Young Sheldon Finale: The Executive Producers Answer All Your Questions About What Happened

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Bill Inoshita/Warner Bros. Entertainment

The Young Sheldon finale should go down as not just one of the best series finales, but also one of the finest hours of television, period. The tricky balance of devastation and humor following George’s death in last week’s episode also had to be intertwined with Sheldon and Amy in the future (Jim Parsons and Mayim Bialik, reprising their Big Bang Theory roles) in a way that made sense to the viewer. It had to provide closure, while also shedding insight into how the Cooper family was preparing to adjust to their normal. And it did. Beautifully.

The final episode of Young Sheldon (warning: spoilers ahead) also answered a longstanding theory by fans who guessed that adult Sheldon was writing his memoir, which was the reason why Jim Parsons has narrated the show since season one. However, executive producers and co-showrunners Steve Molaro and Steve Holland tell Glamour they did not know that plot point from the beginning and had only recently decided that was the case.

Seeing adult/future Sheldon played by Parsons again was thrilling after five years; to then have him joined by his onscreen wife, Amy (Bialik), was icing on the cake. And though CBS released several pictures of the duo in the week leading up to the finale, there were plenty of Easter eggs that remained secret, like that Sheldon and Leonard’s couch—complete with the same striped pillow—now exists in Sheldon’s home office.

But even with all the Big Bang throwbacks, the heart of the show remained in Medford circa 1994, with the Cooper family coming to terms with the loss of their father, husband, son-in-law, and friend. From Annie Potts’s sarcastic and bewildered expressions as Meemaw to Zoe Perry’s heartbreaking scenes as Mary, the entire episode was a master class in acting. And you can’t talk about the Young Sheldon finale without lavishing praise on Montana Jordan as Georgie (the show’s secret weapon) and the beautifully layered and complex performances of Iain Armitage and Raegan Revord as Sheldon and Missy, respectively.

Raegan Revord as Missy and Montana Jordan as Georgie
Raegan Revord as Missy and Montana Jordan as Georgie

At the end of the first episode in tonight’s finale, Sheldon (via Parsons’s narration) says, “For a long time I focused on my father’s shortcomings. Now that I’m his age and have kids of my own, I realize he was just a person doing the best he could, and he did a lot. I didn’t say it at his funeral but I can say it now. I loved my father, I will miss him forever.”

That’s how we’ll feel about Young Sheldon. Perhaps the sweetness of the network show deterred Emmy voters (it’s still a travesty the show has yet to get a nomination for outstanding comedy series), but they’re missing the larger picture. This was a show that never shied away from the uncomfortable (miscarriage, emotional cheating) and always did it with a cleverness and maturity that looked simple. It wasn’t.

Below, Molaro (who cocreated the show with Chuck Lorre) and Holland open up about whether they wish they could revise Big Bang history, what you didn’t see on the finale, and what’s next for the Cooper clan.

From left: Chuck Lorre, Matt Hobby, Raegan Revord, Annie Potts, Wyatt McClure, Iain Armitage, Lance Barber, Zoe Perry, Steve Holland, Montana Jordan and Steven Molaro at the 100th episode premiere of Young Sheldon at Warner Bros. Studios in March 2022

Glamour: Knowing what you know now, do you wish it hadn’t been established on Big Bang that George died during Sheldon's formative years?

Steve Holland: No, I think it gave the show a real strong emotional closure, and death is so important to Sheldon as a character. Looking back on that death as an adult has really framed what this show’s been about, I think.

Steve Molaro: I agree. I don’t regret that it’s happening. It’s a strong ending and a part of life.

What caused the most anguish when it came to crafting storylines the last few years? I’m thinking either George’s potential cheating or his eventual passing.

Molaro: We all got more attached to George Sr. than we ever expected we would and then, for us here at the show, to Lance, who plays George. So there was a pressure to say goodbye to George in a way that honored the character and honored the job that Lance did.

Holland: As Chuck [Lorre] has always said, you have to give these shows room to grow and become their own thing. You can’t force them into a box. As the show went on, Lance brought [so much] to the character. He was such a lovely person and a lovable dad, and that was what the show was becoming. You can’t go back and force it into [something else]. It would’ve felt wrong for the character and the show.

