If there's one thing we know about every fandom ever, it's that they love coming up with theories about their favorite TV shows and movies. Some of their ideas are implausible and outlandish; others are definitely within the realm of possibility. In some rare cases, the theories are actually confirmed to be correct! Of course, the Disney/Pixar universe is so extensive that it's spawned hundreds (if not thousands) of fan theories over the years. It doesn't help that a lot of things in these movies are left deliberately ambiguous! Plot holes only invite further speculation.
In truth, the majority of the Internet's Disney fan theories will probably remain unconfirmed forever. There are just too many of them for them all to get individually addressed! However, some of them have, and the resulting confirmed information is pretty fascinating for every Disney fan out there. Prepare to have your mind blown, and then some. There are more obscure connections between characters here than in a Game of Thrones episode, and that's saying something…
Updated April 7, 2022 by Gabrielle Huston: We all love Disney, so it only makes sense that we give this article the love and care we needed. We've pruned a little bit, added fresh images, and included fan theories for newer Disney films.
15 Finding Riley
Everyone knows that Pixar loves to include little easter eggs in all of their films. There might be a reference to another movie subtly hidden in the background, or sometimes a more obvious crossover; remember Flik and Heimlich from A Bug's Life showing up at the end of Toy Story 2? Eagle-eyed fans try their hardest to spot these links as soon as each new film is released.
When Finding Dory hit our cinema screens back in 2016, most of us were too excited to see what would happen to the forgetful fish to notice any hidden Pixar secrets. However, hardcore fans quickly theorized that Riley (the protagonist from 2015's Inside Out) was one of the schoolchildren that are visiting the aquarium that Dory is trapped in. This remained pure speculation until Disney confirmed the link in a video posted to the official Toy Story Facebook page.
14 The Little Brother Of Two Surprising Princesses
For ages, the idea that Tarzan is Elsa and Anna (from Frozen)'s brother just seemed like another unrealistic fan theory. Sure, Elsa and Anna's parents could have been shipwrecked when their boat got into trouble. Maybe they somehow ended up in the jungle and had a son somewhere on the journey. But since there's no reference to this tale in either Frozen or Tarzan, it can't be the truth… Can it?
Well, apparently it can! In an interview with MTV, Frozen director James Buck confirmed that Tarzan, Anna, and Elsa are siblings. He'd always imagined that Anna and Elsa's parents didn't perish in that shipwreck, and the plot of Tarzan just seemed to neatly fit his idea. It's a shame that the King and Queen ended up getting eaten by leopards. That poor couple couldn't catch a break.
13 The Genie In Disguise
Everyone Disney fan knows who the bright blue, wise-cracking Genie is. The Peddler, however, is more mysterious. He sings the movie's opening number, "Arabian Nights," and introduces the story of a magic lamp that houses a huge secret. But how does he know so much about the lamp and its provenance? The answer: because the Peddler is actually the Genie in disguise.
The evidence? Both characters have the same voice actor and similar personalities. The Peddler's robe is the same color as the Genie's body. Finally, the two both only have four fingers on their hands. Pretty convincing, right? While this started out as nothing but a fan theory, Aladdin's directors later confirmed that it's correct. They had to cut the big reveal out of the final film, but the Genie and the Peddler are definitely the same guy.
12 Priya Is Queer
Turning Red is a coming-of-age story about preteens who live in Toronto, Canada. It was beloved by fans and critics, and their enthusiasm wasn't quashed by a vocal minority of haters. The four main characters are Mei and her friends Miriam, Priya, and Abby. Fans quickly developed a theory about Priya: that she's queer.
It's not openly addressed in the film, but Priya seems to be attracted to both girls and boys. Turns out, they were right! In response to a viral tweet, Andrea Goh (a cinematographer for Pixar) said that Priya's attraction to a girl at the end of the movie is supposed to be a "slice of queer representation."
