Will There Be a 'Big Bang Theory' Spinoff? Chuck Lorre on the Show's Ending, Penny's Intelligence & More
Creator/executive producer Chuck Lorre, executive producer Steve Holland, other producers, writers, directors and the cast of The Big Bang Theory are tasked with bringing the beloved series to a conclusion after a 12-year run.
Whether the gang scatters over the country to take new jobs or if they all end up sitting around Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny’s (Kaley Cuoco) apartment eating Chinese food yet is unknown, but we’re going to miss ‘em a great deal.
TV Insider recently visited the set to talk to speak to Lorre and Holland about the show’s upcoming finale, who we might be seeing again before TBBT concludes, what the turning point was in Sheldon (Jim Parsons) coming out of his shell, and a lot more. Read on to get their insights!
“’I know nothing!’” creator Chuck Lorre jokes in his best Sgt. Schultz (the late John Banner, Hogan’s Heroes) as to how TBBT will come to a close. He does say that he’s a big fan of other beloved sitcom finales.
“Everybody Loves Raymond’s was beautiful,” Lorre notes. “Newhart was the classic. Mary Tyler Moore had the hug – the hug!”
Holland reveals that the finale actually hasn’t been written yet, “but we know what it is.”
In addition to the show’s main cast, there’s a group of beloved recurring guest stars that have visited the show over the years.
“There are people who are family to us like Wil Wheaton (who plays a version of himself),” Holland points out. “We shot [him] last week. There are other people who are a part of our family including Christine Baranski (Beverly Hofstadter) and Laurie Metcalf (Mary Cooper). We feel we need to get them back. As fans of the show ourselves, there are certain people we want to see one more time.”
Whether his series are mega-hits like TBBT or not, Lorre says he tries to keep his writing focused on a central premise.
“I’ve learned this lesson over and over again, going back to when I was a writer on Roseanne, and that is all these shows seem to have an underlying theme of family and affection, be it biological or through friendships,” Lorre says. “There’s a strong bond between the characters [on this show] and that’s really inviting.
“I always wanted to sit at the bar on Cheers and hang with Cliff (John Ratzenberger) and Norm (George Wendt),” Lorre continues, adding he likes to think that some viewers feel that way about the comic book store on TBBT. “Even if it’s not a real family, it approximates one.”
Galecki and Cuoco were known to sitcom audiences through, respectively, Roseanne and Eight Simple Rules; it wasn’t long before viewers embraced relative-newcomer Parsons as Sheldon, one of television’s most beloved and iconic characters.
Lorre knew he had a star and the perfect actor to bring Sheldon to life from day one.
TV Insider reminded him of what he said about Parsons at the inaugural TCA panel for the show in 2008, (which was “[Jim] got hit by electricity or lighting on the way in…he was amazingly good every time.”)
“Every once in a while, you see greatness,” Lorre adds now. “Something mind-boggling wonderful. When Jim auditioned for the part, it was an astonishing moment. I’ll never forget it.”
All the scientific terms used on the show haven’t been always digestible for the average viewer and that was the kind of the point.
“It was almost like watching someone speak in a beautiful language,” Holland notes of the characters talking science. “Chuck felt you don’t have to understand the science to get the joke if part of the joke is the density of it. Then, it’s really fun to watch other people be smart.”
Penny served as the voice of the audience who found it odd the other characters could so easily and specifically talk about the worlds of comic books, super-hero movies, physics, astronomy, etc.
“It wouldn’t be real for them to explain it to each other,” Holland says. “They all know it so it was great to have an ‘outsider’ be there.”
Once Penny was added to the mix (the character didn’t appear in the original pilot), Lorre knew what role she’d serve.
“We had a plan from the get-go that Penny’s intelligence would manifest differently from theirs,” Lorre says. “Her intelligence was with people, environments, and social interactions when [the guys] were absolutely clues. Some scientists can do Pi to 80 decimals, but they can’t talk to another human being in a social situation.”
A turning point in Sheldon’s development came in season 2 when he hugged Penny and gave her numerous gift baskets after she gifted him with a Leonard Nimoy-signed (and used!) Cheesecake Factory napkin!
“That was the beginning of Sheldon’s arc,” says Lorre. “Over the 12 years, these people around him socialized him. He went from being estranged and compartmentalized [to who he became] because these people never gave up on him. He became more dimensional, but he’s still Sheldon. That’s the magic of TV comedy.”
Viewers will still have Young Sheldon after TBBT wraps up, but there’s talk of a spinoff from the OG series. Is it happening?
“Not that I’m aware of,” shrugs Lorre, adding, “This feels like a wonderful way to take a bow and go before they start throwing fruit.”
The sitcom creator has had to bid adieu to a lot of series, but he’ll mostly miss TBBT more than he will other creations.
“I got to watch the cast grow up,” he says. “Twelve years is a big part of their lives. There’s been a warm environment here for a long time. It’s fun to be on this stage. It is healthy, people are free to try different things.
“The cast has been unbelievably professional,” concludes Lorre. “That’s hard to do when success hits as it did these guys. I’ve seen it do that, but not with the TBBT cast. They have such dignity and grace.”
The Big Bang Theory, Thursdays 8/7c, CBS