The Cooper family, as portrayed in 2017. from left: Mary (Zoe Perry), Missy (Raegan Revord), Sheldon (Iain Armitage), George, Sr. (Lance Barber), and Georgie (Montana Jordan)

Molaro: I also think back to Wyatt McClure, who plays Billy Sparks. He was supposed to be this bully, but he’s such a sweet kid that it would’ve felt disingenuous to force that or try to write it that way. That’s how these characters evolve—because of the actors and who they’re playing.

It’s tough for all of us to say goodbye to George, but we knew it was coming. We hope the way that it’s handled is with respect and honor and helps explain where these characters move on in their lives. I like to think it gets them a little closer to how we meet them when Big Bang starts.

Billy Sparks (Wyatt McClure) and Missy (Raegan Revord)


Billy Sparks (Wyatt McClure) and Missy (Raegan Revord)
CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images/Cliff Lipson

Speaking of, when we see Jim Parsons and Mayim Bialik as Sheldon and Amy again, it’s not five years from the finale of Big Bang (which aired in May 2019) based on the fact that they hadn’t had kids when Big Bang ended. Now they have two kids who are old enough to play hockey and take acting lessons. So, how far into the future are we?

Holland: We don’t say, but their kids in our minds are probably 11 or 12. So we’re probably maybe five or six-ish years in the future from now. But it’s unspecified.

What was it like to see them back together again in these roles?

Molaro: It was wonderful. We interact with Jim all the time because he’s the narrator on our show…but to see him as Sheldon on the set with Mayim, it was emotional and surreal and exciting. It was the best day.

Holland: They’re such good actors and so smart to watch, so to see the choices they're making at each moment was really fun to watch. There’s a physicality to Sheldon, in the way Jim has always performed, and it’s different than only having him do the voiceovers. Seeing him there in person really brings the character back.

Could you have imagined five years ago filming Big Bang’s finale that you’d get the chance to revisit these characters and actors again?

Molaro: I don’t think so. I’m thrilled that it worked out and we got to do a couple of little things here and there with some of the other cast members, like as voiceover and narration. Simon [Helberg as Howard] had joined us, and Kaley [Cuoco] had done a voice for us. Mayim had done a voiceover for us before. But to see them in character on set one last time with us? No, that’s a gift and we would’ve never expected that to happen.

How long did you know that Sheldon’s narration would be him writing a memoir?

Molaro: We didn’t know that from the beginning. We knew he was telling these stories, so what was happening in the context of the show is not far off from a memoir. But to technically say that this is without a doubt a memoir in a book he’s writing, only near the end did we make that official.

It was a brilliant choice.

Holland: If it was brilliant, then we knew it all along.

Molaro: I don’t think we’re smart enough to be that brilliant all along.

Let’s talk about future Sheldon and Amy’s clothes. They stayed true to the days of Big Bang, but with some upgrades.

Molaro: I remember us thinking we didn’t want Sheldon in the typical comic book store shirts. He’s a dad now, and we wanted him to be a little more mature. We figured Amy might have encouraged him to no longer wear that, or hidden them all. It was nice that he has on a long-sleeve sweater that he pushed up the sleeves a little bit to sort of evoke the old Sheldon vibes from Big Bang. That was intentional. Mayim was happy with what Amy was wearing and thought it was right. And those were Mayim’s personal glasses.

Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler and Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper in the series finale of YS. While making an appearance on The View recently, Parsons said filming the episode “was very special, and I didn’t realize I wanted another goodbye to the character that way, but I’m so glad it happened.”

Sheldon’s home office looked very similar to his apartment on Big Bang, but it’s obviously a new house. Talk about the design, and what you wanted their home to look like.

Molaro: I would like people to understand that they’re not looking at the apartment, but the wood tones of the room are similar enough. Chuck was like, “We should show a house and make it clear they’ve moved,” but there is absolutely a familiar feeling to it. The desk is wood, and the walls have a similar wood vibe. I’m glad we at least tried to make it clear.

What items did you take out of the archives that made the move to this new house? Obviously the couch and the same pillow, which was a thrill to see.

Holland: We went to Warner’s museum and pilfered. In the dead of night, we snuck in. No. [Laughs.] We went to the Warner Bros. museum and started tagging things we thought Sheldon might still have. That was a weird, emotional day.

