The ’90s were a wonderful time for cartoons. The decade produced some of the most iconic and creative shows of all time, and when you’ve watched every episode of SpongeBob SquarePants a hundred times each, it’s inevitable that fans start to analyze the little details to get more out of it, and sometimes, you put together little clues and discover things that take them to a whole new level. Still, that doesn’t mean that sometimes the theories can’t get really, really out there,. But in a way, if the clues are there, that just makes them more awesome.
Human brains are wired to see patterns even when there are none, so even if the creators of these cartoons might not have intended the hidden meanings that you draw from them, you still feel like you solved a mystery that no one else noticed. Even when creators explicitly deny your fan theories, it doesn’t deter your conclusions. After all, art is given meaning by the viewer, not the creator. If you interpret a work of art a certain way, your views are just as valid as anyone else’s. Today, CBR takes a look at the craziest and most awesome fan theories for ’90s cartoons ever. Warning: things might get kinda dark.
15. ED, EDD, AND EDDY ARE DEAD
“They were dead the whole time” is an overused and uncreative trope in fan theories, but while it’s usually far-fetched and based on thin evidence, the case for Ed, Edd, and Eddy is pretty damning. The theory suggests that the Cul-De-Sac is some kind of purgatory for children. The most obvious supporting point is that no adults appear in a single episode of the show. Every single kid seems to live by themselves and no one ever even mentions parents.
Then there’s the fact that every character has a pallid complexion and green or blue tongues, a color change that really happens when people die. In fact, the only characters in the show that don’t have the blue/green corpse tongue are the Kanker sisters, who live outside of the Cul-De-Sac and exist only to torment the main characters. Why? Because they’re lusty demons, and torment is their job.
14. DOUG FUNNIE SUFFERS FROM SCHIZOPHRENIC HALLUCINATIONS
Doug Funnie’s imagination is a pretty big part of the show even if you don’t buy into the mental illness theory. Doug drifts off into his daydreams in every single episode, often visualizing himself as a quail-themed superhero or a rock star, but the show even goes so far as to show us that he often acts out his “daydreams” physically.
In one episode, he starts having one of his hallucinations when he’s riding his bike in traffic and only snaps back to reality when he crashes his bike into a car. His “daydreams” are so vivid and extreme that he can’t separate reality from fantasy and it nearly kills him on more than one occasion. That’s not a daydream at that point. It’s a medical diagnosis.
13. ALADDIN TAKES PLACE IN A POST-APOCALYPTIC FUTURE
At first glance, one would assume Disney’s Aladdin takes place sometime between 800-1000AD, but that creates a few problems throughout the film. For one thing, the fez Aladdin wears wasn’t invented until sometime in the 19th century, but during Jasmine and Aladdin’s magic carpet ride, they pass by the Great Sphinx of Giza as it’s being built, which would place them around 2500BC.
This is nothing compared to the Genie, though. From the moment he appears, he references 20th century culture including impersonating Jack Nicholson and transforming Abu into a car. Some have suggested the Genie can time travel, but the first thing he says when he’s freed from the lamp is, “10,000 years will give you such a crick in the neck,” but the earliest known bronze oil lamps didn’t exist until at least 3200 BC, so Aladdin has to take place around 6800AD at the earliest.
12. MS. FRIZZLE FROM THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS IS A TIME LORD
Have you ever wondered how Ms. Frizzle acquired her magic school bus? What’s an ordinary educator doing with a vehicle that can change its shape according to its surroundings and travel through space and time? To add to that, why would any responsible adult bring young children along to incredibly dangerous places and time periods? That’s just what Time Lords do.
It’s been suggested that Ms. Frizzle is River Song (who’s not actually a Time Lord) from Doctor Who, but it seems far more likely that Ms. Frizzle is actually another renegade Time Lord who ran away from Gallifrey like The Doctor. She’s totally bonkers, takes young humans on dangerous adventures, operates a sentient vehicle that travels through time and space, loves science and dresses in the eccentric style that could only be pulled off by the likes of Doctor Who.
