Have you ever gotten so into a TV show that you've speculated about what goes on in the characters' universe outside of what you see on the TV? So many fans do it. You picture the doctors of Grey's Anatomy in bed with their boos or in the middle of another intense surgery. You picture the genius goofballs of The Big Bang Theory arguing for the hundredth time over some obscure detail of a comic book. Some fans think so deeply and intensely about their favorite shows that they wind up creating sweeping theories about the show as a whole.
Fan theories lend themselves particularly well to shows with complex plots, shows that come under the sci-fi or horror genres, or shows that are in their essence mysterious. That's when you get the really fascinating fan theories. But people love these kinds of theories so much that they're even coming up with them for sit-coms and children's shows. It's madness.
You're about to read some fan theories about shows from a variety of genres. They'll get you thinking whether you choose to believe them or not...
13 Dark Phoebe - Friends
Fans of Friends have produced many crazy theories about the show over the years, but the one they call "Dark Phoebe" has been shared the most. It started when someone posted the idea on Twitter that Phoebe was actually a meth-addicted, homeless woman who looked longingly at the group of friends through the window of Central Perk. All of the story lines about their lives are what she imagined. The umbrellas that the stars hold in the opening sequence are what the homeless Phoebe uses to shield her from the rain when she's sleeping rough. Show creator Marta Kauffman has dismissed the theory. But I don't think it's a theory that anyone would really take seriously anyway. It's an intriguing idea that could be Friends in an alternate universe, but doesn't represent the show that we have gotten to know over the years.
12 Seven Deadly Sins - Friends
There's another intriguing fan theory about Friends that kind of fits. The theory goes that each member of the Friends family represents a different sin which makes up the seven deadly sins. This story spread via a video from College Humor. They reckon that being a "spoiled little rich girl", Rachel represents greed. As Ross cheated on Rachel and got divorced three times, he represents lust. Monica, with her competitive nature is of course pride. Chandler who hates his job but sticks with it for eight seasons in sloth. Joey is obviously all about eating so he's gluttony. I'm not so sure about this one but they say that Phoebe is wrath as she has an "extreme anger that comes out when she needs it, causing the rest of her friends to genuinely fear her." The missing deadly sin comes from outside of the main group of six - Gunther is envy, probably because he envies whoever is in a relationship with his one true love, Rachel.
11 Carrie's Column - Sex and the City
This theory about Sex and the City actually comes from Sarah Jessica Parker herself. When she was interviewed for The Nerdist podcast she told the host that she “used to wonder if Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda were real.” She thought that they were just Carrie's column because “they’re such perfectly archetypal characters.” Parker said that the characters represented one type of person or another type of person and their stories got more complicated because that's what a writer would do, show them in more depth. Fans and journalists have had similar theories about the show previously, so SJP isn't necessarily the first one to come up with the idea. A journalist for Salon wrote in 2013, “I believe that, even within the world of the show, nothing depicted actually happened. The show’s protagonist, the writer Carrie Bradshaw, wrote herself three best friends and an ultimately heroic lover. She is, finally, alone.”
10 Apocalypse - The Big Bang Theory
There's a theory about The Big Bang Theory that comes from the site Cracked. They believe that the show itself is the story of the end of the universe. The fact that the opening credits are a timeline of events throughout history means that the show is set in a fixed period of time i.e. when the world is coming to an end. The show is about the top scientists of our generation and their downfalls. In our age, the scientists are concerned with video games and relationships etc, and so they don't use their talents in the same way Einstein or Newton would have - there are too many distractions. Thus, these guys could have prevented the end of the world but they didn't because they were too busy reading comic books. It's a little complicated, but an interesting theory nonetheless.
9 A Family of Geniuses - The Simpsons
Weirdly enough, this fan theory seems to have the most evidence supporting it and seems the most likely to be true, whether the writers and creators intended it to be so or not. The theory is that the entire Simpson family are geniuses despite their hijinks, and Lisa is the only member of the family who accepts her smarts and pursues academia. As proof, there's an episode in which Homer gets a crayon that was lodged in his brain removed. That's what was making him so stupid. When it's removed he's no longer the lovable buffoon but rather a genius. By the end of the episode he goes back to his normal self by having it re-inserted. Bart is a genius but more in the criminal sense. It's also shown in the show that Marge was a gifted student but opted for family life over a career.
8 Purse First Curse - Rupaul's Drag Race
RuPaul's Drag Race is my number one, favorite show at the moment so I had to look for a fan theory. It's a little different from the other shows on this list because it's a reality show and not fiction. Fans have still come up with some fascinating theories about RPDR however. According to one theory, there was a season 8 curse that determined which queen would be leaving the show at the end of each episode. In the very first episode of the season, Bob the Drag Queen made a purse and made it a thing to walk into rooms "purse first". From then on, various queens walked into the workroom at the beginning of each episode "purse first". The queens holding the purse always ended up staying while their lip sync competitor had to sashay away and leave the show. There might not be a curse, but it's definitely an odd coincidence.
