A childhood classic is considered a classic for a reason — because, more often than not, it truly stands the test of time and is just as good on the millionth viewing as it was on the first. Except, of course, when it is even better when you watch it all over again with a new idea or perspective on a film that you thought you knew inside and out. Enter: These insane fan theories!
Fan theories are new ideas or speculation into our favorite movies, books, and TV shows that could change the meaning of the beloved media that we thought we knew so well. And while plenty of theories are, well, way out there and a bit over-the-top (i.e., they remind us of when our 11th grade English teacher insisted that everything in a novel was representative of deeper symbolism), many of them actually make a ton of sense and allow us to enjoy something we already know and love, but through a new lens.
Check out some of the most insane, convincing, and out-there conspiracy theories that’ll totally change the way you look at some of your childhood faves.
Willy Wonka May Have Been a Bit of a Control Freak
In the 1971 version of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, that is. (It's worth noting that I can and will fight anyone who thinks that the Johnny Depp version could even begin to hold a candle to the Gene Wilder version… but I digress).
Anyway, we all know and love the movie for its rags-to-riches story; I think it’s safe to say that it’s easy to root for Charlie Bucket, the little who boy who — with a random stroke of luck — gets everything he ever wanted and lives happily ever after. But what if I told you that luck had nothing to do with it?
In a fan theory laid out by one Redditor, there was nothing coincidental about Charlie “randomly” finding the money to buy the chocolate bar that contained the Golden Ticket (it’s worth noting that, at that point in the movie, Charlie and the rest of the world were under the impression that the final ticket had been found in Paraguay). In this theory, Charlie finds the Golden Ticket thanks to an inside job, with assistance from Bill (aka The Candy Man), who secretly works for Wonka.
“[Bill] reports to Wonka about everything. Wonka instructs Bill to give the last ticket to a local kid, a poor kid, an unselfish kid. Bill probably already knows these things about Charlie but just [needs] to confirm them,” the Redditor explained, adding that when Charlie asks for one for his grandfather, Bill handpicks a Wonka bar for Charlie. “[Bill] knew exactly which one had the ticket. It was displayed right out front but behind the counter, so it could only be retrieved by him. Also (and this might be a bit of a stretch), when Wonka meets the kids, he acts like this the first he has heard of any of them — until he gets to Charlie and he says, 'I read all about you in the papers.' He didn’t say anything like this about any of the other kids. Could the ‘papers’ he is talking about be a report from Bill?”
Hey, this guy could be onto something here! And it’s sorta sinister when you consider this other fan theory, which suggested that owning the Chocolate Factory was meant to be a punishment, not a reward.
The Story of Richie Rich Didn’t End When the Credits Rolled
At least according to The Simpsons, that is! We have Lisa and Bart to thank for this one! In the episode “The Men and a Comic Book,” Lisa noticed how the eponymous Richie Rich and Casper (the Friendly Ghost) sorta look alike. Which made Lisa suspect that perhaps Casper is the post-mortem epilogue of Richie Rich. When her old brother asks how Richie/Casper died, the precocious Lisa muses, “Perhaps he realized how hollow the pursuit of money really is and took his own life.”
Dark… But who am I to question Lisa Simpson’s intellect?!
Rugrats Is Actually a Story About Death
In what may be the darkest of all the fan theories, Rugrats isn’t actually a light-hearted children’s cartoon… Instead, it’s a horrifying dark tale about death. In the most simplified version of the theory, Angelica basically made up all the babies, who actually died (or were never born in the first place).
The theory suggests that Chuckie actually died with his mother, which is why his dad is so nervous all the time. Tommy Pickles was a stillborn, hence his father’s “inventions,” which are supposed to help him cope with the son he never had. And Phil and Lil aren’t twins; rather, their parents had an abortion and Angelica created twins — to imagine the fetus as either a boy or girl. Why Angelica is so mean to the creations she dreamed up with her imagination is never really addressed.
While this is literally the stuff nightmares are made of, we can all rest easy knowing that this is one fan theory that definitely isn’t true. Rugrats co-creator Arlene Klasky confirmed that she heard of the dark twist on the beloved cartoon, but reassured all of us would-be traumatized adults that it definitely isn’t true. Phew!
Sid Is Actually the Hero in Toy Story 3
We’re all familiar with the Toy Story franchise, yes? So we all know the antagonist Sid, who is more or less the personification of garbage as a kid… And then grows up to be a garbage man in Toy Story 3? What if we told you that he was low-key the good guy all along? (Well, at least as an adult.)
That’s the argument one Redditor (who happens to be a garbage man IRL) made, and — not gonna lie — I’m totally buying it. Sid, we learn early on in the franchise, is the only person who knows that toys are alive. So it makes sense that he would go after a job where he can actually save toys that are being thrown out (the man/woman making this argument shows all the toys he/she personally salvaged as proof that it’s one of the perks of the gig). So if this theory is to be believed, he became the final person to handle these living toys — not to destroy them, but, rather, to save them.
We all know that Sid is very creative when it comes to, uh, “upcycling” and repurposing toys, so he’s the perfect guy for this job! Dare I say I’m #TeamSid now?!
The Reason Ash Never Aged in Pokémon Is Actually So Wholesome
Which means, yes, you can put to rest that tragic theory about a coma, because damn it, we need some good news on this list!
Fans of the Pokémon anime know that — despite the fact that the show has been on forever (aka 21 years) — Ash Ketchum is perpetually 10 years old. In our preferred aging-themed theory, we’re reminded that in the very first episode of Pokémon, Ash sees a Ho-oh in the sky. According to Ho-oh’s entry in the Pokédex, “It is said that anyone seeing it is promised eternal happiness.” And what does “eternal happiness” look like for our beloved Pokémon master-in-training? Forever being 10 and following his dreams and ambitions, obviously.
Karate Is a Euphemism for Something NSFN (Not Safe for Nickelodeon) on Spongebob
Soo, you know that episode of Spongebob where Spongebob and Sandy seem to have an insatiable appetite for karate? Well how would you feel about the episode if we told you it wasn’t karate they were doing?!
“The episode starts with Spongebob coming home, looking for Sandy to do karate with. Why would Sandy already be in his house, if they were not in a relationship? He looked around, sees she isn’t there, then sits on the couch. She appears shortly after and tries to tackle him. Before Spongebob starts to go at it, he runs off, puts on his safety helmet and gloves, says ‘safety first,’ then winks at the camera before charging at Sandy,” the cartoon theory-crafter wrote on Reddit, making it obvious that Mr. Squarepants had another kind of “safety” in mind. The Redditor continued, adding that Spongebob even calls Sandy at one point, “booty calling” her for a “karate session.”
He later gets fired because at work, all he could think about was karate with Sandy. Listen, if that isn’t a euphemism for sex… I want to learn more about these seemingly life-changing karate moves. Tiger Schulmann is officially shook.
Well... If you need me, I'll be finding some other ways to ruin your childhood!