Mary Cooper is the mother of Sheldon Cooper, George Cooper Jr. and Missy Cooper and wife/widow of George Cooper Sr.. She is a devout born-again Christian from East Texas. Her husband passed away many years ago. She is also the grandmother of Missy's son and the sister of Carl and Edward.
Mary is an attractive woman with brown hair and unknown coloured eyes. She often wears dresses and necklaces in her appearances.
Mary is very wise, intelligent, caring, kind, friendly, loving, and sweet-natured: she is very religious and at times, can be unwittingly bigoted - something Leonard occasionally has to point out to her. She appears to be an extremely good mother and is the only one who has ever been able to control Sheldon. Leonard describes her as Sheldon's "kryptonite". Sheldon describes Mary as being a "kind, loving, religiously fanatical, right-wing Texan, with a slightly out of scale head and a mild Dr. Pepper addiction". Sheldon also uses his mother to exact the point that he isn't crazy, as she had him tested. Mary later confirmed the story, although with the caveat that she wished she'd "followed up with that specialist in Houston." It is shown in "The Rhinitis Revelation" that all of the gang like her very much, as she provides the attention and wisdom they did not receive from their own mothers (especially Leonard's mother).
She is called upon by both Leonard and Penny when Sheldon gets particularly difficult to handle.
She is also the complete opposite of Leonard's mother Beverly Hofstadter who is narcissistic, unfriendly, unloving, unaffectionate, uncaring and unpopular and does completely crazy things, like gluing electrodes to people's heads to measure their brain waves while potty training and their parenting strategies are very different from each other's (Mary having unconditional love for Sheldon and Beverly raising Leonard as a science experiment and having him try to achieve and having to make him earn her love and affection until after Beverly talks with Sheldon) that their respective sons prefer to have each other's mother for a mother and the two women don't see eye-to-eye with anything and truly don't like each other.
She is also extremely wise, despite not being an intellectual or bookish, and has handled situations with Sheldon and during her first meeting with Beverly, was able to successfully pawn her and make her realise that her parenting skills are crap which later got Beverly to realize there is more than one way to raise a child and to make her shower Leonard with unconditional love.
When Sheldon is fired for disrespecting his new boss Eric Gablehauser, Mary comes to help when he resorts to odd activities to pass the time. At first, she tries to coax him to apologize to his ex-boss, but finally tells him off about his superior attitude and forces him to go apologize. She goes with him and Sheldon's boss, Doctor Gablehauser admittedly develops an attraction to her (she quickly points out her husband is dead). Sheldon ends up getting his job back without really apologizing.
Mary is absent in all episodes of Season 2, but was mentioned a few times.
She was mentioned in The Panty Piñata Polarization, when Sheldon banishes Penny from the apartment. Leonard, who witnessed the whole incident, decides to put an end to this war by giving Penny what he describes as Sheldon's Kryptonite: his mom's phone number. Sheldon's mother suddenly calls him and reprimands him about his behavior with Penny, she also tells him to apologize to Penny.
In "The Maternal Capacitance", when Leonard's mother Beverly visits and she goes to the toilet, Leonard and Sheldon discuss their mothers and after Sheldon expresses admiration for Leonard's mother, he reveals that Mary once hit him with a Bible because he wouldn't eat his Brussels sprouts. Leonard says that Sheldon doesn't give his mother enough credit and that she's warm, loving and doesn't glue electrodes to people's heads to measure their brain waves while potty training.
Sheldon goes to his hometown of Texas when he and his friends' damage his career. She welcomes him back, though she starts to irritate him with her religious quirks. The guys show up to take him back and he agrees only when his mother starts up again with her religious beliefs on evolution. She admits to being happy he is leaving, commenting, "Don't tell me prayer never works!"
Sheldon meets a new friend named Amy, who is the female version of him. They have a falling out when they disagree on whose career is better and Sheldon lapses into an odd depression where he buys multiple cats. Mary comes and tricks the two into making up by using reverse psychology: she makes it seem she is happy the two split up and they rebel by mending their friendship.
