The CBS sitcom said goodbye on Thursday night after a storied 12-season run — and now that it’s really over, we’re feeling super nostalgic. Having already revisited the pilot episode, highlighted classic “Shamy” moments and ranked our favorite recurring characters, we’re closing out our retrospective coverage with a list of the 10 episodes that we feel are a cut above the rest.
“I was there the moment when Leonard and Penny met. He said to me that their babies would be smart and beautiful. And now that they’re expecting, I have no doubt that that will be the case,” Sheldon says, accidentally revealing the baby news even before Penny’s parents know. “I apologize if I haven’t been the friend that you deserve. But I want you to know, in my way, I love you all.”
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.
Regina King reprised her role as Janine Davis in “The Retraction Reaction”. Bob Newhart returned as Arthur Jeffries in “The Proton Regeneration”. Dean Norris reprised his role as Colonel Williams in “The Tesla Recoil”. Brian Thomas Smith returned as Zack in “The Bitcoin Entanglement”. Brian George guest starred as Raj’s father, Dr. Koothrappali, in “The Confidence Erosion”. Joshua Malina reprised his role as President Siebert in “The Monetary Insufficiency”.
Amy and Howard begin collaborating on a neuroprosthetics project, upsetting Sheldon and Raj, who feel they are not spending as much time with them. When they seek solace with an annoyed Bernadette, she exploits the situation to trick Sheldon into doing Howard's chores. Penny successfully employs the approaches recommended in one of Bernadette's parenting books to deal with Sheldon, but Leonard believes she is coddling Sheldon too much. Sheldon and Raj resolve the issue of missing their significant others by spending time together.
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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.
President Siebert charges Leonard with distributing some extra university funds in the form of a grant. Everyone begins sucking up to Leonard. Penny is impressed by Leonard's decisiveness but unimpressed when he cannot decide between Raj, Kripke and Dr. Lee (Maribeth Monroe), an ornithologist who works with crows. Leonard, realizing that people will be angry with him no matter who he gives the funds to, eventually awards the money to himself; many crows swarm his car afterwards. Meanwhile, a stressed out Bernadette starts hiding in Halley's playhouse after work so she can have time to herself. She is eventually joined by Penny and Amy. Howard reveals to Raj that he actually knows that Bernadette has been hiding out, but is keeping quiet about it so she can have her privacy and so he can use it to his advantage.
The episode opens with a short montage of clips from the series' twelve seasons, then segues to Sheldon and Amy, who are up late waiting for a call from the Nobel Committee. Following a prank call from Kripke, they are told they've won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their super-asymmetry work. The attention from the media and the university bothers Sheldon. Amy is saddened by an unflattering picture of her in a news report, so Raj convinces her to get a makeover. She loves her new look but Sheldon demands she change it back. Leonard calls him out for being rude, but Sheldon flees when he sees Penny emerge from the newly repaired elevator. Sheldon and Penny go to the Cheesecake Factory and Penny tells Sheldon that change is the only constant thing in life. On a TV, they see Bernadette and Howard take credit as Sheldon and Amy's best friends. Raj and Leonard defend Amy, with Leonard accidentally breaking Sheldon's DNA molecule model in Apartment 4A. Penny convinces Sheldon to ride in the elevator.
Raj meets with the woman his father set up for him, Anu. Her commanding personality and practical approach to marriage startle Raj but he agrees to go ahead with it. Howard criticizes him but apologizes; he just never expected Raj to give up on romance. Raj admits this to Anu so she proposes to him, and he says yes. Raj also sends out a relationship questionnaire to Leonard and Penny, which soon reveals that Penny does not think she ever wants kids, upsetting Leonard, who would like to have kids someday, and their friends selfishly badger them on the issue. After telling her father Wyatt who is also upset, Leonard tells Penny that he'll be okay with it, as he never thought he'd have her in his life. To get his mind off of it, Penny rents Leonard a Batmobile to drive in and have fun with for the day. Meanwhile, Stuart starts bringing home Denise at night, which is very uncomfortable for Howard and Bernadette. When they also try to have time to themselves, they wake up their kids.
Two nerdy physicists share an apartment and an unlikely friendship with their beautiful neighbor with whom one of them is infatuated. Like the universe after the big bang, the show's popularity expanded, thanks to breakout star Jim Parsons, along with the chemistry among the friends and the developing romance between Leonard and Penny. The addition of Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik in later seasons also enhanced the stories and relationships of the leads.
^ From the eighth season onward, episodes of each season initially aired on Monday nights, before later returning to the Thursday night slot for the rest of the season. The eighth and ninth seasons returned on the seventh episode, the tenth and eleventh seasons on the sixth episode, and the twelfth season on the second episode.
In the apartment building where Sheldon, Leonard and Penny (and later Amy) live, the elevator has been out of order throughout most of the series, forcing characters to have to use the stairs. Stairway conversations between characters occur in almost every episode, often serving as a transition between longer scenes. The Season 3 episode, "The Staircase Implementation" reveals that the elevator was broken when Leonard was experimenting with rocket fuel. In the penultimate episode of the series, the elevator is returned to an operational state, causing Sheldon some angst.
Initial reception for the series was mixed. The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 52% approval rating for the first season based on reviews from 23 critics, with an average rating of 5.18/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Big Bang Theory brings a new class of character to mainstream television, but much of the comedy feels formulaic and stiff." On Metacritic, the season holds a score of 57 out of 100, based on reviews from 23 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Later seasons received more acclaim and in 2013, TV Guide ranked the series #52 on its list of the 60 Best Series of All Time.
Sheldon and Amy's paper is a huge success, but Sheldon is upset when he is not allowed to do interviews, while Amy gets all the attention. Denise asks Stuart to move in with her but he panics and flees. Raj sets up a doorbell camera app for Anu but sees her greet her ex-boyfriend. At a paintball match, all the feuding couples argue, with Raj saying he cannot trust Anu since he does not even know her, throwing the wedding into question. Stuart makes up with Denise by giving her a key to the Wolowitz house. Sheldon tries to do one interview with Amy but leaves when he is asked about the Russian scientists who had earlier disproved their theory.
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.
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.
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.