The Real Reason TBBT's Penny Spent Most of S4 Behind Bars

The Real Reason TBBT's Penny Spent Most of S4 Behind Bars
Image credit: CBS

Desperate times call for desperate measures.


  • The Big Bang Theory was a CBS sitcom that aired from 2007 to 2019.
  • One of the leading characters in the show, Penny, was portrayed by Kaley Cuoco.
  • The actress was central to the plot but had to be written off from two episodes due to a horrible leg injury.

There would be no The Big Bang Theory if it wasn’t for Penny, that is usually the statement that all the fans of the show agree on. Although the audience wasn’t as welcoming towards other female characters that came around later on in the series, Amy and Bernadette, Penny was always seen as the heart and soul of the friend group.

That is why two episodes that were filmed without her already felt way too empty, as no number of jokes could fill in the Kaley-Cuoco-shaped void in the audience’s hearts. While many wish this pause hadn’t happened at all, others are just grateful it was quick to pass.

After all, the cause for Cuoco’s departure was so bad, that the actress could’ve easily ended up unavailable for months, if not longer.

Kaley Cuoco’s Broken Leg Incident

The Real Reason TBBT's Penny Spent Most of S4 Behind Bars - image 1

As the actress shared on The Ellen Show, she experienced a major trauma while taking a horseback riding lesson on a typical Saturday. The horse she was riding got spooked and threw her off, but then accidentally landed on her leg. The events of that day happened so quickly that she was in complete shock at first:

“I thought he landed on leaves, and I thought it was leaves I was hearing cracking, but that was my bones. <...> Two weeks, two surgeries, it was actually pretty gnarly. I got written off two episodes, it was devastating,” Cuoco recalled the events.

One of the options was amputation due to a high risk of infection, but surgeons were able to save Kaley's leg and get her back on her feet in no time. Within two weeks, she was back on the set of The Big Bang Theory, but there was one problem: a huge cast that was impossible to hide.

The team behind the show decided that the best way to deal with this was to show Penny only from the waist up. That is why she spends so much of season 4 as a bartender at the Cheesecake Factory, rather than being a waitress. Luckily, those viewers who never followed actors’ social media, couldn’t even tell the difference.

If you want to go ahead and give The Big Bang Theory a rewatch, you can do so by streaming the show on Max.

Source: The Ellen Show