The Empathy Optimization Season 9, Episode 13 -  Aired January 14, 2016

The Empathy Optimization

After having to deal with a sick Sheldon, Leonard, Penny and the gang try to treat themselves to a Sheldon-free weekend.

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Guest Stars: Kevin Sussman as Stuart, Laura Spencer as Emily

Writers: Chuck Lorre (Story), Eric Kaplan (Story), Dave Goetsch (Story), Steven Molaro (Teleplay), Steve Holland (Teleplay), Saladin K. Patterson (Teleplay)

Director: Mark Cendrowski

Viewers: 15.75 million Households Rating: 10.2/16 Adults 18-49 Rating: 3.8/13

Available on iTunes

Episode Notes

  • The title refers to Sheldon's attempt to show more empathy after he managed to insult all his friends as they cared for him while was ill.

Episode Quotes

Amy: Hi, Sheldon.
Sheldon: Hello.
Amy: Are you feeling any better?
Sheldon: Physically, yes, but I'm upset because everyone's mad at me for no good reason.
Amy: Why don't you tell me what happened, and in a gentle, loving way, I'll explain to you why you're wrong.

Sheldon: Good. Then I'll be leaving now.
Emily: Oh, it's okay, Sheldon. Come with us.
Sheldon: Oh, that's very kind of you. But I'm sure you'll all have a better time without me. Let's go, Stuart.
Stuart: But I want to stay.
Sheldon: Stuart, now!

Sheldon: Raj, you were being a good friend, and my illness was no excuse for my behavior. I hope that you can accept my apology.
Raj: Of course I do.
Sheldon: And, Emily, I'm sorry for saying dermatologists aren't real doctors. And I'm sure you're tired of hearing that.
Emily: Do you honestly think I hear that a lot?
Sheldon: Well, I would imagine when your job is popping zits and squirting Botox into old lady faces-
Raj: Okay! Okay, the point is that we accept your apology.
Emily: Uh, maybe you do. He just insulted me again.
Raj: Yeah, but he doesn't mean it.
Emily: Why are you defending him?
Sheldon: I believe I can answer that. Uh, like me, Raj is demonstrating empathy.
Now, why don't you accept my apology, receive your free T-shirt, uh-- I hope extra small is okay. For some reason Wolowitz took a medium.

Leonard: You think they'll still go on the trip?
Sheldon: All I know is after the fight I went to Emily's to smooth-
Leonard: They're not going on the trip.
Penny: No.

Leonard: Come on, you pain in the ass!
Sheldon: That's me! Bye, Stuart.
Stuart: Wait! I'm a pain in the ass, too!

News Stories

Title Date Posted
913 'The Empathy Optimization' Press Release January 11, 2016

CBS has issued the press release for the next episode of The Big Bang Theory, "The Empathy Optimization", which airs this Thursday, January 14.  Full story


When Penny, Bernadette and Emily talk about superheroes as they set the table for dinner in the apartment, Leonard, Howard and Raj listen in shock from the kitchen. Their surprise is short-lived when the girls’ conversation turns to the hunky stars of superhero movies. After Sheldon comes out of the bedroom, he is happy to report that he is feeling much better now. After Sheldon says that his fever is gone and his sinuses are now pressure free, he doesn’t understand why his friends don’t seem very happy to hear about his improvement.

Leonard refreshes Sheldon’s memory: He was rude to Penny when asking her to rub Vicks on his chest. He was dismissive when Bernadette brought him a care package with medication from work and even managed to sneeze on Howard. He belittled Emily’s skill as a dermatologist when Raj suggested she take a look at him. Finally, he was unappreciative when Leonard brought him soup in bed.

In his bedroom, Sheldon starts a video call with Amy to tell her he’s feeling better physically, but is now upset that his friends are mad at him for no reason. Sheldon thought that when you’re sick you get a free pass to say whatever you want and disregard people’s feelings. Amy tells him that when he’s sick he can be unbearable, which is why his friends have been known to work late, sneak out to a movie or stay at a neurobiological conference three days after it’s ended.

When Leonard, Howard and Raj go to the comic book store, Stuart asks whether Sheldon is still sick. Leonard explains that he’s better, but they needed a break from him. After Raj says he wishes they could do more stuff without Sheldon, Howard suggests they take a trip or something. After Leonard mentions that he and Penny have talked about a trip to Vegas, Raj floats the idea of renting a party bus.

In the apartment, Leonard tells Penny about the guys’ plans to take a roadtrip to Vegas. When Sheldon overhears them planning the trip, he asks where they’re going and disappointed to learn it’s Las Vegas. Leonard says that’s fine as Sheldon isn’t invited. Sheldon is hurt not to be invited, especially when he learns that Howard and Raj are also going.

