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Series / Young Sheldon

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Mary: You understand that some people are gonna be intimidated by you 'cause of how smart you are?
Sheldon: Or maybe they'll recognize my intellect and make me their leader.

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 portrayed 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.

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. This show then 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.

Provides examples of:

  • 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.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: In 'An Existential Crisis and a Bear That Makes Bubbles', Sheldon abruptly changes majors from physics to philosophy. But just as Prof. Linkletter is signing the form to make it official, the sight of a bubble convinces Sheldon to stay in physics.
  • 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 just stops appearing. This abandonment, along with Herschel's disappearance, is likely due to Billy Gardell's commitments as the lead in BOB ❤️ ABISHOLA.
    • The third season ended with Dale being at odds with Connie and firing Georgie, with the two egging his store as revenge. In the fourth season premiere, Dale makes peace with both of them and rehires Georgie, even after finding out that they egged his store.
    • Georgie and Jana broke up in the third season due to Georgie wanting to see other girls. Season four ignores this and the two are back together. Only for them to part ways again following a pregnancy scare as Georgie told her that he didn't want to get married, but what he meant to say was he was hoping not to have a shotgun wedding. Then, Georgie and Jana are together again in 'A Virus, Heartbreak and a World of Possibilities'. They break up for real in "Potential Energy and Hooch on a Park Bench", as she didn't want to date a high school dropout.
    • Also, "An Academic Crime and a More Romantic Taco Bell" seemed to be setting up a Love Triangle between Georgie, Jana and Veronica. Veronica hasn't appeared nor been mentioned since said episode.
    • Most of the fifth and sixth seasons seemed to be setting up George eventually cheating on Mary with Brenda Sparks. Then, in the middle of the sixth season, Mary and George both catch each other having emotional affairs with Pastor Rob and Brenda, respectively. Brenda apologizes, and Mary and George eventually work things out instead.
  • Acronym and Abbreviation Overload: In "A Swedish Science Thing and the Equation for Toast", George starts charging Georgie a P.I.M.A. ("Pain In My Ass") tax for buying cable TV and not sharing it with the rest of the family. Justified, as Mary probably wouldn't approve of George swearing at Georgie.
  • 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 Connie 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 started out as blondes in this show, instead of brunettes like in The Big Bang Theory. Their hair darkened in later seasons. 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.
  • 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.
  • Age-Gap Romance: In season five between Georgie and Mandy. Georgie is seventeen, Mandy is twenty-nine. Both of them lied about their ages (Mandy claimed to be twenty-five, Georgie claimed to be twenty-one) but Mandy confessed her true age long before Georgie did (after they'd slept together several times). And while she didn't commit statutory rape (the age of consent in Texas is seventeen) she's still horrified and breaks things off almost immediately. Unfortunately, she turns out to be pregnant. And unlike many instances of younger boys scoring with older women, Georgie isn't congratulated once the truth comes out and is instead condemned for taking advantage of someone for easy sex and told he now has to pay the consequences.
  • 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.
  • Alternate Reality Episode: 'A Black Hole' shows three alternate realities:
    • A black hole forms at the Waxahachie Supercollider, destroying the Earth.
    • Everyone in the Cooper family is their opposite: Mary is a partygirl, George is a pastor, Georgie is bald, Missy is super smart, Connie is a therapist from New York, Dr. Sturgis is a stereotypical Texan, and Sheldon is a normal kid.
    • There are two Sheldons, who work together to solve physics equations twice as fast, but think of each other as dumb and end up fighting each other.note 
  • 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.
  • Anthropomorphic Typography: In the episode "Demons, Sunday School, and Prime Numbers", Sheldon meets talking versions of the numbers 1 and 0 during a dream. He also mentions dreaming of number 9 some other time.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Averted with the racial demographics of the show's cast. A fair number of the recurring/background characters are Black, while very few are Hispanic, which is accurate for the show's setting in East Texas. (In contrast, the population of Texas as a whole is much more Hispanic than Black.)
