In the world of television sitcoms, there is often a curious transition that occurs in shows that manage to make it to five seasons. Nowadays, shows enter into syndication following their fourth season. Syndication is when reruns of shows are played on different networks at different times of the day. Not every show becomes popular in syndication, of course, but the ones that take off have an interesting effect on the new episodes of the series. Suddenly, shows that were only performing decently becoming huge. The Big Bang Theory, for instance, was already doing well before it entered into syndication, but new episodes had not hit the top ten until the show’s first year of syndication. In their second year of TBS playing Big Bang Theory seemingly a dozen times a day, the new episodes became the #2 show on television and the show has not fallen out of the top three since.
Naturally, this has made new episodes of the show extremely valuable and the cast of the show have become quite wealthy because every new season means 22 more episodes to be added to the show’s syndication package. It is like printing money. Therefore, the cast of The Big Bang Theory is now one of the most famous casts in TV history. They are on TV practically constantly through their syndicated episodes and the new episodes of the show. People know seemingly everything about them, but we think that we can tell you some odd facts about the cast that you might not know.
20. THE SHOW WANTED JOHNNY GALECKI FOR SHELDON
It is hard to imagine anyone but Jim Parsons playing the role of the obnoxious but brilliant Sheldon Cooper. Parsons has won three Best Actor Emmy Awards for the role over the years. However, when The Big Bang Theory was starting out, it was Johnny Galecki that they wanted for the Sheldon role instead of Sheldon’s often hapless roommate, Leonard Hofstadter!
Galecki was the most famous member of the show’s original cast, so it makes sense that they wanted him for the most prominent role among the “nerds” on the show. Galecki, though, believed that his acting style fit the role of Leonard better and so that opened up the role of Sheldon for Parsons.
19. JIM PARSONS WAS PART OF ONE OF MICROSOFT’S BIGGEST FAILURES
After being referenced a number of times over the life of the series, Bill Gates finally made an appearance on The Big Bang Theory in its penultimate season. While Sheldon Cooper is not a computer programmer on the series, he is still suitably obsessed with Gates, the billionaire founder of Microsoft.
Amusingly enough, though, Jim Parsons has a connection to Microsoft in real life, and it is to one of Microsoft’s most notable failures! Sidewalk.com was a mid-1990s attempt by Microsoft to create localized websites for specific cities. It did not work out and Microsoft sold it to Citysearch in 1999. Parsons was an assistant to a Microsoft Sidewalk executive in Houston during the short life of the project.
18. PENNY WASN’T ON THE SHOW ORIGINALLY
While Johnny Galecki nearly played Sheldon before The Big Bang Theory ever produced a pilot, that was resolved early on in the casting process. That was not the case for the character of Penny, who did not even make it into the original pilot for the series! In the first pilot for the series, Amanda Walsh played Katie, a young woman who was homeless after breaking up with her boyfriend. She manipulated Leonard and Sheldon into letting her stay with them.
The test audiences felt that Katie was too mean to the guys, so Chuck Lorre personally paid to produce a second pilot, with Katie now becoming Penny, a much friendlier neighbor of the guys played by Cuoco. They never looked back!
17. KUNAL NAYYAR FORCED THE SHOW TO REDEFINE RAJ
The other major difference between the original pilot and the one that was ultimately aired is that Leonard and Sheldon’s only other “nerd” friend was a woman named Gilda. The revamped pilot replaced Gilda with two other scientist friends named Howard and Rajesh (Raj). Since these were newer characters intended to be added to the original version of the show, the creators had more leeway with developing these characters.
Therefore, when the British-born Kunal Nayyar, who grew up in India, came in to read for the role of Raj, the writers decided to change the character from an Indian-American character to being one from India to match Nayyar.
16. SIMON HELBERG ALMOST TURNED THE ROLE OF HOWARD DOWN
One of the downsides of being on a hit sitcom is that the actors involved do tend to become typecast as the characters that they play on their show. The trade-off is typically worth it, but what if you don’t know if a show is going to be a hit? Is it worth risking being typecast without being on a hit series?
That was the dilemma for Simon Helberg, who had recently played a “nerd” character on the short-lived Aaron Sorkin drama, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. He did not want another “nerd” role, but some friends convinced him to take the part and he is now quite pleased that his friends made him go for it.
15. MAYIM BIALIK’S NEUROSCIENCE BACKGROUND SHOWED UP ON AN EARLIER SITCOM
You might know that actress Mayim Bialik has a Ph.D. in neuroscience, just like her character, Amy Farrah Fowler. In fact, the show even referenced the fact that “the actress from Blossom is a neuroscientist” early in the series. However, The Big Bang Theory is not the first sitcom to play on Bialik’s unusual education for a sitcom star.
