The Big Bang Theory is an American sitcom created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, both of whom serve as executive producers on the show. It premiered on CBS on September 24, 2007, and is in its tenth season.
Set in Pasadena, California the show is about two fictional Caltech geniuses, one an experimental physicist, Leonard Hofstadter, and the other a theoretical physicist, Sheldon Cooper, who live across the hall from an attractive blonde waitress and aspiring actress, Penny (whose last name remains unknown). Leonard and Sheldon's geekiness and intellect are contrasted for comic effect with Penny's social skills and common sense. An aerospace engineer, Howard Wolowitz, and a particle astrophysicist, Rajesh Koothrappali, are their equally geeky and socially awkward co-workers and friends. They are the kind of "beautiful minds" that understand how the universe works, but none of that helps them interact with people, especially women.
The show is produced by Warner Bros. Television and Chuck Lorre Productions. In March 2009, it was reported that The Big Bang Theory had been renewed for a third and fourth season by CBS. In August 2009, the sitcom won the best comedy series TCA award and Jim Parsons won the award for individual achievement in comedy.
When the third season premiered on September 21, 2009, it ranked as CBS's highest-rated show of that evening in the adults 18–49 demographic (4.6/10), along with a then series-high 12.83 million viewers.
As of September 2009, The Big Bang Theory airs on CBS on Mondays at 9:30 ET after Two and a Half Men, another show produced by Lorre. On May 19, 2010, it was announced that CBS would be moving the show to Thursdays at 8:00 ET for the 2010–2011 schedule; a position it stills holds as of October, 2013. On January 12, 2011, CBS announced that the show has been renewed for an additional 3 years, extending it through the 2013–2014 season. Several members of the cast stated that the show definitely has the potential to run for 200 episodes. The eighth season of The Big Bang Theory was confirmed on March 12, 2014, after a 3-season deal with the network which renewed the series through its tenth season, meaning that it will now run until at least 2017. The CBS network has hinted that there will be a season 11; however, the actors have publically stated that they would be glad to continue as long as it's fun working on the show.
The show is taped at Stage 25, Warner Brothers Burbank Studios, 4000 Warner Boulevard, Burbank, California, USA.
- Main article: List of The Big Bang Theory characters
- Johnny Galecki as Leonard Leakey Hofstadter, Ph.D. – Leonard is an experimental physicist with an IQ of 173 who received his Ph.D. when he was 24 years old. He shares an apartment with colleague and friend Sheldon Cooper. The writers immediately implied a potential romance between him and neighbor Penny, and their sexual tension is a frequently explored drama. Twice they were a couple and eventually became engaged, then finally got married in season 9. In "The Veracity Elasticity", Sheldon moves out leaving 4A to Penny and Leonard.
- Jim Parsons as Sheldon Lee Cooper, B.S., M.S., M.A., Ph.D., Sc.D. – Originally from East Texas, he was a child prodigy who began college at the age of 11, after completing the fifth grade. As a theoretical physicist, he possesses a master's degree, two doctorates, and an IQ of 187. He exhibits a strict adherence to routine; a lack of understanding of irony, sarcasm, and humor. This action may sometimes appear as lack of humility when he's just being himself. These characteristics are the main sources of his humor and the basis of a number of episodes. Sheldon shares an apartment with Leonard Hofstadter. At the end of the third season he meets Amy Farrah Fowler beginning a very slow relationship with her eventually becoming his girlfriend and potential fiancée. In "The Cohabitation Experimentation", Amy and Sheldon try living together and then decide to live together.
- Kaley Cuoco as Penny Hofstadter – She is the attractive blonde, "born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska", who lives across the hall from Sheldon and Leonard. She hopes for a career in acting, and has been to casting calls and auditions, but has not been successful thus far. To pay the bills, she was a waitress at The Cheesecake Factory. She always liked something about Leonard. They went through two separate relationships finally getting engaged in May 2014 and married in September 2015. In September, 2014, she takes a job as a pharmaceutical salesperson after becoming engaged to Leonard. Sheldon tries living together with Amy and then formalizes it moving out of 4A.
