The Real Names of 42 Fictional Characters

TD Dolci/Stock via Getty Images
TD Dolci/Stock via Getty Images

From the familiar faces that grace your morning cereal boxes to those recurring television characters whose full names we never seem to learn, the world is full of fictional characters whose visages are all too familiar—but whose names might be less well-known. You've known many of these beloved characters for years, but how well do you really know them? Here's your chance to get better acquainted.

1. Cap'n Crunch // Horatio Magellan Crunch

Boxes of cereal featuring Cap'n Crunch
Roadside Pictures via Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The friendly captain of the S.S. Guppy—who was invented by Jay Ward Productions in the early 1960s and became the face of a cereal in 1963—is Horatio Magellan Crunch to his friends.

2. The Pillsbury Doughboy // Poppin' Fresh

The Pillsbury Doughboy balloon floating down the street between skyscrapers at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.
Andrew Burton, Getty Images

Invented by copywriter Rudy Perz in 1965, the Pillsbury Doughboy also goes by the name Poppin' Fresh, "a nod to the product’s quality and freshness," according to Pillsbury. Mr. Fresh has a wife, Poppie Fresh, and they're the proud parents to two kids, Popper and Bun Bun. The family cat and dog are named Biscuit and Flapjack.

3. The Quaker Oats Guy // Larry

A container of Quaker Oats
smartstock/iStock via Getty Images

That’s not William Penn or Ben Franklin smirking at you from your container of oatmeal, as many people seem to believe. The good people at Quaker Oats refer to him as “Larry.” In 2012, Larry got a mini-makeover in the form of a logo refresh. His hair was trimmed, he lost a little weight, and, according to Quaker, he acquired “more radiant skin from daily oatmeal masks.”

4. Mrs. Butterworth // Joy Butterworth

Several containers of 1970s-style Mrs. Butterworth's syrup
Roadsidepictures via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Thanks to a marketing campaign in 2009, Mrs. Butterworth was finally given a first name: Joy, just like the feeling you experience when you bite into a stack of warm, fluffy pancakes.

5. Comic Book Guy // Jeff Albertson

A still of The Simpsons's Comic Book Guy
Fox

Though an episode revealed Comic Book Guy's real name to be Jeff, Matt Groening had a different moniker in mind. "In my mind, 'Louis Lane' was his name, and he was obsessed and tormented by Lois Lane," Groening told MTV in 2003.

6. Mom From Futurama // Carol Miller

Mom, aka Carol Miller, from 'Futurama'
Fox

Though "Carol" is basically the mom-est name ever, Groening did a Reddit AMA in 2017 where he admitted that writer Patric Verrone originally called the evil CEO of Momcorp Edna after his own mother.

7. The Monopoly Policeman // Officer Edgar Mallory

An orange card that says
duckycards/iStock via Getty Images

The next time you land on the “Go Directly to Jail” spot in Monopoly, you have Officer Edgar Mallory to blame. According to Hasbro, that's the name of the cop who inhabits the space.

8. The Monopoly Inmate // Jake The Jailbird

Jailbird Jake, the Monopoly inmate
martince2/iStock via Getty Images

You'll be getting out of jail if you roll doubles or cough up the bail money, but poor Jake the Jailbird isn't leaving anytime soon.

9. The rich Monopoly guy // Milburn Pennybags

The Monopoly Man on the game board
urbanbuzz/iStock via Getty Images

And when you get that unexpected $10 windfall from coming in second place in a beauty pageant, thank Rich Uncle Pennybags, who was originally named Milburn. According to former Parker Brothers executive Philip Orbanes, after Hasbro purchased Parker Brothers they renamed him Mr. Monopoly. Orbanes also said that the dapper gentleman once had a wife named Madge Pennybags.

10. Mr. Snuffleupagus // Aloysius Snuffleupagus

Mr. Snuffleupagus and the National Dance Institute during the 93rd Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade rehearsals at Macy's Herald Square on November 25, 2019 in New York City
Mr. Snuffleupagus and the National Dance Institute during the 2019 annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade rehearsals.
John Lamparski/Getty Images

Big Bird’s not-so-imaginary friend Mr. Snuffleupagus has a not-so-imaginary first name: Aloysius.

