The Big Bang Theory Wiki

The arm giving Howard a massage.

Howard Wolowitz built and then "borrowed" this hand from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and took it home for his own uses.

It was originally destined for the International Space Station in "The Robotic Manipulation", but Howard stole/borrowed it, then used it to unpack dinner, serve napkins, give massages and help him masturbate, which is when he gets it stuck and cannot de-program it because he would have to turn it on, but the computer software thought that it was "holding a space screwdriver." It is assumed that he returned it after the episode, but not before he gets stuck again.


There is a very clear shout-out to the British sci-fi comedy "Red Dwarf", where basic on-ship maintenance is performed by skutters: robotic arms on self-propelled chassis, which are imbued with a basic level of AI, enough to make them quirky, temperamental, and bloody-minded to those who annoy them. Howard references this directly when he makes his robot arm deliver a snarky comeback to a sneer from Sheldon: rather than the American extended middle finger, it delivers a very unmistakable British V-sign with two extended fingers. A skutter replies to insufferable crew member Arnold Rimmer with the same gesture in response to a sneering criticism about its dexterity and manual agility. The similarity is very obvious.


Red Dwarf's skutter. Inspiration for Howard's robotic arm?