Big Bang Theory finale: Johnny Galecki recounts emotional moment he 'said goodbye to Leonard'

The Big Bang Theory cast taped their last episode of the CBS comedy Tuesday evening on the Warner Bros. lot, but Johnny Galecki held off on bidding his character goodbye until shortly after the lights dimmed on Stage 25. As he recounted to TVLine at the show’s wrap party on Wednesday, “I took a little walk by myself around the [soundstage] after we wrapped and kind of said goodbye to Leonard — as odd and crazy as that sounds.”

The emotional impact of the historic night hit Galecki hard, the actor admitted. “I was so worried about [co-star] Kaley [Cuoco] and her being overcome with emotion,” he explained in the above video Q&A. “I ended up being the quivering puddle of tears on the floor. Starting off the show last night was tough. But then you gotta do your damn job, and put the tears aside and try to make people laugh. It was a terribly, terribly moving night.”

As challenging as it was to say goodbye, Galecki nonetheless maintains that it was “absolutely” the right decision to end Big Bang this season (the final episode airs May 16). “Everyone was on the same page,” he noted, “and [we] had talked for years about 12 being the right number.”

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Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco together through the years
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Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco together through the years
NEW YORK - APRIL 28: Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco at fuse's "The Sauce" in NYC on April 28, 2008 (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - MAY 13: "The Tangerine Factor" -- The cast of THE BIG BANG THEORY - Kunal Nayyar (second to the left), Johnny Galecki (third from left), Kaley Cuoco (center), Jim Parsons (second from right) and Simon Helberg (foreground, right) - on set with executive producers Bill Prady (far left) and Chuck Lorre (far right). The first season finale of THE BIG BANG THEORY, Monday, May 19, 2008 on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)
CULVER CITY, CA - NOVEMBER 23: (L-R) Actors Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons and Simon Helberg pose during the opening night party for "The Little Dog Laughed" at the CTG/KIrk Douglas Theatre on November 23, 2008, in Culver City, California. (Photo by Ryan Miller/Getty Images)
BURBANK - NOVEMBER 24: "The Maternal Congruence" -- A visit from Leonard's mother delights Sheldon (Jim Parsons, right), but horrifies Leonard (Johnny Galecki, left) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco, center), on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Monday, Dec. 14 (9:30-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 17: (L-R) Actors Kunal Naayyar, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Jim Parsons, and Simon Helberg present the Discretionary Award onstage during Spike TV's Scream 2009 held at the Greek Theatre on October 17, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 29: "The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary" -- While Sheldon settles a score with his nemesis, Wil Wheaton, Wolowitz begs Leonard (Johnny Galecki, left) to get Penny (Kaley Cuoco, right) to set him up with one of her friends, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Monday, Oct. 19 (9:30-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.(Photo by Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images)
Actors Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, and Johnny Galecki pose in the press room at the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Nokia Theatre on September 20, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - AUGUST 18: "The Jiminy Conjecture" - Leonard (Johnny Galecki, right) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco, left) struggle to recover from an awkward first hookup, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Monday, Sept. 28 (9:30-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)
BURBANK - AUGUST 11: "The Electric Can Opener Fluctuation"; Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) share a kiss after he returns from the North Pole, on the season three premiere episode of THE BIG BANG THEORY, Monday, Sept. 21 (9:30-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - AUGUST 01: (L-R) Actors Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg, Kaley Cuoco, Jim Parsons and Kunal Nayyar arrive at the 25th Annual Television Critics Association Awards held at The Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa on August 1, 2009 in Pasadena, California.(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 04: Actors Jim Parsons (L), Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco appear at the 17th Annual Alzheimer's Association's "A Night at Sardi's" at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 4, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO - JULY 23: Actors Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco attend TV.com NOW Awards during Comic-Con 2010 at PETCO Park on July 23, 2010 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for TV.com)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - MAY 19: Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco attend CBS UPFRONT 2010 at Damrosch Park on May 19, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by EUGENE MIM/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 19: "The Einstein Approximation" -- Sheldon's search for the answer to a physics problem amuses Leonard (Johnny Galecki, left) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco, right), until it leads him to work at the Cheesecake Factory, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Monday, Feb. 1 (9:31-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.(Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 06: Actor Johnny Galecki (L) and actress Kaley Cuoco pose backstage during the People's Choice Awards 2010 held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on January 6, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for PCA)