In his bedroom, Sheldon calls Amy to tell her that their friends are jerks and he’s mad at all of them. Sheldon explains they have planned a trip to Las Vegas and didn’t invite him. Amy tells Sheldon that his friends tried to take care of him and he was nothing but mean to them. Sheldon can’t believe she’s not on his side. Amy says she understands he’s mad for being left out, but he should apologise to them. When Sheldon says he’s willing to do that to go on the trip, Amy says he should apologize because he feels bad. Amy explains that is called empathy and it’s something he could work on. Sheldon practices being empathetic by mentioning how Leonard made him soup and he was mean to him. On the third go, Sheldon actually feels something. Sheldon feels terrible when he realizes how bad Leonard must have felt.

Sheldon goes out into the living room to apologize to Leonard. Sheldon says he’s truly sorry for being mean to Leonard as he tried to take care of him. Sheldon insists he is being sincere not just saying it to come on the trip. Leonard tells Sheldon he’s still not coming on the trip. Although he accepts Sheldon’s apology, Leonard is not the only one who Sheldon upset. Sheldon decides it’s time to apologize to everyone on the “Sheldon Cooper Apology Tour”.

In Howard and Bernadette’s living room, Sheldon apologizes to them for treating them terribly as they attempted to comfort him during his illness. Howard says he is impressed, but Sheldon isn’t done. He wants to underscore his sentiment with a haunting rendition of Brenda Lee’s “I’m Sorry” on the pan flute, but Bernadette and Howard make clear his apology is enough. Nonetheless, Sheldon offers them commemorative t-shirts to memorialize the occasion.

In the apartment bathroom, Sheldon interrupts Penny’s shower to say sorry for his rude and insensitive behavior while she was trying to give him maternal care and affection. Penny accepts his apology and tells him to get out. At the comic book store, Sheldon apologizes to Stuart for being insensitive when he brought him his comic books. Sheldon makes clear he means it and it’s not just about him wanting to go on the trip to Las Vegas. Unfortunately, Stuart hasn’t heard about the trip and can only deduce that he was not invited.

In Raj’s apartment, Sheldon tells Raj his illness was no excuse for his behavior. Turning to Emily, Sheldon apologizes for saying dermatologists aren’t real doctors. After he says he’s sure she’s tired of hearing that, Emily can’t believe he thinks she hears that a lot. When Raj tells Sheldon they accept his apology, Emily makes clear to Raj that she does not. Raj argues that Sheldon doesn’t mean it when he’s insulting, prompting Emily to question why Raj is defending him. When Emily tells Sheldon she does not accept his apology, Raj wonders what she’s doing. Emily tells him she is just standing up for herself. When Raj tells her he’s uncomfortable that she’s prolonging this ridiculous fight, Emily storms out of the apartment, telling Sheldon he can go on the trip since she will not be.

Back in the apartment, Sheldon tells Leonard, Penny and Howard about the fight between Raj and Emily. After Sheldon explains he went over to Emily’s to try patch things up, they realize that Emily won't be going on the trip. When Raj arrives, he is upset that Sheldon went to Emily’s to apologize and somehow left her in tears. Raj says he calmed Emily down, but is insistent that she’s not going to Vegas if Sheldon is going. Sheldon says that’s fine as he has decided he won’t be joining them. He realized the most genuine way he can demonstrate the remorse he feels is by letting them have this weekend to themselves.

As the group board the party bus, Leonard proposes a toast to a well deserved weekend- His speech is cut short as Sheldon jumps out of the bathroom. Penny wonders why he couldn’t give them just one weekend. Stuart comes out of the bathroom to say he told Sheldon  this was a bad idea. After Sheldon asks for one more chance to apologize to Emily, he tells her that while he often says the wrong things, in his heart he means well. Sheldon says he thinks she is a smart and wonderful woman. Sheldon apologizes for all the times he has offended her and all the times he will in the future. After Sheldon says he will be leaving now, Emily says he can come with them. Sheldon says they’ll have a better time without him, so he decides to leave with a reluctant Stuart.

Sheldon and Stuart stand on the sidewalk and watch the party bus pull away. After Emily says that she feels bad for Sheldon even though he’s a jerk, the bus comes to a halt and Leonard calls for the “pain in the ass”. Sheldon runs towards the bus and Stuart decides he’s a pain in the ass, too.

Back on the bus, Sheldon asks Emily if she’s relieved that she and Raj patched things up. As a shirtless Raj dances around the stripper pole, Emily says not at that moment.