The Big Bang Theory

The Rothman Disintegration

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The Rothman Disintegration
Professor Rothman
The Big Bang Theory episode
Season 5, Episode 17
February 16, 2012
Guest star(s)
Episode guide

"The Vacation Solution"

"The Werewolf Transformation"
Season guide

Season 4

Season 6

"The Rothman Disintegration" is the seventeenth episode of the fifth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. The episode first aired on Thursday, February 16, 2012.[1]


Sheldon and his rival Barry Kripke fight it out over the availability of a new office. Penny gets a gift from Amy that really tests their friendship and it doesn't end well.

Extended PlotEdit

TBBT The Rothman Disintegration0397

Sheldon looking over his new office.

The guys return from a retirement party for Professor Rothman, theoretical physicist who had a breakdown. The others wonder about Sheldon since he threw out his shrimp because they were all the same size and therefore he didn't know in what order to eat them. Walking by Dr. Rothman's office, Sheldon calls dibs on it, though they find Barry Kripke inside already measuring it for curtains. Sheldon claims seniority over Kripke and both go to President Siebert to settle it while he was trying to go to the bathroom. He tells them to decide it for themselves, mainly because he doesn't care.

Later, Sheldon suggests being diplomatic and Raj suggests Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock. (All hail Sam Kass! HAIL!)

The painting

Amy's unsightly gift celebrating their friendship.

Kripke keeps asking him to explain until Howard stops him because Kripke is messing with him. Sheldon then suggests various trivia games, but Kripke declines it. Since there's so many things both of them are good at, Raj asks them what one thing is that both of them are bad at. Both Sheldon and Kripke give the answer: sports.

Amy shows up at Penny’s door with a huge present as a thank you for being her friend. Before she met Penny, she was a mousy wallflower. But now she’s a downtown hipster party girl with a posse, a boyfriend, and a new lace bra that hooks in the front. Unbelievable! Penny is clearly embarrassed, opens it and finds an ugly brownish painting of the two of them celebrating their friendship. She can't come to tell Amy that she hates it. Thoughtful Amy brought tools to immediately hang it which also thrills Penny. Later, Penny looks at the painting with Bernadette, who agrees it is big and ugly, Bernadette thinks that it makes Penny look like a man in it. Penny suggests that she tell Amy that she had to take it down because Bernadette is jealous. She quickly tells her not to since Amy might get her one.

Sheldon and Kripke go to the gym and try to play basketball. The first one to hit a free throw wins. Forty-five minutes later no one has made one so they decide whoever bounces the ball highest gets the office. Sheldon wins and gets the office.


Art appreciation.

Penny, Amy, and Bernadette are at the apartment and watching Grease. Amy’s mother never let her watch it because she thought it would encourage her to join a gang. Bernadette and Amy leave, but not before she says goodbye to the figures in the painting. Bernadette tells Penny and transvestite Penny so long. Penny takes down the painting; however, Amy comes back to borrow the Grease DVD and catches her. Penny tries to play it off, but Amy is heartbroken and she takes it away. Penny tries to apologize and she tells Amy that Bernadette was jealous, but obviously their friendship is asymmetrical. The next day, Penny runs over to Amy’s apartment to salvage their friendship. They both hang it on the wall with her entertainment center where the audience can’t see it. Originally, they were nude in the painting, but Amy thought clothes would be better to not challenge their heterosexuality.

Sheldon is decorating his new office, though Rothman is still in it. He is naked and thinks that no one can see him because he is invisible. Sheldon sees many problems with the office, including the fact that it is directly under the geology lab: he can hear the sieve shakers. He gets his head stuck in the hole trying to figure out what was in there. He asks Leonard to get some help, but only after he takes a picture of Sheldon and posts it to Facebook.


