The Big Bang Theory burst onto our screens in 2007, introducing us to the goofy characters and sticky situations that we’ve come to know and love.
As the series has been around for a decade, it’s easy to think we know all there possibly is to know about it – but think again. We’ve done some digging and got the scoop on behind-the-scenes gossip and other little-known facts.
Grab your popcorn, sit back and join us as we take a look at the ins and outs of The Big Bang Theory.
Jim Parsons Really Plays The Theremin
The theremin is one of the most difficult instruments that you can play. If we’re honest, we’re not entirely sure what it does, other than making a terrible sound. The little box consists of two metal antennas that sense the position of the player’s hands.
Its oddness made it entirely suitable to be the instrument of choice for Sheldon, but in reality, Jim Parsons is among the few who can play one of these things. “I’ve loved the theremin ever since I heard the original Star Trek theme,” Cooper tells his flatmates. Like character, like actor!
The Show Was Given Multiple Season Renewals
In the world of TV, it’s pretty rare for a series to get the go-ahead for more than one season at a time. After all, shows can go from the most watched thing on the box to the least watched in a hot minute, so studios have to protect their interests.
So, when CBS renewed the show for not one, not two, but three seasons in 2011, it was a pretty big deal. The network knew this wasn’t a one trick pony. In 2014 when that run was over, it was renewed again for a further three years. CBS is riding this gravy train all the way to the bank.
The Cast Hid Some Serious Injuries On Camera
Just because you’re in an award-winning series, that doesn’t stop some pretty crappy things from happening off-set. In fact, some of the main cast members had to hide extremely serious injuries and breaks in order to keep filming as normal and not disrupt the storylines.
During season 4, Kaley Cuoco, aka Penny, broke her leg after she fell off of a horse. The star missed a couple of episodes to get back on her feet, but when she returned had to shoot her scenes from behind a kitchen counter. Similarly, Mayim Bialik who plays Amy had to hide an injured right hand during season 6.
Penny Was Originally Played By Amanda Walsh
At the very beginning, Penny was a very different character from the lovable klutz we know and love today. Amanda Walsh of Beauty and the Briefcase was originally cast in the part of “Katie” for the first pilot and was a much tougher character. When the audience reacted badly, the studio knew they had to make some changes.
Writers gave the character a revamp and a new name, with Kaley Cuoco coming in to shoot the second pilot as Penny. As they say, the rest is history – but wouldn’t it be weird if Penny didn’t exist at all? It’s unbearable to think about.
Every Prop Is Carefully Thought Out
When Star Trek actor Wil Wheaton first appeared on the show in season 3 as a modified version of himself, he snapped a picture of one of the most-seen props in Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment – their coffee table. Uploading the candid to his blog, the actor pointed out the thought that had gone into it.
Set designers paid close attention to detail, even though we never really directly see what’s on the table. It’s littered with high-brow magazines such as Mental Floss and several snacks like Red Vines licorice. We bet you never knew that.
The Character Names Come From Real Life People
It’s pretty easy to not put much thought into a character’s name. After all, we’re more interested in their on-screen antics than looking at their birth certificates, but creator Chuck Lorre took inspiration from real people to carefully name the characters.
Howard Wolowitz comes from a former colleague of Lorre’s, and Leonard and Sheldon are named after iconic TV producer Sheldon Leonard. Leonard’s last name stems from two famous scientists, Douglas Hofstadter (above) and Robert Hofstadter. We’re not sure where Penny comes from, but we bet there’s an equally quirky story behind that too.
The Show Had A Copycat Series
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, you can always be certain that someone will want to ride on the coattails of your success – but it’s especially true in TV. A show called The Theorists appeared on air in Belarus in 2010, shocking fans.
The ill-fated series was similar in more ways than just the name, following a group of characters that were almost identical. Before any lawsuits could be filed, the actors of the Belarus version quit when they realized the idea had been stolen from American television. All’s well that ends well, we say.
The Apartment Location Is Real
The characters spend a lot of time in Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment, number 4A, making it one of the most recognizable sets. In the past, the gang has mentioned that the building is located in Pasadena at 2311 Los Robles.
