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Young Sheldon is a sitcom created by Chuck Lorre and Steven Molaro. The series is a spin-off prequel to The Big Bang Theory and follows the character Sheldon Cooper at the age of 9, living with his family in East Texas and going to high school. Iain Armitage stars as young Sheldon, alongside Zoe Perry as Sheldon's mother Mary Cooper, Lance Barber as Sheldon's father George Cooper, Sr., Montana Jordan as Sheldon's older brother George "Georgie" Cooper, Jr., Raegan Revord as Sheldon's twin sister Missy Cooper and Annie Potts as Sheldon's maternal grandmother Connie Tucker. Jim Parsons, who portrays an adult Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, narrates the series and serves as an executive producer.

The main premise of the show is about Sheldon Cooper working to enhance humanity's understanding of science, particularly physics fields such as general theory of relativity and quantum chromodynamics, so that by the time he becomes an adult he'll be a renowned physicist who reaches the same levels of fame as his idols Albert Einstein, Clark Maxwell, Paul Dirac and Stephen Hawking. His love for science and pursuit to prove that our universe is increasingly expanding often conflicts with his mother's devout religious beliefs, his father not making enough money to fund Sheldon's projects or endeavors, his siblings' mockery and his parents' time-poor schedule having to raise three children.

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Seasons 11 and 12, the final two seasons of The Big Bang Theory, started bringing in (or reviving, in Mary and Missy's case) older versions of characters on this show as a means of getting more in touch with this show including George Jr. who never appeared in TBBT before. And then this show did the reverse for the Season 2 finale by bringing in children who would grow up to be Leonard, Penny, Howard, Raj, Bernadette and Amy.


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Tropes Include:

  • The '80s: The setting, with a decent amount of 1980s fashions and pop culture references. Most or all of the first season is set in 1989. By the second season, the setting has advanced to 1990. Of course, The '90s (at least in the pop culture grunge and extreme everything sense) didn't magically start overnight on January 1, 1990. The early '90s were still culturally '80s, and this was especially true for small-town America.
  • Aborted Arc: Season two episode "An 8-Bit Princess and a Flat Tire Genius" has Georgie getting a job as a mechanic at Herschel Sparks' garage. This is mentioned in a few more episodes, but in season three's "Pongo Pygmaeus and a Culture that Encourages Spitting", Georgie gets a job at Coach Ballard's sporting goods shop, with his old job not being mentioned, and Herschel doesn't appear at all in season three. This abandonment, along with Herschel's disappearance, is likely due to Billy Gardell's commitments as the lead in Bob Hearts Abishola.
  • Actor Allusion: The episode dealing with Bobbi Sparks bullying Sheldon has George mention that he used to be a bully when he was in school. This is likely a reference to Lance Barber's role as Jimmy Speckerman, one of Leonard's childhood bullies, in The Big Bang Theory.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • In "Demons, Sunday School and Prime Numbers", George and Mee-maw make a few burns at each other and both of them say they were pretty good.
    • Missy draws lips and whiskers in felt-tip pen on Sheldon's surgical mask while he's asleep, and Mary can't stop giggling at it while she's trying to console Sheldon over his fears about getting sick.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Mary and Missy are blondes in this show, instead of brunettes like in The Big Bang Theory. Mary also has different colored eyes, as Zoe Perry has blue eyes while Laurie Metcalf's eyes are brown.
  • Adults Are Useless: Sheldon's parents when they failed to stop a bully from tormenting Sheldon in the Jiu-jitsu episode. Even the bully's parents have no idea how much she torments Sheldon. Though they tried.
  • Adult Fear:
    • In "A Therapist, A Comic Book, and A Breakfast Sausage", Sheldon wanders off while at the therapist office. Although nothing bad happens to him, his parents are worried sick, and when he returns home there are police cars there.
    • In "A Crisis of Faith and Octopus Aliens", Mary reacts badly to a neighbor's girl dying in a car crash. She's worried that it might happen to Georgie, who is about the same age and is just starting to learn to drive.
    • In "Quirky Eggheads and Texas Snow Globes", Mary worries that Sheldon's behavior might be a sign of mental illness, especially after Dr. Sturgis, who had similar affectations, got sent to a psychiatric hospital.
  • Aesop Amnesia:
    • At the end of "A High-Pitched Buzz and Training Wheels", Sheldon vows that, no matter what he's been going through, he'd never be irritating or abusive to his friends and loved ones. Anyone who's watched The Big Bang Theory knows how well this stuck.
    • Something similar happens in "An Entrepreneurialist and a Swat on the Bottom", where Sheldon learns that he's being selfish by putting his wants and needs above everyone else's and apologizes for doing so. Again, anyone who has seen The Big Bang Theory knows that this lesson also didn't stick.
    • Mary learns that Missy feels ignored since all of the attention goes to Sheldon, and makes an effort to focus on her more. Obviously, it does not stick as well.
    • "A Brisket, Voodoo and Cannonball Run" has George and Connie putting their differences aside, but in subsequent episodes, they still engage in Snark-to-Snark Combat and Connie still sees him as a disappointing son-in-law.
  • All for Nothing: In "A Loaf of Bread and a Grand Old Flag," Sheldon causes a fuss when a company changes his favorite bread by producing it cheaply to save money, and in a series of escalating events ends up accidentally supporting communism because he thinks it will get him better bread. At the end of the episode he announces that he gave the bread another chance and he likes it, trying to make himself sound mature, but the rest of his family is still mad at him for what he put them through and isn't talking to him.
  • Almost Kiss: Pastor Jeff is trying his best to avoid having a physical relationship with his new girlfriend Robin, since having physical relations outside of marriage is a sin. Just as he and Robin are about to give in, they are interrupted by a call from Missy, who was confessing to a lie she'd previously told him and was afraid of going to Hell. Jeff takes the call as a message from God and tells Robin that he can't be physical with her.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The shortwave radio station that broadcasts the "time in Ottawa" in "A Swedish Science Thing and the Equation for Toast" is a real station with the call letters CHU, which has been on the air since 1923 (it actually transmits time announcements in English and French).
