‘Young Sheldon’ EP Wanted to Surprise ‘Big Bang Theory’ Fans With Spin-Off’s ‘Heartbreaking’ Death

Note: The following story contains spoilers from “Young Sheldon” Season 7, Episode 12.

Any “Big Bang Theory” fan watching “Young Sheldon” knows to anticipate two major plot points within the prequel series’ seventh and final season: the unexpected death of George Sr. and Sheldon’s entrance to Caltech.

With both events happening when Sheldon is 14 — his age during “Young Sheldon” Season 7 — the trick for executive producer Steve Holland was to catch fans “off guard” when it came to George’s death.

“There’s at least a portion of the audience who knows it’s coming from ‘Big Bang Theory,’ ” Holland told TheWrap. “We’re always trying to look for ways where, even if people know things [are] coming … we can surprise them.”

In Season 7, Episode 12 — two episodes until the series finale — everything was status quo with the Cooper family untilGeorge Sr. (Lance Barber) was noticeably absent for a family photo. The installment ended after Coach Wilkins (Doc Farrow) arrived to the Cooper’s door to tell Mary (Zoe Perry) that George died suddenly from a heart attack.

“We thought, if we move it even a little bit earlier and we do it at the end of Episode 12, people might not see that coming, and maybe we can catch them off guard with that,” Holland said.

Lance Barber and Zoe Perry as Mary in “Young Sheldon.” (CBS)

The “Young Sheldon” team crafted “enough of a mislead that it felt like there was a whole episode that you wouldn’t see that coming,” starting Episode 12 with an exciting opportunity for the family as George is told he has been offered a coaching job at Rice. At the beginning of the episode, George and Mary agreed to pursue the gig and move from Medford to Houston, dealing with the varying reactions from their family members, including Sheldon, who protested the idea despite his impending move to Caltech.

Just as the family began wrapping their head around their next chapter, George’s sudden death turned their world upside down in a move that Holland admitted was “heartbreaking,” yet came full circle.

“It was important for us to give George a win,” Holland said, pointing to Season 2 episode where George turned down a coaching job so the family could stay put in Medford. “It just felt like a nice way for that to come back and for the family, especially Mary, to be so supportive of him taking that job.”

While Holland revealed they initially plotted out George’s death and funeral for the series finale, it was creator Chuck Lorre who encouraged the “Young Sheldon” team to leave fans off on a more positive note.

“[He said], ‘the show has been such a positive, loving family show, let’s not leave the audience wallowing in grief at the end, maybe we can do the funeral and we can move past it and give a little bit more hope,'” Holland recalled of Lorre’s comments.

Despite the “Young Sheldon” cast knowing George’s death was imminent, Holland said he received texts from cast members the night scripts went out and recalled there were “lots of tears shed” heading into the day of filming, including Raegan Revord, who plays Missy, who “broke down sobbing.”

“Everyone was just so emotionally raw,” Holland said. “They were grieving the end of this series, which they knew [was] coming to an end, and they’re grieving this character. I think all those emotions mixed together — the real and the fictional — so it all felt very real, honest and rough.”

The final two episodes of “Young Sheldon” air back-to-back on Thursday, May 16, beginning at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

The post ‘Young Sheldon’ EP Wanted to Surprise ‘Big Bang Theory’ Fans With Spin-Off’s ‘Heartbreaking’ Death appeared first on TheWrap.