Inside 'The Big Bang Theory' Showrunners' Sudden Decision to End the Series

The decision to end The Big Bang Theory after the upcoming 12th season came as much of a shock to its crew as it did to fans. In fact, they reportedly thought the emergency meeting in co-creator Chuck Lorre's office might have been about a renewal.

Instead, the meeting was to hear about Jim Parsons' decision to leave the show after season 12, reports Deadline. This news left the room in shock, but Lorre had another one ready. The show would not continue without Parsons and would end in May 2019.

One insider described the cast and crew of Big Bang as a "family," which played into Lorre's decision not to continue the show if any member of the "big three" chose to leave. That includes Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco.

According to Deadline, Parsons told Lorre he wanted to leave the show at the end of this season on Aug. 17. Over the weekend, producers tried to get him to change his mind, but he was adamant that 12 years of playing the same character was enough. Since none of the other actors were signed beyond season 12, it was easy for Lorre to agree to end the show.

Meanwhile, CBS and Warner Bros. TV, which produces The Big Bang Theory, were in talks for a two-season renewal. CBS even said at the Television Critics Association Press Tour earlier this month that they "don't believe it's the final season."

CBS and Lorre announced the end of The Big Bang Theory on Wednesday. The show will end as the longest-running multi-camera sitcom ever with 279 episodes.

"We are forever grateful to our fans for their support of The Big Bang Theory during the past twelve seasons. We, along with the cast, writers and crew, are extremely appreciative of the show's success and aim to deliver a final season, and series finale, that will bring The Big Bang Theory to an epic creative close," WBTV and Chuck Lorre Productions said in a statement.

Parsons later issued his own statement on Instagram, admitting he was still accepting the idea of the show ending.

"It is hard (nearly impossible, actually) to really accept that this is a picture of the first of the final 24 episodes we will shoot for The Big Bang Theory. I feel very fortunate that we have another 23 episodes to shoot this season because I am hopeful that with each and every one, my level of REALLY accepting this fact will sink in," Parsons wrote in a lengthy post.

"Something else I feel grateful for — and this gratitude needs no time to 'sink in' or become more 'realized:' this grateful feeling is always with me but is multiplied in this moment of us announcing our final season — but I feel such intense gratitude for our devoted viewers who are the ACTUAL reason we have been graced with the opportunity to explore these characters for 12 years of our lives," Parsons continued.

Parsons became a star thanks to his role as Sheldon Cooper, which earned him a Golden Globe and four Emmys. His performance led to roles in the movies The Normal Heart, Hidden Figures, Wish I Was Here and The Muppets. He is also the narrator and an executive producer on the Big Bang Theory prequel series Young Sheldon.

During its run, The Big Bang Theory picked up 52 Emmy nominations and 10 wins. It was the most-watched sitcom on TV until the Roseanne revival kicked it off the throne last season.

Season 12 kicks off on Monday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. ET, then moves to Thursdays for the remainder of the season on Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.


Photo credit: Michael Yarish/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.