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What You Likely Never Noticed About Sheldon's Clothes On The Big Bang Theory

The CBS series "The Big Bang Theory" was never meant to double as a fashion show. Its focus is clear: science, nerd culture, and comedy (not necessarily in that order). And, of course, let's not forget the romance storylines pairing Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) with Penny Teller (Kaley Cuoco), Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) with Bernadette Rostenkowski (Melissa Rauch), and Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) with Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik).

If fashion plays any role at all on this show, it's in flaunting Penny's trim figure and demonstrating what can be achieved for a Halloween party or Comic-Con when professional designers have a hand in the costuming. But for everyday looks, the guys at least favored mainly casual wear: T-shirts, jeans, plaid button-downs, and hoodies.

Sheldon's style leaned almost exclusively toward science- and superhero-themed T-shirts. But other than that, even his biggest fans may not have noticed one particular quirk in his attire throughout the show's 12-season run from 2007 to 2019.

There's a first time for everything

At least one fan took note of Sheldon's style recently, posting on Reddit: "S1 EP4 is one of the only times I have seen Sheldon cooper wear shorts."

So let's have a look at the episode titled, "The Luminous Fish Effect."  Sheldon is fired from his job. Without this anchor, he becomes obsessive. He experiments with scrambled eggs. He annoys Penny about her check engine light on a trip to the store. He gets the idea to turn luminous fish into nightlights. He takes up weaving. Finally, Leonard calls Sheldon's mother, Mary Cooper (Laurie Metcalf), to visit and intervene.

To those who know Sheldon, this behavior isn't really out of the ordinary. But it is the show's first season, after all. And it's here that we see a fashion choice that truly does break the mold when it comes to this character. On his trip to the grocery store with Penny, Sheldon wears a pair of plaid shorts.

As future episodes prove, Sheldon is seldom seen in shorts. So it makes sense some fans believe this is the only time he's ever seen wearing a pair. We know he has plenty of pants. In Season 9, Episode 9 ("The Platonic Permutation"), Sheldon tells Penny point blank that he owns nine pairs of pants (and nine pairs of underpants). But can it be true that Sheldon only resorts to shorts a single time in all the years we get to know him?

He's more versatile than we thought

Sheldon certainly isn't known for his easy-breezy personality and relaxed approach to life. Quite to the contrary actually. After all, he's the guy who must sit in his "spot" in the living room. He has a well-ordered bathroom routine. When he knocks on a door, he knocks exactly three times, then states the name of the person he is trying to reach.

But while his look remains as constant as his quirks, it turns out he mixes up his wardrobe more than once throughout the duration of "The Big Bang Theory." Yes, he remains true to his mainstay: long-sleeved shirts over nerdily-themed graphic Ts. And true, he wears mainly straight-leg, basic, neutral-colored pants.

Still, viewers who stuck with the show know that Sheldon wore shorts in more episodes than one. They were quick to jump into the Reddit conversation and point out their findings. Sheldon is also seen in shorts in Season 4, Episode 2 ("The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification"). Again, he's with Penny. Again, he chooses plaid. And this time, he's headed out for an uncharacteristic jog. He wears shorts another time while playing basketball against Kripke in Season 5, Episode 17 ("The Rothman Disintegration"). 

What are we to conclude in the face of this evidence? Perhaps it is this: Sheldon's quirks can't be contained by mere fashion, and only fans who have watched every episode of the series can see how that plays out.