After twelve seasons, it's time to say goodbye to Sheldon, Leonard, Penny, Howard, Raj, Bernadette and Amy.
It was a night of farewells on CBS Thursday as the network and fans gathered to say goodbye to "The Big Bang Theory" after twelve years. Even spinoff "Young Sheldon" got in on the celebration with a touching tribute to the main cast of its parent series.
The whole night kicked off with the gang waiting anxiously for the phone call from Sweden to say if Sheldon and Amy had won the Nobel Prize or not, and if you think there was any chance of them not winning, you've never seen a traditional sitcom series finale before.
There was some conflict throughout the one-hour, back-to-back episodes. The first saw Sheldon struggling with change in his life before learning through Penny that his life has already been filled with so many changes since she'd met them a dozen years ago, and most of them positive.
In a nice touch, the episode began with a "Previously On" segment that very briefly covered all the highlights of the entire show's run.
The second episode ended with the entire gang flying to Stockholm so they could face the major conflict of the entire series and finally address it head-on (again ... but maybe with lasting impact and understanding this time). Sheldon is a self-centered jackass at times, and by that we mean most times.
This time, he nearly pushed all of his friends to the point they were going to fly home, but they didn't because of their love for him. But it was Amy's tough love that maybe sunk into his skull. When she told him his insensitivity over their needs and feelings broke their hearts, Sheldon replied that he didn't mean to.
"You never mean to. It's the only reason people tolerate you," she shot back.
"Does that include you?" he asked her.
It was tough love, but he needed to feel that in his core to internalize what she said, and it was because of this that he chucked his original speech and instead gave a tribute to his friends, calling them out one by one and even having them stand and be recognized during the ceremony.
As a farewell moment for the show, it was incredibly beautiful and touching, as it was also Jim Parsons recognizing Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik. And through him, we were given our moment to appreciate them as well.
Cleverly, as he was introducing them down the line, he gave Bernadette's full name, including her maiden name, which really set the audience up to anticipate maybe finally learning Penny's maiden name, too. Alas, it was not meant to be, which is kind of appropriate. One series-long resolution was enough.
"Young Sheldon" played on those same things for its own season finale, following Sheldon getting up early to listen to the Nobel Prize. Even though he'd invited basically everyone he knew to be there for the big moment, no one showed up. Sheldon's isolation has been a huge part of that series, but on this night, coming after we know how much better it gets from there is beautiful.
And then, the creators of "Young Sheldon" treated fans to an adorable look into the early lives of the six people who will come to mean more than anything to him. That's right, we got to see the younger versions of the entire "Big Bang" cast at 5 a.m. in their respective worlds, where some were sleeping or studying. Amy was reading and Howard (perfectly) was getting yelled at by his unseen mother.
So where does that leave everyone at the end of "The Big Bang Theory"?
Sheldon gave a beautiful speech to honor his friends. "I apologize if I haven't been the friend you deserve," he told them. "But I want you to know, in my way, I love you all." It was a beautiful sentiment to end on, acknowledging that Sheldon is different from other people, but that his way isn't wrong or flawed, even as he can always improve.
Amy got a style makeover, which is both problematic in that it could be looked at as saying she wasn't good enough as she was and she needed to be "sexed" up to be validated. But it was a subtle adjustment, and more in line with how Bialik carries herself, so we're not mad about it.
Penny and Leonard found out that they're expecting a child, and even though they didn't necessarily intend to ever have children, they find themselves excited about it.
Howard and Bernadette scored a lot of press pretending to be Sheldon and Amy's best friends, but mostly they solidified their bond together, and learned that it's okay to step away and live their lives outside of their children ... so long as Stuart isn't left in charge of them. Oh, and we finally got to see their kids and they're adorable. Leonard and Penny have got their work cut out for them to make Leonard's "smart and beautiful" prediction come true.
Raj discovered he was sitting next to Sarah Michelle Gellar on the airplane to Sweden, and was again with her at the Nobel Prize ceremony, but it's not a date. It was a fun and random joke, highlighted by Sheldon interrupting his speech to ask, "Is that Buffy the Vampire Slayer?"
The elevator got fixed in the beginning of this two-parter, which might have been the biggest change of all. They got two good gags out of it, with Penny beating Sheldon downstairs by riding in it, and the cast trying to figure out how to fit in it with all of their luggage (like they've never heard of waiting).
The final scene captured everything perfectly, as it mimicked the opening credits and even featured a slowed down version of the show's theme song. It was simply the gang hanging out in the apartment eating Chinese food. In other words, as much as things change, what matters most stays.