
Sheldon: I suppose. What happened to me Amy? (Amy frowns) Years ago I was completely disengaged from my feelings. I’d say it was a happier time, but I was disengaged from my feelings, so who can tell.
Amy: (she is completely fed up) I don’t know how to help you. You know, feelings are a part of life.
Sheldon: They didn’t used to be. (Amy has an angry think) You and Leonard and Penny, you all poisoned me with emotions. I was like the Tin man perfectly content until that evil wizard gave him a heart.
Amy: (she's still in a fully bad mood) I don’t think that was the point of the movie.
Sheldon: Fine. Then I was like Pinocchio before that jerk Geppetto made him a real boy.
Amy: (finally loses her temper) There you go.

Penny: Well, honey, you don’t live with Sheldon anymore so you can have anything you want.

Sheldon: I realize I’ve become too emotionally vulnerable so like an operating system I’m restoring my life to the last stable version, which was in 2003, the day before I met Leonard.
Leonard: You heard him. No.
Penny: Hang on. You actually think its 2003?
Sheldon: No, just because I’m living my life like it was twelve years ago doesn’t mean I’m delusional. And since its 2003, I don’t know who you are, so please exit the premises before I call the police on my stylish new flip phone.

(The scene of Bernadette and Amy at a table for two in a swanky wine bar)
Bernadette: [she is so surprised] I can't believe Sheldon has asked you to be his roommate.
Amy: [she's also surprised] I can't believe he ran my credit.
Bernadette: [she speaks to Amy crossly] Hey, if you're open to living with someone great. I'll give you $1,000 to take Stuart.
Amy: [calmly] You really should've gone on the Internet and checked how long that kind of thing lives before you got one.
Bernadette: [she speaks to her with a concerned smile] I thought you just might have a pasty weirdo-shaped hole in your life.
Amy: [she is not very happy] Hey, I know Sheldon’s quirky, but he’s also brilliant and insightful. I think calling him a weirdo is a little unfair.

Leonard: Buddy, I know moving in with Penny feels like a big change, but it’s not.
Sheldon: How can you say that? Amy’s gone, and you two are married now, so it’s only a matter of time before you're gone too.
Penny: Okay, you don’t know what’s going to happen.
Sheldon: No, I do. Eventually you’re going to want more space, and you’re going to move into a house.. And then instead of dinner a couple of times a week, it’ll only be a couple of times a month, and then only on special occasions like when Bernadette divorces Wolowitz. Or- or-or like when Kootherpali’s weird girlfriend admits where she buried his body. Or Amy’s wedding where’s she marrying someone better than me.

Raj: ♪ Thor and Dr. Jones ♪ ♪ Thor and Dr. Jones ♪ ♪ One runs from Loki ♪ ♪ The other runs from stones. ♪ So, what do you think?
Emily: Wow.
Raj: Runs from stones means that-that big boulder, but I couldn't rhyme anything with boulder.
Emily: Colder, shoulder, soldier, folder...
Raj: Right, yeah, right. (Emily thinks) But... what do you think?
Emily: I think it's very cute.
Raj: Cute? It's not cute. Cute is children dressed as vegetables.
Emily: Okay, fine, it's not cute.
Raj: Just be honest. You don't like it.
Emily: I didn't say that. I-I just like music you can dance to.
Raj: You can dance to this! Um, uh, uh... ♪ Thor and Dr. Jones ♪ ♪ Thor and Dr. Jones ♪ ♪ One plays with lightning ♪ ♪ The other plays with bones. ♪

Raj: I'm telling you, dude, the song has no groove. You can't dance to it.
Howard: Who cares? I thought the whole point of Footprints on the Moon was to write songs that make people think.
Raj: You can do both, like Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." While you're dancing you're thinking, like, "Darn it, whose baby is it?"
Howard: Where's this coming from? A few hours ago, we both loved this song.
Raj: I still love it. I just think there's room for improvement.
Howard: You played it for Emily, didn't you?
Raj: Yeah, so what?
Howard: You are such a wimp. She didn't like it, now you don't like it.
Raj: No, no. I'm just evolving as a musician. You're the one who's stuck in the past.
Howard: The past was lunch! You know what's really happening here? Your girlfriend is breaking up our band.
Raj: She has nothing to do with this. I am my own man.
Howard: Oh, please. Your brain belongs to whoever's willing to sleep with you.
Raj: That is so not true.
Howard: Really? Remember when you were gonna get circumcised for Rachel Bernstein?
Raj: That had nothing to do with Rachel. It was an overreaction to a bad zipper injury.
Howard: I don't need this. (He slams the laptop down in a rage) I'm quitting the band!
Raj: Fine, I quit, too!
Howard: Then get out of my house!
Raj: With pleasure!
(Raj now exits just as Howard sits back down on the sofa and hears the front door slamming in the background. Howard now sighs for a bit and thinks for a second. He now calls Raj back)
Howard: Raj, wait.
Raj: What took you so long?