There are TV shows, successful TV shows, and then there are cult TV shows. The kind that attracts an extremely… devoted fan based, usually with a fantasy or sci-fi element to it. Makes a kind of sense. Fantasy, and fiction in general, has always been a way to not only transfer on problems to another realm to make them solvable, but also a way to escape daily troubles, the mundane and usual, and go away to distant galaxies and universes where the big battles are what matters – and there is a clear purpose for all. At any rate, shows like The Star Trek franchise; Xena: Warrior Princess; Buffy, the Vampire Slayer; Battlestar Galactica; are all shows that give their viewer a chance to escape and resolve. And for that, they are revered, their lead actors often confused with their characters, and are the subject of strict copying, debate – enough to lead to conventions of the matter – and, yes, analysis. And a place of honor is reserved among these shows to the immensely popular Big Bang Theory.
Maybe the only sci-fi referencing sitcom on air today, Big Bang Theory has the elements of sci-fi and its devoted audience, along with their tendency to analyze every single frame of every single episode for any subtext or Easter Eggs (bonus inside jokes or self-referential running gags placed in the back of a frame or a shot, usually nearly out of site, reserved for those who take the time to examine the shows so closely). It also has the elements of a regular sitcom, which some people just see as it is, without noticing mistakes, or goofs as they are called – small (or huge) mistakes in the execution or continuity of an episode. Thank goodness, then, we have those sci-fi activists to catch every single glaring, or non-glaring, error, on the show, in any episode, on any given scene, and on any given storyline.
Considering oftentimes even showrunners miss out on these mistakes, it’s pretty impressive to think all 30 of these were caught and circulated by fans, who gave up some precious Star Trek viewing time to caption and mark them. So whether it is that Howard would never, ever pass the medical examinations necessary for traveling to, uh, space, or simply a misplaced coffee cup that wasn’t there a second ago, here are some very obvious, not so obvious, and barely noticeable continuity errors and goofs on the Big Bang Theory that some of us missed completely – and some of us have already had a good chuckle about.
When Sheldon makes really simple mathematical mistakes
Well. This show is not written by mathematicians, and it’s certainly not acted by any, so the consultants on the show are all they have to rely on; and sometimes even those guys make mistakes. So whenever Sheldon takes out his trusted whiteboard he uses for calculation, anyone could pause the show and take a closer look at the calculations: sometimes the mistakes are very obvious (fushion? That’s not a reaction we know of in mathematics) and sometimes hardly noticeable, but they are there.
Sheldon always only sits in Sheldon’s spot except for when he’s not
When Leonard and Sheldon moved into the apartment, Sheldon chose “his spot” on the couch with fervor: This seat is ideally located both in relation to the heat source in the winter and a cross breeze in the summer. It also faces the television at a direct angle allowing me to immerse myself in entertainment or game play without being subjected to conversation,” explained his choice of the utmost right seat on the sofa as “Sheldon’s spot” – which became a running gag in the show.
Seriously, Sheldon sits in other seats all the time
Over and over again, it’s been stated on the show that there’s hell to pay for sitting in Sheldon’s spot, and that he will only sit there or not sit at all. So it’s been a little too many times that he has sat in other seats as the group grew bigger without making too big of a fuss over it. A slip on the showrunners’ part, or an actual clue to Sheldon’s development as a character as he influenced by his romance with Amy? …probably the former, to be honest.
Sheldon won’t let anyone sit in his spot either except for when they do
What is this? This is Raj. Sitting in Sheldon’s spot. With Sheldon next to him, looking completely fine, engaged in conversation. Considering the fact that, at a different opportunity, he lost Howard his clearance to go to space and could only bring himself to compensate Howard by sitting in his spot for two minutes, but caved a minute in, we feel that this is some abuse of power on the showrunners’ side regarding The Spock. We mean Spot.
The elevator is always broken except for when it wasn’t broken at all
The elevator being broken in the building is a running gag, and a lot of the show’s most important conversations happen during the characters’ journey from either the lobby or the laundry room up to Penny or Leonard’s place. Which is cool and super funny, except when you listen to the actual show, a pretty major goof that actually hit hard with fans who claimed that this could in no way be self-referential, only a mistake.
…And then the elevator broke again at an entire different time of the show, twice
On season 1, when the gang gets the time machine, Leonard says the elevator has been broken for a year or two. Then, in season 3, it’s revealed the elevator has been broken for 7 years. We really wish we had Sheldon’s whiteboard, but two years and seven years are not two years apart (do you follow?) Also, why would Howard work so hard to try and find the cause of the elevator being broken if he was there when it did? Hmm??
