After 12 years of being on the air, CBS' hit sitcom The Big Bang Theory is finally coming to an end. As the final season unfolds, it seems clear that the series is now in its end game: Sheldon Cooper is married, possibly even contemplating having children and on track to win a Nobel prize; after years of searching, Rajesh Koothrappali is ready to settle down; and Leonard and Penny are happier and stronger than ever before.
But what of the actual final episode itself? What will The Big Bang Theory's finale deliver? There's no way to be sure, but given the series' love of all things science and science fiction, could this final episode take us back... to the future?
The Big Bang Theory, while mostly set in the real world, has, on a few separate occasions, played with the fabric of its basis in science to deliver some extra laughs. For example, the series did, at one point, confirm that aliens exist. For another, in the Season 7 episode "The Mommy Observation," a murder mystery game inspired by The Terminator ended with the episode jumping forwards in time 20 years to show us a greying Stuart waiting to meet up with the rest of the gang.
The moment was played for laughs and, save for a few futuristic cars, it didn't show us a whole lot of Pasadena circa 2034. But still, the series has shown that it is willing to jump forward in time, especially when its lead characters are all fascinated by not only the advancements in technology, but also movies and comic books that deal with time travel.
In fact, time travel has been the subject of many debates and conversations between the series' main characters. On separate occasions, they have even wondered if their future selves would time travel back to the past, were the technology ever developed further down the timeline.
Could the series then finally embrace the idea for its final episode, as some fans are speculating? Time jumps have long been a staple of television, and The Big Bang Theory could use that as a springboard to offer fans something even better. It would be great to see what Sheldon, Leonard and Penny are up to in the future, and other TV and film series have explored similar time jump epilogue tropes; it would just be that much more appropriate on Big Bang Theory. We could see Old Man Sheldon being a scientific success (or failure?), and we could find out if Penny ever made it as an actress. It would certainly open up whole new possibilities for comedy, as well as for the lore of the series itself. Who knows, it could even lead to its own spinoff -- there's certainly money on the table for that kind of series if CBS was to take such a bold action.
Of course, more than anything, it would allow for the series to have an incredibly bittersweet ending: what better finale could The Big Bang Theory offer than by having its three lead characters fondly time travel back to the past, to the days of the pilot, to witness their original meeting, or simply seeing how they will end up in the future? Will they? Won't they? Only time will tell.
The Big Bang Theory airs Thursdays at 8 pm ET/PT on CBS, and will conclude with an hour-long series finale on May 16. The series stars Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Mayim Bialik, Kunal Nayyar, Simon Helberg and Melissa Rauch.