Big Bang Theory cast: Did this star nearly replace Kaley Cuoco as Penny?

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Big Bang Theory was a comedy series following awkward genius Sheldon Cooper (played by Jim Parsons) and his equally intelligent friends. Sheldon lived in an apartment with his pal and colleague Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) and they had a number of female friends including Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco). Fans may be shocked to hear there was an unaired pilot, which suggested the female leads would have been completely different.

Neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler was introduced in the finale of season three when she is found as a possible match for Sheldon through a dating website.

She is known for being like Sheldon, in the fact she had previously avoided relationships, and fans enjoyed seeing their connection grow stronger.

Penny is Sheldon’s neighbour who does not share their interest in science, but she learns to appreciate their work and ends up marrying Leonard.

Bernadette Rostenkowski (Melissa Rauch) was also introduced as a microbiologist who ends up with Sheldon’s friend Howard Wolowitz.

But fans may be shocked to hear the female leads were meant to be two very different characters.


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Fans may be interested to hear there was an unaired pilot made for the 2006 season which was not picked up.;

Only Leonard and Sheldon were cast as characters, and the female lead was a woman called Katie, due to be played by Amanda Walsh.

Katie’s character was meant to come across as tough and street-wise, with a vulnerable side to her.

The pair also had a female friend called Gilda, to be played by Iris Bahr, who had a romantic interest in both Leonard and Sheldon.

Gilda was known for having “unconventional dancing skills”, a concept which was later used when Sheldon dances with Amy.

Gilda’s character was scrapped with the unaired pilot but her character was the prototype for the character Leslie Winkle, an experimental physicist at CalTech (Sara Gilbert).

She was introduced as a good friend of Leonard and Sheldon, visiting them frequently, and she had a soft spot for Leonard.

In the pilot, she found Katie in her apartment and gets jealous as she thinks Katie is going to try and seduce Leonard.

However, Katie reassured her she had no interest in dating “geeks” and Katie later takes them all out to a dance club to bond with them.

Gilda shockingly revealed she had sex with Sheldon at a Star Trek convention, which showed a drastic change in his character.

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Gilda was replaced by Howard and Raj Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) as Sheldon and Leonard’s nerdy friends, so there was still a chance new female leads would be added.

Katie was the female lead before Penny and she worked at a department store at a cosmetics counter.

She was meant to be found as a homeless woman, having been left by her former boyfriend, and she ends up staying at their apartment.

Katie later moved out following an argument with Leonard, as she thought he was calling her “stupid” for making the wrong life choices.

Viewers were not a fan of Katie’s tough attitude and the way she mocked Sheldon and Leonard, so she was dropped for a kinder character.


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Katie was supposed to be the main antagonist of the series, picking on the geeky cast members.

Sheldon Cooper replaced Katie as the main antagonist, as he is often the cause of many disputes with his unconventional ways.

With this in mind, Penny may not have appeared in the series at all if Katie had kept her role.

There was still a chance Amy and Bernadette would be introduced later down the line had the two missing characters stayed.

Big Bang Theory is available to watch on CBS and ALL 4

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