Howard goes to the International Space Station, except that he never would
On season 5, Howard gets invited to fulfill his dream and go to space when he is invited to join a mission to the International Space Station as a payload specialist – and he, of course, takes it. As a fictional character or as a regular person, we don’t blame him, but we DO blame NASA for allowing a person like Howard on a shuttle to space, let alone in space; we don’t know their insurance policies, but we’re pretty sure they don’t cover the likes of Howard Wolowitz.
Seriously, NASA would never allow someone like Howard in
Let’s Sound of Music this thing and count these up: one, Howard’s physical attributes do not exactly fit those of an astronaut. By that we mean everything from his suffering from allergies, high risk of heart disease, seasickness, and arrhythmia (!). Two, intense psychological examinations are made to make sure an astronaut won’t “lose it” in space – which Howard did. Three, astronauts in space have to exercise 8-12 hours a day to keep from losing muscle tone. We don’t feel like Howard exercises 8-12 minutes a day.
Sheldon is super strict with his rules except for when you break one
Sheldon is an “interesting” roommate to live with, as per Leonard, and being the… uh, thorough character he is, he has prepared a full, legally binding contract pertaining to his residence with Leonard (where he sits on his original spot, a lawn chair), laying it out the details of their living agreements in a 150-page document he had prepared himself the day earlier. In it, there are several clauses that Sheldon is extremely strict about! Until he’s not at all. Like–
The Girlfriend Clause in the roommate agreement is broken constantly
Let’s see here, the girlfriend clause states that Sheldon must know of any female presence in the apartment prior to her stay there – pretty much that Leonard can’t bring girls home, certainly not to his bedroom. And yet (all together now): Stephanie, Penny, Leslie… shall we continue? Not only that – the other guy use the apartment to get with girls, too, like when Raj and Howard wear their tattoo sleeves and get girls into the apartment to make out with them.
Sheldon broke his own roommate agreement by bringing pets home
…And Leonard didn’t care. We might let this one slide over some heartache, but after breaking up with Amy, Sheldon brought home a clowder (that’s a bunch of cats). So charmed was he with the cats, he had to take them all home. He also was not in his right mind when he brought a goldfish into the apartment to make it glow in the dark, using certain marine creatures’ bioluminescent qualities. He did succeed, but it was still a breach!
Penny doesn’t know her own father’s name
On season 1, Penny referred to her father as Bob, when casually, as a running gag, throwing around facts about her family back in Iowa, like her brother Randall and his many unique and… chemical hobbies (that’s drugs) and her father Bob’s is a “nice guy”. In season 3, Penny asks Leonard to lie to her father about getting back together, and when he arrives, his name is suddenly Wyatt! Strange. Was she not speaking of the same dad?
Howard’s mom is so fat that she can’t move at all except she moves all the time…
When you go through the trouble of making a character invisible, with all that’s involved, and then add on a fat-phobic humor that belongs in the 50s, you should really make sure your character actually fits the criteria. On various opportunities on the show, until her (truly) unfortunate death, various jokes are made surrounding Mrs. Wolowitz apparently unbelievable weight – this being one of the reasons she cannot be seen (as she cannot move).
…And Howard’s mom actually isn’t fat at all
In the end of an episode on season 6 where they go in depth about Howard’s mom’s weight, we see her arms reaching out to hold Raj — and guess what? They’re not fat at all. Also, we may well know exactly who Mrs. Wolowitz is, and what she looks like. And not only is she not fat, she’s actually kind of pretty! Tsk tsk, fat humor belongs in the past. Or at least follow through with it!
“The other side of the street” is five miles away
There are several mentions of the exact address of the gang’s building: 2311 N. Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena, California. Across the street from a gas station that was mentioned several times: when runaway Sheldon was at it, when Penny used it, when Leonard ran to it and came back within a few minutes. Except, in the episode “The Colorado Boulevard Chevron,” the gas station is name checked and seen in an aerial view – five miles away. The Flash power?
The salt and pepper shakers in the cafeteria are salt and pepper grinders
The CalTech cafeteria is where the guys eat most of their lunches and spend quite a bit of their time. The food is usually presented in order, but this one goes on for almost every episode on the show: the guys shake salt and pepper over their food with salt and pepper grinders. We feel that you do not have to be a CalTech professor in order to catch on to the fact that shaking… a grinder… will not yield results.
Sheldon should be dead from bringing those cats home
Yeah. Not only did he break the clause we spoke of earlier numerous times, when he DID bring pets home – we said we’ll let it slide because of the breakup thing – he suddenly wasn’t allergic to cats, when in the past, explaining the pet ban in the roommate agreement, he stated he was deathly allergic to them, and also a severe germaphobe with what we would think would be a lowered immune system – not much for running around shelter cats.
