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Why You Never Saw Howard And Bernadette's Babies On The Big Bang Theory

While some sitcoms go to great lengths to keep characters from evolving for the sake of maintaining the status quo, "The Big Bang Theory" lets its characters mature into more or less well-rounded adults over the course of the series' 12 seasons. That means something different for each member of Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) and Leonard Hofstadter's (Johnny Galecki) friend group. For Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz (Melissa Rauch) in particular, family life is the name of the game — after all, the two get married and settle down to become parents to two children, Halley and Neil Michael.

Curiously, while their parental struggles are often spotlighted in the later seasons, Howard and Bernie's kids aren't actually seen in the show. This isn't exactly without precedent, since characters you never see on screen are a fine and time-honored TV tradition.  However, Halley and Neil Michael do appear in the flesh in the series finale, portrayed by Sailah Nicol and Nate Ash. What peculiar reason prompted the makers of "The Big Bang Theory" to take this novel approach on the "absent character" trope?

Howard and Bernadette's daughter Halley is a tribute to her grandmother, Mrs. Wolowitz

Keeping little Halley and Neil Michael off-camera accomplished several things at once. As executive producer Steve Holland told Entertainment Tonight in 2018, he's not a fan of having infants used in TV productions, and keeping the Rostenkowski-Wolowitz offspring largely offscreen allowed for a baby-free set.

"I mean, it's possible to see the baby, but I'm not a fan of actually having babies on set," Holland said about the episode Neil Michael is born. "It makes me feel terrible for them, so I'm not super excited to have someone haul their newborn twins and shove them in front of a camera."

Apart from the show's apparent views about on-set children, Halley's onscreen absence is an homage to another largely invisible Wolowitz. "She is a loving tribute to her grandmother — this is a nice way for us to keep [Mrs. Wolowitz] alive," showrunner Steve Molaro explained to TV Line

The character of Mrs. Wolowitz – Howard's mother — is rarely glimpsed and never, ever properly seen. Her distinctive voice and coddling of her adult son earn plenty of laughs in the early seasons, and when the character left the show after voice actor Carol Ann Susi passed away in 2014, her absence had a major impact on Howard. 

When baby Halley came along in Season 10, "The Big Bang Theory" writers found a unique way to pay homage to Howard's mom, while also instituting the "no babies on set" rule. Shortly after Howard and Bernadette's little girl is born, she lets out a cry that sounds an awful lot like her grandmother's distinctive voice. The juxtaposition of the emotional moment and the instantly recognizable sound make this a rare scene that manages to be both touching and hilarious.

Why did The Big Bang Theory writers decide to show Halley and Neil Michael in the final episode?

After keeping the kids away from the camera since their birth, "The Big Bang Theory" finally reveals Halley and Neil Michael in a touching family scene in the series finale. While the moment comes across as a major payoff, the scene itself plays as a simple bedtime routine for Howard and Bernadette, speaking to the fact that even though their children are mostly unseen, the two characters are now parents with a regular family schedule.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Holland revealed that the idea to finally show the kids came from series creator Chuck Lorre. 

"That wasn't even in the original breaking of the finale," he said of the surprise moment. "When we got to the scene, Chuck said, 'Why don't we just do it? Why don't we put them in?' We didn't need to make a big deal of it. It was intentional to leave them out before so we didn't have to deal with working with small children on set for all these years. It seemed like a fun little easter egg to put them in at the end."

Ultimately, the kids are only seen once, but even though their baby years play out off-camera, little Halley and Neil Michael still manage to make their presence known on "The Big Bang Theory" — in no small part thanks to Howard and Bernadette's daughter's unforgettable cry.