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"The Holographic Excitation" is the fifth episode of the sixth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Thursday, October 25, 2012.[1]


While Raj assists Stuart with the annual Halloween party at the comic book store, Amy and Sheldon are at odds over their couples Halloween costumes. Penny decides to take more of an interest in Leonard's work, which produces an unexpected reaction. Meanwhile, Howard is driving Bernadette and his friends crazy because he can't stop talking about his recent trip to outer space.

Extended Plot[]

TBBT 6x5 The Holographic Excitation Howard and Stuart

Howard gives Stuart a photo in his spacesuit.

Howard presents Stuart with his official NASA portrait (autographed, of course), [though Sheldon mentioned that he also gave one to the dry cleaners and Walgreens drug store]. Leonard and Sheldon hypothesize that Howard will connect his trip into outer space with any subject, and decide to test their theory. Leonard succeeds immediately talking about dinner options; Sheldon initially appears to have failed, when he brings up lemons, but Howard meets their expectations moments later. Stuart decides to organize a Halloween party at his comic book store, so Raj decides to become the party planner.

TBBT 6x5 The Holographic Excitation Sheldon and Amy 3

Choosing the right couple's costume.

Amy and Bernadette are attending ladies' night at the Cheesecake Factory bar while Penny serves them. Amy claims that life doesn't get any better than right now, to which Penny says to herself that she hopes it does gets better. Leonard texts Penny about going out costume shopping. Penny confides in the girls that she's going to the comic book store Halloween party even though the guys that hang around there can be creepy.

TBBT 6x5 The Holographic Excitation Penny Amy and Bernadette

Girls' night at the Cheesecake Factory bar.

Amy and Bernadette then asks, like their better halves? Bernadette also says that Leonard does things that he doesn't like to make her happy and that maybe she should take more interest in [[theoretical physics]|his work]]. Penny says that that is true, but she doesn't understand what he does, and their explanations about experimental physics don't help, either.

Later, Amy and Sheldon are discussing their Halloween costume ideas and Sheldon surprises Amy by agreeing to go in a couple's costume because that is one of the great advantages of being in a relationship. Amy wants to go as something like Romeo and Juliet; however, Sheldon's ideas for great costumes are R2-D2 and C-3PO or Hewlett and Packard. Amy is unmoved by his choices, and states that they should at least compromise.

Penny visits Leonard's Lab and he shows her some of his "high techy techy" equipment, including a system that scans objects and generates rotating holograms. First there is a floating pencil, which changes into a rotating Earth and then a solar system followed by a galaxy. Leonard muses about some scientists who think that the whole universe is one large hologram. Penny remarks that she forgets how smart he really is, gets turned on, locks the door, and they start to fool around on the lab table after they take their jackets off.

TBBT 6x5 The Holographic Excitation Howard and Bernadette

Tonight you're a smurf!

In the cafeteria, Raj is discussing his Halloween–themed party foods and Howard keeps talking about his time in space. Leonard wanders in with his hair messed up and a smile on his face. Asked about what is going on and he replies "nothing." Howard says that he knows where there is a lot of nothing is and the three of the guys simultaneously answer "space".

Howard and Bernadette have just crawled into bed and things are starting to get romantic, but after six space metaphors, Bernadette stops to talk. She tells him that people are getting tired of hearing about it. Howard complains that he can't talk about the greatest adventure of his life, and she suggests that he wait until they bring it up.

TBBT 6x5 The Holographic Excitation Penny and Leonard

Penny visits Leonard's lab.

Penny is again visiting Leonard's lab as he demonstrates a floating iron ball levitated by a large magnetic force. Penny thinks it's very neat until Leonard mentions that sometimes he feels like Magneto from the X-Men. Penny replies now it seems less neat, until Leonard mentions he's wearing the black underwear she bought him. "There ya go," she replies, and starts to kiss him again. In the cafeteria, Raj is getting a Doctor Who TARDIS police photo booth for the party which excites Sheldon, while Howard is being very quiet and noncommittal. He finds that Sheldon and Raj agree that he was talking too much about space. Leonard enters again, all messed up and very happy.

