Sheldon’s dad is one of the most tragic characters in The Big Bang Theory universe, and the saddest facts about George Cooper based on Young Sheldon and what’s mentioned in the original show highlight why. George Sr. (Lance Barber) is portrayed as a genial man. He’s a football coach and an overwhelmed father trying to wrangle three kids who couldn’t be more different. Young Sheldon shows events in George’s life that are hinted at by the adult Sheldon. However, despite the bad reputation Sheldon’s dad gained throughout The Big Bang Theory, the Cooper patriarch proves to be a sensitive man who genuinely loves his family.
While George did a lot to make The Big Bang Theory viewers change their perspective in Young Sheldon, Sheldon’s dad was also someone who had a lot of problems. It was clear from the start of the spinoff that he was sacrificing a lot in his life for his family, and no one seemed to appreciate it. However, when it comes to the saddest facts about George Cooper in Young Sheldon, his absence from his son’s life heading into The Big Bang Theory showed that the most tragic moments are still to come.
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Many viewers remain curious about what happened to George before The Big Bang Theory. One of the saddest facts about him is that Sheldon’s dad tragically died from heart complications. His exact age at the time of his death remains uncertain, but he would be at least 50 when he passed away. George Sr. always tried to understand his son’s intellectual gift and encouraged him to take life-changing opportunities, but he did not live to see his son marry an accomplished woman or win the Nobel Prize. It’s one of the saddest facts about George Cooper, but fans can be sure that he would have been proud.
In Young Sheldon, it is revealed that George Cooper Sr. was sacked from an earlier, possibly better-paid job after having reported his colleagues for fraudulent activity. These colleagues had been revealed to have broken the rules by illegally recruiting football players to play for their school. It was one of the saddest facts about George Cooper since he did the right thing here. It was unfair that he lost his job instead of being lauded for being honest. His family also has to move to East Texas following the incident, leaving Sheldon’s dad to take up a job at a school to make ends meet.
There is no doubt that Sheldon’s dad has a rather bad reputation in TBBT. Having died well before the show’s timeline, George is mainly a tool for some witty repartee between Sheldon and his friends or between Mary and Sheldon. In Young Sheldon, he is written with more warmth and gravitas than one would imagine. He seems neither as dumb as Mary repeatedly indicates nor a complete wastrel as the adult Sheldon seems to imply. If anything, George Cooper Sr. is a loving father trying very hard to keep his family together, and one of the most likable characters on Young Sheldon.
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Few characters in Young Sheldon or The Big Bang Theory seem to credit George for being a good father. The various anecdotes about George in the original CBS drama convey a man who is lazy and worthless. However, the show depicts a loving and caring father. They don’t give him credit for taking Missy to one of the best restaurants in town or teaching her how to pitch. They don’t credit him for encouraging Sheldon’s education and dreams, and how he constantly looks out for Georgie. One of the saddest facts about George Cooper is that being a terrible husband made him misremembered as a bad parent.
Although there are plenty of quips in Young Sheldon about the amount of beer George drinks, neither show has acknowledged the reasons why he drinks so much. Sheldon’s dad is rarely seen without a beer. Since older Sheldon and Mary have hinted that George eventually becomes an alcoholic, it seems to suggest that something tragic will happen to exacerbate his addiction. Considering Mary and George are happy at one point, one of the saddest facts about George Cooper is that they will stop communicating and that this may contribute to his drinking problem.
Sheldon’s parents had been in an unhappy marriage for a long time. It seems that they had a hurried wedding after Mary conceived George Jr. and then the twins, Sheldon and Missy. Although they must have been in love once, the flame between Sheldon’s parents eventually died. Whatever their faults, one of the saddest facts about George Cooper is that he and Mary are trapped in a loveless marriage. As Young Sheldon viewers familiar with The Big Bang Theory know, it will all come to an end, and that will ruin everything for George and his entire family unit.
While George wasn’t exactly the tyrant that an older Sheldon recalled him to be, there were a few questionable things he did.
Fans know that Sheldon shares the best Big Bang Theory friendship with Penny and opens up to her about things that he doesn’t even tell Leonard. In season 10, episode 5, “The Hot Tub Contamination,” Sheldon divulges to Penny that he had caught his dad with another woman when he was just 13. Young Sheldon reveals that George Sr. cheats on Mary, although who with isn’t made directly clear. While this experience was awful for Sheldon, it couldn’t have been much better for George Sr. either. It would cause even more strain on their fractured relationship.
In Young Sheldon, George Sr. is offered a good coaching position in Oklahoma, where Sheldon is invited as a student. However, George has to turn it down after considering his family’s needs. In a later season, Mary finally acknowledges that George makes a lot of sacrifices for his family and that he never really gets enough credit. To work so hard for a family without getting due credit cannot be easy for Sheldon’s dad.
George gets Mary pregnant at a young age, which is possibly the reason he never manages to get any real respect from Mary’s mother. Meemaw considers Sheldon’s dad to be a good-for-nothing, despite the hard work he puts in for his family. He and Meemaw simply never see eye-to-eye. Although they seem a tad reconciled at present in the spin-off series, there is very little appreciation from Meemaw’s side, which is one of the saddest facts about George Cooper when it comes to his family life.
Some of the parenting choices in Young Sheldon may raise some eyebrows, especially compared to choices parents might make in today’s world.
A lot has happened in Young Sheldon to set up what could end up as a redemption arc for George. However, one of the saddest facts about George Cooper is that viewers know he will never get one. The way his kids talk about him on TBBT in the future shows that he not only lost his family, but they never forgave him for what he did to their mom. George will die without ever reconciling with Sheldon, and that is one of the worst possible things that fans knew heading into the show. There is a lot to like about Sheldon’s dad on the show, but none of it will matter in the end.
Sheldon’s dad’s affair is what tears his family apart. For much of the series viewers have waited for George and Brenda to have the affair that destroyed his marriage to Mary. That was thrown into disarray when Brenda and Mary finally had a heart-to-heart discussion, and Brenda revealed that George and Brenda’s “affair” was not what it looked like. With that said, George does end up cheating on Mary with someone, and whether it is Brenda or not, there is someone out there that George ends up falling for in the end, who isn’t Sheldon’s mom. Once again, it is a loveless marriage and that remains one of the saddest facts about George Cooper.
Not only did Sheldon’s dad end up cheating on Mary, but she also appeared to be in love with another man. There was even a dream sequence where Mary Cooper was in bed with Pastor Rob. She is also thrown into disarray when Brenda mentions Rob brings home various women and might be more available than Mary believed. It’s clear that Mary didn’t exclusively have eyes for Sheldon’s dad. One of the saddest facts about George Cooper was that, while he did cheat on Mary, he might not be the only guilty party in this marriage, just the one who took the brunt of his kids’ blame.
In one of the best episodes of TBBT season 12, when Sheldon and Amy’s super-asymmetry theory seems to be wrong, Leonard hands Amy an emergency tape of young Sheldon cheering himself up for the occasion. Unfortunately, Sheldon’s speech to himself has been taped over by his dad. However, the football pep-talk he gives his players manages to motivate the adult Sheldon enough for him to realize that they were never so different after all. It is nice of Sheldon to finally show some appreciation for his dad, but it would have been even better if he had let him know while he was alive on Young Sheldon.