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"The 21-Second Excitation" is the eighth episode of the fourth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Thursday, November 11, 2010.[1] Penny's Posse debuted on this episode.


Sheldon, Leonard, Raj, and Howard excitedly plan to attend a screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark that includes 21 seconds of never-before-seen footage; however, their plans go awry when Sheldon's nemesis, Wil Wheaton, shows up at the movie theater. Meanwhile, Penny hosts a girl's night party at her apartment with Bernadette and Amy who invited herself to the party and begins to bond with them.

Extended Plot[]

The gang is watching Raiders of the Lost Ark at Leonard and Sheldon's apartment, and everyone is enjoying it, even Penny, who wants to know how Indiana Jones developed amazing skills with the whip if he was an archaeologist. The guys announce that they are going to the upcoming midnight showing of the movie, complete with twenty-one extra seconds of footage, which will explain the submarine controversy. Leonard cannot believe that Penny had never seen Raiders until now. She retorts that she cannot believe that Leonard has never read Eat, Pray, Love. Raj says that he has read it and it changed his life.

Cooper-Wheaton War in 21-point extraction

Sheldon impersonates Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: First Contact.

At the Cheesecake Factory on the day of the showing, Sheldon is panicking, because the movie is only seven hours away and they have to get in line. After Howard mocks Sheldon, he feels that as his roommate, Leonard should back him up. When Leonard fails to help, Sheldon wonders what happened to the Leonard Hofstadter who waited in line with him for fourteen hours to see the midnight premiere of Star Trek: Nemesis. Leonard replies that he waited for the whole fourteen hours as Sheldon napped; that he got into a fight with a man dressed Klingon and Sheldon was too tired to help, and, worst of all, they had to watch the terrible movie. Amy tries to be more accepted in his social group by agreeing with everybody else. After Bernadette gets cute with Howard, she mentions her girl's night with Penny. Amy tells her that she is a girl too and proceeds to get herself invited. She feels that she and Penny are best friends and Penny nonchalantly agrees, though she has to go shopping for something comfortable to wear.

As it turns out, Sheldon was right: the line is ridiculously long, snaking to the end of the block. To make matters worse, Wil Wheaton, "the Jar-Jar Binks of the Star Trek universe", shows up with his friends from the comic book store. The bouncer is a big fan of Wheaton's, and he immediately let them into the cinema.


Wil Wheaton, with Captain Sweatpants and Lonely Larry from the Comic Book Store, annoys Sheldon in line at the Raiders of the Lost Ark screening.

At Penny's apartment, Amy is describing her unusually firm cervix and a tilted uterus, as she does not quite understand the concept of "girl talk". As Penny shows Bernadette her new manicure, Amy starts talking about her friend's thesis on the fungus that grows on manicure implements, thinking that it should do the trick nicely. Penny reaches for the next bottle of wine. Bernadette suggests they'll have to make it a slumber party. Amy adds that they'll do makeovers, initiate phony phone calls, and "have spirited pillow fights in our frilly nighties!" Penny reluctantly agrees, and immediately gets a pillow in the face from Amy.

Back in line at the cinema, Sheldon reads Wil Wheaton's tweet: "Best seats in the house for "Raiders" screening. Suck on that, Sheldon Cooper." Then he gets a call on his phone to test its quality using test phrases: "Imatote. Ulba. Twad. All together? 'I'm a total butt-wad.' Why are you laughing?” It turns out that Penny was making a phony phone call.

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Sheldon tries to steal the film cans for Raiders of the Lost Ark from the unattended projection booth.

Later, Penny gives Amy a manicure which makes her nails look prettier than they have ever been. Then she makes her take it off. The next game is "Truth or Dare". Amy asks Bernadette a question about killing bacteria in beef, followed by asking her the circumference of her areolas.

The bouncer cuts the guys off just as they reach the cinema's entrance, citing that they are full, and sends everybody else home. Sheldon starts complaining, until he sees an open door at the side, and runs in, stealing the movie print from the unguarded projection room: "If I can't see it, no one else can see it." Wil Wheaton finds Sheldon in his act of thievery and he leads the whole cinema clientele after Sheldon and the guys reminiscent of Indiana Jones’ race to his pontoon plane in Raiders, complete with appropriate background music.

Thebigbangtheorys04e08webdl720pdd51h264jhonny2mkv 001059767

Sheldon, Raj, Howard and Leonard flee the theater with the film reels.

