'Big Bang Theory' at Comic-Con: When Leia met Vader, a Wil Wheaton appearance, & more

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Image Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

The Big Bang Theory, no surprise, is a major hit with the Comic-Con crowd. When the show’s writers and producers gathered for a panel at the con, they delivered a consistently entertaining panel, with a few surprise guests and a couple of tidbits about the show’s upcoming eighth season.

Things kicked off with an appearance from Garfunkel and Oates (a.k.a. Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci, who played Lucy on Big Bang). The geeky folk duo wrote “If I Didn’t Have You,” the song Howard sang to Bernadette this season, and they serenaded the Ballroom 20 audience with a special rendition of the tune featuring this lyric: “We couldn’t have imagined we’d get to sing this song for The Big Bang Theory fans at Comic-Con.”

Wil Wheaton also joined the panel partway through the event, walking onstage in an ape mask. Shortly after he sat down, he began sputtering, “I have fake orangutan hair in my mouth.”

Here are some highlights from The Big Bang Theory’s panel:

The Star Wars Introduction
Fun and wild fact: The set of The Big Bang Theory is where Carrie Fisher and James Earl Jones met in person for the first time. Jones was the voice of Darth Vader, so he never shared the Star Wars set with Fisher. Craig Ferguson, who moderated the panel, had pretty much the same reaction as the audience: “What?!” he said, making a “mind-blown” gesture. Here’s how that first Leia-Vader meeting went when the two actors guest-starred on Big Bang: “When they approached each other,” showrunner Steve Molaro recalled, “the first thing Carrie said was “‘Dad!'”

The Elevator Immobilization
Sheldon and co. are stuck with that walk up to the fourth floor: Executive producer Bill Prady said the apartment building’s elevator will stay broken. It’s of course a space for the characters to have a natural walk-and-talk, but as Molaro also pointed out, “I think that’s the only exercise those guys get.” The broken elevator is also what got the Big Bang team their favorite stage on the Warner Bros. lot. For the pilot, the studio let the crew dig a hole for the stairwell in Stage 25. “It’s the best stage to shoot in. When we got picked up, they wanted us to move to the worst stage,” Prady recalled. “[Creator] Chuck Lorre said, ‘Great, just dig a hole in that stage. They said, ‘Oh. Okay, you can stay where you are.'”

The Kiss Alternative
Sheldon and Amy’s first kiss could have turned out very differently. Their Valentine’s Day smooch came on a train when Sheldon was upset, feeling like he had been tricked into a romantic weekend. Molaro said that in another draft, “there’s a kinder, gentler version where he kisses her just because he’s having such a lovely experience on the train. But I’m really happy with the way we did it.”

The Comic-Con Badge Inaccuracy
When Big Bang aired its episode about the guys buying San Diego Comic-Con badges, there was much chatter among viewers about a major difference between the show and the reality they know. Refreshing the screen is actually the one thing you absolutely do not do when buying badges for the con. When a fan pointed this out during the panel’s Q&A, the Ballroom 20 crowd erupted into cheers. Co-producer and writer Steve Holland explained, “That came from our experiences of buying tickets for Comic-Con many years ago.” The online badge purchasing process has since changed as the con’s grown. Holland also said that the current method for “buying tickets and just staring at the screen would not be as interesting on TV.” (Some con attendees familiar with the infamously stressful process may beg to differ.)

The Wheaton Transformation
Wheaton, who has appeared as himself on the show several times since season 3, explained how similar he is to his Big Bang counterpart: “I’m not as evil, as far as anyone knows, as Evil Wil Wheaton started out,” he said. “But when the relationship between Wil Wheaton and Sheldon sort of changed and he became more of an ally and a friend to him, that character started to shift a lot closer to who I am in my life.” One thing in the show very close to the real-life Wheaton is the character’s apartment. “Everything in that set looked like my house,” Wheaton said. “That couch I wanted to buy, but my wife talked me out of it. And we hung a lot of my art on the walls in there. That ridiculous velvet Wesley Crusher painting? Uh, actually, I own that.”

The Aquaman Mortification
In perhaps the panel’s most entertaining moment, Ferguson managed to diss Aquaman in front of the granddaughter of Paul Norris—the comic book artist who created Aquaman. A woman at the Q&A mic introduced herself as Maryann Norris and asked the panelists why they have problems with Aquaman. (As Raj says on the show, “Aquaman sucks.”) Ferguson then yelled, “Because he’s not a real superhero! That’s why! That’s why!” and went on to mock the DC Comics character some more. Once Ferguson figured out who the woman’s grandfather was, he shouted, “Oh no!” and looked genuinely mortified, covering his bright red face with his hands. He then rushed to the front of the stage and mimed stabbing himself in the chest. After he had composed himself and walked back to his mic, he deadpanned, “May I just say that on a personal note, Aquaman has always been my favorite.”

The Last Name Revelation
Don’t expect Penny’s last name to be revealed anytime soon. In fact, Molaro says that “at this point, we’ve come so far, it’s a bit of a superstition for us.” He did point out, though, that they may have to deal with that mysterious name “if and when [Penny and Leonard] do get married.” That does make the couple’s wedding sound like an awfully unsure thing, but Molaro went on to explain, “A wedding is sometime off in the future. They’re not in a rush. Penny’s first goal is to put the date far enough in the future so everyone knows for a fact that she’s not pregnant.”

The Comic Book Store Substitution (or: The Comic Book Store Resurrection)
At the beginning of the upcoming season, Stuart is still living with Mrs. Wolowitz, Molaro revealed. Whether he is able to re-open a comic book store after his burned down in the season 7 finale is unknown, but the showrunner did assure fans that “there will be a comic book store in the future. We’re not sure exactly how it’s gonna work out. But the show will not go on without a comic book store, I promise you.”


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