Stories, by design, generally leave out details to better serve their narrative direction. These missing details leave it up to the audience to fill in the blanks with their own imaginations.
Leaving it up to the audience has given rise to countless popular fan theories over the years. Most of these theories are a bit of a stretch, to say the least. However, sometimes they are almost as brilliant as the story they are reinterpreting. They may even make you rethink the way you thought about the entire film or TV show.
While there are a huge number of fan theories lying around on the Internet, these 10 are so good they might as well be made canon.
10. The Pixar Films Are All Set in One Shared Universe
Due to the enormous success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, shared universes are all the rage in Hollywood right now. So naturally, fans have been examining other franchises to find clues that support the claim that they also take place in the same fictional universe.
One prominent and compelling fan theory stipulates that all of Pixar’s animated films share the same universe. Inspired by a video on Cracked, Jon Negroni created “The Pixar Theory”. This theory argues that every Pixar movie is connected and that there is an observable timeline that ties it all together. The theory is much too complex to discuss in full here, but luckily, Negroni made an informative video to summarize his points.
9. Gandalf Was Seeking out the Eagles in The Lord Of The Rings
Many people have pointed out that the ending of The Return of the King introduces some pretty significant plot holes. In particular, the late arrival of the giant eagles in the film’s climactic battle makes it clear that these eagles could have simply flown the One Ring to Mount Doom and saved everyone a lot of trouble.
This theory seeks to dispel this plot hole by arguing that Gandalf planned to team up with the eagles the entire time. However, Gandalf’s “death” in the mines of Moria prevented him from following through with his plans. Since Gandalf suffers from selective amnesia when reborn as Gandalf the White, it’s only when he summons the eagles in the last battle that he remembers his initial plan.
Turns out Gandalf was being extremely literal with his last words: “Fly, you fools!”
8. Aladdin Takes Place in the Distant Future
Disney’s Aladdin is set in ancient times in the fictional kingdom of Agrabah. However, while the setting of Aladdin may have the look and feel of ancient times, there is a popular theory that argues that the film is actually set thousands of years in the future.
The key to this theory is Genie, as he drops numerous hints in his dialogue that supports it. For instance, Genie makes a comment at one point that Aladdin’s clothing is “much too third century.” Prior to this, Genie references that he’s been trapped in his magic lamp for 10 thousand years. This would mean Aladdin takes place after the year 10,000 at the earliest. There’s also Genie’s numerous references to famous 20th-century figures and the magic carpet’s hovering to consider.
7. Fight Club’s Narrator and Tyler Durden Are Calvin and Hobbes
Both Fight Club and Calvin and Hobbes feature male protagonists that dream up imaginary figures to cope with their realities. So, it’s fitting that someone connected the dots. Thus making the claim that Calvin is actually Fight Club narrator Jack all grown up and Tyler Durden is actually imaginary tiger, Hobbes.
This is an extremely convincing fan theory, as Galvin P. Chow makes the case that Hobbes manifests himself as Tyler. This is because a grown-up Calvin would no longer accept an anthropomorphized tiger as his best friend. Chow even makes the connection between the two works’ secret male-dominated societies. Calvin’s anti-girl club G.R.O.S.S. (Get Rid Of Slimy girlS) being an early precursor to the violent, men-only Fight Club he creates as an adult.
6. Doctor Claw Is the Real Inspector Gadget
Children’s cartoons generally aren’t very concerned with having rock-solid canonical explanations for everything. To be honest, who would ever give serious thought to a kid’s show? A lot of people as it turns out. In fact, some remarkable fan theories involve cartoons.
One of the better ones is the theory that Dr. Claw, the antagonist in Inspector Gadget, was the real Inspector Gadget. Well until a terrible accident left him disfigured and bent on revenge against the robot that stole his identity.
This theory has some weight. It claims that Inspector Gadget’s niece Penny built the robot Gadget out of grief for her dead uncle. That’s why Claw never actually harms Penny, despite capturing her in practically every episode.
Honestly, this theory is so good it makes the actual show seem more intelligent as a result.
5. Scooby-Doo Is Set in a Financially-Ruined America
Ever wondered why so many people seemed to have poorly-planned money-making schemes in the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! cartoon?
According to a fan theory, it’s because the Mystery Gang was solving mysteries in a post-depression America. This severe economic downturn causes people from all walks of life to take desperate measures to make ends meet. It would explain why people with prominent professions like college professors, lawyers, and athletes would turn to a life of crime.
This theory would flip the entire series on its head. Considering they are preventing people from making a living in the only avenue left to them, those “meddling kids” are in some ways the real bad guys of Scooby-Doo.
4. The Simpsons Are All Geniuses
The Simpsons have a pretty well-established family dynamic. Homer is dumb, but lovable, Marge is the long-suffering housewife that keeps everything together, Bart is a hellraiser, Maggie is a resourceful baby, and Lisa is the misfit child prodigy.
However, if a popular fan theory holds any weight, we might have the Simpson family pegged all wrong. Each member of the family is actually a genius like Lisa. There is plenty of proof, including:
- Homer has a crayon lodged in his brain that makes him stupid, but when removed he’s shown to be highly intelligent;
- Marge was a successful student and artist who chose homemaking because it made her happy;
- Bart used to get good grades but took after his father after seeing how happy Homer was being ignorant, and;
- Maggie is shown time and again to be much smarter than the average one-year-old; she even saves Homer from drowning at one point.
Maybe Lisa isn’t as special as we thought.
3. Ferris Bueller Isn’t Real
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a beloved coming-of-age film. It tells a straightforward story about three friends who play hooky from school for a day to explore Chicago.
As the title suggests, the main character is Ferris Bueller. But, what if it’s actually his meek friend Cameron? The “Fight Club Theory” argues that Ferris is really just a figment of Cameron’s imagination and represents an ideal of coolness and confidence that Cameron wants for himself. The “Day Off” is really just in Cameron’s head and Ferris’s girlfriend Sloane is a girl from school that Cameron has a crush on. At the end of the film, Cameron destroys his father’s car in a fugue state and decides to finally stand up to him.
This theory has become so well-regarded that it’s even been discussed in other fiction. More recently in Orange Is The New Black.
2. Batman Is Actually in a Psych Ward
Batman is a psychologically complex hero. This aspect of the character has been used frequently as a storytelling device across decades of comics, movies, and video games. The Dark Knight is frequently seen locking bad guys up in Arkham Asylum. But what if he’s actually a patient there himself?
This theory has popped up frequently. It basically argues that rather than grow up to become the Batman, Bruce Wayne suffered from PTSD after his parents were murdered and had to eventually be locked up. Batman becomes his assumed alter ego and various staff and prisoners of Arkham become characters from the Batman story. For instance, The Joker is a fellow inmate who laughs hysterically, while the Scarecrow is Bruce’s doctor.
Considering how much focus is placed on Batman’s psychological trauma in the regular storylines, this theory actually holds some weight.
1. Pinky Is Actually a Genius
The tagline for the popular 90s cartoon Pinky and The Brain claims that “One is a genius, the other’s insane.” Naturally, it was always assumed that The Brain is the genius and Pinky is insane. However, the tagline doesn’t specify which character is what.
This ambiguity has left the door open for a pretty convincing theory that claims the opposite. In this scenario, Pinky’s odd mannerisms and weird vocabulary are actually by-products of his genius-level IQ, while his feigned stupidity is actually a clever way of stopping The Brain from taking over the world. Meanwhile, The Brain displays an obsessive compulsion to take over the world despite frequent failures, which suggests that he is mentally unstable.