The Real-Life Inspiration For The Big Bang Theory's Sheldon Cooper

After wrapping up its final season in May 2019, The Big Bang Theory is officially over — but that doesn't mean we have to stop talking about...or thinking about it...or saying "Bazinga!" every once in a while.

While all of the show's characters are charming in their own way, there's no denying that Jim Parsons' character, Sheldon Cooper, is truly something special. In Sheldon, audiences found a totally awkward and socially inept genius who nevertheless finds love, friendship, and a happy (albeit somewhat unorthodox) life.

What you might not know is that Sheldon Cooper was actually based on a real person. According to NPR, the character of Sheldon Cooper was inspired by a computer programmer that Bill Prady, The Big Bang Theory co-creator, knew back in the '80s. Apparently, there was one programmer in particular who, as explained in the article, "could do amazing calculations in his head but couldn't manage to tip the waiters in a restaurant."

At the 2009 Paley Festival (via TheTVAddict), Prady said the reason his friend couldn't calculate the tip was that "the formula for a tip is 15-20 percent depending upon the quality of the service and he couldn't put a numeric value on the service. It was human." 

When Prady told the show's co-creator Chuck Lorre about that guy, Lorre jumped at the chance to create a show around him. And thus, Sheldon was born.

There's also an interesting story behind Sheldon Cooper's name

And that's not the only interesting tidbit of trivia about Sheldon Cooper. When American Profile asked Bill Prady about the inspiration behind the names of Sheldon and Leonard, he confirmed that they were named in honor of famed actor and television producer Sheldon Leonard, who produced The Andy Griffith Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show, among many others. "Chuck [Lorre] and I are fans of the great television producer and actor," Prady said.

At this point, we couldn't imagine Sheldon having any other name, but it's nice to know there's an homage hidden there, as well as another touching link between the characters of Sheldon and Leonard. We just can't help loving Sheldon — and neither could Jim Parsons, as it turns out.

In an interview with Variety, Parsons said that playing Sheldon allowed him to participate in one of his favorite types of comedy. "For my money, one of my favorite types of humor is people not understanding the situation and plunging forward in it," he said. "And as an actor it is just really fun to get to do that, to get to say inappropriate things and, frankly, to have a character who comes by it honestly, who's not trying to be mean."

We couldn't have said it better ourselves. In fact, the only thing we have to add is "Bazinga!"