Amy and Sheldon, on Amy's proviso that the both of them should compromise, are still discussing their costumes. Sheldon suggests salt and pepper, but Amy has had a bad experience with both (one of her cousins having been killed in a pepper grinding plant accident and salt making her retain water). She claims that there are three things that say that she doesn't have a made-up boyfriend: couples costumes, hickies, and sex tapes. She asks Sheldon to pick one, to which he asks what a hickey is.

At Howard and Bernadette's Apartment, they are both dressed up as Smurfs. Howard isn't that excited to go since all his friends think he is boring. Bernadette asks if he is feeling blue, laughing that that's like the funniest thing she ever said. She then pushes him out the door since she just spent three hours painting herself blue and doesn't want people to think she is a very short alien from Avatar. That and she had been painting herself blue for three hours, so she'll be washing paint out of her "smurf" for a month.

Amy and Sheldon dress up

Raggedy Ann and Raggedy C3PO.

At the Halloween party, Penny dresses as a sexy cop and Leonard goes as Albert Einstein. Bernadette mistakes her for a slutty cop, but Penny explains that that costume only came with a skirt and two badges. Leonard says (in a German accent) that later she was going to arrest him for traveling faster than the speed of light. Penny reminds him about their no-accent rule, to which he replies, "Sorry, officer." Stuart as Willy Wonka tries to pick up a girl, claiming to have come up with all the party food and decorations, much to Raj's disgust. Raj is Indian Jones, the love child of Indiana Jones. Amy and Sheldon show up as "Raggedy C-3PO" and Raggedy Ann due to "a compromise". As Raj complains to Howard about Stuart taking credit for the party's them, Howard gets upset and compares Raj complaining about his party to him boasting about space. He sees Bernadette standing beside them and listening to their conversation and he just shouts "Space!" over and over again. Bernadette takes his beverage while calling him "Drinky Smurf" and pulls him into the room in the back. She confronts her husband on being rude, and Howard retaliates by saying that she's the one who's rude. After asking how that is true, Howard, mimicking her voice, whines about him talking about his space adventures too much. Bernadette says "I don't sound like that" in a deeper tone of voice. Howard then tells her that if it wasn't for him talking about going to space, he'd just be plain old Howard Walowitz. Bernadette reminds him that he is the best guy she knows and that she married him... "on purpose." Penny and Leonard stumble out of the TARDIS all disheveled and Penny explains that there is nothing to see, only sexy police business.

TBBT 6x5 The Holographic Excitation Buzz Aldrin

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin handing out Halloween candy.

Leonard says that he was explaining to her the theory of relativity ...twice.

At the end, Howard gets a YouTube clip from Raj showing Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, handing out Halloween candy to kids mentioning his trip to space to every kid. Howard tells Bernadette that he now understands everybody's objections to his boasting.



  • The TV Critic: "This was a real glass half-empty or glass half-full kind of episode. You could reasonably tell me that it was half an hour of entertainment that satisfied you or that each story was disappointing. I liked that we got four separate stories built around Halloween and an attempt to tell us something about each couple through them... While not a classic episode this was pretty entertaining. There were a lot of small gags that landed and Leonard and Penny finally had an authentic moment as a couple. I’ll take it."[2]
  • The A.V. Club gave this episode a B+.[3]
  • IMDb user reviews


  • Title Reference: Penny gets excited about how smart Leonard is when he shows her his holographic research.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card.
  • This episode was watched by 15.82 million people with a rating of 5.0 (adults 18–49).[4]
  • Total viewers including DVR users 20.16 million.
  • This episode aired in Canada on October 25, 2012, with 4.357 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #1.[5]
  • In the United Kingdom, this episode aired on December 13, 2012, with 2.818 million total viewers.[6]
  • Episode transcript [1]

Costume Notes[]

  • Bernadette wears a pink babydoll by Flora Nikrooz (find at JCPenny, Macys, Victoria Secret)
  • Sheldon wears his Quantum shirt from Thinker Clothing.


