SAS on "The Big Bang Theory" TV series!


If you're a SAS user, chances are you're a bit of a science/technology/engineering/math nerd -- and also a fan of The Big Bang Theory. Therefore this SAS analysis on The Big Bang Theory should be right up your alley!

Yesterday (September 22) was the start of the 8th season for the TV series, and I saw a graph representing the number of viewers for each episode of the first 7 seasons. It was eye-catching and interesting, and showed a general upward trend in viewers. But I immediately noticed several things I'd do differently with a SAS graph...

So I found the raw data on Wikipedia, and imported it into SAS and started working on my own graph. Here's what I came up with (click the snapshot of the graph below to see the full-size interactive version):


The original graph used an 'area under the curve' graph, but I used a bar chart instead because showing angled lines between episodes is somewhat misleading (each episode is a discrete event, not a snapshot of a continuous event). And by using discrete bars, I was able to add html hover-text with the episode number & title for each bar.

The original graph only showed response axis numbers up to 20 million, and it was therefore not obvious that some of the episodes in Season 7 had more than 20 million viewers. I show the full axis in my graph, and add reference lines so you can easily see that some episodes had over 20 million viewers.

I also added a title to my graph, so you'd know what it represents! :)

So, what's your theory on why The Big Bang Theory is so popular?


About Author

Robert Allison

The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over a quarter century, and his specialty is customizing graphs and maps - adding those little extra touches that help them answer your questions at a glance. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University.

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  1. My take is any number of actors could play these quirky characters, but very very few writers could match Big Bang writing. One reason it is popular is because it is not a copy of anything before.

  2. Pingback: IMDb ratings for "The Big Bang Theory" | The SAS Training Post

  3. I love this - it brings out the inner nerd in me, and yes, I am a fan of both SAS/GRAPH and BBT. I might add a note that people can hover to get the episode details....

    I think the series is popular because like most comedies it shows extremes, but in a very inclusive way. It's nice to think (even if it isn't so) that people will accept, if not embrace other people's geekiness. Full disclosure: I have purring Tribble slippers!

    • Robert Allison

      Ahh - good idea! I was using the colors from the original graph that I was imitating, but now that I added drilldowns to the Wikipedia tables, and since the Wikipedia tables have colors that would look ok in the graph, it would probably be aesthetic/intuitive to use the same colors.

    • Robert Allison

      Or ... being a computer nerd, I guess I could go in and change the colors being used on the Wikipedia page, so that they match the colors in my graph! ;)

  4. I saw the title of the blog post and got excited to read the article and am more excited about the new season! I'm always impressed with your improved graphs and you've done another great job here. Why I lthink Big Bang Theory is so popular... Witty storyline that all nerds can relate to.

    • Robert Allison


      I think you're right about why it's a popular show. Also, I think we (nerds) like seeing people that are more socially awkward than ourselves ;)

  5. Chris Hemedinger
    Chris Hemedinger on

    From what I've heard, the characters on the show would appreciate your blog. It looks like a funny show and I think I'd enjoy it, but I've never had time to watch.

    However, I have been on the set where the episodes are recorded in front of a "live studio audience". My family and I took a Warner Brothers studio tour in Burbank, CA and saw the set in-between tapings. We saw Penny's apartment and the broken elevator in the stairwell. Our brush with bazinga!

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