The first and second pilots of The Big Bang Theory were directed by James Burrows, who did not continue with the show. The reworked second pilot led to a 13-episode order by CBS on May 14, 2007. Prior to its airing on CBS, the pilot episode was distributed on iTunes free of charge. The show premiered on September 24, 2007, and was picked up for a full 22-episode season on October 19, 2007. The show is filmed in front of a live audience, and is produced by Warner Bros. Television and Chuck Lorre Productions. Production was halted on November 6, 2007, due to the Writers Guild of America strike. Nearly three months later, on February 4, 2008, the series was temporarily replaced by a short-lived sitcom, Welcome to The Captain. The series returned on March 17, 2008, in an earlier time slot and ultimately only 17 episodes were produced for the first season.
While Johnny Galecki is putting down the comic books for good as he says goodbye to experimental physicist Leonard Hofstadter, he's poised to return to another iconic role one more with the expanded season two order of Roseanne spinoff The Conners coming to ABC this fall. Galecki reprised the role of David Healy, ex-husband to Sara Gilbert's Darlene, for a handful of episodes in the show's first season and the door was definitely left open for more. Despite Galecki telling TV Line in February that he wouldn't consider jumping in full-time—"I think I need a little bit of space from being a series regular again," he said—he's hoping to "visit as much as possible." And Gilbert, who serves as EP on the series, remains hopeful as well. "I know he loves doing the show. I love having him. We have a magical time together," she told the outlet in January. "I would anticipate that he would do some [episodes] but I don't want to speak for him."
Johnny Galecki as Leonard Hofstadter: 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.
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.
Campbell and Pemberton start a publicity tour for their Nobel campaign, including appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Caltech reaches out to previous winners, including George Smoot, Kip Thorne and Frances H. Arnold, only to find that Sheldon has offended most of them in the past. Leonard and Penny convince them to show up to the reception, only for Pemberton and Campbell to crash the party. Leonard holds Sheldon back, only for Amy to verbally snap at them. Meanwhile, with Halley scared of the dark, Stuart and Bernadette turn Howard's story from his time in outer space into the children's book: The Frightened Little Astronaut. Howard is embarrassed until Bernadette talks him into helping children and Stuart's art career by letting it be published.
Sheldon's childhood friend from Texas, Tam, is visiting the university with his son. Sheldon does not want to see him and the others wonder why Sheldon has never mentioned Tam. Tam is unaware Sheldon is angry with him, thinking they just naturally drifted apart. Sheldon's brother George does not know the reason either. Sheldon eventually reveals Tam promised he would move to California with Sheldon, but then got a girlfriend and stayed with her, leaving Sheldon feeling abandoned. Tam and Sheldon make up and Sheldon has Leonard take Tam to the airport. Meanwhile, Penny and Bernadette want to get to know Anu, impressed by her connections in the hotel industry. They tell her embarrassing things about Raj and wonder if they can go out with her again after Raj confronts them.
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.
Although the original pilot was not picked up, its creators were given an opportunity to retool it and produce a second pilot. They brought in the remaining cast and retooled the show to its final format. Katie was replaced by Penny (Kaley Cuoco). The original unaired pilot has never been officially released, but it has circulated on the Internet. On the evolution of the show, Chuck Lorre said, "We did the 'Big Bang Pilot' about two and a half years ago, and it sucked ... but there were two remarkable things that worked perfectly, and that was Johnny and Jim. We rewrote the thing entirely and then we were blessed with Kaley and Simon and Kunal." As to whether the world will ever see the original pilot on a future DVD release, Lorre said, "Wow, that would be something. We will see. Show your failures..."
Sheldon and Amy decide on a wedding date of May 12th. They want to have their reception at the Athenaeum at Caltech. While scouting the location, they are shocked to see Leonard and Penny eating there, as Leonard had told Sheldon their application had been denied. In reality, Leonard just wanted a place to avoid Sheldon. Kripke has booked the venue for his birthday party on the same day as the wedding. Leonard cleans radioactive sludge for Kripke to get the date for Sheldon as an apology for lying. Kripke eventually agrees to change the day but when Amy hears he wants to sing at the wedding, she suggests they get married at the Griffith Observatory instead. Meanwhile, Bernadette and Howard are unsure if one of them should quit their job to stay home with the children. Howard volunteers, but when left alone with the children he passes out exhausted, leaving Raj in charge. When Bernadette meets Penny for lunch, she realizes that she loves being at the office again, but doesn't want to leave the children. She and Howard promise to figure it out later after they take a nap.