  • Anachronistic Soundtrack: The episode "A Mother, a Child, and a Blue Man's Backside" features a 1993 song from The Ramones playing in Sheldon's comic book store in 1989. Lampshaded by Steve Molaro in the Chuck Lorre Productions Vanity Plate at the end of the episode.
  • Artistic License – History: In episode 3, Pastor Jeff claimed Albert Einstein believed in God. While Einstein wasn't an atheist, he preferred to be called an agnostic.
  • Artistic License – Religion:
    • In "David, Goliath, and A Yoo-Hoo from the Back", Sheldon stands up to bully Jason Davies by using a makeshift slingshot and citing David and Goliath as inspiration. David actually used a sling, which is a completely different weapon than a slingshot and a is lot more dangerous to boot. While this is a common misconception, someone as smart as Sheldon should know better. He has been shown to have an understanding of the Bible even though he doesn't believe in it.
    • Tam, a Roman Catholic, claims Catholics don't believe Jesus is God and Sheldon mentions they are a different religion than Christians. Catholicism is the oldest form of Christianity and certainly believe Jesus is God.
  • Ass Shove: Implied in "A Crisis of Faith and Octopus Aliens". When Mary starts crying while playing pool with Constance, a guy walks up and offers a shoulder to cry on. Constance then tells him that she's looking for a place to store her pool cue. He responds that he might be into that.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other:
    • In "A High-Pitched Buzz and Training Wheels", Missy can't help but hug Sheldon when he starts crying after being yelled at by their dad.
    • When Sheldon gets a splinter in his finger, Missy is the one to pull it out. The fact that Narrator!Sheldon states that Missy was able to carry out a 'complex medical procedure' suggests that he was actually a little bit impressed with her.
    • When Missy goes to try out for the baseball team, Sheldon tells her to "Do good baseball."
  • Bait-and-Switch: After Sheldon managed to finally show Dr. Hodge his calculations for VTVL technology, he's informed that, while impressive, they don't have the technology available yet to put it into motion. When Sheldon summarizes this as being told he's ahead of his time, which Dr. Hodge admits, you'd think he'd be upset... but instead he calmly tells Dr. Hodge to "call [him] when [they] catch up", and leaves the room satisfied.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In "Demons, Sunday School, and Prime Numbers," devout Christian Mary enrolls Sheldon in Sunday School, hoping her son will develop an interest in religion. He takes an interest, alright; in all religions.
  • Been There, Shaped History: In "A Patch, a Modem, and a Zantac", it's shown that Sheldon's notebook inspired Elon Musk to successfully land a rocket on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean on April 8, 2016.
  • The B Grade: Any test score less than 100% is Sheldon's Berserk Button.
    • In “A Solar Calculator, a Game Ball, and a Cheerleader’s Bosom“, Sheldon gets a B+ on his math test because he forgot to show his work. He blames it on attending a party the previous night, even though he didn’t stay long and didn’t want to go anyway.
    • In "A Math Emergency and Perky Palms", Sheldon takes one of Prof. Sturgis' college tests and it gets a 95% because he didn't use the required equations. He spends the rest of the episode arguing with Sturgis that his solution was better. Sturgis actually agrees with Sheldon, but is reluctant to admit he was wrong.
  • Big Storm Episode: "A Mother, a Child, and a Blue Man's Backside" ends with the Coopers hiding in the bathroom as a tornado hits the neighborhood.
  • Bratty Half-Pint:
    • Missy. She openly insults and messes with her two brothers and is even rude to her own mother. She is aware of her own bad attitude, such as when Mary angrily asks her why she is such a brat and she claims she is "crying for attention". She in general just seems to enjoy her dysfunctional family because they amuse her but only as long as she gets her way with everything. Though Missy is often neglected in favour of Sheldon, so her attitude is excusable.
    • Sheldon is a young child and he certainly has his moments of ticking people off through his failure to properly decode social and emotional situations, but in general he is thoughtful and obedient and pretty conscientious about following the rules as he understands them. But he is frequently rude to his teachers, often puts down the rest of his family for not being as smart as he is, and can be just as bad as Missy and Georgie when it comes to tormenting his siblings. However some of his behaviour can be chalked up to his Ambiguous Disorder, he simply doesn't understand that there are certain situations where it's impolite to state the truth, such as when he comments loudly on his female teacher's moustache. Sheldon can be a sweet child when it comes to his mother and Meemaw, and occasionally his father.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs:
    • An inversion. George explains to Ms. Hutchins that Sheldon doesn't really like outdoor sports. Or sports. Or the outdoors.
    • Played straight in "A House for Sale and Serious Woman Stuff" where Sheldon mentions that their new neighbors could have dogs. Or birds. Or both and the birds learn to bark like dogs.
  • Brick Joke: Midway through episode 9, Sheldon convinces Missy that Mee-maw has money buried in her backyard so he can get the TV to himself. At the very end of the episode, Mee-maw falls into one of the holes Missy dug in her yard.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Georgie has little interest in school, and comes off generally shallow and unserious. But he's actually pretty skilled with cars, and has a preternatural knack with tires which, in Big Bang results in him building a very successful business under the nickname "Dr. Tire."
  • Call-Forward:
    • In the pilot, Missy threatens to kick Sheldon in his "little balls". This harkens back (or forward) to "The Pork Chop Indeterminacy" where Missy does the same thing to Sheldon (off-screen) for trying to control her love life.
    • Sheldon is afraid of birds, as shown in the pilot when he's scared by Billy Sparks' pet chicken.
    • Billy Sparks, mentioned twice in the parent series as Sheldon's childhood bully, appears every now and then. He's even a chicken farmer, implying that the chicken who chased Sheldon up a tree when he was a child belonged to the Sparks family.
    • Several S1 episodes allude to George's impending mortality, as it's been long established on Big Bang that Sheldon's dad died when he was a young teen.
