10 Outrageous TV Show Fan Theories
Whether it's a way to bide time between seasons or simply a matter of trying to make sense of a gaping plot hole, serious television fans have a tendency to concoct all sorts of elaborate theories when it comes to their favorite TV series. Sometimes these ideas really do find a way to connect the dots between points A and B, while other times they're, well, a bit iffy. Here are 10 of them. Needless to say: Spoilers ahead!
1. ALL OF THE CHARACTERS ON THE WALKING DEAD ARE DEAF.
While walkers are slow and make loud grunting noises, they consistently sneak up and surprise the characters on The Walking Dead. Even when a character is alone and in a wide open space, walkers often seem to get the jump on them and attack. The film analysts at The Film Theorists have a suspicion that all of the characters are losing their hearing.
In the pilot episode, Rick Grimes shot a gun from inside a tank to kill a zombie; the sound of the gunshot was so loud that it temporarily deafened him. Considering all of the close range gunshots in The Walking Dead, it would make sense that the characters' hearing is being affected, which is why they keep attracting more walkers. In other words: Rick and the rest of the gang just don’t realize how loud they are.
Could the six main characters in Friends really be patients in a mental institution, where the TV show is merely an idealized and imaginary version of what their lives could’ve been like as part of a shared psychosis? One popular fan theory says yes. The idea is that Phoebe had a break with reality after her mother's suicide, Monica couldn’t handle being bullied for being overweight, Rachel is a sociopath, Ross couldn’t cope with his abandonment issues with his ex-wife, Chandler couldn’t handle his dysfunctional family life, and Joey went mad from being the only male sibling in his family. Why else would there be no crime or decay in New York City during the '90s? Why else would the characters ignore how the city changed after September 11, 2001?
3. GAME OF THRONES IS REALLY ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE.
There’s a popular fan theory from Vox Media that suggests the White Walkers from Game of Thrones are a metaphor for climate change and that all of the characters are powerless to stop them. In the series, the White Walkers are a race of humanoid ice creatures who have returned after centuries in exile to destroy humanity. However, while the White Walkers are a major threat, the noble houses of the Seven Kingdoms are too busy fighting each other for power to acknowledge them—with some characters denying their existence altogether.
4. MALCOLM FROM MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE GREW UP TO BE WALTER WHITE FROM BREAKING BAD.
In addition to a theory that suggests Breaking Bad's Walter White went into the witness protection program and transformed into Hal from Malcolm in the Middle (both characters, of course, are played by Bryan Cranston), another bizarre fan theory suggests that Walter White isn’t Hal at all—he’s the grown-up version of Malcolm.
Malcolm and Walter share a number of characteristics: they're both very intelligent, stubborn, manipulative, and brilliant at chemistry—and both can be violent and selfish at times. But deep down, they're both very moral characters.
The Netflix revival of everyone’s favorite TGIF sitcom was greeted with nostalgic views and heartwarming appreciation. While Fuller House included some keen references to its predecessor, there’s a fan theory that suggests the Tanner family is self-aware and know they’re TV characters entertaining an audience, just like in The Truman Show.
Mashable’s Andrea Romano wrote a lengthy article that pinpoints several Fuller House moment to back up the theory, such as the Tanners' frequent tendency to break the fourth wall, Uncle Jesse’s comments about working on General Hospital as a music composer, and characters commenting on the background music.
6. GILMORE GIRLS IS JUST AN IDEALIZED VERSION OF RORY GILMORE’S LIFE.
At the end of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, Rory Gilmore writes a novel called The Gilmore Girls, which chronicles the special relationship she has with her mother, Lorelai. One theory suggests the Netflix revival is the only real universe in which the show exists and that the original Gilmore Girls series was merely Rory’s idealized version of her teenaged life from the point-of-view of her unhappy, thirtysomething self.
