The Helium Insufficiency Season 9, Episode 6 -  Aired October 26, 2015

The Helium Insufficiency

In the midst of a nation-wide helium shortage, Sheldon and Leonard take desperate measures to get the supplies they need. Also, Penny and Bernadette download a dating app on Amy's phone to try and find her a new man.

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Guest Stars: Kevin Sussman as Stuart, John Ross Bowie as Barry Kripke, Michael Rapaport as Kenny, Elena Campbell-Martinez as Maria

Writers: Steve Holland (Story), Maria Ferrari (Story), Anthony Del Broccolo (Story), Steven Molaro (Teleplay), Eric Kaplan (Teleplay), Jim Reynolds (Teleplay)

Director: Mark Cendrowski

Viewers: 16.32 million Households Rating: 9.7/16 Adults 18-49 Rating: 4.4/14

Available on iTunes

Episode Notes

  • The title refers to the shortage of helium which leads Leonard and Sheldon to turn to a black market dealer.

Episode Quotes

Leonard: What are we going to do?
Sheldon: Perform the experiment immediately.
Leonard: I'd love to, but we need liquid helium and our shipment's on back order for a month.
Sheldon: A month? What? Are you kidding me? That would have been a good time for you to soften the blow.
Leonard: That shirt brings out the blue in your eyes.
Sheldon: Thank you. Aren't you sweet?

Sheldon: He has glasses and I'm a know-it-all. We are not built for prison.

Sheldon: Uh, but this is violating university code.
Leonard: A little, but if I may quote Einstein, "The pursuit of science calls us to ignore the rules set by man"
Sheldon: Huh. All right, do it. Tell him we're in.
Leonard: Done.
Sheldon: I can't find that quote on the Internet. Did you make that up?
Leonard: Before I answer, may I just say your skin has never looked better.
Sheldon: Aren't you just made of sugar.

Leonard: It says right here on Wikipedia, "A Mexican standoff is a confrontation between at least three parties."
Sheldon: How can you trust Wikipedia if they use "between" to refer to three parties?
Dealer: They should've used "among," right?
Sheldon: Or "amongst," if they were feeling whimsically archaic.
Dealer: All right, enough with the chitchat. Are we gonna watch Ernest Goes to Jail or not?
Sheldon: Absolutely. But don't be surprised if this movie sets you on the straight and narrow.
Dealer: I am open to change.

Sheldon: And I'm sorry I lied about being a wedding planner who can't find love. Although I am currently single, if you know anybody.

News Stories

Title Date Posted
906 'The Helium Insufficiency' Pictures October 21, 2015

We have added pictures from next week's episode of The Big Bang Theory, "The Helium Insufficiency", to our gallery. Michael Rapaport (Prison Break, Friends) guest stars in the episode.  Full story

906 'The Helium Insufficiency' Press Release October 19, 2015

CBS has issued the press release for next week's episode of The Big Bang Theory, "The Helium Insufficiency". Michael Rapaport (Friends, Prison Break) will guest star as Kenny, a chemical dealer on the black market, in the episode.  Full story


Sheldon goes to Leonard’s lab with terrible news. A Swedish team of physicists is trying to scoop their super-fluid vortex experiment. Sheldon thinks they need to perform the experiment immediately, but Leonard reminds him they need helium and it’s on backorder for a month. When go to Kripke to see if the department has any helium in reserve, he says there’s a shortage and he needs it for his experiment.

When all the guys return to Leonard’s lab, Raj wonders why they need to rely on Kripke for helium and can’t just get it from party stores. After Sheldon admits he’s worried that the Swedish team will beat them, Howard says he knows a guy who can get them liquid helium if they don’t ask too many questions. Elsewhere, Penny sits down for coffee with Bernadette in her living room. Bernadette mentions that Stuart went on a date the other evening after using a dating app on his phone. After Penny wonders whether they could get Amy on it, Stuart comes to show them the dating app.

