Warning: Spoilers ahead for the series finale of The Big Bang Theory! Be sure to walk away until you've fully digested the entire finale so as not to ruin the experience for yourself!
This is it, folks. The Big Bang Theory has finally wrapped up 12 seasons! The double episode finale event was fast-paced and filled with several surprises and many sweet moments that fans will likely be talking about forever! So, without further ado, let's get into how Leonard, Penny, Sheldon, Amy, Howard, Bernadette and Raj left the airwaves.
Amy, Sheldon And The Nobel Prize
Obviously, one of the major plots of this final season was all the trouble Amy and Sheldon were having with regards to their theory of super-asymmetry. Working on the theory, getting it published and then trying to get nominated for a Nobel Prize caused a lot of personal and professional setbacks for the couple, but also led to some revelations and growth for the mentally gifted twosome. Luckily, The Big Bang Theory did not leave us to wait for long when it came to finding out if Amy and Sheldon would win or not.
After a "Previously On" that took viewers back to the very first episode and showed a lot of the highlights that brought us to the finale, the show opened with Amy and Sheldon sitting up very early one morning with Penny and Leonard, in Sheldon's former apartment, as they waited on a call from the Nobel committee to find out if they won. Amy gets up to make more coffee and Sheldon promptly falls asleep, leading to a battle between Penny and Leonard as they argue over who gets to slap him awake.
Just as Leonard is about to do something he's clearly wanted to do for a very long time by slapping Sheldon (and Penny's about to record a video for future reference), they get repeated calls from friends (and a joke-playing Kripke) trying to find out if they know yet. Finally the call comes to Amy's phone, and she gets word that she and Sheldon did win the Nobel Prize in physics.
The duo seem shell-shocked at first, and Sheldon worries out loud that he's afraid he might be dreaming. So, Leonard takes the opportunity to slap the hell out of him, and he finally yells, "We won the Nobel Prize!" and everyone jumps for joy while cheering and group-hugging.
The New Amy Argument
Well, you can bet life changed pretty quickly for Amy and Sheldon after that moment. When they're heading in for work later that morning, they walk outside and the sidewalk in front of the building is crawling with reporters, which leads to Sheldon running back inside. When they get to work and head in for lunch, everyone in the cafeteria stands and applauds...which also leads to Sheldon heading for the door as soon as he gets there.
To top it all off, Sheldon agrees to an interview in his office a day or so later, but is so freaked out by all the attention that he hides behind his desk. When Howard peeks inside and sees him cowering, he takes the opportunity to introduce himself as Sheldon's best friend and take the reporter aside.
Meanwhile, the attention has has a totally different result for Amy. Suddenly, pictures of her are all over the internet, and when Raj catches her crying in her office one day, she tells him that she realizes how "frumpy" she is. Raj tells her that since the Nobel comes with a significant cash prize, she should treat herself to a new haircut and some new clothes if she doesn't like how she looks in the photos, and proceeds to do his rom-com, fairy godmother best by ferrying her to Beverly Hills so she can get herself a makeover.
While Sheldon is back at Leonard's bemoaning the fact that he's wanted a Nobel his whole life but had never considered how it would change things, Raj walks in asking for Penny because he wants to show her his "latest creation." Of course, it's the newfangled Hot Amy, who's wearing clothes that fit and are actually form-fitting, new eyewear and a smokin' new hairdo.
Leonard tells her how good she looks, but Sheldon is clearly shocked. When she smiles and asks him what he thinks he says, "I like you better the way you were." When Amy counters by telling him that she likes it, he tells her point blank, "Well, I don't," and storms out of the apartment. Dammit...Sheldon!
Leonard catches him in the hall and tells him that he was really rude to Amy. Sheldon then admits that he can't take anymore changes...which is when the elevator doors open to reveal Penny in a completely fixed elevator! That was one change too many for old Sheldon, who yells, "This is a nightmare!" and runs down the stairs to get away.
The Hoodie Equation
Sheldon gets to the bottom of the stairs and is shocked to see Penny already there, because she took the elevator. He says he wants to be alone but when she asks if he'd like a ride, he says yes. So, where do they end up? The Cheesecake Factory!
As Penny and Sheldon commiserate about the recent changes in his life and she reminds him just how much he's changed over the time she's known him, Amy is with Raj and Leonard. She says that she should be able to enjoy this day without worrying about her husband's feelings, and both of the guys agree, noting that they all tip toe around Sheldon because they're afraid of upsetting him.
Amy and Leonard get riled up and say they're done considering Sheldon's feelings and oddities before what they want. And this is when Leonard notes that he still keeps the apartment at Sheldon's preferred temperature and is always cold. Leading to the revelation that this is why he always wears a hoodie.
The Hofstadter Expansion Experiment
As we move into the second part of the two-episode finale, Sheldon and Leonard are in the apartment when Hot Amy and Penny come back from picking up their fancy dresses for the Nobel Prize awards ceremony. Amy and Sheldon are treating all their friends to new duds and trips to the ceremony, so that they can share the moment with them. Amy is in a very good mood, because they had to take her dress in and let Penny's dress out, and she can't stop smiling over it.
