A few years ago, the biggest craze in Hollywood seemed to be found footage horror movies. Now, the dial has moved, the gods of market research have spoken, and turning young adult book series into movie franchises (or trying to, and not getting to the end) is the latest fad.
For every YA movie franchise that hits, there are a dozen that flop. For every Harry Potter, there is a Mortal Instruments. For every Twilight, there’s a Darkest Minds. For every Hunger Games, there’s a Maze Runner. There are also some YA franchises that aren’t quite hits, aren’t quite flops, and teeter somewhere in the middle, like Divergent. The pendulum seems to swing every which way when it comes to YA franchises. However, thanks to Harry, Bella, and Katniss’ promises of fortune and glory, one thing is certain: studios won’t stop adapting YA novels. Sure, it could be the next The 5th Wave – but it could also be the next The Fault in Our Stars.
Over the past decade or so, we’ve been treated to dozens of YA tales of dystopian futures and bureaucratic governments and teenagers with supernatural powers. When a movie builds up a richly detailed and unique world like that, a dedicated fan base – no matter how big or small it is – will surely grow, and those fans will eagerly search for any hidden meanings or unseen twists.
So, before our own world becomes a dystopian wasteland and we all get divided into factions at a Choosing Ceremony, here are 21 Wild Fan Theories That Completely Change These YA Movies (That Make Too Much Sense).
21 Divergent – Tris didn’t mean to choose Dauntless
At the beginning of Divergent, Tris has a comfortable suburban life with her Abnegation family and feels guilty for wanting to join the free-wheeling Dauntless faction. Later, she finds out she’s a Divergent and is given the chance to choose whatever faction she wants, so she chooses Dauntless.
However, this fan theory goes that Tris wasn’t necessarily desperate to escape her safe and mundane life with her family in the Abnegation faction, but was rather simply curious. When she stood at the bowls during the Choosing Ceremony, she was still trying to decide when the blood dripped out of her finger and sizzled in the Dauntless bowl. From then on, she was stuck in Dauntless – but maybe she didn’t truly want that.
20 Harry Potter – The Dursleys’ cruelty toughened Harry up
Everyone hates the Dursleys, because they mistreated Harry his entire life. However, what if their abuse served a higher purpose that led to the defeat of He Who Must Not Be Named? There’s a fan theory that the Dursleys’ cruelty towards Harry throughout his entire childhood is what made him strong and fierce – in other words, the hero Hogwarts needed.
If they had coddled him and sheltered him his entire childhood and filled him with love and hugs, then maybe he wouldn’t be fearless enough or independent enough to become the hero of our story. Instead, he would be cowering in the corner, waiting for someone else to step up and save Hogwarts. So, we have the Dursleys to thank for everything.
19 The Hunger Games – Foxface ate the berries on purpose
When Foxface passes away from eating poisonous berries in a dark twist in The Hunger Games, it looks as though she saw Peeta picking some berries and ate them by accident without realizing they were poisonous. However, in an earlier training scene, she is shown researching the plants she might find in the jungle, hinting that she was familiar with them and knew they were poisonous.
So, one fan theory suggests she was ready to pass away and ate the berries on purpose. If she did something that had been more obvious, the Capitol would see her act as an act of disobedience or rebellion against them and have her family taken out – she knew it had to look like an accident.
18 Harry Potter – Professor Trelawney was right about Harry’s birthday
Professor Trelawney is depicted in Harry Potter as a total nutjob. However, she is played by Emma Thompson with the kind of air of someone who appears to be a wacko as the exterior of true genius – a little like Doc Brown. In one case, she seems to confirm that she’s not as crazy as she appears.
One time when she was speaking to Harry, Trelawney guessed his birthday to be in mid-winter, but he said it was in July and that made her look mad. However, Tom Riddle was born on December 31, so if a part of Voldemort’s soul is in Harry, then she was right.
17 Twilight – Bella is a succubus
Bella Swan is infamous for being one of the most uninteresting and dull characters in popular culture, but one fan theory seems to explain why someone so boring can be the center of something so exciting. The theory goes that Bella is an ancient mythological creature known as a succubus: a female demon that uses its powers to seduce men and, in turn, create chaos and evil.
This would explain how someone as dull as Bella Swan would get two men falling head over heels for her, and why her scent is so irresistible to vampires. It would also reflect her demonic interests, because it led to a war between vampires and werewolves.
16 The Fault in Our Stars – Gus actually does smoke
In The Fault in Our Stars, when Hazel first sees Gus put a cigarette in his mouth, he claims he puts them in his mouth but does not smoke them in order to take away their power. One Redditor theorized that he actually does smoke cigarettes and lied. He saw the disappointed look on Hazel’s face when he first put a cigarette in his mouth and made up the thing about not lighting them.
