Big Bang Theory Notes Biggest Story Problem In Raiders Of The Lost Ark
October 15, 2013

Big Bang Theory Notes Biggest Story Problem In Raiders Of The Lost Ark

Fictional neurobiologist Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler (played by Mayim Hoya Bialik) may have said what many of us have been thinking for years – and actually noted what many were afraid to say out loud. In a recent episode of the hit series The Big Bang Theory, Fowler told boyfriend Dr. Sheldon Cooper that Indiana Jones doesn’t actually do anything in the film Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Well, that’s not true. He does a lot of stuff of course, but the results of the story would be exactly the same were Dr. Jones to have stayed at the college teaching. As Fowler points out – and spoilers for those who haven’t somehow seen the movie – the Nazis would have found the Ark of the Covenant without Jones and the outcome would have been exactly the same.

This of course ruins the film for Sheldon and his pals, but couldn’t these supposed geniuses have seen this story problem before? The truth is that Indiana Jones usually is just along for the ride.

In the third film in the series, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, it is actually more of the same. (Spoiler warning again) Jones actually leads the Nazis to the Holy Grail, but again the outcome would have been the same.

Actually, I’d take it a step further and say that perhaps without Indy’s interference, the Ark might somehow have made it to Berlin and taken care of Hitler and the other Nazi High Command. The Grail, as we know, couldn’t leave the temple, so that outcome was always going to be the same.

In other words, Indy doesn’t save the day in either of the films.

Maybe to redeem the character Sheldon could have shown Amy the second film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. There Indy actually does make a major difference, as he is able to return the Sivalinga stone to the village while freeing the child slaves and stopping a Thuggee cult. It is actually a much more heroic tale – even if it is considered one of the weaker films.

It is also debatable about whether Indy is just there for the ride in the fourth – and totally unnecessary – film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls. Even Sheldon Cooper admits that Amy couldn’t ruin the story for him, as the story was already bad enough.

There is also another 800-pound gorilla in the room that Amy didn’t note – namely that Indiana Jones is actually not the ideal professor, certainly not a professor of archeology.

It’s easy to see why the geeky academics on Big Bang Theory might relate to Indiana Jones, as he is everything they aren’t. He’s brave, he’s daring and he’s tough.

But can’t they see he’s not really much of a scientist?  This has been brought up a bit over the years, and perhaps this is something Sheldon and his pals also don’t want to see.

“You could say Indiana Jones is the worst thing to happen to archeology, because Indiana Jones has no respect for anybody and anything. Indiana Jones walks a fine line between what’s an archaeologist and what’s a professional looter,” Winifred Creamer, a Northern Illinois University archeology professor on a dig in Peru, told NPR in an interview in 2008.

Think about it. For all of Jones’ talk about the fact that relics should belong in a museum, he’s not really doing much to preserve some of the locations where he finds treasure. In Raiders, he all but destroys a temple and switches sand for a gold statue. He later pounds down the wall of a temple in an ancient Egyptian city – in fairness to escape death – but even with the Ark in storage, he never talks about finding this lost city to anyone! Wouldn’t that be quite the find, even without the Ark?

It is more of the same in Last Crusade, where he damages the floor of a library in Venice, destroys the burial site of the Crusaders and, if memory serves, uses one of the Knight’s arms for a torch! And let’s not get started on ruining that temple in the valley that looks a lot like Petra in Jordan.

No, Indy didn’t save the day, and if we look too closely, he doesn’t much save the archeological sites either. And yet Lara Croft is the one called a Tomb Raider!

Image Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer and has covered consumer electronics, technology, electronic entertainment and the fitness sports industry for more than 15 years. In that time his work has appeared in more than three dozen publications including Newsweek, PC Magazine and Wired. His work has also appeared on,,, and Peter is a regular writer for

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