Most of us have watched our fair share of Disney movies, but do you know your Easter eggs from your multiverses? Over the years, Disney fans have noticed character cameos, background details, and timeline overlaps that lend themselves to some very persuasive fan theories. While some are more credible than others, it’s fun to revisit your favorite Disney characters from a different perspective, and potentially see them in a new light. Check out this list of weirdly persuasive fan theories about Disney’s animated movies. Spoilers ahead!
Moana Dies at the Beginning
Throughout this list, you’ll see some shockingly persuasive theories. This particular theory suggests that Moana dies in the storm at the beginning of the movie.
To back this up, this theory points out that Moana only encounters gods and mystical creatures until she returns to her tribe. Therefore, her journey is actually a fight for her life.
Finding Nemo Is About Marlin’s Grief
This next dark Disney theory says that Finding Nemo is actually about Marlin’s grief. This theory controversially suggests that Nemo dies in the barracuda attack at the beginning of the movie and that the film’s plot mirrors the five stages of grief.
During denial, Marlin doesn’t want Nemo to attend school. In anger, he yells at him. During bargaining, Marlin journeys across the ocean, he feels despair when Nemo is flushed down a drain, and finally, he reaches acceptance when he can let go of the past.
Neverland Is the Afterlife
Here’s another dark take on one of your favorite classic animated Disney movies. Some viewers have interpreted Neverland — the home of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys — as the afterlife. This would explain why none of the characters grow up, and perhaps why Peter famously says, “To die would be an awfully big adventure.”
This theory is actually backed up by the sad fact that Peter Pan author JM Barrie’s brother passed away at only 13 years old. Makes you think.
Elsa Was Hidden Because of Rapunzel
Alright, if you’ve been following our Disney theories so far, you’ll know that fans suspect that Elsa, Anna, and Rapunzel are cousins. And, we’ve seen that this theory goes further by pointing out that blond hair is magical within this family.
Because of this, believers of this theory speculate that Anna and Elsa’s parents — King Agnarr and Queen Iduna — kept Elsa’s powers a secret because of what happened to Rapunzel. This means that Mother Gothel didn’t just keep Rapunzel locked up, but also kept the two sisters apart.
Snow White Didn’t Wake Up
At the end of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the fairest of them all receives true love’s kiss. The Prince hears that Snow White is resting in a glass coffin in the woods, so he travels to her, kisses her, and supposedly breaks the spell.
But, what if after a year in a glass coffin, Snow White was actually at the end of her days? That would make the Prince the angel of death who escorts her into the afterlife.
Gaston Is Gay
There’s not exactly evidence for this next Disney theory, but we have to admit that we like it. This fan-generated idea is that Gaston is gay and only goes after Belle because he knows she will never reciprocate.
This way, Gaston can appear macho but never have to be in a relationship with a woman. Plus, the live-action remake showed us that Gaston’s sidekick LeFou is gay, so perhaps the two are in a secret relationship.
Rapunzel, Anna, and Elsa Are Cousins
OK, any Disney fan worth their salt knows that a brunette Rapunzel and Eugene attend Elsa’s coronation in Frozen. But why? Whilst these two could just be friendly royals, some suspect that Rapunzel is actually Anna and Elsa’s cousin.
This theory posits that Anna and Elsa’s parents were attending Rapunzel’s wedding when they left on their ill-fated ship. Interestingly, three years passes from the shipwreck to the plot of Frozen, which is also the length of time between the movies.
Belle Is Jane’s Grandmother
When you spot a character from another Disney movie in the movie you’re watching, you could just accept it’s a cute reference. Or, you could build an entire theory around it. In this case, in Tarzan, you can clearly see a tea set that looks just like Mrs. Potts and Chip from Beauty and the Beast.
On top of that, Jane from Tarzan does bear a striking similarity to Belle from Beauty in the Beast. Perhaps Belle is her grandmother?
Jasmine Controlled Jafar
Our next Disney theory is a real gamechanger, and we’re not sure we totally buy it. This theorist claims that Jafar in Aladdin didn’t want the lamp for himself, because he clearly didn’t know what to do with it. This person posits that Jafar was working for Jasmine, who benefitted most from the lamp.