    • In her first appearance on the parent series, Mary described Sheldon's siblings as "dumb as soup." George, Jr. is, indeed, not too bright; and Missy isn't good with numbers.
    • The very first scene (and dialogue) from the pilot reminds us that Sheldon loves trains.
    • In "A Therapist, a Comic Book and a Breakfast Sausage", Sheldon tells Tam that he's in his seat.
    • Sheldon once commented that he made a list of enemies on a floppy disk. In "A Computer, a Plastic Pony, and a Case of Beer", we see him start that list.
    • "A Sneeze, Detention, and Sissy Spacek" has Mary sing "Soft Kitty" to Sheldon when he's sick.
    • Sheldon is shown watching Professor Proton.
    • In "Dolomite, Apple Slices, and a Mystery Woman", Sheldon's heartbreak over geology-enthusiast Libby leads to his belief that geology is not a real science.
    • In "Jiu-Jitsu, Bubble Wrap, and Yoo-Hoo", Sheldon gives himself the taxonomic name Homo novus, which he mentions on "The Euclid Alternative".
      • Sheldon uses it again in "A Race of Superhumans and a Letter To ALF" to refer to a hypothetical race of superhumans descended from a smarter Missy.
    • In "A Mother, a Child, and a Blue Man's Backside", the school counselor suggests that Sheldon apply to Cal-Tech, where present-day Sheldon works in Big Bang. He rejects it, saying that he doesn't want to move to California due to its loose lifestyle. He also rejects MIT for being mostly an engineering school, just as adult Sheldon makes fun of Howard for studying engineering there.
    • "Vanilla Ice Cream, Gentlemen Callers, and a Dinette Set" shows Sheldon coming up with his first relationship agreement.
    • Sheldon's super-sensitive hearing is the focus of "A High-Pitched Buzz and Training Wheels".
    • "An 8-Bit Princess and a Flat Tire Genius" shows how Georgie began his career as a tire expert, as shown in Big Bang.
    • "A Stunted Childhood and a Can of Fancy Mixed Nuts" reveals the origin of Sheldon's "Bazinga" catchphrase on Big Bang. In an attempt to loosen himself up and be more carefree like Missy and Paige, he buys a set of practical tricks from the comic shop, manufactured by Bazinga Novelties; Sheldon takes the tagline "If it's funny, it's a Bazinga" quite literally.
    • In "A Swedish Science Thing and the Equation for Toast", Dr. Sturgis speculates that Sheldon might win the Nobel Prize. Which he does in the final episode of Big Bang.
      • At the end of the episode, as Sheldon listens to the announcement of the Nobel Prizes, the camera shows younger versions of the other main characters of Big Bang, starting with Leonard, who is also listening to the Nobel announcements.
    • "Body Glitter and a Mall Safety Kit" features the first time Sheldon offers someone a hot beverage to someone in distress (in this case a crying Paige upset over her parents' divorce).
    • That same episode has Georgie offering to pay to fix the air-conditioning in George's truck, with George's ego not allowing him to accept it. This shows how willing Georgie is to help his family out financially, something he'd be doing on a regular basis when George died as mentioned in The Big Bang Theory.
    • "A High-Pitched Buzz and Training Wheels" has George telling Sheldon that he will pay back the $200 that they spent to fix the refrigerator that Sheldon broke, and George doesn't care how long it takes. Sheldon does something similar in Big Bang when he lends Penny money and tells her he doesn't care how long it takes her to pay him back.
    • "Pasadena" is about Sheldon going to a lecture by Stephen Hawking at his future workplace Cal-tech. He mentions that he may not get another chance to meet him, even though he does as an adult. Also, once he arrives at Cal-tech, he says he can see himself working there while standing in the cafeteria.
    • The video Sheldon prepares to convince his mother to let him go to college is staged exactly like his "Fun with Flags" videos in Big Bang, complete with awkward wooden delivery.
  • Captain Obvious: Georgie tends to make statements that are fascinating to him but obvious to everyone else, including his realization that E.T.'s human friend Elliott has a name starting with an E and ending with a T.
  • Casting Gag: Missy's baseball coach Dale Ballard is portrayed by Craig T. Nelson, who is famous for playing another coach.
  • Cathartic Chores: Sheldon cleans and arranges stuff whenever he gets upset, for example he's cleaning the house when his parents won't let him go to Houston with his friends. This seems to explain why he's so obsessed with cleaning in the parent series.
  • Celebrity Paradox:
    • Wallace Shawn appears as Dr. John Sturgis. Shawn's most famous roles are in The Princess Bride and Toy Story, both of which have been mentioned many times on The Big Bang Theory.
    • Missy mentions the TV show Blossom in "A Race of Superhumans and a Letter to Alf". The title character was played by Mayim Bialik, who plays Sheldon's wife Amy on The Big Bang Theory. (Blossom was also mentioned on The Big Bang Theory, in the episode "The Bat Jar Conjecture.")
  • Character Development: In this prequel series, Sheldon dismissed Maxwell's equations as an unnecessary longcut to finding the quantum chromodynamics value of a magnetic field. In the parent series TBBT, Sheldon idolizes Maxwell as one of the greatest physicists of our time.
  • Comically Small Bribe: Georgie gives Billy a dollar to mow the lawn for him. He was originally gonna pay Billy two dollars, but Billy was dumb enough to do it for less. When George finds out about it and lectures him for not doing his chores, Georgie offers his father ten dollars to leave him alone. This one doesn't work.
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • The Cooper house in Young Sheldon is different in the inside and outside compared to the Cooper house in The Big Bang Theory. There has been no mention in the latter show about Sheldon and his family moving after the age of 9.
    • In "The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary", Sheldon explicitly states that Billy Sparks lived down the street from him, yet in this show, they appear to be next-door neighbors. And Billy Sparks himself is quite friendly towards everyone, it's his younger sister that's the actual bully.