  • 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 – Medicine: Early in Season One, Sheldon claims that Missy cannot kick him into the testicles since they have not descended yet, with Adult Sheldon later informing the viewers they did eventually descend when he was fifteen. This is extremely unlikely to happen in real life, since unless an infant boy's testicles descend spontaneously until he is six months old (in most cases they do so still in utero), they are unlikely to do so later and should be moved to the scrotum surgically, which usually happens when the boy is around one year of age.
  • Artistic License – Religion:
    • 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 one of oldest forms of Christianity and certainly believes Jesus is God. For instance, Catholics even refer to the Jesus' mother Mary as the Mother of 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."
    • When Sheldon is having second thoughts about going to college, Missy tells him that she too is scared of moving on (to middle school) and tells him that their only option is to do it anyway despite their fear. Sheldon is so impressed that he personally thanks Missy in his graduation speech.
  • 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.
    • In "A Musty Crypt and a Stick to Pee On, Dale and Mee-Maw get into an argument while playing D&D with Sheldon and Missy. Dale declares that he is done playing "Mr. Nice Guy" and storms out of the house to get a beer. The next time we see them, not only is Dale still playing with the others, but he also got a beer for Mee-Maw.
  • 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 mental issues, 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 Mary and Connie, and occasionally George.
  • 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.
  • Break Them by Talking: Prof. Ericson, Sheldon's philosophy teacher, inadvertently breaks him by telling him that nothing is truly knowable. It gets so bad he can't get up out of bed in the morning, thinking that nothing is real and nothing matters.
  • 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 Indeterminancy" where Missy does just that 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.
    • "The Geezer Bus and a New Model for Education" explains the origin of the driving word games that Sheldon would annoy his friends with in The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon is in the car with Connie, and they get into a minor accident which traumatizes Sheldon to the point where he doesn't want to ride in cars. After finally facing his fear, Mary uses the word games to keep Sheldon calm during the ride.
  • The Cameo: "Graduation" has a brief voice over cameo by Amy.
  • 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 as Vizzini in The Princess Bride and Rex in Toy Story, both of which have been mentioned many times on The Big Bang Theory. Annie Potts, who plays Meemaw, also appears in the latter as Bo Peep.
    • 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.")
  • Cerebus Retcon: Inverted in the final season. The tenth season of The Big Bang Theory has Sheldon tell Penny how he walked in on his father cheating on his mother during Spring Break, leading to his knocking three times. In "Ants On A Log and A Cheating Winker", Mary cosplays as a German barmaid for George after returning home from Germany, and Sheldon actually walks in on that instead, leading to him comically running away from home at the end of the episode.
  • The Chain of Harm: The Cooper family goes through one in the season 4 finale. After Missy suffers heartbreak over Marcus dumping her and Mary has a bad day at work, the two of them bring their conflicts home and it quickly spreads to the rest of the family getting mad and insulting each other. The Adult Sheldon narrator compares it to a bunch of pool table balls hitting each other. Georgie ends up being the only one not affected by it, coming home to witness the arguing and just being confused by what is going on, with nobody dragging him into it.
  • 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 The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon idolizes Maxwell as one of the greatest physicists of our time.
    • The adult Sheldon, narrating from some unspecified future date after the end of The Big Bang Theory is much more sympathetic and emotionally aware than either his childhood self or how he was during the parent series.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Paige's father Barry hasn't appeared since he and Linda divorced. Paige also had an older sister named Erica who appeared in one episode and was only mentioned once after that.
    • Veronica disappeared entirely after the third season and Tam after the fourth. Particularly jarring in both cases because the former was Georgie's Will They or Won't They? Love Interest and the latter Sheldon's only real friend.
  • 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. Also, "The Pork Chop Indeterminancy", Missy mentions that she and Sheldon had separate bedrooms when they were kids, while Young Sheldon depicts them as sharing a bedroom. However, the event Missy described took place before the events of Young Sheldon and one of the early episodes made mention of the family moving from Galveston to Medford after George blew the whistle on a high school football recruitment scandal. So it's possible that Sheldon and Missy had separate bedrooms in their old house.
    • 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).