In the apartment, Leonard tells Sheldon he just heard back from the liquid helium guy. He has what they need and can meet them tonight. After Sheldon reminds Leonard he doesn’t like buying things at night, Leonard asks if he wants the helium or not. Sheldon does want the helium so they can stop the Swedes scooping them, but he worries this is highly unethical behavior. Leonard argues they’re only bending the rules a little as they have grant money to do the experiment and they can just spend it on the helium. Sheldon is afraid of violating the university’s code, so Leonard reels off an Eistein quote about the pursuit of science calling people to ignore the rules set out by man. Sheldon reluctantly agrees, although he struggles to find the Einstein quote online.

When a reluctant Amy joins Bernadette, Penny and Stuart in Bernie’s living room, Stuart puts the app on her phone. Penny starts swiping through potential partners for Amy. When Howard and Raj arrive back and ask what they’re up to. Raj thinks it’s fun and starts looking through the guys on the app.

When Leonard and Sheldon arrive at a parking structure in a rental truck, they see a guy standing by a nondescript, white-panel van. They step out and talk to the guy, with Leonard introducing himself and Sheldon lying about his identity. After the guy asks if they have the cash, Sheldon worries he’ll take their money and drive away. In turn, the guy worries they’ll take the helium and drive away without paying. When they appear to be at a stalemate, they start debating the meaning of the term “Mexican standoff”. Sheldon explains how the essence of a Mexican standoff is that no one can walk away without harm. Sheldon demonstrates by telling the guy he knows who he is and where he works, so he could threaten to turn him into authorities if he doesn’t hand over the helium. After the guy reminds them he knows where they work and threatens to pound them into the ground if they report him. Now they really are in a Mexican standoff.

Leonard tells them to calm down as nobody wants to report anyone. The guy tells them he’s out. Leonard explains their predicament to the guy, explaining how the Swedes are trying to jump them on their hypothesis. The guy sympathises with their situation and agrees to give them the helium. Meanwhile, back at Howard and Bernadette’s, the group are drinking and eating snacks as they thumb through the potential suitors for Amy, who sits on in silence. After Amy says she’s starting to feel bad that they’re being mean to these me, the others agree. Until they find Stuart on the app.

When Sheldon and Leonard arrive at the lab with the tank of liquid helium, Sheldon has dressed the tank in a disguise as his “Uncle Harvey” to help them as they wheeled it through the university corridors. When Sheldon sees a torn label on the tank which says “Property of U.”, he worries they are in possession of stolen government property. Leonard argues they have two options: do the experiment as planned and beat the Swedish team to the punch, or lose it because they’re afraid to break a few rules. Moments later, they wheel the tank out.

At Howard and Bernadette’s, Penny explains the rules of a drinking game for evaluating the male suitors. When Amy’s phone pings with a text from a man, it’s projected on the screen. The group are surprised to read that a guy called Dave wrote that he had a great time on their date last night. After the guys texts to say he’d like to take her out again, Amy admits she went on a date with someone.

When Sheldon and Leonard meet the guy in the parking lot again, they ask for their money and say he can have his helium back. The guy tells them he’ll take the helium back, but they’re not getting their money. After he says he wants to charge them a small helium restocking fee, Sheldon says he hopes it’s not more than the $1000 he has on him. Fortuitously, that’s exactly how much the fee is.

After Penny asks Amy why she didn’t tell them she was dating, Amy says it’s new and weird and she’s just figuring it out. She knew they would get way too excited if she admitted she’d been on dates with a few people. Amy admits it’s mostly just been meeting people for coffee, but she recognised it would be good to get out there.

Back in the lab, Sheldon is disappointed the Swedes might beat them, but relieved they won’t be going to prison. Barry Kripke comes to tell them he was being petty and they can have his helium, but they have to add his name to their paper. After Sheldon and Leonard ask for a minute to consider, they admit they don’t like being extorted by Barry of all people, but what other choice do they have? Later, they return to the parking lot and hand over more money to the guy.

Back in their apartment, Leonard is looking up the definition of a “Mexican Standoff” as he, Sheldon and their helium dealer get ready to watch “Ernest Goes to Jail”.