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Trivia / The Big Bang Theory

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  • Acting for Two: In-universe use. Wil Wheaton plays two roles in the (fictional) B-Movie Serial Ape-ist 2: Monkey See, Monkey Kill. One is a Mad Scientist who attempts to resurrect Penny's character from the original film by cloning her DNA. Bringing her back as a Half-Human Hybrid. The other is an orangutan that fights the Hybrid.
  • Actor Existence Failure:
    • On November 12th, 2014 Carol-Ann Susi (Debbie Wolowitz) died from cancer. Debbie Wolowitz's death was written into "The Comic Book Store Regeneration". So, Real Life Writes the Plot.
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    • Stephen Hawking, who played himself on the show, died on the 14th of March, 2018.
  • Actor-Shared Background: A number of examples.
    • Raj was originally going to be an American-born Indian until Nayyar (who was actually raised in India) was cast; the character became more "ethnic" in response.
    • Jim Parsons is also from Texas like Sheldon is; although Parsons' accent doesn't come in very often with Sheldon, Sheldon's mother and sister have very thick drawls.
    • Mayim Bialik, who plays neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler, has a PhD in neuroscience.
    • Katie Le Clerc, who plays Raj's short-term deaf-mute girlfriend Emily, has Ménière's disease and is in fact hard of hearing.
  • Adored by the Network:
    • Given that it's still currently running, has syndication deals and concurrent cable syndication, you'd think it's required by law that some channel be running this show 24 hours a day.
    • In Australia, the Nine Network has this feeling toward the series; it usurped Two and a Half Men as their go-to filler whenever there's a gap in the timetable, and between the main Nine channel and its spillover GO!, it's shown with incredible frequency.
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    • It's in constant looping on the UK's "E4" channel as well. Not just one loop either, but two. The loops are deliberately out of synch so that one might be in Season 3, while the other is still in Season 1.
    • TNT Spain is also fond of the series, to the point it aired a marathon of each of the previous nine seasons right before the premiere of the tenth.
    • In the U.S. it's replaced The Office (US) as TBS's Tuesday night marathon show.
  • Cast the Expert: When Amy Farrah Fowler was first introduced, the writers hadn't decided what her job was. It was finally decided that she would be a neurobiologist after the writers realized that Mayim Bialik actually held a Ph.D in neuroscience.
  • Cast the Runner-Up: Bill Prady said that Kevin Sussman (Stuart) was a runner-up for the role of Howard.
  • The Cast Showoff:
    • Leonard has been shown playing the cello, Howard and Sheldon both play the piano. And they sing!
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    • Amy plays the harp and sings as well.
    • Penny once gave Sheldon a drink that he didn't know was alcoholic, to give Jim Parsons an excuse to play the piano and sing in the Cheesecake Factory.
    • Simon Helberg is a brilliant impressionist and he's been given the opportunity to demonstrate it. Memorably, he does a Stephen Hawking impression in an episode where he later appeared As Himself, with Helberg having to do the impression with Hawking on set watching him off camera, and "The Love Spell Potential" features Howard as the DM for a Dungeons & Dragons game, allowing him to show off excellent impressions of Nicolas Cage, Al Pacino, and Christopher Walken, along with other hilarious voices and sound effects (much to Sheldon's delight).
    • Jim Parsons shows off his fantastic drumming skills on a pair of bongos in "The Werewolf Transformation".
  • The Character Died with Him: Carol Ann Susi, who played Debbie Wolowitz, died in November 2014. Her character died with her. In the episode "The Comic Book Store Regeneration", it is revealed that Mrs. Wolowitz died in her sleep while visiting relatives in Florida.
  • Colbert Bump: After Gary Con was brought up in "The Intimacy Acceleration", their website almost crashed, and there was a major surge in attendance.
  • Defictionalization: The gang plays a card game called "Mystic Warlords of Ka'a". An actual card release is planned, and the game can currently be played on Facebook.
  • Development Gag: In the Season 3, special features the cast does a fortune cookie Q&A about their lives and favorite moments on the show, which looks to be ad libbed. Simon (Howard) makes a joke while reading a fortune cookie "Help, I'm trapped in a fortune cookie factory!" This same joke is referenced in the fourth season as a joke that Howard is always saying and trying to get a laugh from people.
  • Dueling Shows:
    • With Modern Family, as both are the most successful sitcoms of the 21st century. TBBT gets more viewers and a sizeable amount of critical fame, but is generally considered simpler and old-fashioned as a three camera show with a laugh track. Modern Family, on the other hand, established a fresh take on the more modern mockumentary style and a critical darling regularly topping out the awards season.
