Seinfeld

Wait… When did the last Seinfeld episode air? 1998?… Okay, so we’re about 20 years late with this one, but that’s the way the black and white cookie crumbles. You see, we have been throwing around some crackpot theories lately, and one of the more recent ones we came up with involved everyone’s favorite foursome of horrible people, Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer, or at least it involves their ultimate fate in The Finale Part 1 and Part 2. Now, we’re not going to start saying it might be like the last season of Lost, but we are saying that the gang  may actually dead and facing a hell of their own making.

Yada Yada Yada… Eternal Damnation
Okay, so stay with us here, and also SPOILERS ahead, but seriously if you need a spoiler warning for a sitcom that ended two decades ago, than we don’t think we’re the ones with the problems here. There is a statue of limitations, after all.

Maybe it is just us, but there always seemed to be something off about the last Seinfeld episodes. Now, we get it. The point was that a show about ‘nothing’ finally ended up being about ‘something,’ and if you don’t remember, let us recap. The pilot of Jerry and George’s sitcom, Jerry finally gets picked up by NBC. So the gang is given a small private plane to fly out there, but thanks to water in Kramer’s ears, the plane ends up going down. They land in a small town where the four witness and video tape a car jacking. Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer not only don’t help the man, but in typical Seinfeld fashion go about mocking him and the situation. This leads to a trial under a new Good Samaritan Law, where the four are forced to sit through a parade of guests that basically recap the highlights and horrors of all nine seasons. At the end of the trial they are found guilty and sentenced to prison.

However the whole concept of the two-part finale always seemed a bit forced, and that was unfortunate for a series that built its fame by exploring wacky -yet foreseeable- consequences of everyday annoyances and situations. After all, the judge’s name was Art Vandelay, every person they had ever met was trotted up to give testimony, and even Geraldo Rivera was there. Its the kind of strained concept and contrite episode that can ruin a good show, but we might be able help with that. The Finale doesn’t feel like a Seinfeld episode. It feels more like hell… Or at least the waiting room before you enter hell.

That’s right. We are saying, that Jerry, George, Elaine, and Karmer are actually dead. Their plane, which was traveling from New York to Los Angeles, goes down. We are even treated to scene where the entire gang is convinced they are about to die. The plane is literally plummeting toward the Earth. The screen turns as the plane goes into a nosedive. Yet it miraculously levels off and in the next scene they are on the ground, unscathed, and saying that the plane only needs some minor repairs. That’s a little unbelievable. So, what if that is only what they think happened? What if the gang is, in fact, dead and doesn’t know it yet? This theory is further bolstered by the fact that they find themselves in Latham, Massachusetts, which is a town that does not exist anywhere, or on any map.

Serenity Now
There are a lot of cultures that believe that when we die we will be given one final test. In Ancient Egypt, the god Osiris weighs your heart to see if it is lighter than a feather. In the Aztec belief system the dead went to Mictlan, where the souls faced a multitude of trials. Even in Catholicism, if a soul enters purgatory they must be purified and tested before being allowed entrance to heaven. What if that is what the gang is faced with in Latham, Massachusetts? -Because if there is a purgatory it’s probably in rural Massachusetts- Now, the Seinfeld characters are not bad people. They don’t kill or… rape or… or kill. Right? However, they aren’t really good people either. They are selfish, judgemental, cheaters who have hurt a lot of people along the way. So, in death they are given one final judgement, one final test. They fail the carjacking test and are then brought for final judgement. In Greek myth, a dead soul is judged by King Minos, Aeacus, and Radamanthus. In, Babylon the soul was judged by Ereshkigal. In Christianity a soul is judged by God or St. Peter, but in Seinfeld, the soul is judged by Art Vandelay, because, really, who else would be the god of that culture?