    • George Cooper Sr. has been described as a "redneck Texas Homer Simpson" who would, among other things, drink bourbon from Pepsi cans and use dishes for skeet shooting practice and would fight with Mary but here he seems to be something of an Only Sane Man who urges Mary to give Sheldon his space. This can actually be explained by Sheldon being an Unreliable Narrator. The latter characteristic was mentioned in Mary's first appearance on the show, where she noted that her husband often urged her to take her time with Sheldon.
    • In "Potato Salad, a Broomstick, and Dad's Whiskey", Sheldon can understand Spanish, but in the parent series episode "The Bat Jar Conjecture", his grasp of Spanish was so bad he couldn't understand the difference between the Spanish words for "son" (hijo) and "butcher" (carnicero). This is can also be explained away, assuming Sheldon didn't actually use his Spanish language skills in the time between series his skill in the language would have deteriorated even to the point of becoming non existent (if you don't use it, you lose it).
  • Couch Gag: Starting in the third season, the title sequence includes the whole Cooper family, while Sheldon is in a different costume each episode.
  • Crisis of Faith: Mary has one in the aptly titled episode "A Crisis of Faith and Octopus Aliens". She reacts to a neighbor's young daughter dying in a car crash first by keeping busy volunteering at church, then she starts doubting why the girl's death is somehow part of God's plan, and gets so distraught that she stops going to church and saying grace. This change in character worries Sheldon, and he manages to restore her faith by saying that, even though he doesn't believe in God, he's open to the possibility that there might be a creator.
  • Crossover Punchline: The Stinger to "A Race of Superhumans and a Letter to ALF" ends with ALF reading Missy's fan letter.
  • Cuteness Equals Forgiveness: Bobbi Sparks, Sheldon's 6-year-old bully. Lampshaded by Meemaw in "Jiu-Jitsu, Bubble Wrap and Yoo-hoo":
    She's cute. So she probably gets away with stuff.
  • David vs. Goliath: Invoked by Sheldon in "David, Goliath, and A Yoo-Hoo from the Back" when he confronts a bully (Jason). He even improvises a slingshot out of a pair of safety goggles. It fails to knock out Jason, who then proceeds to stuff Sheldon in his locker and leave him there overnight.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Meemaw and Missy. Less frequently, George can be pretty snarky as well.
  • Decomposite Character: On The Big Bang Theory, Billy Sparks was mentioned as Sheldon's childhood bully. However, on this show, Billy is much more good-natured, whereas his sister Bobbi is the one who bullies Sheldon.
  • Defector from Commie Land: Tam's family were among the "boat people" who fled Vietnam after the war.
  • The Ditz: Billy Sparks.
    (Sheldon, Tam, and Billy play Dungeons and Dragons)
    Tam: Firebeak, what do you do? (beat) Billy!
    Billy: What?
    Tam: You are Firebeak.
    Billy: OK.
    Tam: So what do you do?
    Billy: I'm Firebeak.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": When Sheldon gets a pet fish, he names it Fish because he doesn't want to be too attached.
  • Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off: Constance gives Sheldon a "swat on the bottom" for calling her selfish because she didn't want to take him to a lecture (the professor only invited him as a pretense to date her).
  • Doomed by Canon: It's already been established on Big Bang Theory that Sheldon's father died when he was 14.
    • By the time of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon and Tam are no longer friends, and Tam wasn't mentioned for a long time. It's finally revealed that Tam had planned to go to college with Sheldon, but ended up staying in Texas with a girl he was dating. Sheldon felt so betrayed that he didn't contact or mention him for many years. Fortunately they eventually make amends with one another.
    • The romance between Meemaw and Dr. Sturgis. Though Meemaw is still alive in The Big Bang Theory, no mention is made of Dr. Sturgis, so either they'll end up breaking up at some point or John will die. It seems to be the former as John broke up with Connie in "A Pineapple and the Bosom of Male Companionship". Though they may end up back together later.
    • Similarly with Georgie and Veronica. Despite all the ShipTeasing, they are not together in Big Bang. Though it's possible that they do get married at some point, as Big Bang confirms that Georgie has two ex-wives, so it's possible that Veronica could have been his first wife.
    • "Albert Einstein and the Story of Another Mary" has Mary getting pregnant with a fourth child, which there is no evidence of in Big Bang. It ends with a Convenient Miscarriage, and the implication that Sheldon never found out about it.
  • Dreadful Musician: After learning that Albert Einstein played the violin to help him think, Sheldon decides to learn to play. The resulting screeching is said to drive the neighborhood dogs crazy.
  • Drunk on Milk: In "A Baby Tooth and the Egyptian God of Knowledge", Sheldon tries to recreate his dream of learning the Unified Field Theory by taking the strongest drug he can think of — chamomile tea. He takes a super concentrated dose of it and gets a hallucination that his scientist posters come to life (along with Missy's Cyndi Lauper poster).
  • Eating Lunch Alone: In the second episode, Mary worries that Sheldon is sitting alone in the cafeteria. Older Sheldon explains that he actually liked being alone, pondering the mysteries of the universe.
  • Education Mama:
    Tam: So, you're hoping to create an army of super-intelligent children who will do your bidding?
    Sheldon: In a perfect world, yes.
    Tam: You should spend more time with my mother. That's her goal, too.
  • Everyone Knows Morse Code: Averted in "An Entrepeneurialist and a Swat on the Bottom". Sheldon leaves a message in Morse code, but the others have to go to the library in order to decode it.
  • Flashback to Catchphrase: "A Stunted Childhood and a Can of Fancy Mixed Nuts" is this to Sheldon's making-a-joke catchphrase "Bazinga!" from TBBT. It turns out Bazinga is the name of a company selling practical joke items, whose slogan is "If it's funny, it's a Bazinga!". Ten-year-old Sheldon takes that literally and adopts the word as an indication that he is making a joke.
  • Food Fight: Missy and Georgie in the pilot.
  • For Want of a Nail: In the season 3 finale, Sheldon is cutting a hotdog to make Spaghetti with Little Hotdog Slices like his mom makes, and one piece rolls under the fridge. This starts a series of events that almost tears his family apart, but ultimately ends with him finally getting into college.