    • Also with Community and The IT Crowd, due to the focus on geekdom.
  • Fake Nationality: Averted with Raj (Kunal Nayyar is British-born, but really was raised in India), but played straight with other members of the Koothrappali family who've appeared to date:
    • British-Israeli Brian George and British actress Alice Amter play Indians.
    • Aarti Mann (Raj's sister Priya) was born and raised in Pittsburgh.
  • Hide Your Pregnancy: Bernadette's second pregnancy was written into the show to accommodate Melissa Rauch's own pregnancy. For flashbacks in "The Bitcoin Entanglement" back to season three Bernadette was set behind the bar at the Cheesecake Factory as she was not supposed to be pregnant then (she was never shown working that station before, but amusingly a similar trick was used when Kaley broke her leg in the fourth season).
  • I Knew It!: Anyone who had watched Happy Days, saw the episode with Howard's half-brother coming. Thankfully, unlike in Happy Days, the half-brothers aren't both Howard Wolowitz with one going by a nickname to differentiate himself.
    • That the elevator would be fixed in the final season was something that was guessed for a long time.
  • In Memoriam: The ninth episode in the eight series, The Septum Deviation, incorporates homage to Carol Ann Susi (voice of Debbie Wolowitz) who sadly died during the screening of the new season. See here.
    • Not in the episode itself, but a Deleted Scene of "The Bow Tie Asymmetry" was released online the day after it aired, which dealt with Sheldon opening a wedding gift from Stephen Hawking, and after the scene paid tribute showing a cast/crew picture with Hawking when he visited the set.
  • Life Imitates Art: Johnny Galecki (Leonard) and Kaley Cuoco (Penny) actually did date for two years; they did so in secret and only revealed it after they had separated.
  • Milestone Celebration:
    • The 100th episode, "The Recombination Hypothesis", in which Leonard decides he wants to get back together with Penny.
    • The 200th episode, "The Celebration Experimentation", where Sheldon celebrates his birthday for the first time. Includes guest stars Adam West and Stephen Hawking, and the return of Leslie Winkle after six seasons.
  • The Other Darrin: Kathy Bates replaces Annie O'Donnell as Amy's mother for her daughter's wedding in "The Bow Tie Asymmetry".
  • Real-Life Relative: In the 2013 Valentines Day episode Kaley Cuoco's sister Briana played an ex-friend of Penny's named Gretchen with whom an ex-boyfriend of cheated on her with.
  • Real Life Writes the Hairstyle: In Season 8, Penny has short hair because Kaley Cuoco had cut hers short for the indie film Burning Bodhi.
  • The Red Stapler: When Sheldon wears a T-shirt, people want it. The same goes for items like the periodic table shower curtain or the Cylon toaster.
  • Romance on the Set: Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco — yes, Leonard and Penny. However, they kept it secret until after they broke up... which was around the time their characters first got together. (They kept it secret because of the work environment and remain friends.)
  • Scully Box: As is normal for exceptionally small actresses being paired against taller actors, Bernadette is almost never seen without some sort of lift in her shoes.
  • Sleeper Hit: The show opened to mediocre reviews (some of which were very harsh) and this was after a highly disliked original pilot. But the show built up some steam and when it came back after the 2007 Writers Strike it managed to actually improve in quality, unlike a lot of other shows. The ratings gradually increased until they took a small hit moving from Mondays to Thursdays in the fourth season, but after a syndication deal they started breaking records as a scripted show, they are the first since Friends to dethrone ratings giants like American Idol.
  • Those Two Guys: Johnny Galecki and Sara Gilbert pairing up for a while in Season 2; they played love interests and eventually husband and wife on Roseanne and dated in real-life (Gilbert admitted Galecki was her Last Het Romance).
  • Throw It In!:
    • A noted aversion. The cast has said that they know almost as much about the nerd culture references as they do the technobabble — AKA, nothing. Going off-script would be suicide.
    • Melissa Rauch said that her vocal pitch for Bernadette was based on her mother's voice and thought it would fit the character, though she decided not to push it by including a New Jersey accent.
    • In "The Boyfriend Complexity" Sheldon angrily tosses a large stack of loose papers in the air in frustration over hard work that was ultimately pointless. As the pages floated to the ground one managed to perch perfectly on his shoulder, and Parsons managed to stay in character long enough for that shot to remain in the final cut (trying to stare in anger at Galecki, he wasn't able to say his next lines without cracking up).
