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TV Fan Theories That Turned Out To Be True

TV has always been a hotbed for fan theories. There's often nothing more satisfying for fans than speculating on what could happen next, even in the age of shorter seasons and Netflix releasing whole batches of episodes at once. Whether it's just between friends or with hundreds of people on a fan board, and whether it's a sitcom, a crime show, a dark fantasy, or something else, predicting the arc of a TV show, its characters, or its story is a fun way to pass the time. And it's especially thrilling if what you predict turns out to be true.

Here we have 12 fan theories about TV shows that did just that — predicted something that turned out to be true. Whether it's about "Lost," "Stranger Things," "How I Met Your Mother," "The Sopranos," or "Game of Thrones," at least one fan predicted something that ended up being a part of these shows' official storylines. Let's see what fans speculated about that ultimately came true.

Sex and the City: Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall hate each other

In the late '90s to early 2000s, "Sex and the City" had fans of the show buzzing about its depictions of female friendship. Whether you were a Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), a Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), a Charlotte (Kristin Davis), or a Samantha (Kim Cattrall), there was something nice about being able to see complex modern female characters bond, even if it was mostly over men.

The trouble was that there were also a lot of hushed rumors that Parker and Cattrall, two of the show's leads, hated each other. Could the group of four women that was there for all of each other's ups and downs really be so fractured? Reports of financial disputes behind the scenes gave credence to theories of a rift between the women, supported by chatter about the gang sitting at the 2004 Emmys together while Cattrall sat on her own.

When "And Just Like That...," the revival show to "Sex and the City," came out and Samantha wasn't in it, we had our answer. Cattrall had rejected doing a third "Sex and the City" movie, and she didn't return to star in the revival series either. While Cattrall wasn't a part of the majority of the reboot, she did appear in the finale of the second season. There's still hope she might appear in a bigger role in the future. But for now, all we know for sure is that there is no love lost between Cattrall and Parker.

The Sopranos: Tony Soprano gets whacked

"The Sopranos" was one of the shows that ushered in the era of "peak TV." From the moment it hit HBO, it seemed like it was all anyone could talk about. And even after two decades, its finale, "Made in America," is still a matter of heated debate. The final scene is a masterclass in suspense and anticipation. Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) sits in a diner, Holsten's, waiting for his family. Carmella (Edie Falco), his wife, joins him, followed by his son AJ (Robert Iler), as his daughter Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) struggles to parallel park outside. Then, Meadow runs inside, the bell above the door rings, Tony looks up, and ... the scene cuts to black.

Some fans were convinced this scene meant Tony was dead. It cut at the exact moment his consciousness ceased, these fans claimed. Many fans believed that his death was heavily foreshadowed from the start of the series, chatting on the r/Sopranos subreddit about all the clues that Tony definitely gets whacked in that diner.

In 2021, 14 years later, "Sopranos" creator David Chase finally seemed to confirm this theory. "I saw a little restaurant. It was kind of like a shack that served breakfast," Chase told The Hollywood Reporter's Scott Feinberg. "And for some reason I thought, 'Tony should get it in a place like that...' That was, like, two years before [the finale]." While it's not exactly an ironclad confirmation, it does indicate that Tony dies in that diner.

Lost: Everyone is dead ... sort of

Over its six seasons on the air, "Lost" generated a plethora of fan theories. Of those, none was as prevalent as the theory that everyone is dead. Many fans meant that to be taken to the extreme. That is, everything we saw, from the moment the plane crashed to the last frame of the show, was happening in the afterlife. That theory ended up not being exactly true, but it's kind of close!

In the final season, we find the characters occupying a flash-sideways, an alternative timeline that's nothing like any of their flash-forwards or flashbacks. In the finale, we find out why. According to Jacob Stolworthy in The Independent, the flash-sideways is the place created for them to find each other after they die.

So the characters in the show were not dead on the island. But whenever they died, whether it was on the island or years later, they came to the flash-sideways, a kind of limbo, until they all located one another and moved on as a unit to "whatever comes next." In this way, they did die, and we saw the aftermath of that. Still, the island, and what happened on it, was very real.

How I Met Your Mother: The mother is dead

For nine seasons, fans of "How I Met Your Mother," watched an older Ted (Bob Saget) tell the tale of how he met his wife to his two kids (Lyndsy Fonseca and David Henrie). The question was, why was he doing this? It's a cute device for a show, but it had to mean something more — or so some fans speculated. That led some to theorize that the mother is dead, including Jenna Mullins in E! News, who called it half a year before the show's finale aired.

When we meet the mother, Tracy (Cristin Milioti), in the show's final season, she's everything Ted (Josh Radnor) could want. So when the finale comes and we learn that she dies, fans could be forgiven for being upset. After all, even if you believed this theory, Tracy deserved better. Fans who believed this theory couldn't even appreciate they were right because the plot was so eager to get to the part where Ted admits he wants to ask the kids' Aunt Robin (Cobie Smulders) out.

