The Big Bang Theory

The Bad Fish Paradigm

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The Bad Fish Paradigm
The Big Bang Theory episode
Season 2, Episode 1
September 22, 2008
Guest star(s)
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"The Tangerine Factor"

"The Codpiece Topology"
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Season 1

Season 3

"The Bad Fish Paradigm" is the first episode of the second season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Monday, September 22, 2008.


Leonard returns from his date with Penny. Penny then asks Leonard to take it slow. She confesses to Sheldon that it is because she thinks she isn't smart enough to keep his interest. The stress of keeping this secret gets to Sheldon, causing him to give in and tell Leonard. Unfortunately, Penny is not happy with Leonard’s suggested resolution.

Extended PlotEdit

We open to Leonard and Penny returning from their date (from end of Season One. As they in the hallway, we see that they are being watched on video. Penny tells Leonard that they'll take things slowly, and goes into her apartment. Leonard enters his apartment and glares at Howard and Raj who have been watching his interaction with Penny. When he asks Sheldon why he let them spy on him, Sheldon explains that they exploited his complete lack of interest in what he was doing. 

Howard notes for Leonard's benefit that the video will be the equivalent of a black box when their relationship blows up. Leonard feels that Penny's comment about taking things slow is indicative of wanting to savor it, while Howard thinks it's more along the lines of "this fish tastes bad, so spit it out". Howard points to the video as evidence that shows that Penny was not as aroused as they others thought she should be.

Tbbt201 0303

Discussing Leonard.

Later, Sheldon is in the laundry room folding his clothes with his flip-fold. Penny comes in to do laundry. Sheldon tries to warn her that some of the machines have various problems, which Penny ignores and dumps a full load of unsorted into the first washer and haphazardly pours in . Penny tries to ask Sheldon for evaluation of her relationship with Leonard and if they have a chance together. Sheldon asks if she has a working knowledge or physics, speaks Klingon, or knows any . Penny has no skills in these areas, and worries that Leonard will look down on her for not even completing a program. She asks Sheldon to keep this a secret from Leonard. Sheldon is upset because now he knows the , but didn't agree in advance to keep it secret, and secrets can't be imposed on an ex post facto basis. He tries to comfort Penny by educating her that it's physiologically impossible to die of embarrassment.  

Later, as Sheldon and Leonard return home, Sheldon ponders how he couldn't become a Green Lantern on his own (since it requires the Guardians of Oa to confer the status), but that he COULD become Batman with enough start-up capital. They run into Penny and Leonard asks her out again. Penny hems and haws and says she'll have to check her work schedule. After she leaves, Leonard panics that he IS the bad fish. Sheldon begins to behave awkwardly, including a facial tick, trying to feign no knowledge of Penny's feelings towards him, and ultimately storms out of the apartment. Sheldon arrives at The Cheesecake Factory and begs Penny to release him from the burden of keeping the secret. Penny tells him to just forget what she told him. Sheldon sulks that he is incapable of forgetting anything, noting that "I haven't forgotten a single thing since the day I stopped breast feeding" (on a drizzly ). 

Sheldon arrives at the and announces that he's moving out. Leonard wants to know why, and Sheldon compares it to Munchausen's Trilema; (a circular argument, a regressive argument, and an axiomatic argument); to wit: "...there doesn't have to be a reason...either the reason is predicated on a series of sub-reasons leading to an , or it tracks back to arbitrary axiomatic statements, or it's ultimately circular..i.e. I'm moving out because I'm moving out". Howard and Raj arrive after attending a display of plasticizedhuman cadavers. Howard liked the exhibit; some of the skinless chicks were hot. Sheldon announces he's going to pack. Raj asks what Leonard did to cause this, and they list Sheldon's major pet peeves, to see which one Leonard may have violated. Sheldon returns almost immediately, carrying his pre-packed disaster evacuation bag (recommended by the and Sarah Connor, from The Terminator movies).


