The Big Bang Theory has one more surprise in store for its series finale: a goodbye special. The news comes as the show prepares to end its impressive 12-season run, making it the longest-running multi-camera comedy series in history. In its time on air, Big Bang Theory has garnered awards and critical acclaim, as well as a spot in pop culture canon with catchphrases (Bazinga!) and cameos from celebrities like Bob Newhart, Stephen Hawking, and Mark Hamill. The show’s also well known for its science-based episode titles, such as “The Romance Recalibration” and “The Roommate Transmogrification.”
The Big Bang Theory has made household names out of Jim Parsons, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, and Melissa Rauch, and put former teen stars Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, and Mayim Bialik back in the limelight. It premiered in 2007 with a relatively simple concept: four nerds and the girl next door, but soon exploded in the ratings. By Big Bang Theory’s second season it was a mammoth hit, averaging over 10 million viewers each week, a trend that continued throughout the show’s run. Though not a series high, this last season has still seen upwards of 12 million every episode.
According to TV Line, the series finale special is titled Unraveling the Mystery: A Big Bang Farewell and will air at 9:30pm, following the Big Bang Theory series finale at 8pm and the Young Sheldon season finale at 9pm. The special will be hosted by Cuoco and Galecki, who play married couple Penny and Leonard on the show. The half-hour look back on the series will feature clips, interviews, and a tour of the sets, as well as newly revealed backstage secrets and memories from the show’s stars. After the series finale, the show will have aired 279 episodes.
The Big Bang Theory has earned dozens of Emmy, Golden Globe, and other award nominations. Lead Jim Parsons has won four Emmys for his portrayal of Sheldon Cooper, as well as a Golden Globe. The show as a whole was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series from 2011 to 2014, though it’s yet to win. It has, however, won the Television Critics Association’s Best ComedySseries award and the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Comedy.
The Big Bang Theory has gone through many changes throughout the years, and its longevity can at least partially be chalked up to keeping things fresh. The introduction of new characters (and scene-stealers) Bernadette and Amy in season 3 breathed new life into the show while keeping with its quirky, fun tone. Changing jobs, relationships, and families helped too; later seasons saw Amy and Sheldon get married, Howard and Bernadette have kids, and Penny suspend her acting career for one in pharmaceutical sales. More changes likely await them in the series finale, though fans have a couple more weeks to wait before they find out for sure.