  • The TV Critic: "This was a highly skipable episode. The writers chose some very cheap and easy ideas and compounded their lameness by changing their minds during the story... We seem to be in a mid-season lull where the writers ran out of ideas and so reached into the old sit com bag of bad ideas."[2]
  • The A.V. Club gave this episode a B+[3]
  • IMDb user reviews


  • Title Reference: The title refers to the collapse of Professor Rothman's mental state.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card.
  • This episode was watched by 15.65 million people with a rating of 5.1 (adults 18-49).[4]
  • This episode aired in Canada on February 16, 2012 with 3.537 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #1.[5]
  • In the United Kingdom, this episode aired on April 19, 2012 with 2.015 million total viewers and a weekly ranking of #3.[6]
  • In Australia, it aired on March 5, 2012 with 1.301 million viewers.[7]
  • Episode transcript [1]


  • When Sheldon first moves into his new office, Professor Rothman is present behind the door reading an issue of the Journal of Physics G: Nuclear and Particle Physics.
  • The Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock game appears again, which is a game that was last seen in season 2 in "The Lizard-Spock Expansion", and mentioned by Howard in the late second season episode "The Hofstadter Isotope". This time Sheldon emphasizes the creator of the game, Sam Kass, and calls for hailing to him.
  • The basketball contest scene is similar to the wrestling scene in "The Alien Parasite Hypothesis", and takes place in the same gymnasium.
  • Not the first time that Sheldon talks with President Siebert in the man's restroom; in the previous episode, "The Vacation Solution" (S5E16), it is revealed that he has done the exactly same thing before.
  • Sheldon even has a spot in the university men's restroom: the right hand urinal.
  • This episode is the first time Star Trek: Voyager has been mentioned in the show. It is odd that it hasn't been mentioned previously, given that co-creator Bill Prady used to work on the show.
  • Sheldon was sad to know that Kripke didn't view him as a friend, which clashes with what happened in season 2's "The Friendship Algorithm", where he acknowledged Kripke couldn't be his friend, as he has no more spots left.
  • At the end of the episode, Penny hangs an empty picture frame facing the camera. Even though Penny chose to hang the picture in her apartment, and will always see it, it was hung on the open virtual (or fourth) wall of her apartment set, where it won't be seen by the audience except in certain circumstances (such as the scene in "The Countdown Reflection" where the painting is visible over Amy's shoulder as she talks to Howard through Penny's partially open apartment door).
  • None of the guys share scenes with the girls in this episode.
  • Penny tells Bernadette that the painting Amy gave her is very heavy, yet she has no difficulty lifting it off the wall.
  • Professor Rothman may have retired, but he is still hanging around the university without clothes.
  • Professor Rothman's retirement party was previously mentioned by Kripke in "The Beta Test Initiation" in which he mentions that the party has been pushed forward to "next Friday". If all had gone according to plan that would place the start of this episode on the Friday following the forementioned episode.
  • Song: "We Go Together" from the movie Grease.
  • Second episode where Sheldon quickly resorts to suggesting medical advice based on a character's actions. First was "The Big Bran Hypothesis".


  • As Amy asked to borrow Penny's "Grease" DVD, Penny only gave Amy the case, because they never took the disc out of the DVD player.
  • During Sheldon's explanation of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock, Kripke temporarily drops his lisp.


Sheldon: (walks into the university restroom, referring to a urinal) Kripke!
Kripke: Yes?
Sheldon: You're in my spot.

Bernadette: (looking at the painting) Look at that face! That enormous, unsettling, CRAZY face!
Penny: Is there any chance that I'll learn to love it?
Bernadette: That depends. Do you like pictures of yourself where you look like a man?

Sheldon: And let him win? Do I look crazy to you?

Leonard: All right, this is one-on-one. First person to five wins. Any questions? (Sheldon raises his hand) Yes, Sheldon?
Sheldon: Five what?
Leonard: Balls in a basket.
(Sheldon give Leonard a thumbs up)

Sheldon: Use the Force, Sheldon! (throws the basketball, but it does not even reach the height of the hoop) I may need more Force!

Sheldon: I see no other option but to challenge you to a duel. I'd smack you with a glove, but just last week, I packed away my winter things.

Raj: I'm glad that men are wearing hats again. They're so distinguished.

Amy: Before I met you, I was a mousy wallflower. But look at me now. I'm like some kind of downtown hipster party girl! With a posse, a boyfriend, and a new lace bra that hooks in the front of all things!

Bernadette: (to Penny) Too bad you're not as strong as the dude in the painting.