….or he should have been dead from the time Kripke hilariously pranked him
In season 3, Sheldon makes a radio appearance, and show’s silly villain Kripke decides to prank him and pump helium into the room to change his voice! On air! Except that, unlike sucking on a bit of helium from a balloon and then speaking and sucking in air, helium is a dangerous (and rare) gas that, if put into the volume on such a level would cause the oxygen to leave the room and lead to Sheldon’s untimely death. Hilarious!
Leonard says he’s allergic and is either a hypochondriac or a liar
Leonard’s allergies and unique medical conditions have been one of the very many running gags of the shows. Though few of them are actually explored in depth, some that have been mentioned are lactose intolerance, myopia, and, as a reaction to wine, debilitating migraines. He does drink wine throughout the show, and, for example, in an attempt to get more intimate with Penny, for example, he suggests wine – not a good time for a “debilitating” migraine, we think?
Sheldon is super awkward and can’t dance except that he can
Sheldon goes on and on about his inability (and, yes, lack of desire) to dance, and if allowed to, he’d probably explain to us exactly why the act is unreasonable and silly, not to mention impossible for him, as he has an analytic, not artistic, mind. Except for when he gets involved in a girl’s night out with Penny, Bernadette, and Amy, and gets down with the Amy like a pro, as he is a prolific dancer due to his “cotillion training” as a boy.
When referenced characters are not referenced
One of The Big Bang Theory’s most interesting features is its immense amount of guest stars from various other sci-fi shows, especially the Star Trek franchise, but including all sorts of other sci-fi shows like Battlestar Galactica and Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. Most often, the guests on the show play themselves, or a version of themselves, most notably Wil Wheaton, who performs regularly on the show (as himself). But sometimes, they portray other characters…
Like when Faith from Buffy was another character?
One of the immortal sci-fi shows we mentioned, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, had another slayer in it: Faith, the wild one, who was played by actress Eliza Dushku. The gang have referenced the show a few times during Big Bang. In an episode where an FBI Agent (played by Eliza Dushku) appears, the boys seem to just accept her as the agent, and not the actress or the character from Buffy.
Sheldon remembers everything except for the things he does not
One of Sheldon’s Savant’s syndrome features is his eidetic memory, which allows him to remember every detail he has ever read. This is cemented throughout the show and reinforced by Sheldon himself constantly. So we feel it is odd he seems to forget quite a few things in the show’s comedy of errors type plotline episodes – basically, whenever it is convenient for the story.
Sheldon doesn’t remember a list that he himself wrote
In the episode “The Wiggly Finger Catalyst”, when Sheldon is attempting to grab life by the dice and mess around with magic tricks, he is constantly checking dice results by consulting with a list he had made prior with all possible outcomes. This is supposed to be giving us a taste of Sheldon’s amazing sense of order, but if he has an eidetic memory – why would he need to look at a list he himself wrote to know the meaning of the result?
And Sheldon doesn’t remember an original card trick
We all know Sheldon prides himself on knowing all kinds of magic tricks – a must for a geek, of course. But, when Howard and Raj tried to prank Sheldon with a card trick, he falls for it, not recognizing that the card trick Howard played on Raj – which was performed right in front of him – was different to the one played on him. We think he really should have caught that, though we admit the results were hilarious.
And for the fun of it, some continuity mistakes…
Editing is difficult – possibly the most difficult profession in the film industry, and films and shows are shot non-linearly and in bits and pieces, so oftentimes, some items, especially props, or hand or body movements (famously in the Matrix, when Morpheus meets Neo, has his hand to his side: in the next shot, he extends it to Neo: and in the next shot, it is at his side again) are really difficult to get right and in order without missing a single thing…
So a wine glass fills itself, a pencil goes missing….
On their romantic trade ride dinner, Bernadette and Howard are enjoying a meal and wine (and so is Leonard, even though it gives him migraines) – but a small editing error caught the eye of one (or more) fans, when Bernadette’s glass was empty and then suddenly full. Similarly, a pencil goes missing when the boys aren’t looking.
A shirt suddenly is a sock, and a towel is folded in two different ways….
It seems that strange things are happening in the laundry room. First, a shirt Sheldon is folding (would Sheldon be folding clothes washed in a machine used by other people? Without at least a pair of gloves?) seems to have a sock on it suddenly, and Penny folds her towel two different ways in the same conversation – though we can let that one go, we think, Penny is bound to have changes of hearts.
But all in all, they’re ours…
And we love them. Producing a show, especially a weekly one, is a difficult feat: one that is as self-referential and filled with props and items in the background to make for a joke is bound to sometimes miss the mark and forget a glass of wine or a sock (really though with the sock). Bottom line: Big Bang is hilarious, and the mistakes make it even more endearing… mostly. Except for the salt shaker thing. You can’t shake a pepper grinder, you just won’t get pepper.