nd here we thought Game of Thrones was the only finale polarizing fansthese days. No, this week’s honor goes to The Big Bang Theory, which closed out its twelfth and final CBS season with a number of callbacks to the series’ early years, as well as one twist that raised eyebrows for the show’s central couple.
A trip to Stockholm to watch Sheldon (Jim Parsons) accept the Nobel Prize brings about the unexpected revelation that Penny (Kaley Cuoco) is pregnant, as well that she and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) are elated to raise their first child together. That’s all well and good for the long-time pairing of any TV couple, but numerous viewers were confused by the about-face. Penny had repeatedly expressed her aversion to ever having children—to the point the series made significant arcs of it—but showed no such qualms when sharing the news with other characters. The twist also proved unexpectedly and especially topical this week, given the recent wave of attempted reproductive rights rollbacks in states such as Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.
In an interview after the finale aired, executive producer Steve Holland justified Penny’s pregnancy to The Hollywood Reporter, arguing that the callback to Leonard’s pilot line about their “smart and beautiful” babies outweighed any larger conversation. “[Leonard and Penny’s] relationship was really the jumping off point of this whole show and it felt important to us to honor that relationship,” he said. “I love them together and I wanted to know that they were ending in a happy place. It felt like a great way to land these characters and like such a surprise coming off what their storyline had been.”
Fellow E.P. Steve Molaro—who reportedly pitched the plot twist—felt the news had more weight as a surprise reveal. “I like that we were able to jump over a lot of the pregnancy tropes and learn after the fact that Penny is two months pregnant. We did that [two-month] jump in time and she’s still wrapping her head around it because Penny wasn’t sure how she felt about it.”
Fans now will never know—though perhaps spinoff Young Sheldon could eventually revisit the characters. That series’ Season 2 finale on Thursday featured a crossover of sorts with its Big Bang predecessor, as a brief montage introduced all the sitcom’s characters as children. So . . . Season 45, maybe.