    • In "A Mother, a Child, and a Blue Man's Backside" (S1), the Medford HS guidance counselor talks to Sheldon about MIT, and Sheldon immediately says no when he realizes that it is mainly about engineering. However, "An Introduction to Engineering and a Glob of Hair Gel" (S5) says that Sheldon's hatred of engineering comes from an engineering class that he took during his second semester at East Texas Tech.
  • 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 Connie 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: Connie 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 Connie and Dr. Sturgis. Though Connie 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.
    • Something similar happened in "A Musty Crypt and a Stick to Pee On". Georgie's girlfriend Jana fears she may be pregnant. The Big Bang Theory presented Georgie as childless and the episode ends with Jana taking a pregnancy test and it comes back negative.
    • Yet another pregnancy arc kicks off in "A Solo Peanut, a Social Butterfly and the Truth", this time involving Georgie and Mandy. Mandy and Georgie have a child together, but again, Georgie doesn't seem to have any children in The Big Bang Theory, talks about a "second ex-wife", no one talks about Mandy and also, despite her living with the Coopers for several months at least, she doesn't show up at Sheldon and Amy's wedding. So either this is a retcon, or they will eventually break up and she will take sole custody of the child, or worse yet, something very bad happened.
  • Double Standard Abuse Femaleon Male: Missy likes a boy, who doesn't return her feelings. She throws a ball at him. Perfectly acceptable, of course...
  • 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).
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: As noted under Second Episode Introduction, Connie is absent from the first two episodes.
  • 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.
  • Face Doodling: In "A Second Prodigy and the Hottest Tips for Pouty Lips", Paige draws a mustache on Sheldon's face while pretending to kiss him. Sheldon says it took three classes for him to realize what she had done.
  • Fair-Weather Friend: Pastor Jeff and all of Mary's friends prove to be these as they abandon her after finding out about Georgie impregnating Mandy, and the former also fires her from her job and kicks the entire family out of the church (he tries to rationalize it as "taking time off to reflect" but both he and Mary know that's a lie).
  • First Period Panic: One of the subplots of "A Docent, A Little Lady and a Bouncer Named Dalton" deals with Missy getting her first period while George is driving her to a baseball game. George panics and doesn't know what to do. But he gets through it thanks to a helpful cashier.
  • 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.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • George Cooper Sr. canonically passes away in 1994. If the series timeline remains constant at one year per seasonnote , this will most likely occur sometime in season seven.
    • In "An Existential Crisis and a Bear That Makes Bubbles" Sheldon decides to switch his major to Philosophy due to Professor Erikson shaking his worldview. Sheldon becomes a theoretical physicist when he grows up, so at the last minute, Sheldon decides to stick with science.
    • "A Second Prodigy and the Hottest Tips for Pouty Lips" has Sheldon and Paige acknowledge their crushes on each other and teases that they're going to kiss. However, it was established in The Big Bang Theory that Sheldon had never even kissed a girl before meeting Amy. Turns out that Paige is only tricking Sheldon, she drew a mustache on him while his eyes were closed.
  • 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.
    • In the fifth season, when the high school principal confronts Georgie about why he is ditching classes, he brings out a pamphlet on teen pregnancy and asks if he is dealing with that. Later on, Georgie gets an older woman pregnant.
    • In "A Resident Advisor and the Word 'Sketchy'", Georgie is worried about Mandy's safety when she stays at Connie's house, listing a tornado as one of the potential dangers. Come the season 6 finale, and Connie's house is destroyed by a tornado.
  • 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. A later episode shows that Sheldon was in a minor car accident when Connie swerved and crashed into a tree in order to avoid hitting a cat. This traumatized him to the point where he was afraid to even ride in a car. Eventually, his mom was able to calm him down by playing the car games that Sheldon would later annoy his friends with in The Big Bang Theory.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: A family variation. Among the members of the Cooper family, Sheldon and Georgie seldom interact with each other. In fact, " Kirk, Spock and Testicular Hernia" and "A Slump, a Cross and Roadside Gravel" are the only two episodes (as of this writing) to feature the two spending a significant amount of time together without the others as an intermediary.
  • Feud Episode: "The Wild And Wooly World Of Nuclear Dynamics" is this for the entire Cooper Family except Georgie.
  • 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.
