Don’t worry, these fan theories didn’t actually ruin your childhood
One of the greatest things about internet fandoms is the crazy fan theories that inevitably spring up in their respective communities.
What if the Joker is the true hero of The Dark Knight? What if Wall-E is an allegory for the biblical tale of original sin? These fan theories seem far-fetched, but believe it or not, a decent number of fan theories like these turn out to be true. In fact, season 1 of Westworld infamously had many of its twists predicted by fan theories! As a result, it’s easy to see how fans can latch on to theories that seem just crazy enough to make sense.
But… well, on the opposite end of the spectrum are fan theories that are just crazy and that’s it. In the case of the five theories below, many people have invested so deeply into these theories that they actually believe them to be canon. Yet after closer inspection, they just don’t logically add up. Here are the five fan theories that have gone crazy viral… yet don’t survive scrutiny.
5: All the children in Rugrats are imagined by Angelica
The Theory: All the babies in Rugrats either died or were never born for various reasons. The circumstances of these deaths is why Stu obsessively makes toys and Chaz is chronically nervous. Angelica vaguely knows about this and imagines all the children so she can have playmates.
Why it doesn’t hold up: This one’s an open and shut case. Arlene Krasky, the creator of Rugrats, actually confirmed this theory was false during the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con.
In truth, the “Rugrats Theory” is no different than the legions of dark creepypasta theories about children’s shows. I’m not sure why this one gained so much traction, but it’s easy to see at a glance why it’s false. The major red flag is that Angelica doesn’t even appear in some episodes of Rugrats, so saying the show is completely imagined by Angelica falls flat pretty quick.
The biggest issue here is that there’s nothing really “resolved” by this theory. It’s essentially fan fiction that offers an alternate explanation for things that make perfect sense in the context of the show. Moreover, the fact that all these child deaths would occur in such a short period of time and a three year old would somehow be aware of it all is both a massive logical leap and just bad writing in general.
4: Gary’s Raticate died on the S.S. Anne in Pokémon Red and Blue
The Theory: During the rival battle in Lavender Town’s Pokémon Tower (IE The Pokémon Cemetery), Gary’s Raticate is inconspicuously replaced. Gary still has two free Pokémon slots, so what happened?
According to this theory, Gary’s Raticate was badly wounded during the last battle aboard the S.S. Anne. The Raticate died because it couldn’t get to a Pokémon Center, and Gary is seen at the tower because he just buried Raticate.
Note: This is super pedantic, but I am aware that the “canon” name for the rival in the games is actually Blue. But since the theory uses the name “Gary” and that’s what he’s commonly referred to as by fans, I’ll keep using Gary here.
Why it doesn’t hold up: There’s no evidence that anything strange happened aboard the S.S. Anne.
Nothing in the dialogue or the battle itself indicates the fight against Raticate is any different than any other encounter in the game. Because of this, if Raticate really was mortally injured during this battle, then the same would logically have applied to all of Gary’s other Pokémon. In other words, you could argue Gary’s Raticate died during an accident in the Rock Tunnel just as easily as saying it died on the S.S. Anne.
Moreover, despite what some iterations of the theory may indicate, Gary’s dialogue at the Pokémon Tower doesn’t remotely imply that he suffered some kind of tragedy. In fact, here’s what Gary actually says prior to the battle:
“What are you doing here? Your Pokemon doesn’t look dead! I can at least make them faint! Let’s go, pal!”
I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t indicate a burial just took place.
Raticate’s replacement is mostly likely due to banal gameplay reasons. Pokémon generally doesn’t throw teams of 5 high-level Pokémon at you until late game, and Raticate is generally useful in Pokémon’s early game but tapers off at higher levels. Swapping Raticate just increases the challenge of the encounter without going overboard in the eyes of the designers. If anything, Raticate’s removal at the Pokémon Tower is at best symbolic.
3: Gandalf wanted to fly the eagles into Mordor all along
The Theory: It’s become a running joke to say Lord of the Rings could have ended in one book had Frodo just flown an eagle into Mordor. This theory posits that Gandalf actually wanted this all along, but chose to keep the plan secret from the rest of the party. When Gandalf says “fly, you fools!” after the fight with the Balrog, he’s actually giving a hint about finding the eagles.
Why it doesn’t hold up: First of all, the “eagle plot hole” isn’t as much of a plot hole as some may think it is. The Eagles in Lord of the Rings lore are established to be selective with the conflicts they get involved with, for one. Some also argue that Sauron’s forces would have seen the eagles from a mile away and sniped them before reaching the volcano. Either way, the eagles don’t offer an “easy” solution to the conflict of the story by any means.
It doesn’t help that much of the ancillary evidence for this theory is based around the movies and not the books. This means, at best, that Peter Jackson interpreted J.R.R. Tolkien’s story this way, which is even harder to believe.
The smoking gun of this theory is Gandolf’s “Fly, you fools!” line, but even that doesn’t survive scrutiny. In the Lord of the Rings books, “fly” is commonly used to mean “flee,” usually with added urgency. Gandolf’s wording here is keeping true to that prose. Besides, if someone as wise as Gandolf was trying to give Frodo’s party a hint, you’d think he’d be a little more specific so they could figure out what meant.
2: Jar Jar Binks is a Sith Lord
The Theory: We actually covered this one before. But in short, Jar Jar Binks, the infamous mascot of the Star Wars prequels, is believed by many to be a Sith Lord in disguise. The theory goes that Lucas intended to reveal Jar Jar as a Sith in The Clone Wars, but due to the backlash against the character, Jar Jar’s role was massively reduced. Traces of this plot line was left in the films, and Jar Jar’s actor Ahmed Best has publicly said there’s some truth to the theory.