Jasmine is the most trapped character in the movie, and arguably knows that Aladdin isn’t a royal from the moment she sees him. In the end, she gets everything she wants.
Megara Is a Young Yzma
The theory that Megara from Hercules is a younger Yzma from The Emperor’s New Groove is a sprawling one. The original post lasts multiple pages, and uses actual mythology on top of Disney lore. Basically, this theory argues that Yzma was a lovesick Hades worshipper that left the Incan Empire and lived the plot of Hercules.
Following that, actual Greek mythology kicks in and Hercules is responsible for the death of his and Meg’s kids. After that, she’s saved by Hades, pushed to madness, and returns to Peru.
Hercules and Ariel Are Cousins
Here’s another little sprinkling of Greek mythology. After all, it’s what some of these stories are based on. So, we know that Ariel from The Little Mermaid is the daughter of King Triton. Well, according to Greek mythology, Triton is the son of Poseidon — God of the Sea.
And, if you know your Greek gods, you’ll know that Poseidon’s brother is none other than Zeus, Hercules’ father. And that, our friends, makes Ariel and Hercules cousins. Hey, they can both sing!
Lilo and Nani’s Parents Were in the CIA
Next up is 2002’s Lilo & Stitch, which follows a Hawaiian girl and her alien-like pet. Before the movie begins, Lilo and sister Nani’s parents pass away. As a result of this, social worker Cobra Bubbles keeps an eye on the girls.
This theory argues that Cobra Bubbles — an ex-CIA agent — used to work with Lilo and Nani’s parents in the secretive organization. Otherwise, why wouldn’t he have split the siblings up? Plus, what would make someone go from the CIA into being a social worker?
Gaston Killed Bambi’s Mom
Some of these theories, including this one, are clearly just fan-generated head-canon. This means that they are stories that could have happened in the background of our favorite Disney movies but that don’t have much evidence in the movie itself.
For example, this theory suggests that Gaston from Beauty in the Beast traveled from France to North America to murder Bambi’s mom. We would cautiously submit that Bambi’s mom didn’t even have any antlers, and we know that Gaston is all about the antlers.
In Up, Carl Is Dead
Even without this dark fan theory, Up is a pretty emotional movie. Famously, the movie begins with a heart-wrenching montage of main character Carl and the love of his life, Ellie. From there, Carl takes off with enthusiastic child Russel to fulfill a promise he made to his late wife.
This theory argues that Carl died at the beginning of the movie, and that “Paradise Falls” is really heaven. That makes Charles Muntz a fallen angel, and Russell an angel trying to earn his wings (or badge).
Chip Is the Beast’s Son
If we’re honest, Beauty and the Beast raises quite a lot of questions. For one, the whole timeline of the Beast getting cursed puts him at around 11 years old when the enchantress knocked on his castle doors — can you really blame an 11-year-old for being obnoxious?
Anyway, this theory argues that the Enchantress bore the Beast’s child and then cursed his castle out of spite. The child? Well, that would be Chip, of course, who was taken in by Mrs. Potts.
Elsa, Anna, and Tarzan Are Siblings
If you don’t buy that Elsa, Anna, and Rapunzel are cousins, perhaps this theory about their family tree will be more up your street. This theory suggests that the King and Queen of Arendelle didn’t actually die in a shipwreck, but washed up on an island.
From there, the pregnant Queen gave birth to a baby boy — Tarzan — and the couple was ultimately eaten by a leopard (these two really don’t have much luck). Interestingly, Frozen’s co-director has basically confirmed this one.
Hei Hei Is a Demigod
You may have thought that Hei Hei from Moana was just a particularly bird-brained pet rooster. However, this theory makes him so much more than that. Much like Mushu from Mulan, fans suggest that Hei Hei is actually a demigod sent to keep Moana safe.
The evidence for this theory is basically that Hei Hei keeps surviving when he should die. On top of this, he never seems to age and looks the same in scenes where Moana is a small child. Compelling!
Brave’s Witch Is a Time-Traveling Boo
This is one of the more popular Disney theories, and we’re rather inclined to accept it. In 2012’s Brave, The Witch is a master woodcarver and leaves a carving that looks just like Sully from Monsters, Inc. Because of this, fans were quick to draw lines between the crafty character and young Boo.