Raj: Would you look at this? I pay $25 to some kid on eBay for a handcrafted Harry Potter wand. He sent me a stick. He went into his backyard and picked up a stick.
Howard: It's numbered.
Raj: Ooh, limited edition--nice!

Sheldon: We're gonna work this office situation out like gentleman. And if that doesn't work, I'm gonna poison his tea.

Sheldon: We're trying to think down here, you geode-loving feldspar jockeys! And you, the notes are C, D, E, G, and A! You pick one, or I'm chopping off that tree!

Professor Rothman: Oh. Hello.
Sheldon: Professor Rothman, This isn't your office anymore. You're retired.
Professor Rothman: I think the word you're looking for is "invisible".

Howard: Sheldon was higher.
Leonard: Congratulations, Sheldon, you win the office.
Sheldon: Who's unsatisfactory in P.E. now?

Amy: I'll let you in on a little secret. Originally we were painted nude. But I had him add clothes, ’cause I thought it was an unnecessary challenge to our heterosexuality.
Penny: Yeah, good call.
Amy: But if you ever change your mind, all it would take is some warm, soapy water and a couple of sponges.
Penny: You’re talking about the painting, right?
Amy: Sure.

Sheldon: Help! Somebody help!
Leonard: What happened?
Sheldon: I was trying to see what was in here and my head got stuck.
Leonard: Why would you do that?
Sheldon: It’s called scientific curiosity. Now go get butter.
Leonard: Hang in there. I’ll be right back. (Takes out phone and takes a photo. Sits down and starts posting it online.)

Amy: I was a fool from Summer Lovin’ to the very last rama lama lama ke ding a de dinga a dong.

Bernadette: That is big.
Penny: So big.
Bernadette: And ugly.
Penny: So ugly.


  • Howard and Raj are the spectators at Sheldon and Kripke's match.
  • Leonard helps the guys settle their dispute over basketball.
  • Leonard explains the rules of the match.
  • Sheldon has a question regarding the match.
  • Sheldon and Kripke both avoid the ball thrown at them.
  • Sheldon and Kripke in action.
  • Sheldon and Kripke go against each other in a fight for a new office.
  • Sheldon prepares to shoot.
  • Sheldon uses "the force" to shoot, to no avail.
  • Sheldon and Kripke in a basketball match.
  • Amy and Penny with the painting of them.
  • Amy is standing beside the painting, as it hangs on the wall.
  • Penny and Bernadette look at the painting.
  • Sheldon explains "Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock" to Kripke.
  • Siebert addresses Kripke and Sheldon in the bathroom.
  • Professor Rothman.
  • The guys enter Professor Rothman's office.
  • Kripke is also in the professor's office.
  • Amy enters with Penny's gift.
  • Amy goes on about all the things Penny has done for her.
  • Amy's gift to Penny: a painting of the two.
  • Penny's reaction to the painting.
  • Sheldon and Kripke disturb President Siebert in the bathroom.
  • Bernadette and Penny stare at the painting.
  • Raj is upset over the item he ordered from eBay that turned out being fake.
  • Sheldon laughs at what Kripke said.
  • Amy and the painting version of her.
  • Sheldon struggles with the ventilator.
  • Amy tells Penny about how they would have been painted naked in the painting.
  • The girls are watching "Grease" on the TV.
  • Leonard watches on as Sheldon is stuck with his head in the wall.
  • Sheldon's head is stuck in the wall.
  • Chuck Lorre Productions, #378.


  1. The Big Bang Theory - The Rothman Disintegration (TV Episode 2012) - IMDb
  2. The TV Critic's Review
  3. The Big Bang Theory: “The Rothman Disintegration” - TV Club - The A.V. Club
  4. Thursday Final Ratings: 'American Idol,' 'Vampire Diaries,' 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'Big Bang Theory,' '30 Rock,' 'Office' Adjusted Up; 'Person Of Interest,' 'Mentalist,' 'Secret Circle' Adjusted Down - Zap2it
  5. Top Programs – Total Canada (English) February 13 - February 19, 2012 - BBM Canada
  6. BARB via Wikipedia
  7. Monday 5 March 2012 - TV Tonight

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