Jim Parsons didn't have any plans on returning to The Big Bang Theory after season 12, which is why the sitcom is ending. Debuting in 2007, the show follows the day-to-day lives of seven nerdy friends all living in California. After more than a decade on TV, it remains a hit ratings-wise for the network, averaging a 2.7 rating in adults 18-49 and 14 million viewers an episode in Live+Same Day for its 24-episode 11th season. When the show finally wraps up after its incoming outing, it will be the longest-running multi-camera series in primetime TV history.
Just a few weeks ago, the network wasn't really planning on pulling the plug on the show, especially considering its monster ratings. CBS Entertainment head Kelly Kahl shared that they were having internal talks about possibly ordering season 13. But while most of the main cast has expressed interest in reprising their roles as long as the show is around, one possible roadblock to The Big Bang Theory's renewal was salary negotiations, which was also the issue that delayed the announcement of seasons 11 and 12. As it turns out, it doesn't look like pay was the reason that negotiations fell through. Rather, it's because main star Jim Parsons no longer wants to reprise his role as Sheldon.
EW is reporting that the primary reason The Big Bang Theory is ending is because Parsons is ready to walk away from the series. Parsons, alongside four of the other original cast members - Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Kunal Nayyar, and Simon Helberg - were reportedly going to take home an accumulated $50 million pay had they decided to sign on for two more years, which is something that CBS was trying to negotiate. In the end, things didn't pan out, with Parsons opting to not return for a 13th and 14th season of the hit sitcom.
If that was really the case, this is the best thing that CBS and the rest of the cast can do given the situation. While The Big Bang Theory technically has seven main characters, it's Parsons' Sheldon at the forefront of almost every huge narrative in the sitcom. And even when the show's not tackling his story, he remains a focal point. Proof of Sheldon's popularity is Big Bang Theory spawning its very first spinoff, Young Sheldon, which follows the early years of Parsons' fan-favorite character. The actor also executive produces the prequel, and lends his voice to the narration.
Over the last couple of years, Parsons has been branching out, doing more than his yearly TV gig, as he appeared in films like the Oscar-nominated Hidden Figures and A Kid Like Jake. He also returned to theater via The Boys in the Band alongside Matt Bomer, Zachary Quinto, and Andrew Rannells, which just ended its Broadway run earlier this month, as well as dabbled in radio show hosting with SiriusXM's Jim Parsons is Too Stupid for Politics. Aside from the last season of The Big Bang Theory, fans can expect to see him in another film, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, alongside Zac Efron and Lily Collins.
In terms of narrative, CBS is fortunate that The Big Bang Theory is at a prime place to end the story. All three couples are now married - with the latest one, Amy and Sheldon, tying the knot in the season 11 finale - while Howard and Bernadette are getting the hang of having two kids. If anything, there's really only Raj that still hasn't found his match. Of course, it would be nice to see how Sheldon and Amy's marriage will progress, but if CBS is still looking to continue the show without Parsons, maybe a second spinoff for one or two characters would work.