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10 (More) Outrageous Movie Theories You Didn’t See Coming

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Sometimes fans come up with wild theories to explain gaping plot holes in movies or just to find deeper meanings and themes. While some theories seem far too improbable to believe, others make perfect sense and can actually make a movie more enjoyable to watch. We’ve shared some outrageous movie theories with you in the past; here are 10 more.

1. THE THEORY: HOGWARTS IS JUST HARRY POTTER'S FANTASY

As the theory goes, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) became a victim of child abuse and emotional neglect following the death of his parents. His aunt and uncle force him to live in a small cupboard underneath the stairs and act as if he doesn’t exist. Since Harry is unwanted and abused, he copes with his trauma through elaborate fantasies of magic and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he has lots of friends and is one of the most important people on campus. If you subscribe to this theory, then it explains all the plot holes and “deus ex machina” moments throughout the series.

2. THE THEORY: FERRIS BUELLER AND CAMERON FRYE ARE THE SAME PERSON

This fan theory suggests that Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) doesn’t exist; he’s just part of Cameron Frye’s (Alan Ruck) psyche. The movie introduces Cameron in bed with multiple and mysterious illnesses. Cameron hates his parents and his father is emotionally abusive, so he copes with his reality by having an imaginary friend named Ferris, who is everything that Cameron is not: confident, cool, and charming.

After he embarks on an adventure of watching a Cubs game, eating fine French cuisine, and going to a world-class art museum, Cameron learns to finally confront his demons when he takes responsibility for trashing his father’s car. The theory further suggests that Cameron is the real protagonist of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, as Ferris is merely Cameron’s “Tyler Durden” from Fight Club.

3. THE THEORY: BACK TO THE FUTURE’S DOC BROWN IS SUICIDAL

In Back to the Future, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) stand right in front of the DeLorean time machine during its first test run. When the speeding car hits 88 miles per hour, it will travel one minute into the future. As the car speeds toward the pair, Marty tries to get out of its way, but Doc pulls him back to watch the DeLorean go into the future. When the car disappears, Doc is surprised that it vanishes.

Throughout the entire Back to the Future trilogy, it’s established that Doc Brown is a failed scientist and the DeLorean time machine is the first thing he’s ever invented that works. There’s a theory that suggests Doc Brown wanted to kill himself after a lifetime of failure and misery. He wanted to commit suicide by way of the invention that consumed his life and drained his family’s fortune. Doc was also on the run after stealing Plutonium from a Libyan terrorist group and he felt that he would be caught soon. Luckily, the time travel experiment worked!

4. THE THEORY: ANDY DUFRESNE IS A MURDEROUS SOCIOPATH

A fan theory suggests that The Shawshank Redemption’s Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is really a cold and remorseless murderer and a master manipulator. Here’s why: Andy is convicted of killing his wife and her lover after he finds out that she’s cheating on him. He gets drunk, buys a gun, and loads it with bullets, only to change his mind at the last minute and not commit the murder. Unfortunately, his wife and her lover were murdered by another person on the same night mere hours after he left the scene. Now that’s a pretty big coincidence!

The police investigation found bullets with his fingerprints on them and the gun was unable to be recovered. Once in prison, he convinces everyone that he’s innocent, even though all the evidence points to his guilt. Andy is obsessed with chess, but it never really plays out as a movie theme, unless it turns out that he was playing everyone—including the audience—as pawns. He only befriends Red (Morgan Freeman) when he needs something from him; he gets friendly with the prison guards to get special treatment for his fellow prisoners; and he helps the warden embezzle money so that he can later escape. He even planted a fake story in Tommy’s (Gil Bellows) mind about “the real killer,” so that he could help him get a new trial. Andy has already established that he’s smarter than everyone at the prison and escapes in the dead of night without anyone having a clue.

Andy Dufresne played everyone for fools, even the viewer, because the whole account of The Shawshank Redemption is from Red’s point of view and the only things he knows about Andy came from Andy directly. In that respect, Red is an unreliable narrator. Red even described Andy as having “a quiet way about him, a walk and a talk that just wasn't normal around here. He strolled, like a man in a park without a care or a worry in the world, like he had on an invisible coat that would shield him from this place.” If this theory holds true, that nonchalance is because Andy is a sociopath.

5. THE THEORY: ALADDIN TAKES PLACE IN A POST-APOCALYPTIC FUTURE

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The proof that Disney’s Aladdin is set in the future comes from the Genie (Robin Williams). During the film, Genie gives Aladdin a makeover and tells him his look is “much too third century,” which implies that the last time he was out of the lamp was sometime between the years from 201 to 300 A.D. In addition, when Genie does get out of the lamp, he remarks that he’s been inside for 10,000 years. This suggest that Aladdin takes places sometime after the year 10,300.

