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401 - Graduation

Aired Thursday, November 5, 2020

As Sheldon prepares to graduate from high school, he starts to question whether he is ready to go to college. Meanwhile, Dale tries to patch things up with Meemaw.

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Episode Notes

  • Title Reference: "Graduation" refers to Sheldon and Missy both graduating from high school and elementary school, respectively.
  • Opening Credits Sequence: Sheldon is dressed in his normal clothes as a cow approaches the family.
  • This episode featured a surprise narration by Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler, Sheldon's future wife.
  • Adult Sheldon revealed that his son is named Leonard Cooper, after Sheldon's best friend Leonard Hofstadter. He had originally wanted the middle name Nimoy, but Amy told him to be happy she let him name their son Leonard.
  • It has previously been established on Young Sheldon that Sheldon and Amy eventually have children, plural.
  • This episode was originally written to be the third season finale, but production on that season was cut short in March 2020 because of the pandemic.
  • One of Sheldon's fears about going to college was not being able to see Professor Proton's show.
  • When Sheldon was being interviewed on the local news, he mentioned having to rejig his bathroom schedule when he goes to college. Sheldon's use of a bathroom schedule was well established on The Big Bang Theory. [211, 321, 615, 1005]

> Sheldon's Knock

When Sheldon goes to his parents' bedroom to tell them about his decision to attend college, he knocks three times and says "Mom?", and then knocks three times and says "Dad?".


Quote from Sheldon

Principal Petersen: Our next young speaker needs no introduction, but that didn't stop him from writing one and making me read it. [laughter] "Fun fact." [audience groans, murmurs] I hear you. "The word 'valedictorian' is from the Latin 'valedicere,' meaning 'to say farewell.' It is primarily used in the United States, Canada, the Philippines and Armenia." Maybe that fact's more fun in Armenia. Please welcome your valedictorian, Sheldon Cooper.
Mary: Yay, Shelly!
Sheldon: Hello. I'm not very comfortable speaking in front of crowds. But there's a technique to reduce stage fright by focusing on one person in the audience and delivering your speech just to them. That's what I'll be doing today. If it weren't for this person, I wouldn't be here right now. They've taught me a lot, and it's by their example that I found the courage to move forward into this new and exciting chapter of my life. Missy... ...this is for you. Change can be scary, but I know we're going to be fine... ...because like you said, "It's okay to be scared. We just have to do it anyway." So if any of my fellow graduates are nervous about the future, know that you're not alone. I suggest you all try to be as brave as my twin sister. That's my plan. Missy, I wish I could give you advice about middle school, but I was so smart, I skipped it. If you make it to high school, we'll talk. Thank you. [applause]

Quote from Sheldon

Sheldon: Just think. You'll have this table all to yourself.
Tam: Actually, I joined the jazz band. Those guys have their own table in the cafeteria.
Sheldon: Oh.
Tam: They're pretty cool. The drummer's even got a goatee.
Sheldon: Well, I'm glad I knew you before you became a heroin addict.

Quote from Adult Sheldon

Adult Sheldon: Later that day, we had a graduation party for me and my sister. I don't normally care for parties, but this one wasn't so bad.
Mary: Who's ready for cake?
Missy: Me!
Dale: Hey, should we say grace?
Mary: Heck, yeah! Let's hold hands.
Meemaw: Oh, cool. Let's say grace.
Adult Sheldon: Dale invited Jesus to the party, and while he wasn't on my guest list, it was okay because it made my mom happy.
Mary: And bless our friends and family...
Adult Sheldon: In fact, it was the best graduation party I had ever been to, until the one we had for my son, Leonard Cooper.
All: Amen.
Missy: Cake!
Adult Sheldon: I wanted his name to be Leonard "Nimoy" Cooper, but Amy wouldn't let me.
Amy: Be happy I let you name him Leonard!
Adult Sheldon: Okay, okay!
Amy: Love you.
Adult Sheldon: Love you, too.