From then on, every time he put a cigarette in his mouth out of habit, he had to quickly remember the lie he told Hazel and not light it. The theory even states that Hazel knew the whole time – that’s why she put a pack of cigarettes in his coffin and said he could smoke them now.
15 Love, Simon – Simon is destined to be with Leah
Fans have brought up a lot of evidence in the movie to support this theory that Simon is bi and supposed to be with Leah, even though Becky Albertalli, who wrote the source material, has said unequivocally that this theory is wrong and Simon is gay. The author believes this theory is just wishful thinking by fans who either ship Simon with Leah or want more representation of bisexuality in the media.
Albertalli mentioned her new spin-off novel Leah on the Offbeat as including definitive proof that a Simon and Leah romance could never happen. However, the fans are talking about the movie adaptation Love, Simon, which is not a direct translation of the novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and there’s a lot to support a Simon and Leah romance in the movie.
14 Harry Potter – Harry, Snape, and Voldemort are the brothers
Midway through Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the movie delves into a seemingly unrelated story called “The Tale of Three Brothers” and tells it in animated form. However, some fans have noticed an interesting subtext in who the characters of the story represent, which suggests it’s not quite as irrelevant as it seems – and even gives away the big Snape twist if you pick up on it.
Voldemort is the brother who passed for power, Snape is the brother who passed for lost love, and Harry is the brother who greeted Death as an old friend. As for Death himself? That’s Dumbledore. J.K. Rowling herself has called this theory “beautiful.”
13 The Hate U Give – The title is based on Tupac Shakur’s “Thug Life”
While it wasn’t a huge box office success, The Hate U Give has been praised as one of the most powerful social issues movies in recent years. It’s a YA drama about an innocent black man who is taken down by a white police officer and it reflects some of the attitudes and messages of the Black Lives Matter movement.
According to Tupac Shakur, “Thug Life” is an acronym that stands for “The Hate U Gave Little Infants ***** Everybody.” The rapper elaborated on this further: “What you feed us as seeds, grows and blows up in your face.” This ideology is prominent in the racially charged The Hate U Give, so one fan theory believes this is where the title came from.
12 If I Stay – The movie suggests that life isn’t worth living
In If I Stay, Chloe Grace Moretz plays a gifted young cellist named Mia, who has an out-of-body experience when a car crash takes out her entire family and leaves her in a coma. She spends the entire movie trying to decide whether she should go back to the world of the living or pass on.
The message at the end, as she chooses to live on and face life without her family because it could always get better, is that life is worth living – for Mia. It also suggests that, for some people, it isn’t worth living, because it took her a long time to decide to stay alive.
11 The Hunger Games – It’s set in a world where Britain won the Revolutionary War
This Hunger Games theory is a fun one for history buffs. It proposes that Britain won the Revolutionary War and started picking off the least profitable colony: Georgia. Since Georgia is the southernmost colony and therefore furthest away from the Capitol (which is said to be in the area once known as the Rockies), it is exactly where District 13 is supposed to be.
This theory gained a lot of traction when it was found to be consistent and was reported by the Huffington Post. Even Josh Hutcherson has said this theory is “a cool idea,” and it’s rare that the star of a movie franchise will even give the time of day to any of the fan theories.
10 Harry Potter – Neville was the chosen one
While Neville was just Harry’s goofy, cowardly classmate in the first couple of movies, he’s a hero and bona fide badass by the end. So, one fan theory believes that he was the true chosen one and not Harry, but since Harry was more outspoken and mature than Neville in the beginning, it was assumed to be him.
Imagine if Harry was the hero for the first few movies with Neville being all meek and quiet and frightened in the background, only for Neville to find his feet in Order of the Phoenix as a member of Dumbledore’s Army and emerge as the true hero of the story in Deathly Hallows. He basically did – it’s just that he wasn’t officially recognized for it and Harry went on getting all the glory, despite Neville’s heroic snake-slashing.
9 The Maze Runner – Newt survived the stab wound
In The Death Cure, Newt managed to get a knife slightly into Thomas’ body – not enough to seriously injure him, but enough to get his blood that is the key to curing the virus on it. Later, Newt is stabbed with that knife and is thought to pass from the Flare.
However, one fan theory states that because we never saw Teresa pass after she fell, maybe she survived and found Newt alive and nursed him back to help. He would have some of Thomas’ Flare-curing blood in his body from the knife, so all he would need now is for Teresa to find him and help him recover from the stab wound itself. Among The Maze Runner fan base, this is known as “pulling a Gally.”
8 Twilight – Bella is part werewolf
If Bella is a human, then how come Edward can’t read her thoughts? And how did she become pregnant with his child when vampires can’t father children? One fan theory suggests it’s because she is part werewolf. This is one of the most widely known Twilight fan theories and there are some Twihards out there who even take it as fact.
The science of vampire-werewolf mating is made unclear in the Twilight books, because vampires and werewolves don’t usually get along and it’s therefore never come up, but there could easily be some untold thing that vampires can father children with werewolves. Stephenie Meyer would need to weigh in on this, but all signs point to Bella being part werewolf.
