Who doesn’t love a good movie? The film industry and celebrity obsession in the US alone shows that movies still have a solid place in pop culture, and films and their stars are constant objects of controversy, praise and discourse. That’s actually part of why big cinema buffs love their favorite films so much – the ability to discuss them.
Cinephiles are especially good at coming up with "what if" situations to help fill in the gaps movies leave behind; sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally. There are hundreds of fan theories about everything movie – if you have a favorite film, there’s probably at least one fan theory about it. Sometimes fan theories are just conjecture, and there are forums and websites dedicated to fact checking and poking holes in film theory ideas. Most fan theories are sincerely take or leave, but others are so inventive and make so much sense, it’s impossible to view the movie in question without thinking about the theory as actually part of the movie.
These fan theories are pretty spot on – so think about “ruin” in the context of never being able to separate the potential fact from the true fiction.
15 Ferris Bueller's Day Off - The Original Fight Club?
This fan theory has floated around the Internet for ages, so you should definitely know it. If not, this one focuses on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the cult classic teen film from the mid-80s. This theory hits a roadblock when you take into consideration the presence of Principal Rooney, but it’s still interesting regardless.
Fans theorize that the character of Ferris is actually a figment of Cameron’s imagination. Because Cameron is so weary and anxious about life and Ferris is outgoing, outlandish and commanding, it’s thought that Cameron has created an alternate persona that he uses to fantasize with. At the end of the film, Cameron decides to start living without Ferris and fear of his father.
14 The Wizard of Oz – Dorothy’s Suicide?
If you recall the classic film The Wizard of Oz, you’ll remember that a lot of the dream-sequence of Oz was a parallel for Dorothy’s actual life back home in Kansas. Her uncles were seen in the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion. Her Auntie Em was the real life version of the Wicked Witch of the West.
This begs the question – who was Dorothy’s doppelganger in the Land of Oz? Fan theorists have speculated that because of the seemingly coincidental location of the Wicked Witch of the East and her shoe size fitting Dorothy’s perfectly, it’s possible that Dorothy murdered her own Oz counterpart.
13 Grease – Sandy is Dead
You always have to suspend your disbelief a little with musicals, but it usually doesn’t extend past swallowing the fact that everyone seems to know choreographed dance numbers and synchronized lyrics on the spot. One big, important, and unbelievable moment in Grease is featured at the end of the film, when Danny and Sandy drive into the sky in a red convertible.
In order to better explain this scenario, and by extension – the entire movie, fans have come up with the theory that the events shown are Sandy’s dying hallucinations before accepting her death, as shown by the flying car scene ascending to the heavens, quite literally, if this theory is to be believed.
12 Forrest Gump – Potential Paternity
One of the more serious turning points in the classic film Forrest Gump is when the titular character reunites with his longtime love interest Jenny, after running across the country for over three years. She introduces him to Forrest – his son she’s even named after him.
Based on what you know about the characters in the movie, Jenny was incredibly promiscuous during the film and is also implied to be dying of HIV. There’s no actual proof that Forrest Jr. is actually Forrest’s son. Fans speculate that the child he’s left to raise isn’t actually his, but Jenny did have a reason to convince him that he was since the two had sex. She just trusted Forrest more than anyone to actually take care of her child.
11 The Avengers - Loki's True Motive
The ending of the original The Avengers film closes with Loki being captured by the heroes and promptly sent back home to Asgard. The villain loses, the heroes win – it all equals a happy ending, right?
This fan theory speculates that Loki didn’t actually lose because he underperformed – he actually did it on purpose. This doesn’t necessarily make the movie much different, but it can hype you up for the potential Thor 2 in the works. Go back and look for subtle clues as to why Loki might want to go back home, like the foreshadowed Infinity Gauntlet that’s shown. What does he have in store?
10 James Bond Franchise – An Eponymous Codename
You may have already heard this one if you’re Internet savvy, but just in case let’s break this one down: have you ever actually sat and thought about how the James Bond films work? Usually film franchises come up with reasons why there are continuous sequels – think Rocky vs. Creed. The James Bond series doesn’t follow the same rule.
This fan theory states that James Bond is actually an operative code-name for a special role assigned in the spy agency. This is why he can easily reveal it without endangering himself, the “character” has survived without aging for decades and the actor changes over and over. This may not be true, but it makes a lot of sense. This also makes it more fun to think about the distinct individuals who may make up the James Bond role over span of the films.
9 The Great Gatsby – Gatsby’s Race
This one isn’t directly related to a movie, mostly because they’re a visual medium, but next time you pop in a film version of this popular book, think about this theory as you watch. Originally thought of by Carlyle Thompson; Literature professor at Medgar Evers College in New York, there’s actually a lot of potential for the titular character of Gatsby to be interpreted as a black person.
Between his tan skin, grooming descriptions, land ownership allotment and subtle allusions by other characters via dialogue, there’s a lot of subtle hints throughout the book that make the case for this potentially controversial theory. We should clear something up, whether or not Gatsby is black should not make or ruin (as the article title indicates) the movie for you (that would be racist), this is just an interesting couple of plot points to think about.
