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"The Desperation Emanation" is the fifth episode of the fourth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Thursday, October 21, 2010.[1]


While Leonard realizes that he's the only one of the gang without a girlfriend, Sheldon wants him to take his "girl/friend" after Amy asks to introduce him to her mother.

Extended Plot[]

Mrs Fowler

Mrs. Fowler, Amy's mother.

Sheldon and Leonard are enjoying a movie on the couch. Leonard wants to know why Sheldon isn't hanging out with Amy Farrah Fowler. Sheldon doesn't feel the need to have closeness. He does point out that he's in a relationship (with a girl, who's a friend, who's not his girlfriend) while Leonard is not.

At the comic book store, Leonard feels even more lonely when Howard’s new ringtone (Bernadette by The Four Tops) goes off for a call from his girlfriend. Raj found the solution by getting a girl who is deaf. Even Stuart has a girl who wears a plus-size Wonder Woman costume.

Back in Apartment 4A, perhaps Leonard's psychological state is producing a pheromonal "stink of desperation" per Amy's theory, who is in Skyping with Sheldon while Leonard was sleeping on the couch. Amy suggests a bar for Leonard, but Sheldon correctly points out picking up women in a bar requires feats of manliness, strength, and the ability to hold down liquor and/or throw darts, but also remarks that juice bars, salad bars, and sushi bars might be more Leonard's speed. Leonard has had enough and leaves. Amy then asks Sheldon if he'll meet her mother. Sheldon races down the stairs after Leonard to ask him what it means. Leonard responses with, “Well, you know how you're always saying Amy's a girl who's your friend, but not your girlfriend?” He can't say that anymore. Sheldon doesn't want to take his relationship with Amy to the next level so Sheldon says that Leonard can have her since he wants a girlfriend. Leonard turns him down which is just as well, since Amy finds Leonard very tedious.


Dinner with Joy.

Leonard fails at picking up women at the Genius Bar by wearing an Apple computer shirt. After not working, he ends up at Howard's house and invokes the "Girlfriend Pact" with Howard to get Bernadette to fix him up with someone.

Sheldon in The Desperation Emanation

Hiding from Amy.

Sheldon is working on removing his digital footprint from the Internet to hide from Amy. He also changed the building street address number on the front of the building. Of course, Amy's been there before. In fact, she knocks at their front door. Sheldon tells Leonard to makes sure he has a good lie ready. Leonard just tells Amy he's not there and Amy immediately leaves.

Bernadette's friend, Joy, arrives from her spin class all sweaty in her gym clothes. She's thinks that she is hilarious and keeps describing the 100 ways she has learned from her defense class to pulls a guy's nuts off, and she needs to use her napkin to dry her armpits. Leonard tells Howard that this night was just about the worse date he ever had. Joy asks him to her cousin's wedding the following weekend, and says that since there would be an open bar she would likely 'be giving it away'. Convinced, he tells her that he's in.

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Sheldon wants to head out for the night, only Amy is in the lobby. He tries going down in disguise, but Amy sees right through it. She tells him that he may have misconstrued her intention. She was only introducing Sheldon to get her mother off her back and they were going to perpetrate a ruse. They Skype with her mother, and Sheldon assures her he's having lots of sex with her, which scares her mother. They quickly say good-bye because their loins burn for each other. Sheldon suggests that maybe they should try and have sex. After a brief pause, he says "Bazinga!" making it clear that he was joking. It was bedtime so he told Amy that she knew the way out.



