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"The Transporter Malfunction" is the twentieth episode of the fifth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Thursday, March 29, 2012.[1]


Penny buys Sheldon and Leonard vintage collectible Star Trek transporter toys, but Sheldon accidentally breaks his when he tries to play with it. When he switches his with Leonard's, his conscience, in the form of his Spock action figure (voice of Leonard Nimoy), starts to get the better of him.

Extended Plot[]

Sheldon and Gorn

Gorn in Sheldon's dream.


Little Spock.

Penny and the gang are enjoying dinner as Sheldon observes that the best things in life are free, looking over at Penny. Howard needs to know from Raj if he is bringing someone to the wedding. Raj gets defensive and then becomes vague and evasive, all to cover for the fact that he has no one to bring along. Sheldon liked one wedding he went to that had a make-your-own-sundae bar. Howard and Bernadette aren't having one.

Apparently, Raj is desperate enough for a date where to ask his parents to send him a match. Since they have suspicions that he might be homosexual, they do ask him if he wants a female wife. His father thinks he is being smart asking for a matchmaker and that it's better than marrying for love. His wife points out that THEY married for love.

Penny decided to pay back Sheldon and Leonard for always eating at their apartment. She cashed a residual check from her hemorrhoid commercial and bought them gifts. Sheldon got a vintage 1975 Mego Star Trek Transporter with real transporter action. He got excited and gave her a finger gun keeping his hugs for extra special occasions. She went to the comic book store by herself and caused two guys to have asthma attacks which she said felt pretty good. Leonard got a Label label maker which was also "mint in box" as was the transporter. That was Penny's prank since she also got Leonard a transporter. Sheldon has a Mr. Spock figurine that will fit in. Penny wants to open them up so they can put in the Character (arts)|character and play with them. Both object because once you open the box, it loses its value. Penny's Mom said the same thing about her virginity, but she found it more fun when she took it out and played with it.

Raj brings Howard and Bernadette with him to chaperone his date; not unusual for first meetings in arranged marriages. Also since they're short, Raj will feel like he's six foot two. Lakshmi arrived and Raj is feeling good about it. ("I’m thinking double-wedding.")

While staring at his whiteboard Sheldon sighs that it's like looking at the universe naked. He hears a voice calling out to him. It's his Mr. Spock action-figure. He tells Sheldon that he should play with his transporter because the purpose of a toy is to be played with and to not play with it would be......illogical. First he has to wake up. Then he takes the transporter out and on his second use of it, the toy breaks. Sheldon freaks out and then exchanges it for Leonard's since he is never going to open his transporter.

Raj's dinner with Lakshmi went well that their having dinner in his apartment. Lakshmi is impressed with Raj and they check the number of messages from their parents who want to know how they are getting alone. Lakshmi also sets the record straight that she's a lesbian. She has heard plenty of rumors about him back in India. Between his lava cake, little soaps, perfume and his music knowledge, Raj has every indication that he is gay. Raj is not happy and neither is Lakshmi who wanted a phony-baloney husband her parents would have loved.

Jim and Leonard Nimoy

Jim Parsons and the late Leonard Nimoy.

Sheldon now dreams he's on the planet Vulcan. ("Oh, dear. Two suns and no sunscreen.") Spock tells Sheldon he's ashamed of him for switching his transporter for Leonard's. Spock is supposed to have no emotions, but he points out that he comes from a factory in Taiwan. Sheldon gets angry and throws away the Mr. Spock figurine (Beam me up.) and then is attacked by a Gorn.

Raj confides in Howard that Lakshmi is a lesbian. Raj is contemplating going through with a fake marriage because he is lonely and to get their parents off their backs. Howard tells him that he shouldn't settle for someone who has slept with more women than him.

Sheldon tries to switch the boxes around, but can't bring himself to do it. Leonard and Penny return and Leonard decides to play with the transporter since it was a gift from Penny and will therefore never sell it. Leonard opens the package and finds it broken. First they think it's Stuart’s fault, but then Sheldon changes his story so much they know that he was involved. Several lies later, he explains about Spock coming to him in a dream and forcing him to open the box and the toy breaking. Then he was attacked by a Gorn. That explanation Leonard believes.

Bernadette and Howard come over, and they give Raj something to cuddle, a little puppy. Raj tells them that he is so cute and he’s going to see if the puppy fits in his man purse. Quietly Bernadette, who also figures that Raj may actually be closeted, whispers to Howard, "Metrosexual, my ass."