This would explain the movie’s setting and why there are so many modern pop culture references, such as Genie’s celebrity impressions and the appearance of Disneyland memorabilia.

6. THE THEORY: THE ROCK IS REALLY A JAMES BOND MOVIE

In The Rock, Sean Connery plays John Mason, an ex-British secret service agent who is described as a lethal and highly trained killer. He’s detained in the United States after getting caught spying during the 1960s. If the character from The Rock sounds like another British super spy from the ‘60s that was also played by Sean Connery, it’s because John Mason and James Bond are the same character, according to some fans.

The theory goes on to attribute more 007-like qualities to Connery’s character in The Rock, including his winning charm and his sophisticated style after he’s released from prison. He even wears a snazzy new tailored suit and gets a fresh haircut after spending more than 30 years behind bars.

7. THE THEORY: FROZEN'S ELSA AND ANNA ARE NOT SISTERS

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There are a few fan theories that state Frozen and Tangled take place in the same universe. In fact, Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) and Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) make a brief cameo appearance in Frozen during the royal party. Moreover, it was revealed that King Agnarr and Queen Iduna were making a journey to Rapunzel and Flynn’s wedding at the beginning of Frozen when they were lost at sea. But there’s a fan theory out there that takes this idea even further and suggests that Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell) aren’t sisters at all. Instead, Elsa’s real sister is Rapunzel.

Here’s the evidence: They’re both from neighboring kingdoms; Rapunzel is from Corona while Elsa is from Arendelle. They are both similar in age because they’re twins. It’s established Rapunzel is 18 years old at her wedding and Elsa’s coronation takes place three years later on her 21st birthday, so at the time of the royal party, Rapunzel and Elsa are both 21 years old. Lastly, they’re the only two princesses from both Tangled and Frozen (or any of the Disney Princesses) who have magical powers; Rapunzel with her hair and Elsa with her snow and ice powers. In addition, they both have the same power to give and heal life

8. THE THEORY: ALIEN AND FIREFLY TAKE PLACE IN THE SAME UNIVERSE

In the opening scene of Firefly’s pilot episode, Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) gets behind a large cannon to shoot an Alliance spaceship out of the sky during the Battle of Serenity Valley. When he has the ship in his sights, you can plainly see a Weyland-Yutani Corporation logo in the cannon’s display. It suggests that Firefly takes place 200 years after Alien: Resurrection in the same cinematic universe. It’s probably worth noting that Firefly creator Joss Whedon also penned the script for Alien: Resurrection.

9. THE THEORY: BRICK TAMLAND IS A TIME TRAVELER

Steve Carell’s Brick Tamland from the Anchorman movies is really a time traveler moving back and forth in time and space. The biggest clue to this theory comes from the epic battle scene in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. In the middle of the scene, Brick uses a ray gun that he says he got from the future. But before the scene, Brick also subtly references things from the future, such as saying “I ain't afraid of no ghosts” when the movie is set in 1979, which is five years before the release of Ghostbusters in 1984; he can recall his own birth, and plans his own funeral. He knows exactly when he’s going to die in the future because he’s already been there.

It also explains why Brick randomly seems to say nonsensical things, as it’s the only way his brain can deal with his time traveling.  

10. THE THEORY: ANT-MAN IS IN EVERY MOVIE IN THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE

A fan theory appeared on Reddit (albeit in the Sh*tty Fan Theories thread) suggesting that Ant-Man has appeared in every Marvel Cinematic Universe movie just before the release of his own movie in July 2015, but that he was stuck in “Ant” mode and the audience just couldn’t see him. Regardless, he was still in every other Marvel movie helping Iron Man, Captain America, and the rest of the Avengers, just shrunken down.

Ant-Man director Peyton Reed even commented on the theory, telling The Huffington Post, “I love that theory. I think it’s a funny theory. I’m not quite sure that the timeline works out, but I like the idea of it.”

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15 Things You Might Not Know About One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
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Milos Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which premiered on this day in 1975, won critical acclaim, box office success, and a shelf full of Oscars. But even if you love the complex exploration of life inside a 1960s psychiatric hospital, there are a few things you may not know about its behind-the-scenes story. 

1. CUSTOMS NEARLY DOOMED THE PROJECT. 

Despite the middling success of the 1963 stage adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel starring Kirk Douglas, Hollywood legend Douglas was dead set on adapting the story for the screen. Douglas contacted Czech director Miloš Forman about the project, promising to send Forman a copy of the book for his perusal. 