11. Guy Smiley // Bernie Liederkrantz

Sesame Street character Guy Smiley
Sesame Workshop

If you ever thought "Guy Smiley" was too spot-on of a name for a game show host, you were on to something: His “real” name is Bernie Liederkrantz.

12. Peppermint Patty // Patricia Reichardt

Pettermint Patty Peanuts trading card
Mark Anderson via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In a Peanuts comic strip from January 15, 1972, Peppermint Patty reveals that her real name is Patricia Reichardt.

13. Muted Trumpet Teacher // Miss Othmar

And that annoying teacher who sounded suspiciously like a muted trumpet? Her name was Miss Othmar. She later got married and became Mrs. Hagemeyer, which poor Linus could never remember.

14. Mr. Clean // Veritably Clean

Box of Mr. Clean
Roadsidepictures via Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Those lucky enough to be on a first name basis with the follicle-challenged cleaner call him “Veritably.” The name was supposedly chosen during a "Give Mr. Clean a First Name" promotion in 1962. While that promotion did exist, there’s little evidence the name originated there—multiple newspapers in the following years noted that nothing seemed to have come from the contest. But by the 1980s, the company was claiming that the contest chose the moniker Veritably.

15. Barbie // Barbara Millicent Roberts

Barbie doll on a pink background
ivanastar/iStock via Getty Images

With a mouthful of a name like "Barbara Millicent Roberts," you can see why the perpetually popular doll is better known as Barbie. She was named after the daughter of co-creators Ruth and Elliot Handler.

16. Ken // Ken Carson

Barbie and Ken
kaisphoto/iStock via Getty Images

Barbie’s longtime love and fellow fashionista is named Ken Carson, also after Handler’s offspring. The real-life Barbie and Ken didn’t appreciate the attention that came with being the doll namesakes. In fact, Barbara Handler Segal’s daughter, Cheryl, never owned a Barbie. Ken Handler has said that Barbie “should care more about going to the beach. I wish she would work in a soup kitchen, but then she would never sell.”

17. The Operation Patient // Cavity Sam

Hasbro's 'Operation' game
Hasbro via Amazon

The perpetual patient in the game Operation is an unfortunate fellow named Cavity Sam.

18. The Church Lady // Enid Strict

Dana Carvey as The Church Lady on Saturday Night Live
NBC

Dana Carvey’s judgmental, lip-pursing, holier-than-thou Church Lady has a name, which she occasionally referenced on Church Chat—it’s “Enid Strict.” Well isn’t that ... appropriate.

19. Cookie Monster // Sid

Cookie Monster is photographed during an appearance at the Midweek Morning Show at Children's Hospital Boston in Boston, Massachusetts in 2010
Gail Oskin, Getty Images for Children's Hospital Boston

During a 2004 episode of Sesame Street, Cookie Monster admitted that before he became hooked on baked goods, his name known as Sid; in 2010, he tweeted that it may have been Sidney.

20. The Man With The Yellow Hat // Ted Shackelford

A still from 'Curious George'
PBS

In a deleted scene from the 2006 Curious George movie, it was revealed that The Man With the Yellow Hat is named Ted Shackleford. It may not count since it was a deleted scene, but we thought you should know. Fun fact: Ted Shackelford is also the actor who played Gary Ewing on Knots Landing.

21. Bic Pen Logo // Bic Boy

The little guy on the BIC logo hasn’t been impaled by a pen; he’s holding it behind his back. And he has a name: It’s BIC Boy. Sorry if that’s a letdown.

22. Twitter Logo // Larry Bird

Twitter logo on a smartphone
Chesnot/Getty Images

The friendly blue bird over on Twitter goes by the name of Larry. Larry ... Bird.

23. Mr. Peanut // Bartholomew Richard Fitzgerald-Smythe

A large peanut wearing a suit and monocle is dabbing.
Michael Loccisano, Getty Images

In 1916, 14-year-old Antonio Gentile entered a Planter’s Peanuts contest to create a mascot. His winning entry was a version of the dapper legume we all know and love today. He also suggested a name for his character: Bartholomew Richard Fitzgerald-Smythe.

