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'Big Bang Theory' sends Bob Newhart into the Force

Bob Newhart might have made his last appearance on "The Big Bang Theory": His character, Arthur Jeffries, died on this week's "The Proton Transmogrification." That's right: Professor Proton is dead. Someone start singing "Soft Kitty," stat! Why would "Big Bang" kill off such a beloved character? Newhart won his first Emmy last year for playing Professor Proton, the television science show personal
Image: Bob Newhart
Darren Michaels / CBS

Bob Newhart might have made his last appearance on "The Big Bang Theory": His character, Arthur Jeffries, died on this week's "The Proton Transmogrification."

That's right: Professor Proton is dead. Someone start singing "Soft Kitty," stat!

\"Big Bang Theory\" turned Bob Newhart's Professor Proton into a Jedi on the May 4th episode.Darren Michaels / Today

Why would "Big Bang" kill off such a beloved character? Newhart won his first Emmy last year for playing Professor Proton, the television science show personality who inspired Leonard and Sheldon to become scientists themselves.

His death was a stunning blow for the guys, made even worse by the fact that his funeral coincided with "Star Wars" Day, May the Fourth (Be With You).

Leonard and Penny attended the service (where they almost got engaged!), but Sheldon refused, opting instead to marathon all six "Star Wars" films with Howard and Raj.

In reality, though, Sheldon — like devastated "Big Bang" viewers — was stuck in the first stage of grief: denial. 

#RIP+Professor+Proton+#BBT+we+will+miss+you!

—+Mariah+Lockwood+(@RiahRambles)+May+2,+2014+

Maybe+#BigBangTheory+will+take+a+page+from+#FamilyGuy+?+Sheldon+can+go+back+in+time+and+save+Professor+Proton!+😢@BobNewhart

—+John+Paterakis+(@JohnPaterakis)+May+2,+2014+

When it came to acknowledging his feelings about the loss of his father figure, Sheldon's head was buried deeper in the sand than a Sarlacc on the planet Tatooine.  

But like Obi-Wan Kenobi himself, Arthur reappeared in spirit form while Sheldon was napping.

Now that's what we call a return of the Jedi!

So the "ghost" of Arthur Jeffries opens the door for Bob Newhart to return again to "The Big Bang Theory" — and maybe snag another Emmy.

But whether he represented Sheldon's subconscious or a genuine spirit, Arthur had some excellent advice for his No. 1 fan — and viewers.

After Sheldon made us cry into our robes when he said mournfully, "All the men I've looked up to have gone away" — including father figure Arthur, his real dad and "11 Doctor Whos" — Jedi Jeffries advised him to appreciate the people who are "still there for you."

Which is why when Leonard returned from the funeral, Sheldon woke up and surprised him with a heartfelt hug.

Awww.

Even though Arthur has gone to the great science lab in the sky, here's hoping Newhart won't stay too far away from "The Big Bang Theory" galaxy.  

After all, Arthur told Sheldon when he reappeared in the last scene: "I'm here whenever you need me."

"The Big Bang Theory" airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBS.