10 Dark Theories that Will Ruin Your Childhood
VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu
WRITTEN BY: Jordy McKen
Sometimes fond memories harbor dark secrets... For this list, we'll be looking at some of the most disturbing fan theories about your beloved childhood TV shows and films. You'll probably think vastly differently about them by the end. Our countdown includes theories involving "Spongebob Squarepants", "Postman Pat", "Sesame Street" and more!
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Dark Theories that Will Ruin Your Childhood. For this list, we’ll be looking at some of the most disturbing fan theories about your beloved childhood TV shows and films. You'll probably think vastly differently about them by the end. What’s the darkest TV episode you remember from your childhood? Let us know below!
#10: Nuclear Sponge
“SpongeBob SquarePants” (1999-)
When you ponder about ol’ SpongeBob and his pals, nuclear annihilation isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But according to a popular theory, it should be. In real life, the US tested nuclear weapons in the 1940s into the 50s in Bikini Atoll near the Marshall Islands. The show confirmed that the fictional Bikini Bottom is below the real Bikini Atoll. Some fans believe the characters are a result of the radiation caused by the nuclear fallout from testing explosions. After years of the mutations taking effect, the sea creatures began to develop the ability to talk and be quirky, loveable characters. We should probably expect them to appear in a future "X-Men" film.
#9: Bugging Out
“The Emperor's New Groove” (2000)
Imagine one day, as a human, you’re suddenly turned into a creature. But then, no one comes to your rescue, and you have to experience all the horrors that Mother Nature provides. Fun, right!? Well, this could be the case in “The Emperor's New Groove.” As we see, in this world, only humans who are transformed into creatures can talk, like Kuzco. When he's in his llama form and traversing the spooky jungle alone, we hear a cry for help that sounds like it’s coming from a human. Only…it’s actually coming from a helpless fly caught in a web. It’s then quickly eaten by a terrifying spider. This might mean this fly was a human since it was screaming for help. Which is, if true… pretty horrifying.
#8: Great Depression
“Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” (1969-78)
The criminals in TV’s “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” are always people pretending to be something supernatural either to get money or get out of being caught for doing a crime. Well, one theory poses the question that there’s a reason everyone appears so obsessed with cash. The universe is experiencing the effects of a great financial depression. After all, the villain has often been a celebrity or someone with an affluent career, which would mean the broken economy is affecting everyone. On top of that, the Scooby gang also seemingly live in their van and constantly wear the same clothes. Cops aren’t exactly present all the time either, which could be explained by budget cuts to public services. Huh, sort of makes you feel bad for the so-called “villains.”
#7: Personal Delivery
“Postman Pat” (1981-2017)
Officially, Postman Pat has only one child in the form of Julian Clifton. But what if he was delivering his “package” to many more households than just his own? Take a look at whenever a group of kids appears on the screen. Several of them look a lot more like the dependable postie than their apparent “parents.” In fact, they often possess ginger hair or an oblong face. Even some kids have the same spectacle fashion as Pat, which seems suspicious. In the early series, school teacher Jeff Pringle had a son called Charlie, who looks far more like possibly promiscuous Pat than he does Jeff. Maybe that’s why the teacher hasn’t been on the show in a long time? He realized Charlie’s true lineage and took off.
#6: Son Searching
“Finding Nemo” (2003)
One of the most heartbreaking opening scenes in an animated kid’s film is from “Finding Nemo,” with the barracuda attack. The fish eats all the eggs of Marlin and Coral and seemingly consumes the latter too. However, one egg survives to become Nemo, who eventually gets into shenanigans. But, what if what we’re actually watching is the PTSD delusion of a heartbroken father because no one actually survived the attack? After all, we witness Marlin go through the stages of grief in the film, such as denial when it came to Nemo going to school, anger when Nemo disobeys him, and so on. Finally, the word “Nemo” in old Latin translates as “no man,” nobody or nobody, which is pretty spooky.
#5: Counting Casualties
“Sesame Street” (1969-)
If you want to learn math, you can’t go wrong by studying under the learning tree of Count von Count from “Sesame Street.” But be warned: never ever visit the counting vampire puppet in person. Otherwise, it might be the last thing you ever do! Think about it: whenever a kid appears on the show, they’re never around for long. And the theory is that The Count is secretly eating them. The other puppets and adult humans are either turning a blind eye to what he’s doing or under his thrall, forced to please their master by offering him new victims. Perhaps teaching the kids addition makes them extra tasty? But regardless, make sure to take a load of garlic with you if you’re ever on the show, just in case, especially if you’re young or appear to look very young...
#4: Road Runner's Revenge
“Looney Tunes” franchise (1930-)
If there’s anything certain in life, it’s taxes and the failure of Wile E. Coyote catching the Road Runner on “Looney Tunes.” Even though Coyote has made hundreds of schemes, he never seems to get his prize. Which is pretty strange. You’d expect one of them to work on the law of averages alone. But that could be because Wile E. Coyote isn’t in the natural world. He’s in hell. After all, he’s clearly stuck in a sandy, dry, hot landscape. He then has his temptation, the Road Runner, constantly escaping. And he’s mocked for his attempts over and over again. Some fans have compared Wile E’s story to that of Tantalus in Greek Mythology, who’s tormented with pleasures just out of his reach in a location similar to hell.
#3: Angelica's Vivid Imagination
Oh boy, this one’s rough. This idea proposes that the main “Rugrats” babies are all figments of Angelica’s imagination. After all, she’s an only child with workaholic parents. So, lacking attention, she’s left to her mind, which takes a very dark turn. Firstly, Chuckie and his mother perished, which is why Chas has horrendous anxiety. Phil and Lil DeVille were actually aborted by their parents. Since Angelica didn’t know what the baby was going to be, so she created twins. And Tommy was stillborn, resulting in Stu being in denial as he makes toys in the basement over and over again. With the dream of having a large family, Angelica invented all these kids to process the trauma of lost friends and cope with everything. Yikes, horrific.
#2: Gotta Dream 'Em All!
For 25 years, Ash Ketchum has been 10 years old… which is bonkers. In that time, he's traveled to many regions, met numerous creatures, and had the adventure of several lifetimes. But still, he never ages. Why? Well, this popular theory for the “Pokémon” anime is that Ash has been in a coma since his first outing. After getting his trusty Pikachu and taking on a swarm of Spearows, the electric rodent releases a thunderbolt to save them both. But it also plunges Ash into a long-term nap. Everything that happens after this is all in his mind. It also explains why Ash has met so many legendary and mythical Pokémon when researchers that have spent decades searching for them have had no luck.
#1: Racist Smurfs
“The Smurfs” franchise (1958-)
Today, The Smurfs are seen as peculiar little blue folk with a simple society that most commonly names each Smurf based on one prominent characteristic. But what if their existence is just a racist allegory? Not quite as fun. In the original comic strip, one story features the Smurfs being bitten by a Bzz Fly. It turns their skin black, making them angry, and vastly reducing their intelligence. They plan to bite other Smurfs to infect them. After the Smurfs find a cure, Jokey Smurf makes himself look like one of the infected for lols. The story was adapted for the 80s cartoon, but with purple skin instead of black, likely to avoid the racist overtones. There’s also been an accusation that the villain Gargamel is nothing more than an anti-Semitic caricature.