What if there were more going on in your favorite movies than you realized?
Much like how infinite monkeys banging on typewriters will eventually churn out Shakespeare, an internet plethora of fan theories about popular films inevitably produces a few gems. We’ve collected the most compelling, brilliant, or just plain bold ones of the bunch.
There’s A Secret Switcharoo In The Film Us
If you haven’t seen Jordan Peele’s newest film you might want to skip ahead! Along with the twist we definitely know, there’s an additional theory that Adelaide isn’t the only person who isn’t what she seems. Specifically, her son Jason is also a Tethered from the start of the film.
The evidence? For starters — instead of making sand castles, Jason is seen creating tunnels on the beach… not unlike the tunnels occupied by the Tethered underground. But probably the biggest moment backing up this idea has to be the ending smile that Jason exchanges with his mother, immediately followed by the donning of a mask.
Every Adam Sandler Movie Is Connected
In what is more a practice in sheer will, a lone hero has watched every Adam Sandler film (including the loosely-connected works of Rob Schneider) and concluded that every single one of them is tethered in the same universe. And yes, that includes his 9/11 film Reign Over Me.
How could this possibly be? Well it turns out that Sandler just loves to reference the same names and characters in his films, creating a web of crossovers in a world seemingly overrun by dudes who all look like him. Needless to say, the potential is downright dystopian to imagine.
Supreme Leader Snoke Is Secretly Jar Jar Binks
In what has to be one of the most hilariously outdated Reddit threads in the history of the internet — before his unceremonious death, there was a whole lot of fans theorizing that Supreme Leader Snoke would later be revealed as prequel bane Jar Jar Binks. The crux of the evidence? Andy Serkis’s description of the character, which sounded slightly like the Gungan outcast.
Now, in fairness to the theory — one can imagine all kinds of cosmetic surgery going on in the Star Wars universe, something that Snoke could very well have been on the botched end of. And since this theory died with him, there’s no stopping fans from imagining the Supreme Leader’s cold corpse as the secret remains of Jar Jar. Frankly, there’s really no stopping Star Wars fans from thinking anything at this point.
Kill Bill & From Dusk Till Dawn Are Movies Within The Tarantino Universe
Does it count if the fan theory is by the director of the film? In a 2016 interview with The Project, Quentin Tarantino not only confirmed that all of his directed movies could take place within a single universe — but also the Robert Rodriguez film From Dusk Till Dawn (which was written by Tarantino).
How exactly does an ultra-violent vampire flick play into the Tarantinoverse? By existing as a movie that was made within that world. Along with the Kill Bill duology, a film with equally cartoonish violence, Dusk is the perfect pop-culture result of a world where Hitler was publicly assassinated and everyone dresses like a violent Blues Brothers character.
E.T. Is Secretly A Jedi
He levitates objects at will, psychically links with children, and is a shriveled and monk-like figure. There’s a strong case to make that the titular alien in E.T. is a wayward Jedi child abandoned on Earth. Not to mention that, thanks to a Prequel easter egg, his species absolutely exists in the Star Wars universe.
Of course you might recall that Star Wars itself is a brand within the E.T. universe — as seen by action figures and a Yoda Halloween outfit. So how do we explain that? How about a multiverse theory? Because if we’re already talking about Raisinette-looking cosmic wizards we might as well go all in.
John Wick Is A Matrix Training Program
While there is already a theory going around that John Wick takes place as a secret Matrix sequel, we’re going to personally take this one step further: John Wick is a training program. Not unlike how the game Path Of Neo stretches the Matrix’s seemingly-fast training into playable levels, Wick is us watching Neo learn the ways of combat.
It makes all the sense. Besides the presence of Laurence Fishburne, the civilians of John Wick are seemingly blasé toward the assassination action around them. Furthermore, the single-coin-based money system screams the simplicity of a virtual universe. It certainly makes more sense than John Wick taking place in any kind of reality.
Willy Wonka: Cannibal
You don’t have to dig very deep to believe that perhaps Willy Wonka is a secret murderer. You know, because of all the clear acts of attempted murder he commits in his factory of OSHA-nightmares. This particular fan theory merely posits the idea that the wayward children dropping off his tour are indeed being killed and eaten off camera.
The biggest evidence? Whenever the group enters a vehicle, it’s specifically designed to seat the waning numbers of people present. Meaning that Wonka and his crew were prepared for these “accidents” to happen — to the point that they even rehearsed musical numbers to accompany them!
Ferris Bueller Isn’t Real
It’s a theory as old as the internet, and for good reason! The impossible fourth wall-breaking and titular character in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off makes the most realistic sense had he simply been a figment in side-character Cameron’s imagination. In a Fight Club-like scenario, we are simply watching the manifestation of a repressed id.