7 The Darkest Minds – Ruby never really loved Liam
This year’s harrowing YA adaptation The Darkest Minds wasn’t massively loved by critics and it didn’t get a huge box office gross, but it is worth watching for the dark twist ending where (SPOILER ALERT!) Ruby and Liam’s romance ends because Ruby wants to join a war against the government and Liam doesn’t. As tragic as this is, there’s one theory that Ruby never really loved Liam.
Liam truly loved Ruby and probably would’ve followed her into a war he didn’t agree with just so they could be together. That’s why, when Ruby finally kissed him, she wiped all memories of herself from his mind to get him to go away. It was pretty much just to get him off her back so she could go off and fight and not be burdened by him anymore. It’s pretty clear that she didn’t truly love Liam if she’ll only kiss him to erase herself from his head.
6 Insurgent – Jeanine was pregnant
This fan theory points to Jeanine’s stretch marks, signs of stress, and the fact that Kate Winslet was actually five months pregnant while filming the movie to suggest that she was actually pregnant when she got eliminated. If this is true, then it would make her passing all the more twisted and tragic.
This theory has been around since the book was published and some of the more dedicated readers noticed a number of hints pointing to her pregnancy in their fourth or fifth reading of it. Perhaps the casting of a pregnant Winslet was meant as a visual translation of these literary hints – or a way of confirming it for fans with a subtle wink.
5 The Mortal Instruments – a remake of Star Wars
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is one of the most critically maligned YA adaptations in recent memory, and one viewer noticed blatant similarities between its plot and that of the original 1977 Star Wars movie.
A wise, old Obi-Wan type goes into hiding to search for the last of the Shadowhunters, who are basically the Jedi. One plot twist sees Jace and Clary revealed to be brother and sister, just like Luke and Leia. They even kiss each other before they find out. And their father Valentine is an ex-Shadowhunter who was corrupted by greed and turned evil who shows up to wreak havoc and declare that he is their father – who does that sound like? Simon is a blatant rip-off of Han Solo and the werewolf Luke Garroway can easily be compared to Chewbacca.
4 The Fault in Our Stars – Hazel’s romance with Gus was all a dream
This dark fan theory proposes that Hazel was in the hospital throughout the whole story and hallucinated her entire relationship with Gus due to a lack of oxygen getting to her brain. By the end, the doctors have managed to get enough oxygen to her brain, making the Gus hallucination disappear – or, in her mind, making him go. This explains their unrealistically perfect storybook romance.
They encountered a couple of problems, but nothing too serious. Maybe a family visitor bumped their knee on her hospital bed or something to make her hallucinate an argument or a pain in her chest. On the whole, they had an open-and-shut perfect relationship. They fell straight in love, had some great times together, and then he passed away. The “It was all a dream” fan theory is an old one, but it makes sense here.
3 The 5th Wave – The movie is about international threats
At first glance, The 5th Wave appears to be just another YA movie – The Hunger Games with aliens. However, upon further inspection (i.e. actually watching it), it’s closer to the Black Mirror episode “Men Against Fire,” with all the mind games and trickery and political subtext.
The movie gets its title from David Rapoport’s concept of fifth wave terrorism. The waves as he defines them date back to 1880 and he expects the fifth one to hit in 2025. He predicts the fifth wave of criminal activity will involve children being trained to fight as militants – which is exactly what it is in the movie. The titular 5th Wave is literally children being tricked into ending others by their government.
2 Twilight – Bella is descended from vampires
Bella’s mother’s name Renee is derived from the Ancient Roman name Renatus, or its feminine form Renata. Renata is named as a vampire in the Volturi Guard. So, one fan theory suggests that Bella was so powerful as a vampire and had such a close connection with Edward because she was in fact descended from vampires. The movies play off Bella’s unusual relationship with vampires as her being special – but perhaps she’s only special because she is herself a vampire.
It seems as though Bella named her daughter Renesmee to honor her mother, but maybe it was to honor her vampiric family heritage now that she had settled down into life as a vampire with a vampire husband and a vampire child.
1 Harry Potter and percy jackson – They’re set in the same universe
This fan theory is deep and richly detailed. It lines up the history of both the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson stories with the history of the real world to offer a geopolitical argument for how both franchises are set in the same universe. It states that Hogwarts was found right before the fall of the Roman empire and the Olympians were banished from Europe when Constantine established Christianity as the leading religion in Europe.
So, Percy Jackson and the demigods have set up shop in America, while Harry Potter and the witches and wizards exist mainly in Britain. The Ministry of Magic is governed by xenophobia and bureaucracy because they fear the gods. This also explains why American wizards in Harry Potter are terrified of muggles and why there are no European characters in Percy Jackson.
Do you have any more fan theories for these YA movies? Let us know in the comments!