Why Fan Theories Aren’t Always The Worst

fan theories worst

On this week’s podcast, the Now Conspiring team goes through the main headlines of the week with some movie news, and our main segment covers the clickbait nature of fan theories, and how we can grapple with the fact that a lot of people hate them.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: How do you know when a fan theory is good (or not so good)? In other words, what’s your “test” for evaluating a worthwhile fan theory?

Let us know your thoughts (and your favorite podcast moments) in the comments, which we may read on next week’s show! And be sure to rate the podcast on iTunes and/or Stitcher, where you can also download this episode.


00:00:00 – Show Overview

00:00:44 – Movie News: We cover some of the biggest headlines of the week, including Dreamworks’ big buyout, Daisy Ridley’s film future, and more.


00:53:32 – Main Segment: Not all fan theories are conspired equally. Is it just another clickbait fad, or is there something more to the practice fan theorizing?

01:21:13 – Feedback: We read and answer your comments from last week’s episode.

01:36:41 – Coming soon: We briefly mention next week’s new movie releases.

This week’s cast:

Jon NegroniKayla Savage, and Adonis Gonzalez.

10 thoughts on “Why Fan Theories Aren’t Always The Worst

  1. A good fan theory needs good evidence and should inspire people, start conversations, and exists because of research and/or expertise of the subject, like Pixar Theory or MatPat’s Game and Film Theory Videos.
    Bad fan theories are just made to generate clicks with next to no level of thought. Those kinds of theories are automatically false.
    Are you starting to skip movie reviews now? There’s so many movies that could be reviewed and you’re not doing it.
    What did you think about movies like Keanu, Ratchet and Clank, or Huntsman. There should be reviews of that?

  2. When presented with a fan theory, I always take it with a grain of salt, anticipating it to be subpar and unbelievable. Because there are some, like the theory Adonis mentioned, in which the author doesn’t appear to know what they’re talking about or draws too heavily on highly circumstantial evidence. And then there are others, like the Pixar Theory, that (despite most likely being false) make enough sense that I’m willing to buy it and say that it is fact. It’s less of a test and more of an evaluation, but that’s how I approach theories that come my way

  3. I dont often read fan theories, I like the Pixar theory, some game of thrones (like who are Jon Snow’s parents), the Dumbledore being gay one. They are meant to be fun, Pixar even puts Easter eggs in their films, encouraging theories about the films being linked. What makes these theories good is the fact that they could be (or are) true.

  4. Since you kind of glossed over this, I’m going to attempt to address why fan theories that involve the character dreaming up the whole thing put off people. When you negate character development and evolving relationships in favour of suggesting a cheap plot twist, it’s extremely disconcerting and frankly very rude to those who have been invested in the story and want a succinct ending that addresses the things mentioned above. By suggesting that everything that happened occurred inside their head, it invalidates how much they’ve learnt and grown and changed as a character.

    The “dead” thing is more of a gray area – when done well, like Sixth Sense, it really enhances and pulls together the entire movie, but I think that worked because it was hinted at for the entirety of the movie and it didn’t erase all the progress that was achieved.

    As for the question of the week, I think that if the sole motive of a fan theory is to shock viewers, then there’s really no point in taking it seriously. However, I don’t think fan theories as a whole “destroy” the movie discourse – you don’t have to change your interpretation of a movie because of a stupid article you read. There’s a pretty distinct line between canon and fanon, so if you don’t like that kind of thing, just stay in your lane, boy.

  5. I like fan theories. Sure 87.63% are terrible but the other 22.37% are pretty cool. They don’t exactly ruin movie criticism. I still saw The Good Dinosaur and thought it was a good movie, without the Pixar theory contradicting my opinions. I also feel like people forget what fan theories are, just a theory.

  6. As a long time listen (but newer commenter) I remember your episode discussing fan theories and that specific one that Jon still hasn’t released. I like a fan theory that generates discussion and has reliable basis from the content it was theorized from.

    Also you keep telling people to explain themselves, and I want you to explain your supposed hatred for Jeremy Scott’s book. I’m curious because I personally loved it, even if there were some flaws.

    • Yeah, I definitely wasn’t a fan of The Ables for a lot of reasons. The big one was that Scott squandered his great premise by undercutting the disabilities of the characters with easy fixes. It was just bizarre and made their entire story arc pointless.

      Everything else about the book really frustrated me. The format was painful with all of its extra paragraph spacing (which is the fault of the publisher, for sure). Jeremy writes his books like they’re movies, which means he doesn’t get how literary fiction truly works. The language and grammar is poor, the story is bizarrely short on female characters, the main plot borrows far too heavily from Harry Potter, and everything just sort of lacks imagination beyond a few interesting concepts he introduces.

      It’s not a terrible book, but it’s lower than mediocre in my opinion. Which would be fine because I believe this is his first try and we all have to start somewhere. And for some, I can see this book being a breezy, somewhat fun read. I just couldn’t get through it, and it’s clear to me that this would never have been published if it weren’t for Scott’s YouTube fame.

  7. I love fan theories. To say that its ruining movies is like saying Michael Bay is a bad director, its an understatement.

  8. I think whoever is saying fan theories are ruining movie critisism is just mad that their own theory didn’t get a lot of likes on reddit

  9. I think the best fan theories are the ones that people have in their own heads that add to their personal enjoyment of it. I obviously have multiple theories on Pulp Fiction, but I also have theories about Whiplash, The King of Comedy, Taxi Driver, No Country For Old Men, and many others. I haven’t told people about them though, because I think it might ruin or taint their own viewing pleasure, which to me is an intolerable cinematic crime. That being said, if someone really wanted to know my theories, and if they have their own, I would gladly exchange theories and have an interesting conversation. Also, I think that it’s weird for people to develop a full-fledged theory before the movie even comes out. Not speculation, but literally a multiple page long essay about what they think will maybe happen. Granted, it is funny to go back and read it after the movie comes out and see how wrong they are. But to me, the best fan theories are the ones that you come up with as you are watching it. If you are interested and invested in the characters and story, I find great joy in trying to predict or say what I think will or should happen. You know you’re watching a great movie when you become concerned after seeing a character make a bad decision. Anyway, that’s it for me and remember to take a sad song and make it better.

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