‘The Big Bang Theory’: Sheldon Cooper Almost Had a Much Different Name

The Big Bang Theory delighted fans for 12 seasons. The show might officially have ended in May 2019, but the storyline sort-of lives on in Young Sheldon, the show that focuses on Sheldon Cooper’s early life. Sheldon, however, almost had a completely different name, and fans can’t really wrap their minds around Sheldon being named anything other than, well, Sheldon.

Sheldon almost went by Kenny

Sheldon’s name wasn’t originally Sheldon. While the change happened during the development of the series, it’s still pretty crazy to think of Sheldon by any other name. During the original construction of the show, Sheldon was briefly named Kenny. According to Screen Rant, the name Kenny was proposed to offer alliteration with the other key characters, but the idea was scrapped when the team decided to pay homage to a prolific television producer.

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The name change honored Sheldon Leonard. The producer is famed for his work on early television shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Danny Thomas Show and I Spy, among others. Leonard died in 1997 at the age of 89. During his illustrious career, he was nominated for seven Emmy Awards and won one. He was also inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1992.

Leonard Hofstadter’s name was almost different, too

Leonard Hofstadter’s name was almost different, too, but the name change isn’t nearly as striking. While The Big Bang Theory was in development, writers originally intended for Leonard to go by the nickname, Lenny. The nickname would have matched his roommate’s original name, and the name of the next-door neighbor, Penny, perfectly. It didn’t, however, fit the serious and sarcastic nature of the character.

Instead, showrunners decided to let Leonard go by his full name, which also honored the famed producer that Sheldon is named after. Penny’s name was left intact, although writers never got around to giving her a last name.

The only character who went by a nickname was Raj

If you think about it, the writers of The Big Bang Theory really focused on ensuring the gang of friends went by their full names almost exclusively. Howard Wolowitz, who was sometimes called Howie by his wife, went almost exclusively by Howard among his friends and colleagues. Bernadette went by her full first name, too, and so did the rest of the gang.

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The only character who went by a nickname was Raj. Raj’s full name was Rajesh Ramayan Koothrappali, although he rarely went by Rajesh. His name was almost always shortened to Raj. The team behind The Big Bang Theory never mentioned why Raj went by a nickname when no one else did, but fans can surmise that it was merely for the ease of dialog.