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10 Dark Theories Surrounding Beloved Kids Movies

by Estelle
fact checked by Jamie Frater

What are kid’s movies these days without a dark fan theory or two? What is happy ever after without a demonic twist? What is a cute fluffy monster without a bleak future? On this list are ten theories about some of the most popular kids movies that might just make you see them in a different light.

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10 Mufasa was the bad guy

The Lion King (1994) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

“Can you feel the love tonight?”

That phrase will probably make you think of The Lion King first and then Elton John. The Lion King is known for catchy tunes and perhaps the saddest death scene in any kids movie, barring the demise of Bambi’s mother.

This beloved movie also has a host of fan theories surrounding it, some weird and some fairly dark. Some fans believe that The Lion King and Planet of the Apes have the same kind of future or that Nala is Scar’s daughter. There is also a theory that says Zazu was actually in cahoots with Scar to get rid of Simba.

One of the most persistent fan theories has it that Mufasa was the real bad guy, not Scar. According this theory, Mufasa banned all other male lions to ensure there is no one left to challenge him for the throne. He is physically superior to Scar, so he tolerates him. Therefore, when Mufasa was killed, Scar became an unlikely hero who saved the hyenas and became the ‘best ruler’ over the pride lands.[1]

9 The Minions are based on adopted Jewish children

Minions | Official Trailer (HD) | Illumination

Minions are those little capsule-shaped minionese-speaking henchmen who can supposedly understand Spanish, English, French, Italian, Russian and Korean. Their design was inspired by Jawas and Oompa Loompas, and their colours (evil: purple, good: yellow) were inspired by the fact that yellow and purple are opposite to each other on the color spectrum.

A freaky theory connected these cute characters to Nazi experiments. The rumor had it that the Minions were inspired by Jewish children adopted by Nazi scientists who wanted to use them to practice their poison gas experiments on. To perpetuate the theory, a photo has been circulating the internet of what looks like children wearing Minion-type masks. Fortunately, it turned out that the photo has nothing to do with Jewish children being experimented on but is instead a photo of people in 1908 dressed in submarine escape suits.[2]

8 Toothless got revenge on Hiccup

How To Train Your Dragon (2010) | Movie Trailers

Toothless is just about the cutest dragon in a movie. He is a rare Night Fury species and is faster and more powerful than other dragon species. He is Hiccup’s best friend and is extremely protective of him. Toothless also has a special power in the form of ‘radar.’ When he issues a plasma blast and it bounces off his immediate location, it gives Toothless an accurate reading of the surrounding area.

In the first How To Train Your Dragon film, Toothless damages his wing when Hiccup shoots him from the sky. At the end of the film, Hiccup loses a foot. This gave rise to an almost immediate theory that Toothless had ripped off Hiccup’s foot in revenge for his damaged wing. The theory also says that this makes the two more dependent on each other, which is what Toothless ultimately wanted. Hiccup would have to keep using Toothless for transportation purposes and he would have to help Toothless fly without problems.[3]

Another, slightly sweet, slightly less terrible theory has it that Toothless was desperately trying to save Hiccup during the final battle and he bit off his foot in his haste to get him to safety.

7 Moana is dead for most of the film

Moana | official trailer US (2016) Disney Animation Dwayne Johnson

The Moana character has been described as a modern heroine who doesn’t need a male companion to help her navigate life. She decries the title of princess but revels in calling herself the daughter of the Chief. The movie also received high praise for its animation and musical performances.

In the movie, Moana can’t seem to stay away from the ocean, even as a toddler. She eventually braves the waves, befriends a demigod, has a crazy adventure and returns home to her family at the end. Or does she?

A dark theory has it that Moana actually dies during the storm that sees her wash ashore on Maui’s island. It states that there is a barrier between Moana’s world and that of Maui and the rest of the magical creatures that appear in the movie. In order to communicate with them, Moana either had to be magic herself or dead. Moana interacting with her dead grandmother and other long-gone spirits after the storm is said to be more ‘proof’ of this theory.[4]

6 Sulley is turned into a toilet seat cover

Monsters Inc. Trailer

Monsters, Inc. took the world by storm in 2001, becoming the third highest-grossing film of that year. The movie’s plot is centered around monsters from Monstropolis going into the human world at night to scare children and ‘harvest’ their screams. The energy of the screams power the city of Monstropolis. When a door on the ‘scare floor’ in the energy factory is left open, a human child enters Monstropolis and the main monster, Sulley, tries to get her back home.

The ‘villain’ of the story comes in the form of Randall who allegedly at one point tells Sulley that humans are dangerous and love slaying monsters because they turn their skins into toilet seat covers. Sulley naturally laughs this off as nonsense.

However, in Partysaurus Rex (a short film about the dinosaur from Toy Story), there is a bathroom scene depicting a toilet seat cover that looks suspiciously similar to Sulley’s fur… Coincidence?

