Big Bang Theory Already Had Its Young Sheldon Paige Replacement (But It Wasted Her)

Summary Young Sheldon's Paige is a compelling character who has been consistently featured on the show, but she was never mentioned in The Big Bang Theory. Despite this, she had a counterpart: Leslie Winkle Paige's existence in the prequel challenges the idea that child prodigies are rare in Texas, and her storyline serves as a cautionary tale for Sheldon. It remains a mystery why Sheldon never talked about Paige in The Big Bang Theory, especially considering her impact on his life.

The Big Bang Theory had its version of Young Sheldon's Paige, but it ended up underusing the character. CBS' Young Sheldon premiered in 2017 and focused on Sheldon's origins story.

That included offering explanations for some of his weirdest quirks in The Big Bang Theory such as the origins of the word "Bazinga!" and Mary's "Soft Kitty" lullaby. That being said, Young Sheldon also tried to expand its storytelling by not only based on what's revealed in The Big Bang Theory. A big part of that is introducing his fellow child prodigy, Paige Swanson, whom he met while attending Dr. Sturgis' advanced class.

Since then, The Big Bang Theory prequel has incorporated Paige into its storytelling. She would make an appearance every year, just to update fans on how she was doing. Since she and Sheldon never really went to the same school, Young Sheldon can only sporadically use the character.

Still, because she has been consistently featured, the show is able to not only establish the character but also give her a compelling arc. Paige's narrative has significant development in Young Sheldon season 6 as she appears multiple times throughout the year. Unfortunately, she has failed to fully reach her potential after the divorce of her parent derailed her path.

Big Bang Theory Never Mentioned Paige Despite Her Young Sheldon Importance

Despite her increased importance in Young Sheldon, Paige never appeared nor referenced in The Big Bang Theory.

This remains to be one of the biggest mysteries in the franchise, considering how her introduction has greatly impacted Sheldon. Her arrival in the prequel makes Sheldon less unique as a child prodigy, which is a big factor in the show's premise. Based on the socially-inept genius' anecdotes about his childhood in Texas, it sounded as if he never full fit in despite being born and raised there. This is chalked up to him being a genius, however, Paige's existence effectively dispels the idea that child prodigies are rare in Texas.

Paige's subsequent arc in Young Sheldon also has deeply impacted Sheldon.

More than being a worthy competitor, Paige's story serves as a cautionary tale for the boy genius. Without the support of his parents and a solid friend group, Paige struggles and falls into a dark path. She has been in her rebellious phase for quite a while now, intentionally putting herself in harm's way. Paige's effect on Missy, particularly their daring joy ride to Florida adds to the importance of the character in Young Sheldon's storytelling. This makes it so much more intriguing why Sheldon never talked about her in The Big Bang Theory.

Young Sheldon's Paige Is Reminiscent Of Big Bang Theory's Leslie Winkle

Narratively, it's still uncertain why Sheldon never mentioned Paige in The Big Bang Theory. It's curious if CBS has the intention of providing an explanation about this moving forward, but in reality, the character didn't exist yet for the majority of the nerd-centric show's run. When she was introduced in Young Sheldon season 2, The Big Bang Theory was busy setting up its finale in season 12. That being said. Paige may have not appeared in the main show, but it actually had its version of the role long before Sheldon's child prodigy debuted in Young Sheldon via Leslie Winkle.

While Sara Gilbert's character wasn't technically part of the Pasadena gang, she was prominently featured in the first season of the series as not only did she work with the boys at Caltech, but she also started an affair with Leonard. While Sheldon's roommate was smitten by Penny from the get-go, Leslie was a more suitable match for her. Despite that, Sheldon developed a distaste for Leslie because not only was she as smart as he was, but she also called him out on his bad behavior. Unlike Penny, however, Leslie didn't sugarcoat her criticisms — something that Paige routinely did in Young Sheldon before she entered her rebellious phase.

Why Leslie Winkle Was Written Out Of Big Bang Theory

There was an expectation that Leslie would eventually become an official member of the Pasadena gang. By its second season, The Big Bang Theory promoted her to become a main player, but instead of featuring her more prominently, her appearances became more sporadic. Following her breakup with Leonard, she subsequently started a fling with Howard, but it ended immediately. In season 3, CBS once again entertained the idea of a romance with Leonard, but it also didn't go anywhere, leading to her disappearance.

Leslie wouldn't return to The Big Bang Theory until season 9 during Sheldon's surprise birthday party, but she never appeared nor was mentioned again beyond that.

It was only in Jessica Radloff's 2022 book, The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive Inside Story Of The Epic Hit Series, Leslie's disappearance is explained. As it turns out, Gilbert's character was written out to put more focus on Leonard's relationship with Penny, which was heating up and drawing support from fans at that time. Because fans were starting to back up The Big Bang Theory's primary romantic pairing, it was difficult to get Leslie's love story with Leonard off the ground.

Unfortunately, instead of finding another purpose for the character, it opted to just scrap her from the show.

How Paige Can Be Integral To Young Sheldon Beyond Sheldon

As previously mentioned, Paige has become an integral part of Young Sheldon. Despite not being a series regular, the character has a better personal storyline than Missy, who has been overlooked for the most part of The Big Bang Theory prequel. Aside from her plot being compelling, it's curious if there's any reason for Paige's increased involvement.

According to the reports, Warner Bros. Television and studio-based Chuck Lorre Prods. is developing a new The Big Bang Theory spin-off. Considering Young Sheldon's effort to build up the character, it's possible that Paige can front the said spin-off. After all, the prequel has done a great job of endearing her to viewers.

Otherwise, Paige can play a bigger role in The Big Bang Theory prequel's future. Due to the franchise's timeline, there are rumbles that Young Sheldon season 7 may be its last. However, considering its high ratings, it's unlikely that CBS will just pull the plug on the series. So perhaps the network can find a way to rebrand the show into a true ensemble, with Sheldon's siblings spearheading it. Given Paige's connection to Missy, she can continue appearing in the project as her friend. Maybe, Paige could even be the reason why the only Cooper daughter never reached her own full potential.

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