Where there’s a TV show with a dedicated fan base, there’s a bunch of fan theories about the hidden truths and secrets that could be lurking between the lines or in the untold backstory of the characters. The whole “They were dead the entire time” fan theory has been overdone – and there’s someone on Reddit who has suggested that for pretty much every TV show that’s ever existed, from Friends to Rugrats. But there are much more elaborate fan theories out there, and there are ones that – whether the theorizers have figured out the writers’ true intentions or not – genuinely make a lot of sense in the context of the show.
It seems that the more light-hearted and fun the sitcom is, the darker the fan theories are. If it’s a delightful romp about the crazy shenanigans that a suburban family gets up to, then one fan somewhere will have suggested that a suicide was involved or that it was the ramblings of a mental patient whose entire family was imaginary.
If it’s an ensemble multi-camera show about some friends who hang out at a coffee shop, then there’ll be a fan somewhere who thinks they were all hooked on crack or one of them was secretly a murderer. There are all kinds of outrageous fan theories out there, and they’re a lot of fun to think about, but for every plausible fan theory, there are 99 implausible ones.
So, without further ado, here are 25 Insane Fan Theories About Popular Sitcoms That Make Total Sense.
25 Friends – phoebe hallucinated the show
Twitter user @strnks suggests Phoebe never made it off the street and imagined the whole of Friends as a homeless woman while staring through the window of Central Perk. Rachel, Monica, Ross, Chandler, and Joey were all hanging out there every day and Phoebe was simply “projecting herself into the lives of the other five” as she watched them from afar.
How did she do this? Well, as the incredibly depressing theory goes, she was high the whole time. For ten years, she was simply hallucinating cheesecake theft and overdone fake tans.
24 The Office (U.S.) – Toby Flenderson is the Scranton Strangler
This popular fan theory pins Toby Flenderson as the elusive Scranton Strangler who he’s so obsessed with. He lapped it up when he served on the jury in the trial and later expressed regret over sentencing a man who he knew wasn’t guilty.
He wasn’t in work on the day that everyone was watching the police pursuit and also skipped the Glee viewing party later that evening. He even went to see the wrongfully imprisoned man in jail and came out with neck injuries, making the innocent man look even guiltier. All signs point to Toby being the Scranton Strangler.
23 Arrested Development – The Bluths represent Norse gods
According to one surprisingly airtight theory, as a deceitful magician, Gob is Loki, “the trickster god.” Tyr had one of his hands bitten off by a wolf created by Loki, while Buster had one of his hands bitten off by a seal released by Gob. Lindsay is Freyja, the goddess of beauty, who is also linked to fertility like a prominent Lindsay storyline, and is married to Tobias, or Od, “the frenzied one.”
George, Sr. is Odin, the father, who occasionally uses his brother as a stand-in, like George, Sr. does with his twin brother Oscar. Lucille is Odin’s wife, Frigga, “the keeper of the family’s secrets.” That leaves Michael as Thor, the heroic one who protects the family and wields a hammer, much like Michael did when he smashed a hole in the wall.
22 The Simpsons – Homer is collecting royalties from Be Sharps
Viewers of The Simpsons, between fits of laughter, may find themselves wondering how Homer has been funding his shenanigans and managed to support a family of five while barely ever going to work for so many years?
Well, according to this fan theory, the answer lies in the season 5 episode “Homer’s Barbershop Quartet,” in which Homer finds Beatles-level fame in a barbershop quarter called the Be Sharps. If Homer is still collecting royalties from record sales, then he’d have enough money to get by without ever going to work (and also pay for his crazy adventures).
21 It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – Dennis took Brian LeFevre's identity
When the gang found a wallet belonging to a man named Brian LeFevre in the season 8 episode “Frank’s Back in Business,” Dennis posed as him for a week and reveled in the thrill of living in another man’s skin.
It is later discovered that the real Brian LeFevre had been taken out in the alley outside Paddy’s. This theory proposes that it was actually Dennis who did it, because he wanted to spend a few days assuming another man’s identity for the sheer excitement. He’s a proven sociopath, so it’s not too far-fetched.
20 Frasier – Martin kept his injury on purpose
It was mentioned a few times throughout the eleven-season run of Frasier that if Martin just did his exercises, then the bullet wound in his leg would fully heal and he’d get total use of his legs back. However, since he never does his exercises, his leg never heals, which seems to be due to laziness.
However, one fan theory suggests he avoided the exercises on purpose to keep Daphne around for Niles and also to stay in Frasier’s apartment. The flashbacks to when he was living on his own depict him as lonely and depressed, so he never wanted to leave Frasier’s apartment and go back to that.
19 Family Guy – The show is Stewie’s view of the world
Family Guy is not going for a realistic tone. In fact, it seems to be going for quite the opposite. So, since the world of Family Guy is absurd and surreal and exaggerated, one fan theory suggests it is depicted through the infantile eyes of Stewie Griffin.
