Top 20 Cartoon Fan Theories That Will Ruin Your Childhood

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Time to get conspiratorial with the biggest cartoon fan theories. For this list, we're looking at another set of fan theories surrounding our favorite innocent cartoon shows or animated films, no matter how much weight they have to them. Our countdown includes “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!,” “The Fairly OddParents,” “Samuari Jack,” and more!
Time to get conspiratorial. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Cartoon Fan Theories.

For this list, we’re looking at another set of fan theories surrounding our favorite innocent cartoon shows or animated films, no matter how much weight they have to them. Warning: this video may or may not ruin your childhood.

#20: Economic Depression

“Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” (1969-78)

Perhaps it wasn’t just the monsters that Mystery Incorporated had to be afraid of. According to one theory, the original “Scooby-Doo” series was actually set during a time when the economy had gone bust. Things were so dire that even well-known individuals, like celebrities, intellectuals and so forth, became criminals to survive the desperate financial climate, all while dressing up as creatures so that the blame wouldn’t be put on them. It might sound like a stretch, but you gotta admit there were a lot of abandoned buildings and downtrodden areas on that show. Sign of the times…?

#19. Claw Is Gadget

“Inspector Gadget” (1983-86)

This fan theory is a shot to the heart of this light-hearted cartoon about everyone’s favorite robotic detective. The theory in question states that Dr. Claw is actually the real, or at least, the original, Inspector Gadget, who supposedly died via an explosion. His genius niece Penny then created a robotic replica out of grief. This would explain why Claw pretty much always escapes from the villain’s clutches unscathed: he wouldn’t want to actually harm his own niece and only wants to destroy his mechanical replacement. It also explains why we never actually see Dr. Claw’s face.

#18. Bill Dauterive Is Bobby Hill’s Father

“King of the Hill” (1997-2009)

It’s fair to say that not all children turn out like their parents, whether it’s in appearance or personality. But when it comes to Hank and Bobby, the difference is like night and day. Along with how dissimilar they are, fans of the show have pointed out that there are hints that Bill might actually be Bobby’s biological father. You’ve got the physical likeness and the fact that the two spend so much time together bonding. Not to mention the little fact that Hank has a rather narrow urethra, which the Hills were originally told meant they could never have children. Damn, Hank, you may be the king, but from the sounds of it… someone got with your queen.

#17. The Flintstones Live in the Future

“The Flintstones” (1960-66)

If you thought Bedrock’s favorite family was kicking it back in the Stone Age, then this theory will make you think again. Evidence for this one comes from the 1978 TV movie “The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones,” where a malfunction with a time machine leads two of animation’s most beloved families to share the screen. How does this support the theory? Well, the time machine was created by Elroy Jetson to bring his family to the FUTURE (that is, further in time than the future in which they already live). But what if the machine actually worked? We know the Jetsons live in the sky, and perhaps they’re doing that to avoid the nuclear wasteland below that’s been brewing into another stone age. That means the Flintstones is actually set in a post-apocalyptic future, instead of thousands of years in the past.

#16. Nazi Propaganda

“Tom and Jerry” franchise (1940-)

You know the drill, Tom Cat tries his best to take out his mousey nemesis Jerry with all manner of nefarious and ill-conceived ideas. But were you aware that these two are the physical representation of countries? That’s right, someone out there posted a theory that states Tom and Jerry represent the Tommies and Jerries, aka the British and the Germans, during the early years of WWII. So if you put that into context, we’ve been watching Nazi Germany outdo the Brits with their “superior” intelligence all these years. Creepy.

#15. Peach Creek Is Purgatory

“Ed, Edd n Eddy” (1999-2009)

Did you ever wonder why we never saw Ed, Edd n Eddy’s parents and why they were perpetually stuck in the cul-de-sac? Well, this theory says it’s because they’re all stuck in Purgatory. No, we are not kidding. Each character apparently died as a child at different points in time, and now remains confined to their suburban afterlife. For example, Rolf spends most of his time with farm animals because he died in 1903. Eddy is so obsessed with money and wealth because he died during the Great Depression, and Ed loves comic books so much because he died right as their popularity soared… near the end of the Second World War.

