One of the most whimsical aspects of CBS’ juggernaut sitcom The Big Bang Theory is the cast of guest stars that have appeared over the years. Drawing largely from the sci-fi sphere, performers ranging from Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy to Battlestar Galactica's Katee Sackhoff to Wil "Wesley Crusher" Wheaton, the guest stars have always brought the laughs. One of the funniest, however, did not come from a sci-fi background, and Bob Newhart brought his acting chops to The Big Bang Theory with just comedy nerd nostalgia to his name. Fortunately for fans, Newhart is officially set to return.
Bob Newhart will return to The Big Bang Theory in a December 17 episode of Season 9. Variety reports that Newhart will be reprising his role of Arthur Jeffries. Jeffries was Sheldon’s childhood hero as a sort of pre-cursor to Bill Nye on the scientific children’s instructional host circuit. Newhart won an Emmy for the role, but his character died in his third appearances on the series. Fortunately, as The Big Bang Theory is a show that embraces Stars both Trek and Wars, Jeffries appeared post-mortem as a Force ghost – complete with Jedi robes and lightsaber – in a dream of Sheldon’s. Jeffries will once again take the form of a ghostly Jedi to advise Sheldon on his feelings and help him to make an important decision.
Sheldon has had a tough season when it comes to feelings, particularly due to his split from girlfriend Amy Farrah Fowler. A ghostly visit from his childhood hero may be exactly what Sheldon needs at this point in Season 9.
Bob Newhart has gained recent acclaim due to his recurring role on The Big Bang Theory, but he’s a comedy legend in his own right. He headlined several shows of his own, most notably The Newhart Show from 1972–1978 and Newhart from 1982–1990. The surprise twist ending of Newhart that made history has guaranteed that his legacy will live on, and his fame as a comedian is certainly not unearned. Pitting Newhart opposite Jim Parsons as Sheldon has been a delight from the first time that the two interacted on screen, and Jeffries living on in Sheldon’s dreams is a smart move by the show and the network.
Of course, The Big Bang Theory isn’t exactly struggling to keep afloat. The show is still going strong in its ninth season, and the recent shakeup that saw the marriage of Leonard and Penny, as well as the split of Sheldon and Amy, is proof enough that Big Bang isn’t afraid to change the rules to stay fresh. Hopefully, Bob Newhart will be showcased as strongly in his next appearance as he was in his first three.
The Big Bang Theory airs on Thursday nights at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.