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"The Cooper/Kripke Inversion" is the fourteenth episode of the sixth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Thursday, January 31, 2013.[1]


Sheldon is forced to work with his rival Barry Kripke and later ponders his feelings for Amy. Raj and Howard spend a lot of money on miniature action figures that resemble them.

Extended Plot[]

Sheldon is busy at his whiteboard while Leonard tells him that his dinner is getting cold. Sheldon declines by telling his friends that he is, "Suckling at the informative bosom of Mother Physics." Penny quips that she gets hot when Sheldon talks dirty. Raj tells everyone of a website where one can buy an action figure made in their own image. Both Howard and Leonard think that getting one is cool. Penny tells Leonard sarcastically if that is what he thinks is cool, then he should get one. Leonard sadly changes his mind. Sheldon doesn't want one because the hands of the action figure do not feature kung fu grip. 

Sheldon chanting Nobel

Nobel! Nobel!

While Sheldon works at his whiteboard, he makes imaginary sports commentary as he completes his calculations finishing with his crowd shouting "Nobel! Nobel!" Barry Kripke enters and looks strangely at Sheldon's antics. Sheldon tells him not to look at his board as he flips it over. On the back is a drawing of a "really cool train" (a hover-train with jet engines) that he also doesn't want Kripke to see. Since they both are working on separate grant proposals for a new fusion reactor and the university can only submit one proposal, Kripke and Sheldon have been directed by the university to work together. Sheldon dismisses the idea since he considers himself one of the great minds of their generation. He works on a level so rarefied that he doesn't think Kripke could even imagine it. 

Leonard and Howard are in Howard's lab and Leonard notices the strange place on the wall where Howard has hung one of his wedding pictures. The picture was hiding a hole in the wall left by a previous accident that Howard had with a laser. When Raj brings in their $500-a-piece action figures, Leonard asks how they can afford them. Howard replies that Raj is loaded, and that he (Howard) is able to afford it since his wife (Bernadette) has a really great job, that she comes with fun bags and money bags. Raj and Howard discover that their action figures do not look like them: Raj's action figure is African-American and Howard's action figure has a really big nose. Leonard jokes that maybe Wesley Snipes and Toucan Sam just got action figures that look like them And he's happy that Penny talked him out of getting one and leaves Howard's lab looking smug.  

Penny and Leonard are returning from the movies with Penny complaining that Leonard made them stay through all of the ending credits of the movie they just watched about the holocaust. Leonard defends himself by saying that sometimes there is a secret ending or outtakes shown during the ending credits. Penny reminds him that they just saw a documentary on the Holocaust. Reaching the apartment they hear the Star Wars Darth Vader theme ("Imperial March") playing loudly. Leonard describes it as Sheldon's "I'm unhappy and about to destroy the planet" music. Leonard wants to hang out at Penny's apartment, but Penny wants to find out what is troubling Sheldon. Inside the apartment, Sheldon is found wearing an afghan wrapped around his head in the style of Emperor Palpatine's dark hood. Sheldon is sitting on the couch with his laptop, and Penny asks Sheldon whether he is O.K. Sheldon replies that considering the music and the afghan, he is not O.K. Leonard offers to make him some tea. Sheldon complains that he is being forced to work with Kripke and that he is outraged and not upset. He then tells Leonard that tea is (only) for when he is upset, to which Leonard changes the offered beverage to hot cocoa and Sheldon accepts. Sheldon asks Penny if she knows what it is like to be paired with someone that is so incredibly annoying. Leonard then raises his hand. Sheldon continues that Kripke is going to come along and ruin all his great work which makes him angrier than ever and fills him with despair. Penny asks Sheldon what beverage he needs for that, but Leonard thinks for a moment and interjects by offering Sheldon a cup of hot apple cider with cinnamon sticks. Sheldon snaps at him while agreeing wholeheartedly with the offering.