24. The Michelin Man // Bibendum

Michelin Man is seen during the Formula E New York City Race on July 14, 2018 in New York City
John Lamparski/Getty Images

The Michelin Man’s real name, Bibendum, comes from an early advertisement that showed the Michelin Man holding a questionable cocktail of nails and broken glass and saying "Nunc est bibendum!" The tagline on the ad read “Michelin tires drink up obstacles.”

25. Evil Queen // Grimhilde

The Evil Queen in 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' (1937)
Walt Disney Home Entertainment

For most Disney fans, the evil queen from Snow White has simply been known as just that. But the comic strip adaptation refers to the world’s worst stepmother as Queen Grimhilde. The same comic strip has the Queen say “Mirror Mirror on the Wall” as opposed to the film’s “Magic Mirror.”

26. Jughead // Forsythe P. Jones Iii

Archie Comics via Amazon

You didn’t think Jughead’s parents actually named him Jughead, did you? Actually, what they named him isn’t really any less bizarre: Forsythe P. Jones III.

27. Moose // Marmaduke Mason

'Moose & Midge: Breakup Blues' comic book cover
Archie Comics via Amazon

And there’s a reason that that lughead, Moose, chose a short nickname—his real name is Marmaduke Mason.

28. Mr. Whipple // George Whipple

A Charmin promotional display featuring Mr. Whipple
Roadsidepictures via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Mr. Whipple, the poor grocer who so desperately wanted his customers to leave the Charmin alone, went by the name of George. Squeeze that.

29. Woody from Toy Story // Woody Pride

A costumed character that of Woody from Toy Story smiles at the camera while a costumed Jessie stands in the background.
YOSHIKAZU TSUNO, Getty Images

According to Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich, Woody from Toy Story has a last name: Pride.

30. Casper The Friendly Ghost // Casper Mcfadden

A still from Casper (1995)
Universal Pictures

Though the comic books never specified Casper's surname (nor addressed how—of even if—he died), the 1995 Casper movie claimed that the little ghost's family name was McFadden.

31. Geoffrey The Toys "R" Us Mascot // Dr. G. Raffe

geoffrey the giraffe on toys r us truck
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Before he was simply Geoffrey, the Toys "R" Us mascot was known as Dr. G. Raffe.

32. Shaggy // Norville Rogers

A still from 'Scooby Doo, Where Are You!'
Warner Home Video

Though “Shaggy” fits him better, the frightened ghost hunter’s real name is actually Norville Rogers.

33. Scooby Doo // Scoobert

Warner Home Video

Scooby has a more proper name as well: Scoobert—and that's Scoobert Doo, not Scoobert Doobert as has been rumored.

34. MacGyver // Angus MacGyver

Richard Dean Anderson starred in 'MacGyver'
CBS

Apparently an early press release proclaimed that MacGyver's first name was Stacey. His real name, Angus, was revealed during the final season, but the story behind it isn't too complex: Richard Dean Anderson saw it on a banner in Vancouver and suggested it.

35. B.A. Baracus // Bosco Albert Baracus

Hulu

This A-Team character may have claimed the "B.A." was for "bad attitude," but it was really for Bosco Albert.

36. Turtle from Entourage // Salvatore Assante

Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Jerry Ferrara in Entourage
Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Jerry Ferrara in Entourage.
HBO

Jeopardy! claimed it was Salvatore Vacara, but Turtle himself, Jerry Ferrara, tweeted otherwise.

37. Wilson from Home Improvement // Wilson W. Wilson Jr.

Tim Allen and Earl Hindman in Home Improvement
Tim Allen and Earl Hindman in Home Improvement.
The Walt Disney Co.

The alliteratively named neighbor also had a niece, Willow Wilson.

38. Bull Shannon // Nostradamus Shannon

Warner Bros. Entertainment

Though "Nostradamus" lends itself to all kinds of interesting nicknames, Bull Shannon from Night Court was so-called because when his mother found out she was pregnant, she said, "Bull!"

39. Boomhauer from King Of The Hill // Jeffrey Dexter Boomhauer III

Boomhauer's first name isn't the only shocking revelation about Hank Hill's perpetually indecipherable friend—he's also a Texas Ranger.