Kaley Cuoco as Penny: An aspiring actress from Omaha, Nebraska. Penny moves in across the hall from Sheldon and Leonard. She waits tables and occasionally tends the bar at the Cheesecake Factory. After giving up hope of becoming a successful actress, Penny becomes a pharmaceutical sales representative. Penny becomes friends with Bernadette and Amy, and they often hang out in each other's apartments. Penny and Leonard form a relationship and eventually marry.
Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler (guest star season 3, starring seasons 4–12): A woman selected by an online dating site as Sheldon's perfect mate. Amy is from Glendale, CA. While she and Sheldon initially share social cluelessness, after befriending Penny and Bernadette she eventually becomes more interested in social and romantic interaction. Her relationship with Sheldon slowly progresses to the point at which Sheldon considers her his girlfriend, eventually they get married. Amy believes she and Penny are best friends, a sentiment that Penny does not initially share. Amy has a Ph.D. in neurobiology.
When Bernadette tells Howard that she is expecting again, he is once again floored with fear about raising another child, particularly when he learns it’s a boy. Howard, who isn't athletically inclined, worries he will not be able to relate to a son who might one day expect his dad to be the stereotypical father. Despite his best attempts to get out of it, Howard has a vasectomy to avoid any future surprises and is placed on bed rest, joining his pregnant wife at home.
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Sheldon has been writing to the reclusive scientist Dr. Wolcott (Peter MacNicol) who invites Sheldon to visit him in his completely isolated mountain cabin. The women quickly ask Leonard, Raj and Howard to tag along with him, making this his bachelor party, despite Sheldon's assertions that it shouldn't be called such. Wolcott has a brilliant mind but his behavior is very strange to the guys. He tells Sheldon he cut off all contact with others to focus on science. Though Sheldon enjoys the science, he decides that he doesn't want to live like Wolcott because of his friends and Amy. The guys leave to avoid Wolcott, whose theories about time make him doubt whether the guys were ever there. Meanwhile, Penny and Bernadette throw Amy a quilting bee for her bachelorette party, which she quickly finds boring. When Amy tells them she wants a night full of bad decisions as she earlier implied, they go to a bar where Amy drinks a few shots and passes out in twelve minutes. When she wakes up back at the apartment hungover and disappointed, the women lie and reassure her she had a wild time, involving her drunkenly riverdancing.
Well done! Really great final episode writing. The characters we have enjoyed for 12 seasons went on with their lives. . .but reached a happy place at that moment of time. Amy and Sheldon recognized for their brilliance. Penny and Leonard growing into a family. Bernadette and Howard being concerned about the children. Raj having someone fun to attend the ceremony with. Way to tie things up on a pleasant note.
In scenes set at Howard's home, he interacts with his rarely-seen mother (voiced by Carol Ann Susi until her death) by shouting from room to room in the house. She similarly interacts with other characters in this manner. She reflects the Jewish mother stereotype in some ways, such as being overly controlling of Howard's adult life and sometimes trying to make him feel guilty about causing her trouble. She is dependent on Howard, as she requires him to help her with her wig and makeup in the morning. Howard, in turn, is attached to his mother to the point where she still cuts his meat for him, takes him to the dentist, does his laundry and "grounds" him when he returns home after briefly moving out. Until Howard's marriage to Bernadette in the fifth-season finale, Howard's former living situation led Leonard's psychiatrist mother to speculate that he may suffer from some type of pathology, and Sheldon to refer to their relationship as Oedipal. In season 8, Howard's mother dies in her sleep while in Florida, which devastates Howard and Stuart, who briefly lived with Mrs. Wolowitz.
Live+7 data is currently available only through May 5, but the top dogs will likely see little change once the final numbers are in for the traditional September-May season. The top gainer in adults 18-49 was NBC’s “This Is Us” with an average lift of 1.8 ratings points. The number two spot was a tie between CBS’ “Big Bang Theory” and NBC’s “Manifest,” with both of those shows adding 1.5 ratings points on average. These numbers do not include “Big Bang Theory’s” series finale, however, which pulled in a 3.1 rating and 18 million viewers in Live+Same Day alone on May 16.