The Big Bang Theory finale is days away, but is it possible the ending will satisfy the show's massive fanbase? Going into the final two episodes, the show has little set up for any of the primary characters outside of Sheldon and Amy.
Much has been said about the uneven narrative distribution on The Big Bang Theory, especially in the later years. While it thrived early on with a balanced ensemble, the show slowly veered away from that and instead, compartmentalized the stories based on the current character relationships. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as it allowed the series to focus on certain characters who may not be exactly standouts when it comes to group narratives. But when the show has a tendency to favor certain characters, it often leaves a portion of the cast member's respective arcs undernourished. This has been going on for quite some time now, but has been much more noticeable in the final season.
Of course, this wasn't always intended as the finale season; writing has begun on The Big Bang Theory season 12 before it was confirmed as its last. It's no secret that CBS was interested in ordering another season of the sitcom considering its ratings in the face of critical reviews. But with Jim Parsons reportedly no longer interested in reprising the role as Sheldon past season 12 despite the potential massive payday for him and his costars, the network decided to ax the series altogether rather than continuing with an incomplete cast.
This means that several of The Big Bang Theory's weird final season subplots were really just the start of much longer and more involved arcs that had to be cut down. This would make sense for Leonard and Penny's kid debate, which went in various odd directions like the sperm donation subplot, before leaving little changed in the Hofstadters' lives. The same is true of Raj, who spent most of the season supposedly marrying Anu, but at the last minute, that's no more.
Obviously, Sheldon and Amy's Nobel story will take a significant chunk of the one-hour finale this week. But at this point, The Big Bang Theory should be more focused on sending off the characters that they've somehow neglected this season. A lot of time has been invested Super Asymmetry paper, but that pales in comparison to how long the show has built up Leonard and Penny, Howard and Bernadette and Raj.
One issue is that, in the case of Howard and Bernadette, their story has been fleshed out throughout several seasons that there's really no massive loose plot ends that absolutely needs to be addressed (they can/can't resolve Sam Wolowitz's mystery). This leaves The Big Bang Theory writers in a tricky spot as they risk forcing bold choices and leading to a mismatched finale.
While no series finale has ever pleased everyone ever, the least The Big Bang Theory should be able to do is send off its characters in a way that fits their time on our screens. Despite the criticisms on the more questionable elements of the sitcom, millions of fans have been invested in their stories in more than a decade. And for the most part, each one has grown into better human being than we first met them. To give The Big Bang Theory crew a bland final outing will not only be an insult to the show's massive fandom, but also a disservice to these characters.
The Big Bang Theory series finale and the Young Sheldon season 2 finale air May 16 on CBS