The Big Bang Theory

The Line Substitution Solution

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"The Line Substitution Solution" is the twenty-third and penultimate episode of the ninth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. The episode aired on Thursday, May 5, 2016.


Sheldon hires Stuart to spend the day with Amy when he’d rather go to a movie screening. Also, Leonard’s mother, Beverly, comes to Pasadena and Penny struggles to make a connection with her, eventually planning a redo of her and Leonard's wedding.

Extended Plot

Penny and Sheldon are on the couch with flashcards trying to expand their respective knowledge bases. Penny has celebrity pictures and Sheldon has scientific terms. Leonard comes in and is able to guess both of their cards without giving any thought to it. Leonard asks Penny to go with him to the airport to pick up his mother. Penny agrees to join him. Leonard then asks her since she will already be at the airport, could she pick her up? It would give her a chance to bond with her and Leonard wouldn't be subjected to her criticism. Penny agrees and that she should have a good relationship with her mother-in-law.

Increasing their mutual knowledge bases.

At the comic book store the guys are discussing the screening of the new Avengers movie that includes deleted scenes on a first-come first-served basis. Joss Whedon will be having a Q&A. They guys plan on getting in line early. Beverly is busy with Penny; however, Sheldon has to go shopping with Amy. The boys offer to hold him a space in line because they refuse to let Sheldon stop them from attending; however, Sheldon feels that that violates line etiquette. Howard mentions that he could hire someone to stand in line for him. Stuart thinks that is pathetic until he finds they can make $20 an hour.

Leaving the airport, Beverly is not surprised that Leonard avoided her and is asking Penny about their sex life before they leave the parking lot. Penny changes the subject to talking each other about the latest books they had read, but her last one was a Pottery Barn catalog. "Don't psychoanalyze everything I say." Penny then proposes dinner together, but adds her friends to make the night sound less chilling.

Stuart gets into the car with Amy. Amy remarks that he is not Sheldon. Stuart figured that that might come up. Sheldon has paid him to go shopping with her. Amy says that they are not going to do that and she is very annoyed. Stuart snaps that he just works here.

Bernadette talking to Beverly.

At the movies, the guys reminisce about previous lines they had waited in. Stuart shows up and calls Sheldon the most inconsiderate man he has met in his entire life. Amy hired him to yell at Sheldon. Sheldon tells him that turnabout is fair play; while Stuart then really shouts at him calling Sheldon a selfish jerk.

Amy is complaining about the progress she thought she was making with Sheldon. Beverly knows how brilliant Sheldon is and that being in a relationship could be trying. She admires Amy's resolve and tells her that she is an extraordinary woman. Penny wants to bond with Beverly like Amy is. Stuart arrives with flowers and an apology that Sheldon paid for. Amy offers Bernadette five dollars to slam the door in his face (Stuart states that he would've done it for less money).

Stuart returns to the theater and tells Sheldon that his apology was not accepted. Leonard suggests that Sheldon apologize in person. Stuart offers to hold Sheldon's place in line for a price and Sheldon leaves.

Bernadette tries to talk Penny up mentioning her status as the number three salesperson at their pharmaceutical company. She mentions that she is a microbiologist and her work with some new anti-anxiety drugs that all three scientists find interesting and discuss in front of Penny. On Bernadette's urging Penny had mentioned something great about her new company car. It has seat warmers. Sheldon then shows up at the apartment gives Amy a specific three part apology. Amy replies, "Fine." Sheldon has to leave because he has an Uber car downstairs and the movie line could start moving any minute.

Leonard and Howard are making fun of Raj and the cane seat he was using. Sheldon rushes back out of breath explaining that his apology went fine. Stuart is then relieved of his duties, but not before insulting Raj and his stick chair for Howard. A young man runs up and joins his friends in front of Sheldon. Leonard tells Sheldon to let it be. Sheldon confronts the interloper, who says that his friends saved him a place. After Sheldon rants about line etiquette, the guy wants to know who made him line monitor. Mrs. Wunch in the fourth grade. Next he wants to know if Sheldon is for real. Leonard replies that unfortunately, yes.

Stuart is paid to make an apology to Amy from Sheldon.

Beverly is impressed with their relationship and wants to interview them for a new book she is writing about high achieving couples. Amy mentions that Bernadette is married to an ex-astronaut. Would they like to be interviewed? Sure. In the bathroom, Howard pretends to interview himself. Bernadette says that she should talk to Penny too. "About what?" replies Beverly. Now, this is the last straw for Penny, who has now had enough and is now extremely angry with Beverly since she has been trying to connect with her all day. Beverly wonders if she is trying to connect or have some form of validation. Penny then says that she was seeking some sort of friendship and that Penny will take Beverly not insulting her to her face. Beverly says that her intention was never to insult Penny. Penny says that Beverly has been doing it all day... Does she even know what an insult is? Beverly tells her it's not a clinical term but an example is like when Penny married her son without inviting her or even telling her the wedding was taking place. Penny is stumped and tells her that that is a good example.