40. The Skipper from Gilligan's Island // Jonas Grumby

Alan Hale Jr. and Tina Louise in Gilligan's Island (1964)
Warner Home Video

The real name of the owner of the S.S. Minnow was Jonas Grumby.

41. The Professor From Gilligan's Island // Roy Hinkley

Russell Johnson in Gilligan's Island
Russell Johnson as The Professor in Gilligan's Island.
Warner Home Video

Likewise, the professor had a real name: Roy Hinkley.

42. Lt. Columbo // Frank Columbo

Peter Falk and Harvey Gold in 'Columbo'
Peter Falk and Harvey Gold in Columbo.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

According to the name on his police badge, Lt. Columbo’s name was Frank. Though a few sources report that his name is Philip, that’s not true. The faux moniker appeared as a copyright trap in The Trivia Encyclopedia. When Trivial Pursuit later reprinted the false answer to the question, the author of The Trivia Encyclopedia knew they had used information from his book and sued. The court ruled in favor of Trivial Pursuit, saying that facts—even false ones—can’t be copyrighted.

10 LEGO Sets For Every Type of LEGO Builder 

Amazon
Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

If you’re looking for a timeless gift to give this holiday season, look no further than a LEGO set. With kits that cater to a wide age range—from toddlers fine-tuning their motor skills to adults looking for a more engaged way to relax—there’s a LEGO set out there for everyone. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite sets on Amazon to help you find the LEGO box that will make your loved one smile this year. If you end up getting one for yourself too, don’t worry: we won’t tell.

1. Classic Large Creative Gift Box; $44

Amazon

You can never go wrong with a classic. This 790-piece box contains dozens of types of colored bricks so builders of any age can let their inner architect shine. With toy windows, doors, tires, and tire rims included in addition to traditional bricks, the building possibilities are truly endless. The bricks are compatible with all LEGO construction sets, so builders have the option of creating their own world or building a new addition onto an existing set.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Harry Potter Hogwarts Express; $64

Amazon

Experience the magic of Hogwarts with this buildable Hogwarts Express box. The Prisoner Of Azkaban-inspired kit not only features Hogwarts's signature mode of transportation, but also Platform 9 ¾, a railway bridge, and some of your favorite Harry Potter characters. Once the train is built, the sides and roof can be removed for play within the cars. There is a Dementor on board … but after a few spells cast by Harry and Lupin, the only ride he’ll take is a trip to the naughty list.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Star Wars Battle of Hoth; $160

Amazon

Star Wars fans can go into battle—and rewrite the course of history—by recreating a terrifying AT-AT Walker from the Battle of Hoth. Complete with 1267 pieces to make this a fun challenge for ages 10 and up, the Walker has elements like spring-loaded shooters, a cockpit, and foldout panels to reveal its deadly inner workings. But never fear: Even though the situation might look dire, Luke Skywalker and his thermal detonator are ready to save the day.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Super Mario Adventures Starter Course; $60

Amazon

Kids can play Super Mario in 3D with LEGO’s interactive set. After constructing one of the courses, young designers can turn on the electronic Mario figurine to get started. Mario’s built-in color sensors and LCD screens allow him to express more than 100 different reactions as he travels through the course. He’ll encounter obstacles, collect coins, and avoid Goomba and Bowser to the sound of the Mario soundtrack (played via an included speaker). This is a great gift for encouraging problem-solving and creativity in addition to gaming smarts.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Gingerbread House; $212

Amazon

Gingerbread houses are a great way to enjoy the holidays … but this expert-level kit takes cookie construction to a whole new level. The outside of the LEGO house rotates around to show the interior of a sweet gingerbread family’s home. Although the living room is the standout with its brick light fireplace, the house also has a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and outdoor furniture. A LEGO Christmas tree and presents can be laid out as the holidays draw closer, making this a seasonal treat you can enjoy with your family every year.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Elsa and Olaf’s Tea Party; $18

Amazon

LEGO isn’t just for big kids. Toddlers and preschoolers can start their LEGO journey early by constructing an adorable tea party with their favorite Frozen characters. As they set up Elsa and Olaf’s ice seats, house, and tea fixings, they’ll work on fine-motor, visual-spatial, and emotional skills. Building the set from scratch will enable them to put their own creative spin on a favorite movie, and will prepare them for building more complicated sets as they get older.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Collectible Art Set Building Kits; $120

