The Cooper-Xavier Fallacy: “The Big Bang Theory” Sacrifices Accuracy for Humor

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Pretty much all of us at GeekDad love “The Big Bang Theory.” It’s possibly the first show that has ever successfully managed to make fun of and celebrate geeks at the same time. Plus, they have an evil version of honorary GeekDad Wil Wheaton as a recurring character, which is all kinds of awesome.

One of the the things we love so much about the show is that they work really hard to make the geeky references accurate, particularly when it comes to Sheldon Cooper. Alas, in last night’s episode “The Pants Alternative,” the show either made an uncharacteristic mistake or deliberately sacrificed accuracy for the sake of a joke that otherwise would not have worked. Yes, Sheldon actually made an error with regard to — if you can believe it — a comic book!

The error occurred in the scene from the video above, when the group of friends were trying to convince Sheldon that they could help him overcome his stage fright and give a speech when accepting a prestigious award. The idea was brought up that they were Sheldon’s X-Men. The scene ended with this exchange:

Penny: So what do you say, Sheldon — are we your X-Men?

Sheldon: No, the X-Men were named for the “X” in “Charles Xavier.” Since I am Sheldon Cooper, you will be my “C-Men.”

Fans of the “X-Men” comic must all have gasped when they heard this blatant mistake. We all know that the “X” in “X-Men” has nothing whatever to do with Professor Xavier’s last name, and everything to do with the “X-factor” in the mutants’ genes that gives them their superpowers. Originally, the “X” referred not to that but to the “extra” power mutants had over normal humans, but it has never, ever referred to “Xavier.” And Sheldon, who is even more of a repository of useless trivia than most geeks, would surely have known that.

Perhaps the writers were confused by Professor Xavier’s “Professor X” superhero name, figuring that if he chose his alternate identity based on his last name he must have named the group that way, too. Or perhaps they simply chose to sacrifice their trademark accuracy for the sake of the “C-Men” joke (which was brought up again later in the episode as well).

I think we can forgive them this slip-up, since the show is still one of the best things on television. Now we’ll just have to keep a really close eye on the show to make sure that they don’t slip up again. Hmm … maybe that was their plan all along. Well played, Chuck Lorre, well played.

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