This theory says that Boo used her knowledge of magical doors to search for Sully. In doing so, she winds up in Medieval Scotland and brushes up on her magic.
Sid Became a Garbage Man as Penance
In the original Toy Story movie, snotty kid next door Sid got his kicks by destroying toys. However, by the third installment of the Pixar saga, we see an older Sid working as a garbage man. While some might think that this job makes perfect sense for Sid, others have suggested that he picked this job for a very special reason.
Sid learns that the toys are alive throughout the movies, so what if he became a garbage man to save any toys he comes across?
Mother Gothel Is the Evil Queen
It’s likely that Disney just relies on the same “crazy old hag” stereotype when coming up with evil stepmoms. But, some people think that Mother Gothel from Tangled and the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs are the same person.
Here’s the supporting evidence — both kingdoms look similar, both women use a dagger, both are obsessed with perpetual youth, and they look quite alike. So, perhaps the Evil Queen faked her own death and went on to hold Rapunzel captive.
Andy’s Mom Was Jessie’s Owner
We all collectively wept when Jessie from Toy Story 2 was chucked in the donation bin by her owner, Emily. Interestingly, some fans think that Andy’s mom is actually Emily, which is why Andy has so many vintage toys.
In the first movie, Andy wears a Jessie-style hat, rather than a Woody one — perhaps he got the hat from his mom. Plus, when we see Emily’s childhood bedroom during “When She Loved Me,” it’s decorated in 1960s style, making the timeline fit.
Cars Killed the Humans
Our next Disney theory is another that’s been confirmed by people working on the movies. According to Cars’ creative director Jay Ward, Cars does actually take place way in the future. Sure, you might have just assumed it took place in an alternate universe without humans, but nope, that’s not quite right.
According to this theory, the humans from WALL-E have been wiped out, and the robots made their way into cars. Then, their advanced AI led them to adopt the personalities and accents of the previous owners.
Lady Tremaine Kills Her Husbands
At the beginning of Cinderella, we see the young girl’s father marry the widowed Lady Tremaine. Soon after that, he’s dead. Now, two dead husbands and an evil quest for power adds up to something more than just an unpleasant stepmother. What if Lady Tremaine is a black widow?
Much like the spider who the term is named after, black widows kill their husbands. In the case of Lady Tremaine, she becomes richer with each passing spouse, so perhaps she does it on purpose.
Blonds Have the Magic
Remember the theory that Rapunzel, Elsa, and Anna are all cousins? Well, if we take that one a little further you’ll notice that the blond family members are the ones with magical powers. While Anna is full of enthusiasm and love, it’s Rapunzel and Elsa that actually have the magic.
Plus, at the end of Tangled, when Rapunzel’s golden locks are snipped, they turn brown and lose their magic. Hopefully, Elsa is staying away from Arendelle’s hairdressers.
Wheezy Is a Villain
At the beginning of Toy Story 2, a torn Woody ends up on a shelf next to Wheezy, a squeezy penguin with a broken squeaker. When Woody tries to save Wheezy from a yard sale, he ends up getting stolen by toy collector Al McWhiggin. However, some fans are suspicious of Wheezy’s motives.
What if Wheezy spent years on that shelf building up animosity towards Woody and the gang? And, what if he set Woody up knowing that it would get the pesky cowboy out of the picture?
This Fly Was a Human
In The Emperor’s New Groove, spoiled Incan emperor Kuzco is changed into a llama by the evil Yzma. While Kuzco as llama can talk, other animals in the film cannot.
In one scene where a disgruntled Kuzco (as llama) is trekking through the jungle with the kindly Pacha, we see a spider eat a fly. However, before the fly perishes, we hear it squeak “help me!” According to the rules of the movie, this means that the fly was also once a human.
The Trolls Are the Real Villains
Long after Anna and Hans sing “Love Is An Open Door” in Frozen, the dashing Prince reveals himself to be a villain. However, some fans aren’t satisfied with this sudden change of heart. After all, why would Hans protect Anna on the mountain if he ultimately wanted her out of the picture?