Douglas mailed Forman the novel, but the package was confiscated by Czechoslovakian customs and never reached the director. Unaware of the parcel’s fate, the filmmaker resented Douglas’ broken promise, and Douglas thought Forman rude for never bothering to confirm receipt of the novel. It took a decade to sort the mess out, and things only cleared up when Kirk’s son Michael Douglas took another crack at production and contacted Forman once more. 

2. ONE STUDIO WANTED TO CHANGE THE ENDING.

When producers were shopping the picture to studios, 20th Century Fox was interested, but with a catch. Fox would distribute the film, but only if the filmmakers would agree to rewrite the ending; the studio wanted McMurphy to live. Producers Saul Zaentz and Michael Douglas wisely considered this a deal breaker, and United Artists eventually distributed the film.

3. JACK NICHOLSON AND LOUISE FLETCHER WERE NOT THE FIRST CHOICES FOR THEIR CHARACTERS. 


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When Kirk Douglas spearheaded the first attempt to bring One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to life on the big screen in the 1960s, he had intended to play the Randle Patrick McMurphy role himself, just as he had on stage. When production began in earnest 10 years later, Douglas was too old for the part, leaving director Forman to consider and contact the likes of Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando, and (his personal favorite) Burt Reynolds before finally settling on Jack Nicholson.

A number of different actresses were considered for the role of Nurse Ratched, the film’s central antagonist, as well: Anne Bancroft, Colleen Dewhurst, Geraldine Page, and Angela Lansbury were all in the running, before Louise Fletcher ultimately got the part. 

4. LOUISE FLETCHER CHANGED FORMAN’S VIEW ON THE CHARACTER. 

Forman’s original view of Nurse Ratched was as “the personification of evil,” a characterization that made Louise Fletcher a bad fit for the part in the filmmaker’s mind. As Fletcher pressed for the role, Forman’s perspective of Ratched evolved: “I slowly started to realize that it would be much more powerful if it’s not this visible evil,” he said. “That she’s only an instrument of evil. She doesn’t know that she’s evil. She, as a matter of fact, believes that she’s helping people.” This new take on the character paved the way for the official casting of Fletcher. 

5. SEVERAL OF THE FILM’S STARS WERE NOT ACTORS. 

Following the production team’s decision to use Oregon State Hospital as its shooting location, the producers hit on the idea of casting facility superintendent Dr. Dean Brooks as Dr. John Spivey, the doctor charged with assessing R. P. McMurphy’s psychological health. Brooks agreed to play what turned out to be a sizable role, though it would be the only acting job he would ever take. He also helped secure employment for many of his hospital’s patients as extras and crew members during production. 

Mel Lambert, another non-actor, was wrangled to play the harbormaster who protested McMurphy’s ad hoc fishing trip. What’s more, Lambert—a respected area businessman who had a strong relationship with the local Native American community—introduced the production team to Will Sampson, the 6-foot-5-inch-tall Muscogee painter who would make his acting debut as the major character Chief Bromden. 

6. THE STARS LIVED ON THE WARD DURING PRODUCTION. 


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All of the actors who played patients actually lived on the Oregon State Hospital psychiatric ward throughout production. The men personalized their sleeping quarters, spent their days on campus “get[ting] a sense of what it was to be hospitalized” (as actor Vincent Schiavelli put it), and interacting with real psychiatric patients. 

7. MANY SCENES WERE SHOT WITHOUT THE ACTORS’ KNOWLEDGE. 

To complete this realistic immersion, Forman led his performers in unscripted group therapy sessions in which he directed the actors to develop their characters’ psychological maladies organically. He would often capture footage of the actors, both in and out of character, without explicitly mentioning that the cameras were rolling. The film’s final cut includes a shot of a visibly irritated Fletcher reacting to a piece of direction fed to her by Forman. 

8. FORMAN AND NICHOLSON HAD A TREMENDOUS SPAT OVER THE FILM’S PLOT. 

While the intensity of the turmoil varies from rumor to rumor, reports from the set were consistent on one fact: The star refused to speak with Forman for a large chunk of the production process. Nicholson took issue with Forman’s suggestion that the hospital inmates would be an unruly bunch upon the initial arrival of McMurphy. Instead, the actor insisted that such disavowal of the medical staff’s authority should only begin after the introduction of McMurphy into their lives and routines. 