The next day, Kripke marches into Sheldon's office after waiting half an hour in his own office, to which they had agreed upon. Sheldon replies that he prefers to be on his home court. Sheldon tells Kripke to give him his paper first so he doesn't publish Sheldon's work under his name. Kripke says that Sheldon could steal his and do the same thing. Sheldon quips that he doesn't want to be published in Mad Magazine. They exchange and Kripke finds an envelope full of blank paper. Sheldon tells Kripke that it is still worth more than Kripke's research. He gives Kripke a second envelope. Kripke, however, suspects that Sheldon gave him another envelope of blank paper, and warns Sheldon that if he finds the second envelope is also filled with blank paper, that he will get very angry. Sheldon acknowledges the failed ruse, reaches into his desk, and gives Kripke a third envelope, this envelope actually containing his research paper.

In Howard's lab, Raj is playing with his action figure while speaking in a voice stereotypical of a tough African-American. Raj's actions are bothering Howard since the action figures they purchased were a big waste of money. Raj suggests that they could get better action figures with "three words": 3-D printer. Raj then gets caught up in the number of words in "3-D printer", mulling it over before finally settling on "One word, one number, one letter, and possibly a hyphen". Howard has always wanted a 3-D printer and admits that he could use it to make prototype parts out of plastic for his work. Anything that he can design on his computer, the 3-D printer can make. Raj encourages him by mentioning that Howard worked hard to find a wife who makes a lot of money. Raj also wants to make Malibu Barbie|Malibu Koothrappali and his Barbie's Dream House|dream house.

While Sheldon hangs out with Amy, Amy mentions that one of her tobacco-addicted monkeys has taken up smoking a pipe. She is reluctant to dissect that monkey's brain since that monkey now reminds her of her uncle. Sheldon is upset because discovered by reading Kripke's paper that Kripke's work was leaps and bounds more advanced than his. He continues his lament by telling Amy that the Mommy of the best physicist at the university is not his Mommy, but that it is Kripke's Mommy. Sheldon starts to cry and Amy offers him a consoling hug. Sheldon says that he has nothing to lose and allows Amy to proceed. She hugs him and asks Sheldon how that feels. Still upset about Kripke, Sheldon replies that he feels like he is being strangled by a boa constrictor. Amy lets go and looks dejected, thinking he was referring to the hug. Sheldon asks her why she stopped, to which Amy resumes hugging Sheldon.

Amy hugs Sheldon

Amy comforts Sheldon.

The next day, Sheldon tells Leonard that he can't go to work due to being sick. Leonard tells Sheldon that he is only pretending to be sick in an attempt to avoid going to work. Sheldon offers Leonard a thermometer of his temperature as proof that he is ill. Leonard reads the thermometer which is displaying 128 degrees Fahrenheit. Leonard replies that Sheldon must have warmed the thermometer in his hot tea. Having his trick exposed, a despondent Sheldon feels that even Leonard is now smarter than him. Leonard tells Sheldon that his research just went down the wrong path, something that even happened to Albert Einstein. Sheldon still refuses to go to work, at which Leonard finally gets exasperated and like Sheldon's mother, he yells at him, "Sheldon Lee Cooper, I do not have time for this nonsense. Now go put your clothes on, get in the car, and let's go to work." Sheldon quietly agrees and calls him a grouch as he sheepishly heads down the hallway so that he can get ready to go to work. Since he got Sheldon to do what he wanted (a rare accomplishment), Leonard tries to remember the manner he used that got Sheldon to comply, for future use.

Raj and Howard are admiring their new 3-D printer to which Howard remarks that they are reclaiming jobs from sweatshops in China and returning manufacturing to the United States. Raj looks at the 3-D printer and says that the 3-D printer was made in China. After only three hours, they succeed in making a whistle worth twenty-five cents. Howard has Raj make a superhero pose so that he can scan him into the computer. He tells Raj that it isn't necessary for him (Raj) to suck in his stomach while making his superhero pose, since Howard can simply use his computer program to edit Raj's action figure to have great abs. After a moment, Howard comments that it wouldn't hurt to suck in his stomach a bit.

Kripke enters Sheldon's office and notes that Sheldon's paper is inferior. Sheldon tells Kripke to go ahead and mock him. Kripke says that they both know what his problem is, that Sheldon has a girlfriend and is distracted by having sex all the time. Sheldon thinks a moment and then agrees with him. He tries to explain that his work is suffering because of "all the laid" he is getting. Kripke says that if they are going to work together, Sheldon is going to have to buckle down. Sheldon plays along with Kripke's (incorrect) postulation that Sheldon having frequent sex with Amy is the cause of his poor scientific work, saying that Amy loves his genitals and that bumping their bathing suit parts together is magic.



