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"The Intimacy Acceleration" is the sixteenth episode of the eighth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. The episode aired Thursday, February 26, 2015.


Penny and Sheldon conduct an experiment designed to make people instantly fall in love. Leonard, Amy, Raj and Emily visit an escape room, where they have to find an exit while being menaced by a zombie. Howard and Bernadette lose the ashes of Howard's mother after they return from her funeral/cremation.

Extended Plot[]

At dinner, Amy mentions that she read a magazine article about how intimacy can be created between two people in an accelerated time frame. Sheldon considers dragging random people off the street to try it, but the others suggest he try the experiment on himself. Penny doesn't believe that Sheldon would answer intimate questions about himself and begs to be involved, assuring him that she won't fall in love with him.

Heading into Penny's apartment, Sheldon tells Penny that if they fall in love she must drive him to GaryCon (Dungeons and Dragons). Penny agrees and tells him she'll even throw in "all the dragon tee-shirts you want".


Working on the puzzles in the escape room.

Raj thinks that Amy and Leonard are being calm about Penny and Sheldon possibly falling in love. He does not like to tempt fate. The other halves are not worried and decide to perform the experiment themselves. Question 1: "Given the choice of anyone in the world, who would you like to have dinner with?" Leonard says Penny. Amy replies that she'd pick the janitor because she's about to throw up. They quit. Raj suggests that they do something with EmilyHoward and Bernadette are still traveling back from his mother's funeral in Florida. Raj says that Howard was taking it pretty well.

Switch to the airport arrivals area and Howard is screaming at the clerk behind the desk who claims that the airline has lost the suitcase that contains his mother's cremation|ashes (urn) and he demands them back. He wants to know where she misplaced the only woman who ever loved him. Bernadette looks at him and he changes it to the first woman who ever loved him.

Starting the experiment, Penny asks Sheldon if he doesn't want wine. Sheldon doesn't want to drink when operating heavy machinery meaning his brain. The dinner hospitality|guest question is first. Sheldon first mentions Euclid, the geometry founder, though he wears sandals and Sheldon can't eat dinner while looking at somebody's toes. Then he chooses himself, his own hero. Penny chooses Robert Downey Jr.[1] AKA Iron Man. Sheldon then says he would like to join them for dessert.

Raj picks up Emily. Amy tells them to choose the evening's activity since she and Leonard are tagging along. Emily suggests the group visit an escape rooom where you have to solve puzzles to get out of a room which includes being locked in in with a zombie. Raj mentions that is similar to what Penny is doing with Sheldon.

Sheldon poses the next question to Penny which is to describe her perfect day. Penny replies that it would be sleep-in, yoga, beach, massage, drinks and dancing. Sheldon notes that she didn't mention Leonard and that he wouldn't enjoy any of that. Penny snaps that he was there and he brought a book. Sheldon's perfect day would start with French toast and then he would travel to the future through a wormhole where his towering intellect is used to save the last remnants of humankind from a predatory alien race. Penny points out that he also didn't mention Amy. Sheldon says she made the French toast.

The guys are escorted into a room which contains remnants of the laboratory of the late Dr. David Saltzburg who experimented on slowing the aging process. He died in a laboratory accident... or did he? Leonard lets the ladies go first and Emily wonders if he is being polite or scared. Leonard agrees. Inside is a huge lab and the door is locked. As they start to look for clues, out bursts a chained-up zombie which scares them. Emily is having a great time.

The airline employee tells Howard that his bag did arrive at the airport. Unfortunately, maybe someone could have accidentally picked it up. Howard sarcastically concludes that his mother could be anywhere in Los Angeles. The worst news is that this person could have gotten on an international flight. Howard again yells at her that her job is to find lost luggage and she has narrowed it down to the planet earth, She bursts into tears and offers him 500 frequent flier miles, enough to get him to Sacramento.

