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"The Apology Insufficiency" is the seventh episode of the fourth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Thursday, November 4, 2010.[1]


Howard is trying to get top secret government security clearance, and in order to clear him, an F.B.I. agent interviews his friends about his past and any secrets he may have. This leads to Sheldon putting Howard's career in jeopardy.

Extended Plot[]


Good looking FBI Agent Angela Page.

Leonard decides that to attract women he has to exude confidence. Sheldon wants to talk about capybara rodents. When Leonard demonstrates his new act, Raj is impressed and Sheldon wants to talk about rodents. Howard walks in to tell about his new project with the Department of Defense which requires him to have a top level security clearance. He used the three of them as references and the F.B.I. Raj is naturally scared, as he has it could be a one-way trip back to Gandhi-ville.

Raj is at home reading "New Moon" and is interrupted by F.B.I. Special Agent Angela Page, a beautiful and formidable woman. The conversation starts out a bit muted until Raj liquors up with some rum cake. Raj has known Howard for seven years, never committed a felony, and his only known foreign contact is Raj. Suddenly Raj becomes completely paranoid that she will have him deported back to India. He goes on how he loves America to the confusion of Agent Page.

Next Leonard is visited by Agent Page who decides to come on to her with his new confidence act whipping off his eyeglasses. He was glad to get Scully instead of Mulder; however, Agent Page does not know the "X-Files" series. Leonard tells her that she pops, sparkles, and buzzes electric and that he'll pick her up at 8. She agrees and asks if she can bring along her 6' 2" Navy SEAL husband. He missed seeing her wedding ring or anything without his glasses on.

When she visits Sheldon, he naturally doesn't trust her, despite Agent Page showing her badge. Sheldon has a Justice League ID card, but it doesn't mean he knows Batman. Finally he asks her the F.B.I. motto (fidelity, bravery, integrity) which convinces Sheldon. Agent Page asks if he considers Howard responsible. Sheldon shows her his 9-disc Blu-Ray edition of “The Lord of the Rings”, in which Howard accidentally damaged one of the plastic retention hubs and didn't tell him. He also changed one of his World of Warcraft characters from "Sheldor" to "Smelldor", insisted Sheldon go see the third "Matrix" movie, crashed the Mars rover to impress a woman, .... Oops! Agent Page made note of that comment. Sheldon wants to retract it since it didn't involve him.

Another day, Howard confronts the gang because he didn't get his security clearance and can't work on the DoD project. Raj confesses he was drunk on rum cake and Leonard admitted to hitting on her. Sheldon doesn't say a thing, but is clearly upset. During the night he is discussing the topic with Leonard who tells him directly that this experience must be a dream. There is a Star Trek Gorn creature sitting in his spot who waves to him. Sheldon wakes up abruptly.


Sheldon seeking advice from the local bartender.

Sheldon tries to talk to Agent Page, but she refuses to change her findings and the matter is closed. Sheldon starts to read a poem he wrote praising Howard. (H is for ...) She stops him making him frustrated and he starts to talk about Leonard almost giving away rocket secrets to a North Korean spy. She starts taking notes and asks if that's Leonard Hofstadter. Sheldon leaves after telling her, “No, this was a different Leonard, Chinese, red hair, six fingers...”

Sheldon finally goes to Howard to apologize; however, Howard is greatly offended since he set Howard's career back at least two years. He won't accept his apology.

Sheldon goes to the Cheesecake Factory bar to pour out his troubles to the local barkeeper, Penny. After asking for just alcohol, he checks his phone app and requests a Rosewater Rickey. Penny doesn't have the exotic ingredients and just pours him a shot claiming that that is the way she makes them. Sheldon takes it and then spits it out. Since this situation seems like a no-win scenario, Sheldon brings up the Star Trek Kobayashi Maru scenario, which Penny correctly points out that Captain James T. Kirk won it by cheating and reprogramming the test. She inspires Sheldon to go and try to reprogram Howard.

In the cafeteria, Sheldon tries to convince Howard to accept his apology using neuro-linguistic programming. Since that fails, he bribes him by giving Howard his spot (Cushion) on the couch. Knowing how much that means to Sheldon, Howard does finally accept his apology. Later, Howard is sitting in Sheldon's spot complimenting it's excellent location, when Sheldon takes it back. Leonard comments that he was there only 94 seconds and then Penny gives him some money paying off a bet.



  • The TV Critic: "Sheldon's decision to offer Howard his spot on the couch is another victory for continuity. The writing has so consistently made that spot a core component of Sheldon's character that the offer to Howard came across as a genuinely meaningful sacrifice on Sheldon's part...The scenes with Sheldon confronting Agent Page and then chatting to Penny suffered because they had little purpose. They were attempts to exploit Sheldon's ability to get laughs but they failed. Sheldon works at his best when he organically interacts with the outside world as he did in the original interview."[2]
  • The A.V. Club gave this episode a B- rating.[3]
  • IMDb user reviews


