211 - The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis
Aired December 15, 2008

The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis

Leonard starts working with a cool, handsome colleague at work, but things go awry when the colleague starts dating Penny. Meanwhile, Sheldon's obsessive gift-giving etiquette irritates the whole gang, while Penny's Christmas gift for Sheldon leads to a memorable moment.

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Guest Stars: Michael Trucco as David, Michael Hyatt as Charlotte

Writers: Bill Prady (Story), Richard Rosenstock (Story), Stephen Engel (Teleplay), Eric Kaplan (Teleplay)

Director: Mark Cendrowski

Viewers: 11.2 million Households Rating: 6.7/10 Adults 18-49 Rating: 4.1/11

WinnerThis episode won our Seasons 1-3 episode tournament in Summer 2010.
This episode won our Season 2 episode tournament in Fall 2009.
This episode won our Seasons 1-2 episode tournament in Summer 2009.
This episode won our Seasons 1-4 episode tournament in August 2011.
This episode won our Seasons 1-6 episode tournament in Summer 2013.
This episode won our Seasons 1-7 episode tournament in September 2014.
This episode won our Seasons 1-8 episode tournament in August 2015.

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Episode Notes

  • The title refers to Sheldon's plan to match the value of the bath item gift basket he gives to Penny with the value of the gift she gives him.

Quotes (25)

Sheldon: All I need is a healthy ovum and I can grow my own Leonard Nimoy.
Penny: Okay, all I'm giving you is the napkin, Sheldon.

Sheldon: You bought me a present? Why would you do such a thing? I know you think you're being generous, but the foundation of gift giving is reciprocity. You haven't given me a gift, you've given me an obligation. The essence of the custom is that I now have to go out and purchase for you a gift of commensurate value and representing the same perceived level of friendship as that represented by the gift you've given me. Ah, it's no wonder suicide rates skyrocket this time of year. Oh, I brought this on myself by being such an endearing and important part of your life...

Sheldon: If I would give you this gift basket, based on that action alone and no other data, infer and describe the hypothetical relationship that exist between us.
Store clerk: Excuse me?
Sheldon: Here. Now, are we friends? Colleagues? Lovers? Are you my grandmother?
Store clerk: I don't understand what you're talking about and you're making me a little uncomfortable.
Howard: See? Sounds just like you and Penny. We'll take it.

Howard:Hey, isn't that the guy who won the MacArthur genius grant last year? (everyone looks) No, not all at once.
Raj: Then how?
Howard: Leonard. Now Raj. Now Sheldon.
Raj: I didn't get a good look. Can I go again?
Howard: No.

Penny: Leonard, look. Sheldon's hugging me!
Leonard: It's a Saturnalia miracle.

News Stories

Title Date Posted
The Big Bang Theory Episode Tournament: Result August 14, 2015

The final round of our The Big Bang Theory Episode Tournament has now closed and the results have been counted. We can now declare the winner was "The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis" with 60.04% of the vote in the final round.  Full story

The Big Bang Theory Episode Tournament: Result September 3, 2014

Our The Big Bang Theory Episode Tournament has now closed and a winner has been declared. The voting was extremely close with just one vote deciding the result. The second season Christmas episode, "The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis", won the tournament. Thank you to everybody who voted.  Full story

Big Bang Theory Episode Tournament: Result September 10, 2013

Our Big Bang Theory Episode Tournament has now closed and a winner has been declared. The second season Christmas episode, "The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis", won the tournament. Thank you to everybody who voted in the tournament.  Full story


The guys spot David Underhill, the university's cool and hunky star physicist, in the cafeteria and are surprised when he wants to work with Leonard. Returning from work, Leonard is enthused about working with the good looking physicist. Penny drops by to talk about Christmas presents, inviting an earful from Sheldon who does not appreciate the obligation put upon him by reciprocal gift-giving.

After Leonard is injured by Dave's stationary motorcycle, Dave helps him up the stairs to his apartment where he meets Penny. Penny is instantly charmed by Dave and agrees to go see his lab. Elsewhere, Sheldon is searching for a gift for Penny with Raj and Howard's help.

At the university cafeteria, Leonard is surprised to find Penny there taking up Dave's offer of a guided tour. Back at the apartment, Howard and Raj do the bulk of the lifting when Sheldon decides to buy an array of gift baskets of varying size as a fool-proof way to ensure he gives Penny a gift of commensurate value. Worked up that Penny has decided to date a genius - just not him, Leonard goes to Penny's apartment. After he angrily questions her, Penny breaks down sobbing because Dave turned out to be married. They drown their sorrows in eggnog which is now mostly rum.

Later, Penny brings over her Christmas presents and gives Sheldon a napkin signed by Leonard Nimoy. Sheldon, overwhelmed by this gift, runs back to his room to get Penny's present. Unsure how he can reciprocate Penny's huge gift, he brings her all the gift baskets he bought. Worried that the gift baskets still aren't enough, Sheldon gives Penny a hug in what Leonard describes as a Saturnalia miracle.

Comments (50)

Helene United States, 14:25 Aug 6 2016.
Ah Sheldon!!! This episode makes me cry every time
Marie  United States, 19:07 Aug 13 2015.
loved this show...this episode was the greatest never seen Sheldon really enjoy getting a gift but he did in this episode.made me see him as a real human with emotions
gem United States, 11:57 Jul 20 2015.
The best of the best.
Mark Trimnell United Kingdom, 10:18 Aug 6 2014.
I love this series, and this particular episode is a strong one. However, something about it has never made any sense to me(!?) - Penny's gift for Howard, mentioned near the top of the show, is for motorcycle lessons because of his accident with the bike. However, at the top of the episode, that particular accident had not yet taken place. So how does this work?
Sujan Nepal, 04:02 Apr 8 2014.
The ending was great. Especially the hug between Sheldon and Penny was sweet.
victor m United States, 00:45 Apr 25 2013.
The best moment for me is when Sheldon brings out all the Gifts and then says I know its not enough.. hilarious
J.P. United States, 20:55 Mar 6 2013.
This episode in my opinion was the best. Sheldon was great.
Krissy United States, 11:32 Dec 1 2012.
I agree with previous comments, this is the best episode! I love Sheldon's rare show of emotions and the hug was so adorable:-)
Glenn Canada, 18:05 Sep 1 2012.
The ending was awesome. I actually met Leonard Nimoy once. He directed a movie in Toronto. One thing that I could identify with Sheldon is when he goes shopping. Everyone keeps trying to rush him, like when he went shopping with Penny for Leonard's party. If that was me, I'd go nuts. Except for a few people, I like to go shopping generally by myself. I like to take my time and look around different stores, especially at Christmastime. It's fun to look around and discover something.
Isabell <3 Germany, 13:58 May 12 2012.
One of the best episodes =) I love the moment, when Sheldon gives Penny a huge :) Great fun !

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