Why it doesn’t hold up: I’m not gonna lie, I really liked this one. The original theory is well written and adds a compelling twist to the prequel trilogy. Unfortunately, the more you put the evidence to the test, the less likely this appears to be the case.
Given that the thesis of the theory is that Jar Jar would return in The Force Awakens, we can already put part of this theory to bed. But really, this extends to the other big problem with the theory: If we’re to believe the Jar Jar arc was dropped after The Phantom Menace, then why are scenes from later movies being used as proof? Telling a talented team of animators and actors to go out of their way to imply a plot line that was literally dropped from the movie seems unlikely to say the least.
The theory’s two main arguments involve Jar Jar exhibiting mastery of Drunken Fist Wushu and Jar Jar displaying tells of using Jedi mind control. The first point is actually kind of neat, but doesn’t prove Jar Jar can use the Force. After all, the fight choreography for the original trilogy is inspired by vintage samurai movies, but that’s just a stylistic detail and no indication that the Jedi were trained by some ancient Samurai Jedi. The second point about mind control is, honestly, really weak. If you look at Jar Jar’s hand motions during the supposed scenes of mind control, he looks like any regular person having a conversation. Remember: over 90% of communication is non verbal, so a character using no hand motions would be far more suspicious than any alleged Sith mastery.
Many have taken Ahmed Best’s comments on the theory to be official confirmation, which makes sense at a glance. Unfortunately, there’s a sad yet more believable explanation for this. Best has had to suffer years of harassment from angry fans after playing Jar Jar. But ever since this theory became popular, Best has finally gotten to enjoy a small amount of favor for the first time in over a decade. Remember, at no point has he ever said the theory was true. He’s simply said there’s some truth to it (which could simply be referring to Jar Jar taking influence from Dunken Fist Wushu) and that Jar Jar’s role was downplayed in later movies.
Honestly, for Best’s sake, I kind of feel bad for coming down on this theory. Still, I can’t in good conscious say this one adds up as much as we’d like it to.
1: Toby is the Scranton Strangler
The Theory: During The Office‘s 7th Season, the cast witnesses the infamous Scranton Strangler drive by the office during a police chase. Except Toby is subtly absent from this scene.
According to this theory, Toby was absent because he was actually being chased by the police in front of his coworkers. In fact, the car the police are chasing has been seen in the office parking lot in previous episodes. Though Toby eventually serves as a juror for the trial of the Scranton Strangler, he continuously struggles with the guilty verdict across numerous episodes. If the theory is to be believed, this is because his conscience has caught up with him and he knows an innocent man is being sentenced to death.
Why it doesn’t hold up: This is certainly no new theory, but news outlets everywhere have been jumping on this one a ton. In fact, some have gone on to say that fans have “solved” the identity of the Scranton Strangler! Unfortunately, this one has more flaws than the moral conduct of a serial killer.
The police chase scene is widely considered the smoking gun of the theory, but already we get to a massive issue. The theory states that Toby is in the car… yet somehow, a totally different, yet innocent man is arrested in the end? Sure, we don’t see the events between this police chase and Toby eventually being called to jury duty. But if we’re just making stuff up to make the theory plausible, you could also say Mose is actually the Scranton Strangler, and Toby wasn’t at work because Mose stole his car. Without any evidence from the show to tie the theory down, basically any argument makes as much sense.
Speaking of, the car being from the parking lot is hardly a smoking gun as well. As some fans have pointed out, Dunder Mifflin is located in a general office building. The car could just as easily have belonged to anyone working there, not just the Dunder Mifflin employees. There’s also the fact that identical makes and models of cars are actually quite common, but I’ll let that point slide.
But… you know, I can’t exactly sit here and say there’s no significance to Toby’s absence during this scene. The only problem is, the most logical explanation for this is more mundane than fans of this theory would like.
Toby was absent to set up why he’s in the jury.
In the United States court of law, citizens under arrest have “the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury.” And that means a jury can’t have any existing biases that might influence their judgment. Finding completely impartial jurors would be hard for a high profile case like the Scranton Strangler, especially if everyone was feverishly watching the chase scene like the main cast. Since Toby doesn’t show any particular interest in the case prior to serving on the jury and misses this televised event, he’s about as fair and impartial a juror as you could get.
Moreover, it’s because Toby is such a good juror that he’d be wracking his brain about the verdict. Putting a man to death weighs heavy on your conscious, especially if only the evidence provided in court isn’t fully convincing. If Toby really was the Scranton Strangler and he was feeling guilty about the verdict, why couldn’t he just, you know, strike again? It would prove the verdict was wrong in an instance, since Toby could perfectly replicate whatever calling card the Scranton Strangler used (probably without needing to actually murder anyone). The fact that the Strangler wasn’t found innocent despite Toby’s guilt should be a pretty damning reason why the theory falls flat.
It may not be fun to realize there’s no big conspiracy hiding in all our favorite shows. But having said that, it is amusing to imagine what these shows would be like if all their craziest theories were real. Perhaps in another world, Toby really was the Scranton Strangler, and The Office turns into a gritty crime drama in its final seasons. Even if it doesn’t line up as things stand now, there’s at least enough circumstantial evidence that makes you wonder about the possibility.
Coincidentally, some could argue that every fictional world ever created is real in a parallel universe. But you know… if that’s what you truly believe, I don’t have an argument against that.