Amy is finishing telling "The Miller's Tale" by Chaucer in the original Middle English, which was the dirtiest story she knew; Bernadette had dared her to tell one. Bernadette then asks Penny why she hangs out with Leonard even though they broke up. Penny explains that just because they're not seeing each other anymore doesn't mean we can't be friends. Leonard's a great guy. He got too serious and she wasn't ready for it. Then they ask her if she is ready for it in the future how she feel if she was with someone else since he is “a great guy”; however, Amy and Bernadette have gone too far. Penny doesn't want to play the game anymore and leaves, upset. Amy thinks that they've won the game.

Much later, Amy wants to find another game since Penny is still upset. Her list includes eating raw cookie dough or experimental lesbianism. Off screen Amy enters Penny's bedroom as Penny first greets and then screams asking her, "What are you doing?", as Amy strips completely naked in front of her. Bernadette thinks skipping to eating raw cookie dough was a better option.



  • The TV Critic: "It makes sense that Amy would be like Sheldon, how else could he tolerate her? The writers try hard here to write her as a surrogate Sheldon in scenes with Penny. While this largely fails there are moments where it succeeds...Amy is presented as having no social skills or understanding at all. While that can work (as with Truth or Dare?), more often than not the writers just had her say inappropriate things...There is promise in Amy yet but they need to define her. I'm not sure there is promise in Leonard and Penny anymore which is a shame." The TV Critic's Review
  • The A.V. Club gave this episode a B+.[2]
  • IMDb user reviews


  • Mayim Bialik became part of the main cast in this episode by being listed in the opening credits.
  • Title Reference: Sheldon, Leonard, Raj, and Howard are excited to see a print of Raiders of the Lost Ark, which includes 21 seconds of never-before-released footage.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card.
  • This episode was watched by 13.11 million people with a rating of 4.2 (adults 18–49).[3]
  • This episode aired in Canada on November 11, 2010, with 3.304 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #1.[4]
  • In the United Kingdom, this episode aired on December 23, 2010, with 0.749 million viewers.[5]
  • In Australia, it aired on February 23, 2011, with 0.852 million viewers and a weekly ranking of 44.[6]
  • Episode transcript [1]

Costume Notes[]

  • Leonard wears his white-on-green recycle logo t-shirt.
  • Sheldon wears a space shoot'em up t-shirt (aka "shmup), now discontinued at JINX.


