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It's just a reoccurring joke that management is lazy and how extensive the damage was. The elevator was damaged due to a malfunctioning experiment of Leonard's (He wrongly calculated the mixture for the experimental rocket Fuel he was developing), which Sheldon recognized as going critical so he placed it in the elevator. It exploded inside and took out the ...


The creators of the program wanted a hallway between the two apartments but they felt that it was too thin. Adding an elevator forces the hallway to be wider. Forcing the characters to use the stairs also enables a longer conversation as a lift would be too quick. This was revealed by the creators in the 100 episode special for the UK TV channel e4.

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