Fans of The Big Bang Theory have many opportunities to celebrate the hit sitcom before the final episode airs 8-9 p.m. Thursday, May 16.
CBS will broadcast repeats on Monday nights, and take viewers behind the scenes in a special at 9 p.m. May 16, following the finale. TBS will salute each of the main characters with five-show mini-marathons, for a total of 25 episodes. And People magazine has posted a story about the final taping Tuesday, April 30.
In chronological order, here's a guide to how to watch the best of Sheldon, Leonard, Penny and the Big Bang gang this month. The TBS reruns listed below include a comment from the actor about why each episode was a favorite.
THURSDAY, MAY 2
8 p.m. CBS: "The Plagiarism Schism" – Kripke (John Ross Bowie) has proof that Dr. Pemberton (Sean Astin) plagiarized his thesis in college, and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Amy (Mayim Bialik) aren’t sure if they should turn him in or not. Also, Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) is happily surprised to learn that Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) wasn't the only waitress at The Cheesecake Factory who had a crush on him back in the day.
FRIDAY MAY 3 – TBS SALUTE TO RAJ (KUNAL NAYYAR)
8:30 p.m. TBS: "The Grasshopper Experiment" -- Raj's parents set him up on a blind date, and once he relaxes his nerves with some alcohol, she shows interest in Sheldon. Nayyar: "This was the first time I spoke to Penny with a drink in my hand. And the worldwide sales of Grasshopper's tripled."
9 p.m. TBS: "The Adhesive Duck Deficiency" -- With the rest of the gang off on a desert camping trip to view the Leonid meteor shower, Sheldon must play hero after Penny slips in the tub and dislocates her shoulder. Nayyar: "Getting high in the desert with the guys, and then giving an entire speech about being the cruel King of a Land of Rabbits was definitely out there for me."
9:30 p.m. TBS: "The Justice League Recombination" -- The guys get Zack and Penny to join their Justice League costume for a New Year's Eve bash at the comic book store. Nayyar: "Attaching a foam seahorse to my waist, and yelling Aquaman sucks while dressed up as Aquaman was a real treat. That is, before Jason Momoa made actually Aquaman cool."
10 p.m. TBS: "The Bakersfield Expedition" -- Leonard's car is stolen when the guys take a road trip to a comic book convention in Bakersfield, dressed as Star Trek characters. Nayyar: "Spending nine hours in Star Trek makeup not so fun. Getting to make a joke about renting a car from Enterprise... priceless."
10:30 p.m. TBS: "The Confidence Erosion" -- Sheldon and Amy try to eliminate stress from wedding planning by applying math to the process. Raj "breaks up" with Howard after realizing his best friend is actually hurting his confidence. Nayyar: "Because after 11 years of flat-ironing my hair, I finally got to wear it curly and natural as it is."
MONDAY MAY 6
8 p.m. CBS: "The Confirmation Polarization" – When Sheldon and Amy’s super asymmetry theory is proven by two Chicago physicists, Dr. Pemberton (Sean Astin) and Dr. Campbell (Kal Penn), they’re thrilled, until they try to kick Amy off the Nobel nomination. Also, Bernadette has a big success at work and Penny’s going to be a part of it – whether she wants to or not – on a rebroadcast from Jan. 17, 2019.
TUESDAY MAY 7 – TBS SALUTE TO BERNADETTE (MELISSA RAUCH)
7:30 p.m. TBS: "The Pulled Groin Extrapolation" -- Attending a co-worker's wedding, Leonard and Amy get to know each other better, while Howard and Bernadette spend the weekend with Mrs. Wolowitz. Rauch: "I loved when I would get to imitate Howard's mother in conversation with Howard's mother. Carol Ann Susi (the original Mrs. Wolowitz) was such a special and incredible woman and working with her was always such a wonderful treat."
8 p.m. TBS: "The Reentry Minimazation" -- Howard returns from space... without the welcome he wanted. Rauch: "Bernadette gets sick when Howard comes back from space. I loved playing both the physical and vocal comedy of this episode. You really see how much Bernadette loves Howard and how she wants to rally and be romantic with him now that he is back - even if it means blowing her nose in his face."
8:30 p.m. TBS: "The Parking Spot Escalation" -- Sheldon and Howard battle over an assigned parking spot. Rauch: "Bernadette and Amy getting involved in the argument between Howard and Sheldon shows how much they love their significant others. It was so much fun playing this fight out. I'm so the opposite of Bernadette as far as her aggression goes, so it always feels nice to step into her confrontational loafers. And girls' nights episodes are always so much fun to shoot with Kaley and Mayim."
9 p.m. TBS: "The Troll Manifestation" -- An online troll rips Leonard and Sheldon's published physics paper, so the guys rally to defend the two and expose the bully, while a girls' night out leads to Penny, Amy and Bernadette dishing about embarrassing past events. Rauch: "The Miss California Quiznos episode. Two words: The. Hair."
9:30 p.m. TBS: "The Holiday Summation" -- Sheldon and Amy visit Leonard and Penny for the first time since the holidays and share details about their terrible trip to Texas. Rauch: "In this episode Howard and Bernadette are adjusting to life with a newborn and them dealing with all the crying (mostly their own). I love how it shows them navigating this new life change together. When Howard says 'Good job, Mommy' through the crib slats, I get teary every time."
WEDNESDAY MAY 8 -- TBS SALUTE TO HOWARD (SIMON HELBERG)
7:30 p.m. TBS: "The Werewolf Transformation" -- A change in Sheldon's routine forces him to re-evaluate his entire life, when his barber is sick. Meanwhile, Howard rethinks his decision to go into space after astronaut training. Helberg: "I ate a butterfly. That kind of line only comes along maybe every four years, like the Olympics. And like the Olympics, it deserves a medal. The progression of the scenes with Howard going through utter hell were so perfectly constructed. And the 'butterfly' scene is one of the few instances where we only did one take."
