When The Big Bang Theory ends for good on May 16 (Thursday, May 16 at 8 p.m. ET on CTV), we won’t be ready. Even after 12 historic seasons and 279 episodes, which makes it the longest-running multi-camera comedy to ever air on television, we still want to spend more time with the gang from the fourth floor.
With so many episodes to dissect, it was hard to come up with a list of our favourite moments but we are nothing if not dedicated. Here is our ranking of the historic moments we’ll be talking about long after the series goes dark.
16. When Penny kissed Leonard
The moment: In the series’ first-ever Halloween episode, a heartbroken (and cat-costume-wearing) Penny (Kaley Cuoco) planted one on Leonard (Johnny Galecki), who was dressed as a hobbit from Lord of the Rings. “That’s how we roll in The Shire,” was his memorabley quippy response.
Why it makes the list: Although these two wouldn’t go on to actually date for some time, it was the first moment in which we witnessed real chemistry between the characters and began rooting for them.
15. Schrodinger’s Cat
The moment: Sheldon (Jim Parsons) cites a scientific experiment involving a cat and a box in order the help Penny decide whether she should explore her feelings for Leonard and risk ruining the friendship.
Why it makes the list: This moment is important in Big Bang canon as it involves a scientific experiment that almost any fan can recite (hence making science more popular). However, it also marked Sheldon giving sound advice to Penny, and Penny finally deciding to take the plunge with Leonard—two other important series milestones.
14. The guys meet Mr. Proton
The moment: Sheldon meets his childhood hero, Mr. Proton (frequent guest star Bob Newhart) and strikes up an unlikely friendship, which Newhart’s character later regrets.
Why it makes the list: This was the first of several guest-star appearances by Newhart in what went on to become an Emmy-winning role. It also led to another great future moment in the series, which was Sheldon dealing with death after the character passed away. (In subsequent episodes, Proton appeared in dream sequences whenever Sheldon was at an impasse.)
12. Amy and Sheldon get married
The moment: After a lot of planning and plenty of chaos, Amy and Sheldon finally tied the knot.
Why it makes the list: Right before they said “I do,” Amy (Mayim Bialik) and Sheldon worked out the math on a scientific breakthrough that utilized the best of both their talents. It was the ultimate proof (as if we needed more) that these two were meant to be together. It didn’t hurt that Mark Hamill, a.k.a. Luke Skywalker himself, officiated the wedding, either.
11. Amy and Sheldon break up
The moment: Amy, via face chat, tells Sheldon that she needs a break from their relationship when she feels unclear as to what their future holds. In a giant twist that no one saw coming, Sheldon then turns to a Gollum figurine and asks the expert of rings what he’s supposed to do with the one he secured for Amy.
Why it makes the list: While we’d spent lots of time learning about Amy’s desire for a future with Sheldon, this was the first time we realized that Sheldon was actually serious about his future with her.
10. Amy and Sheldon play D&D
The moment: When the girls’ Vegas trip went awry, they joined the guys for a game of Dungeons and Dragons instead. But the fun took a turn when the gang started teasing Amy and Sheldon, urging their game pieces to “do it.” Amy fled to Sheldon’s bedroom, he followed, and the two continued the game a little more intimately.
Why it makes the list: The episode did an excellent job of setting up the evolution of Amy and Sheldon’s (potential) future sex life, which had been a talking point of the series. Also memorable? Howard’s masterful D&D skills, which made excellent use of Simon Helberg’s ability to impersonate a variety of actors.
9. When the elevator broke
The moment: In a flashback episode, we learned how Sheldon and Leonard first became roommates, and also how the famed out-of-order elevator first broke (Sheldon saved Leonard’s life by throwing a faulty rocket fuel experiment in there and shutting the door.)
Why it makes the list: Flashback episodes can be a mixed bag, but this one answered some long-running fan questions while showing just how far the socially-awkward guys had come.
8. When Bernadette revealed she was pregnant
The moment: Viewers learned that Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) was pregnant before Howard (Simon Helberg) did, but when she finally did tell her husband (via Post-it notes at breakfast), his reaction was well worth the wait.
