Ah, childhood… when life is simple and our minds are innocent. It’s not until we grow up and revisit some of our favorite sources of childhood entertainment that we discover that there are some pretty adult themes hiding there. In fact, applying adult logic to some classics makes them downright disturbing! Here are some childhood ruining theories that have taken the internet by storm.
10. Extraterrestrial Terrorist
E.T. was a groundbreaking movie when it was released in 1982. After Steven Spielberg disturbed the world with “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” an alien who eats junk food, plays with toys, and does a little drag number was a welcome surprise. But redditor Waltisfrozen argues that E.T. is far more sinister than he seems.
This theory follows E.T. along the path of Mr. Spielberg’s canon, up to “War of the Worlds”, which sees much of Earth destroyed by an alien threat. Waltisfrozen says the reason the deadly tripods were able to act so efficiently was in part thanks to a certain friendly alien, who visited decades earlier.
Aliens sent E.T. as a scout to test humanity’s abilities to identify and deal with an alien threat. With the help of a bicycle and a little kid, it proved that our incompetence would render us practically defenseless.
So he ‘phoned home’, and years later, his people finally returned to Earth. It’s even possible that E.T. may have been genetically engineered for scouting our planet. This would explain the difference in his appearance and ability to resist Earth’s microbes compared to the aliens in War of the Worlds.
9. Arthur Evolves
With its catchy, upbeat theme song and fun cast of loveable characters, surely Arthur is safe from corruption? Well, these theories will ruin your childhood for sure.
The show, now in its 22nd season, teaches million of kids important life lessons through the activities of non-threatening aardvarks, rabbits, dogs and… uh, whatever Binky is supposed to be.
But according to dark internet theories, the show reveals the disturbing, evolutionary future of humanity. Have you ever noticed that Arthur has a pet dog? And yet some of his friends ARE dogs? Or that there’s no interspecies couples? Or that there are a TON of bunnies, relative to other species’?
That’s because there’s an evolutionary order to things. According to this theory, every animal in the show is a distant future evolution of current-world creatures.
Despite their advances in intelligence, the creatures seem to follow some of the same rules as animals we know today: Bunnies are very common in the show, presumably because rabbits breed like… well, rabbits. Animals generally can’t breed between species, so there are no cross-species parents in the show.
Some species, like dogs, have even been sub-divided. A human owning another human would be a serious problem, yet the ethical complications of a dog owning another dog never comes up. By the looks of things, human concerns like that have died out alongside humans themselves, who’ve either eliminated themselves or have been eliminated by the animals.
8. Nuclear Families: Mind Boggling Childhood Ruining Theories
In 1987, cartoon-rerun icon Elroy Jetson created a time machine that landed in Bedrock, home of the Flintstones.
But what if the time machine hadn’t gone backwards at all? What if the Jetsons had simply landed on Earth, as it were, in the post-apocalyptic future?
The Jetsons and The Flintstones were both originally created in the 1960s, when a nuclear apocalypse was a real possibility – so what if the shows both occur post-nuclear war? In this cartoon universe, the Jetsons live somewhere safe from nuclear fallout- a city constructed above the clouds.
Meanwhile, back on the parched Earth, survivors harness the power of freakish mutant animals and natural resources, using rocks and dirt to recreate civilization as it existed before the bomb.
Think about it- they have televisions, vacuum cleaners, money, Christmas… all of the tech and traditions suburban families enjoyed in the 1960s.
Only now, consumer goods must be reconstructed using what they have available, often as literal creature comforts. And isn’t it a little strange to have Christmas thousands of years before the birth of Christ?
So, while Elroy intended to take the Jetson family on a trip across time, he really just took them to the nuclear wasteland below.
7. Coyote Goes To Hell
Why on Earth does Wile E. Coyote continue to pursue one particular Roadrunner, when the desert is full of alternatives?
The answer, of course, has been right there all along: he’s in Hell. This theory refers to the story of the Greek mythological figure, Tantalus, who was condemned to the deepest pit of the Underworld for crimes against the Gods. Any time Tantalus attempted to drink from the pools around him, they immediately dried up. When he reached up for hanging fruit above, the branches lifted out of reach.
Does this kind of endless, near-miss torture sound familiar?
Whatever Wile E’s crime, it’s easier to believe this is some sort of cosmic moral punishment than to believe a coyote, capable of running twice as fast as a roadrunner in real life, and able to eat just about anything, would spend so much time and energy on a single bird.
It’s an ancient morality tale, dressed in fur, feathers, and ACME products.
6. Courage the Regular Dog
Courage the Cowardly Dog was a pretty scary show in its own right, even without childhood ruining dark fan theories. Many a childhood was tinged by the tales of a timid dog in the middle of Nowhere, somehow surrounded by monsters, aliens, ghosts, demons, and more.
But what if Courage was more real than he seemed? What if he was just living a normal life, in a normal home, but through the ever-fearful eyes of a dog? It’s quite possible that the monsters of Courage’s world are actually everyday things, like the postman, or the vacuum cleaner.
But from a creepier angle, it’s conceivable that the show is a disturbing peek into what’s really going on when our canine companions are barking at walls, or into the seemingly empty darkness. What’s more, all the horrific entities Courage sees – which humans can’t – may be just as real as we are.
5. Just Say “No” to Grampa Joe
In 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, we experienced the elation of Charlie when he scored his elusive Golden Ticket, allowing him entry to Willy Wonka’s magical chocolate factory.
But lurking behind this enjoyable story is cinema’s greatest scam artist: Grampa Joe. This jerk- lounging in bed while the family has hot water for dinner, suddenly launches into a dance worthy of Fred Astaire the instant Charlie finds his ticket. Not only that, but he’s a huge pervert. While Wonka’s factory distracted us… Grampa Joe was letching around the chocolate factory, committing heinous acts like groping Mrs. Teavee.