Mary comes to visit her son, but ends up spending more time with his friends. She chooses to accompany his friends on a sightseeing trip rather than go with Sheldon to a lecture where he wants to embarrass Saul Perlmutter and cook the meals that Sheldon wants her to prepare. Annoyed, he goes with Amy, but catches a cold when it rains. Becoming sick, Mary finally gives him attention and nurses him back to health.
Mary was absent in all episodes in Season 6, but was mentioned a few times.
In "The Santa Simulation", it is revealed that her father died when Sheldon was 5 years old. At the Babybrook Mall in Galveston, Texas that same year, Mary dragged Sheldon to the mall and plopped Sheldon on Santa's lap and Sheldon said he wanted his grandfather back when asked what he wanted for Christmas, but this was denied and this became the reason that Sheldon hates Christmas.
She is mentioned again in "The Bakersfield Expedition" where a policeman asks Leonard, Sheldon, Howard and Raj if they need him to call someone and he guesses their moms, referring to Mary, Beverly, Mrs. Wolowitz and Mrs. Koothrappali and Leonard responds "Thanks. But we got it covered.".
Sheldon visits Texas when his sister is having a baby in "The Cooper Extraction". Sheldon talks with Mary on his webcam broadcast. Mary is not seen on screen, only her voice is heard.
In "The Mommy Observation", Sheldon surprises his mother with a visit and catches her having sexual relations with her boyfriend. First, Sheldon condemns her for having coitus despite her Christian beliefs and she sends him to his room.
Howard, who was in Houston lecturing, tells him how he drove away his mother's boyfriend and how she has been lonely ever since. Sheldon decides to not stand in his mother's way of happiness though he still chooses to condemn her internally. Also, he tries to have a talk with her about the birds and the bees.
In "The Maternal Combustion", Mary Cooper finally meets Dr. Beverly Hofstadter, Leonard's mother. The two very different women start out as civil, but later quickly come to clash as Beverly insults and belittles Mary strict religious beliefs, and Mary in turn derides Beverly's cold attitude. Mary is especially insulted when Beverly is left dumbstruck how a genius intellect like Sheldon could be born to a woman like her. After taking a break from each other, the two come to terms with the argument: Mary decides to forgive Beverly for her offhandish ways, and Beverly realizes there is more than one way to raise a child. The two mothers make up and Beverly tries unconditional hug by trying an awkward hug with Leonard.
In "The Matrimonial Momentum", Sheldon is in his apartment calling Mary after his breakup with Amy. He regretfully informs her that Amy broke up with him and that he would like to send the engagement ring (which is an old family heirloom - it belonged to his great-grandmother) back to Texas. She tells him not to be too hasty - his sister Missy is already married and Mary would rather Sheldon gave the ring to Amy than let his older brother George Jr. give it to his "whore of a girlfriend". Sheldon decides to hold on to it.
She reappears in "The Convergence-Convergence" when Sheldon invites her to Leonard and Penny's re-wedding and without telling the bride and groom. She is picked up by Amy whom she is fond of and tells her to call her "Mary". Mary is not pleased to meet Beverly again as they barely speak in the apartment. She also fights again with Beverly over the Bible. Mary becomes quite taken with Leonard's father Dr. Alfred Hofstadter and they bond over their dislike of Beverly, his charm and his tolerance of others' beliefs and their admiration of each other's beliefs. Both of them excuse themselves early from dinner and appear to be hooking up at their hotel to the discomfort of Leonard and Sheldon, and Penny's delight.
Green = Appeared,
M = Mentioned, V = Voiced, F = Flashback, C = Cameo
Dark Grey = Did not appear,
"He gets his temper from his daddy. He’s got my eyes. All that science stuff, oh that comes from Jesus."
―Referring to Sheldon, The Luminous Fish Effect
"I made chicken. I hope that isn't one of the animals that you people think is magic."
―Talking to Raj, The Luminous Fish Effect
"Oh, we will, you have to take your time with Sheldon. His father, God rest his soul, used to say to me, Mary, you have to take your time with Sheldon."
