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The Big Bang Theory Bids Its Audience a Fond Bazinga

ALSO: The Good Fight, Grey's Anatomy, Better Things, Superstore and more.
  • After 12 years and 279 episodes, the The Big Bang Theory cast takes their final bow. (CBS)
    After 12 years and 279 episodes, the The Big Bang Theory cast takes their final bow. (CBS)

    After twelve seasons, countless Bazingas, and even more "...Penny"s, The Big Bang Theory comes to an end tonight. The top-rated American TV program has been on the air for so long that it's hard to remember that its first (generally low-rated) season aired only 17 episodes because of the Writers Guild strike that year. Yes, the same strike that kneecapped Pushing Daisies way back when was also the first season of Big Bang.

    Over the course of its twelve seasons, The Big Bang Theory has seen three U.S. presidents, at least eight late-night hosts (network only!), and 25 winners of its network sister Survivor, whose Thursday-night time slot it swiped in 2010. While often a divisive show among TV critics, fans of other, lesser-rated shows, and the all-powerful nerd demographic, the show also launched a career for Jim Parsons, a spinoff for the Big Little Lies kid, gave Christine Baranski and Laurie Metcalf a show they could star in together, and scored Bob Newhart his first and (to date) only Emmy Award.

    Our Jessica Liese contends that BBT evolved into a different, better show with the emergence of its female ensemble and the additions of Amy (Mayim Bialik) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch), so if you're memorializing the show today, remember to give full credit where it's due.

    SERIES FINALE: The two-part, hour-long series finale of The Big Bang Theory has two separate episode titles: "The Change Constant" and "The Stockholm Syndrome." Sheldon and Amy await big news while Bernadette and Wolowitz leave their kids for the first time and Penny and Leonard try to keep a secret. Vague enough for you? Look, CBS isn't going to give away the farm on their big May-sweeps finale, are they? 8:00 PM ET on CBS

    SPECIAL: Looking to get as much, um, bang for their buck as humanly possible, CBS will follow tonight's two final Big Bang episodes and a new episode of Young Sheldon with Unraveling the Mystery: A Big Bang Farewell. Hosted by Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco, the 30-minute retrospective special promises to take viewers behind the scenes of the longest-running multi-camera comedy series in television history. 9:30 PM ET on CBS

    SEASON FINALE: The somehow even more unhinged third season of The Good Fight comes to a close tonight, so we'll see if Diane Lockhart's (Christine Baranski) flirtation with an anti-Trump activist group comes back to haunt her and whether Michael Sheen's unhinged rival attorney will be able to take down Reddick Boseman Lockhart. In the old Good Wife days, such a threat would probably result in a schism where half the partners start a new firm and half the main cast gets promoted to name partner. Here's hoping The Good Fight has bigger fish to fry. Streaming on CBS All-Access

    SEASON FINALE: Last week's penultimate episode to the 15th season (!!) of Grey's Anatomy set up the various stakes for tonight's calamitous season finale so proficiently, it was almost comedic. Oh look, a pair of surgeons went hiking, I hope they won't be urgently needed! Oh look, a terrible rainstorm is headed to Seattle, I hope it won't interfere with that rare blood donor! Oh look, Meredith got into the hyperbaric chamber with a patient, I hope her boyfriend doesn't do anything stupid like confess to a crime she committed and get carted off to jail! Oh, and I hope Teddy doesn't go into labor! Anyway, the season finale should be a real corker. 8:00 PM ET on ABC

    SEASON FINALE: Season 3 of Pamela Adlon's Better Things ends tonight with an episode called "Shake the Cocktail," a sentiment we can all share. Our Stephen Hladik wrote about how Better Things confronted and ultimately embraced aging in its best season yet. 10:00 PM ET on FX


    • Superstore and its brilliantly diverse ensemble ends sSason 4 with an Employee Appreciation Day, and the group must band together to save one of their own. 8:30 PM ET on NBC
    • Law & Order: SVU ends its 20th season with yet another case ripped from today's headlines (remember that tag line??) with guest stars Titus Welliver, Aida Turturro, and Richard Kind. 10:00 PM ET on NBC
    • For the People will end its two season run with an episode about voter intimidation on Election Day. Timely to the last! 10:00 PM ET on ABC
    • Busy Tonight also airs its series finale tonight as Busy promises a bunch of surprise guests. 11:00 PM ET on E!

    Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: The Big Bang Theory, Better Things, The Good Fight, Grey's Anatomy, Superstore