Pilot (The Big Bang Theory)

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The Big Bang Theory episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 1
Directed by James Burrows
Written by Chuck Lorre
Bill Prady
Production code 276023
Original air date September 24, 2007
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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The Big Bang Theory (season 1)
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The first episode of The Big Bang Theory originally aired on September 24, 2007. It was written by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, and directed by James Burrows. It marks the first appearance of all five main characters in the series, and also guest stars Vernee Watson-Johnson as Althea and Brian Patrick Wade as Kurt.

This is the only episode whose title is not written in the style of a scientific theory or phenomenon.

Plot summary[edit]

Two brilliant young physicists, Leonard Hofstadter and Sheldon Cooper, are the kind of "beautiful minds" that understand how the universe works (this episode reveals that Sheldon and Leonard have a combined IQ of 360 with Leonard having 173 and Sheldon having 187). But their Ph.Ds do not help them interact with people, especially women. All of this is about to change when a free-spirited newly single beauty named Penny moves in next door. When Leonard and Sheldon meet Penny, Leonard is immediately interested in her, hoping to date her, but Sheldon believes his deluded roommate is chasing a dream he will never catch.

Sheldon is quite content spending his nights playing Klingon Boggle with their socially dysfunctional friends, fellow geeks Howard Wolowitz, a wannabe ladies man, and Rajesh Koothrappali, who suffers from selective mutism, in particular when Penny is around. However, Leonard sees in Penny a whole new universe of possibilities. He is so infatuated with her that after letting her use their shower on account of hers being broken, he agrees to try and retrieve her TV from her ex-boyfriend, a tall, muscular man named Kurt. However, Kurt depantses Leonard and Sheldon, and they are unable to retrieve the TV. Feeling bad, Penny offers to buy them and their friends dinner. Sheldon realizes Leonard will continue pursuing Penny, acknowledged when Leonard says, "Our babies will be smart and beautiful," to which Sheldon adds, "Not to mention imaginary."

Unaired pilot[edit]

An earlier pilot was produced. CBS passed on the first pilot but liked the show enough to ask Lorre and Prady to produce a second pilot.[1] However, instead of the character of Penny, the original pilot featured Katie (Amanda Walsh).[1] Katie, like Penny, was a street-smart foil to book-smart Leonard and Sheldon; however, she was characterised as not as nice and sweet as Penny.[1][2] She claimed to have slept with her stepfather before her mother married him.[3] Moreover, the original character of Sheldon was to be more sexual and libidinous.[1][4] In fact, Sheldon is explicitly stated to have had sex, with his and Leonard's friend, Gilda (Iris Bahr), at a Star Trek convention.[5] The original pilot was darker in tone.[1]


Jim Chamberlin of IGN praised the episode, calling it "a great start for the series", and stating that the writing was "some of the best we've seen in a standard sitcom in some time".[6] Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe, however, gave a negative review, saying that the show is "one of those laugh-track sitcoms that has exactly one comedy routine and just keeps hammering it home".[7]