Although the version of the story that we see in the film today is more closely associated with Nicholson’s alleged reading, suggesting that Forman ultimately took his advice, Nicholson refused to interact with his director from that point forward. When the star and Forman needed to communicate with one another, they used cinematographer Bill Butler as a middleman. 

9. DANNY DEVITO CREATED AN IMAGINARY FRIEND DURING PRODUCTION. 


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Emotionally strained by a demanding shooting schedule that kept him 3000 miles from his future wife, Rhea Perlman, DeVito developed the coping mechanism of an imaginary friend with whom he would have nightly chats. Concerned that his own sanity might be slipping away, DeVito sought the advice of Dr. Brooks, who assured him that there was no reason to worry as long as DeVito could still identify the character as fictional. 

10. THE CREW WAS WORRIED ABOUT THE SANITY OF ONE CAST MEMBER.

While Dr. Brooks had no concerns about DeVito, he echoed the rest of the cast and crew’s apprehensions about the psychological state of Sydney Lassick, who played Charlie Cheswick. Lassick exhibited increasingly unpredictable and emotionally erratic behavior during his time in character, a pattern that culminated in a tearful outburst during his observation of the final scene between Nicholson and Sampson. Lassick became so overwhelmed during the scene that he had to be removed from set. 

11. FLETCHER TOOK OFF HER CLOTHES IN ORDER TO GET FRIENDLIER WITH HER CO-STARS.

Envious of the camaraderie her male costars had forged, and hoping to dispel any associations with her tyrannical character, Fletcher surprised the cast one evening by ripping off her dress on the crowded ward. Years later, the actress laughed about the display, saying, “‘I’ll show them I’m a real woman under here, you know.’ I think that must have been what I was thinking.” 

12. THE FISHING TRIP SCENE BARELY MADE IT INTO THE FILM. 

Initially, Forman was vocally opposed to including a scene that took place beyond the grounds of the hospital out of concerns that a temporary liberation would undercut the dramatic force of the film’s ending. In the end, Zaentz convinced Forman to shoot the fishing trip sequence. It was the final scene filmed and the only piece shot out of chronological order. 

One thing to look for in the fishing scene: A very subtle Anjelica Huston cameo. Huston, who was dating Nicholson during production, has a nonspeaking role as one of the spectators on the dock as McMurphy and his fellow patients steer the stolen boat back to shore. 


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13. ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST WAS THE FIRST FILM TO WIN ALL “BIG FIVE” ACADEMY AWARDS IN 41 YEARS.

Not since 1934's It Happened One Night swept the Oscars had a film walked away with awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest took home the lot, with Nicholson and Fletcher winning the top acting awards. The feat would not be matched again for another 16 years, with Silence of the Lambs becoming the next (and last to date) movie to earn the distinction. 

14. THE FILM ENJOYED ONE OF THE LONGEST THEATRICAL RUNS IN MOVIE HISTORY. 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was revered worldwide, but Swedish viewers developed an especially soft spot for the film. Cuckoo’s Nest remained a regular option for Swedish moviegoers through 1987—11 years after its initial release. 

15. KESEY REFUSED TO SEE THE FILM (BUT MAY HAVE BY ACCIDENT). 

The poster child for the “the book was better” movement, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest author Kesey disapproved of a big screen adaptation of his novel as soon as he found out that the filmmakers had abandoned the use of Chief Bromden as the story’s narrator. Kesey never intended to see the movie, but one story says he inadvertently caught a few moments during a bout of channel surfing one evening. Once Kesey realized what he was watching, he promptly changed stations.

According to fellow novelist Chuck Palahniuk (who has famously praised director David Fincher’s adaptation of his novel Fight Club, plot changes and all), Kesey once stated privately that he did not care for the material.

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The Origins of 10 Thanksgiving Traditions
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There's a lot more to Thanksgiving than just the turkey and the Pilgrims. And though most celebrations will break out the cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, there are a number of other customs that you might be less aware of (and some that are becoming too ubiquitous to miss).

1. THE TURKEY TROT FOOTRACE

Many towns host brisk morning runs to lessen the guilt about the impending feast (distances and times vary from race to race, but the feel-good endorphins are universal). The oldest known Turkey Trot footrace took place in Buffalo, New York, and has been happening every year since 1896. Nearly 13,000 runners participated in the 4.97 mile race last year.