To the gang this suddenly seems like the court case of the century, even attracting celebrity news coverage, because of course it would seem that way to the damned. This is the trial of their lives, the trial of their eternities. So, every person they have ever wronged is brought up and paraded before them, to relate how Jerry, George, Elaine, and/or Kramer has negatively affected their lives. The trial paints a very clear picture that most people the gang has interacted with would have been better off if they had never met our main characters. This litany of past memories, which includes everyone from Bubble Boy to the Soup Nazi, is further proof of the gang’s death. According to Researchers from Hadassah University in Jerusalem, one of the things that happens when we die is that we actually do relive the standout memories of our life, and that is true for both the characters and the audience. We are literally witnessing and reliving the standout moments of Seinfeld, as the show dies.

These Hell Fires are Making Me Thirsty
I
n the end, Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer are all found guilty. What does that mean?

Let’s take a step back. Realistically, Good Samaritan Laws are meant to protect people who attempt to help other people and fail, such as a person who gives CPR to a dying man in a restaurant. The good Samaritan is protected from being sued by the dead man’s family. These laws are not meant to punish people who just fail to help, even if those people are also horrible people. The gang even filmed the carjacking and -despite their recorded hurtful-fat-shaming comments- that in itself would have realistically been enough to help identify the thief and satisfy any kind of “Required to Help” law. Thus, a jail sentence seems pretty extreme and cruel in the real world, but as we have established the group is not in the real world. They are dead. So they are not just sentenced to jail, but eternal damnation.

We even get a glimpse of Jerry’s own personal hell as we watch him struggle to do standup in front of a literally hostile crowd of people for all of eternity. We are left to wonder what perdition looks like for the other members of the group. Perhaps George will have to live with his parents in a job he hates for all of eternity. Maybe Elaine will be regulated to having one unsatisfying relationship after another as she struggles at being under appreciated. Maybe Kramer will be forced to sleep in a room with a giant red neon sign outside the window, as he moves from one fruitless scheme to another… And if you are going, “Wait, isn’t that just their normal everyday lives?” Then congratulations, that may be the point.

Remember how the episode ends? The four are sitting in a jail cell and Jerry begins a conversation about George’s shirt buttons. The conversation perfectly mirrors the one had in the very first episode. If, we consider that the the show is implying that the gang is dead and being sentenced to an eternity of hell, then maybe it is also worth considering that they are begin sentenced to repeat their lives over and over again. After all, isn’t that what happens to sitcoms once they are ended. They are basically doomed to live in syndication and reruns with the plots and the characters forever fixed and repeating the same mistakes from now until the sun burns itself out. Maybe, the writers are implying that our favorite Seinfeld characters already were in a sort of 22-minute hell, and now their fate is that they will never be allowed to escape it.

This weekend will see the release of two fairy tale inspired stories. The first is the movie, Huntsman: Winter’s War. We recommend that you don’t go see it, but we do recommend that you check out the second one, Game of Thrones. Yes, the story of sex, violence, and dragons returns this Sunday for its sixth season, but is it possible that the HBO fantasy drama is as much about fairy tales as it is about beheadings and boobies? Well, follow us down the road to grandma’s house as we set out to encounter big bad direwolves, giants, and a red witch or two. You might be surprised what we turn up, but don’t be surprised if we reveal spoilers for seasons 1-5.

Once Upon a Tyrion…
As everyone’s favorite Lannister might suggest, we need to first define the problem. What is a fairy tale? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a fairy tale is “a story (as for children) involving fantastic forces and beings (as fairies, wizards, and goblins),” or “a story in which improbable events lead to a happy ending.” We have to admit that both of those things are true about fairy tales, but does that match up with A Song of Ice and Fire, or Game of Thrones? Both definitely have fantastic forces and creatures, but they are certainly not for children, at least not for children who don’t want to grow up to be Ramsey Bolton. Nor are the George RR Martin novel series and its subsequent TV show filled with happy endings, just ask anyone named Stark or Snow. So how can we compare them with a fairy tale?

