Sheldon Cooper's 9 Best Moments: How “The Big Bang Theory ”and “Young Sheldon” Character Gave Us All the Feels

A look at one of TV's most memorable characters throughout the years

<p>Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty; Robert Voets/CBS via Getty</p> Jim Parsons and Iain Armitage.

Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty; Robert Voets/CBS via Getty

Jim Parsons and Iain Armitage.

When Young Sheldon airs its final episodes on Thursday, May 16, it will say goodbye to one of TV's most memorable (and lovable) characters.

Sheldon Cooper may be a once-in-a-lifetime genius, but for viewers who have followed him since The Big Bang Theory premiered in September 2007, he's long been surprisingly relatable, even endearing in his lifelong quest, not just to reach the pinnacle of intellectual greatness but to belong and be loved.

"It [Sheldon's story] shouldn't be something that people would really relate to, but it relates to so many people from so many age ranges," Iain Armitage told PEOPLE in February. "Pretty much everyone, no matter who you are, can somewhere relate to at least some themes of this show. Everyone kind of has feelings of maybe feeling out of place or who are kind of like Sheldon. You don't have to be a genius to sometimes have a hard time connecting with people.”

Here are nine of the most memorable moments from Sheldon's TV journey.

Related: Jim Parsons and Mayim Bialik Return for Young Sheldon's Series Finale — First Look!

Sheldon takes his mittens off to hold his dad's hand

<p>Robert Voets/CBS via Getty</p> Georgie (Montana Jordan), Sheldon (Iain Armitage), George Sr. (Lance Barber), Mary (Zoe Perry) and Missy (Raegan Revord) in 'Young Sheldon's' pilot episode.

Robert Voets/CBS via Getty

Georgie (Montana Jordan), Sheldon (Iain Armitage), George Sr. (Lance Barber), Mary (Zoe Perry) and Missy (Raegan Revord) in 'Young Sheldon's' pilot episode.

In Young Sheldon's series premiere, simply entitled "Pilot," Mary (Zoe Perry) asked the family to pray at the table before they dig into dinner, but Sheldon insisted on wearing mittens because he's afraid of catching other people's germs.

"[Sheldon] can hold hands with his family. It won't kill him," George (Lance Barber) said.

"We don't know that," Sheldon responded.

One afternoon, George spoke with Sheldon, chiding him for telling on his classmates. To hammer home his point, George tells his son about how he was fired from a "real good coaching job" for telling on colleagues who were breaking the rules and how he was still "mostly angry" and a "little sad" about the incident.

At dinner that night, Sheldon decided to take off his mitts before holding his dad's hands
when it's time for the Cooper clan to say grace.

"That was the first time I held my father's hand," Sheldon admitted via voiceover.

Sheldon sends his work to NASA 

<p>Richard Cartwright/CBS via Getty</p> Sheldon (Iain Armitage) in the 'Young Sheldon' episode 'A Patch, a Modem, and a Zantac.'

Richard Cartwright/CBS via Getty

Sheldon (Iain Armitage) in the 'Young Sheldon' episode 'A Patch, a Modem, and a Zantac.'

When a NASA employee visited Sheldon's class in a Young Sheldon season 1 episode entitled "A Patch, a Modem, and a Zantac," things got awkward as the employee began discussing the space agency's plans to send a man to the moon. Sheldon offered the employee some direct feedback, which the employee shut down by giving him a NASA patch so his "mom can put it on" his backpack.

Sheldon, never one to be deterred, spent over a month working on complex math equations and sent his work to NASA. After waiting (and waiting) for NASA to get back to him, George finally drove Sheldon, with the family in tow, to Houston to give NASA employees a "little talking to" and "straighten things out."

Related: Young Sheldon's Annie Potts Says Her Young Costars Taught Her How to 'Just Be Real': 'That's Gold' (Exclusive)

 Sheldon hosts a listening party — and no one shows up

<p>Iain Armitage/ Instagram</p> Sheldon (Iain Armitage).

Iain Armitage/ Instagram

Sheldon (Iain Armitage).

In Young Sheldon's season 2 episode "A Swedish Science Thing and the Equation for Toast," Sheldon invited people to attend a listening party in the family's garage to hear that year's announcement of Nobel Prize winners. When no one showed, Sheldon was understandably disappointed and believed he was "destined to be alone." But in a wonderful nod to Sheldon's future, viewers are shown a montage of The Big Bang Theory's characters at that time.

While it will be years until everyone meets, it's a sweet reminder that Sheldon, who will one day earn a Nobel Prize of his own, will be anything but lonely.

Sheldon and George pretend they're Star Trek characters

<p>CBS Broadcasting</p> Mary (Zoe Perry), Missy (Raegan Revord), George Sr. (Lance Barber) and Sheldon (Iain Armitage).

CBS Broadcasting

Mary (Zoe Perry), Missy (Raegan Revord), George Sr. (Lance Barber) and Sheldon (Iain Armitage).

During a flight to visit Caltech for the first time in the season 3 episode "Pasadena," Sheldon began to panic when the flight attendant went over flight safety instructions. (The idea of a "water landing" especially freaked the boy genius out.)

To calm Sheldon down, George gave his son a pep talk, mentioning Spock, one of the boy's idols. Spock, who "flies around all the time in that spaceship." He encouraged Sheldon to be brave and "pretend" to be Spock while George offered to be James T. Kirk, Spock's commanding officer and close friend. The motivational father-and-son chat, along with a little gentle handholding, helped Sheldon overcome his fear of flying.