OK, so Amy and Sheldon, in the midst of Nobel Prize madness, didn't pick up on what that seemingly small detail means, but I'm sure all you Big Bang Theory fans did. The battle between Leonard and Penny over whether or not to have kids has been waged for most of this season, and now, after one sorta drunken night at Cheesecake Factory with Sheldon, Penny is officially very pregnant.
The Swedish Friendship Explosion
Back at Amy and Sheldon's, Hot Amy is in her full Nobel ceremony getup. She's chosen an exquisite, full length, black fishtail gown with lace all over, cap sleeves and small feathery puffs on each shoulder. As she lounges on the couch to hear Sheldon practice his speech for the ceremony, she has him wait just long enough so she can add her dear tiara to the fancy-dress party.
Sheldon tries speeding through the speech, but she tells him it sounds ridiculous and that he might want to take some things out, especially the part where he names everyone who told him he'd never make it in physics, but Sheldon says that "humility is for the winners of goofy Nobel Prizes like literature and economics." Ugh...Sheldon.
Because this moment is so important to Sheldon, he's come up with a large set of rules for everyone to follow as soon as they set foot in Sweden. Just reading through the first two prompts Penny to raise her hand and ask if she really has to go, and when Sheldon says yes he also reminds her that there's free booze in business class. Penny slips and says she won't be drinking, and when Bernadette asks if she's pregnant, she demurs by saying she just doesn't like drinking on airplanes.
Bernadette isn't falling for it, saying that she's seen her drink in the shower. Luckily, our old friend Dirty Howard saves the day by asking his wife if she's showered with Penny, which leads to Bernadette delivering one of my favorite lines of the night when she responds, "Sometimes, you're just...ick." I've been saying that about Howard for years.
On the plane, Sheldon notices that Penny is going to the bathroom a lot and assumes that she's sick. To him, this means that she'll infect all of them and the king of Sweden once they arrive and start a war. So, he goes to talk to Leonard about her, but even though he assures him that he can't catch what Penny has, Sheldon is beside himself and they have to tell him that she's pregnant.
If you think he responds with something normal, like "Oh, congratulations!" or "Yay, more Hofstadters!" then you don't know Sheldon. Instead he just notes that it's good Penny's pregnant because she can't make him sick, and this pisses Leonard off to no end. And, it only gets worse, because when Leonard tells Sheldon that he should have more to say to a woman who's loved and cared for him for 12 years, and that they were keeping it a secret so as not to upstage their big day, Sheldon replies with, "You couldn't upstage us. We won the Nobel Prize, any idiot can have a baby." Ouch!
As Leonard paces around his hotel room complaining about Sheldon to Penny, Howard and Bernadette check in on the kids, who they left with Stuart and Denise. The little ones are fine, but there have been a few hiccups, and they begin to worry that they are just too far away from them and decide to go home.
When Howard goes to deliver the news, he finds that Amy has made Sheldon apologize to Leonard and Penny. But, hearing that Howard and Bernadette are leaving makes Leonard decide to head home with Penny, as well. Sheldon can't stop himself from saying something nasty to Howard, and everyone leaves in a huff.
The Big Bang Theory Reconciliation
When they're alone again, Amy tells Sheldon that their friends are angry with him and they have good reasons. When he says that she shouldn't call them their friends because they're all abandoning them, Amy says they're only doing it because he "broke their hearts." Then it gets deep, guys. Sheldon tells Amy that he didn't meant to break their hearts, and she says that she knows that because he never means to and "that's the only reason people tolerate you." Then, when Sheldon asks if that's true for her, as well, Amy answers honestly, "Sometimes...yes." OOOOOOHHHHH.
While that seriousness is going down, a post-vomit Penny tells Leonard that she can't go home because she has to stay for Amy, and they both note that they want to stay for Sheldon, too, with Leonard saying that he's kinda been their practice kid all this time. As soon as that's decided, Howard calls saying that he and Bernadette have also changed their minds, so the gang's still all-in for the ceremony.
When we get to the Nobel Prize ceremony, there's another surprise in store. Raj, who's been absent from most of the finale's drama, actually has someone to sit next to for this important event. And, that someone just happens to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer herself, with Sarah Michelle Gellar telling the grinning singleton that this isn't a date, even though he's holding her hand like he's got a death grip on it.
After Amy and Sheldon accept their awards and she gives a little speech. Sheldon steps up and proves that Amy's words earlier really hit home. Instead of the "long and self-centered speech" he had planned, he thanks each member of his family, and then proceeds to tell everyone that he was mistaken in thinking he did all of this alone.
Then, he thanks everyone by name, asking them all to stand as he does and even calling out Howard's time as an astronaut. He gets to Penny and Leonard last, calling them his two greatest friends in the world and saying that he has no doubt that their babies will be both smart and beautiful, in a perfect nod to the first episode of the show, and the moment when two nerds met the hot girl across the hall.
The Big Bang Theory tied everything up with a scene of the gang gathered in Penny and Leonard's apartment, Amy and Sheldon wearing their Nobel Prize medals, and eating dinner like they do every week, with a slowed-down acoustic version of the show's iconic theme song playing over all their laughs and smiles.