amy the big bang theory

When The Big Bang Theory returns to CBS for Season 11, it will be opening up the franchise with the impending spinoff Young Sheldon, which would seemingly indicate that the flagship sitcom's shelf life has no end in sight. When Big Bang's future was recently addressed, though, creator Chuck Lorre and CBS sounded to be on opposite ends of the spectrum. Here's how Lorre put it.

We never really figured to be at year 11, let alone what's going to happen after 12. One could easily presume that would be the end of the series, but I'm just amazed we're here.

For all intents and purposes, Chuck Lorre likely isn't trying to scare fans into thinking that The Big Bang Theory will be completely absent from CBS' schedule after Season 12 wraps up in 2019. But he's the guy that's been around for all these years, so he knows oh-so-well how contract negotiations tend to hamper the season renewal process every couple of years. Like, say, the way that fans were dangling by the thread of a Flash T-shirt for the early chunk of this year while waiting to hear how CBS would handle the ensemble cast's financial situations. And though salary parity was accomplished, leading to the big renewal for both Season 11 and Season 12, that's no guarantee for the future.

Speaking at this year's TCA summer press event (via THR), CBS Entertainment head honcho Kelly Kahl gave his opinion on the matter, and it sounds like he'll be keeping an open-door policy with all things Big Bang Theory-related. Here's how he put it.

As long as we can go; 20 years. I hope to have it as long as we can.

Unlike most TV shows, the writing staff for The Big Bang Theory is constantly playing the short-game with its storytelling, without much attention being given to plotting out the characters' futures. That structure (or lack thereof) allows for some major improvising to happen as the year goes on, which is how that crazy proposal cliffhanger that capped off Season 10 came to be. It also keeps the energy fresh on a consistent basis, giving the cast and other crew members confidence that their fun could keep goingfor several more seasons. So unless CBS starts hemorrhaging viewers soon, it's likely the only thing that will put Big Bang out to pasture for good is money issues.

The Big Bang Theory will have a different showrunner in Season 11, as former boss Steve Molaro is flipping over to Young Sheldon, which he co-created with Chuck Lorre. That prequel concept could feasibly lead to the younger Sheldon getting his own decade-plus run, and its non-traditional aesthetic could win over fans who tire of live-audience sitcoms. But will its potential success or failure have any effect on The Big Bang Theory itself? It's definitely not clear just yet.

Whether it lasts 12 or 20 seasons, we know for sure that The Big Bang Theory will hit CBS with Season 11 on Monday, September 25, at 8:00 p.m., followed by the special premiere of the spinoff Young Sheldon. Head to our summer premiere schedule and our fall TV schedule to see what new and returning shows are hitting primetime in the coming months.

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