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"The Tesla Recoil" is the eighth episode of the eleventh season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. The episode aired on Thursday, November 16, 2017.


Leonard and Wolowitz are furious after they learn Sheldon went back to work with the military behind their backs. Also, while Bernadette is on her bed rest, she asks Raj to do some digging when she suspects Ruchi is trying to steal her job.[2]

Extended Plot[]

The gang is waiting in apartment 4A for Sheldon to show up so they can watch a movie. Sheldon finally shows up after Amy finished tying his shoe. The movie of the night is a documentary about the rivalry between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. Penny wonders if Tesla invented the electric car which causes snickering. Penny then reminds Sheldon that he went to see the movie "It" because he thought it was about I.T (Information Technology) guys. Tesla was the genius who invented the alternating current system that all our current electrical distribution is based on. They felt that Edison was too self-promoting. He also electrocuted an elephant named Topsy and was the first pornographer, according to Sheldon, because he filmed the first kiss. What? Also when Sheldon starts to talk science, he really gets Amy's current alternating.


Are you working on our project?

The next day Penny admits that that documentary wasn't too bad. Sheldon shows up and asks for a ride to work. Leonard asks Sheldon if they want to go out to see the Tesla coil at the observatory, but Sheldon is busy. He can't tell Leonard because it's classified, but Leonard figures out that it's for the military. Leonard also warns him that he better not be working on their gyroscope project that the Air Force took from them last year.

While Bernadette is resting in bed, Raj and Ruchi show up to visit and bring a plant from work. Bernie says none of the girls like her enough to send her a gift. Ruchi tells her to not worry and she doesn't have to return soon. Bernie gets peeved and is certain that Ruchi is after her job while she is stuck at home taking care of her useless plant and her dumb family. Howard thinks that she sounds a little crazy.

Howard is concerned about Sheldon working with the military so they call Colonel Williams. The Colonel tells them that Sheldon had contacted him that using their guidance system, he could develop a new type of communications system. Sheldon also told the Colonel that he was the leader of the team. As Howard and Leonard start to object, he cuts off their call.

Bernie asks Raj to come and see her. She wants to ask him something and it's not to be her birth coach. She needs to know if Ruchi is trying to steal her projects while she is at home on bed rest. Raj says that she isn't like that, but that she is also sleeping with him. If she is, then she needs to explain to her that boundaries need to be respected and that it is really the best thing for the company. Raj gets really creeped out the way she was saying it.



At Sheldon and Amy's they are deciding what to what to watch, Sheldon doesn't want to see any comedy or drama because he already saw Amy stub her toe and he found it funny. Leonard and Howard come in and complain to Sheldon that he went behind their backs. He had an idea about a neutrino based communications system based on their earlier work. Leonard refutes Sheldon's idea that he is not a rebel like Tesla, and that he is like Edison taking credit for their work. Howard and Leonard claim to be the Teslas of the group and they leave. Amy agrees with them, so Sheldon asks what that makes her. Amy has no idea, so Sheldon goes off to Google some bad stuff about Mrs. Edison.

Later, Sheldon is blaming the problem on his mother who insisted that he go make friends. Amy indicates that Sheldon does not understand the problem. Then Sheldon asks her how she would feel if he called her a neuroscientist that she didn't like, if he could think of one. Amy thinks that Sheldon is upset that his friends' feelings are hurt.

Raj and Ruchi are in bed together. Raj wants to bump fists with her because the sex was good and she wants to just be friends. Ruchi doesn't want to get weird. At work, Ruchi is glad to handle all of Bernadette's projects and hopes that she is not coming back to soon.

Talking to Penny, Raj feels that Ruchi is trying to take over Bernadette's projects. Penny insists that he should tell Bernadette; however, Raj is worried about Ruchi ending their causal relationship.

Howard is now complaining to Leonard about Sheldon and claimed that they didn't even need him. He did admit that it was a great idea to use their quantum technology for a new communications system. Leonard then gets the idea to swap out the helium gas with xenon to improve it more. Leonard wants to tell Sheldon, but he doesn't deserve it though they still need someone to help them with the math.

Bringing Bernie a food tray, Raj explains that it sounds like Ruchi is already trying to take over Bernadette's work. Also she is parking in Bernie's place and calling her "Pregnadette" at work. Bernie wants to kill Ruchi, but Raj tells her that she would have done the same thing. Bernadette claims that the cat incident was a harmless prank that got her a corner office. Raj tells her to look in the mirror at her hypocrisy as he storms out. Bernie only sees her luxurious hair.

Howard and Leonard are working with Kripke on the math portion of their new idea. Sheldon comes in and finds them working with his rival. They tell him that they are improving on his idea, which thrills Kripke. In response, Sheldon says that there is a big gap in their system, then he childishly wipes away some of their calculations and runs out.

