The Big Bang Theory

The Closet Reconfiguration

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The Closet Reconfiguration
The Big Bang Theory episode
Season 6, Episode 19
March 14, 2013
Episode guide

"The Contractual Obligation Implementation"

"The Tenure Turbulence"
Season guide

Season 5

Season 7

"The Closet Reconfiguration" is the nineteenth episode of the sixth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Thursday, March 14, 2013.[1]


Penny and Leonard host a cocktail party. Howard receives a letter from his father, whom he hasn't heard from since he was 11.[1]

Extended PlotEdit

Bernadette joins Howard in their bedroom and asks what he is doing. Howard replies that she had told him to clean up, so he was cleaning up as he throws more things onto the giant junk pile in their bedroom closet. The rest of the gang is coming over for dinner and she worries that someone will look in their closet which Howard assures her will not happen. They could open that door looking for the bathroom, Bernadette muses. Howard does agree that with all the stuff in the closet, there could be a toilet in the closet that they don't know about. Bernadette states that after tonight they have to go through the closet and straighten it up. Howard suggests that they show the closet to Sheldon due to his obsession with organizing things. Even his label maker has a label on it, as does that label. Bernadette doesn't feel that they can ask Sheldon to straighten out their closet. One doesn't have to ask him according to Howard, just seeing the mess will set off the goblins in his head and he'll do it.

Raj is already drinking their wine, when Sheldon, Amy, Penny and Leonard arrive. Penny smells something good cooking. Since Sheldon eats Thai food that night, Bernadette went to the Thai market and made his usual meal from scratch. Sheldon tells her that she shouldn't have. Bernadette says that it was her pleasure. Sheldon repeats that she shouldn't have because they stopped and he brought his own take-out. Bernadette explains that she has been cooking all day. Sheldon innocently says, "Well now don't you feel silly." She then snaps to her husband to show Sheldon the closet.

During dinner Raj compliments Bernadette on the spring rolls. She then points out they came from Sheldon's take-out food. He counters that he would not have known how good they tasted if he had not eaten her food first, thus insulting Bernadette's cooking. Sheldon comes in and asks if Howard wants his clothes arranged by color or seasonally. Howard tells him that by color is fine. Sheldon contradicts him and tells him that they will be arranged seasonally. Penny asks Sheldon whether he was going to spend any time with Amy. Amy doesn't mind since he spent an hour in the supermarket optimizing the cheese aisle. Afterwards the assistant store manager chased him out of the store waving a salami.  Amy says that his quirks just make you love him more. Then she wants someone to agree with her. Penny then nods her head sarcastically in agreement.


Leonard is ready to go. Five more minutes, please!!!

Leonard comes into the clean closet and tells Sheldon that it's time to go. Sheldon begs for five more minutes. Leonard replies that he said that five minutes ago and that Amy and Penny were already in the car. Sheldon complains that he never gets to do anything he wants to do. Howard offers to take him home since he really wants to finish. "Please, Leonard. He says it's O.K.", Sheldon again pleads. Leonard starts to say no, and then leaves when he realizes he doesn't have to take Sheldon home. Sheldon has a few items he wants to go over with Howard. He found three bowling pins that don't have seven mates; however they are just for juggling. Bernadette comes in and tells him how beautiful it looks and that he found the juggling pins that she hid. Sheldon also found a letter from Howard's Dad (who left him when Howard was 11) dated on his 18th birthday that Howard never opened. Sheldon opened it to determine if it was memorabilia or personal correspondence. Howard is upset that he had opened it. Bernadette asks if he wants to read it and Howard tells them that he could care less and if he wanted to read it he would have years ago. Then he tells Sheldon that he'll drive him home. Sheldon still has a box of shirt buttons to sort that he'll do in the car on the way home. Sheldon also tells Bernadette that it was a great party.

Penny and Leonard are walking up the stairs and he remarks how grownup Howard has become. He is now happily married and throwing dinner parties in his apartment. Penny agrees that it was a nice change of pace not eating takeout around a coffee table. Leonard suggests that they could throw a formal dinner party and have everyone get dressed up. Penny agrees as long as he doesn't mean superhero costumes. Leonard agrees and then says "Although.." Penny snaps back "No!"


Thinking about his father's letter.

