Warning: Spoilers ahead for Young Sheldon season 6, episode 10.
While Young Sheldon season 6 has run into plenty of The Big Bang Theory plot holes and inconsistencies, one of the most galling examples of this phenomenon is a repeat offender for the sitcom spinoff. It is easy to understand why Young Sheldon diverged from the canon established by The Big Bang Theory. In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon claimed his father was a thoughtless drunk, his siblings were mouth-breathing fools, and he lived a friendless childhood defined by isolation. Obviously, this wasn’t a perfect setup for a warm-hearted family sitcom.
However, when Young Sheldon changes The Big Bang Theory’s canon, it can be tricky to work out which story elements are still guaranteed to appear in the spinoff. For example, George Sr.’s death occurred when Sheldon was around 13 according to The Big Bang Theory, and this seems like way too big a plot point for the series to simply ignore. That said, Sheldon’s grandmother Meemaw also acts much more rebelliously in Young Sheldon than she does in The Big Bang Theory and this, in contrast, is the sort of minor change that doesn’t necessarily require a justification from Young Sheldon.
Another recurring The Big Bang Theory inconsistency reared its head in Young Sheldon season 6, episode 10, “Pancake Sunday and Textbook Flirting.” According to his tragic The Big Bang Theory claims, Sheldon had no friends growing up, but this has repeatedly been proven untrue in Young Sheldon. In “Pancake Sunday and Textbook Flirting,” George Sr. notes to Mary that it can’t be that hard to make friends since Sheldon has some, which flies in the face of the character’s claims about his upbringing in The Big Bang Theory. Young Sheldon has thoroughly disproved this claim, with Sheldon having friends throughout school and college despite his social struggles.
Not only that, but this isn’t even the first time that Young Sheldon has used the title character’s social acumen to ground an unrelated plot point. Before George encouraged Mary to make friends by noting that Sheldon has them, Young Sheldon’s recurring guest star Paige realized she didn’t want to stay in college when she discovered that Sheldon was friends with his dorm mates. She was surprised to see that Sheldon had managed to connect with his dorm mates despite the age gap between them, and this led Paige to leave college as she realized academia wasn’t the right fit for her.
There is one explanation for Sheldon’s claims in The Big Bang Theory that doesn’t involve completely rewriting Young Sheldon’s version of reality. It could be that Sheldon means his childhood and teenage friends were acquaintances, while Raj, Leonard, Penny, and Howard are the first people in his life that he considers real friends. Much like George and Mary’s Young Sheldon story was made much sadder by the revelation that George wasn’t an abusive drunk but rather a likable everyman who died far too young, The Big Bang Theory’s claims about Sheldon’s childhood could be secretly sweet. After all, his Young Sheldon friendships do lack the depth of his relationships with The Big Bang Theory gang.
More: Young Sheldon Season 6 Makes Mary’s Big Bang Theory Story More Confusing