6 fan theories from TV and film that were too good to be true

OK, Clara wasn't a Tardis and Neville Longbottom didn't have a massive secret - but wasn't it fun to think those ideas might have been real?

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Here at RadioTimes.com we love a good fan theory, and even if they’re a little bit unlikely – like Doctor Who’s opening titles being a secret message about the Master, for example – we can’t help but admire the thought and imagination behind them.

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But sometimes the best fan theories come up against reality (we use the term loosely), fading into obscurity when the films and TV shows they’re based on eventually go in a contradictory plot direction, and that just seems unfair. Where’s the recognition for these artisans of speculation, these poets of possibility? Who will speak up for the thwarted folk of the internet messageboards? Who?

We will, obviously. So to address this horrific imbalance, here are a few of our favourite fan theories that for various reasons can’t POSSIBLY be true. Beginning with…


Obi-Wan Kenobi was a clone

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This might seem odd in hindsight, but before the Star Wars prequels came out this was a reasonably popular idea. You see, in the very first Star Wars film (1977’s A New Hope) Alec Guinness’s Obi wan mentions that he fought in the Clone Wars, and while we now know the clones were actually lots of Boba Fetts in helmets (more or less), back then the details were left up to the imagination. 

To fans at the time it seemed perfectly plausible that Obi-Wan was actually spelled OB-1 (in the style of R2-D2, aka “Artoo” and C-3PO, aka “Threepio”), and he was the first clone of a man called “Kenobi” in a larger Jedi batch that was dispatched for clone battle.

OK, it’s a bit weird, and the prequels eventually made it impossible, but it’s still a better story than the Phantom Menace.


Neville’s mother was sending him secret messages in Harry Potter

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You might remember that comic relief-turned badass Neville Longbottom had a bit of a tragic backstory in the Harry Potter books, with his auror parents tortured into insanity by Voldemort’s Death Eaters.

Neville’s parents eventually make an appearance in The Order of the Phoenix, where they’re seen as catatonic residents at St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries who keep giving their son bubblegum wrappers, and it’s all a very sad reminder of the real cost of the wizarding war.

But some fans took decided Neville’s mum Alice’s curious habit of handing sweet wrappers to her son had a greater significance. Could it actually be that somewhere deep inside her mind the renowned auror and battler of Dark wizards was trying to pass on essential information to Neville and the Order of the Phoenix in some sort of code, only for her actions to be ignored?

Well as it turned out, probably not – though technically we suppose it could be possible that the messages did exist and the heroes triumphed without noticing them. As if Alice’s situation wasn’t depressing enough…


Clara Oswald was actually a TARDIS

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Hey, remember those crazy Doctor Who days when we were still trying to work out who Clara, the “Impossible Girl”, really was? Well, some of the theories got a little strange.

A particularly popular idea at the time was that Clara was actually an embodiment of a TARDIS herself, explaining both her ability to appear throughout the Doctor’s timeline (perhaps looking for a Time Lord after they all vanished) and why his own time machine took an unprecedented dislike to her.

In hindsight, this was marginally less confusing than the actual truth…


James Bond is a codename, not a person

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Like Doctor Who, the James Bond franchise continually recasts and updates its leading man with a series of new faces – but unlike the sci-fi series, there’s no in-unvierse explanation for why this keeps happening.

However, over the years some fans have come up with an interesting theory. Perhaps “James Bond” isn’t one person after all, but rather a codename or job title within the secret service that has been passed on to various spies over the years.

It’s a fun idea that seemed to gain some traction based on a line said by second Bond George Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service –”This never happened to the other fellow” – but was sadly kicked to the curb in 2013’s Skyfall, which shows the parents of Daniel Craig’s spy had the name “Bond” on their gravestone (as well as another similar scene in For Your Eyes Only).


Jurassic Park never had any real dinosaurs

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This slightly sinister theory comes from the fact that, to some viewers, the science of Jurassic Park doesn’t add up. In fact, as they have pointed out, the method given in the film for the recreation of dinosaurs – the blood of dinosaurs being held in mosquitoes that were frozen in tree sap – seems almost impossible, because DNA has a half-life. Even if it didn’t, what kind of mosquito would only feed on one species of dinosaur, and how would you then separate out the different types? 

Along with this confusion you can add the fact that Richard Attenborough’s park owner Hammond admits a history of duplicity – he started his career putting on a flea circus to fool children, and it’s later revealed that Jurassic Park’s “hatching” area is staged for tourists (with most of the dinosaurs actually born on another island).

With all this evidence, fans decided that Hammond’s dinosaurs were actually fakes – genetic crossbreeds of lizards and chickens (for example), synthesized to look how people expected dinosaurs to appear at the time. This genetic tampering theory also handily explains why the dinosaurs are so inaccurate (we now know they’d have feathers and look quite different to the original film’s depiction) and why Hammond was also able to synthesise prehistoric plants despite mosquitoes not traditionally sucking the blood of plant life.

By inviting experts to the park, all Hammond was hoping to do was testing his illusion. 

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Pretty convincing theory, right?

Well, not so much – unfortunately, 2015 sequel Jurassic World seemed to put this idea to bed with its increased emphasis on the science behind the dinos, but the fans can take some comfort in the fact that the new film hinted at a similar cross-breeding of genetics to make the dinosaurs look larger and less feathery. Maybe they were on to something after all…


Harry Potter went back in time to see his parents die

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Here’s another Harry Potter one – though this is a little weird. You see, before the final book came out, JK Rowling had hinted that another person was present at the murders of James and Lily Potter besides Voldemort and baby Harry, and some fans decided that the extra visitor must be present-day Harry with a Time Turner.

Just think about it  – how perfect would it have been at bringing the series full circle, allowing Harry a last moment with his parents while paying off the introduction of the Time Turner in the third book. Why wouldn’t JK include this?

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Oh, right – because the extra person was actually Snape, as she revealed in the final book. Yeah that actually makes more sense. Our bad.