After 12 seasons at the top, The Big Bang Theory has bowed out with an emotional finale that ticked all the right boxes. Saying goodbye to Sheldon, Leonard, Penny, and the rest of the gang has been tough but this certainly isn’t the end of the Big Bang Theory universe. And yes, that pun is certainly intended.
The sitcom's popularity means that TV executives haven’t closed the door on other potential shows in the franchise. Spin-off series Young Sheldon has shown that there’s an audience who want more stories set in this universe, but what exactly does the future hold for the Big Bang Theory franchise?
In the immediate future, there’s more Young Sheldon for viewers to enjoy. The Jim Parsons-produced spin-off has cemented its own place in this universe, with millions of fans tuning in each week to catch up with child genius’ many escapades.
With its own fanbase, composed of both Big Bang veterans and newcomers, it should come as no surprise to learn that Young Sheldon has been renewed for another two seasons. There are plenty of other tales to tell after all, and it would be remiss of CBS to scrap a show with such good ratings.
Thanks to Young Sheldon’s success, there has naturally been speculation about other Big Bang spin-offs. The critical acclaim that has greeted the prequel should have led to concrete discussions about the latter, but even five months ago that seemed like a pipedream.
Speaking to Deadline about the franchise’s future in January, CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl stated that he hadn’t spoken with creator Chuck Lorre or Warner Bros TV, but said the "ball was in their court" over any potential plans.
Lorre himself poured cold water on reports of a second spin-off show in February. Speaking to TV Insider, he revealed that he "wasn’t aware of" any discussions at CBS or Warner Bros – further proof, at the time, that Young Sheldon would remain the bastion of Big Bang spin-off shows.
Three months later and hopes were surprisingly raised as the show’s finale date drew near. Penny actress Kaley Cuoco told ET Online that she would be open to a Penny offshoot show if Lorre wanted to make one. That, coupled with Young Sheldon’s success, had fans dreaming that other spin-offs were in the works.
Rumours began to circulate online about a possible Penny and Leonard show, or even one that centred on Howard and Bernadette with Raj thrown in as the lovable third wheel.
Those aspirations were all but ended before the final episode aired. Speaking 10 days before it was shown in the US, Lorre admitted that extra shows were no longer in development. Despite discussions having taken place, Lorre told The Hollywood Reporter that "economics" were the reason behind talks collapsing.
Executive producer Steve Holland also weighed in on the cancelled proposals in a chat with TV Guide, explaining that it would be "hard to imagine any of these characters existing outside of this group."
The pair’s comments have since been backed up by Cuoco and Leonard actor Johnny Galecki in another Hollywood Reporter interview. The duo’s relationship and marriage, much like Sheldon’s eccentric personality, became a key cornerstone of The Big Bang Theory across its 12-season run.
Building a show around the couple might have been a shoo-in for a spin-off if talks had continued. According to Galecki, however, a show without the rest of the core cast wouldn’t have been been a true representation of The Big Bang Theory’s familial feel.
Despite the criticism that The Big Bang Theory has faced from some quarters, there’s still life in the old dog yet. Its global legion of fans are testament to that, as are the millions of viewers who continue to watch Young Sheldon. It remains to be seen what happens to the franchise once Young Sheldon ends, but there’s always the potential for further spin-offs to appear down the line.
We certainly wouldn’t say no to a five- or 10-year reunion special, and we’re sure millions of fans around the world wouldn’t either.
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