  • This is the first episode since "The Countdown Reflection" (S5E24) to feature all of the gang together.
  • As of this episode, all of the gang has been seen drunk at least once:
  • Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon after Neil Armstrong, makes his first (and currently only) guest appearance on the show in this episode.
  • Raj now knows of Buzz Aldrin by now, as he thought the only astronaut named "Buzz" was Buzz Lightyear in "The Friendship Contraction" (S5E15).
  • Raj says in "The Countdown Reflection" (S5E24). "I keep telling you, if I wasn't an astrophysicist, I would have been a party planner." In this episode he really acts as a party planner.
  • Sheldon fittingly turns himself into the droid C-3PO for the Halloween party. In "The Vegas Renormalization", Raj inquired if Leonard kind of looked like a shiny Sheldon after the latter of the two claimed to be a Star Wars character for a guessing game and Sheldon remarked (with very C-3PO-like head movements), "That’s preposterous. I do not resemble C-3PO. Don’t get me wrong, I’m flattered, I just don’t see it." (He has also been compared to a robot in "The Fuzzy Boots Corollary"-S1E3 and "The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification"-S4E2.)
  • At the party, Leonard adopts the guise and accent of one of the gang's idols, Albert Einstein. Einstein has also been referenced in dialogue in "The Electric Can Opener Fluctuation", "The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary", "The Einstein Approximation", "The Lunar Excitation", "The Boyfriend Complexity", "The Wildebeest Implementation", and "The Cooper/Kripke Inversion". In "The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification", he appeared in the photograph of the 1911 Solvay Conference. Further, the eponymous Bose-Einstein condensates are the focus of "The Cooper-Hofstadter Polarization".
  • In his Albert Einstein costume, Leonard jokingly refers to faster-than-light (FTL) travel with regard to himself, which is prohibited by Einstein's special relativity|special theory of relativity. [In special relativity (SR), a particle (that has rest mass) with subluminal velocity needs infinite energy to accelerate to the speed of light; however, SR does not forbid the existence of particles that travel faster than light at all times (tachyons).] Likewise, in "The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary", Leonard whimsically revised another consequence of SR associated with the speed of light, as he stated: "How about that? Einstein was wrong ... Approaching the speed of light doesn't slow down time. Approaching them does." [See time dilation.]
  • Raj wears an Indiana Jones costume and refers to himself as "Indian Jones" for the Halloween party (or "Koothra-party") at the comic book store, reaffirming the gang's love for that franchise first displayed in "The 21-Second Excitation" (S4E8).
  • Howard and Bernadette appear at the comic book store as Smurfs. In "The Toast Derivation" (S4E17), Sheldon introduced his new friends to a set of vintage video games, including Coleco Vision’s Smurf Rescue in Gargamel’s Castle.
  • Penny expressed her wish to know about Leonard's work in "The Gorilla Experiment" (S3E10) when Bernadette went to visit Leonard's Lab; curiously, Penny didn't visit his lab until this episode.
  • When Leonard invites Bernadette to come see his particle accelerator|electron accelerator in "The Gorilla Experiment" (S3E10), Howard remarks, "I practically invented using fancy lab equipment to seduce women." Unlike Howard, who admits that it has not worked so far, Leonard successfully employs this technique herein. (Case in point, Howard did lure Stephanie Barnett to the Mars rover lab to drive a car on Mars in "The Lizard-Spock Expansion", but he stood no chance with her.)
  • Leonard explains the holographic principle of string theory to Penny, while showing her a series of holograms in his lab using a front-projected holographic display combined with laser-based finger tracking. Leonard also reveals he has an integrated ion trap and time-of-flight mass spectrometry|time-of-flight mass spectrometer, a nitrogen laser, and maglev technology in his laboratory.
  • Penny revs up her relationship with Leonard by having sex with him in different places; his lab and the TARDIS booth at the Halloween party. She also is awed by what she sees in his lab and realizes again how smart he is.
  • Leonard and Penny's having sex in the TARDIS is a reference to one of the major story lines in Doctor Who series 6. In that series, the Doctor's companions, Amy Pond and Rory Williams, shared their wedding night in the TARDIS, which resulted in the conception of their daughter Melody Pond (aka River Song), a human being with traits from the Doctor's race, the Time Lords. Penny's sexy policewoman costume is a further reference to Amy, who wore a similar costume for her job as a kiss-o-gram girl in the first episode of series 5 ("The Eleventh Hour"), and later donned the same outfit during her honeymoon in the episode "A Christmas Carol."
