Throughout its 10-season run, The Big Bang Theory has featured a lot of memorable celebrity appearances. With the Season 11 just getting started, here’s a look back at 11 of the best cameos — from Star Trek vets to Charlie Sheen — in the show’s history.
1. James Earl Jones & Carrie Fisher
It was a Star Wars reunion in Season 7, Episode 14, “The Convention Conundrum,” when franchise stars James Earl Jones (who voiced Darth Vader) and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia herself) both made a cameo.
The episode shows Sheldon meeting Jones in a restaurant after a failed attempt to set up his own Comic-Con. The two actually get along (unlike many of the other celebrities Sheldon has met) and they end up embarking on an adventure-filled night involving ice cream, karaoke, a strip club, and, oh yeah, showing up at Carrie Fisher’s door and then running away as a prank.
It’s one of the best and most memorable Star Wars references in the show’s history.
2. Stephen Hawking
Executive producer Bill Prady named Hawking as his dream guest star for the show, which often drops references to the scientist. He finally made a short cameo appearance in 2012 in “The Hawking Excitation,” the 21st episode of Season 5.
In the episode, Howard passes along one of Sheldon’s papers to Hawking, when the physicist arrives to CalTech for a lecture. When Sheldon finally gets a chance to meet him in person, things don’t go quite as planned as Hawking hilariously points out an error in his paper.
3. Bob Newhart
Newhart appeared in several episodes of The Big Bang Theory as Professor Proton, the former host of a children’s science show that Sheldon and Leonard grew up on. The role earned Newhart an Emmy for his performance.
Unfortunately, the character passed away in Season 7’s “The Proton Transmogrification,” after which he appears to Sheldon as an advice-giving Obi-Wan — one of the show’s best Star Wars references ever.
4. Stan Lee
Sheldon and the guys get the chance to meet yet another one of their icons, Marvel’s Stan Lee, in Episode 16 of Season 3. Unfortunately, in a complicated twist, Penny ruins that chance — and later makes it up to him by bribing Lee’s home address out of Stuart.
The two pay a trip to his house … and well, needless to say, Lee is none to happy about them just showing up unannounced.
5. George Takei
Takei pops up in the episode, “The Hot Troll Deviation.” He shows up alongside Katee Sackhoff in one of Howard’s fantasies and also later appears in a car scene, talking over Bernadette to give Howard some advice about women.
It’s the perfect geeky cameo for The Big Bang Theory, and Takei is clearly having fun making it happen.
6. Katee Sackhoff
Sackhoff showed up in Seasons 3 and 4 of the show as the woman of Howard’s fantasies. In her first cameo in “The Vengeance Formulation,” she shows up in the bathtub with Howard to question him over his feelings for Bernadette, who he’s only gone on three dates with at the time. The conversation leads him to show up at the Cheesecake Factory and very prematurely proposes marriage to Bernadette
In her second cameo, she appears alongside Takei in “The Hot Troll Deviation,” again as part of Howard’s fantasies to chat about Bernadette.
7. Steve Wozniak
In Season 4’s “The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification,” the Apple co-founder shows up as a diner at the Cheesecake Factory where Penny and Bernadette work.
Sheldon only meets him virtually (you’ll see how in the clip above ), but in the brief time, he informs Wozniak that he’s his “15th favorite visionary,” which he says is “still six spots above Steve Jobs.”
8. Summer Glau
The Firefly alum appears in “The Terminator Decoupling” as a passenger on the train that the guys are on. Of course, the minute they spot her, Raj, Leonard, and Howard start arguing over who gets to hit on her. Raj starts off well, but clams up when he realizes he’s drinking a non-alcoholic beverage (which is not good for his affliction of not being able to talk to women).
Meanwhile, Howard is his usual creepy self, and Leonard, in his typical fashion, waits until the last minute and misses his chance. So basically, business as usual, but with a fun celebrity twist.
9. Bill Nye
Bill Nye the Science Guy appears on the seventh episode of Season 7, when Sheldon attempts to use the famous scientist to get revenge on Dr. Arthur Jeffries (played by Bob Newhart), after he chooses Leonard for a project over him.
Let’s just say that, in the end, Sheldon has yet another famous person taking out a restraining order against him.
10. Leonard Nimoy
The late Star Trek star is referred to frequently on the show. After all, who could forget when Penny gave Sheldon a signed napkin from him as a Christmas gift? Sheldon was so moved, he actually gave Penny a — gasp — hug. But Nimoy’s only actual cameo (well … sort of cameo) came in Season 5 when he spoke to Sheldon in a dream via a Spock action figure.
After the actor’s death, The Big Bang Theory paid tribute to the star, with a photo and a message that read, “The impact you had on our show and on our lives is everlasting.”
11. Charlie Sheen
Sheen’s appearance is one of the shortest in the show’s cameo history, but it’s also one of the funniest, if only because it’s so unexpected.
Sheen, who was then a star of Chuck Lorre’s other show Two and a Half Men, is seen sitting at a bar of the Cheesecake Factory at the same time the guys are celebrating Raj making it onto People’s “30 Under 30″ list. When the group, fed up with Raj’s bragging, leave, Raj ends up talking up his accomplishment to the rest of the room — including Sheen, who replies, “Call me when you’re on the cover.”
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