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Sheldon Was Somehow More Repulsive In The Original Big Bang Theory Pilot
2023/07/20

The original The Big Bang Theory pilot featured an even more repulsive Sheldon Cooper. Jim Parsons' iconic sitcom role was at the center of the CBS comedy for 12 years. While The Big Bang Theory was technically an ensemble show, it became increasingly clear over the years that its true lead was the socially-inept genius. He was usually the focus of every main arc, and in the rare times that he wasn't, he was still integral to the whole storyline, either as a plot catalyst or comedic source. The Big Bang Theory season 12 was the biggest proof of this as the show's final year was mostly about him.

When Parsons decided to leave the show, everyone agreed that it was better to end it instead of continuing without Sheldon. It's not difficult to understand why Sheldon was The Big Bang Theory's main character. He stood out from an already awkward group thanks to his idiosyncrasies. Couple that with Parsons' brilliant performance and Sheldon immediately made a mark on anyone who watched the long-running CBS sitcom. That being said, his uniqueness came with some drawbacks. Due to his lack of social awareness, he came off as rude, crude, and self-centered making it easy to hate him. As it turns out, however, the original version of the character was worse.

The Big Bang Theory's Original Pilot Featured A Sleazy Sheldon

It's no secret that the original The Big Bang Theory pilot needed to be reworked before CBS officially ordered the series. Despite the sitcom's success during its 12-year run, getting it off the ground wasn't exactly easy. Co-creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady had to make some significant changes in order for it to finally air on the network. Amanda Walsh's Katie was scrapped and Kaley Cuoco's Penny was brought in as her nicer replacement.

Meanwhile, Iris Bahr's Gilda was gender-swapped and split into Simon Helberg's Howard and Kunal Nayyar's Raj. Only Parsons' Sheldon and Johnny Galecki Leonard were carried over from the initial treatment of The Big Bang Theory.

While Apartment 4A's roommates had primarily maintained their original characterization, there was a particularly significant change to Sheldon's character. Unlike The Big Bang Theory's official version of the role, who was initially indifferent to the idea of romantic relationships or any kind of sexual attraction (at least until he developed feelings for Amy), the original pilot featured an iteration who was more open with his sexuality.

While this is an interesting notion, this would have made Sheldon so much worse as a character. Aside from being rude and misogynistic, he would also be sleazy — the only thing he wasn't in The Big Bang Theory.

Why The Big Bang Theory Changed Sleazy Sheldon

Ultimately, The Big Bang Theory scrapped this take on Sheldon and switched to an almost asexual being during the earlier years of the series. While Leonard, Howard, Raj, and even Stuart fantasized about Penny in various degrees, the socially-inept genius remained immune to her looks and charms.

If anything, it's almost as if he only tolerated her being around her knowing that his best friend liked her. Admittedly, it's difficult to imagine what a sleazy Sheldon would have looked like and how the viewers would have responded to him in the long run.

That being said, it's safe to say that Lorre and Prady recognized that it would be difficult to sell the character, hence why they had to drop the idea of a sleazy Sheldon. The character trait was mostly used for comedic purposes, but after The Big Bang Theory pilot was revamped, the pair decided that it would be too much for Sheldon to also be perverted, considering all the other oddities that he had.

Ultimately, this was for the better. It's likely that fans' tolerance of the character would have decreased if he also had a dirty mind on top of being extremely selfish, insensitive, and self-aggrandizing.

How Sleazy Sheldon Would Have Altered The Big Bang Theory

It's difficult to say what fans' reaction would have been to Sleazy Sheldon in TBBT. Scrapping it from the original pilot means that Lorre and Prady thought that it was a bad idea upon revisit. However, in case they maintained this trait for the socially-inept genius, then it's likely that he would have also come off as a creep.

In the sitcom, Sheldon thrived from being alone. While he needed people around him to cater to his needs, he didn't actively seek any kind of romantic partner. In fact, Raj and Howard even had to coerce him to meet Amy after they input his information on an online dating site.

Considering all the flak that The Big Bang Theory has gotten over its brand humor, however, it's safe to say that Sleazy Sheldon would have been another point of criticism for the show. Sheldon's overbearing personality was already difficult to sit through for some viewers, but the nerd-centric sitcom did a great job of humanizing the character.

This way, he wouldn't be abhorred by fans, especially considering how much grief and hassle he used to put his friends through with his unreasonable mandates. Making him sleazy could have been too much, effectively turning off the audience from the character as a whole. It would also likely cheapen his Amy romance.

Big Bang Theory Replaced Sleazy Sheldon With Howard

While Lorre and Prady scrapped their initial plan of making Sheldon perverted, they ultimately still introduced a replacement for him with Helberg's Howard.

In earlier seasons of The Big Bang Theory, the Pasadena gang's resident engineer was sleazy, inappropriately hitting on any women. While he had a very low percentage of success, he still acted as if he was God's gift to women. Penny was usually the victim of his unwanted advances, which was difficult to watch now during re-runs. In fact, even Helberg agrees with criticisms of Sleazy Howard and is happy that the nerd-centric sitcom was able to turn the character around.

Thanks to the arrival of Melissa Rauch's Bernadette, The Big Bang Theory gradually changed Howard for the better. What makes his transformation so much more impressive is the way it's barely noticeable when it was happening. The next thing that fans knew, the perverted Howard was already a devoted husband, and by the end of The Big Bang Theory, a committed family man. It would have been difficult to pull that subtle change on Sheldon, considering that his traits were often part of the show's storytelling. While Parsons would have likely been able to pull off Sleazy Sheldon, it was the right call to scrap him.

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