The Big Bang Theory Wiki

"The Euclid Alternative" is the fifth episode of the second season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Monday, October 20, 2008.


Leonard is working nights at the university and can't drive Sheldon to work in the mornings. Sheldon then tries all his other possible chauffeurs, which are his other friends. This starts to become a huge burden on everyone, who decide on helping him get his driver's license.

Extended Plot[]

Leonard comes through the door and collapses on the couch due to exhaustion. Sheldon comes in and demands Leonard to drive him around to run his various errands including returning some Star Wars bedsheets to Pottery Barn, because he believes that the sheets are too distracting to sleep on. Leonard refuses as he is far too exhausted because of working late in his lab at the university. He suggests that Sheldon take the bus, but he refuses because they won't let him bungee cord himself to the seat since they have no seat belts.

The Euclid Alternative 11 - Octavia Spencer dealing with Sheldon

Does it say I give a damn?

Sheldon then tries his luck with Penny who was sleeping in because it is her day off. He then asks her to do him a favor. The two set off in her car and Sheldon continually annoys Penny about her check engine light and the speed bumps starts quoting studies about distracted driving, which only annoys her. He also gives her pointless factoids and tries to play Periodic Table game with her. This drives Penny to the point that she ejects him from her car and he has to walk to work.

At the university, at the end of his day, Sheldon stumbles into Leonard and Howard. He again asks Leonard to drive him home, which Leonard again refuses, but Howard takes Sheldon's side just for fun - which he instantly regrets as he has to take Sheldon home. Sheldon screams at Howard while riding on the back of his scooter and driving over the speed bumps on Euclid Avenue. Unsurprisingly, Sheldon gets left in the middle of the road again. Later on, Raj picks Sheldon up and drives him home, but after pestering Raj with a lot of requests, he just drops him off at the stairs. Sheldon arrives at the apartment, makes one final desperate attempt to ask Penny to drive him and gets the door slammed in his face.

The Euclid Alternative 03

Sheldon trying to drive.

The following morning, Sheldon wakes up to see the gang assembled in the living room waiting for him. The gang has a drug addiction-style intervention for him, wanting Sheldon to learn driving; because of a Rock-Paper-Scissors contest, Penny is forced to drive him to the DMV, along with Howard, who wants a free ride to the comic book shop. At the DMV, when questioned by Penny why he didn't get a driver's license when he was sixteen, Sheldon claims to have been too busy with his work to learn how to drive. After getting his written driving test, he annoys the disinterested DMV clerk with a number of questions about the mathematics and physics of the driving regulations. Finally, the clerk gives Sheldon a Learner's Permit just to get him to leave. Sheldon feels superior, quipping "aced it".

In an effort to help Sheldon learn to drive, Howard sets up a "state of the art" driving simulator in the apartment's living room, using software from the United States Army. Sheldon doesn't want a red car because he believes that red cars are stopped more often by police. Sheldon attempts to drive, but fails horribly. Whenever he crashes the virtual car, Penny hits him in the face with a pillow because the simulator can't replicate an airbag going off. He gives up on trying to learn to drive with the excuse that he is "clearly too evolved for driving". It seemed that his species could be a "homo novus"; however, future anthropologists will have to decide what his classification is.

The Euclid Alternative 18

You saw nothing!

Because Sheldon doesn't have a way to get to the university, he decides to set up a temporary home there until Leonard finishes his experiment; however, it turns out that Leonard has already finished his experiment a week ago, but purposely did not tell Sheldon, as he wants some peace and quiet. In the cafeteria at night, two women from the cleaning staff see bread crumbs on a plate. First they think rats caused the problem, which is illogical due to the bread crusts (that were cut off) on the plate, but when the clock strikes twelve midnight, they are terrified to see Sheldon lurking in the shadows of the dark cafeteria like a ghost in a haunted house; he slowly turns around and says to them in a ghost-like voice "You saw nothing!" and then vanishes out the door.



