The Staircase Implementation Season 3, Episode 22 -  Aired May 17, 2010

The Staircase Implementation

After a disagreement with Sheldon, Leonard tells Penny the story of how he moved into the apartment building, became friends with Sheldon, and how the elevator was broken.

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Guest Stars: Carol Ann Susi as Mrs. Wolowitz, Ally Maki as Joyce Kim, Steven Yeun as Sebastian, Ajgie Kirkland as Louie, Ed Lieberman as Announcer (v.o)

Writers: Lee Aronsohn (Story), Steven Molaro (Story), Steve Holland (Story), Chuck Lorre (Teleplay), Dave Goetsch (Teleplay), Maria Ferrari (Teleplay)

Director: Mark Cendrowski

Viewers: 15.02 million Households Rating: 8.9/14 Adults 18-49 Rating: 5.5/14

Available on iTunes

Episode Notes

  • The title refers to the need to use the staircase after the incident which broke the elevator.

> Sheldon's Spot

When past Sheldon and Leonard sit down to iron out the Roommate Agreement, Sheldon explains why he placed one of the lawn chairs in the living room in a state of "eternal dibs". The reasons are similar to those he would later state for his spot on the couch, although a key difference is that past Sheldon wanted a seat facing the television at an angle that discouraged conversation.

Later in the episode, Leonard buys a couch for the apartment. Sheldon is initially upset at the purchase but he still sits on the couch and proclaims "this is definitely going to be my spot". Though, as Penny pointed out, there was no way for Leonard to know Sheldon said that as he had left the room.

> Roommate Agreement

In Leonard's story of how Sheldon saved him from spilling national secrets to Joyce Kim, Sheldon states that "Section 8, Visitors; Subsection C, Females; Paragraph 4, Coitus:" states that roommates shall give each other twelve hours' notice of impeding coitus.

The flashback to Sheldon and Leonard first signing the roommate agreement reveals that Sheldon included a clause specifically dedicated to Joss Whedon's Firefly. Also covered is the stipulated temperature of the thermostat (71 degrees), the apartment's flag, and that Leonard is allowed to allocate 50% of the common areas provided he notifies Sheldon in advance. 

> The Flag of Apartment 4A

In a flashback to Sheldon interviewing Leonard to be his next roommate, he introduces Leonard to the official flag of the apartment: a gold lion rampant on a field of azure. Sheldon says the flag only flies upside down when the apartment is in distress.

In another flashback to Leonard experimenting with rocket fuel in the apartment, Sheldon turns the flag upside down when Howard's rocket fuel is about to explode.

> Sheldon's Knock

Sheldon knocks on Leonard's bedroom door when he interrupts Leonard with Joyce Kim. Historically speaking, this is the first time Sheldon performed his ritualistic knock.

Episode Quotes

Sheldon: This is the temperature you agreed to in the roommate agreement.
Leonard: Aw, screw the roommate agreement!
Sheldon: No, you don't screw the roommate agreement. The roommate agreement screws you.

Mrs. Wolowitz Howard, are you having a playdate?
Howard: I don't have playdates. I have colleagues.
Mrs. Wolowitz Do their parents know they're here?
Howard: No, but if you keep screaming, maybe they'll hear you.

Leonard: You know what, go to Hell and set their thermostat.
Sheldon: I don't have to go to Hell. At 73 degrees, I'm there already!

Sheldon: I assure you, you'll be sorry that you wasted your money on an iPod when Microsoft comes out with theirs.
Rajesh: Do you have an opinion about everything?
Sheldon: Yes.
Howard: And you just assume you're right?
Sheldon: It's not an assumption.

Sheldon: When do you evacuate your bowels?
Leonard: When I have to.
Sheldon: When you have to? I'm sorry I don't rent to hippies.

News Stories

Title Date Posted
Episode 3.22 Ratings May 18, 2010

The Big Bang Theory came first in key demographics last night and built on the audience of Two and a Half Men.  Full story

CBS Announces Episode 3.22 April 13, 2010

CBS has announced the details of the penultimate episode of Season 3. Airs May 17.  Full story


When Leonard and Sheldon have an argument over the thermostat setting, Leonard seeks refuge from his irritating roommate in Penny's apartment. After Penny remarks that Leonard is nuts for living with Sheldon, he tells her the story of how he came to be Sheldon's roommate.

Leonard had just started working at Caltech and needed a room for rent. He arrived at the apartment building - the elevator of which was still working - and was told by Sheldon's former roommate, Sebastian, to run away. After wrongly knocking on Louie/Louise's door, Leonard goes to the right apartment and meets Sheldon. Sheldon quizzes him about science and science fiction. Leonard passes the first barrier and is allowed to enter the apartment. Leonard walks in to a spartan room that has only two lawn chairs, a television and a few whiteboards. Sheldon asks Leonard some more questions, explains his reasoning behind his chosen lawn chair (mirroring his present-day spot), and finally gives Leonard a tour of the apartment. When Leonard is shown to his room, the previous resident had painted DIE SHELDON DIE on the wall. After negotiating the roommate agreement, Leonard moves in.

Penny wonders why Leonard would choose to move in and live with somebody as unbearable as Sheldon. Leonard tells her the story of how Sheldon kicked Joyce Kim out of the apartment mid-coitus. Penny sees this as yet another reason Leonard should not have stayed with Sheldon, but Leonard explains that Joyce Kim was actually a North Korean spy and Sheldon did him a favor. Having saved Leonard from charges of treason, Penny begins to see why Leonard stuck around. Leonard then tells her the story of the elevator's destruction: Sheldon arrives home to find Leonard, Howard and Raj sitting on a new sofa. Sheldon is not happy with the new furniture, but finds out Leonard did indeed follow the correct protocol laid out in the roommate agreement. After Sheldon sits on the couch, he declares his "spot".

When Leonard discovers Howard has a rocket that could break the sound barrier, Leonard suggests they use the rocket fuel he was working on. Leonard, Howard and Raj go to the apartment to use the fuel in the rocket. As Leonard prepares the fuel, Sheldon points out that it won't work. Leonard, who is working in the field, believes it will and carries on. When the formula starts smoking, a panicked Leonard tries to get it out of the apartment. Leonard rushes outside and stands in front of the elevator. When Howard points out it's crazy waiting for the elevator, Leonard changes his mind and starts to go down the stairs. The elevator arrives and Leonard dithers again, so Sheldon takes the fuel off him, puts it in the elevator and sends it away.

Present-day Leonard explains to Penny that not only did Sheldon safe his live, he also didn't rat him out to the landlord, the police or Homeland Security. With a greater appreciation for what Sheldon's done for him, Leonard returns to the apartment and apologizes to Sheldon. However, when Leonard puts Babylon 5 on the TV, the pair start arguing again.