The team of scientists we have working out back at The Gamer headquarters tell me that The Big Bang Theory has been on the air since September, 2007, which seems impossible. What always freaks me out about TBBT, is the fact that everyone claims to hate it publicly, but it steadily pulls in the ratings. Who are the people who are watching this? Furthermore, how was it possible to get a spinoff of the most annoying character in child form? And how did Young Sheldon get picked up for a second season? I though everyone was in agreement that we hated both precocious children and entitled dullards, but somehow, combining those two things results in more seasons than Firefly. So despite TBBT being thought of as the lowest point in sitcom comedy, everyone is secretly watching it, which means I should probably write an article about it.
Literally, everything on this wide, weird world of ours has a dark underbelly, and if you don't think that's true, just look at what adults have done to My Little Pony. The can be no light without shadow, and sometimes the brightest lights create mind bendingly awful and stupid shadows. So when you have a show that is as milk-curdling banal as The Big Bang Theory you can guarantee there are going to be some dark and juicy tidbits going on behind the scenes. Sadly, none of these facts are that Jim Parsons drinks the blood of cute little frogs to maintain such a punchable face, but some of the facts will have to suffice.
27 That Dang Song
A reoccurring gag (I use that term loosely, since it barely qualifies as a joke) is the song "Soft Kitty" which is used to soothe people whenever they feel ill or injured. It was originally used on Sheldon, since he is an emotionally stunted man-child, but it somehow caught on and other characters began to request it whenever they felt under the weather. This was barely worth a guffaw the first time, and has somehow been milked for multiple scenes through multiple seasons.
Turns out, The Big Bang Theory isn't even original enough to come up with an original rhyme for this song, and it was yanked straight from a book of lullabies. The family of the original author of the lyrics actually attempted to sue TBBT, since they never gave express permission for the lyrics to be used outside of the book, but due to a loophole in copyright laws, they lost the case, and that stupid joke was allowed to persist within the show.
26 A One Name Kind Of Girl
At the time of writing this cursed article, I have done so much back research of The Big Bang Theory that I can now name every character's first and last name from memory. We have Leonard Hofstadter, Sheldon Cooper, Howard Wolowitz, Raj Koothrappali, Bernadette Rostenkowski and Amy Farrah Fowler. I can barely list my actual friends' last names, and here I have all this useless information pushing out my knowledge of how mitochondria work.
Wait, did I leave out Penny? Maybe that's because her last name is never explicitly stated, for whatever reason. Personally, I think the writers are holding out to have a huge reveal where it says that Penny and Leonard are somehow cousins, but I'm broken on the inside and always wish for terrible things. Whatever the reason for the mystery, Penny will always be listed as having a single name, like Cher or better yet, Shrek.
25 Life Imitating Art
Anyone out there remember the awesome character of Zack? Yeah, I actually had to look up this guy to jog my memory, too. Apparently, Penny dated this door prize early in the shows run, and he was a bit of an outsider to the group of nerds. Still, in a sign of solidarity, when the group dressed up as members of the Justice League Zack went along with the group costume and went as Superman.
The funny thing about Zack, who was Penny's lover at the time, dressing as Superman is only funny in retrospect. The actress who plays Penny, Kaley Cuoco would eventually dated beefcake Henry Cavill. While I don't think Henry is all that great an actor, he certainly fit the looks bill when he got cast as Superman. So that means TBBT forewarned her that she would date a guy who was an ill-fitting Superman, and that it would end in heartbreak.
It really bugged me when I found that prior to signing up for three of the prequels, Natalie Portman had never seen Star Wars. If you are going to profit off of the fanbase of something, can you really look down on them with derision? Doesn't that make you a sort of parasite, to simply live off of people, without actually agreeing with what you are doing? You may not agree with how I view it, and that's ok.
Mayim Bialik doesn't own a television.
I know lots of weirdoes who don't own a television, and that's fine. I'll never agree to shutting yourself off to an entire form of media, since I think it is narrow-minded (even I've taken in a ballet or a musical) but people are allowed their wrong opinions. But if you are going to make a living off of television, can you really afford to be so aloof that you don't own one yourself? You can't be too good for television while simultaneously making a living off of it. That's called being a hypocrite.
