The 2003 Approximation Season 9, Episode 4 -  Aired October 12, 2015

The 2003 Approximation

When Sheldon learns that Leonard has moved out and is now living with Penny, he reverts to 2003 - a simpler time before he met Leonard and Penny. Howard and Raj form a folk sci-fi band to play live music at Stuart's Comic Book Store.

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Guest Stars: Kevin Sussman as Stuart, Laura Spencer as Emily, Craig Welzbacher as Candidate #1, Kurt Koehler as Candidate #2, Arshad Aslam as Candidate #3

Writers: Chuck Lorre (Story), Steve Holland (Story), Eric Kaplan (Story), Steven Molaro (Teleplay), Maria Ferrari (Teleplay), Tara Hernandez (Teleplay)

Director: Mark Cendrowski

Viewers: 14.96 million Households Rating: 9.7/15 Adults 18-49 Rating: 3.9/13

Available on iTunes

Episode Lists

  • Leonard & Penny: Key Episodes Leonard & Penny: Key Episodes

    The key moments in Leonard and Penny's relationship including the first time they saw each other across the hall, their first kiss, their first date, breaking up and getting back together, the first time Penny says "I love you", a couple of proposals, their engagement, two wedding ceremonies, and finally Penny getting pregnant.

Episode Notes

  • The title refers to Sheldon's attempt to revert to 2003, a time before he met Leonard and Penny when he was still disengaged from his feelings.

> Roommate Agreement

After Leonard and Penny decided to live together full time, Sheldon made Leonard sign a document which brought to an end their Roommate Agreement. As part of the contractual split, Sheldon took Leonard's key to the apartment back, only to return it to him as he wanted his future neighbor to have a key.

Later, when Leonard and Penny decided it would be better for Leonard to continue splitting his time between both apartments, Sheldon went to get started on a new Roommate Agreement, after first checking his phone to make sure that Chris Pratt hadn't expressed an interest in being his new roommate.

> Footprints on the Moon

Raj and Howard formed Footprints on the Moon after Stuart asked them if they knew any musicians who might like to perform at the comic book store, ideally for free. Raj and Howard wrote a song, "Hammer and Whip: The Untold Story of Thor vs. Indiana Jones", and performed it at the store.

Episode Quotes

Howard: You know what's really happening here? Your girlfriend is breaking up our band.
Raj: She has nothing to do with this. I am my own man.
Howard: Oh, please. Your brain belongs to whoever's willing to sleep with you.
Raj: That is so not true.
Howard: Really? Remember when you were gonna get circumcised for Rachel Bernstein?
Raj: That had nothing to do with Rachel. It was an overreaction to a bad zipper injury.

Howard: What kind of music are you thinking of?
Stuart: I like all kinds of music, but my favorite genre is free.

Howard: I don't need this. I'm quitting the band!
Raj: Fine, I quit, too!
Howard: Then get out of my house!
Raj: With pleasure!
*door slams*
*Howard sighs*
Howard: Raj, wait!
Raj: What took you so long?

Raj: Okay, and here's the hook. "Thor and Dr. Jones. Thor and Dr. Jones. One plays with lightning. The other plays with bones."

Raj: Hey, we've always talked about playing together.
Howard: Well, it could be fun to try a little acoustic thing.
Raj: Oh, we could play "filk" music.
Stuart: What's that?
Raj: It's been around for years. It's like folk music, but with a sci-fi/fantasy theme.
Stuart: I like it. It sounds exactly like something I shouldn't be expected to pay for.

News Stories

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904 'The 2003 Approximation' Ratings October 13, 2015

The Big Bang Theory was the most-watched and highest-rated show on Monday night with its rating steady from the week before.  Full story

904 'The 2003 Approximation' Pictures October 7, 2015

We have added pictures from next week's episode of The Big Bang Theory, "The 2003 Approximation", to our gallery.  Full story

904 'The 2003 Approximation' Press Release October 1, 2015

CBS has issued the press release for the October 12 episode of The Big Bang Theory, "The 2003 Approximation".  Full story


As they return to the apartment, Sheldon thanks Leonard and Penny for a wonderful day out at the container store. When Leonard and Penny take their newly bought stationery to her apartment, Sheldon wonders why Leonard wouldn't keep his boxes in their apartment. Penny admits that she and Leonard are now living together, causing Sheldon to accuse them of trying to butter him up with a nice day out before delivering their bad news. A hurt Sheldon storms off into his apartment.

