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10 Outrageous TV Show Fan Theories

Gene Page / AMC
Gene Page / AMC

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.

2. THE CHARACTERS FROM FRIENDS ARE REALLY IN A MENTAL INSTITUTION.

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. 

HBO

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.

YouTube

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. 

5. THE CHARACTERS ON FULLER HOUSE KNOW THEY’RE ON TV.

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.

Warner Bros.

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 ...

Simpsons Wiki

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.

FX/Getty

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.

YouTube

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.

YouTube

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.

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7 Spine-Tingling Tales of Christmas Ghosts
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Traditionally, Christmas in England was a time for scaring the bejesus out of little children by telling ghost stories around the fire. Charles Dickens led the way with his famous ghost story A Christmas Carol, but what of the "real" ghosts said to haunt the land at Christmas time? Below are seven spine-tingling and seasonal stories of Christmas ghosts.

1. THE HAUNTED CHRISTMAS FEAST AT ALCATRAZ

Dinner hall at Alcatraz
Alex Light, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The island of Alcatraz, off the coast of San Francisco, has a long and spooky history. In its earlier days, Native Americans allegedly used to banish miscreants to the island as punishment, where they were reportedly plagued by the local spirits. Alcatraz, of course, became a notorious federal prison in 1934, housing criminals such as Al Capone before it was shut down in 1963. Today, visitors to the island report hearing screams, the clanging of metal doors, and the sound of voices within the walls. One of the more famous tales associated with the island supposedly occurred in the 1940s, when warden James Johnston held a Christmas Day party at his residence for the staff at the prison. The good cheer is said to have been brought to a swift halt when an apparition sporting mutton-chop whiskers and a gray suit appeared. The temperature in the room plummeted and the fire blew out, before returning to normal when the spirit disappeared about a minute later. The rattled guards were too scared to stay in the residence, and the rest of the Christmas celebration ended abruptly.

2. THE GHOSTLY QUEEN RETURNING HOME AT HEVER CASTLE

Hever Castle
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Anne Boleyn is notorious as the second of King Henry VIII’s ill-fated wives. To marry Anne, Henry spent years seeking a divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and went on to sever England’s relationship with the Catholic Church in Rome, forever changing the course of British history. Despite the lengths he went to ensnare her, Henry soon grew tired of Anne and, choosing to believe the idle gossip surrounding her, had her beheaded in 1536. A number of reports exist of the ghost of Anne Boleyn, but perhaps the most affecting is the version said to haunt her childhood home, Hever Castle in Kent. Some say that every Christmas Eve, the spectral figure of Anne Boleyn can be seen slowly gliding across the bridge over the river Eden toward her family home, where she was at her happiest.

3. THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN AT ROOS HALL


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Roos Hall in Suffolk lays claim to being one of the most haunted houses in England. The 16th century hall has a number of sinister connections, including a gruesome “hanging tree”—an oak tree planted at the site of the old gibbet where numerous criminals were hung. To make things even spookier, inside one of the building's cupboards, the mark of a devil’s cloven hoof is said to be imprinted. But perhaps the most dramatic haunting is supposed to happen every Christmas Eve: Legend has it that a headless horseman clatters down the driveway with his four black horses pulling a phantom coach, terrifying anyone who witnesses him.

4. THE HAUNTED DINING ROOM AT THE CRESCENT HOTEL

The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, was built in 1886 and is rumoured to harbor numerous ghosts, who seem to be especially playful during the holidays. One Christmas, the staff came down to set up the dining room only to find the Christmas tree had been moved from one side of the room to the other. Another year, all the menus in the dining room had been scattered around the room. Other visitors have reported seeing groups of ghostly dancers clad in Victorian-era clothing, whirling around the deserted dance floor.

5. THE GHOSTLY GATHERING OF KINGS AT WAWEL CASTLE

View of the Wawel Cathedral from the Wawel Castle entrance
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Poland's Wawel Royal Castle was built on Wawel Hill in the 1500s. Within the hill lies a deep cave known as Smocza Jama (Dragon’s Den); legend has it that a great dragon once lived there, terrorizing the locals, before Prince Krak bravely vanquished the dragon and brought peace to Poland. To memorialize this event, a statue of the dead dragon now stands in the cave. Go deeper into the cave and you come to yet another chamber, and it is here that on December 24 every year, all the long-gone kings of Poland are said to meet and hold a spectral special council.