23 Top Of Their Game
Remember way back in the day when we thought it was ludicrous that every central member of FRIENDS made $1000000 an episode? But at least FRIENDS was publicly loved by everyone, which cannot be said about The Big Bang Theory. But what they don't have in common in public approval ratings, they make up for in paycheques for the cast.
Galecki, Parsons, and Cuoco were getting paid a million dollars an episode.
This makes Cuoco one of the highest paid actors in television, but it also brings to light the huge discrepancy between what "core" members of a cast can end up getting paid. It seems somewhat unfair that almost all posters for TBBT will show Leonard, Sheldon, Penny, Raj, and Howard all chumming around with each other, but somehow, only the first three merit a million dollars an episode. Before you think the rest of the cast got too shafted, you should hear what everyone else makes.
22 And All The Rest
So if the top three stars of the show make a million bucks a pop, what do the other lowly dregs of the cast make. Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar, who plays Howard Wolowitz and Raj Koothrappali respectively, only pull in a measly $750 000 per episode. Those poor losers. What is truly surprising is how little Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik were pulling down, since they were newer additions to the cast.
In an act that is fairly surprising for millionaires, Galecki, Parsons, and Cuoco agreed to a pay cut down to $900000 an episode in order for Bialik and Rauch to get raises up to $450000 an episode. That may seem like a pointless gesture when everybody is making so much, but it means that the three main stars give up a collective $7200000 a season in order to help out their fellow cast mates. Any way you slice it, that's a noble thing to do.
21 Instantly The Right Fit
Many times with a TV show, the writers will have a very specific vision for how they want a character to act like. They will then have to go through a vigorous screening process to find the actor most like the character, and even then, the creator usually has to make compromises. And due to this vision, even actors who have a good audition will have to come back multiple times for the casting director, writer, and director to whittle down the potential nominees through multiple rounds.
It takes an exceptional actor to break this kind of cycle, with the kind of performance that will instantly make the show-runner jump out of their chair and shout "THIS IS MY CHARACTER!" Apparently, Jim Parsons can capture that kind of performance, since he was cast and hired and Sheldon Cooper right at his second audition, which is an extremely rare occurrence, which I'm sure your actor friends can tell you.
20 What's In A Name?
It's no secret that when a writer is naming characters, they will take inspiration from real life. Sometimes it will be from a friend or family member, or maybe the street you lived on as a child, or your favorite pet (Indiana Jones is genuinely named after George Lucas' childhood dog.) Writers will even pluck the names of colleagues or mentors they had in the industry.
The characters of Leonard Hofstadter and Sheldon Cooper are actually a breakdown of the name Sheldon Leonard, who was a pioneering actor, writer director and producer. It is unknown at this time what motivated show creator Chuck Lorre to write these two characters as a tip of the hat to him, but it's nice for him to receive some posthumous recognition all the same. I absolutely loved him in It's A Wonderful Life simply because he had enough gall to throw an honest to goodness angel out of his bar out into the snow.
19 Somehow Worse
If you are like me and feel your life force being burned away by your flaming, intense hatred for The Big Bang Theory you'll be hard-pressed to think of a way that the show could be any worse. Honestly, if this show introduced a funky, talking animal sidekick, it could only improve this smoking diaper pile of a formulaic show. But against all odds, the Belarus knockoff of the show actually managed to be worse.
They were on the verge of being sued.
The lawsuit would be mostly pointless since the television company was predominantly owned by the Government of Belarus, but it ended up not being necessary. The actors on the show had no idea they were acting in a blatant rip-off, so when the lawsuit made it public knowledge, every member of the cast quit, thus killing the show. That's actually more integrity than I was going to give them credit for.
18 Not Always Clueless
Every show starts off with a pilot, even terrible shows. Usually, they will closely resemble the finished product that audiences end up with when the studio approves the pilot, with a few minor tweaks. In the case of The Big Bang Theory, there were actually a few serious alterations to the characters, formula, and cast between the pilot and the series that would eventually air.
One huge change was to the personality of Sheldon.
In the original pilot, Sheldon was seen as being quite active in the bedroom when it came to women, which is a huge departure from the character we all ended up with. For the past decade, we have seen Sheldon be next to clueless when it comes to the ladies, bumbling his way through countless romantic and intimate misadventures. Which obviously seems to please audiences more than the womanizer he originally was in the pilot, since the show has been on the air for so long.