Amazon

Why buy art when you can build it yourself? LEGO’s Beatles and Warhol Marilyn Monroe sets contain four options for LEGO art that can be built and displayed inside your home. Each kit comes with a downloadable soundtrack you can listen to while you build, turning your art experience into a relaxing one. Once you’re finished building your creation it can be exhibited within a LEGO brick frame, with the option to hang it or dismantle it to start on a new piece. If the 1960s aren’t your thing, check out these Sith and Iron Man options.

Buy it: Amazon

8. NASA Apollo Saturn V; $120

Amazon

The sky (or just the contents of your LEGO box) is the limit with LEGO’s Saturn V expert-level kit. Designed for ages 14 and up, this to-scale rocket includes three removable rocket stages, along with a command and service module, Lunar Lander, and more. Once the rocket is complete, two small astronaut figurines can plant a tiny American flag to mark a successful launch. The rocket comes with three stands so it can be displayed after completion, as well as a booklet for learning more about the Apollo moon missions.

Buy it: Amazon

9. The White House; $100

Amazon

Reconstruct the First Family’s home (and one of America’s most famous landmarks) by erecting this display model of the White House. The model, which can be split into three distinct sections, features the Executive Residence, the West Wing, and the East Wing of the complex. Plant lovers can keep an eye out for the colorful rose garden and Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, which flank the Executive Residence. If you’re unable to visit the White House anytime soon, this model is the next best thing.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Volkswagen Camper Van; $120

Amazon

Road trip lovers and camping fanatics alike will love this vintage-inspired camper. Based on the iconic 1962 VW vehicle, LEGO’s camper gets every detail right, from the trademark safari windshield on the outside to the foldable furniture inside. Small details, like a “Make LEGO Models, Not War” LEGO T-shirt and a detailed engine add an authentic touch to the piece. Whether you’re into old car mechanics or simply want to take a trip back in time, this LEGO car will take you on a journey you won’t soon forget.

Buy it: Amazon

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10 Bizarre Elf Fan Theories

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

Elf, the beloved Christmas comedy starring Will Ferrell as a human raised at the North Pole who goes to New York City to find his family, is a certified holiday classic. If you’re like a lot of movie fans, you’ve probably already seen the film dozens—if not hundreds—of times. Which means you’ve hand plenty of time to pick apart every detail of the film, and that means internet theorists have as well. Put all of that together and Elf has had plenty of time to live in the realm of the fan theory.

So, as we revisit this Christmas classic, we're taking a look at some intriguing, amusing, and just plain weird Elf fan theories covering everything from Buddy the Elf’s origins to the film's secret sequels.

1. Buddy the Elf Is Actually A Creep.

One of the things that endears Buddy to so many people throughout the film is his innocence and his way of seeing everything in the world of humans with such wonder and excitement. But according to one theory, that may all be a clever ruse. In perhaps the most popular Elf fan theory of all time, Reddit user Batfan54 posits that Buddy’s innocence is actually an act to hide his creepier tendencies. The chief evidence here is the scene in which Buddy walks into the women’s locker room at the department store where Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) is singing “Baby It’s Cold Outside” in the shower. Buddy joins in, then flees when she screams for him to leave. When Jovie confronts him later, Buddy says “I didn’t know you were naked,” and his childlike innocence seems to win Jovie over. Buddy clearly knows what a shower is, though, as we see him using one at the North Pole earlier in the film. So why does he suddenly play dumb about Jovie being naked? According to this theory, he’s not dumb, he was just trying to get out of trouble after peeping at her in the first place. Shame on you, Buddy.

2. Buddy Is A Secret Mutant Elf Operative.

While some fan theories focus more on Buddy’s social interactions in the human world, others spend time looking at his various physical attributes. Buddy is a human, but his time in the elf world has granted him a number of skills that seem superhuman, including his ability to decorate an entire department store floor overnight, his apparent reliance on just 40 minutes of sleep each night, and his diet of candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup. Throw in his machine gun speed with snowballs and his often uncanny physical resilience, and something doesn’t add up. The explanation, according to Tibbsy, is that Buddy is actually a mutant created for the specific purpose of being sent to Earth to spread Christmas cheer and save Santa Claus (Ed Asner) from losing all of his believers. Of course, he doesn’t know this, so he thinks he’s a human, but it was a secret elf plot all along.