Fortunately, this remains just a wild theory, considering the chat between Randall and Sulley never actually happened. Or did it?[5]

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5 Personality traits absorbed into cars

Official Trailer: Cars (2006)

Lightning McQueen is just about the cutest Corvette-looking car there is. Pixar crushed the box-office yet again in 2006 with Cars starring McQueen, a truck named Mack and several others, raking in over 460 million and receiving two Academy Awards nominations.

Much the same as with the other entries on this list, fans couldn’t leave well enough alone and came up with a decidedly disturbing theory about this beloved kid’s film. The theory starts off with questions including ‘why do the cars have doors if there are no people around’ and ‘if the cars have tongues, doesn’t that mean they also have internal organs?’

It then goes on to claim that the reason for the ‘no people around’ situation is because the cute little cars wiped out the human race and absorbed the personality traits of their owners.

Also, the reason the cars have doors is to keep their internal organs such as eyes and brains from tumbling out.[6]

4 Rug made from Mama Bear

Shrek (2001) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

There have been a host of fan theories over the years about Shrek, the lovable green ogre, and his friends. These include Farquaad’s subjects being overjoyed when the overlord dies, Shrek being exiled from other ogres because he refused to eat human meat and Fiona living off the remains of dead knights.

Clearly that last bit wasn’t horrible enough for some fans, because another disturbing theory soon started making the rounds. This time involving the three bears that can be seen towards the beginning of the first Shrek movie. The three bears consist of ‘Mama Bear’, ‘Papa Bear’, and ‘Baby Bear.’ They are locked up in cages and are very unhappy.

Later in the film, Papa and Baby are sitting around a fire with some of the other fairytale creatures and Papa is consoling Baby. Mama Bear is nowhere to be seen.[7]

Then… the unthinkable… a shot of Lord Farquaad’s castle reveals Mama Bear as a rug on the floor.

Luckily, the fact that she returns at the end of the film, to take part in the singing, seems to throw this theory out the window… except some fans believe the Mama Bear singing at the end isn’t ‘Mama’ at all. Instead she is the new lady in Papa Bear’s life.

3 Death before afterlife

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) Official Trailer #1 – Animated Movie

With a title like The Nightmare Before Christmas, it probably wouldn’t take a lot to come up with some disturbing details for this movie. It was released in 1993 and was the first animated movie to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects. The Nightmare Before Christmas was released through Touchstone Pictures, even though it is a Disney movie, because Disney feared that the film would be too scary for children. Considering what the characters look like, they may have had a point.

One theory surrounding the movie is that Sally, the ragdoll, was a witch when she was alive and was dismembered for it. This, according to the theory, would be why her limbs are stitched back together in the afterlife. Lock is said to have frozen to death, hence his white skin and blue lips, while Zero may have been electrocuted, hence his nose lighting up as if by electric current.[8]

Some fans have also ruminated that Halloween Town’s citizens may represent basic human fears: Dr. Finkelstein represents the fear of aging while Jack represents the fear of death and Oogie Boogie fear of the dark.

2 What happened to Sven’s mom?

Frozen Official Elsa Trailer (2013) – Disney Animated Movie HD

Frozen has had its fair share of wacky theories including Anna representing Summer and Elsa representing Winter (as in the seasons), Hans buying the stolen crown from Tangled’s Flynn, and Kristoff being Santa Clause. Not to mention the one that says Joan of Arc is an ancestor of Anna and Elsa.
And while all these theories are cool to think about and then forget, fans of the movies have come up with an incredibly dark theory that is bound to stick around for a while.

Throughout both films, there is evidence of a very strong friendship between Sven and Kristoff. They grew up together and stuck by each other’s side through thick and thin. When you take the time to think about it, you may start wondering what happened to Sven’s mother and what would have caused him to be with Kristoff instead of his own family.

Well, according to the aforementioned theory, the ice harvesters killed Sven’s mother, handed baby Sven over to young Kristoff to look after and then gave Kristoff a pelt to wear… made from the mother’s fur.[9]

According to the theory this would also be part of why Sven loves Kristoff so much: the smell of the pelt reminds him of his mother.

1 Kingdom called Corona

Some theories are more intricately tangled than others. Tangled the movie has been the centre of many such rumors, including that it is linked to Frozen and The Little Mermaid. One of these have it that Elsa and Anna’s parents were on their way to Rapunzel and Flynn’s wedding when their ship went down. Ariel and Flounder then came across the shipwreck in The Little Mermaid.

Another far-out theory reared its head on social media in 2020: Tangled predicted the current coronavirus pandemic.[10]

But…how, you may ask. Well, since Rapunzel is locked away (read: quarantined) from her kingdom (called Corona) is any more proof needed that this 2010 animation film somehow predicted the disaster that is 2020?

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fact checked by Jamie Frater

Estelle is a regular writer for Listverse.