- Simon Helberg as Howard Joel Wolowitz, M.M.E. – He works as an aerospace engineer with NASA. He is Jewish, and lived with his mother. Unlike Sheldon, Leonard, and Raj, Howard lacks a Ph.D. He defends himself by pointing out that he has a master's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the apparatus he designs are built and launched into space, unlike the purely abstract work of his friends. He provides outrageous pick-up lines and fancies himself a ladies man with suitably unimpressed reactions from Penny; however, he has shown limited success with other women. He is a polyglot and has an unhealthy relationship with his over-protective mother. Through Penny he meets a cute girl named Bernadette whom he eventually marries. Howard also is sent into space by NASA to the International Space Station. His mother passes away and Howard and Bernadette move into the family home. In season 9, Howard learns he going to be a father.
- Kunal Nayyar as Rajesh Ramayan "Raj" Koothrappali, Ph.D. – Rajesh, who originally comes from New Delhi, India, works as a particle astrophysicist at Caltech. He is very shy around women and is physically unable to talk to them unless he drinks alcohol; however, he has had much better luck with women than his overly confident best friend Howard. His parents, Dr. V. M. Koothrappali and Mrs. Koothrappali, are seen via webcam. In the third season, he works for Sheldon because his research has run into a dead-end and he does not want to return to India. At the end of the seven season after a relationship with a quirky broken woman named Lucy, he finally gets over his inability to speak to women. In season season 7, he meets a dermatalogist named Emily Sweeney and begins a relationship with her and then meets a screenwriter/bartender named Claire and is torn between them. During "The Hot Tub Contamination", Raj admitted that he was no longer seeing either woman at their request.
- Melissa Rauch as Bernadette Maryann Rostenkowski-Wolowitz, Ph.D. – She is a microbiologist. Formerly, Bernadette was working her way through grad school as a waitress at The Cheesecake Factory, where she befriended Penny, and they eventually become a trio with Amy. Penny introduced Bernadette to Howard. She was upgraded to main cast status in the episode "The Hot Troll Deviation". She and Howard get engaged in the "The Herb Garden Germination". In season 4, she, too, earns a Ph.D and joined the other doctors in mocking Howard for having only a master's degree. She marries Howard just before he goes into space at the end of season 5. Outwardly sweet, Bernadette refuses to tolerate Howard's often childish and embarrassing behavior and has become a stabilizing force in his life. She goes to work for a pharmaceutical company that makes her a lot of money, much more than Howard does, and in season 6, when she finds out that he and Raj spent $5,000 on a 3D printer to make figurines of themselves, she cuts him off from their money and puts him on an allowance. In season 7, she and Amy start to go out without Penny occasionally and bond over science-related topics. In season 8, she and Howard move into the house of her late mother-in-law. In "The Valentino Submergence", Bernadette reveals that she is pregnant, although Howard is unaware of this until "The Positive Negative Reaction".
- Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler, Ph.D. – She first meets Sheldon in the season 3 finale through Raj and Howard, and is very similar to Sheldon, except that she is more open to social interactions and thus more susceptible to conventional behavior. She becomes close friends with Sheldon in season 4, and becomes his girlfriend in season 5, though Sheldon is extremely slow to progress the physical aspect of their relationship. By the season 5 finale, they have progressed to holding hands though Amy is inching Sheldon toward a deeper relationship which gradually starts to become intimate in season 6 ending in some "intercourse" gameplay between their Dungeons and Dragons characters. In season 7, Sheldon begins kissing her on the lips for the first time. In the season 7 finale, she is extremely upset at Sheldon leaving Pasadena. Amy also forms a quirky friendship with Penny, whom Amy frequently refers to as her "bestie," and becomes Bernadette's maid of honor at her and Howard's wedding. At the end of season 8, feeling that her relationship with Sheldon isn't going anywhere, Amy tells him that she needs time away so she can figure out what to do about their relationship. In season 9 Sheldon pushes her and she formally breaks up with him. After exploring dating, she realizes that she still wants Sheldon who asks her to again be his girlfriend. On her next birthday, they lose their virginity to each other, and she later finds out about Sheldon's engagement ring when his Meemaw comes for a visit. In "The Cohabitation Experimentation", Amy and Sheldon try living together and then decide to live together.
