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.
Although earlier this season Penny (Kaley Cuocuo) told her husband Leonard (Johnny Galecki) that she never wanted kids, part two of the finale reveals that she is pregnant. But when Sheldon dismisses her announcement, Leonard angrily says “to hell with” his Nobel Prize. When his friends threaten to leave at his poor treatment of them, Sheldon takes time to self reflect.
Cosmologist Stephen Hawking made a short guest appearance in the fifth-season episode; in the eighth season, Hawking video conferences with Sheldon and Leonard, and makes another appearance in the 200th episode. In the fifth and sixth seasons, NASA astronaut Michael J. Massimino played himself multiple times in the role of Howard's fellow astronaut. Bill Nye appeared in the seventh and twelfth seasons.
“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.”
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.