When The Big Bang Theory first premiered in 2007, no one could have predicted it would become the massive pop culture phenomenon that it is today. Almost a decade later, the hit CBS sitcom remains the top-rated comedy currently on TV. While the show has been on the air for quite some time now, there’s still plenty left to learn about The Big Bang Theory.
Let’s take a quick look at 10 things you probably didn’t know about the long-running series — including the one famous actor who refused to guest star on the show (No. 5) and how Sheldon and Leonard really got their names (No. 8).
1. The show has an official science advisor to consult on scripts
As fans know, The Big Bang Theory includes plenty of scientific jargon. But what they may not know is that it’s not just made-up formulas scrawled on those whiteboards. The CBS sitcom relies on the expertise of real-life UCLA professor, David Saltzberg to make sure the science is accurate. He ensures all of the formulas are correct and also reviews scripts in progress. According to NPR, Saltzberg studies high-energy particle physics and high-energy neutrino astronomy when he’s not serving as a consultant on the show.
Next: A famous voice is based on a real-life family member.
2. Melissa Rauch based Bernadette’s voice on a family member
Rauch’s character, Bernadette, has a famously high-pitched voice. It turns out that squeaky speech pattern was inspired by a close relative of Rauch’s: her mom! “Only without the Jersey! Tonally, it’s very similar,” the actress joked at a PaleyFest panel in 2013, per The Hollywood Reporter.
Next: Mayim Bialik is really smart in real life, too.
3. Mayim Bialik is a true academic
Just like her character Amy Farrah Fowler, Bialik has an impressive scientific background. The actress earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA. Her dissertation was an investigation of hypothalamic activity in patients with Prader–Willi syndrome.
Next: How ‘Bazinga!’ came to be
4. Sheldon’s trademark ‘Bazinga!’ was inspired by real-life practical jokes
Writer Stephen Engel was the one to come up with Sheldon’s signature catchphrase. As the show’s creative team previously revealed, Engel would set up playful pranks around the writer’s room, saying “Bazinga!” every time a joke was pulled off. Producers eventually decided to incorporate the phrase into the sitcom.
Next: This famous star turned down a guest role.
5. William Shatner turned down a guest-starring role on the show
The Big Bang Theory is known for featuring some great guest stars, including vets from both Star Wars and Star Trek, but it seems Star Trek’s Captain Kirk isn’t as interested in the experience as his co-stars. In a recent interview, Shatner revealed that he once turned down an offer to appear on The Big Bang Theory because he wasn’t thrilled with how the show wanted to use him.
“I’ve had several conversations with the creators, and what they wanted me to do, didn’t seem to be exactly right, so I said ‘find something that’s better,'” Shatner told Digital Spy. “They may have taken umbrage at that, I’m not sure.” According to the actor, the producers wanted him to play an exaggerated version of himself.
Next: ‘Soft Kitty’ isn’t totally made up.
6. ‘Soft Kitty’ is an actual preschool song
Loyal Big Bang viewers are all too familiar with “Soft Kitty,” the tune that Sheldon likes to be comforted with when he’s sick. You may have thought it was specially created for the comedy, but it turns out it’s a real song. “It’s from my daughter’s preschool in Sherman Oaks,” executive producer, Bill Prady previously revealed, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “It was from Australia, and one of the teachers heard it there.”
Next: Dating jumps from the small screen to real life.
7. Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki dated outside of the show
The actors who play Penny and Leonard were once a real-life couple. The two had a two-year relationship during the course of the comedy, as Cuoco told CBS back in 2010. “It was such a huge part of my life and no one knew about it,” she said, then explaining that the two kept it secret for the sake of the show. “It was a wonderful relationship, but we never spoke a word about it and never went anywhere together.”
Next: Here’s how Sheldon and Leonard got their names.
8. Sheldon and Leonard’s names were inspired by a real-life actor
The first names of the main characters, Sheldon and Leonard serve as a tribute to actor and TV sitcom producer, Sheldon Leonard. Creator Chuck Lorre and executive producer Bill Prady decided to use the names because they are longtime fans of the film star and producer.
Next: They actually learned how to play those instruments.
9. The cast actually learned how to play their characters’ instruments
Amy plays the harp and Sheldon plays the theremin in several episodes of the comedy. But if you thought actors Bialik and Jim Parsons were just faking it, think again. The two actually learned how to play each of the respective instruments so they could be prepared when scenes call for them to play.
Next: How much money does the cast earn?
10. The cast is one of the highest-paid on TV
The Big Bang Theory cast certainly rakes in the big bucks. All of the core leads — including Cuoco, Parsons, Galecki, Simon Helberg, and Kunal Nayyar — are now earning a salary of about $900,00 per episode in exchange for remaining on the show through Season 12.
The supporting cast isn’t doing too shabby either, with Bialik and Rauch pulling in a reported $500,000 per episode.
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