Shockingly, unlike most sitcoms, the address is actually real – but the apartment building that is supposed to be across the street from the Colorado Avenue Chevron Station simply isn’t there. A mighty shame for those who believed it to be real and trekked all the way down there. We’re not talking from experience or anything…
Two Major Cast Members Secretly Dated
Johnny Galecki who plays Leonard is no stranger to mixing work and pleasure, having dated his on-screen love interest while working on Roseanne. Although the couple kept it quiet at the time, Kaley Cuoco revealed in 2010 that she and Galecki dated for two years after meeting on the show.
The relationship lasted through the first few seasons of the series but came to an amicable end. Thankfully, the two remain friends, which certainly alleviates any awkwardness when it comes to working in close proximity. Wouldn’t it be nice if our lives were that easy? We’d all be so lucky.
Keep reading to see who they’re with now.
Kaley Cuoco Shares Her Love Of Horses With Her Fiance
Off-screen actress Kaley Cuoco has a passion for horses and competes in equestrian jumping events. She found love with fellow equestrian Karl Cook, and the couple became engaged on Cuoco’s 32nd birthday in 2017.
Often spotted attending the derby and riding horses together, Kaley is over the moon about her husband-to-be. She told People, “I think meeting people that are involved [in the same things as you] — I think that the horse connection is special. He’s special.”
Mayim Bialik Is An Actual Neuroscientist
Mayim Bialik, who plays Amy, first came on board in season three after a dating app paired her and Sheldon. While Amy is a super-smart neurobiologist, it would be incredibly unusual for the actor in question to be similarly qualified – but that’s just what happened here.
Bialik, who also played the title role on the TV series Blossom, earned her doctorate in neuroscience in 2008, giving her the distinction of being the only actor on the show with a terminal degree. Before she joined the cast, Raj mentions her in an early episode. “You know who’s apparently very smart, is the girl who played TV’s Blossom.” You got that right, Raj.
See who her partner in real life is, next.
Bialik is Currently Single, We Think?
Mayim Bialik was married to Michael Stone from 2003-2012 and had two sons together. After the couple split, Bialik’s character was married on the show. She said the scenes were hard for her, as a divorced woman, and brought back some difficult memories. Bialik told Metro, “The first time I read those lines, I got emotional for real, because it is my job to embody this character and to feel what she feels. She is me and I am her, I suppose.”
If she’s in a relationship now, she keeps it under wraps, all the while putting out hilarious videos on dating and wedding tips on YouTube. She’s also the author of a New York Times bestseller, Boying Up, about her experience raising her sons.
Jim Parsons Has Never Seen An Episode Of Star Trek
There’s an old adage that says if you’re asked if you can do something in an interview, you say yes and figure out how to do it later. This must’ve been the case with Jim Parsons when he landed the role of Star Trek loving Sheldon. Despite playing a character who loves the show, the actor has never seen a single episode.
It doesn’t just end at Star Trek, either. Sheldon is also a big fan of the British series Doctor Who, which Parsons has also never seen. Instead, he likes to watch American Idol, Three’s Company, and Grey’s Anatomy. We all have our crosses to bear.
The Theme Song Caused A Legal Battle
The Big Bang Theory has an iconic theme song that gets stuck in your head as soon as you hear it. Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady attended a concert by the Barenaked Ladies when frontman Ed Robertson freestyled a rap about the universe.
The pair then approached the band to write the theme tune and they gladly accepted. Stephen Page was part of the group at the time but left in 2009. In 2015, he filed a lawsuit against the rest of the band, alleging that he never received the 20% in royalties for the song that he was promised. As you can imagine, that would’ve been a pretty large sum.
Kevin Sussman Had To Be Coached Through The Hot Tub Scene
Lovably awkward comic book store owner Stuart finds himself the brunt of the joke on many occasions. The character went from series guest to series regular thanks to his popularity and is portrayed by actor Kevin Sussman. While Sussman is old hat at acting, there are certain situations he can’t cope with – those involving water.
“The Hot Tub Contamination” is a favorite episode for fans. Stuart goes over to use Howard and Bernadette’s hot tub when he thinks they’re out of town. When he hears the door unlocking, he hides under the water – but Sussman is terrified of his head being submerged. So much so, that he had to undertake special coaching to get through the scene.
The Actors Hate Their Costumes
Hey, no one said that working in TV was easy. The days are long, the scripts can be complicated and the costumes can be extremely uncomfortable. Some of the actors on Big Bang utterly hate their character’s outfit choices.
