To this day, it’s still hotly debated whether The Big Bang Theory was having fun with nerds or making fun of them. Though the series chronicled the adventures of four nerdy best friends, it sometimes did so in a way that made them seem completely ridiculous and out of touch.
But at the same time, The Big Bang Theory relished in these nerdy adventures, from the most basic of everyday nerd pleasures to total fish-out-of-water stories in which the nerds were often the butt of the joke, but also sometimes in on them, too. The guys had plenty of nerdy adventures over the show’s 12 seasons, but there are a few that definitely take the cake.
Their First Halloween Costumes
Though the guys are always nerds throughout the entire run of The Big Bang Theory, they’re truly at their nerdiest in the show’s earliest seasons. In the season 1 episode “The Middle-Earth Paradigm,” the gang finds themselves outside their comfort zone when Penny invites them to her Halloween party.
After a first mishap in arranging costumes, the guys arrive in decidedly geekier costumes than all the other attendees. Leonard is Frodo from Lord of the Rings, Raj is Thor (the mythic one, not the Marvel one), Howard is Robin Hood, and Sheldon is — of all things — a human version of the Doppler effect.
Four Nerds Turn On A Stereo
Sometimes, it’s the little things — or, in this case, the little and absurdly complicated things — that really excite nerds. In the season 1 episode “The Financial Permeability,” the guys use some new high technology concept internet transmissions to send signals around the world and back to the apartment.
The goal of doing so? To turn a light and a stereo system on and off. When it’s a success, and “Also Sprach Zarathustra” plays over the speakers, the guys can’t help their glee as they break out in ridiculous, geeky dance moves.
All Dressing As The Flash
Prior to attending Penny’s Halloween party in different but decidedly still nerdy attire, the gang has a hilarious adventure when they decide to choose their costumes without coordinating with one another. In a hilarious turn of events, all four of them show up at Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment dressed as the Flash.
Though Raj has the idea that they “could walk right behind each other all night and look like one person going really fast,” the guys decide to change to avoid any embarrassment.
To Nerd, With Love
Though the guys in particular often struggle with discussing their emotions, the gang comes together for one particularly moving display of affection in the seventh season episode “The Romance Resonance.” After a workplace hazardous incident leads to Bernadette being quarantined on her and Howard’s anniversary, Howard and the gang take it upon themselves to bring the anniversary celebration to Bernadette — in song.
The song, known as “If I Didn’t Have You (Bernadette’s Song),” is equal parts moving and laden with nerdy references and comparisons of the strength of their love for Bernadette with various pieces of nerd pop culture.
Waiting In Line All Night For Indiana Jones
It’s a nerd rite of passage to wait in line for ridiculously long amounts of time for something, particularly the premiere of a movie they’re excited about. The season 4 episode “The 21-Second Excitation” features the guys doing just that.
Wanting to catch a midnight screening of a newly edited version of the Indiana Jones film Raiders of the Lost Ark, the guys camp out in line for hours on end — only to have their moviegoing plans thwarted by none other than Sheldon’s nemesis, Wil Wheaton.
The Scavenger Hunt
Though The Big Bang Theory has certain relationships it leans on regularly for amusing friendship antics, the series is sometimes at its best when it creates unexpected pairings and total chaos ensues. The season 7 episode “The Scavenger Vortex” is arguably the best of them.
Raj constructs an elaborate scavenger hunt challenge for the group of friends — pairing Leonard with Bernadette, Sheldon with Penny, and Howard with Amy – as they compete against one another in a particularly nerdy battle of wits and will.
Building M.O.N.T.E. The Battle Robot
Given their work in science, and in particular Howard’s degree in engineering, it was only a matter of time before the guys revealed their interest in robotics. The season 2 episode “The Killer Robot Instability” more than delivers on that idea.
This episode finds the guys building M.O.N.T.E., the Mobile Omnidirectional Neutralization and Termination Eradicator, in hopes of entering a local battle robot competition. Naturally, chaos ensues, including M.O.N.T.E. crashing through the apartment door, and a confrontation with rival Kripke going about as poorly as it possibly could.
Stranded In Star Trek Costumes
Another rite of passage for nerds is attending conventions of any kind. The season 6 episode “The Bakersfield Expedition” finds the guys hoping to attend the Bakersfield Comic-Con, and taking to the road while dressed as characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
But en route to the convention, the guys become stranded along the side of the road in the desert when Leonard’s car is stolen, leaving them to try and hitchhike while dressed as follows: Raj as Worf, Sheldon as Data, Leonard as Picard, and Howard as a Borg.
The Flat Tire Debacle
The Bakersfield adventure isn’t the only time the guys find themselves stranded without a clear plan. The season 9 episode “The Bachelor Party Corrosion” proves that even four of the smartest scientific minds in the world can have difficulties with solving the most mundane of problems — like a flat tire.
Once again stranded in the desert, this time while en route to Mexico, the guys find they lack the necessary physical ability to change a flat tire and resort to half-baked scientific ideas — including one that results in their van bursting into flames.
Making Their Movie And Dinner Plans
Though the guys have plenty of routines, largely due to Sheldon’s obsessive behaviors and incredibly specific preferences in all areas of life, it still occasionally comes to pass that there are certain everyday scenarios for which they don’t have a foolproof plan ironed out — like dinner and a movie.
The season 2 episode “The Financial Permeability” finds the guys engaging in a heated debate over a flow chart of places to get dinner and catch a movie in a reasonable time without interrupting Sheldon’s eating and bathroom habits. In the end, there is only one solution: Sheldon stays home.