Dr. Sturgis' Breakdown on 'Young Sheldon' Ushers in an Important Conversation About Mental Health

Allison Cacich - Author

Apr. 8 2021, Updated 1:27 p.m. ET

dr john sturgis on young sheldon
Source: CBS

As Young Sheldon fans will recall, the Season 2 finale ended on an unfortunate note for the titular boy genius’ mentor, Dr. John Sturgis, indicating that the precocious 10-year-old would soon come face-to-face with his worst enemy: a change in routine.

But before hearing the truth about the college physics professor, Sheldon and his mom Mary learned an important lesson in the power of communication.

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What happened to Dr. Sturgis on Young Sheldon?

Dr. Sturgis was admitted to a psychiatric hospital after suffering a breakdown triggered by the annual announcement of the Nobel Prize winners in Physics. The teacher became depressed after realizing that his work will never be recognized with such an award.

dr john sturgis young sheldon
Source: CBS
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Worried about how Sheldon will react to the news, Mary initially tells him that Dr. Sturgis is being treated for mono. "I had to come up with something contagious so he wouldn’t want to visit," she admits to her mother, Connie, in the Season 3 premiere.

Given Sheldon and Dr. Sturgis’ many similarities, Mary is concerned that her son will end up in an identical situation. But when she tries to talk to him about his mental health, Sheldon interprets their conversation as a cry for help.

"I believe my mother’s unraveling," he confesses to a librarian while searching for books about psychology. 

Eventually, Mary takes him to a child therapist where she finally admits the truth about Dr. Sturgis. "And you think since he and I are both gifted I’m going to end up like him?" Sheldon astutely asks. You can’t get anything past this kid.

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who plays john on young sheldon
Source: CBS

Who plays John on Young Sheldon?

Dr. Sturgis is played by brilliant character actor Wallace Shawn, who’s perhaps best known for his iconic role as Vizzini in The Princess Bride. He also voiced Rex the T-Rex in all four Toy Story movies, so yeah, he’s a national treasure.

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It’s unclear whether the 75-year-old will return for future episodes, but based on Twitter comments, viewers would love to see him in Medford again.

"Vizzini (well, Wallace Shawn) turned up in Young Sheldon... my joy was unconfined," one fan wrote on the social media platform. Another added, "his scenes with Sheldon are so charming I can hardly stand it."

wallace shawn young sheldon
Source: CBS
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Viewers are so fond of the character that there was a bit of backlash when adult Sheldon failed to mention Dr. Sturgis in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech on The Big Bang Theory series finale. 

"Sheldon’s speech was intended to honor the history of Big Bang," showrunner Steven Molaro explained to TVLine of the omission. "It didn’t seem like the right time to invoke specific characters from Young Sheldon. He mentions 'all the men in his life,' which would include Dr. Sturgis."

As for how Sheldon will cope with Dr. Sturgis’ absence, the executive producer told TV Insider, "[He] furthers his education by setting up his own secret classroom in a broom closet [at school]." We wouldn’t expect anything less.

Watch new episodes of Young Sheldon Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

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