Grab Your Tin Foil Hat, It’s Crazy Theory Time!

Warning: Possible Spoilers for The Walking Dead, Star Wars and Batman vs. Superman, but only if crazy internet rumors are to be believed.

By Jacoby Bancroft, University of Nevada at Reno


If you watched The Walking Dead last week (and let’s be honest, if you’re reading this, you’re probably in the coveted 18-49 demographic, which statistically means yes you absolutely did watch The Walking Dead), then you’re probably still recovering from the shock of watching Glenn presumably ripped apart by hundreds of zombies.

It was a tough blow for fans. Although The Walking Dead has a higher mortality rate than most life-threatening diseases, Glenn always seemed like a character who couldn’t die like that, especially in such a brutal, unceremonious manner.

The day after his apparent death, rumors started spreading about how Glenn wasn’t actually dead and theories were flooded the comment sections of every Walking Dead-related article on the internet. Stuff like:

“They clearly showed Nicholas falling on top of Glenn after Nicholas shot himself in the forehead, which made the two fall in the dumpster! The intestines being ripped out weren’t Glenn’s body parts but Nicholas’! Glenn’s alive!

“There was enough room under the dumpster for Glenn to crawl under after being drenched in Nicholas’s blood which would hide his scent! Glenn’s alive!”

“The actor who plays Glenn wasn’t on The Talking Dead after, even though every dead character ever usually comes on to talk about their death! Glenn’s alive!”

Honestly, I think Glenn’s alive. Not because of any bullshit with Nicholas being a human meat shield or Nicholas’ blood hiding Glenn’s scent, but because the message the show sends by killing Glenn now is dark even by The Walking Dead’s standards. Right now, it reads as Glenn’s act of mercy and compassion toward Nicholas in the Season 5 finale only earned Glenn a chance to see his insides with his own eyes. Even for a show that really hammers home the point that being kind and naïve will get you killed in the post-apocalyptic world, that’s just a little too much of a downer for a fan-favorite character.

The thing is, these rumors have been growing more and more prominent over time, and because last Sunday’s episode focused entirely on Morgan’s flashback, fans will have to wait at least another week to find out what happened (or two weeks, given that the promos made it seem like the episode would focus on other things). So many theories have popped up though, that any answer now is going to be disappointing. No matter what happens, it’s a lose-lose situation.

The rampant theorizing for Glenn is only one example of the recent trend that seems to have taken hold of the nerdy fandom. Crazy theories are now the norm when it comes to pop culture. Besides Glenn’s fate, there’s also wacky theories surrounding anticipated projects like Star Wars and Batman v. Superman.

Do you wonder why Luke Skywalker wasn’t in the new Force Awakens trailer? Some would call it clever marketing, withholding the return of Luke so it’s a surprise in theaters, but others believe there’s a deeper reason. There’s a lot of theories out there that claim the new masked Sith lord Kylo Ren is actually Luke in disguise.

On some level, it would make a lot of sense. George Lucas’ original vision for Episodes 7-9 had Luke turning bad, Mark Hamill obviously has the talent to play a villain (see: his voice work as The Joker) and J.J. Abrams would be the one to deliver a twist that both pays homage to the original, but also works as something different. I personally don’t believe it, but the thing is, I can’t get it out of my head. There’s a small sliver of my mind that’s convinced we will see Luke Skywalker under Kylo Ren’s mask by the end of the film and now I’m in a pickle.

When it doesn’t happen, I’ll be relieved, but also a tad disappointed that the filmmakers didn’t go with this great twist. If it turns out to be a correct theory, then I will lament the fact that I knew months before the movie actually opened. Either way, I’m in trouble, and I blame all the wild theorizing.

Yes, I absolutely love the fact that we as a nerd community can connect and discuss wild theories unlike any other point in our history, but I think it comes at the cost of being completely surprised by a movie or television show anymore.

A downside to wildly theorizing is that it leads to absurd logic and thinking. A legitimate theory about Batman v. Superman revolves around The Joker, suggesting that this Joker isn’t the original Joker, but actually Batman’s old sidekick Jason Todd driven insane. Although completely wrong, there is some credibility behind the idea.

Another theory doesn’t make any sense suggests that Ben Affleck is actually playing Slade Wilson, a.k.a. the villain Deathstroke, who’s only impersonating Batman. That one is a legitimately dumb theory, but it’s slowly gaining followers because it’s completely crazy and we as an audience have come to expect big twists in our movies.

I love crazy theories in general, just not when it comes to pop culture. I personally think that extra strong anti-perspirant actually makes you sweat more, but I really try to avoid theorizing when it comes to movies and television. There’s always been a level of hypothetical engagement and critical thinking when it comes to entertainment, but it shouldn’t get in the way of waiting to see how a project turns out. When we become too invested in the theory, the experience as a whole suffers.