When viewers first met Sheldon Cooper on CBS' hit sitcom The Big Bang Theory 12 years ago, they got to know all about his many irritable quirks and odd manners. We learned all about his love for all things Star Trek, Star Wars, comic books and vintage video games, and we discovered how brilliant he was in all sorts of fields of science -- mainly physics. And, almost ever since we've known him, Sheldon Cooper has had one dream, one goal that he has yet to accomplish: making a scientific contribution so great that it would earn him a Nobel Prize.
Now, as The Big Bang Theory's twelfth and final season unfolds, Sheldon is currently closer than he's ever been to accomplishing this goal -- but there are some obstacles in his path. Therefore, the question needs to be asked: will Sheldon finally get his Nobel Prize by the series' final episode?
Throughout The Big Bang Theory's 12 seasons, Sheldon made some groundbreaking scientific discoveries. But perhaps the one thing that has always held him back was his unwillingness to share credit. For example, in the Season 2 episode, "The Cooper-Nowitzki Theorem," Sheldon was quick to kick out grad student Ramona Nowitzki when she brought up the subject of sharing the credit of his latest discovery. Similarly, Sheldon has often clashed with colleague, best friend and roommate Leonard over top billing for papers they would co-author or for credit over certain ideas.
However, it was only when Sheldon started working with his girlfriend (now wife) Amy Farrah Fowler in the Season 11 finale, "The Bow Tie Asymmetry," that the couple would make a groundbreaking scientific discovery that would put them on the path to earning a Nobel Prize. However, Sheldon and Amy have recently encountered a roadblock in the form of two other scientists from Fermilab who accidentally proved Sheldon and Amy's super-asymmetry theory. Since only three names can be entered on a Nobel Prize submission, the other two scientists suggest that Sheldon be on the submission, casting Amy to the side.
This is where Sheldon shows the most growth in all of the years we've known him. Instead of taking the offer, which would almost guarantee him a Nobel Prize, he instead decides to stick by Amy, and fight Fermilab for what is rightfully theirs. With this incredible decision, Sheldon puts his potential Nobel Prize on the line to ensure that Amy also gets the credit she deserves. Yes, the only way Sheldon would now accept a Nobel for his work is if he shares the credit.
That doesn't sound like the Sheldon we used to know, but it shows how much the character has grown since the start of the series. Better still, it shows that Amy has not only made him a better person, but a better scientist as well. Throughout the years, Sheldon was so stuck on achieving greatness on his own that perhaps he held himself back. By opening up to the idea of working with his friends and later his wife, Sheldon would finally have the breakthrough he always longed for.
Now the only question is, will Sheldon finally win his Nobel Prize, or will he sacrifice it for the woman he loves? Honestly, either answer would make for a fantastic ending to Sheldon's story arc, spanning all the way back to the series' very first episode.
The Big Bang Theory airs Thursdays at 8 pm ET/PT on CBS, and will conclude with an hour-long series finale on May 16. The series stars Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Mayim Bialik, Kunal Nayyar, Simon Helberg and Melissa Rauch.