Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) may not be getting the grand romantic ending that fans are hoping for them in The Big Bang Theory. But there's still a way to craft a satisfying send-off to the show's inaugural couple.
It's no secret that the Hofstadters have been sidetracked by the show for the last several seasons now. After their on-and-off relationship in The Big Bang Theory's early years and whirlwind weddings in season 9, there had been barely any movement with their relationship - something that the couple themselves acknowledge from time-to-time in the show. While their friends advanced in their personal and professional lives (perhaps except for Raj who continues to be a character the writers still have limited interest in), the pair's lives remained stagnant. There had been separate arcs for the them: Leonard worked with the boys on the military project, while Penny transitioned to a different career path, but nothing for them as a unit other than some secondary plot in a couple of episodes.
So obviously, when it was announced that The Big Bang Theory is ending with season 12, many assumed that Penny and Leonard will finally get some development as a couple. Cue this year's third episode of the series titled "The Procreation Calculation" where Penny unceremoniously dropped that she doesn't want to have kids ever. This broke Leonard's heart as he was dreaming about having a family with her almost immediately after they met all the way in season 1. This dilemma became the crux of the two's narrative this season, but it doesn't seem like there will be any clear cut answer to this issue with the focus on Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Amy’s (Mayim Bialik) campaign for the Nobel prize. The show will need to craft something significant for Penny and Leonard, however, otherwise, their already irritated fans will only be more disappointed.
So how can The Big Bang Theory end the couple's arc in a satisfying way? Send them off to a proper honeymoon. The couple has been married twice and they have yet to go on the mandatory post-wedding trip. For the past few years, Penny and Leonard struggled to do something together as a couple - at one point, they even listed down all the things they wanted to do but didn't execute any of them.
By sending them on a vacation, the tried-and-tested trope of characters leaving the apartment "one last time" can be fulfilled without the need to actually have them move out. We know they’re coming back, but for the sake of the ending, it opens up the opportunity to showcase the elevator finally getting fixed, which is something that everyone wants to see before the series goes off air including Cuoco.
Penny and Leonard clearly still love each other but they barely do anything together. Everything's in passing like a short conversation in their apartment or they're dealing with something that isn't really their issue, like the Coopers' ongoing Nobel campaign. For years, they were the primary romantic side of the series, but now, they're practically secondary characters - with no arc of their own but somehow always involved with others' businesses. Perhaps if they go on a romantic getaway, they spend quality time with each other and even figure out their kids/no-kids argument. And while sadly, fans won't be able to see that part of their lives fleshed out on screen (unless there's a Big Bang Theory spin-off on its way), viewers get to send them off knowing that their relationship is stronger than ever.
The Big Bang Theory season 12 air Thursday nights on CBS.