  • Foreshadowing: The fact that the narrator Sheldon is speaking from a time after The Big Bang Theory is set is foreshadowed several times, especially since Sheldon seems a lot more understanding of his father's personality and actions than he did in the parent show. Most notably he outright states in one episode that he realises now that his father would often play dumb to make him feel better, something The Big Bang Theory era Sheldon is unlikely to have understood or appreciated.
  • Formally Named Pet: Billy Sparks's pet chicken Matilda shares his last name, according to Sheldon. It's unclear whether the chicken is named that or if Sheldon simply addressed her formally.
  • Former Teen Rebel: In "David, Goliath and a Yoo-Hoo from the Back", Constance tells Missy that Mary used to be a rebellious teenager, but when there were complications with Missy's birth, she prayed to God and swore to become more pious and responsible, becoming the deeply religious woman she is now (or as Missy describes her, "a dud").
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Pastor Jeff and Robin tie the knot in "A Live Chicken, a Fried Chicken and Holy Matrimony" so that the two can engage in a physical relationship. While it's unknown exactly how long they've been together in-universe, it can't have been more than a few months.
  • Freudian Excuse: Downplayed: Adult!Sheldon reveals that Georgie's attempt at driving the both of them and Missy to the hospital George was at is the reason why he never learned how to drive.
  • Gender-Blender Name: While technically the parent show is to blame, a Vietnamese boy named "Tam" is almost like naming an American boy "Cinderella." Its exact meaning varies by accent and there technically is a boy's variant, but it is traditionally pronounced "taeM."
  • Genre Shift: A subtle one. While the parent show is a three-camera sitcom with a Studio Audience, Young Sheldon is a one-camera sitcom shot on location, with more emphasis on family drama and a more grounded approach to its comedy.
  • Get Rich Quick Scheme: Georgie is always looking for ways of making money fast so he doesn't have to rely on George, who is tight with money and finds the things Georgie wants to buy dumb.
  • Groin Attack: Missy threatens to do this to Sheldon in the pilot, but tells Missy that his "little balls" haven't descended yet.
  • Heel Realization: In "An Entrepeneurialist and a Swat on the Bottom", Sheldon runs away to go to a lecture because no one wanted to take him, which he found selfish of them. As he tells the story to a woman on the bus, she tells him that the only selfish one in the story was him for not considering the others' feelings. He associates this to the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Devil in the Dark", where a monster attacks miners because they are destroying her eggs.
  • Henpecked Husband: George, as well as Herschel Sparks.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Sheldon has been an atheist even before the show started going as far as to rebel against his mother and Pastor Jeff's attempts to convert him to Christianity. Sheldon also believes that science is the most important thing in life, that the purpose of life is to enhance humanity's understanding of science (and also disavow or abandon religion) and that because he's the most intelligent of his family, this gives him every right to boss around his family to give him what he endeavors such as gaining the Tandy SL computer despite his family's strained finances, flying to California to meet Stephen Hawking or getting enrolled into a college in his pre-teen years.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Mee-maw calls Mary this in "Potato Salad, a Broomstick, and Dad's Whiskey", when Sheldon points out that Mary was smiling while saying she felt bad that a competing potato salad at the church potluck wasn't popular.
    • Missy mocking Sheldon that Paige knows 3 languages but he only speaks one. Missy doesn't admit to knowing any foreign languages herself.
    • In Season 2 episode 20, George Sr's co-worker Wayne tells him not to eat a donut for health reasons. Wayne, however is also very fat himself.
  • I Was Having Such a Nice Dream:
    • In "Demons, Sunday School, and Prime Numbers", Sheldon dreams of meeting the numbers 1 and 0, and they are about to tell him the secrets of the universe when Georgie wakes him up.
    • In “A Baby Tooth and The Egyptian God of Knowledge”, Sheldon is put under anesthesia and dreams that Thoth the Egyptian god of knowledge gives him the Unified Field Theory, but he forgets it afterwards and tries to get the same dream again.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming:
    • Except for the pilot, every episode title from the first season contains a list of three things with a serial comma (examples: "Rockets, Communists, and the Dewey Decimal System", "Poker, Faith, and Eggs").
    • For the second season, the episode titles contain only two things (example: "A High-Pitched Buzz and Training Wheels").
  • Imagine Spot: In "Gluons, Guacamole, and the Color Purple", Sheldon admits to daydreaming in class when he's not feeling challenged. In this case, he's imagining that he's helping NASA fix an orbiting satellite.
  • Improvised Weapon: Sheldon and Missy use the fire extinguisher on an intruder in "Potato Salad, a Broomstick, and Dad's Whiskey"; unfortunately for them, the intruder was just Mee-maw.
  • Insufferable Genius: Even at the age of nine, Sheldon already lectures people, even his own teachers.
  • Intelligence = Isolation: A primary motif throughout the series.
    • Sheldon is ostracized from his siblings, his teachers, his school principal, his church pastor and his classmates for the fact he can outsmart them at anything and everything. They all become contemptuous towards him because their feelings get hurt by his desire to correct them. An interesting aversion of this trope is that Mary is accepting of Sheldon's atheism albeit she tries to silence his vocal opposition to Christianity.
    • In Season 2, Paige is able to avoid falling into this trope despite failing to befriend Sheldon who has no interest in making friends with someone who (unintentionally) keeps insulting him for not academically catching up to her speed. This proves that just like Sheldon, Paige doesn't know how to avoid offending other people but she does have the superb social skills that allows her to befriend Missy.
  • Interrogation by Vandalism: In "A Race of Superhumans and A Letter to ALF", Sheldon tries to get Missy to learn algebra by threatening to cut the hair off her Cabbage Patch Doll. All that does is make Missy punch him in the face.
  • It Will Never Catch On: On "A Slump, a Cross and Roadside Gravel", Georgie laughs at Sheldon's suggestion of curating music on a device that is also a camera and a phone.
  • Jock Dad, Nerd Son: Football coach George Sr. and Child Prodigy Sheldon.
