9 Crazy Conspiracy Theories About TV Shows

NBC
NBC

Sometimes, devoted fans get a little carried away in their efforts to interpret their favorite shows, and become convinced that there's more to what they're seeing on TV. Here are nine wacky theories they've developed.

1. Bayside High is nothing more than Zack Morris' dream world.

Before Saved By The Bell was a staple of NBC's early '90s Saturday morning programming, it was an '80s Disney Channel teen sitcom called Good Morning Miss Bliss. After a 14-episode run, Good Morning, Miss Bliss was re-tooled and re-packaged for NBC. Some of the characters, including Zack, Screech, Lisa, and Mr. Belding, stayed on, while others—like Mikey, Nikki, Milo, and even the titular Miss Bliss—were cast aside for new faces. The setting was also changed from John F. Kennedy Junior High School in Indiana to Bayside High School in California. As a result, it is believed that Saved By The Bell is nothing more than an escapist fantasy of its main character, Zack Morris. 

On Good Morning, Miss Bliss, Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) was, to put it nicely, kind of a dweeb. Girls weren't attracted to him, his classmates made fun of him, and Miss Bliss (Hayley Mills) was always on to his schemes. But when Zack made the jump to Saved By The Bell, he was magically transformed into the coolest guy in school. Because of this, some fans think that Zack manufactured his dream life in sunny southern California, creating a world in which all the girls want him, his peers idolize him, and he gets away with even his most ridiculous plans. 

According to the fans who subscribe to this theory, Saved By The Bell’s theme song perfectly illustrates Zack’s fantasy world. The lyrics describe his humdrum life (“By the time I grab my books/And I give myself a look/I'm at the corner just in time to see the bus fly by”), suggesting he'll be okay once he’s saved by the bell—or when he enters his fantasy world.

2. The Count feeds on the children of Sesame Street.

Children's Television Workshop

Even more outrageous is the belief among some fans that Count von Count is a bloodsucking Muppet vampire who preys on the children of Sesame Street. The number-obsessed vampire lures kids to his lair under the guise of teaching them math, so he can feed on their youth. (According to this theory, the Count is why the children who hang out on Sesame Street are constantly replaced.) Apparently, Sesame Street's adult residents are in on the Count's dastardly scheme too, because in the decades he's been on the show, they've never made an effort to stop him. 

3. The Fresh Prince is Dead.

NBC

Some fans of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air are convinced that Will was dead for the duration of the show's six-season run. Their theory fixates on the sitcom's opening theme song, which states that Will Smith was hanging out—chillin' out, maxin', relaxin' all cool, if you will—when some guys who were "up to no good" came along. As the song goes, he got into one little fight and his mom got scared, then told him he'd have to move in with his auntie and uncle in Bel-Air. But what if Will never made it to Bel-Air, and instead, died in the fight? These fans believe it was God who drove the “rare” cab to take Will to the Banks’ mansion—in this case, Heaven—which he refers to as his "kingdom."

4. Toby is the real Scranton Strangler.

NBC

The last half of The Office’s nine-season run featured a subplot focused on HR rep Toby Flenderson’s (Paul Lieberstein) obsession with the Scranton Strangler, a local serial killer. The Scranton Strangler was first mentioned during season six, and was eventually caught after a long police standoff in season seven. Toby’s fascination with the serial killer only increased when he was picked to be a juror on his murder trial. Eventually, the Scranton Strangler was revealed to be a character named George Howard Skub; Toby and his fellow jurors were responsible for sending Skub to death row. During season nine, Toby is guilt-stricken when he admits that the jury might have sentenced the wrong man to die. He even visits Skub in prison, who immediately jumps to strangle Toby.

Some believe that Toby's extreme guilt is a sign that he is, in fact, the real Scranton Strangler. At that point on the show, they argue, he has nothing left to lose: his marriage has failed, he has a young daughter whom he rarely sees, his work life is shaky, and he is unable to make a go of it when he attempts to start a new life in Costa Rica. What's more, the Scranton Strangler isn't even mentioned until Toby returns to Pennsylvania. Skub, they allege, reacted so angrily to Toby's presence because he knows that Toby framed him. 

5. The U.S. Government Canceled Firefly.

FOX

Although it had a loyal fan base and was generally well-received by critics, Joss Whedon's sci-fi drama Firefly was canceled in 2002 after airing just 11 episodes. While Fox claims the decision to cancel Firefly was based purely on its low ratings, conspiracy theorists are convinced that the U.S. government had something to do with the demise of the "space opera." The show focuses on a group of independent outlaws who fight for civil rights under the oppressive and immoral Union of Allied Planets. According to the fans who subscribe to this theory, the powers that be weren't pleased with the anti-government sentiment expressed by the show. What's more, they point out, while the show was airing, the Bush administration was trying to build a case for the Iraq War; it's no coincidence that it was canceled just three months before the invasion of the Middle Eastern country. 