#14. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

“Donald Duck” franchise (1934-)

It’s no secret that Donald doesn’t exactly have the best temperament and that he goes on the odd rant every now and again. While most of us just find it funny and associate it with his character, some have claimed that his escalating rage is a result of his PTSD. How did he get such a thing? Well, as a Second World War paratrooper, poor old Donald was used for plenty of military propaganda back in the day, with one cartoon showing him fighting against the Japanese by himself. That’s bound to drive anyone over the edge.

#13. Charlie Brown Is Dying of Cancer

“Peanuts” franchise (1947-)

You thought Charlie Brown was just an unlucky kid who happened to have a receding hairline? Actually, according to this theory, he’s got terminal cancer. Not horrifically dark enough for you? The reason he always seems so down, and life doesn’t seem to give him a break, is that his adventures and entire life are all an illusion – in other words, nothing but a dream created out of sadness for his brief existence. Each of his failures is just his own misery manifesting itself. Try to watch any Charlie special now without feeling hollow inside!

#12.Shared Universe

“Samurai Jack” (2001-04; 2017)

Crossovers are nothing new, and if fans even get a whiff that some of their favorite cartoons are entangled in some subtle or overt way, you can be sure they’ll find “evidence” of it. Given the history of Cartoon Network’s properties making random cameos between shows, it’s no surprise people latched onto this particular theory – which is that, apparently everyone’s favorite time travelling samurai was roaming around the post-apocalyptic but past version of Townsville this whole time. Given the identical landmarks seen throughout some episodes, the idea certainly has some merit. Meanwhile, there are others who insist that Jack and Professor Utonium are the same person. Ah man, time travel makes our heads spin.

#11.WALL-E Doomed the Earth

“WALL-E” (2008)

WALL-E’s a lovesick robot that travels the stars to be with the one he loves and has a voice that just makes you want to pinch his metallic cheeks. Well, what you didn’t know about him is that this little guy actually doomed the planet! Didn’t you wonder why the planet was covered in garbage at the beginning of the Pixar flick? That’s because, according to this theory, WALL-E destroyed all of the other robots, took what he needed from their bodies to fix himself up, kept certain items of trash to decorate his home instead of compacting them and left the robo-corpses of his fellow brethren scattered across the wasteland that was once Earth. Thanks Wall-E!

#10. Mr. Crocker’s Advances

“The Fairly OddParents” (2001-06; 2008-)

Brace yourself, people, because this one is bleak. Some fans theorize that Cosmo and Wanda could actually just be metaphors for antidepressants. Well, this theory takes things a step further by stating that they are delusions of Timmy Turner’s actual deceased godparents. He imagines them watching over him and granting his wishes all in a bid to keep himself happy, since his real parents don’t care about him, he has one heck of a volatile babysitter… and Mr. Crocker’s scheme to capture his fairy godparents is in reality just him making sexual advances on Timmy. Yeesh.

#9. Winnie & Friends’ Mental Disorders

“Winnie the Pooh” franchise (1966-)

The classic tales of Pooh Bear and his friends are beloved by children and adults everywhere. This makes things especially lovely considering this theory in which the timeless characters have each been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. We are not joking. It goes like this: Pooh is impulsive with obsessive fixations, Piglet has general anxiety, Tigger has ADHD, Owl is dyslexic, Rabbit has OCD, and not surprisingly, Eeyore is a major depressive. We could have seen the Eeyore one coming, but does this maybe mean Christopher Robin is their therapist?

#8. Pinky Is the Genius

“Pinky and the Brain” (1995-99)

How can one of cartoon’s most lovable idiots possibly be smarter than the megalomaniacal mouse who dreams of taking over the world? Well, what if the Brain is so loco in the head that all his thoughts of world domination are the result of madness? The pair’s endeavors could be nothing more than delusions in his oversized head. But even if they aren’t, you only need to look a little more closely to see that more often than not, it’s Pinky’s observations and comments that make the most logical sense compared to the Brain’s ramblings. One is a genius, the other’s insane, but which is which?

#7. The Pokémon War

“Pokémon” (1997-)

For an anime about fighting pocket monsters, there doesn’t really seem to be any horrifically mature content in “Pokémon,” at least as far as the original season is concerned. Or is there? According to this theory, the amount of Gym Leaders and organised crime, plus the fact that Ash and Gary are both missing parents is because they are the generation born after a terrible war fought with Pokémon. While this creepypasta may seem more concrete with the video games, it does raise some interesting points. Where is Ash’s dad anyway?