Let’s start with the commonalities. Game of Thrones has dragons and even giants, but admittedly there is not a lot of them. Daenerys has just three dragons, and we only ever see that one frost giant among the wildlings. Yet, we are told that such things were more numerous in the ancient days. Things like dragons, giants, and even magic were more plentiful in the stories that Old Nan used to tell Brann Stark before he went to bed. Now those were fairy tales. They were all about heroes defeating monsters, grumpkins, and grave evil to save the kingdoms and winning the hearts of fair maidens. They were filled with love and chivalry and all the things we think of when we hear the word “fairy tale.” In those stories, which took place during the aptly named Age of Heroes, the protagonist were always the good guys. They were able to win the day against all odds and beat back the darkness with the help of magic and courage, just like every fairy tale we know. Old Nan’s stories were always scary, but the improbable events still led to a happy ending. However, it also seems that in the land of Westeros many of those stories -which took place during the Long Night– might actually be true.

Compare those stories to the story we are witnessing in Game of Thrones, which still involve magic and fantastical elements, but the outcome is hardly certain. In fact, things like chivalry, heroism, or true love are usually rewarded with daggers in the dark or even a red wedding. Every good and heroic character -Ned, Robb, Jon- are dead. The most valiant knights are either a narcissistic incestuous cripple, or the Knight of Flowers, who has very little interest in winning a fair lady’s heart -if you know what we mean. The queen is a ruthless power-hungry dictator, the beautiful princess is a conniving schemer. The most heroic character is a disfigured Imp, and for four seasons we were all actively rooting for the death of a blonde-haired child-king. So we ask again? How can we call this a fairy tale?

Joffrey and the Beanstalk
In fact, it’s not a fairy tale, at least not as we consider them. Game of Thrones is a subversion of the fairy tale ideal. The true genius of George RR Martin’s work is that he is showing us what a fairy tale really is. All those old stories that Old Nan used to tell Brann Stark, we can guess that they were probably real. After all, we know that the white walkers are real. The giants are real. The Wall is real. The stories form the Age of Heroes actually happened, but they probably did not happen as their fairy tale versions suggest. One day, in the world of Westeros people may tell the fairy tale version of the great Mother of Dragons and her conquest of Westeros and how the seven kingdoms fought back the invasion of the Others and the new Long Night, but it won’t be this story. It won’t be Game of Thrones. It will be something else.

The fairy tale version of A Song of Ice and Fire will have some of the same elements, but homogenized and embellished. As human beings we like to fit events into simplistic narrative structures. Thus, for the audience and the characters, who have lived and watched the highs and lows of Game of Thrones the series finale might be satisfactory, but probably not “happy.” Yet, to the children of Westeros who will hear the story centuries later, safe in their beds, they will get the happy ending. They will get the true love and the brave knights and all the rest. To them there will be clear cut villains and valiant heroes, and they both may not be who you expect. Remember, history and fairy tales are written by the victors.

The stories those children hear may tell of the evil betrayals of Ned Stark or the vile crimes of Tyrion Lannister. Children may grow up learning that the sweet and generous King Joffery was killed on his wedding day or that Tywin Lannister was a saint and a caring father. Fairy tales tend to wash out the gray and replace it with black and white, but if there is one thing we can say about Game of Thrones, it is almost entirely filled with gray. With very few expectations there are no completely good or completely bad characters. They are all humans with hopes, desires, flaws, and nude bodies, all of which we -the audience- get to see… a lot. So, Martin is telling us  the real story behind that future fairy tale, which will be a story that has no room for nuisance or character flaws. All of that will be wiped out in favor of a neat narrative and a clear cut moral. Yet, maybe you still don’t believe this was George RR Martin’s intent all along. You might be right except…

Little Ned Riding Stark
… He has already painted us a clear picture of this very idea. Maybe the vague connection between the Age of Heroes and the trials of Jon Snow are too obscure, but Martin has given us an even more relevant example. The rebellion of Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark has already become something of a fairy tale, and it has only been a single generation since they deposed the Mad King and took over the kingdom. Yet, all the elements are there. Brave Robert Baratheon -enraged by the abduction of his beloved Lyanna Stark- starts a war to win her back. Along with her brother and his best friend, Ned, they rally the forces of justice and good to overthrow the Mad King, Aerys Targaryan, and his evil son Rhaegar. Robert and his mighty war hammer defeat Rhaegar in single combat during the heroic Battle of the Trident, but alas he is too late to save his beloved Lyanna. Still, he heroically defeats the Mad King and justice rules over the lands of Westeros once again.