  • Getting Sick Deliberately: In one episode, Sheldon fakes being ill so he doesn't have to attend school the day mandatory swimming tests happen. After a while, he feels so guilty for lying to his mother that he decides to visit a sick neighbor and make his lie true. He catches the illness, but not until after he's confessed and returned to school.
  • Groin Attack: Missy threatens to do this to Sheldon in the pilot, but tells Missy that his "little balls" haven't descended yet.
  • Guilty Pleasure: In-Universe. In "A Docent, a Little Lady, and a Bouncer Named Dalton", Georgie catches Mary watching Road House (1989). George then ruins it for Mary after he points out that Dalton (Patrick Swayze) looks just like Georgie.
  • 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.
  • Heinousness Retcon: In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon reveals that he always knocks three times because he accidentally walked in on his father, George, having sex with another woman, suggesting that he was a cheater. In the final season of Young Sheldon, we find out that the other woman was his mother, Mary, who was wearing German clothing and a wig and was roleplaying, so Sheldon assumed she was another woman since it was in the dark and he couldn't see.
  • 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.
    • Downplayed with Paige. She doesn't believe in religion either, but unlike Sheldon, doesn't feel the need to mock believers.
  • Hollywood Board Games: In 'Stuffed Animals and a Sweet, Southern Syzygy', Sheldon keeps being his Insufferable Genius self who loves to brag about his superior intelligence. It doesn't come as a surprise that, during his voice-over, he comments that the episode's resident obscure word awards tons of points when playing Scrabble.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Connie 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. Also, Sheldon was demonstrated (earlier in the series) to be fluent in Spanish and Klingon.
    • In S2 E20 "A Proposal and a Popsicle Stick Cross", George'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.
  • Iconic Attribute Adoption Moment: For the first five seasons, Sheldon dressed in button-down shirts with a bowtie. The season five finale "A Clogged Pore A Little Spanish And The Future" ended with him embracing adolescence by donning a Flash T-shirt on top of a long sleeve shirt, much like the outfits he would wear as an adult in The Big Bang Theory.
  • 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").
    • In almost every episode, a Title Drop is split across two or three non-consecutive lines of dialogue, one for each person or thing mentioned in the episode title.
  • 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 Connie.
    • In "David, Goliath, and a Yoo-Hoo from the Back" Sheldon uses safety goggles as a slingshot.
    • In "Jiu-jitsu, Bubble Wrap, and Yoo-hoo", Sheldon prepares to throw the Jiu-jitsu book at Bobbi.
  • Inner Monologue: Sheldon reads Billy's signature on his cast in Billy's voice.
  • Intelligence Equals 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.
    • Dr. Sturgis is also an example. Just like Sheldon, he is highly intelligent, but doesn't appear to have any friends or acquaintances, and he is utterly incapable of handling many basic social situations.
    • 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 and Child Prodigy Sheldon.
    • Downplayed with George and Georgie. Though Georgie certainly isn't a nerd, he is far more interested in his job as an auto mechanic than in playing football (where he gets very little playing time anyway), much to George's chagrin.
  • Kids Driving Cars: In one episode, 14-year-old Georgie steals Connie'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.
  • Lamaze Class: When Sheldon learns that he has to have a tooth removed, he decides to try this instead of being put under anesthesia, out of fear that he will become addicted to it. At the dentist, he immediately caves after seeing the extraction tools.
  • Large Ham: George sometimes falls into this when he gets excited.
  • Little Professor Dialogue: Sheldon, naturally.
  • Longest Pregnancy Ever: Mandy's pregnancy starts in March or April 1992. In January 1993, she is still pregnant, and based on the size of her baby bump, she still has three more months before giving birth. An explanation of these dates is given on the Timeline page.
  • 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.
  • Megaphone Gag:
    • In S1 E16, Sheldon uses the school intercom to broadcast his message about how science isn't respected anymore.
    • In S2 E19, as class president, Sheldon uses the intercom to tell fun facts about the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • Memory Trigger: An early episode centered around George trying to ask Meemaw for her brisket recipe, which she gleefully refuses to tell him. At one point, Missy plays with Sheldon's train set in front of him, causing him to recall a time when he was a baby and Meemaw told him the recipe.
