When thinking about popular sitcoms of the past few decades, “The Big Bang Theory,” which ran for 12 seasons and produced a whopping total of 279 episodes, likely comes to mind. Created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady,” The Big Bang Theory” premiered on CBS in 2007 and aired its series finale in 2019.
The series centers on the lives of several scientists — and their friends — living in Pasadena, California. The show’s cast of characters includes physicists Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), aerospace engineer Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg), and astrophysicist Raj Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) — all four of whom are colleagues at Caltech. Rounding out the show’s original main cast is Leonard and Sheldon’s neighbor, Penny (Kaley Cuoco), an aspiring actress who works as a waitress. As the series went on, more main characters were introduced as well, including important female figures like Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) and Amy (Mayim Bialik).
Of course, after a TV show airs for 12 seasons, there’s a lot of pressure on its writers to bring it to a satisfying end. After all, the last thing a show wants is to be remembered for putting out one of the worst series finales in TV history, as a handful of notable sitcoms have. But the ending of “The Big Bang Theory” seemed to stick its landing, with Sheldon and Amy being awarded a Nobel prize and all of the series’ friends embarking down their own happy and rewarding paths. That said, there is one aspect of the “Big Bang Theory” finale that fans didn’t like.
Big Bang Theory fans don’t like Penny’s fate
In the final season of “The Big Bang Theory,” Penny reveals to Leonard that she doesn’t want to have children, a decision that Leonard, after some hesitation, ends up agreeing with. However, despite Penny making her decision clear, she later reveals she’s pregnant in the series finale. In a complete change of heart, Penny is happy about the pregnancy and decides to go through with it. Unsurprisingly, the twist didn’t exactly sit well with fans.
In a Reddit post that asked if anyone was disappointed with the finale, the one detail that came up several times was that Penny’s ending contradicted one of the final season’s major storylines. For instance, u/Nachorina11 wrote, “I thought the Penny subplot was absolutely gross and it almost ruined the finale for me. After having multiple conversations about how Penny doesn’t want kids, she comes home drunk and Leonard doesn’t use a condom? And she’s beaming the next morning, thrilled about this pregnancy?” The Redditor went on to state that they thought the twist felt forced and almost like it was only done because the show’s writers weren’t sure what to do with Penny in the finale.
In a different Reddit thread, u/pizza_killer_86 echoed the above sentiment, writing, “Penny had made it rather clear that she hated her career as a pharmacy sales rep and that she didn’t want children….yet they ended the show with her still in a job she hated and then to top it off decided to make her pregnant.” Looking at it that way, it’s hard to disagree with these fans about Penny’s “Big Bang Theory” ending.
Big Bang Theory fans think the show missed a rare opportunity with Penny
Other fans of “The Big Bang Theory” who were dissatisfied with Penny’s ending called it a missed opportunity on the show’s part to portray a woman who is firm in her decision not to have children — something that isn’t often portrayed on television.
u/Hemansno1fan wrote, “I don’t know why they even did the ‘I don’t want kids’ plot if they were going to do this? What was the point? As a married [and] child free person this kind of representation in the media is just so typical and tiring, it just encourages people to say ‘Oh you’ll change your mind.’” u/Mason11987, agreed wholeheartedly with their fellow Redditor, writing, “Exactly the same position, me and my wife were really disappointed that they ended up that way, we really liked that she didn’t want kids like us.”
Elsewhere, u/LegendTemple added, “Seeing characters in mainstream long running sitcoms choose the ‘unconventional’ paths that don’t follow the ‘societal norms’ that are pushed on people would have meant so much. Penny is a beautiful and witty woman, too, someone who would be considered ‘highly desirable’ to many for a relationship I guess, and to see her say, ‘that’s not me’ and then have had the show to stick with it would have been very powerful.”
Finally, one fan argued that the “Big Bang Theory” series finale would have been nearly perfect without Penny’s contradictory storyline. “That was the only disappointing part of this episode. It’s rare to see intentionally child free characters find fulfillment.