- Kevin Sussman as Stuart David Bloom – He is a mild-mannered, under-confident individual who runs the comic book store that the men frequently visit. He is also a geek, but he has a talent for drawing, and is a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design. During Stuart's first appearance, the men brought Penny along to the store and he managed to ask her on a date. They go on two dates until Penny mistakenly calls him "Leonard", leaving him devastated. As Stuart runs a comic book store, he has vast knowledge of comic books and superheroes. In the Season 4 episode "The Toast Derivation", he implied he was in financial trouble and that the comic book store is now also his home. At Howard's bachelor party during "The Stag Convergence", Stuart uses his toasting turn to tell Howard how lucky he is and compares it to his own situation of living in the back of his comic book store. In Season 6, he is invited to be part of the men's group while Howard is in space. Sheldon is not very accepting of this due to Stuart's art degree (which he considers inferior), but relents after Stuart offers him a 30% off discount in the comic book store. Stuart becomes close friends with Raj while Howard is in space, moving in with him and looking for girls together. At the end of season 7, his comic book store has a bad fire. Stuart moves in with Howard's mother to take care of her when she breaks her leg, and after the two bond, she invites Stuart to live in the home. In Season 8 he reopens the comic book store with money from Howard's mother. After her death he continues living in the house now owned and occupied by Howard and Bernadette who secretly want him to move out. He does move out in "The Sales Call Sublimation".
- Laura Spencer as Emily Sweeney, M.D. – She is a dermatologist at Huntington Hospital whom Raj finds on an online dating site. Emily went to Harvard, and is shown to have a slightly alarming personality; she is shown to delight in the macabre when she states that she likes her job because she can cut things with knives, and likes Sally from "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (whom she has a tattoo of on her shoulder) because she has lots of scars and her limbs had to be sewn back on. Despite spooking them a bit she gets along with most of Raj's friends, except Penny whom she has not forgiven for "sleeping" with Raj years ago in "The Roommate Transmogrification". Not wanting to be alone, Raj has declared his love to her even though she does scare him. She eventually begins participating in activities with the group. Just before Valentine's Day, Raj breaks up with her so he can date another woman named Claire, but she turns him down and he tries to get back with Emily but she rejects him. Later Raj and Emily hook up and get back together after she leaves a tearful message and Raj is now seeing both of the girls, Emily and Claire, at the same time. During "The Hot Tub Contamination", Raj admitted that he was no longer seeing either woman at their request.
Recurring Guest Stars
- Kevin Sussman as Stuart Bloom (2009-present; later becomes main character)
- Sara Gilbert as Leslie Winkle (2007-2010; 2016; is a former main character in Season 2)
- Wil Wheaton as himself (2009-present)
- John Ross Bowie as Barry Kripke (2009-present)
- Margo Harshman as Alex Jensen (2012-2013)
- Laurie Metcalf as Mary Cooper (2007-present)
- Christine Baranski as Beverly Hofstadter (2009-present)
- Joshua Malina as President Siebert (2011-2012)
- Mark Harelik as Eric Gablehauser (2007-2008)
- Kate Micucci as Lucy (2013; 2017)
- Aarti Mann as Priya Koothrappali (2010-2011)
- Laura Spencer as Emily Sweeney (2014-2017; later becomes main character)
- Alessandra Torresani as Claire (2016-2017)
Production historyThe show's initial pilot, developed for the 2006–07 television season, was substantially different from its current form. Only Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons were in the cast, and the female lead, Katie, was envisioned as "a street-hardened, tough-as-nails woman with a vulnerable interior". Katie was played by actress Amanda Walsh They also had a female friend called Gilda (played by Iris Bahr). The show's original theme music was also different, using Thomas Dolby's hit "She Blinded Me With Science". The show was not picked up, but the creators were given an opportunity to revise the show, bringing in the remaining leading cast and retooling the show to its current format. The original unaired pilot has never been released on any official format, but copies are available on the Internet. On the evolution of the show, Lorre said "We did the 'Big Bang Pilot' about two and a half years ago, and it sucked, but there were two remarkable things that worked perfectly, and that was Johnny and Jim. We rewrote the thing entirely, and then we were blessed with Kaley and Simon and Kunal." As to whether the world will ever see that original pilot, maybe on a DVD, Lorre said "Wow that would be something, we will see. Show your failures..."
