Over the 12 years it was on our screens, The Big Bang Theory became one of the most watched sitcoms on television – its characters winning the hearts of audiences. But since coming to an end in 2019, what has become of the actors who brought the geekiest gang in comedy to life? Well, here’s the answer.
10. Simon Helberg
Simon Helberg starred as the loveable aerospace engineer Howard Wolowitz in The Big Bang Theory. The former astronaut with a domineering mother fancied himself as a ladies’ man on the show before memorably following in love with Bernadette, played by Melissa Rauch. It’s safe to say his character went on quite the journey, but Helberg’s story didn’t end with its finale.
Because prior to concluding his role as Wolowitz, Helberg had already appeared in the Oscar-nominated movie Florence Foster Jenkins alongside Meryl Streep. On working with the screen legend, in 2016 Helberg told ABC News, “It was just like a lot of dreams coming true, particularly doing a scene with Meryl. She makes you better because she is constantly finding something and living in that moment.”
And following The Big Bang Theory, Helberg looks set to continue his journey into movies. In 2021 he is due to star as the mysteriously-named “The Conductor” in the musical Annette. The film, by the French director Leos Carax, also stars Marion Cotillard and Adam Driver, making yet another impressive cast list.
Beyond that, Helberg will star in As Sick As They Made Us, a film penned by his Big Bang Theory co-star Mayim Bialik. The comedy-drama centers around a family bereavement and also stars Candice Bergen, Olivia Thirlby and Dustin Hoffman. The indie flick is currently in pre-production, with no estimated release date cited on IMDb.
9. Sara Gilbert
Sara Gilbert only appeared as Leslie Winkle in nine episodes of the first three seasons of The Big Bang Theory. But she is still remembered by fans of the show, and her character is often hailed as the female equivalent of Leonard Hofstadter. She even returned to the sitcom briefly for a cameo in 2016.
Gilbert actually kicked off her acting career at an early age, appearing in a TV adaptation of the Disney classic Tales of the Apple Dumpling Gang in 1982. She later snagged her big break in the sitcom Roseanne, playing Darlene Conner. So Gilbert’s career was already well underway.
Following her stint on The Big Bang Theory, Gilbert has barely been off our television screens. She has appeared in series such as Atypical, Happy Together, Jane the Virgin and Supergirl. Plus the actress has a recurring role in Roseanne and its subsequent spin-off The Conners.
Off-screen, Gilbert has served as an executive producer on Roseanne, The Conners and The Talk, a show which she created and also served as a co-host on. The actress-turned-producer left the CBS talk show in 2019 to allow herself to pursue other creative opportunities.
8. Laura Spencer
Laura Spencer entered The Big Bang Theory in season seven, appearing as Raj’s ex-girlfriend Emily Sweeney. The actress would later tell Gotham magazine of her character, “I feel like there’s certain elements of Emily’s personality that are like mine. I think her sensitivity to Raj and her genuine interest in him, his quirks are similar to my own.”
But Spencer already had a link to her Big Bang Theory co-star Kaley Cuoco before appearing on the sitcom. Because the actress had previously starred as Jane Bennett in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. And among the cast of the modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice was Briana Cuoco – Kaley’s sister.
At the same time as Spencer appeared on The Big Bang Theory, she also starred in the comedy crime drama Bones. The two roles were effectively the actress’ big break, though both of the parts ended in 2017. The actress has since only had brief appearances in the TV series Get Shorty and Matt and Dan.
Spencer has a few projects in the pipeline, though, including the TV movie Kevin Vs Josh and the series Work/Friends, according to her IMDb page. In 2021 she is also set to star in the drama Thirteen Minutes. Plus Spencer is active on social media, with 131,000 followers to her name on Instagram.
7. Jim Parsons
Jim Parsons captured our hearts with his portrayal of the dorky theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper. He was so convincing in the role that fans often wondered if he was as smart as his on-screen counterpart. Putting such speculation to bed in 2009, the actor told the Canadian newspaper the Toronto Star, “It’s sweet that they feel compelled to ask. But sadly, no.”