Howard shows Bernadette his new action figure and an action figure he made of her. She gets very excited about them and wonders how there could be a Howard even smaller than her real one. She asks Howard how much the two action figures cost, and Howard answers that it didn't cost anything; he made the action figures with a used 3-D printer that he and Raj bought for $5000. Bernadette gets upset because she thinks that is too expensive, and that he didn't talk to her before spending that amount of money. Howard tells her that when she is sick, that he takes care of her and that when she makes money, that he gets to buy stuff, and that's how love works. Bernadette counters that if he doesn't return the machine that he can make a set of lady parts with the 3-D printer and sleep with them. Howard thinks about it for a moment, which also upsets Bernadette.


Oh my GOD! Amy is going to get it!

While having dinner with Leonard and Sheldon, Penny asks Sheldon why he didn't just tell Kripke the truth. Sheldon replies that the ridiculous boldfaced lie made him look better. Sheldon then requests to Leonard that should Kripke ask Leonard about Sheldon's sex life, to respond that Sheldon's coitus with Amy is frequent, intense and whimsically inventive. Leonard asks Penny whether their sex life is like that, and Penny quips that is exactly what she writes ("For a whimsical, inventive time, call Leonard Hofstadter") on the bathroom walls. Then Penny asks Sheldon whether he is ever going to sleep with Amy. She tells him that they (Sheldon and Amy) have been going out a long time and Amy clearly wants that type of relationship. So she asks him directly what he is doing. Sheldon admits that he is quite fond of Amy and that he has always had problems with the kind of physical contact that comes easily for other people; however, he has begun working on it, and mentions recently putting vapor rub on Amy which a year ago would have been unthinkable. Penny asks whether it is possible that someday he and Amy could get physical. Sheldon replies that it is a possibility. This admission stuns Penny to the point of spastically grabbing Leonard's arm and mouthing "Oh my God!" She also thanks Sheldon for opening up, knowing how difficult that is for him which causes him to smile. At that, she gets more excited and starts hitting Leonard repeatedly.

At the cafeteria, Raj is seen writing Howard a check to purchase Howard's half of the 3-D printer. Howard instructs Raj to make the check in Bernadette's name, since Bernadette took Howard off their joint checking account until he learns the value of money. Howard is shown not eating lunch, having used up his lunch allowance of Pokémon cards.

Sheldon and Kripke are working together in Sheldon's office and Kripke wants details on Sheldon's previous night with Amy. Kripke asked whether he gave it to her good, and Sheldon replied that he gave it to her well (correcting Kripke's grammatical error). Kripke also wanted to know if they used any (sex) toys. Confused, Sheldon replies that he has a model rocket next to his bed which really cracks up Kripke, to which he happily exclaims, "A wocket? You're a fweak, I wuv it!" at Sheldon.



  • The TV Critic: "The discussion over Sheldon's sexuality was handled pretty well. It came up organically in the conversion and I really liked the way everyone reacted to it...his admission that future intimate relations were a "possibility" seemed about as far as it was wise to push things at this stage. The sex discussion was a major milestone for the show but it came amidst a dull run-of-the-mill episode."[2]
  • Oliver Sava of the The A.V. Club gave the episode an A-.[3]
  • Jesse Scheeden of IGN  gave the episode a good rating: 7.3/10.[4]
  • Dhruv Rao of the The DR Club gave the episode a B+.[5]
  • IMDb user reviews


  • Title Reference: The title comes from Kripke performing better on a joint project than Sheldon.
  • Music: "The Imperial March|The Imperial March (Darth Vader's Theme)" from The Empire Strikes Back|Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, composed and conducted by John Williams and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.
    • This is the second time that this musical cue has been used in the series, the first being season three's "The Excelsior Acquisition" (S3E16) when Raj plays it on his "musical shirt" as he walks into the comic book store.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card.
  • This episode was watched by 21.87 million people with a rating of 7.4 (adults 18–49).[6]
  • Total viewers including DVR users 21.87 million.
  • This episode aired in Canada on January 31, 2013, with 3.53 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #3.[7]
  • In the United Kingdom, this episode aired on May 2, 2013, with 2.278 million total viewers.[8]
  • In the German synchronization Leonard and Penny saw a documentary about dinosaurs and not on the holocaust.
  • Episode transcript [1]
  • Costuming: Sheldon wore "Quantum"(c) - GREEN by Thinker Collection


