Simon Helberg as Howard Wolowitz:[45] An aerospace engineer who got his Masters at MIT. Howard is Jewish and lived with his mother, Debbie (Carol Ann Susi). Unlike Sheldon, Leonard, Raj, Bernadette and Amy, Howard does not hold a doctorate. He goes into space, training as an astronaut and serving as a payload specialist. Howard initially fancies himself as a womanizer, but he later starts dating Bernadette, and they get engaged and married. Howard also has a tendency to waste money on toys and argues with Bernadette because of his oddly low income as an engineer and her high income as a pharmaceutical biochemist.
Johnny Galecki as Leonard Hofstadter:[42] An experimental physicist with an IQ of 173, who received his PhD when he was 24 years old. Leonard is a nerd who loves video games, comic books, and Dungeons & Dragons. Leonard is the straight man of the series, in which he shares an apartment in Pasadena, CA, with Sheldon. Leonard is smitten with his new neighbor Penny when they first meet, and they eventually marry.

Wednesday night is the group's designated "comic book night"[77] because that is the day of the week when new comic books are released. The comic book store is run by fellow geek and recurring character Stuart. On a number of occasions, the group members have dressed up as pop culture characters, including The Flash, Aquaman, Frodo Baggins, Superman, Batman, Spock, The Doctor, Green Lantern, and Thor.[78] As a consequence of losing a bet to Stuart and Wil Wheaton, the group members are forced to visit the comic book store dressed as Catwoman, Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Supergirl.[79] DC Comics announced that, to promote its comics, the company will sponsor Sheldon wearing Green Lantern T-shirts.[80]

The show originally centered on five characters living in Pasadena, California: Leonard Hofstadter and Sheldon Cooper, both physicists at Caltech, who share an apartment; Penny, a waitress and aspiring actress who lives across the hall; and Leonard and Sheldon's similarly geeky and socially awkward friends and co-workers, aerospace engineer Howard Wolowitz and astrophysicist Raj Koothrappali.[4][5] Over time, supporting characters were promoted to starring roles, including neuroscientist Amy Farrah Fowler, microbiologist Bernadette Rostenkowski, physicist Leslie Winkle and comic book store owner Stuart Bloom. 

In 2010, Leonard, Howard, and Raj mined a lot of Bitcoin, now worth thousands of dollars, but left Sheldon out due to his fear of tax implications. Flashbacks are shown of how the Bitcoin ended up on an old laptop of Leonard's, which Penny gave to her old boyfriend Zack after she and Leonard broke up. In 2017, Leonard and Penny retrieve the computer from Zack, who first shows them a video of a drunken Penny apologizing for breaking up with Leonard. The Bitcoin is not found on the laptop. Sheldon had moved it to a flash drive on Leonard's keychain to teach the guys a lesson, but Leonard lost the keychain years ago. A final flashback to 2013 shows Stuart discovering the flash drive, which he decides to erase and sell for $10.
Barry Kripke says that he can get proof that Pemberton plagiarized his thesis, which would destroy his chances at the Nobel Prize. Sheldon and Amy decide not to pursue this; they want to win on their own merits. Leonard decides to get the information from Kripke. Amy and Sheldon give it to Pemberton and Campbell, as they refuse to blackmail them. Campbell is furious that Pemberton's dishonesty could hurt his own career. It is revealed that Campbell is sleeping with Pemberton's ex-wife, causing the pair to brawl. Afterwards, Campbell exposes Pemberton, causing Pemberton to be fired. Amy and Sheldon reject a drunken Campbell's request to join their team. Bernadette tells Howard that another waitress at the Cheesecake Factory was attracted to him back in the day, so she said Howard had hepatitis to scare her off. Howard obsesses over who it was, until he tells Bernadette she is the only one that matters to him.
"The Locomotive Manipulation" is the first episode in which Sheldon initiates a kiss with Amy. Although initially done in a fit of sarcasm, he discovers that he enjoys the feeling. Consequently, Sheldon slowly starts to open up over the rest of the season, and starts a more intimate relationship with Amy. However, in the season finale, Sheldon leaves temporarily to cope with several changes and Amy becomes distraught. However, in "The Prom Equivalency", he hides in his room to avoid going to a mock prom reenactment with her. In the resulting stand-off, Amy is about to confess that she loves Sheldon, but he surprises her by saying that he loves her too. This prompts Amy to have a panic attack.
Showrunner Steve Molaro, who took over from Bill Prady with the sixth season, credits some of the show's success to the sitcom's exposure in off-network syndication, particularly on TBS, while Michael Schneider of TV Guide attributes it to the timeslot move two seasons earlier. Chuck Lorre and CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler also credit the success to the influence of Molaro, in particular the deepening exploration of the firmly established regular characters and their interpersonal relationships, such as the on-again, off-again relationship between Leonard and Penny.[103] Throughout much of the 2012–13 season, The Big Bang Theory placed first in all of syndication ratings, receiving formidable competition from only Judge Judy and Wheel of Fortune (first-run syndication programs). By the end of the 2012–13 television season, The Big Bang Theory had dethroned Judge Judy as the ratings leader in all of syndicated programming with 7.1, Judy descending to second place for that season with a 7.0.[104] The Big Bang Theory did not place first in syndication ratings for the 2013–14 television season, beaten out by Judge Judy.[105]
Wednesday night is the group's designated "comic book night"[77] because that is the day of the week when new comic books are released. The comic book store is run by fellow geek and recurring character Stuart. On a number of occasions, the group members have dressed up as pop culture characters, including The Flash, Aquaman, Frodo Baggins, Superman, Batman, Spock, The Doctor, Green Lantern, and Thor.[78] As a consequence of losing a bet to Stuart and Wil Wheaton, the group members are forced to visit the comic book store dressed as Catwoman, Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Supergirl.[79] DC Comics announced that, to promote its comics, the company will sponsor Sheldon wearing Green Lantern T-shirts.[80]