The second pilot of The Big Bang Theory was again directed by James Burrows, who did not continue with the show. This reworked pilot led to a 13-episode order by CBS on May 14, 2007. Prior to its airing on CBS, the pilot episode was distributed on iTunes free of charge. The show premiered September 24, 2007, and was picked-up for a full 22-episode season on October 19, 2007.
Production on the show was halted on November 6, 2007 due to the Writers Guild of America strike, returning on March 17, 2008 in an earlier time slot and with nine new episodes. After the strike ended, the show was picked up for a second season airing in the 2008–2009 season, premiering in the same time slot on September 22, 2008. With increasing ratings, the show received a two-year renewal through the 2010–11 season.
David Saltzberg, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles, checks scripts and provides dialogue, math equations, and diagrams used as props. According to executive producer/co-creator Bill Prady, "We're working on giving Sheldon an actual problem that he's going to be working on throughout the first season so there's actual progress to the boards ... We worked hard to get all the science right." The lead characters are named Sheldon and Leonard after actor, director, and producer Sheldon Leonard..
With the exception of the Pilot, the title of every episode starts with "The", and is then is followed by a descriptive word and a scientific term or principle. The writers have used 136 different scientific terms in the episode titles as of February, 2017 with "excitation", "hypothesis", "implementation", "insufficiency" and "reaction" used the most at five times each followed by "approximation", "catalyst", "solution", "turbulence" and "vortex"; four times each.
Production costsFor the first three seasons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, and Jim Parsons, the three main stars of the show, received at most $60,000 per episode. The salary for the three went up to $200,000 per episode for the fourth season. According to their contracts, their pay per episode will go up an additional $50,000 per episode in each of the following three seasons, culminating in $350,000 per episode in the seventh season.In season 8-10, the three main stars were earning $1 million per episode. Kaley is the highest paid series star on television when including her commecial work. In September, 2016, Forbes Magazine announced the highest paid actors in television. Jim was the highest followed by the other male members of the cast. Kaley was number two in the industry behind ABC’s “Modern Family” bombshell Sofia Vergara. Simon and Kunal make $750,000 per episode in 2016, while Mayim and Melissa make $100,000 each.
Opening Theme - History of Everything
- Main article: The Big Bang Theory (Theme Song)
Barenaked Ladies wrote and recorded the show's theme song, which describes the history of the universe and the Earth since the dawn of time (according to the eponymous theory). Ed Robertson, a lead singer and guitarist in the band, was asked by Lorre and Prady to write a theme song for the show.
Having been asked to write songs for other films and shows only to have them rejected in favour of another artist's, Robertson agreed to write a theme only after learning that he was the sole writer that Lorre and Prady had asked. He drew inspiration from Simon Singh's book, Big Bang, which he had just finished reading.
On October 9, 2007, a full-length (1 minute and 45 seconds) version of the song was released commercially. In a 2010 issue of TV Guide, the show’s opening title sequence ranked #6 on a list of television's top 10 credits sequences, as selected by readers.
