Penny, played by Kaley Cuoco, was undoubtedly one of The Big Bang Theory’s most endearing characters. Still, the cheerful blonde aspiring-actress-turned-waitress-turned-pharmaceutical-sales-rep had some mystery to her. Despite knowing the full names of the show’s main characters, such as Jim Parson’s Sheldon Lee Cooper and Johnny Galecki’s Leonard Leakey Hofstadter, and meeting all of Penny’s other family members (except for a sister mentioned early on in the show who later vanished), viewers never learned Penny’s maiden name. Her surname is still unknown – even though The Big Bang Theory finished in May 2019.
Fans hoped to learn it at numerous points throughout the series, including her wedding — both the first and second versions, the latter of which saw her family come for the first time — and even the show’s finale. But it never made it out. We know that Penny assumed Leonard’s surname, Hofstadter after they married, so the episode finished with her as Penny Hofstadter. Her maiden name, on the other hand, is unknown.
After years of people pleading for the big revelation, it’s been shown that this was not an oversight. With all the attention focused on Penny’s surname, the Big Bang Theory producers decided that her surname would have to remain an unresolved mystery that would keep fans awake at night.
Not revealing Penny’s last name is a superstition thing
It’s been stated that Chuck Lorre, the creator of The Big Bang Theory, previously mentioned that Penny’s surname might be Barrington. Still, because there was never any confirmation on the show or behind the scenes. It appears he was merely tempting viewers with a possible surprise. After a long time without the last name of the girl next door from Nebraska. The Big Bang Theory executive producer Steve Molaro finally said that the creative team felt. She didn’t need one – mainly because they were “nervous and superstitious about giving her” one.
Penny’s last name “shall always be Hofstadter,” according to Molaro, and her maiden name will never be revealed. With so much fan pressure, the Big Bang Theory staff probably believed that no surname they could give Penny would ever live up to the anticipation. Another argument might be made because, by the time fans realized she was half nameless, there didn’t appear to be a natural method for her last name to be revealed. Although viewers hoped to hear it at her and Leonard’s wedding, producers decided to leave it out once more, and the same thing happened on the show’s finale when each of the key characters was addressed by their full names at the Nobel Prize ceremony.
Kaley Cuoco’s thoughts on The Big Bang Theory keeping Penny’s last name a secret
Penny actress Kaley Cuoco went back and forth on the question of her character’s last nameless status throughout the years as the mystery built for fans. In 2017, she stated that she did not want to know her character’s secret previous name. “It’s pretty subjective. It feels like a curse. We haven’t started it in a long time. I’m afraid if we say it, the world will end, “She told CBS.
Cuoco did, however, add that she “had an idea” about what it could be — before tightening her grip and refusing to reveal the secret. It was never determined whether her “proposal” was based on Lorre’s previous suggestion of Barrington. Cuoco backtracked slightly in 2018, revealing she would like to know Penny’s last name. Then, at the series finale wrap party in May 2019, she changed her mind again. “I kind of like it,” she said of the mystery. “So much is revealed in the last few episodes; there are many gratifying moments. But I like [her last name will never be revealed].”
The omission of Penny’s last name was initially accidental
While the lack of the last name became an intentional decision as the show continued, it is possible that the exclusion was not intended from the start. According to Newsweek, Penny was altered at the last minute to replace another character, Katie, who was going to be the girl who lived across the hall from the two main characters. Katie’s demeanor was reputedly disliked by test audiences, who thought she was far too boisterous and provocative for the show. As a result, Big Bang Theory writers started from fresh with Penny and brought Cuoco. Who had read for the last part, back to audition for the new character.
The writers and creators of The Big Bang Theory could easily have neglected to give the girl next door the last name. Because they wrote her into the series so late in the production process. When fans began to inquire about Penny’s surname, it was decided. That it would be too obvious to add one at that late point. So she was left without one until she married Leonard and became Penny Hofstadter. And, as Molaro stated, she will always be that to us.