11 It Was All A Dream
People love to speculate that the events of TV shows and films take place in their lead character's mind. What if it's all a dream or all a figment of their imagination? Disney Channel's former flagship show Hannah Montana was no exception. For years, fans theorized that Miley Stewart's alter ego was either a dream or a crazy fantasy. Maybe she was just another kid whose ambition was to become a famous pop star? Was Miley secretly suffering from some kind of personality disorder? The conspiracy theories were endless.
While all of these theories were pretty fun to read, nobody actually expected them to be true. However, Disney Channel decided to surprise us all in the DVD extras of Hannah Montana's final season. An alternate ending was included in which the events of the show were actually Miley Cyrus' childhood fantasies. She desperately wanted to become a pop star… and as we know, that dream came true! How heartwarming!
10 Hercules And Ariel Are Related
Now, Hercules and Ariel might not seem like two Disney characters who are likely to be related. For one, Hercules is set in Ancient Greece while The Little Mermaid takes place literally thousands of years later! However, numerous Disney fans have noted that this pair both descend from mythical gods and thus must be family on some level. You only have to look at Greek mythology to confirm this theory!
As we know, Hercules is the son of Zeus. Turns out Zeus shares much more than just excellent facial hair with Ariel's father, Triton! Triton is the son of Poseidon, who is the brother of Zeus, meaning Herc and Ariel are first cousins, once removed. Red hair clearly runs in the family… as does a taste for adventure!
9 A Story Of Human Destruction
Have you ever wondered where all the humans are in the Cars universe? Like, Lightning McQueen and his friends clearly live on our planet. Cities like London and Tokyo are featured… But where have all of their human inhabitants gone? Are we in an alternate universe where they never existed at all or did the sentient vehicles of the movie… get rid of them somehow? Fans speculated about this for years, but could never come to a conclusion that wasn't slightly sinister.
Well, it turns out that they were right on the mark with the creepy theories. Pixar Creative Director Jay Ward confirmed in an interview with ScreenCrush that the cars did in fact "get rid of" every single human on the planet. After the vehicles became sentient, they decided that having people around just wasn't necessary anymore! Lightning… Mater… Why?!
8 Nala Was Banished From The Pride Lands By Scar
Have you ever wondered how exactly Nala manages to find Simba in The Lion King? It's made very clear that Simba is hiding out in a jungle very far from the Pride Lands. Maybe Nala was out searching for food, but even then, it's a long way for her to stray! Would Scar really permit his captive lionesses to stray so far?
Lion King fans did come up with one theory: maybe Scar banished Nala? As Simba's closest friend, she was unlikely to have taken his "end" and Scar's rule very well. It's possible that she was sent away after causing trouble one too many times!
For a while, this theory was mere speculation… Until The Lion King musical premiered on Broadway! A new song, "The Madness of King Scar", confirmed that Simba's evil uncle banished Nala. It was a bad move from him; it eventually led to his downfall!
7 A Good Reason For Hating Humans
One of the principal plot points in Pixar's Monsters, Inc. is the fact that the monsters hate and are terrified of humans. Why is this the case? It's one question that's not actually answered in the movie. Fans were left to speculate about the cause of this rift between the species. Was there some kind of war we aren't told about in the film, or is there a more harmless reason behind the animosity?
On the Monsters, Inc. DVD, it's revealed that the monsters once lived alongside humans in harmony. However, men eventually drove the monsters away due to their ugly and terrifying appearances. Man, why do human beings suck even in fictional universes? It's no wonder the monsters hate us.
6 Dolores May Hear Everything, But She Can Still Lie About It
In Disney's Encanto, the Madrigal family is full of people with fantastical superpowers! One of them is Dolores, who can hear things at incredible distances! She could overhear anything that anyone in their town said, basically. At one point in the film, Dolores is telling her cousin, Isabela, and her grandmother about Mariano. They hope that Mariano will propose to Isabela, but what no one knows (until the end of the movie) is that Dolores is in love with Mariano!
