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The 10 Best Star Trek-Themed Episodes

Sitcoms featuring an ensemble cast and following several arcs have always held a special place in the entertainment industry, and generated a lot of buzz. Friends, for instance, is still quoted to this day, and its six main characters have always been the subject of funny memes.



The Big Bang Theory, created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady for CBS, is another great example: it spanned 12 seasons and was nominated 254 times, winning 79 awards in total.

The Big Bang Theory poster

The Big Bang Theory

Release Date
September 24, 2007

Seasons
12

The six main characters, with their various backgrounds and antics, certainly had a lot to do with the show’s popularity. There is Leonard (Johnny Galecki), a lactose-intolerant experimental physicist who shares an apartment in Pasadena with Sheldon (Jim Parsons), a gifted theoretical physicist with an eidetic memory and a painful number of lifestyle rules. Their next-door neighbor is Leonard’s love interest Penny (Kaley Cuoco), a sexy, street-smart actress/waitress with a penchant for booze.

The other members of their social circle are Howard (Simon Helberg), an aerospace engineer who lives with his overbearing mother and eventually marries Bernadette (Melissa Rauch), a petite but headstrong microbiologist; Rajesh (Kunal Nayyar), a sensitive Indian particle astrophysicist with selective mutism; and, starting the third season, Amy (Mayim Bialik), an uptight neurobiologist who gradually loosens up and becomes Sheldon’s girlfriend and Bernadette and Penny’s closest friend.

The group is not only brilliant at their respective disciplines, but they also share an obsession with comic books and video games, and, as such, are big fans of iconic franchises like Star Trek, DC Comics, Star Wars, and Marvel, resulting in cameos from Adam West, LeVar Burton, Mark Hamill, George Takei, Stan Lee, and many others.

Here are 10 memorable episodes that pay a loving tribute to Star Trek in their own geeky, endearing, and hilarious way.

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10 The Codpiece Topology — Season 2, Episode 2

The Big Bang Theory - The Codpiece Topology
CBS

In “The Codpiece Topology,” Sheldon is upset that Leonard is dating one of his archenemies at work. Meanwhile, the guys decide to attend a Renaissance Fair dressed in relevant attire, but Sheldon is in a grumpy mood and disapproves of all the historical anomalies he witnesses there in terms of food, costumes, and weaponry.

How the Episode Relates to Star Trek

To get Sheldon to return with them to the fair another day, Rajesh makes a suggestion he knows he can’t resist:

Rajesh: You can go dressed as a Star Trek science officer exploring a planet very similar to Earth in the 1500s.

Sheldon: You mean like Spock?

Rajesh: Sure.

Sheldon: Fascinating.

In the science-fiction franchise, space and temporal anomalies and time travel are a regular occurrence, as is the discovery of strange planets with various types of alien lifeforms. Sheldon has always admired Spock’s love for science and logic and is ever ready to adopt his persona, often using his iconic “Fascinating” catchphrase.

Sheldon: [Dressed up as Spock, scanning the fair using a tricorder] Captain, I’m getting an unusual reading.

Leonard: Yeah, that’s great. You guys want corn dogs?

Sheldon: That’s a temporal anomaly. Corn dogs didn’t come into existence until the first half of the 20th century.

9 The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary — Season 3, Episode 5

The Big Bang Theory - The Creepy Candy-Coating Corollary
CBS

“The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary” introduces the character of Bernadette, whom Penny sets up with Howard; unfortunately, the date doesn’t go as planned, and Penny and Leonard try to make up for the awkwardness. At the comic book store, Sheldon and Raj participate in a tournament of Mystic Warlords of Ka’a, a fictional trading-card game.

How the Episode Relates to Star Trek

At first, Sheldon is reluctant to play, until he finds out that Wil Wheaton, the actor best known for portraying the young Ensign Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG), has signed up and is a big fan of the game.

Related: The Mirror Universe in Star Trek Television, Explained

As a child, Sheldon idolized and identified with the character, but when he bravely took a 10-hour bus ride (he has always hated public transport) in 1995 to meet Wil at a convention, the latter didn’t even bother showing up, leaving Sheldon resentful for years.

TNG aired between 1987 and 1994, and the character of Wesley was disliked by most fans because he was “annoying and arrogant,” and “got to pilot the flagship of the Federation despite his limited experience, compared to the professionals he shared the bridge with,” per CBR.

Fueled by vengeance, Sheldon decides to beat Wil at the game and almost comes out victorious, but Wil tricks him and wins, thus cementing himself as Sheldon’s nemesis.

8 The Wheaton Recurrence — Season 3, Episode 19

The Big Bang Theory - The Wheaton Recurrence
CBS

“The Wheaton Recurrence” sees Leonard blurting “I love you” to Penny when they’re having intercourse and her panicking and reluctant to say it back, casting a shadow of doubt on their relationship. It also continues the Sheldon-Wil confrontation saga in yet another social event.

How the Episode Relates to Star Trek

“I’m the proud owner of wilwheatonstinks.com, .net and .org.” – Sheldon

Still reeling from the card tournament, Sheldon finds himself playing for a bowling team with Penny and the guys against Wil’s gang; his archenemy certainly doesn’t make things easy for him and even influences Penny’s decision about Leonard.