  • When Sheldon and Amy are deciding which couple to dress up as, one of the couples on Amy's list is "Blossom and Joey." This item is a reference to the 1990s sitcom Blossom which starred Mayim Bialik as Blossom Russo and Joey Lawrence as her brother Joey. In "The Bat Jar Conjecture", Raj suggests getting "the actress who played TV's Blossom" for their physics bowl team to replace Sheldon.
  • Besides the above-mentioned couples costume ideas, the ones listed on Sheldon's side are Hewlett & Packard, Batman & Robin, Jobs & Wozniak, Captain James T. Kirk & Spock, Arthur Prefect & Ford Dent from the Douglas Adams novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and Doctor Who & a Dalek from Doctor Who; ironically, each single one in these "couples" is male. The ones on Amy's side (besides those mentioned above), are Cinderella & Prince Charming, Anthony & Cleopatra, Lady & Tramp, Romeo & Juliet, Jack & Rose from Titanic, and Dharma & Greg (a show produced by Chuck Lorre); all are normal male/female couples .
  • Leonard tells Penny that Howard built a robotic girlfriend called the "Lisatronic 3000" long before meeting Bernadette, while in "The Guitarist Amplification" Howard tells Leonard that he will get a girlfriend if he knows how to build one, although Howard had already built Lisatronic 3000.
  • Bernadette asks Penny if she is a slutty cop. Penny replies that she is a sexy cop. The slutty cop costume only came with a skirt and two strategically placed badges.
  • Penny realizes that she finds Leonard's intelligence a very attractive quality.
  • When Howard imitates Bernadette's squeaky voice, she says, "I don't sound like that..." in a lower voice that more closely resembles Melissa Rauch's real voice.
  • Holograms do not appear that bright in normal visible white light.
  • In the publicity picture released of Penny looking at the levitated iron ball, the ball is clearly mounted on a pin while in the episode it floats and bounces up and down after the special effects have been added.
    • While magnetic levitation of a body such as an iron ball is possible with current technology, the equipment necessary is expensive, fragile, and requires specialist operators. It is even possible to levitate non-magnetic objects (such as plastics or even test animals—a frog was successfully levitated some years back), but this requires inordinate amounts of power to the magnetic coils in the apparatus, typically necessitating the use of superconductor-based electromagnets; such applications are limited to a few research institutions globally.
  • Holograms feasible with current technology are not visible from all directions as depicted in Leonard's lab experiment, although in theory fully-textured, omnidirectionally-visible holograms with full opacity and lifelike colors should be possible.
  • The sequence where Leonard demonstrates the hologram of Planet Earth feels like a shout-out to Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld series of novels, especially the Science of Discworld series co-authored with eminent scientists Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart. (Cohen especially is well known in American academic circles; he is an evolutionary biologist. One of his anecdotes concerns a tough gig in East Texas where he was heckled by Creationists.) in the Discworld, a geeky young Wizard, slight, weedy and bespectacled, who effects not so much a robe as a hooded parka, is responsible for creating a pocket universe in a round glass sphere. His intention is to avert a seriously Big Bang in his own world, by sending a massive surge of magical energy down a harmless path. Stuck for what else to do with it, the wizards observe the process that leads to drooling autotrophs and the evolution of life on "Roundworld". Meanwhile, a weedy, geeky, scientist who affects a hooded parka fires up a hologram to delight his girlfriend, and speculates everything could be a hologram, recording information being read by intelligence's an inestimably distance away. Ponder Stibbons and Leonard Hofstadter have much in common.
  • Sheldon also suggests to Amy that they dress up as salt and pepper; however, salt makes Amy retain water and her Cousin William was killed in a pepper factory accident.
    • Amy's statement about salt making her retain water is not an uncommon occurrence as salt does make you retain water anyway, but it is unknown to what degree. Whatsmore, salt can only cause edema (or water retention) if you have a diet which is high in sodium.
  • Attention to detail: the hologram of the pencil does not have a point on it. That's because the tip of the real pencil was inserted into a hole on the table top, which prevented the lasers from scanning it.