Related: Iain Armitage Honors Young Sheldon's Final Day of Filming and Looks Back at His First Day on Set

Sheldon gives a moving valedictorian speech

<p>Sonja Flemming/CBS/Getty</p> Sheldon (Iain Armitage) in 'Young Sheldon'.

Sonja Flemming/CBS/Getty

Sheldon (Iain Armitage) in 'Young Sheldon'.

In Young Sheldon's season 4 premiere entitled "Graduation," the young genius had a heart-to-heart with Missy (Raegan Revord). His sister said she understood his fears around college.

"You're scared everything's going to be different, and it'll be hard," Missy said, adding, "You're going to miss the way that it was."

Because of Missy's wise words, Sheldon dedicated his poignant valedictorian speech to her.

"If it weren't for this person, I wouldn't be here right now," he said at the podium. "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."

Sheldon receives the best Christmas gift ever 

<p>Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty </p> Leonard (Johnny Galecki), Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) exchange Christmas gifts.

Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty

Leonard (Johnny Galecki), Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) exchange Christmas gifts.

Sheldon (Jim Parsons) is rarely bowled over, but in The Big Bang Theory season 2 episode entitled "The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis," Penny (Kaley Cuoco) presented him with a Christmas present that downright stunned him.

Laying inside a thin box is a napkin signed by Leonard Nimoy.

"Turn it over," she urged him.

"To Sheldon, live long and prosper. Leonard Nimoy," Sheldon slowly read.

"He came into the restaurant," Penny continued. "Sorry, the napkin's dirty. He wiped his mouth with it."

"I possess the DNA of Leonard Nimoy?" he exclaimed shakily, adding, "Do you realize
what this means? All I need is a healthy ovum and I can grow my own Leonard

In return, Sheldon gave Penny a gift he rarely doles out: a heartfelt hug.

Related: Young Sheldon's Cast Says Filming Series Finale Is 'Bittersweet': 'It Very Much Comes Full Circle' (Exclusive)

 Sheldon goes "bazinga" in a ball pool

<p>Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty</p> Sheldon (Jim Parsons) in 'The Big Bang Theory' episode 'The Einstein Approximation.'

Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty

Sheldon (Jim Parsons) in 'The Big Bang Theory' episode 'The Einstein Approximation.'

In The Big Bang Theory's season 3 episode "The Einstein Approximation," Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) received a call in the middle of the night from a security guard. Sheldon, as it turned out, was in the ball pool of a children's indoor playground building carbon atoms using different colored plastic balls.

When Leonard threatened to drag Sheldon out, Sheldon teased he could certainly try but "you'll never catch me" before throwing himself into the ball pool. Over and over, he popped up in different areas, crying "Bazinga" before disappearing again, driving Leonard bonkers.

Sheldon tells Amy he loves her

<p>Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty </p> Amy (Mayim Bialik) and Sheldon (Jim Parson's) at a recreation of a high school prom.

Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty

Amy (Mayim Bialik) and Sheldon (Jim Parson's) at a recreation of a high school prom.

When Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) and Amy (Mayim Bialik) decided to reenact their high school prom in The Big Bang Theory season 8 episode "The Prom Equivalency," Sheldon grew worried. Does this mean he has to have sex with Amy on prom night?

"Sheldon, this is silly," Amy said to Sheldon, who had locked himself away in his bedroom.
"I'm going upstairs now."

"I really did think you looked pretty," Sheldon said, finally opening the door.

"You did?" she replied.

"Yes, so much so that I started to panic," he continued.

"Well, you can relax," she added. "Just because you think I look pretty doesn't mean
we have to spend the night together. … I'm always hoping, but tonight I just
wanted to have a nice time with you."

When Amy came closer, she confessed she had something to tell him, emphasizing that he didn't have to say it back. But Sheldon cut in before she even had the chance to say it, telling her, "I love you, too."

Related: Young Sheldon's Iain Armitage Magically Ages Up and Transforms Into Jim Parsons in Funny TikTok

Sheldon dedicates his Nobel Prize to family and friends

<p>Michael Yarish/CBS via Getty</p> Sheldon (Jim Parsons) honors his friends while accepting a Nobel Prize.

Michael Yarish/CBS via Getty

Sheldon (Jim Parsons) honors his friends while accepting a Nobel Prize.

It's fitting that The Big Bang Theory's finale included the most moving scene from the show's entire 12-season run.

In a moment Sheldon has dreamed of ever since he was a young boy, he won a Nobel Prize. But instead of giving his original, "very long" and "somewhat self-centered speech," he set it aside to speak from the heart.

"This honor doesn't just belong to me," he explained. "I wouldn't be up here if it weren't for some very important people in my life, beginning with my mother, father, Meemaw, brother and sister, and my other family, who I'm so happy to have here with us."

"I was under a misapprehension that my accomplishments were mine alone. Nothing could be further from the truth," Sheldon continued. "I have been encouraged, sustained, inspired and tolerated not only by my wife, but by the greatest group of friends anyone ever had. … In my way, I love you all."

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Young Sheldon's final episodes air at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday on CBS. All 12 seasons of The Big Bang Theory are available to stream on Max.

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