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.
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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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..."
Kaley Cuoco's life after The Big Bang Theory is going to be animated. Cuoco has signed on to voice and executive produce DC Universe's new Harley Quinn series. She'll play the titular character in the new streaming series targeted toward mature audiences. In 2017, she got the rights to The Flight Attendant, a miniseries based on the book of the same name, which she was poised to star in. The Flight Attendant follows Cassandra Bowden, a flight attendant, who wakes up, hungover, in her hotel room with a dead body next to her. She goes about her day and heads back to New York. is she the killer? That's what she wonders. "This is the first time I have a project that I'm kind of nurturing from the beginning, so it's been a really interesting experience," she told PopSugar in March. "It's got a lot of aspects. It's very sexy. It's a really well-written book, which is why I wanted to option it. I'm ready to bring the character to life."
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.
Leonard's mother Beverly visits, and he is thrilled when she takes an interest in his work. However, when he learns that she is doing research on him for a new parenting book, he is furious. He prepares to tell her how she let him down over the years, but instead chooses to accept and forgive her, and forgive himself for holding onto that resentment for so long. Beverley is touched that he forgave her and they share a genuine hug. Meanwhile, Anu gets a job offer in London. Raj prepares to fly out and propose to her, ready to follow her if she accepts. Howard stops Raj at the airport, saying there is a better match out there for him, convincing Raj to return home. Stuart and Denise are bothered by her creepy roommate Mitch, while Bernadette and Howard are tired of Denise constantly staying overnight with Stuart at their house. Stuart says he is ready to move in with Denise, and they say they love each other while convincing Mitch to move out.
Science has also interfered with the characters' romantic lives. Leslie breaks up with Leonard when he sides with Sheldon in his support for string theory rather than loop quantum gravity. When Leonard joins Sheldon, Raj, and Howard on a three-month Arctic research trip, it separates Leonard and Penny at a time when their relationship is budding. When Bernadette takes an interest in Leonard's work, it makes both Penny and Howard envious and results in Howard confronting Leonard, and Penny asking Sheldon to teach her physics. Sheldon and Amy also briefly end their relationship after an argument over which of their fields is superior.
In March 2017, the main cast members (Galecki, Parsons, Cuoco, Helberg, and Nayyar) took a 10% pay cut to allow Bialik and Rauch an increase in their earnings. This put Galecki, Parsons, Cuoco, Helberg and Nayyar at $900,000 per episode, with Parsons, Galecki, and Helberg also receiving overall deals with Warner Bros. Television. By the end of April, Bialik and Rauch had signed deals to earn $500,000 per episode, each, with the deals also including a separate development component for both actors. The deal was an increase from the $175,000 – $200,000 the duo had been making per episode.
"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.
The show's pilot episode premiered on September 24, 2007. This was the second pilot produced for the show. A different pilot was produced for the 2006–07 television season but never aired. The structure of the original unaired pilot was substantially different from the series' current form. The only main characters retained in both pilots were Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons), who are named after Sheldon Leonard, a longtime figure in episodic television as producer, director and actor. A minor character, Althea (Vernee Watson), appeared in the first scene of both pilots that was retained generally as-is. The first pilot included two female lead characters - Katie, "a street-hardened, tough-as-nails woman with a vulnerable interior" (played by Canadian actress Amanda Walsh) and Gilda, a scientist colleague and friend of the male characters (played by Iris Bahr). Sheldon and Leonard meet Katie after she breaks up with a boyfriend and they invite her to share their apartment. Gilda is threatened by Katie's presence. Test audiences reacted negatively to Katie, but they liked Sheldon and Leonard. The original pilot used Thomas Dolby's hit "She Blinded Me with Science" as its theme song.
