Have you heard of some of these crazy cartoon conspiracy theories? Animated shows have been around since the beginning of television, delighting young and old audiences alike. The past twenty years have seen the rise of more animated shows aimed at adults such as Bob’s Burgers and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. (Though, after reading this list, you may wonder if all the cartoons we mention were not made for adults due to their strong themes and elaborate narratives.) But what you may not realize is that most of these cartoons are associated with some bizarre conspiracy theories.
In this list, we’ve brought together 25 of the all-time best cartoon fan conspiracy theories which many people believe to be true. Whether it’s an alternate reality of South Park told through a schizophrenic boy’s memory or subliminal messaging for a host of secret societies in Gravity Falls, the fan theories on this list run the gamut. While some of them don’t entirely hold up given other hints and clues in the series, others are completely plausible and may just change how you view the cartoon. If you want to see your favorite childhood or adult cartoons in a different light, join the conspiracy debate with our list of 25 Crazy Cartoon Conspiracy Theories Some Believe To Be True.
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One of the biggest mysteries in the world of cartoons is…drumroll please…what’s in the Krabby Patty secret formula? Fan theorists have been quick to assemble disparate mentions of ingredients from throughout the series, ruling them out when Mr. Krabs pranked his rival Plankton in the episode “Plankton’s Army”.
We have for you here today the real Krabby Patty secret formula. One Krabby Patty contains: a frozen hamburger, fresh lettuce, crisp onions, undersea cheese, pickles, ketchup, mustard, and the secret formula. The formula includes flour, salt, turmeric, barnacle shavings, love, and one more special ingredient.
One episode claims Mr. Krabs and Plankton were friends and created the recipe together, each taking home part of the list after a fight. Plankton only tore off one of the ingredients: chum. Hence, the name of his restaurant and the final ingredient in the Krabby Patty secret formula. Don’t you feel better now?
Taking a big u-turn from light-hearted Spongebob is South Park. Some fan theorists claim the show is an adult retelling their childhood with some added exaggerations. The show’s strong language and cynicism does hold up that an adult could be telling it. Other theories claim Butters is retelling the stories to his therapist or that Cartman had a traumatizing childhood, leading to schizophrenia, and is recounting his childhood to his therapist. As for Kenny, one of the show’s creators confirmed he had a classmate who always wore the same orange hoodie and was absent from school so often they joked he died, leading to his immortalization as a South Park character.
As you’ll see throughout this list, some fans come up with downright sad and depressing cartoon conspiracy theories! One of the best-known films and stories in the English language today is Peter Pan. One fan theory claims, based on direct quotes from the book’s author J.M. Barrie, that Peter kills off the Lost Boys as they get too old. The line says, “And when they seem to be growing up, which is against the rules, Peter thins them out.” This periodic culling of the boys stems from Peter’s hatred for grownups, itself derived from his own abandonment by his mother. Another theory claims Peter is the Angel of Death and ferries dead kids from Earth to Neverland: a reference for Heaven.
American Dad follows the life of Republican CIA agent Stan Smith. In Season 6, the rapture comes to Langley Falls and some fan theorists argue every episode thereafter is a figment of Stan’s heavenly imagination. It claims the show then takes place in Stan’s mind while the rest of the world is in a post-apocalyptic hell. Hayley even gets to Heaven despite claiming multiple times to be an atheist – fodder for the imagination theory and Stan wanting to bring his whole family.
Recently blasted back into the spotlight with the release of Pokémon GO, Pokémon is our favorite series about battling monsters. (Definitely above Digimon and Yu-Gi-Oh.) Some fan conspiracy theorists claim Ash fell into a coma during the animated show’s first episode after both falling off his bike and being struck by Pikachu’s lightning bolt. Heavy meds at the subsequent hospital are said to keep him in the coma and allow him to dream himself throughout the Pokeworld with ease. Though this theory also argues this is why every city has the same Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny, real fans will know this is because they are all part of an extended family.
One of the most popular adult cartoon shows in recent history, Family Guy follows the story of the Griffin family and their dog, Brian. But, what if the entire show is written by Brian detailing his experience with the Griffins? Some fan theorists believe the many shorts featuring only Brian and Stewie and that Brian’s frequency and perspective in the show (in addition to actually being a writer in it) give the theory some meat. Though there is some doubt thrown into this theory when we consider Vinny. But, still, maybe Family Guy is the unfinished novel Brian has been working on. You know, the big stack of papers there. The compelling protagonist. The obstacle for him to overcome, hmm? The characters being richer for the experience, yeah?