Sheldon’s new, but also old, home office


Sheldon’s new, but also old, home office

Molaro: So it was the couch, the Rubik’s cube tissue holders next to the couch. The robot painting that was on the door in the living room; there’s a print of that above the couch. The DNA structure in the corner, which you see pretty early on. Then on the shelves is the Adam Savage MythBusters bobblehead. There’s a plastic “green lantern” that’s in the corner, but I don’t know how visible it is. And then the Gollum statue on his desk.

Holland: Sheldon’s Nobel Prize is framed.

Speaking of the Nobel, Howard made fun of Sheldon for wearing his Nobel everywhere in a voiceover on Young Sheldon a few years ago. But now it’s on the wall…

Molaro: Amy made him stop wearing it. She’s like, “You need to take that off. This is getting [ridiculous].”

Holland: He can pull it out for company, otherwise it’s in the box.

We see Sheldon’s spot on the couch come into play in the finale as well as a TV clip of Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner from Star Trek. What else was important for you to touch on in these final two episodes?

Holland: There were things we wanted to acknowledge and certainly cast members we wanted to see one more time, but we also didn’t want it to feel like every moment was an Easter egg. However, at the end of the finale, Sheldon has a moment with his mom where he says, “I don’t believe in God, but I believe in Mom…,” which is a callback to the pilot.

Was there anything that surprised you in the finale that you didn’t expect it to have the punch that it did?

Holland: We knew these were going to be emotional moments, but to see them out there being performed was something else. At the end of last week’s episode, everyone felt the weight of what the moment was when Rex Linn as Principal Petersen and Doc Farrow as Coach Wilkins deliver the news at the door. Even walking out to rehearse that scene, Raegan [Revord, who plays Missy] burst into tears. For the funeral scenes, we were in the church for three days. This cast staying in that emotional place for days was exhausting and emotional and beautiful.

Molaro: We expected Zoe’s eulogy to be powerful, but that punched even harder than I was ever expecting. Her performance is so real and hard to watch when she starts to break down. Everyone’s incredible, every actor in this episode is just stellar.

From left: Ed Bagley Jr. as Dr. Linkletter, Wallace Shawn as Dr. Sturgis, Annie Potts as Meemaw, Zoe Perry as Mary, and Montana Jordan as Georgie


From left: Ed Bagley Jr. as Dr. Linkletter, Wallace Shawn as Dr. Sturgis, Annie Potts as Meemaw, Zoe Perry as Mary, and Montana Jordan as Georgie
Sonja Flemming/CBS

There were so many of those moments, like Georgie saying goodbye to George and promising to look after the family. And every time Sheldon played over, in his head, a different goodbye to his dad…those broke me.

Holland: When we got to that moment, it was interesting how much focus we put on making sure that scene where George leaves the house for the last time had nothing big happen in it. It’s just an everyday morning scene and no one takes note of it. Dad’s leaving for work. Sheldon doesn’t even look up, and Missy says she’ll take the bus. That felt so real, that you take those moments for granted. There’s nothing special about this moment until after and you realize that this was a last moment.

Everyone goes through grief in a different way, and Sheldon’s not an expressive person. But in his mind, that last moment with his dad, he regrets that he didn’t say goodbye. I don’t even know if he could necessarily voice that as a 14-year-old, so you’re just watching him grieve in his own special Sheldon way.

Did Lance purposely stay away from the set when he wasn’t in scenes after George died?

Holland: He wanted to be in the casket for the end because he wanted to be a part of that, but he wanted to make sure when they get the news that he’s gone, he didn’t come that day. He wanted his absence to be a part of that for them. He was so thoughtful about what would help them through these scenes.

Molaro: When we were filming Mary, Georgie, Missy, etc., saying goodbye to George in the casket, Zoe [Perry] started to cry on her last line when she’s saying goodbye before she walks away. We couldn’t see it the way the cameras were placed, but she saw a tear leak down the side of Lance’s face, and that’s what made her start to shake. We couldn’t see it from where we were, but that affected her performance and that’s the take we used.

