The elevator in Sheldon, Leonard, and Penny’s apartment building had been broken for the longest time in The Big Bang Theory, but exactly how long was it non-functioning and why did it break in the first place? CBS’ hit sitcom debuted in 2007 and followed the lives of a gang of four (eventually seven) friends based in Pasadena, CA – the majority of them were deemed social outcasts. Like any long-time TV series, it featured a string of running themes and gags, including the long-busted elevator in the building.
As The Big Bang Theory neared its final episodes last year, many fans theorized what the series finale would look like. Everyone had a list of things they wanted to see before the show bid viewers goodbye, and one of the most popular ones was for the elevator to be fixed. The creators behind the show didn’t disappoint, as the first half of The Big Bang Theory‘s series finale revealed that the elevator was finally working. Amidst the growing tension between Sheldon and Amy, due to their Nobel Prize win, Leonard pulled his best friend to the hallway for a private conversation, when suddenly Penny stepped out of the functional elevator, saying, “Can you believe it? They finally fixed the elevator.” This led to Sheldon humorously trying to run away from the Hofstadters, using the stairs to leave the building, only for Penny to be waiting for him in the lobby thanks to the fully-working elevator.
The Big Bang Theory didn’t reveal specifics of how the elevator got fixed, but viewers should know how it was broken in the first place. Throughout the duration of the sitcom, it wasn’t working, forcing the team to go up and down four flights of stairs, which was always funny until the very final episode. However, the elevator had been non-functioning years before the show began in 2007. It was already useless in 2003 – four years before the events of the premiere, as fans learned in the season 3 episode “The Staircase Implementation.” That episode revealed how the elevator was busted, and apparently, the boys had everything to do with it.
Unaware of how insufferable the genius-but-socially-inept physicist was, Leonard responded to Sheldon’s posting about needing a new roommate after his old one, Sebastian (Steven Yeun), left due to his unbearable quirks. Despite the red flags, he eventually agreed to his demands and signed the infamous roommate agreement. At that point, Leonard was already friends with Howard and Raj, whom he later invited to his new place to hang out, but things didn’t go well with Sheldon also in the unit, forcing the three to leave the place for the Wolowitzes’.
After discovering that Howard had a rocket that runs on the fuel that he was working on, Leonard brought his friends back home where they attempted to mix some. Unfortunately, they didn’t adjust their calculations with regard to the rocket’s size, causing it to start smoking. The boys started to panic, and Leonard wanted to take it outside using the elevator, but Sheldon knew exactly how much time they had until it exploded. So he pushed his future best pal out of the elevator, left the rocket there, and closed the doors. It was the right call, since mere seconds later, the fuel exploded, effectively breaking the elevator for most of The Big Bang Theory‘s run. This explains why Sheldon didn’t nag the building supervisor to fix it since he was part of the reason why it was broken.
While The Big Bang Theory left a few narrative loose threads, including Penny’s maiden name, fixing the elevator was more likely one of the few that fans were really looking forward to the in the finale. Thankfully, the CBS sitcom didn’t disappoint. Aside from Penny and Sheldon using the elevator, the whole gang also got their chance to ride it on their way to Stockholm to attend the Nobel Prize ceremony.