8 p.m. TBS: "The Closet Reconfiguration" -- To open or not to open? When Howard finds a letter from his father, he's forced to confront his past. And Leonard and Penny throw a grown-up cocktail party at the apartment. Helberg: "The writers brilliantly crafted this story climaxing in a kind Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me where each one of Howard's friends tells him a version of what is in the letter his father left him after abandoning he and his mother, while only one of them is true. It beautifully highlights how close this group of friends truly are."
8:30 p.m. TBS: "The Love Spell Potential" -- When the girls' trip to Vegas falls through, the guys invite them to a Dungeons & Dragons date night that causes Sheldon and Amy's relationship to take an unexpected turn. Helberg: "I had such a fun time doing that slew of impressions in the D&D scene. The audience was so pumped to hear all of those voices come out of me. I don't always love to do impressions because it can feel a bit like a party trick but it felt authentic to Howard's character, and ultimately doing voices and impressions became somewhat of a trademark of his."
9 p.m. TBS: "The Romance Resonance" -- Sheldon makes a major scientific breakthrough, but he feels it may haunt him for the rest of career. Meanwhile, Howard makes a grand romantic gesture to Bernadette, which causes Penny to put more effort into her relationship with Leonard. Helberg: "Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome (aka Garfunkel & Oates) wrote a brilliant song that is the most incredible blend of humor and emotion. Some of my favorite moments in the show is when the comedy and the humanity of these characters are in perfect harmony and this was a prime example of that."
9:30 p.m. TBS: "The Positive Negative Reaction" -- The gang learns Bernadette is pregnant and celebrate by singing karaoke. Meanwhile, Howard freaks out over the pregnancy announcement and becomes convinced he must make more money to provide for the baby. Helberg: "The opening scene with Melissa was one of my favorites of the whole series. The rhythms and structure - from discovering the pregnancy test to pure elation to utter terror - is another instance of truly fantastic writing. And Melissa is the most open and wonderful scene partner anyone could ever have."
THURSDAY, MAY 9
8 p.m. CBS: "The Maternal Conclusion" – Leonard (Johnny Galecki ) is pleasantly surprised when his mother Beverly (Christine Baranski) comes to visit and she’s genuinely kind to him, until he finds out the real reason she’s there. Also, Stuart (Kevin Sussman) and Denise (Lauren Lapkus) overstay their welcome at the Wolowitz house.
FRIDAY MAY 10 – TBS SALUTE TO PENNY (KAYLEY CUOCO)
8:30 p.m. TBS: "The Barbarian Sublimation" -- Penny becomes addicted to an online game based on the world of Conan the Barbarian and persistently pesters Sheldon for advice. Cuoco: "I had real Cheetos all over my face and enjoyed every second of it."
9 p.m. TBS: "Bath Item Gift Hypothesis" -- Sheldon irks the gang with his obsession with proper Christmas gift protocol; Leonard's crushed when Penny dates a colleague of his; Sheldon hugs Penny. Cuoco: "That hug was one of the highlights of this show for me."
9:30 p.m. TBS: "Adhesive Duck Deficiency" -- With the rest of the gang off on a desert camping trip to view the Leonid meteor shower, Sheldon must play hero after Penny slips in the tub and dislocates her shoulder. Cuoco: "Jim and I laughed so hard while shooting the scene where he puts my shirt on. We couldn’t keep a straight face."
10 p.m. TBS: "The 43 Peculiarity" -- Howard and Raj try to solve a mystery about Sheldon; Penny tells Leonard she loves him. Cuoco: "That was one take and done!!"
10:30 p.m. TBS: "The Scavenger Vortex" -- Raj puts together a scavenger hunt that turns into serious, cutthroat competition among the gang. Cuoco: "One of my favorite episodes, everyone had something hilarious to do and it was so well written."
MONDAY MAY 13
8 p.m. CBS: "The Meteorite Manifestation” – Sheldon is thrilled to help Bernadette and Howard navigate bureaucratic paperwork, until he discovers they are breaking the law. Also, Leonard is disappointed when his friends exclude him from a scientific project, on a rebroadcast from Jan. 31, 2019.
8:30 p.m. CBS: "The Donation Oscillation" – Penny tries to seduce an abstaining Leonard to ruin his "donation" for her ex-boyfriend, Zack (Brian Thomas Smith) and his wife, Marissa (Lindsey Kraft). Also, Howard, Bernadette, Anu (Rati Gupta) and Raj turn Raj's canceled bachelor party into a couple's trip on a rebroadcast from Feb. 7, 2019. Keith Carradine returns as Penny’s father, Wyatt.
TUESDAY MAY 14 – TBS SALUTE TO LEONARD (JOHNNY GALECKI)
Details to be released on times and episodes.
WEDNESDAY MAY 15 – TBS SALUTE TO SHELDON (JIM PARSONS)
Details to be released on times and episodes.
THURSDAY, MAY 16
8 p.m. CBS: Episode details have not been released for the one-hour series finale, so here are my best guesses: Do Sheldon and Amy win a Nobel Prize? Do Raj and Anu get married? Does Leonard get a promotion – or news that Penny is pregnant?
9 p.m. CBS: Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco host a 30-minute retrospective by looking at their favorite clips and "sharing some of the best kept backstage secrets." Like how the original pilot didn't include Penny, Raj or Wolowitz?