Penny: (reading a text) Ugh, it's from Leonard. He wants to go costume shopping later.
Amy: I thought you liked Halloween.
Penny: I do. It's just that he wants to go to that party at the comic book store. A lot of the guys that hang out there are kinda creepy.
Bernadette: Like my husband?
Amy: And my boyfriend?

(The scene at the comic store party where the so furious Bernadette snatches the drink off Howard)
Bernadette: (she is very cross indeed) Whoa, Drinky Smurf. (she puts the drink back onto the table with fury. Raj looks puzzled) Can I talk to you for a second? (she now pulls Howard's arm angrily)
Howard: Great, now I’m in trouble. You happy?
Bernadette: (she sends the couple out angrily) You, out! (she's now a billion times angry) You are being very rude.
Howard: No, I’m not. They’re all being rude. And you’re being rude.
Bernadette: Me? What did I do?
Howard: (he's imitating Bernadette) Oh, Howie, stop talking about space so much. Nobody likes it.
Bernadette: (she's pouting in low voice) I don't sound like that.
Howard: You’re my wife. You’re supposed to be on my side.
Bernadette: I’m always on your side.
Howard: Then why are you trying to take this away from me? Being an astronaut is the coolest thing I’m ever gonna do. If I stop talking about it, then I’m just…
Bernadette: Just what?
Howard: Just plain old Howard Wolowitz again.
Bernadette: Plain old Howard Wolowitz is the best guy I know.
Howard: You’re just saying that.
Bernadette: No, I’m not. I married him. On purpose. Come here.
Howard: I love you.
Bernadette: I love you, too.

Sheldon: It’s fascinating. Let me see if I can duplicate the result. Howard, I’ve always thought the lemon was an underrated fruit. Care to weigh in?
Howard: Not really.
Sheldon: Oh, well.
Howard: You know, people say the Soyuz capsule was a lemon. But, hey, that baby got me to space and back.

Howard: Boy, it’s nice to sleep in a bed with gravity again. (Bernadette takes her glasses off and puts on the bedside table) Did I tell you about the night my retainer floated out of my mouth and into the air lock?
Bernadette: (she's so tired of Howard's space story) Yeah, you mentioned it once or twice.
Howard: So, here we are, just a couple of young newlyweds. What to do? What to do to you? Astronaut Wolowitz, reporting for booty. Preparing thrusters. We have liftoff. Are we clear to jettison that nightgown?
Bernadette: (she's encourging Howard crossly) Okay, we need to talk.
Howard: What?
Bernadette: (1st time: she speaks in soft firmness) Howie, I know you went to space. I’m incredibly proud of you. But you might want to try and not bring it up every minute.
Howard: I don’t talk about it every minute.
Bernadette: (2nd time: she speaks in soft firmness) Tonight at dinner you went on bout it for an hour straight.
Howard: What was I supposed to talk about? We were eating at Johnny Rockets.
Bernadette: (3rd time: she speaks in soft firmness) I’m just saying, people are getting a little tired of it.
Howard: So, I did this amazing thing and I’m never allowed to mention it?
Bernadette: Of course you can. But maybe a good rule would be to wait for people to bring it up.
Howard: Okay, no problem. It won’t happen again.
Bernadette: I love you.
Howard: I love you, too. I can’t tell you how many times I dreamed I was in bed here with you when I was… you know. What, I can’t even point?
(Bernadette now gives Howard a hard glare just as the scene fades to black)

Bernadette: Thanks, so do you. Slutty cop?
Penny: No, sexy cop. Slutty cop only came with a skirt and two badges.
Bernadette: And Albert Einstein?
Leonard: Ja, und later she’s going to arrest me for goink fashter zen da shpeed of light.
Penny: I thought we said in the car, no accents?
Leonard: Sorry, Officer.

(Howard is dressed as Papa Smurf, reading a magazine. Bernadette walks in the room dressed as Smurfette.)
Bernadette: How do I look?
Howard: Fine.
Bernadette: Uh-oh, is someone a little blue? Come on, Howie, that’s like the funniest thing I’ve ever said in my life. What do you say? You ready to go?
Howard: To tell you the truth, I’m not really in the mood.
Bernadette: What are you talking about? It’ll be fun. All your friends’ll be there.
Howard: Yeah, some friends. They all think I’m boring. Maybe you should go without me.
Bernadette: No, if I’m there alone, people might think I’m just a really short person from Avatar.
Howard: I’m sorry. I just don’t want to go.
Bernadette: (she is now very cross) Hey, I just spent the last three hours coloring myself blue. I’m gonna be washing paint out of my Smurf for a month.
Howard: Fine. Two weeks ago I was an astronaut.
Bernadette: (she is still very cross) Yeah, well, now you’re a Smurf. Keep walking.


See also[]