Spoiler alert: This story contains significant details from Thursday’s series finale of “The Big Bang Theory.”
Sheldon Cooper has some explaining to do about his behavior in Thursday’s series finale of “The Big Bang Theory.”
But because he’s a fictional character who now lives only in our memories (and, oh yeah, in syndication, on DVD and streaming), we’ll let the “Big Bang” cast and producers do the talking for TV’s most recent Nobel laureate.
Penny is pregnant
For much of the final season, Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) debated having children: Leonard generally was in favor, Penny not so much. The finale reveals Penny is with child, and that she and Leonard are happy about it. Cuoco is, too.
I thought it was great. People change their mind, and I think she even admitted, ‘I’m not sure about this.’ But I thought it was a really sweet story line, and it gave Leonard and Penny somewhere to go,” she says.
Co-creator Chuck Lorre says the pregnancy “just felt like a natural progression. When we leave these characters and say goodbye to them, we know their life is continuing and expanding. And that just felt right, that life was expanding.”
The pregnancy also serves as a callback to the beginning of the comedy hit, says executive producer Steve Holland.
“There was a line in the pilot we kept going back to where Leonard says, ‘Our babies will be smart and beautiful.’ That felt like a lovely bow to tie up their relationship,” he says. “Pregnancies can sometimes be an expected thing in a finale, and hopefully writing against it for most of the season gave us a chance to have one last surprise.”
Sheldon and Amy win the Nobel Prize in Physics
After it was determined that this would be the final season, “I knew the Nobel Prize ceremony was a thing we wanted to drive toward,” Holland says. “Chuck has always been very much about these guys (being) scientists. We’ve said for 12 years that they’re brilliant minds in science, and it seemed like a really appropriate way to leave, with them getting the biggest honor in science.”
Sheldon’s huge emotional regression
After winning the Nobel with wife Amy (Mayim Bialik), Sheldon (Jim Parsons) seemed to throw away the substantial, if maddeningly slow, maturation he has made over the years, reverting to an earlier self-absorption that never allowed for empathy.
Parsons says Sheldon fell backward, at least initially, because the moment was so big.
“It was the ultimate high-stakes moment for him, winning a Nobel and having to speak in front of his peers, (and) it made him revert to his most selfish self,” he says. “He’s been advancing the past several seasons – he’s getting better, but he still has his moments – but the pressure of the situation made him exceedingly obtuse.”
When Sheldon’s friends, pushed to the limit by his harsh, inconsiderate behavior, eventually rebel, “That allowed him an aha moment, a clarity that he’s had glimpses of through the series. But this was sort of an ultimate clarity” that led to his emotional references to his friends in his acceptance speech, Parsons says.
“The stress of this award and the acclaim that goes with it rattles him to the core, and he loses sight of the fundamental importance of his relationships with his friends and his wife,” Lorre says. “He has a journey in this (episode), and it’s a journey the character has been taking for 12 years toward being more dimensional, to understanding empathy. To the degree he can experience it, he does in the finale.”
The broken elevator finally works
“Big Bang” turned an out-of-order elevator and nondescript stairwell into an instantly recognizable set. Fans have long hoped the show would repair the yellow-taped lift before the series ended, and so have the show’s stars, including Cuoco.
It’s been on the writers’ wish list, too, Holland says, and it finally happened in Thursday’s finale.
“We’ve had that on our whiteboard of things we wanted to accomplish for a while,” he says. “Originally, it was going to come much later in the episode. As we were figuring it out, it felt like the right moment, story-wise, to open (the elevator) when it did. I think it’s also a bigger surprise because people are probably expecting it but hopefully not that early.”
The Wolowitz children make their debut
The next generation of the Wolowitz family has been heard – via the voice of Pamela Adlon of “Better Things” – but Halley and her younger brother, Neil Michael, are finally seen in the series finale.
“That was a fun little moment,” Holland says. “We have purposely kept them off the stage because having young kids on a sitcom is tricky. But, with the last episode, it felt like it would be a fun Easter egg to show them for the first time.”
The secret meaning of the DNA model reconstruction
When suddenly assertive Leonard decides to finally take control of the apartment he once shared with Sheldon, the effort ends in disaster as an elaborate DNA model disintegrates when he tries to move it. Later, he and Sheldon spend a lot of time (139½ hours, to be exact) reconstructing it.
Galecki explained the significance to the “Big Bang” studio audience after shooting the scene on the final taping night.
“Our very first line in this final episode was ‘This might be the glue talking, but that was a very pleasurable 139½ hours.’ That is the amount of hours of television we’ve made here collectively on the stage,” he said of the series’ record-setting 279 episodes. “They were not only pleasurable, but they were … a dream come true for all of us here, and it’s not ever lost on us.”
Galecki went on to thank the people in the audience, but his words could apply to the millions of fans watching on TV: “Please allow us to thank you. You were the best fans for 12 years. You’re part of our family. We love you very, very much.”