Here at Screen Rant, we love a good fan theory. Whether they’re enhancing your favorite movie, ruining your favorite movie, changing the way you watch Game of Thrones, or deepening your appreciation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, fan theories are just plain fun. It’s fun to dive into our favorite properties and fill in the blanks in new and exciting ways. Fan theories develop and engender active film communities. They promote discussion, analysis, and sometimes heated arguments. And sometimes, those fan theories are so off-the-wall bonkers, they actually will work their way into the original property.
With this list, we wanted to look at some of the most insane fan theories that actually turned out to be correct. Sometimes this happens when fans are able to accurately predict the trajectory of a TV show or film series, and sometimes it happens when the artists and creators are actually inspired by the theories and choose to approve them canonically. Of course, there will be SPOILERS AHEAD, so if you aren’t caught up on the title of a certain entry, it’s probably safest to skip over that one. There are some pretty wild ones in here, so buckle up and prepare for 15 Insane Fan Theories That Were Proven Right.
15 Game of Thrones
Probably the most popular Game of Thrones fan theory was that of "R+L=J." If you’ve somehow missed this one over the past ten years, it posits that Jon Snow is not actually the bastard son of Ned Stark, but is actually the child of Lyanna Stark, sister of Ned, and Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. Fans have been speculating over this since the books were released, and they had a lot of evidence to back them up. And this past spring, their questions were put to rest.
In “The Winds of Winter,” the tenth episode of the sixth season of Game of Thrones, the filmmakers finally disclosed to us what transpired in the Tower of Joy. Bran, peering into the past, watches a younger version of his father enter the Tower of Joy and find his sister post childbirth. With her last breath, she asks him to watch over her son. The image of the child then cuts to an adult Jon Snow.
With that one scene, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss settled one of the longest standing mysteries surrounding A Song of Ice and Fire. Fans had predicted it all along, but that did not diminish the excitement and satisfaction of realizing the Bastard of Winterfell now has a rightful claim to the Iron Throne.
14 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The Harry Potter series enjoyed its fair share of insane fan theories in the lead-up to the final installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The rich history and many mysteries of the book series lent itself easily to fan speculation and musings. From “Dumbledore is Ron from the future” to “Dumbledore is actually Death personified,” the speculation got pretty weird (a case could still be argued for the latter. Not so much the former.)
One popular theory stated that Harry himself was actually one of Lord Voldemort’s horcruxes. In this instance, the fans were right. The seventh book explicitly spells out how Voldemort accidentally transferred a part of his soul into Harry when he failed to kill him, creating a powerful bond between the two of them that could only be broken by the other’s death. This explains the mental connection the two wizards had, as well as solidifying Professor Trelawney’s prophecy. So while this theory may have sounded wild when it was first proposed, it actually makes for a pretty satisfying conclusion to the story. Nice one, fans.
13 Star Trek (TV Series)
If you’ve watched a decent amount of Star Trek over the years, you may have noticed that the look of the Klingons changes pretty dramatically over the course of the various series. The practical reason for this was that the budget of the show greatly increased as it grew more popular, meaning that the makeup department could produce more elaborate Klingon designs than they were able to in the early Captain Kirk days. At first, the change was not acknowledged in the show, so fans did what fans do best: they filled in the blanks.
Star Trek fans came up with several theories as to why the foreheads of the Klingon’s transformed during the run of the show, but the most popular was the idea that Klingons had experimented with genetic mutation at some point in time. The experimentation produced the iconic forehead ridges seen in the later movies and television shows. This theory was worked into the canon of the show in a season four episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, thereby vindicating imaginative fans everywhere.
As a child, did you ever notice something familiar about the narrator who begins the story of Aladdin? The peddler’s voice sounds strangely similar to the Genie’s, and, if you look closely, he has four fingers, just like the Genie. These similarities spurred fans to theorize that the peddler actually was the Genie in disguise. Years later, the directors, Ron Clements and Jon Musker, actually confirmed this theory!
Apparently, the original intention with the peddler character was to have him appear several times throughout the movie, and then, at the end, to actually reveal himself to be the Genie. For this reason, they had Robin Williams lend his voice to the peddler character. Time constraints led the directors to eventually remove the narrator subplot from the movie, and all that remained was his introduction. This led to the mysterious nature of the narrator, a mystery that has only recently been solved. Fans never miss a beat.
11 Blade Runner
The confirmation regarding Deckard’s status in Blade Runner has led to some controversy among the film community. Ever since the film’s release, fans have debated whether or not Harrison Ford’s Deckard character could actually be a replicant himself. There are clues sprinkled throughout the film that seem to indicate this, but the movie intentionally remains vague on the matter. This sparked a lot of fun debate, with fans arguing both sides of the theory.
