The Big Bang Theory Wiki

"The Robotic Manipulation" is the first episode of the fourth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Thursday, September 23, 2010.[1]


Sheldon embarks on his first date with Amy which was suggested by Penny who ends up chaperoning it. Howard discovers new uses for the robotic arm he "borrowed" from the JPL.

Extended Plot[]

Thebigbangtheorys04e01mkv 000002419

The Wolowitz Programmable Hand unpacking Chinese take-out.

Howard demonstrates a robotic arm that he "borrowed recently" from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Penny comes to know of Sheldon's new friend, Amy Farrah Fowler. To everyone's surprise, Sheldon announces his plans to conceive a child with Amy via in-vitro fertilization because of their superior genetics using Penny as a surrogate mother. Penny suggests that Sheldon should go out with Amy in order to get to know the future mother of his child.

Sheldon is knocking on Penny's door and tells her that he has decided go on a date with Amy and that she has to take him. Penny tells him to get Leonard to drive him, but Sheldon informs her that Leonard said it was Penny's "cockamamie" idea, get her to do it. He further informs her that they are going to be late and need to hurry. Penny enquires as to whether Leonard actually said "cockamamie." Sheldon said that he grew up in a Christian home and was uncomfortable repeating the language Leonard actually used. To that Penny said, "Well, let me get my cockamamie keys."

Meanwhile, Howard continues experimenting with the robotic arm, using it as a massager. He makes a comment about it feeling just like a real hand, then has an epiphany when he thinks of something else he could have his robotic arm do.


Penny meets Amy.

Penny picks Amy up and the car turns silent, so Penny tries to start a conversation. She is taken aback by Amy's stubbornness, akin to Sheldon's, and all of her attempts to make conversation fail.

Meanwhile, Howard tries to use the robotic arm to masturbate, and gets his genitals stuck in an awkward position. He calls Leonard and Raj for help, and lies to them that he accidentally slipped and fell straight into the robot hand and that too penis first. Quite naturally and obviously Leonard and Raj don't believe him at all and, finding the situation hilarious, offer many ridiculous solutions like trying to yank his penis out like they did when winnie the pooh got his head stuck in a honey tree or sawing it off using a electric saw to cut it off to the utter and complete frustration of Howard.


Failing at giving Sheldon the "Finger".

Penny, Sheldon and Amy go to a restaurant where Penny tries to bring up conversations between them including the topic of tonight being Sheldon's first dating|date. Her attempts fail and to her annoyance, Sheldon calculates the number of dates that Penny might have had in her life by extrapolating the data he collected over the past three years. He comes up with a number: 193. Amy wonders if Penny has had sex with all these men, to which Sheldon believes is a possibility. He then proceeds to calculate the number of cases that might have resulted in sexual encounters and gets the number: 31. Penny, feeling so embarrassed, thinks she might need a drink. To add to this, Amy asks her whether she ever felt like a "slut." Penny denies it twice and then is not so sure about herself the third time she says no. Amy admits to having had many more orgasms during experiments by having the pleasure centers of her brain stimulated.


Does your born again Christian mother want a test tube grandchild born out of wedlock?

Leonard and Raj take Howard to the hospital emergency room (previously seen in The Peanut Reaction) along with the robotic arm. The nurse, Althea, turns off the computer that controlled the arm, and Howard is freed. He was worried that the hand would start twisting, thinking it was holding a screwdriver.

Finally, Penny convinces Sheldon to drop his plans to have an in vitro fertilization with Amy after threatening to tell his religious mother about an out-of-wedlock test tube grandchild. Howard calls Leonard again, saying he is "stuck again".



  • The TV Critic: "The show still sparkles with fun banter and amusing lines that fellow traditional sitcoms just can't manage...The introduction of Amy Fowler as his "girlfriend" is a sensible idea for the show. It will allow the writers to mine the untapped area of his sex life which will be a lot of fun...It's just sad that the writers don't try to develop Sheldon or Penny's characters during these interactions. Penny is excellent here when her less than chaste behavior comes to light around the dinner table. It's revealed in a plausible manner and she is embarrassed...The show is back and I'm happy to see it. It could still be better but it's very good at what it does."[2]
  • The A.V. Club gave this episode a B.[3]
  • IMDb user reviews


