Sheldon Cooper is brilliant, demanding, supercilious, persnickety, and impossible not to watch. Portrayed by with great comic aplomb by Jim Parsons—who shares his L.A. story in this month’s issue—in CBS’s The Big Bang Theory, the Caltech theoretical physicist possesses a Mr. Spock-like logicality, a hilarious obliviousness to other people and to social (especially sexual) situations, and a slowly evolving sense for sarcasm. Sheldon is one of TV’s most committed and amusing creatures of habit—occupying the same spot on his couch like a young geek variant of Archie Bunker in his chair, always knocking on doors in threes, allocating specific activities and cuisines for each day of the week, and only drinking hot chocolate in months with an R in them.
He has let Stephen Hawking beat him at Words with Friends and appeared on the cover of the Journal of Physical Chemistry A. As his roommate and fellow physicist Leonard Hofstadter and their neighbor Penny discover, he has also been known to practice Tuvan throat singing and, like Caltech’s venerable Richard Feynman, play the bongos. When not absorbed in string-theory equations (prompting this post), Sheldon is an expert on comic books, Star Trek, and trains, a proponent of “Newtonmas” (Issac Newton’s birthday) instead of Christmas, a vexillologist who hosts his own 52-week educational web series (Sheldon Cooper presents Fun With Flags), and a fierce competitor in such sui generis games as Three-Person Chess, Klingon Boggle, and Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock. Here are five of The Big Bang Theory’s best Sheldonian moments.
5. A “Bazinga!” Comes Across The Sky
To underscore those rare instances when he succumbs to his humorous side, Sheldon will punctuate his jokes and pranks with the triumphant exclamation “Bazinga!” after (sometimes long after) his jokes have landed (or failed to land). Bazingas abound when Leonard comes to fetch a sleepless Sheldon, who has broken into a children’s ball pit. (Here’s every single “Bazinga!” from seasons 1-4.)
4. The Roommate Agreement
More than any of his scientific papers, perhaps the most rigorous and complex document Sheldon has composed is that domestic Magna Carta of apartment 4A, the Roommate Agreement. Its clauses and riders seem designed to cover every possible eventuality that could arise between Sheldon and Leonard in the present—or the future. Click here to see the clip.
3. Educating Penny
Sheldon turns behaviorist—employing “operant conditioning techniques building on the works of Thorndyke and B.F. Skinner”—when he reinforces Penny’s good behavior by offering her chocolate. “I’m not suggesting we really make her jump out of a pool,” says Sheldon when Leonard insists he call off his experiments. “I thought the ‘Bazinga’ was implied.”
2. Sheldon’s Cat-astrophe
After a breakup (of sorts) with Amy Farrah Fowler, Sheldon gets a cat that he names J. Robert Oppenheimer and takes everywhere. Soon Sheldon has collected an entire Manhattan Project of felines—Fermi, Feynman, Teller, Frisch, and (in place of Von Helmholtz) Zazzles. That’s how Leonard learns the proper collective noun for cats: clowder. Once you’ve had enough of Sheldon’s “zazzy” new attitude, here’s the full clip.
1. Spinning a Web with Words
To salvage a date-night dinner gone awry, Sheldon is forced to reach into the deepest crevasse of his heart and woo Amy with romantic words, which he does surprisingly well. The only problem is, Peter Parker did it first.