In the Netflix revival, Rory’s life seems to be rather awkward and terrible, which is in stark contrast to the perfect young adult she was presented as on the original TV show. Her relationship with her mom is also more adversarial in A Year in the Life. Rory's book was not something Lorelai wanted her to write, which is why it seems like an idealized version of Rory's life.
7. SPRINGFIELD FROM THE SIMPSONS IS REALLY IN OREGON. OR MAINE. OR OHIO. OR ...
Although The Simpsons has been on the air for nearly 30 years now, the state in which the family's hometown of Springfield is located is still very much a mystery. While Springfield is the name of a town in 22 states across America, many people believe the Simpsons live in either Maine or Ohio. However, The Film Theorists believes Springfield is located in Oregon, based on clues and hints throughout seasons one through nine.
Through process of elimination, the YouTube Channel’s MatPat determined Springfield is in Oregon, based on its radio station KBBL (call signs beginning with “K” are located west of the Mississippi River, while “W” call signs are located east of the Mississippi). The Simpsons' Springfield is located about 8000 feet above sea level, based on its mountains, and it's also a coastal town based on the episodes that feature beaches and the ocean. Also, Homer’s paycheck from the nuclear power plant withholds state income tax, which are all features of the Beaver State.
In addition, Simpsons creator Matt Groening is from Portland, Oregon, which is about 100 miles south from Springfield, Oregon. Groening also named a number of characters after street names in Portland, such as Lovejoy Street, Flanders Street, and Quimby Street.
8. SOME OF THE CHARACTERS ON IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA DON'T LOOK LIKE WHAT THE AUDIENCE SEES.
While there are a lot of bizarre fan theories about It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia out there—like Dennis being a serial killer or Charlie’s Uncle Jack being the real Nightman—a really fascinating one from Reddit suggests that, in real life, Mac, Dennis, and Sweet Dee don’t exactly appear like they do on the TV show. And that their true selves will be revealed in the series finale.
At its core, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is about a group of friends who run a bar and are deeply delusional. Mac believes he’s a tough guy, but he’s always quick to shy away from a fight; Dennis believes he’s God’s gift to women, but needs an elaborate and twisted method to seduce a woman; and Sweet Dee believes she can be a talented actress or comedian, but freezes up (and gets the dry heaves) when she’s on stage or in front of a large crowd of people.
It is also believed at the end of the TV show’s run, Paddy’s Pub will go out of business. Frank wants to take a picture of the gang as one last memento and the photo will reveal Mac as a small and weak man, Dennis as really unattractive, and Dee still in her back brace from high school. However, Charlie and Frank are fine with their own shortcomings and personality deficiencies, which is why their appearances won't change. The season 12 season premiere, "The Gang Turns Black," even hinted at this outcome.
9. KENNETH FROM 30 ROCK IS IMMORTAL.
Anyone who loves 30 Rock knows that Kenneth the NBC Page is a pretty peculiar character, but there’s a fan theory that goes a little further and suggests he’s actually immortal. There are a number of clues that point to this conclusion, such as how he seems to be aware of every major TV star from the '40s and '50s and how he owned a pet bird for “almost 60 years.”
Moreover, in the season seven episode “Governor Dunston,” Kenneth’s mother—played by Catherine O'Hara—jokingly referenced this fan theory when she described her son’s bizarre birth.
10. STRANGER THINGS AND PARKS AND RECREATION ARE CONNECTED.
Since the release of Stranger Things, there was a strong theory brewing in the fan community. As the fan theory goes, Nancy’s boyfriend Steve Harrington grew up to be the father of Jean-Ralphio Saperstein from Parks and Recreation.
Both Stranger Things and Parks and Recreation take place in Indiana, with the former taking place during the early '80s, while the latter takes place during the present day. The actor who plays Steve, Joe Keery, looks a lot like Ben Schwartz, the actor who plays Jean-Ralphio. The pair even got together to make a video, The Truth About Steve & Jean-Ralphio, for The Late Late Show with James Corden.