  • Title Reference: Howard "borrowed" a robotic arm from NASA and uses it in various ways.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card.
  • This episode was watched by 14.04 million people with a rating of 4.9 (adults 18–49).[4]
  • This episode aired in Canada on September 23, 2010, with 3.112 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #1.[5]
  • In the United Kingdom, this episode aired on November 4, 2010, with 1.143 million total viewers and a weekly ranking of #19.[6]
  • In Australia, it aired on October 20, 2010, with 1.179 million viewers and a weekly rank of #15.[7]
  • Episode transcript [1]

Costume Notes[]

Triple Threat by Kirra Optiblocks

  • Leonard is spotted in his Little Timmy Robot shirt from Karl Addison (discontinued).



Howard's Princess Leia figure is in view on his shelf.

Princess Leia Sideshow Premium Format Figure

Sideshow Collectibles Star Wars Premium Format Princess Leia.

  • This episode and the next two episodes (S4E2 and S4E3) are the three episodes in this season (Series 4) do not feature anymore guest appearances Melissa Rauch as Bernadette before she becomes a main cast member in the fourth episode of this season (Season 4).
  • The Princess Leia Sideshow Premium Format Figure makes its first appearance in Howard's Bedroom on the shelf over his bed.
  • Sheldon and Amy discuss about the possibility of having a child at the early stage of their interactions, quite like what Leslie Winkle asked Leonard in their short relationship in "The Codpiece Topology" (S2E2).
    • Sheldon does not seem to recognize that he and Amy are in a relationship at this stage, but that may seem to be a facade due to his fear of commitment (revealed in "The Desperation Emanation" (S4E5)).
  • Interestingly, even though Penny admits she started dating at 14 years of age, in the Season 7 episode, "The Proton Displacement" (S7E7), Penny said that she ditched preschool because she was dating a second grader.
  • In the Season 2 Episode "The Barbarian Sublimation" (S2E3), Penny states that she hasn't had sex in 6 months. Also, she was with Kurt for four years, and moved into the building after she broke up with him. These facts call into question Sheldon's attempt to calculate the numbers of Penny's dates and sexual partners; however, even though Penny insists that she has not had sex with 31 men, Sheldon simply retorts that numbers don't lie; however, it is vital that the data employed must be correct, and the facts above show that Sheldon's "data" about Penny's behavior and relationships is seriously flawed.
  • Sheldon has his first date, since going square-dancing with his sister at a Teens for Jesus Fourth of July Hoedown did not count as one. He forgets that he did double date with Raj in "The Psychic Vortex" (S3E12). However, he showed no sign of realizing what was going on in that episode, so he may simply not realize that could count.
  • The term Shamy, that represents a combination of the name Sheldon and Amy was first introduced in this episode, by Howard.
  • Sheldon says, "Numbers don't lie." This phrase was the tagline for the CBS television series Numb3rs|NUMB3RS.
  • Althea (the nurse) said "Did you try turning it off and back on again?", a paraphrase of "Have you tried turning it off and on again?", a phrase often said by Roy on the similar British television series The IT Crowd.
  • When Howard walks into the ER having the robot arm holding on to his penis, it reminds us of a similar situation in American Pie 2 when Jim Levenstein gets his hand stuck to his penis while trying to masturbate "accidentally" using superglue instead of lubricant.
  • Sheldon mentions that the robot hand is the beginning of a technology that will eventually make Penny's profession as a waitress outdated. And could one day come back and kill Sarah Connor ala The Terminator.
  • This season's premiere episode takes place three months after the last episode of the previous season.
  • Leonard and Penny are still broken up.
  • When Howard is irked by one of Sheldon's superior sneers, he painstakingly reprograms the robot hand to turn to Sheldon and make a vigorous derisive gesture. It is noticeable this is not the American middle finger - which the robot could so easily have done - but the comparable British gesture involving the raised two fingers in a "go screw yourself" v-sign. This is a shout-out to the British sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf. When one of the service robots - the skutters (which are an arm mounted on a mobile wheeled chassis) is provoked by a casual comment from Arnold Rimmer, it gives Rimmer a very derisive v-sign with its own hand. Rimmer's personality quirks, OCD, anal-retentiveness and general demeanor make him a disturbing and more irksome space-borne version of Sheldon, with no redeeming features. And we know the guys are Red Dwarf fans; Sheldon owns all the episodes on DVD. Unless Howard just messed it up and gave Sheldon two fingers instead of one.
  • GOOF: Sheldon may call that night his first date; however, other women will deny that since he did have dinner with Lalita Gupta, Ramona Nowitzki did bring dinner to his apartment and he had two dates with Martha. Probably dates to them.
  • It's unknown how Raj and Leonard were able to help Howard and the robot arm get to the hospital without Mrs. Wolowitz noticing.

