The Big Bang Theory Secretly Revealed Penny’s Surname

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The Big Bang Theory ended without confirming Penny’s last name, but as it turns out, the sitcom already secretly revealed it back in season 2!

Penny’s real surname remained a mystery when The Big Bang Theory ended, but as it turns out, the show has already secretly revealed it very early on. As the only female character from the original sitcom, Kaley Cuoco’s character appeared in all twelve seasons of the CBS popular show. Although she seemed to stand out from her nerdy group of friends, she went through tremendous personal growth throughout those years, and in her own way, she truly became one of them.

After moving to California as an aspiring actress, Penny experienced years of failed auditions and disappointing acting roles, urging her to eventually give up on her Hollywood dreams. When season 8 started, she became a pharmaceutical sales representative, working with Bernadette (Melissa Rauch). Despite her initial hesitation, she gradually rose through the ranks, and by the end of The Big Bang Theory, she appears to be perfectly content. After all, both her personal and professional lives turned out great. While the show gave her a mostly satisfying ending with the revelation that she was expecting with Leonard, there is one thing that the sitcom never really resolved: the mystery of her last name.


Related: The Big Bang Theory: The Reason Howard Always Wears Alien Pins

Penny’s maiden name has been a pressing The Big Bang Theory query for years, and many expected that the finale would finally answer it. Unfortunately, despite the clamor for the detail, the showmakers decided to keep it a secret to keep the public guessing even after the sitcom bowed out. Aside from this, they may have also come up with the decision because they have already revealed the information during the very early years of the sh0w. As spotted by u/Quell_Alma on Reddit, in The Big Bang Theory season 2, episode 18, “The Work Song Nanocluster,” Penny’s last name was Teller before she became a Hofstadter. In the episode, she started a new business making flower barrettes and called it “Penny Blossoms.” At one point in the Big Bang Theory episode, Sheldon delivered a package of her materials, and in a blink-and-you-miss-it moment, her full name was shown printed on the box.

The significance behind her last name remained uncertain, but Penny’s first name was decided even before the pilot for The Big Bang Theory was retooled to add Howard and Raj, with the show supposedly going to be called Lenny, Penny, and Kenny. The producers, however, decided to change “Kenny” to “Sheldon” to pay homage to one of the most prolific TV producers — the late Sheldon Leonard who was behind a string of hit series, most notably, The Dick Van Dyke Show. Considering how Penny Teller sounds, it may have been a reference to American magicians Penn & Teller. Interestingly, Teller appeared in The Big Bang Theory playing Amy’s father in the final season of the show, and funnily, Penny pointed out how the Fowlers’ dynamic was similar to her and Leonard’s.

What’s curious with this incredible spot is if The Big Bang Theory producers even remember including this detail back in season 2. At that point, the show was still starting to get its groove and building its fan base. When asked repeatedly, people involved in the show either claimed that Penny’s last name was a secret or that they don’t have anything set in stone; even Cuoco hoped that this particular information about her character would be revealed in its final season. Regardless, at least now, the mystery is finally resolved.

More: Young Sheldon Explains Big Bang Theory Finale Plot Hole

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