The Big Bang Theory

The Desperation Emanation

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The Desperation Emanation
Big Bang Theory episode
Season 4, Episode 5
October 21, 2010
Guest star(s)
Episode guide

"The Hot Troll Deviation"

"The Irish Pub Formulation"
Season guide

Season 3

Season 5

"The Desperation Emanation" is the fifth episode of the fourth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on October 21, 2010.[1]


While Leonard realizes that he's the only one of the gang without a girlfriend, Sheldon wants him to take his "girl/friend" after Amy decides to introduce him to her mother.

Extended PlotEdit

Mrs. Fowler, Amy's Mother.
Dinner with Joy.

When Amy decides to introduce Sheldon to her mother, it worries Sheldon. He still adamantly says that Amy 'is a girl who is his friend, but not his "girlfriend"'. When Leonard tells Sheldon that he is "screwed", it freaks him out and he tries to "break up" with her. He changes all of his electronic addresses and removes the physical number "2" from the apartment building's street number. When she tells him it is only to please her mother, and that she doesn't actually want to be his girlfriend, he is happy again. He goes along with her idea since he likes to play pranks and tells Amy's mom via video chat that he is having regular sex with her daughter, which freaks her out just like Amy wanted it to. Sheldon then asks Amy if they actually want to have sex, and then says "Bazinga!" She leaves and he goes to bed.

While Sheldon has his problems, Leonard has his. Frustrated by the fact that Howard has Bernadette, Sheldon has Amy, and Raj has a girlfriend who is deaf (thus allowing him to talk freely with her), Leonard, out of desperation, invokes the "Girlfriend pact" with Howard, previously mentioned in "The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary" from season 3. Howard gets Bernadette to set Leonard up on a date with one of her friends, Joy, who is loud and obnoxious. This date ends up being one of the worst of his life, but he does agree to another date because he may get to have sex with her.


  • TV Critic: "Seeing a story focused on Leonard and his loneliness was nice. The pact with Howard was a nice bit of continuity and his decision to stick it out with a woman he didn't actually like to avoid being alone was sadly realistic... Sheldon acted with no logic in his story which was a shame. He freaked out about Amy asking him to meet her mother which seemed out of character. Normally you would imagine Sheldon calmly asking her what the purpose of the meeting was and avoiding any confusion... Leonard remains the shows forgotten man and this plot was so thin that it hardly helped his cause."[2]
  • The A.V. Club gave this episode a B.[3]
  • IMDb user reviews


  • Title Reference: The title refers to Leonard's desperation in wanting a girlfriend and Sheldon's exasperation with Amy wanting him to meet her mother.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card.
  • This episode was watched by 13.05 million people with a rating of 4.1 (adults 18-49).[4]
  • This episode aired in Canada on February 8, 2011 with 3.028 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #1.[5]
  • In England, this episode aired on December 2, 2010 with 1.048 million total viewers.[6]
  • In Australia, it aired on February 8, 2011 with 0.922 million viewers. [7]


  • Penny doesn't appear in this episode. She isn't mentioned in this episode, as the writers wrote her out of this and the next episode after Kaley Cuoco broke her leg in a horseback riding incident.
  • First episode where a regular cast member is absent.
  • Howard uses the song "Bernadette" by The Four Tops as his ringtone for Bernadette's call. In "The Vengeance Formulation" he sings a variation of the song to apologize to her.
  • It is implied for the first time in this episode that Sheldon has a fear of commitment, hence his reluctance to consider his and Amy's dating status as boyfriend and girlfriend for this season and the beginning of season 5.
  • Leonard builds model rockets like Howard. His interest in model rockets was also shown in "The Jerusalem Duality" and "The Staircase Implementation".
  • Raj mentions dating a deaf woman in this episode. He later dated Emily, another deaf girl, in "The Wiggly Finger Catalyst".
  • Sheldon suggests Leonard could frequent the Apple Genius Bar, among other bars, and Leonard pretends to work at the Genius Bar to pick up women. In reference to the employees, Howard says, "I mean, they may not really be geniuses, but they see right through that." References to the Apple Genius Store are also made in "The Terminator Decoupling" and "The Einstein Approximation", when it was a similar point of ridicule. Sheldon considers an Apple Store "genius" to be the most mind-numbing, pedestrian job conceivable (alongside a toll house attendant and what Penny does (waitressing), and refused to contribute to the devaluation of the word "genius" by pretending to work there. Moreover, Sheldon, Leonard, Raj, and Howard enjoy going over to the Apple Store to make fun of the guys at the Genius Bar.
  • The scene of Sheldon listing stars could be a reference to or inspired by the opening sequence of the 1988 Drowning by Numbers film.
  • Sheldon and Amy have their own "word of the day".
  • Bernadette and her colleagues have a pact to never admit that they actually crossed Ebola with the common cold when a petri dish of a genetically modified super virus went missing.
  • This episode airs co-creator Chuck Lorre's 300th vanity card.


Leonard: How can you even have a girlfriend, you can't speak to women?
Raj: Two words - "deaf chick!"

Amy: I have a request. I'd like you to meet my mother.
Sheldon: I see. Can I get back to you on that?

Sheldon: You want a girlfriend. Amy wants to be someone's girlfriend. Take her off my hands, I give you my blessing!
Leonard: That is insane.
Sheldon: You're right, it would never work, Amy finds you tedious.

Leonard: Let me see if I can explain your situation using physics. What would you be if you were attached to another object, by an inclined plane wrapped helicaly around an axis?
Sheldon: Screwed.


  • In what way are you screwed?
  • Slipping past Amy.
  • At the Caltech cafeteria.
  • After talking to her mother.
  • I'm invoking the girlfriend pact.
  • Sheldon and Amy.
  • Leonard's annoying date.
  • Leonard with Sheldon's credit.
  • Leonard and Sheldon.
  • Leonard of the Apple Store.
  • Leonard's date.
  • I changed our building address.
  • Hiding from Amy.
  • Amy's mother terrified by the report of Amy's boyfriend.
  • Chuck Lorre Productions, #303


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