On the final season of the sitcom, ‘Til Death, the son-in-law of the main characters discovered that he was a character on a sitcom. Bialik became his therapist, helping to study his apparent delusion. She even had him join her therapy group with the rest of the cast of Blossom!
14. MELISSA RAUCH ORIGINALLY DIDN’T DO “THE VOICE”
We suspect that you know that Melissa Rauch doesn’t actually sound like her character Bernadette in real life. The voice she uses for Bernadette is an exaggerated version of how Rauch’s mother sounds, with a little bit of extra “Jersey” thrown in there. However, did you know that not even Bernadette did the voice at first?
When Rauch first appeared on The Big Bang Theory in the show’s third season, it was only intended to be a guest appearance. So Rauch used her natural voice for the character. When the producers liked her enough to bring her back for more episodes, she began to add the exaggerated voice that she had used in her audition for the role. She’s been talking that way ever since!
13. UNLIKE SHELDON, JIM PARSONS DOESN’T LIKE TO BE A PASSENGER IN CARS
Among the many annoying habits that Sheldon has on The Big Bang Theory, one of the most inconvenient for his friends is the fact that he needs to be chauffeured around everywhere that he wants to go. Despite living in a city like Los Angeles that really requires a car to get around, he does not drive himself.
In real life, though, it is the exact opposite. You see, Jim Parsons has severe motion sickness and he cannot ride in a car without getting nauseated. The only way that he can avoid the sick feeling is if he is the one driving.
12. JOHNNY GALECKI AND MAYIM BIALIK’S FIRST TV KISS
As you undoubtedly know, Mayim Bialik was a popular teen actress who had her own sitcom, Blossom. Johnny Galecki, meanwhile, was also a successful teen actor, with a long run on the hit series, Roseanne. Before his time on Roseanne, though, Galecki guest-starred in an episode of Blossom that turned out to be extra special!
Galecki played a boy named Jason that Bialik’s Blossom met at a party. The two shared a kiss together. That kiss was the very first on-screen kiss for both actors! When asked about it when they both appeared on Conan O’Brien’s TBS talk show, Bialik added that it was likely her first kiss of any kind!
11. PENNY GOT A BARTENDER JOB TO HIDE KALEY CUOCO’S BROKEN LEG
Kaley Cuoco is very much an outdoors type of person. When she was a teenager, she was a nationally ranked amateur tennis player. She is also a devoted horseback rider. The problem with that activity, though, is that it is naturally quite dangerous at times.
This was made evident to fans in the fourth season of The Big Bang Theory when Penny got a new job as a bartender at the Cheesecake Factory. What is the connection? Well, while riding her horse, Cuoco was thrown and broke her leg in the fall. So the show had to hide Cuoco’s broken leg by filming her covered by the bar for a number of episodes.
10. FOR YEARS, KUNAL NAYYAR’S HAIRSTYLE WAS HIDDEN
A very common occurrence for actors is having to dye their hair to match a role. Sophie Turner, for instance, is a natural blonde, but has dyed her hair red for years for her role of Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones. Television shows often have a very specific image of a character that the actor has to match. That was the problem for Kunal Nayyar for over a decade on The Big Bang Theory.
Nayyar’s hair is naturally very curly, but Raj’s hair is flat, so Nayyar had to have his hair flat ironed for 10 seasons before the producers finally allowed Raj to reveal his “real” hairstyle during Season 11.
9. SIMON HELBERG HAS HAD A BLACK BELT IN KARATE
None of the male characters on The Big Bang Theory are all that athletic. In fact, when Howard Wolowitz was asked to throw out the first pitch at a Los Angeles Angels game, he trained a robot to do it for him instead! In real life, though, the actor who plays Howard, Simon Helberg, is a lot more athletic than you would think.
Helberg has been studying karate since he was just five years old! Helberg first earned a black belt when he was only 10 years old. With the series ending following Season 12, hopefully, they find a way to work karate into an episode for fun.
8. SARA GILBERT DISCOVERED SOMETHING MAJOR WHILE DATING JOHNNY GALECKI
After a few appearances in Season 1, Sara Gilbert joined the show’s cast in Season 2 as Leslie Winkle, a scientist colleague of the guys who had a romantic connection with Leonard. Despite being an official cast member, she barely appeared in any episodes and she was dropped from the show soon after joining the show.
