Sheldon Cooper is always shown as struggling when it comes to driving, so is there any particular reason behind that; being one the greatest minds, driving would never have been so difficult. Is there any reason for showing him as bad at driving?

  • 11
    Well, driving is not just cerebral. It requires coordination, adroitness, good instincts and even social skills, things that Sheldon may be lacking.
    – Walt
    Sep 7, 2015 at 7:02
  • 13
    In addition to what Walt already said, perfectly knowing the driving code (that Sheldon would definitely be capable) is not enough: because many other drivers don't know very well all the rules the driving code, or don't respect them all the time, driving requires flexibility and adaptation to unexpected event. Things that would totally make Sheldon anxious.
    – Taladris
    Sep 7, 2015 at 7:30
  • 1
    Not to mention a lot of "rules" are really "behave in the way you've been conditioned to behave" -- e.g. there are lots of a four-way intersection without stop signs where people are supposed to just know which road has the right of way (this really bothered me when I was learning). This sort of thing is really frustrating to someone who is led to believe there are rules. (and, of course, actually understands "following the rules" rather than "following some intuitive idea I formed when listening to the rules that may or may not actually align with the rules" that most people tend to do)
    – user25696
    Sep 7, 2015 at 12:59
  • He can drive... Just not well. Remember the episode where Penny fell in her shower and dislocated her shoulder? Sheldon had to drive her to the hospital (After eyeballing her nakedness and groping her boob, of course). I bet if he smoked some pot first or convinced Leonard's mom to prescribe him a mild sedative he could drive just fine without having an overwhelming anxiety.
    – Robbyn M
    Sep 8, 2015 at 4:29
  • @Hurkyl Where do you live? I have seen very, very few intersections without any stop signs. Sep 8, 2015 at 5:02

2 Answers 2


Driving is kind of a social skill. You need to follow some unwritten norms like guessing when the other person is going to turn. And it also needs some level of reliance on your instinct. However, Sheldon takes every calculation to a very scientific and molecular level. He sucks in many situations where you need to interact with other people.

There's a relevant quote by Sheldon in "The Euclid Alternative" -- the fifth episode of the second season -- where he was arguing how he is more evolved to drive:

No, no. Leonard, I’m meant for greater things, like unraveling the mysteries of the universe, not determining when it’s safe to pass a stopped school bus on a country road.

Notice his usage of the word "determining", nobody with driving skills thinks of it in terms of determining. So, indirectly the writers have indicated the reason.

  • 6
    And, of course, he's scared shitless. Not a good precondition for safe driving. Every unexpected thing on the road tends to result in panic, something you really don't want when you're driving. While Sheldon has demonstrated calm in the past, it certainly isn't there when he actually feels physically threatened - and even at relatively slow speeds, cars are quite dangerous.
    – Luaan
    Sep 7, 2015 at 12:41
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    @Luaan Going by the violent noises in the simulator, he has poor physical coordination even when (IIRC) not visibly threatened. Sep 7, 2015 at 13:45
  • 3
    Well, I can still get pretty scared/excited when playing video games - they do try to evoke "real" danger. The anxiety tends to start when you have to quickly react to something unexpected (and sometimes even expected :D) - it doesn't really matter whether you're in real danger or imagined danger; your brain makes it real... I'd expect that if you'd remove all the other cars in the simulator, he'd be able to drive around just fine - add the cars, and panic takes over. There's just too much to handle.
    – Luaan
    Sep 7, 2015 at 14:14

In the prequel show, Young Sheldon s01e03, Sheldon say:

I"ve often been asked

why I never learned to drive a car

this night is your answer.

Why he said that will be a spoiler:

his dad had a heart attack and kids were left in Meemaw's care. But they stole Meemaw's car to see there dad, his older brother George Cooper was driving when he said that due to his rash driving.

  • on the contrary, in an episode where John Sturgis learns to drive tells Connie that there's too many possibilities to think while driving.
    – ashveli
    May 13, 2019 at 12:07

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