#6.Timmy’s on Anti-Depressants

“The Fairly OddParents” (2001-)

Here comes another kick to the childhood! While you may have thought that Timmy Turner was a lucky little boy with fairy godparents that could grant his every wish, what you were actually seeing was a metaphor for Timmy taking anti-depressants to ensure he made it through the day. How does this make sense? Well, this theory states that this scenario’s possible because the godparents only appear when Timmy’s life starts to take a tumble, but they aren’t around when he doesn’t need them. On top of this, too much use of their ‘magic’ is shown to have disastrous results on Timmy personally. But hey, at least it’s better than the alternative theory that they are just being imagined by a sexually abused boy. Yeah, we’re not going anywhere near that one.

#5. Comatose Ash

“Pokémon” franchise (1997-)

A lot of entries on this list involve the fantastical elements of their respective shows being nothing more than figments of the imagination. Well, this one deals with an entire world being made up in the mind of a comatose Ash Ketchum. One theorist makes the point that the tone of “Pokémon” became much lighter after Ash was struck by lightning in an earlier episode. Ever since then, Team Rocket became less menacing and the ten year old can somehow traverse freely in the world without consequence. The fact that there are multiple Nurse Joys and Officer Jennys, plus countless other examples, seems to support the idea that his dream to become a Pokémon Master may actually just be a dream after all.

#4.The Seven Deadly Sins

“SpongeBob SquarePants” (1999-)

Who woulda guessed that Bikini Bottom’s most iconic residents would actually represent something as dark as the seven sins? It’s not all that crazy when you think about it. SpongeBob has a lust for life – while Pearl is obsessed with males, Mr. Krabs is the greediest thing under the sea, Sandy takes great pride in her work, Patrick bests everyone when it comes to sloth, both Gary and Mrs. Puff have been shown to be quite gluttonous, Plankton is obviously envious of the Krusty Krab’s success, and Squidward… well, we all know how wrathful SpongeBob makes him. Turns out this show attracts weird theories, since there’s another one that suggests these seven represent narcotics.

#3.All in Angelica’s Imagination

“Rugrats” (1991-2004)

Speaking of dreams, in this fan theory, it turns out all those adorable babies on “Rugrats” were nothing more than projections of a three-year-old’s psychological breakdown. We all thought Angelica was just moody because of her age and spoiled upbringing, but here, it’s said that her attitude is actually due to the traumatic events of the Rugrats’ deaths. Yep, apparently Chuckie died with his mother in a crash, which is why his father is always overly worried about him, and Tommy was stillborn, which is why Uncle Stu is constantly making toys – i.e. for the son he never had. As for the DeVille twins, they were just a projection of an aborted baby, so Angelica projected them as identical twins since the gender remained unknown.

#2. There Are No Monsters

“Courage the Cowardly Dog” (1999-2002)

Despite his timid nature in the face of the supernatural horrors going on in the middle of nowhere, Courage never fails to protect his owners from the many monsters and psychopaths that seem to come their way. This would be all fine and dandy, except what if they’re not all as scary as he thinks they are? Given that he’s just a dog and the world probably looks a lot different to him, the entire show could be nothing more than Courage’s canine perception tricking him into thinking he and his humans are in danger, when the truth is all those monsters he thinks he’s seeing are just people. But tbh, we’re not sure if that’s uplifting or even more depressing.

#1. Allegory for the Holocaust

“Toy Story 3” (2010)

There was no doubt that the third installment of the “Toy Story” franchise was definitely the darkest. However, we bet that you wouldn’t have guessed that the Oscar-winning computer-animated movie also seems to have some unsettling parallels to the Holocaust. First off, the toys are forced to leave their home and then find themselves at Sunnyside Daycare, where they are imprisoned and routinely mistreated and injured. Near the film’s climax, there is a scene that looks like they’re all about to perish in an incinerator together. If you replace a few of those key characters and locations with some of the victims and perpetrators of World War Two, there’s definitely a disturbing similarity.
Here is theory about why Tom and Jerry are rivals: They are physical representations of countries. The Israelis and Arabs were having a war with each other. We've actually seen a war between Israel and the Arab countries throughout the entire show.