Next question: If you could wake up with any one quality or ability, what would it be? Penny mocks that she would like to turn water into wine, to which Sheldon complains that she is not taking the experiment seriously. So then she replies that she wishes she could be as smart as everyone else in their social group. Sheldon scoffs at this, but then admits that while Penny is not academically inclined, she has intelligence that he envies. Sheldon would like to be able to read minds because he misinterprets how people are feeling. Are people joking with him or making fun of him? Are they mad at him or just in a bad mood. Penny is surprised and remarks that he seems so confident and that she wishes she could make life easier for him. Penny then has a wave of affection for him that passes after Sheldon asks if it's just too much Bible juice.

While the zombie cries out that he wants some brains, the group quickly solve the cipher code which Amy and Leonard use it to find a city on a globe to get the combination to the safe in a matter of seconds. The zombie warns them to slow down and not figure it out so fast warning they won't get a refund for finishing early.


Zombie attack!

At the airport, Howard is bothered that he didn't drive his mother to the airport on her way to Florida since that would have been the last time he would have ever seen her. He was too busy and he made her take a taxi. Bernadette is moved and informs the attendant, "You'd better find my husband's mother because either way, we're walking out of this airport with a dead woman," implying that if she doesn't find the ashes, Bernadette will kill her. The employee bursts into tears again.

In the safe, they find a copy of Charles Darwin's "Origin of the Species" and in the book containing a black light. A riddle is hidden on the wall which Amy solves and Emily finds the key to open the door behind a picture. Emily had hoped the puzzles would have been harder, but the geniuses figured them out quickly and they spent $200 for six minutes of fun. All the gang members have advanced degrees. The zombie tells them to remember this fact when they talk about their escape room on Yelp.

Back at Penny's apartment and while they are having dinner, Penny asks if Sheldon were to die today and couldn't communicate with anyone, what would he most regret not having told someone? Sheldon says that there is something satisfying dying on one's birthday. Penny is shocked that Sheldon has just told her when his birthday is, since this is something that not even Amy knows. Sheldon despises gift giving and dreads surprise parties more that the term "George Lucas' director's cut". Sheldon told Penny because the point of the experiment was to be completely honest with somebody which really touches Penny. Penny promises not to tell anyone, though she wouldn't have thought he was a Pisces. Sheldon quips that she is making it hard for him to love her.


You lost my mother's ashes!?

Finally, the airport finds Howard's bag. Howard apologizes to his mother that he didn't take her to the airport and that she'll remain close to him the rest of his life. Bernadette is worried that the urn will end up in their bedroom.

For the final part of the experiment, Penny and Sheldon then stare into each other's eyes without talking. They are supposed to keep eye contact for a full four minutes and both struggle with this. Both find the experience creepy though they both admit that they are comfortable around each other and that they look on each other like a brother and sister. Sheldon says sometimes he feels like Penny is a mother which Penny finds creepy. Letting their minds wander, Penny can't believe it's been eight years.  Sheldon can't believe she is still eating their food and he can tell her how much she owes them. Penny can't even remember a time when the guys weren't in her life. Sheldon can. The alarm goes off. Sheldon says it is safe to say that they are not in love with each other, but they do feel closer to each other. Given their new intimacy, they have some tough choices to make; namely, how are they going to get to Garycon and who gets to be Gary?

Penny walks Sheldon home or across the hall to his place. Sheldon thanks her for a very interesting evening. Inside, the guys jump out at him shouting "Surprise!" with a makeshift birthday party, causing Sheldon to scream. Sheldon turns mad at Penny because he let her be Gary; Penny simply shrugs.



  • Title Reference: Sheldon and Penny conduct an experiment designed to make people fall in love.
  • Taping date: January 27, 2015
  • This episode was watched by 16.67 million people with a rating of 4.5 (adults 18–49).
  • Total viewers including DVR users 22.20 million.
  • The Big Bang Theory was ranked #1 for the week ending 1 March 2015.
  • This episode aired in Canada on February 26, 2015, with 4.10 million viewers with a weekly ranking of #1.
  • Screened in Great Britain on Thursday, April 24, 2015, on the E4 channel.
  • In Australia, it aired on March 24, 2015, with 0.98 million viewers.
  • Episode transcript [2]
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card [3]