So determined is Sheldon to win that he even performs a Vulcan mind-meld with his bowling ball, prompting Wheaton to write on his website, “It’s very, very funny. Jim wasn’t sure how to do it, so I demonstrated on Simon, which I realized afterward was probably an invasion of Simon’s personal space — Hey, sometimes my inner geek gets a little excited.”

Sheldon: I SO loathe you!

Wil: That’s right, Sheldon. Embrace the dark side.

Sheldon: That’s not even from your franchise!

Now that is one smooth poke at the classic rivalry between Star Trek and Star Wars fans.

7 The Thespian Catalyst — Season 4, Episode 14

In “The Thespian Catalyst,” Sheldon is asked to give a lecture at the university, but his rigid and pompous ways proves unpopular among the students in attendance, prompting him to reluctantly enlist Penny and her acting skills in order to better get through to them.

How the Episode Relates to Star Trek

As a lifelong Trekkie and a child prodigy, Sheldon wrote a fan-fiction novella at the age of 10, which he adapted into a one-act play for his scene study with Penny. It’s titled, “Where No Sheldon Has Gone Before,” mirroring Captain Kirk’s iconic phrase in The Original Series. The whole premise centers on a misunderstood, brilliant boy from Texas who is transported into the 23d century, “where his genius is not only appreciated, but celebrated.”

Sheldon: Sheldon’s mother, played by you, argues with an emissary of the United Federation of Planets, Mr. Spock, the role I will bring to life. (…)

Penny: Okay, the whole point of this is to loosen you up a little, so I’m thinking you’ll play the role of your mother, and I will bring the life to Mr. Spock.

Sheldon: [Twitches] I’m sorry, YOU’ll be Spock?

Penny: [Imitating Spock’s raised eyebrow] It’s only logical.

6 The Russian Rocket Reaction — Season 5, Episode 5

Brent Spiner and Wil Wheaton, The Big Bang Theory
CBS

“The Russian Rocket Reaction” centers around Howard being selected by NASA to go on the International Space Station, much to Sheldon’s dismay and Bernadette’s concern. Another issue that upsets Sheldon is Wil inviting Raj, Leonard, and Howard to a private party but purposely excluding him.

How the Episode Relates to Star Trek

Naturally, Sheldon crashes the party when he finds out that the guest of honor is none other than Brent Spiner, one of the prolific actors who played several characters on Star Trek but is mostly beloved for the role of the endearing android, Data.

Wil then decides to broker peace with Sheldon by doing what he should have done back in 1995: give him a signed original Wesley Crusher action figure, thus erasing his name from his list of archenemies… Only to be replaced by Spiner after the latter opens up the figure’s packaging and destroys its value: a major faux-pax in geekdom.

Brent: I’m sorry, slim. I have some Mr. Data dolls in the truck of my car. Do you want me to sign one for you?

Sheldon: You already signed something, Brent Spiner… your name on my list. From this moment on, you are my mortal enemy!

Wil: Don’t worry; it doesn’t take up a whole lot of your time.

5 The Habitation Configuration — Season 6, Episode 7

The Big Bang Theory - The Habitation Configuration
CBS

In “The Habitation Configuration,” two couples are in serious trouble: Amy and Sheldon, and Bernadette and Howard. The former fight as they film a new episode of “Fun with Flags,” their YouTube show that teaches vexillology.

As for the latter, they are now married and must deal with the difficult task of moving out of Howie’s possessive and co-dependent mother’s house.

How the Episode Relates to Star Trek

In this particular chapter of “Fun with Flags,” Sheldon talks about the various flags used in the science-fiction franchise and brings in Wil (his new best friend) as a co-host. Amy is directing, but she keeps interrupting Wil and criticizing his performance, thus putting Sheldon in a conflicted position.

Wil: Problem, first-time director?

Sheldon: Oh, none that I could see. I saw a man who loved flags almost as much as I do. I got goosebumps.

Amy: He was overacting on purpose.

Sheldon: Really? He reminded me of a young William Shatner.

Shatner, who played Captain Kirk, was often signaled out by critics for overdramatizing his scenes, but his fans have always been amused by this tendency because it befitted the character’s brazen and passionate personality.

Since Sheldon is normally unable to read social cues, he first makes the mistake of siding with Wil instead of his girlfriend.

After realizing his faux-pas, he channels his inner Texan and heads to Wil’s house to defend Amy’s honor; Trekkies were quick to notice that the house number, 1701, was a nod to the starship U.S.S. Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) in TNG.

The episode ends with Sheldon bringing in LeVar Burton (TNG’s Geordi La Forge) to co-host “Fun with Flags” in exchange for a free meal, but Amy finds him even worse than Wil.

4 The Bat Jar Conjecture — Season 1, Episode 13

“The Bat Jar Conjecture” features Sara Gilbert as Leslie Winkle, Leonard’s occasional squeeze and Sheldon’s nemesis at work. There is a Physics Bowl tournament, and the gang, fed up with Sheldon’s antics and controlling ways, throw him out of their team and bring in Leslie instead, prompting him to form his own group of minions to compete against them.

