The comic misadventures and clash of personalities between a bunch of socially awkward geeks and a bubbly aspiring actress have won over television audiences everywhere. The CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory has enjoyed an unyielding 11 season run with over 250 episodes to date and has even spawned a successful spin-off series.
Fans who have been with the show since Penny moved across the hall from Sheldon and Leonard may think they know it all, but the behind-the-scenes trivia that makes the long-running sitcom all the more lovable. We’ve collected some of the most interesting facts about the series from IMDB.
Here are 24 facts about The Big Bang Theory that might surprise even the biggest fans.
1. While it’s hard to imagine the Barenaked Ladies’ “The History of Everything” not opening each episode, a different theme song was used in the original unaired pilot. The initial theme song was intended to be “She Blinded Me with Science” by Thomas Dolby, and while producers eventually chose against it, there’s a nod to it in a later episode where Howard’s ringtone plays a MIDI rendition of it.
2. Most seasons of The Big Bang Theory have 23 to 24 episodes, but the first season only had a mere 17. Fewer episodes were produced in the first season because of the writers’ strike in 2007 and 2008. This labor conflict ended up affecting many shows, but luckily The Big Bang Theory was one new series that survived the threat of cancellation.
3. Many episodes feature Amy playing the harp, Sheldon playing the theremin and recorder, and Leonard playing the cello. The cast members learned to play their respective instruments for the show. Howard, played by Simon Helberg, occasionally plays the piano. In reality, Helberg is quite an accomplished pianist which was showcased in his Academy Award-nominated performance in Florence Foster Jenkins.
4. There are many times throughout the series where Sheldon wears t-shirts that pay tribute to “The Flash.” This nod was returned with CW’s television adaptation of the DC Comics superhero. One character in the show, Cisco Ramon, can often be seen wearing shirts that reference the sitcom, including one of Sheldon’s catchphrase “Bazinga!”
5. The Penny fans have come to know and love wasn’t the original vision for the show. In fact, her character was taken from a different sitcom concept. Penny’s character was initially idealized as a hard-drinking, cynical, streetwise woman who worked at a makeup salon named Katie. In the original unaired pilot, Katie was played by actress Amanda Walsh.
6. Some of the character names on The Big Bang Theory were chosen from names that appear on the list of Nobel Laureates in Physics. Sheldon and Cooper are both names of physicists who won the prize for theory, and Leonard and Hofstadter are names of those who won for the experiment.
7. After spending multiple seasons with a character, you think you would have gotten to the point where you’d know their full name, but Penny’s maiden name has never been revealed to the audience. This was a decision made by the writers who were intent on not mentioning it on-camera due to superstitious reasons.
8. Mayim Bialik’s character Amy Fowler works as a neuroscientist which actually parallels the actress’ real-life occupation. Bialik earned her Ph.D. in Neuroscience two years prior to joining the show in 2008, the same academic degree as her character. She is the only cast member of The Big Bang Theory to have a Ph.D.
9. Multiple floors of Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment building are shown throughout the series, but floors two, three and four are all the same set. Each time a scene takes place on one of these floors, the set is simply re-dressed. Those with a keen eye will notice that the same scuff marks and molding remain intact on each “floor.”
10. Comedian and fan-favorite guest star Bob Newhart agreed to appear on the show, but on one condition, that he would have a recurring role. Newhart has since appeared as Arthur “Professor Proton” Jeffries in five episodes and even won an Emmy for his performance. He reprised his role for the pilot of CBS’s spin-off Young Sheldon.
11. Mayim Bialik confirmed during an interview on Talk of the Nation that the university the characters either attend or teach at is in fact based on the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena. Many actual Caltech students began attending each taping of the show once the show became more popular.
12. There have been multiple times in the show where there are written equations visible on the boards that Leonard and Sheldon are working on. While the average person might not question the authenticity of these equations, they are all, in fact, real and were verified by physicist consultants first.
13. Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons, who play Penny and Sheldon on the show, were listed as the world’s highest paid television actress and actor by Forbes in 2015. Cuoco and Parsons both earned close to thirty million dollars each from the time span of June 1, 2014, to June 1, 2015.
14. It’s made quite clear throughout The Big Bang Theory that the guys are avid comic book fans and reference both DC and Marvel superheroes frequently. However, when it comes to the comic book related paraphernalia or apparel, you’ll notice it’s mostly only DC Comics being featured. This is because both DC Comics and this show are owned and produced by Warner Bros.
15. While this foreshadowing may have been completely unintentional, it just so happens that every one of the main female characters ended up being mates with the first person they spoke to. Penny, Bernadette, and Amy all initially interact with the characters they end up being romantically tied to later in the show.
16. Writer and co-creator of The Big Bang Theory Chuck Lorre places a quick insert called a “vanity card” at the end of each episode. These blurbs of texts can be read when you pause the show at the right time. Lorre has been known to incorporate these brief inserts in most of his productions.
17. Apparently, the fun doesn’t always end with the credits. There have been a few reported occasions where the cast and crew have performed “flash mobs” to the studio audience after taping. “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen and “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson are two songs that have been performed during this private encore.
18. In 2012, a new species of bee was discovered by biologists in Brazil and was named after Sheldon Cooper’s catchphrase, “Bazinga!” The Euglossa bazinga got its name because it was misidentified at first and so the biologists felt tricked by it. Ironically, Sheldon’s character is actually allergic to bees.
19. Fans may have noticed that Penny did not appear at all in two episodes of season three. This unusual absence was because actress Kaley Cuoco broke her leg during a horseback riding accident. When she returned to set, she was filmed standing behind a counter to avoid showing her injury.
20. If you thought there may have been a little more to Penny and Leonard’s chemistry earlier in the series then you were right. Kaley Cuoco told CBS’s Watch! Magazine’s Behind the Scenes in 2010 that her and Johnny Galecki secretly dated for two years but are no longer together now.
21. There was a show in Belarus called The Theorists that completely ripped off The Big Bang Theory. This copycat sitcom centered around four scientists named Sheldon, Leo, Hovart, and Raj, who lived next door to a blonde waitress named Natasha. Chuck Lorre poked fun at the show in one of his vanity cards, but The Theorists didn’t last long because the actors quit after discovering the show was a rip-off.
22. Sheldon may know it all when it comes to everything geeky, including his love for Star Trek and Doctor Who. However, the actor Jim Parsons has actually never seen either show. He revealed to TIME, “I’m very frank about certain things, I get asked a lot of science things and I’m like, ‘you’re kidding’. And even the pop culture… I’ve never seen Star Trek. I don’t know Doctor Who.”
23. Howard is far from being the feminist of the gang, but his toy collection features primarily female superheroes or science fiction characters, including Batgirl, Cheetah, and Wonder Woman. The only non-female figurine Howard has in his collection is Jabba the Hutt, but the model also features Princess Leia sitting in front of him.
24. Jim Parsons blew Chuck Lorre away with his audition, but Parsons initially thought he was auditioning for a game show. “I did not know Chuck Lorre at the time,” Parsons revealed on Late Show with David Letterman in 2014. “I thought [my agent] was talking about Chuck Woolery. I thought, why are they so excited about it? We should see what the man has to offer before we’re like, ‘It’s a new Chuck Woolery pilot!’”
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