Video games open themselves up to far more fan theories than movies and TV shows, simply because of their nature. Their huge open worlds offer plenty of opportunities to the game’s developers to slip in an Easter egg or a hidden message. And because they’re so hard to find, it can take years for a fan theory to surface. Gamers are still discovering new Easter eggs in Skyrim and the GTA games to this day.
In some cases, these fan theories aren’t based on something that was intentionally included by the creators to stir up the fan base (unless they wanted to be very, very tongue-in-cheek). Sometimes it’s just a tiny object someone found in a river bank that they’ve convinced themselves has ties to the end of the world. Or an off-cuff remark that can barely be heard in off-screen chatter is thought to allude to the heroes of the story actually being the villains. Some theories connect various different games created by the same developer together into a shared universe
There are a lot of video game fan theories that have no merit – but there are just as many that have a lot of merits. Some theorists seem like they’re onto something. he
So, here are 20 Fan Theories That Completely Change These Iconic Video Games.
20 Silent Hill 2 – Mary’s body was in the trunk of James’ car the whole time
This fan theory makes one of the most chilling survival horror games ever made even more chilling. In the game, James drives up to Silent Hill and is confronted with the repressed memory of murdering his wife, Mary. While a bunch of spectral projections of James’ guilt appears before him, he never actually sees her corpse.
The theory is that the corpse was in the trunk of James’ car the whole time, and he put it there as a dark way of fulfilling her final wish of returning to Silent Hill. Plus, when he drives his car into a lake to take his life, he comments that it means he and his wife can now be together forever.
19 Kirby 64 – Earth has been eliminated
In the fifth level of Kirby 64, titled “Shiver Star,” the title character visits a gray, desolate planet that appears to have been completely destroyed. But upon closer inspection, it seems as though the “Shiver Star” planet has the same continents and oceans as Earth.
And then when Kirby goes down onto the surface, he discovers a shopping mall and a factory and a bunch of working robots – as well as no signs of human life. So, this fan theory believes that in this moment, Kirby is visiting a post-apocalyptic Earth. Humans had been taken out from either a new ice age, a nuclear holocaust, or a robot uprising. Frightening stuff for what is supposed to be a wholesome, child-friendly game.
18 Half-Life – The G-Man is an alien
It’s generally accepted by the fans of Half-Life that the G-Man is not a human. Some of them are happy to accept that they will never know his true identity and they like that – it makes him more mysterious. However, other fans have a more specific theory that he’s an alien, with one Redditor describing him as “some H.P. Lovecraft-esque being.”
The G-Man is a little like the Smoking Man in The X Files. You’re not supposed to know much about this “sinister interdimensional bureaucrat.” Even the information you do get about him is meant to be taken with a grain of salt, so perhaps theorizing about his identity is pointless.
17 Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare – John Marston is in limbo
Since the Undead Nightmare expansion pack of Red Dead Redemption doesn’t seem to line up anywhere on the timeline of the game’s plot, one fan has suggested that maybe it takes place after the end of the game – in purgatory.
When John Marston passed away at the end of Red Dead Redemption, he hadn’t quite achieved the redemption he wanted to, but he was on his way, so it would make sense that it might take the deciding powers a long time to judge where he would end up in the afterlife. That’s how he ends up in a skewed version of the environment he lived in, albeit filled with hordes of the undead.
16 Animal Crossing – The world is controlled by a cult that kidnaps people
At the beginning of the seemingly innocent children’s game Animal Crossing, the player wakes up on an unfamiliar bus heading to a mysterious, unfamiliar village. There, they begin a quaint new life. One fan found this setup to be rather unusual and theorized that a creepy cult is kidnapping people, drugging them, and sending them on their way into town to create their vision of an idyllic utopia.
It’s exactly the kind of dark, sinister deeper meaning that one might slip into a harmless kids’ story, because it would go completely undetected by the game’s target audience of children and make developing it more fun for the adult creative team.
15 God of War – The World Serpent was sent back in time to before he was born
God of War was one of the most beautifully rendered and brilliantly plotted games of 2018, but one moment stuck out as a plot hole. The World Serpent is shown to recognize Atreus – who is later revealed to be Loki – despite the two supposedly having never met before. However, maybe this isn’t a mere plot hole, but rather an indication of wider story development.
One fan theory has it that this is because the World Serpent was sent back in time to before he was born, which would explain how he “just kind of showed up” and why he recognized Atreus/Loki. In the mythology, Loki is the World Serpent’s father, so he was simply confronting his own dad.