That is typically how that story is often portrayed whenever characters in Game of Thrones talk about it, but we have already had some hints at cracks in that fantastical façade. First of all, Aerys Targaryan was killed by Jamie Lannister, his own kingsguard, who stabbed him through the back. That is the sort of thing people are aware of, but often gets left out of the “official” story. This dichotomy is also most clearly seen with Rhaegar. Whenever Robert talked about him we got an image of a mad man composed of butchery and evil. Yet, whenever Daenerys -his sister- talks about him we get the sense of a warm, caring, and brave individual. Two completely separate ideas from two completely opposing view points. We are seeing how point of view colors the retelling of tales, and how it is the winners who most often write history and fairy tales. This is further proven by the many many hints that Lyanna Stark was not abducted and raped by Rhaegar, but that she was in love with him. -r+l=j- However, this sort of nuance does not work for a heroic tale of good versus evil, and is all but forgotten in the retellings.

In the end, Robert Baratheon became king and married the beautiful Cersi Lannister. To the story that was the happy ending, but to Robert it was clearly bitter sweet. Martin is showing us that in real life there rarely is a “happily ever after,” and he is doing so by using a genre that epitomizes that idea. Robert and Ned may have won the day, but happy endings are only about where the story stops, because if you keep following the lives of Ned and Robert you know that their stories don’t end so happily after all. From the very first season, Game of Thrones has been trying to prove this point. The books and the TV series have always been about subverting expectations and bucking tropes.

So we ask again, “is A Song of Ice and Fire and its TV show a fairy tale?” Yes, it is about fairy tale ideas, knights, magic, bravery, princesses and kings, but it is showing us the story before it gets cleaned and homogenized and becomes just another bed time retelling. All the other elements, the fantasy, the swordplay, the magic are there. Game of Thrones is a real-life fairy tale. It is meant to expose the truth behind fairy tales, because they may be great as stories, but that is all they are, stories. The world cannot always be defined by “Once upon a time,” and especially never by “Happily ever after…” But then again, maybe we’re wrong. Maybe Season 6 will prove that Jon Snow is only just unconscious, and waiting for Love’s True Kiss.

If you have not been keeping up with the adventures of Finn the Human and Jake the Dog on Adventure Time then you have been missing out. Their home, the Land Ooo, is a magical off-the-wall place where a boy and his talking dog can play and have adventures all day long, but under its cheerful exterior is a harsher reality. Finn is the last human and the Land of Ooo only exists because of a terrible event known as the Great Mushroom War. Yet, what if there was even another layer of meaning beneath that one? What if Adventure Time only existed in the head of a small and lonely child?

The Land of Ooo
We are not the first people to come up with fantastic theories to explain the over-the-top wackiness of Adventure Time, as the Land of Ooo is a strange and crazy place. Yet, what if the Land of Ooo -where Adventure Time takes place- is really only in the imagination of Finn, a 13 year old boy living a lonely life in a rundown apartment building with his dog and his equally lonely father. Also, the inhabitants of Ooo are therefore real people who inhabit the apartment complex that the real Finn lives in. This may all seem a little farfetched but stay with us.

We say that the real Finn lives in a run down apartment building for two reasons. First, the Land of Ooo, can be taken as a whimsical name, or we can take it for the last three digits on Finn’s apartment. The real Finn may live in apartment 1000 or 2000 or 3000, but the first number fell off and nobody bothered to replace it. Also, supporting this idea is the devastation we sometimes see in the background of Adventure Time. Episodes are littered with forgotten cars, street signs, and even old buildings. In the cartoon these are meant to be remnants of the civilization that existed before the Land of Ooo, the one destroyed by the Mushroom War -think: mushroom cloud- but what if there is more to it? It also makes sense that Finn is living in a low rent apartment building, considering he is alone most of the time as his father has to work a lot to help them get by.