Howard can't sleep thinking about the letter and is sitting in their kitchen. Bernadette comes in worried and tells him he should not have had the espresso just before bed. She knows the little cups make him feel big; however it's not worth it. Howard agrees that he is curious about the contents of his father's letter since he hasn't seen him since he was little. Bernadette suggests that he read it since he might apologize or explain why he left. Howard insists that he abandoned his mother and him. He doesn't deserve a chance to explain. Howard then turns on the stove, lights the letter and throws it in the sink saying that he should have done that a long time ago. Afterwards, Howard does feel better until the smoke alarm goes off.  Neither of them are tall enough to reach it so Bernadette is seen giving Howard a boost.

At Penny's apartment the girls are having wine, while Penny can't believe that he burned the letter. Bernadette explains that he already had a tough day since he accidentally wore her pants to work and they were bigger on him than her. Amy is curious about what was in it. She points out that they could ask Sheldon since he read it. Bernadette doesn't want to ask since she doesn't want to invade her husband's privacy.  Penny says that she could ask Sheldon while Bernadette was in the room. She quickly says, "That works." and they all leave the apartment to find Sheldon.

The girls asking Sheldon about Howard's letter.

Down in the Laundry room Sheldon is using rubber gloves to clean out the dryer lint container. He compares it to cleaning out the entire building's belly button. The girls enter and Sheldon greets them asking what he can do for them. Amy tells him that he has something that they want.  Sheldon reminisces that his mother told him that this seduction is what happens to pretty boys in the big city. Penny calms him and says that all they want is some information. Sheldon says that he has that in spades and tells them to ravage him. Penny then asks what Howard's letter said. Sheldon doesn't feel like he can tell them since he is bound by closet organizer-organizee confidentiality. Amy denies that that is a real rule. Sheldon counters that neither is holding your girlfriend's hand at the movies which doesn't stop Amy from pawing him like a bear in a trashcan full of sweets. Sheldon says that just because he knows what it says, he cannot go around disseminating the information freely because control of the information belongs to Howard. Penny says that the letter was found in Bernadette's closet and doesn't that count for something. Sheldon then asks, "Are you pointing out that California is a community property state and since Howard and Bernadette are married the intellectual property contained in that letter is jointly owned by the two spouses?" Penny looks confused and then agrees. Sheldon says that she played her hand well and that he doesn't give Penny enough credit.

Leonard and Raj are sitting in the living room where Raj tells Leonard that he was right coming to him as the party planner. Sheldon reminds Raj that Leonard just invited him to dinner. Raj wants to make sure that Leonard's dinner party kicks Howard's dinner party's ass. Leonard disagrees. Raj suggests a wild theme and Leonard tells him that he needs a testosterone patch. Leonard wants to keep it simple, cocktails, Hors d'œuvres, and light jazz music. Raj thinks that he's got his theme from some Mad Men rerun. Sheldon walks in and Leonard asks where he had been. Patting his laundry, Sheldon tells him that if he was prone to sarcasm, he would say that he just pulled off a major heist at the museum of laundry baskets. Leonard quietly counts to ten. He then further explained that Sheldon had been gone a long time. Sheldon then describes how the girls made him reveal confidential information about Howard's father. Leonard asked what information. Sheldon again claims closet organizer-organizee confidentiality. Raj pipes up that they won't tell anyone. Sheldon retorts that badgering him won't help. He then tells them that they should have pointed out that it's pointless to keep it a secret because Penny will tell them anyway. Leonard tells him he'll go with that. Sheldon then agrees to talk and remarks that everyone is on their game today though he is always the one who told them under what conditions he would talk.

With everybody dressed up in the kitchen, everybody says how much fun it is, how great the food and the company is. Sheldon then complains that his shirt is itchy and he wishes he were dead. Leonard asks everyone to not bring up the subject of Howard's letter. Howard and Bernadette are climbing the stairs that Howard says are ridiculous. Bernadette adds that he should try it in heels which he shows her that he is wearing heels. Bernadette quickly tells him that she knows what is in his father's letter which sends Howard into the apartment telling Sheldon that he is going to kill him. Sheldon then grabs Amy and puts her between them. Bernadette admits that they made him tell them. "Who else knows?" asks Howard as everybody but Raj puts up his or her hand. Raj scolds them until he is forced to admit that he knows too. Raj just wants to leave him one friend. Howard then asks if everyone knows, but him and asks Bernadette how she could do this thing to him. Bernadette apologizes, though Howard still says that he doesn't want to know. He then admits that he would like to, but that he has to go and he leaves. Amy is angry that Sheldon used her as a human shield. Sheldon said that he panicked since he looked taller than usual.

