Sheldon Cooper

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Sheldon Cooper
The Big Bang Theory character
Sheldon Cooper.jpg
Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper
First appearance"Pilot"
Portrayed byJim Parsons
Information
Nickname(s)Shelly, Shelly Bean (by his family)
Moon Pie (by his grandmother)
Smelly Shelly,
Smelly Pooper (by Raj),
Dr. Dumbass (mockingly)
GenderMale
OccupationTheoretical physicist
TitleDoctor
FamilyMary Cooper (mother)
George Cooper, Sr. (father, deceased)
Missy Cooper (twin sister)
George Cooper, Jr. (older brother)
Relatives"Meemaw" (grandmother)
Edward "Stumpy" (uncle)
Carl (uncle, deceased)
"Pop-pop" (grandfather,deceased)
NationalityAmerican
 
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Sheldon Cooper
The Big Bang Theory character
Sheldon Cooper.jpg
Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper
First appearance"Pilot"
Portrayed byJim Parsons
Information
Nickname(s)Shelly, Shelly Bean (by his family)
Moon Pie (by his grandmother)
Smelly Shelly,
Smelly Pooper (by Raj),
Dr. Dumbass (mockingly)
GenderMale
OccupationTheoretical physicist
TitleDoctor
FamilyMary Cooper (mother)
George Cooper, Sr. (father, deceased)
Missy Cooper (twin sister)
George Cooper, Jr. (older brother)
Relatives"Meemaw" (grandmother)
Edward "Stumpy" (uncle)
Carl (uncle, deceased)
"Pop-pop" (grandfather,deceased)
NationalityAmerican

Sheldon Lee Cooper,[1] Ph.D., is a fictional character on the CBS television series The Big Bang Theory, portrayed by actor Jim Parsons. For his portrayal, Parsons has won two Primetime Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, a TCA Award, and a Critics' Choice Television Award.

Sheldon is a Caltech theoretical physicist who shares an apartment with his colleague and best friend, Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki). Sheldon exhibits a strict adherence to routine, a total lack of social skills, a tenuous understanding of irony, sarcasm, and humor, and a general lack of humility or empathy. He is vocal about his own superior intellect compared to all around him. These characteristics provide the majority of the humor involving him, which has caused him to be described as the show's breakout character.[2][3][4][5] Despite speculation that Sheldon's personality traits may be consistent with Asperger syndrome, obsessive–compulsive personality disorder and asexuality;[4][6] co-creator Bill Prady has repeatedly stated that Sheldon's character was not conceived nor developed with regard to any of these conditions.[7]

Contents

Creation and casting

The character of Sheldon Cooper was inspired by a computer programmer whom series co-creator Bill Prady knew.[8] He is named in honor of actor/producer Sheldon Leonard[9] and Nobel Prize Laureate Leon Cooper.[10] Chuck Lorre originally intended Johnny Galecki to play the role, but Galecki thought he would be "better suited" for the character of Leonard.[11] Lorre said that when Jim Parsons auditioned for the role, he was "so startlingly good" that he was asked to reaudition "to make sure he hadn't gotten lucky".[12]

Characterization

Storyline

Sheldon is described as being from Galveston, Texas.[13] His mother (Mary Cooper) is a devout Evangelical Christian who attempted to raise him according to her beliefs, which he greatly opposes due to his work as a scientist.

He was interested in physics from an early age, and was a child prodigy,[14] although he was bullied by classmates and neighbors. Sheldon entered college at the age of eleven,[15][16] and at age fourteen, he graduated from college summa cum laude. From then, he worked on his doctorate and was the youngest person at the time to receive the Stevenson Award.[1]

He received his first PhD degree at sixteen years old, and is now a theoretical physicist doing research at Caltech.

Personality

Sheldon is usually characterized as extremely intelligent, socially inept and rigidly logical. Despite his intellect, he sometimes displays a lack of common sense. He has a superiority complex, but also possesses childlike qualities, of which he seems unaware, such as extreme stubbornness. The first four episodes of The Big Bang Theory portray Sheldon inconsistently with his later characterization. According to Prady, the character "began to evolve after episode five or so and became his own thing".[6]