Why it makes the list: It’s no secret that Howard has always been the immature one in his relationship with Bernadette, which was part of her fear in telling him about the pregnancy. But his grown-up and exciting reaction proved to us all that these two really were ready to be parents, and the show itself was ready to go in a new direction.)
7. Leonard and Penny’s second wedding
The moment: After Penny and Leonard realized they hurt their families by not inviting them to their impromptu Vegas ceremony, they agreed to hold a renewal of vows for everyone.
Why it makes the list: Watching Leonard and Penny tie the knot in Vegas was a relief to fans who just wanted to see them together permanently, but it lacked the romantic feels and comedic moments that would have come with having their families involved. In that regard, this second wedding was the celebration we really wanted.
6. Sheldon takes Penny to the hospital
The moment: When Leonard, Raj (Kunal Nayyar) and Howard were away in the desert, Penny slipped in the shower and called to Sheldon for help. In the process of helping her up and taking her to the hospital, he saw her naked.
Why it makes the list: In the early years, the scenes between Penny and Sheldon were some of the best, given how the characters are such polar opposites. This particular moment was one of the first times we realized just how much we loved their very specific and ever-evolving friendship.
5. Penny punches Howard in the face
The moment: After yet another gross remark by one Howard Wolowitz, Penny wound up and socked it to him.
Why it makes the list: There’s no denying that the earlier Wolowitz wasn’t exactly boyfriend material. He was rude, inappropriate, and overtly horny. But Penny punching him and deflating his ego gave him time for some serious inner reflection, and resulted in these two coming to an understanding (and eventual friendship).
4. Howard’s father’s letter
The moment: Howard discovered an unopened letter his estranged father sent him on his 18th birthday, but didn’t want to know what it said. When Sheldon read and shared the contents with everyone else in the group before it was destroyed, Howard was devastated. Rather than straight-up telling him what it said given his conflicted feelings, each of his friends said one nice thing that might have been in the letter. To this day we don’t know which saying was true.
Why it makes the list: We’re always fans of the show capitalizing on Helberg’s ability to go there in dramatic moments, but this was an instance of the entire group coming together to support him in a real and heartfelt way. It spoke to the very essence of why these people are all such great friends in the first place.
3. The gang gets together to eat Mrs. Wolowitz’s food
The moment: When Howard and Bernadette’s freezer broke and all of its contents began to thaw, Howard realized he would never eat his deceased mother’s food again. So Bernadette threw a big party and everyone got together for one final feast.
Why it makes the list: One of Howard’s long-standing affections towards his mom was her cooking, and this feast was a nice tribute to the character and to Carol Ann Susi, the woman who voiced her until her sudden death in 2014.
2. Soft Kitty
The moment: A sick Sheldon asked Penny to sing him “Soft Kitty,” the song his mother always used to sing to him.
Why it makes the list: The ditty (which was inspired by a song co-creator Bill Prady heard at his daughter’s preschool), went on to become synonymous with the show. We’ve heard several versions of it on-air ever since, and the live studio audience has often broken out into renditions of it in between scenes.
The moment: Penny procured the perfect gift for Sheldon at Christmas, a napkin used by the one and only Leonard Nimoy. Sheldon, who was alerted to the fact that Penny was getting him something, had stocked up on gift baskets for her in order to match her present’s value. When he opened the napkin, he piled up every single one of the presents for her, and gave her a very rare and completely heartfelt Sheldon Cooper hug.
Why it makes the list: We had never seen Sheldon be affectionate with anyone up until that point, and it spoke to so many things all at once. It was the real turning point in the Penny-Sheldon friendship, it proved that Sheldon was opening up in new ways, and it showed us that Penny understood her neighbours’ world better than we thought. But even more importantly, it was one of the biggest water cooler moments in the show’s history, and it pretty much solidified our love for these characters in the years to come.
The Big Bang Theory series finale (!) airs Thursday, May 16 at 8 p.m. ET on CTV.