17 A Sign That You've Made It
The wise beyond his years lyricist Eminem once said "If you have enemies, good that means you stood up for something." I've always agreed that if you do something important, you are bound to make enemies along the way, since people will always oppose big ideas. So while I might not agree that The Big Bang Theory is a good idea, it is a massive hit, and we can measure that by those opposed to it.
For unknown reasons, it has been banned in China.
Some claim this is because it glamorizes the "loser" lifestyle, which the Chinese government would want to stamp out to maintain productivity. Series creator Chuck Lorre claims it is another ploy by Communism to stop any attempts at individualism. It's actually a fairly complex topic representing tensions arising in China at the moment, and is very much worth looking into a little more in depth.
16 Penny For Your Thoughts
It's hard to imagine TBBT without crowd favorite Penny. She is such an integral part of the show it has made Kaley Cuoco the highest paid woman on television right now, which is an incredible feat, which we will touch on elsewhere in this article. She grounds the nerdiness of the entire group by being the bridge between rabid fanboys and down to earth, everyday folks. She's a huge portion of why the show has been so massively successful.
So why is she missing from the pilot?
How did the showrunners think they would get a show like this off the ground without someone as awesome and beautiful as Penny? Whatever they were thinking, they obviously ended up on a winning idea, because to me, Penny is one of the only tolerable aspects of this abysmal show. I can't imagine how much worse it would be without her. Actually, I don't need to imagine...
15 She Caught The Katie
So if Kaley Cuoco wasn't playing Penny in the pilot, and if the pilot didn't have Penny at all, what exactly did it have? Well, what it had was a character named Katie who was played by Canadian actress Amanda Walsh. Katie's character was envisioned as a relentlessly tough woman with a delicate interior (already this is so cliché I want to vomit.) Leonard and Sheldon find her outside, crying on the curb because she has been left homeless by her ex-boyfriend.
The studio thought this was too dark.
Sure, it's a great way to get someone outside the nerd club living with Leonard and Sheldon, but it also means making a woman put up with those two or end up living on the street. Truthfully, I'm glad they abandoned that whole plot piece, because that means it left Amanda Walsh open to give an amazing performance in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.
14 A Good Judge Of Character
A fan favorite episode of The Big Bang Theory is the one where Stan Lee is slated to make an appearance at the comic book shop, which justifiably has the boys in a tither. In classic sitcom timing, that is also the day that Sheldon and Penny need to appear in traffic court, and "hilarity" ensues. While in traffic court, the judge has a name that eagle-eyed fans might have noticed is a cute little Easter egg.
While Sheldon does his whole shtick in front of a beleaguered judge, his nameplate reads as J. Kirby. This is an obvious call out to Jack Kirby, the usual partner to Stan Lee who helped create many of Marvel Comics' most famous characters. So while Stan Lee has lived long enough to still be making cameos in what seems like every movie ever made, it's nice to see that his arguably just as influential counterpart still gets a little recognition.
13 He Really Blossomed
Mayim Bialik was a late addition to the cast of The Big Bang Theory but has been well received by fans. Many people remember Bialik fondly from their a favorite childhood show Blossom where she played the titular character. True fans of her old show were quick to notice a huge connection between TBBT and Blossom though, and quickly began to assume that Johhny Galecki was going to be her character's romantic partner.
Galecki was Bialik's make-out partner in Blossom.
Yes, way back in the naughty nineties, Galecki played her youthful paramour on her hit show. This isn't even the first time he has plucked out a lover from a previous show, as Sara Gilbert has played his girlfriend on both TBBT and Roseanne. Who knows, maybe future seasons will have cameos from the cast of Christmas Vacation or I Know What You Did Last Summer. Man, he has had a very eclectic career.
12 Full Circle
In Season 3, Episode 23, Raj and Howard look for Sheldon's perfect match in "The Lunar Excitation." This is the episode where we are first introduced to Mayim Bialik's character Amy Farrah Fowler. Since then, she has been a series regular, meaning that she has been with the show since 2010, which is a fate worse than death.
What if I were to tell you she had been with the show for much longer?