This led fans to speculate that, when Dolores tells Isabela that Mariano wants to have "five babies" with her, Dolores is lying in an attempt to scare Isabela out of the marriage, or just to spite her for pursuing the man she loves. The theory was confirmed by Jared Bush, the director of Encanto, on Twitter.
5 The Enchantress Was In Love With The Beast
We all know the basic premise of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. A selfish and cruel prince is transformed into a hideous monster after he refuses help to an enchantress disguised as an old hag. Still, this always seemed like a bit of an overreaction to us. Wouldn't there have been a simpler way to teach him a lesson? Did the punishment really fit the crime… Or was there another reason for The Enchantress' hatred of the Beast?
Maybe the Enchantress was the Beast's scorned lover? Many fans thought this made more sense than the usual "I'm going to teach this spoiled brat a lesson" reasoning behind the Enchantress' actions. The official Disney tie-in novel The Beast Within actually confirmed this theory! Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned… Especially when she's a witch!
4 The Incredibles Takes Place In An Alternate Universe
Upon first viewing, it's easy to assume that The Incredibles is just set in our world, except with superheroes. However, when you actually take a look at its setting, things start to get confusing. On the one hand, the world seems to have way more advanced technology than we do right now… So it must be set in the future, right? But no; the film's buildings, clothes, and general aesthetic all look like they're out of the 1950s and 1960s! How can it take place in both the future and the past?
The only explanation that fans could come up with is that The Incredibles takes place in an alternate universe where it's still the 1960s, but humans have created new technologies at a faster rate than in the real world. Turns out they were right! The movie's producer, John Walker, confirmed that this was the creator, Brad Bird's, vision.
3 Zootopia Features A Gay Couple
When the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast was released, much fanfare was made about the fact it featured Disney's first-ever overtly gay couple. LeFou and a random guy were seen dancing together in a romantic way, and the world lost their minds; mostly positively. While this was a great step forward in LGBTQ+ representation, it wasn't actually supposed to be the first gay Disney pairing! Zootopia was supposed to have that honor.
Eagle-eyed fans noticed that the 2016 animated hit featured two male antelopes who are living together, and are presumably involved romantically! Disney later confirmed that the characters were supposed to be a married couple, but censors worried that this wouldn't get past various rating boards. Well, at least some progress is being made in this area…
2 The Reason Why The Vehicles In Cars All Have Different Accents
Have you ever wondered why all of the vehicles in Cars have different accents? Like, they're ultimately just machines: you'd think that they'd all have similar (if not the same) voices! The cynics among you may say that it's just because the film's voice actors had different accents, but what if there's a deeper explanation? Are they assigned vocal styles based on the type of vehicle they are?
Again, this Cars theory has a pretty sinister solution. Remember how Jay Ward confirmed that the cars "got rid" of all humans when they no longer needed them? Well, in the same interview he explained that the vehicles got their accents from the last person who drove them. Essentially, their voice is now a constant reminder of the owner they, er, dispatched. That's not creepy AT ALL, Jay. Thanks for the nightmares.
1 Elsa Gets Her Magic From A Surprising Source
While Frozen is undeniably a pretty great film, there's one important plot point that's totally glossed over: where exactly does Elsa get her magic from?
It's never explained! It's like she just wakes up one day and BOOM: she can do ice magic! Instead of trying to work out why this has happened, Elsa's parents simply suppress her abilities as much as possible… and we all know how that turned out. Nevertheless, some pretty wild fan theories sprung up about how Elsa got her magic.
Could the planets be to blame? Apparently so, according to some Disney buffs- and the movie's producers! In Frozen's first draft, Pabbie (aka, the leader of the weird stone trolls) was supposed to explain that Elsa got her powers due to an alignment between Earth and Saturn. However, that sequence was eventually cut, and viewers were left in the dark. Until now, that is!
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