After learning Sheldon went behind their backs to work with the military again, Leonard and Howard say Sheldon is like Thomas Edison, taking credit for others' ideas, while they are more like Nikola Tesla. Leonard and Howard bring in Barry Kripke to help create a better idea than Sheldon's, but Kripke goes to the military himself, cutting all three of them out. Meanwhile, Bernadette fears Ruchi is trying to steal her projects at work while she is on maternity leave and enlists Raj to spy on her. Though he finds proof that Ruchi may be stealing from Bernadette, Raj tries to defend Ruchi like a boyfriend would, pointing out Bernadette's hypocrisy as she would most likely have stolen from other people's projects as well. Ruchi is not happy about this and promptly dumps Raj.
After the strike ended, the show was picked up for a second season, airing in the 2008–2009 season, premiering in the same time slot on September 22, 2008.[17] With increasing ratings, the show received a two-year renewal through the 2010–11 season in 2009.[18][19] In 2011, the show was picked up for three more seasons.[20] In March 2014, the show was renewed again for three more years through the 2016–17 season. This marked the second time the series gained a three-year renewal.[21] In March 2017, the series was renewed for two additional seasons, bringing its total to 12, and running through the 2018–19 television season.[22]
Johnny Galecki as Leonard Hofstadter:[42] An experimental physicist with an IQ of 173, who received his PhD when he was 24 years old. Leonard is a nerd who loves video games, comic books, and Dungeons & Dragons. Leonard is the straight man of the series, in which he shares an apartment in Pasadena, CA, with Sheldon. Leonard is smitten with his new neighbor Penny when they first meet, and they eventually marry.
Like the previous three seasons, the first five episodes aired on Mondays due to CBS' contractual rights to air the Thursday Night Football games. After Thursday Night Football ended, the series returned to a Thursday schedule starting on November 2, 2017. Filming for the eleventh season began on August 15, 2017; it was also announced with the taping report that the premiere for the eleventh season would be titled "The Proposal Proposal". Before the season premiered, five episodes were filmed from August 15 to September 19, 2017.[4]
When Leonard receives a braggy Christmas letter from his brother, he feels bad about how little he and Penny have achieved in the past year. Leonard wonders if he and Penny should be thinking about the next step after two years of marriage, like buying a house or having a baby. Penny tells him she wants to do all those things someday, but she has a bunch of stuff she would like to do first.
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