  • 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.
  • Mid-Life Crisis Car: In "Family Dynamics and a Red Fiero," George has a fight with Mary about the family moving to Oklahoma for his job. This leads to him going out and buying a red Fiero.
  • 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 S1 E7 "A Brisket, Voodoo, and Cannonball Run", Georgie is grounded for eavesdropping on his parents arguing over Connie'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.
  • Mommy Mobile: In "An Ugly Car, an Affair and Some Kickass Football", Georgie trades in his Cool Car for a station wagon, as it is easier to fit a baby seat in it. Later, when he starts dating Amber, she is surprised to see his car, asking if he "wanted to look like a soccer mom"; he then tells her about being the father of Mandy's child.
  • 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?
    Connie: Because it's a musical.
    Sheldon: But why can't just say it?
    Connie: 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!
    Connie: 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.
  • "Near and Dear" Baby Naming: When Georgie and Mandy have a baby, Mandy names her Connie (Ceecee for short) after Georgie's grandmother, who gave her a place to stay when she became pregnant and her parents threw her out of their house.
  • Nerds Love Tough Schoolwork: Sheldon was skipped ahead several grades due to his intellect, and he absolutely loves taking any and all forms of tests, and actively seeks out more challenging work, to the annoyance of pretty much everyone around him.
  • 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.
  • Notary Nonsense: In the first-season finale, Sheldon helps write up an agreement governing the budding romance between his grandmother and his mentor, Dr. Sturgis. Much to his delight, Sturgis reveals that he is a licensed notary, and thus could make the agreement official. (Though not addressed in the show, in most cases, notaries are supposed to be impartial witnesses, not involved with the document in question.)
  • 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.
  • Offending the Fool: Billy Sparks becomes clearly miffed when it seems that Sheldon is telling him that if he loses something, it's his fault and he should live with the consequences. The worst part is that Billy's father had just walked out on him and his mother, and Sheldon was actually mad at himself for letting a virus infect his computer, causing him to lose his files and backup.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. Missy has two friends named Heather.
  • Outgrowing the Childish Name:
    • In "Freshman Orientation and the Inventor of the Zipper", Missy wants to be called "Melissa" now that she's in middle school. She then reverts back to "Missy" in the next episode with no explanation.
    • At the beginning of the series, Mary and Connie called Sheldon "Shelly" and "Moonpie". As of Season 5, they no longer use these nicknames, and call Sheldon by his regular name. However, Mary and Connie use these nicknames in The Big Bang Theory, meaning they either start using these nicknames again at some point, or a Continuity Snarl is in effect.
  • 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 Connie 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.
  • Picture Day: In "Freshman Orientation and the Inventor of the Zipper", Sheldon is late for taking his college ID picture, and on the way runs into a student with a Slurpee, which gets all over his shirt. When he finally gets to have his picture taking, he gets stung by a bee, apparently attracted by the Slurpee. The resulting picture shows Sheldon with his left eye swollen shut.
  • Playing Catch with the Old Man: George bonds with Missy while practicing her baseball pitching.
  • 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.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: The first two seasons only featured Sheldon backing away nervously from a cow. Season three has the rest of his family standing with him.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • After disappearing without explanation back in season two (due to Billy Gardell being too busy to continue portraying the character after being cast as the lead on Bob Hearts Abishola), Herschel Sparks was officially written off the series in season 4's "A Box of Treasure and the Meemaw of Science", with Brenda telling Mary that he moved out.
    • His daughter Bobbi Sparks was only in the episode "Jiu-Jitsu, Bubble Wrap, and Yoo-hoo", but still acknowledged in "One Bad Night and Chaos of Selfish Desires."
  • 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.
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: George gives this to Mary in the season 4 finale before storming off to the bar.
  • 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. In the Season 4 premiere, Adult Sheldon mentions that he and Amy threw a high-school graduation party for their son Leonard Cooper, meaning that Sheldon's narration takes place at least 10 years after the TBBT finale.
    • "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 Connie/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".
    • Two of Missy's friends at school are named Heather.
  • 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", Connie 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 in Connie'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.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • 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 like Medford.