Lance Barber as George Sr. and Zoe Perry as Mary


Lance Barber as George Sr. and Zoe Perry as Mary
Sonja Flemming/CBS

Wow. On a lighter note, you mentioned cast members you wanted to see again in the finale, so it was especially nice to see Reba as June Ballard, Dale’s ex-wife.

Molaro: She’s a friend of the show and part of the Sheldon family, as is Rex, her real-life boyfriend, who plays Principal Petersen. Reba only has that one line, but we were so happy to bring back as many familiar faces as we could in these last couple of episodes, including her and Mr. Givens, Sheldon’s high school science teacher, and Tam, as well as Steve Burns at the comic book store.

We also hear an instrumental version of “Mighty Little Man,” the Young Sheldon theme song, in the finale. Was that a callback to the acoustic version of Big Bang’s theme song in their finale?

Molaro: Yes! Chuck had mentioned a while ago that he always liked that we had the acoustic version of the Big Bang song at the end of Bang and that we should think about doing something similar to that in Sheldon. So we had our composer do it, and we used it where he’s packing up his room for the last time, which seemed to be the best fit tonally and emotionally.

It was so poignant when Jim, as Sheldon, is seen walking around the old Cooper house and then we transition into seeing Iain there, when Missy comes in. She’s the last family member to share the screen with Sheldon. Was that intentional?

Holland: It was always going to be Raegan, to give the two of them one last moment together, because the sibling relationship was always such a nice piece of the show. It felt right that it was her at the end, and that she could also leave it on a little bit of a joke. She has the ha ha.

Molaro: It’s sweet, and Iain’s sad little smile as she walks away in that moment kills me every time. I got choked up in editing knowing that this was a farewell for Missy and Sheldon.

Most viewers won’t know this, but Big Bang and Young Sheldon’s beloved science consultant, professor David Saltzberg, plays the man at Caltech who asks Sheldon if he’s lost in the final scene. How did that cameo come about?

Holland: I think maybe Chuck felt it could be a real-life scientist. But as we talked about it, we decided we wanted to make sure it wasn’t distracting, and if it was someone people might recognize, it might take away from Sheldon’s moment.

Molaro: There’s also the weirdness of, this is 30 years ago. So if you get somebody who’s a known scientist now, what are we saying? But Saltzberg was perfect, and it’s an Easter egg. He’s also been such a huge part of this show and Big Bang for 19 seasons. What a lovely way to end it.

Holland: I got to call David and ask him if he wanted to do it. He was so sweetly touched and honored and a little nervous that he was going to screw it up. [Laughs.]

From left: Iain Armitage as Sheldon and professor David Saltzberg


From left: Iain Armitage as Sheldon and professor David Saltzberg

When did you decide that moment at Caltech was going to be where the show ended?

Molaro: A month or two. It wasn’t like years in the planning that the series would end with Sheldon starting his new life at Caltech. We knew it sort of heading into the writing of the last few episodes. We were really excited that those were going to be his final words.

Was that the last scene you filmed also, or no?

Molaro: No. It was intentionally the dinner scene so everybody could be there.

Holland: Where Mary wants him to get baptized and George Sr.’s empty chair is there. We wanted to make sure the last thing we shot had as much of the family in it.

Molaro: Everybody showed up and was hanging out. Lance was there, just not on camera. One of the earliest things on the stage we had shot in 2017 was a dinner scene, so we also thought it would be nice to end with one.

Holland: Also, the last song on Sheldon’s walk-off is Dire Straits “Walk of Life,” which was also the very first song played in the series. When the pilot fades up on Sheldon’s trains and we meet Sheldon for the first time at age nine, that’s the song playing. Initially in the finale cut there was a different song and we were going to play around with some other songs, but Steve’s son, Matthew said, "Maybe you should try ‘Walk of Life.’”

Molaro: End the show the way you started it. I was like, “That’s such a good idea.”

From left: Iain Armitage as Sheldon and professor David Saltzberg


From left: Iain Armitage as Sheldon and professor David Saltzberg

So let me ask you: The show is creatively still thriving. Was there any talk about continuing on without George, or was that a nonstarter?

