The Big Bang Theory aired on CBS from 2007 to 2019. Created and executive produced by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, the show initially centered around two brilliant physicists, Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons). Despite knowing how the world works, they have little to no social skills when it comes to people, especially women. All that changes when aspiring actor Penny (Kaley Cuoco) moves next door.
Cuoco has acquired success outside of the sitcom, with her HBO Max series The Flight Attendant and voicing Harley Quinn in the animated series. Despite coming to terms with the conclusion of The Big Bang Theory, the actor still recalls the shocking moment she learned one particular co-star was going to leave the show.
‘The Big Bang Theory’ was a huge success
Although the show received mixed reviews throughout its first season, it spawned 12 seasons on the network. According to The New York Times, 18 million people tuned in to the series finale, making it the most-viewed entertainment show in all of network television.
The Big Bang Theory spawned a prequel series titled Young Sheldon – based on Parsons’ character Sheldon as a child, currently airs on CBS.
Jim Parsons was the heart of the show
Jim Parsons played the diligent physicist Shelden Cooper on The Big Bang Theory. The character was considered a fan favorite, best known for his outlandish mannerisms. To Kaley Cuoco, Parsons’ character was a big part of the show. So, when she learned Parsons had expressed interest in leaving The Big Bang Theory, Cuoco was left in a “state of shock.”
In an interview with Variety, she revealed the show’s co-creator, Lorre, called Cuoco and Johnny Galecki into his office. While both actors thought the sitcom was getting renewed for a season 13, Parsons revealed that he wanted to leave the show.
“Jim said, ‘I don’t think I can continue on,’” she shared. “And I was so shocked that I was literally like, ‘Continue on with what?’ Like, I didn’t even know what he was talking about. I looked at Chuck: ‘Wow. I thought we were — I’m so blown away right now.’”
In an episode of “David Tennant Does a Podcast With…” Parsons revealed that he wanted to quit The Big Bang Theory between seasons 11 and 12. The 48-year old actor told Tennant that summer 2018 was so intense that he considered leaving the show.
The most significant awakening came after the death of his dog, which marked the “end of an era.” In addition to his dog’s death, Parsons shared his final moment of clarity was reflecting on his late father. He told the Big Bang creators: “If you told me that like my father, I had six years left to live, I think there are other things I need to try and do.”
Ultimately, Parsons’ desire to exit the show led to the sitcom ending after season 12.
Cuoco has deep fondness for ‘The Big Bang Theory’
Though Cuoco didn’t want The Big Bang Theory to end then, she referred to her time on the show as a complete “blessing.”
“It was a feel-good silly show, and these guys really were the heart of it,” she said. “They made the nerd thing cool and popular and sexy and fun. It was silly, and people loved it. And I really loved my time on it.”
All 12 seasons of The Big Bang Theory are streaming now on HBO Max.