Sheldon hides behind Amy as Howard yells at him.

Bernadette finds Howard in their newly arranged closet looking at pictures of his Dad and him. Howard apologizes for running out on the party and Bernadette apologizes for digging into his past. As angry as he is about Sheldon telling everyone, he really appreciates the job he did on their closet. Bernadette asks if he can take a break because she has a little surprise for him. Howard tells Bernadette that he is in no mood to have sex that night. He says that he'll lay there if he has to and then finds everybody in their living room. Leonard explains that when he left they didn't know whether he wanted to know or not, so they have a cool solution. Sheldon explains it using various quantum states of matter. Penny defends it more like the elephant in the room. Sheldon continues that if each person present him with an account of the letter with only one being true, he will forever be in a state of epistemic ambivalence. Penny then adds that if it isn't epistemic, they might as well not do it. Bernadette has Howard sit down. Raj describes a birthday card that said "Happy eighteenth birthday. I love you. Dad." Sheldon says that the envelope contained a map to the lost treasure of the pirate One-eyed Willy. Howard points out that that is the plot from The Goonies. Amy turns to Sheldon and says "Told you." Amy says that his father was secretly in the auditorium at his high school graduation and he cried because he was so proud of him. Howard asked "Really?" Sheldon says that her story is poppycock and that it could still be the map. Amy looks quite disappointed. Penny tells him that the letter explained that his Dad wasn't who he said he was and that his previous life caught up with him and the only way he could keep his mom and him safe was to leave. Sheldon then changes his story that the pirate's name was Peg Leg Antoine.

The gang tells Howard about his father's letter.

Leonard describes how he thought that family was the most important thing and that Howard should not throw it away like he did. Bernadette finishes with describing a picture of his father holding Howard on the day he was born and on the back was written: Howard my son, my greatest gift. Howard is very touched. Sheldon wants to know which one he thinks it is, "matey". Howard again says that he doesn't want to know, but he does want them all to be true. Leonard says that one of them is true and Howard thinks that that is cool and he thanks them. Penny says that it is still early and there is a party waiting for them back at the apartment. Sheldon then admits to have read some saucy passages from Bernadette's diary. Sheldon assures her that her secrets are safe with him though copyright laws allow him to quote tidbits in a review.

All are having a good time back at the apartment, Howard and Bernadette are dancing. Howard is feeling better, but if he had known they were going to dance, he would have worn his flats. Penny says that it turned out pretty well and Leonard agrees. Raj also agrees though something is bothering him. Amy suggests that if he lets her pierce his brain with a hot needle in the right place, he would be happy all the time. Sheldon enters with questions from cleaning out Penny's closet. He finds a dead goldfish that Penny had forgotten about. He also asks if she had a dog because he found a battery operated "chew toy" [her vibrator]. Embarrassed, Penny jumps up, says that the party is over, and pushes Sheldon out of the apartment.


  • The TV Critic: "...the writers came up with one of the most inventive, appropriate and as far as I know original scenarios for a conclusion...It created a very sweet ending where the group protected Howard while also communally apologizing for snooping in his business. A terrific piece of writing...Because the ending is all anyone will remember it’s tempting to think of this as a great episode. But it’s really an average episode with a great ending."[2]
  • The A.V. Club gave this episode an A-.[3]
  • IGN gave this episode 9.2/10.[4]
  • The DR Club gave this episode an A.[5]
  • IMDb user reviews


  • Title Reference: The title refers to Sheldon reorganizing Howard and Bernadette's bedroom closet.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card.
  • This episode was watched by 15.90 million people with a rating of 4.8 (adults 18-49).[6]
  • Total viewers including DVR users 20.05 million.
  • This episode aired in Canada on March 14, 2013 with 3.745 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #1.[7]
  • In the United Kingdom, this episode aired on June 6, 2013 with 2.469 million total viewers.[8]
  • Episode transcript [1]