  • Because of her broken leg, Kaley Cuoco is shown working as The Cheesecake Factory's bartender again, instead of her normal job as a waitress. Also, a body double is used when Penny storms off to her bedroom near the end of the episode.
  • Sheldon recalls how he made Leonard wait in line for Star Trek Nemesis to get good seats, though that film was released in 2002 and Leonard and Sheldon didn't meet until 2003, according to "The Staircase Implementation" (S3E22). Given the tepid response to the film by the public at large, it is unlikely there was a revival showing of it, unless it too had unseen footage, that would have made the movie better; however, no Director's Cut was released for Nemesis, and in any case hard-core fans like Sheldon and Leonard would probably go to see the premiere -- else why spend a whole day in line?
  • The so-called "submarine controversy" from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" refers to the scene where Indiana Jones grabs hold to the outside of a Nazi submarine and rides it all the way to their hidden island base. The "controversy" is how Indy knew the sub wouldn't submerge and likely cause him to drown. In novelizations and comic adaptations of the film, the submarine does submerge, but Indy lashes himself to the periscope, which remains above water.
  • The addition of 21 seconds to a Raiders of the Lost Ark special edition echoes George Lucas's adjustments to the Star Wars films, and also calls to mind the South Park episode "Free Hat," in which the boys of South Park try to stop George Lucas and Steven Spielberg from creating a special edition of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • Wil Wheaton has referenced Star Wars twice. While Sheldon was waiting in line for the special screening of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" in this episode, he calls Wil Wheaton the Jar Jar Binks of the Star Trek universe, causing Wil Wheaton to impersonate Jar Jar Binks - "Meesa think that very funny." In "The Wheaton Recurrence", Wil Wheaton told Sheldon to embrace the dark side during the bowling match, with Sheldon pointing out "that's not even from your franchise."
  • Sheldon quoted Captain Jean-Luc Picard on "Star Trek: First Contact, "...the line must be drawn here! This far, no further!"
  • The night that the episode premiered, the "Common Activities" section of the Wikipedia entry for Sleepovers, which Amy refers to for help during the episode, was edited to include the quote "harmless experimentation with lesbianism" as well as to list eating cookie dough and prank calls as common sleepover activities. These were quickly removed, likely because while they are indeed activities that some sleepovers include they could not be considered common.
  • Bernadette notes that Howard has one really long chest hair, but there are several episodes in which Howard is shown shirtless with relatively thick chest hair.
  • When Raj whistles for Sheldon as he is stealing the film reels from the unattended projection booth, Sheldon responds to the call with no sign of being disgruntled. Previously, in "The Friendship Algorithm", Leonard revealed that Sheldon does not tolerate whistling and actually posted a flyer at Cal Tech: "Roommate Wanted. Whistlers need NOT apply." Penny also whistles for Sheldon to come and at times treats him like a dog.
  • This is one of several episodes where the gang treats Sheldon like a dog.
  • The final scene with Sheldon being chased from the cinema by the audience is based on the scene in "Raiders" where Indiana Jones is chased by the natives and runs for the pontoon plane. Sheldon even mentions that there is never a pontoon plane when you need one as he runs off camera.
  • In line at the movie theater, Leonard is holding a copy of "Eat, Pray, Love", the novel which Penny and Raj had been pushing earlier.
  • Captain Sweatpants (the middle-aged portly man in workout clothes) and Lonely Larry (the rachitic-looking man in a brown jacket) are in Wil Wheaton's gang. Both are also regular patrons at Stuart's comic book store.
  • When Amy and Bernadette inform Penny that she could lose Leonard due to her decision and because of another girl thinking he's "a great guy", this was an instant foreshadowing of "The Cohabitation Formulation", when Leonard begins to date Raj's sister, Priya.
  • This is the of two episodes where they are waiting in a movie line, as in "The Line Substitution Solution".
  • First time that Amy claims that she and Penny are best friends or besties. By the time of Amy's wedding when she is choosing a maid of honor, Penny realizes and admits that Amy is her best friend.
  • This is the first time (at least onscreen) that Amy meets Bernadette, as they share no scenes in the The Desperation Emanation. Also the first time Penny's Posse is together, as Penny was absent from that episode.


Amy: Yes, and continue to bond. I have a feeling that after tonight, one of you will become my best friend forever, or BFF if you prefer - which I don't.

Bernadette: (on Raiders of the Lost Ark) Oh, no. That movie has melting faces. It reminds me too much of the time I dropped that vial of flesh-eating bacteria into the Rhesus monkey lab. Besides, Penny and I are having a girls’ night tonight.

Sheldon: (explaining why he follows Wil Wheaton, his enemy, on Twitter) I believe in knowing my enemy, Leonard. Had Twitter existed at the time, would not General Custer have followed the tweets of Sitting Bull? Would not Lee have followed Grant? Would not Spy have followed Spy? (his cell phone starts ringing) I have more examples, but excuse me. (Answers the call, unaware it's the girls) Hello. Well, this seems like an odd time to test my cell phone quality, but go on. Test phrases? All right. "I'm a toat. Ulbut. Twad". All together? "I’m a total butt wad". Why are you laughing? Hello?

Wil Wheaton: Oh, look who they let in.
Sheldon: Don't worry, Wil Wheaton, I was just leaving. (Taking the Indiana Jones movie and singing the Raiders march) Da-da-da-da, da-da-da. (Exits)
Howard: Come on, Short Round.
Leonard: Yeah. (They and Raj run after Sheldon)

(Outside the cinema, Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj run away, as Sheldon has nicked the movie)
Wil Wheaton: He’s got the movie! Get him! (The angry clientele follow him, running after Sheldon, imitating a scene from Raiders)
Sheldon: Why is there never a pontoon plane when you need one?

Sheldon: "Trouble" is my middle name, Leonard. Actually, it's Lee, but I prefer "Trouble".

Wil Wheaton: (Jar-Jar imitation) Meesa think that very funny.
Wil Wheaton: (after he and his pals are let into the cinema ahead of everybody else, again imitating Jar Jar) Meesa go into the movie now. Bye-bye!

Sheldon: Imma tote. Oba. Twad. Altogether? "I'm a total butt wad." (The other guys laugh) (to the "person" on the phone) Why are you laughing? Hello?