On 12 April, it was announced that The Big Bang Theory universe is expanding, with plans for a spin-off from the hit series’ original creators.
The news was made public at the Warner Brothers Discovery press day, the same day the company announced its new platform Max, a rebranded HBO Max and Discovery+ merger.
Executive producer Chuck Lorre, who co-created the original Big Bang Theory series with Bill Prady, will develop a new show for Max “derived from” the original series. Plot details are still unknown. A new series based on the Harry Potter novels has also been ordered.
It’s not the first spin-off series of the show, with Young Sheldon now in its sixth season
The Big Bang Theory ran for 12 seasons from 2007 to 2019. It starred John Galecki and Jim Parsons as two physicist friends, with Kaley Cuoco as their neighbour Penny.
During the show’s run, which spanned more than a decade, many surprise cameos kept viewers entertained. Here are some of the most memorable.
Carrie Fisher and James Earl Jones (season seven, episode 14)
In this episode, legendary actor James Earl Jones, who voiced Darth Vader in the Star Wars film franchise, accompanies Sheldon to Carrie Fisher’s house, then runs off after ringing her doorbell. Princess Leia actor Fisher comes out wielding a baseball bat and yells: “It’s not funny anymore, James!”
Later, Sheldon bumps into Fisher at a restaurant. The two hit it off and end up going to a carnival together. They also share a jovial Lion King karaoke session with Jones.
Elon Musk (season nine, episode nine)
Howard meets his hero, controversial Space Tesla X founder, Elon Musk while serving the homeless Thanksgiving dinner. The future owner of Twitter tells Sheldon he’s always on the hunt for engineers.
Bill Gates (season 11, episode 18)
Penny tells her husband Leonard and their friends that she is going to meet Gates via her work, but since it’s April Fool’s, Sheldon is convinced it’s a prank. Meanwhile, the others try to convince Penny to let them come along, after which she shares Gates’s itinerary with Leonard. After she leaves, he shows the rest of the group, who set about trying to crash the hotel where Gates is staying.
In a behind-the-scenes interview, Gates said he was thrilled at the opportunity to star in the show.
“It’s fun to have a show where people are allowed to be a little nerdy and a little bit smart, so I can relate to it, so I was thrilled when I got the chance,” he said.
Kathy Bates (season 11, episode 24)
At Amy and Sheldon’s wedding, Bates appears as Amy’s mother. She appears again in the premiere of season 12 and once more in the eighth episode.
Sarah Michelle Gellar (series finale)
Raj sits next to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer star on the plane ride to Amy and Sheldon’s award ceremony, convincing her to tag along as his guest.
Buffy is one of the many TV characters that the male cast of The Big Bang Theory are obsessed with.
Showrunner Steve Holland told The Hollywood Reporter: “I have been a huge ‘Buffy’ fan for years. I’ve re-watched that show probably more than any other. And a lot of the writers are big ‘Buffy’ fans, too.”
Bill Nye (season seven)
In the series, Sheldon feels snubbed when his idol, Professor Proton, seeks Leonard’s help for a science. Sheldon gets his revenge by befriending rival science icon Bill Nye.
Penny calls Nye the “creepy old guy from Dancing With the Stars”.
Octavia Spencer (season two, episode five)
Spencer cameoed as a US Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) clerk. Sheldon annoys her at the DMV centre to the point where she gives him a learner’s permit in exchange for some peace.
Stephen Hawking (season six, episode six)
Hawking became a recurring character after becoming friends with Sheldon online.
Sheldon believes Hawking is “perhaps [his] only intellectual equal”, and get Hawkins to read his thesis on the Higgs boson particle.
Josh Peck (season seve, episode 13)
Peck appears as Stuart’s comic shop arch-enemy, Jesse. There’s no doubt that Stuart’s nemesis owns a larger store and boasts a wider ranger of comics and memorabilia. Jesse’s store also offers free popcorn, pastries and coffee, unlike Stuart’s.
Buzz Aldrin (seasn six, episode five)
While speaking with Howard, it emerges that Raj does not know who Buzz Aldrin is.
In the show, Aldrin obsesses over space and his career as an astronaut at every opportunity, just like Howard.
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