There was an unaired pilot which CBS did not broadcast. In March 2017, CBS announced that the series was renewed for two more years, leading the show to a total of 12 seasons. The twelfth season premiered on September 24, 2018, and served as the series' final season. During the course of the series, 279 episodes of The Big Bang Theory aired over 12 seasons.
Star Trek in particular is frequently referenced and Sheldon identifies strongly with the character of Spock, so much so that when he is given a used napkin signed by Leonard Nimoy as a Christmas gift from Penny he is overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude ("I possess the DNA of Leonard Nimoy?!"). Star Trek: The Original Series cast member George Takei has made a cameo, and Leonard Nimoy made a cameo as the voice of Sheldon's vintage Mr. Spock action figure (both cameos were in dream sequences). Star Trek: The Next Generation cast members Brent Spiner and LeVar Burton have had cameos as themselves, while Wil Wheaton has a recurring role as a fictionalized version of himself. Leonard and Sheldon have had conversations in the Klingon language.
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 first and second seasons were only available on DVD at their time of release in 2008 and 2009. Starting with the release of the third season in 2010 and continuing every year with every new season, a Blu-ray disc set has also been released in conjunction with the DVD. In 2012, Warner Bros. released the first two seasons on Blu-ray, marking the first time that all episodes were available on the Blu-ray disc format.
One of the recurring plot lines is the relationship between Leonard and Penny. Leonard becomes attracted to Penny in the pilot episode and his need to do favors for her is a frequent point of humor in the first season. Meanwhile, Penny dates a series of muscular, attractive, unintelligent, and insensitive jocks. Their first long-term relationship begins when Leonard returns from a three-month expedition to the North Pole in the season 3 premiere. However, when Leonard tells Penny that he loves her, she realizes she cannot say it back. Both Leonard and Penny go on to date other people; most notably with Leonard dating Raj's sister Priya for much of season 4. This relationship is jeopardized when Leonard comes to falsely believe that Raj has slept with Penny, and ultimately ends when Priya sleeps with a former boyfriend in "The Good Guy Fluctuation".
By season seven, Galecki, Parsons, and Cuoco were also receiving 0.25% of the series' back-end money. Before production began on the eighth season, the three plus Helberg and Nayyar, looked to renegotiate new contracts, with Galecki, Parsons, and Cuoco seeking around $1 million per episode, as well as more back-end money. Contracts were signed in the beginning of August 2014, giving the three principal actors an estimated $1 million per episode for three years, with the possibility to extend for a fourth year. The deals also include larger pieces of the show, signing bonuses, production deals, and advances towards the back-end. Helberg and Nayyar were also able to renegotiate their contracts, giving them a per-episode pay in the "mid-six-figure range", up from around $100,000 per episode they each received in years prior. The duo, who were looking to have salary parity with Parsons, Galecki, and Cuoco, signed their contracts after the studio and producers threatened to write the characters out of the series if a deal could not be reached before the start of production on season eight. By season 10, Helberg and Nayyar reached the $1 million per episode parity with Parsons, Galecki, and Cuoco, due to a clause in their deals signed in 2014.
"Every heart expanding adventure begins with a single step. This was mine for @bigbangtheory_cbs," Rauch wrote. "My first episode. Or my first 'step-isode' - if you will. The second pic is shortly after I joined the cast (I couldn’t believe I had my very own dressing room)! The friendships and memories that would build from these moments simply overwhelm me."
Simon Helberg doesn't have any projects listed in development as of now, but he has had a burgeoning movie career. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for Florence Foster Jenkins and also appeared in Paint It Black. Maybe he's holding out hope for a spinoff for his Howard Wolowitz? When THR asked creator Chuck Lorre if he was gestating on ideas for any Big Bang character spinoffs, he coyly responded, "You can't help but gestate a little..."
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.
However, no legal action was required to end production of the other show: as soon as it became known that the show was unlicensed, the actors quit and the producers canceled it. Dmitriy Tankovich (who plays Leonard's counterpart, "Seva") said in an interview, "I'm upset. At first, the actors were told all legal issues were resolved. We didn't know it wasn't the case, so when the creators of The Big Bang Theory started talking about the show, I was embarrassed. I can't understand why our people first do, and then think. I consider this to be the rock bottom of my career. And I don't want to take part in a stolen show".
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.
The sixth season boasts some of the highest-rated episodes for the show so far, with a then-new series high set with "The Bakersfield Expedition", with 20 million viewers, a first for the series, which along with NCIS, made CBS the first network to have two scripted series reach that large an audience in the same week since 2007. In the sixth season, the show became the highest rated and viewed scripted show in the 18–49 demographic, trailing only the live regular NBC Sunday Night Football coverage, and was third in total viewers, trailing NCIS and Sunday Night Football. Season seven of the series opened strong, continuing the success gained in season six, with the second episode of the premiere, "The Deception Verification", setting the new series high in viewers with 20.44 million.
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.