‘Young Sheldon’ EP Talks Series Finale’s ‘Big Bang’ Cameos, Moving on From Tragedy

Steve Holland also tells TheWrap the closest they came to putting Iain Armitage and Jim Parsons in the same scene

Note: The following story contains spoilers from the “Young Sheldon” series finale.

After the penultimate episode of “Young Sheldon” saw the fated yet tragic death of George Sr., EP Steve Holland used Sheldon’s grief as a jumping off point to close out the “The Big Bang Theory” spin-off series.

“As the series got on, our conception of the show was that this was an adult Sheldon with kids, he doesn’t understand looking back on his family [and his parents] a little differently, especially his dad, who he had been very critical of during ‘The Big Bang Theory,’” Holland said. “You get the sense that maybe some of that is his regret [and] maybe some of that was a defense mechanism.”

The two-episode series finale of “Young Sheldon,” which aired Thursday on CBS, pick up after George’s sudden death, which prompts Sheldon (Iain Armitage) to re-imagine his final moments with his father after he didn’t say “goodbye” as George was leaving for work.

“It was important to us when we were crafting the last moment when George leaves that no big moment happens, there’s no goodbye,” Holland said, noting the tragedy sends Sheldon into a spiral of rewriting the moment. “Maybe that was the the way for him to process those moments of regret [when] he didn’t always appreciate his dad.”

The series finale also featured the “Young Sheldon” on-screen debut of “The Big Bang Theory” stars Jim Parsons, who narrated “Young Sheldon” throughout its seven-season run, as well as Mayim Bialik, who plays Sheldon’s wife, Amy. Parsons’ Sheldon revealed the events of “Young Sheldon” are part of his memoir, closing the spin-off series’ last page with Sheldon heading off to Caltech.

Below, Holland reveals how Parsons and Bialik’s cameos came about, if they ever considered putting Parsons and Armitage in the same scene and which internal Easter egg is hiding in the finale.

TheWrap: How did the cameos for Parsons and Bialik come about?

Holland: We’d always thought that would be a nice thing and it was Chuck that pitched bringing him back and bringing Amy back. They both said, “yes,” immediately and then it was a matter of logistics — Jim was in a play that was in rehearsals in New York, so it was finding times when we could get them both together.

It seemed like, again, a nice way to end this series with the thesis of an older Sheldon looking back on his parents in a different light. Through Sheldon recounting the story of his parents, he missed the most obvious point entirely, which is that his parents who didn’t understand him, were always there for him. Sheldon, in his Sheldon way, is so involved in writing these moments, and he misses the most obvious point on what he’s writing, and it takes Amy to point that out to him.

Why did you opt for this subtle approach of showing how Sheldon was impacted by looking back at these memories?

You can trust the audience that they’re going to keep up and they’re going to get it. Going into those last episodes, and certainly the last one, we tried to show some restraint, which is hard, because we’re obviously emotional about these moments, too. There were a lot of moments that felt like, especially in editing, we could have milked them a little bit [but we thought], “it’s emotional enough.” This has been a seven-year journey — we can we can pull back and show a little restraint and I think the audience will be there to meet us.

Parson’s appearance in the finale also confirms that the events in “Young Sheldon” are part of his memoir. Was this always the plan?

I don’t know if it was always the plan throughout the whole series, but I think certainly as we got into it, we felt he was recounting these stories in some way. When we got to the end and talked about bringing Jim and Mayim, and they were on board, [we thought about] how do you use them — if they don’t take place in the same time frame, they can’t interact with their younger selves unless you do something crazy out of tone of the show where he invents time travel or something, so that seemed like the most natural way [to incorporate them].

Did you and the team ever explore if you could get Jim and Ian in the same scene?

The closest we got to it is adult Sheldon remembering walking through his house one last time, and we see it as Jim doing it, so that was exciting for us to try to connect him, at least into the of physical space, of young Sheldon. They share a match-cut — there’s a moment where it’s adult Sheldon, then you hear Missy, and he turns and it’s Ian, so that was as close as we got to them sharing our frame together.

We also see Georgie stepping up in a lot of ways to support the family. Why was this development important in the last couple episodes?

It marks a little bit of George’s change from being the dumb older brother to stepping up. He’s a husband and a father and you see him stepping into those roles. We also know from “Big Bang Theory,” that … after Sheldon went away to college and dad died that Georgie stepped up and helped his mom and sister through through those moments, so it was a nod to that as well.

In the last scene, as Sheldon starts his life at Caltech, he says, “I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.” Why did you want to leave off with that message?

It just felt like a nice, sweet, uplifting moment to leave it on. As a little bit of an internal easter egg that no one would catch, we talked a lot about who that professor who asks him if he’s lost should be. We had some thoughts [if it] should be a famous scientists, but ultimately, we didn’t want it to distract from Sheldon.

[The professor] is actually David Saltzberg, who’s our science consultant from “Big Bang” all the way through “Young Sheldon,” so he’s probably been involved with the character Sheldon, as long as anybody, except for maybe Chuck [Lorre] and Jim [Parsons] — I think he worked on the first “Big Bang Theory” pilot, and he’s been with us ever since. That was our little private easter egg as a way to acknowledge the contributions that David has made to this character in the show over the last 16 years.

What was the tone or message you wanted to leave audiences with?

Especially with that last moment, Sheldon is going off to start his new life. People know from “Big Bang Theory” that new life is full of friends and relationships and good things happen to him in the future.

Episodes of “Young Sheldon” are now streaming on Paramount+.

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