14 Metal Gear Solid 3 – The whole thing is just a simulation
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is one of the most highly acclaimed games ever made. Slant, GamesRadar, and IGN all rank it among the greatest video games of all time. But this fan theory suggests that the whole game is nothing more than a VR simulation of real-life events, sort of like the Animus in Assassin’s Creed.
Early in the game, the phrase “Virtuous Mission” is misheard as “virtual mission.” If you eliminate Ocelot, who needs to remain alive for his inclusion in future games, then you get told off – not for failing the mission, but for creating a “time paradox.” The problem with ending Ocelot isn’t that you compromised the mission – it’s that you broke the simulation.
13 Grand Theft Auto – Insurance companies are keeping everyone’s vital signs in check
There are plenty of fan theories about the Grand Theft Auto universe. One suggests every game is just a mega-budget Hollywood movie being produced as you play. Another suggests that due to every minute being a second long, the nature of GTA time means you’re never speeding, but rather moving really slowly. Another suggests the violent mentality of GTA characters comes from being stuck on an island, since island nations like Britain and Japan are historically more vicious.
This fan theory suggests that insurance companies in the GTA universe are monitoring everybody’s vital signs and locations. So, if someone is shot or hit by a car, then they can send police cars and ambulances to the location straight away. That’s why players get an automatic one-star police rating the second they take out or injure someone.
12 Super Mario 3 – The whole game is a stage play
Super Mario 3 is a widely beloved video game, but there’s something about its design that’s kind of strange. The backdrops seem bolted to the wall and all the shrubs and mushrooms in the foreground have a weird shadow that makes the sky look like it’s actually a board painted blue and the objects themselves seem 2D.
Plus, a curtain is drawn at the beginning of the game and Mario exits the stage at the end of every level. So, one theory has it that the whole game is actually a stage play being put on by Mario and his friends. Mario creator Sugeru Miyamoto actually confirmed this theory in a YouTube video.
11 Pokémon – There was just a huge war
In the Pokémon world, the only adult males are scientists or the odd soldier. One fan believes this is because, right before we were invited to join the Pokémon world, there was a devastating war that wiped out most of the men in the world. It’s also why the player’s father is missing and their rival is an orphan.
This theory seems to be confirmed by this off-cuff remark by Lt. Surge: “Electric Pokémon saved during me the war!” It would make sense that Pokémon were used during the war, since the government would be looking to weaponize any and all technologies at their disposal – including little magical creatures kept in tiny balls.
10 Destiny – The Guardians are the Darkness
This surprising and widely circulated theory claims that the Guardians are actually the Darkness. Apparently, if you get close enough to hear Fallen Dregs’ chatter and get spotted, they can be heard yelling out, “It’s the Darkness!” Players have been curious about the Darkness ever since the game came out – but maybe the identity of the Darkness has eluded them for so long because they are the Darkness!
The theory has been further fueled by players who have noticed the disturbing nature of the instructions the game often gives them, including such violent words as “slaughter” and “decimate.” The Guardians go by villain-y titles like Hunters and Warlocks, while their enemies have more heroic-sounding titles like Wizards and Knights.
9 Bloodborne – The players drink something very...special
In FromSoftware’s critically acclaimed action RPG Bloodborne, players have to drink vials of blood in order to heal their wounds. One fan theory is that the blood comes from a very special place, based on the fact that these vials are handed out by women, older women don’t have them, and one character stops handing them out when she gets pregnant.
The theory is bolstered by the links to fertility and the giving of life – and the fact that pieces of umbilical cord are also eaten in the game. The game is all about blood and the powers it has, so surely the producers wouldn’t overlook one of the blood’s most important roles in the female anatomy.
8 Limbo – The boy eliminated his sister
In this beautifully rendered, yet very depressing and bleak game, a young boy wanders around a state of limbo and faces the horrors of being alive and what happens in the afterlife. But the game never explains why he’s there in the first place, leading the player to blindly assume the boy they’re controlling is the story’s protagonist. But what if he’s not?
One fan theory suggests that he might be in limbo because he eliminated his sister. This would explain why he’s in purgatory awaiting judgment and why all the other kids in there are afraid of him. So, the boy is really the villain and the spider boss that tries to restrain him is more of a heroic figure.
7 Max Payne 3 – Anders Detling was a ghost the whole time
There’s a lot of evidence to support the fan theory that Anders Detling, the ex-cop that Max Payne meets in his third outing – the one where Rockstar took over development, which was met with a mixed response from the gaming community – was never really there.
