Sheldon, Leonard, Raj and Howard, but no Penny. Do you wonder what The Big Bang Theory would have looked like?
Did you know that The Big Bang Theory had an unaired pilot episode made in 2006, that too without our beloved Penny? If you are just as shocked as we are, you have got to read what follows.
- The Big Bang Theory: Snippets from the 2006 pilot
- Katie and Gilda made way for Penny, Raj and Howard
- When Penny met Leonard and more
The Big Bang Theory: Snippets from the 2006 pilot
Created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, The Big Bang Theory is a comedy series following the weird adventures of four science geniuses, who eventually turn out to be the best of friends.
Starring Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper, Johnny Galecki as Leonard Hofstadter, Simon Helberg as Howard Wolowitz and Kunal Nayyar as Rajesh Koothrappali, The Big Bang Theory happened to us only because Nina Tassler, the then-President of CBS Entertainment thought it had “something special”. The 2006 pilot was left unaired, but in 2007 Tassler said, “Let’s do it again.”
Things were different in the 2006 version. There was no Penny, but there was Katie, played by Amanda Walsh.
In conversation with “TV Insider”, Peter Roth, president and chief content officer at Warner Bros.
Television Group had said, “In the first pilot, the character of Penny [originally named Katie] was not as appealing as that proverbial girl next door. It was not the actress [Amanda Walsh], but rather the conceit of the character.” When Tassler gave them the green flag, the show happened again, but this time with Kaley Cuoco.
Cuoco played the character of Penny, who was Sheldon and Leonard’s neighbour, but didn’t share an interest in science. Katie’s character was replaced by Penny, who unlike Katie wasn’t projected as the main antagonist, constantly picking on the scientists. With Katie gone, Sheldon became the antagonist with his unconventional ways and belief system.
Katie’s character was supposed to be tough, mean and street-smart, but with an unexplored vulnerable side. According to the pilot, Katie was a homeless woman who ended up living with Sheldon and Leonard after being left by her former boyfriend. She was working at a departmental store cosmetics counter.
Katie and Gilda made way for Penny, Raj and Howard
The scientist pair were also supposed to have a female friend called Gilda (to be played by Iris Bahr), who had a romantic interest in both Sheldon and Leonard. Having a soft spot for them, Gilda had gotten incredibly jealous upon seeing Katie living with the boys. That is how the tension between the two ladies starts brewing.
Gilda was eventually scrapped with the unaired pilot but her character became the prototype for the character of Leslie Winkle (played by Sara Gilbert), an experimental physicist at CalTech. Later, Howard and Raj replaced Gilda as Sheldon and Leonard’s nerdy friends.
Katie’s tough attitude wasn’t quite liked by the viewers, especially how she mocked Sheldon and Leonard. That was precisely why she was dropped for a kinder character like Penny.
In a way, Penny was a lot like Sheldon, especially how she had previously avoided serious relationships. That is why fans loved seeing their connection grow stronger with time. Penny was one of the first people to make Sheldon let his guard down. Starting with zero interest or knowledge of science, Penny eventually learns to appreciate their work and also ends up marrying Leonard.
When Penny met Leonard and more
Kaley Cuoco played Penny on The Big Bang Theory for 12 years, but she had also auditioned for the role of Katie. In an interview with “TV Insider”, Cuoco, now 33, said that she wasn’t cast because of her age.
“I was too young, which I love saying because I don’t get to say that I’m too young anymore”, she said laughing. “Then, a year later, I heard they were doing it again, and they brought me back in to read for Penny.”
The rest is history.
Watch The Big Bang Theory Cast Together For One Final Time
Actor Johnny Galecki, who played Leonard on the series, said reshooting the pilot “felt musical” with Cuoco on board.
“It felt very natural, almost musical, [to reshoot] the pilot when Kaley was on board with Simon [Helberg] and Kunal [Nayyar],” he said. “It felt like a band you’d been playing with for years. And everything that everyone did complemented what someone else had to do. It was just fantastic. There’s no recipe for that kind of chemistry.”, Galecki told “Insider”.
Kaley Cuoco’s emotional tribute to The Big Bang Theory on Instagram
The Big Bang Theory ended on 16 May, 2019 after running successfully for 12 long years, with 279 episodes. Sadly, the decision to end the historic comedy series came after Jim Parsons decided to not renew his contract. How badly do you want a The Big Bang Theory reboot? Tell us in the comments below!