LOS ANGELES - AUGUST 30: "The Pulled Groin Extrapolation" -- Sheldon and Penny (Kaley Cuoco, left) wonder how they'll get along when Leonard (Johnny Galecki, center) goes to a wedding as Amy's (Mayim Bialik, right) date. Meanwhile, Howard and Bernadette spend the weekend with Mrs. Wolowitz, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Sept. 29 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Richard Cartwright/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 18: Actors Kunal Nayyar, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco and Simon Helberg attend the 2011 CBS Upfront at The Tent at Lincoln Center on May 18, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 18: "The Holographic Excitation" -- Leonard (Johnny Galecki, right) seduces Penny (Kaley Cuoco, left) with science, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Oct. 25 (8:00 " 8:30 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 13: "The Prom Equivalency" -- When the gang recreates a high school prom on the roof the of the guys' apartment building, Sheldon feels pressure to participate in all the typical romantic traditions, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Nov. 6 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT), on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 5: "The Thanksgiving Decoupling" -- Penny (Kaley Cuoco, right) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki, left) must deal with a mistake from her past, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Nov. 21 (8:00 - 8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JUNE 10: Actors Johnny Galecki (L) and Kaley Cuoco attend the BTJA Critics' Choice Television Award held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on June 10, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - DECEMBER 9: "The Space Probe Disintegration" -- Sheldon and Leonard go dress shopping with Penny and Amy, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Jan. 8 (8:00-8:30 PM, ET/PT), on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)
(L-R) Simon Helberg, Melissa Rauch, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Jim Parsons and Kunal Nayyar posing at the ceremony that honored Kaley Cuocco with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 05: Actors Kaley Cuoco (L) and Johnny Galecki attend the Fallout 4 video game launch event in downtown Los Angeles on November 5, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Bethesda)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 11: Actors Kunal Nayyar, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting and Johnny Galecki at Jim Parsons' Star ceremony on The Hollywood Walk Of Fame on March 11, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 07: Actors Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting (L) and Johnny Galecki attend The 41st Annual People's Choice Awards at Nokia Theatre LA Live on January 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for The People's Choice Awards)
LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 22: "The Birthday Synchronicity" -- Pictured: Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki). Howard and Bernadette welcome their new baby and Sheldon and Amy celebrate Amy's birthday, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Dec. 15 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - DECEMBER 13: "The Romance Recalibration"-- Pictured: Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki). When Penny feels that Leonard is taking her for granted, she decides to go on a spa weekend with Amy. Also, Wolowitz and Koothrappali try to fix a squeaky floorboard in the baby's room, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Jan. 19 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT), on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 18: The Veracity Elasticity" -- Pictured: Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki). Sheldon and Amy present a new "Fun With Flags" live from Penny's apartment, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Nov. 3 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT), on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 16: Actors Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki attend The Paley Center For Media's 33rd Annual PALEYFEST Los Angeles ÔThe Big Bang Theory' at Dolby Theatre on March 16, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 14: "The Confidence Erosion" -- Pictured: Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki). Sheldon and Amy try to eliminate stress from wedding planning by applying math to the process. Also, Koothrappali "breaks up" with Wolowitz after realizing his best friend is actually hurting his confidence, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Dec. 7 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 21: Actors Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco speak onstage at Comic-Con International 2017 "The Big Bang Theory" panel at San Diego Convention Center on July 21, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - AUGUST 22: "The Retraction Reaction" - Pictured: Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco). Leonard angers the university -- and the entire physics community -- after he gives an embarrassing interview. Also, Amy and Bernadette bond over having to hide their success from Sheldon and Howard, on The Big Bang Theory, Monday, Oct. 2 (8:00-8:30 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Ira Flatow returns to guest star as himself, and Regina King returns as Mrs. Davis. (Photo by Richard Cartwright/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - AUGUST 28: ""The Wedding Gift Wormhole" -- Pictured: Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki). Sheldon and Amy drive themselves crazy trying to figure out what "perfect gift" Leonard and Penny gave them for their wedding. Also, Koothrappali decides he wants to settle down and asks his father to arrange a marriage for him, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, when it moves to its regular time slot, Thursday, Sept. 27 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Michael Yarish/CBS via Getty Images)
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