11. PROFESSOR UTONIUM AND SAMURAI JACK ARE THE SAME PERSON
Professor Utonium and Samurai Jack bear a strong resemblance to each other, and they seem to have similar taste in clothing color palette, but things get a little more interesting in the first episode of Samurai Jack. Jack wanders through a post-apocalyptic city that bears a striking resemblance to the city of Townsville when we get a shot of a half-destroyed billboard advertising dog food with the words, “Talking Dog Says…” That exact billboard can be seen hanging on one of the skyscrapers in a few episodes of Powerpuff Girls.
The same theory suggests that Mojo Jojo genetically altered himself to shapeshift and went back in time to take over the world as Aku. He succeeded in preventing the creation of the Powerpuff Girls, but when the Professor discovered Mojo’s plot, he came back to put a stop to it and save his daughters.
10. CHARLIE BROWN HAS CANCER
The most obvious clue that Charlie Brown has cancer is that he is mostly bald except for a small tuft of hair at the front of his head. No other character in the show appears as bald, so it implies that this wasn’t just an odd artistic style, the character was literally intended to be bald.
The other odd thing about Charlie Brown is his down-and-out personality. He’s constantly dealing with existential crises way deeper than any normal eight-year-old should ever have to contemplate. The theory goes on to suggest that the reason that nothing ever works out for him and his life is always a disaster is because he’s in a hospital bed, slowly fading away and projecting his sadness into his dreams. Good Grief!
9. GARFIELD IS HALLUCINATING WHILE STARVING TO DEATH
Garfield seems like your average housecat. He holds every other living being around him in contempt, he spends all his time lounging around the house and he can eat ten times his own bodyweight and still feel hungry. Normal house cats can do that… if they’re starving to death. Garfield was abandoned long ago by Jon, and he’s slowly starving to death while hallucinating the memories of a more comfortable life.
This theory was even shown to be true in the 1989 Garfield Halloween special. Garfield wakes up to find the house empty, then looks outside to find the windows boarded up and the grass overgrown. It proves so traumatic that he forces himself back into the hallucination and the weekly strip could continue. But we know the truth now.
8. BIKINI BOTTOM IS THE RESULT OF NUCLEAR TESTING
What could possibly ruin the cuteness and hilarity of watching a geeky walking sea sponge interact with an entire town full of wacky undersea creatures? The fact they’re they’re all horrible mutants that resulted from nuclear weapons testing for a start. You don’t have to stretch your imagination very hard for this one to fit. Nickelodeon’s official synopsis of the show states that Bikini Bottom, the town in Spongebob Squarepants, is actually part of the real-life Bikini Atoll, specifically right underneath it.
Why does this matter? Because Bikini Atoll was an actual testing site where the United States set off nuclear weapons in 1946, just to observe their effects. One bomb specifically was detonated underwater. The resulting explosion was photographed, and every explosion that happens on the show, (which happens basically every other episode) is an exact replica of the photographed explosion.
7. ASH KETCHUM HAS BEEN IN A COMA SINCE THE FIRST EPISODE
Pokemon is still airing new episodes every year and is currently in the midst of its 20th season. The show still follows the adventures of ten-year-old Ash Ketchum and Pikachu. Despite 20 years of adventures, Ash never gets any older, and he somehow keeps discovering more and more new Pokemon that the world didn’t know about in earlier seasons. That’s because those new Pokemon don’t exist. They’re all part of Ash’s coma dream, which also explains why every town has the same nurse and police officer.
In the very first episode, Ash and Pikachu are attacked by a flock of Spearows in a thunderstorm when Pikachu blasts everything in the area with a massive jolt of electricity with Ash at ground zero of the attack, but then he walks off into the sunset like he didn’t just sustain a near lethal electrocution… or so you thought.
6. DR. CLAW WAS THE ORIGINAL INSPECTOR GADGET
The Inspector Gadget we know from the cartoon is actually the second Inspector, built by his niece as a completely robotic replacement after the first one went missing in action and was presumed dead. But he wasn’t dead, just disfigured and insane. When he returned home, he found a robot living his life and raising his niece. Seeing this after the traumatic incident that disfigured him, he went insane and devoted his life to destroying the robot that stole his life.