After all, Cameron might be the only character who has a fleshed out arc, albeit one that will result in the most epic of groundings. While this theory doesn’t account for a lot of the other interactions with Ferris, one could argue that these scenes are merely taking place in the head of actually fevered Cameron playing out his personal fantasies.
The “Real World” In The Matrix Is Still A Fake
You’ve likely repressed the less-favored sequels to The Matrix in which Neo meets with a pretentious-talking Architect and lives out his psychic dream of preventing Trinity’s death — something foretold in the passions of weird rave sex. But there’s a compelling theory that, from this moment on, Neo never actually left the Matrix.
Why? Because this is the moment he begins to gain Neo-like powers in the “real world”, controlling sentinels while being able to see despite brutal blindness. It would also explain why a program like Agent Smith would be able to possess a living human. Suddenly the ending isn’t so happy if you imagine it as yet another catatonic LARPing session.
Donny Doesn’t Exist In The Big Lebowski
In what feels more like a fun idea than workable theory, there’s been a long-going proposal that the character of Donny — bowling buddy of Dudes and Walters alike — is either imaginary or actually the ghost of a long-dead Vietnam friend in The Big Lebowski. It’s only once they spread his ashes are they able to finally let him rest.
There’s really no evidence to back this up besides it being a neat way to watch the movie. And when the Coen Brothers were actually asked about it, they very fairly pointed out that (technically speaking) all of the characters in the film are “imaginary”… much like literally every fictional character.
The Pulp Fiction Briefcase Contains Marsellus Wallace’s Soul
Leave it to fans to take an ambiguous detail and manifest a world of crazy around it. In this case it’s the coveted briefcase in Pulp Fiction, which we never actually see the contents of. One of the strangest speculations is that it secretly contained the soul of Marsellus Wallace — seen with a bandaid on the back of his neck (from the extraction).
While this would explain his desire for the case and the eerie glow that emanates within, it turns out that the original script simply identified the treasure as diamonds. Specifically, the diamonds that were stolen in Tarantino’s previous Reservoir Dogs. Just another way all of his films are narratively connected!
The Movie Titanic Is Secretly A Terminator Sequel
Starting with his knowledge of Lake Wissota and the Santa Monica coaster — two things yet to exist when the film takes place — there’s a lot of believable evidence that not only is Jack a time-traveller, but one specifically there to make sure the Titanic sinks. After all, had Rose jumped they might have spent a crucial day looking for her body.
But why stop there? As an extension of this theory goes, he’s not only a time traveller… but a Terminator robot sent back in time to ensure Rose’s survival (or perhaps the deaths of many). It would certainly explain his odd knowledge of where exactly they should go to survive the disaster!
The Aliens In Signs Aren’t Aliens… They Are Demons
It’s less of a theory and more like a reading of subtext that audiences seemed to miss. In a film all about religion, it stands to reason that the baddies surrounding the movie Signs were actually sent from Hell rather than outer space. For starters, it explains why they absolutely look like demons.
But more importantly, this also explains why water would hurt the monsters — a seemingly dumb twist in an otherwise suspenseful film. Because these glasses being ritualistically left around the farmhouse by a saintly young girl aren’t filled with water at all… but holy water.
James Bond Is A Codename Given To Multiple Agents
In one of a few rare cases, audiences have largely accepted the premise that James Bond is a timeless character able to be played by multiple actors. We celebrate the multiple continuities and reboots as tradition. But what if we didn’t have to? What if it all made perfect sense?
This is the premise behind the “Codename Theory”. Which is that, like the status of “007”, the name James Bond is simply a title given to an ever-changing series of agents. It would certainly explain why the supposed spy loves to flaunt his name to villains, and why he never ages or dies after so many adventures (because he actually dies a whole lot).
Three Tim Burton Films Secretly Star The Same Character
Tim Burton characters are often dark and lanky, dressed in gothic attire and theatrical in presence. But there are three characters that seem eerie alike not only in appearance, but name. Frankenweenie stars a young dog-resurrecting Victor Frankenstein, after that we have Victor Van Dort of Corpse Bride — who is also a dog owner.
Perhaps these two share a spiritual kinship Cloud Atlas-style, as they both are loving dog owners. And you know who else is lanky and canine-adjacent? Mr. Jack Skellington from Nightmare Before Christmas, the final form of this theorized single character. Does the theory hold up once you get into the details? Not really! That’s why it’s a fan theory.
Event Horizon Is A Prequel To Warhammer 40k
Warhammer 40k, for the many who don’t know, is a tabletop game taking place in the 41st millennium. One futuristic technology featured is a Warp-Drive that takes passengers through an unstable dimension filled with creatures called the Chaos Gods. Without proper protection, this realm is seen as downright hellish to those who dare to cross.