    • The, somewhat infamous, spanking scene with Sheldon and Amy was not originally going to be on camera. The episode was supposed to have a Running Gag of hearing Sheldon taking care of Amy and having some Innocent Innuendo implied coming from the bathroom as the audience listens from the main room. As filming for the episode began the joke wasn't working the way they wanted it to and so they ended up actually showing the scene in front of the audience. The other cast members commented that they would emerge from their dressing rooms and were shocked.
    • One episode featured the guys telling Penny about General Zod when Kunal ad-libbed "Good story," despite the fact that Raj can't talk to women. He immediately covered his mouth in shock, keeping the moment (roughly) in-character.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The original (unaired) pilot for the series was quite different; Sheldon and Leonard were the only carry-overs.
      • The Penny role was a girl named Katie (played by Amanda Walsh), a hard drinking party girl who was recently homeless after breaking up with her boyfriend and the guys invited her to be a new roommate. She stayed with them mostly because she had nothing better and the guys would help her break out of her shell.
      • Leonard and Sheldon's only friend was a female co-worker named Gilda (Iris Bahr) who had a crush on Leonard, felt threatened by Katie's presence, and had once slept with Sheldon (who wasn't asexual). There was some Ship Tease between Leonard and BOTH Katie and Gilda, with Gilda more overt in her crush on Leonard.
      • The set design was much darker with them living in a very run-down building.
      • Test audiences hated Katie but really liked Leonard and Sheldon, which gave them a rare opportunity to revise the concept with a second pilot. Many of the same jokes and lines of dialogue were reused in the first season, especially the introduction to the guys' white boards and their argument over the number of dimensions used. "In what universe does that work?" "All of them, that is the point."
    • Kaley Cuoco was considered for the original role of Katie, but was busy with other things at the time and it was felt the cynical character wasn't a good fit for her. When creating Penny they actually had Kaley in mind to reflect a much more bubbly and warm individual, to avoid the trappings of the Katie disaster.
    • In 2019 Nick Kroll told New York magazine that he turned down the role of Howard because he'd have to move from New York to LA and the money didn't seem great.
    • Raj was originally named Dave and was supposed to be American born, with the character being explored with a number of different Asian ethnicities, including Korean and Chinese.
    • The show originated under two different concepts, one being Bill Prady's experience working with a group of eccentric computer programmers back in the 1980s and another under the idea of a young woman entering the real world of finding a job and making new friends. Realizing the key to both shows was on the secondary cast providing some contrast they decided on their own X Meets Y and combined them. After that they decided to move the genius nerds away from computers and make them scientists instead, pushing them outside a comfort zone.
    • Bill Prady originally stated that Penny's maiden name would eventually be revealed, but that never happened.
  • The Wiki Rule: The Big Bang Theory Wiki.
  • Word of Saint Paul: The conflict in "The Love Car Displacement" centered around Howard feeling inadequate after meeting Bernadette's ex-boyfriend Glenn, played by former basketball player Rick Fox. Humorously, Fox commented that, in his mind, Glenn was driven crazy seeing Bernadette with Howard and caused a lot of self-doubt along the lines of, "How am I losing to this guy?" The character was physically in one early scene and had a couple of offscreen lines towards the end, so there is really nothing to support or contradict it.
  • Working Title: Lenny, Penny, and Kenny.
  • Written-In Infirmity: Averted. When Kaley Cuoco (Penny) fractured her leg at the beginning of season 4, Penny was absent for a few episodes and no reference was made to her not being around. Once she returned the writers decided that her character would have a new bartending assignment at the Cheesecake Factory and be shot from the waist up behind the bar. A Vanity Plate was dedicated to new rules to ensure the safety of cast members, including any extreme activities (Kaley was injured while riding horses). This did result in Penny wearing fewer shorts and skirts, as Kaley got a fairly major scar from the whole thing. A scene in the first episode of season 5 shows Penny riding a horse, as an apparent in-joke.
    • Mayim Bialik injured her hand in a car accident before filming for season 6. Similarly to Kaley, no mention was made and they simply filmed around the injury by hiding it via camera angles and scenery obstructions.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: The creators have commented that every season they started with simply the next page. Chuck Lorre apparently has a motto that "This isn't LOST" and thus they keep everything at the moment and not holding out based on what they have planned. Although looking back it would be easy to believe they did plan out at least a season in advance, given the progression of Leonard and Penny's relationship in the first two seasons and how Howard started to mature in the second season which allows him to start a relationship with Bernadette in the third.


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