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"The Wheaton Recurrence" is the nineteenth episode of the third season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Monday, April 12, 2010.


Leonard tells Penny that he loves her which freaks her out during a bowling match against Sheldon's arch enemy Wil Wheaton.

Extended Plot[]

The Wheaton Recurrence-1-

Cooper vs. Wheaton!

As Leonard was recovering from their amorous activities, Penny quotes Yoda (Do or do not; there is no try.) and knew the correct Star Wars movie it came from. A misty-eyed Leonard then confesses his love for her; however, a shocked Penny, looks at him with her eyelashes batting, and can only reply “Thank you.” After an awkward conversation she turns away from him not knowing what to do with this revelation.

At lunch the discussion is the coolest mode of transportation which includes giant ants and the Batmobile, Leonard's mind is elsewhere and he couldn't give a giant rat's ass. Howard and Raj figure out that something is wrong between him and Penny and asks about various kinky scenarios including pouring maple syrup all over him or asking them to start waxing. The subject changes to bowling where Penny is on their team due to her skills.

The guys are playing against Stuart’s team which includes as a substitute evil Wil Wheaton. Wil was ready to parry with Sheldon, but had no answer to Howard's question about him hitting on Whoopi Goldberg. Sheldon is a pretty good bowler since he was on the East Texas Christian Youth Group Holy Rollers team. Leonard or Penny are still talking about her inability to say "I love you," from the prior night. Penny is so upset that she departs causing the team to forfeit.

Later Sheldon visits Penny bringing her ice cream after studying the comic strip "Cathy." Sheldon had a rough night due to losing to Evil Wil Wheaton and Leonard singing himself to sleep to Alanis Morissette. He begs Penny to join in a rematch and also forces Penny to talk to Leonard about their issues.


Penny breaking up with Leonard.

Down in the laundry room, Penny talks to Leonard. He admits to overreacting. She has said "I love you" too soon in a relationship and got burned. Leonard also says that he has been in this relationship two-years longer than her. They are cool about each other and ready to go bowling.

For the new match, Sheldon presents everyone with their shirts and new team name: The Wesley Crushers. Not a celebration of the character as everyone thinks, but they are the crushers of Wesley. As usual, Sheldon misses that everyone else doesn't see things the same way he naively does. Wil throws Sheldon off causing him to make a gutter ball. He tells Sheldon to embrace the dark side, which Sheldon points out is not his franchise, it's from Star Wars. Both teams are playing well. Sheldon scores and yells as his mother would say, “THANK YOU, JESUS!” Wil Wheaton sees what is going on between Leonard and Penny and tells her about a bad relationship that went on for two years without his girl saying “I love you”. Finally Leonard asks Penny what she wants him to do and she runs off telling him that she is not being fair to him. Sheldon calls out that he is willing to buy her ice cream. He turns to Wil and asks what he did. He asks him if he thought he would break up a couple just to win a bowling match. Sheldon figures that he wouldn't and Wil told him to keep thinking that. Realizing what happened he again calls out in The wrath of Khan Khan-like fashion, “WHEAAAATOOOONNNN!!!”

Because of their loss, the guys come into the comic book store as Batgirl (Howard), Supergirl (Leonard), Wonder Woman (Sheldon), and Catwoman (Raj).



  • "The interaction between Penny and Leonard was what you would expect from the surface amount we know of them. He is really into her and once he tells her that he loves her he becomes increasingly needy and insecure... I hope Wil Wheaton returns for sillier fare in the future. It's a rare day when I say a plot was too serious, but to mix Wheaton, Sheldon's "nemesis" with Penny and Leonard breaking up was a mistake. I really think it dampened the impact of each story... A mismatch of stories despite both being told relatively well. Hopefully the show can find a new direction for Leonard and save Wil Wheaton for something funnier." - The TV Critic's Review
  • IMDb user reviews


  • Title Reference: Wil Wheaton's return as a guest star on the show.
  • This episode was watched by 13.39 million people with a rating of 5.1 (adults 18-49).
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card.
  • This episode aired in Canada on April 12, 2010 with 2.492 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #4.
  • Episode transcript [1]

Costume Notes[]


Penny Bowling

Penny bowling with Raj and Howard watching.

