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"The Bus Pants Utilization" is the twelfth episode of the fourth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Thursday, January 6, 2011.[1]


Leonard has an idea to make a smartphone app to identify differential equations. Sheldon quickly tries to put himself in charge of the team to build the app, but he proves to be impossible to work with.

Extended Plot[]

Sheldon, Howard and Raj are eating together in the Cafeteria when Leonard approaches them with an idea for a smartphone software app that helps users solve Differential Equations. Leonard quickly recruits Howard and Raj, with Sheldon pompously volunteering himself. Leonard mentions they may make a little money off the app, leading Howard to imagine building a place over the garage to escape his mother with the money, and Raj dreams of taking pretty girls on "Submarine Rides".


Sheldon is playing with his noisy Theremin.

When they get back home, Leonard announces that nobody else is currently making an app like theirs. Because of Penny's presence, Sheldon is afraid Penny will steal Leonard's idea. He points out an "Unlikely, but very plausible scenario" that Penny befriends the gang to steal a marketable idea from them. Penny points out that she hangs out with them partly because she receives free food. After Penny leaves, Sheldon quickly designates himself as the leader of the group, when he lists himself as Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Science Officer, Chairman Of the Board, and Head of the Secret Santa Committee, meanwhile Leonard is only listed as Founder. After a brief argument, Leonard is able to regain his post as the leader. Over time, Sheldon continues to mock Leonard's leadership, and makes further attempts to glorify him by suggesting that the project be named after him, despite the fact that it was Leonard's idea, but he is told to shut up. When Sheldon abruptly proposes a vote to change the leadership, he is promptly kicked off the team for his obnoxious behavior.

Though Sheldon is off the team, Leonard is still fine with driving him to work, but that changes after Sheldon criticizes Leonard's height and saying he has a "Big Napoleon Complex." Sheldon has to put on his Bus Pants and use the bus to go to work. Sheldon tries to persuade Howard and Raj to join his rivaling team and abandon Leonard with gifts. Failing that, Sheldon tries to hinder the team's progress and make a nuisance of himself by playing his noisy theremin in front of them, which results in him getting kicked out of the apartment.

Penny finds Sheldon playing the theremin at the hallway and tells him about her idea for an app that help user find places on the Internet to buy shoes which Sheldon turns down. Feeling sympathy for him she invites him for hot cocoa, and he accepts with the remark "A disappointing drink for a disappointing day", a decision which she soon regrets. Leonard agrees that he will let Sheldon back on the team and into the apartment if Penny is able to make Sheldon apologize, thinking it was impossible. Penny manages to do it by telling Sheldon to perform his apology with sarcasm (while also lying to him by claiming that the others desperately need his help). After a brief period back in the team, Sheldon is kicked off again and is seen in the last scene making an algorithm for Penny's shoe finder app.



  • The TV Critic: "As soon as Leonard announced his idea my eyes began rolling. Any project on this show just leads to endless tedious arguments between Sheldon and anyone who will answer back. This episode was a showcase for why the show should not be built around Sheldon the way it is. His interruptions, arguments and arrogance were tedious in the extreme...You can tell a lazy writers meeting when you see one on this show."[2]
  • The A.V. Club gave this episode a C-.[3]
  • IMDb user reviews.


  • A background voice can be heard throughout the episode describing basic action.
  • Title Reference: The title refers to the pants that Sheldon wears over his regular pants when he rides the public bus.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card.
  • This episode was watched by 13.98 million people with a rating of 4.4 (adults 18-49).[4]
  • This episode aired in Canada on January 6, 2011 with 3.334 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #3.[5]
  • In the United Kingdom, this episode aired on January 20, 2011 with 1.172 million total viewers and a weekly ranking of #15.[6][1]
  • Episode transcript [2]


  • Bernadette and Amy do not appear in this episode.
  • Engineers solve differential equations. Sheldon is flippant when he states, "Howard doesn't. He’s only an engineer." He could be referring only to the Schrödinger equation, which is not used by engineers.
  • When Leonard starts to talk about his app idea in front of Penny, Sheldon tries to drown out their voice by singing "Deep in the Heart of Texas."
  • Sheldon proposes the name for the app to be, "the Surprisingly Helpful Equation Link Differential Optimized Numerator", which abbreviated spells SHELDON; when the others reject that idea, he proposes a secret name for the project, "Project Nodlehs", which is "Sheldon" spelled backwards.
  • Sheldon says, "A customer service representative with an Indian accent will create the impression we’re a vast enterprise that uses overseas call centers." Raj's cousin, Sanjay Koothrappali, works at a call center, as stated in "The Pirate Solution" (S3E4).
  • According to Sheldon, bus pants are pants that someone wears over regular pants on a bus.
  • Sheldon was also removed from the gang's Physics Bowl team for being obnoxious, as seen in "The Bat Jar Conjecture" (S1E13).
  • With Sheldon listed as the Head of the Secret Santa Committee, this position does not follow his normal character traits considering his feelings about Christmas and gift giving. 
  • Also in "The Extract Obliteration" (S6E6), they mention the Shoemaker and the Elves.
  • The Theremin is not an instrument played in the opening theme of the original Star Trek television series. The sound associated with the Theremin was done by soprano Loulie Jean Norman. 
  • Sheldon lists himself as the Star Trek Science Officer for Leonard's company which was Spock's title in the original Star Trek television series.
  • The app code on the whiteboard is accurate, working code used to develop iOS apps.
  • When Sheldon attempts to usurp Leonard as leader of the project, he quotes the Declaration of Independence, saying "When in the course of human events it becomes necessary to dissolve the political bands..." before being fired by Leonard.
  • When Sheldon is playing his Theremin at the bottom of the staircase he has it plugged into the wall, but in "The Codpiece Topology" (S2E2), he has to run an extension cord from the apartment to charge his laptop.
  • First new episode broadcast in 2011.


Raj: (After playing a farting noise on his phone) Was that the best 99 cents I ever spent or what?

Sheldon: (to Leonard) Oh dear lord, shush! You have so few ideas, Leonard, and now you're just gonna spill the beans to an outsider? (points to Penny)

Raj: Last night I had a dream, we got so rich from the app, we bought matching side by side mansions! But, there was a secret tunnel connecting your front yard to my back yard. What do you think that means?
Howard: It means after we've played handball I'm showering at home.

Sheldon: (singing) Nobody knows the trouble I've seen...Nobody know my sorrows...Nobody knows the troubles I've seen...Glory, hallelujah!

Sheldon: Well, I suppose it's appropriate.
Penny: What does that mean?
Sheldon: A disappointing drink for a disappointing day.