The Fairly Oddparents
One cartoon fan theory regarding the Fairly Oddparents argues that Timmy Turner’s Fairy Godparents don’t exist – rather, they’re just expressions of medication he’s taking for depression and anxiety. Cosmo and Wanda are classified as Zoloft and Prozac and even Jordan von Strangle and Juandisimo are believed to be other drugs, namely steroids and Viagra. The anti-fairies are hard drugs like heroin, and the Pixies are placebos since they can’t perform magic. More over, in one episode, Timmy was sent to Wish Rehab for over-wishing Cosmo & Wanda – a seemingly clear reference to drug rehab. Lastly, a child can wish their fairies away if they say they are happy and don’t need their fairies anymore – just like a person on antidepressants who can choose to stop taking their drugs.
An incredibly gloomy interpretation of Dexter’s Laboratory is that his sister Dee-Dee pushed the wrong button and blew up the house, killing his entire family. Dexter, surviving, created clones of his family, possibly since he has been shown to have the ability to clone and control the central nervous system. Further evidence for this theory stems from the abuse his family takes – from being blown up or turned into monsters – before coming back as normal as ever in the following episode.
Tangled, Frozen, & The Little Mermaid
Hold onto your seat because this one gets complicated. Considering release dates, Tangled was released three years before Frozen and Frozen starts three years after Elsa’s parents die at sea, possibly going to Rapunzel’s return celebration. Now add in The Little Mermaid – cartoon fan theorists believe the ship Ariel explores in the film’s beginning could be the same ship Elsa’s parents went down on. So are these three films related? What do you think?
Well, this is a chipper cartoon fan theory. True lovers of the Rugrats show will really hate this one. Some fans have come up with a theory where all the characters are a figment of Angelica’s schizophrenic mind. It says Chuckie’s dad is nervous and unconfident because Chuckie & his mother died in childbirth, Tommy’s dad is always making toys for his “son” because Tommy was a stillborn, and the DeVilles had an abortion but, not knowing which gender the baby would be, created twins. Absolutely. Mortifying.
Tim Burton Movies
Tim Burton’s films are all rather surreal – set in what seem to be alternate universes; but what if they’re all the same universe? And what if they’re all about the same boy and dog? It is true Tim Burton grew up with dogs and was quite fond of them – leading each male character in his works to have a dog. This theory gets madly complicated, so suffice to say both the dogs and their owner continue dying, eventually turning into Jack Skellington and dog Zero.
Avatar: The Last Airbender & The Legend of Korra
Unrelated to the Hollywood film, Avatar tells the story of Aang, the ambassador between the four element nations of air, water, fire, and earth. Spoiler Alert! At the end of the Avatar series, Aang dies. But, some fan theorists claim Aang didn’t actually die but exiled himself because he lost the ability to bend. The follow-up series, The Legend of Korra, tells the story of the next Avatar, presumably Aang’s reincarnation. Since the follow-up is set 70 years after the end of the original, this theory is worth considering since Aang could have lived into his 80’s.
One of the most elaborate fan theories on our list is that maybe all the kids from Recess are just ghosts trapped in Third Street School. The long and winding theory suggests each of the kids died at a different time in history, from TJ during the Great Depression to King Bob in the 1990’s (who, by the way, was murdered by a fellow juvenile hall inmate after he murdered all the kids at Third Street School after going mad with power). If you want to see some major discontent with this theory, check out this Channel Frederator video to see them tear it apart.
Ed, Edd, n Eddy
Some rather morose fans of Ed, Edd, n Eddy have a pretty glum theory for the show: what if the cul-de-sac is a representation of purgatory and all the kids are just floating spirits within the realm? These fans claim all the show’s characters have died at different times, from the early ones (Rolf & Eddy) to the newer ones (Kevin & Jimmy), and that the Kanker Sisters are demons sent from hell to torment the kids. Yikes.
The Simpsons is both the longest-running American sitcom and animated program. Since its start in 1989, the show has released nearly 630 episodes and won countless awards. This has led to a massive amount of conspiracy theories, including that the Simpson family is actually smart (but only Lisa chooses to show it). The show mentions Homer is stupid because of a crayon pushed into his brain as a child, Marge has a college degree, and Bart chooses to live in ignorance because he’s seen how his dad and others are happier. Then again, it is said in Season 9 that the Simpson Gene causes all Simpson men to become bald, lazy, and stupid.
Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends
Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends was one of the most bizarre yet creative shows of the 2000’s. It follows the life of Madame Foster (owner of the home), her 22-year-old granddaughter Frankie, and Mac. This fan theory states Frankie is no more than one of Madame Foster’s imaginary representations of her younger self, created (even in her own likeness and with similar clothes) to help manage the house. It’s notable that Frankie has never been said to have an imaginary friend or be able to create one. (If you want to get really wild, there’s even a theory that Madame Foster is actually Frankie’s imaginary friend, dreamt up to cope with the loss of her grandmother when she was young.)
