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Big Bang Theory: How the Series Ended

The Big Bang Theory ran for twelve seasons 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 and, after mixed reviews in its first season, became one of the longest-running sitcoms of all time. It premiered on CBS in September 2007 and brought nerd culture to the forefront. Over twelve seasons, TBBT introduced long-running gags, witty characters, endless cameos and storylines that ranged from hilarious to heartwarming. It garnered countless nominations and awards and inspired a spin-off series. The show went out with a bang, scoring nearly 20 million viewers for its two-part finale. Here’s how it all wrapped up.

What Was The Big Bang Theory?

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

At its core, TBBT 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 show. However, breakout star Jim Parsons stole the show with his nuanced portrayal of Dr. Sheldon Cooper and his ability to make a relatively unlikeable character into a fan favorite.

How The Big Bang Theory Ended

When it finally came to a close, the sitcom neatly tied up most of the unanswered questions and gave a satisfying conclusion to its beloved cast of characters. The two-part, hour-long finale centers around Sheldon and Amy (finally) winning their Nobel Prize. The whole gang accompanies them to Sweden for the ceremony to support their friends’ achievements. After seeing unflattering photos of herself all over the internet, Amy uses some of the prize money to buy herself a new wardrobe and a makeover. Her transformation is stunning and brings out a shining inner confidence that she’s never before shown but always deserved.

Howard goes from the creepy guy who found sexual harassment funny to a loyal husband and loving father of two children. He transforms from the most childish member of the group into a mature adult with a happy marriage to Bernadette. For five seasons Bernadette and Howard’s children only existed off-screen. As such, TBBT’s finale gives the first and only glimpse of their family.

Though he meets Sarah Michelle Geller on the plane to Sweden, Raj receives the least satisfying ending of the group. Raj planned to go to London to propose to his girlfriend Anu when Howard stops him at the airport. The two share a touching moment when Howard tells Raj that there is someone better for him out there and he should stay in California. In the end, Raj finally gets the big, romantic movie moment that he always wanted… just maybe not exactly as he pictured it.

Every character on the sitcom dramatically evolved throughout its lengthy run, but no one went through as significant a transformation as Penny. Penny begins the show as a shallow, naive girl from Nebraska who came to California to pursue her lofty goals of becoming a movie star but ends up a waiter at the Cheesecake Factory instead. By the series end, she is a mature woman with a good job as a pharmaceutical sales representative, trading in her apron for professional pantsuits. Penny and Leonard are happily married and expecting their first child.

Sheldon goes on his own extreme journey throughout TBBT, eventually marrying Amy and finally learning to detect sarcasm. In the finale, Amy confronts him about his selfishness, leading his character to a final revelation. He sets aside the lengthy, egocentric speak he’d planned to deliver at the Nobel Prize ceremony and thanks each of his friends individually instead. In a moving gesture, he asks each of them to stand, tells them he loves them and apologizes for not being a better friend.

The final scene finds the group in their natural state: sitting around the coffee table eating takeout, happy and laughing. An acoustic version of the show’s famous theme song plays as their lives go on. Oh, and the elevator is finally fixed.

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