The Big Bang Theory

The Tangerine Factor

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The Tangerine Factor
The Big Bang Theory episode
Season 1, Episode 17
May 19, 2008
Guest star(s)
James Hong as Chen
William Ngo as Chinese Grad Student
Episode guide

"The Peanut Reaction"

"The Bad Fish Paradigm"
Season guide


Season 2

"The Tangerine Factor" is the seventeenth and final episode of the first season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Monday, May 19, 2008.


After a bad breakup, Penny finally agrees to go out on a date with Leonard, but the two of them both develop doubts and turn to Sheldon, of all people, for advice.

Extended PlotEdit


Why don't you go out with me?


You look nice.


Game night and dinner.

Howard is tutoring Sheldon in Mandarin so he can confront the Szechuan Palace; since he suspects that the restaurant is passing off Orange Chicken as Tangerine Chicken (oranges are cheaper than tangerines). Suddenly, Penny barges in, yells at someone on the street, and throws an 80 Gig White iPod Classic out the window. In her anger she explains that the person who she was yelling at, and whose iPod she threw, wrote about their sex life on his blog. Leonard goes to Penny's to find out what's happening but she furiously commands him to leave.

After a small talk with the boys, Leonard musters the courage to try again, Penny's anger has transformed into depression and she explains that her boyfriend, Mike, has posted intimate details about their personal life online and her close contacts have found it. Leonard tries to comfort her, unfortunately in his attempt he convinces Penny to get back with her boyfriend. Later, Leonard is bemoaning his screw-up, when Penny comes back and has a go at him for his "stupid advice", Leonard again goes over there to ask what the problem is and Penny explains that Mike was already with a different lady that she saw who had her legs wrapped around his neck. After Penny rants about how she goes out with the wrong guys, she then proceeds to explain the type of guys she should be going out with, those who are nice, kind and really care about her. The description fitted Leonard, so he promptly asks Penny out. Penny is a bit shocked, but then accepts because she has nothing to lose. "That's the spirit," concludes Leonard.

Sheldon is practicing his Mandarin, when Penny asks to talk to him while he's getting his mail about advice on Leonard. After many minutes, Sheldon proposes that they draw upon Schrödinger's Cat as an analogy-after explaining it. Penny can only know for certain whether her potential relationship with Leonard is good or bad by "opening the box".

Later at the cafeteria, Leonard also seeks Sheldon's advice on dating Penny. He merely says "Schrödinger's Cat" and Leonard understands. Penny and Leonard meet the next night for their date, but Penny wants to talk first. Leonard then asks her if she ever heard of Schrödinger's Cat, to which she says that she's heard far too much about it. Satisfied, he kisses her. Finally understanding what Sheldon tried to tell her, Penny proclaims that "the cat's alive" (she feels a connection with Leonard) and they rush off to dinner.

Sheldon is at Szechuan Palace, arguing with the manager about the Tangerine Chicken, however his incredibly flawed Mandarin leads the manager to think Sheldon is crazy, and he threatens to call the police. Sheldon doesn't realize that he's speaking the language incorrectly and thinks that their annoyed behavior and their refusal to answer his questions prove that he's right about the Tangerine Chicken. Leonard and Penny avoid entering the place and running into Sheldon in the last moment.



  • Title Reference: Sheldon is afraid that the Szechuan Palace's Tangerine Chicken is not actually Tangerine Chicken.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card [1]
  • This episode was watched by 7.34 million people with a rating of 3.2 (adults 18-49).
  • Episode transcript [2].

Costume NotesEdit

S01e17 recordplayer
  • Sheldon wears his Riddler: Bat Question shirt, as well as "Triple Threat", a blue large plaid patterned t-shirt by Kirra (discontinued).
  • Leonard wears his light blue shirt featuring a record player, and his red "shards" t-shirt.

Set NotesEdit



Sheldon: (Quoting incorrect Mandarin) "Show me your mucus, your mucus."

Chen: (In Mandarin) "Blow your own nose and go away."

Sheldon: "This is not tangerine bicycle."

Chen: (In English) "Crazy man. Call the police!"

Sheldon: "No, don't call the library, show me your mucus. Oxen are in my bed. Many, many, oxen."

Chen: (Shoos him away) Ha!

Sheldon: "Oy vey!"

Howard: You know, I’m really glad you decided to learn Mandarin.

Sheldon: Why?

Howard: Once you’re fluent, you’ll have a billion more people to annoy instead of me.

Leonard: Okay, well, you know, this isn't that bad. It just paints the picture of a very affectionate woman who’s open to expressing her affection in nontraditional locales.

Penny: Oh, God!

Leonard: Elevators, parks, movie theaters, out of curiosity, is this subway the transportation system or Subway the sandwich shop?

Penny: Sandwich shop.


  • Why don't you go out with me?
  • Penny upset over her boyfriend.
  • Penny talking to Sheldon about Leonard.
  • Should I go out with him?
  • Finding his spot at Penny's.
  • A meaningful kiss. The cat's alive.
  • Penny and Leonard's first date.
  • Leonard kisses Penny.
  • I heard far too much about Schrodinger's Cat.
  • At the Caltech cafeteria.
  • Angry Chinese restaurant owner.
  • Talking before their date.
  • Challenging the quality of their Tangerine Chicken.
  • Sheldon talking in Mandarin.
  • Leonard about to start his first date with Penny.
  • First kiss of their date.
  • Penny discussing her fears about dating Leonard.
  • Leonard shows up for his date.
  • Talking about Schrodinger's Cat.
  • Sheldon finding his seat.
  • Chuck Lorre Productions, #212.
  • Penny.
  • Penny discussing her fear with Sheldon.
  • Sheldon learning Mandarin from Howard.
  • Leonard looking over Penny's love life.
  • Sheldon giving Leonard dating advice?
  • Talking about dating Leonard.
  • Talking about dating Leonard.
  • Penny happy that her date is here.
  • First date kiss.
  • Sheldon doesn't speak good Mandarin.
  • Sheldon doesn't speak good Mandarin.
  • I've heard far too much about Schrodinger's Cat.
  • Sheldon trying to find a spot in Penny's apartment.
  • Sheldon trying to speak Mandarin.
  • After Leonard kisses her.
  • Talking about dating Leonard.
  • Sheldon trying Penny's patience.
  • Penny and Sheldon in the hallway.
  • Sheldon learning Mandarin from Howard.
  • Sheldon giving Leonard dating advice?
  • Sheldon and Penny.
  • At the Caltech cafeteria.
  • Sheldon giving Penny dating advice.
  • Leonard asking Sheldon whether he should go on his date with Penny.
  • Sheldon giving Leonard dating advice?
  • Leonard asking Sheldon whether he should go on his date with Penny.
  • Sheldon doesn't speak good Mandarin.
  • Penny and Leonard on their date.

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