The Big Bang Theory: Behind-the-Scenes Scoops, from $1 Million Salaries to Off-Screen Romances
The beloved comedy CBS will end its run in May 2019
Warner Bros. Television and CBS announced Wednesday that the series will end its run in May 2019. The Emmy-winning show, which debuted in 2007, will conclude at the end of the upcoming season 12.
As the stars prepares to bid their emotional farewell to the show that made them household names, we’re looking back at some of the beloved comedy’s behind-the-scenes secrets.
The sitcom snagged a spot in the television record books in 2014 when the show’s five original stars — Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar — landed the elusive $1 million-per-episode paycheck, similarly rewarded to the cast of Friends in its final season.
The raise was a substantial jump from the reported $300,000-plus an episode the actors had been earning, easily landing them among the highest paid actors on TV.
Spread the Wealth
But two stars who joined the cast later, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch, didn’t make quite as much — $200,000 per episode. In 2017, in the midst of contract renegotiations for the show’s 11th and 12th seasons, the original five reportedly took a voluntary pay cut so their costars could get a raise.
What Could Have Been
“They pursued me for The Big Bang Theory,” the Home Alone actor, 37, said on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. “And I said no. It was kind of like, the way the pitch was, ‘All right, these two astrophysicist nerds and a pretty girl lives with them. Yoinks!’ That was the pitch. And I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m cool, thanks.’ And then they came back at me again, and I said, ‘No, no, no. Again, flattered, but no.’ Then they came back at me again, and even my manager was like twisting my arm.”
“I’d have hundreds of millions of dollars right now if I did that gig,” he added. “At the same time, I’d be bashing my head against the wall.”
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Of course, the biggest behind-the-scene scoop of them all was Penny and Leonard’s real-life romance: Cuoco and Galecki secretly dated for almost two years before splitting in 2010.
“It was a wonderful relationship but we never spoke a word about it and never went anywhere together,” Cuoco told CBS Watch! magazine in 2010. “We were so protective of ourselves and the show and didn’t want anything to ruin that.”
“We couldn’t do anything,” Cuoco added at the time. “It wasn’t as fun as we wanted it to be. Everyone was always asking, and we deny-deny-denied. It took a little bit of a toll on me and I think it did for him, too. Not that I want to go traipsing down a red carpet with anyone, but there’s got to be a happy medium.”
Despite the potential awkwardness of working together after their split, the two remain close friends.
What You Didn’t See on TV
In an effort to trick the cast and crew, Cuoco and Galecki planned a prank for a restaurant dinner scene during the season 6 Valentine’s Day episode in which Leonard and Penny were fighting. The duo took it one step further with Galecki jokingly punching Cuoco in the face.
But Cuoco’s head accidentally caught a chair on the way to the ground, splitting open her eyebrow and causing her to bleed. With both of them unaware of her injury, Galecki continued to fake beat her up until someone noticed she was bleeding. Cuoco quickly calmed the crew on set and went off to get stitches.
The actress had to film the rest of the episode with one side of her face turned away from the camera — and after that, on-set pranks were banned.
“We’re not allowed to do those jokes anymore,” Cuoco said with a laugh while telling the story at San Diego Comic-Con last year.
The final season of The Big Bang Theory premieres Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.