2. THE GREAT GOBBLER GALLOP IN CUERO, TEXAS

During their annual TurkeyFest in November, they gather a bunch of turkeys and have the "Great Gobbler Gallop," a turkey race. It started in 1908 when a turkey dressing house opened in town. Early in November, farmers would herd their turkeys down the road toward the dressing house so the birds could be prepared for Thanksgiving. As you can imagine, this was quite a spectacle—as many as 20,000 turkeys have been part of this "march". People gathered to watch, and eventually the first official festival was formed around the event in 1912. The final event of the celebration is the Great Gobbler Gallop, a race between the Cuero turkey champ and the champ from Worthington, Minnesota (they have a TurkeyFest as well). Each town holds a heat and the best time between the towns wins. The prize is a four-foot trophy called "The Traveling Turkey Trophy of Tumultuous Triumph."

3. FRANKSGIVING

From 1939 to 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving up by a week. In '39, Thanksgiving, traditionally held on the last Thursday of November, fell on the 30th. Since enough people would wait until after Thanksgiving to start their Christmas shopping, Roosevelt was concerned that having the holiday so late in the month would mess up retail sales at a time when he was trying hard to pull Americans out of the Great Depression. It didn't entirely go over well though—some states observed FDR's change, and others celebrated what was being called the "Republican" Thanksgiving on the traditional, last-Thursday date. Colorado, Mississippi, and Texas all considered both Thanksgivings to be holidays. Today, we've basically split the difference—Thanksgiving is held on the fourth Thursday of November, regardless of whether that's the last Thursday of the month or not.

4. THE PRESIDENTIAL TURKEY PARDON

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The story goes that since at least Harry Truman, it has been tradition for the President of the U.S. to save a couple of birds from becoming someone's feast. Records only go back to George H.W. Bush doing it, though some say the tradition goes all the way back to Abraham Lincoln pardoning his son's pet turkey. (Lincoln is also the President who originally declared that the holiday be held on the last Thursday of November.) In recent years, the public has gotten to name the turkeys in online polls; the paired turkeys (the one you see in pictures and a backup) have gotten creative names such as Stars and Stripes, Biscuit and Gravy, Marshmallow and Yam, Flyer and Fryer, Apple and Cider, and Honest and Abe last year.

5. THANKSGIVING PARADES

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Everyone knows about the Macy's Parade, but for a more historically accurate parade, check out America's Hometown Thanksgiving Parade in Plymouth. The parade starts with a military flyover and continues with floats and costumed people taking the parade-goers from the 17th century to the present time. There are nationally recognized Drum and Bugle Corps, re-enactment units from every period of American history, and military marching units. And military bands play music honoring the men and women who serve in each branch: the Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force, and the Coast Guard.

6. BLACK FRIDAY

Black Friday, of course, is the day-after sales extravaganza that major (and minor) retailers participate in. Most people think that the term comes from the day of the year when retail stores make their profits go from red to black, but other sources have it originating from police officers in Philadelphia. They referred to the day as Black Friday because of the heavy traffic and higher propensity for accidents. Also, just because you hear that it's "the busiest shopping day of the season" on the news, don't believe it. It's one of the busiest days, but typically, it's hardly ever the busiest, though it typically ranks somewhere in the top 10. The busiest shopping day of the year is usually the Saturday before Christmas.

7. CYBER MONDAY

Black Friday is quickly being rivaled in popularity by Cyber Monday. It's a fairly recent phenomenon—it didn't even have a name until 2005. But there's truth to it—77 percent of online retailers at the time reported an increase in sales on that particular day, and as online shopping has continued to grow and become more convenient, retailers have scheduled their promotions to follow suit.

8. BUY NOTHING DAY

And in retaliation for Black Friday, there's Buy Nothing Day. To protest consumerism, many people informally celebrate BND. It was first "celebrated" in 1992, but didn't settle on its day-after-Thanksgiving date until 1997, where it has been ever since. It's also observed internationally, but outside of North America the day of observance is the Saturday after our Thanksgiving.

9. FOOTBALL

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It's a common sight across the U.S.: parents, cousins, aunts, and uncles passed out on the couch watching football after dinner. Well, we have the first Detroit Lions owner, G.A. Richards, to thank for the tradition of Thanksgiving football. He saw it as a way to get people to his games. CBS was the first on the bandwagon when they televised their first Thanksgiving game in 1956. The first color broadcast was in 1965—the Lions vs. the Baltimore Colts. Since the 1960s, the Dallas Cowboys have joined the Lions in hosting Thanksgiving Day games, and the NFL Network now airs a third game on that night.

10. NATIONAL DOG SHOW

Of course, if football isn't your thing, there's always the National Dog Show. It's aired after the Macy's Parade on NBC every year. Good luck telling your dad that he'll be enjoying Springer Spaniels instead of the Lions or Cowboys, though.

A version of this story originally published in 2008.

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