Under the Influence

The hidden message at the end of The Big Bang Theory

Show creator Chuck Lorre's hidden nuggets at the end of each episode came to a fitting close after the series finale.
(Courtesy of CTV)
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Show creator Chuck Lorre's hidden nuggets at the end of each episode came to a fitting close after the series finale.

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The theme from The Big Bang Theory was written by Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies.

The band was performing in LA and Ed ad-libbed a song about the universe on stage that night, which was inspired by a book he had just read called The Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe by Simon Singh.

Unbeknownst to Ed Robertson, sitcom creator Chuck Lorre was in the audience. That's when he decided to ask The Barenaked Ladies to record the theme song to the new sitcom he was developing - called The Big Bang Theory.

Ed wrote it in the shower one day, exactly one-half hour before he was scheduled to play it over the phone to Chuck Lorre.

Big Bang Theory creator, Chuck Lorre.

Lorre loved it and the rest is sitcom history.

The Big Bang Theory will go down in history as one of the highest rated, most-loved sitcoms of all time. Nearly 18 million people tuned into the series finale.

Over its 12-year run, the show contained lots of little Easter eggs and ongoing gags that loyal fans loved. But one of the most interesting occurred at the end of every episode.

Right after the credits, a quick card with some writing on it would flash by. The card would only last one second - not nearly long enough to read it.

At first glance, it looked like fine print. Like a typical network disclaimer. But it wasn't. It was a message from Chuck Lorre. It simply said: "The end."

The cast of The Big Bang Theory. (Courtesy of CTV)

Lorre wrote a different message at the end of every single episode of The Big Bang Theory. As a matter of fact, he wrote those one-second cards at the end of all the sitcoms he created beginning in 1995 - including Grace Under Fire, Two and a Half Men, Mike & Molly and Dharma & Greg.

Here's the very first card Lorre wrote for the end of the first Dharma & Greg episode.

"Thanks for videotaping Dharma & Greg and for freeze framing on my video card." Then he went on to muse that the Law of Karma didn't apply to people in Hollywood because good things happen to bad people all the time. He said Larry was the most underrated of the Three Stooges. He believed beer was a gateway drug that lead to vodka. He said what doesn't kill us, makes us bitter. And he said when the network reads this card, he was going to be in big trouble.

Card #412 at the end of Two and a Half Men said:

"Do not attempt to replicate what you saw in tonight's episode of Two and a Half Men. Despite the seeming lack of serious consequences and regardless of the hilarity that ensued, this is extremely dangerous behaviour that could result in injury or death. Please keep in mind that we employ a highly-paid Hollywood professional who has years of experience with putting his life at risk. And sadly, no, I'm not talking about our stunt man."

Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men.

Clearly, he wasn't above taking a jab at his leading man, Charlie Sheen.

Another card just said: "Nothing to read here. Move along."

Still another listed the words that confuse the CBS censors. Like "Cockamamie, kumquat, insertion, rectify, gherkin, titter, Dick Butkus and the always bewildering lickety-split."

That one was actually censored by the network censors.

The cards contained Lorre's philosophy of life, his failings, his kids, his health and he even wrote his own 457-word eulogy. In a one-second card.

He eventually collected 333 of his split-second messages (including the censored ones) and compiled them into a big coffee-table book with a title stolen from his very first Dharma & Greg card: What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Bitter.

In the foreword of that book, Chuck Lorre explains his vanity-card mission.

It was to use prime-time television to chronicle an unraveling life and raveling career in subliminal, one-second, hard-to-read increments.


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Under the Influence is recorded in the Terstream Mobile Recording studio, a 1969 Airstream trailer that's been restored and transformed into a studio on wheels. So host Terry O'Reilly can record the show wherever he goes.

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(Image Credit: Sidney O'Reilly)