The Mushroom War is talked about only vaguely, but we do know that it was a devastating event that destroyed the human world. Almost no humans survived and it literally blew off chunks of the Earth. Adventure Time, actually takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, though you would never know as a casual viewer. It is rarely talked about, just like what happens when a devastating event takes place in the life of a young boy. The real Finn’s mother died, tragically. It destroyed his world causing him to retreat into fantasy. Just like in Adventure Time nobody seems to talk about this immense and heart-breaking event, especially with Finn. There is a reason Finn is the only human in Adventure Time, because even in his fantasy world he feels alone, like no one else can understand what it is like to be him. After his mother died his world literally ended.

Inhabitants of Ooo
Jake the Dog, is Finn’s best friend. Maybe the real Jake was a present from his mother before she passed away. Regardless, Jake is the only person Finn can really open up to, besides BMO. BMO, is Finn and Jake’s sentient computer/video game system. He/she is also ambiguously gendered, much like any computer might be. Jake and BMO make sense in the world of a lonely boy who only has his dog and video games for company. It is also worth noting that BMO is certainly not state of the art. His/her graphics are often pixelated, he/she speaks with a Japanese accent, and his/her graphics are colored green like on an old Gameboy system, further supporting the notion that Finn is poor. Though Jake and BMO are Finn’s closest confidants they are not his only friends.

Other residents of the apartment complex often make appearances in Finn’s fantasies. Tree Trunks, the elderly elephant that bakes pies, Cinnamon Bun, the mentally challenged but kind-hearted homeless pastry creature, old man Starchy, Shelby the worm, Peppermint Butler, and the rest fit nicely as residents of the apartment complex. They are people Finn interacts with on a normal basis. Lady Rainacorn -Jake’s girlfriend- is possibly another dog or ferret or similiar creature that belongs to a Korean family in another apartment who Jake often enjoys playing with. In the show she only speaks in Korean, possibly like her owners. Jake understands her but Finn does not. Lumpy Space Princess is an annoying girl who Finn sometimes hangs out with, but recognizes that she can be a little bit of a drama princess. Similarly, Flame Princess is a girl that Finn has a crush on, but she can be bad tempered. In fact, most of the princesses can be explained as girls who Finn knows from the apartment complex or as acquaintances at school.

However, there are two girls in particular that stand out. Princess Bubblegum, is most likely an older girl who is Finn’s neighbor. In Adventure Time they give her age as 18 when Finn is 13. This means she is in high school and Finn obviously has a crush on her. In the real world she is often called on to babysit Finn when he is alone. Her age and high school education also accounts why Princess Bubblegum is seen as the smartest person in the land. In the real world she is older than Finn so it seems like she knows everything when compared to the 13 year old boy. In Adventure Time Princess Bubblegum is also said to be the person who made all the other residents of the candy kingdom, most likely because the real world Bubblegum -whose real name is Bonnie- often brings Finn baked goods or candy when she comes to babysit. So to Finn, he associates her with those traits and Bonnie also seems quite fond of Finn, though not in a romantic way, as she is too old for him.

Marceline is a human/demon vampire in Adventure Time. Unlike Princess Bubblegum, Finn has no romantic attachment to her, but they do start off as enemies when Marceline initially tries taking over Finn’s home. Real world Marcy is probably Finn’s cousin or similiar relation, and she comes from a bad home environment. She has a very strained relationship with her father and often survives on her own. Her father rarely seems to care what his daughter is up to, and possibly even abandoned her at a young age. She is also older than even Bonnie/Bubblegum, and is most likely in college or living on her own, though, Bonnie and Marcy do seem to have a preexisting love/hate friendship with one another. In the cartoon Marceline is over 1,000 years old, plays the guitar and often dates jerks and hipsters. Finn’s initial dislike of her most likely resulted from her moving in with Finn and his dad for a short period of time before finding her own apartment -maybe in the same building- but their relationship has since turned more toward friendship and respect. Marceline has obviously come to value her cool little cousin as much as Finn enjoys spending time with her. Marcy also had a close familial relationship with Finn’s father, whom she admires but has since come to pity.

