Expect plenty of tears – along with the laughs – when “The Big Bang Theory” ends its 12-season run in May.
But the crying has already started.
“When we heard the news, I went through a terrible week,” says Kaley Cuoco, who plays Penny. “I was so upset. I cried every single day.”
Preliminary talks were under way to extend the show for up to two more seasons, so the August announcement of its impending finale brought an event that always seemed in the distant future much closer.
“The first few days were very emotional. I think it was an adjustment for all of us,” says Steven Molaro, a longtime “Big Bang” executive producer.
Some of the stars, including Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco, posted their reactions on Instagram shortly after the announcement.
Executive producer Steve Holland says the cast and crew, like fans, felt the impending loss, too.
“This has been such a big part of their lives, so there were definitely tears,” he says. “But everyone wants to make this last season great. The next day we had a run-through, and everyone came to work to make the best show. I think in some way it’s really energized everyone to put everything out there and make this last season incredible.”
As for news reports that said some cast members wanted to continue but that Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon, was ready to leave, Holland says, “Different people had different feelings about what should happen. I think ultimately, everyone knew there was a chance this was going to be the end and that the show needed to end in a way we could still finish strong.”
“Big Bang” writers generally don’t plot too far ahead, so Molaro and Holland say there’s plenty of time to craft a satisfying conclusion.
“For years, we’ve talked about what the last episode could be but now we have to sit down and plan it. It’s good we knew early enough in the season,” Holland says. As for the final episode, “We have some ideas we’re really excited about but nothing set in stone yet.”
Adds Cuoco: “We’re really determined to make it a fantastic final season that people will remember, really, forever. Twelve years is something to be very, very proud of.”
In the meantime, early storylines include picking up on the scientific breakthrough Sheldon and Amy teamed on during last season’s wedding finale; Raj considers an arranged marriage in his search for a wife; and Stuart (finally) gets a girlfriend.
Favorite guest stars will return: Bob Newhart as Professor Proton and Keith Carradine as Penny’s father are locked in, and producers hope Sheldon’s mother (Laurie Metcalf) and Leonard’s mother (Christine Baranski), two fan favorites, will reappear, along with Mark Hamill, who officiated at Sheldon and Amy’s wedding in the Season 1 finale.
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This ride has been a dream come true and as life changing as it gets. No matter when it was going to end , my heart would have always been broken in two. Drowning in tears, we promise to bring you the best season yet. To the fans, our crew, families, Chuck Lorre, Warner Brothers , CBS, and everyone who has supported us for so many years, thank you. We are goin out with a bang 💫 @bigbangtheory_cbs
But “the focus has to be on these characters,” Holland says.
Will they all have happy endings?
“I don’t know exactly what the finale is, so I can’t make that promise, but I think we’ve always felt this show is a happy, positive show about people who love each other, so we’re not looking to kill everyone off in the finale,” he says. “You have to find a way to end this show that feels real to these characters.”