11:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Big Bang Theory' Sets Bob Newhart's Return
CBS' The Big Bang Theory is welcoming back a fan favorite.
Emmy winner Bob Newhart is set to reprise his role as Arthur (aka Professor Proton) in a December episode, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Newhart's Arthur Jeffries was last seen in season seven, when Sheldon (Jim Parsons) learned that his childhood hero had passed away. That night, Arthur appeared to Sheldon in a dream in which he was clad in Jedi robes and served a guiding force for the emotionally stunted character.
Newhart will be back during the Dec. 17 episode in which he reappears as a ghostly Jedi in Sheldon's dreams in a bid to help him sort out his feelings and make a "very important" decision. (It's worth noting that Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens mere hours after the episode.)
This season, Sheldon has been struggling with the aftermath of his breakup with Amy (Mayim Bialik), with details slowly emerging about his possession of an engagement ring he planned to use to propose. Recent episodes have seen Sheldon attempting to woo Amy back, despite her pleas for space.
Speaking with THR ahead of season nine, showrunner Steve Molaro recently noted — as he did in season seven — that the door was always open for Newhart's return. "That is something that has been in the back of my mind," Molaro said of bringing the beloved actor back. "And that's something that I hope will work out. We adore Bob and we are so proud that he is a member of our family and yes, somewhere in here is a fantastic opportunity for that."
Speaking after the emotional Star Wars-themed episode that featured Arthur's passing, Molaro said the way in which the character resurfaced left the door open for Newhart to return when ever Sheldon really needed him.
"Even though he's passing away, using this device, he never really leaves the show, because he can live on in Sheldon's conscience forever," Molaro told THR in May 2014, adding that because of the way in which he appears to Sheldon, Arthur will always be clad as the Jedi Master.
During a set visit for the episode, Newhart — who won his first ever Emmy for his guest role — told THR that he had to be schooled in the ways of the Jedi — that included how to properly handle a lightsaber, with Lucasfilm reps there to advise.
The news comes as Stephen Merchant and Analeigh Tipton are set to guest star during Thursday's new episode as potential dates for Amy and Sheldon, respectively.
The Big Bang Theory airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBS.