It's the beginning of the end... (and no this is not a "Bazinga!")
Before the CBS comedy goes out with a "bang" in its 12th and final season -- which premieres Monday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. -- ET called up The Big Bang Theory showrunner and executive producer Steve Holland to get the inside scoop on what's to come for our favorite geek-tastic group.
Why is the show ending? What are the chances Leonard and Penny will get pregnant this year? Should fans be prepared for a "happy ending" in that final episode? And will we EVER learn Penny's last name? Read on for exclusive answers to these questions and so much more!
Steve Holland: I know, but at the time, I really didn’t know! I wasn’t holding back.
How did you come to the decision to make this the final season of The Big Bang Theory? Why now?
I think everyone knew going in that there was a chance that this could be the last season. There was a discussion with the cast, there was a discussion with [Big Bang Theory creator] Chuck [Lorre] and everyone I think wanted to end this strong. Twelve years is a long run and I didn’t realize this until the announcement was made but this will be the longest-running multi-cam in history after this season, so that’s a pretty impressive accomplishment.
Do you already know how you want that final episode of Big Bang to end?
We were actually just talking about it yesterday, so we don’t know the whole thing but there is a sort of shape to it and a final moment that I’m really excited by… It’s hard not to get emotional in the room when you start talking about these characters and where you want to leave them, of writing for them and pouring stories from our lives into them. It’s an emotional thing to start talking about saying goodbye.
As a showrunner and a TV fan yourself, what types of endings do you most enjoy? Are you a fan of happy endings?
I think it depends on the show. This isn’t spoiling anything -- because we haven’t written the episode and there’s nothing to give away yet -- but one of the things I love about this show is that it’s a happy and positive show about people who love each other. I don’t think it would feel right to have a bummer ending to the show, it just wouldn’t feel in tone.
Have any of the stars like Kaley Cuoco or Jim Parsons stopped by the writers’ room with their ideas or requests for the final season? Anything they want to check off of their characters' Big Bang bucket list before it ends?
No, they actually haven’t, but I’m curious! They’ve been so respectful of us over all the years we’ve done the show to just trust us to tell these stories, but they’ve never come up to us and said, “I think my character should do this or that.” They’ve always been so open to anything we’ve wanted to do. So I think they would probably feel like that would be crossing some weird line because they’ve never done it, but I’m curious. I imagine they would have some thoughts in their heads about where they want to land.
We are certainly going to talk about it. Leonard and Penny are going to have that discussion. They’re at that point in their marriage where they’re like, “Are we going to do this or not?”
Will we ever get the answer to the biggest question of the series: What is Penny’s last name?
I don’t think we will. It was never an intentional thing, honestly. At first, it was that we just hadn’t mentioned it and then we realized that we hadn’t mentioned it and then it became just a sort of superstition. I think it just won’t sound right. The trickiest one to write was when Penny’s dad came because we couldn’t write him as “Mr. Whatever-His-Last-Name-Is,” so I think he has to cut him off and say “Call me, Wyatt” right off the bat.
I would love that. We certainly don’t want season 12 to just be a parade of guest stars past, but there are certain people who have been such an important part of the show through its history that we would love to have them back on before it’s all over and obviously Laurie and Christine definitely.
Ultimately, what are your goals for this final season of The Big Bang Theory?
To deliver a really strong season. I don’t know if there’s been another show in season 12 that has stayed as strong as I think this show has stayed. So we want to deliver a fun and great Big Bang season and that ending is really important to us. To find a way to end it that feels satisfying, true to these characters, memorable and surprising is really important -- and stressful.
The Big Bang Theory's 12th and final season premieres Monday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.