Then, in 2000, Ridley Scott put in his two cents, claiming that yes, of course Deckard was a replicant. This upset some corners of the film community. The joy of an ambiguous ending comes from not having easy answers. With one interview, Ridley Scott eliminated that ambiguity, effectively ending the argument. Some fans argue that the movie, and only the movie, can speak for itself, and that Scott’s statement is irrelevant. Others say that, as the director of the film, Scott has final authority on the subject. In either case, it opens up some intriguing questions about the nature of ownership over art. Perhaps the reveal will be explained further in Blade Runner 2, out in US theaters on October 5, 2017.
10 Doctor Who
Here’s a funny story: in the early 90’s, a Doctor Who superfan took to the then-nascent online message boards and put forth a theory about his favorite show. The theory went like this: Since “Doctor” was the character’s name, and not his title, and since he spent his life bouncing around space and time, acting as a helper and a healer, could it be possible that human beings were actually inspired to name our own helpers and healers after him? Meaning, humanity go the word “doctor” from the Doctor himself?
The story gets more wild. That young superfan actually grew up to be Steven Moffat, writer, producer, and showrunner for Doctor Who. That’s right. A Doctor Who superfan grew up to be a Doctor Who showrunner. And he used that position to canonize his own pet theory about the Doctor. In the 2011 episode, “A Good Man Goes to War,” Moffat had the characters explicitly state that humanity got the word “doctor” from the Doctor.
This one is a bit tricky, as all things relating to the Lost finale tend to be. Anyone who watched Lost knows that things tended to get crazier and crazier as the seasons progressed. To some, it looked like the story was going pretty off the rails, and that the showrunners would have a hard time wrapping it all up into a satisfying conclusion that answered all of our questions. More and more, it seemed like the only reasonable explanation was that everyone who crashed on that plane was dead, and the island was some type of purgatory. The series finale proved to be very vague and open-ended, but the general consensus among viewers was that they had been right all along. Well, sort of. While the survivors of Flight 815 did not die in the initial crash from season one, by the end of the series many of them had died and experienced their own form of purgatory. In the final scene of the series, all the main characters reunited in an otherworldly church, now ready to move on to the afterlife together.
It’s worth noting that writers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse continue to assert to this day that the ending was not supposed to be taken that literally. According to them, the show was supposed to be viewed in a more metaphorical way, in that all of the characters were stuck in their lives and were not moving forward. The ending is definitely open to interpretation, but in our opinion, the text of the show certainly points to the fans being proven right.
8 Adventure Time
When Adventure Time premiered, the idea was that it took place in a complete fantasy land called the Land of Ooo. As the show progressed however, fans put forth the theory that, unlike Middle Earth or Westeros, Ooo was not a different place than the Earth we know. The Land of Ooo was actually a post-apocalyptic Earth, and that Finn was one of, if not the very last, human survivors.
Pendleton Ward, the series creator, liked this idea so much, he began to write it into the story of the show. Now, Adventure Time officially takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting, complete with decrepit old buildings and ruined technological artifacts. It is implied that the Mushroom War referred to in the show, is actually referring to a nuclear war that devastated the earth (i.e. mushroom clouds). Adventure Time has never been a show to shy away from adult themes (this is a cartoon that has dealt with characters committing suicide) and the acceptance of this rather morbid fan theory heightens that maturity further. There are some extremely dark tones humming under the brightly colored exterior of this show, and it’s all the more fulfilling because of them.
7 Super Mario Bros 3
One fan theory that has been floating around for almost as long as the internet has existed relates to Super Mario Bros 3. If you recall, this NES game begins with a red curtain rising and shadows behind all of the two-dimensional bushes. Throughout the game, you may have noticed some peculiarities. The blocks are bolted to the background. When you finish a level, you exit stage right. Sound familiar? For years, fans have been theorizing that Super Mario Bros 3 is actually just a play. The events of the game never actually transpired. Mario and all the characters are just actors, and we are the audience members, enjoying the production.
This seems like a fun, silly little theory, but when it was put to the creator in an interview recently, Shigeru Miyamoto had a surprising answer. Miyamoto totally confirmed the theory, indicating that that had been the intention all along.
6 Breaking Bad
Fan theories swirled around Breaking Bad like a tornado leading up to the show’s finale. Some were completely outlandish, while others actually felt plausible. With a show this unpredictable, no theory was too crazy to be dismissed entirely.
Leading up to the show’s conclusion, fans were sure of one thing. The tablet of ricin Walt had hidden earlier in the series would have to come into play somehow. Following the rule of Chekhov's gun, a show couldn’t introduce a weapon like that and then not utilize it in some way. Some fans cleverly theorized that the ricin may land in the the villainous Lydia’s drink. Throughout the show, we learned that Lydia would compulsively put Stevia into her coffee every morning. The theory went that Walt would kill Lydia by slipping the ricin into her Stevia, poisoning her without leaving any evidence.
