In a recent paper, a researcher criticised psychological studies for investigating unusual and counterintuitive findings just for the sake of it. The assumption is that rather than discussing the rational and empirically derived, people are more interested in theories that spark controversy and interest.
This tendency isn’t limited to researchers. I’ve noticed many unusual theories about well-known films and TV shows. Some of them are interesting. Others are bizarre. Here are some of those weird fan theories.
Warning, some SPOILERS ahead.
Ferris Bueller is in Cameron’s Mind
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is about a charming, rebellious teenager who fakes sick to take the day off from school. Right? Maybe…
According to this fan theory, Cameron, Ferris Bueller’s melancholic friend, is actually dreaming up Ferris Bueller. Ferris is Cameron’s alter ego.
This theory can’t really explain why Ferris’ teacher refers to him during a classroom roll call: Bueller, Bueller, Cameron?
Homer Simpson’s in a coma
According to a fan theory, Homer Simpson entered a coma during an April Fool’s prank in one of the early seasons of the Simpsons but never woke up. Shortly after this episode, the Simpsons started becoming more surreal and unusual suggesting we are now experiencing Homer’s unrestrained mind during his coma.
The fact that Homer ended up in a coma from an exploding beer can in the first place suggests we don’t need the coma theory to rationalise why the series became less and less grounded in reality.
The Lost survivors were always in purgatory
There were lots of unusual theories to explain the popular series, Lost. One of them proposed that all the survivors of the doomed air flight actually died. Each episode featured a flash back to a character who seemed to confront and overcome an inner demon. It seemed logical that perhaps they were in some kind of purgatory/limbo where they had to deal with these demons before they could move on.
In the last season, the characters were shown in new flashbacks, which ultimately turned out to be a form of limbo that they would enter when they eventually died (for some many years later).
Were they dead the whole time? Unlikely. But clearly there’s some truth to it at some point.
Here’s a good explanation of the ending.
In the Dark Knight Rises, Batman (Christian Bale) presumably sacrifices his life by flying a hydrogen bomb away from Gotham city. The ending shows Batman’s butler, Alfred, ultimately tracking him down at a cafe. Both men can both move on to a happier life.
One of the fan theories suggests that maybe Alfred is just seeing what he wants to see and that Batman really did die. This would, of course, make all the hints at his escape (e.g. a miraculously fixed auto-pilot) redundant. And even Christian Bale has denied this theory.
Soprano’s fade to black means…
There’s at least two popular interpretations on the famous Sopranos ending. Tony Soprano is waiting with his family at a diner, looking over his shoulder and checking the door. The series just cuts to black.
The first theory is simple. The story just ends. Tony is always going to be looking over his shoulder because he’s made a lot of enemies.
The second theory is that Tony has been shot. The abrupt cut to black is the perspective of the dead man. This theory is more likely as in an earlier episode, one of the characters talks about how getting killed would most likely be life cutting to black. You wouldn’t see it coming. The same scene was also repeated in a flashback.
There is also an excellent video that outlines the argument suggesting the writers wanted to remind us prior to Tony’s eventual death.
Credibility (First Theory): 3/10
Credibility (Second Theory): 9/10
The St Elsewhere characters are a figment of a boy’s imagination
This series, set in a fictional hospital in the 1980s, had one of the more bizarre endings. A young boy with autism, Tommy Westphall, stares into a snow globe, featuring the hospital from the series. Because the show ends with Tommy staring at the snow globe, it theorised that the whole series is a figment of Tommy’s imagination.