In Season 1, Episode 13, the gang are trying to find someone to replace Sheldon on their Physics Bowl team. In a throwaway "joke" Raj suggests that they get the girl from Blossom since she is smart in real life. This is a reference to the actress Mayim Bialik having a degree in neuroscience, and is a call out to her three years before she would ever join the show. If she was familiar with the reference, she should have known to stay far away.
11 All The Signs Are There
Sheldon Cooper has a lot of "quirks" going for him, which either make him intolerable or adorable, depending on who you ask. He has a lot of obsessive behaviours, he is socially dysfunctional, he has many regressive tendencies (such as needing the song Soft Kitty), he is completely unable to grasp subtext, he doesn't recognize sarcasm, he usually avoids most forms of physical contact, he is prone to anxiety and he shows signs of being something of a scientific savant.
Do those sound familiar to you?
Yes, despite having all the signs for Asperger's, or at least landing somewhere on the Autism spectrum, Jim Parsons and everyone else involved with The Big Bang Theory all deny that Sheldon has it. They have a whole gamut of excuses as to why not, but still, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, you could probably diagnose it with duck syndrome.
10 Name That Tune!
In a certain episode, I don't feel like looking up at the moment, Sheldon states that his favorite cartoon theme song (how do you even land on that topic?) is "Turtle Power" from the incredible 90s TV show Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While I agree that the song is incredible (it's no Darkwing Duck or Transformers) I'm next to certain that Sheldon had another motivation behind listing that as his favorite theme.
The song was actually written by Chuck Lorre.
By some bizarre serious of events, the one and only soundtrack credit Lorre has under his belt is the theme from TMNT. How you stumble into that bit of pop culture history is a mystery, and I suspect it actually involves a wasted wish from a whimsical genie. It's hard to picture that the shadow being behind the creation of shows like Two and a Half Men or Grace Under Fire is also the mad genius behind the lyrics "heroes in a half shell."
9 Finding Your Voice
Many fans are surprised to find out that Melissa Rauch, who plays Bernadette on the show, sounds nothing like her counterpart. You actually notice that when they first introduced her character on the show, she doesn't quite have the same pitch and cadence as she would end up having in later seasons. It's almost there, but it isn't quite as high, and she doesn't have the accent.
Rauch claims that she based the high pitch on her own mother's voice, so she obviously shares some vocal chords with the final version of Bernadette's voice. She also claims that her mother doesn't have the classic New Jersey accent. Many people claim that it's a cool way to have a distinctive character, but personally, I find it kind of gimmicky, especially when Rauch already has a distinctive and soothing voice. Why doesn't Penny have to put on a cartoonish voice to be memorable?
8 Wearing Your Heart On Your Sleeve
Part of the "charm" of Sheldon is that he is incredibly stunted in his emotional growth, and as an adult has a huge difficulty in expressing emotions properly. Most of the time he pretends he doesn't feel them under the guise that he is hyper-logical, much like Spock. The reality is that he is actually feeling emotions he doesn't understand so he suppresses them, acting them out in childish ways.
In case it wasn't clear to the audience, Sheldon's subconscious is helping him get dressed every morning. Usually, the color of his shirt will correspond with the emotion he is having difficulty processing, with red for anger, blue for sadness and green for courage. Most people would associate green with jealousy, but the green is usually accompanied with a Green Lantern symbol, and a Lantern's strength comes from their willpower and courage. I'd honestly be expecting Sheldon to be wearing a lot more yellow than he does.
7 A Secret Love
We now have endless hordes of both professional and amateur paparazzi, spilling ever secret a celebrity has all over the internet for us to frenzy upon like the rarely released McRib. The concept of a celebrity having a private life is becoming more and more foreign, since we have sacrificed caring about relevant events to finding out which two celebrities are sharing a McRib together. Yes, I'm craving a McRib, and I don't know why. So when you find out two celebrities have been seeing each other for years, it can actually be both shocking and impressive.
Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco dated secretly for two years.
That's a real dedication to privacy to have hidden it from the public eye for so many years, but where things stray into genuine magic territory is that even the other cast members of the show were unaware. Although they are currently broken up, they say that they split on friendly terms.