But, if Hans is actually a nice guy, who turned him bad? The trolls of course! Because the magical trolls want Kristoff to marry Anna, they removed Hans as an option.
Aladdin Happens in the Future
Obviously, lots of these Disney theories can easily be debunked. For example, Aladdin is full of pop culture references because it starred Robin Williams, who was known for his fast improvisational skills. But, if you want to make sense of this within the Disney universe, there’s a theory for that.
This theory argues that Aladdin isn’t set in the past, but way into the future. This explains Genie’s references to celebs like Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Captain Hook Killed Ariel’s Mom
Again, you could argue that this theory is built on two mermaids animated in a similar style, but that would be a buzz-kill, right? Instead, we’ll argue that Captain Hook, the villain from Peter Pan, is responsible for the death of Ariel’s mom from The Little Mermaid.
Ariel’s mom has passed in The Little Mermaid, but in Peter Pan, we see a mermaid that looks just like her. This has led fans to speculate that this mermaid is King Triton’s deceased wife, Athena.
Scar Didn’t Ruin the Pride Lands
A central part of the plot in The Lion King is that Scar and the hyenas ruin the Pride Lands through overhunting and reckless leadership. However, this theory posits that what we see is just the regular passing of time. Did nobody teach these lions about seasons?
The movie begins in the fertile spring and then goes into a dry summer on the African savannah (normal). Then, when Simba returns, it’s monsoon season and the Pride Lands are back to normal. It’s the circle of life!
Kristoff Wears Sven’s Mom
In Frozen, when we first meet ice harvester Kristoff, we see him with a young Sven. This rather dark theory suggests that Sven’s mom was killed by ice harvesters and her pelt was turned into the coat that little Kristoff (and later older Kristoff) wears.
Creepily, this would explain why Kristoff and Sven are so close. Not only did Kristoff raise Sven, but he did so while wearing his mom’s skin. Using reindeer pelts for clothing is popular in Scandinavian cultures.
Bing Bong Works for Monsters, Inc.
One of the most heart-wrenching moments in a Disney movie is Bing Bong’s last scene in Inside Out. While we’re told that the strange-looking pink creature is Riley’s childhood imaginary friend, some fans suspect that Bing Bong actually works for Monsters, Inc.
At the end of Monsters, Inc, Sully changes the company’s power generation method so that Monstropolis is powered by laughter. Bing Bong could have been Riley’s childhood monster that she later forgot. This means that he’s still alive!
Maleficent Helped Aurora’s Parents
Sleeping Beauty begins with Princess Aurora’s christening. Famously, the ceremony is interrupted when evil witch Maleficent bursts in and places a curse on Aurora. This Disney theory offers a suggestion for why Maleficent was so darn irritated by the whole thing.
We also learn at the beginning of the movie that the King and Queen have struggled to conceive. Fans suggest that Maleficent helped the royals have their first baby, and then was mad when they didn’t acknowledge her help. After watching Maleficent, we believe it.
Aladdin Is a Tall Tale
So, we’ve established that 1992’s Aladdin could take place in some sort of post-apocalyptic future, but what if the whole thing is just a story? Of course, Aladdin the Disney movie is a story that’s itself based on a Middle Eastern folk tale. But anyway, back to the one with the pet tiger.
This theory proposes that the lamp salesman at the beginning of Aladdin makes up the whole saga just to get a sale. It’s less exciting, but certainly possible.
Gaston Is an Alternate Beast
This next Disney theory is quite a literary one, where Gaston from Beauty and the Beast is an alternate version of the Beast. According to this theory, Gaston is a representation of what the Beast would have become if he wasn’t cursed.
Admittedly, both of these characters are unpleasant throughout the movie, both are particularly vain, and both have piercing blue eyes. Perhaps more convincingly, Gaston’s death seems to have an effect on the Beast. Intriguing, don’t you think?
Scar Ate Mufasa
We’ll be the first to admit that this next theory is somewhat less compelling than others on this list. In fact, this brand of Disney theory takes real-life information about wild animals and real locations and then draws conclusions based on that. It’s far from scientific, but hey.
This theory scarily says that Scar probably ate Mufasa’s body after murdering him. This is based on the skull that the villainous lion is seen playing with, and some real-life lion factoids.
