It looks as though of the most beloved characters on television today, Sheldon Cooper, won’t be returning to The Big Bang Theory for its 8th season, after actor Jim Parsons has walked-off set and quit the show because of an on-set fight with co-star Johnny Galecki.
According to sources on the show, which has been in the process of filming since June, tensions behind the scenes have been extremely high. Last year the show was nearly cancelled after several members of the main cast demanded massive pay raises, forcing producer and creator Chuck Lorre to choose between keeping his show on the air or letting it taper off.
“We had contracted everyone involved for season one, and then it took off, and immediately signed everyone on for 5 more seasons,” said Lorre. “After season 6, which everyone did for the same amount of money, I think the monotony of playing the same stupid characters for so long, for over 150 episodes, was really getting to everyone, Parsons especially. So they all asked for a pay raise. They got it going into season 7, but this time around, for the season we’re filming, the cast, or rather their agents, really wanted more than they deserved.”
CBS, the parent company who releases the show, relented and gave in to the demands of the stars, but it hasn’t been enough to keep a peace on set. Crew members report that there have been many fights over contracts and money behind-the-scenes, namely between stars Parsons and Galecki.
“I don’t really care that [Parsons] is gone. We can do a whole hell of a lot better with someone else, anyway,” said Galecki, who plays Leonard Hofstadter on the show. “Last season ended with [Parsons' character] Sheldon running away because Leonard was moving out of the apartment. He was supposed to come back, obviously, and we shot a few scenes with him back, but now, the hell with it, they’re just going to write him out permanently.”
Writers and producers have been scrambling to come up with material for the currently-filming season, as well as a way to introduce a new character.
“We don’t know for sure what Jim [Parsons] is planning. We’re working that out right now,” said Lorre. “In the mean time, we do have interest from several actors to join the cast, including Michael Cera and Topher Grace, either of which would be a fantastic addition to the show.”
Parsons himself has yet to comment publicly on his departure. His agent released a statement saying that “certain aspects of [Parsons'] contract were not being met, and that he was within his rights to walk off set.”
CBS Films, the company who produces Big Bang, had no comment on their plans for a cast change, or whether or not they felt that Parsons would return.