  • This is the first episode to show all of the gang together at Bernadette's apartment.
  • Sheldon's label maker was previously mentioned in "The Pancake Batter Anomaly" (S1E11).
  • Even though the episode received mainly positive reviews, some fans were annoyed due to the fact that the writers "ruined" the emotion by adding Sheldon's jokes into the intervention scene.
  • Sheldon's solution to Howard's dilemma invokes the principle of quantum superposition. Quantum superposition is the term physicists use to describe the manner in which quantum particles appear to exist in all states simultaneously. Notably, Niels Bohr, a famous Danish physicist, proposed the Copenhagen interpretation, which revolves around quantum superposition. Recall, in "The Tangerine Factor", Sheldon revealed: "In 1935, Erwin Schrödinger, in an attempt to explain the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics, proposed an experiment where a cat is placed in a box with a sealed vial of poison that will break open at a random time. Now, since no one knows when or if the poison has been released, until the box is opened, the cat can be thought of as both alive and dead." (See Schrödinger's Cat.) Sheldon's musings on the superposition of states for a macroscopic system in that episode likewise aided Penny and Leonard in solving their conundrum.
Measurement and the Superposition of States: Say that we wish to measure the property B of a quantum mechanical system to which there corresponds the Hermitian operator  \hat{B} . {In quantum mechanics, the linear operators which represent physical quantities (such as  \hat{H} ,  \hat{T} ,  \hat{V} ,  \hat{p} ,  \hat{x} ) are Hermitian.} There are basically three cases, noting since any function (within reason) can be expanded in Eigen functions of an Hermitian operator, so, too, can the state function  \Psi . (1) If the state function is in a stationary state (probability density is independent of time) and is an eigenfunction of  \hat{B} , then then there will be only one term in the expansion which corresponds to the definite value \hat B \Psi=b\Psi, one of the eigenvalues of  \hat{B} . This number will be found every time a measurement is made. (2) If the state function is in a stationary state, but is not an eigenfunction of  \hat{B} , then there will be more than one term in the expansion and for each term the square of its expansion coefficient gives the probability for observing the corresponding eigenvalue upon measurement of the property B. In this case  \Psi is considered to be a superposition of the eigenstates of the operator  \hat{B} as it is written as a linear combination of the Eigen functions of  \hat{B} . (3) If the state function is in a non-stationary state (probability density depends upon time) and is not an Eigen function of  \hat{B} , then there will be also more than one term in the expansion and for each term the square of its expansion coefficient gives the probability for observing the corresponding eigenvalue upon measurement of the property B.

  • Sheldon demonstrates his skill at organizing closets that was introduced in "The Big Bran Hypothesis" (S1E02), in which he imposed a new organizational paradigm for Penny's apartment and mentioned that he left a suggested organizational schematic for her bedroom closet. In that undertaking, he similarly refused to leave until he was done; however, the organizational scheme for Penny's closet was not implemented until this episode. As Leonard has noted, Sheldon is possessed by "the compulsive need to sort, organize and label the entire world around him".
  • Howard describes Sheldon's obsession at making labels: "his label maker has a label on it". Previously Leonard made exactly the same description in "The Pancake Batter Anomaly" (S1E11).
  • Sheldon says that he won't disclose secrets, but then gives them the circumstances in which he will reveal them. In "The Bad Fish Paradigm", he was more reticent to divulge a friend's secret, but still struggled.
  • First episode in which only the main characters of the show appear and no extra actors are used.
  • Of the six stories told about Howard's father's letter:
    • Sheldon's is the only one that is completely impersonal and has the probability of being sent by mistake.
    • Amy's is the only truly personal one as it refers to a time, place, event and state, all of which Howard can investigate for authenticity. Faking such a story is most risky.
    • Leonard's and Penny's imply that Howard's father was somehow guilty. Leonard's implies that Howard's father shirked from his duties towards Howard and his mother.
    • Penny's is the most creative story.
  • Howard received his letter at his 18 birthday. This day is significant because it is the day in which one comes of age and all legally imposed restraining orders by a child's guardian expires.
  • First time the inside of anyone's closet is seen.


