A Young Sheldon season 4 episode highlights the biggest problem with the spin-off show’s The Big Bang Theory crossover. In an effort to establish a stronger connection between the two series, CBS produced a one-time special event featuring the prequel series during The Big Bang Theory‘s final season. That’s despite Young Sheldon taking place almost three decades earlier from its parent series.
When the crossover was first announced, many questioned how it was going to work given the time difference. But, the people behind the sitcoms found a creative way to bridge the gap. In The Big Bang Theory season 12, episode 1o, “The VCR Illumination,” Sheldon and Amy were discouraged after encountering a major problem with their Super Asymmetry study. Remembering an old video that his younger self created for this specific crisis, Sheldon watched the tape only to realize that the footage was partially erased because his dad had recorded on top of it. Surprisingly, he got the encouragement he needed when he watched a clip of George Sr. giving a pep talk to his football league about facing an uphill battle and coming to terms with the possibility of losing the game. Sheldon viewed it as if the Cooper patriarch was directly speaking to him, resulting in his renewed spirits.
Admittedly, it was an ingenious way to do a crossover. All of Sheldon’s family appeared in The Big Bang Theory throughout its 12-season run except for George Sr., who was long dead before his son’s move to Pasadena. But as impressive and touching as the moment was, Young Sheldon season 4, episode 14, “Mitch’s Son And The Unconditional Approval Of A Government,” makes the moment redundant. In the Young Sheldon episode, the young genius was distraught when he realized he may have made a mistake in the taxes he filed. It didn’t help that he had been so confident coming into the audit, which happened in the first place because he wanted to prove that he did the paperwork flawlessly. As he moped in the corridor, George Sr. found him and gave him a pep talk about how it’s important to see things through despite the chances of success being very slim. This is essentially the same speech that his dad gave in the VCR tape from The Big Bang Theory, only this time, it’s better because George Sr. was specifically talking to him.
In hindsight, there was really no need for The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon crossover. Before it, the shows barely had any connections other than sharing the lead character. Aside from that, the depiction of the Coopers in the prequel is very different from their The Big Bang Theory counterparts, with some notable details previously told by Sheldon in the parent series not checking out in Young Sheldon. It’s also worth noting that Sheldon is known for having an eidetic memory, hence why the adult version of the character acts as the narrator in the prequel series. If he can remember this particular interaction with his dad while they’re being audited when he was 11, then he didn’t really need the indirect encouragement from him through the video. He could’ve just remembered this particular moment and it would’ve had the same effect.
After several episodes of George Sr. being cranky, Young Sheldon season 4, episode 14 brings back the strict but devoted father that he’s known for in the prequel. Eventually, however, something’s going to change as the spin-off’s timeline inches closer to the infidelity story that Sheldon famously told Penny in The Big Bang Theory. With the offshoot now confirmed until season 7, it has to inevitably tackle the plotline or it risks creating its biggest possible plot hole.