Despite the story's missteps and some pretty big unanswered questions, this theory proved true, even if the creators wanted to rush past this tragedy to get to their real end-game: pairing a much older, widowed Ted with his friend Robin.

Pretty Little Liars: Spencer has a twin

A show like "Pretty Little Liars" is ripe for fan theorizing, with a twisty plot that had people guessing who was "A" from the first episode. Then in Season 6, the show jumped five years ahead, introducing a new mystery and leading fans to wonder, who is A.D.? Theories abounded, but one was especially potent: that one of the Liars has a twin and somehow she's involved in all the madness.

According to Lauren Piester at E! News, Spencer (Troian Bellisario) being the Liar with the twin was one of the more popular predictions. And those who held to this theory were proven right when, in the series finale, "Till Death Do Us Part," Spencer was knocked out and woke up to find herself face-to-face with someone who looked exactly like her.

In the lore of the show, Spencer not only had the twin, but the twin, whose name was Alex Drake, was A.D., the Liars' latest boogeyman. A.D. turns out to be the daughter of Peter Hastings (Nolan North) and Mary Drake (Andrea Parker), who at the time of Alex and Spencer's birth was a resident of Radley Sanitarium. Alex was so in love with Spencer's life, she decided to take it over. So she held Spencer hostage. Meanwhile, Alex appeared as Spencer in public. That is, until the Liars figured out Alex wasn't Spencer and went to arrest her.

Game of Thrones: Jon Snow is a secret Targaryen

Fans have been theorizing about George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" world for decades, even before it became a hit HBO series. One of the biggest fan theories concerned the true parentage of Jon Snow, played in the series by Kit Harington.

A fan named Rodrick Su first proposed in 1997 the theory that Jon's parents are Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. (He also correctly predicted that Jon and Emilia Clarke's Daenerys would get together, as they do in the show.) The R+L=J theory, as it was commonly nicknamed, was a cornerstone of the fandom when the show began in 2011, and the show went on to confirm the theory.

Jon Snow, who is known as the bastard son of Ned Stark (Sean Bean), was confirmed to be the child of Rhaegar (Wilf Scolding) and Lyanna (Aisling Franciosi), Ned Stark's sister, in Season 6 of "Game of Thrones." But Lyanna died in childbirth and Rhaegar fell at the hands of Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy), who was engaged to Lyanna, leading Ned to adopt him. While it was commonly believed that Rhaegar kidnapped and raped Lyanna, a scene in the seventh season showed Lyanna and Rhaegar were secretly wed, making Jon Snow a legitimate Targaryen child.

Westworld: The Man in Black is William

When "Westworld" came out in 2016, it seemed like a successor to "Game of Thrones" — another big-budget, ensemble-cast HBO fantasy that viewers would eat up. While that ultimately proved untrue and viewership declined over its four years on HBO, the first season is still an amazing piece of writing. One of the reasons for this is that it fools with its timeline in a way that people weren't overly aware of. But it led one viewer, u/Where_isJessica_Hyde, to comment in the r/Westworld subreddit, "Did anyone else wonder if Billy, the guy who was given the option to pick between the black hat and the white hat, was a younger version of the MIB?" Billy, or William, is played by Jimmi Simpson, and the Man in Black is an older man played by Ed Harris who terrorizes the androids of Westworld approximately 30 years later.

User u/Where_isJessica_Hyde's theory was right. While many viewers may not have noticed it, some clues lay in the differences in places like the train station and the subway between William's time and the Man in Black's. William is indeed the Man in Black, and he's been regularly attacking and assaulting Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) for years. Though the pair's tale started like a love story, when William saw Dolores didn't remember him or their love, he turned on her then and there.

Stranger Things: 001 is Vecna

"Stranger Things" has been a phenomenon since it premiered in 2016 on Netflix, and fans have been theorizing about the Upside Down and the monsters there ever since. In Season 4, a new creature was revealed: Vecna, who terrorized the gang of kids like nothing they'd experienced before. At the end of Season 4, Part 1, "Chapter 7: The Massacre at Hawkins Lab," the orderly that a young Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) has been talking to is revealed to be Henry Creel, the supposedly deceased son of Victor Creel and Hawkins Lab's first test subject, known as 001 (Jamie Campbell Bower). Moreover, Henry is the one who starts killing everyone in the lab, and it's Eleven who stops him ... by sending him to the Upside Down, where he turns into Vecna. We wrote at length about the twist as one of the worst things about the first part of "Stranger Things" Season 4.

