THE BIG BANG THEORY

The final episode, "The Stockholm Syndrome," gives fans a sense of closure as the show ends.

After 12 years on television, one of the biggest sitcoms in the entertainment industry has said goodbye. “The Big Bang Theory” aired its finale Thursday and pulled many heartstrings. Caution: this contains spoilers.

Amy and Sheldon are filled with excitement when they hear they’ve finally won the Nobel Prize for their discovery of a new theory in physics. Once the news spreads of their award, the press starts mobbing them for interviews, which is too much for Sheldon to handle. Even at work, he feels overwhelmed by all the new attention. The couple decides to bring the rest of the group to the award ceremony in Sweden as support. Leonard and Penny try their best to help Sheldon and Amy, but Sheldon is being difficult as usual, and they have some personal issues of their own that have them a little preoccupied — including the fact that Penny is unexpectedly pregnant.

The hour-long finale is an emotional one for fans of this science-based comedy. Just like any iconic television show, the characters and storylines have impacted viewers for years, so it’s a touching episode to watch knowing it’s the final time they’ll all be together. The writers made sure to emphasize all seven of the main characters more than they had in previous episodes and made sure all of them had their own moment one last time before the final scene.

Each character has a flashback to one of their most iconic moments from the previous seasons. The episode spends extra time focusing on the couples as well as the tightly bonded friendships of the four men, the three women and all of them together. The writers also made sure to include Stewart, the comic book store owner, and Bert, the geologist at the University, since the two of them frequently made guest appearances throughout many past episodes.

While the characters were recognized for how they’ve grown over the years, the writers also nodded to many classic parts of the sitcom. Some recognitions were connected to small details, while others went to some major elements from “The Big Bang Theory.” Even during the dialogue, a character would talk about a memory from earlier episodes and the clip would show it, which was sentimental for fans who’ve been watching religiously since 2007. In season one, the cast couldn’t have imagined the show would be as successful as it became. Kaley Cuoco stated in an interview that she ran into a ten-year-old girl who told Cuoco how big of a fan she is of hers, even at such a young age.  

The finale was such a huge deal to the CBS network that they included a tribute to the show in the new episode of “Young Sheldon” that aired immediately after the finale. The episode focuses on how young Sheldon struggles with making friends other than his family. He thinks he’ll always be alone because of his love for science. The writers of “Young Sheldon” include a small montage of Leonard, Howard, Raj, Penny, Amy and Bernadette all as eight-year-old kids, showing they were all on the same path to one day end up as the tight-knit friend group that audience knows and loves.

CBS also added a special tribute show called “Unravelling the Mystery: A Big Bang Farewell.” It featured Cuoco (Penny) and Johnny Galecki (Leonard) touring the set and talking about different details of the series and the many memories they’ve made from the 12 years of working together.

They walk through each set one-by-one, including Stewart’s comic book store, Penny’s apartment, Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment and the hallway connecting them. Cuoco and Galecki discuss the most iconic moments from each location as they walk through. While sitting in Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment, they remember the many amazing guests who’ve appeared in episodes such as Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, multiple Nobel Prize winning scientists and other famous celebrities. They even go to the costume and prop rooms to talk about their favorite outfits and props from different episodes.

A major topic that repeatedly comes up is how the live audience made a huge impact for every taping of “The Big Bang Theory.” Galecki tells Cuoco one of his favorite parts of his job was hearing the audience laugh when he didn’t think the scene would get a laugh when the cast was reading the script. This follow-up show is almost as heartwarming as the final episode because Cuoco and Galecki were able to discuss nostalgic moments for them and their fans and give a behind the scenes look at some of viewers’ favorite moments.

“The Big Bang Theory” will long be remembered by everyone who loved it as a classic television show and icon for its time. It’s a show that’ll go down in history, similar to “Friends” and “Seinfeld,” and will live on through on-demand and Netflix for decades to come. The finale was filled with strong emotions for both the actors and viewers, and while they’re done with new episodes of the show, the memories will live on for all of us.

Contact Gracie Brogowski at brogowsx@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.