Young Sheldon: George's Death was Expected but Still Gut-Wrenching

Since Young Sheldon is a prequel to The Big Bang Theory, one of the worst-kept secrets on the show was the future of patriarch George Cooper (Lance Barber). Being a beloved comedy about to say its final farewells (the series finale is May 16th), I think it is fair to say the show's fans would have been OK had the writers chosen to spare us from the sadness of his death and let it happen sometime between the end of this one and the beginning of the spin-off, Georgie & Mandy's First Marriage.

In fact, I thought that was what the show writers were going to do until George went to work at the end of last night's episode, A New Home and a Traditional Texas Torture, and didn't come back. Honestly, it was something that I probably should have seen coming but, even if I did, I think the shock would have been the same.

I've watched enough television to have seen plenty of beloved characters killed off. Sometimes those deaths were telegraphed. Other times they were complete surprises. This one however, I can honestly say hit harder than any I've seen before it. That's because, in many ways, George reminded me of me.

George Cooper wasn't the perfect dad. He wasn't always there with the perfect advice when his kids needed it (like in the sitcoms I grew up with) and there were plenty of times when he wasn't all that likable. However, as a dad myself, I can tell you that's much closer to reality than a show like Full House, and one of the things I appreciated most about this series was the way it showed the ups and downs of parenthood and marriage in a realistic way because it made me feel better about myself as a dad and husband. 

I think the thing that made this hurt even more was the 7-year character arc. George was never the ogre he was described as by an older Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) in TBBT. He didn't cheat on Mary (Zoe Perry) and wasn't arrested for stealing from a cash register. He did, however, go from a dad who was almost embarrassed by his intelligent son to one who was proud of him. He and Mary survived a rough patch in their marriage that, for a while, looked like it would lead to divorce, and he proved to be willing to stand up for his family when Georgie (Montana Jordan) became a teen father, and he stood his ground both against the church and even against his own wife in defense of his son. The fact his fatal heart attack happened just as things were finally looking up for him, with a job offer from Rice University, a happy marriage and a grandchild, was a jagged stab to the heart, along with the all-to-real way of him not even having a chance to say goodbye.

George Cooper might be a fictional character, but I can tell you I am mourning along with his fictional family because if there was ever a dad to look up to (real or fake), it was him.

RIP George.


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