Whether he’s a ghost or just a figment of Max’s imagination, he’s certainly not the mild-mannered family man, alive and well, that we’re led to believe he is. There’s one firefight during which Anders hides in a toilet stall – after the fight, he’s nowhere to be seen. Plus, it’s no coincidence that he’s like a parallel universe version of Max who leads a normal life and whose family survived.
6 The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask – It’s all about the five stages of grief
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is widely accepted as one of the greatest games ever made, but it’s also accepted as one of the weirdest. One fan theory claims to explain some of the stranger plot twists by lining them up with the five stages of grief and presenting the whole game as a metaphor.
The first stage is denial – the residents of Clock Town refuse to accept that the moon is hurtling towards them. The second stage is anger, which the Deku King takes out on an innocent monkey. The third stage is bargaining – in Snowhead, a Goron hero attempts to persuade Link to resurrect him. The fourth stage is depression, shown by the Zoran Lulu in the Great Bay. The fifth stage is acceptance – at the end of the game, Link comes to terms with his flaws and lets the masks go.
5 Mass Effect 3 – Commander Shepard is indoctrinated by the Reapers
It’s difficult closing out a trilogy with a satisfying ending. For every The Lord of the Rings, there are a dozen Spider-Man 3s. Mass Effect 3 was acclaimed for everything – the gameplay, the story, the voice acting, the visuals – except the ending. So, this theory was one of many concocted by fans who were disappointed by Mass Effect 3’s bummer ending. They wanted there to be more meaning to the ending, so they made it up.
This one theory could be true, as it suggests that the ending didn’t really happen. We’re not supposed to take it literally – it just represents Commander Shepard losing the battle against the Reapers’ brainwashing. The theory is that this indoctrination began when Shepard was exposed to some Reaper energy earlier in the game and the game ended when he succumbed to it.
4 Assassin’s Creed – The Animus fabricates conversations with the targets
Whenever a player in an Assassin’s Creed game takes out a target, the Animus simulation does this weird thing where it freezes and they have an extended conversation with the target as they die. While the game has never explained this unusual part of the Animus technology, one fan theory claims to explain it.
It suggests the Animus fabricates those conversations to help ease the psychological trauma that might come from being digitally transplanted into the shoes of your murderous ancestors as they commit their crimes. Without those fabricated conversations providing closure, Animus users might have a breakdown or not be able to handle the blood on their digitally recreated hands.
3 GTA V/Red Dead Redemption – Michael, Franklin, and Trevor are all descendants of John Marston
There’s a fan theory that Michael, Franklin, and Trevor – the three controllable characters from Grand Theft Auto V – are all descendants of Red Dead Redemption’s lead character John Marston. The theory is based on the timeline of the two games, with Red Dead being set in 1911 and GTA V being set in the present day, allowing a couple of generations to place Michael, Franklin, and Trevor in different social circles and families.
Plus, there’s plenty of evidence of a shared Rockstar universe, and Michael, Franklin, and Trevor each embody one of John’s character traits. Like Michael, John is a family man who wants to reconnect with his family. Like Franklin, John wants to lead a better life and escape his cultural trappings. And like Trevor, John is tough, aggressive, and merciless. Maybe this theory isn’t as far-fetched as it seems.
2 Skyrim – Bug jars will bring about the end of days
This fan theory might be grasping at straws, but there’s a lot of evidence there. At certain points in the Skyrim map, five jars can be found containing bugs. The jars contain a bee, a butterfly, a dragonfly, a moth, and a torchbug. The jars have inscriptions that translate roughly into the names of five major cities in the game’s world – and their locations on the map create a perfect pentagon.
So, the theory goes that this is a cultist thing and these jars have something to do with a ritual that will trigger the apocalypse and end the world. Since the world of Skyrim is so impossibly huge, all these years later, gamers are still discovering new things in it, so there could be more evidence to come.
1 Super Mario Bros. – Mario is a communist
This common belief about the beloved gaming icon is based on a few factors. He wears all red. He has the mustache of notorious communist leader Joseph Stalin. His hat looks just like a Soviet military cap. He takes down flags with symbols of peace on them and replaces them with flags bearing the red star of communism.
His weapon of choice is a hammer (no sickle to go with it, but still). The colorful mushrooms he eats to power up look exactly like the ones that grow in Siberia. He’s a plumber, an everyday working man. He overthrows monarchs, which is part of what communism is all about. His enemy, Wario, represents greedy, cash-hoarding capitalists looking out for their own interests.
Do you have any theories about these video games? Let us know in the comments!