How the Episode Relates to Star Trek

The plot begins with the guys sharing their excitement about the new Star Trek movie and discussing Spock’s unusual conception, since he’s half-Vulcan, half-human. Sheldon is reluctant to participate in the Physics Bowl at first, but Leonard convinces him by paraphrasing Spock’s famous dying words, “The needs of the many outweighs the needs of the few or the one.” To which Sheldon replies with the Vulcan salute, in full agreement.

After they throw him out of their team, he makes a new one and dresses the members up in red Trek shirts; naturally, only he is fit enough to don the captain’s traditional golden shirt. The final scene depicts Penny quizzing Leonard and Sheldon about pop culture, but not only do they give wrong answers, they also keep referencing Trek.

Penny: What actor holds the record for being named People’s magazine’s sexiest man alive?

Sheldon: William Shatner!

Leonard: I don’t think it’s Shatner.

Sheldon: Then it’s got to be Patrick Stewart!

3 The Spock Resonance — Season 9, Episode 7

The Big Bang Theory -The Spock Resonance
CBS/Warner Bros.

Following his breakup with Amy, Sheldon is hurt and confused; in a shocking confession, he reveals to Penny and Leonard that he was planning on proposing to her. All he needs now is an indirect push from an unexpected visitor to pop the question. Meanwhile, Howard is unable to come to terms with his mom’s passing, as Bernadette is trying to redecorate the family home.

How the Episode Relates to Star Trek

“The Spock Resonance” is a tribute to the iconic First Officer and explores the origin of Sheldon’s obsession with him. Thanks to his friendship with Wil, he is interviewed by Leonard Nimoy’s son Adam, for the documentary For the Love of Spock.

Adam: Nice to meet you.

Sheldon: Oh, it’s nice to meet YOU. I admire your father’s work very much. It’s not every day I get to meet someone whose life’s journey began in my hero’s scrotum.

Wil: [to Adam] I told you this guy is gold.

In his testimony, Sheldon declares that “the entire point of emulating Spock was to rise above human emotions.” But when Penny remarks that the character is also a compassionate half-human, Sheldon decides to apologize and propose to Amy.

“If she says yes, we can put his behind us and resume our relationship. And if she says no…. well then she can just ponfo mirann!” [Vulcan for “Go to hell”]

2 The Bakersfield Expedition — Season 6, Episode 13

Kunal Nayyar, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, & Simon Helberg on The Big Bang Theory
Warner Bros.

“The Bakersfield Expedition” is a hilarious exploration of geeks’ obsession with cosplay and conventions and how they’re often picked on by other people. The guys excitedly head to Bakersfield Comic-Con, while the ladies check out some comic books to see what the fuss is all about and find themselves unusually invested.

How the Episode Relates to Star Trek

The gang dress in TNG costumes: Howard is a Borg drone, Sheldon is Data (despite Spiner making his list of mortal enemies), Raj is the Klingon Lieutenant Worf, and Leonard is Captain Picard, complete with a balding head.

Related: How Young Sheldon Became a Sweeter, Better Show Than The Big Bang Theory

They hop in Leonard’s car “at warp speed” and make a stop at Vasquez Rocks, the filming location of several Star Trek episodes, to take some photos in full attire, phaser and all. Unfortunately, they take way too many poses, leaving the car unattended; it is stolen, along with their regular clothes, phones, and money.

Left stranded in the desert, they pretend they’re a landing party in hostile territory while painstakingly walking to the nearest diner, where the waitress and patrons make fun of them. When they finally return home, they overhear the girls arguing about comic book characters and get their phases ready in case they’ve been transported to an alternate universe.

“But set phasers to stun. If we vaporize Penny, I’ll never find a girlfriend that pretty again.” – Leonard

1 The Transporter Malfunction — Season 5, Episode 20

The Big Bang Theory - The Transporter Malfunction
CBS

Sheldon regularly hints to Penny that she is a freeloader because she never pays them back for takeout and always uses their Wi-Fi. Feeling remorseful, she cashes a residual check and buys him and Leonard precious collectible items from the comic book store.

How the Episode Relates to Star Trek

The items in question are two identical vintage 1975 Mego Star Trek Transporters, and the guys are elated that they’re in mint condition. Left alone, Sheldon decides to play with his Spock figure (whom he dreams about and imagines is talking to him) and selfishly opens Leonard’s box instead.

Unfortunately, he breaks his friend’s transporter and secretly switches the boxes. The voice of Spock then tries to appeal to Sheldon’s conscience, so he can do the right thing and confess his misdeed.

Mr. Spock: Well, I am unhappy.

Sheldon: I thought where you come from, they don’t have emotions.

Mr. Spock: I come from a factory in Taiwan.

What makes this episode so great is that the small Spock figure was voiced by Leonard Nimoy himself in a rare cameo, making it his last ever television credit (barring archival footage and audio in Discovery and Prodigy). With the respectable cameo and cute scene, this makes it the best Star Trek-themed episode in The Big Bang Theory.

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