  • Kids Driving Cars: In one episode, 14 year old George Jr. steals Meemaw's car keys and car to drive him, Sheldon and Missy all to the hospital to go see their father who has been hospitalized by a heart attack. Being too afraid to get in an accident or be noticed by authorities, Georgie goes too slowly.
  • Large Ham: George sometimes falls into this when he gets excited.
  • Little Professor Dialogue: Sheldon, naturally.
  • Magic Feather: In "A Slump, a Cross and Roadside Gravel", Missy starts getting better at batting after praying and wearing Mary's old crucifix. Then Mary finds out Missy thinks she can just pray for whatever she wants as if God were a magic genie and takes the cross away. George, being a sports coach, is sympathetic to Missy and steals the cross away to give it back during her next game. Missy rejects it, claiming that she now has the confidence to do better without it, but as soon as she gets a strike, she calls for George.
  • Marshmallow Hell: When Sheldon helps the school win a game in "A Solar Calculator, A Game Ball, and A Cheerleader's Bosom", he gets congratulated by the students, including being hugged by a cheerleader (as indicated in the title). It was mortifying for him.
  • Men Can't Keep House: George Sr. and Georgie, as shown when Mary briefly moves out in "A Computer, a Plastic Pony, and a Case of Beer." It's downplayed for George, who can at least survive day-to-day on his own, but played straight for Georgie since he's not the brightest bulb in the first place.
    • Subverted with Sheldon, who actually enjoys cleaning so much that he uses it as his go-to relaxing activity to burn off some steam during a dispute with his mother.
  • Misplaced Accent: The pilot finally explains why Sheldon doesn't have a Texas drawl. In narration, he explains that he switched to a mid-Atlantic accent because "Nobel Prize winners ought not be orderin' tater tots."
  • Misplaced Retribution: In Episode 7, George Jr. is grounded for eavesdropping on his parents arguing over Meemaw's treatment of George, when it was actually Missy who did it.
  • The Missus and the Ex: "A Boyfriend's Ex-Wife and a Good Luck Head Rub" has Connie meeting her boyfriend's ex-wife June (played by Reba McEntire). The two actually hit it off very well and neither woman seems to hold any grudges against each other.
  • Mistaken for Racist: George, in "Dolomite, Apple Slices, and a Mystery Woman", when he is surprised that Sheldon's "girlfriend" Libby is black. Georgie ribs him about it.
  • Mistakes Are Not the End of the World: In one episode, Sheldon is disappointed that he got 95% on a science test because he used a different method than the one his teacher was expecting to work out one question. He spends the rest of the episode trying to prove to the teacher that his method is just as valid, and the teacher finally realizes that it is and re-grades his paper, telling him that mistakes aren't always a bad thing as long as you own up to them and learn from them. While old Sheldon claims to have accepted this moral, he also claims that "on the day that he finally does make a mistake", he will own up to it.
  • Musical World Hypotheses: A Discussed Trope in "Killer Asteroids, Oklahoma, and a Frizzy Hair Machine", when Sheldon sees the "Good Morning" number from Singin' in the Rain:
    Sheldon: Why are they all singing?
    Meemaw: Because it's a musical.
    Sheldon: But why can't just say it?
    Meemaw: Well, that wouldn't be very musical, would it?
    Sheldon: And where is the music coming from?
    Missy: You're thinking about it too much!
    Missy: Come on!
    Meemaw: Moonpie!
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Humorously in "A Boyfriend's Ex-Wife and a Good Luck Head Rub". Georgie spends the episode trying to convince Missy to approach the boy she likes. When she finally does so, and the boy touches her shoulder, Georgie yells at him and tells him not to touch her.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • In the "A Computer" episode, it turns out that the Cooper family could have afforded the computer Sheldon wanted (TANDY 1000 SL) if George Sr. didn't blow their money on Lone Star beer.
    • Taken literally in a later episode when Sheldon breaks the refrigerator trying to fix it. George is clearly livid when explaining to Sheldon how much it cost to hire a repairman. The rest of the episode is Sheldon trying to earn the money to cover the cost.
  • Noodle Incident: In the second episode, George Cooper Sr. reminds Sheldon how his rocket fuel experiment inadvertently burned the little squirrel family to their deaths after Mary lifted the ban upon hearing that Sheldon is bringing his new friend Tam to his house.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Unlike adult Missy in The Big Bang Theory, young Missy lacks any sort of Texas accent.
  • Not Used to Freedom: In one episode where Sheldon goes to live with Dr. Sturgis, Mary is unable to adjust to her new schedule without having to parent Sheldon as all her family do is watch TV and read comics. Mary becomes so idle that she even warms up to her enemy Brenda Sparks and bakes her a pie.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws:
    • Connie is this to George Sr. She feels he's not good enough for her daughter. Though there are times when they get along quite well, sometimes making jokes together at Mary's expense.
    • In "Body Glitter and a Mall Safety Kit" one of the things Paige says to Sheldon while venting her sorrows is that her (presumably maternal) grandma says mean things about her dad.
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: In the brisket episode, Sheldon is unpleasantly reminded of when he witnessed Mary and George having intercourse in bed as an infant by hearing his dad remark, "Hot damn!" while eating the brisket made from the recipe Sheldon remembered as a baby.
  • Pass the Popcorn: In "Vanilla Ice Cream, Gentlemen Callers, and a Dinette Set", Sheldon is eating popcorn while spying on Constance.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: Georgie calls himself an "entrepreneurialist" instead of "entrepreneur". When Veronica notes that it's not a real word, Georgie says he'll gladly invent a new word for her.
  • Photographic Memory: Sheldon is able to remember the time Meemaw told him her secret brisket recipe when he was twenty-three months old. He even remembers that it was on Valentines Day. Unfortunately, he also remembers seeing his parents have sex while he was in the crib.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: In "A Math Emergency", Sheldon and Dr. Sturgis's friendship sours when the former accuses the latter of unfairly grading him over Maxwell's equations and only scoring him 95% on his most recent Quantum chromodynamics exam. Dr. Sturgis on the other hand is offended because Sheldon harshly denigrated his professing abilities.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: As established in the original series, Sheldon and Missy are this. He's technically brilliant but socially helpless. He considers her to be a Brainless Beauty (she apparently misses eleven numbers while counting to a hundred), but when it comes to dealing with people, she thinks far more quickly and creatively than he does.