Kunal Nayyar, who plays Raj, has to spend 20 minutes having his hair straightened before every shoot as it’s naturally curly. He’s also not a fan of the heavy sweaters and wishes he could dress like Penny, in shorts and tank tops. Simon Helberg, aka Howard, wishes he didn’t have to wear so many different types of belts, as they often dig into his stomach when he sits down.
There’s A Touching Reason You Never See Baby Halley Wolowitz
In season 10, Howard and Bernadette welcomed their first born, Halley Wolowitz. Like any self-respecting show, the pregnancy is heavily detailed in the build-up to the birth, but viewers never physically see the new cast member. You hear the baby cry, but we’re never shown her, which continues as the show goes on.
While it’s partly so they don’t have to bring a baby on set, it’s also supposed to be a tribute to actress Carol Ann Susi, who played Howard’s mother. Viewers never saw Howard’s mom either, just heard her shrill voice shouting to her son off-screen. Susi passed away in 2014, and producers wanted to pass down the off-screen voice to a new generation.
See who Melissa Rauch is married to in real life next.
Melissa Rauch is Married to a Writer
Melissa Rauch, who plays Bernadette on the show, is married to writer Winston Rauch. Together they’ve collaborated with her on projects such as The Miss Education of Jenna Bush. The couple married in 2006 and have a daughter named Sadie.
Rauch was vocal about her sadness in suffering a miscarriage before her daughter was born and shared her experience in an interview with Glamour to show her support for other women in the same situation.
The Cast’s Salary Is Drastically Unequal
Throughout the course of the show, the salary of the cast has been a source of contention. In 2013, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, and Johnny Galecki decided to stick together to negotiate a huge salary increase. It’ll blow your mind. We’re not talking about small change here.
Up until that point, they were paid $350,000 an episode. When the negotiations ended, they each bagged themselves a cool $1 million per episode. Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar tried to get the same amount but left the table with $750,000. In 2017, all of the stars agreed to take a pay cut of $100,000 per episode so that Melissa Rauch (Bernadette) and Mayim Bialik (Amy) could each receive $425,000.
Explaining Story Lines Was Really Awkward
Casting legendary Star Trek stars Wil Wheaton and George Takei was an important step for The Big Bang Theory, but explaining the storylines to the guests was as awkward as it can get. For a start, Wil plays a pretty horrible version of himself, while George is part of a sexual fantasy.
It fell to Bill Prady to explain the parts to the stars. “I didn’t know this guy and I had to call him and say, you’re playing yourself…but you’re a real [expletive]!” Prady explained. When it came to calling George, things didn’t get easier. “How do I say to this guy that he’s a possible homosexual fantasy? Finally, I said, ‘So you know you’re gay, right?!’ and he said, ‘That’s news I’ll tell my husband!'”
The 2007 Writer’s Strike Almost Tanked The First Season
In 2007 the Writer’s Guild of America went on strike, embroiled in a labor dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. It took a substantial amount of time for it to be resolved – four months to be exact. The show had been on the air for eight episodes when the strike began.
CBS had no choice but to run the same eight episodes for that entire duration – amazingly, viewers kept watching. When the writers returned they had two months to write and film nine episodes to complete the first season. They managed it, and the show was a success despite airing with limited episodes.
Sheldon Was A Stud In The Pilot
We all know that shows rarely stay as they’re originally written. The characters develop, as do the storylines and the sets. However, some changes are more dramatic than others. In the un-aired pilot, Sheldon was a stud, hooking up with girls and having romantic liaisons.
When it didn’t seem to really fit, they altered the character to be the lovable, awkward afraid-of-human contact Sheldon that we now know and love. It’s difficult to picture him being man-about-town, spreading his wild oats. It just wouldn’t have been the same.
The Soft Kitty Song Is Real
The adorable bedtime song that helps Sheldon calm down is one of the most popular parts of the show. “Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur. Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr, purr, purr,” Sheldon sings as Penny rubs his stomach. It’s so adorable, it hurts.
As it turns out, the song wasn’t just something the writers made up but a real-life nursery rhyme. Producer Bill Prady’s daughter sang the song in pre-school. It originated in Australia and that’s where the teacher learned it. He liked it so much, it just made sense to put it in the series.