Young Sheldon’s Unexpected, Touching Tribute to Big Bang Theory

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WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the Season 2 finale of Young Sheldon and the series finale of The Big Bang Theory, which aired Thursday on CBS.

Thursday was a big night for The Big Bang Theory universe. Not only did the hit CBS sitcom come to an end after 12 successful seasons, its spinoff Young Sheldon also concluded its second season with a touching tribute to its long-running mother series.

After The Big Bang Theory said goodbye with an emotional two-episode sendoff, Young Sheldon's Season 2 finale followed at a special time. The spinoff may always have a direct link to Big Bang, thanks to Jim Parsons' narration as the adult Sheldon Cooper, but this episode went further by ending with an unexpected "crossover" that tugged at the heartstrings.

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In "A Swedish Science Thing and the Equation for Toast," young Sheldon Cooper set up an antenna so he could listen to the 5 a.m. broadcast of the Nobel Prize winners. Seeing as how, in The Big Bang Theory series finale, the adult Sheldon won the prestigious award, there was already an emotional thread running through the Young Sheldon episode.

However, young Sheldon didn't want to hear the results alone, so he decided to hold a party for his classmates. The only problem is that no one except Sheldon cares about the results, and so, a heartbroken, tearful Sheldon listens to Nobel Prize announcements alone in his garage, surrounded by empty chairs. But that's when the show leaves the confines of Texas, and travels across the globe to show that Sheldon isn't actually alone.

Young Sheldon Season 2 finale Young Leonard

The scene starts by showing the young version of Leonard Hofstadter, Sheldon's future best friend, who is also listening to the announcement on the radio. Then, it goes on to show a young version of every Big Bang Theory character: Penny, Howard, Raj, Bernadette and Amy. All of them are at home, in their bedrooms, sleeping, playing video games or reading.

It shows that while Sheldon may be alone now, but he will eventually have a loving group of friends that will be there for him, and share in his joy when he wins the Nobel Prize himself.

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Now we know why CBS aired the Young Sheldon season finale at a special time, following the conclusion of The Big Bang Theory: It was the secret third chapter in an elaborate, moving goodbye.

The Big Bang Theory concluded its 12-year run with a one-hour series finale on May 16. The series stars Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Mayim Bialik, Kunal Nayyar, Simon Helberg and Melissa Rauch. Young Sheldon will return next fall.

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