The Anxiety Optimization Season 8, Episode 13 -  Aired January 29, 2015

The Anxiety Optimization

When Sheldon struggles to achieve a breakthrough in the field of dark matter, he decides his work environment is too comfortable and sets out to create a state of productive anxiety.  Sheldon challenges his friends to irritate him and keep him on edge, but Sheldon is not the only one riled by his newfound thirst for discomfort. Meanwhile, the gang enjoy playing a new game that Howard invented, "Emily or Cinnamon?", which proves embarrassing for Raj.

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Guest Stars: Laura Spencer as Emily, Ed Lieberman as Man

Writers: Eric Kaplan (Story), Maria Ferrari (Story), Adam Faberman (Story), Jim Reynolds (Teleplay), Steve Holland (Teleplay), Tara Hernandez (Teleplay)

Director: Mark Cendrowski

Viewers: 17.25 million Households Rating: 10.5/17 Adults 18-49 Rating: 4.5/15

Available on iTunes

Episode Notes

  • The title references Sheldon's desire to increase his anxiety levels in order to improve his work.

> Soft Kitty

After Sheldon drives himself crazy by staying up for days on end, Leonard and Penny try to put him to bed. When Sheldon tells them they can't make him go to sleep, Leonard and Penny sing "Soft Kitty" to him, at which point he falls right asleep.

> Sheldon's Knock

Sheldon uses his knock once when he hears noises coming from Penny's apartment.

Episode Quotes

Howard: I invented a game. Want to play?
Leonard: Sure.
Howard: It's called Emily or Cinnamon. I give you actual quotes I've heard Raj say, and you guess if he was talking to his girlfriend or his dog.

Leonard: At least listen to it through headphones. I'm trying to sleep, good night.
Sheldon: Boy. Taylor was right. Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.

Amy: Look, your anxiety levels are right in the zone.
Sheldon: Really? Oh, that's fantastic. No wait, they're dropping. Why are they dropping?
Amy: Because you're happy they're elevated.
Sheldon: Oh, that is infuriating. Oh look, they're going back up again. Terrific. Oh no, they're going back down.

Penny: I love him, but if he's broken, let's not get a new one.

Penny: Shouldn't you be getting ready for work?
Sheldon: I'm not going. Would you like to know why?
Penny: You're sad about not getting any thing done last night, so you're gonna sit around and pout about it.
Sheldon: Boy, I'm not nearly as mysterious as I think I am.

News Stories

Title Date Posted
813 'The Anxiety Optimization' Ratings January 30, 2015

Last night's The Big Bang Theory dominated the ratings for its time period to finish as the night's most-watched and highest-rated show.  Full story

813 'The Anxiety Optimization' Pictures January 28, 2015

Photos from tomorrow's new episode of The Big Bang Theory, "The Anxiety Optimization", have been added to our gallery. In the episode, Sheldon worries that his comfortable lifestyle is holding him back from achieving scientific greatness, so he asks his friends to make him miserable and anxious in a bid to up his game. Meanwhile, Howard creates an embarassing game about Raj.  Full story

813 'The Anxiety Optimization' Press Release January 16, 2015

CBS has issued the press release for the next episode of The Big Bang Theory, "The Anxiety Optimization", which airs Thursday, January 29. Laura Spencer reprises her role as Emily, Raj's girlfriend.  Full story


Leonard and Penny are about to head out on a date as Sheldon plans an evening of science. Sheldon struggles to find a theory for dark matter that doesn't make protons decay. Hours later, as Leonard and Penny return from their date, Sheldon is still staring at a blank whiteboard. The next morning, Sheldon tells Leonard he's not going to work after staying up the entire night and getting nowhere with his work.

After Leonard goes to work, Sheldon decides to get some fresh air - in the hallway. Sheldon hears groaning from Penny's apartment and heads over to see what's wrong. Penny explains she's doing a tough exercise routine which she doesn't like, but does anyway as it makes her work harder. Sheldon realizes it's sometimes necessary to get out of ones comfort zone to improve ones work. Elsewhere, at the university cafeteria, Howard is telling Leonard and Raj about a new game he invented, "Emily or Cinnamon?". Howard gives Leonard a quote from Raj and he must guess whether Raj said it to his girlfriend, Emily, or his dog, Cinnamon. Raj claims to be fine with the game, unembarrassed that he has good relationships with his girlfriend and dog. Sheldon arrives at the cafeteria, having decided to come to work after all. Sheldon has decided to increase his stress and anxiety levels to further his work, so he asks his friends to irritate him and keep him on edge at all times.

At her lab, Amy is measuring Sheldon's stress levels. She manages to spike his stress levels by telling him he may never get a scientific breakthrough, but his happiness at his raised anxiety level sends them right back down again. Later, Raj arrives at Leonard's apartment to play a board game with him and Howard. Howard suggests they play  "Emily or Cinnamon?" instead. Sheldon arrives with the idea for the guys to disagree with everything he says in order to stress him out.

Penny and the girls are hanging out in her apartment, discussing the trip to Hawaii that Zangen rewards its best sales rep with. Sheldon turns up and wants to increase his anxiety levels by spending an evening listening to their ladies' talk. When Penny insists they talk about the same things the guys do, Sheldon wonders whether that means they talk about whether werewolves can swim. Amy and Bernadette disagree on whether their half-canine status means they would be able to swim or not.

Sheldon's anxiety workout starts to interfere with Leonard's life when he is woken up by Sheldon playing a cacophony of "scary" sounds which includes Darth Vader, the Joker's laugh and Godzilla's roar. Later, Sheldon joins Amy for date night in her apartment, but he refuses to pay attention to her and continues working on his research. Amy is concerned that he's not been eating or sleeping and is obsessed with monitoring his anxiety levels. Elsewhere, Leonard and Penny, Howard and Bernadette are having dinner and playing another game of "Emily or Cinnamon?". Raj is upset to find them playing the game again and tells them it would really hurt Emily's feelings if she found out about the game. When Leonard recounts how Sheldon drank his first RedBull and vomited in his car today, Bernadette wonders whether they should make Sheldon stop tensing himself out.

Back at Amy's, she insists Sheldon take off the smelly cap he's wearing to measure his anxiety levels. When Sheldon refuses to comply, he finds himself taking the bus home after Amy throws him out. On his way back, Sheldon hallucinates that he's talking to an armadillo Isaac Newton. When Sheldon arrives home, Leonard and Penny march him to bed, tricking him into believing the "President of Science" is in his bedroom. When Sheldon refuses to be tricked into sleep, the pair sing him Soft Kitty and he finally falls asleep.

The next day at the cafeteria, Sheldon is now back to normal and says he's making progress with his research even without being anxious. When Raj and Emily join the gang for lunch, she questions them about the game they have been playing. Emily says that she finds it sexy that Raj is sweet and sensitive, to both her and his dog. Although she may reconsider when she kisses him and find a dog hair in his mouth.