Now, Sheldon is arguing with the guy about line-cutting and the rules that the Avengers live by. Then he ask the rest of the line behind him whether they take issue with this guy line-cutting. No one does. Sheldon then claims that someone at the back of the line is not getting in because of him. Then he brings up the story of Rosa Parks who stood up for a cause, though she actually remained seated on the bus. An African-American woman reminds Sheldon that he had paid Stuart to hold his place in line, so he cut. But to Sheldon his circumstance was "swapsies" and not "cutsies". The line starts to move and Leonard tells him to let it go since he did everything he could do, including denigrating the memory of a great civil rights leader.

Sheldon standing up for line etiquette citing the pioneer Rosa Parks.

Penny tells Beverly that she is surprised that she even cared about the wedding. Beverly said that she is still human and wanted to get an invitation to her own son's wedding. Amy tells her that she knows how Beverly feels since none of them knew since Penny didn't invite either of them. Penny says it was spur-of-the-moment. Bernadette mentions the live-streaming of the wedding. Penny asked Beverly if she would have come. Beverly replied in the negative and would have told her that she was making a big mistake. Penny is crushed and asks if she really thinks they made a mistake. She did at the time, but Beverly has never seen Leonard so happy, so maybe she was wrong. "Wow", replied Penny who then proposed that they get married again in front of her and their friends while Beverly was in town. Beverly finds that perfectly acceptable. Penny exclaims joyfully that she would find that "perfectly acceptable" and that they have bonded. She gives Beverly a hug as Beverly doesn't change her expression too much and gently pats her.

Finally, Bernadette is getting ready for bed and asks him if he was okay since he'd been in the bathroom a while. He's fine. As Bernadette leaves the bedroom, she smiles listening to Howard interview himself.



  • Title Reference: Sheldon hires Stuart to stand in the movie ticket line for him.
  • Taping date: April 19, 2016
  • This episode was watched by 13.22 million people with a rating of 3.0 (adults 18-49).
  • Total viewers including DVR users 18.21 million.
  • The Big Bang Theory was ranked #2 for the week ending May 8, 2016.
  • This episode aired in Canada on May 5, 2016.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card [1]
  • Episode transcript [2]


  • Jesse Schedeen of IGN - It's disappointing to see the current season reach a low point so close to the finale. This episode banked way too much on the Beverly Hofstadter character when it could have succeeded in exploring the lingering resentment between Penny and her friends over her spontaneous wedding. Meanwhile, Sheldon's regressive, obnoxious behavior and the generally unfocused nature of the movie theater storyline dragged this episode down even further. At this point there's a lot riding on the finale in terms of wrapping up the season on a satisfying note. [3]
  • IMDb user reviews [4]


  • Second season that Beverly appeared twice in the same season. The first season was Season 7. She previously appeared in the episode "The Celebration Experimentation."
  • The guys are waiting in line to watch "Captain America: Civil War".
  • First episode that Beverly appears in and has no scenes with her son Leonard.
  • Second penultimate episode Beverly appears in after the previous season's penultimate episode "The Maternal Combustion".
  • First time that Beverly is seen inside Apartment 4B.
  • Beverly actually acknowledges that she has never seen Leonard happier since marrying Penny, so maybe it wasn't such a bad thing. She was insulted that she didn't get an invitation though she wouldn't have attended. She would have watched the broadcast on-line.
  • Penny's suggestion of a wedding redo sets up the plot of the [Season 9] finale.
  • This episode marks the second time Beverly is seen with Amy and Bernadette after "The Celebration Experimentation", but this episode also marks the first time that she has a conversation with them. Beverly also meets Stuart again, but they still don't talk.
  • This is the second episode where the guys refuse to let Sheldon stop them from doing something without him, the first being "The Excelsior Acquisition".
  • Leonard and Howard's jokes regarding Raj's portable seat reference the South Park series premiere: "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe" and the Season 7 premiere: "Cancelled".
  • Beverly and Amy are both neuroscientists.
  • Amy and Bernadette do not share any scenes with Leonard or Raj in this episode. Amy also doesn't share any scenes with Howard.
  • Penny shares no scenes with Howard or Raj in this episode.


  • In the 200th episode, The Celebration Experimentation, when Penny says that she and Leonard got married and didn't invite Beverly, she answers "And I never did thank you for that, dear.", but in this episode, there is a continuity error when she says she's insulted by it. But it's likely Beverly was trying to hide her emotions, so as not to be herself.


