'Young Sheldon' Delivered Inevitable, Heartbreaking Death


We always knew it was coming.

From the moment Young Sheldon was announced in 2016, fans of The Big Bang Theory wondered how the spinoff would address Sheldon’s father’s death.

For a long time, the show’s writers didn’t have to think about how they would deal with it. It was something way off in the distance while they built a sweet family comedy.

But that only made the inevitable more difficult, since viewers grew to love George Cooper Sr. (Lance Barber), a kind man who usually didn’t understand his genius son (Iain Armitage), but was always proud of him.

Related: Everything to Know About the ‘Young Sheldon’ Spinoff ‘Georgie & Mandy’s First Marriage’

Maybe it doesn’t have to happen, we hoped. Young Sheldon has changed plenty of stuff adult Sheldon said about his childhood on The Big Bang Theory, and maybe this would be another one.

But we knew in our hearts that that would be too big of a change. George wasn’t going to make it to the end of Young Sheldon.

And in the third-to-last episode of the series, “A New Home and a Traditional Texas Torture,” it happened. George Cooper Sr. died of a heart attack.

How Young Sheldon Handled George’s Death

The Coopers were on the verge of big changes. Sheldon was preparing to move to California for graduate school at Caltech, while George, Mary (Zoe Perry), and Missy (Raegan Revord) were in the early stages of moving to Houston for George’s new job as a football coach at Rice University. It was a dream come true for him.

Sheldon was mad at his parents for the move, because he felt like he wouldn’t have a home anymore. He doesn’t do well with change, and he was facing a huge change in the form of his own cross-country move.

That morning, George went off to work like any other day. By the afternoon, the whole family was gathered, waiting for him to come home so they could take a family photo in a field of bluebells before Sheldon moves away.

There was a knock on the door, and Mary opened it to find George’s co-workers Tom (Rex Linn) and Wayne (Doc Farrow) standing there, looking upset. They informed her that George had suffered a heart attack, and he was gone.

Related: ‘Big Bang Theory’ Stars to Reprise Their Roles for ‘Young Sheldon’ Finale

Mary, Missy, and Connie (Annie Potts) started crying and hugging each other, while Sheldon sat down in a chair, expressionless, obviously too stunned to even react.

It was by far the saddest moment there’s ever been on Young Sheldon, and probably The Big Bang Theory too. These are not shows that are known for being tearjerkers, but they turned on the waterworks in this episode.

Young Sheldon co-creator Chuck Lorre often puts a “vanity card” in the end credits of episodes of his many shows. It’s a little personal note he writes about whatever is on his mind. They don’t always have something to do with the episode, but sometimes they do. This one did.

Here’s what Lorre wrote, via Chuck Lorre Productions

“Eighteen years ago, when we were writing and producing The Big Bang Theory, it seemed like a good idea to imagine that Sheldon’s childhood was deeply disrupted by the loss of his father. No one could have thought that someday we would regret that decision. That someday is now.”

“There were a lot of tears on stage when this episode’s last scene was shot. A reminder that we had all fallen in love with a fictional character. Which is, itself, a reminder to love the characters fin our life who are real. To do otherwise, is to live with regret.

young sheldon vanity card

Chuck Lorre Productions

And Lance Barber was just happy to be there until (almost) the end. “I was emotionally prepared for this from the pilot, you know?” he told TVLine. “At least the potential of it. I was just thankful for every day, and every season, and every episode, I got to be on, knowing that potentially they could explore that before the show ended. So, mostly, I was grateful to get to the end.”

Young Sheldon’s two-part finale will deal with the aftermath of George’s death, and we’re glad it’s a week away, because we need some time to prepare.

The one-hour series finale airs Thursday, May 16 at 8 p.m. on CBS. It will be available to stream on Paramount+. 

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