He announces that until he can get a place of his own, he'll be staying with friends. Howard immediately evacuates the apartment. Raj tells Sheldon that his apartment is too small, prompting Sheldon to remind him that Manushya Yagna (the feeding, care taking, or offering of what one has to others) of the duties of a Hindu householder. Raj panics and as an attempt to evade bringing Sheldon home, states "I hate ". Sheldon knows better; "don't be ridiculous, you love trains". Raj relents and they leave. Leonard realizes that "this could work", and plops down in Sheldon's spot on the couch.

At Raj's apartment, Raj tells Sheldon that the building used to be a watch factory. Sheldon questions if Raj is concerned about negative health effects from residual radium from the luminous dials, and Raj replies "not until now". Sheldon laments that he didn't bring his ...then laughs, because, of course, he did. They are watching an Indian movie and argue about Indian actresses, Sheldon berating Raj that he appears to be unfamiliar with Indian cinema.


At Howard's house, there's is a "stripper-gram" at the door. Howard opens the door, Raj pushes Sheldon in and yells "'re it" then makes a quick escape. Howard yells at him "shouldn't you have put it in a brown paper bag and set it on fire first?"  Cut to later that night as Sheldon and Howard go to bed. Sheldon is laying on an on the floor of Howard's bedroom, noting that it has terrible support, but quipping that he's fine sleeping on "a bouncy castle". Howard makes Sheldon take the bed so he'll shut up. Laying in bed, Sheldon is unnerved by the poster on the ceiling. Sheldon proceeds to ponder on the various Catwomen, eventually noting that his favorites, in order, are , , , , and Halle Berry. Howard begs Sheldon to go to sleep. "I'm trying...I'm counting ." Sheldon then turns to counting his favorite (in order: , , , , , , , and ). 

Later back at the apartment, Leonard answers the door and Howard dumps Sheldon, who is obviously drugged. Howard admits to giving Sheldon a glass of milk...with a handful of his mother's Valium in it. Tag, Leonard is it.  Sheldon tells Leonard that he can't tell him the secret that Penny didn't graduate from community college. Leonard gets it that Penny thinks he's too smart for her. The next day, Leonard visits Penny and lets her know that Sheldon spilled her secret. He has brought her a pamphlet for the local community college. Penny asks if it's fine with Leonard if she's not smart, and Leonard answers "absolutely".  As Penny, offended, slams the door on him, Leonard notes to himself "this time I know where I went wrong" and saw a hidden camera and yells, "Bite me!" 


  • "This isn't a bad episode out of context. But as the season opener I think the producers have missed a big trick. I think they have learned the wrong lessons from season one and I hope they can refocus on the main story soon." - The TV Critic's Review
  • IMDb user reviews


  • Title Reference: Howard dubs Leonard as "bad fish" in his metaphor in which he describes that Leonard the bad fish tastes bad, Penny wants to slow down the eating (relationship).
  • This episode was watched by 9.36 million people with a rating of 3.6 (adults 18-49).
  • Episode transcript [1]
  • Production note: Chuck Lorre Productions #215

Costume NotesEdit


Triple Threat by Kirra


ManBot by Ames Bros.

S01E03 adrenaline



Red Cassette

Sheldon starts the episode with blue, black, and pink "Triple Threat" tee  by Kirra (discontinued). Then spends the rest of the episode in his most frequently worn t-shirt: yellow ManBot on a green shirt. This episode crosses two days, but Sheldon wears the shirt, then pajamas, and then we don't see what he's wearing the next day. Leonard wears his adrenaline molecule t-shirt and his red Cassette Tapes shirt (originally sold at Target, but now only available from, use search term "Leonard cassette").

Set NotesEdit


In season 1, the boys used a blue XOX Good Grips tea kettle.  You can see it on the stove in just about every episode, including episode 17, the final one for the first season. As season 2 opens, the kettle is now a deep orange color.

This episode is also the first episode where we see Sheldon using his Flip-Fold in the laundry room. 