The Ice King
In Adventure Time the Ice King is the main antagonist, but he’s not evil, really he’s just more confused than anything. Simon Pretrikov is his real name, and he was an archeologist who discovered a magic crown that gave him powers but slowly drove him insane, kind of like parenthood. They did however, protect him from the nuclear fallout of the Mushroom War, but did not save the love of his life, Betty. She died and the Ice King quickly lost his grip on the world around him. He has a long white beard and he isn’t in every episode. It is likely that the Ice King represents Finn’s real world father, who probably grew a beard after the death of his wife.

In flashbacks and home videos Simon is seen as a normal and happy person with his fiance, Betty, but the power of the crown -responsibility- and the Mushroom War changed all of that. In Adventure Time, the Ice King is portrayed as irrational and pathetic, but that might just be how Finn sees his father. Sometimes to the minds of children parents seem as if they behave erratically, often doing arbitrary things or imposing punishments that don’t always make sense to the child. However, Simon -like the Ice King- is also lonely. His wife died tragically and he is left raising a son by himself and with very little money. He rarely talks about his wife or what life was like before she died, much as the Ice King on Adventure Time often forgets that he was ever anyone else before what he became. The Ice King and Finn are often at odds, but they also have a lot in common and there are plenty of times where the Ice King just turns up and acts as if he and Finn are best friends. You know, kind of like the same way any father might act with his only son.

Remember, that the residents of Ooo are distortions of their real world counterparts, but even with that said it is possible that the real world Simon, Finn’s father, is slightly more eccentric than most. He’s been through a lot and has faced a lot of hardship in his day. We have to admit he may also have a creepy thing for Bonnie/Bubblegum, as she is often uncomfortable around him. The Ice King does capture a lot of princesses/women, which may represent a lot of failed dating attempts. Yet, there is one female he never made advances toward, Marceline, who is his real-world niece. Adventure Time shows that Marceline and Simon had a preexisting relationship before he went crazy. Simon helped raise her after she was abandoned by her father, and it is very possible this also happened in the real world too. Uncle Simon was very likely the person Marcy turned too when her father disappeared from her life as a child. The two have a special relationship, and it is one that now pains Marceline because she realizes how much Simon has fallen from the kind and caring person who helped raise her.

What Time is It?
Part of the genius of Adventure Time is that is a cartoon that can be enjoyed by children for its colorful animation, offbeat humor, and sense of adventure, but it also speaks to adults on another level. It is meant to invoke these types of feelings and theories that hint at something deeper going on. Each episode teaches a lesson about growing up, a lesson you could see the real world Finn learning as he goes along in life. Even more impressive it that Adventure Time is one of the only cartoon shows where the main character actually ages. Each season Finn has continued to grow taller and his voice has deepened, to the point where he is now said to be about 16 years old.

There is a lot more minutia and other evidence we could have brought in, but it might be better if you find it for yourself. So, keep this theory in mind the next time you pop over to Cartoon Network and watch the happenings of Finn and Jake. We promise you may never watch it the same way again.

“All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy.” The comic books would have us believe that this quote was spoken by the Joker, but what if that was not truly the case. In fact, what if the Joker never existed, or the Penguin, or the Riddler, or any of them? Each of Batman’s most prominent villains has a strong correlation to part of Batman’s psyche, maybe too strong of a connection. What if that was all they were, the fractured parts of a broken mind created by a young boy in the wake of a horrible tragedy? What if Bruce Wayne never became Batman, and instead his mind broke apart and each piece became a villain we now know.

The Id of Gotham
In this theory, we need to look at the fractured mind of Bruce Wayne in terms of Freudian personality factors: The Id, the Ego, and the Super Ego. The villains of Batman represent the Id, each can be described as a type of desire or subconscious urge that a young boy might feel as he grows up in a large lonely mansion after the tragic death of his parents. Each villain contains an aspect of Bruce’s own personality that he is fighting against and may even be based upon people in his own life.

Poison Ivy is a creature of pure desire. Her powers include pheromones that drive men wild, an ability to communicate with plants, and being a red head. Ivy represents Bruce’s budding sexual urges, but with the advent of a hidden danger. Ivy is beautiful -and sometimes barely clothed- but she only uses her abilities to gain control of men. She uses them for her own ends, and despite the fact that lust is a natural urge -natural like plants- Batman fights against her, afraid of the power she could gain over him. In reality, Ivy could be any girl Bruce interacts with, but if it is a specific one she might be older and more experienced.

