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The Insane Theory That Connects Sheldon Cooper And Barney Stinson

Two of the most popular sitcoms of the 21st century are The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother. Both series had devoted followings, and lasted for an incredibly long time. They also both spawned various catchphrases, with The Big Bang Theory popularizing "Bazinga" while HIMYM introduced the world to the magic that is, "Legen—wait for it—dary!" The characters who say those catchphrases, Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) and Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) respectively, became fan favorites ... but they don't really have all that much in common, outside of creating funny sayings, or so it seems.

That hasn't stopped one fan theory from emerging (via The Things) which hypothesizes that Sheldon and Barney are actually the same person, albeit from different dimensions. The theory goes that, in alternate dimensions, you can be a completely different person, and small decisions end up having intense outcomes later in life, because of the butterfly effect. 

Thus, in one dimension, a boy was named Sheldon. In another reality, he was named Barney. And the crazy fan theory only gets more "out there" the further you dive into it. 

The 'butterfly effect' resulted in two completely different individuals

Have you heard of the butterfly effect? No, we're not talking about the Ashton Kutcher movie by the same name. 

The butterfly effect is an integral component of chaos theory, commonly described as "sensitive dependence on initial conditions." It describes, in essence, how a single small change in one state of a deterministic, nonlinear system can lead to vastly different changes on a later state. For example, an accurate weather prediction could be unknowingly thrown off by seemingly minor and unpredictable elements, like a butterfly flapping its wings, resulting in previous predictions being thrown off. Basically, something small and unknowable has resulted in massive changes. In a human lifespan, small decisions you made as a kid — choices you didn't think twice about — helped transform you into the person you are today. And if you were to go back in time and change just one decision, you could become an entirely different person, with different beliefs and values. 

Now, apply this theory to fiction: say that a child was simultaneously born in two parallel universes. In one of them, he was named Barney. In another, Sheldon. Through a vast network of decisions, they each became drastically different individuals. The former became a bar-hopping ladies man, while the other became a neurotic and intimacy-avoidant intellectual who started college at age 11.

However, seeing as one could presumably link any two characters in this fashion, what connections are there that makes some fans think Barney and Sheldon are the same person? 

Jim Parsons almost played Barney Stinson

It's hard to imagine anyone else playing Barney Stinson, as Neil Patrick Harris was utterly hilarious in the role, and really brought his all into it. Before Harris made Barney legendary, however, numerous actors tested for the part ... including Jim Parsons. 

For a bit on The Late Late Show with James Corden, Parsons revealed that he auditioned for the role of Barney, but considered himself absolutely wrong for it. Even while admitting the audition didn't go well, though, Parsons says that, somehow, he was asked to come back. Did the casting director see something in Parsons? Could he have been the perfect actor for the part if it took place in ... another dimension? Who's to say? 

It's an intriguing anecdote, especially when considering how Parsons eventually landed a role that was so dramatically different from Barney Stinson. The two characters are polar opposites, after all, which would seem to point against this parallel worlds theory. Unless, in fact, those differences are the very point — ala the "Bizarro Jerry" of Seinfeld, wherein Elaine meets a trio of men who are the friendly mirror of her normal friends — and, perhaps, these opposite behaviors, combined with the deeper similarities between both men, form a key part of this mirror universe theory. 

Barney and Sheldon are just too different ... but is that evidence, unto itself?

So, the fact that both Sheldon and Barney could be portrayed by the same actor certainly seems to suggest a connection between the two. They have a lot of differences, though, particularly in their views on sex: Barney is, as previously stated, a total ladies man, while Sheldon abhors intimacy of any kind. 

Beneath this, though, the two man harbor some deep similarities, if you look hard enough. Namely, a huge ego. They both think they're better than everyone else, with Barney thinking Ted and Marshall constantly need his help, while Sheldon always berates others' lack of intelligence. And, as a YouTube video from Screen Culture shows, Barney and Sheldon both have a proclivity for filming themselves whenever they want to get across some important information. There's definitely something there, and if there was an episode where it was revealed Barney and Sheldon were long-lost cousins, we'd certainly believe that, too. At the end of the day, though, what seems more likely is that they're actually the same person from alternate dimensions, and that their differences are either due to the butterfly effect, or the "bizarro" result of people being polar opposites (or, perhaps, who they perceive themselves to be) in other universes.  

What we need, now, is an episode of The Big Bang Theory where Sheldon invents a way to travel to different dimensions, so that he can meet this alternate version of himself, and feel abhorred at how much sex he's having in other worlds.