The main evidence is that Inspector Gadget’s robotic parts are never explained and don’t really make sense. He’s kind of an idiot, so it’s unlikely that he was some kind of supercop that they chose to robotically enhance. That’s why we never see Dr. Claw’s face, and why Penny is never harmed even when she’s captured by Claw’s thugs. He wants his family back.
5. THE ANIMALS IN WINNIE THE POOH REPRESENT MENTAL ILLNESSES
One of the great things about Winnie the Pooh is how each character has an interesting, distinct personality, but if you’ve ever found yourself relating to any of them, we’ve got some bad news. The Canadian Medical Association Journal published a study in 2000 that diagnosed each of the characters with crippling mental illnesses.
Pooh, with his attention problems, has ADD and impulsivity with obsessive fixations (on honey). Eeyore is obviously suffering from depression. Tigger, with his endless energy, has ADHD. Piglet has an extreme generalized anxiety disorder. Kanga has social anxiety disorder manifesting as overprotective mothering. Owl has dyslexia. Rabbit has OCD, and of course, Christopher Robin has schizophrenia that manifests as visual and auditory hallucinations. If you want, you could try to apply each character’s illness into Christopher Robin’s fractured psyche, but it’s probably dark enough as it is.
4. THE RUGRATS ONLY EXIST IN ANGELICA’S IMAGINATION
Angelica is typically the character we all totally hated as kids, but in retrospect, she clearly has some pretty extreme neglect issues with her parents. Her mom is always on the phone with work and her relationship with her dad is superficial at best. To cope with her neglect, she created the babies in her mind, which explains why she’s the only one that can understand them.
Why babies and not kids her own age? Since her relationship is mostly non-existent with her parents, the only time they show any kind of emotion toward her is when they’re disciplining her, which to a neglected child’s mind, comes off as cruelty. She imagines them as babies because she needs someone she can be an authority figure with because that’s the only relationship she understands.
3. ALL THE MONSTERS IN COURAGE ARE JUST NORMAL PEOPLE
Courage the Cowardly Dog lives in The Middle of Nowhere with his elderly owners, Eustace and Muriel. Every single other character in the show is some variety of scary monster, which is exactly how your dog sees every door-to-door salesman, unfamiliar neighbor or animal that walks within a hundred feet of your house. It makes a lot of sense once you realize that no matter how seemingly doomed the situation has become for Eustace and Muriel, they never bat an eye.
Eustice definitely realizes Courage is scared of every stranger that comes around, which is why he’s constantly calling him a “stupid dog” and tormenting him with Halloween masks, because trolling your dumb dog is just what you do when he cowers away from anything that makes a noise, even when he just thinks he’s protecting you.
2. PINKY IS THE REAL GENIUS IN PINKY AND THE BRAIN
“Pinky and the Brain, one is a genius. The other’s insane.” Obviously, we’re led to believe that Brain is the “genius” the theme song refers to, but how does Pinky qualify as insane. In general, he just seems like an idiot, but that’s not the same thing as “insane.” The popular definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” You know, like what brain tries to do every night. Try to take over the world!
Does that make Pinky a genius though? At the beginning of nearly every episode, Brain explains his plan and Pinky points out some fatal flaw or observation which Brain ignores. However, by the end of the episode, Pinky is proven correct.To make things even more obvious, Pinky succeeds in taking over the world in two separate episodes before Brain ruins everything. Who’s the real genius?
1. SCOOBY-DOO TAKES PLACE AFTER AN ECONOMIC COLLAPSE
How is everyone okay with the fact that four teenagers drive around the country trying to solve crimes? As much as they speak to police when they inevitably catch the bad guy, not a single person tells them they should leave it to the professionals next time. Speaking of which, why have so many people of respectable careers turned to a life of crime? They’re smart enough to mechanically engineer machines that make people believe in the supernatural, but they can’t find an honest job?
That’s because the original Scooby Doo cartoon takes place after a total economic collapse. Nobody tries to stop them because adults are too busy worrying about becoming homeless to worry about some punk kids. The Scooby gang never even actively seeks out spooky rundown locations overrun by criminals, they just stumble into it every time because that’s what the entire country looks like now.
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