  • The TV Critic: "The Sheldon story was a simple old-fashioned morality play with the voice of Leonard Nimoy present to spice things up. At times it felt a bit slow but overall I think it worked nicely. As usual Sheldon was fun to watch as he went through the stages of excitement, regret and guilt... On the surface these are two very simple moral conundrums with gentle comedy all round. However one of them hints at depth that the show may not have intended."[2]
  • The A.V. Club gave this episode an A[3]
  • IMDb user reviews


  • Title Reference: The title is derived from Sheldon playing with and accidentally breaking his vintage Star Trek transporter toy given to him by Penny.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card.
  • This episode was watched by 13.96 million people with a rating of 4.7 (adults 18–49).[4]
  • This episode aired in Canada on March 8, 2012, with 3.388 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #1.[5]
  • In Australia, it aired on March 8, 2012, with 1.506 million viewers.[6]
  • Episode transcript [1]

Costume Notes[]

  • Sheldon wears his Flash distressed logo on black t-shirt.
  • Penny wears a red button down shirt with two pockets that at one time was available at Target, but is no longer available.


Vintage Mr

Vintage Mr. Spock action figure by Mego.

  • Leonard Nimoy makes his guest star debut on this episode. Nimoy joins the extensive list of other Star Trek actors who have guest-starred on the show: William Shatner, LeVar Burton, Wil Wheaton, George Takei, and Brent Spiner. According to the producers, they had been attempting to get him to do a guest spot for years, but had been unsuccessful due to his having mostly retired from acting. This fact would also likely explain why he only did a voice-over, rather than appear on-screen (not to mention the fact that, in the continuity of the show, Nimoy had filed a restraining order against Sheldon, as revealed in "The Excelsior Acquisition"- S3E16). Chuck Lorre considered Nimoy the golden fleece of possible guest stars.
  • Penny says she gets a residual check from her commercial. This statement presumably refers to the hemorrhoid commercial she did in "The Skank Reflex Analysis".
  • Second episode to prominently feature action figures, with the first being "The Nerdvana Annihilation" (S1E14).
  • Second time guilt causes "Gorn-infested REM sleep" for Sheldon, the first instance being in "The Apology Insufficiency" (S4E7).
  • Third direct accusation of Penny eating Sheldon and Leonard's food occurs in this episode, following "The Financial Permeability" (S2E14-Raj implies she uses her body to get dinner) and "The Vegas Renormalization" (S2E21-Sheldon says she is "the milk thief"). Indirect statements were made in "The Dead Hooker Juxtaposition" (S2E19), where Alicia says Penny lets the guys do stuff for her, and in "The Thespian Catalyst" (S4E14), wherein she is referred to as a "freeloader". Notably, she also uses their Wi-Fi, as revealed in "The Panty Piñata Polarization" (S2E7), "The Roommate Transmogrification" (S4E24), and "The Thespian Catalyst".
  • Amy did not appear in this episode because the actress who plays her, Mayim Bialik, was away to promotion (marketing)|promote her new book, Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way.
  • Raj's parents, Dr. V.M. Koothrappali and Mrs. Koothrappali, appeared via Skype in this episode. They were last seen in "The Wiggly Finger Catalyst" (S5E4). In "The Herb Garden Germination" (S4E20), Mrs. Koothrappali says, "We're very rich in a very poor country. So, all in all, can't complain." She similarly states that there is nothing to complain about in this episode.
  • Lakshmi was mentioned in "The Guitarist Amplification" (S3E7) in the context of a date for Raj at his cousin Sanjay's wedding. Mrs. Koothrappali: "Sheldon, ask our son what we're supposed to say to Mr. and Mrs. Choudhry, whose daughter, Lakshmi is flying in from London for the sole purpose of meeting him." Mr. Koothrappali: "Yes, Lakshmi just got her stomach stapling|stomach stapled. You have an opportunity to get in good with her before she loses weight and her self-esteem goes up.")
  • Raj is given a Yorkshire Terrier ("Yorkie") puppy he names Cinnamon by Howard and Bernadette. Interestingly, Bernadette shows no signs of discomfort when she pulls the puppy out of her bag and hands it to Raj, despite the fact that she claims to not like puppies as she had been bitten in the face by one in the past (as revealed in "The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary" (S3E5), when Howard asks where she stands on puppies on their first date). However Raj was shown to be a puppy lover in "The Large Hadron Collision" (S3E15), as well as a lover of various pets in "The Adhesive Duck Deficiency" (S3E8-rabbits) and "The Good Guy Fluctuation" (S5E7-snakes).
  • One of the rock formations in the background of Sheldon's second dream sequence looks very similar to the The City on the Edge of Forever#Guardian of Forever|Guardian of Forever from the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The City on the Edge of Forever". This was very likely intentional, given this episode's Star Trek theme.
  • Penny asks if Sheldon is giving out one of his rare hugs; however, Sheldon declines to keep them for special occasions. He previously hugged Penny in "The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis" (S2E11), when she involuntarily gave him the DNA of Leonard Nimoy.
  • Bernadette shares no Apartment 4A scenes with Leonard, Penny and Sheldon in this episode.


