WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the two-part series finale of The Big Bang Theory, "The Change Constant" and "The Stockholm Syndrome," which aired Thursday on CBS.
For over a decade, The Big Bang Theory has been welcomed into millions of households across the world, and become an undeniable part of pop-culture. Throughout the series' run, fans have followed the professional and personal lives of a lovable cast who have had us laughing in stitches week in and week out. And now, after 12 years and 279 episodes, CBS's hit sitcom has finally come to an end.
Over the course of the final season, the series made sure that no stone would be left unturned, that all of the characters' storylines would be resolved. But going into this final episode, there were still a lot of questions left to be answered, and quite a few plot threads to tie up. Would Sheldon win a Nobel prize? Would Raj find a wife? Would Leonard and Penny have a child?
The Big Bang Theory's final episodes didn't just leave us in tears; the series packed plenty of surprises in its two-part finale. Here's a rundown of all the major developments and storyline payoffs the series' final episodes delivered.
Shledon and Amy Win the Nobel Prize
Season 12's main storyline has focused on Sheldon and Amy's race to get a Nobel Prize for their Super Asymmetry theory. It's been a long and difficult road, one filled with imposter scientists and angry outbursts, but finally the quest has come to an end.
As Sheldon, Amy, Leonard and Penny are all up in the middle of the night, awaiting the fateful phone call. When it finally comes, a brief moment of disbelief is followed by unabashed joy, as Sheldon Cooper gets the prize he has been dreaming about ever since the series' first season.
The Elevator is (Finally!) Fixed
Ever since the series' pilot, the elevator in Leonard, Sheldon and Penny's apartment has been broken, something which has forced all of the series' characters to walk up and down four flights of stairs in nearly every episode. Going into the series finale, fans hoped the elevator subplot would finally be resolved in the final episode.
Well, it was... and it wasn't. Yes, the elevator is finally fixed, but it occurs in the middle of the first episode, "The Change Constant," rather than the actual finale. With an elevator bell ding and its doors opening to reveal Penny, the CBS series resolved one of its longest running plot threads when we least expected it.
Amy Gets a Makeover
Amy and Sheldon have been fighting for a Nobel Prize for so long, none of them anticipated what would come after they get it. As it turns out, winning the prestigious prize brings a lot of media attention, something they are wholly unprepared for. When Amy starts seeing pictures of herself online, her vanity gets the best of her, and she is saddened by the way she looks in the photos.
Fortunately, Raj sees this as a perfect opportunity to put his skills to good use and offer her a complete makeover. She gets new fancy clothes, a haircut and makeup, and she's delighted by the results -- which is more than we can say for Sheldon, who isn't a big fan of change.
Michael and Halley Wolowitz Are Finally Introduced
One of the biggest running jokes of The Big Bang Theory has involved certain characters whom we've never seen. It started with Howard's mother, who would only be heard screaming off-camera, and it continued with his and Bernadette's children, Michael and Halley. Ever since the children were born, they were also always off-camera, and were only ever heard crying in the next room.
The Big Bang Theory surmised us in the opening minutes of the final episode, "The Stockholm Syndrome," when we saw both children in the flesh. Making it even better, the two appeared on-screen in such a seamless manner that it didn't register as a surprise at first, almost like they had already been a part of the show for so long.
Raj Doesn't Get a Girlfriend
While Sheldon, Amy, Leonard, Penny, Howard and Bernadette all found love on the show, Raj was the only main character who had yet to find his significant other. His search for love has been a constant on the series, and it appeared like Season 12 would finally see that search come to an end.
After the hopeless romantic broke things off with Anu in the series' second-to-last episode, fans thought for certain that Raj would meet someone in the finale. However, that wasn't not the case. The series ends with Raj still single -- although he did get a non-date with Buffy the Vampire Slayer herself, Sarah Michele Gellar. While surprising, this indication that even though the series has come to an end, life will go on as usual for our favorite characters, is kind of touching. Raj's search for love will continue, but off-screen.
Penny Is Pregnant
Ever since the series' pilot, Leonard promised that his babies with Penny would be both smart and beautiful. At the time, the joke was played for laughs, but it would chart a course for the entire series, one that finally came full circle when Penny revealed that she's pregnant.
However, what was most surprising about the reveal was that Penny and Leonard already knew. The news was already a part of their lives, and we just stumbled upon it. It subverted the expectations of the reveal, and it came as wonderful, welcome news, especially after Penny made it abundantly clear that she didn't want to have children throughout much of Season 12.
Sheldon's Emotional Speech
The Big Bang Theory left its biggest surprise of the night until the very end. When Amy and Sheldon finally got their Nobel Prize, they each had to deliver a speech. After Sheldon (once again) realizes that his actions and rhetoric towards his friends throughout the finale were selfish, he discards his self-centered celebratory speech to speak from the heart.
With a gleaming eye on all his friends in the audience, he asks each and everyone of them to stand up, and thanks them for being a part of his life, for inspiring him, and for always being there for him. It was the perfect ending for the series, as the character who was always the most difficult to live with finally looked upon those dearest to him to give them the recognition they so rightfully deserve.
It wasn't just Sheldon who won this prize -- it was all of them.
The Big Bang Theory concluded its 12-season run 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.