When a TV show is being created with children in mind as the target audience, you would think that the message would be kept as light or clear-cut as possible. But when the kids who love those shows grow up, they start to see the straightforward stories, characters, and messages in a brand new light. Or darker than ever before.
Here are Screen Rant’s 10 Dark Theories That Completely Change Popular Kids Shows.
This kids show has always teased some adult jokes, starring a sponge living in Bikini Bottom who’s friends with Sandy Cheeks. But the darker theory says that the show’s characters aren’t just marine life who can walk and talk, but creatures horribly mutated by nuclear bomb testing. Since America’s nuclear testing was carried out on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, the mutated fish might actually owe their origins to the American military – if you believe the theory.
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
One little fight is all it takes to send the Fresh Prince to live with his rich aunt and uncle in a Bel Air mansion, but according to some fans, the Fresh Prince didn’t make it out of Philly at all. That little fight was rougher than expected, with his “rare” cab giving him a ride to Heaven, not California. All we know is that if the theory is true, then Angels are a lot less accepting than we’ve been told.
This mechanical cop’s origin isn’t all that different from Robocop‘s: the show never explains what happened to Inspector Gadget, and he can’t remember the accident that saw his entire body replaced by robotic tools. One theory assumes that the show’s bumbling hero is obviously a flawed imitation of the pre-accident inspector, rebuilt to keep his legend alive. But what of the real Gadget? The broken, highly intelligent man who wakes up to see he’s been replaced by an idiot? The leading theory is that he took a new name as Dr. Claw, determined to kill his replacement by any means necessary. No wonder we never got to see his face.
The cult comic book, cartoon and TV series based on The Tick differ from one another, but fans of the cartoon have come up with one truly crazy theory. The superhero is obviously a nod to Spider-Man – but a bite from a tick won’t give you superpowers… it may only give you lyme disease. The fans claim the entire story takes place in the mind of a young boy who’s fallen ill with just that, imagining he’ll soon become a hero himself. It explains why the show parodied the best-known heroes, villains, and stories, and the stranger characters – El Seed or Chairface Chippendale – based on the everyday things the boy has to work with. And with a character this crazy, it might actually make sense.
The Jetsons Meet The Flintstones
Everyone’s favorite stone age family was just as well-known as their futuristic counterparts, The Jetsons – but what if the two families weren’t separated by thousands of years at all? What if the Jetsons just happen to live among the future’s super-rich, in cities in the sky driving flying cars, while Fred and Wilma are forced to live like cavemen down below, with only engineered dinosaurs to use for technology? It explains why dinosaurs can actually talk, but it’s such a dark, dystopic theory, it’s no wonder fans have adopted it so quickly.
Winnie The Pooh
Sure, the characters of this book and animated series are born in the mind of Christopher Robin, but it didn’t take long for their personalities to grab the attention of mental health experts and psychiatrists. They soon argued that the cast offer perfect examples of a wide range of psychiatric conditions: Eeyore suffers from depression, Tigger is hyperactive, Piglet succumbs to anxiety and paranoid delusions, Rabbit shows signs of OCD, Owl is dyslexic, and even Pooh compulsively eats honey, no matter how much pain it may cause him. And here we thought it was all the rampant illusions of a young boy’s mind… okay, maybe we should have caught this one sooner.
Pinky & The Brain
They started as a pair of supporting characters on WB’s Animaniacs, but these two laboratory mice soon became stars, with one a genius, and the other insane. But what if fans have been getting their intellects mixed up this whole time? Brain might seem like the genius, but his plans to “take over the world” are usually nonsense, and never work. Instead, it’s Pinky who sees the problems ahead of time, and is constantly keeping Brain from taking over anything. All this time, we never realized that Pinky was just a weird genius defending the entire world. Seems fans owe him an apology.
Fans of the anime series will know that its hero, Ash Ketchum, never ages a day, or faces an obstacle he can’t beat. But what if the ageless Ash can’t be hurt, because he’s already dead? It’s a dark theory, but not a completely unhappy one. In the first episode, Ash and Pikachu are almost killed by a flock of birds, before a lightning attack wipes the birds – and Ash – out. When the two wake up, they catch a glimpse of a legendary Pokemon flying overhead – one that grants eternal happiness to anyone who sees it – as fitting a metaphor for the afterlife as we’ve ever heard.
A walking, talking elephant may seem innocent, but it’s hard to miss the real message at work here. After leaving the jungle behind for Paris, an Old Lady teaches Babar how to dress, how to read, and how to speak. When he finally returns home with this education, Babar is chosen as the new Elephant King, re-shaping the Jungle and the animals in the image of western society. But remember: the story was written in turn-of-the-century Europe, after the continent had spent centuries trying to do the exact same thing to native people around the world. There were lessons to learn from Babar, but we never realized that defending colonialism or the “civilizing” of savage people was one of them.
Saved By The Bell
Life couldn’t be any better for Zack Morris: he never has a bad day, can talk his way out of any trouble, and is even able to stop time itself to talk to the camera. It’s too good to be true… so what if it is? After all, the actual title and theme song of Saved By The Bell makes school sound like Zack’s worst nightmare, just hoping for the bell to set him free, before his alarm clock starts it all over again. Fans have an explanation: the show is a total fantasy. The real Zack isn’t popular, good-looking, or powerful – what audiences see is the life he dreams about once his actual school day has ended. Talk about depressing… but also comforting. Nobody could ever be that cool in real life.
Those are the dark and incredible fan theories that forever changed our idea of hit childrens’ shows, but which ones did we miss? Share them in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos like this one!