Sheldon: Quantum physics makes me so happy.
Leonard: Yeah, I'm glad.
Sheldon: It's like looking at the universe naked.

Sheldon: I thought where you come from they don't have emotions.
Spock: I come from a factory in Taiwan.

Penny: Ta-da!
Sheldon: (Gasps) A vintage, mint condition|mint-in-box, 1975, Mego Corporation|Mego Star Trek Transporter, with real transporter action. Hot darn!
Leonard: Where did you get that?
Penny: That's from Stuart at the comic book store.
Leonard: You went to the comic book store by yourself?
Penny: Yeah! It was fun. I walked in and two different guys got asthma attacks. Felt pretty good.
Sheldon: This calls for an expression of gratitude.
Penny: Ooh, am I about to get a rare Sheldon Cooper hug?
Sheldon: No, not this time, then it wouldn't be special. (makes a finger-gun gesture and clicks his tongue) Thanks, Penny!
Penny: You're welcome. (to Leonard) Don't worry, I didn't forget about you. Leonard, I got you... (takes something out from her shopping bag) a label maker!
Leonard: (looks stunned) Wow...oh, it's great. Also... in mint-in-box.
Penny: (takes something from her shopping bag) And I got you a transporter too!
Leonard: (throws away the label maker) Awesome!

Spock: Dr. Cooper! Dr. Cooper!
Sheldon: (looks around) Is someone there?
Spock: Down here, on your desk.
Sheldon: Spock?
Spock: I need to speak with you.
Sheldon: Fascinating! The only logical explanation is that, this is a dream.
Spock: It is not the only logical explanation. For example, you could be hallucinating after being hit on the head by say, a coconut.
Sheldon: Was I hit on the head by a coconut?
Spock: I'm not going to dignify that with a response. Now, to the matter at hand, you need to play with the transporter toy.
Sheldon: Yes, but its mint-in-box.
Spock: Yes, and to open it would destroy its value. But remember like me, you also have a human-half.
Sheldon: Well I'm not going to dignify that with a response.
Spock: Consider this. What is the purpose of a toy?
Sheldon: To be played with.
Spock: Therefore, to not play with it would be?
Sheldon: Illogical. Oh, dammit Spock you're right! I'll do it!
Spock: Sheldon, wait. You have to wake up first.
Sheldon: Oh, of course. Set phasers to dumb, right?

Penny: Oh my God, I love this chicken!
Sheldon: You know what they say; 'Best things in life are free'.

Penny: What is the truth?
Sheldon: My Mr. Spock doll came to me in a dream and forced me to open it. And when the toy broke I switched it for yours. Later he encouraged me to do the right thing and I defied him. And then I was attacked by a Gorn.
Leonard: Okay, that I believe.

Spock: Fine. I will just use the teleporter. Oh, right. You broke it.

[last scene]
Raj: This is a treat, what brings you guys by?
Bernadette: Raj, Howie told me what's going on with you and Lakshmi.
Raj: (to Howard) What, you told her?
Howard: I told everybody.
Bernadette: We believe there's someone out there who will love you for you.
Howard: Well actually, we kind of agreed to disagree on that one, but we both think you shouldn't marry this woman.
Raj: So, while I'm waiting for this mysterious perfect match, who may or may not exist, I'm supposed to just be alone?
Bernadette: Not necessarily. I think we've found someone for you to cuddle with. (Pulls a Yorkshire Terrier, Cinnamon, out of her purse)
Raj: (gasps) Oh my goodness! (holds the puppy) Aren't you the cutest little Yorkie ever? (turns to Howard and Bernadette) You got him for me?
Howard: Her. We thought you two would hit it off.
Raj: I think we already have. Thank you guys so much. (turns to the puppy) Let's go see if you fit in my man purse. (walks out of the room)
Bernadette: (to Howard) Metrosexual, my ass.