We just found out how The Big Bang Theory plans to celebrate Star Wars: The Force Awakens! As reported earlier in the year before The Big Bang Theory Season 9 got started this fall, the hit sitcom is going to have an episode devoted to the release of Star Wars 7. And in that same episode, which debuts on Thursday, December 17, the day before The Force Awakens opens in theaters, we'll see the unexpected return of a fan favorite character! Excited yet?

Yes, Professor Proton lives! Sort of. In an as yet untitled episode arriving next month, Sheldon Cooper is going to be faced with making a very important life decision. And it will require the use of the Force. Though Arthur Jeffries passed away on the show two seasons ago, Emmy winner Bob Newhart will reprise his character as a Force Ghost. As we've seen in previous episodes, Professor Proton now lives in the swamps of Dagobah as a Jedi. And he will once again be reluctantly sharing his knowledge with Jim Parsons' Sheldon.

Master Jedi Professor Proton will guide Sheldon in his crisis, and will help the forlorn doctor sort out his feelings. The Big Bang Theory Season 9 kicked off with Sheldon and Amy parting ways. And as we'll see this week, they are both back on the dating circuit. But it seems that Amy might be getting a little more intimate with her new boyfriend than Shedlon is with his latest paramour. This will lead Sheldon to one crucial conclusion. Will this conclusion revolve around him losing his V card? Perhaps, but the show runners aren't sharing that information just yet.

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This will be the fourth time Bob Newhart has played Arthur Jeffries on the show. He was first introduced in a Season 6 episode titled The Proton Resurgence. His appearance won the legendary comedian his first-ever Primetime Emmy Award for Guest Star in a comedy. His character was so popular that he was brought back twice in The Big Bang Theory Season 7, including an episode titled The Proton Transmogrification that revolved around Star Wars Day and first introduced the idea that Professor Proton was a Force Ghost.

While this upcoming episode of The Big Bang Theory will be tied into its own Star Wars mythos, it is not yet known what other Force Awakens surprises are planned. Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj have all been obsessed with the Star Wars franchise since the show first premiered way back in 2007. There are numerous references littered throughout the episodes, and you can find plenty of Star Wars memorabilia throughout the set. And in the episode The Convention Conundrum, they brought in classic Star Wars actors James Earl Jones (Darth Vader) and Carrie Fisher.

Last week's episode, The Spock Resonance, gave us our first look at Amy's new boyfriend, played by Hello Ladies star Stephen Merchant. Though, we only got to see him from behind. In this week's episode The Mystery Date Observation, which airs tomorrow, we'll get to meet Sheldon's new object of affection, Analeigh Tipton. Not only is Analeigh an actress, she is also an American figure skater and fashion model who most notably placed third on Cycle 11 of America's Next Top Model. She's also known for her roles in Crazy Stupid Love and Warm Bodies. In an interesting twist of fate, Analeigh Tipton has actually appeared on The Big Bang Theory before. She played herself several seasons ago in a storyline that revolved around America's Next Top Model. This time out, though, it sounds like she will be playing an actual character created for the show. Will she be the cause of Professor Proton's Force Ghost appearance? We'll have to wait until December 17 to find out.

B. Alan Orange