Fan theories can be wonderful and strange, but sometimes a fan will come up with an idea that's even better than the official story. Here are just some of the fan theories that actually make a lot of sense—and would actually improve the stories they come from.
Top image via img.ly. The publicity shot on the left isn't real, but it's a fun illustration of Doctor Who one fan theory.
Some of these fan theories come straight from our Open Channel about fan theories you wish had come true. And, of course, feel free to post the fan theories that you feel are superior to their official stories in the comments.
Harry Potter Would Sacrifice His Ability to Die
We love Harry Potter, but really, this fan theory by Imgur user HPWombat would have given the books a much richer, and more heartbreaking ending. The gist is this: what if the line in the Chosen One prophecy "either must die at the hand of the other" meant that Voldemort and Harry could only be killed by each other? That would make the survivor immortal. For Harry, that would be a tragedy, since it means he would never be reunited with his family and lost friends. "The Boy Who Lived" would take on a new, horrible meaning, and we love it.
Just About Every Lost Fan Theory
Really, just pick one. The Island was part of a psychic marketing test. Aaron was a being who lured Oceanic 815 to the Island to find a human host. The Island is a tuning fork that can be used to broadcast a global message—like the Numbers. Everything on the show secretly revolves around Desmond and Penny and whether their relationship will survive. Hurley houses an entity created by the Dharma Initiative. Lost produced so much wild and wonderful fan speculation that I can't help but feel the producers should have brought some of these speculators on as writing consultants. Maybe then it could have come to a satisfying end.
Jareth the Goblin King's Backstory
We don't really have a beef with Labyrinth; it's delightful as is. But this fan-created backstory for Jareth the Goblin King is so perfect that it makes Labyrinth even better. Why does Jareth want Toby so badly anyway? Tumblr blogger Glamdamnit imagines that, long ago, Jareth fell in love with a mortal girl named Sarah who was essentially treated as a servant to care for her half-brother. Jareth kidnapped the baby, turned it into a goblin, and built a kingdom for Sarah, who grew old and died before it was completed. Mad with grief, Jareth would attempt to reclaim his lost love by finding girls named Sarah in similar situations, kidnapping their siblings, and then turning them into goblins when the Sarahs failed to retrieve them. So the Sarah in Labyrinth is just the latest in a long line of Sarahs. Yes, please.
Starbuck Is Half-Cylon
Okay, so there are a number of fascinating Battlestar Galactica fan theories that never came to fruition: that Cylonism is an STD, that Head Six and Head Baltar were from a previous iteration of the repeating cycle who had managed to escape and were now incorporeal, that Boomer is somehow the final Cylon.
But the one fan theory that I was particular bothered didn't prove true is that Kara Thrace, a.k.a. Starbuck was the daughter of a Cylon. Some fans suspected that the creepy Leoben/Number Two was Starbuck's dad, but I was rather partial to the idea that it was the missing Daniel, who was always described as artistic, much like Kara's pianist father. Plus, Kara has that episode-long vision of her father in the bar, which seems to be setting up some revelation about her heritage.
Instead of tying up the Daniel story and making Kara half-Cylon, however, the show dumped Daniel and then made Kara some weird disappearing angel thing.
Obi-Wan Kenobi Is a Clone
There are tons and tons of great Star Wars fan theories that came out during and after the release of the original trilogy: that Luke would fall to the Dark Side, that Darth Vader wasn't really Luke's father, that R2D2 was actually a cyborg containing the remnants of Luke's father. One particularly popular fan theory that was shattered by the prequels was that Obi-Wan Kenobi is actually a clone. After all, we learn in Episode IV that Obi-Wan fought in the Clone Wars and his name sounds like a designation—OB-1, cloned from a man named Kenobi.
We're not sure how making Obi-Wan Kenobi a clone would have played out in the prequel series, but it probably would have been more satisfying that the Boba Fett fan service we got.
Mephisto Made a Deal with Norman Osborn, Not Peter Parker
This theory comes courtesy of Topless Robot commenter Matt Morrison, who notes that nothing in Spider-Man: One More Day makes a lick of sense. Really, Peter Parker makes a deal with Mephisto instead of mourning his aunt? And why does his pact result in everything going comically badly for him—Aunt May marrying J. Jonah Jameson's father, Jameson becoming mayor of New York, Peter's friends abandoning him? Also, why on Earth is Harry Osborn alive again?
