The Big Bang Theory’s second season really hit its stride – but which of the episodes was the absolute best of the best?
By the time it reached its second season, The Big Bang Theory had already turned into a powerhouse comedy for CBS with Dr. Sheldon Cooper, Dr. Leonard Hofstadter, and Cheescake Factory waitress Penny (no last name) becoming household names.
The show immediately gained a cult-like fan-base despite not achieving an IMDb rating higher than 8.6 in its first season. The Chuck Lorre product then took everybody by surprise by improving upon its freshman year with five of its season 2 episodes reaching the 8.6 mark.
10 The Cooper Nowitzki Theorem, Episode 6 (8.3)
Sheldon went the entire first season without any possibilities of gaining a partner (except for the brief stint where he accidentally stole Raj’s date away from him). In this episode, the writers finally introduced a character in the form of a young grad student who could not only be a good match for Sheldon but was actually attracted to him as well. The student makes sure Sheldon stays on schedule with rigorous vigor which helps Sheldon achieve a scientific breakthrough. The girl then asks if her name can be on the paper and Sheldon kicks her out. Sheldon clearly has no time for theorem-diggers.
9 The Dead Hooker Juxtaposition, Episode 19 (8.3)
Pilot 2.0. In this episode, Penny reveals to Sheldon and Leonard that their upstairs neighbors are moving out and Sheldon freaks out about the possibility of new noisy neighbors. When the new neighbor arrives, it turns out to be a gorgeous single woman who also happens to be an actress just like Penny. The woman quickly starts to take advantage of Leonard, Howard, and Raj by making them move her furniture and do her chores/errands and Penny finally asks her to stop. When the girl accuses Penny of doing the same thing, they get into a fist-fight.
8 The Classified Materials Turbulence, Episode 22 (8.3)
Talk about hilarious mixed with emotional. Fans had been hoping since the pilot that Leonard and Penny might get together and they were disheartened during this season 2 episode when Penny went on a second date with Leonard’s friend Stuart. Leonard tries to sabotage the date, but ends up not needing to as Penny accidentally says “Leonard” when she kisses Stuart later on. While all of this happens, Howard, Raj, and Sheldon try to fix a space toilet that Howard made a miscalculation on when building, using meatloaf for test material. Few shows could pull off space-poop humor – but TBBT manages it.
7 The Euclid Alternative, Episode 5 (8.4)
Despite being among the smartest men on the planet, one of Sheldon’s most annoying traits was that he refused to learn how to drive and it drove his friends insane escorting him everywhere.
It finally reached a breaking point in this episode where the group holds an intervention and forces Sheldon to get an appointment at the DMV (with a guest appearance from Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer) to obtain a learner’s permit. He gets his permit and gives it his best attempt, but Sheldon eventually decides that he’s “too evolved” to drive.
6 The Monopolar Expedition, Episode 23 (8.4)
In the season 2 finale, Sheldon reveals to the group that he has been chosen to go on a 3-month-long scientific expedition to the North Pole with a research team. He then throws everyone for a loop when he tells the gang that he has chosen all of them to be his research team and that they’re invited to come along. They all eventually agree and prep for their trip, only for Penny to make subtle hints that she doesn’t want Leonard to go. Leonard confronts her about it and she tells him it was nothing, but she then reveals to the audience that she truly does have feelings for Leonard and she’s sad that he’s leaving. This was quite a cliffhanger for Penny-Leonard shippers.
5 The Vegas Renormalization, Episode 21 (8.6)
Everybody needs friends that will hire them a prostitute when they go through a break-up. In this episode, Leonard and Raj decide to take Howard to Vegas to get over his break-up with Leslie Winkle (at Sheldon’s suggestion) and they end up getting him a hooker in order to cheer him up. They take the situation a step further and ask the woman for the “jewish girlfriend experience” which unfortunately causes Howard to catch on and realize that she’s being paid to spend time with him – but he doesn’t care.
4 The Panty Pinata Polarization, Episode 7 (8.7)
This was the showoff of the century – city smarts vs. country-muscle. After a series of poor decisions on Penny’s part (including touching Sheldon’s food) she gets herself banished from the guys’ apartment.
Furious about the fact that nobody else will stand up to Sheldon’s outlandish rules/demands, Penny launches an all out war against her neighbor that ultimately ends with her having to call Sheldon’s mom and tell on him in order to stop the violence.
3 The Barbarian Sublimation, Episode 3 (8.8)
Where do people go when their real-world lives aren’t going so well? The internet! Penny followed suit during this episode when she admitted to Sheldon (while being a blubbering mess) that her life was seemingly falling apart. Sheldon then introduces her to online gaming and Penny immediately gets a false sense of accomplishment within the virtual-reality, causing her to completely ignore actual reality. The guys spend the episode trying to get her out of her trance, but to no avail. It finally takes Howard hitting on her (and her accepting his advances) to break her out of the online spell.
2 The Maternal Capacitance, Episode 15 (8.9)
Enter Beverly Hofstadter. The first appearance of one of The Big Bang Theory’s most common recurring characters introduced the world to Leonard’s mother, Beverly, a brilliant scientist in her own right who seemingly had Leonard and her other children for the sole purpose of researching them and using them for tests. Due to this, she and Leonard have a strained relationship and it certainly shows during this episode when she comes to Pasadena to visit him. The strain she causes helps Leonard and Penny get closer to dating, but Leonard makes a crucial mistake and ends up blowing his chance.
1 The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis, Episode 11 (9.2)
The first Big Bang Theory episode to achieve a rating higher than 9 on IMDb also happened to be the season 2 Christmas special. This holiday episode found Leonard as miserable as Scrooge due to Penny dating David, a handsome physicist working at the university, while Sheldon drove Howard and Raj crazy from trying to find the perfect Christmas gift for Penny. Leonard confronts Penny at the end of the episode about his feelings and the two reconcile (mostly because David turned out to be married). Not only that, but Penny ends up getting Sheldon the greatest Christmas gift he had ever gotten in the form of Leonard Nimoy’s autograph. It was a Saturnalia miracle.
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