7 Prequel - Breaking Bad
A TV theory that fans really seem to enjoy is the idea that the shows Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead are actually set in the same universe. Proponents of the theory believe that with the blue crystal meth spreading more and more by the end of Breaking Bad, it may have been the cause of the death of users who subsequently return as zombies. Fans point to the Breaking Bad references that exist within The Walking Dead as proof of the theory. For instance, in season two, Daryl's brother Merle had blue crystal meth within his stash of drugs. Merle was also a drug dealer before the rise of the walkers and describes his supplier as “a janky little white guy”, who once threatened him saying, “I'm gonna kill you, bitch!” This obviously sounds a lot like his supplier was Breaking Bad's Jesse Pinkman.
6 Psychic Manifestation - Stranger Things
Stranger Things is a complex show, packed full of references to the sci-fi and horror genres. It's not really surprising therefore that the fan theories surrounding the sci-fi hit are somewhat complex too. One fan theory states that "Eleven and the monster are one and the same". Because we see them in the same room at the same time this means that the monster must be "a psychic manifestation of Eleven's childhood trauma". According to fans, the show hints at this in the way that the kids name the monster the Demogorgon a monster with two heads that hate each other from Dungeons and Dragons. Plus when the monster appears for the first time, it's in a black space which could be Eleven's mind, rather than in the upside down. There are also comic book references in the show that point to an X-Men character which fought with an evil demon inside her head. Blimey, these Stranger Things fans go deep!
5 Disorders - Winnie the Pooh
Fans even create theories about beloved children's TV shows, and for many of us it can be annoying because we're unable to think of our favorite childhood shows in the same way again. The fan theory about Winnie the Pooh is that each character has some sort of mental illness or disorder. When you think about it, unfortunately, it's not all that far-fetched a theory. You probably already suspected that Eeyore suffers from depression, but what about the other characters? Well, the Canadian Medical Association gave a diagnosis to each of the characters. Pooh has ADHD and OCD - he's obsessed with honey, he's impulsive and counts habitually. Piglet has generalized anxiety disorder, Tigger has ADHD and Owl is dyslexic. And because the characters all come from Christopher Robin's imagination, this means that he probably has schizophrenia.
4 Meta - American Horror Story
Like Stranger Things, American Horror Story is chock full of references, namely to prior seasons in the case of AHS. As such there are tons of fan theories surrounding American Horror Story. One particularly interesting theory is that there is one meta-level for all of the different seasons of AHS, they all exist in one universe. Because of the nature of each season, being so dark and tragic for the characters, according to the fan theory, the whole thing could be a kind of hell for the characters. It's a cyclical thing where they keep having different terrible experiences. It's not the simplest of the AHS fan theories, but it's certainly a fascinating one. As with a lot of these fan theories, it came from just one Redditor and was picked up by lots of fans subsequently.
3 Documentary Filmmaker - Modern Family
You've probably noticed that the way in which Modern Family is filmed is rather different to other sit-coms. Each episode sees members of the family speaking directly to the camera like in a documentary film, and the makers of the show have never properly explained why it's set out in this way. Modern Family's creator has said that initially there was going to be a Dutch filmmaker character who was the documentarian, but obviously that idea was trashed. So fans have theorized that it's Luke Dunphy who is making the documentary. They point to Luke's growing interest in film throughout the seasons (his zombie film with Manny) as a hint that it's him who is making the documentary. Fans suggest that it's Luke as an adult who is piecing together old footage to make the documentary, Modern Family.
2 Alzheimer's - Grey's Anatomy
The thing that seems to be puzzling to some fans of Grey's Anatomy is that the show's characters appear to suffer such immense trauma and yet are still able to function. So, fans have formed their own conclusions and believe that the entire show is told by a Meredith of the future who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Thus the stories are not what actually happened, they're an intense and altered version of Meredith's memories. The idea of Meredith having Alzheimer's obviously comes from the fact that her mother had the condition and that it's an underlying fear of Meredith's throughout the show. But, you know, what fans need to realize is that it's a TV show and that's why the events are so dramatic and over the top. Regular human beings would have had serious breakdowns a long time ago if the stuff that happens on Grey's happened in real life.
1 The Real Killer - Murder She Wrote
You hear those jokes about not trusting joggers or dog-walkers because they're always the ones who find the dead bodies. The same could be said for Jessica Fletcher of Murder She Wrote. The novelist somehow always seems to find herself in the midst of a crime. There were 12 seasons of Murder She Wrote and that equates to almost 300 killings that Fletcher encounters. So, I think you can guess by now what fans reckon is the true story behind Murder She Wrote. Jessica Fletcher is a serial killer who uses murder as a research tool for her stories. This is obviously a hilarious fan theory. But in all seriousness, wouldn't you love to see a reboot of Murder She Wrote in which Jessica Fletcher is accused of murder? That would be a new take on the show.