Faults In Sheldon Cooper’s Character
Now, when I say ‘faults’ in Sheldon’s character, I don’t mean the things I don’t like about him. I’m not going to detail here examples of when I think he was selfish, or about how I think all his friendships, for the most time and in my opinion, are kept by the efforts of the other people. However, it annoys me whenever I read Finn Hudson hate on Glee, and I adore Leonard Hofstadter so much I get annoyed when I read hate about him. I would be a hypocrite to publish an article about what I do not like about Sheldon-and not to mention there are many, many more things I do like about him. This article is about writing faults.
Writing a character like Sheldon is very, very hard. Portraying a character like Sheldon is also very, very hard, and Jim Parsons does an incredible job. Doing a great job in writing him consistently has proven to be impossible.
1. Sheldon’s Spot
“In the winter, this seat is close enough to the radiator to remain warm and not so close as to cause perspiration. In the summer it is directly in the path of a cross breeze created by opening windows there and there. It faces the television at an angle that is neither direct, thus discouraging conversation, but not so far wide as to create a parallax distortion.”
Pilot episodes establish premise. They are short examples of who each character is. In the pilot of The Big Bang Theory, we establish that Raj can’t talk to women. We establish the canon couple. We establish Howard is creepy. The Sheldon’s Spot Rant is also established in the first episode, 1.01, and it is affirmed in 3.10 by Penny that that is indeed still the requirements for Sheldon’s spot. The Sheldon’s Spot problem seems to be strengthened in 1.17, where he had to choose a place to sit in Penny’s apartment, based on lack of glares and drafts.
In 1.06, Sheldon sits on Penny’s couch with Leonard and Howard. This is not the location of the spot he chose in 1.17, nor is it even the chair he chose.
In 2.02, Leslie, Sheldon’s self-proclaimed arch-enemy, sits in Sheldon’s spot while Sheldon is in the apartment. He says nothing about it. Why would he constantly tell Penny to get out of his spot and not Leslie? He and Penny are friends.
In 2.23 and 3.16, Sheldon says “that’s my spot” to his friends sitting on the couch at the North Pole, and to the other men in his jail cell sitting on a bench. So now his spot isn’t determined by air flow patterns and dispersion of sunlight and how the cushion ‘feels’ (2.16) but it simply has to be the left end of…anything?
2. Sheldon’s Bedroom
-This was originally brought up by me in a forum post on another site, so if you saw it and recognize this, yes, I was under a different username, but yes it was me.
“People don’t go in my room.”
Anyone who watches The Big Bang Theory just to watch it knows this. People are not allowed in Sheldon Lee Cooper’s room. Or are they? If you watch the show and accept any idosyncracy that was presented in a moment where Sheldon is freaking out about something, then look closer. People have been allowed in his room without complaint since season one.
He used to be “people can’t go into my room.” Okay, fine, I bought that. Then I kept noticing exceptions, and when “exceptions” outnumber rules, then aren’t the exceptions the new rules?
I was watching The Barbarian Sublimation the other day, and I realized something. That episode was 2.03. He let his mother in his room in 1.04, and Penny in 1.11, and then Missy in 1.15. Even if one wants to argue that his mother trumps him and his sister is also family so he’d be okay with it, why did he let Penny in there in 1.11 and then protest about the same person being there in 2.03?
Even if in 1.11 it was convenient for him to bend his rule (he was sick) and 2.03 wasn’t (he was sleeping), then what about Leonard coming into his room in 2.17 and 2.23, when it wasn’t convenient for Sheldon at all? He was working (2.17) or sleeping (2.23) at that point. In 2.23 he protested, but only because “Mee-Maw just made cookies,” and not because “people don’t go in my room.”
Penny entered his room in 2.17, when he wasn’t even there, again in 3.01 when he was, and Raj and Leonard came in there in 3.09.
In 3.12, he fled to Leonard’s room to sleep, while leaving Martha in his. That wasn’t convenient for him, but he didn’t tell her “people don’t go into my room.” He allowed her to come in when she asked, and then simply left himself.
In 3.21, it was his idea to allow Plimpton to spend her nights in his bed-something he hasn’t allowed anyone, not even his closest friends, to do before.
So what’s up with that? The ‘no one goes into my room’ rule has been contradicted since before he first said it.
Even if one wants to argue that he’s simply had character growth, look back at the season one examples. When I started watching at 2.01, I would have found myself honored if Sheldon existed and I was allowed in his room. Now everyone and their mother just waltzes in and out of there…and it really wasn’t that different in at the very beginning.
3. “I Sleep In A Bed."
This one isn’t that big of a deal. Sheldon refused to sleep on Penny’s couch in 2.21, because he needs to sleep in a bed. He kept that consistent in 3.13, when he said that he appreciated Penny’s offer to stay in her apartment after the burglary, but he knew that she and Leonard wouldn’t be comfortable on the couch. The only read exception to this rule was in 1.05 when he slept on the couch in his apartment, but one could argue that he was surprised by Leslie’s presence in Leonard’s room, and he felt it too awkward to be in his own room.
4. Faults From The Pants Alternative
-This was a problem caught by fans from the moment the press release for The Pants Alternative was released. Sheldon has spoken in crowds before, and all of a sudden, to make a storyline, he’s terrified. The writers try to cover for this by giving him a speech about what crowds bother him. Though I have a hard time believing that his speeches in 1.09, 1.12, 2.06, and 3.01, among other I am sure I missed, all fall within his acceptable limits.
-What people say and do while drunk, they want to say and do while sober. That’s been told to me by teachers, coaches, and Driver’s Education instructors. I have no problem believing that while sober, Sheldon wants to sing Fiddler On The Roof songs. I have a big problem believing that Sheldon wants to moon a roomful of people.
5. Faults From The Adhesive Duck Deficiency
There were many, many faults in this episode-Penny faults, Sheldon faults, and faults from the other storyline, but of course I’m only talking about the Sheldon faults here.
-It took Sheldon that long to realize it wasn’t Penny’s arm. Really? I’m willing to forgive this one, though, because he’s the only character that on television that you could get away with that with, and it was hilarious and awkward. And at least he didn't break character further, he was clearly uncomfortable when he realized what had happened.
-“The hero always peeks, it never ends well.” Then why did he peek? It apparently never ends well. Well, there is another explanation for this. If the hero always peeks, and Sheldon obviously considered himself a hero (3.16), then I’m willing to believe that he’d peek. It’s his duty as a hero, even if it never ends well.
-Soft Kitty. That is a song for when one is sick. Now, “homesick is a type of being sick.” Yes. “Injured and drugged” is not. Once again though, Sheldon doing that for Penny was sweet, so even though I really shouldn’t forgive it since I’m so picky about character traits remaining constant, I will.
The writing faults from The Adhesive Duck Deficiency don’t bother me as much, because there are good arguments for why they happened. But I had to mention them because they are there.
Sheldon Being Wrong
Sheldon was wrong in 1.12, 3.02, 3.04, 3.18(that wasn’t how they got the name X-Men) and on several other occasions, and each time it was apparently a huge shock. There are only so many times one can pull off the “never been wrong before,” card.
I can forgive the 3.08 faults. The other faults, not so much. Again, I know there are more, more that I’ve noticed but didn’t remember at this time, and ones I haven’t noticed. But one thing is for certain. You have to be very, very careful when creating a character like Sheldon.
Note to writers: I love you guys. You’re great, and I know I couldn’t do a tenth as well as you do in writing anyone, much less Sheldon. I am fully aware that it is a comedy, and sometimes you need to forfeit the characters for a laugh. I’m just OCD and I needed to point this out.