George’s death to end 'Big Bang Theory’ revision


Spoiler alert: This story contains details from the May 9 finale „Young Sheldon” episode.

You can’t say you didn’t see George Cooper Sr.’s death coming seven seasons after „Young Sheldon,” the spinoff series that preceded „The Big Bang Theory.” After all, in the original CBS series, Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) referred to his football coach father, George Sr., as a young physics genius who died of a heart attack when he was 14 and growing up in East Texas.

George Sr.’s death is part of the „Big Bang Theory” mythology, which is important to tie into the „Sheldon” ending described by Parsons. However, George Sr.’s (Lance Barber) offscreen heart attack was revealed in the final moments of the May 9 episode, the last, heartbreaking one before the May 16 two-part series finale.

Not just for Sheldon (Ian Armitage) and devoted TV fans.

„It was heartbreaking for everyone on the show,” said „Big Bang Theory” and „Young Sheldon” co-creator and executive producer Chuck Lorre. „We’re all very invested in this character. Being imaginative doesn’t make saying goodbye difficult. But it has been seven years in the making. We all knew it was going to happen.”

Here are the consequences of George Sr.’s „Young Sheldon” death:

How did Sheldon Cooper’s father die in 'Young Sheldon’?

Everything seems to be going well for new grandfather George Sr., who suddenly finds himself in the middle of a sometimes stormy family life. His wife Mary (Zoe Perry) and daughter Missy (Ragan Revord) support his dream job offer, coaching football at Rice University in Houston, which requires a family move.

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„Because the stakes are so high, it creates an even bigger punch-in-the-gut tragedy,” says Barber.

George Sr. survived by climbing ladders and fixing roofs for house sales. His son Georgie (Montana Jordan, who will lead another spinoff series next season) advises him for safety reasons. The two carry the ladder in a tender father-son moment.

But the next day, when George Sr. leaves for work, he grabs his travel mug and promises to return to take family photos, giving an uncredited announcement: „See you all later.” Sheldon barely looked up from his book as his father walked out the kitchen door into the (heavenly bright) sunlight, never to return.

„It’s an intentionally mundane moment in Sheldon’s life that he’s going to struggle with,” says Lorre. „Because he learned that this was the last time he would see his father. He would regret that moment in his life where he would say 'I could have done it better’.”

Hours later, the shocked family was told George Sr. had died of a heart attack. Sheldon sits wordlessly stunned, processing the immeasurable loss.

Why George Sr.’s Death Changes His 'Big Bang Theory’ Scandal

George Sr., the dark comedy underpinning the coming-of-age Sheldon in „Big Bang,” is a flawed character that’s become more volatile since „Young Sheldon.”

„On The Big Bang Theory, when George was an off-screen character who is no longer alive, you can make all the jokes you want. But 'Young Sheldon’ is a sweet family show,” says Steve Holland, both producer and writer. Cont. „Since Lance Barber portrayed George in 'Yang Sheldon,’ you wouldn’t believe his dad would be that bad.”

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For example, adult Sheldon explains in „The Big Bang Theory” that he knocked on the door three times after he shockingly walked in on his cheating father who was „having an affair” with a mysterious blonde. In March’s episode, the alleged infidelity was explained in a scene where Sheldon walks in on Mary with a blonde wig as a campy German named Helga with her husband.

George Sr.’s death completes his character’s redemption, explaining why Sheldon has such a dark view of his father. Beginning with one last haunting sight, Sheldon is immediately overwhelmed with grief and regret as he never says his final goodbye.

„Sheldon is already replaying his last moments,” says Barber. „He said all the regrets and things he wanted.”

What Will Happen in the 'Young Sheldon’ Finale?

In the two-part May 16 finale (8 EDT/EDT), Sheldon and his family mourn George Sr.’s funeral.

The finale also finds happiness after failure as Sheldon goes to college (California Institute of Technology, as fans already know). Parsons returns as the old Sheldon, reprising his role in 2019 with Mayim Bialik playing his wife Amy for the first time since the end of „Big Bang.”

The film industry couple has two young children. And Sheldon’s struggles with fatherhood softened his feelings about his own father, George Sr. „It’s a recognition that his father is a flawed man, but doing the best he can,” says Lorre. „It’s an epiphany about your parenting as you get older. The ending is about Sheldon’s perspective on his father. It changes for the better, with time and his own experience raising his own children that he doesn’t understand.”

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