As Sheldon is counting cat women, we don't see the Halle Berry poster he's referring to on the ceiling over Howard's bed, but these tend to be the most popular:

Halle Berry Bikini Advanced IMAX Halle Berry Pose Halle Berry Pose 2


  • Season 1-2 and Season 4-5 are the only examples where the ending of one season and the start of the next are on the same day, as Season 1 ended with Leonard and Penny going out on a date, while Season 2 started with them coming back. Season 4 ended with Penny and Raj, while Season 5 started the same day with the guys at work.
  • Season 2 ending and Season 3 beginning are 3 months apart, Season 3 ending and Season 4 opening are 4 months apart, Season 4 ending and Season 5 opening are also on the same day, with Season 4 ending with Penny and Raj in bed together while Season 5 begins just a few hours after that. Season 5 ends with Howard in space while Season 6 starts a week after his launch. Season 6 ends with Leonard going to an expedition while Season 7 starts 4 months after his departure. Season 8 starts 45 days after Sheldon departs on his soul-searching train trip.
  • The opening sequence may have been filmed at the same time as season 1; as Penny's hair changes drastically the next scene she is seen.
  • The fourth wall of the hallway can be seen via Howard and Raj's webcam.
  • First episode in the series that Penny acknowledges that she is friends with Sheldon. At that same moment she does this admission, it emerges that Sheldon only thought of Penny as an acquaintance and neighbor up to this point, although their friendship eventually becomes stronger as the seasons progress.
  • "Why don't we just figure out where we're going, and when we want to get there? And then rate of speed equals distance over time (r = d/t). Solve for r." Leonard was clearly flustered when he tried to use physics to solve a relationship problem. In his last statement, Leonard does not mean to isolate "r," but is suggesting to determine the distance and time in order to calculate the rate, provided his definition aforementioned.
  • Unusually, Sheldon does not seem to mind that at the start of the episode Raj is in 'his spot'.
  • Dewlaps are integral to the mating habits of iguanas, as Sheldon implies.
  • First episode that we see Sheldon attempt to make a joke. A Lyme disease research facility would have many ticks (the primary carrier of that disease), whereas Sheldon has many nervous (facial) tics. When explaining the joke to Penny, Sheldon says the joke works on the homonymic relationship between tics and ticks. However, the relationship between the two words in question is merely homophonic.
  • An energy-based de novo protein in conformational space folds rather readily and frequently, as does a triptych; like Sheldon trying to keep a secret.
  • Assuming Sheldon's slip about being denied clearance to a secret research facility is true, there's a secret government-funded military supercollider hidden beneath a fake agricultural station near here (12.5 miles southeast of Traverse City, Michigan); in the Traverse City Forest Area.
  • Sheldon stopped breast feeding on a drizzly Tuesday. Sheldon is discovered to have an eidetic memory in this episode, and his first memory is stated by him to remember the weather on the day that his mother stopped breast feeding him.
  • A Münchhausen Trilemma is a reasoning that no truth can be proven, since any proof will ultimately fall into one of three unsatisfactory reasonings. In Sheldon's case: he's moving out, because he's moving out.
  • Howard's greeting of qu'est-ce que c'up? is a grammatically incorrect word-for-word translation of "What's up?" in French.
  • Sheldon claims he never forgets in this episode, but he states he forget Lee Meriwether portrayed Catwoman.
  • When drugged, Sheldon sits in a different seat than his spot.
  • Several ways to annoy Sheldon are laid out in this episode, including:
    • Change the brightness/contrast settings of the television
    • Take a band-aid off in front of him
    • Buy generic ketchup
    • Forget to rinse the sink
    • Talk to him through the bathroom door
    • Adjust the thermostat
    • Cook with cilantro
    • Pronounce the 't' in 'often'
    • Make fun of trains
  • The Department of Homeland Security does recommend having a pre-packed disaster evacuation bag (it's tip #12 of their top 30 tips), containing necessary supplies for three days. While Sarah Connor may not officially recommend one, she'd likely not be opposed since she spent a fair portion of her life trying to warn people that Judgment Day was fast approaching.
  • Manushya yajna (homage to men) is one of the five central sacrifices/duties of the Hindu religion, and it does indeed include taking in needy guests to your home, as Sheldon leverages.
  • Raj discovers that his apartment is in an old watch factory. Sheldon expresses concern about the residual radium to make their numerals glow in the dark, first alerting us to his obsession with health and cleanliness.
    • Watches indeed used to be painted with radium to make their numerals glow in the dark, but that practice has been abandoned, since radium is radioactive and has been found to be hazardous to one's health.
  • The song Raj is watching is from the movie "Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai". Sheldon comments whether the actress is Aishwarya Rai, but it is actually Ameesha Patel.
  • Sheldon doesn't seem to be as big a fan of Aishwarya Rai as Raj is. Sheldon prefers Madhuri Dixit.
  • Sheldon's list of Catwoman actresses, from most favorite to least: Julie Newmar, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eartha Kitt, Lee Meriwether, Halle Barry.
  • Sheldon's list of favorite X-Men characters, from most favorite to least: Professor-X, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Cyclops, Iceman, Storm, Angel, Beast, etc.
  • Pasadena City College does exist (and offers Paralegal Studies).
  • When Leonard first realizes that he may be the "bad fish" and Sheldon is getting flustered, he says "Good day, Leonard". Leonard says "What?" and Sheldon says "I said good day", which may be a reference to Fez's "catchphrase" from "That 70's Show".
  • This season premiere episode takes place immediately after the last episode of the previous season.
  • The only episode to be rated 15 by the BBFC.
  • Penny eventually did take Leonard's advice and enrolled in Pasadena City College in the sixth season, but did not complete a degree.
  • Second episode where Sheldon's knowledge of Indian fiction causes Raj to be angry with him. First was "The Grasshopper Experiment".


