Stock Epileptic Trees

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Things that are frequently proposed in fan theories at a rate disproportionate to their occurrence in actual works of fiction.

Compare with Poison Oak Epileptic Trees.


Theories common to general fandom:
  • The cast died in the first episode and now they're all in Purgatory! Explicitly Jossed by the creators of Lost, among other writers. There was an infamous (false) rumor that this was how the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon would end. After being explicitly Jossed, Lost actually ended this way, though its characters ended in Purgatory after dying during the series rather than being Dead All Along.
    • Of course, there's also the one where character X is literally Jesus/God/Satan.
    • Inversion: pick any character who died. They aren't really dead / they'll come back.
      • Depending on the fandom this might not even be an epileptic tree. For instance in comics the only characters who stay dead are Bucky, Jason Todd and Uncle Ben. Oh wait.[1]
  • All Just a Dream. This arguably reflects either some fans' lack of faith in the writers or their lack of imagination; revealing that the whole story was a dream as a Deus Ex Machina has been a Dead Horse Trope for quite a while.
    • A twisted version of All Just a Dream: The hero is insane and delusional, and the entire story is his hallucination in an asylum.
    • Dying Dream is a very commonly speculated form.
    • The Tommyverse is well-known outside of troping and serves as the Most Triumphant Example of this trope. Essentially "Six Degrees of St. Elsewhere", it postulates that every show that has ever crossed-over with St. Elsewhere (and every show that crossed over with one of them, and so on...) exists in a shared universe wherein everything takes place entirely within the mind of autistic child Tommy Westphall. This ultimately leads to a staggering number of television shows stretching from The X-Files to Arrested Development all allegedly existing in the same "universe". On the other end of the spectrum it has sparked some fascinating (and pretentious!) discussions about the nature of intertextuality, metafiction, As Himself, and other such post-modern concepts.
    • Suggesting that a series takes place within Instrumentality is a more troping-specific take on this one.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father. A legitimate trope, but fans take it way too far, especially with their tendency to assume that the Big Bad is the father of The Hero, even when there is obvious evidence against it. This is probably influenced by the widespread belief that Freud Was Right and that all conflicts can be reduced to Oedipus Calling the Old Man Out.
  • The Big Bad is actually a pawn of the real Big Bad, who is the character you would least suspect (for example, the ridiculously cute Non-Human Sidekick).
  • The story is actually being told by Character X, who may be an Unreliable Narrator.
  • The protagonist is the villain.
  • The protagonist is fighting on the wrong side. The agency they work for is secretly working for the enemies, or has a conspiracy going.
  • Character X is a mole or traitor who will Face Heel Turn.
  • Any fantasy setting is often presumed to be Earth All Along either far in the future or far in the past, the epileptic trees even covering up cases where the dates are explicitly stated through an Unreliable Narrator.
  • Character X and Y share the same last name, therefore are related.
  • Any "Character X and Character Y are the same person" theories qualify, even when there's no clear reason for one or the other character to change his identity and they don't look anything alike. (Lost gets this a lot, too).
    • By extension, Character X is actually a Shape Shifter or Body Snatcher pretending to be Character X (in universes where they exist).
  • Show X is set in the same universe as Show Y.
    • Inversion: The spin-off is not really set in the same universe as the original.
    • Or sometimes: The spinoff IS set in the same universe as the original
  • The entire story is an Author Tract regardless of Word of God. Common topics include sexuality, religion, politics, nukes or drugs.
Theories common to Tropers:
  • Time Lord (that a certain character is a Timelord from Doctor Who is a form of this unique to this wiki, although it's tongue-in-cheek.)
    • The suggestion that X character is Haruhi Suzumiya is another epileptic tree specific to TV Tropes.
    • And the idea that character X is a Genius is becoming popular as well.
      • In a similar vein, the idea that character X is a Spark.
    • Every once in a while this actually makes sense: Check out the WMG for FLCL for a pretty good example.
  • Every character with the same actor/voice actor/name as a character from another franchise is actually that other character. (tongue in cheek, usually)
    • Subverted in Scrubs: J.D. and Turk recognize The Janitor while watching [[The Fugitive (film)|The Fugitive. Neil Flynn (who plays The Janitor) actually had a minor role in The Fugitive. In the Scrubs universe, it was The Janitor himself who played the part.
  • Any Fanfic which has gained fame for being poorly written is a Troll Fic. Which is usually true, but that's not the point.
  • Something awesome is powered by Spiral Energy.
  1. Bucky and Jason Todd are both back from the dead. Uncle Ben is still dead only due to Death by Origin Story