  • Rail Enthusiast: Young Sheldon, same as when he's an adult. The first scene of the pilot is him playing with his model train.
    Adult Sheldon: I've always loved trains. In fact, if my career in theoretical physics hadn't worked out, my back up plan was to become a professional ticket taker. Or a hobo.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Sheldon's teachers hate him because he is such an Insufferable Genius. He gets better after George confides in him that he lost his job at another school by speaking up about something he thought needed to be said. Well, as much better as Sheldon can get. They are also Apathetic Teachers who don't give a damn about the students or take their jobs very seriously, which is sadly Truth in Television for many US schoolteachers in real life, particularly teachers who work in poorer areas.
    • When George has a heart attack in "Poker, Faith and Eggs" Georgie steals Meemaw's car and drives to the hospital (along with Sheldon and Missy). Even though Georgie drives slow, he still ends up hitting multiple trash cans and swerving all over the road. Driving too slow can be just as dangerous as driving too fast.
    • In "David, Goliath, and a Yoo-Hoo from the Back" Sheldon accidentally starts a fight between school bullies Jason Davies and Tommy Clarkson, Sheldon steps in to defend Tommy with a slingshot a la David and Goliathnote . The slingshot is ineffective and Sheldon is chased down and stuffed in a locker overnight as a result.
    • George teaches Missy how to throw a baseball and she eventually gets good enough that she earns a spot her school's baseball team. She's not the star player that the story sets her up to be because even though she's a great pitcher, she's terrible at batting because George never taught her to bat.
    • In "An Academic Crime and a More Romantic Taco Bell", Sheldon is angry at Dr. Sturgis for not adding his name to his paper and goes as far as accusing him of plagiarism. Dr. Linkletter, who is not overly fond of Sturgis, still warns Sheldon that what he's doing is wrong and will have consequences. As a result, Dr. Sturgis kicks Sheldon out of his class and pretty much tells him that their friendship is over, though they do fortunately make up later.
  • Red Scare: In "A Loaf of Bread and a Grand Old Flag," a reporter tricks Sheldon into naively endorsing communism, resulting in the Coopers being ostracized by the rest of the neighborhood. Despite the fact that this episode takes place somewhere in the time frame of 1990-91, in the midst of the Hole in Flag revolutions, the episode has a definite pre-glasnost vibe, with Sheldon even being told at one point that, "we're in the middle of a Cold War." Well, it is Texas.
  • The Reveal:
    • The reason why Sheldon never learned how to drive a car is because he still remembers the night Georgie tried driving to the hospital after their dad had a heart attack in 1989.
    • The end of the first season finale reveals that the narrator Sheldon is far older than his The Big Bang Theory-self, as he mentions having children in the past tense.
    • "Bazinga" is revealed to be the name of a novelty toy company whose products help Sheldon get in touch with his more childish side. He apparently took their motto ("If it's funny, it's a Bazinga!") to heart.
  • A Round of Drinks for the House: In "A Pineapple and the Bosom of Male Companionship", Dr. Sturgis goes to a bar with George and calls for a toast to him for treating him so well after being in a mental hospital. No one responds until Sturgis says "Drinks are on me!"
  • Rule of Three: The first season episode titles each name a trifecta of things, reflecting Sheldon's slightly obsessive routine (e.g. in The Big Bang Theory he has to knock on doors 3 times).
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Mr. Gilford in "A Math Emergency".
  • Shipper on Deck: Sheldon ships Meemaw/John in "Gluons, Guacamole, and the Color Purple"
  • Shockingly Expensive Bill:
    • This trope plays a crucial role in "A Computer" where when Mary decides to buy the $1200 Tandy XL Computer Sheldon always wanted, she realizes that the family is always low on cash because of how much money George spends on Lone Star beer. Sheldon calculates if George switched to Hawaiian Punch they could afford a bigger house.
    • In "A High-Pitched Buzz", George is shocked at the repairman announcing it'll be $200 to repair the refrigerator Sheldon disassembled (and failed to reassemble). George angrily strikes enough fear into Sheldon to convince the latter to immediately take up a job as a paperboy.
  • Shoo the Dog: In "A Math Emergency", Mary goes to visit Mr. Gilford, a shut-in hermit. Mary brings him dinner (which is all he expected from her), and then she tries to socialize with him. Gilford refuses, coldly stating, "I'm old, I'm alone, I'm gonna die soon." He is blatantly rude and even misogynistic to Mary, and they argue with each other because of this. The next morning, Mary does return hoping things will go better this time, only to find that he passed away. Mary laments his death, and presumably arranged a funeral for him.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Implied with George and Mary in "Summer Sausage, a Pocket Poncho, and Tony Danza".
  • Shout-Out: It's revealed that Georgie looks up to Tony Danza in "Summer Sausage, a Pocket Poncho, and Tony Danza".
  • Significant Reference Date: Possibly a coincidence, but the date on the notebook Sheldon sends to NASA is November 9, 1989. This happens to be the same day that the Berlin Wall fell.
  • Smurfing: Missy uses it to swear in "A Dog, A Squirrel and A Fish Named Fish".
    Missy: I have to do smurfing everything around here.
    Mary: Language!
    Missy: I'm just smurfing.
    Mary: It's the way you said it.
  • Snipe Hunt:
    • In "A Brisket, Voodoo and Cannonball Run", Meemaw gives George what she says is her brisket recipe, but is really a fake that requires him to go to New Orleans for coffee and spices (including angelica under the name of "Holy Ghost Root" that he buys from a voodoo priestess), and cooking the whole thing continuously for fourteen hours. One taste, and he realizes he's been had. (Oh, and the coffee was for her, not the brisket.)