    • When George has a heart attack in "Poker, Faith and Eggs", Georgie steals Connie'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 Goliath. The slingshot is ineffectivenote  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.
    • In "A High Pitched Buzz and Training Wheels", the refrigerator starts making a noise which only Sheldon’s hypersensitive hearing can pick up. His father refuses to get it serviced because it’s otherwise working perfectly, so Sheldon decides to repair it himself, something the average TV Child Prodigy could do easily, but Sheldon simply dismantles the fridge to find the faulty part and is unable to rebuild it. Also, while Sheldon usually gets a lot of slack for his behavior, in this case his parents are furious with him because he needlessly cost the family a lot of money by being unable to tolerate a mild annoyance.
    • When Sheldon is yelled at by George about this, the poor guy is in tears. Sheldon may be a super genius, but he's still just a kid.
  • 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.
  • Tampon Run: After Missy gets her first period in "A Docent, a Little Lady and a Bouncer Named Dalton", George has to buy tampons for her. Luckily, the female store clerk is willing to help him.
  • A Taste of Their Own Medicine: In "A Docent, a Little Lady and a Bouncer Named Dalton", Sheldon is fired from being a docent at the railroad museum for his usual habit of being a know-it-all. Constance tries to show him what it's like by droning on about knitting. Instead of being bored by it, however, Sheldon finds it fascinating.
  • 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.
    • Mary gets one of these montages in 'A Pink Cadillac and a Glorious Tribal Dance' intercut with Sheldon's search for someone to take him to a comic book convention in Texarkana.
  • 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."
  • Vocal Evolution: All three of the Cooper children's voices began to change as their actors matured. Georgie's voice began to deepen in the middle of season one, while Missy and Sheldon's voices deepened around late season four and early season five respectively. Billy Sparks' voice got deeper in season four as well.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: In "Freshman Orientation and the Inventor of the Zipper", Sheldon gets Slurpee all over his outfit. After going to the bathroom to clean up, he tries to zip up his pants, but the zipper gets stuck and in trying to close it ends up ripping the whole front of his pants off. He has to mend it with duct tape.
  • 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.
  • Witch with a Capital "B": In S4 E14 "Mitch's Son and the Unconditional Approval of a Government Agency", Missy exclaims "Son of a Mitch!" in front of Mary, and gets punished.
  • Woken Up at an Ungodly Hour: In S5, after Sheldon and Missy get their own rooms, Sheldon builds a contraption that allows them to get each other's attention from their respective rooms. Sheldon often uses this in the middle of the night, such as in "A Clogged Pore, a Little Spanish and the Future", where he bothers Missy after having a nightmare.
  • 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.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: According to Missy in "Ruthless, Toothless, and a Week of Bed Rest", George was around 25 and Mary was in high school when they got together. According to The Big Bang Theory, George was 50 years old when he died, which would have happened in 1994 or early 1995 since Sheldon was said to be 14 at the time (Sheldon and Missy were born in February of 1980), placing George's date of birth in 1944. Georgie was 14 in season one, which is set in 1989, meaning that Georgie was born in 1975. George would have been 31 years old when Georgie was born. This doesn't add up unless either A) Mary and George were together for several years before Georgie was born (which makes no sense since it's established that Georgie was conceived shortly after Mary and George met and they were more or less forced to get married), B) George's age has been changed (George's age was stated in an early episode of The Big Bang Theory, and it was implied that George had only recently died then. It wasn't until much later that Sheldon mentioned that he was 14 when he lost his father.) or C) Missy was off and George didn't bother correcting her.
  • You Are Fat: George Sr. gets this from Connie often and Mary occasionally.
    (Sheldon mentions that the family's grocery bill is up 25% from last year)
    George: Because this one [Connie] eats for free.
    Connie: Well this one [George] eats for three.

♫ Nobody else is stronger than I am
Yesterday I moved a mountain
I bet I could be your hero
I am a mighty little man! ♫


Georgie and Mandy

Georgie, age 17, tells Mandy that he is 21 so that he can take her out to dinner.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / ReallySeventeenYearsOld

Media sources: