Look, I’m a huge Disney fan and consider myself more enthusiastic about Disney than the average person. That being said, there’s something in the Disney fan community that I have mixed feelings about: fan theories.
The most popular of these has to be the “Anna and Elsa are actually related to Tarzan theory,” first jokingly started by Frozen director, Chris Buck, in a thread three years ago. Never mind that it was essentially a joke, or that the King and Queen of Arendelle look nothing like Tarzan’s parents—people eagerly lapped it up and still claim that it’s true.
Fan theories can be fun, but some of them blatantly ignore the material they’re based on and just…don’t make sense.
I’ve gathered a sample of Disney fan theories—some popular, some from deeper corners of the web, some seemingly realistic, some totally wacky—and have listed them in order of “This could actually happen” and “Please just stop before you embarrass yourself.”
5. Mufasa Controls the Weather
When I first saw , I was ready to roll my eyes (really?…weather-controlling lions?). But as I looked more into it, weather-controlling Mufasa started to grow on me. Let’s clarify something here: it’s not “Mufasa the lion controls the weather,” but “Mufasa’s spirit controls the weather.” We already know that some sort of weather magic happens in the Lion King world, at least in the afterlife, due to the where Mufasa materializes among the clouds to talk some sense into Simba. That scene sets the basis for this theory: Mufasa’s spirit can control the clouds/weather, therefore, he causes the drought that occurs after Scar takes over. Other weather-related events—the lightning that causes the fire; the ending rainfall—can also be attributed to Mufasa. For something that sounds a bit wacky, this theory is actually pretty neat.
4. Carl from Up was Dead the Whole Time:
According to this the adventures that Carl, Russell and Dug went on never actually happened. Instead, Carl passed away shortly after receiving the notice to vacate his home and the whole journey is about him passing over, with Russell serving as a guardian angel figure. Now this theory does have a lot of holes in it—why isn’t he reunited with Ellie at the end? But it adds a thoughtful reflection to the movie. Perhaps Ellie took the form of Russell in order to fully convey her message to Carl. Perhaps Russell is a child to fulfill Carl and Ellie’s inability to have children. Theories about main characters being dead are common, but because a big theme of this movie is death and acceptance of said death and moving on, Carl being dead and on a spiritual quest adds a poignant interpretation.
3. Jane from Tarzan is Belle’s Descendant
It’s a popular theory that Jane from Tarzan and Belle from Beauty and the Beast are related. Aside from the fact that they are brainy brunettes in yellow (and apparently there can’t be more than one unless they’re related), fans claim that the reason Jane must be descended from Belle is because she owns a tea-set that looks like Mrs. Potts and her son Chip. These fans also seem to forget that at the end of Beauty and the Beast, that particular tea-set does not exist anymore, because Mrs. Potts and Chip turn back into humans.
Identical tea-set disregarded, sure, there’s a possibility that Belle and the Beast’s descendants hopped across the pond in the hundred-something years between the two movies. But does everything have to be connected?
2. Aladdin is set in a futuristic post-apocalyptic hellscape
This particular theory is actually regarded as one of the first Disney internet theories. It suggests that Aladdin takes place in a distant future, where all the magic is the result of technological advances and is mostly based on Genie’s modern-day pop-culture references. Never mind that Robin Williams did a lot of ad-libbing for the role of Genie. The other argument is that Agrahab isn’t a real-life place…but it’s also set in a world of sorcerers and magic lamps so does it have to be?
This is a wacky theory and if you wanted to, you could really delve deep into the “evidence”—Genie says he’s been in the lamp for ten-thousand years; the presence of heart-patterned boxers and new world monkeys; and of course, the pop culture references. It’s entertaining theory, but it’s the sort of theory that you end up making so many stretches for (Genie is a holograph! Religion has been destroyed!).
1. Hercules and Ariel are cousins
You might be wondering why this theory ranks first on the unrealistic scale. Surely, it’s not as far-fetched as “Aladdin is actually set in a future post-apocalyptic hellscape.” After all, this is the one that people like to bring up the most. And it’s also the one that can be disproved the easiest.
Originating from tumblr user petitetiaras, the Hercules and Ariel are cousins theory assumes that Ariel’s dad, King Triton, is the same Triton in Greek Mythology, aka Poseidon’s son and Zeus’s nephew. But let’s take a closer look, shall we?
There’s no film basis in The Little Mermaid that suggests a mythology beyond the sea world that we encounter (if anything, it would be closer to Norse mythology considering the tie-in animated show ) or any evidence of mermaids in the Hercules universe. In fact, there is a Triton character in the Hercules universe, but unlike hunky DILF, King Triton, this Triton in The Shape of Water.
So that theory is definitely debunked, but what really irritates me is that this is the one that people take the most seriously and use it as a jumping off point to connect all the Disney movies. YouTube channel, The Film Theorists, uses this already flimsy argument to link But then again, this is the channel that says that the Wall-E humans , so, uh, make of it what you will.