Because, Morrison suggests, Peter isn't actually the one who made the deal. He just thinks he did. In reality, it was Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, who made a deal with Mephisto. Thanks to his deal, Osborn gets power and his son back—and as a bonus, Mephisto makes his nemesis' life absurdly miserable. It certainly makes more sense than the alternative.
The Borg Queen Was Seven of Nine's Mom
How did the Borg go from the individuality-eating locusts in Star Trek: The Next Generation to just another foe in Voyager? One theory suggested that it was because the Borg Queen's body originally belonged to Seven of Nine's mother, Erin Hansen. That would explain the Queen's peculiar interest in Seven of Nine and might even encourage the Borg to stay their collective hand a bit when it came to Voyager.
It's not true; the Borg Queen recites her shell's species number and it's not the same number the Borg use for humans. (Plus, the characters are portrayed by different actresses.) And it's still not a perfect explanation for Voyager's ability to negotiate the Borg threat. Still, the idea that the Borg were somehow poisoned by parental love provides at least some explanation for the events in Voyager and fits with Star Trek's sense of human exceptionalism.
The Matrix Was Built By Humans to Educate the Machines
There are a couple of variations on the "Zion is still in the Matrix" theory. Some fans imagined that The Matrix: Reloaded would end with Neo realizing that he could use his abilities in Zion and that he would spend the third movie leading humans out of the outer layer of the Matrix for the first time. A much more intriguing fan theory, though, is that humans actually won the human-machine war and created the Matrix as an emotional education tool.
According to this theory, humans aren't put inside the Matrix as batteries (or for computer processing); machines are placed in the Matrix so that they can grow as sentient beings. By putting machines in difficult circumstances, the theory goes, humans are creating more empathetic machines. Once the machines complete their time in the Matrix, they are ready to live alongside machines.
That would explain why Neo is still able to use his Chosen One abilities in the Matrix. The official story on that is a bit more complicated.
James Bond Is a Codename for Different Spies
This is an oldie but a goodie, one that comes from the endless movie adaptations of Ian Fleming's novels. Basically, the theory imagines that all James Bond movies exist in the same continuity and that the reason James Bond can gather British intelligence in 1962 as well as in 2008 is because "James Bond" isn't a man; it's a code name. The notion is bolstered by actor George Lazenby's line in On Her Majesty's Secret Service: "This never happened to the other fellow." Lazenby was the second actor to play Bond on-screen, taking the mantle from Sean Connery, whom some fans supposed was "the other fellow."
Skyfall refutes the notion by showing us the headstone of Bond's parents, who both have the surname "Bond," (Update: commenters note there's a similar scene in For Your Eyes Only that has the same effect) but it's fun to think that MI6 keeps conferring the same identity on spies over and over again, and forcing them all to order the same signature drink.
Lord Malvolio's Ring Drove Hal Jordan Mad
Eventually, it was determined that, when Hal Jordan attacked Oa, he was being controlled by the ancient yellow light being Parallax, but fans came up with a much simpler explanation for Hal Jordan's terrible actions. At the time that Hal went mad, he was wearing a Green Lantern ring that had once been worn by Lord Malvolio. Malvolio had been the son of a Green Lantern, but he eventually slew his father and stole his ring. Later, Hal Jordan encountered Malvolio, seemingly killed him, and took his ring, which he used to get home.
Many fans wondered if Malvolio might be using his ring to drive Hal Jordan mad, or if perhaps the ring was infused with Malvolio's own madness. But when the writing team wants an ancient evil, it gets an ancient evil.
Clara Is Someone We've Met Before
There were a ton of Doctor Who fan speculations about Clara Oswin Oswald's nature that were far more interesting than the Impossible Girl solution we got in "The Name of the Doctor." Clara could have been a Time Lord, River Song, the Doctor's daughter Jenny, his granddaughter Susan, the Time Key—any number of solutions that would have been better than a deus ex machina that relied on exposition rather than clues placed throughout the series.