6. Gilligan’s Island is Hell.

CBS

Some theorists believe that the setting of Gilligan's Island is not an island, but rather Hell, and that its sinful inhabitants all perished in the crash of the S.S. Minnow. According to this theory, each character on Gilligan’s Island represents one of the Seven Deadly Sins. The millionaire Mr. Howell represents Greed, while his work-averse wife represents Sloth. Sexy movie star Ginger stands in for Lust, while innocent farm girl Mary Ann envies Ginger’s beauty and lifestyle. The smart Professor is prideful because he can't admit that he is unable to fix the ship or get them off the island. Skipper, meanwhile, symbolizes two deadly sins: Gluttony and Wrath, because he’s always taking something out on poor Gilligan. Not that you should feel bad for the titular dimwit; these fans believe that Gilligan represents Satan. He's constantly screwing up the group's plans for rescue, and what's more, he's always wearing red.  

7. The Flintstones Takes Place in a Post-Apocalyptic Future.

Warner Bros. Television Distribution

 
This fan theory posits that the worlds inhabited by the Jetsons and the Flintstones exist concurrently. The Flintstones' civilization was "bombed back to the Stone Age" during a nuclear war, and its inhabitants were forced to start over. That's why the Flintstones use the materials (and animals) at their disposal to mimic modern technology (like when they use birds' beaks to play records). Why would cavemen from the prehistoric past need garbage disposals and record players, if not to replicate how their society once was? 

The Jetsons, for their part, live in Orbit City, a metropolis built entirely above the clouds. Ever wonder what’s below Orbit City? Many people believe that the civilization depicted on The Flintstones is happening down on Earth. In addition, some fans suspect that the only thing dividing the Jetson and the Flintstone families is income. The Jetsons can afford to live in the fancy new society above the clouds, while the working class Flintstones are forced to make do in the ruins of Earth.     

When you consider the time period during which both shows were created, this premise doesn't seem all that far-fetched. After all, both shows were developed at the height of the Cold War, during a time when Americans constantly feared a nuclear attack by Communist Russia.  

8. Jessica Fletcher Is a Serial Killer.

NBCUniversal

It’s believed that Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) on Murder, She Wrote is not just an author who writes mysteries, but is actually a serial killer who disguises herself as a novelist and amateur detective. How else could Jessica Fletcher, again and again, “randomly” stumble upon a dead body and later on, “figure out” who the murderer is? Consider, too, that Fletcher lives in the cozy coastal town of Cabot Cove, Maine, population 3,500. During the 12 years the show was on, 268 people were murdered, which would, statistically, make Cabot Cove the murder capital of the world. Either killers are flocking to the New England village, or Jessica Fletcher is a serial murderer whose gentle and pleasant British demeanor serves to throw people off her trail. 

9. Breaking Bad is a prequel to The Walking Dead.

AMC

Is Heisenburg’s blue crystal meth responsible for The Walking Dead's zombie apocalypse? At the end of Breaking Bad, Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) blue meth is becoming more and more popular across the country, eventually making its way around the world. Some fans think that users die, only to rise again in zombie form. Those who subscribe to this theory point to the handful of Breaking Bad references on The Walking Dead

In season one, Glenn (Stephen Yeun) drives a red Dodge Challenger, which looks very similar to Walter White’s car. And when Walter White goes to return his Dodge on Breaking Bad, he takes it back to the dealership’s general manager, whose name is also Glenn.

In season two, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) is trying to bring down T-Dog’s (IronE Singleton) injury-induced fever, so he pulls out his brother Merle's stash of drugs to see if anything in the plastic bag will do the trick. Pictured clearly at the bottom of the bag: blue crystal meth. Even more suspicious: before the zombie apocalypse, Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) used to be a drug dealer. His supplier was described as “a janky little white guy” who threatened Merle with a gun and said, "I'm gonna kill you, bitch!" Sounds like Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) to me.

The First Full Trailer for The Crown Season 3 Is Here

Des Willie, Netflix
Des Willie, Netflix

Star Wars obsessives aren't the only people in for a trailer treat today: Nearly two years after the second season of The Crown debuted, the award-winning series about the early days of Queen Elizabeth II's reign is just weeks away from its return. And on Monday morning, Netflix released the first full trailer for The Crown's new season.

While we've known some of the basic details about the new season—like the time frame in which it takes place and that Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies would be taking over the roles of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip—this is the first in-depth glimpse we've gotten at what's in store for season 3.

The role duty plays in the lives of the British royal family appears to be an overarching theme, with the trailer showing the country in distress but each of the characters putting on a smiling face for the public. While Elizabeth and Philip's relationship will continue to take center stage in the pricey period drama, Princess Margaret (now played by Helena Bonham Carter) will struggle with her role of being the Queen's sister. And Prince Charles (Josh O'Connor) will have to choose between his love for Camilla Parker Bowles (played by Killing Eve writer Emerald Fennell) and his duty as the heir apparent to the throne.

Netflix will debut The Crown season 3 on November 17, 2019.

