“The Semiotics of the Tie” – Big Bang Theory

In the episode Sheldon seeks Penny’s assistance in deciphering the semiotics of the classic “tie on the door.” Penny comes over to his apartment after a quick lesson in semiotics and helps Sheldon understand that Leonard is “busy.” Sheldon puts it together and realizes that Leonard is having sex. Unhappy with the realization, Sheldon inquires what the procedure should be when Leonard comes out of the room. Penny simply laughs and goes home.

What are the semiotics here? The tie is an example of a symbolic sign. There is no obvious relationship between the signifier and signified but there is a learnt relationship. The signifier, the tie, symbolizes the signified, which is that two people are having sex in the room. Sheldon didn’t understand the symbolic sign because he never learned the relationship in college where most people do. We find this out when he mentions that he attended college at the age of 11.

Signs are extremely powerful things that show up constantly in our every day lives. They are even joked about in our favorite television shows.

Here is the clip:

– Chris G


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