The Big Bang Theory

The Justice League Recombination

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The Justice League Recombination
The Big Bang Theory episode
Season 4, Episode 11
December 16, 2010
Guest star(s)
Episode guide

"The Alien Parasite Hypothesis"

"The Bus Pants Utilization"
Season guide

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Season 5

"The Justice League Recombination" is the eleventh episode of the fourth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Thursday, December 16, 2010.[1]


The guys get Zack and Penny to join their Justice League costume group for a New Year's Eve bash at the comic book store to win the best group costume prize.  Penny is going as Wonder Woman, while Zack dresses as Superman.

Extended PlotEdit


The guys find a "super" use for Penny's ex-boyfriend, Zack, when they enter a costume contest as the Justice League.


I'm not going to that party.


Sheldon screaming at the Grand Canyon.


Witnessing an auto theft.

The guys discover that Penny and her ex-boyfriend, Zack, are back together and they take advantage of his lack of intelligence and make fun of him. After Zack finally realizes what's going on and storms out, the guys decide to apologize to him and give him some Milk Duds. Zack immediately forgives Leonard and his friends and goes with the guys to the comic book store, leaving a peeved Penny behind. At the store, the guys realize that Zack would be great as Superman for their Justice League group at Stuart's New Year's Eve costume party, who would replace the short Leonard as that role.

Leonard agrees as long as he goes as Green Lantern, leaving Raj to be Aquaman, much to his distress. They return home with the Justice League costumes, with Howard being Batman, Raj as Aquaman, Sheldon as The Flash, and Leonard as Green Lantern. They even purchase a Wonder Woman costume for Penny. However, Penny doesn't want to go and suggests that they ask Bernadette or Amy, but Howard says Bernadette is under quarantine and Sheldon says Amy doesn't believe in wearing costumes, leaving no choice, but for Penny to go.

On the night of the party, the guys arrive at the apartment in their costumes. Sheldon as the Flash is pacing back and forth though Leonard says that it looks like he's jogging. Sheldon replied by saying, "This is how The Flash paces". Howard entere proclaiming "I'm Batman". Raj thinks that Aquaman stills sucks. Zack leaps into the apartment as Superman, but can't remember, "It's a bird. It's a plane. It's Superman." Penny enters inher sexy Wonder Woman costume and refuses to wear the black . Howard that no one will be looking at her hair and gets punched by Wonder Woman.  Finally she refuses to even go to the New Year's Eve costume party at the comic book store after Zack embarrasses her. None of the guys, not even Zack, can convince Penny to go. Since Zack would not go without Penny and the Justice League wouldn't be complete without Superman and Wonder Woman, Sheldon says that they'll have to go in their Muppet baby costumes, but then they make Leonard talk to Penny. 

Penny reveals that she is only with Zack because she doesn't want to be alone for New Year's Eve. It is hinted that she still hasn't fully gotten over Leonard. Penny relents, puts the wig on to avoid the "Leonard" question, and the group later wins the costume contest. Sheldon demands that he make his victory speech, however, Stuart interrupts him and lead the countdown to midnight.

When midnight strikes and it becomes the New Year, 2011, Zack is kissing Penny, she looks guiltily over at Leonard for the duration of the entire kiss, while Leonard gazes back at her. The episode concludes with the group witnessing an ongoing car theft on the way back home and despite wearing Justice League costumes, they comically scurry off, none of them, not even Zack, are brave enough to stop the car theft.

That New Year's Day evening, Leonard warns Sheldon that he wants to change the thermostat temperature. Sheldon then imagines himself as The Flash, speeding to the Grand Canyon to scream in frustration, to the tune of "Flight of the Bumblebee". Once he is "back," Sheldon tells Leonard, "Fine."


  • The TV Critic: "This failed on pretty much every level which was a shame. In theory I applaud the idea of focusing on Penny and Leonard's relationship, but there is no authenticity to it anymore. The writers have made less and less effort to demonstrate any actual bond between them. Leonard still treats her like she is too good for him and her feelings for him have returned out of nowhere. The result is that her emotions seem fabricated and the story falls flat...What often saves The Big Bang Theory from being a lame duck is the sharpness of its writing. In this case the writing was lazy and the result was a lousy episode which felt as phoned in as Penny's feelings for Leonard ."[2]
  • The A.V. Club gave this episode an A-.[3]
  • IMDb user reviews


  • Title Reference: The title refers to Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj inviting Penny and Zack to be Wonder Woman and Superman, respectively, in their Justice League team and Zack replacing Leonard for Penny.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card.
  • This episode was watched by 13.24 million people with a rating of 4.0 (adults 18-49).[4]
  • This episode aired in Canada on December 16, 2010 with 3.021 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #1.[5]
  • In the United Kingdom, this episode aired on January 13, 2011 with 1/038 million total viewers and a weekly ranking of #19.[6]
  • Episode transcript [1]



Penny as a blonde Wonder Woman.