Gilbert and Galecki, of course, played a couple on Roseanne and even got married on that series. In real life, they dated, as well. It was while she was dating Galecki that Gilbert realized that she liked girls and one of the first people that she told was Galecki, who was a major pillar of support for Gilbert when she publicly came out in 2010.
7. KEVIN SUSSMAN WORKED IN A COMIC BOOK STORE
After appearing as Stuart, the owner of the comic book store where the guys get their comics, in Season 2, Kevin Sussman was a recurring guest star for the next four seasons. He was finally officially added the cast in Season 6. Sussman has appeared in the most episode of The Big Bang Theory outside of the main cast.
Oddly enough, before he got his recurring role on the show, Sussman had been working at a comic book store for a number of years. He recalled in 2017, “Between working on the show for ten years, and working in a real comic book store for four, I have spent a large chunk of my adult life working in some form of comic book store.”
6. JIM PARSONS AND JOHNNY GALECKI SHARE A PAST
Working closely together for over a decade, it is natural for Jim Parson and Johnny Galecki to be close to each other, but one area where the two actors possibly bonded together is that they both share a surprising tragedy in their past.
You see, both men lost their fathers to car accidents. Galecki’s father, Richard, a former officer in the United States Air Force who worked with blind veterans, passed away when Galecki was 16 years old. Parsons lost his father, Jack Parsons, owner of a plumbing supply company, just a few years before landing his role on The Big Bang Theory.
5. LEONARD’S EYEGLASSES DON’T HAVE LENSES
You might have noticed that despite Leonard wearing eyeglasses on The Big Bang Theory, there are not actually any glass in his frames. The reason for this is because of the great height disparity between Galecki and Parsons. Most of the cast members on the show are relatively on the short side of things outside of Parsons, who is over six feet tall.
When standing next to Parsons, Galecki always had to tilt his head up to see him and Parsons’ face would then always become visible in Galecki’s glasses. So the producers just removed the actual glass from the glasses to eliminate the distraction.
4. UNLIKE PENNY, KALEY CUOCO HAD BEEN ACTING FOR DECADES
After waiting tables at the Cheesecake Factory for years while trying to make it as an actress, Penny eventually gave up her original dream from when she moved to Los Angeles and became a pharmaceutical sales representative. While Penny was never able to make it as an actress, Kaley Cuoco has never had that problem. She has been working steadily for nearly three decades now!
Cuoco made her national television debut in an Oscar Meyer commercial when she was just five years old! She eventually began to appear in films and TV shows, as well. By the time she joined the cast of The Big Bang Theory when she was 21 years old, she had already appeared in nearly 40 films and TV shows!
3. JOHN ROSS BOWIE IS A TRUE NERD
Before he became Sheldon Cooper’s scientific nemesis, Barry Kripke, John Ross Bowie had already had a varied career as an actor, comedian, and member of the pop punk band, Egghead. However, one of his most unusual gigs occurred after he was already a recurring cast member on The Big Bang Theory.
You see, besides being an actor himself, Bowie is a student of film and television and in 2011, he released an in-depth examination of the 1989 cult classic, film, Heathers. Bowie worked with the film’s director, screenwriter and even members of the cast to work on his scholarly tome. So, in real life, he put to shame the dedication the characters on the show have to their favorite films!
2. LAURA SPENCER AND METHOD ACTING
Laura Spencer was added as an official cast member of The Big Bang Theory in Season 9, after recurring in the previous two seasons as Raj’s dermatologist girlfriend, Emily. One of Emily’s major character traits on the series is that she is obsessed with all things horror.
In one episode, she even mentioned that she has a tattoo of Sally, the rag doll character from A Nightmare Before Christmas. Spencer then went on Twitter to show an awesome Sally tattoo on her back. It is unclear if it is an actual tattoo of Spencer’s that they worked into the show, but either way, that is going above and beyond, since they did not actually show the tattoo on the show!
1. THE SUBTLE TRIBUTE TO CAROL ANN SUSI
Carol Ann Susi was a longtime character actress on television whose face was never actually shown on The Big Bang Theory. This is because she played the never-seen but always very much heard Mrs. Wolowitz, the sweet but controlling mother of Howard. Susi sadly passed away in 2014 from cancer at the age of 62.
The show had Mrs. Wolowitz also pass away and wrote a sweet tribute to the character in the Season 8 episode, “The Comic Book Store Regeneration.” The show then continued to feature a tribute to their late friend in every episode by having a picture of Susi on Leonard and Sheldon’s refrigerator ever since.
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