Whatever Happened to Young Sheldon's Tam? Here's Why He's Not in TBBT

Whatever Happened to Young Sheldon's Tam? Here's Why He's Not in TBBT
Image credit: CBS

A case of mysterious disappearance.


  • A case of mysterious disappearance.
  • Young Sheldon created a problem for TBBT when Tam befriended Sheldon.
  • The two bonded over a shared love of comic books, so why wasn't Tam ever mentioned?
  • Many fans loved the way Tam was eventually introduced and 'forgiven'.

In Young Sheldon, viewers are introduced to Sheldon's childhood friend Tam. As an immigrant, Tam is also somewhat outcast and looking for a friend. The two become good pals with shared interests. Yet Tam wasn't even mentioned in the first 11 seasons of The Big Bang Theory.

The TBBT/Young Sheldon crossover

The first and most obvious reason for Tam not appearing in the early seasons of The Big Bang Theory is that the character probably hadn't been created yet. Young Sheldon started when its parent show was in season 10. So it stands to reason that Tam hadn't yet been created as a character.

When the writers were working on TBBT, Sheldon was initially intended to be socially awkward. This came across clearly in Jim Parson's portrayal of the grown-up Sheldon, and there was no real need to delve too deeply into his past.

That changed when Young Sheldon came into being.

The comic book connection

One aspect of adult Sheldon's character was his love of comic books. This was a perfect fit, and something that no fan of TBBT was likely to challenge. So it made sense to show how he developed his passion for comic books in Young Sheldon.

The writers of the prequel chose to explain this by having Tam introduce Sheldon to comics. While this may seem an odd choice, given that Tam had never been mentioned in TBBT up to that point, it actually makes sense.

One of the problems with prequel shows is that the writers have to address issues from the original show that had not previously required too much thought. For TBBT, Sheldon's childhood didn't really need to be explored. Young Sheldon was the focus of the show.

Tam was a necessary addition, but it was always going to cause some issues – not least, why had his existence never been mentioned?

The Tam Turbulence

Tam was introduced to TBBT in Season 12, Episode 4: The Tam Turbulence. When Tam arrived to visit Sheldon, the Pasadena crew rightly asked Sheldon why they had never heard of Tam before.

It turned out that Tam had decided not to travel to Pasadena but to stay in East Texas with his girlfriend. This upset Sheldon, who essentially cut his former best friend out of his life. Again, this fits Sheldon's character.

In the end, Sheldon and Tam reconciled and mended their relationship.

Fans loved the Tam flashbacks

Sheldon decided he could 'forgive' Tam after thinking about how his life in Pasadena might have turned out if Tam had moved there with him. To do this, the showrunners decided to recreate some of the key moments in the life of Sheldon and Leonard's relationship – but with Tam there instead.

These flashbacks offered a nice trip down memory lane for many fans – and the CGI of Tam was an interesting twist.

This period of self-reflection happened to come at a time when Sheldon was maturing. Over the course of the show, he went from having almost no social skills to getting married. Tam's arrival on the scene, while in some ways forced upon the writers, provided an opportunity to reinforce this journey of personal growth.

Naturally, not all fans enjoyed the way Tam was introduced to The Big Bang Theory. But for the most part, viewers appeared to be on board. Some even mentioned that they didn't look too far into the specifics and just went along for the ride. That makes sense. After all, both shows are light-hearted comedies that are more focused on making us laugh than making us question the timeline of either show.