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.
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.
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.
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."
As Sheldon and Amy start to plan their wedding, they use decision theory to limit the stress of choosing between their competing visions for the big day. After they begin to question each other’s decisions and make deliberately provocative choices, they decide to have a simple wedding at City Hall. As they wait their turn, Sheldon changes his mind and decides he wants a first dance with Amy at a real wedding.
The Big Bang Theory signs off for good on Thursday, May 16, meaning that there's only one last bazinga left in the pipeline before we're forced to say farewell to Sheldon, Leonard, Penny, and the gang after 12 laugh-filled seasons. And while there's still a few questions left to be answered by the big one-hour series finale—Will the elevator ever be fixed? And will we ever learn Penny's maiden name?—there's a bigger one looming for when the credits roll and it's all over.