Sheldon possesses an eidetic memory and an IQ of 187,[17] although he claims his IQ cannot be accurately measured by normal tests.[18] He originally claimed to have a Master's Degree and two doctoral degrees, but this list has increased.[19][20] Sheldon also has an extensive general knowledge in many subjects. Although his friends have similar intellects to him, his eccentricities, stubbornness and lack of empathy often frustrate them. Sheldon occasionally uses slang (in a very unnatural fashion), and follows jokes with his catchphrase "Bazinga!", which is now an officially registered trademark of Warner Brothers.[21][22] He is uncomfortable with human physical contact and has a phobia of germs, which make his exceptionally rare hugs extremely awkward and painful-looking. Sheldon has difficulty coping when he is interrupted, when asked to keep a secret, or when he hears arguing.[23][24][25]

Like his friends, Sheldon is scientifically inclined, and is fond of comic books, costumes, roleplaying games, video games, collectible card games, action figures, fantasy, and science fiction, particularly Star Trek, in which his favorite character is Spock. Sheldon has restraining orders from his heroes Leonard Nimoy, Carl Sagan and Stan Lee.[26][27][28] Sheldon often wears vintage T-shirts adorned with superhero logos.

Sheldon has, at times, shown empathy, including lending money to Penny without expecting it back quickly.[29] When given a Christmas present by Penny he obsessed about under-or over- reciprocating with his return gift to her.[28] Sheldon does not take drugs, not even legal ones such as caffeine, due to a promise to his mother, and is hypersensitive when he accidentally consumes them.[30][31]

In response to criticism from his friends that he is mentally ill, Sheldon often retorts, "I'm not crazy, my mother had me tested."[32][33] His mother confirms this statement but adds "... although I do regret not following up with that specialist in Houston."[34]

Relationships

Sheldon contrasts strongly with his family, who are neither scientists nor intellectuals. His father George died before the start of the series, and is said to have had characteristics of a "redneck" and a stereotypical Texan. Sheldon's mother, Mary, is a devout Christian, unlike Sheldon. Nevertheless, he remains very much attached to his mother, though he does not display it in front of her. Sheldon has a twin sister, Missy, a tall, attractive brunette. Sheldon also has a yet-unseen older brother, George Jr.[35] Both Missy and George Jr. beat Sheldon up during their childhoods, and their mother describes them to be "dumb as soup".[36] Sheldon is very fond of his maternal grandmother, whom he calls "Meemaw" and who in turn calls him "Moon Pie".[37]

At the outset of the show, Sheldon's closest friends are Leonard Hofstadter, Howard Wolowitz and Rajesh Koothrappali. Of the three, Sheldon is openly dismissive of Howard and constantly opines that a Master's degree in engineering demonstrates a lesser intellect than that of the others, who all possess science doctorates. Despite that, Sheldon has referred to Howard as a "treasured acquaintance" and a friend at varying points. Penny, the neighbor across the hall, soon becomes another close friend. Sheldon is best friends with Leonard, as they live together and have tolerated each other ever since. Prady stated that "the fact that, despite everything, Leonard considers Sheldon his best friend reminds us of Sheldon's essential humanity."[38] Sheldon can handle having only a limited number of friends in his life at a time, but later shows flexibility when he accepts Bernadette and Amy as part of the social group.

Despite Penny not being a scientist nor sharing many of the group's interests (Parsons described the characters of Sheldon and Penny as "polar opposites"[39]), and having constant fights with Sheldon in the early episodes, they became close friends, due to some time alone with each other, such as when Penny cares for Sheldon during illness.[40] Some fans support a romantic relationship between Sheldon and Penny.[41][42] Lorre, however, is opposed to this, saying: "We've stumbled into creating a character who has chosen a lifestyle for himself that is unique. And I don't see any reason to modify it."[43]

In the Season 3 finale, Raj and Howard blackmailed Sheldon into meeting Amy Farrah Fowler on a dating website, who shares many personality traits with him. The relationship continues in the fourth season although Sheldon often points out that they are not in a romantic relationship. The two enjoy intellectual games they create, and Amy and Sheldon openly express the same type of intellectual superiority.[44] After Sheldon inadvertently infers that Leonard and Amy may have had sex after a wedding reception that both attended, he has an unexpectedly violent reaction, karate-chopping Leonard's neck with his left hand, while telling Leonard "She's not for you... not for you!"[45]

