The Big Bang Theory, TV's No. 1 sitcom, will sign off Thursday, May 16, with a one-hour episode, says CBS, which has announced season finale dates for its prime-time lineup.
The show will wrap up storylines after 12 seasons for original cast members Sheldon (Jim Parsons), Leonard (Johnny Galecki), Penny (Kaley Cuoco), Howard (Simon Heldberg) and Raj (Junal Nayyar) on the last Thursday during the May ratings "sweeps."
Producers added Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) as Howard's love interest in the third season (2009), and Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik) as Sheldon's girlfriend in the fourth season (2010).
Big Bang is ending because Parsons refused to do another season. In the 2017-18 TV season, the show averaged 18.9 million viewers and was the No. 2 sitcom behind Roseanne, and was the second highest-rated entertainment program (behind NBC’s This Is Us), according to Deadline.
Many fans of the show don't know that The Big Bang Theory originally did not include Howard, Raj or Penny.
In the first pilot made in spring 2006 – which never aired – socially awkward roommates Sheldon and Leonard had a female scientist friend named Gilda (played by Iris Bahr, best known as Rachel Heineman on Curb Your Enthusiasm). The plot had the two guys meet "a drunk girl called Katie and invite her to stay at their place, because she has nowhere to stay," according to the Internet Movie Database.
Katie was played by Amanda Walsh, who was Zee/Elizabeth Helm on Lost Girl.
Executive producers Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady retooled the sitcom over the next year, adding Penny, Howard and Raj for the CBS premiere on Sept. 24, 2007.
How will it end?
"We have a general idea of what we are aiming for with May and the finale,” Lorre told Deadline in December. "These days there’s a lot of melancholy in the background at all times. It’s been a 12-year project that has been really just a joy. It’s going to be very, very sad to let it go."
Here are the CBS season finales:
Monday, April 1: Magnum P.I., 9 p.m.
Thursday, April 11: FAM, 9:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 14: God Friended Me, 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 21: Madam Secretary, 10 p.m.
Monday, April 22: The Neighborhood, 8 p.m.
Monday, May 6: Man With A Plan, 8:30 p.m..
Thursday, May 9: Mom, 9 p.m.
Friday, May 10: MacGyver, 8 p.m.; Blue Bloods, 10 p.m.
Monday, May 13: Bull, 10 p.m.
Tuesday, May 14: FBI, 9 p.m.
Wednesday, May 15: Survivor, 8 p.m.
Thursday, May 16: The Big Bang Theory, 8 p.m.; Young Sheldon, 9 p.m.; S.W.A.T., 10 p.m.
Friday, May 17: Hawaii Five-0, 10 p.m.
Sunday, May 19: NCIS: Los Angeles, 10 p.m.
Tuesday, May 21: NCIS, 8 p.m.; NCIS: New Orleans, 10 p.m.
Wednesday, May 22: SEAL Team, 10 p.m.
Saturday, June 1: Ransom, 8 p.m.