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How One Young Sheldon Star Tried (And Failed) To Ruin The Funeral Scene

"Funeral," the penultimate episode of "Young Sheldon" Season 7, depicts the heartbreaking aftermath of George Cooper Sr.'s (Lance Barber) death. It is definitely one of the saddest episodes of "Young Sheldon," but with a 9.5 out of 10 rating on IMDb, it's also the highest-rated installment of the sitcom. This is no doubt due to the fact that George's death was one of the show's most anticipated storylines, and it didn't disappoint when the time came. "Funeral" is a tearjerker from start to finish, and not just for viewers — there were waterworks on set, too. But in the run-up to this momentous episode, Barber, who chose to lie inside the casket for a portion of filming (alongside cameoing as a mourner in the background of the funeral), was plotting to defuse the emotion of it by messing up the scene.

As each of the Coopers took their turn to go up to the casket and say goodbye to George, Barber planned to throw them off track and wreck the scene with a funny prank. However, he ultimately failed to follow through with his plan. Opening up about his plot to ruin the funeral scene, Barber told TV Insider, "I had a lot of plans in the casket. I had a fart machine, I had a mustache. I had a lot of little funny teeth. I was going to do a lot of little tricks for some levity to break up this very emotional shoot day. I was going to ruin at least a few takes with some sort of jokey thing." 

Barber said he didn't end up going through with any of his pranks because he was overwhelmed by the emotion on set. "I was an absolute mess as soon as it started," he admitted.

Young Sheldon has been building up to George's death since Season 1

Any "Young Sheldon" fan who watched the sitcom's predecessor, "The Big Bang Theory," knew George's death was coming eventually. In the original sitcom, Sheldon (Jim Parsons) reveals that his dad died of a heart attack when he was 14. Lance Barber was certainly prepared for this event from the beginning. "Young Sheldon" bosses have had the details of George's death planned out since Season 1, even giving viewers a glimpse at the future when Barber's character has a heart attack in Episode 3 of the show. 

Ultimately, it was just a matter of timing. In fact, executive producer Steve Holland told Variety that the "Young Sheldon" bosses held off on George's death as long as possible. "We stretched one year out into a couple seasons to keep Lance alive [for] as long as we could," he revealed.

When Season 7 rolled around, there was no escaping George's fate. However, Holland said that the timing of his death was still important: "We wanted to do it in a way that was hopefully a little surprising. So that's why it happens at the end of [Episode 12] — we thought maybe we can catch people off guard. Even though they know it's going to come, maybe they won't see it coming then." It seems the showrunners' plan worked, because knowing George's death was coming didn't stop the episode from being any less heart-wrenching.