    A Skutter from "Red Dwarf" - Howard's technology (almost) perfected several hundred years later?

  • Penny meets Amy for the first time, her future "bestie".
  • Raj states that Winnie the Pooh's friends pulled on him when he was stuck in a honey tree, when in the actual movie, Pooh was stuck in Rabbit's front door when that was the case. (He does eventually get stuck in an actual honey tree, but his friends don't pull on him to get him out when he does.)


(Penny has just found out about Sheldon and Amy)
Penny: OK, well, what do you communicate about?
Sheldon: Well, my work in Physics, her work in Neurobiology and, most recently, the possibility of our having a child together.
(This shocks the others along with Penny, who sprays her drink everywhere. Howard controls the robot hand to give her a napkin.)
Penny: (cough) Thank You.
Leonard (To Sheldon): Wait a minute, a child? You never see this girl, you just email and text and twitter, now you're considering having a baby.
Sheldon: Amy pointed out, that between the two of us, our genetic material, has the potential of producing the first, in a line of intellectually, superior, benign overlords, to guide humanity to a brighter tomorrow.
Howard (To Raj): I'm guessing that future historians will condemn us, for not taking this opportunity to kill Sheldon.

(Penny is driving Amy and Sheldon to the restaurant for their date. All three are in an awkward silence.)
Penny (coughs a bit): So, um, Amy, Sheldon tells me you're a Neuro... something or other?
Amy: Neurobiologist. Your "check engine" light is on.
Penny (a bit annoyed): Yeah, it's OK.
Amy: But the light indicates...
Sheldon: Don't bother. I've wasted many an hour tilting at that particular windmill.
Penny (To Amy): Uh, what is that scent you're wearing? It smells great.
Amy: Dandruff Shampoo. (To Sheldon) I have dry scalp.
Penny: Ah, well your hair looks very nice.
Amy: Are you a homosexual?
Penny: No, No, I'm just, giving you a compliment.
Amy: Hm. Would have been more flattered if you were a homosexual.
Penny: Guys, how about some music?
Sheldon: Oh, I wouldn't care for that, Amy?
Amy: No, thank you.
Penny: OK. Uncomfortable silence it is. (After a short silence, Penny decides to speak) Hey, Sheldon, have you told Amy what it was like for you growing up in Texas?
Sheldon: No.
Penny: Well, why don't you tell her?
Sheldon: Alright. (To Amy) It was hell.
Penny: Any follow up, Amy?
Amy: No.
Penny: (tut) I, myself, grew up in Nebraska. Small town, outside of Omaha. Yeah, a nice place, mostly family farms, a few meth labs.
Sheldon: I'm sorry, how is this better than uncomfortable silence?
Penny: I don't know, I was just trying something.
Sheldon (To Amy): Muggles.


The arm giving Howard a massage.

(Howard is in his bedroom, using the robot hand to massage himself.)
Howard: Oh, god that feels so good. Yeah, that's the spot, oh baby.
(Mrs. Wolowitz is shouting from the kitchen.)
Howard (To his mother): I'll eat later, I'M BUSY! (To the robot hand) Oh, yeah, just like a real hand.
(Howard suddenly realizes that he could use the hand for masturbation. He looks at it suspiciously.)
Howard: Hm?

(Leonard and Raj are at Leonard's apartment, looking through their comic books.)
Raj: You know, there's something that I've always wondered about Aquaman.
Leonard: Yeah?
Raj: Where does he poop?
Leonard (confused): What?
Raj: What would a toilet look like in Atlantis? How would you flush it? Oh, and when you did flush it; where would the poop go?
(Leonard's phone starts ringing.)
Leonard (To Raj): Hold that thought.
(Leonard sees that it is Howard calling.)
Leonard (To phone): Hey, Howard. What's up? Wait, slow down. I can't understand you. What? The robot hand is stuck on your what? (To Raj) You are not gonna believe this.