  • TV Critic: "Seeing a story focused on Leonard and his loneliness was nice. The pact with Howard was a nice bit of continuity and his decision to stick it out with a woman he didn't actually like to avoid being alone was sadly realistic... Sheldon acted with no logic in his story which was a shame. He freaked out about Amy asking him to meet her mother which seemed out of character. Normally you would imagine Sheldon calmly asking her what the purpose of the meeting was and avoiding any confusion... Leonard remains the show's forgotten man and this plot was so thin that it hardly helped his cause."[2]
  • The A.V. Club gave this episode a B.[3]
  • IMDb user reviews


  • Title Reference: The title refers to Leonard's desperation in wanting a girlfriend and Sheldon's exasperation with Amy wanting him to meet her mother.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card.
  • This episode was watched by 13.05 million people with a rating of 4.1 (adults 18–49).[4]
  • This episode aired in Canada on February 8, 2011, with 3.028 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #1.[5]
  • In the United Kingdom, this episode aired on December 2, 2010, with 1.048 million total viewers.[6]
  • In Australia, it aired on February 8, 2011, with 0.922 million viewers. [7]
  • Episode transcript [1]

Costume Notes[]

  • Sheldon wears a Green Arrow bullseye shield logo t-shirt and his orange "The Flash: Lightning" t-shirt.

    Green Arrow Bullseye

  • Sheldon's disguise includes his coat from "The Monopolar Expedition".


  • Penny doesn't appear in this episode. She isn't mentioned in this episode, as the writers wrote her out of this and the next episode after Kaley Cuoco broke her leg in a horseback riding incident; however, she is still credited as being in the episode regardless. When she returns, the staff hide her broken leg and she isn't seen walking.
  • First episode where a regular cast member is absent.
  • The fourth and final episode where Mayim Bialik has a guest appearance as Amy. She has no more guest appearances in the next two episodes (S4E6 and S4E7) before she becomes a main cast member in "The 21-Second Excitation" (S4E8).
  • This episode and the previous (S4E4) episode were the first two episodes where Melissa Rauch (who plays Bernadette) had her first appearances as a main cast member. She does not appear as a main cast member in the next two episodes (S4E6 and S4E7) before her third appearance as a main cast member in "The 21-Second Excitation" (S4E8).
  • Howard uses the song "Bernadette" by The Four Tops as his ringtone for Bernadette's call. In "The Vengeance Formulation" (S3E9) he sings a variation of the song to apologize to her.
  • It's implied for the first time in this episode that Sheldon has a fear of commitment, hence his reluctance to consider his and Amy's dating status as boyfriend and girlfriend for this season and the beginning of season 5. Penny has also admitted that she has a commitment problem.
  • In addition, Sheldon is joking in this episode about having sex with Amy. Ironically, he himself will be the initiator of this action in five years in the episode "The Opening Night Excitation" (S9E11).
  • This episode depicts Howard's way of returning the favor to Leonard for setting him up with Bernadette in "The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary" (S3E5). Incidentally, both situations involve their "Girlfriend Pact".
  • Leonard builds model rockets like Howard. His interest in model rockets was also shown in "The Jerusalem Duality" (S1E12) and "The Staircase Implementation" (S3E23).
  • Raj mentions dating a deaf woman in this episode. He later dated Emily, another deaf girl, in "The Wiggly Finger Catalyst" (S5E4). Coincidentally Raj has a girlfriend, also called Emily, in season 8.
  • Sheldon suggests Leonard could frequent the Apple Genius Bar, among other bars, and Leonard pretends to work at the Genius Bar to pick up women. In reference to the employees, Howard says, "I mean, they may not really be geniuses, but they see right through that." References to the Apple Genius Store are also made in "The Terminator Decoupling" (S2E17) and "The Einstein Approximation" (S3E14), when it was a similar point of ridicule. Sheldon considers an Apple Store "genius" to be the most mind-numbing, pedestrian job conceivable (alongside a toll house attendant and what Penny does (waitressing), and refused to contribute to the devaluation of the word "genius" by pretending to work there. Moreover, Sheldon, Leonard, Raj, and Howard enjoy going over to the Apple Store to make fun of the guys at the Genius Bar.
  • The scene of Sheldon listing stars could be a reference to or inspired by the opening sequence of the 1988 Drowning by Numbers film.
  • Sheldon and Amy have their own "word of the day".
  • Bernadette and her colleagues have a pact to never admit that they actually crossed Ebola with the common cold when a petri dish of a genetically modified super virus went missing.
  • This episode airs co-creator Chuck Lorre's 300th vanity card.
  • At the start of the restaurant scene Bernadette mentions that she has a lab (presumably at grad school) which does not make an appearance on screen (The labs at Zangen weren't seen on screen either).
  • First episode with both Bernadette & Amy, but they share no scenes.
  • Annie O'Donnell did not appear as Mrs. Fowler in Amy's wedding in "The Bow Tie Asymmetry" episode, but she did voice Dr. Lorvis' mother.
  • While Sheldon is running after Leonard down the stairs upon Amy informing him she'd like him to meet his mother, he says "Leonard" 19 times in a row.