  • Jesse Schedeen at IGN - The premise behind "The Intimacy Acceleration" was a good one... {Penny and Sheldon}'s snarky but ultimately affectionate interplay is always good for some laughs... {and} celebrating the bond that has formed between these two unlikely friends over the years...{T}he two really do have a sibling-like love for each other. This episode was a stark reminder that Sheldon opens up to Penny in a way he doesn't with anyone else in his life; not even Amy. That's sad in a way, and possibly a bad omen for the ongoing health of the Sheldon/Amy romance...{Howard and Bernadette'} subplot managed to offer a solid blend of humor (with Bernie's icy threats to the beleaguered baggage clerk being particularly funny) and drama (as we saw Howard is clearly struggling with this sudden tragedy)...Howard's close, sometimes creepy relationship with his mother has been far too integral a part of his character over the years.
  • IMDb user reviews [4]


  • On top of the fridge in Leonard and Sheldon's apartment, there is a 'Save $5' voucher for 'The Help' on Blu-ray. This may refer to Octavia Spencer being in both "The Help", appearing in "The Euclid Alternative" as the woman working at the DMV.
  • Howard and Bernadette are only seen at the baggage check at the airport in this episode and they share no scenes with the three other ladies (Amy, Emily, Penny) and the three other men (Raj, Sheldon, Leonard) in this episode. Both Bernadette and Howard also do not make it back to Apartment 4A for Sheldon's surprise party with Emily, Raj, Amy and Leonard in the ending of this episode either.
  • Although Howard and Bernadette's part in this episode involves tracking down an urn containing his mother's ashes, Howard and his mother are Jewish, and Jews do not practices cremation (although not strictly forbidden, it is traditionally not done, especially since the Holocaust, after which cremation became associated with attempted genocide by the Nazis). According to Jewish tradition, his mother should have been buried as soon as possible after her death, following a closed-casket funeral, in a bio-degradable coffin.
  • GaryCon is held in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, a long way for Penny to drive from California.
  • This is the first episode of The Big Bang Theory involving four of the characters (Amy, Leonard, Raj, and Emily) or any of the characters in an Escape Room.
  • Another episode that tests the Shenny principle. In the end, Penny and Sheldon feel that they are very close in a sibling relationship or mother/son, the latter of which creeps Penny out.
  • Sheldon was a zombie in "The Good Guy Fluctuation" (S5E07).
  • The escape room contains the laboratory of the late Dr. David Saltzberg who is the name of the science consultant for TBBT series. He fills up Leonard and Sheldon's white boards} with equations, verifies that the science discussions and plots are correct.
  • Goof: Amy doesn't know Sheldon's birthday; however, she has read his Caltech employee information sheet in "The Tangible Affection Proof" (S6E16) and the one's birthdate is standard employee information.
  • Goof: In this episode, Penny says Sheldon is a Pisces, but in "The Peanut Reaction" (S1E16), she says he is a Taurus, and, therefore, it is an inconsistency of star signs and the knowledge of Sheldon's birthday.
  • Penny states Sheldon's birthday has been a mystery; however, in "The Peanut Reaction" (S1E16), Penny says she was going to do the horoscope to everyone until Sheldon interrupted her, Sheldon answers repeating what he said that time, to which Penny says: "...typical Taurus", meaning she probably knew already when his birthday was. It's possible that Penny simply guessed Sheldon was a Taurus based upon his personality.
  • Second episode to take place around a main character's birthday. First was "The Peanut Reaction" (S1E16), which is also shows Sheldon's hatred of birthday traditions.
  • The "36 questions" were inspired by The Love Game™: A Game for Falling In Love.
  • The Gothic Hostess was played by Molly Morgan who played the Goth chick Bethany in "The Gothowitz Deviation" (S3E3) that Howard picked up.
  • There seems to be a casting tradition in TBBT that occasional female characters given speaking roles come out of a background in stand-up comedy. Melissa Rauch, who ascended to become a core character; or Lucy (Kate Micucci), for instance. Here we see Stephanie Escajeda, playing Cindy, the hapless airline ground hostess who has to break it to Howard that his mother's ashes have been lost in transit and can only be narrowed down to somewhere on Planet Earth. Stephanie alternates actress work with some pretty good stand-up.
  • A relevant actress-data website gives Stephanie's height as only 5' 8", yet she seems to tower over Bernadette and Howard by at least a foot in both cases (see pictures below) - and she is still very intimidated by Bernadette's threats and anger.
  • Max Alder is another actor who had been on TBBT and "Switched at Birth" like some of the actresses who played Raj's girlfriends.
  • Despite the title and those fans interested in the Shamy relationship, it has nothing to do with them or them getting more intimate. 
  • The revelation of Sheldon's birthday in this episode would later serve as the main plot for "The Celebration Experimentation" (S9E17), which takes place almost exactly one year after this episode. 
  • Sheldon is atypically less than pedantic in not referring to the co-creator of D&D as E. Gary Gygax, which is his credit is the materials.