―Referring to Sheldon, The Luminous Fish Effect
"You know how your daddy used to say that you could only fish for so long before you gotta throw a stick of dynamite in the water? Well I'm done fishin'!"
―Talking to Sheldon, The Luminous Fish Effect
"Leonard, the Lord never gives us more than we can handle. Thankfully, He blessed me with two other children who are dumb as soup."
―Talking about Sheldon, The Luminous Fish Effect
"He's not crazy, I had him tested as a child. Although I still feel I should have taken him to that expert in Houston."
―Talking about Sheldon, The Rhinitis Revelation
"What about you, Raj, is it? Oh, you still having trouble talking to the ladies? Because you know at our church, we have a woman who's an amazing healer. Mostly she does crutch and wheelchair people, but I bet she'd be willing to take a shot at whatever third world demon is running around inside of you."
―To Raj, The Electric Can Opener Fluctuation
"The Lord giveth and the Lord bloweth away..."
--- Sheldon, referring to his mother's twin passions for God and Guns. The Rhinitis Revelation
- Husband: George Cooper Sr.
- Sons: George Cooper Jr. and Sheldon Cooper
- Daughter: Missy Cooper
- Mother: Meemaw
- Father: Pop-Pop
- Brothers: Carl and Edward
- Grandson: Unnamed (via Missy)
- Son-in-law: Unnamed
- Father-in-law: Mr. Cooper
- Mother-in-law: Mrs. Cooper
- Sister-in-law: Unnamed
- Brother-in-law: Unnamed
Mary loves her son very much and Sheldon loves his mother back, although Mary can become agitated by her's son's rude behavior; She reprimanded Sheldon for hanging Penny's laundry on the telephone wire, scolded him for sexually condemning her. In "The Luminous Fish Effect", Mary said she loves Sheldon to death but he had been difficult ever since he had fallen out of her at the K-mart.
George Cooper Sr.
Mary and her husband George, Sheldon's father, appeared to have had an imploding relationship and marriage. Sheldon claims that they fought all the time.
Mary's relationship with her other two children is somehow not very much explained. In "The Luminous Fish Effect", Mary describes the two of them to be "dumb as soup". It's possible that she may be on somewhat good terms with Missy as well as her husband and son. However, she appears to be on no-good terms with her other son George Jr. as in "The Matrimonial Momentum" as she calls him an idiot and calls his girlfriend a whore.
Based on her maturity, reasonable behaviour and sweet, kind, caring and loving nature, she appears to be Leonard's female equivalent. Leonard always likes Mary and looks up to her as he always finds his own mother to be stupid. Mary is essentially the mother Leonard wishes he had. In "The Convergence-Convergence", Mary says that she has always had a special place in her heart for Leonard, taking care of Sheldon for years. It seems that the two could become stepmother and stepson as it appears that Mary is hooking up with Leonard's father.
Penny really likes Mary Cooper as the latter is very caring and sweet. Penny also called her to tell her that Sheldon got her clothes up on the telephone wire.
Amy Farrah Fowler
Mary was first seen with Amy in "The Zazzy Substitution" where she helps Sheldon and Amy get back together after the two had an argument. They weren't seen together again until "The Convergence-Convergence" where Amy and Sheldon picked her up from the airport where it is revealed that Mary is accepting of Amy and is fond of her, although it had already been revealed in "The Matrimonial Momentum" (S9E1) that Amy was in Mary's nightly prayers and in "The Meemaw Materialization" (S9E15) Meemaw said that Mary is okay with Amy.
The rest of the group
Howard and Raj both particularly like Mary because she is such a nice woman. In "The Rhinitis Revelation" Mary comforted Raj when he was upset and Howard was always getting along great with her and Mary also liked Howard and was amazed by his impending trip to the International Space Station, commenting on it as 'A trip to the heavens'.
Mary hadn't been seen with Bernadette and Stuart until the episode "The Conjugal Conjecture", but didn't talk to either of them, although she was shocked by Bernadette's shouting after she did it at Sheldon and Mary hadn't heard Bernadette's squeaky voice to which was why Bernadette was absent from meeting her in "The Zazzy Substitution" and "The Rhinitis Revelation" to which were two episode Bernadette didn't appear in as a main cast member. It's likely the two women would have a very good relationship and Mary would be very sympathetic towards Bernadette and perhaps give her advice about raising children since Bernadette had to take care of her younger siblings while her mother worked full-time. As for Stuart, it's likely she would have a good relationship with him too.