While Stewie is intelligent in terms of his understanding of science and society and popular culture, his understanding of everything else is still juvenile, which would explain the tone and style of the way the show portrays the world. This also explains why everybody’s understanding of Stewie when he speaks is inconsistent and why the dog can talk – mostly to Stewie.
18 The Office (U.K.) – David Brent was edited
Unlike other mockumentary shows like Parks and Rec and Modern Family, The Office and its British counterpart acknowledge the fictional documentary and its crew. So, while David Brent looks like he's not the smartest person in the show, he blames the way it was edited, and some fans believe him.
In the Christmas special set after the documentary has aired, he says it was “a stitch-up.” He claims the crew shot hours of footage, most of which depicted him as a fun, competent office manager, and they used all the clips that made him look socially awkward or foolish.
17 Seinfeld – how Kramer made his money
A running joke in Seinfeld was that Kramer’s source of income was never explained. He never seemed to struggle for money, and yet he never went to work. One fan theory claims this was because he was a dealer and the unseen character of Bob Sacamano was his supplier.
Kramer also mentions a guy named Lomez a lot and we never get to meet him, so he might be a regular customer or a fellow dealer. Either way, it’s very strange stuff. The theory also suggests that Kramer was getting high on his own supply, and that’s why he has such a wacky and eccentric manner.
16 Two and a Half Men – Charlie and Jake were Alan’s alternate personalities
According to this theory, Charlie passed away when Alan was little and he has lived his life with multiple personalities: there’s miserable, mild-mannered, straight-laced chiropractor Alan and debauched, wealthy bachelor Charlie. He also brought a Jake personality into the mix after the dissolution of his marriage, to represent his innocence.
When he reached a happy place, he took off the Charlie persona for real and Walden Schmidt was brought in as his 24-hour carer. With a mentally stable friend around the house, Alan could finally let go of his Jake personality, too, and live a normal life as Alan Harper.
15 The Simpsons – There is a race of molemen trying to take over Springfield
Since it’s a cartoon with an absurdist sensibility, there’s a lot of gags in The Simpsons that don’t make logical sense, so it’s not a great idea to look too deeply into them. However, one fan theory seems to make sense of the many deaths of Hans Moleman.
Rather than one character named Hans Moleman, there is actually a whole species of molemen living in the sewage system of Springfield, trying to take over the town. However, since they keep dying under unfortunate circumstances, they have so far been unsuccessful.
14 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – Will is in Heaven
According to this surprising theory, when Will Smith got into that fight on a basketball court in Philly, as described in the show’s opening theme song, he was taken down, and his journey to Bel-Air was his passage into Heaven. The cab was “rare,” because it was taking him to the pearly gates.
For a low-class, streetwise guy like Will, a mansion in Bel-Air is Heaven. The theory gets very dark when it suggests that the handful of times his parents came down to visit were really them visiting his grave.
13 The Big Bang Theory – Penny is a spy
This theory seems a little wild at first, but it actually makes total sense. Penny was sent by a foreign enemy to infiltrate a group of scientists who have worked with NASA, the FBI, the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Air Force, among others. It seems too coincidental that a beautiful woman with no last name happened to move in across the hall from two physicists and immediately became good friends with them.
Plus, she plays dumb whenever they talk shop to get them to drop their guard when discussing sensitive or confidential information. It also explains why she puts up with friends she seems to have nothing in common with.
12 Arrested Development – Ron Howard is Michael’s father-in-law
Season 4 reveals that Ron Howard has a number of illegitimate kids. One fan theory suggests that Michael’s late wife Tracey was one of them, thus making the famous director Michael’s father-in-law and George Michael’s grandfather.
This would explain why Ron Howard has been narrating the entire show and watching the family so closely, as well as why he’s so eager to turn the family’s story into a movie. Plus, George Michael dating one of Ron’s daughters would fit in with the themes of the show.
11 Peep Show – Mark is not the victim
Mark sees himself as the victim of Jez’s terribleness, but Jez is simply emotionally undeveloped and immature, whereas Mark is actually cunning and manipulative.
Look at the storyline where they vied for the affections of Dobby. Mark basically wanted to ensnare her, crush her ambitions, and turn her into a female version of him. Jez, on the other hand, was in tune with her fun side. He’s insane, but at least he would’ve gone Interrailing with her and supported her career with the start-up.
10 Malcolm in the Middle – Malcolm grew up to become Walter White
There’s one theory that Malcolm in the Middle is a sequel to Breaking Bad and that Walter White went into hiding as Hal and settled down to become a mild-mannered husband and father. However, there’s another, more plausible theory, which suggests that Breaking Bad is actually the sequel to Malcolm in the Middle.
