Serial Ape-ist and its sequel, Serial Ape-ist 2: Monkey See, Monkey Kill, are low-budget horror movies in which Penny starred. The first film was produced shortly after she moved to Los Angeles, while the sequel was made in 2014.
Serial Ape-ist was first mentioned in The Hofstadter Insufficiency when Sheldon and Penny shared secrets while Leonard was away at sea. After Penny mentioned that she once did a topless scene in a low-budget horror movie about a killer gorilla. Although Penny was relieved that the movie was never released, Sheldon admitted that Howard had found it online immediately after Penny left the apartment on the day they first met her.
The movie is about a sex-crazed gorilla who goes on a killing spree. Penny plays the part of a sorority sister who is killed 42 minutes into the movie while taking a shower; a scene reminiscent of Marion Crane's murder in Pyscho.
Although the film was never released, Leonard also had a copy as she showed it to his colleagues on hn his North Sea expedition in 2013. A fan at the Van Nuys Comic-Con also suggested he had seen both movies.
Serial Ape-ist 2: Monkey See, Monkey Kill
Penny first mentioned a sequel, Serial Ape-ist 2: Monkey See, Monkey Kill, in The Friendship Turbulence when she revealed she had turned down a role in the movie. When she changed her mind, she found the part had been recast. Later, she was offered the role again and accepted.
In Serial Ape-ist 2, a mad scientist - played by Wil Wheaton - tries to clone Penny from her corpse, but her DNA is mixed with the killer gorilla's DNA so she goes on a killing spree while transforming into a killer gorilla.
Penny was fired from the movie after she asked the director to shoot a scene again and he insulted her, prompting Leonard to step in and defend her. When Wil Wheaton tried to stand up for Penny, he was fired as well.
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When Sheldon and Penny exchange personal secrets as they bond while Leonard's away, Penny admits she once did a topless scene in a low-budget horror movie about a killer gorilla which was never released. Sheldon told her that he'd seen that film, Serial Ape-ist, when Howard found it online immediately after meeting Penny.
As Penny was tries to convince the gang her acting career wasn't depressing, Penny reveals that she turned down a part in a movie, a sequel to "the awful killer gorilla movie" she was in. After Bernadette mentions that Penny died in the first movie, Sheldon points out it was at the 42 minute mark. Raj remembers Penny's topless showering scene at the 16 minute mark, after a "brief side butt during a pillow fight with her sorority sisters".
When Penny's car breaks down, she decides to take the part. Penny calls her agent to try get her job in the movie back, but she is told the part had been recast.
After Penny is told the part for Serial Ape-ist 2: Monkey See, Monkey Kill is available again, she debates whether to take the job. Despite the "terrible" script and low wage, Leonard convinces Penny to take the job because she'll "have fun for a few weeks, make some money" and who knows what it might lead to.
On the set of Serial Ape-ist 2: Monkey See, Monkey Kill, Penny thinks she could do a better job in a scene and asks the director if they could do it again. When the director insults Penny and Leonard steps into help, she finds herself fired, along with Wil Wheaton, as they've filmed all the scenes where the actually see Penny's face.
On movie night, Amy and Bernadette talk Penny into letting them watch her "ape movie". When Penny warns them that it was terrible, Bernadette suggests it might have turned out better than she thinks. After they start the movie, they realize it did not.
Penny features on Wil Wheaton's podcast to discuss Serial Ape-ist 2: Monkey See, Monkey Kill, which has developed a bit of a cult following. Director Kevin Smith calls into the podcast to compliment Penny on her work and offer her a role in one of his movies.
When Penny appears at the Van Nuys Comic-Con to sign autographs for fans of Serial Ape-ist 2: Monkey See, Monkey Kill, her fans mainly seem to remember her shower scene. Even more interesting to many of Penny's male admirers is Leonard's story of how he came to marry her.