If that sounds familiar to you, it’s because that’s extremely close to the plot of Event Horizon — a film about a new warp drive accidentally sending unfortunate astronauts into hell itself. So is the film a secret prequel to Warhammer? Not officially, but that doesn’t have to stop us from dreaming.
Frozen, Tangled, Tarzan, and The Little Mermaid Take Place In The Same Universe
We know that the Disney universe loves their share of easter eggs (something that I’ll get to later), but sometimes these seemingly unconnected cameos create a huge splash. In the case of Frozen — a story beginning with the oceanic death of the protagonists parents — there’s a rumor going around that their voyage was to attend Rapunzel’s return celebration in Tangled.
And what’s crazier — the wreckage from that very sad plot point is the very same from The Little Mermaid, much of the ship’s details totally matching up between the two films. And if that still isn’t bonkers enough, according to the director herself, those parents didn’t even die at sea — but rather washed up on the jungle before giving birth to a new child… Tarzan.
Bran Stark Mind-Controlled Jaime Lannister
Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows in history, so it’s easy to forget that the very first episode ends with a man throwing a little boy out of a window, and viewers around the world decided, “Well we have to see where this is going.” Bran (Isaac-Hempstead Wright) becomes crippled after the fall, but that’s ok, because he has the power of mind control, which he can use to drive his pet wolf Summer and even his stable boy Hodor (Kristian Narin). In fact, one fan theory suggests that Bran used his mind powers to actually cause his own “accident.”
We know that Bran, as the Three-Eyed Raven, essentially has the power to travel through time via the Weirwood trees (those albino trunks with death-metal faces carved into them) and zip into people’s thoughts. According to the theory, Future Bran reached into the past to mind-haunt Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) into throwing Past Bran out of the window, thus crippling him and sending him on his journey to becoming the new Three-Eyed Raven.
Sandy Died At The Beginning Of The Movie Grease
This one comes from the Facebook page of Sarah Michelle Gellar of all places. Theory goes: during the song Summer Nights, Danny recounts saving Sandy’s life — saying “she nearly drowned”. Later, at the end of the film, the couple lift off into the clouds in their car.
So naturally, people are assuming that not only did Sandy actually drown, but the entire film is simply the final thoughts in her oxygen-starved brain… ending when she ascends into the heavens. And frankly that’s as good of an explanation as any for why musicals exist. Perhaps those little Newsies kids were also dead.
The “Nemo” Of Finding Nemo Doesn’t Really Exist
Yet another case of “character who we think exists secretly doesn’t exist.” Only in this version, Nemo is the manifestation of Marlin’s profound grief… having watched his entire family die at the start of the movie. After all… in Latin, the word “nemo” translates into “nobody”, making that title way more bleak.
And to make this even sadder, people on the internet have even identified the five stages of grief embedded in this poor clownfish’s journey to find the child he never really had. From bargaining with Dory to the despair of seeing Nemo be flushed away, this is very much the tale of a father cycling through the torment of loss. How fun!
The Main Character In Fury Road Isn’t The Original Mad Max
This makes so much sense that we just assumed it after watching this awesome, awesome sequel. If you recall the 1981 Mad Max 2 you might also remember the feral child that Rockatansky gifts a music box to… something the primarily mute Fury Road character also has in his possession.
Surprisingly this was not the intent, and even director George Miller admitted that it was an intriguing take — saying to the theory, “No, unfortunately but that’s a great idea.” But hey, with any luck maybe Miller will finally give us a new sequel that retcons the story. We just have to wait another ten years for it.
The Many Theories About The Wizard Of Oz
The Wizard Of Oz has the benefit of existing for so damn long that society has had the time to conjure as many fan theories as humanly possible — so many that they have even spun off into their own stories. It would be silly to pick just one of them!
As detailed in Vulture — some standouts include the story being a parable for populism (a Tin Man representing industrial workers, a Scarecrow representing a farmer, etc), feminism (a powerful man exposed as a fraud), and of course the fact that Glinda is not so good of a witch after all (she knew about the shoes the whole freaking time).
Thor Is A Secret Skrull Spy
It’s exciting to think about where the Marvel Cinematic Universe will head after this nasty business with Thanos dies down. One very possible direction (partially thanks to a certain merger) orbits around the newly-introduced Skrull aliens, who possess the ability to take the form of whoever they please.
In Secret Invasion, the Skrull planet is destroyed by Galactus — causing them to assume the identities of various Avengers. The way Civil War led into Infinity Wars, so could this storyline lead us into the next big spectacle. And as one Redditor has theorized based on Thor’s sudden and comedic personality change — the process could have already begun.