The Vecna twist might have hit Netflix in 2022, but a fan predicted a version of this outcome way back in 2016. Gaten Matarazzo, who plays Dustin on the show, shared his favorite fan theory in an interview with BUILD. In it, he said the fan predicted that most test subjects besides Eleven were dead but "others were banished to the Upside Down, like they couldn't get out. And because they were in the Upside Down for so long ... they transformed into what was the monster." While it's not a perfect prediction considering that nothing like Vecna had been introduced yet, it's pretty darn close to the reveal that 001 became Vecna.

Manifest: The timeline resets

"Manifest," like "Lost," dealt with people on a plane, but this plane didn't crash, it disappeared ... and then reappeared five years later as if nothing had happened. This set off an adventure that included death dates, callings, and twins Cal (Jack Messina/Ty Doran) and Olive (Luna Blaise), who ended up being five years apart because Cal was on the plane and Olive was not. After NBC dropped the show and Netflix picked it up for a final season, fans went wild theorizing about how it would end. One fan, u/VioletIsWatching, had a pretty accurate assessment on the r/Manifest subreddit, predicting, "They will get back on the plane on June 2, 2024, and it will land in NYC, on the night of April 7, 2013, as flight 828 was supposed to do if it hadn't disappeared."

This was proven correct when the finale finally streamed several months later. The surprise ending of "Manifest" at least hit for some — but some shrewd Redditors saw it coming a mile away. While the timeline reset, the people on the plane that originally disappeared remembered their ordeal and used it to direct their lives moving forward. For example, Michaela (Melissa Roxburgh), one of the protagonists, ended up dumping her boyfriend (J.R. Ramirez) and going to look for Zeke (Matt Long), the man she married during the time that she and the people on the plane returned from ... wherever they were. 

And Just Like That...: Mr. Big dies

In late 2021 "And Just Like That...," the sequel show to "Sex and the City," premiered. It was a popular diversion but perhaps not always for the right reasons. One of those reasons was the fact that Mr. Big (Chris Noth), the supposed love of Carrie's (Sarah Jessica Parker) life, dies in the first episode. Rumors of this twist abounded before the premiere. For example, u/DenverToCali posted a spoiler about this on the subreddit r/Andjustlikethat before the premiere. Fans were so adamant about this theory that it was pretty much a foregone conclusion before anyone had seen a single frame of the show.

The thing that disturbed people, however, was the way Carrie reacted to Mr. Big dying. While everyone was expecting him to suffer from a fatal heart attack, no one predicted how useless Carrie would be during this event. Carrie came home while he was having the heart attack, and instead of immediately calling the paramedics she cries over him, possibly until he's dead. It was an unfortunate turn of events, and to many fans' continued disappointment, Mr. Big never again returned to the world of "Sex and the City."

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka: Hayden Christensen reprises his role as Darth Vader

"Star Wars" is pretty much the granddaddy of fandoms, and "Star Wars" fan theories tend to enjoy outsized attention. That includes Disney+'s new "Star Wars" shows. One of the most popular fan theories about the TV shows, right around the premiere of "The Mandalorian" Season 2, was that Hayden Christensen would reprise his role as Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader in an upcoming show. But as u/MisterCinestir theorized in the subreddit r/starwarsspeculation, the question was which show would it be? And would Christensen be back as Anakin, Vader, or both?

The truth ended up being better than fans imagined. Christensen appeared in two shows: in 2022's "Obi-Wan Kenobi," he played both Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker, and he reappeared as Anakin in 2023's "Ahsoka." While Christensen has kept a fairly low profile since the "Star Wars" movies, fans have become kinder to his portrayal of Anakin in the prequel series over the years. Fans and critics loved his return to the franchise — hopefully, we'll see him in further episodes of "Ahsoka" or another "Star Wars" project somewhere down the line.

The Walking Dead: Dead City: The Croat is a former Savior

"The Walking Dead" reached the height of its popularity many years ago, and the flagship series ended in 2022, but that hasn't stopped AMC from expanding the universe in every direction. One spin-off, "Dead City," followed Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) on a quest to the Big Apple to save Maggie's son, Herschel (Logan Kim). Herschel's been taken by a villain called the Croat (Željko Ivanek), the leader of a group called the Burazi.

When asked for predictions on who the Croat is ahead of the premiere of the show, u/ComfortablePiglet856 said on the r/thewalkingdead subreddit that they thought he was an ex-Savior, and that he had kidnapped Hershel as a way to lure Negan to Manhattan — a theory that proved to be true when "Dead City" was broadcast on AMC.

The Croat is indeed a former Savior, and a particularly dangerous one at that. He was Negan's lead torturer, whom Negan tried to kill after he murdered a girl Negan explicitly asked him to let go. While Negan thought the Croat would be angry to see him after he tried to take his life — and took his ear in the process — he was wrong. The Croat is thrilled to see Negan, and in a variation of u/ComfortablePiglet856's guess, it turns out that he kidnapped Hershel in order to get Maggie to trade Negan for him.