Holland: It felt like (a) good to go out on top. And (b) as we talked about it, sort of post-strike going into that last season, whether was there a future? We knew that George Sr. had to die, we knew that Sheldon had to go off to Caltech, and it just started to feel like you didn’t want to do the asterisk season. You didn’t want to do the “Happy Days without Richie” season. Those characters are all great, but to be back in that house where there’s no George and no Sheldon…

This is going to be as good as it has been. It felt like we would’ve been doing it because we liked this world and this cast. We would’ve been doing it for selfish reasons, and not for what was the best thing for the show.

Molaro: And a show called Young Sheldon, where he’s in California now and everyone picking up the pieces of the loss of George.… It wasn’t something we felt like we could just jump in or overflowing with ideas we were excited about. I would not have been comfortable digging in on Sheldon at Caltech. Now it’s really trying to be a weird pre-Big Bang. That doesn’t get me excited. Like, there’s the cafeteria set, but he hasn’t met Leonard yet. I don’t know. Weird.

However, Montana Jordan and Emily Osment will continue the story with Georgie & Mandy’s First Marriage, on CBS this fall. Will we see Zoe, Annie, Reagan, and Iain pop up in this new series? You don’t want to lose those characters or those actors.

Holland: We love those characters, and it’s always been our hope that we would see them again.  First of all, we want to make sure this new show has its own identity and feels like its own show. But these characters are still their family and living in Medford, and we do feel like this is a world where familiar faces can drop by from time to time.

Molaro: Agreed. That’s the hope, and we expect that to be the case.

Montana Jordan as Georgie and Emily Osment as Mandy


Montana Jordan as Georgie and Emily Osment as Mandy
Robert Voets/Warner Bros. Entertainment

I heard you’ll be filming on the Big Bang stage, right?

Holland: That’s correct. We’re going to be back on stage 25.

Molaro: And here’s a fun fact: I have not set foot on that stage since the night I walked off it, intentionally. I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

No way.

Molaro: In a completely irrational thought of, maybe if I don’t see that it’s gone, maybe it’s somehow still there. I know that’s not the case. There was even a time a couple of years back where Chuck was there for a Bob Hearts Abishola thing, which is where they would shoot. I needed to talk to him and I told him, “You need to come outside. I’m not going on that stage.” And he came out.

So whose decision was it to film on stage 25 for Georgie & Mandy?

Molaro: It came up, and we agreed to it. I’m ready. I’ll wear my Big Bang class ring.

Holland: It’s going to feel smaller, right? When you go back to high school, you’re like, “Ooh, it seems smaller than I remember.”

Are you excited to go back to the multicam world?

Holland: So excited, yes. Single camera was great and Young Sheldon is a show we’re proud of, but we grew up doing multicam. That’s how we came up in this business. There’s nothing quite like putting a show up in front of a live audience.

Molaro: We’re also just hopeful in the way that flipping to single camera helped give Young Sheldon its own identity that it wasn’t chasing Big Bang, flipping back to multicam from a single camera will give Georgie & Mandy a shot to feel like its own show. A number of the crew from Young Sheldon are coming over with us, and we’re really happy about that. There’ll be former Big Bang people that we’re trying to bring back as well. It should be a nice mix of Big Bang, Young Sheldon, and new people.

Will there a big time jump from the YS finale to when Georgie & Mandy begins?

Holland: No. If the finale of Young Sheldon took place a month after George’s funeral, then this is a month or two after that.

Molaro: The plan is to use the same babies. We love those babies. They’re cute and really well-behaved. And their parents are great.

Finally, a new generation who may not even be familiar with The Big Bang Theory is discovering Young Sheldon thanks to Netflix. It’s been in the Top 10 consistently. What does that mean to you?

Molaro: In the last six months, Steve and I hear from so many people, “Oh, my kids started watching it.” “We’re watching every episode as a family.” That’s something we didn’t really hear too much of for much of the run of the show, so there’s definitely this new burst of appreciation and audience for it, which is fantastic.

I have a good friend whose teenage son binged the first five or six seasons on Netflix and then said to his dad, “Wait, is there an adult Sheldon character on another show?” He never even heard of Big Bang. I love it because we wanted the show to be able to stand on its own. This is sort of proof that it can.

Jessica Radloff is the Glamour senior West Coast editor and author of the NYT best-selling book The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series.

Originally Appeared on Glamour