Fan theories are often an exciting, fresh look at all your favorite series. Until they’re not. Sometimes they turn into dark, twisted interpretations that make you question everything you’ve ever known about your favorite characters and force you to reconsider literally everything because they make too much sense. Here’s a few of my favorites to wreck your childhood memories!

Let’s start with one of the most popular theories floating in cyberspace…

The Rugrats don’t exist, except Angelica.

All the babies are fictional creations of Angelica’s imagination, their backstories all tragic and a brutal stab at my childhood, which was spent largely in front of the TV watching the show and all the orange VHS tapes I could get my hands on.

The breakdown: Phil and Lil were actually an abortion the DeVilles had and Angelica, incapable of knowing if it was a boy or girl, creates twins in her head. Chuckie died with his mother, explaining Chaz’s constant anxiety and the general mess of his life. Finally, Tommy was stillborn. As a result, his dad, Stu, relentlessly builds toys in his basement for a son that will never get to play with them. Suzie was the only real friend Angelica had and she went along with the baby fantasies for Angelica’s sake.

There are theories that delve even deeper into explaining the All Grown Up series and Dill, but consider reading into that at your own risk. Shit gets dark.

Hey Arnold is a show about Helga.

Which honestly makes a lot of sense. We know more about Helga than we do Arnold, through her own lengthy speeches given throughout the series and the focus put into Helga’s personal issues and inner struggles. We already know way more about her backstory. Her mom is an alcoholic, her dad pays her little attention except to compare her to her older sister, even the title of the show is a direct quote from Helga.

All the events in Courage the Cowardly Dog are totally normal circumstances, as viewed from the perspective of a dog.

All the monsters and scary creatures are just regular people Courage views as threats to Muriel because they’ve encroached on his territory, and/or threatened to somehow change his usual doggy routine. They don’t actually live in the middle of Nowhere, but since his owners are too old to take him for walks, he’s only familiar with his immediate vicinity.

This explains why he’s constantly feeling the need to ‘protect’ them while they carry-on completely nonchalantly.

Ed, Edd, n Eddy is set in purgatory and all the kids are actually dead.

They’ve all died in different ways and at different times throughout the generations in a way that explains their odd skin colors and the various clashing ‘periods’ they seem to be from. It also is a strong argument for why there are no adults in the show.

For instance, Rolf died in 1903 when his family’s farm animals stampeded and trampled him to death. Johnny 2×4 was next—he had no friends and was suffering from tuberculosis, so to cope he took a marker to a wooden board and, thus, Plank was his best friend who he carried over with him to the afterlife. His life ended in 1922, six years before the discovery of penicillin.

Eddy moved from New York to Peach Creek and spent his time scamming in an attempt to get money to escape the poverty his family lived in during the Great Depression era.   After one such scam goes awry, he’s chased into the lake where he drowns.

Ed and his sister Sarah were next. Their father died during WWII, leaving their mom distant and unable to care for them. To cope, Sarah becomes a bossy authority-figure, trying to fill the role left vacant by their parents. Ed turns to his fantasy world of comic books and monster movies to escape reality. They both die in a car accident in 1953.

Double D was born in the 80s at a time when college education and preparation was strongly encouraged. His parents were strict, controlling, and emotionally distant. He died from a gas leak that caused an explosion from the Bunsen burner in his chemistry set.

Every other character has an explanation that is both horrifying and saddening, so I’ll leave you to read the rest.

All the characters on Spongebob Squarepants represent the 7 deadly scenes.

Patrick is Sloth, Squidward is Wrath, Mr. Krabs is Greed (duh), Plankton is Envy, Gary is Gluttony, Sandy is Pride, and Spongebob himself is Lust.

There’s a number of reasons each character was assigned their sin, maybe Spongebob’s being the furthest reach. But, really, he does seem to love everyone he meets and is constantly overly friendly.

However, if that one doesn’t sit right with you, there is another theory out there that they are all the result of a nuclear explosion. Pick your poison.

Ask Ketchum is stuck at 10 years old as a result of being in a coma.

Throughout the whole Pokémon series, which apparently takes place over years, Ash never seems to age. After the first few episodes, the pacing, tone and story development change radically. This is because Ash has an accident, falls into a coma, and the rest of the series is his subconscious filling in the rest of the plot.

That’s why the nurse and police officer are always the same, how he can run off into a world full of dangerous creatures alone, and how no one has ever heard of him every time he enters a new region despite his many conquests.

Ok! That’s enough sadness for one lookback at a few of my favorite cartoon classics. If you haven’t had enough, don’t worry! There’s plenty of lists out there waiting to ruin your day. Of course, in the event you have no desire to seek them out on your own, never fear. I will return with another list the next time I’m feeling a little too comfortable.

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