Leonard: How can you even have a girlfriend, you can't speak to women?
Raj: Two words - "deaf chick!"

Amy: I have a request. I'd like you to meet my mother.
Sheldon: I see. Can I get back to you on that?

Sheldon: You want a girlfriend. Amy wants to be someone's girlfriend. Take her off my hands, I give you my blessing!
Leonard: That is insane.
Sheldon: You're right, it would never work, Amy finds you tedious.

Leonard: Let me see if I can explain your situation using physics. What would you be if you were attached to another object, by an inclined plane wrapped helically around an axis?
Sheldon: Screwed.

Leonard: Thanks again for doing this, Bernadette.
Bernadette: Oh, I take pacts very seriously. One time at my lab, a petri dish of genetically modified super-virus went missing. That day we made a pinky swear never to admit we crossed Ebola with the common cold.
Howard: Why the hell would you cross Ebola with the common cold?
Bernadette: We never did. That would be a terrible, terrible thing.
(a very sweaty girl named Joy enters the restaurant in her gym clothes with her gym bag on her arm)
Joy: Hi. Sorry I’m late, I was at the gym. (sits down and puts her gym bag on the floor) Spin class. Worked up quite a sweat.
(Joy rubs her sweaty armpits with a napkin)
Bernadette: Joy, this is Leonard. Leonard, this is Joy.
Leonard: Hi.
Joy: Hi. You don’t look like a genius. Go ahead, say something smart.
Leonard: Uh…
Joy: Aah! Time’s up. Just kidding. First thing you need to know about me, I’m hilarious.
Leonard: Yeah. So, Bernadette tells me she knows you from self-defence classes?
Joy: Yeah. Israeli Krav Maga. Lots of fun. Basically, a hundred different ways to rip a guy’s nuts off.
Leonard: Wow. Wouldn’t think there’d be that many.
Joy: Number 42!
Leonard: Whoa!
Bernadette: Isn’t she a pip?

Joy: (burping) This lobster’s good on the way down and the way up.
Leonard: Should be, it’s thirty dollars a pound.
Joy: Hey, this is a date, right?
Leonard: Yep, it is.
Joy: 73!
Leonard: Whoa!
Joy: Excuse me, I have to go to the little girls’ room and take a wicked whiz.
Bernadette: I’ll go with you.
Joy: Fair warning, I had the asparagus. My pee is gonna stink up the place.
Howard: I think she likes you.

Howard: Come on, just give her a chance. Maybe she’ll grow on you.
Leonard: Or maybe she’ll finally succeed in ripping my nuts off. There are still 93 ways she hasn’t tried yet. Look, Howard, I appreciate the effort, but this is, like, the worst date of my life.
Howard: Seriously? I was once robbed by a pre-op transsexual I met on J-Date, and that didn’t even crack my top ten.
Leonard: I guess the difference is, I have some self-respect.
Howard: Not that I’ve ever seen.
Leonard: It’s relatively new. I just know that I’m not gonna spend time with someone I don’t like simply to have a girlfriend. I’m okay on my own.
Joy: Good news, I made lots of room for dessert.
Leonard: Look, uh, Joy, it was nice to meet you, but…
Joy: Yeah, you, too. Hey, you got anything for next weekend? I need a date for my cousin’s wedding.
Leonard: You’re asking me out?
Joy: Yeah. And it’s an open bar, so I’ll probably be giving it away.
Leonard: I look forward to it.