10 Facts About the Beastie Boys's 'Sabotage' Video

Beastie Boys via YouTube
Beastie Boys via YouTube

With their raucous mix of rock and hip-hop, the Beastie Boys were a band everyone could love. They also made killer music videos, and their 1994 video for “Sabotage” is arguably one of the greatest in the history of the medium. Directed by Spike Jonze and inspired by ‘70s cop shows, “Sabotage” finds the Beasties in cheesy suits, wigs, and mustaches, cavorting around L.A. like a bunch of bootleg Starskys and Hutches. If you were alive in the ‘90s, you’ve seen “Sabotage” a million times, but there’s a lot you might not know about this iconic video.

1. It all began with a photo shoot.

Spike Jonze met the Beastie Boys when he photographed them for Dirt magazine in the early 1990s. The band showed up with its own concept. “For years, Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz had been talking about doing a photo session as undercover cops—wearing ties and fake mustaches and sitting in a car like we were on a stakeout,” Adam “MCA” Yauch told New York Magazine. Jonze loved the idea so much he tagged along when the Beasties went wig shopping. “Then, while he was taking the pictures, he was wearing this blond wig and mustache the whole time,” Yauch said. “For no apparent reason.” So was born a friendship that begat “Sabotage.”

2. Spike Jonze filmed “Sabotage” without permits.

The Beasties weren’t big fans of high-budget music videos with tons of people on the set. So they asked Jonze to hire a couple of assistants and run the whole production out of a van. “Then we just ran around L.A. without any permits and made everything up as we went along,” MCA told New York. They’re lucky the real cops never showed up.

3. The Beastie Boys did all their own stunt driving.

After binge-watching VHS tapes of The Streets of San Francisco and other ‘70s cop shows, the Beasties knew they needed some sweet chase scenes. “We bought a car that was about to die,” Mike D told Vanity Fair. “We just drove the car ourselves. We almost killed the car a couple of times, but we definitely didn’t come close to killing ourselves.”

4. “Sabotage” inspired the opening sequence of Trainspotting.

Danny Boyle's 1996 film Trainspotting famously opens with Ewan McGregor and his buddies running through the streets of Edinburgh to the tune of Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life.” In the DVD commentary, Boyle revealed that the scene was inspired by “Sabotage.”

5. Two cameras were harmed in the making of “Sabotage.”

“Sabotage” was supposed to be a low-budget affair—and it would’ve been, had Jonze been a little more careful with his rented cameras. He destroyed a Canon Scoopic when the Ziploc bag he used to protect the camera during an underwater shot proved less than airtight. He apparently told the rental agency the camera stopped working on its own, but he wasn’t as lucky when an Arriflex SR3 fell out of a van window. That cost $84,000, effectively tripling the cost of the video.

6. MCA crashed the stage of the MTV Video Music Awards to protest “Sabotage” being shut out.

At the 1994 MTV VMAs, “Sabotage” was nominated for five awards, including Video of the Year. In one of the great injustices of all time, it lost in all five categories. When R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” won Best Direction, MCA invaded the stage dressed as Nathanial Hörnblowér, his Swiss uncle/filmmaker alter-ego. “Since I was a small boy, I had dreamed that Spike would win this,” MCA said as a confused Michael Stipe looked on. “Now this has happened, and I want to tell everyone this is a farce, and I had the ideas for Star Wars and everything.”

7. There’s a “Sabotage” comic book you can download for free.

After MCA’s death in 2012, artist Derek Langille created a seven-page “Sabotage” comic book in tribute to the fallen musician and filmmaker. You can download it for free here.

8. There’s also a “Sabotage” novel.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of “Sabotage,” Oakland-based author and Beasties super-fan Jeff Gomez wrote a five-act novel inspired by the video. He spent months researching cop movies and real-life police lingo, and he watched “Sabotage” about 100 times, keeping a detailed spreadsheet of all the action unfolding onscreen. “They created a really great universe, and I just wanted to play around in it for a little bit,” Gomez told PBS.

9. There’s a “Sabotage”/Sesame Street mashup on YouTube.

In 2017, YouTuber Is This How You Go Viral, a.k.a. Adam Schleichkorn, created the video “Sesametage,” a reimagining of “Sabotage” made with edited bits of Sesame Street. It stars Big Bird as himself, The Count as Cochese, and Oscar the Grouch as Bobby, “The Rookie.” Super Grover, Telly, Cookie Monster, and Bert and Ernie also turn up in this hilarious spoof of a spoof.

10. “Sabotage” nearly became a movie—kind of.

Jonze and the Beasties had such a blast making “Sabotage” that they wrote a script for a feature film called We Can Do This. The movie, which they later abandoned, was set to feature MCA in two roles: Sir Stuart Wallace, one of his “Sabotage” characters, and Nathaniel Hörnblowér (whom he portrayed during that 1994 VMAs protest). Jonze told IndieWire the film would’ve been “ridiculous and fun,” which sounds like the understatement of the century. “There were no 1970s cops in it, but it was definitely in the same spirit,” he said.

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