Stuart: (crossly) Sheldon, you are the most inconsiderate person I have ever met in my entire life. Where do you get off sending ME to shop with YOUR girlfriend?
Sheldon: (nervous) I don't understand. You were happy to do this when I hired you. Wh-why are you upset with me now?
Stuart: (calm) Oh, I'm not upset with you. But Amy is pretty bent out of shape, so she hired me to let you have it.
Sheldon: Well, I suppose turnabout is fair play

Stuart: (holding a bouquet of flowers) Sheldon says he's sorry.
Amy: (crossly) Bernadette, I'll give you $5 to slam the door.
Stuart: (as the door closes) I would've done it for $3.

Beverly: I’m not surprised Leonard chose to avoid picking me up. He’s battled intimacy issues his whole life. Does he have difficulty maintaining erections?
Penny: (to herself) Wow. Didn’t even make it out of the parking lot. (to Beverly) Uh, you know what, enough about Leonard. Let’s talk about you. What would you like to do while you’re here?
Beverly: Dear, I’m a psychiatrist. You don’t have to avoid having intimate conversations with me.
Penny: Well, I’d actually like for us to be close, but maybe we start with our favorite books and work our way up to my husband’s sex organs.
Beverly: Very well. What’s the last book you read?
Penny: Uh, does Pottery Barn, Spring count?
Beverly: Penny, it’s only natural to want your mother-in-law to like you, and I acknowledge I can be an intimidating person. So what can I do to make this process easier for you?
Penny: Uh, for starters, maybe you cannot psychoanalyze everything I say?
Beverly: And how does that make you feel when I psychoanalyze everything you say?
Penny: Uncomfortable.
Beverly: That was a joke, dear.
Penny Oh, sorry. [Laughs.] Didn’t know you made those. Hey, listen, what if we have a little mother-in-law daughter-in-law dinner tonight?
Beverly: So just the two of us?
Penny: Or I invite a few girlfriends, ‘cause hearing you say “the two of us” sent a chill down my spine.

Amy: You know, just when I think we’re making progress in our relationship, we revert to old patterns where thoughts and feelings get unexpressed. I mean, if he didn’t want to go shopping with me, why didn’t he just say so?
Beverly: Maybe he couldn’t get a word in edgewise.
Amy: I’m sorry, I’ve been going on and on.
Beverly: Oh, it’s all right, dear. Sheldon has a brilliant complicated mind. It’s understandable that being in a relationship with him could be trying.
Amy: I called him “babe” once. He asked me to get a drug test.
Beverly: Well, I admire your resolve. You’re an extraordinary woman.
Amy: Thank you.

Bernadette: Let’s get back to Penny. Hey, weren’t you telling me something great about your company car?
Beverly: Um…
Penny: It has seat warmers.

Penny: (Now really angry) Okay, you know what? This is ridiculous. (Now speaks to Beverly angrily)I’ve been trying to make a connection with you all day, and clearly I’m getting nowhere.
Beverly: Well, are you seeking a connection or just some form of validation?
Penny: What I was seeking was some form of friendship. But at this point, I’ll take you not insulting me to my face.
Beverly: My intention was never to insult you.
Penny: You’ve been doing it all day! Do you even know what an insult is?
Beverly: Well, it’s not a clinical term. But one example would be your marrying my son, and not inviting me or even telling me the wedding is taking place.
Penny: Okay that’s a good example.


Penny:To be honest, I’m surprised you cared about the wedding at all.
Beverly: I’m still human, Penny. Not getting invited to my own son’s wedding is difficult to ignore.
Amy: I know how you feel. She didn’t invite any of us.
Penny: It was a spur of the moment!
Bernadette: But we did get to see a live stream of it on the Internet.
Beverly: I could have watched it on the Internet?
Penny: (To Bernadette) Thank you. (To Beverly) So if we would have asked you to come to Vegas to see us get married you would’ve come?
Beverly: No, I would’ve said you’re making a huge mistake. But an invitation would’ve been nice.
Penny: You really think we made a mistake?
Beverly: At the time I did. But I-I’ve never seen Leonard so happy, so…perhaps I was wrong.
Penny: Wow. Okay. Well, um, how about this? Maybe while, you’re still in town, Leonard and I could have another small ceremony. You know, if you’re interested.
Beverly: I would find that perfectly acceptable.
Penny: {gasps} She would find it perfectly acceptable! You guys saw it! We bonded!

Sheldon: Well, what a sad state of affairs! That you’ve all been so ground down by life, you don’t even notice when someone disrespects you. I can’t believe we’re gonna get beat up, and it’s not because of your chair. You know, right now, at the back of this line, there’s a movie fan like you who’s not going to get in, because this person simply doesn’t care. Yeah, well, sixty-one years ago, there was another person at the back of the line and her name was Rosa Parks.
Leonard: (To Raj) Okay, you may have to pretend you’re black to get us out of here.
Sheldon: Now. Let’s follow in that brave woman’s footsteps, and stand up for ourselves! And-and I realize she stood up by remaining seated, but now is not that time to enjoy the irony of that.


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