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The Unfortunate Way Young Sheldon Changed Big Bang Theory Forever

In today's entertainment climate, part of the appeal of watching spinoffs, sequels, and reboots is finding those moments that specifically relate to what you already know about the characters or the franchise. It's a little bit of confirmation bias, a dose of nostalgia, and a nod of approval that the viewer is a part of the in-group. Contrastingly, fans can also get especially annoyed when a new iteration of a classic intentionally seems to deny or contradict pre-established canon.

Unfortunately, this seems to be something that occurs with increasing frequency in nearly every season of "Young Sheldon." The prequel to the long-running CBS sitcom "The Big Bang Theory" tells the story of Sheldon Cooper's life as a child prodigy, skipping four grades to begin high school at age 9. Along the way, Sheldon's family and friends work hard in their attempts to understand and support a child to whom they simply often cannot relate.

The major problem faced by this series is tackling the background of a character we already know quite well. Throughout "The Big Bang Theory," Sheldon (Jim Parsons) makes repeated references to his past, including stories about his mother and father, Mary and George; his grandmother, Meemaw; and his siblings, Georgie and Missy. Of course, an obvious consequence of this fact is that any episode of "Young Sheldon" stands a chance of making or breaking canon.

"Young Sheldon" has made a few of these moves, explaining the backstory behind some of Sheldon's quirks, and sometimes fixing plot holes or retconning situations, for better or for worse. But there's one specific retcon in the new series that seems to bother fans more than most.

Young Sheldon is turning George Cooper Sr. into a much more sympathetic guy

After so many years on the air, it's certainly become clear that just because Sheldon said something in "The Big Bang Theory" doesn't actually make it so. Sheldon's father, George (Lance Barber), is a primary example of this phenomenon. 

In "The Big Bang Theory," the long-since deceased patriarch of the Cooper family is remembered as a terrible, negligent, alcoholic father. However, for many people, "Young Sheldon" has turned George from a frequently maligned memory into a flesh-and-blood character, complete with his own set of redeeming qualities and disappointing vices.

"I thought Sheldon's dad was supposed to be a bad guy?" u/chubss123 asked on Reddit, perplexed because George is his favorite character in "Young Sheldon." The question pops up on Reddit frequently. "I think, with all that happened, Sheldon's memory of his Dad got tainted along the way," Gotis1313 responded, explaining that his mother and grandmother's reactions over the years colored how Sheldon felt about his father. "Sheldon as the narrator of YS [is] realizing this and re-examining his father." 

When u/ever_stoned similarly asked, "When can we see the real George Cooper Sr.?" referring to Adult Sheldon's description, Wandering_To_Nowhere replied, "I think we ARE seeing the 'real' George Cooper. The version of Sheldon's dad that we've been hearing about for years is how Sheldon remembers him, not as he actually was." Skribsbb agreed, saying, "Keep in mind, Sheldon's descriptions of people's behavior haven't been exactly accurate on TBBT either," later adding, "Sheldon often has a way of describing things in a completely exaggerated way."

Some fans don't want George to have an affair

Now that "Young Sheldon" fans like George, they don't want him to have the affair Sheldon talked about in "The Big Bang Theory." At the time, Sheldon's story was just another illustration of George being a terrible guy. However, now that George has been revealed as a genuinely loving family man, some fans don't want him to do it, even if it is canon.

"Please, please don't have George have an affair," Denise McGrath tweeted. "Please don't ruin this wonderful show." Reebunchanumbers agreed, saying "Come on, can't grown Sheldon be mistaken? Can George not go through with it before he dies?" Eric Hovland responded hopefully, saying, "I think we'll find that TBBT Sheldon was mistaken and that Narrator Sheldon will correct some of those mistakes." Others on Reddit want this result too, including u/hydrashok158 who shared an interesting theory: "What Sheldon will walk in on is George and Mary having relations, but Mary will be wearing a blonde wig to 'Spice' things up." Though some commenters were doubtful of this theory, others seemed to like it.

Notably, the creative team behind "Young Sheldon" has previously commented on the many differences between George in "Young Sheldon" and "The Big Bang Theory." In a tweet posted to the official @YoungSheldon Twitter page, executive producer Steve Molaro said, "'Big Bang' fans have heard Sheldon tell stories about his dad for years. We try to honor those stories, but also like to find unexpected ways for them to play out."