In the 1974 TV Movie "Wonder Woman", Wonder Woman is portrayed by a blonde Cathy Lee Crosby.

  • The Justice League consists of
  • Sheldon asks in what universe is Wonder Woman blonde, in fact Cathy Lee Crosby starred as a blonde Wonder Woman in the 1974 TV movie "Wonder Woman" Also in a Teen Titans storyline "Titans Tomorrow" Cassandra Sandsmark aka Wonder Girl, who was a blonde, was shown as Wonder Woman's successor.
  • Raj once went to a cricket (game) camp, and had a penis drawn on his face by bullies there. Refer to "The Speckerman Recurrence" for more on bullies. 
  • Stuart reveals that he earns around $1.65 an hour, $6.35 below the minimum wage in Pasadena, California. This is likely not a legal breach, as Stuart owns his own business and therefore is not entitled to a minimum wage. Nonetheless, this suggests he has low profits, and would probably be significantly better off working for pay even in a menial job.
  • Raj hates Aquaman in this episode. In "The Spaghetti Catalyst", Raj stated, "Oh, please, we all know I’m the friend you call when you have no other options. If we were the Justice League, I’d be Aquaman." He also mentioned Aquaman in "The Precious Fragmentation" and "The Robotic Manipulation".
  • Some species of sea star have the ability to regenerate lost arms and can regrow an entire new arm in time. Sea stars can grow an entire sea star from a single ray.
  • Coaches use the expression, "There's no "I" in team", which is probably where Zack got his response to Penny from. "There's no "I" in Justice League."
  • Bernadette is under quarantine for this episode, as at her lab Christmas party she took Jello shots from a petri dish that used to contain Yellow Fever. This fact was revealed by Howard when the guys asked why she couldn't be Wonder Woman.
  • Sheldon says that Amy does not wear costumes, but she did in later episodes though she has been more willing to change than Sheldon.
  • At the costume party, Stuart is dressed as Tom Baker's Doctor Who from the BBC series Doctor Who.
  • When Penny is talking to Leonard in her apartment, this time is the closest that she ever comes yet to telling Leonard how much she feels for him. Penny refers to "The Middle Earth Paradigm" when she states to Leonard, "Look, if Zack and I had just gone to a regular club or a party, it would have been fine, but this, with the costumes, and you."
  • The costumes the cast choose reflect their character:
    • ​Howard as Batman - Howard is an engineer and has built a lot of high-tech gadgets, such as an engineer might make.
    • Raj as Aquaman - In comic books Aquaman is the King Of Atlantis and spends a lot of time being classified as an outsider. Raj as a foreigner sometimes doesn't understand American culture and is an outsider in other ways.
    • Penny as Wonder Woman - Fairly self-explanatory. She is Leonard's Wonder Woman.
    • Leonard as Green Lantern - Green Lantern is a character who uses a ring to create constructs using their will. Green Lantern users therefore must have a lot of will to be successful. Obviously Leonard has the will to work hard in his studies to become a Doctor. What is relevant though is that Leonard must have great will to put up with Sheldon.
    • Zack as Superman - He is the only one out of the group to have actual muscles.
  • Stuart's costume is that of the Fourth Doctor (originally played by Tom Baker) from British cult sci-fi TV series Doctor Who. Stuart's DJ's costume is "Master Chief Petty Officer John-117", a "SPARTAN Programme supersoldier" and the main protagonist of the Halo video game franchise.
    • Other costumes at the party (not counting duplicate Justice Leagues) include a woman dressed as a Hogwarts student (likely Hermione) from the Harry Potter book/movie franchise, an Imperial Stormtrooper and a Jedi (possibly Ben Kenobi as he appears in A New Hope) from the Star Wars franchise, a Joker from the Batman franchise, a woman dressed as a sciences crewman (or possibly a nurse) from Star Trek the original series, and what appears to possibly be Hagrid the groundskeeper, again from Harry Potter.
  • The distance from Pasadena to the Grand Canyon is approximately 500 miles by road, some 375 miles straight-line.


