There are a lot of TV shows on the air right now that encourage fan theories. "The Walking Dead," "Game of Thrones" and the burgeoning number of superhero series all seem ripe for speculation of that sort. "The Simpsons" is not one of those shows.
But that didn't stop one intrepid viewer, posting on Reddit under the name "Hardtopickaname," from ginning up one of the most outlandish, yet oddly compelling theories about the animated series that is currently in its 26th season.
According to the theory, everything on "The Simpsons" that has aired since the 1993 episode "So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show" has taken place in the comatose brain of Homer Simpson.
As evidence, the poster points to the October 1992 episode "Homer the Heretic" in which Homer talks to God, who informs him that he has just six months to live.
Six months later, the clip show episode aired in which Homer is put into a coma. And after that, the series grew progressively more outlandish. Homer goes into space. Mr. Burns captures the Loch Ness Monster. And there are many more celebrity cameos than ever before.
All explained, according to this theory, by the events surrounding Homer's comatose body.
While "Simpsons" Executive Producer Al Jean told TMZ that the theory was "intriguing but false," that hasn't stopped viewers from sharing it around the Internet.
Unfortunately, "The Simpsons," with its loose internal rules and decades-long run, is not the kind of show that easily invites such theories. Still, many other shows along these same lines have been subjected to the obsessive minds of the Internet.
The two animated series "The Flintstones" and "The Jetsons" had a crossover in the 1987 film "The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones," in which Elroy Jetson used a time machine to attempt a trip to the 25th century. Instead, it transported him back to the Stone Age, where he encountered Fred Flintstone, Wilma and the rest of the Bedrock gang.
But things like crossovers get fan theorists' antennae buzzing and from this grew a theory that Elroy actually did travel to the 25th century and the people of Bedrock actually live in a post-apocalyptic future in which technology has been wiped out and man lives alongside mutated beasts that resemble dinosaurs.
Then there's the goofy sitcom "Gilligan's Island," which has caused many people to wonder about how and why the castaways were never able to get it together enough to escape the island. But one theorist actually went so far as to assign one of the deadly sins to each of the castaways, with beloved, befuddled Gilligan as the Devil himself. That would make their island Hell. (That theory was revisited for the much more theory-suitable ABC series "Lost.")
And then there's the theory that the entirety of the 1980s sitcom "Newhart" was actually a dream in the mind of Bob Newhart's character from his 1970s sitcom, "The Bob Newhart Show."
Except that's not a theory. It really happened.