  • Sheldon, a particle physicist, and Kripke, a plasma physicist, are revealed to be working together on a grant proposal for a new fusion reactor.
Turbulent Diffusion in Fusion Devices

Sheldon works on an equation describing turbulent diffusion in fusion devices. The equation closely resembles another included in a talk by PPPL physicist Greg Hammett at the Kavli Institute in Santa Barbara (inset left). (Graphic by Greg Czechowicz, PPPL)

Fusion could fuel particle physicists’ future: A fusion reactor, by any fundamental description, requires expertise in almost every area covered by high-energy physics: Confining the plasma is a problem for quantum electrodynamicists, getting the nuclei to fuse is a problem for quantum chromodynamicists, and there would be something for the weak-force folks to do. By focusing its efforts on the design, construction, and operation of a working fusion reactor, the particle-physics community can make itself beneficial to humanity and relevant to the American taxpayer, thus ensuring a healthy level of funding for years to come.

Personalized Action Figures

Personalized Action Figures.

  • Leonard consoles Sheldon, "You just got stuck on a wrong path. It happened to Albert Einstein; he got stuck on the unified field theory for decades." Sheldon retorts, "Oh, don't play the Einstein card! His great breakthroughs happened when no one knew anything. Everything was a great breakthrough." Sheldon previously referenced unified field theory in the season 4 episodes "The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification" (S4E2) and "The Wildebeest Implementation" (S4E22). In the former, Sheldon told Leonard, "I’m going to miss so much ... the unified field theory, cold fusion, the dogapus." In the latter, Sheldon addressed Leonard again, "Yes, and he [Einstein] never unified gravity with the other forces. If he hadn't been such a hound dog, we'd all have time machines." Notably, Einstein is once more cited in this context, as he coined the term and most famously followed this line of research.
Little Friend

My little friend.

  • Amy and Bernadette each only appear in one scene in this episode.
  • In addition to the music (the iconic Imperial March / Darth Vader's Theme}, first used in The Empire Strikes Back), the allusion to Star Wars is even more pronounced by the afghan that Sheldon wears over his head, which resembles the hooded cloak worn by the Jedi hero Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith", after he is seduced by the dark side of the Force to become the Emperor's new apprentice Darth Vader. Galactic Emperor Sheev Palpatine also wore a similar Sith hooded cloak in his appearances in "The Return of the Jedi", and Sheldon's hunched, sinister posture mimics that affected by the Emperor in that movie.
  • Howard first displays his impulsiveness with Bernadette's money, which leads to him being put on an 'allowance' system by her to prevent overspending.
  • The 3D printer is a "1200 XT 3-D Modeler Pro Series". The "XT" only appears on the front of the machine and the, presumably, company logo (what appears to be a stylized split "S" over a globe) only appears on the side.
  • The image scanner Howard uses to scan Raj for his action figure appears to be made by Microsoft Kinect.
Eight-inch Action Figures Series - The Big Bang Theory

8 inch action figures.

