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The Whistle Theory That Changes Everything On Young Sheldon

Sheldon Cooper has long been considered one of television's most compelling sitcom characters. At any age, his genius, social awkwardness, misanthropic views, and dependence on routine, have provided character depth and quite a few laughs. The man, played by Jim Parsons as an adult, was popular enough that CBS created a spin-off, now in its fourth season, focusing on Sheldon's atypical childhood in Texas.

Of course, there are bound to be some continuity fails between the two series, even though "Young Sheldon" and "The Big Bang Theory" share a creative team. After all, there's a lot of ground to cover with consistency, and Young Sheldon (played by Iain Armitage) needs his own character arc to traverse. With "The Big Bang Theory" retired, "Young Sheldon" is the current place to watch Sheldon Cooper's fish-out-of-water exploits, and long-time fans are noticing some errors.

There's one particular inconsistency that's been getting some buzz recently, thanks to Reddit. It involves a safety whistle that was established as a Sheldon character quirk in Season 8 of "The Big Bang Theory." 

The safety whistle discrepancy

In the very beginning of Season 8, during an episode entitled "The Skywalker Incursion," Sheldon and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) prepare to take a trip to the University of California — Berkeley campus, where they're going to make a speech. When asked if they're ready to go, Sheldon says that he restocked a backpack he calls his "PRK," which Leonard clarifies is his "Public Restroom Kit." It includes "everything a boy needs for making pee-pee in new and strange places," Leonard says. That means toilet paper, hand sanitizer, rubber gloves, air freshener, noise-canceling headphones, pepper spray, a multi-language "Occupied" sign, shoe booties, seat protectors, clothespins, a mirror on a stick, and a "danger whistle." When Penny (Kaley Cuoco) asks Amy (Mayim Bialik) if she's still worried some female Berkeley student is going to steal him away, Amy simply replies, "Yes. Who do you think gave him the danger whistle?"

According to eagle-eyed Reddit users, this moment directly contradicts another from Season 3 of "Young Sheldon." In Episode 12 of the latter series, "Body Glitter and a Mall Safety Kit," Sheldon, Missy (Raegan Revord), and Paige (McKenna Grace) are in a car on the way to the mall when Paige asks why Sheldon is taking a backpack along for the ride. He calls it his "Mall Safety Kit." He opens it up to show off the contents and explain their use, revealing earplugs, Wet-Naps, a compass, a map of the mall, and a whistle "in case I get lost or approached by a woman holding a perfume bottle," he says.

Curiouser and curiouser.

The Reddit escalation

Back in late 2020, Reddit user MuzafarAbd pointed the discrepancy out. Other posters on the Reddit thread pointed out additional inconsistencies, but some also offered solutions to the initial whistle paradox. One pointed out, "Maybe it's a different whistle. A new whistle that Amy gave him so now he carries that one instead of his old one." 

Of course, another user made matters even more complicated by pointing out that there's yet another possible origin for the whistle that Sheldon carries. In the "Big Bang Theory" Season 7 episode entitled "The Status Quo Combustion," Sheldon is going through a tough time because Leonard and Penny have announced their engagement, which means big change is afoot. During the last half of the episode, Penny and Leonard haven't heard from him for a hot minute, so Leonard decides to track his roommate's whereabouts through his phone. "He can take care of himself," Penny tells her newly minted fiancé. "Look, we went over Stranger Danger and gave him that whistle." So, that's three possible origin stories for Sheldon's whistle. 

Fortunately, the paradox may not be as universe-shattering as the fans on Reddit think. After all, any inconsistencies between "Young Sheldon" and "The Big Bang Theory" can be explained away, according to showrunner Steven Molaro. He noted that "Young Sheldon" writers purposely wrote in some differences between the adult Sheldon and the young version. "We liked to lay Easter Eggs from 'The Big Bang Theory' in 'Young Sheldon," he said in an "I Saw That Years Ago" podcast from July 2020.

So, if you consider this inconsistency an Easter egg instead, perhaps it works better.