In March 2017, CBS renewed the series for two additional seasons, bringing its total to twelve, and running through the 2018–19 television season. On August 22, 2018, CBS and Warner Bros. Television officially announced that the twelfth season would be the series' last. This stems from Jim Parsons' decision to leave the series at the end of the season if the show were to have been renewed for a thirteenth season. The series concluded with an hour-long finale consisting of two back-to-back episodes on May 16, 2019. A retrospective, hosted by Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco, aired at 9:30 P.M. ET/PT, the night of the finale, following the season two finale of Young Sheldon.
Howard and Bernadette learn their second child will be a boy, leading Howard to doubt whether he can be a good father to a son. He and Sheldon go out in the desert to test launch a model rocket, but it explodes, causing him further doubt. On the way home, Howard does a good job coaching Sheldon to drive them home, for which Sheldon tells him he will be a good teacher to his son. Leonard's mother Beverly begins talking to Penny as a friend and confidant, troubling Leonard, especially when he learns that Beverly told Penny that she was proud of her, a level of praise she never bestowed upon Leonard himself. When Leonard confronts Beverly, he is touched when she says that of all of her children's spouses, Penny is the one by whom she is most impressed and that, for this, she is indeed proud of him. Meanwhile, Raj helps Bernadette turn baby girl clothes into boy ones.
Sheldon and Amy struggle to choose a best man and maid of honor from their friends. They secretly decide to test and score them, allowing everyone to have an equal shot at either role. Once the gang finds out, none of them apart from Bernadette and Stuart want to be in the wedding. Sheldon settles for Stuart as best man but, once Leonard tells Sheldon that, as the groom, the decision is his alone, he picks Leonard. Amy is set to call Bernadette but, once Penny realizes Amy is her best friend, she immediately pitches herself for the position and Amy enthusiastically chooses her. Amy later makes Penny tell Bernadette the bad news.
Wil Wheaton brings William Shatner on his Professor Proton show to meet Sheldon, who gets so excited that he vomits on Shatner. Going to Wil to apologize, he finds Wil hosts a Dungeons & Dragons group with his celebrity friends including Shatner. Finding out Stuart is in the group and never told them, the guys make Stuart panic and quit. Wil secretly invites Leonard who discovers that the group also includes Shatner, Kevin Smith, Joe Manganiello and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Leonard tells Penny, who tells Amy and Bernadette, all three women having a crush on Manganiello. Because of that indiscretion, Wil kicks out Leonard and admonishes the guys for using him for his connections, and says that one of the worst things about being a celebrity is not knowing whether someone will like him for himself. To apologize, the guys invite Wil to play D&D with them at Leonard’s apartment, but Wil, secretly in the middle of a game with Penny, Amy and Bernadette and the group, politely turns them down, before allowing the girls to send them a photo of the events as payback.
With Melissa Rauch saying goodbye to Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz after joining the show in season three and becoming a series regular in season four, she's already begun to carve out new gigs. Not only did her indie film Ode to Joy make its film festival debut this part April, but she has another film, Steven Soderbergh's The Laundromat co-starring none other than Meryl Streep, in post-production, due for a 2019 release. While wrapping up filming on TBBT, she landed her next TV gig, playing Shira, wife of Paul Scheer's Keith on Showtime's recent Wall Street comedy Black Sunday. With the show recently renewed for a second season to debut on the cable net in 2020, it's looking likely she'll be back with greater availability.
Penny and Bernadette attend a pharmaceuticals conference, where Bernadette's business rival Danny tries to recruit Penny. Bernadette is offended that Penny is considering the offer. At the meeting with Danny, Bernadette steps in to say Penny is the best saleswoman she knows and Penny agrees to keep working for Bernadette. Meanwhile, the rest of the gang does simple behavioral experiments on the Wolowitz children using a book Sheldon found. Leonard is shocked that his childhood was filled with these experiments; although his mother remembers that time with him fondly, she admits the experiment with him is not over. Raj figures Amy planted the book to get Sheldon to like babies, though Sheldon later states he would be open to having kids.
Bernadette's due date arrives but she still hasn't given birth. As Amy and Howard work together at the college, the rest of the friends try various ways to initiate her labor, though Sheldon wants to play a complicated board game instead. Amy shocks Howard by saying Bernadette has already decided to name the baby after her father, Michael. He doesn't agree and everyone makes suggestions as to what to name the baby. Bernadette goes into labor and gives birth to a son named Neil, after Neil Armstrong, Neil Gaiman, and Neil Diamond, with Michael as the middle name. At the last minute, Howard relents to name him Michael as Bernadette got six stitches.
Sara Gilbert as Leslie Winkle (recurring season 1, starring season 2, guest seasons 3, 9): A physicist who works in the same lab as Leonard. In appearance, she is essentially Leonard's female counterpart and has conflicting scientific theories with Sheldon. Leslie has casual sex with Leonard and later Howard. Gilbert was promoted to a main cast member during the second season but resumed guest star status because producers could not come up with enough material for the character. Gilbert returned to The Big Bang Theory for its 200th episode.
Sheldon needs half a billion dollars to prove his latest concept of string theory, which the University cannot afford to fund. Crowdfunding and selling some of his most valuable comic books to Stuart give him a small start. When Raj mentions gambling in Las Vegas, Sheldon goes there but is caught calculating odds by security before he can make any bets. Meanwhile, Amy takes Penny and Bernadette shopping for her wedding dress. She loves an old-fashioned one that the other girls admit that they find ugly, though Penny assures Amy she can make her own decisions about her wedding. Sheldon, however, comes home and sees Amy in the dress and loves how she looks.