Stories, by design, generally leave out details to better serve their narrative direction. It’s up to the audience to fill in these blank spaces with their own imaginations, which of course 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, but 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 — some great, others not so much — these 10 are so good they might as well be made canon.
10. The Pixar Films Are All Set In One Shared Universe
Shared Universes are all the rage with movie franchises right now, thanks in large part to the enormous success of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, 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 of the most prominent and compelling fan theories stipulates that all of Pixar’s animated films share the same universe. Inspired by a video on cracked.com, Jon Negroni created “The Pixar Theory”, where he argues that every movie is connected by major events that influence one another and that there is an observable timeline that ties it altogether (Brave takes place first — and somehow last — chronologically). 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(s) 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 the Eagles could have simply flown the One Ring to Mount Doom and saved Frodo and Sam (and everyone for that matter) 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, but his “death” in the mines of Moria prevented him from following through with his plans. Since he suffers from selective amnesia when he’s reborn as Gandalf the White later on, 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 based on The Arabian Nights tale of the same name and 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. Key to this theory is the Genie character, as he drops numerous hints in his dialogue that support this theory. For instance, the Genie makes a comment at one point that Aladdin’s clothing is “much too 3rd Century.” Prior to this, Genie references that he’s been trapped in his magic lamp for ten thousand years, which 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 such as Jack Nicholson and the magic carpet (it’s powered by hover technology) 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 and made 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, as 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, with 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 because who would ever give serious thought to a kid’s show? A lot of people, as it turns out, as some of the best fan theories involve cartoons. One of the better ones is the theory that Dr. Claw, the archvillain in Inspector Gadget, was the real Inspector until a terrible accident left him disfigured and bent on revenge against the robot that stole his identity. This theory has some weight, as it claims that Inspector Gadget’s niece Penny built the robot Gadget out of grief for her dead uncle and that’s why Claw never actually harms her, 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 were solving mysteries in a post-depression America, where a severe economic downturn has caused people from all walks of life to go to 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 that often involved dressing up as monsters (so as to hide their shame). That would mean that those “meddling kids” are in some ways the villains of Scooby-Doo, as they are preventing people from making a living in the only avenue left to them.
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 this theory holds any weight, we might have the Simpson family pegged all wrong. Each member of the family is actually a genius like Lisa: 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 one of the most beloved coming-of-age films and tells a pretty 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 has become such a well-regarded theory 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 and 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 villains up in Arkham Asylum, but what if he’s actually a patient there himself? This theory has popped up frequently, and 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 (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 From Pinky And The Brain 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, but the fact that the tagline doesn’t specify which character is what 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. If an audience can buy two talking lab rats hatching schemes on a nightly basis, this theory isn’t actually much of a stretch.