Young Sheldon Revealed Why The Big Bang Theory's Sheldon Disrespected Howard's Engineering Work

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(Image credit: CBS)

Spoilers ahead for the November 18 episode of Young Sheldon Season 5 on CBS

Young Sheldon has ventured into a new era of Sheldon Cooper’s life with the beginning of his time as a very young college student. One of his classes, combined with a cameo from a Big Bang Theory veteran via voiceover, served to reveal why Howard got so little respect as an engineer during the original series. Simon Helberg joined the spinoff for an episode that shed some light on why so many jokes were made at Howard’s expense over the years of The Big Bang Theory.

As fans will remember, the core group of four scientist friends was comprised of three men with doctorates and Howard with his master’s degree. Sheldon was routinely dismissive of Howard’s work as an engineer compared to his own work as a physicist, and characters were known to go out of the way to note that Howard was a “Mister” while his colleagues were all “Doctor.” It was clear that Sheldon didn’t think engineering was on the same level as physics, but Young Sheldon dropped some details on just how far back his grudge against engineering really goes.

Sheldon was actually taking an engineering class during his freshman year of college, and it was this class that set him on a path of not liking the subject. With Fringe veteran Lance Reddick on hand to play the punctual Professor Boucher, Sheldon’s experience was far from ideal. After struggling to finish a challenging assignment (and receiving insufficient help from his professor), the youngster was ultimately locked out of the classroom before he could show off how he finally figured it out, just for being a bit late.

He left the wiser when it comes to what he needed to know for that class, but also with the attitude of hating engineering. When Howard called Adult Sheldon out via voiceover for having a problem with his profession going so far back, Sheldon would only admit that’s “evidently” the case at first, then elaborated to share that he had the chip on his shoulder because of Professor Boucher, but his later jabs at Howard were really just about Howard. 

I’m not sure if finding out about the source of Sheldon’s disdain for engineering is a win or not for Howard, considering it came with some insults, but Big Bang Theory fans can enjoy that the prequel provided another opening to address a leftover question. The sitcom has found some other ways to include Big Bang Theory actors, despite the story taking place years before Sheldon would meet any of their characters, let alone form close bonds with them. Previous episodes featured the voice talents of Kaley Cuoco and Mayim Bialik.

Of course, Kaley Cuoco wasn’t reprising her role as Penny, and the executive producer had to actually come out and confirm that it was really her voicing pool water in a particular episode. Mayim Bialik was voicing her Big Bang Theory character again, however, and her contribution proved that Amy and Sheldon’s marriage was going strong, and even explained the reasoning behind naming their son Leonard.  

Find out what happens next in Sheldon’s life with new episodes of Young Sheldon on CBS on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET as the fall TV season winds down and the new year approaches.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.