Big Bang Theory

How The Big Bang Theory Ended

The Big Bang Theory ran for 12 seasons on CBS before coming to a satisfying conclusion. Here's where Sheldon and the gang ended up in the finale.

The Big Bang Theory was an unexpected hit. The series had mixed reviews in its first season on CBS in 2007. But then it became one of the longest-running sitcoms of all time — and brought nerd culture to the forefront.

Over 12 seasons, TBBT introduced long-running gags, witty characters, endless cameos and storylines that ranged from hilarious to heartwarming. It garnered countless awards and nominations, then inspired a popular and sometimes surprising spinoff, Young Sheldon. The show went out on a high, with Variety reporting it scored nearly 20 million viewers for its two-part finale. Here’s how the series wrapped up.

What The Big Bang Theory Was About

The Big Bang Theory's Sheldon Cooper, played by Jim Parsons, standing at his apartment door

Set in Pasadena, California, TBBT centered on Caltech physicists Leonard Hofstadter and Sheldon Cooper — awkward geniuses with a love of everything geeky. Penny, the beautiful aspiring actor/waiter from Nebraska, moved in across the hall and became an unlikely addition to their friend group. The ensemble cast was rounded out by engineer Howard Wolowitz and astrophysicist Rajesh Koothrappali, along with eventual love interests Bernadette Rostenkowski and Amy Farrah Fowler.

At its core, The Big Bang Theory was a hangout comedy built around a friend group of (mostly) geniuses, and their quirky, nerdy antics. The “will they, won’t they” relationship between Penny and Leonard was a driving force throughout the sitcom’s run. However, Jim Parsons stole the show with his nuanced portrayal of Sheldon Cooper, which made a relatively unlikeable character into a fan favorite. It was no surprise that Sheldon got his own spinoff, though Young Sheldon has been far more dramatic

How Penny and Sheldon Evolved on the Series

The Big Bang Theory's Sheldon and Penny, played by Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco, scowl together

Every character on The Big Bang Theory dramatically evolved throughout its lengthy run, but no one went through as significant a transformation as Penny. She began as a shallow, naive girl from Nebraska who came to California to pursue her lofty goal of becoming a movie star — but ended up a waiter at the Cheesecake Factory. By the series’ end, Penny was a more mature character with a good job as a pharmaceutical sales representative, trading in her apron for professional pantsuits. Penny and Leonard were also happily married and expecting their first child.

Sheldon went on his own important journey throughout TBBT, eventually marrying Amy and finally learning to detect sarcasm. In the finale, Amy confronted him about his selfishness, leading his character to a final revelation. He set aside the lengthy, egocentric speech he planned to deliver at his Nobel Prize ceremony and thanked each of his friends individually instead. In a moving gesture, he asked each of them to stand, told them he loved them and apologized for not being a better friend.

How Did The Big Bang Theory End?

The Big Bang Theory characters cheer while playing a Dungeons & Dragons game

When it finally came to a close in 2019, The Big Bang Theory neatly tied up most of its unanswered questions and gave satisfying conclusions to its beloved characters. The finale centered around Sheldon and Amy finally winning the aforementioned Nobel Prize. The whole gang accompanied them to Sweden for the ceremony to support their friends’ achievement. After seeing unflattering photos of herself all over the Internet, Amy used some of the prize money to buy herself a new wardrobe and a makeover. Her transformation was stunning and brought out a shining inner confidence that she’d always deserved.

Howard went from the most childish member of the group into an adult with a happy marriage to Bernadette. For five seasons, Bernadette and Howard’s children only existed off-screen, but TBBT‘s finale gave the first and only glimpse of their family. Howard also played a major part in Raj’s conclusion. Although he met future Wolf Pack star Sarah Michelle Gellar on the plane to Sweden, Raj received the least satisfying ending. He planned to go to London and propose to his girlfriend Anu… but Howard stopped him at the airport.

The two shared a touching moment when Howard told Raj there was someone better for him and he should stay in California. Raj did get the big, romantic movie moment he always wanted… just not exactly as he pictured it. The final scene found the group in their natural state: sitting around the coffee table eating takeout, happy and laughing. An acoustic version of The Big Bang Theory‘s famous theme song played as their lives went on, just no longer shown to millions of fans.

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