6. THE MISTLETOE BRIDE AT BRAMSHILL HOUSE

The Long Gallery, Bramshill House
Tsukiko YAMAMURA, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

In the early 17th century, a young woman named Anne was to be married on Christmas Day at Bramshill House in Hampshire, England. After the ceremony and feast, as was tradition at the time, the guests were all set to carry the bride to the bedchamber. Anne suggested a game be played, and asked for a five-minute head start before the guests came to find her. Everyone searched long and hard for Anne, but no sign of her could be found. At first they thought she had played a merry trick, but soon a sense of unease fell over the guests. The bridegroom, Lord Lovell, was distraught, and guests began to whisper that she must have fled. Days, weeks, months, and years passed, and Lord Lovell never stopped looking for his bride. One day, some 50 years after her disappearance, Lord Lovell was up in the huge attic of the sprawling mansion, where he began tapping on the oak panelling. As he knocked, a long-hidden secret door sprung open, and inside he found an ornate wooden chest. He pried open the heavy wooden lid, and there, still in her wedding dress and clutching her mistletoe bouquet, were the skeletal remains of his beloved. The scratch marks on the inside of the lid of the chest attested to her desperate, but futile, effort to free herself from her hiding space. (While the story appears in many variations, Bramshill House is thought to be the most likely site.)

7. THE APPARITION OF A MURDERED HIGHWAYMAN IN KENT

A burial in the forest
iStock

One Christmas Eve near the close of the 18th century, a notorious highwayman named Gilbert is said to have stopped a coach and horses on the Hawkhurst Road in Marden, Kent. The coach contained a young lady and her father, and Gilbert ordered them out onto the road. Just as the girl stepped out, the horses bolted, taking the coach and her father with them. The young lady was left alone on the dark road with the highwayman, and as she looked into his face, she recognized him as the very same highwayman who had murdered her brother some years earlier. Horrified, she drew a hidden knife from her bag and stabbed Gilbert in the side, fleeing into the bushes. When the horses were calmed and the coach returned a little while later, the men discovered the bloodied body of the highwayman, and buried him at the side of the road. When villagers found the woman in the forest the next day, she had gone completely mad. They avoided that spot in the road for many years, and it's said that every Christmas Eve, the bloody scene is silently replayed to all that pass through.

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15 Surprising Facts About Steve Buscemi
Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival
Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival

With his meme-worthy eyes, tireless work schedule, and penchant for playing lovable losers, Steve Buscemi is arguably the king of character actors. Moving seamlessly between big-budget films and shoestring independent projects, he’s appeared in well over 100 movies in the past 30 years. But if you think he’s anything like the oddballs and villains he regularly plays—well, you don’t know Buscemi. In celebration of the Brooklyn native's 60th birthday, here are 15 things you might not have known about the Golden Globe-winning actor.

1. HE WAS BORN ON A FRIDAY THE 13TH.

It only seems appropriate that Buscemi, who dies on screen so frequently, would be born on such a foreboding date. Growing up in Brooklyn and Valley Stream, New York, Buscemi also experienced plenty of real-life misfortune. As a kid, he was hit by a bus and by a car (in separate incidents). On the plus side, he used the money from the legal settlement following the bus accident to attend the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in New York City.

2. HE WAS A NEW YORK CITY FIREFIGHTER.

As a teenager, Buscemi worked a series of odd jobs: ice cream truck driver, mover, gas station attendant. He even sold newspapers in the toll lane of the Triborough Bridge. When Buscemi turned 18, his father, a sanitation worker, encouraged his son to take the civil service exam and become a New York City firefighter. Four years later, in 1980, the future star became a member of Engine Co. 55, located in New York City's Little Italy district. While he answered emergency calls during the day, at night Buscemi played improv clubs and auditioned for acting roles.

After four years working for the FDNY, Buscemi landed one of the lead roles in Bill Sherwood’s Parting Glances (1986), a drama set during the early days of AIDS in New York. Buscemi took a three-month leave of absence during filming, and afterwards decided not to return.

