This Spring, one of the longest-running staples of network TV will finally come to an end. We're talking, of course, about the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory, which is scheduled to end its run this year after a whopping 12 seasons. As the finale draws nearer and storylines begin to head toward their endpoints, the question on everyone's mind is when to expect that final episode.
As with most networks, CBS has not yet released its May finale schedule, so we don't have an exact date for the final installment. In fact, as of early December 2018, the final episode had not even been written yet, as executive producer Steve Holland told USA Today. "We know what we want," said Holland, citing discussions with fellow executive producers Chuck Lorre and Steven Molaro. "We know the ending we're driving for, and we're excited about it."
The news of the series coming to an end, which broke in August 2018, surprised many fans and insiders alike. Per Deadline, season 11's viewing numbers were still incredibly strong, with a weekly average of 18.9 million viewers, placing it as the second most watched show of the season. It would have been safe to assume that the show could have continued at that pace for several more seasons without dropping low enough in viewership to warrant a cancellation.
Ultimately, the reason for the show ending reportedly came down to one of its stars deciding that the time had come to step away. Jim Parsons, who has won four Emmys for playing quirky scientist Sheldon Cooper, was ready to be done with the show. Since his character is at the center of the plot, the creators made the decision to end the series and let it go out on a high note.
Parsons explained to Entertainment Weekly why he made the decision to walk away from the high-profile and lucrative job. "It's both as complex and as simple as just feeling innately that it was time. It speaks to a lot of things, none of them bad. There is no negative reason to stop doing Big Bang. It felt like we have been able to do this for so many years now, it doesn't feel like there is anything left on the table. Not that we couldn't keep doing it, but it feels like we've chewed all the meat off this bone. I guess at a personal level, it feels like the right time in my life."
The Big Bang Theory and its beloved cast will likely be signing off in May this year, as they have done in seasons past. In general, previous seasons of the sitcom have had their season finales in the second week of May. Season 11, for instance, aired its last episode on May 10, 2018, while season 10 had its finale air on May 11, 2017. If CBS chooses to schedule the series finale similarly, that would probably put the final episode of The Big Bang Theory on Thursday, May 9. The networks don't usually release their season finale schedules until sometime in April, so it'll be a while before we know for sure when the show's last hurrah — or last "Bazinga!" — will be.