The Big Bang Theory has had some major cameos and guest stars over the years, from actors like Carrie Fisher and Leonard Nimoy to movers and shakers like Steve Wozniak and Stephen Hawking, but recently The Big Bang Theory included a cameo that you probably didn’t notice. In fact, we would be shocked if you got the reference. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke popped up in the most recent episode of The Big Bang Theory, but it was a blink or you'll miss it sort of moment.
During the sixteenth episode of the season, "Positive Negative Reaction," The Big Bang Theory characters all ended up doing karaoke after finding out that Bernadette was pregnant. Sheldon was out with the gang and drinking when he hopped up to use the bathroom, as one often does when one has drunk too much. He briefly waves at a table where an older couple are sitting, saying, "Hey, how you doing?" in a drunken manner. Again, if you don’t stop and look around once and a while, you just might miss it.
Ben Bernanke was the head of the Federal Reserve for 14 years, most notably during the financial crisis in the latter part of the first decade in the 2000s. He was replaced in 2013 by Janet Yellen, apparently leaving him free to do less strenuous things, like pop up in The Big Bang Theory. As noted by the Washington Post, he’s a longtime fan of the series and jokingly told his agent that he’d love to appear. An appearance was worked out, but by the time a date was set, Season 9 was already totally written, so they couldn’t figure out a way to incorporate Ben Bernanke and his wife Anna into the actual plot.
Thus, we get a scene in which Ben Bernanke is enjoying the karaoke establishment with a giant grin on his face. He briefly gets “bothered” by Sheldon and then the show moves on without officially acknowledging Bernanke’s presence. It wasn’t that way backstage, however. The man says that he and his wife were treated very well, and were even given their own dressing room. They also received a small fee for appearing.
Other guest stars and cameos on the show have at least featured some dialogue, if not an actual integral part in the plot, but it was cool that they could work someone in with nerd cred even within the constraints of already having a written script. And Ben Bernanke and his wife seem pleased as punch about the experience.
You can catch new episodes of The Big Bang Theory on Thursday nights at 8 p.m. ET. In addition, here's our list of the best Big Bang Theory guest stars, ranked.