Two months after the events of "The Change Constant", Sheldon and Leonard repair Sheldon's DNA molecule model as everyone prepares to fly to Sweden for the Nobel Prize award ceremony. Howard and Bernadette nervously leave their kids for the first time with Stuart and Denise, while Raj leaves his dog with Bert. Penny has become pregnant, though she and Leonard are keeping it a secret. On the flight, Raj thinks he spots Sarah Michelle Gellar. Penny's frequent bathroom trips make Sheldon fear she is sick. Leonard reveals the pregnancy to Sheldon, but instead of being excited for Penny, Sheldon is only selfishly relieved that he will not get sick and he exposes the pregnancy, offending Leonard. At the hotel, a series of minor incidents with their kids make Howard and Bernadette want to go home. Much to their dismay, Sheldon is still insensitive. Amy furiously tells Sheldon he broke their friends' hearts and they only tolerate him because he does not intentionally do so, which she also sometimes does. Everyone decides to stay for the ceremony and Raj brings Gellar. After they are awarded their medals, Amy encourages girls to pursue science while Sheldon thanks his family and then individually acknowledges each of his friends and Amy as his other family who always support him. The episode closes with the gang eating in Apartment 4A (an allusion to the final scene in the opening credits) as an acoustic version of the theme song's chorus plays.
In August 2009, the sitcom won the best comedy series TCA award and Jim Parsons (Sheldon) won the award for individual achievement in comedy. In 2010, the show won the People's Choice Award for Favorite Comedy, while Parsons won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. On January 16, 2011, Parsons was awarded a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical, an award that was presented by co-star Kaley Cuoco. On September 18, 2011, Parsons was again awarded an Emmy for Best Actor in a Comedy Series. On January 9, 2013, the show won People's Choice Award for Favorite Comedy for the second time. August 25, 2014, Jim Parsons was awarded an Emmy for Best Actor in a Comedy Series. The Big Bang Theory also won the 2016 People's Choice Awards for under Favorite TV Show and Favorite Network TV Comedy with Jim Parsons winning Favorite Comedic TV Actor. On January 20, 2016, The Big Bang Theory also won the International category at the UK's National Television Awards.
Producers, writers and others, including recurring guest star Wil Wheaton, joined the festivities on set and — hardly a spoiler alert — more laughing, crying and hugging ensued. Lorre embraced a happy Parsons, then moved on to each cast member as if it were a reception line. Galecki shared long, emotional hugs with his colleagues. After trying to keep their emotions under control for so long, it was finally time to just let go.
With Leonard, Howard, Raj, and Amy accomplishing so much on their respective projects, Sheldon is forced to admit he has nothing important upon which to work. He makes Amy leave the apartment for a few days so he can focus, but cannot come up with any ideas and calls his mother as a distraction. Leonard and Amy have fun recreating experiments from when they were growing up, boring Penny, so she eats with Sheldon as he mulls over his scientific studies. Penny helps him realize that his study of dark matter is his rebound science from string theory, which Sheldon admits he never truly disregarded, but explaining string theory to her inspires Sheldon, helping him discover a potential breakthrough in the field. Meanwhile Howard is too busy with his family to be in the band with Raj, so Raj brings in Bert. But, when Howard annoys Bernadette by writing an astronaut-themed musical while she is on bed-rest, she makes him rejoin the band. The three are poorly received at a Bar mitzvah after singing Bert's original song about the boulder from Indiana Jones .
When Mayim Bialik first learned she had to say goodbye to neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler, she opened up about the show ending in a blog post, asking, "And now I start to figure out what next. Where will life take me? Where will this career go? What do I want?" Up next she has a voice role in The Inspector Chronicles, a quasi-parody of Doctor Who making the leap from short to feature film. She'll reprise her role as the voice of the Inspector's time machine, known as B.O.O.T.H. Aside from that, she doesn't have any major projects lined up, aside from preparing to not see her close-knit cast the way she'd grown accustomed to. "We'll have to see what our lives look like," she told Us Weekly in early May about the chance they'll remain close. "I mean, we're all going to be on different schedules now; it's very different."