Lance Barber as George Cooper in Young Sheldon
(CBS)

How ‘Young Sheldon’ Changed George Cooper’s Story for the Better

Most of the Young Sheldon’s characters’ stories continued in The Big Bang Theory or will continue in the upcoming spinoff Georgie & Mandy. However, the series captured the full story of Sheldon Cooper’s (Iain Armitage) complicated father, George Cooper Sr. (Lancer Barber).

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When Young Sheldon was announced as a prequel series to The Big Bang Theory focusing on a young Sheldon and his family, much curiosity arose about Sheldon’s father. While Sheldon’s siblings, mother, and Meemaw (Annie Potts) all make guest appearances in The Big Bang Theory, George does not. Unfortunately, George had passed away by the time the original series aired. However, viewers did get an idea of the character based on adult Sheldon’s (Jim Parsons) comments. Unfortunately, his comments didn’t paint George in a particularly positive light. Instead, Sheldon alleged he experienced much trauma due to his father’s alcoholism, infidelity, and misogyny, including walking in on his father cheating on his mother one day.

The Big Bang Theory viewers suspected the situation was a little more complicated, as Sheldon occasionally mentioned missing his father and described him as an important figure in his life, so he couldn’t be all bad. Still, after Sheldon mentioned his father comparing women to an “egg-salad sandwich on a warm Texas day,” most viewers probably weren’t too keen to see him in Young Sheldon at all. However, the show largely created a new story for George.

George’s story arc in Young Sheldon explained

In Young Sheldon, George is a football coach at Medford High School, the local high school near the Cooper family’s home in Texas. Throughout the series, he shows an interest in elevating his career by moving on to coaching college football. However, he unfairly lost his previous coaching job in Galveston after he reported a scandal. The job loss forced him to upend the family’s lives by moving closer to Medford, making them resistant to move again, even when he gets a job offer from a university in Oklahoma.

Contrary to slacking on his parenting, George actually sacrificed his career dreams to make his family happy. Meanwhile, it quickly becomes clear that he’s not like how Sheldon described him in The Big Bang Theory. He does enjoy drinking but is far from an alcoholic, and he’s never abusive to his family. However, he does have problems and flaws. His marriage to Mary (Zoe Perry) is quite turbulent, which isn’t very surprising. The pair were largely thrust into marriage due to Mary being pregnant. During their marriage, Mary’s mother, Meemaw, often treated George poorly and felt he wasn’t good enough for her daughter. The family also frequently faced financial problems and struggled with how to best help and support their gifted child, Sheldon.

Although Mary and George have many upsetting fights, their turbulent marriage is not necessarily either of their faults. Their relationship simply reflects the reality of what happens when young people are pressured to marry quickly and families aren’t given resources to deal with financial crises and raising children who require extra support. The pair still have happy moments, and George treats Mary with respect, often allowing her to make major decisions for their family and encouraging her to work and pursue her hobbies.

As for the cheating, it’s implied that both George and Mary have emotional affairs, and George certainly contemplates cheating. However, George never physically cheats on Mary. Young Sheldon reveals that Sheldon merely thought he walked in on his father with another woman, but the woman was, in fact, Mary in cosplay.

What happens to George at the end of Young Sheldon?

As mentioned above, George is not a perfect father or husband, but he does improve throughout the series. He makes amends with Meemaw early in the show and slowly becomes more patient and accepting of Sheldon, even though the two have little in common. Throughout season 7, he has special moments with all his kids, such as helping Sheldon decide which university to attend, protecting Missy (Raegan Revord) during a tornado, and helping his son Georgie (Montana Jordan) navigate being a young father. He and Mary are also in a good place, having found a new appreciation for each other while Mary was away in Germany with Sheldon at the beginning of the season.

Meanwhile, right before the finale, George lands a dream job offer to coach at a university. Unlike the previous job offer, the family is at a place where the new job is good news, and George is able to pursue his dream. Unfortunately, shortly after landing the job offer, he suffers a heart attack and passes away unexpectedly. The series finale later skips to the present day, where Sheldon is now a father himself. Looking at a photo of his father, he admits that he realizes now how much his father actually did for him and considers his support and sacrifices “the ultimate gift.”

Hence, by the time Young Sheldon concludes, George has proven that he is not the man described in The Big Bang Theory. Although he made mistakes in his marriage and parenting, he always put his family first and, up until the day he passed away, was only concerned with providing them the best life possible.


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