  • "The humor throughout is solid and fits the characters involved... [t]he plot on the other hand is poor. Again we get way too much Sheldon. There is only so much one can take before he becomes tiresome.' - The TV Critic's Review
  • IMDb user reviews


  • Title Reference: When in the car with Penny, Sheldon says to Penny "You're going up Euclid Avenue? Leonard takes Los Robles Avenue."
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card [1]
  • This episode was watched by 9.28 million people with a rating of 3.5 (adults 18–49).
  • Episode transcript [2]

Costume Notes[]

The Euclid Alternative 17

Space Invaders

The Euclid Alternative 16

BDG Purple/Gray stripes

The Euclid Alternative 13

Black/Blue plaid by Kierra

Sheldon wears his orange Space Invaders tee, his BDG purple shirt with gray stripes and yellow accent, and his black with light blue plaid tee by Kierra.
The Euclid Alternative 14


The Euclid Alternative 21

Green shapes

Leonard starts out in a red tee with a shard design, then is sporting a capsaicin molecule t-shirt (the stuff that makes chili peppers hot, makes pepper spray a great defense agent, and, ironically, has pain-relieving and numbing qualities) from ThinkGeek. He also wears a dark green shirt with light freen amorphus figures, and ends with an unknown blue tee (his jacket covers too much to get a good look).
The Euclid Alternative 12 - Nintindo

Nintendo controller

Howard Red vans

Red Vans


Lightning bolts buckle

Howard wears his Nintendo controller belt buckle, his primary colors chekered Vans, his red Vans with white laces, his red and white checkered belt, and a belt buckle with three lightning bolts.

At home, Penny wears her Truly Madly Deeply Celestial Printed Hoodie (discontinued by Urban Outfitters).

Set Notes[]

The Euclid Alternative 05

Rare camera view.

  • A rare camera view of Leonard and Sheldon's apartment is shown from the vantage of the hallway that's normally seen to the back right, going to the bedrooms, allowing us to see the " fourth wall|4th wall" in the front of the apartment normally is missing.
  • Sheldon spends a huge part of this episode trying to get someone to take him to return his Star Wars sheets. He feels they are too stimulating to be compatible with a good night's sleep. He doesn't like the way Darth Vader stares at him. After annoying his friends so much that they won't take him to Pottery Barn to return the sheets, Sheldon ponders if turning off his nightlight will allow him to tolerate the sheets.


  • Penny stated in "The Bad Fish Paradigm" (S2E1) that she and Sheldon are friends.
  • Euclid Avenue that gives the episode its title we learn is an alternative to Los Robles Avenue, which are two parallel streets in Pasadena, CA. Also the real Euclid Avenue actually does have speed bumps just like it is depicted in the show.
  • Raj's name was not mentioned at all in this episode.
  • Sheldon complains about the check engine light in Penny's car for the first time in this episode, later mentioning it again in "The Financial Permeability" (S2E14), "The Adhesive Duck Deficiency" (S3E8) and "The Plimpton Stimulation" (S3E21). Leonard's mother similarly makes a point of this observation in "The Maternal Congruence" (S3E11) as does Amy Farrah Fowler in "The Robotic Manipulation" (S4E1). Penny says, "The light has been on since I bought the car," in "The Adhesive Duck Deficiency" (S3E8), but there is no statement regarding the light in "The Luminous Fish Effect" (S1E4). In "The Friendship Turbulence" (S7E17), the car eventually dies and Leonard buys her a new one.
  • Leonard and Sheldon's element naming game is by nature a short game, since so many elements end with the letter M (most have names ending with the "-ium" suffix, with the exceptions usually being elements known since pre-enlightenment times, such as iron, sulfur, or lead), and so few start with it (only Mercury, Molybdenum, Magnesium, Manganese, and Mendelevium, unless you count Meitnerium, which Sheldon doesn't). By comparison, there are nearly 120 elements in total currently listed in the periodic table, over a hundred of which have "proper" names (with the remaining elements all being unstable super-heavy elements which, due to only recently having been synthesized, so far only have their systematic designated names until a proper name can be agreed upon for them).
  • Sheldon never quits, but in this case he "transcends the situation" and stops trying to learn how to drive.
Star Wars Sheets