Howard: (To Sheldon) Just get in the bed!
Howard: Just talking, Ma!
Howard: For god's sake Ma, I'm 27 years old! IT'S NOT EVEN A SCHOOL NIGHT!

Leonard: Well, good night. (They kiss. Camera cuts away to a wall mounted security cam above the lift. Leonard spots its movement and shuffles Penny away.)
Penny: What are you doing?
Leonard: There was a draft.
Penny: I didn't feel a draft.
Leonard: Why don’t we just go into your….
Penny: Oh, yeah, you know what; maybe we should just slow things down a little.
Leonard: No, no, I didn't mean to go into your apartment to… go fast.
Penny: No, I know, I… I know what you meant, it’s just… it’s only our first date.
Leonard: Yeah, okay, sure, no problem, why don’t we just figure out where we’re going, and when we want to get there, and then rate of speed equals distance over time. Solve for R.
Penny: Or we could just wing it.
Leonard: That might work too.
Penny: Goodnight, Leonard.
Leonard: Goodnight. (He throws the camera a dirty look.)

Penny (opening door): Hi.
Leonard: Yeah, hi, listen, I know what’s been bothering you about us, and I have the answer.
Penny: What are you talking about?
Leonard: First I want to say that it’s not Sheldon’s fault, he tried very hard to keep your secret, if Howard hadn't drugged him he would have taken it to his grave.
Penny: He told you?
Leonard: Yes, but it's okay. Now that we know what the problem is, there’s a simple solution. (Hands her a brochure.)
Penny: Pasadena City College?
Leonard: A place for fun, a place for knowledge. See, this man here’s playing hacky sack, and this girl’s going to be a paralegal.
Penny: Wow, I get it, because Dr. Leonard Hofstadter can’t date a girl without a fancy college degree.
Leonard: Well, it’s really not that fancy, it’s just a city college.
Penny: Right, but I have to have some sort of degree to date you?
Leonard: That doesn't matter to me at all.
Penny: So, it’s fine with you if I’m not smart.
Leonard: Absolutely. (She slams the door in his face.) Okay, this time I know where I went wrong. (Looking up and seeing the camera) Oh, bite me!


  • Kiss at the end of their first date.
  • Penny consulting with Sheldon about Leonard.
  • Penny consulting with Sheldon about Leonard.
  • The end of their date.
  • Penny in the laundry.
  • Reviewing Leonard's kissing technique with Penny.
  • Leonard after his date.
  • Howard yelling at his mother.
  • Penny and Leonard caught on Howard's web cam.
  • Howard yelling at his mother.
  • Sheldon sleeping over at Howard's.
  • Leonard trying to find out Penny's secret.
  • Shhhhhhhhhhh!
  • Chuck Lorre Productions, #215.
  • Artwork inspired by events in this episode.

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