Big Bang EPs Debunk Popular Internet Theory That Penny's Last Name Was Revealed in This Season 2 Scene

No, The Big Bang Theory was not hiding Penny’s last name in plain sight.

In the Season 2 episode “The Work Song Nanocluster,” Kaley Cuoco’s Penny places a package on her kitchen counter — and if you zoom in close enough (at the three-minute mark), you can make out a first and last name on the shipping label: Penny Teller. But as producers reveal in the new oral history The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series by Jessica Radloff (order it here), the label was supposed to be illegible.

“Props had to put a label on it and it happened to be caught on camera,” executive producer Steve Molaro explains. “We didn’t sanction it, we didn’t write it, and we didn’t intentionally put it there.”

The Big Bang Theory: What Was Penny's Last Name?As prop master Scott London goes on to reveal, it was series co-creator Bill Prady who fed him the surname Teller — as in Penn & Teller — when he went to the producers for a moniker. “I had to put a last name on the label,” London says. “I mean, you can’t just tell me to ship to Penny with no last name!” Adds Prady: “I had assurances it wasn’t going to be seen, that Scott just needed it for the visual shape of the block of type. But, emphatically, Penny’s last name is not Teller. I don’t know how that image of the shipping label exists and fans were able to see it and make it out.” But they did make it out, and screen grabs circulated online.

“Her last name being Teller is absolutely not canon,” Molaro stresses. “The canon is that she does not have a last name that we ever assigned to her… and we’re never going to make one. Even when she and Leonard got married, we made sure to edit around even hearing what her [last] name would be.”

At Big Bang‘s 2019 wrap party, Cuoco told TVLine’s Michael Ausiello that she fully supported the producers’ decision to never disclose the name. “I kind of love it,” she said at the time. “So many things are revealed in the last few episodes; you get a lot of satisfying moments. But I kind of love that [we’ll never know her last name].” She expresses that same sentiment in the book, adding: “I kind of love that it was just Penny, and then Penny Hofstadter, which I thought was so cute.”

Funny enough, Teller wasn’t the only maiden name assigned to Penny. “Very early on, I remember looking at the mail in a scene and it said Penny London,” Jim Parsons reveals. “We all found it amusing in a charming way that the prop master had given her his last name.”

The oral history also reveals the four well-known actresses nearly cast as Penny before Cuoco got the part, which you can read more about here.