Why Was ‘The Big Bang Theory” Canceled?

Some sitcoms come and go without making much of a splash, but others become a huge cultural touchstone, and it seems like The Big Bang Theory is in the latter category. Originally titled Lenny, Penny, and Kenny, the sitcom focused on nerd culture in a way that had not been highlighted so fully on TV before. 

While some criticized the show for promoting stereotypes and not going deep enough beneath simplistic portrayals of intelligence and neurodivergence, others saw the series as an important piece of representation for highly gifted individuals. The series was a smashing success for CBS, and it ran for an astonishing 12 seasons. What finally brought it to an end? 

‘The Big Bang Theory’ enjoyed incredible success

The cast of 'The Big Bang Theory'
The cast of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ | Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

The Big Bang Theory premiered on CBS in 2007, and it focused on the lives of two roommates with unbelievably high IQs and lots of quirks. The socially awkward Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and the rigid and exacting Sheldon (Jim Parsons) led the series, but they were joined by a delightful cast of characters that really helped bring the series to life. 

The catalyst for the show’s action initially revolved around the stars’ new neighbor, Penny (Kaley Cuoco), who Leonard is determined to woo. As Penny helps the guys figure out life outside of their Cal Tech bubble, other relationships develop and become the heart of the show. As the show progressed, Leonard’s relationship with Amy (Mayim Bialik) took center stage — to mixed reviews from fans

While the series certainly faced its critics, it was overwhelmingly a success. As IMDb reports, the series managed to win an impressive 10 Emmy Awards before concluding in 2019. 

Jim Parsons’ exit led to the show’s cancellation

Networks don’t tend to cancel a show when it’s doing well, so it came as a shock to many fans when The Big Bang Theory ended. After all, the series was still bringing in millions of viewers, and it was designed in such a way that following the quirky lives of its main characters could have gone on indefinitely. Why, then, did the show come to an end? 

As The List reports, the choice to end the show was largely centered around star Jim Parsons’ decision to exit the project. “It felt like we have been able to do this for so many years now, it doesn’t feel like there is anything left on the table,” Parsons explained of his decision not to renew his contract. It has since been revealed that Parsons was dealing with some personal issues behind the scenes (including the death of his dog) and that ending his time on the show felt like the right move for his own growth and career. 

The showrunners certainly could have chosen to continue the series without him. Other sitcoms have survived the loss of a major character. The creators, however, decided against this route. Sheldon was a foundational part of the series, and continuing without him didn’t seem like the best choice. 

‘The Big Bang Theory’ cast members have moved on

The stars of The Big Bang Theory became incredibly close during their long run together, and now many of them are finding their footing in their acting careers since the show’s conclusion.

Jim Parsons did step back into the role of Sheldon, providing the voice for his character in Young Sheldon. As Us Magazine reports, he has also gone into work as a producer, and his efforts included Bialik’s new sitcom Call Me Kat

Kaley Cuoco has seen big moves in her career. Most notably, she took on a starring role in The Flight Attendant

All told, The Big Bang Theory seems to have been a successful launching pad, and we can expect to see many of the stars for years to come.

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