The Big Bang Theory is a juggernaut that has created hundreds of episodes, a successful comedy night on CBS, a spinoff series, and successful careers for the sizable cast. Twelve seasons is a long time for any show, but this particular sitcom is so popular that the choice to end it after 12 seasons still seems sudden.
Deadline reports that during a meeting on Wednesday morning with cast and crew, show creator Chuck Lorre ceded the floor to its star, Jim Parsons. Parsons at that point apparently tearfully revealed he would not be continuing with the show beyond Season 12. Parsons' character, Sheldon, is the protagonist of the series and the inspiration for its spin-off about the character's childhood, Young Sheldon.
Cast and crew who thought the meeting might be related to a two-season pickup were reportedly shocked and saddened by the news. There were tearful hugs and commiseration, but Lorre was firm about his choice. He had stated previously that the show would not continue if any of the show's "big three" or major stars, Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, or Johnny Galecki, opted not to return.
Parsons apparently told Lorre Friday, and the decision was announced on Wednesday. Parsons has been expanding into other film work throughout his time on the series. Production accommodated his desire to expand and work on other projects, and Lorre apparently tried desperately to convince him to stay on, but Parsons was firm in his decision.
It was difficult for the actor, however, and he did release an emotional and lengthy post on Instagram about his decision.
"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," he said.
Fans and employees were extremely confident that this current (and 12th) season was not the last, but at least there is now time for the writers, cast, and crew to give the series and its beloved characters a proper sendoff.
"We are forever grateful to our fans for their support of The Big Bang Theory during the past twelve seasons. We, along with the cast, writers and crew, are extremely appreciative of the show's success and aim to deliver a final season, and series finale, that will bring The Big Bang Theory to an epic creative close," WBTV, CBS, and Chuck Lorre Productions said in the joint statement.