  • Title Reference: The title refers to Sheldon's first apology to Howard about his comments to the F.B.I. that he considered insufficient.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card.
  • This episode was watched by 14.00 million people with a rating of 4.7 (adults 18–49).[4]
  • This episode aired in Canada on November 4, 2010, with 3.408 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #1.[5]
  • In the United Kingdom, this episode aired on December 16, 2010, with 0.832 million total viewers and a weekly ranking of #13.[6]
  • In Australia, it aired on February 16, 2011, with 0.964 million viewers.[7]
  • Episode transcript [1]

Costume Notes[]

  • Sheldon sports his ManBot t-shirt, arguably his favorite as it is the one he has worn in more episodes than any other - and in more colors (green, blue, and purple). He also wears a neon gradient Batman logo t-shirt and his Flash: Crimson Comet t-shirt.
    Batman gradiant logo

    Batman neon gradient logo



  • Bernadette and Amy don't get featured in this episode, because there is no regular appearance by Melissa Rauch as a main cast member in this episode and there is no guest appearance by Mayim Bialik in this episode. They have been absent in the previous episode (S4E6). They are not needed for any of the story lines in this episode. They don't get mentioned either.
  • Howard's middle name, Joel, is revealed for the first time in this episode.
  • Sheldon mentions his honorary Justice League of America membership card, first mentioned in "The Grasshopper Experiment" (S1E8).
  • This is the first appearance of Penny after being absent from the past two episodes (1: S4E5 & 2: S4E6). She is behind the bar at The Cheesecake Factory as actress Kaley Cuoco was recovering from a broken leg to hide the injury. She also appeared at the end of the episode, but did not move.
  • This is the fifth of nine Season 4 episodes where Melissa Rauch (Bernadette) is absent from and this is the fourth of nine Season 4 episodes where Mayim Bialik (Amy) is absent from.
  • Sheldon loves his spot on the couch more than he loves his own mother.
  • Sheldon, confused about the cause of his guilt-ridden insomnia, reveals that he is no longer obsessing over why the predicted mass of the quantum vacuum has little effect on the expansion of the universe.
  • Raj's paranoid behavior regarding Agent Page is partially justified because he could have been deported in "The Pirate Solution" (S3E4). Raj is in US under a H1B Visa.
  • The appearance of Eliza Dushku as an FBI agent could possibly be a subtle reference to her TV series "Dollhouse". Sheldon makes another reference to Dollhouse when he announces to Penny that he is going to "re-program" Howard.
  • When Agent Page knocks on Raj's door he is reading a book from the Twilight series of vampire fantasy romance novels, which is an in-joke as Eliza Dushku who plays Angela Page previously played 'Faith the Vampire Slayer' on Buffy/Angel.
  • When Agent Page comes to see Leonard, he says he was expecting Fox Mulder| Mulder instead of Dana Scully in a reference to "The X-Files".
  • The fourth reference to the Olive Garden is made, as there is one down the street from The Cheesecake Factory. Previously, it was mentioned in "The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification" (S4E2), "The Dead Hooker Juxtaposition" (S2E19) and "The Lizard-Spock Expansion" (S2E8).
  • Strangely, despite the fact that the destruction of the Mars Rover had been well publicized, and Sheldon revealed that Howard had destroyed it to the FBI (accidentally), Howard is never arrested, despite it being a serious felony, destroying government equipment worth millions of dollars.
  • Sheldon's statement about Leonard nearly revealing secrets to a North Korean spy was mentioned in "The Staircase Implementation" (S3E22), where Joyce Kim had a relationship with Leonard to get him to show her his experimental rocket fuel.
  • Although Sheldon told Howard that he was the one responsible for costing him his security clearance, he never actually told Howard how he cost him his security clearance, by telling the FBI agent about the Mars Rover incident.
  • This is the first time Sheldon intentionally imbibes alcohol (other than the extenuating circumstances shown in "The Pants Alternative"), in this case to drown his sorrows; however, he spits out the single shot of alcohol he orders in disgust immediately after drinking it twice and thus does not end up drunk.
  • Two slayers from Buffy appeared on the series, both Eliza and Sarah Michelle Ge!lar. Along with Nathan Fillon's appearance on the show this means that 3 out 4 stars of Joss Whedon's TV series have featured.


Sheldon: No, the cushion is merely symbolic. I'm giving you my spot on the couch.
Howard: [aghast] But... You love that spot!
Sheldon: No, I love my mother. My feelings for my spot are much greater. It is the singular location in space around which revolves my entire universe... And now it's yours.

Sheldon: If only there was a way to force Howard to accept my apology to escape this miasma of guilt!
Penny: You know, sometimes stuff just happens and there's nothing you can do about it. For example, Lisa Peterson hasn't talked to me since the 11th grade because no matter how much you apologize, you can't go back and un-dry-hump someone's boyfriend.

Howard: I got to tell you, Sheldon, I understand why you chose this spot. I mean, the temperature is good, but there’s no draft. I can see the television, but I can still talk to…
Sheldon: I changed my mind. Get out of my spot.
Penny: How long?
Leonard: [checks watch] 94 seconds.

Penny: I’m sorry, honey, I don’t know milliliters.
Sheldon: Ah. Blame President James “Jimmy” Carter. He started America on a path to the metric system, but then just gave up. He wonders why he was a one-term president.