As a result of his The Big Bang Theory performances, Parsons won four Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Emmys from 2010 to 2014. So the future looked bright for the star when he finally said goodbye to the sitcom in 2019. Indeed, he’d already starred in movies including Hidden Figures and The Muppets before the show came to an end.
Around the same time that The Big Bang Theory aired for a final time, Parsons appeared in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. The biopic tells the story of the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. And in the movie Parsons appears as Larry Simpson, the leading prosecuting attorney in the murderer’s case.
Then in 2020 Parsons starred in a Netflix adaptation of The Boys in the Band, having previously appeared in the Broadway play, famed for its all-gay cast. That same year, he popped up in the TV-mini series Hollywood playing the irreverent agent, Henry Willson. And, of course, Parsons hasn’t left The Big Bang Theory world completely. Because he still does a voiceover on the show’s Young Sheldon spin-off.
6. Kaley Cuoco
Having started her career while still a child, Kaley Cuoco had a long list of acting credits even before landing the role of Penny in The Big Bang Theory in 2007. Some of her most prominent roles included on the sitcom 8 Simple Rules and Charmed. Arguably though, it was playing Penny that made her a star.
While on The Big Bang Theory, Cuoco remained dedicated to the sitcom, only taking on limited side-projects. She did, however, appear in films such as Hop, The Wedding Ringer and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip. But since finishing the sitcom, Cuoco has been very busy indeed.
Yes, Cuoco has produced and starred in two series. First, she provided the voice for Harley Quinn in an animated series of the same name for DC Universe. She also appeared as cabin crew member Cassie Bowden in the murder mystery show, The Flight Attendant. She helped produce the latter.
During an appearance on What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, Cuoco confirmed that she wasn’t “disappointed” that The Big Bang Theory had come to an end. She explained, “I think actually, I don’t know if my life would have taken this path if we hadn’t have ended, you know, when we did. So maybe it was a blessing in disguise. You never know.”
5. Kunal Nayyar
After playing the lovely but romantically-challenged astrophysicist Rajesh Koothrappali in The Big Bang Theory, actor Kunal Nayyar decided to take a break from the spotlight. He took a step back from running his own Instagram and announced in June 2019 that he would be traveling over a period he nicknamed “the summer of Kunal.”
When Nayyar did return to work, he did so by continuing to voice Guy Diamond in Trolls World Tour. And in 2020 he went on to star in the family flick Think Like a Dog. Then there was Sweetness in the Belly, a drama that tells the tale of an Ethiopian orphan who moves to England.
But perhaps Nayyar’s biggest departure from the role of Koothrappali came when the British-born actor starred in the Netflix drama Criminal: UK in 2020. Nayyar played the depraved businessman-turned-murderer, Sandeep Singh. And it’s fair to say that the callous character was a world away from the sitcom role that made him famous.
Nayyar would later reveal that his move away from light-hearted roles had been purposeful. In October 2020 the actor told the British website Metro, “I wanted to make sure that whatever I did next was like, ‘Wait, who is this? Oh My God. Is that the guy from The Big Bang?!’ as opposed to ‘Oh there’s Raj, playing a killer.’”
4. Johnny Galecki
Compared to the show’s other – often neurotic – characters, Leonard Hofstadter was the straight man of The Big Bang Theory. Often positioned as the natural leader of his science-obsessed gang, the experimental physicist was expertly played by Johnny Galecki. But he was no stranger to sitcoms, having starred in Roseanne since 1992.
Galecki’s appearance as David Healy on Roseanne was supposed to be a one-off, but he soon became a recurring character. And after The Big Bang Theory ended, the actor returned to his roots, once again starring as Healy in The Conners. The show was a follow-up to Roseanne and followed the matriarch’s family members in the wake of her death.
Plus Galecki appeared as Henry in the 2019 movie A Dog’s Journey. In October that year it was also announced the actor would team up with Big Bang Theory writer Anthony Del Broccolo to make NBC esports comedy The Squad. But perhaps his biggest role to date came in December 2019.