Amy: I just about an experiment design to see if you could make two people fall in love in a matter of hours.
Leonard: That doesn't sound right. My research has shown that it takes three to five years of shameless begging.
Penny: Honey, neither of us come off good in that story.
Raj: Yeah, I saw that article you’re talking about. Uh, the participants ask each other a series of questions designed to promote intimacy…
Amy: And they finish off staring into each other’s eyes for four minutes.
Sheldon: Oh, that’s nonsense. I proclaimed my love for you. And the last time I looked into your eyes was when you thought you had conjunctivitis.
Amy: Other than the fact that I had it, that was a magical night.
Penny: Raj, would you ever try an experiment like that with Emily?
Raj: I don’t need science to win her heart. I have my family’s wealth for that.
Leonard: I’m telling you, you can’t create love in a few hours. Right?
Penny: Careful, you’re poking at the whole foundation of “The Bachelor”.
Sheldon: Yeah, but we don’t have to debate this. We’re scientists. We can conduct our own research. I propose we imprison two street people…
Amy: No.
Sheldon: And.. You didn't even let me finish.
Amy: Forget it.
Sheldon: Oh, so you can experiment on all the apes you want but if I want to manipulate the emotions of two captive human beings, suddenly I’m the monster.
Raj: Why don’t you just do the test?
Sheldon: In the interest of science, I would be willing to.
Penny: What? You’re okay with an experiment where you have to answer awkward questions about your innermost feelings?
Sheldon: Yes.
Penny: Please, can I do it with him, please?
Leonard: I've been listening to Sheldon’s feeling on things for ten years. Tag, you’re it.
Raj: Yeah, but what if the experiment works?
Penny: I’m not gonna fall in love with Sheldon.
Amy: That’s what I said. But before I knew it he pontificated his way into my heart.
Sheldon: Um, fun fact – “pontificate” comes from the Latin word “pontifex” which means “bridge builder” or “pope”.
Leonard: In love yet?

Raj: Given the choice of anyone in the world whom would you want as a dinner guest?
Leonard: Hmm. I can honestly say Penny.
Amy: Oh…Then I chose a janitor cause I’m about to throw up.
Leonard: I’m in love. Let’s do something else.

Howard: (he's yelling with huge fury) Are you kidding me?! You lost my mother’s ashes?!
Baggage Clerk Woman: (almost on the verge of tears) No, I’m just saying that sometimes bags are misrouted.
Howard: All right, fine. Where did you misroute the only woman who ever loved me?! The first, well, first, I meant first.
Baggage Clerk Woman: I just need some information. Uh, what’s the flight number?
Bernadette: Eight sixteen.
Howard: I really did mean first.
Bernadette: Just drop it.
Baggage Clerk Woman: And can you describe the bag?
Bernadette: Um, well, it’s, uh, black. There’s a red ribbon tied to the handle.
Howard: The world’s greatest mom is in the shoe compartment!

Penny: Question one. Given the choice of anyone in the world whom would you want as a dinner guest?
Sheldon: Mmmm. Living or dead?
Penny: Just says “anyone in the world.” I guess it means living.
Sheldon: Ah, it’s just as well. As much as I’d love to meet Euclid - inventor of the Geometric proof – he probably wore sandals and I cannot look at toes during dinner. Oh I know. The person I’d most like to have dinner with is myself.
Penny: You sure that’s your choice? Cause I've had that dinner.
Sheldon: Well, I haven’t. While they say never meet your heroes, I just don’t see how I could disappoint. So who would you choose?
Penny: Robert Downing, Junior.
Sheldon: Oh. I didn't think of Iron Man. You know, maybe after myself and I have dinner we could meet you two for dessert.