Not Only Is Elvis Alive, But Featured In Home Alone
Imagine a world where Elvis not only successfully faked his death, but then proceeded to lay low for 13 years before making his triumphant return to screen in the form of a background extra in the Christmas classic Home Alone. Frankly that’s the kind of world we want to live in.
It’s only understandable that this theory exists considering how often we love to spot The King in various UFO photographs and tortilla shell patterns. But of course, all this wild conjecture is downright silly when everyone knows the real Elvis went on to fight an ancient mummy with JFK.
The Movie Fargo Sparked A Real-Life Death
We’re moving into the category of “fan theories surrounding the life around the movie” with a harrowing story of mystery and betrayal. It is the story of Takako Konishi, a woman found deceased in the snow around Fargo, Minnesota. Unlike the film of the same name, this was really a true story.
The rumor was that she accidentally died while trying to look for the fictional money of the movie, having misunderstood the satirical opening text. The truth, as discovered by two filmmakers investigating the tale, is far more complex and sad. Spoilers: it has nothing to do with a Coen Brothers movie.
The Shining Was About Faking The Moon Landing
As the documentary Room 237 exposed, there’s a lot of people in the world who don’t understand how movies are made — and that even a director like Stanley Kubrick doesn’t actually micromanage the details of set and costume design. No better example is the theory that The Shining is secretly about faking the moon landing.
Probably the crux of this comes from Danny’s sweater depicting the Apollo 11 launch, which is pretty funny considering that its origin was a friend of costume designer Milena Canonero — who brought it to set herself and had nothing to do with the director’s own instructions.
Nosferatu Featured An Actual Vampire
Does an entire movie count as a fan theory? For the sake of this list, we say it does. That film in question is Shadow of the Vampire, a forgotten 2000 motion picture starring John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe and about an imagined scenario where the film Nosferatu secretly starred a real vampire.
Truly this is a bizarre theory tucked inside an equally-bizarre film directed by E. Elias Merhige, the maniac responsible for the gore-filled fever nightmare that is Begotten… a film we totally recommend watching with your whole family. Perhaps during the holidays when you’re all together.
Jimmy Neutron Lives In A Government-Controlled Neighborhood
Leave it to Reddit to take all the fun from your beloved childhood. This time it’s Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius — a film centered on a CGI ruffian inventing a whole world of neat contraptions. Why is no one stopping him from such dangerous shanaigans? Because he’s part of an elaborate government laboratory of course!
The idea that Jimmy and his friends are genetically engineered super children does explain a lot, including why the so-called “parents” (hired actors, duh) seem to pay little mind to his extreme creations. Not to mention that, much like all cartoon characters, Jimmy appears to be some kind of peanut-headed abomination that only mad science could conjure.
All Of The Supposed Subliminal Messages Hidden In Disney Films
Like I said before, and much like Wizard Of Oz, Disney animations have existed for so long that it’s hard to keep track of all the easter eggs. There’s of course the word “sex” (or more likely “SFX”) supposedly seen in The Lion King, the uh… excited minister in The Little Mermaid, and of course the very real lady who shows up in The Rescuers.
More than anything, the library of subliminal moments spotted by eagle-eyed fans is more of a testament to the infinite boredom no doubt experienced by animated in the pre-CGI days. Because making kids movies isn’t fun unless you can sneak in a dirty joke or two.
The Shape Of Water Features Two Fish-Monsters
Any schmo can win and Oscar… but it takes real talent to nab Best Picture for two hours of sexual tension between a woman and a fish. But what if this story isn’t what we think? As one careful observer has discovered, it’s very possible that The Shape Of Water doesn’t just feature one aquatic goblin.
Did you wonder just why the character Elisa couldn’t speak? Or why her background is so mysterious? How about when she grows freaking gills at the end? Well the theory is that she’s also part-fish, and her transformation is actually the healing of a long-lost part of her anatomy. It explains a surprising lot, including her somewhat fetishistic attraction to the water itself.
The Government Is Secretly Making Serial Killers In Silence Of The Lambs
In terms of sheer intensity and uniqueness, this is the clear winner. It theorizes that there’s an entirely secret subplot to this 1991 classic that no one else has noticed. That the true nature of Clarice’s investigation is simply a cog in a government mind control scheme designed to turn serial killers into assassins.
No, really. It’s all here in this guy’s 5,000+ analysis that only a sane individual would write… along with a Reddit thread and YouTube video devoted to the theory. Is it viable? Absolutely — but that’s mostly because we’re afraid to publicly shoot the theory down in case the author is reading this.
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