Zack: Hold on. The costume came with a black wig. Where is it, babe? 
Penny: No. I'm not wearing it. It looks stupid. 
Zack: Come on. We're trying to win a contest here.
Penny: Forget it. I'm not wearing the wig.
Zack: Penny. There's no "I" in Justice League.
Howard: Well, actually.
Sheldon: Don't. He's making our case.

Zack: Oh, no, you’re thinking old-school Archie. It’s much more sophisticated now. Like, there’s two universes, and Archie’s married to Betty in one and Veronica in the other. Midge is even breaking up with Moose.

Leonard: Look, I know our winter thermostat setting is 72 degrees, but I'm a little warmer, so I'm going to turn it down.
Sheldon: (as The Flash, runs to the Grand Canyon) Good lord, how you frustrate me, Leonard Hofstadter! (runs back) Fine.

Zack: Look up in the sky. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. I forget the rest.
Penny: All right. Let’s get this thing over with.
Sheldon: I’m sorry. But in what universe is Wonder Woman blonde?
Howard: Relax. No one’s going to be looking at her hair. Ow! I mean, "OW!"

Sheldon: (knocking door loads of times) Penny, Penny, Penny, Penny, Penny, Penny, Penny, Penny, Penny, Penny, Penny, Penny, Penny, Penny, Penny, Penny, Penny, Penny, Penny.
Penny: (opens door) What the hell is wrong with you?
Sheldon: I'm the Flash. I just knocked 30,000 times.

Penny: Are you high?

Raj: What the hell did I do?
Penny: You laughed.

Zack: Milk dud?

[Penny’s apartment. Knocking.]

Penny: Go away, Sheldon.
Leonard: It’s Leonard.
Penny: Oh. Go away, Leonard.
Leonard: Come on, let me just talk to you
Penny: It’s open.
Leonard: Hey.
Penny: I’m not going to that party, Leonard
Leonard: Okay, listen. You don’t have to wear the wig. At this party, we’re gonna win first prize just by showing up with a girl.
Penny: It’s not the wig.
Leonard: Did I do something? I mean, I tried to be friends with Zack, like you said, which believe me, was difficult, given how you and me used to be, you know, you and me, and now you and him are you and him.
Penny: Okay, look. We’re not really me and him.
Leonard: Then what are you?
Penny: I don’t know. I only started seeing Zack again so I wouldn’t be alone on New Year’s Eve. How pathetic is that
Leonard: Not as pathetic as dressing up like this and going to a comic book store on New Year’s Eve
Penny: You make a cute Green Arrow.
Leonard: Green Lantern.
Penny: Like there’s a difference.
Leonard: There’s a big difference. Arrow. Lantern.
Penny: Whatever. Look, if Zack and I had just gone to a regular club or a party, it would have been fine, but this, with the costumes, and you.
Leonard: What about me?
Penny: Nothing. Let’s go to the party. (Puts on wig) How do I look?
Leonard: Um, I guarantee you’ll be the prettiest girl there.

[outside the door]

Howard: Okay, the good news is, we have a Wonder Woman.
Sheldon: Oh.
Zack: Yes.
Sheldon: What’s the bad news?
Howard: Superman probably isn’t getting laid tonight.
Zack: Aw, damn.


  • You think that that costume makes you look fat.
  • Penny and Leonard looking uncomfortable after Zack kisses her at midnight.
  • Sheldon as the Flash pacing.
  • No one is going to be looking at her hair.
  • Stuart announcing the winner.
  • Aquaman sucks!
  • Sheldon trying to make his speech.
  • You'll be the prettiest girl there.
  • Walking home.
  • Good Lord!!
  • What do we do about Penny?
  • Green Lantern waiting for the others.
  • The faux Justice League of America.
  • Penny drinking in her apartment.
  • Witnessing a carjacking.
  • Waiting for the name of the winner.
  • The real Justice League of America.
  • Penny as Wonder Woman.
  • Wondering if Sheldon really understands her.
  • Chuck Lorre Productions, #320.
  • Batman gets punched by Wonder Woman after a sleezy remark.


  1. The Big Bang Theory - The Justice League Recombination (TV Episode 2010) - IMDb
  2. The TV Critic's Review
  3. The Big Bang Theory: "The Justice League Recombination" - TV Club - The A.V. Club
  4. Thursday Final Ratings: Big Bang Theory, $#*! My Dad Says Adjusted Down - Zap2it
  5. Top Programs – Total Canada (English) December 13 – December 19, 2010 - BBM Canada
  6. BARB via Wikipedia

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