Spoilers below for the series finale for The Big Bang Theory, so be sure to watch before reading on.
Though it seemed like it might never happen, The Big Bang Theory wrapped up its 12-season run on CBS this week, and even managed to fix the apartment building's elevator before bowing out. It wasn't all easy-peasy-Sheldon-squeezy for all involved, though, as the creative team was under a lot of pressure to conclude the series in proper ways that earned fans' blessings.
The catalyst for The Big Bang Theory coming to an end was star Jim Parsons, who just didn't feel like he was ready to keep playing the role of Sheldon Cooper. So it's fitting that he was the one who had a slice of sage advice for one of the more nervous Big Bang Theory writers. In his words:
I was like, 'Well, you can't get it wrong because it's yours, you've been writing it all this time.’ And I said, 'Look at it this way: You can't get it right. It's a series finale. Someone's going to hate it.' They're all divisive one way or the other. But I can't imagine it'll be that divisive, what they did.
It would be easy to feel overly intimidated by having to cap off stories for one of the most popular character groups in television history, but The Big Bang Theory's writers could always take comfort in knowing there wasn't much that could be done to make fans angry enough to turn their back on the sitcom. This isn't Game of Thrones, after all. I mean, Big Bang Theory characters have died over the years, but not in ways that blow the narrative apart.
Rather, penning the two-episode series finale didn't really take The Big Bang Theory's writers far out of their comfort zones, even though it did manage to drop quite a few surprises on fans, such as Penny's pregnancy and Sheldon's headlong stride towards maturity. Still, all those moments happened in ways that were completely organic to the long-running comedy, and the episodes felt like they could have just as easily come from the middle of the season.
Well, except for that last shot of everyone munching on Chinese food over Barenaked Ladies' stripped-down version of the iconic theme song. That part would have felt strangely out of place, as would Amy's decision to get all dolled up for the Nobel Prize ceremony.
Still, it's pretty much how co-creator Chuck Lorre and showrunner Steve Holland put it in the weeks leading up to the airing: they didn't want an explosive ending. Instead, they sought out a happy conclusion that assured fans the characters' relationships would remain as intact as ever after the credits rolled. And while some viewers may have criticisms for certain elements of the episodes, they can't say Lorre and Holland failed to deliver on their own intentions.
Going back to that ceremony, I can understand how the writers would have felt particularly pressured when writing Sheldon's big speech, in which he displayed just how far he's come in the past 12 years. Not as a scientist, but as a friend and a significant other. You can check that speech out below, picturing Jim Parsons using the same tone when talking to the Big Bang writer.
Jim Parsons shared his advice story when the entire cast showed up on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert for all kinds of post-finale shenanigans. During the conversation, star Kaley Cuoco also talked about the stress everyone went through.
It was hard, we had a lot of anxieties about how this was going to go. Us as actors, the writers, there is a lot of pressure on how to end this.
In the same conversation, co-star Johnny Galecki let it slip that he's the one person in The Big Bang Theory's cast that had sex in his dressing room. So I'm willing to make a wager that Galecki was the cast member who was slightly less stressed out than everyone else.
The Big Bang Theory may be completely finished, but fans can bet that there will be a DVD set coming out in the future that'll probably feature the nostalgia-tinged post-finale special that aired on Thursday night, as well as more behind-the-scenes magic from this cast and crew. Plus, Jim Parsons will still be around on Young Sheldon to clue fans in on more about his character's post-Big Bang future.
While waiting for Season 3 of Young Sheldon to hit CBS this fall, you can always check out how the prequel spinoff introduced all the other Big Bang Theory characters as younger kids.