(It turns out that while using the robot hand for masturbating, the hand froze on Howard's penis and he called Leonard and Raj to come and help him and lied to them by saying he slipped and fell. Raj and Leonard are staring at him while he has a blanket over his stuck penis.)
Raj: You slipped and fell into a robot hand?
Howard (embarrassed): Yes.
Raj: Penis first?
Howard: Yes, now help me!
Leonard: I'd suggest a lubricant, but I have a feeling you fell on some of that as well.
(Both Leonard and Raj smirk.)
Howard: Not funny, Leonard.
Raj: Really? A robot hand's got a death grip on your junk, dude. That's funny, ask anyone.
(Leonard and Raj laugh.)
Howard: Please, before my mother walks in, g..., get this off me!
Leonard: OK, let's see.
(Leonard is about to touch the computer, when Howard stops him.)
Howard: No, No, don't touch, the program is paused!
Leonard: A, w..., w..., then..., let's unpause it?
Howard: No, No, I loaded the wrong program; the hand thinks it's holding a screwdriver in outer-space, if you continue the program, it's gonna start, twisting.
Raj: Oh, all, alright, um, oh, how, how about this, when, when, Winnie-the-Pooh, got his head stuck in the honey tree, his friends all grabbed onto him and pulled and pulled.
(Howard gives Raj a dirty look.)
Leonard (To Raj): You do whatever you want, I'm not touching another man's honey tree.
Raj: (sigh), Alright, uh, forget pulling, uh, how about we get an electric saw and cut it off?
Howard: What! No saws! One circumcision was enough.
Leonard: How about an acetylene torch?
Howard (Frustrated sigh): OK, I can't believe this needs to said out loud. No pulling, no saws, no torches.
Leonard: Well then, what do you want us to do?
Howard: I...
(Mrs. Wolowitz is shouting from the kitchen again and interrupts Howard.)
Howard (To his mother): YES, BUT THAT'S NOT THE POINT! (To Raj and Leonard in a panicked tone) Get me out of here!
Leonard: Oh, y...y... you have, any ideas, Raj?
Raj: Right now, all I can think about is cookies and Hawaiian punch.
(Howard looks frustrated at Raj.)

(Leonard and Raj have taken Howard to the hospital, with Leonard carrying the computer and the robot hand still attached to Howard's penis.)
Leonard (To Howard): OK, come on, almost there.
Howard (To Raj): Don't tug, no tugging.
Raj: Next time, take your own advice.
Leonard (To Althea the nurse): Excuse me, could you help us out?
(Althea looks up and is amused at what she sees.)
Althea: My, My, My, what do we have here?
Howard (To Althea): I slipped and fell.
Althea: Yeah, we get that a lot.
(She looks under the blanket.)
Althea: What is this?
Howard: It's, a, robot arm.
Althea: Where's the rest of the robot?
Howard: I only built the arm.
Althea (snickers): 'Cause that's all you needed, right?
(Leonard and Raj laugh at this remark.)
Howard: CAN YOU PLEASE, just, help me?!
Althea: Alright, alright, hang on, stay calm. (Over the intercom phone) I need an orderly with a wheelchair, I got a robot hand grasping a man's penis out here.
(Everyone turns and stares at Howard, who is embarrassed and frustrated.)
Howard (To Althea): You think you could be a little more discrete?!
Althea (To Howard): I'm sorry, we don't have a code for a robot hand grasping a man's penis. (To Leonard) Why is it hooked up to a computer?
Leonard (To Althea): Uh, it's what controls the arm.
Howard (To Althea): But it's frozen.
Althea: Did you try turning it off and back on again?
Howard: No, you see, it's more complicated than that...
(Althea turns the computer off.)
Howard: NO, WAIT!
(The robot hand turns off, and lets go of Howard's penis. Howard looks down at it.)
Howard (To the guys): Winnie-the-Pooh is out of the honey tree!
(Chuckles excitedly.)
Raj: Now, can we have cookies and Hawaiian punch?

Leonard: (on the phone) Howard, slow down. What do you mean it happened again?



The date is now!