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Kaley Cuoco Revealed She "Freaked Out" Over Leaving Her "Big Bang Theory" Salary Behind When It Ended After Admitting It Changed Her Life

"For 12 years, all of it was insane."

Posted on March 5, 2021, at 6:39 a.m. ET

Throughout its 12-year, 12-season reign, The Big Bang Theory was one of the biggest shows on TV.

Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) folding laundry on The Big Bang Theory
Cbs Photo Archive / Getty Images

And as a result of its phenomenal success, the show's cast members became some of the most recognizable and highly paid people in the entertainment industry.

The cast of The Big Bang Theory posing with an award
Smallz & Raskind

The core cast of five — Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Kunal Nayyar, and Simon Helberg — all banded together to negotiate equal salaries in 2015 and began earning $1 million per episode.

The cast at a press event
Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

In 2017, Jim Parsons was announced as the highest-earning male TV actor, while Kaley Cuoco came in second on the women's list.

Kaley would later reveal that the salary was "life-changing," and she and Johnny Galecki were left in a state of shock when it was finalized.

"We looked at each other and we were like, 'What the hell just happened?'" she told Variety. "'Should we go out to dinner? Should we cheers?' We didn't quite know what to do."

"It was a blessing,” she added. "I was able to take care of a lot of things in my life and my family, and I will forever be grateful for that."

And not only were the cast earning more money than most people can ever dream of, but they were all super close.

Kaley Cuoco, Jim Parsons, and Johnny Galecki in a kitchen
Bruce Glikas / FilmMagic

In fact, Kaley recently admitted that she and Johnny didn't want the show to end and were ready to sign on for Season 13 when they received the shock news that Jim was leaving.

So it's unsurprising that the show coming to a close would instill fear in its cast about future career prospects — something Kaley admitted she was plagued by during a recent interview.

Kaley Cuovo smiling
David Livingston / Getty Images

Speaking on The One Show, Kaley revealed that she "freaked out" over what path her career would take after observing stars from other successful sitcoms fade away once their shows ended.

Kaley Cuoco speaking to The One Show

"I started freaking out about the comparisons there would be, or what my next project would be," she said. "But then I realized you can't compare anything to Big Bang."

Leonard (Galecki) and Penny (Cuoco) in bed together on The Big Bang Theory
Cbs Photo Archive / Getty Images

"As its own entity, I will never have that again," she went on. "I won't have that cast again, the money, the schedule. For 12 years, all of it was insane."

The main cast in the living room on The Big Bang Theory
Cbs Photo Archive / Getty Images

"I was like, OK, if I can accept that nothing will compare to that — and that I can't control what other people are gonna say about me — I knew my next project was gonna be for me and I was gonna leave that in its own place."

Penny and Leonard sitting clothed on a bed in The Big Bang Theory
Cbs Photo Archive / Getty Images

But despite her worries, it turns out that Kaley's done just fine without the show that catapulted her to fame. She's recently gone on to star in and produce HBO's comedy-drama The Flight Attendant.

Cassie (Cuoco) on a plane in The Flight Attendant

And she impressed so much in the role that she was even nominated for her first Golden Globe in the Best Television Actress in a Musical/Comedy Series category this year.

Unfortunately, she lost out to Catherine O'Hara for her portrayal of Moira Rose in Schitt's Creek, but Kaley had a good time celebrating nonetheless.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.