His perversions are so severe that a website has been created to raise awareness of Joe’s heinous character. I can only hope that you will do what’s right, and donate to this worthy cause today.
4. Who are the Smurfs?
They’re blue, they’re three apples tall, and they live in large mushrooms. So what are Smurfs? Communists? Klan members? Misogynistic pimps? Certainly, these are the theories that will ruin your childhood.
They all wear white hoods- except Papa Smurf, who has a red hood, much like the higher-ranking members of the Ku Klux Klan.
One early episode even sees the Smurfs quarantining the ‘sick’ members of their community, whose symptoms are stupidity, aggression and dark skin.
For theorists, this is more than enough metaphorical evidence of Smurfs representing a miniature, blue KKK. At the very least, some argue, their lack of a capitalist economy and Karl Marx-bearded leader is evidence of Communist values. As for Smurfette? Created as a spy by the evil Gargamel, Papa Smurf took her in, made her super blonde, super feminine, and a “real Smurf”.
By creating an object of pure, conventional desire for his ravenous blue hoards, is Papa Smurf a misogynistic pimp-wizard? Some think so. There are hundreds of theories about the Smurfs, and none of them paint the little blue guys in a positive light.
3. The Rugrats Theory
Rugrats was an Emmy-winning phenomenon at its height, but according to the internet’s darkest minds, all the shenanigans and baby-talk emerges from the mind of a singular character. This theory stipulates that none of the babies actually exist – they’re all a figment of Angelica’s traumatized imagination. In reality, they’re based on babies who could have been, but met tragic ends. Oh, these childhood ruined theories seem to be piling up!
Supposedly, Chuckie died with his mother in childbirth, so Angelica associates him with memories of his mom. Tommy was stillborn, so his broken, would-be-father Stu obsessively makes toys for a baby who will never play with them. Phil and Lil’s mother had a late-term abortion, and since Angelica didn’t know which sex the baby would’ve been, her subconscious created both.
The trauma of these brushes with death have left a permanent impact on the psyche of the poor girl, and her outward aggression and selfishness are simply the product of a deep-rooted fear of loss.
Thankfully, the creator, Arlene Klasky, stepped forward to put our minds at ease, denying the claims.
But now they’ve got me thinking…
2. Childhood Ruining Theories: Donkey’s Disney Origins
Shrek is now regarded as a cinematic masterpiece within many of the web’s oddball communities, and in fairness, it’s pretty darn funny. But Shrek’s walking, talking, wise-cracking sidekick’s story is anything but a joke. Donkey’s origins lay in another kids’ classic with a healthy tinge of terror: PINOCCHIO!
You may have repressed this memory, but Pinocchio’s friends met a horrific fate in their time on Pleasure Island in the Disney classic. The rowdy boys gambled, drank beer, cussed… and were forcibly transformed into donkeys.
Those who completed the transformation were shipped off into slavery, while those who could still speak were thrown into a cave. With the fairytale themes of Shrek, it’s highly likely that Shrek’s Donkey was one of those boys.
He has an awful lot of knowledge about how the human world works and is just the sort of guy who might’ve ended up on Pleasure Island. It’s possible Donkey was sold off into forced labor after his transformation but retained his silence for a while. When he started to speak, he was taken straight to the market, which is his first appearance in Shrek.
Not only that, but he appears immediately after Pinnochio. Coincidence? My nose would grow right out of the window if I said it was.
If – miraculously – your childhood isn’t ruined yet, here’s something to consider.
Being brutally honest, most of your childhood favorites were toys first, and those movies and shows you watched religiously… were basically elongated commercials.
Kids films, while nostalgic, are mostly little more than sales tactics for endless lines of toys and accessories. Because, as any marketing exec knows, kids are a goldmine. Oh, and remember Aladdin? This is him now.
Feel old yet? Clearly, blue-tinted Will Smith and some awful sequels aren’t the only balls Disney’s Aladdin dropped.
1. Bombs, Bibles and Bikini Bottom
Since 1999, Spongebob Squarepants’ bizarre romp around Bikini Bottom has enriched our lives with memorable characters, loads of laughs, and memes galore. But have you ever stopped and thought about the location and inhabitants of Bikini Bottom?
According to this childhood ruining theory, the reason the ocean is inhabited by weird, anthropomorphic critters is an eerie one: it all comes down to genetic mutation following nuclear fallout. As demonstrated by its name and the show’s title sequence alike, Bikini Bottom is found on the sea floor below the very real and very radioactive Bikini Atoll. This location, part of the Marshall Islands, was a real-life test site for atomic bombs in the mid-twentieth century.
In fact, it’s the fictional birthplace of one very well-known mutant by the name of Godzilla. The radioactivity there was so high at the time that all the natives were evacuated, and it’s still not considered safe to go there. Seems no one told a certain sponge and his friends, who were soon brought to life in the fallout.
But these wacky mutants serve a purpose beyond warning of the dangers of nuclear war: They’re representations of the Seven Deadly Sins. As confirmed by the show’s creators, the main characters are living embodiments of Greed, Lust, Sloth, Gluttony, Wrath, Pride, and Envy.
With this in mind, the show becomes a tale of eternal, self-inflicted torment and insanity in an apocalyptic, underwater Hell. Still, the things I’d do to get my hands on that Krabby Patty formula…
These dark theories may result in n ightmares, disappointment, and lengthy consideration about the meaning of life, but hey- that’s the price of being a grown up. So, naturally, I reject them all, along with any notion of adulthood. I hope you’ll join me.
Which messed-up theory did the most damage to your childhood memories? Let me know in the comments section below.