Sheldon: What would constitute a perfect day for you?
Penny: Uh, well. I’d probably sleep in, do a little yoga, then lie on the beach while cute cabana boys brought me drinks and probably get a massage and cap off the night with some dancing.
Sheldon: That’s it?
Penny: Yeah, why?
Sheldon: You didn't mention Leonard.
Penny: He’s there.
Sheldon: I don’t think so. Leonard can’t stand yoga, the beach, massages or dancing.
Penny: Yeah, well. He brought a book. SO what’s yours?
Sheldon: Uh, I wake up, I enjoy some French toast with butter and syrup. Uh, then a worm hole opens up and whisks me millions of years into the future where my towering intellect is used to save he last remnants of mankind from a predatory alien race.
Penny: Interesting you didn't mention Amy.
Sheldon: Who do you think made the French toast with butter and syrup?

Hostess: You are about to enter the lab of the late Dr. David Saltzberg. While conducting studies on slowing the aging process there was a catastrophic accident and he died. Or did he?

Sheldon: If you could wake up tomorrow having gain anyone quality or ability what would it be?
Penny: Well, not to steal from the Bible, but turning water into wine sounds pretty good.
Sheldon: I don’t think you’re taking this seriously.
Penny: Come on, I’m just having some fun with you.
Sheldon: I believe what you’re doing is using humor to avoid vulnerability.
Penny: Fine. Honestly, if I could have one quality I wish I could be as smart as you guys.
Sheldon: Ha, keep dreaming!
Penny: Sheldon!
Sheldon: I’m sorry. That was me having fun with you. Look. You may not be as academically inclined as are we - Yes, that’s how you say it. – But you possess an intelligence I envy, which leads me to my answer. I would choose the ability to read people’s minds.
Penny: Well, I can’t read people’s minds. Actually, that’s not true. I can read men’s minds, but only it’s usually the one thing.
Sheldon: When are we going to get robot eyes?
Penny: You’re all alike.
Sheldon: Well, what I meant was…I often misinterpret how others are feeling. Like I can’t always tell if someone is only joking or laughing art me. You know, like, uh, if they’re mad I've done or if they’re in a bad mood. It’s incredibly stressful.
Penny: Really? You always seem so confident.
Sheldon: Well, I’m not. And if I could read people’s minds life would be so much simpler.
Penny: Well, now I wish had the ability to make that stuff easier for you.
Sheldon: Thank you.
Penny: Wow, I just felt this wave of affection for you.
Sheldon: You sure it’s not too much Bible juice?
Penny: And the wave is gone.

Baggage Clerk Woman: Mr. and Mrs. Wolowitz? As far as I can tell, your bag arrived in Los Angeles.
Bernadette: So, where is it?
Baggage Clerk Woman: I don’t know, perhaps somebody took it off the carousel by mistake?
Howard: So, some stranger has my mom? Is that what you’re telling me? My poor mother can be anywhere in Los Angeles right now?!
Baggage Clerk Woman: I, I wish I was telling you that. Um, but the passenger could’ve gotten on an international flight.
Howard: Oh, okay, great. So, your entire job is to find lost luggage, and you’ve narrowed down the location of my mother to the planet Earth!
Baggage Clerk Woman: I’m sorry. W-would 500 frequent-flyer miles help? That could get you to Sacramento.

Zombie: Solve puzzle too fast. Slow down.
Leonard: Yep, got the code.
Zombie: Just saying, no refund for finish early.