- Main article: List of The Big Bang Theory episodes
|Season||Episodes||Originally Aired||DVD Release Date||Discs||Season Premiere||Season Finale||Viewers (millions)||Rank||18-49 Rating/Share|
|1||17||2007-08||September 2, 2008||3||September 24, 2007||May 19, 2008||8.34||#59||3.3/9|
|2||23||2008-09||September 15, 2009||4||September 22, 2008||May 11, 2009||10.01||#42||3.8/10|
|3||23||2009-10||September 15, 2010||3||September 21, 2009||May 24, 2010||14.12||#12||5.3/13 (#5)|
September 16, 2011
|3||September 23, 2010||May 19, 2011||13.14||#13||4.4/13 (#7)|
September 11, 2012
|3||September 22, 2011||May 10, 2012||15.82||#7||5.53/16|
|24||2012-13||September 10, 2013||3||September 27, 2012||May 16, 2013||18.68||#2||6.2/19|
|24||2013-14||September 16, 2014||3||September 26, 2013||May 15, 2014||20.44||#2||??/19.96|
|2||September 22, 2014||May 7, 2015||16.14||N/A||N/A|
|DVD Name||Release dates||Ep #||Additional Information|
|Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|The Complete First Season||September 2, 2008||January 12, 2009||December 9, 2008||17||The three disc box set includes all 17 episodes. The only extra feature is an 18 minute short entitled "Quantum Mechanics of the Big Bang Theory: Series Cast and Creators on Why It’s Cool to Be a Geek". Running Time 374 minutes.|
|The Complete Second Season||September 15, 2009||October 19, 2009||March 3, 2010||23||The four disc box set includes all 23 episodes. The Special Features include a Gag Reel, "Physicist to the Stars: Real-Life Physicist/UCLA professor David Saltzberg's consulting relationship to the Show", and "Testing the Infinite Hilarity Hypothesis of the Big Bang Theory: Season 2's Unique Characters and Characteristics".|
|The Complete Third Season||September 14, 2010||September 27, 2010||October 13, 2010||23||The three disc box set includes all 23 episodes. Special features include "Set Tour with Simon and Kunal", an inside look on the third season and a gag reel. Running Time: 374 minutes.|
|The Complete Fourth Season||September 13, 2011||September 26, 2011||October 5, 2011||24||The 4-disc box set includes all 24 episodes. Special features include the story behind the show's theme song with Barenaked Ladies, cast interviews with each other and a gag reel. Running time: 529 minutes. Also available in Blu-ray as a 2-disc set.|
|The Complete Fifth Season||September 11, 2012||September 3, 2012||October 1, 2012||24||The three-disc box set includes all 24 episodes. Special features include "The Big Bang Theory at 100", a featurette on the show's 100th episode, "The Big Bang Theory's Laws of Reflection", "Professors of Production", and a gag reel. Running time: 552 minutes. Also available on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack with Ultra Violet download.|
|The Complete Sixth Season||September 10, 2013||September 2, 2013||September 18, 2013||24||The three-disc box set contains all 24 episodes. Special features include "The Big Bang Theory: The Final Comedy Frontier", where astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Mike Massimino join the cast to analyze Howard's space mission, "Houston, We Have a Sitcom", "Electromagnetism: The Best Relationship Moments in Season 6", "The Big Bang Theory at Paleyfest 2013", and a gag reel. Running time: 477 minutes. Also available on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack with Ultra Violet download.|
|24||The three-disc box set contains all 24 episodes. Special features include The Big Bang Theory: String theory Serenade James Earl Jones: The Un-Conventional Guest Star BBTea Time The Big Bang Theory's May the 4th The Big Cendrowski 2013 Comic Con Panel Johnny Galecki Crashes the BBT Writers Panel gag reel. Running time: 485 minutes. Also available on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack with Ultra Violet download.|
|September||24||The three-disc box set contains all 24 episodes. Special features include|
- Main article: International broadcasts
In May 2010, it was reported that the show has been picked up for syndication, mainly among Fox's O&O group and other local stations, with Warner Bros. Television's sister cable network TBS holding the show's cable syndication rights. Broadcast of old shows began airing in September 2011. TBS now airs the series in primetime on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, with evening broadcasts on Saturdays (TBS's local sister station in Atlanta also holds local weeknight rights to the series).
