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Even huge TV hits come to an end.

“The Big Bang Theory,” a long-running top-rated comedy, will end its run in May 2019 at the conclusion of the upcoming season, its twelfth. The critically acclaimed CBS comedy, which focuses on a group of scientists and their friends, will finish with 279 episodes. 

CBS, Warner Bros. Television and Chuck Lorre Productions issued a joint statement that accompanied Wednesday’s announcement: 

“We are forever grateful to our fans for their support of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ during the past twelve seasons. We, along with the cast, writers and crew, are extremely appreciative of the show’s success and aim to deliver a final season, and series finale, that will bring ‘The Big Bang Theory’ to an epic creative close,” the statement said.

The announcement marks a shift from just a couple of weeks ago, when CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl discussed the potential for a series renewal at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. 

According to the statement, the 279 episodes will make “Big Bang” the longest-running multi-camera comedy, the kind filmed before a studio audience, in history. It also spawned a successful prequel spinoff, “Young Sheldon,” which begins its second season on CBS in September.

More: 5 things you don’t know about ‘The Big Bang Theory’ Shamy wedding finale

More: CBS on ‘Big Bang Theory’: ‘We don’t believe it’s the final year,’ plots renewal talks

When “Big Bang” premiered in 2007, the initial focus was on two socially awkward physicists, Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and the aspiring actress, Penny (Kaley Cuoco), who lived across the hall. It also featured the physicists’ scientist friends, Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) and Raj (Kunal Nayyar).

Over the years, the series did an excellent job expanding its ensemble, with the additions of fellow scientists Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) and Amy (Mayim Bialik). Bernadette married Wolowitz and the couple now has two children. Amy married Sheldon in the Season 11 finale.  

Bill Prady, who created the show with Lorre, praised the show’s family atmosphere in a tweet.

“There are many ways to look at the dozen years of Big Bang Theory as we draw to a close, but for me it will be the family that gathered each week to create a true labor of love. I will treasure my Big Bang family to the end of my days,” he tweeted.

Kahl added his praise, too.

“‘The Big Bang Theory’ has been the defining comedy of its generation. All of us at the network take exceptional pride in this series that uniquely combines creative genius, commercial ratings success, cultural influence and characters who became so popular, they are easily known by just one name,” he said in a statement.

During an Aug. 5 TCA panel, Kahl said he didn’t think the coming season would be the final one for the comedy, adding that the network was in preliminary discussions with producing studio Warner Bros. about a renewal, at least for one more season.

Warner Bros. TV president Peter Roth later told USA TODAY that talks had not begun with cast or producers.

“Big Bang” has received 52 Emmy nominations and has taken home 10 Emmys, including four for Parsons for lead actor in a comedy and a guest-acting award for legendary comedian Bob Newhart.

The final season will premiere Sept. 24 (8 EDT/PDT), before the show moves to its regular Thursday time slot on Sept. 27(8 EDT/PDT).

If you love television and love talking about it even more, USA TODAY Life’s Yes, I’m Still Watching is here for you. Join our Facebook group to discuss all things TV with our critic Kelly Lawler. 

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