Bernadette: Sure you don’t want to go home? When the bag’s returned, they’ll deliver it to us.
Howard: No, I’m not leaving without her.
Bernadette: All right, we’ll wait.
Howard: I could’ve driven her.
Bernadette: What?
Howard: The day she left for Florida. She asked me to drive her to the airport. I was too busy. And I made her take a cab. I was too busy.
Bernadette: (emotionally) There’s no way you could’ve known. Be right back. (walks up to the desk) Excuse me?
Baggage Clerk Woman: Yes?
Bernadette: (furiously) You better find my husband’s mother, because one way or another, we’re walking out of this airport with a dead woman!

Penny: If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone?
Sheldon: So, it would be today? Huh. Well, I guess there’s something satisfying about dying on my birthday.
Penny: Today’s your birthday?
Sheldon: Yes.
Penny: Well, that’s always been a secret. Not even Amy knows.
Sheldon: Well, I don’t enjoy presents. And the thought of people jumping out and yelling “Surprise!” fills me with more dread than the words “George Lucas Director’s cut.”
Penny: So why did you finally tell me?
Sheldon: The point of the experiment is to be completely honest with each other.
Penny: Well thank you for sharing that with me. I won’t tell anyone.
Sheldon: Thank-you.
Penny: That is so funny. I would never pegged you for a Pisces.
Sheldon: You’re making it difficult to love you right now.

Baggage Clerk Woman: Great news, your bag was returned.
Howard: Oh, thank God. It’s okay, she’s here. Ma’s here.
Bernadette: Okay, thank you so much.
Howard: (feeling emotional) Ma, I’m sorry I didn't take you to the airport. I just want you to know that I’ll never forgive myself for being so selfish. And I promise to keep you close for the rest of my life.
Bernadette: (feeling discomfort) Oh no. That thing’s gonna end up in my bedroom.

Penny: And begin. (they stare quietly for a few seconds) This is kinda creepy.
Sheldon: We’re not supposed to talk during this part.
Penny: Sorry.
Sheldon: (after another few seconds of silence) This is kinda creepy.
Penny: Do you want to stop? I know you have trouble with eye contact.
Sheldon: Well. You have a brown fleck in your right eye that looks like a Formula One race car. SO I’m just concentrating on that. Plus it’s easier around people I’m comfortable with.
Penny: Ah, sweetie. I’m comfortable around you, too.
Sheldon: Of course you are. I’m warm and soothing. I’m like a human bowl of tomato soup.
Penny: I meant more like a little brother.
Sheldon: Oh. Well, I do suppose I think of you like a sister. And sometimes a mother.
Penny: It’s getting creepy again. {Later}
Sheldon: What?
Penny: Just thinking about the day I met you and Leonard.
Sheldon: It was a Monday afternoon. You joined us for Indian food.
Penny: Can you believe it’s been eight years?
Sheldon: Yeah, and you’re still eating our food.
Penny: I can’t remember a time you guys weren't in my life.
Sheldon: I remember it perfectly. But I have an eidectic memory. If you’re interested I also remember how much you owe us for the food.
(The timer goes off)
Penny: That’s it. That wasn't so bad.
Sheldon: No, it wasn't. Uh, now let’s tabulate the results of the experiment.
Penny: Okay.
Sheldon: I think it’s safe to say you’re not in love with me and I’m not in love with you. And psychology has once again proved itself the doofus of the sciences.
Penny: Well, maybe. But I’m still glad we did it. I do feel closer to you.
Sheldon: And I you. And yes, that’s how you say that. Yeah, so given our new found intimacy I’d say we have some hard choices to make.
Penny: Like what?
Sheldon: Gary Con, do we fly or drive? Do we wear costumes? And id so.. Who gets to be Gary?
(Penny rolls her eyes while smiling in amusement)

(The ending scene in the hallway).
Sheldon: Thank you for walking me home.
Penny: I just want to make sure you get there safe.
Sheldon: Well, this is me. It’s been a very interesting evening.
Penny:: It really has.
All (Raj, Emily, Leonard, Amy): SURPRISE!
Sheldon: (screams) Aah!
(All of Sheldon's questionnaires fall out of his hands and onto the floor. Leonard grins for a second and Sheldon turns back to Penny)
Sheldon: (he yells angrily at Penny) And after I let you be Gary!
(Penny shrugs happily without a single thing to say)



  • [5] Taping Report by MichyGeary