‘The Big Bang Theory’ Returns Tonight With Good Guy Bill Gates: Details About His Guest Appearance

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The Big Bang Theory recently took a two-week hiatus, but it’s returning with a really big bang. Bill Gates will guest star on the show tonight, but the geek icon isn’t interested in working with one of the show’s resident brainiacs. Instead, the founder of Microsoft is going to drop by Penny’s place of employment in “The Gates Excitation.” As reported by CarterMatt, Gates will use his appearance to show off his philanthropic side.

For his role on The Big Bang Theory, Bill Gates is playing himself. Penny learns that he’s arranged to visit the pharmaceutical sales company that she works for in hopes of forming a new business partnership, but he’s not interested in increasing his personal wealth. Instead, the second richest man on the planet will be there in his capacity as the co-chair of his charitable organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He wants Penny’s employer to team up with the foundation to develop affordable vaccines.

In a sneak peek of “The Gates Excitation,” Penny breaks the big news to the rest of The Big Bang Theory gang. She reveals that she’s been asked to give Bill Gates a tour of her company. Naturally, some members of the group view this as the perfect opportunity to meet one of their biggest idols. However, Sheldon thinks that Penny is trying to play an April Fools’ Day prank on him.

“He gets in on Sunday April 1st? Nice try, Penny,” says the skeptical theoretical physicist.

Leonard, Raj, and Howard don’t think Penny is trying to pull a fast one on them. In fact, they go to great lengths to track Bill Gates down and speak to him after she doesn’t offer to facilitate such a meeting herself. This leads to an awkward encounter between the businessman and Leonard at a hotel. As reported by the International Business Times, Leonard becomes so overwhelmed with emotion that he starts crying. However, when he asks his hero to give him a hug, Gates offers him a tissue instead.

Sheldon isn’t with the rest of the crew when they set out to stalk Gates, and this might be a good thing. According to Entertainment Tonight, Sheldon previously revealed that he and the computer industry kingpin have a bit of a past, and it isn’t pretty. In a Season 4 episode of The Big Bang Theory, Raj recounts how Sheldon approached Gates after a speech at their university. He criticized the billionaire philanthropist for caring more about “sick children in Africa” than improving Windows Vista, and Gates responded by punching him in the face.

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Luckily for Sheldon actor Jim Parsons, and the rest of The Big Bang Theory cast, the real Bill Gates isn’t nearly as bloodthirsty. In a special preview shared on the show’s Twitter page, Gates talks about why he was excited to be a guest star on the popular CBS series.

“It’s fun to have a show where people are allowed to be a little nerdy and a little bit smart, so I can relate to it,” Gates says in the video. “I was thrilled when I got the chance.”

Penny actress Kaley Cuoco praised Gates’ performance, quipping that he landed his jokes better than her costar, Johnny Galecki, ever has during The Big Bang Theory‘s 11-year run. The Leonard actor also had nothing but nice things to say about the charitable billionaire. Galecki revealed that Gates cracked him up during one take and made him break character.

“Well, they made it super easy,” Gates said of the cast. “They were total professionals, so it was a blast.”

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Viewers will have to tune into The Big Bang Theory tonight at 8 p.m. ET on CBS to find out if Sheldon also gets to meet Bill Gates, or if his distrust of Penny causes him to miss out.