The Big Bang Theory is one of the most successful and highest-grossing sitcoms in history, and that’s a fact.
However, fans were left heart-broken when producers announced in 2018 that the show’s 12th season would be the last. But if the series was such a massive success, why did it get canceled? Read on and find out.
Revolving around the lives of a group of nerdy geniuses, The Big Bang Theory is one of the most-watched sitcoms in TV history. Ever since it debuted on CBS in 2007, its popularity has rocketed, with the 12th and last season reaching a peak of 18 million viewers per episode.
With a whopping 12 seasons and 294 episodes, it’s the longest-running multi-camera comedy in the history of American TV, outliving iconic sitcoms such as Seinfeld and Friends. But what went wrong? Why was the show canceled?
Despite the fact that the show kept on scoring huge ratings, producers had their reasons for calling it off. The bottom line is that very few sitcoms make it to more than 10 seasons, and if they do, writers rarely come up with creatively fresh ideas as they did in the first seasons.
The Big Bang Theory is no exception to this rule. If you think about it, the show had already run through most sitcom common points. In fact, Sheldon and Amy’s wedding in Season 11 marked the ending of one of the show’s longest-running and fan-favorite storylines.
Many fans argue that there were some areas yet to be explored, such as a possible pregnancy or all the characters moving out of their apartment in the last season. However, the truth is that there weren’t many more stories to be told.
Throughout the series’ 12 seasons, we got to see all of the characters evolve from young, immature, and single scientists into middle-aged, married people, in some cases with children and a few career breakthroughs behind their back. What else was there to add?
Even though the show topped the rankings on its last season, there still was a significant decline in the 18 to 49-year-old demographic, which happens to be the age gap that bean counters really have their eye on.
The ratings for the mentioned demographic witnessed an 11% decrease in the last season, and the viewership between 18 and 49 actually halved between season 8 and season 12. Shocking, right?
Despite the show’s amazing ratings — in fact, it was the most-watched program on network television in 2018 — many critics agreed on the fact that the series grew progressively irrelevant, and here’s why.
As of 2018, The Bing Bang Theory was one of the very few “taped before a live audience” comedy shows left on network TV. However, nowadays, most TV shows resort to other methods of film-making, most of them being shot single-camera. Therefore, many began finding TBBT a bit throwback.
On top of all the reasons mentioned above, The Big Bang Theory was very expensive to make. You’re probably wondering why, given that the show doesn’t demand state-of-the-art visual effects or anything of the sort.
Well, the thing is that during the last few seasons, all of the lead cast members took on between $900,000 and $1 million each episode, making them some of the highest-paid actors and actresses on TV.
While The Big Bang Theory has been one of CBS’s most profitable shows, the series is so popular that, just like Friends, it doesn’t need new episodes in order to make money.
Ever since the show ended in May 2019, re-runs have been shown every day in the UK, the US, and in many other countries all around the globe, thus generating a continual cash inflow. But do they make money with something other than re-runs?
The show has so many seasons that it could easily run for multiple episodes each week on different TV networks for a few years, without even the need of re-running the re-runs. However, this isn’t the network’s only source of income.
We should also take into account that the series makes millions of dollars each year out of streaming deals and merchandising. Because of all these reasons, the show can keep on making a fortune without the need of spending a single dime on production.
It’s also worth mentioning that even though the show ended, the character of Sheldon Cooper didn’t disappear from the screen. In 2017, CBS announced the release of Young Sheldon, a prequel that depicts the childhood of our favorite boy genius.
The spin-off counts with 4 seasons and a fifth one is coming up, so the Big Bang Theory universe will continue earning the company millions of dollars each year in the near future. However, we still haven’t mentioned the main reason why the show was canceled…
According to Deadline, the show’s creator, Chuck Lorre, didn’t want to make a 13th season unless its 3 lead actors — namely, Jim Parsons (Sheldon), Johnny Galecki (Leonard), and Kaley Cuoco (Penny) — signed up for it.
However, while Cuoco was up for it, Parsons decided it was time to part ways. So while there are lots of reasons why the series was canceled as of 2019, the most important of them all was the fact that Parsons wanted to leave. But what were his reasons?
Parsons had a lot going on during the past decade. Apart from starring in one of the most successful TV series of this century, he also took on minor roles in iconic films, such as The Help and Visions.
However, after playing the same role for 12 years, he realized he was ready to move on and play other characters. He was basically tired of being famous for just one character, so his decision was fair enough.
CBS initiated negotiations to try and change 45-year-old Jim Parsons’ mind and keep him from leaving, but the man was ready to move on. This left TV producer Chuck Lorre without a choice.
Lorre decided to call it quits rather than attempt the impossible and senseless task of reformulating the show without its most charismatic character in it. I think we can all agree that that would’ve been a terrible idea.
Parsons communicated his decision of quitting the show to the production crew on August 2018. Five days later, Chuck Lorre summoned the entire cast except for Parsons to his office and announced in tears that the show’s 12th season would be everyone’s last.
Only a few days later, Parsons made his first public statement, confirming a rumor that had been haunting fans for almost a year. But while many fans were devastated, most of them shared nothing but words of respect and support to their greatest idol.
While Parsons’ decision was irrevocable, he did pay a touching tribute to the cast, writers, and fans on his Instagram account. Here’s what he said.
“It is hard (really impossible, actually) to really accept that this is a picture of the first of the final 24 episodes we will shoot for The Big Bang Theory”, Parsons said. As regards his co-stars, he said: “I will miss all of you and all of this more than I can say and more than I can know at this time”.
Even though Parsons was the one who took the first step, he wasn’t the only cast member who was ready to move on. Co-star Johnny Galecki had already hinted in January 2018 that he was ready to part ways.
In fact, Galecki had already sparked off rumors at the 2018 Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour after suggesting in an interview that the show’s 12th season would be the last. Does anyone remember what he said?
When asked about the possibility of a 13th season, Galecki told TV reporters the following: “The only manner in which the cast has discussed wrapping has been that we’re all going to be very sad when that day comes”.
Later that day, Galecki said: “”But I think at this point everyone’s very comfortable with 12 seasons being a good time to go home and see our families”. I guess fans had it coming.
Co-star Kaley Cuoco also opened her mind regarding the cancellation of the show. Basically, she was OK with the decision, but at the same time she was sad that the show would be over.
“[It] has been a dream come true and as life changing as it gets. No matter when it was going to end, my heart would have always been broken in two. Drowning in tears, we promise to bring you the best season yet”, the actress posted in her Instagram profile.
You’re probably wondering what the rest of the supporting actors had to say about this. Kunal Nayyar, the actor who played Raj, also shared his thoughts on social media, and here’s what he said.
“There are no words in any language that can describe what my heart wants to say. The love that I feel for all of you is boundless. Without you the fans there would be no us”, he wrote alongside a picture of the cast.
Mayim Bialik, the actress who played Amy, expressed similar feelings, although she was blunter than the rest of her co-stars. Reportedly, she was one of the ones who wanted to keep on shooting another season.
“Am I happy? Of course not,” Bialik wrote. “I love my job. I love my castmates, and I feel such appreciation for our incredible crew, our brave writers, our entire staff, and our amazing fans”, the actress posted on her Instagram.
It hasn’t been long since the show ended, so I’m sure that the most loyal fans still haven’t gotten over the fact that one of the greatest comedies ever has finally come to an end.
Undoubtedly, the cancellation of the show has left a large hole in the CBS lineup, since networks are never ready to say good-bye to its most profitable series. But what do you think?