It was then that Galecki welcomed his first child, a son named Avery, with his then-girlfriend Alaina Meyer. Sadly, though, the couple reportedly split 11 months later. In November 2020 a source told People magazine that the pair were going their separate ways, but remained committed to co-parenting their child.
3. Kevin Sussman
Kevin Sussman was no stranger to sitcoms before appearing on The Big Bang Theory having previously played the lead character’s love interest Walter in Ugly Betty. He’d also popped up in shows such as My Name Is Earl and Weeds before starring alongside Sheldon and co.
As far back as the 1990s Sussman had made a name for himself playing geeky characters in commercials for companies like FedEx. So The Big Bang Theory was a natural fit for the actor. He appeared as Stuart Bloom, the owner of a comic book store that’s regularly visited by the show’s main characters.
According to the actor John Ross Bowie who played Barry Kripke in The Big Bang Theory, Sussman originally auditioned to play Sheldon on the show. In a blog post from 2012, Bowie revealed he’d tried out for the role of Leonard, adding, “There’s an alternate cosmology out there where I’m Leonard and Kevin Sussman is Sheldon… DID I JUST BLOW YOUR MIND?”
Though Sussman hasn’t taken on any TV or film projects since The Big Bang Theory he has been in the spotlight once or twice. In July 2019 he revealed he’d been affected by an earthquake which struck Southern California and measured 6.4 on the Richter scale. He also caused a stir when he appeared in a selfie with former castmates Brian Posehn and Mayim Bialik.
2. Melissa Rauch
Melissa Rauch’s character Bernadette Rostenkowski was introduced to The Big Bang Theory late (in season three) but soon became a prominent member of the gang. During her time on the show, the microbiologist was the girlfriend and later wife of Howard Wolowitz. The couple then welcomed a baby boy, which they called Neil Michael Wolowitz.
Following her time on The Big Bang Theory, Rauch has only picked up a handful of roles. In 2019 she appeared in the Steven Soderberg film The Laundromat, alongside Meryl Streep. Plus the actress did the voices of three characters on the TV series Robot Chicken.
More voiceover work followed for Rauch, as she was heard as Gwen the Cat in Cats & Dogs 3: Paws Unite. In 2020 she also provided the voice for Marie Antoinette on Animaniacs. According to her IMDb, as of December 2020 there’s nothing else in the pipeline for the actress up to now.
Rauch’s brief hiatus from film and TV could be down to the fact that she became a mom once more in 2020. In May that year, she announced that she and her husband Winston Rauch had welcomed a baby boy named Brooks. They were already parents to their daughter Sadie, who was born in 2017.
1. Mayim Bialik
Mayim Bialik didn’t enter The Big Bang Theory until the sitcom’s third season, but she soon made an impression on fans. Like her character, Amy Farrah Fowler, the actress has a PhD in neuroscience. Plus she’s an author and the founder of Grok Nation, an online initiative to encourage conversations on issues affecting the modern world.
After The Big Bang Theory, Bialik performed a voice cameo on Young Sheldon. She also voiced Dr. Gem Jeodopolis in the TV short series Vampirina and will appear in the upcoming show Call Me Kat and the announced sci-fi comedy The Inspector Chronicles.
Perhaps Bialik’s biggest projects since The Big Bang Theory have been off-camera. She is set to make her directorial debut with the film As Sick as They Made Us. The flick tells the story of a divorced mother and her dysfunctional family as she finds love once more. It is based on Bialik’s own experiences and will star her Big Bang Theory co-star Simon Helberg as well as Dustin Hoffman and Candice Bergen.
Elsewhere Bialik is also set to team up with Jim Parsons on the sitcom Carla. The show will be an American take on the BBC comedy Miranda, in which Bialik will star in the lead role. Plus the series will be developed by the actress’ company Sad Clown Productions alongside Parsons’ venture That’s Wonderful Productions.