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Young Sheldon Should Feature an Offscreen Death for George Sr.


Young Sheldon Should Feature an Offscreen Death for George Sr.


Summary

  • While George Sr.’s death is crucial,
    Young Sheldon
    must find a balance between honoring
    Big Bang Theory
    lore and maintaining the show’s tone.
  • Young Sheldon
    improved George’s character, making his death a significant emotional event, challenging the show’s family sitcom genre.
  • The series can find closure by ending with an adult Sheldon’s response to George’s death, offering a meaningful conclusion that respects fans and the established timeline.



As Young Sheldon creeps toward its series finale, a few loose ends from The Big Bang Theory still need tying up. The biggest of these is the event that shaped the genius’s entire adolescence and young life: the death of George Sr. We know from Big Bang that the Cooper family was thrown into chaos when they lost their patriarch. Sheldon went to school in California, leaving Georgie and Mary to try to hold the family together. We never saw George Sr. on The Big Bang Theory outside of flashbacks, but his death significantly shaped the normally emotionally challenged Sheldon’s upbringing.


Killing the character off was much simpler on Big Bang when all we knew of George were his “redneck” tendencies and familial neglect. However, Young Sheldon painted a much different picture of the senior Cooper. One with which audiences have developed an attachment over the last seven seasons. If the production team wasn’t bound by Big Bang lore, there’s no chance George would lose his life. They’ve toyed with the idea of omitting his death entirely before seeming to confirm it would be addressed this season. But is that also setting the show up for trouble? And how can they find a compromise?


George in The Big Bang Theory vs Young Sheldon

Young Sheldon poster

Young Sheldon

Release Date
September 25, 2017

Studio
Chuck Lorre Productions, Warner Bros. Television


We know from both The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon that the young Cooper isn’t the most empathetic person. He has a soft spot for his family, with Mary and Meemaw particularly enjoying the most affection. Sheldon was never as close to his father growing up because George Sr. did not coddle him like Mary. However, he could still recognize the sacrifices his father made for the good of the family. George Sr. was a strict yet fair father who wanted the best for his family. Losing this version of his dad would understandably have a profound impact on the still-developing teenage Sheldon.

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Contrast that with The Big Bang’s version of the patriarch. The parent series’ George Sr. was an unintelligent, backwoods alcoholic who was borderline abusive and neglectful. The adult Sheldon and Mary rarely had good things to say about him, so it was easy for the show to feature him as deceased. He was a gag character meant solely for comic relief. We never saw him onscreen, so there was no reason to have any attachment to him. While the character shift was puzzling due to Sheldon’s photographic memory of childhood, it was necessary from a story standpoint. Who would want to watch seven seasons of that Big Bang version of George?

Could Young Sheldon Handle George’s Passing?

Unfortunately, the downside of improving George’s character means that his established death will hit much harder. While Young Sheldon can be forgiven for altering minor details from The Big Bang Theory, the death of a parent is the most traumatic thing that can happen to a child. There’s no way for them to ignore it. Even so, co-creator Steven Molaro hinted that the show might omit George’s death, saying they didn’t necessarily have to follow everything from Big Bang. However, it was seemingly confirmed by George Sr. actor Lance Barber that his character would indeed pass away during the final season.


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So there we have it. Everything’s settled, right? Well, not exactly. Though killing George off is the right move story-wise, is it something the show can handle? Young Sheldon is a family sitcom, and could it manage the death of one of the leading characters so close to the show’s end? George’s death would cast a shadow over the entire family for the rest of the series going forward. It also would greatly hinder the show’s ability to end on a positive note.

Network sitcoms have killed off leading roles before, ranging from dignified and respectful (8 Simple Rules) to cheap and degrading (Two and a Half Men). But these decisions almost always result from the real-life death of the actor or their firing from the series. Young Sheldon fits neither category, so a family member’s death would not suit the show even though audiences know it’s coming.


Young Sheldon Must Find a Middle Ground

So, is the answer to ignore the death and end the series without mentioning it? Well, that’s not so simple, either. Audiences have followed this franchise since 2007, so they deserve to see it through with definitive closure. The show could end on a high note with the family celebrating some milestone like Sheldon going to California or Georgie and Mandy’s wedding. The adult Sheldon could narrate through voiceover how this event was the last big celebration the family enjoyed before George Sr’s death shortly after. We know from Big Bang that Sheldon lost his father around the age of 14 or 15, which is how old the character is as of Season 7. This would allow the show to stop just before the tragedy while keeping the timeline intact.


Jim Parsons and Mayim Bialik are set to reprise their Big Bang roles onscreen in the Young Sheldon finale, so what if the show ends with a flashforward of Sheldon and Amy discussing just how much George meant to Sheldon and how they enjoyed one last good memory before he died and Sheldon went to college? The series cleverly retconned George’s cheating scandal while staying true to the spirit of the scene, so they could do that here, too.

In addition, the universe is set to continue with the Georgie and Mandy spin-off. That show could pick up sometime after George’s death and show us how Georgie stepped up as the new man of the house. Keeping the death offscreen would be the best of both worlds. Big Bang‘s lore would be honored, and Young Sheldon‘s family sitcom vibe could be carried through to the end. Episodes of Young Sheldon Season 7 air weekly on CBS through May 16, 2024. Stream past seasons on Max and Netflix.


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