Speculating about your favourite film and TV series is an awful lot of fun, whether it’s unpicking a convoluted issue with the latest episode of Doctor Who or showing Harry and Draco are truly perfect for one another.
However, once or twice fan theories have gone a little bit further than their creators probably imagined, having either correctly predicted a surprise plot point or directly inspired those writing for their favourite characters.
Here are just a few of our favourite fan theories that ended up coming true…
1. The Doctor’s Tardis is supposed to have 6 pilots
Considering he’s a centuries-old genius and Time Lord, the Doctor always did seem to have a bit of trouble piloting his Tardis – but fans had a solution for why that could be (apart from it being an obsolete Type 40, of course).
Given the time machine’s central console was hexagonal (and all the controls therefore couldn’t be reached at any one time), could it be that the Tardis was intended for not one, but six pilots?
This fun idea circled around for a while and made some appearance Doctor Who spin-off media before it was finally embraced by the main series in 2008, with David Tennant’s Doctor enlisting all his friends to help pilot the time machine in series 4 finale Journey’s End.
Rarely have fan theories had such an uplifting conclusion – usually it’s just RSI and some angry comments on a messageboard.
2. Star Trek’s Klingons were genetically mutated
In the original series of Star Trek, alien warriors the Klingons looked…well, exactly as if someone had tried to make people look a bit like aliens but only had a 50p budget. Jump forward a decade to the first Star Trek movie, however, and the Klingons looked completely different with ridged foreheads. So what happened?
In reality it was just that the special effects budget improved, but that wasn’t enough for fans who speculated that some sort of genetic mutation had caused the change – so after a while, the series adopted the theory as fact.
First hinted at in a Deep Space Nine episode, the mutation theory was finally fully explained in a season four episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, with the Klingons said to have dabbled in genetic mutation and for a period losing their distinctive facial ridges. Probably best they stick to the fighting and leave the science, then.
3. Jon Snow isn’t really dead
Technically this one goes back a bit, because while Kit Harington’s Snow was only offed in this year’s Game of Thrones finale the books the HBO series is based on had him stabbed back in 2011.
Back then fans had their doubts about Jon really being dead, theorising that he could have “warged” into his direwolf Ghost or been resurrected by Red Priestess Melisandre, and since his death in the series the speculation has grown even more insistent.
4. The Genie in Aladdin is also the shopkeeper at the beginning
Classic animation Aladdin opens with a shopkeeper attempting to sell various pieces of junk to a passer-by, before settling on a lamp that allows him to narrate the tale of a boy and his genie.
However, some eagle-eyed viewers noticed that the peddler/narrator had a pretty familiar voice – Comedian Robin Williams, who voiced the scene-stealing genie throughout the movie. So was the shopkeeper supposed to be the same character?
“We even had that at the end of the movie, where he would reveal himself to be the Genie, and of course Robin did the voice of the peddler. Just through story changes and some editing, we lost the reveal at the end. So, that’s an urban legend that actually is true.”
You can see this original ending here:
5. Harry Potter was a Horcrux all along (and Dumbledore might have been Death)
While Harry may not have realised he contained one of the pieces of Voldemort’s soul (neither did Voldemort, in fairness), many Harry Potter fans had already worked out that Harry would probably have to sacrifice himself to kill his foe.
Still, because this is more of a correct prediction than a fan theory come to life, we’d also love to include here the connected fan theory that Snape, Voldemort and Harry represent the three Peverell brothers of the old magical tale by Beedle the Bard (see video below).
Voldemort is the eldest brother – Antioch Peverell – who craved the most powerful wand in existence. Snape is the middle child, Cadmus, who was driven crazy by his love of a woman, much like the Hogwarts professor’s infatuation with Harry’s mother Lily. Then there’s Harry himself who bears more than a passing resemblance to the youngest brother Antioch – described as a “humble” man who desires a happy life.
Death tried to capture him but never succeeded, until at the end of his life when he handed himself over willingly, greeting death “as an old friend”. Said Death being Dumbledore, of course, who indirectly caused the demise of both Snape and Voldemort and greeted Harry in the confines of an imaginary King’s Cross station.
The reason we mention this? Well, it totally ties in with the Horcrux thing, and it’s JK Rowling approved – so basically true anyway.
6. The island in Lost was actually purgatory
Mystery thriller Lost was the subject of countless fan theories when he first hit screens, with many viewers speculating as to what exactly had stranded the survivors of Oceanic flight 815 on a mysterious island.
One of the more popular ideas bandied around was that the survivors were dead and/or in some form of purgatory – and while the series’ creators at the time denied it, the latter theory did sort of eventually come true.
While the survivors weren’t actually dead and everything in seasons 1-5 happened for real, in season 6 Lost split off into an alternate universe where everyone had to come to terms with their issues before they could finally move forward into the afterlife – in other words, a form of purgatory. We got there in the end.
7. We get the word “Doctor” from Doctor Who
This is one we covered a few weeks ago (and is a second Doctor Who example), but it’s too good not to include here. Back in 1995, a young writer and Whovian laid down this theory on an internet messageboard:
Here’s a particularly stupid theory. If we take “The Doctor” to be the Doctor’s name – even if it is in the form of a title no doubt meaning something deep and Gallifreyan – perhaps our earthly use of the word “doctor” meaning healer or wise man is direct result of the Doctor’s multiple interventions in our history as a healer and wise man. In other words, we got it from him. This is a very silly idea and I’m consequently rather proud of it.
That chatroom user’s name (as verified by us) was Steven Moffat, who later went on to run the very show he was obsessed with and write his idea into 2011 episode A Good Man Goes to War (see video and text below).
River: Doctor. The word for healer and wise man throughout the universe. We get that word from you, you know. But if you carry on the way you are, what might that word come to mean? To the people of the Gamma Forests, the word Doctor means mighty warrior. How far you’ve come.
Clearly, the most reliable way to get your fan theory into canon is just to take over the series you’re speculating about– so time to get cracking, guys. Should only be a few smash-hit ratings triumphs away.
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