In season five the Sheldon-Amy relationship moves on, when Sheldon formally asks Amy to be his girlfriend in "The Flaming Spittoon Acquisition" episode. Late in the season, Amy begins a campaign to give Sheldon more attention to increase his feelings for her by embracing his interests. As they watch Howard being launched into space, in the season five finale,"'The Countdown Reflection", Amy is surprised as Sheldon takes her hand for emotional support. During the first half of season six, in "The Parking Spot Escalation" and "The Fish Guts Displacement" Sheldon is pushed further seeing Amy partially exposed and taking care of her while she is ill. Sheldon and Amy's relationship makes a big leap forward in the season six episode, "The Cooper/Kripke Inversion", where, after being directly asked by Penny if he would ever have sex with Amy, Sheldon admits to Penny and Leonard that a physical relationship with Amy is a possibility, and being touched is something he is working on. While upset about Kripke, Amy does give him a consoling hug that Sheldon seems to need and wants. In "The Spoiler Alert Segmentation" Leonard temporarily moves out and Amy proposes that she would be his perfect roommate and tries to move in, though Sheldon is uncomforable with this change in their relationship.

Before the relationship with Amy, critics and viewers speculated whether or not Sheldon may be asexual or aromantic. Series co-creator Chuck Lorre said: "Part of what's wonderful and unique about [Sheldon] is he has chosen not to play in the relationship game either way -- heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, any sexuality."[43] This is referenced in The Cooper-Nowitzki Theorem, when Sheldon unknowingly attracts the attention of grad student Ramona Nowitzki, and Penny, seeing this, asks his friends what his 'deal' (i.e. sexuality) is, to which Leonard responds "Honestly, we've been operating under the assumption that he has no deal."

He once idolized fictional prodigy Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation, portrayed by Wil Wheaton, until Wheaton did not turn up at a convention attended by Sheldon. Wheaton was one of Sheldon's mortal enemies, along with his co-workers Barry Kripke and Leslie Winkle. Wheaton portrays a fictionalized version of himself, who often uses trickery to humiliate Sheldon.

Reception

Jim Parsons' portrayal of Sheldon has received critical acclaim, and is often cited as the main reason for the program's success.[46][47][48] James Chamberlin of IGN wrote: "It's hard to imagine what The Big Bang Theory would be if it weren't for Jim Parsons' great portrayal of Sheldon Cooper."[49] Matt Roush of TV Guide stated that "there's a spark of divine inspiration in Jim Parsons' uproarious Sheldon Cooper."[50] Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly wrote that "Parsons is doing something rare on network TV: making intellectualism admirable, even heroic."[5]

On July 16, 2009, Jim Parsons was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.[51] He was nominated again for the same award on July 8, 2010 and eventually won the award on August 29, 2010.[52] On August 1, 2009, he won the TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Comedy, with the show itself winning the award for Outstanding Achievement in Comedy for season two.[53] He was nominated again for the same award in 2010 and 2012. Parsons was also nominated for the People's Choice Award for Favorite TV Comedy Actor[54] and a Satellite Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy in 2009, 2010, and 2012.[55] On January 16, 2011, Parsons won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy, presented by co-star Kaley Cuoco, for his work on season three and four. On June 20, 2011, he won the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series at the 1st Critics' Choice Television Awards for his work on season four, and was nominated again for the same award in 2012. On September 18, 2011, he won his second consecutive Primetime Emmy Award and was nominated again for the same award on July 19, 2012. In 2013, Parsons was nominated once again for the Golden Globe and received his first nomination for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series.

The asteroid 246247 Sheldoncooper was named after Sheldon.[56] In 2012, a newly discovered species of bee was named Euglossa bazinga, after the character's noted catch phrase, "Bazinga!".[57]

Asperger syndrome and OCD

Some viewers have asserted that Sheldon's behavior is consistent with Asperger syndrome, or an Asperger's/OCD co-morbidity,[4][6][58][59] but the writers have stated that they did not use Asperger syndrome as a basis for the character, but instead thought of his actions as "Sheldony".[58] Series co-creator Bill Prady stated: "We write the character as the character. A lot of people see various things in him and make the connections. Our feeling is that Sheldon's mother never got a diagnosis, so we don't have one".[6] Prady also told Alan Sepinwell of the New Jersey Star-Ledger that while Sheldon shares traits with people with Asperger's, he was uncomfortable labeling Sheldon as having Asperger's.[60]

In an interview, Jim Parsons noted the writers' response, but added that, in his opinion, Sheldon "couldn't display more traits" of Asperger's.[58][61] Parsons, who plays Sheldon, has read John Elder Robison's memoir Look Me in the Eye about his life with Asperger syndrome, and said that: "A majority of what I read in that book touched on aspects of Sheldon". He also stated that "the way [Sheldon's] brain works, it's so focused on the intellectual topics at hand that thinking he's autistic is an easy leap for people watching the show to make".[62]

References

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