  • Leonard is finally able to control Sheldon, in a similar manner to how Sheldon's mother controls him.
  • Toys of The Big Bang Theory characters really exist. The IGN review of the episode even jests, "I guess no one told them that all you have to do is walk into Barnes & Noble and you'll find an entire rack devoted to Big Bang Theory bobbleheads and vinyl figures." The list of figures has expanded to include mini figures, stress toys, and plush, as well as more bobbleheads and vinyl figures (including a Star Trek theme). Unveiled at Toy Fair 2013 (February 10–13, New York), Bif Bang Pow!, in conjunction with EMCE Toys, is producing Mego revival 8″ action figures of Raj, Howard, Leonard, and Sheldon. [See BifBangPow! starts Toy Fair with a Big Bang (Theory) and The Big Bang Theory at Toy Fair 2013 . A convention exclusive is even available.] Markedly, the transporter room and Mr. Spock figure in "The Transporter Malfunction" are original Mego toys.
  • Sheldon calls his office the Thunderdome, a reference to an arena for steel-cage jousting in the post-apocalyptic film Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985). 
  • Amy doesn't learn about Sheldon bragging about their non-existent sex life to Kripke.
  • Goof: The sign on the door of Howard's lab says 'Resticted Area' when it should be spelled 'Restricted'.
  • Second episode where Sheldon lies about coitus with Amy. First was "The Desperation Emanation" (S4E5).
  • Second episode where a character scientifically proves that another character was faking their illness. First was "The Fish Guts Displacement" (S6E10).
  • Kripke is grilling Sheldon about his (non-existent) sex life with Amy. While Sheldon makes up a wholly unconvincing story, Kripke is standing by the whiteboard leering. Just to the right of Sheldon, part of the whiteboard equations/processes in particle physics can be read as the classic toilet-wall doodle of a cock and balls. Fitting, as Sheldon is telling a cock-and-bull story and Kripke is lapping it up.


(Leonard and Penny approach Apartment 4A and hear The Imperial March from inside the apartment)
Leonard: Oh, no!
Penny: What is that?
Leonard: That is Sheldon’s "I’m unhappy and about to destroy the planet" music. Come on, let’s just go to your place.

Amy Farrah Fowler: The monkey in my tobacco study has taken to smoking a pipe. I'm supposed to remove his brain to examine, but it's hard because now he reminds me of my uncle. [Looks at Sheldon, who just nods silently] You've been awfully quiet tonight. Is everything okay?

Sheldon: I read his research and it's leaps and bounds ahead of mine. Which means the Mommy of the smartest man in the university is not my Mommy as I had thought. It's his Mommy! (starts crying)
Amy: Sheldon, I wish there was something I could do to make you feel better. May I offer you a consoling hug?
Sheldon: What do we have to lose? (Amy hugs him tightly)
Amy: How's that?
Sheldon: I feel like I'm being strangled by a boa constrictor. (Amy lets go) Why'd you stop?! (Amy hugs him again)

Penny: Sheldon, can I ask you a question?
Sheldon: Of course.
Penny: You ever gonna sleep with Amy? (Leonard and Sheldon just stare at her)
Sheldon: That's awfully personal.
Leonard: (A little scared) We don't ask Sheldon things like that.
Penny: Maybe you don't, I do. What's the deal?
Sheldon: Well, word around the university is I'm giving her sex organs a proper jostling.
Penny: All right, come on. Be serious. Look, you guys have been going out a long time. She would clearly like to have a physical relationship with you, so what are you doing?
Leonard: All right, we're down the rabbit hole. What are you doing?
Sheldon: Well, first of all, I'm quite fond of Amy.
Penny: Then what's the problem?
Sheldon: Penny, all my life, I have been uncomfortable with the sort of physical contact that comes easily to others—handshaking, hugging, prostate exams. But I'm working on it, you know? Just recently, I had to put VapoRub on Amy's chest. A year ago, that would've been unthinkable.
Leonard: Now you know how I feel when I have to put it on you.
Penny: Okay, hang on. Are you saying someday you and Amy might...actually...get physical?
Sheldon: (Long pause) It's a possibility.
Penny: [silently, grabbing Leonard's shoulder] Oh, my God! Sheldon, I know this wasn't easy for you, and I'm really glad we could have this conversation.
Sheldon: Oh, yeah. (Penny starts to punch and slap Leonard in excitement.)

Leonard: Sheldon Lee Cooper, I don't have time for this nonsense. Now go put your clothes on, get in the car, and let's get to work.
Sheldon: All right. Geez. What a grouch.

Leonard: Hmm. Kind of a strange place to put a picture of you and Bernadette.
Howard: Well, I wanted everybody to know I love my wife. And nobody to know I forgot to turn off the laser.
Raj: They’re here. Our action figures have arrived. This is the best five hundred dollars I’ve ever spent.
Leonard: A thousand dollars on action figures? How can you afford that?
Howard: Easy. His family’s loaded, and Bernadette has a great job. My wife came with both fun bags and money bags.
Raj: Say hello to an exact scale model of me. [he stops smiling when he sees his model's skin is darker brown] Oh, I’m not dark chocolate. I’m melt-in-your-mouth caramel.
Howard: Oh, man. Look at my nose.
Leonard: Maybe it’s a shipping problem.
Howard: What?
Leonard: Yeah. Maybe Wesley Snipes and Toucan Sam just got action figures that look like you guys.
Raj: This sucks.
Howard: I can’t believe I wasted all that money.
Leonard: Aw, and my girlfriend wouldn’t let me get one. Look at my face. Do I look smug? I feel smug.