Howard: What are you guys doing here?
Leonard: When you left you weren't sure whether or not you wanted to know what was in your Dad’s letter so we came up with kind of a cool solution.
Howard: Oh yeah, what’s that?
Sheldon: It’s simple, really. It occurred to me that knowing and not knowing can be achieved by creating a macroscopic example of quantum superposition. The principle that a physical system exists partially in all of its possible states at once.
Penny: We were all thinking it, really. It's kind of the elephant in the room.
Sheldon: Anyway, um, I realized if we each present you with an account of what your father wrote to you, only one of which is true, and we don’t tell you which one it is, you will be forever be in a state of epistemic ambivalence.
Penny: Yeah. And he said if it wasn't epistemic, we might as well not even do it.
Bernadette: Sit down, honey.
Leonard: Raj, you’re up.
Raj: Okay. It was a card for your eighteenth birthday. Inside it said: Happy Birthday, Howard. I love you, Dad. Oh, and it was a Far Side card. The one where the frog had his tongue stuck to the underside of an airplane. Thinks it’s a fly. Silly frog. So funny.
Leonard: Sheldon.
Sheldon: It was a map leading to the lost treasure of famous pirate One-eyed Willy.
Howard: Nice try. That’s the plot for Goonies.
Amy: Told you.
Sheldon: Don’t.
Leonard: Amy.
Amy: You didn't know it, but your father was in the auditorium at your high school graduation and he cried because he was so proud of you.
Howard: Really?
Sheldon: Or that’s complete poppycock which Amy made up and it still could be the map. (Amy looks unhappy)
Leonard: Penny.
Penny: It was a letter explaining that your Dad wasn't who he said he was. Eventually his other life caught up to him and the only way to keep you and your Mom safe was to leave.
Sheldon: I would like to change mine. The pirate’s name was Peg Leg Antoine. Now it’s completely different from Goonies.
Amy: No, it’s not.
Sheldon: Don’t.
Leonard: OK, my turn. Your Dad wrote about how family is the most important thing and that you should never throw it away like he did.
Howard: Hmm.
Leonard: Bernadette.
Bernadette: Inside the envelope was a picture of your Dad holding you the day you were born. On the back he wrote: Howard, my son, my greatest gift. (Howard gets up and walks away). You, okay?
Howard: Yes. I’m terrific.
Sheldon: So? Which one do you think it is... matey?
Howard: Actually I don’t want to know. I want all of them to be true.
Leonard: Well, one of them is.
Howard: That is pretty cool. Thank you guys.

Penny: The letter was found in Bernadette's closet. Doesn't that count for something?
Sheldon: Are you pointing out that California is a community property state and since Howard and Bernadette are married the intellectual property contained in that letter is jointly owned by the two spouses?
Penny: Yeah, obviously.
Sheldon: Well played. Sometimes I don't give you enough credit, Penny.

Howard: Sheldon, I swear to God, I’m gonna kill you!
Amy: Hey!
Bernadette: I made him tell us.
Howard: What? Us? Who else knows?
Penny: I know.
Amy: Me, too.
Leonard: Same here.
Raj: Shame on all of you.
Leonard: You know, too.
Raj: Couldn't leave him one friend, could you?
Howard: So everybody knows what’s in that letter except for me?
Sheldon: Yes, it’s six against one. Stand down, sir.
Howard: How could you do this?
Bernadette: I’m sorry.
Raj: If you want, we could tell you.
Howard: No, I don’t want to know. I mean, I do, but… I got to go.
Amy: Use me as a human shield?
Sheldon: I panicked! He looked taller than usual.

Sheldon: Uh, Penny, I, I have a couple of questions about your closet. Is there any reason you’re keeping this dead goldfish?
Penny: Damn, I forgot to feed him. And that I had him.
Sheldon: Well, now, did you also have a dog? Because I found what appears to be a battery-operated chew toy.
Penny: Party’s over! Party’s over!


  • Sheldon using Amy as a human shield.
  • The girls want Sheldon to tell them what was in the letter.
  • Dinner is here.
  • Howard wondering about the letter.
  • I found this letter from your Dad.
  • Dressed up to party.
  • Can't I stay a little longer?
  • Alone in their bedroom.
  • Closet full of junk.
  • Howard looking at picture of him and his Dad.
  • Cleaning out the building's belly button.
  • Everyone talking to Howard about the letter.
  • Penny, your turn.
  • Talking to Howard about his father's letter.
  • Chuck Lorre Productions, #411.

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Big Bang Theory - The Closet Reconfiguration (TV Episode 2013) - IMDb
  2. The Big Bang Theory, Season 6, Episode 19: The Closet Reconfiguration - The TV
  3. The Big Bang Theory: “The Closet Reconfiguration” - TV Club - The A.V. Club
  4. The Big Bang Theory: "The Closet Reconfiguration" Review - IGN
  5. The Closet Reconfiguration/S6E19 - The DR Club
  6. Live+7 DVR Ratings: 'The Big Bang Theory' Leads Adults 18-49 Ratings & Total Viewership Gains; '90210' Earns Biggest Percentage Increase in Week 25 - Zap2it
  7. Top Programs – Total Canada (English) March 11, 2013 – March 17, 2013 - BBM Canada
  8. BARB via Wikipedia

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