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How ‘The Big Bang Theory’ Concealed Kaley Cuoco’s Severe Leg Injury

Key Points: 

  • Kaley Cuoco Suffered Severe Leg Injury During ‘The Big Bang Theory‘ That Was Concealed On-Screen
  • Kaley Cuoco nearly lost her leg in a devastating horse-riding accident while filming ‘The Big Bang Theory’ Season 4
  • To hide Cuoco’s injury and recovery, the show gave her character Penny an unlikely new job as a Cheesecake Factory bartender
  • Penny’s bartender stint allowed Cuoco to keep working while staying off her feet and concealing her leg cast

During the production of The Big Bang Theory’s fourth season, series lead Kaley Cuoco was involved in a horrifying equestrian accident that nearly cost her a leg. In order to keep the actress working through her recovery, the show’s creative team devised an ingenious way to conceal her severe injury on-screen.

How ‘The Big Bang Theory’ Hid Kaley Cuoco’s Injury by Making Penny a Bartender

Kaley Cuoco as Penny in The Big Bang Theory
Kaley Cuoco as Penny in The Big Bang Theory

As Kaley Cuoco recalls, her horse was spooked during a riding lesson, causing her to fall off violently. The horse then accidentally landed on her leg, breaking the bones so severely that amputation was initially a possibility.

After undergoing surgery and missing two episodes, Cuoco returned with a cast that had to be hidden from viewers. The solution? Give her character Penny a new job – as a bartender at the Cheesecake Factory restaurant where she previously worked as a waitress.

“Not only was being a bartender [a] help to hide the cast Cuoco was wearing, but it also allowed them to keep her off of her feet in longer sequences,” The Big Bang Theory co-creator Chuck Lorre explained in the book The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series.

Kaley Cuoco’s Infamous Bartender Stint Sparked Iconic ‘Big Bang’ Moments

Kaley Cuoco as Penny in The Big Bang Theory
Kaley Cuoco as Penny in The Big Bang Theory

While the circumstances behind Penny’s bartender job were purely pragmatic, the career change paved the way for some of Cuoco’s most memorable moments on the long-running sitcom.

Penny’s role at the bar allowed her to spend more quality time with the core friend group, including her partner Leonard. It especially highlighted her bond with Sheldon, as the bar setting was where the socially awkward genius would often turn to Penny for advice.

One classic episode even saw the warm-hearted Penny attempt to loosen up a rigid Sheldon by secretly giving him an alcoholic Long Island iced tea – resulting in unexpected yet hilarious drunken behavior from Jim Parsons’ beloved character.

The Cheesecake Factory may have been an odd setting for Penny, but Cuoco’s real-life leg injury prompted creative storylines that ultimately enriched her character’s journey.

All 12 seasons of The Big Bang Theory are available to stream now on Max.

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