Sheldon Cooper: A Character of Missed Opportunities?

The Big Bang Theory is arguably the biggest sitcom in the world right now. We’ve had nine years of stories from our favourite geeks and it seems like we have many more to come. Over this time we have got to know Leonard, Penny, Howard, Raj, Bernadette, Amy and of course, Sheldon. Each of these characters has evolved and grown as the series has progressed; or at least, most of them have.

It is undeniable that the breakout character of The Big Bang Theory is Sheldon. Many of his quirks have become synonymous with the show including his catchphrase, “Bazinga!”, and ‘Soft Kitty’, a song his mother sang to him when he was sick. There are probably a lot of viewers who would class Sheldon as their favourite character – I am not one of those people.

What are the issues?

I realise that this is a controversial opinion, but I actually find him to be the most annoying character in the show. Please do not misunderstand me – I have laughed many times at his antics throughout the show, but of late, I am finding him more annoying in every episode. I understand that there is the possibility he has an undiagnosed mental condition – after all, his mother didn’t follow up with that specialist in Houston after having him tested. I also realise that his super-intelligence makes it difficult to for him to interact with people under “normal” circumstances, but as the series has progressed, I have just found him to be mean.

It is well established that while Sheldon (and the rest of the male cast) was growing up, he was subjected to bullying from his peers. It then strikes me as odd that Sheldon would constantly belittle Howard for not having a doctorate. The guys also subject Stuart to some rather mean treatment as well, but it is Sheldon’s behaviour towards Howard that I find particularly irksome. This was notable in the episode when Howard and Bernadette announce to the group that they are expecting a baby. Rather than react positively, Sheldon instead makes the discussion all about him and how the baby will affect HIS world.

The Missed Opportunities

Allied to these issues, I feel that the writers of the show have done Sheldon a huge injustice. Unlike the other men in the show, Sheldon is still the same as he was in episode one (except for the fact he kisses girls now!). He remains as awkward and stubborn as he ever was. That is entirely down to the writers, and what makes it worse is the fact that they have had some perfect opportunities to make Sheldon grow as a human being.

The first example is the episode The Closure Alternative. Sheldon discovers that one of his favourite TV shows has been cancelled with a cliffhanger ending and this drives him mad. Over the course of the episode Amy tries to cure his need for closure and takes him through a series of exercises designed to help him. Each one involves them starting an activity and Amy preventing Sheldon finishing. This was an opportunity for the writers to actually evolve Sheldon’s character and make him a bit more flexible. Unfortunately, that did not happen. As soon as Amy leaves, Sheldon recreates ALL of the exercises and finishes the tasks. This of course means he doesn’t learn anything at all.

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