When The Big Bang Theory came to an end after 12 seasons, fans of the show found comfort in its spinoff, Young Sheldon. The spinoff tells the story of Sheldon Cooper as a young boy, living in Texas with his family. Thanks to the voice-over narrations by the older Sheldon, fans also get snippets of the character’s life beyond the finale of The Big Bang Theory.
While fans were initially skeptical of it, the spinoff has become quite popular with the audience. One of the most common discussions is the comparison of characters in The Big Bang Theory versus their Young Sheldon counterparts. The biggest debate on this topic is on Sheldon and which version of his character is more likable.
TBBT: He Makes More Effort To Keep His Friends
Although Sheldon had a number of friends as an adult, his relationship with them was hardly smooth sailing. Sheldon was often the cause of these rifts between him and his friends as he’d unknowingly offend them from time to time. Despite initially being stubborn and maintaining that he wasn’t to blame for whatever disagreement occurred, he’d eventually swallow his pride and make amends.
While Leonard, Penny, Howard, Raj, Bernadette, and Amy found Sheldon annoying, selfish, and condescending half the time, they stuck with him because they could see he was making an effort to be a better person. Sure, he’d get it wrong sometimes but there were lots of touching moments when he’d be apologetic, considerate, and mindful of others’ feelings.
YS: He’s Closer To His Siblings
Fans of The Big Bang Theory were first introduced to Sheldon’s siblings, Missy and Georgie when they were adults. Thanks to Young Sheldon, the audience got to see the two characters as children as well and get some insight into their relationship with Sheldon.
While Sheldon and Georgie weren’t even on talking terms as adults, the prequel shows they had a fairly decent relationship as kids. Sheldon and Missy also weren’t as close as people would expect twins to be, but their adult relationship was better. Since they grew up together in the same house, Sheldon, Missy, and Georgie interacted way more as kids. The latter two were a little jealous of Sheldon and sometimes resented him for getting more attention than they did, but they were always there for him when he needed them and vice versa.
TBBT: He Understands Emotions Better
Most of Sheldon’s disagreements with his friends, family, and colleagues stemmed from his difficulty with understanding emotions. He’d unknowingly offend them and then wonder why they were upset with him. In season 10’s “The Emotion Detection Automation,” Sheldon got a machine to help him understand emotions, but it only made things worse.
By the end of the episode, he’d managed to recognize the exact emotions his friends were feeling without the machine. Although this was one of the prominent times when Sheldon’s issue recognizing emotions was addressed, he managed to sympathize, comfort, and support his friends several times throughout the series.
YS: He’s More Helpful
While adult Sheldon preferred to work alone most of the time and was averse to helping others with anything academics-related, his younger self often tutored his sister and brother. Even though he complained about it most of the time, he did his best to share his knowledge with them.
In season 1’s “A Solar Calculator, a Game Ball, and a Cheerleader’s Bosom,” Sheldon used statistics to recommend some plays to his dad who coaches the football team. In addition to helping his father with winning plays, he also helped his grandmother pick a winning team to gamble on.
TBBT: His Child-Like Naivety Is Sometimes Endearing
Despite being an adult in The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon maintained many qualities Young Sheldon showed him to possess as a child. Among those was his inability to recognize sarcasm, which, unfortunately, was something he was subjected to a lot throughout the series’ 12-season run.
Although his childlike behavior frustrated his friends on many occasions, they always put up with it and sometimes even felt sorry for him. In fact, in several episodes, Penny and Leonard treated him like a child and parented him, much to the audience’s amusement.
YS: He’s Quite Mature In Some Things
In some ways, young Sheldon seemed to be more mature than he was as an adult. His dress sense, for example, was quite a contrast. As a child, he wore shirts, neatly tucked in, and a bowtie. The adult version of his character loved t-shirts with a long-sleeve t-shirt underneath, printed with some comic or science-fiction logo.
Young Sheldon also throws fewer tantrums when things don’t go his way or when something major changes in his life. For example, when Meemaw started dating Doctor Sturgis, Sheldon was delighted and approved of the relationship, yet in The Big Bang Theory, he kicked up a fuss over Penny cutting her hair.
TBBT: He’s More Open To Human Contact
Sheldon’s younger self was quite averse to human contact, going as far as to wear mittens whenever he had to hold hands with his family to say grace. Although the older version of the character was still very much a germaphobe, he wasn’t as obsessive about it as his younger self.
Some of the most heartfelt moments of the series involved Sheldon coming out of his shell and embracing other people, both figuratively and literally. In the season 2 episode, “The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis,” Sheldon hugged Penny for the first time to thank her for the special Christmas gift she gave him. This was one of the few times Sheldon initiated human contact, which was quite significant to his character arc.
YS: His Relationship With His Meemaw
One of the few people who understood Sheldon and loved him the way he was, quirks and all, was his grandmother, Meemaw. He and the rest of his family lived quite close to her in Texas, so she’d often babysit them and drive him to school and other places he liked to hang out. This fostered a beautiful, but biased, relationship between the two, with Sheldon frequently turning to his Meemaw for advice on several matters.
In The Big Bang Theory, Meemaw was only mentioned in a couple of episodes, like in season 2’s “The Terminator Decoupling,” when Penny found letters from her to Sheldon. Meemaw also appeared in the episode “The Meemaw Materialization” of the ninth season, where Sheldon introduced her to Amy. Other than that, viewers didn’t hear much about Meemaw in Sheldon’s adult life.
TBBT: He Takes Care Of Other People
It took Sheldon a while to muster the art of recognizing when someone was feeling sad, hurt, or angry. It took even longer for him to learn what to do in that situation without making the person feel worse. Most times, his go-to response was to make a hot beverage, even when the person he was trying to cheer up declined his offer.
In a lot of episodes, Penny, Leonard, Amy, and sometimes even Bernadette, Howard, and Raj were the ones comforting Sheldon or helping him through a difficult time. By the time the series ended, he’d learned to do it too, even offering words of advice that were actually relevant and helpful, and only a tad bit condescending.
YS: He’s More Willing To Learn From Others
Unlike the adult character, young Sheldon was open to learning whatever interested him from whoever he believed could teach him. Where the adult Sheldon believed he was more intelligent than everyone and knew everything, his younger counterpart was happy to learn even from Georgie, whom he believed to have a questionable level of intelligence.
In the ninth episode of season 1, “Spock, Kirk, and Testicular Hernia,” Sheldon asked his brother to teach him how to lie. Georgie, being an expert in the matter, told him it was all about the details. Sheldon carried this lesson into his adulthood, as evidenced by the tenth episode of season 1, “The Lobenfield Decay.”