  • Sheldon mentioned the appropriate ranking of cool modes of transportation is jet pack, hoverboard, transporter, Batmobile and then Giant Ant. In "The Jerusalem Duality", Sheldon said there was a problem with teleportation because he will be destroyed in one location and recreated in another. In other words, the original Sheldon will have to be disintegrated in order to create a new Sheldon although he'll be the exactly the same.
  • Bernadette is not in this episode or any of the remaining Season 3 episodes.
  • In "The Middle-Earth Paradigm", he declares Halle's costume to be the worst Catwoman costume (second to Penny's, when he mistakes her for dressing up as Catwoman, while she was just a generic cat). In this episode, Raj is dressed as the Halle Berry Catwoman and has learned to like it.
  • Stuart's friends include comic book store regulars Wil Wheaton, who was first seen with him in "The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary", as well as the Mystic Warlords of Ka'a Tournament duo Captain Sweatpants and Lonely Larry, all seen together again sans Stuart in "The 21-Second Excitation" and a subset viewed in "The Russian Rocket Reaction" (Captain Sweatpants is seen in the background at Wheaton's home). He makes reference to Albino Bob, another of his friends. In "The Toast Derivation", he also becomes friends with Zack Johnson and Barry Kripke, with the latter reappearing alongside Wheaton and him in "The Stag Convergence".
  • Sheldon states, "Wil Wheaton's not above playing the dead Meemaw card." This reference to an event in "The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary" is a pun, as not only did Wheaton lie about his grandmother (or "Meemaw" as Sheldon says) being dead to achieve a win, but Sheldon played in a Mystic Warlords of Ka'a card tournament against Wheaton with such oddly-named cards.
  • Howard asking Wheaton if he ever hooked up with Whoopi Goldberg may be a nod to Stewie Griffin asking the same question of Patrick Stewart in the Family Guy episode "Not All Dogs Go To Heaven". Unlike Will Wheaton, Stuart is not offended, answering in the affirmative. Wheaton also played himself there.
  • Sheldon says, "My thoughts are its thoughts. Its holes are my holes." This is a reference to a Vulcan mind-meld.
  • Penny is able to quote Yoda from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Yet, in her ignorance, she will invariably guess Star Wars for anything, as seen in "The Vegas Renormalization", "The Bozeman Reaction", and "The Excelsior Acquisition".
    Lost Bet

    The lost bet.

  • David Saltzberg explains on his blog: A typical ant we know and love is about 5 mm long and has a mass of about 5 milligrams. The giant ants you might like to have around would be 1000 times longer. Not just longer, but 1000 times wider. Not just wider, but 1000 times taller. To calculate the new mass of the giant ant we have to multiply these all together–a billion times the volume. At the same density, a giant ant would weigh about 5 tons. Its legs would only be wider in two dimensions. They are a million times stronger, but that is not enough–for a creature a billion times heavier. Before taking their first step they would break all their legs, leaving them immobile and harmless. While mass increases as the cube of size, the function of its structure improves only as the square, hence the name “square-cube law". ... Now we can think back to Sheldon's dream last episode. He had a dream that he was a giant, but didn't know it because everything else was increased by the same scale. Sheldon said the reason he knew, was because he was wearing size 1,000,000 pants. At that point, he must have also realized it was a dream. I don’t think Sheldon would be fooled. After all, TBBT will not be found on the long list of TV shows, movies and comics that have violated the square-cube law.
  • Lonely Larry, Stuart and Wil are on the Comic Book Store Bowling team.
  • Leonard is referred to as a 'giant douche', which is unusual because he is often made fun of for being short.
  • Although Raj is the nerd who is usually the fan of non-geeky fiction, it is Sheldon who mentions 'Miss Congeniality'.
  • Leonard and Penny break up.


Sheldon: Attention all bowlers! I've taken the liberty of having these made for our rematch! [holds up a bowling shirt that reads "Wesley Crushers"]
Penny: The Wesley Crushers?
Sheldon: No, not the Wesley Crushers, the Wesley Crushers.
Penny: I don't get it.
Sheldon: Wesley Crusher was Wil Wheaton's character on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Penny: Still don't get it.
Sheldon: It's a blindingly clever play on words. By appropriating his character's name and adding the S, we imply that we will be the crushers of Wesley.
Penny: OK, I'm sorry honey, but the "Wesley Crushers" sounds like a bunch of people who like Wesley Crusher.
Sheldon: No! Again, it's not the Wesley Crushers; it's the Wesley Crushers.
Howard: If you wanted to mean you're crushing Wesley, it'd be the Wesley Crushers.
Sheldon: Do you people even hear yourselves? It's not the Wesley Crushers, it's not the Wesley Crushers, it's the Wesley Crushers!

Penny: Having a little trouble catching your breath there?
Leonard: No, no, I’m good. If my P.E. teachers had told me this is what I was training for I would have tried a lot harder.
Penny: Do or do not. There is no try.
Leonard: Did you just quote Star Wars?
Penny: I believe I quoted Empire Strikes Back.
Leonard: Oh, my God. I’m lying in bed with a beautiful woman who can quote Yoda. I love you, Penny.
Penny: Oh. Oh. Thank you.
Leonard: You’re welcome. I just wanted to put that out there.
Penny: Oh, yeah, no, I, I’m, I’m glad.
Leonard: Good. Glad is good.
Penny: Yeah. Yeah. No, no. Um. So, it’s getting pretty late. We should probably go to sleep.
Leonard: Yeah.
Penny: Okay.
Leonard: Yeah.
Penny: Hmm.
Leonard: Yeah, probably.
Penny: Okay, good night, sweetie.
Leonard: Good night. (Penny looks very worried.)

Penny: Leonard, stop pressuring me.
Leonard: I’m not pressuring you.
Penny: Yeah, you are! Just back off!
Leonard: Okay, I’m sorry. I’ll shut up.
Penny: I didn't mean shut up.
Leonard: Fine. Just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.
Penny: No, this isn't fair to you, Leonard. I’m sorry.
Sheldon: Wait! Where are you going? Penny, come back! I’ll get you ice cream!
Leonard: No, let her go.
Sheldon: Are you insane? If she leaves, it’s over!
Leonard: I’m pretty sure it’s already over.


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