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"The Reclusive Potential"[1] is the twentieth episode of the eleventh season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. The episode aired on Thursday, April 12, 2018.


A brilliant, but reclusive scientist, Robert Wolcott, invites Sheldon to his cabin in the middle of nowhere, and Leonard, Raj and Howard go along for the trip to keep Sheldon safe. Also, Penny and Bernadette improvise after Amy doesn't like the tame bachelorette party they planned for her.[2]

Extended Plot[]

While entering the apartment building lobby, Raj is wondering if Bruce Banner needs to include the Hulk as an extra driver on his auto insurance if he changes into the Hulk while driving a rental car. Howard quips that Raj really needs a girlfriend. Sheldon gets excited when he sees the mailman and gets a letter from Dr. Wolcott with whom he had been corresponding about his string theory research. The mathematical physicist is a recluse who lives in a cabin and exists off the grid who invites Sheldon to visit. Leonard doesn't understand why he wants to go to the mountains to spend a weekend with a crazy man he has never meant. Sheldon is fine with that so Leonard tells him to go have fun.


Reviewing Dr. Wolcott's research.

During dinner with their gang, Sheldon is deciphering the coded directions to Dr. Wolcott's cabin. When finished Sheldon burns the letter surprising his friends. Amy is not happy with Sheldon going alone so she insists that Leonard go with him. She is busy because her bachelorette party will be that weekend “because I’m getting married!” she keeps exclaiming. Then Howard is sent off to keep Leonard safe, while Raj is being sent so he doesn't attend the bachelorette party.

Getting ready for bed, Amy is still worried that Sheldon is going to be okay. Sheldon tells her that he'll be fine, though he is worried about what the girls are going to do while the men are away. Penny did plan the party. Amy is expecting drinking, dancing and maybe a mailman with very little clothing on. Sheldon is worried that they might end up in prison when hosting someone impersonating a federal employee. Amy curls up happy that he worries about her.

Driving into the mountains the guys are listening to a lecture on nonlinear time which Sheldon recorded. The guys wanted a good musical mix. Raj comments that this is the first trip they took together since Leonard's bachelor party trip to Mexico. Raj equates that as Sheldon's party, but Leonard informs them that they are not having one per Sheldon's request.

Bernadette and Penny lead a blindfolded Amy into apartment 4A for her bachelorette party. The blindfold is removed and she finds them having a quilting bee with plenty of cloth patches and an old fashioned sewing machine. Amy fakes excitement. The girls explain that Amy they thought that she would like this over oiled up strippers and sex toys.

Approaching the mountain cabin they find the place quite creepy. After Sheldon's standard knock, the guys hear a multitude of locks being opened. Creepy Dr. Wolcott answers the door and worried about all the extra people. Sheldon tells them to go back to the car.

After all are inside, Dr. Wolcott shows them about his cabin. He has a chair that he does his thinking in and a chair where he worries about other people who have wronged him. Raj is enjoying a tomato from the garden until the Doctor tells him that he fertilizes it with his own manure. Next their host collects all their cell phones so that no one can listen in. Sheldon gets to review one of Dr. Wolcott's notebooks which he writes backwards in while also interposing his letter and numbers. Sheldon is very impressed.

Back at Penny's apartment, Penny and Bernie are happily stitching squares while Amy is using the sewing machine and fake smiling at them. She “agrees” that she is having fun as Bernie serves Penny serves some more tea. Finally Amy jumps up exclaiming “What the hell!” Just because she said that she didn't want to do anything crazy doesn't mean that that was what she wanted. She then wonders if they think that she is that boring. Penny denies it. Amy wanted a chance to have fun, be wild and make bad decisions at her bachelorette party. Bernadette then suggests that they go someplace to get body shots off of shirtless bartenders.


Surprising Amy.

Leonard and Sheldon are really impressed with Dr. Wolcott's work on nonlinear time. He appreciated their comments, but in his nonlinear time theory they have already done that. Raj and Howard are lost. The Doctor thinks that they could help each other with Sheldon's string theory work. Leonard figures that it would take him months to go through the good doctor's work. Howard wants to know who would tell Amy that she lost Sheldon to a madman in the mountains.

Entering a bar, Amy is excited and wants to know what a body shot is. Amy thinks that drinking out of a guy's navel is disgusting. Amy tells the entire bar that she is getting married, so the patrons cheer and the bartender gives them the first set of shots on the house. Amy shouts cheers and twelve minutes later she has passed out. Bernie wonders if they should get her home while Penny orders another round of shots.

Back at the cabin, the work on Dr. Wolcott's theory continues until they mention that Sheldon was getting married. The good doctor is also married and his wife lives in Munich so that they can each concentrate on their work. They do exchange birthday cards most years. Sheldon says that he has never considered a long distance marriage. Dr. Wolcott tells him that if one wants to be a great scientist, one can't be distracted. He then picks up his rifle to go and shoot them some dinner, either rabbit or squirrel. Sheldon is impressed about how much work Dr. Wolcott has done, but doesn't want to live like him. Leonard adds that he (Sheldon) has Amy and a lot of good friends that he (Sheldon) should not want to give up. Sheldon then suggests that they all leave because he misses Amy AND his cell phone.

