Did Leonard die in Young Sheldon? Theory explained

Cameron Frew
Leonard in The Big Bang Theory

Young Sheldon fans have become convinced that Leonard died after The Big Bang Theory — but is this theory true, and why do people think he’s dead?

Leonard and Sheldon have a twisted bromance in The Big Bang Theory. They’re often at odds, and Leonard never hesitates to mock Sheldon or talk ill of him behind his back — but the truth is, they couldn’t live without each other.

The original CBS sitcom ended with Amy and Sheldon winning a Nobel prize, while Leonard and Penny revealed they were expecting their first child together. In his speech, he called Leonard his “dearest friend in the world” and told him (and the rest of the gang) how much he loved them.

In the Young Sheldon finale, Jim Parsons reprised his role alongside Mayim Bialik’s Amy — but Johnny Galecki was nowhere to be seen. Could this mean that Leonard passed away?

Did Leonard die in Young Sheldon?

Young Sheldon never confirmed if Leonard died, so — in the spirit of The Big Bang Theory — it’s a bit like Schrödinger’s cat: he’s both alive and dead because nobody has an official answer.

Leonard in The Big Bang Theory

While it’s not entirely baseless, the theory is a bit tenuous. Bialik’s Amy is the only other member of the main Big Bang Theory to return in Young Sheldon alongside Parsons. Simon Helberg’s Howard made a voice cameo, but that’s it.

There are two big points behind the theory. Firstly, Amy and Sheldon’s son is named Leonard, presumably after his best friend (though he probably claimed it was inspired by Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy, as he may not have wanted to admit how much he respected Leonard).

Secondly, in the finale, it’s mentioned that Penny has been babysitting their daughter (whose name remains unknown) — but Leonard isn’t mentioned at all. That is quite strange… but it doesn’t mean he’s dead, especially since he is referenced in other narrations during the series.

Yet, some fans believe Sheldon may have named their son Leonard to pay tribute to his pal, and the fact that only Penny looked after their daughter indicates that she’s now a widow. While this hasn’t been confirmed, it seems fairly unlikely.

Why didn’t Leonard appear in Young Sheldon?

Leonard didn’t appear in Young Sheldon for the same reason the rest of The Big Bang Theory cast didn’t return: the creators didn’t want to overshadow the spinoff’s ending with a reunion.

Sheldon and Amy in the Young Sheldon finale

Yes, fans would have been delighted to see Leonard and Penny back on their screens alongside Howard, Bernadette, and Raj — but that would have become the main talking point of the finale, rather than the show’s actual ending.

“We didn’t want to go with the whole cast. And we also wanted to keep it on Sheldon and Amy and their kids’ relationship, so it just seemed like a nice coda at the end. And the Sheldon-Penny relationship was always so strong on Big Bang, it seemed like a nice way to do it,” producer Steve Holland explained to Variety.

“And that set [of Sheldon and Amy’s home] was actually super fun, because we actually went through the Big Bang set. The original Big Bang set is in the museum here at Warner Bros., so we went and raided the museum and took pieces back out of it.

“We loaded the set with little nods and Easter eggs and things from the apartment and things from Young Sheldon and from Big Bang. We didn’t want it to distract from the scene that’s going on but maybe if people go back and freeze-frame afterwards, there’s a lot of little hidden things decorating that set. It was really fun and emotional, actually, to pull those things back into our world.”

Will there be a Young Leonard show?

It seems unlikely that there’ll be a Young Sheldon show after Young Sheldon. There are two reasons for this: there isn’t tremendous demand for that spinoff, and it’d probably be pretty depressing.

Leonard and Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory

Unlike Sheldon’s folksy, church-going upbringing in Texas, Leonard spoke at great length in The Big Bang Theory about his cold, dispassionate mother and how he craved maternal affection.

One fan suggested an alternate Young Leonard series: one following Sheldon’s son, rather than Leonard Hofstadter as a child. “The reason why I would want to see this is because I feel Leonard is not what Sheldon expected (which was a brighter version of him). I think Leonard (Part II) will be everything opposite of Sheldon, and the family has to support his lifestyle,” they wrote.

This seems at least partly accurate. In the Season 7 finale, Sheldon argues with Amy about having to attend his son’s ice hockey game, something he has no interest in.

However, Parsons has already said he doesn’t have much interest in reprising the role. “Look, never say never to anything. Life is long, God willing. But I don’t think so,” he told E! News.

In the meantime, find out what we know about Young Sheldon Season 8 and Georgie and Mandy’s First Marriage, and check out other binge-worthy TV shows to add to your list.