[The scene of Howard entering his and his wife's apartment with excitement]
Howard: (to Bernadette) Oh, good, you’re home. (closes the door and runs to sit on the couch next to her) Got a little surprise for you.
Bernadette: (excited after putting her laptop down onto the table) What?
Howard: Say hello to my little friend. (he produces a 3D model of himself)
Bernadette: (she is so pleased with excitement) Oh, my God. That’s so cute. I didn’t think there could be a smaller version of you.
Howard: (1st time: he chuckles) I know, right? And, thanks to photographs and a little 3-D modeling, (He produces a 3D model of Bernadette) here comes the bride.
[Bernadette takes the small 3D model of herself from Howard and she admires them both]
Bernadette: Oh, Howie, I love these.
Howard: (2nd time: he chuckles) I thought you might.
[Bernadette now gets her husband to confess]
Bernadette: (1st time: she's asking Howard in surprise) Were they expensive?
Howard: Didn’t cost a thing. I made them myself.
Bernadette: (2nd time: she's asking Howard in surprise) How?
Howard: Koothrappali and I bought a used 3-D printer for $5,000. (3rd time: he chuckles)
[Howard sees his wife turn furious at the $5,000 details that he had just told her].
Bernadette: (she is now very cross) $5,000 for a couple of dolls? (she slams the two figures down onto the couch) Are you out of your mind?
Howard: (he picks the two figures back up and he speaks to his wife nervously) Not just for a couple of dolls. For as many dolls as we want. (4th time: he chuckles) And whistles (5th time: he chuckles).
[Bernadette is still very cross by all the things that Howard had said]
Bernadette: (she's asking her husband crossly) At any point, did it dawn on you to talk to me about spending this kind of money?
Howard: (he is a bit worried) It’s kind of dawning on me now.
Bernadette: (she stands up and gets even more angry) I don’t believe you. (she faces Howard to shout at him angrily) Howie, we can’t afford to waste money on junk like this.
Howard: (he puts the dolls down and he strides up to his wife shiftily) What are you talking about? We make plenty of money.
Bernadette: (she angrily snaps harder at Howard) I make plenty of money. You make peanuts.
Howard: Yes, but we’re married now. (Bernadette turns herself away from Howard's face in fury) That means, when you get sick, I take care of you. And when you make a bunch of money, I get to buy stuff.
[Bernadette continues to glare at her husband with more strong anger].
Howard: Sorry if you don’t like it, but that’s how love works.
Bernadette: (she is still very cross for the last 9 seconds) No, here’s how love works. You’re going to return the machine, or you can print out a working set of lady parts and sleep with those.
[Howard puts on a little shifty grin to Bernadette whilst he thinks about it for a second]
Bernadette: (she finally shouts with a huge gasp of anger) Oh, my God! Are you actually thinking about it?
[Howard just shrugs unhappily at his gigantically angry wife and starts to have nothing more to say]

Penny: You doing okay, sweetie?
Sheldon: There's ominous music playing and there's an afghan over my head. I don't know where you're from, but where I'm from, that means I'm not doing okay.
Leonard: I'm going to make you some tea.
Sheldon: Tea is from when I'm upset. I'm not upset. The university is forcing me to work with Kripke. I'm outraged.
Leonard: So, cocoa?
Sheldon: Yes, cocoa. Do you have any idea what it's like to be paired with someone who's so incredibly annoying?
Leonard: Oh, teacher, me! Me!
Sheldon: You see, I did all of this great work, and I'm usually going to come along and ruin it. I'm angrier than ever and filled with despair.
Penny: What beverage do you make for that?
Leonard: Oh, no, no, no, I know this. Uh... Hot apple cider with cinnamon sticks?
Sheldon: Yes, hot apple cider with cinnamon sticks!


See also[]