3. HE FORMED A COMEDY DUO WITH SONS OF ANARCHY’S MARK BOONE, JR.

For a brief while, Buscemi tried his hand at stand-up comedy (he bombed). In 1984, he met fellow aspiring actor Mark Boone, Jr., and the two began performing together. Part improv, part scripted comedy, the two would often carry out power struggles that pitted thin-man Buscemi against the larger Boone. The New York Times called their act “theater in the absurdist vein.”

4. HE DID NOT AUDITION FOR THE ROLE OF GEORGE COSTANZA.

Like any hard-working actor, Buscemi has had his share of failed auditions. His tryout for Alan Parker’s Fame lasted less than 30 seconds. In the late ‘80s, Martin Scorsese brought him in four different times to read for The Last Temptation of Christ. (Buscemi ended up reading every apostle’s part before being turned away.) He also auditioned for the part of Seinfeld’s George Costanza—at least according to numerous sources, including Jason Alexander himself. But it turns out this tidbit—fueled, no doubt, by the thought of a very twitchy, bug-eyed Costanza—isn’t true. On a recent episode of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Buscemi addressed the rumor in his typical good-natured way: “I never did [the audition] and I don’t know how to correct it because I don’t know how the Internet works.”

5. TREES LOUNGE WAS BASICALLY HIS LIFE AT 19.

After gaining momentum with roles in Mystery Train, Reservoir Dogs, Barton Fink, and other films, Buscemi took a turn behind the camera with 1996’s Trees Lounge. The movie, which he also wrote, follows a bumbling layabout named Tommy who spends most of his time at the title bar in the town where he grew up. It’s a classic flick for Buscemi fans and, according to the actor, it was pretty much his life as a teenager living on Long Island. “I was truly directionless, living with my parents,” Buscemi said in an interview. “I was driving an ice-cream truck and working at a gas station… The drinking age was 18 then, so I spent every night hanging out with my friends in bars, drinking.”

6. HE IS FULLY AWARE THAT HIS CHARACTERS OFTEN DIE.

Steve Buscemi in 'Fargo' (1996)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

He’s been shot numerous times, stabbed with an ice pick, riddled with throwing knives, tossed off a balcony, and fed to a wood chipper. Yes, Buscemi’s characters have died a variety of deaths, and the actor isn’t without a sense of humor about the whole matter. He’ll often joke in interviews that he’s living longer and longer as the years go by. Before the 2005 release of The Island, in which the aforementioned balcony-tossing occurs (and into a glass bar no less), Buscemi said he was happy his character lived almost a third of the way through the movie. Buscemi admitted that he will actually read ahead in any script he receives to see when and how he dies.

7. HE HAS A FAVORITE DEATH—AND IT ISN’T FARGO.

For connoisseurs of Buscemi's movie deaths, the demise of Fargo’s Carl Showalter by way of axe then wood chipper is the crème de la crème. But when asked about his own favorite onscreen death, Buscemi references another Coen brothers film: The Big Lebowski. In that movie his character, Donny Kerabatsos, succumbs to a heart attack. It’s a surprise for viewers, and so out-of-the-blue that Buscemi can’t help but be tickled at the randomness of it. “They thought, ‘Well, Buscemi’s in it, so we’ve gotta kill him,'" the actor said in an appearance on The Daily Show.

8. HIS CHARACTER IN CON AIR WAS WRITTEN SPECIFICALLY FOR HIM.

In Con Air, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced action movie filled with muscled-up prisoners, Buscemi played the most dangerous con of them all. His Garland Greene—a serial killer whose exploits “make the Manson family look like the Partridge family,” according to one character—enters the film strapped to a chair, Hannibal Lecter mask affixed to his face. Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg, a friend of Buscemi’s, wrote the part with him in mind, and was tickled when Buscemi accepted the role. To this day, fans will still serenade the actor with “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”

9. HIS CHARACTER IN DESPERADO IS NAMED AFTER HIM.

Steve Buscemi in Desperado
Columbia Pictures

Although he inevitably dies (courtesy of Danny Trejo’s throwing knives), Buscemi commands the opening of Desperado, Robert Rodriguez’s stylish revenge movie, regaling bar patrons with the story of the title gunslinger, played by Antonio Banderas. Because his character’s name is never mentioned, Rodriguez decided to have some fun and name him "Buscemi" in the credits.