6 Never Meet Your Heroes
I think most people who were raised by television end up harboring a few crushes on actors or fictional characters. If you grew up in the 90s, you almost certainly had a crush on Sarah Michelle Gellar. Swooning over Buffy and owning POGS were pretty much all we had. So it's no surprise that Kunal Nayyar, who plays Raj Koothrappali, had a crush on Winnie from The Wonder Years while he was growing up. He was in luck, then, when Danica McKellar, who played Winnie, was a guest on the show.
You can probably guess what happened. Much like what every sitcom ever has warned us, you should never meet the people you have celebrity crushes on. After meeting Danica, Kunal stated that he lost all affection for her. This is a pretty common story, since once you realize that someone you put up on a pedestal is actually just a regular person, it's hard to worship them the same way.
5 Not A Fan
My personal belief is that when you take an acting part seriously, you should do a small amount of due diligence to know the source material. If your character is a huge fan of something, at least look up the Wiki about the subject so you can have a passing knowledge of it. If they are a fan of a movie franchise, spend an afternoon to watch all of the movies. if they are a fan of the show, watch at least five episodes, so you can really click into what the character finds so awesome about the show.
Obviously, actor Jim Parsons doesn't agree with that school of thought, since he claims to have never seen a single episode of either Star Trek or Doctor Who. I can understand admitting to having never been an avid fan, but to have never seen ANY episodes requires you to be actively avoiding the shows.
4 Something's Missing
When you have a core cast of characters and actors who repeat every episode, it seems pretty easy to do the credits for your show. It's genuinely a copy and paste job, repeating the same cast members that were in the previous episode. Then you add in any "also starring" actors and maybe a special guest appearance announcement. It's probably the easiest job in the whole production process, apart from the writer who just throws taco bites at a pop culture reference dartboard.
For whatever reason, Kaley Cuoco is actually missing from an episode she stars in, out of the blue. Season 5, Episode 19 definitely has a lot of Penny in it, but somehow along the way Kaley was dropped from the credits. I don't know how this kind of oversight happens, especially on a show that has definitely been on autopilot since Season 3, but I'm sure Cuoco wasn't too phased.
3 Heard And Not Seen
I'm sure avid fans of TBBT were overjoyed when Howard Wolowitz and Bernadette Rostenkowski had their first child. Two beloved characters becoming parents is always a big deal on a show, even subpar ones, so you would expect that caring for the new little bundle of joy will be a huge plot point in upcoming seasons. The fact of the matter is, the creators of the show have said that the baby will be rarely seen from here on out, but when they say their reasons, it's almost heartwarming.
The baby will definitely be heard.
For the most part, the baby will be off screen but heard loudly. This is beneficial in two ways, the first being that nobody wants to have an actual gross baby on set, ruining every take. The second is that it acts as a tribute to actress Carol Ann Susi, who played the long-time voice of Howard's mother, who was only ever heard and never seen. Susi passed away in 2014.
2 A Clever Work Around
Real life can get in the way of something going smoothly on a television show. The actors will still have normal lives outside of the show, which can result in them becoming maimed, or worse, pregnant. When this happens, the writers need to think of a clever way to either write it into the show, or find a way to hide what has happened to the actor.
For Penny, this resulted in a change of careers.
When Kaley Cuoco broke her leg during a horse riding accident, the writers thought it would be too much work to write the injury into the character's arc. Somehow, they thought it would be easier to simply change Penny's job to bartender, so you would only see her from the waist up. This seems like more writing to me than to have Penny fall down the stairs due to the perpetually broken elevator, but hey, I'm not a Hollywood writer.
1 Squint Or You'll Miss It
Have you ever come across that cringe-worthy marvel that is the video of The Big Bang Theory without the laugh track? It turns out, without the cues to let you know how funny the show is, the jokes fall way flatter. There's also the creepy added silence in between each joke that everyone has to add after a punchline. Well, that isn't the saddest, most fake aspect of the show.
Leonard's glasses don't even have lenses!
I know this is actually a pretty common practice on television shows (I genuinely can't concentrate on anything else whenever I watch New Girl) to avoid flares from the studio lights, but it is always pretty irksome. Maybe I fixate extra hard on this aspect since I already think that the characters on the show are a hugely damaging portrayal of nerd culture, so when I see a "smart" character portrayed as smart through his glasses, and then those glasses are fake, it's just a triple layer pizza of poser bologna.