Back in 4A, the girls are watching a movie while Amy sleeps on the couch. She wakes up startled and wonders what happened. When Amy feels that she behaved so lame, that the girls embellished her behavior. According to Penny, she Riverdanced on the bar and she also taught some shirtless firemen how to dance. She also slid down them like on a pole and flashed everyone. They also assure her that they took no pictures (they actually did, but most of them were of Penny and Bernadette reacting to how incapable Amy is of handling strong alcohol). Even though Penny and Bernadette lied about what really happened to her. That Amy had two drinks out and passed out in the bar.


What happened?

Dr. Wolcott returns to find the cabin empty. He can't figure out if they were there, or ever came or were on they're way. He started to clean up to get ready for their visit. Dr. Wolcott is affected by his own concepts of non-linear time.

The next morning Amy is nursing a bad hangover. Sheldon comes in exclaiming how Dr. Wolcott's theory helps him with his string theory research. Amy explains her party as going to a bar, getting drunk and having shirtless firemen fight over her. Sheldon asked Amy if she would still love him if he wasn't the science oriented recluse she had first met. Amy wants to know the same if she turns out to be a Riverdancing wild woman. Yes, they would still love each other. Sheldon wonders if she can River dance. She shows him and Sheldon tells her that he is the only man she'll ever show that for.



  • Title Reference: The title refers to Sheldon's temptation to isolate himself to achieve more in science.
  • Taping date: March 13, 2018
  • This episode was watched by 12.77 million people with a rating of 2.4 (adults 18–49).
  • Total viewers including DVR users 17.55 million.
  • This episode aired in Canada on April 12, 2018.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card. [1]


  • Caroline Preece at Den of Geek! - Once the group set off on their non-bachelor party road trip, a couple of things happen. The episode allows Howard to keep Raj company out of the intellectual loop, and Leonard appears just as interested in the research as Sheldon does. This sounds like nothing, but consistent characterisation is so often missed on this show that it's noticeable when the group all act like themselves...Like the guys and their smarts, it's always lovely when the show remembers that Penny loves Amy not out of obligation, but genuine affection...So they set off to a bar, and lie to Amy about her antics after she passes out in the first 12 minutes. Amy's right, they are good friends, and I'm forever grateful to the show for creating this little narrative world for them away from the guys. [2]
  • IMDb user reviews [3]


  • Peter MacNicol played Dr. Janosz Poha who was possessed by Vigo in "Ghostbusters II". The gang didn't like that movie; however, there were several "Ghostbuster" references over the years. He also portrayed the brilliant theoretical cosmologist Dr. Lawrence Fleinhardt in CBS predecessor Numb3rs. Fellow Numb3rs cast member Judd Hirsch played Leonard's father, Alfred Hofstadter.
  • Robert Wolcott is a mathematician, specializing in topology and mathematical physics. He is similar to Grigori Perelman, an actual reclusive genius topologist [4].
  • Dr. Wolcott asked Sheldon if he knew non-abelian group theory; Sheldon wrote a paper on the contrasting abelian groups at five years old.
  • Sheldon would rather be with Amy than spend a reclusive life making even greater scientific achievements.
  • Amy thinks she had a wild time at her bachelorette party and someone learned to River Dance. Bernadette and Penny lied to her that she danced on top of a barstool and danced with shirtless firemen. But in reality she had a couple of drinks and passed out.
  • Goof: If the doctor's safe was locked, then guys left without their cell phones.
  • James Maslow from "American Boyband Big Time Rush" makes a cameo as the bartender.
  • Sheldon Cooper envied Robert Wolcott life where he was reclusive and he and his wife are long distant relationship and only send each other birthday and Christmas cards. Sheldon is considering living this life where he and Amy go their separate ways, but he decided not and can't picture his life without Amy.


Sheldon: And that is what separates the U.S. Postal Service from those hippies at Fedex.

Leonard: So you’re gonna go to the middle of nowhere and spend the weekend with a crazy man never met?
Sheldon: Yes. Why?
Leonard: No reason. Have fun.

Amy: Leonard, you are not letting Sheldon go alone this weekend.
Sheldon: I’m a grown man-I don’t need somebody to chaperone me. I just need him to drop me off, pick me up and pack me a sack lunch.

Amy: …because I’m getting married!!

Amy: Seriously, what the hell?
Penny: Huh?
Bernadette: What?
Amy: This is my batchelorette party, tea and quilts?
Penny: Well, you said you didn’t want anything crazy.
Amy: Yes, but I said it like, “I don’t want anything crazy.” Which clearly means I wanted something crazy. I mean, is this how boring you think I am?
Bernadette: Penny, she asked you a question.
Penny: Of course not.
Amy: So you thought I would like quilting?
Penny: Well don’t you?
Amy: Of course I like quilting! It’s the slowest way to make a blanket! But this is my batchelorette party! It was supposed to be fun and wild and full of bad decisions!
Bernadette: Hey we can make bad decisions!
Penny: Yeah. She had two kids back-to-back and I thought you would like this, so were off to a good start.
Bernadette: Come on, let’s go somewhere where we can do body shots off shirtless bartenders.
Amy: I don’t know. That might be too much.
Penny: All right, you know what, why don’t stay home, have a little wine…
Amy: What are you not getting about this?!