Has it ever crossed your mind that the Crystal Gems could be evil? If not, it has now. The main character, Steven, is the son of Rose Quartz: the now-deceased leader of the Crystal Gems. The history of the gems is told in complex and obtuse ways – casting doubt on it – and the Crystal Gems’ enemies are said to all be corrupted gems (meaning the three Gems systematically wipe out their own kind). Let us know what you think, but chances are if you’re a serious Steven Universe fan, you’ll agree this theory doesn’t hold up too well.
One of the better known fan theories due to the popularity of Spongebob Squarepants is that the characters’ entire underwater world was created by nuclear bombs. The theory holds up pretty well as Bikini Bottom is located below the Pacific’s Bikini Atoll, a World War II atomic bomb testing site. If you’re still doubtful whether it could be true, the pilot script of Spongebob actually does confirm that all the characters and their world are the result of deformations from atomic testing.
The Powerpuff Girls & Samurai Jack
While the early 2000’s shows The Powerpuff Girls and Samurai Jack look stylistically similar, fans have turned more to similarities between the shows to assert they may happen within the same universe. They claim Professor Utonium is a descendant of Jack, using some of Aku’s blood on Jack’s passed-down sword to create Chemical X and the Powerpuff Girls. They further say Aku sent Jack forward in time so he could never have descendants (AKA Professor Utonium) and could thus freely send monsters around the world to take over. There’s even a point in Jack’s future which appears to show a destroyed Townsville. Unfortunately, the show’s creator answered a Reddit AMA to say the shows are not related.
Regular Show viewers often remark on the show’s off-the-wall, bizarre characters and storyline. Fan theorists speculate the show was based on one of its creator’s earlier films, “2 in the AM/PM”, where two convenience store clerks take LSD and hallucinate themselves into a talking blue jay and gumball machine. Some people claim Regular Show is the product of the two clerks’ later addiction to acid and all their friends are also hallucinations. (Oh, and take a look at Muscle Man and High Five Ghost and tell us they don’t seem like regular stoners.)
Rick and Morty
One of the only shows on our list of the top cartoon fan theories aimed directly at adults, Rick and Morty tells the story of kid Morty and his grandfather Rick who travel through various alternate dimensions to solve problems. (Well, more like screw them up further in most cases.) The episode “Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind” is at the heart of this fan theory. In the episode, Evil Rick is killing off the Ricks of multiple universes to get at their Morty’s, though Evil Rick is actually controlled by Evil Morty. It’s speculated Morty developed an intense hatred for Rick after, in the opening sequence, he jumps into a portal and leaves Morty behind, abandoning him to the beasts. This overly clever version of Morty turned evil and set out on a vendetta to destroy all Ricks. Whew! That was intense.
The Fairly Oddparents & Danny Phantom
Anyone who has seen The Fairly Oddparents knows once Timmy Turner turns 13 years old, he will lose his Fairy Godparents. In a wild last wish before his birthday, it’s posited that Timmy wished to stay with them forever. Thus, Timmy was turned into Danny Phantom and the Fairy World into Ghost Zone; his friends may have changed as well – Trixie into Paulina, AJ into Tucker, Tootie into Sam, and Chester into Dash. One of the examples, though seemingly basic, which breaks the theory for many is that everyone in Timmy’s world has four fingers while Danny and his friends have five.
Teen Titans Go
Have you ever wondered if the entirety of Teen Titans Go exists in Beast Boy’s imagination? Fans of the early 2000’s show remember Beast Boy as the funnier, more light-hearted member with a wacky, wandering mind. All the characters in Teen Titans Go are notably more loud and boisterous and Beast Boy has significantly more crushes (including Raven), making us wonder whether the more juvenile drawing style of the creators represents the inside of his imagination.
The now cult classic film Inside Out hasn’t been spared from its share of conspiracy theories. Fans of the movie note the flower on the lapel of Bing Bong has six colors whereas there are only five primary emotions – anger, disgust, fear, joy, and sadness – represented by the colors red, green, purple, yellow, and blue. The color orange is strangely missing, making fans wonder whether a sixth color was originally included in the mix. Truth be told, the film’s creators originally had 27 colors and emotions to choose from; various mock-ups show the emotion hope as originally represented by orange. Then again, Bing Bong’s legs are orange, so it could be that, too, though he is supposed to represent all the emotions, so it doesn’t make total sense.
Fans of the widely popular cartoon show Gravity Falls have cast some serious doubts on the show’s intentions. Many fans believe the show is subliminally promoting a host of secret societies – from the Freemasons to the Shriners to the Illuminati. These claims relate to the often-present Eye of Providence – a Freemason symbol – seen throughout the Mystery Shack and at the end of the theme song (and on the back of the U.S. dollar), the Shriner logo on Grunkle Stan’s hat, and Stan’s eyepatch hearkening to the Illuminati tradition of covering an eye.