As Young Sheldon prepares to wrap up its 7-season run, a few plotlines and loose ends from The Big Bang Theory need tying up. One of these is what the entire show has been building toward: George Sr.’s death. While the show has seemingly confirmed that this will be addressed, he’s still alive and well as of this writing. The other life-changing event involves Sheldon walking in on his father with another woman. The shock of seeing this led the boy genius to adopt his familiar three-knock greeting. In the most recent episode, “Ants on a Log and a Cheating Winker,” the show finally takes on this plot point. Well, sort of.

Let’s say the moment doesn’t play out exactly like Sheldon imagined. While he does walk into his parent’s bedroom in the middle of “the dirty deed,” the woman George Sr. is with may be more familiar than he realizes. More on that later. Young Sheldon has been working overtime to sanitize its version of George Sr. from the barely functional backwoods alcoholic we heard about in Big Bang Theory. From a story perspective, is this whitewashing a good choice? Or should George’s cheating storyline have remained intact?

George Sr. Is a Different Man in Young Sheldon

For an entire decade before Young Sheldon launched, the only George Sr. information viewers received came from stories told by Sheldon and Mary in Big Bang Theory. He came off as less than an ideal father and more as an ignorant man who would fight wild animals. His neglect of his kids led to his and Mary’s constant fights.

The man we see in Young Sheldon is almost entirely different and one of the series’ biggest retcons. He is stricter than Mary, and the two have their share of arguments, but George Sr. is an attentive father who cares about his family’s needs. One reason for this change is likely his onscreen presence. It’s easier for an audience to root against an unseen character. But if George Sr. in Young Sheldon was anything like the Big Bang Theory stories, there’s no way the viewers would have tolerated him for seven seasons. This is why it was so hard for audiences to believe that the man we see now would ever cheat on his wife, no matter how unhappy they seem.

Sheldon relayed the full George cheating story to Penny in The Big Bang Theory episode “The Hot Tub Contamination.” Sheldon describes returning home from college on spring break to catch his father in bed with another woman while Mary was out of the house. He never shared what he saw, and the traumatization led to his adopting the famous three sets of knocks before entering any room.

Does George Sr. Cheat on Mary in Young Sheldon?

Young Sheldon’s been teasing this storyline for several seasons now, going back to Season 4. In that year’s finale, George connects with neighbor Brenda Sparks at the bar, and both grow closer. While they talk in private on occasion, nothing physical ever happens. Everything comes to a head in Season 6, when Mary finds the two together at the hospital as Mandy’s giving birth. At the same time, George confronts her over her closeness with the church’s Pastor Rob. They have their biggest fight in the series, and it seems the marriage is over. If there was ever a time to tackle the cheating storyline, this is it.

Instead, they manage to work through their differences, and by Season 7, the marriage is ironically at its highest point in the show. After returning home from Germany with Sheldon, George and Mary catch up on some “lost time” together. She adopts the German persona of “Helga” in the bedroom, and the two do the old devil’s tango. At this point, Sheldon returns from school and goes to his parents’ bedroom after hearing noises. He sees his father and “Helga” from the back and immediately leaves without telling anyone. Adult Sheldon’s voiceover narration tells us that this event led to his adopting the three-knock greeting.

So there we go. George Sr. never actually cheated on Mary, retconning Big Bang Theory lore, and Sheldon’s childhood trauma and the source of his defining character trait stemmed from not recognizing his mom in a wig. So, what does this mean for the rest of the show?

The Aftermath of the Young Sheldon Retcon

This character revelation has predictably divided fans online. While some are happy about undoing the cheating story and saving George’s character, others don’t agree. They feel that it was a necessary evil in shaping Sheldon’s adolescence. The writers wrote George Sr. as a cheater on Big Bang Theory, so they should stick to that. Whatever your opinion is, it’s clear that the Young Sheldon version of George is less inclined to cheat than his Big Bang counterpart.

For all the buildup, it was revealed to be somewhat anticlimactic. There are no hints throughout the episode, and the scene only plays out in the final minute before the credits roll. It’s not a very big payoff for such a pivotal moment. In any case, the effect on Sheldon remains the same since he believes the woman is not Mary. But this is a kid who has full-on medical episodes if he has to keep any minor secret for a few days. How exactly did he hold onto this major one for 20+ years? Perhaps we’ll get more details as the rest of the final episodes play out.

In terms of Big Bang Theory retcons, this may be one of the better ones. Sheldon still witnessed the “cheating” at roughly the same time it was established in The Big Bang Theory, and thus, it can shape his teenage years. At the same time, the writers managed to undo the worst trait of George Sr. in a way that felt organic, at least by sitcom standards. It is too bad he has to pass away, as George Sr. has surprisingly become one of the best TV dads. Young Sheldon Season 7 airs on CBS every Thursday, with the finale set for May. 16. The series is streaming on Netflix, Max, Paramount+, fuboTV, and CBS TVE.


By Ivaylo Angelov

Ivaylo Angelov born in Bulgaria, Varna graduated School Geo Milev is Tvserieswelove's Soaps Editor and oversees all of the section's news, features, spoilers and interviews.