It suggests that Walter is Malcolm as an adult. Malcolm is a volatile chemistry wiz, so it makes sense that he would grow up to resemble his dad and become the substance lord Heisenberg.
9 Modern Family – It’s a sequel to Married...with Children
There’s a theory that Modern Family is a sequel to Married...with Children. In both shows, Ed O’Neill is the head of a family and has a redheaded son and a blonde daughter. In Married...with Children, they’re kids and he’s married to their mother, while in Modern Family, they’re adults and he’s in his second marriage.
As a kid, the son is obsessed with girls, but as an adult, he is a gay man who came to terms with his sexuality in college. As a kid, the daughter is promiscuous, but as an adult, she is a wife and mother who uses her promiscuous teen years as a cautionary tale for her daughters. It all adds up!
8 30 Rock – Kenneth is a follower of Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne
There is an ample amount of evidence that Kenneth Parcell, the page from 30 Rock, is a follower of Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne, Jon Hamm’s cult leader character who abducted Kimmy Schmidt in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Both shows were created by Tina Fey, and Kenneth often speaks of a “Reverend Gary,” which could be short for “Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne.” From what we hear about both reverends’ belief systems, they seem to both lead doomsday cults that deny women’s rights and predict the end of the world.
7 Bob’s Burgers – Jimmy Pesto is jealous of bob
One of the running jokes in Bob’s Burgers is that Jimmy Pesto, the rival restauranteur from across the street, is much more successful than Bob and likes to rub it in. They seem to hate each other and constantly bicker, with Bob as Jimmy’s whipping post.
However, one fan theory suggests it’s actually Bob who is winning in the relationship. Jimmy Pesto’s wife divorced him while Bob and Linda remain closer than ever, he dislikes his kids while Bob has three great ones, and although his restaurant is more successful than Bob’s, his food is worse, so his hatred for Bob is born out of jealousy.
6 Community – Leonard is Jeff from the future
This fan theory is a little out there and absurd, but then isn’t everything in Dan Harmon’s meta college-set sitcom Community? It proposes that Leonard, the softly spoken old man who wanders the halls of Greendale, is really Jeff from the future.
Years from now, Jeff will accidentally be sent back in time by Abed. He then changes his name to Leonard and spends his days watching his past self. This explains why Leonard is such a curmudgeon, and how he knew it was Jeff who ate all the macaroni.
5 Parks and Recreation – the fate of Mark Brendanawicz
Paul Schneider left Parks and Recreation after playing Mark Brendanawicz, arguably the least popular character on the show, for the first two seasons. Following failed romances with both Leslie and Ann – who broke up with him right as he was about to propose to her – Mark quit his job as city planner and was never seen again.
But it’s not just that he didn’t ever make another appearance on the show – no one even mentioned him ever again! One fan theory suggests he took his own life and that’s why no one ever talks about him.
4 Curb Your Enthusiasm – Richard Lewis is a different side of Larry David
One of the running gags in Curb Your Enthusiasm is that Larry David doesn’t seem to get along with any of his friends, but he contends with one of them in particular the most: Richard Lewis. And one fan theory suggests that this is because Richard is the embodiment of Larry’s depression.
Richard is Larry’s best friend and yet they constantly argue. They bring out the worst in each other whenever they spend any time together. Richard always wears black. Also, the kidney transplant story arc can be seen as Larry contemplating suicide and then attempting it and recovering from it.
3 How I Met Your Mother – Future Ted has memory problems
There are a lot of fan theories surrounding How I Met Your Mother, usually involving the narrator, future Ted, lying about some aspects of the story and portraying himself in a more positive light than he deserves, since no one is around to dispute his accounts.
However, one theory makes more sense than the rest: the Ted of the future has Alzheimer’s. That’s why he’s so eager to tell his kids about his life – because he is slowing losing those memories. It also explains why he took so long to tell the story, why he misremembered a lot of things, and why he was such a classic unreliable narrator.
2 The Simpsons – Homer Simpson has been in a coma
In an October 1992 episode, Homer spoke to God, who told him that in six months, he would pass away. Six months later, in an April 1993 episode, Homer was crushed by a vending machine and went into a coma.
Although he wakes up at the end of the episode, one fan theory suggests he never woke up and that the reason the show got much wackier after that – and why the characters have not aged in the twenty-five years since then – is that Homer never woke up from the coma and imagined it all.
1 Friends – Jack Geller is not Monica’s father
There have been dozens of popular fan theories about Friends, but none of them make clearer sense than this one. It claims Judy Geller was unfaithful to her husband Jack in order to conceive Monica, making Jack her father in nurture only.
This would explain why Ross is more interested in his Jewish heritage than his sister – or rather half-sister – and why Judy favors Ross over Monica. She gives Monica such a hard time because she’s guilty about her past relationship and hates the living reminder of it.
Do you agree with any of these fan theories? Let us know in the comments!