    • In "An Eagle Feather, a String Bean, and an Eskimo", one of Sheldon's teachers tells her colleagues that she sent him out to look for a completely made-up object just to get rid of him.
    • In "Spock, Kirk and Testicular Hernia", Sheldon gets Missy to leave so he could watch TV by telling her that there is buried treasure on Meemaw's backyard.
  • Sore Loser: Sheldon shows to perhaps be an even bigger one as a kid. When he lost the science fair he makes a scene complaining over the result, ignores his parents' attempts to cheer him up, causes disruptions at school due to believing there is no point if he won't be rewarded for his effort, and temporarily decides to give up on science all together.
  • Spin-Off Babies: It's a show about Sheldon when he was a child.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Mary often falls under this. Her job working for Pastor Jeff at the church is often put into jeopardy before and even when she earned the job. First, Mary worried what if Sheldon and Missy had to be home alone without adult supervision and in Season 2, George Sr. asks Mary to resign her job at church so that they can move to Oklahoma because he was offered a better paying job there.
  • Straw Feminist: "A Boyfriend's Ex-Wife and a Good Luck Head Rub" gives us Sam, one of Sheldon's college classmates who, along with a boy named Keith, is assigned by Dr. Sturgis to work on a group project with Sheldon. Admittedly a downplayed example as her attitude seems more to do with frustration over being one of the only girls in Dr. Sturgis' class. Still, she thinks Keith and Sheldon are being sexist towards her (and to be fair, Keith sort of was) and she says that Mary baking cookies for the group and doing Keith's laundry is doing a disservice to womankind and raising Sheldon to view women as "note-takers and mommies". Mary tells her (in a way that sounds like she's trying to convince herself more than Sam) that she's happy waiting on Sheldon and that Sheldon isn't sexist. He looks down on everyone equally.
  • Tactful Translation: In "Potato Salad, a Broomstick, and Dad's Whiskey", Pastor Jeff does this for his Spanish-speaking wife; unfortunately for him, Sheldon understands Spanish.
  • The Talk:
    • "Dolomite, Apple Slices, and a Mystery Woman" reveals that Sheldon learned about sex from Missy, of all people.
    • George tries to give it to Georgie in "A Live Chicken, a Fried Chicken and Holy Matrimony", but he's too uncomfortable to go further than opaque football metaphors.
  • Terrible Ticking: In "A High-Pitched Buzz and Training Wheels", Sheldon is tormented by a buzzing noise coming from the refrigerator that the others can barely hear. It gets so bad he takes the fridge apart to fix it.
  • Terrified of Germs:
    • In the pilot, Sheldon wears mittens when holding hands to say grace. In the end, he mentions that he never touched his brother's hand until the invention of Purell.
    • In "A Sneeze, Detention, and Sissy Spacek", Sheldon takes extreme measures to avoid getting sick during flu season, including running out of class (and later detention) without permission.
  • Travelling Salesman Montage: In "Quirky Eggheads and Texas Snow Globes", Georgie buys a failing store's inventory of Texas snow globes and goes door to door trying to sell them. The first time he tries it, he gets rejected every time, even by his own grandmother. The second time, however, he becomes successful after playing to his customer's memories of the last time it snowed on Texas.
  • T-Word Euphemism: In "A Sneeze, Detention, and Sissy Spacek", Sheldon repeats Georgie's use of the phrase "bad ass" by saying "bad a-word".
  • Unreliable Narrator: Sheldon. As mentioned under Continuity Snarl, he obviously exaggerated his father's personality.
    • Sheldon's entire mention of his early life in The Big Bang Theory is not quite as terrible or accurate as it's shown in this series. Possibly justified in that the narrator Sheldon is both Older and Wiser and able to see things as they really were.
  • Vicariously Ambitious: In "A Live Chicken, a Fried Chicken and Holy Matrimony", Pastor Jeff hires Mary to plan his wedding. While it's merely a gateway to a physical relationship with his girlfriend to him, it is pretty clear Mary wants to construct the glamorous wedding she missed out on due to her's to George being a Shotgun Wedding.
  • The Vietnam Vet: In "A Financial Secret and Fish Sauce," it's briefly mentioned that George was in Vietnam. This also applies to Tam's father, who "was sent to a re-education camp because he fought on the wrong side."
  • Wham Episode:
    • "A Pineapple and the Bosom of Male Companionship": Dr. Sturgis returns from the mental institution...and breaks up with Connie.
    • "An Academic Crime and a More Romantic Taco Bell": Sheldon helps Dr. Sturgis with a paper he has been working on for years by offering some suggestions, but when he is told this does not give him credibility as a co-author he accuses Dr. Sturgis of stealing credit from him. Dr. Sturgis is deeply offended by this false accusation and tells Sheldon he does not want to see him in his class anymore.
    • “A Baby Tooth and The Egyptian God of Knowledge”: Coach Ballard puts Georgie in charge of his store while he and Connie go out for the weekend. Georgie is doing just fine, until he forgot to lock the cash register, leading to a robbery. But that's not all. Dale asks Connie to marry him and she turns him down. He doesn't take the rejection well, to the point that he takes his anger out on Georgie and fires him. This is despite Georgie using the money from his savings to cover the stolen cash, which Dale took anyway.
  • Wham Shot: In "A Proposal and a Popsicle Stick Cross", Veronica joins Georgie for some late night TV and ends up kissing him. Obviously a dream, right? But it's Veronica's dream, not Georgie's.
  • Work Off the Debt: Sheldon takes on a paper route to pay George after he dismantled the refrigerator, costing his father $200 to get it restored. Though what makes this ironic is that Sheldon is trying to pay off George as soon as possible even though George directly told him, "I don't care how long it takes, you're gonna pay me back every cent of this!"
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: While dealing with a female bully in "Jiu-Jitsu, Bubble Wrap, and Yoo-Hoo," Sheldon is told that he must observe this trope. He comes up with the "loophole" of paying Missy to do it for him. Missy ends up befriending the bully instead.
  • You Are Fat: George Sr. gets this from Meemaw often and Mary occasionally.
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