The Lamp Salesman Is the Genie
The theory that the lamp salesman at the beginning of Aladdin makes the whole plot of the movie up is a little bit anti-climactic. However, what if we told you that the lamp salesman is actually the Genie? That’s a little bit more interesting, right?
Both characters have similar physical characteristics and share the same voice. Amazingly, co-director Ron Clements admitted that they originally intended to reveal that the salesman is the Genie. However, it was lost in editing.
WALL-E Folks Eat Corpses
In terms of dark Disney details, these theories have so far suggested that Scar ate Mufasa, Gaston shot Bambi’s mom, and that Kristoff wears Sven’s mom as a jacket. Sheesh! Well, what about the idea that the humans in WALL-E actually eat corpses?
When we see the inhabitants of the Axiom, they’re often eating and drinking. However, the ship has no livestock or chefs as far as we see. Therefore, the robots are either making synthetic food, or using dead human bodies as sustenance for the ship’s population.
Ariel Saw Rapunzel’s Parent’s Shipwreck
In Frozen, King Agnarr and Queen Iduna set off on a ship that eventually crashes. Depending on which theory you believe, the couple may have perished, or may have gone on to parent a young Tarzan. Regardless, some eagle-eyed viewers have noticed that the couple’s ship looks just the one a young Ariel swims around with Flounder in The Little Mermaid.
Sure, animated ships look pretty similar, but we like to believe that Atlantis is somehow close to Tarzan’s jungle.
Robin Hood Is a Medieval Zootopia
As well as these individual Disney theories, there are mega theories that connect and map out the timelines of most Disney and Pixar movies. According to some theories, every single Pixar movie can be categorized this way. However, Robin Hood has left Disney theorists scratching their heads.
The movie is packed with talking animals, but doesn’t have primates like The Lion King. This led people to speculate that Robin Hood is the medieval version of Zootopia, where no humans have ever existed.
Sid Stands for Disney
Out of all of our Disney fan theories, this one is definitely the most meta. Those familiar with Disney history know that animator and director John Lasseter was fired from the company and ultimately ended up working for Pixar. So, fans speculate that Lasseter named Toy Story’s villain after his former employer.
“Sidney” is an anagram of “Disney,” so this theory suggests that Lasseter named snot-nosed kid Sid from Toy Story after the major studio. It’s an animation anagram burn.
Christopher Robin Is Institutionalized
Admittedly, lots of these Disney theories start from the position that one of the main characters in a movie is either dead or dying. In this case, imaginative kid Christopher Robin is actually in an institution, and the characters he imagines are representations of mental illness. Phew, that’s a lot.
This detailed theory sees Eeyore as depression, Piglet as anxiety, Tigger as ADHD, and Rabbit as OCD. This theory has even led to an academic study and test known as the Pooh Pathology Test.
Hades’ Hair Reflects His Emotions
Next up is not quite a theory, but an analysis of the thoughtful animation work in Hercules. Disney fans have noticed that Hades’ dynamic hair reveals a bunch of clues about the character’s emotional state. When Hades is calm and collected, his hair is icy blue.
However, when he loses his cool, he literally heats up, ending up with flaming locks. More interesting is the idea that Hades’ power is related to his emotions. His hair teaches us that when you lose your cool, you lose control.
King Candy Was a Cancelled Character
According to the plot of Wreck it Ralph, character King Candy is a result of Turbo hacking the code of Sugar Rush and transforming himself into the villainous royal. However, using our knowledge of computer code, we know that the basis for King Candy must have already existed.
This theory says that King Candy was initially a planned part of Sugar Rush but ended up getting canceled. This is how Turbo was able to take the character out of development and into the game.
A Bug’s Life Is After WALL-E
Finally, our last theory gives us more insight into the overall Pixar timeline. As we’ve learned, while WALL-E might seem like it’s the most futuristic Disney movie, both Aladdin and Cars may take place way after it. And now we can add A Bug’s Life to that list too.
Because of the similarity between the plant at the end of WALL-E and the tree in A Bug’s Life, some fans think that A Bug’s Life takes place after the Earth has recovered.