While Raj is in bed with Ruchi again, she mentions that Bernadette isn't returning any if her texts. Raj suggests that she is jealous of her and is also hormonal. Did Raj say something to her? Raj claims to have defended her. Ruchi gets mad that she doesn't need defending and that Raj isn't her boyfriend. Raj says that they can deal with it. Ruchi then dumps him. Bernadette feels for him because he is alone and because she no longer has a spy.

Looking over their project, Leonard and Howard really feel that it will work. Sheldon comes in and congratulates them that the Air Force has dropped his project in favor of theirs. The guys are perplexed since they haven't yet talked to Colonel Williams. Going to see Kripke, they ask him if he had screwed them over. Kripke can't say anything because it's classified.

In 4A, they are all complaining, especially about Sheldon who should have come to Howard and Leonard first. Amy thinks that they all behaved badly. Sheldon objects that Amy's social skills are very poor. Penny tells them that maybe they are more like the guy that didn't invent the electric car and less like the guy that didn't invent the light bulb. Maybe they're all Teslas! Amy adds that he died broke and insane. Howard agrees with Sheldon about Amy's social skills.



  • Title Reference: Refers to the Sheldon thinking that he's a Tesla and the guys call him an Edison.
  • Taping date: October 24, 2017
  • This episode was watched by 13.44 million people with a rating of 2.6 (adults 18–49).
  • Total viewers including DVR users 18.28 million.
  • The Big Bang Theory was ranked #2 for the week ending 20 November 2017.
  • This episode aired in Canada on November 16, 2017.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card [1]


  • Caroline Preece at Den of Geek! - When Leonard and Howard learn that Sheldon has been working for the military on a pitch he made to modify their navigation system, the guys are understandably upset. What started as a group project has now become Sheldon's to take the credit for, and it feels all too familiar. They quickly resort to scientific name-calling, with Howard declaring that Sheldon is the Edison to their Tesla...Eventually Leonard and Howard recruit Kripke to help them do the maths on an even better project than Sheldon's, and quickly regret it when this third party steals it from under them. Colonel Williams is right - these two don't have any leadership skills, and it serves them right...I’ve made no secret of how I love when the show chooses to focus on the careers of the girls, and it's with Bernadette that it's been most successful. She ruthless and ambitious even when she's confined to her bed with her uterus taking over as the "star of the show"... [2]
  • IMDb user reviews [3]


  • Barry Kripke returns and makes his first appearance in Season 11 with his last appearance in "The Geology Elevation" (S10E9)
  • Ruchi returns in episode.
  • Colonel Richard Williams returns in this episode with his previous appearance being in "The Gyroscopic Collapse" (S10E23).
  • Ruchi dumps Raj.
  • Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) was known as the "The Wizard of Menlo Park" and described as the greatest American inventor ever. His invention included the light bulb, the phonograph and the motion picture camera and is known for building the world's first industrial research lab.
  • Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was known as an inventor and electrical engineer Is best for helping establish the modern alternating current (AC) and electrical distribution system. He was in competition with Edison who promoted direct current (DC).
  • Wesley Crusher used a portable neutrino source to signal Geordi La Forge in the Star Trek: TNG episode "The Enemy". Like his fictional idol, Sheldon has designed a neutrino communications system.
  • Sheldon goes to work on his, Leonard's and Howard's project for the United States Air Force without informing Howard or Leonard, possibly as revenge for Leonard working with Bert on his and Sheldon's project without asking him first in "The Geology Methodology". Howard and Leonard then attempt revenge by recruiting Kripke for a new project of their own for the Air Force. However, this backfires as Kripke double-crosses the guys by taking an opportunity to present the math alone, stealing both projects away from them.
  • As an experimental physicist, Leonard should be able to calculate the neutrino attenuation cross section without Kripke.
    • As explored in most episodes Leonards skills when it comes to calculations pale in comparison to that of Sheldons and Leonards board is usually less complex then that of Sheldons. Kripke is often shown with skills that rival Sheldons.
  • Sheldon knew of neuroscientists Joseph Babinski|Babinski in "The Zazzy Substitution" and Halbert Vanderplaat in "The Guitarist Amplification", not to mention Beverly Hofstadter is another neuroscientist.


Barry Kripke: Whoa, whoa, whoa. You didn't teww me we wewe doing this just to stick it to Shewdon.
Leonard: Well...
Barry Kripke: I'm messing with you. This sundae just got a chewwy on top.

Leonard: It's the greatest scientific feud of all time. I mean, you can forget about Leibniz and Newton.
Penny: Done.

Penny: So, Tesla's the one that invented the electric car?
Sheldon: (laughs) No, Penny. No, the car is just named after him.
Penny: Okay, you don't have to be so smug about it. You know, you went to see that movie "It" because you thought it was about scary I.T. guys.