8 Aladdin - A Strange Timeline
Take a trip back to your childhood for a second – or think back on one of the Disney movies your kids used to play incessantly in the mid-90's, depending on your age. While popular fan theories focus on the Genie’s true identity and the validity of the story overall, this specific supposition instead looks at the bigger picture.
Based on the dialogue, the Genie makes a joke about Aladdin’s clothes being “so third century” and also comments on how he’s been in the lamp for the last 10,000 years. This means that he had to have known the 3rd century prior to being sealed away for 10,000 years – making the time period of the movie at the very least 10,300 AD. This might be putting too much thought into joke throwaway lines, but it’s also interesting to think about the film as if it was thousands of years in the future and how it all came to be.
7 Inception - Cobb's Totem
By now everyone has to know about the ending to the popular and now-iconic film Inception. The final scene shows Cobb’s top spinning, but we aren’t sure if it falls or continues – signaling the reality of what we see. This theory states that Cobb's totem isn’t actually his top, but instead it’s his wedding ring.
In the dream world, Cobb is consistently wearing his wedding ring, but he does take it off in the real world. This theory is actually perfect for fans that don’t want to deal with an ending that keeps you guessing. The last scenes show Cobb with his wedding ring off, signaling that the environment is truly real.
6 Mary Poppins – Intersecting Fandoms
Are you a Doctor Who fan? If so, this theory might appeal to you. While there hasn’t been a female Doctor at this point in the series, many fans of both the British series and the iconic Disney film Mary Poppins, wonder if there might have been.
Maybe Mary Poppins isn’t an incarnation of the famous Doctor, but it is thought that she was at the very least a time lord from the series. She has a quirky sense of self (both in personality and style), uses a space-bending object all the time (her purse), and has strange abilities to manipulate both time and space. She’s also British – is all this still feeling like a coincidence?
5 Back to the Future - A Morbid Twist
You remember the zany time-traveling comedies that make up the Back to the Future series, right? If you do, you’ll recall that in the very first movie, Doc Brown comments on how his previous attempts at time traveling were all failures. He proceeds to stand right in the path of the DeLorean as he tests it out.
In theory, imagine if the DeLorean didn’t work – he’d be putting himself directly in the way of a moving, fast vehicle. Fans speculate that because of his previous failures, Doc Brown was actually hoping to commit suicide via his vehicle. If it did hit him, it’d prove unsuccessful – something he simply couldn’t handle anymore.
4 Toy Story – Two for One
Two popular fan theories exist for this series. One is simpler than the other and is more closely linked to the actual canon. This theory states that Andy’s mom just went through a divorce, and this can explain the reason the family is moving, why you never see a dad and Andy’s obsession with strong male figures in the form of action figures. There are also die-hard fans that have posted caps of the mother’s hand from a Toy Story 3 scene – she’s not wearing a wedding ring.
The other theory also revolves around Andy’s mother. During the first movie, you can see Andy wearing a hat that looks extremely like Jessie’s – a female cowboy toy revealed in the second movie. In that same movie, Jessie talks about her old owner, Emily, who is shown wearing a hat very similar to Andy’s. Fans theorize that this means Emily is indeed Andy’s mom – the timeline adds up and it’s very possible she gave Andy a hand-me down toy fashion accessory.
3 Kill Bill – The Bride’s Mercy
This contains quite a few Kill Bill spoilers, so move on to the next movie if you haven’t seen both Kill Bill and Kill Bill 2. Now that you’ve been warned, consider this: the movies culminate in Beatrix murdering Bill with her 5 point palm fist of death technique.
The fan theory states that while she might have appeared to perform the fatal technique, it makes more sense that she simply incapacitated Bill, not killed him. Because she’s never actually shown learning the technique, viewers can’t confirm how it’s performed. Beatrix also doesn’t kill many people in the films. Tarantino also wanted to make a Kill Bill 3 – how could he, though, if Bill’s already been killed?
2 Harry Potter – The Story is All About Mental Illness
If you’ve ever read or seen any of the media available for the Harry Potter franchise, you’ll recall that the series for children does cover some more serious and adult topics, like abuse, crime and tough decisions and consequences. This fan theory states that the entire series is actually more literal than the books lead on.
It’s true that Harry is abused by his guardians, the Dursleys, and the theory hypothesizes that this effected Harry’s psyche. He gets sent to a specialized school after hurting the Dursleys’ son and the events of the Harry Potter series are delusions of a mentally ill boy, warring with the duality of being good or succumbing to his violent tendencies. This one doesn’t seem as likely as others on this list, but it’s definitely interesting. Think about it the next time you binge-watch the Harry Potter movies.
1 Star Wars – A New Jedi
If you remember watching E.T. as a kid, you may recall the trick-or-treating scene where Elliot lugs around his new alien companion, covered in a white sheet as a method of disguise. While out, E.T. obviously recognizes a Yoda costume and even exclaims the word “home” upon seeing the other child.
This may just be his recognition of Elliot’s Star Wars toys back at his house, but Star Wars Episode I shows an entire spacecraft of aliens that look exactly like E.T. This could potentially mean that E.T. actually did recognize Yoda as someone from his own time and dimension – it also explains why he can make Elliot’s bike fly. The force sure is convenient.