10. HE WON’T FIX HIS TEETH.

Buscemi’s crooked smile has helped him portray lowlifes and losers throughout his career. Dentists have offered to fix the actor’s teeth, but he always turns them down, knowing how valuable those chompers are to the Buscemi brand. In a guest starring role on The Simpsons, Buscemi poked fun at the matter after a dentist offers to straighten his character’s teeth: “You’re going to kill my livelihood if you do that!”

11. THERE’S SOME CONFUSION OVER HOW TO PRONOUNCE HIS LAST NAME.

Many people pronounce his last name “Boo-shemmy,” but it turns out Buscemi himself pronounces it “Boo-semmy.” In interviews, Buscemi says he’s following his father’s pronunciation, and says he doesn’t begrudge anyone who says it differently. It turns out, though, that his fans have it right—or at least mostly right. On a trip to Sicily to visit family, Buscemi recounted recently on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he noticed everyone saying “Boo-SHAY-me.”

12. HE GOT STABBED IN A BAR FIGHT.

Steve Buscemi in 'Trees Lounge' (1996)
Live Entertainment

On April 12th, 2001, while filming Domestic Disturbance in Wilmington, North Carolina, Buscemi, co-star Vince Vaughn, and screenwriter Scott Rosenberg went out for late night drinks at the Firebelly Lounge. After Vaughn traded insults with another patron (whose girlfriend had apparently been flirting with Vaughn), the two stepped outside, and a brief scuffle ensued before the two were separated. Buscemi, who was among the crowd that had gathered, was then confronted by a man who, after a brief exchange, attacked the actor with a pocketknife. Buscemi suffered stab wounds to his face, throat, and hands, and had to return to New York to recuperate. His attacker, Timothy Fogerty, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. In typical good-guy fashion, Buscemi declined to press additional charges and instead insisted Fogerty enter a substance abuse program.

13. HE REJOINED HIS FIRE ENGINE IN THE WAKE OF 9/11.

After the horrific attack on New York City’s Twin Towers on September 11, Buscemi—like many Americans—was desperate to help. Although it had been nearly 20 years since he had strapped on his fireman’s gear, the actor reunited with his Engine 55 brethren and for days scoured the towers’ debris for survivors. Buscemi didn’t want his actions publicized; when people asked to take his picture, he declined. It took more than 10 years, in fact, before word got out, thanks to a Facebook post from Engine 55. “Brother Steve worked 12-hour shifts alongside other firefighters digging and sifting through the rubble,” the post read. “This guy is a badass!”

14. HE NARRATES THE AUDIO TOUR AT EASTERN STATE PENITENTIARY.

People who take a tour of the historic Philadelphia prison may notice a familiar voice coming through their listening device. So how did Buscemi end up lending his talents to such a seemingly obscure place? It turns out Eastern State is a popular location for film and photo shoots. Scenes from Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys were filmed there, as were album covers for artists like Tina Turner. In 2000, Buscemi scouted the penitentiary for a film project. The location didn’t work out, but the actor fell in love with the history and grand architecture of the 190-year-old prison. When officials asked for his help to celebrate the prison’s tenth year running tours, he agreed.

15. HE DIDN’T BELIEVE TERENCE WINTER WHEN HE OFFERED HIM THE LEAD IN BOARDWALK EMPIRE.


HBO

After years of playing disposable villains and losers on the periphery, Buscemi had grown accustomed to being passed over for leading roles. So when Boardwalk Empire creator Terence Winter offered him the part of corrupt politician Enoch “Nucky” Thompson in the award-winning HBO series, Buscemi offered his usual reply. “When Terry did call me and he said that he and Marty [Scorsese] wanted me to play this role, my response was, ‘Terry, I know you’re looking at other actors, and I just appreciate that my name is being thrown in,’" Buscemi recalled. "He said, ‘No, Steve, I just said we want you.’ It still didn’t sink in.” Eventually, of course, reality did sink in, and Buscemi went on to win a Golden Globe and Emmy Award across the show’s five seasons.

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