Is Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting Ready To Walk Away From ‘The Big Bang Theory’?

Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting hasn’t made any statements suggesting she may be through with Penny, the character she’s played for seven years on the CBS hit show The Big Bang Theory. Still, Season 8 of The Big Bang Theory may look very different from previous seasons. According to The Huffington Post, stars Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Johnny Galecki, and Jim Parsons have yet to finalize their contracts. The sticking point is apparently salaries for the three stars.

Deadline reports that Cuoco-Sweeting, Galecki, and Parsons are each asking for $1 million per episodes and a bigger piece of syndication and home release profits. The amount of money at stake for all parties is incredible.

According to TV by the Numbers, The Big Bang Theory was the number one show among adults 18-49 last season. The success of the show wouldn’t be possible without Cuoco-Sweeting’s character Penny. In early seasons, her struggle to relate to her nerdy neighbors was a major part of the plot. As the years progressed, Cuoco-Sweeting has stretched her acting muscles as Penny went from ditzy girl next door to grown woman engaged to the love of her life.

Is The Big Bang Theory even possible without Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting? Maybe, but most likely not. The Inquisitr reported that the pilot episode didn’t include Cuoco-Sweeting at all. It wasn’t until the pilot episode was re-shot with Cuoco-Sweeting as Penny that executives at CBS green-lit the show. With her on board, The Big Bang Theory, has become the flagship show of CBS. The show is also widely syndicated on local networks and TBS.

So what would The Big Bang Theory look like if Cuoco-Sweeting’s contract isn’t finalized? In the 2014 season finale, Leonard and Penny put an end to years of speculation when they became engaged. However, Leonard and Penny suggested that their wedding was at least a year away. It’s not unusual for a season of The Big Bang Theory to open several months after the previous season finale, but the cast is not large enough for writers to focus on actors other than Cuoco-Sweeting and have the hiatus play out in real time. The necessary re-writes would likely delay produce of Season 8, which was set to begin July 30. The fact that co-stars Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar’s contracts are still in negotiation only complicates matters.

Thanks to all the @BigBang_CBS fans who watched our show last night to give us our biggest finale ever. We appreciate all of you

If all goes well, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting will return as Penny on September 22, when an hour-long episode kicks of The Big Bang Theory‘s eighth season.