...And that’s exactly what happened. While the fates of Walt, Jesse, Skyler and Saul were harder to predict, fans hypothesized the exact demise of Lydia. Predictable or not, it was still pretty satisfying to see come to fruition.
Rather than being the straightforward Alien prequel that most people expected, Prometheus chose to be something more. It was a big, messy, convoluted, ambitious sci-fi film that attempted to tackle notions of creation, religion, worship and destiny. All while still being an Alien prequel. Sort of. It’s easy to see why this movie went off the rails a little bit, and why it frustrated and infuriated so many people who saw it. But after its release, some fans chose to dig into the mess and try to sort it out. What they came up with is fascinating.
Jesus Christ was one of the alien Engineers from Prometheus. That was the theory put forth by users on Reddit, anyway. They suggested that these Engineers had created mankind, and then, when they saw us devolving into war and chaos (ancient Rome) they sent a messenger down to set us straight. And we crucified him, enraging the Engineers and leading them to abandoning us.
It’s a brilliant theory that really fleshes out the messy film in some cool ways. And guess what? They were right! Ridley Scott actually confirmed in interviews that this was the original idea with the movie. However, at the last minute, they decided it was too “on the nose” and chose to be more ambiguous about it, leading to the confusion in the film. It’s too bad, really.
4 Spider-Man (Comics)
Lots of crazy stuff happens in comic books. Sometimes the artists and writers responsible have really thought out their stories, and sometimes they haven’t. Sometimes, it falls to the fans to think it out for them.
That’s exactly what happened with a controversial storyline from the Spider-Man comics. There’s a particular Spider-Man storyline that involves Gwen Stacy falling in love and dating the Green Goblin. You can guess why this would upset and confuse fans. Gwen Stacy is traditionally a love interest of Peter Parker’s. To see her date one of his worst enemies, with virtually no justification or explanation, was baffling and insulting to the readers. So one fan took it upon himself to make this right. Using prior knowledge and a whole comics history, he presented a complex theory online justifying why Gwen would date the Goblin. It involved amnesia, turning-over-a-new-leaf, and lucky timing. The explanation was so good, the writers of the original story gave it their seal of approval. You’re welcome, writers.
3 Game of Thrones (Again)
We hate to re-use Game of Thrones, but there are just too many juicy fan theories regarding this epic property. Some of those theories are bound to be correct, and have been proven so. Not only were fans right on the money with R+L=J, but one particular fan guessed the origin of Hodor’s name.
Many years ago, before the TV show, a reader of the books happened to be staying in a hotel with George R.R. Martin. They would talk occasionally on the elevator or in the lobby. One day, George R.R. Martin asked the fan to “hold the door” for him as he got in the elevator. The next day, the fan put a theory to Martin. Was it possible that Hodor was actually a shortened version of the phrase, “hold the door?” George R.R. Martin laughed, saying the man didn’t know how close he was. That night, the fan wrote a blog post. And a decade later, that blog post proved to be clairvoyant.
2 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (and Daredevil)
Fans love a good shared universe. From concrete shared universes like Tarantino’s, to more dubious ones like The X-Files and The Wire, there’s something exciting about realizing two of your favorite properties exist in the same world.
On paper, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles living in the same New York as Daredevil, sounds like a bit of a stretch, even as far as fan theories go. But, like always, fans had the evidence to back it up. The acid that blinded a young Matt Murdock as a child could conceivably be the same acid that seeped into the sewers, turning four baby turtles into mutants. Both origin stories involved a truck accident, and they would have taken place in the same time period. Could it be possible?
Turns out, yes, absolutely. Not only is it possible, this was the original intent of the creators. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird wrote the origin story of the turtles intending for it to be connected to the origin story of Daredevil. The two artists meant for it to be an inside joke, but fans caught the connection and brought it to the attention of the internet for all to see.
1 Frozen (and Tarzan)
If you spent any time on Facebook last year, you probably saw people sharing this one. Another shared universe theory, this one puts forth the possibility that Anna and Elsa from Disney’s Frozen could actually be related to Tarzan from Disney’s Tarzan. The theory goes that after their boat sank into the sea, Anna and Elsa’s parents swam to a nearby shore with their young child, built a treehouse, and then were eaten by a leopard. This would make Tarzan the biological brother of Anna and Elsa. The physical similarities between the the characters was striking, after all.
Frozen co-director Chris Buck has approved this theory, albeit half-jokingly. After admitting that the animators have a long time to think about this type of stuff, certain narratives like this one are bound to emerge. Sure, Anna and Elsa can be related to Tarzan. He also suggested that the penguins from Surf’s Up were hanging out on the other side of the island.
So there you have it. Creators know as well as anyone that after they release their product into the world, it will take on a life of it’s own in the hands of the fans. It’s always fun when a creator acknowledges and approves of this.
Have any of your theories been proven right in movies or on TV? What fan theory do you most hope is confirmed at some point in time? Let us know in the comments below!