Mr. Freeze is cold, incredibly cold. The loss of his wife and the experiment that turned him into a creature of sub-zero temperatures gave him powers, but it also left him encased in a giant metal barrier, forever cut off from the world. Before the accident, Victor Fries was a kind and gentle man, as warm-hearted and loving as they come. Freeze represents Bruce’s heart, it is cold and sealed away from the world after the tragedy he endured. Batman fights against him, but he can never cure Freeze. The Dark Knight is never able to warm the frozen heart. In the real world, Dr. Fries may be a medical doctor, cold an methodical in his methods and lacking a bedside manner. Thomas Wayne would have been Bruce’s initial doctor, but now he is gone forever.

The Penguin is Oswald Cobblepot, a wealthy yet deformed “business” man. The Penguin differs from the other villains in that he is not physically imposing. Instead he runs a criminal empire while posing as a legitimate entrepreneur and club owner. His refined sensibilities place him above other Gotham criminals, and to the young Bruce Wayne -heir to family fortune and business- the Penguin represents his familial responsibilities. He is everything Bruce fears about the world he must eventually step into now that his father is gone. Batman fights the Penguin because he fears what he is being forced into becoming. It is very likely that Cobblepot may even be an unflattering representation of Alfred. Both -usually tend to- have British accents, and Cobblepot has the same syllables as Pennyworth. More to the point, Alfred would be the person most pushing Bruce into fulfilling his family obligations.

Catwoman is the one villain that Batman comes closest to accepting. There are even several “What If” scenarios where they do eventually fall in love and get married. A resourceful and thrill-seeking cat-burglar. Selina Kyle has very little responsibilities, preferring to live like one of her cats, free to come and go as she pleases. She represents Bruce’s fear of forgetting his pain and guilt. To accept Selina is to move on with his life and leave his parents behind. Whereas Bruce fears becoming like Penguin, he also refuses Catwoman, no matter how bad he sometimes wants her. Batman still fights Selina because that would mean growing up, getting married, starting a family, and letting go of the past. In real life, she is probably his only friend, a kindred spirit that Bruce enjoy but refuses to open up to.

The Riddler is a criminal mastermind. He is probably the most brilliant of any of Batman’s adversaries and yet he is also one of the craziest. Riddler’s compulsion to leave clues and puzzles at the scene of his crime are often his undoing. Riddler represents Bruce’s intelligence and his logic. Yet, it is a flawed intelligence, one that gets in its own way more often than not. Bruce knows he is a smart kid, and being smart and logical one often wants to feel in control of their own life. He blames himself for the death of his parents. Bruce was the one who asked to go to the theater. He was the one who put his parents in that situation. Much like the Riddler, he was the master of his own undoing and all the intelligence in the world couldn’t stop it. In real life, Edward Nygma might be a teacher who is always giving the class problems to solve.

Bane is an intelligent and tactical thinker who becomes a raging punch monster when hooked on Venom. If the Riddler represents Bruce’s logic, than Bane is his rage. Going through the kind of tragedy that Bruce suffered leaves a lot of people with issues of anger, and Bruce Wayne is no different. The drug, Venom, affects the usually articulate and smart Bane in much the same way Bruce’s rage can turn the well-spoken and intelligent boy into a monster. Moreover, rage can be addicting and dangerous, just like the Venom drug. Batman faces many savage enemies -Man-Bat, Killer Croc, and more- and though they all represent part of his savagery or anger, there is no better representative of the potential for his ongoing rage than Bane. He is the only villain who ever succeeds in breaking the Batman. Bane, may not be a real person, but someone Bruce watches on TV, maybe even a Mexican wrestler.