Quote from Sheldon

Sheldon: Do you think I can make it from one end of the college campus to the other in under ten minutes, including a bathroom break?
Mary: I don't know. How important is the bathroom break?
Sheldon: Very. The class schedules are designed for fully-grown bladders, and mine is child-sized.
Mary: Then don't put your classes so close together.
Sheldon: Well, it's either this or I move my labs to Tuesday afternoons.
Mary: Is that bad?
Sheldon: Yes. That's when Professor Proton is on.
Mary: Well, we'll tape it, and you can watch it later.
Sheldon: But what if I have a lot of homework and can't get to it until the next day and one of the kids in my class spoils the episode for me?
Mary: Sheldon, has anyone ever spoiled Professor Proton for you?
Sheldon: No.
Mary: Has anyone even talked to you about Professor Proton?
Sheldon: Do you count?
Mary: No.
Sheldon: Then no.

Quote from Adult Sheldon

Adult Sheldon: I ended up using the class goggles that day and did not get eyebrow lice. But eight months later, I did contract a mild case of pink eye. Were the two events related? This scientist says yes.

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Episode Trivia

  • What cuisine was the restaurant where Meemaw and Dale had their date?
    • Chinese
    • French
    • Mexican
    • Indian
  • What time did Sheldon hope to push his bedtime to after going to college?
    • 7:30
    • 8:30
    • 9:00
    • 8:00

Episode Recap

When Sheldon and his parents meet with Principal Petersen to discuss whether Sheldon is ready to graduate school, the principal tells them that Sheldon has enough credits to go to college, even managing to get a good grade in P.E. On top of that, Sheldon is the valedictorian, although Sheldon doesn’t see anything impressive in finishing top of the class in this school.

As Sheldon and Tam go to eat lunch in the library, Sheldon imagines him leaving will be tough for Tam. Tam insists he’ll be fine and won’t be lonely since he’s joined the jazz band. As they sit down to eat, Sheldon realizes he doesn’t have his safety goggles.

After Dale goes to Meemaw’s house with a bouquet of flowers, he apologizes for losing his temper with her and for taking it out on Georgie. Dale says he’s trying to change because he’s fed up with being a cranky old bastard. Meemaw scoffs at the idea that people can change, but she does appreciate the pretty flowers.

After Sheldon fails to find his goggles in his locker, he goes to a classroom to look under the desk, interrupting a test Ms. Ingram is giving. Sheldon then barges into Principal Petersen’s office while he’s talking to a sobbing girl about an “unplanned event” in her life. The girl wails as Sheldon, eager to find his goggles, says nothing is more important than protection. After Sheldon goes to see his father to ask to be driven home, George Sr. tells Sheldon to just use the class goggles. When Sheldon complains the class goggles are too big, George asks Sheldon if this is how he is going to act in college. Sheldon calms down and says no. When George points out Sheldon will need to be able to handle stuff like this on his own, Sheldon insists he can handle it.

As Mary prepares dinner, Sheldon is fretting about his ability to cross the college campus in ten minutes and fit in a bathroom break between his classes. Sheldon says the alternative is scheduling his lab time on Tuesday, but that would mean missing Professor Proton. When Mary suggests taping it instead, Sheldon expresses concern that another kid would spoil the episode for him the next day. When Mary asks if anyone has ever talked to Sheldon about Professor Proton, he admits they have not.

In Dale’s office at the sporting goods store, Georgie thanks Dale for giving him another shot. Dale says it’s no problem and hands Georgie an envelope containing his unpaid wage. After Dale explains he’s trying to be better at forgiving people, Georgie is glad to hear that as he admits he was the one who egged Dale’s store last night. Well, Georgie and his Meemaw.

As the family gets ready to eat dinner, Mary says grace and is thankful for Georgie getting his job back. When George Sr. says it was nice of Dale to do that, Georgie says especially since he admitted egging the store. Mary is disappointed to hear of her son’s behavior, but Georgie insists that since Dale forgave him and God has to, Mary can’t get mad.

