8 Dark Theories About Children’s Movies and TV Shows!

by Will Stephen on April 23, 2013, Collegehumor.com

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1. Willy Wonka is a cannibalistic murderer.


Granted: Wonka is a total creep, if not a psychopath. But some on the internet think that in the world of Wonka’s chocolate factory, a secret candy recipe + shockingly easy child injury and possible death (i.e. the Augustus Gloop-sucking tube) = kid-candy. Wouldn’t that make it taste a bit funky? Thick? Stringy? Regardless, the argument loses some credibility around the point this FanTheories Wiki editor says he’s “not trying to be racist here [about Oompa Loompas], but cannibalism in Africa isn’t the rarest of things.” Sounds to me like he’s just using his pure, bigoted imagination.


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2. Totoro is the God of Death.


Hayao Miyazaki is known for his beautiful, sprawling animated films that wrestle with some pretty hefty topics. And in kids movies that deal with spirit worlds and what not, it makes sense that the idea of mortality might lurk somewhere in the background. But HOLY SHIT, THE GOD OFDEATH?! The idea here is that when Mei goes missing, she actually drowns. And since Totoro helps Satsuki find Mei, he is thus a gatekeeper to the realm of the dead. Therefore anyone who can see him is actually on the verge of receiving his wrath. But… they also find Mei at the end. And everything’s OK. AND Totoro then makes a tree grow really big really fast. Last time I checked, trees tend to be a pretty common symbol of life. Which makes him a pretty terribleGOD OF DEATH. Look, not everything has to be a reflection of our universal fear of mortality. So can we all just cool it? Let us ENJOY the goddamn movie. And go to therapy.


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3. Toy Story 3 is about the Holocaust.


Don’t get me wrong, I cried like a baby in this movie. I wanted everything to be OK just like everyone else in the theater. The film’s got stakes! Pretty high stakes at that. And yes, the film’s parallels with the Holocaust are eerie to say the least. The toys are all gathered up and taken away, they hide in an attic, they face possible death in a furnace, they are saved after finding a new homeland, etc., etc. These are all images that conjure up intense, horrific historical memories for a lot of people. But it is hard to imagine the Toy Story team at Pixar gathered around a table, firmly deciding that the third movie in this trilogy of films for children — not the first, not the second — would be the appropriate time to finally tackle one of the most horrible genocides in history. Plus the movie has a happy ending. And spoiler alert: the Holocaust didn’t.

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4. Chewbacca and R2D2 were traitors.


I kind of wanted to include this as a treat to myself, just to imagine the spike in blood pressure from nerds once again seeing Star Wars labeled as a kids movie. Which it is. Am I kidding? Do you have toys? I digress. Some dopes out there find it hard to accept that maybe some stories are just… pretty straightforward. In their mind, R2D2 is a spy who avoids getting his memory deleted and purposefully manipulates everyone around him to avoid getting captured and help the Rebels. He often does so by communicating with “fellow super spy” Chewbacca, who uses stupid ol’ Han Solo, a mere puppet of a pilot, to do his every nefarious bidding. Let’s slow down for a second. Star Wars is pretty much the oldest tale in the book, a prototypical hero’s journey. There are good guys and there are bad guys. There are some twists and turns, of course, but this is not Dostoevsky. Chewy is a big furry thing, R2D2 is a little beepy thing. They do stuff, kids enjoy them, shut up.


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5. Spongebob and his friends are all mutants.


Homie lives in a pineapple under the sea. Shit is weird to begin with. So I could see an argument like this actually working for me. The characters are certainly lovable oddballs at the very least. And this theory interprets their weirdness as a literal, biological phenomenon (i.e. Bikini Bottom stands in for Bikini Atoll, a real nuclear testing site which would have caused genetic mutations in surrounding wildlife). But “truthnotes” loses me right around when he posits that “the residents of bikini bottom [sic] are retarded son of a bitch fish.” They might all be weirdo sealife rejects, yes, but I’m not so sure the Krusty Krab actually serves hamburgers because they “rip of [sic] people genitalia [sic], fry it, put some cheese on it and eat it.” But maybe that’s just me.


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6. Donald Duck suffers from PTSD.


This theory imagines a world in which Donald Duck’s erratic behavior (nightmares, temper tantrums, etc.) is a result of trauma experienced during the Duck’s military service. Now, it is important to note that it is indeed within canon that Donald Duck served as a paratrooper and commando in World War II. It is also important to note that Donald Duck is a fucking cartoon character. Those crazy things he does? The “difficulty falling or staying asleep” and what not? Yeah, that’s supposed to make kids laugh. Are they supposed to sit there and watch him go through a couple REM cycles for a good eight hours? Plus, the logic behind his “persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with [wartime] trauma” is literally “I’ve never heard him discuss these events in any other cartoon.” You’ve also never seen him take a shit. What a load of phooey.


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7. The Rugrats are just a figment of Angelica’s tortured imagination.


Goddamn, these people must think every Nickelodeon writers room was run by Franz Kafka. Apparently because Angelica has no real, meaningful connection with family or loved ones, she constructs younger, (literally) infantile playmates to belittle as an outlet for her rage. Thus, the babies are all actually dead or made up: Tommy died soon after childbirth, Chuckie died in the car crash which killed his mom, and Phil and Lil are Angelica’s bizarre imaginary reaction to the news of the their mother having a stillborn baby. Oof. Look. There are works of art that really do wrestle with this type of disturbing existential unrest, and then there are cartoons whose main character is a baby in a diaper named Tommy Pickles. And come on, is it not enough for you that there was an ACTUAL episode of this show which ended with Chuckie and his father literallyUNZIPPING THEIR SKIN, REVEALING THEMSELVES TO BE ALIENS, THEN TAKING OFF IN ASPACESHIP AND FLYING BACK TO THEIR HOME PLANET?? A MOMENT THAT WAS NEVERADDRESSED AGAIN?! Get your priorities straight, numbskulls. The Rugrats universe has bigger fish to fry.


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8. Wall-E killed everyone on Planet Earth.


Yes. Our friend Wall-E, the adorable little robot with a conscience, went rogue, killed his friends, and slowly cannibalized everything around him for seven hundred years. Makes total sense. He had to do it to find love. At least he wasn’t a wimp like that guy in UP.

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  1. fantastically interesting!

  2. I thought that was really interesting. About Willy Wonka, I believe that the Oompa Loompas were meant to be representative of the slaves who arrived to America in much the same way the Oompa Loompas arrived at the chocolate factory. They were taken from Oompa Loompa Land, told they were going to have great things, then were taken for their chocolate-making experience. (Parallels with the Africans being taken to work on cotton fields in my opinion. )

    And I’ve never heard to Toy Story 3 being an allegory for the Holocaust, really surprising to see! Great post!


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