Mary still hasn't met Emily and Leslie. It's likely that Emily would find her wonderful as everybody else does and they'd have a good relationship. Her relationship with Leslie would probably not have been too friendly before the 200th episode "The Celebration Experimentation" since Leslie constantly fought with Sheldon, but is friends with Leonard, but it's likely that after that episode where Leslie has matured, does not feel a need to insult Sheldon and in a friendly way wished him a Happy Birthday by saying "Happy Birthday, Sheldon" (But affectionately said "Happy Birthday, dumb ass" at Sheldon's insistence since he dislikes change).
Mary meets Leonard's mother Beverly Hofstadter and the two very different women started out as being civil, but later quickly came to clash after Beverly insulted Mary's religious beliefs while Mary in return berated Beverly for her cold and distant attitude towards Leonard. Later, however, they made up. However, this peace does not occur. In "The Convergence-Convergence", it turns out that the two women have kept a true dislike of each other and when they meet up again, Mary is not happy to see Beverly again and Mary endś up bonding with Beverly's ex-husband Alfred over their mutual dislike of her and their admiration of each other's beliefs and at the restaurant during the wedding dinner, the mothers start a small argument about the Bible and reading other books.
Mary meets Leonard's father Alfred Hofstadter in "The Convergence-Convergence" and the two come quickly to get along great by bonding over their mutual dislike of Beverly and over expressing admiration of each other's beliefs. When they leave the restaurant after fighting with Beverly, they find out they are staying at the same hotel and they decide to share a cab. Later, their respective sons aren't able to contact them since they have obviously turned their phones off and are probably hooking up at their hotel. In the next episode, they admit to having not slept together, but plan on still seeing each other.
- Laurie Metcalf was a regular in the sitcom Roseanne, along with Johnny Galecki and Sara Gilbert.
- She also played a love interest for unworldly eccentric physics professor Dick Solomon in Third Rock From The Sun. Sheldon would not have approved: she was an English Literature professor and belonged firmly to the Inhumanities. Even worse than the religion...
- Both Sheldon and Leonard's mothers are fit for the other: Mary for Leonard and Beverly for Sheldon.
- Due to Sheldon and Leonard's mothers being fit for the other, Sheldon is jealous of Leonard's childhood and Leonard is jealous of Sheldon's childhood.
- In "The Precious Fragmentation" Sheldon says she has a mild Dr. Pepper addiction. Her addiction to caffeine can be observed in "The Electric Can Opener Fluctuation" when she is seen drinking Pepsi.
- While not directly involving the character, In "The Cooper/Kripke Inversion", Sheldon is attempting to avoid going to work by faking illness. Leonard eventually convinces Sheldon to get dressed and get in the car by choosing similar words and a tone of voice Mary would have in the same situation. However, Leonard is unaware of why what he did was so effective.
- It was planned that she would meet Beverly Hofstadter which would have caused mother envy between the two in Season 6, but the idea was dropped when they couldn't get the actresses together at the same time. However, this was then put into action in the penultimate Season 8 episode "The Maternal Combustion".
- Sheldon wants Penny to take care of him like his mother did in "The Pancake Batter Anomaly", by singing to him and rubbing Vapor Rub on his chest. He does the same thing for Amy in "The Fish Guts Displacement".
- Mary has met all of her son's friends, except Bernadette, Stuart and Emily.
- When Leonard and his friends go to Texas to convince Sheldon to come back home with them, Raj wonders why Howard is wearing a ridiculous-looking cowboy hat he bought at the airport souvenir shop. When Howard says he must blend in, Raj's response is "Blend into what, Toy Story?" Laurie Metcalf voiced Mrs. Davis, the mother of the protagonist toys' owner in that film.
- Mary was the first parent of any main character to appear in the series.
- Mary Cooper on IMDb