At Howard and Bernadette's house, Sheldon talks to Bernadette, who was his seventh choice for a woman to talk to, about his living situation. Bernadette suggests that Sheldon view this as an opportunity to find a new roommate. Sheldon realizes he could find somebody better than Leonard, maybe even Chris Pratt. When Stuart comes down, Bernadette pitches Stuart as a new roommate to Sheldon, but Stuart is not receptive to the idea of living with Sheldon.

At the comic book store, Stuart asks Raj and Howard if they know any musicians who would be willing to perform at the store. Stuart hopes live music will give the place more of a "staying in business" vibe. As Howard and Raj have always talked about playing together, Raj mentions they could play "filk" music, which is folk music with a sci-fi/fantasy theme. Stuart is onboard with their idea since it sounds like the sort of thing he shouldn't be expected to pay for.

Back at the apartment, Sheldon gets Leonard to sign a new document bringing their Roommate Agreement to an end. Penny is proud of Sheldon for handling the change so well. When Leonard struggles to sign the document and end their time living together, a timely dose of condescension from Sheldon is enough to motivate Leonard to add his signature. Meanwhile, Raj and Howard work on their "filk" song in Raj's apartment. Raj has an idea for a song called "Hammer & Whip: The Untold Story of Thor vs. Indiana Jones". Raj plays guitar while Howard plays the keyboards for the song, the hook of which is "Thor and Dr. Jones".

As Sheldon interviews potential roommates, he struggles to find a tolerable candidate among a humorless chemist, a guy with a body odor problem, and a man who has band-aid on his arm. When Sheldon does settle on the perfect candidate, Amy, she tells him via video chat that she has no interest in being his roommate. Sheldon asks Amy what happened to him. He used to be completely disengaged from his feelings, but then Leonard, Penny and Amy poisoned him with emotions. Over in Penny's apartment, she and Leonard debate where to go to dinner. Their options are wide open now Leonard is no longer bound by Sheldon's schedule, but in the end they end up choosing Thai food just like Sheldon proscribes on Mondays.

In the apartment building lobby, Leonard and Penny ask Sheldon if he would like to join them for dinner. Sheldon explains that as he has become too emotionally vulnerable, he is reverting to his last stable version, which was the day before he met Leonard back in 2003. Later, at the Thai restaurant, Penny wonders if Leonard is doing okay since he looks down. Leonard admits he is worrying about Sheldon. Penny thinks they're doing the right thing by moving Leonard out and she is condifent Sheldon will be fine. Meanwhile, Amy and Bernadette have drinks at a bar. Bernadette can't believe that Sheldon asked Amy to be his roommate. Bernadette tries to pawn Stuart off on Amy, suggesting she might have a "pasty weirdo-shaped hole" in her life, leading Amy to defend Sheldon against the accusation he's a weirdo.

When Leonard and Penny arrive back at Sheldon's apartment, they find Sheldon sitting on a garden chair in a living room now devoid of much of its furniture. Sheldon has emptied the room to make it like it was back in 2003, before Leonard moved in. Leonard accuses Sheldon of doing this to get their attention and sympathy, but Sheldon says he's only trying to figure out how to live now that everybody is abandoning him. Meanwhile, Raj plays his and Howard's song for Emily, who is not impressed. Later, at Howard's house, Raj isn't so keen on the song any more, saying it has no groove. When Howard realizes that Raj played the song for Emily, he thinks she's breaking up the band. As Howard and Raj argue about the music, they both decide to quit. After storming out of the house, Raj quickly runs back to make things up with Howard.

Back in the apartment, Leonard tells Sheldon that him moving in with Penny isn't such a big change. Sheldon doesn't agree and is worried that it's just the first step in them no longer being friends. Seeing how much this is hurting Sheldon, Penny tells him they don't need to rush and can keep things just the way they are, for now. Hearing that Leonard will now be sticking around, Sheldon goes to write up a new version of the Roommate Agreement.

At the comic book store, Raj and Howard perform their song for the gang and a group of customers. The gang do not seem too impressed by their friends' song. Once Howard and Raj's performance is over, Stuart calls for them to play a song people can dance to.