Although details of the syndication deal have not been revealed, it was reported the deal "set a record price for a cable off-network sitcom purchase." CTV holds national broadcast syndication rights in Canada, while sister cable network The Comedy Network holds cable rights.
Warner Brothers Television controls the online rights for the show. Full episodes are available at tv.com, while short clips and recently aired full episodes are available on cbs.com. Full episodes are also available on Sohu.com in China. In Canada, recent episode(s) and pictures are available on CTV.ca.
Awards and nominations
See Series Awards.
U.S. standard ratings
The Big Bang Theory has been highly rated since its premiere. During its fourth season, it became television's highest rated comedy, just barely beating out eight-year champ Two and a Half Men. However, in the age 14-49 demographic (the show's target age range), it was the second highest rated comedy, behind ABC's Modern Family. The fifth season opened with viewing figures of over 14 million.
|Season||Timeslot (ET)||Season premiere||Season finale||TV season||Rank|| Avg. Viewers|
|1|| Monday 8:30 P.M. (September 24 – November 12, 2007)|
Monday 8:00 P.M. (March 17 – May 19, 2008)
|September 24, 2007||May 19, 2008||2007–08||#59||8.31|
|2||Monday 8:00 P.M. (September 22, 2008 – May 11, 2009)|
Monday 9:30 P.M. (February 9, 2009)
|September 22, 2008||May 11, 2009||2008–09||#44||10.00|
|3||Monday 9:30 P.M. (September 21, 2009 – May 24, 2010)|
Monday 9:00 P.M. (May 3, 2010)
|September 21, 2009||May 24, 2010||2009–10||#12||14.14|
|4||Thursday 8:00 P.M. (September 23, 2010 – May 19, 2011)||September 23, 2010||May 19, 2011||2010–11||#15||13.14|
|5||Thursday 8:00 P.M. (September 22, 2011 – May 17, 2012)||September 22, 2011||May 17, 2012||2011–12||#9||16.35|
UK distribution and ratings
The show made its UK debut on Channel 4 on February 14, 2008 bringing in an average audience of 1.0 million viewers. The second episode, shown the following week, also received 1.0 million. For the third episode an average of 1.1 million tuned in. The show is also shown as a 'first-look' on Channel 4's digital offshoot E4, and brings in 400,000 viewers on average. The fifth episode received 880,000 viewers. After the first five episodes, the average number of viewers continues to hover around the 1 million mark. Episode 13 was watched by 1.3 million viewers and was the most watched episode.
In December 2008, Virgin Media made the first nine episodes of the first season available to watch on its TV Choice On Demand service, and the rest of Season 1 was made available in January 2009.
As of December 5, 2009, all 23 episodes of Season 2 were also made available on Virgin Media TV Choice On Demand Service, but both seasons have now been removed.
Season 4 began airing on E4 on November 4, 2010 at 9:00 p.m. It drew 877,000 viewers, with a further 256,000 watching on the E4+1 hour service. This viewership gave the show an overall total of 1.13 million viewers, making it E4's most watched program for that week. E4 broke season four after 12 episodes in January 2011. Season four returned on E4 from June 30, 2011 for the remaining episodes.
The fifth season began airing at 8:00 p.m. as part of E4 comedy Thursday's as a lead-in to Perfect Couples in the UK.
The Big Bang Theory started off quietly in Canada, but managed to garner major success later on in further seasons. The season 4 premiere garnered an estimated 3.1 million viewers across Canada. This week is the largest audience for a sitcom since the series finale of Friends. The Big Bang Theory has pulled ahead and has now become the most watched show in Canada.
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