How Young Sheldon Creatively Solved The Big Bang Theory’s Biggest Mystery

Young Sheldon sheds light on what actually happened when Sheldon walked in on his father George Sr. cheating.

“Ants on a Log and a Cheating Winker” – Missy steps up, Mary has a surprise for George, and Sheldon finds his dorm occupied, on YOUNG SHELDON, Thursday, March 7 (8:00-8:30 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the episode airs)*. Pictured: Lance Barber as George Sr. Photo Credit: Bill Inoshita / 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Bill Inoshita | 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

This article contains spoilers for Young Sheldon season 7 episode 4.

When Young Sheldon was first announced, fans of The Big Bang Theory were excited to see the spinoff answer some big questions that the original series raised. One of the biggest mysteries was introduced in TBBT season 10 when Sheldon (Jim Parsons) shares a story with Penny (Kaley Cuoco) that he’s never told anyone before. He says that when he was 13 years old, he saw his father (Lance Barber) having “relations” with another woman and this is why he knocks three times before opening the door. 

Sheldon and his father never spoke of the moment but Sheldon did reveal a few details, including the fact that he was on spring break from college, his mother was at Bible study, and his father locked eyes with him. For a while, it looked like George Sr. would be cheating with Brenda Sparks (Melissa Peterman). After that ultimately didn’t happen it seemed as though Young Sheldon wouldn’t address it at all. But in the series’ final season, we were finally given answers … with a twist. 

In season 7 episode 4 “Ants on a Log and a Cheating Winker,” Sheldon does walk in on his dad, but he doesn’t realize that the woman he is with is actually his mom (Zoe Perry) because she was dressed up in a German outfit with a wig, speaking with an accent as a surprise for her husband after their time apart. Sheldon even hears his father call her Helga and assure her that his wife won’t come home, which leads to him adding the extra knocks after so that people could get their pants on. 

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This was a brilliant storytelling decision to not only honor The Big Bang Theory lore and answer the big question, but preserve the character of George that we have grown to love over the course of the show. If he did not cheat while he and his wife were having problems in their marriage, it would make no sense to have him do it before the show came to an end, especially after it was shown that George and Mary wrote each other romantic letters while she was in Germany with Sheldon.

That doesn’t mean the answer isn’t heartbreaking to think about considering that Sheldon genuinely believes George cheated and it no doubt tainted his view on the man as both a husband and father before and after he died. Since he never spoke with either of his parents about it, the misunderstanding was never cleared up for him and he still believes it in adulthood, which is reflected by adult Sheldon’s narration, done by Parsons. This was the best way they could have handled the situation, even if not every single one of the details match up to when Sheldon originally told Penny about what happened. 

At the end of the day, we can find comfort in the fact that George’s reputation was at least saved for fans of Young Sheldon.

New episodes of Young Sheldon’s final season air Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. All episodes of The Big Bang Theory are streaming on Max.