Scarecrow is fear, plain and simple. Having your parents killed in front of you is traumatizing, and we would be amazed if it didn’t leave young Bruce Wayne living in a state of unadulterated and irrational fear. It is also telling that Dr. Crane is a psychologist. In the real world Scarecrow may represent Bruce’s therapist. In talking about the trauma of his tradgedy Bruce is probably often forced to relive the terror and fear of that fateful night in his discussions with the real Dr. Crane. Thus, to the young boy’s mind going to the psychologist is linked instinctively with fear. So when Batman fights the Scarecrow he is really fighting against that fear, and maybe even against the advice of his therapist.

Two-Face was once the celebrated district attorney, Harvey Dent, now he is a killer and a crime-boss. To Bruce he represents a sort of dual identity, and we’re not talking about as Batman. “Stiff upper lip,” is something you can hear Alfred saying to young “Master Bruce.” As a Wayne, the small boy is the last heir to the family business and fortune. Bruce must often be forced to put on an appropriate media friendly mask whenever in public, even when he probably just wants to cry and collapse in his bed. Such a strain can tax even the brightest of children and Bruce must feel as if he is being pulled apart, forced to choke down emotions and smile in public. It is probably no coincidence that Batman also despises his public persona. Dent represents the attorney who prosecuted his parents’ killer. He must have put Bruce on the stand, but not before prepping the boy on how to act -over and over again- as he was the key witness in the case. Because unlike in Bruce’s fictional world, in real life the police caught the killer.

The Joker is by far the most iconic and most dangerous Batman villain of all time. The Clown Prince of Crime is a force of utter chaos and inhumanity, completely irredeemable by any standards. Both comedian and killer, you never know what will come out the barrel of his gun, a punching bag or a bullet. For Bruce Wayne, who lost his parents and sits on the brink of his own sanity, the Joker does not represent any one aspect of himself, instead he represents the enemy, the biggest threat of them all. The Joker is chaos incarnate, a faceless and nameless man without a backstory whose only job is to make Batman’s life a living hell. The Joker is the fictional representation of the man who killed Bruce’s parents, the man who shattered Bruce’s mind.

Many of Batman’s minor villains could also be taken as other and lesser impulses. The Mad Hatter represents living in a delusional world. The Calendar Man represents a fear of growing older. Soloman Grundy represents unstoppable grief, and the list could go on. Ultimately, this theory helps makes more than a fictional comic book world. Gotham City is nothing more than the mind of a scared and mentally damaged child. Even the character’s names sound like things a child would create, Oswald Cobblepot, Edward E. Nygma, Pamela Isely, but what about Batman. What does he represent in this shattered world?

The Ego of Batman
Taking this idea one step further, we find Bruce Wayne, a boy of ten or eleven who just lost his parents. His mind fractures at the trauma, inventing monsters and criminals that threaten to tear apart Gotham, the city that represents his mind. So being a prepubescent boy, Bruce invents a caped crusader to fight them. He invents Batman as his ego, the part of his mind that tries to suppress the Id and find a balance with the Super Ego. The Super-Ego is best represented by Alfred, Bruce’s surrogate father figure. In any Batman story the loyal butler is often the rock of reason, but Bruce rarely listens to his pleas for normalcy. Thus, Batman may help keep these nastier forces and impulses in check for Bruce, but he also does not allow the young boy to get past them either.

Batman is constantly fighting villains, none of which he is able to kill or keep locked up for long. The impulses are always escaping and always wreaking havoc on Gotham. Batman eventually beats them, represses them behind the bars of Arkham. Yet, Gotham never improves. No matter how hard Batman fights to clean up the crime, the corruption, or the villainy, Gotham remains as dirty and broken as ever. Bruce fights against these aspects of his mind, but never allows them to heal. He never gets past them. There is often evidence that when Thomas and Martha Wayne were alive Gotham was friendly and cleaner, but that all that falls apart after they die. Bruce’s mind crumbles into the Gotham City we know today and Batman is part of the problem. He is not really an agent of change so much as he is an agent of the status quo, a never ending cycle that keeps everything exactly as it is.

So, regardless of whether you buy into this theory or not, you have to admit that it fits well within the world of Batman. There has always been a psychological darkness that pervades the adventures of the Dark Knight, and it speaks to us all in a whispered voice that says, “All it takes is one bad day…”