Star Wars sheets

  • The DMV worker is played by the Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer who starred in movie The Help in 2011.
  • The work that Sheldon mentioned at the DMV, "Examining perturbative amplitudes in N=4 supersymmetric theories leading to a re-examination of the ultraviolet properties of multi-loop N=8 supergravity using modern twistor theory" was a reference to the 2011 paper "Amplitudes and Ultraviolet Behavior of N=8 Supergravity", by Zvi Bern, a professor of theoretical physics at UCLA (available at [3]). David Saltzberg (the science consultant for the show), mentioned this in his 2013 NPR interview "The Man Who Gets The Science Right On The Big Bang Theory".
  • Studies indicate that Sheldon is correct about red vehicles being pulled over more often, but, contrary to popular belief, they aren't more accident prone or subject to higher insurance rates.
  • Penny is aware, before Leonard, of Sheldon having lashed himself to the seat of a bus with bungee cords - this highlights the growing friendship between Penny and Sheldon.
  • This was the second episode with a brief scene in the style of a cinematic horror film. The first was "The Nerdvana Annihilation". Sheldon screams in both episodes.
  • Assuming the apartment building is located at 2311 N Los Robles Avenue, the length of the drive to the Caltech campus (some 4 miles according to Google Maps) roughly corresponds to the length of the car scene assuming a languid driving pace (also corresponding to the apparent speed of the car in the scene); however, there are no apartment buildings at or around the real-world 2311 N Los Robles Ave. (verifiable through Google Street View).
    • If the apartment's location were instead taken to be the one from the satellite photo zoom-out from Howard and Bernadette's rooftop wedding scene, 215 S Madison Ave. (which is an apartment building, but only a three-story one), then the distance to the Caltech campus is only about 1 mile (some 10 blocks), much too short for a car ride of the length seen (and, in fact, short enough to walk comfortably, preempting Sheldon's need to be driven to work).
  • Even though Sheldon points in the direction of the front left corner in the Pilot, stating that there is a cold breeze between the window in the back and the window in the front left corner, there is no window, when the front left corner is shown.
  • Even though Sheldon says "Scientists do not apologize", he apologizes here, by saying "I'm sorry. I'm finding your reckless nonchalance regarding the check-engine light to be very troubling."
  • In the scooter scene when Howard drives over the speed bump, it appears that stunt actors were possibly used. This is noticeable when Sheldon's scream is dubbed in the far camera shots before the next scene.
  • The scene where Penny tells Sheldon to get out of the car is very similar to the 2005 film "The Great New Wonderful". Jim Parsons also starred in that film.


(Sheldon is trying to get to go to work, but Leonard can't drive him and he has to find a alternative.)
Sheldon: How am I going to get to work?
Leonard: Take the bus.
Sheldon: Oh, I can't take the bus anymore. They don't have seat belts, and they won't let you lash yourself to the seat with bungee cords.
Leonard: You tried to lash yourself to the seat with bungee cords?
Sheldon: I didn't try, I succeeded.

Leonard: Look, I need to get to the laser lab. You're just going to have to find someone else to take you home.
(Sheldon eyes Howard, who had previously agreed to take Sheldon's side in the argument)
Howard: (realises what he has done) Oh, damn. I picked the wrong side.
(Cut to outside, Howard is taking Sheldon home on his moped.)
Sheldon: Aaaahhhh!! (sees where Howard is going) Oh, God! Not Euclid Avenue! Aaaaahhh!!

DMV clerk: See that sign? (points to behind herself, annoyed with Sheldon questioning the test)
Sheldon: Yes.
DMV clerk: Does it say "I give a damn"?
Sheldon: No.
DMV clerk: That's 'cause I don't. Next!

(Sheldon and Penny are going to the university, in Penny's car)
Sheldon: Oh, good. I’m not keeping you from anything. Your check engine light is on.
Penny: Mm-hmm.
Sheldon: Typically that’s an indicator. To, you know, check your engine.
Penny: It’s fine, it’s been on for, like, a month.
Sheldon: Well, actually, that would be all the more reason to, you know, check your engine.
Penny: Sheldon, its fine.
Sheldon: If it were fine, the light wouldn't be on. That’s why the manufacturer installed that light, to let you know it’s not fine.
Penny: Uh, maybe the light’s broken.
Sheldon: Is there a “check the 'check engine light' light”? (Penny takes a drink of coffee) O-o-o-oh!

Sheldon: (explaining how he has quit learning to drive without quitting) Well, no, no, I’m not going to go so far as to say that I represent a distinct new stage in humankind, you know, a Homo novus, if you will, no, that’s for anthropologists to decide. But I am convinced that the reason I cannot master the plebeian task of driving is because I’m not meant to.

Sheldon: (After being spotted in the cafeteria at night.) You saw nothing!