The Big Bang Theory's Original Title Wasn't What You Think

The Big Bang Theory's Original Title Wasn't What You Think
Image credit: CBS

The story would bring together Leonard, Penny, and... Kenny?


  • Before its launch, The Big Bang Theory went through several pilots and title changes.
  • The original title was meant to emphasize the central trio.
  • However, the final version allowed for a focus on the ensemble and science-related storylines.

Five full years after its last episode aired, The Big Bang Theory remains one of the most recognizable and beloved sitcoms ever produced on television. For twelve seasons, we have had the great pleasure of following the personal lives and careers of the nerdy CalTech employees and their friends residing in Pasadena, California. In fact, the show has become so ingrained in our cultural memory that many people associate 'Big Bang' primarily with the show rather than the physical theory of how the universe expanded.

The title sequence, created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, has become as iconic as the show itself, perfectly capturing both the shared activities that unite the characters and the moment when Leonard and Sheldon meet Penny, setting in motion a series of events, new friendships and life stories. But the show was originally intended to have a different title, one that focused on just a few central characters and, let's face it, was far less catchy.

Let's find out what kind of title The Big Bang Theory was originally going to have, and why the final version was much better suited to the show and its story.

The Show Didn't Get Off the Ground Right Away

We now know The Big Bang Theory as a cult series that has stayed with viewers over the years and continues to resonate through spin-offs even 5 years after its conclusion. But before the show hit its stride, Lorre and Prady had been trying to convince CBS to greenlight it for quite some time.

According to the original pilot, which never aired, the show would focus on Leonard and Sheldon, also played by Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons, respectively. Instead of Penny, Raj, Howard, Amy, Bernadette and occasionally Stuart, their friends were Penny's tougher prototype Katie (Amanda Walsh) and Amy's more jealous prototype Gilda (Iris Bahr).

The Big Bang Theory's Original Title Wasn't What You Think - image 1

However, the pilot failed to impress test audiences and Lorre and Prady had to correct some mistakes. As a result, they had to go back to a different concept, which is reflected in the title that was originally given to the series.

Apparently, even before the unaired pilot was shown, it was assumed that the show would be called 'Lenny, Kenny and Penny'. So Katie was supposed to be called Penny, but Sheldon was originally supposed to be called Kenny. All in all, we're glad the title was eventually changed to The Big Bang Theory.

It All Started with the Big Bang

While the original title was catchy, it did not reflect the specificity of the sitcom. Yes, and in TBBT, Leonard, Sheldon and Penny are indispensable members of the core cast, but the show in no way suggests that the dynamic will come from Penny's confrontation of street-smart wisdom with her new nerdy neighbors' love of physics and pop culture. Not that The Big Bang Theory is a more revealing title in that regard, but it does encourage far more interesting interpretations.

Also, the original title immediately suggested that the show would focus on the central trio, while 'TBBT' easily suggests an ensemble cast. Of course, we all love the characters played by Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, and Kelly Cuoco, but let's not deny that Kunal Nayyar, Simon Helberg, Mayim Bialik, Melissa Rauch, and Kevin Sussman are no less appealing to the show.

Each of them represented different experiences, including culture and religion, career aspirations and hobbies, making the cast truly diverse and ultimately making The Big Bang Theory one of the most important projects in pop culture.