When Dale and Meemaw get a table at a Mexican restaurant, Dale pulls out the chair for Meemaw saying, “Your chair, milady”. When the waiter comes to take their order, Meemaw wonders whether they should split a pitcher of margaritas.Dale demurs so Meemaw asks if he would prefer beer. Dale says he’ll stick with water, admitting he doesn't do his best thinking after he’s been drinking. Meemaw questions whether this means she shouldn’t order a drink, but Dale tells her to go ahead. Meemaw doesn’t want things to get weird and will skip the drink, but Dale insists. As they go back and forth on whether she should get a drink, Meemaw concedes it’s getting weird.

Back at the Cooper house, Mary asks Missy if she and Sheldon would like a graduation party. Sheldon is surprised Missy would get a party, but Missy points out she is graduating elementary school. Mary says it’s a big deal Missy is going to a new school with new friends and teachers. When Georgie asks if he really has to sit through two graduations, Mary says he does and insists they are equally proud of Sheldon and Missy. When George Sr. gets off the phone, he says the local news channel wants to do a story on Sheldon graduating from high school.

Back at the restaurant, Meemaw thanks Dale for giving Georgie his job back. Dale insists it was the right thing to do, even after Georgie egged his store. When Meemaw expresses surprise at her grandson’s behavior,  Dale says he knows she did it too. After Dale asks Meemaw if she goes to church, she says she does when she’s not hungover. Dale says he’s thinking it might be a good idea for him to go, too, as a little religion might do him some good.

The next day, a local news truck is parked outside the Cooper home. When the interview begins, Sheldon talks about his fear of missing Professor Proton, although he’s hoping his bedtime will be moved to 8:30 when he goes to college. When the reporter asks Sheldon what he will miss about high school, he says nothing - not his teachers or friends. Sheldon admits he only has one friend and he doesn’t think he’ll miss him as he found a new group to have lunch with. Sheldon starts to get stressed as he explains that even though he said he’d be comfortable watching Professor Proton at night, everybody knows he gets overtired. George Sr. wants to turn the cameras off as an emotional Sheldon explains how he freaked out about his lab goggles the other day and, although he told his father he wasn’t going to act like this when he got to college, it probably is because he’s just a little boy.

As Mary tries to comfort Sheldon, he admits he might not be ready to go to college next year. After George Sr. shouts, “Are you kidding me?!”, Mary wants George to calm down. George repeats, in a collected voice, the same question. Mary insists there’s no pressure on Sheldon to go to college. If he wants to stay in high school for another year, that’s fine. Sheldon doesn’t know what to think and asks to be excused.

In their bedroom that night, Missy tells Sheldon she knows why he doesn’t want to go to college. Missy suggests Sheldon is afraid everything will be different and hard, and he’ll miss how it used to be. When Sheldon questions how she knows this, Missy admits it’s how she feels, too. Sheldon is surprised his sister is scared and asks what they do now. Missy says she guesses they will just be scared and do it anyway. Sheldon admits it’s comforting knowing that she feels the same way. Later, Sheldon goes to his parents’ bedroom to tell them he is ready to graduate.

At the graduation ceremony, Principal Petersen introduces the valedictorian with an introduction Sheldon wrote himself. When Sheldon gets up to speak, he tells the crowd he is not comfortable speaking in front of crowds. Sheldon explains he will be adopting a technique of delivering the address to one person in the audience. Sheldon says if it weren’t for that one person, he wouldn’t be there today. They taught him a lot and it’s by their example that he found the courage to move forward into this new and exciting chapter of his life. Sheldon tells Missy this is for her. Sheldon admitschange can be scary but he knows they’re going to be fine because, like Missy said, “It’s okay to be scared. We just have to do it anyway.” Sheldon tells his fellow graduates if they’re nervous about their future, know that they’re not alone. Sheldon suggests they try to be as brave as his twin sister, which is what he’ll be doing.

At the graduation party, Adult Sheldon admits he doesn’t usually care for parties but this one wasn’t too bad. After Mary says grace and Missy tucks into the cake, Adult Sheldon says it was the best graduation party he had ever been to, until the one he had for his son, Leonard Cooper. Adult Sheldon admits he wanted to name his son Leonard “Nimoy” Cooper, but Amy wouldn’t let him. Amy pipes up to say Sheldon should be happy she let him name their son Leonard. After Sheldon concedes the point, the couple both express their love for eachother. 

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