'Big Bang Theory' finale viewer's guide

4:10 p.m. ET, May 16, 2019

Research physicist: The show was never about science, but it made me laugh and I'll be sorry to see it go

After a long and successful run, The Big Bang Theory is airing its final episode. For twelve years, we’ve watched Sheldon and the gang live their lives and they’ve entertained us with their antics. 

As a research physicist, I’m often asked how accurately the show reflects my colleagues. The answer is, of course, not very well. But that’s not surprising. 

TBBT is a television show and the characters are stereotypes that capture society's most outlandish perceptions of scientists. In real life, we are much like everyone else, with a variety of interests outside of work -- from my crazy friend who does Ironman competitions, to others who enjoy painting.  

It’s probably true that scientists are more likely to relish some of the geekier facets of popular culture than the average person. I like Star Trek, for example – but in moderation. (I don’t own a uniform, attend conventions or speak Klingon.) Many of my colleagues have similar guilty pleasures, but this is true of everyone.

TBBT was never really about science, although we have my colleague David Saltzberg, who also has done research at both Fermilab and CERN, to thank for ensuring that Sheldon’s whiteboards were scientifically accurate. It was a show about a group of quirky people and their lives. It was fun, and it made science and scientists a little less intimidating. The characters made me laugh and I will be sorry to see them go. 

When the final episode airs I’ll be on the couch watching -- just like my non-scientist friends. Just don’t take my spot… 

Don Lincoln is a senior scientist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. He is the author of "The Large Hadron Collider: The Extraordinary Story of the Higgs Boson and Other Stuff That Will Blow Your Mind." He also produces a series of science education videos. Follow him on Facebook. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely his. View more opinion articles on CNN.

4:10 p.m. ET, May 16, 2019

How "The Big Bang Theory" has made television history

"The Big Bang Theory" is longest running multi-camera sitcom.

The CBS sitcom made TV history in March when it filmed 276th episode. The show surpassed "Cheers," which made 275 episodes.

The longest running live-action sitcom in TV history is "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," which shot 435 episodes between 1952 and 1966.

"The Big Bang Theory," follows the lives of a group of sci-fi loving friends, played by Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg, Kaley Cuoco, Kunal Nayyar and Mayim Bialik.

"The Big Bang Theory" has earned 52 Emmy nominations and numerous awards over the years.

4:10 p.m. ET, May 16, 2019

Why Chuck Lorre says it's "foolish" to think there won't be another "Big Bang Theory"

"The Big Bang Theory" is about to bid viewers a big farewell. And as is customary with any major hit, that raises questions about when -- or whether -- another network sitcom will blow up this way again.

Chuck Lorre, who co-created "The Big Bang Theory" with Bill Prady, has at times seemed like he's single-handedly keeping the traditional multi-camera sitcom alive. In addition to producing "Two and a Half Men," another huge hit for CBS, his credits include the returning "Mom," as well as earlier shows like "Cybill" and "Dharma & Greg."

More recently, however, Lorre has migrated into single-camera comedies, including the "Big Bang" spinoff "Young Sheldon" — already renewed by CBS for two more seasons — and "The Kominsky Method," the Michael Douglas-Alan Arkin comedy for Netflix, which earned the producer a Golden Globe Award in January.

Despite his experimentation with a different form of storytelling, Lorre said he's been around long enough to see the sitcom pronounced dead before — such as when "Friends" signed off 15 years ago — only to see it rise again. And he continues to operate in that realm.

"I've been doing this long enough to know I've heard the bold statement that 'This is it. This won't happen again' many times," he told CNN. "And it does. So humility would suggest that making a blanket statement, that this is the end, is probably foolish."

Even in a streaming age, Lorre sees value in the format, which he has described as like producing a little play every week.

"I don't see any reason to walk away from the four-camera show," he said. "It's a valid way to tell a story. When you're at home watching television, you're not counting cameras. You're either entertained or you're not."

4:10 p.m. ET, May 16, 2019

"The Big Bang Theory" is (literally) cemented in Hollywood history

The stars of "The Big Bang Theory" cemented their handprints this month at the famous TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, marking the first time a TV series has been honored in such a ceremony.

"Big Bang Theory" is also TV's longest-running multi-camera comedy series.

Johnny Galecki (Leonard), Jim Parsons (Sheldon), Kaley Cuoco (Penny), Simon Helberg (Howard), Kunal Nayyar (Raj), Mayim Bialik (Amy) and Melissa Rauch (Bernadette) signed their names in the concrete as they continue to say goodbye to their characters before the show's final episode.

Nayyar shared a hyperlapsed video of the big moment with a single word caption: "Forever #tbbt."

4:10 p.m. ET, May 16, 2019

Behind the scenes of the final taping of "Big Bang Theory"

Tears, hugs and speeches were plentiful last month as the cast of "The Big Bang Theory" took their final bow at the last live taping of their long-running sitcom.

They shared photographs of the taping on Instagram.

Here's a look at their emotional farewell:

4:10 p.m. ET, May 16, 2019

"Big Bang Theory" wraps up tonight after 12 seasons

After 12 seasons and nearly 280 episodes, "The Big Bang Theory" will wrap up its series in a one-hour farewell show, ending as the longest-running multicamera series in television history.

The cast finished their final taping on April 30, and there were plenty of tears as they bid farewell.

"The Big Bang Theory" debuted in 2007 and is syndicated worldwide. The CBS series has received 52 Emmy Award nominations with 10 wins to date and seven Golden Globe nominations.

One of its stars, Johnny Galecki, shared a video last week on Instagram of the show's sets being torn down as The Beatles' hit "Help!" played in the background.

Return to CNN after the final episode for our review and a behind-the-scenes report from the show's last taping.