There’s nothing quite as compelling as a great fan theory.
Especially when it makes you re-think everything you know about your favorite television shows. We’ve collected three of our favorites, and while these might seem far-fetched, they’re all backed by solid observations (and a healthy dose of wild creativity).
1. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” never happened.
Yes, we know it didn’t really happen, but a fan theory posits that within the show’s canon, most of the characters don’t exist.
In the season six episode “Normal Again,” Buffy wakes up in a mental institution, where she learns that all of her friends are imaginary. At the end of the episode, she learns that a demon tricked her, and she walks out of the dream world into the “real” town of Sunnyvale.
But what if Buffy simply went further into her psychotic delusions? That would explain some of the crazier moments in the show’s last few seasons—and why Buffy’s sister, Dawn, suddenly came out of nowhere and immediately began interacting with the other characters as if she’d known them for years.
For what it’s worth, show creator Joss Whedon tried to put the kibosh on this theory, although he did admit that it makes sense. Maybe Whedon’s part of the illusion, too.
2. Zack Morris dreamed up everything in the world of “Saved by the Bell.”
Saved by the Bell was actually a spinoff of Good Morning, Miss Bliss, which starred many of the same characters (including Zack, Lisa, and Screech). The main difference? The show focused on the kids’ junior high school teacher, Carrie Bliss. It wasn’t a hit, and Good Morning, Miss Bliss got canceled after 13 episodes.
But NBC decided to reformat the show, focusing more on the kids and retitling it Saved by the Bell. That’s where the fan theory comes in: the entire new series is set in Zack Morris’s imagination.
Think about it—he’s the most popular guy in school, and everyone else in the school acts like caricatures; Screech, in particular, is insanely brilliant, creating working robots and other amazing inventions whenever Zack needs them. Oh, and Zack can stop time. For the first few seasons, he routinely turns to the camera to issue monologs, and the other characters freeze in place.
Zack’s still in Miss Bliss’s classroom, daydreaming about high school. Tiffani Thiessen, who played Kelly Kapowski, said that she buys the theory.
“I actually think it’s a pretty good theory the more that I think about it,” said Thiessen to Huffington Post. “I think it’s pretty funny. The fact that he can stop time. That really kind of sells it for me, I have to say. I think that’s a good theory.”
3. In “The Office,” Toby has a dark, dark secret.
Towards the end of The Office, writers introduced a strange plot point: local news reports frequently mentioned the crimes of the Scranton Strangler. Eventually, they catch the Strangler, and Toby is one of the jurors at his trial.
Toby votes for the death penalty—then, overcome with guilt,
Unless, of course, he didn’t. Some fans believe that Toby is the real Scranton Strangler and that he elaborately framed the convict. That would explain why Toby attempted to run off to Costa Rica earlier in the show’s run (and perhaps why Michael Scott seems to hate him so much).
Then, there’s this exchange:
Okay, we sort of buy this one.