3. Elf Is A Prequel To Step Brothers.

Columbia/TriStar

There are a handful of theories which attempt to tie Elf into other films—specifically, other films starring Will Ferrell. A few years back, a blogger named Trent over at Barstool Sports was watching Elf as part of his annual Christmas tradition when he had an odd thought: Buddy’s stepmother is played by Mary Steenburgen, who also plays the mother of Brennan, Will Ferrell’s character in the 2008 comedy Step Brothers. A closer examination reveals that the characters of Buddy and Brennan have a lot in common, from their difficulty dealing with the outside world to their love of animals. So, what if Steenburgen is actually playing the same person in both films, and after Elf she adopted Buddy as her own, changed his name, and remarried? It’s a stretch, but it’s founded on Ferrell’s knack for playing lovable man-children, so once you see it, it’s a little hard to shake.

4. Buddy Is A Hybrid Creature.

Here’s another theory designed as an attempt to explain Buddy’s strange elf behavior, including his candy-based diet, very brief sleep schedule, and superhuman feats of snowball-throwing and travel (remember, he got from the North Pole to New York City on foot without a scratch). We’re told in the film that Buddy is the child of Walter Hobbs (James Caan) and the now-deceased Susan Wells, but what if there’s more to Buddy’s ancestry than we think? What if, somehow, past Christmas elves made their way out into the human world and just started breeding with the human population at some point, if only in a very limited way? Then they might produce some human-elf hybrid creatures with elf-like qualities. If Buddy is the product of this genetic line, it could explain a lot.

5. Miles Finch Is A Con Artist.

A key subplot in Elf involves Walter and his publishing company underlings trying to put together a pitch for a new children’s book by Christmas Eve in order to appease his boss. At one point in the film, his head writers (Andy Richter and Kyle Gass) pitch the idea that they bring in “golden ghost” writer Miles Finch (Peter Dinklage). Finch arrives and, after accepting a hefty cash payment upfront, leaves following an argument in which Buddy assumes he’s not a human little person, but an elf. Finch leaves behind his notebook of ideas, which Walter and company then use to craft a pitch.

Of course, we never get to see this pitch, and Walter leaves the company shortly after to form his own publishing group, so there’s no indication of how successful it was. According to one theory, it was never intended to be a hit, because Finch’s notebook wasn’t where he kept his good ideas. It was a red herring, left behind just so he could pocket the cash and get out of the place without having to do any real work.

6. Elf Is A Prequel To The LEGO Movie.

Another attempt to tie Elf to a different Will Ferrell performance posits that the film is actually a prequel to The LEGO Movie, a film in which Ferrell both voices the evil LEGO character “Lord Business” and plays a father who builds elaborate LEGO sets in his basement and intends to glue them all together to make them permanent, much to the disappointment of his young son.

According to littleblue42, the father in The LEGO Movie is meant to be Buddy, who’s now lost his Christmas spirit after years of life as a parent and publisher in the adult world. To have some sense of order and control, he’s taken to crafting LEGO sets (still a form of toys) and grows frustrated when his son tries to play with them in his own way. The father’s ultimate realization that he’s being too strict with his LEGOs is meant to represent Buddy rediscovering his old Christmas spirit. Is it a stretch? Maybe. But you’ll think of The LEGO Movie differently the next time you watch it.

7. Buddy Caused Santa’s Sleigh To Crash.

    This theory focuses more on the inner-workings of the film than any connection to other media, and it’s actually a fascinating interpretation of the order of events in the film. It’s established early on in Elf that Santa’s sleigh used to run on Christmas spirit alone, but since fewer people believe in Santa Claus now, the sleigh is assisted by an engine crafted by Papa Elf (Bob Newhart). Late in the film, the sleigh crashes in Central Park, and Santa remarks that the Claus-O-Meter dropped down to zero right before the crash. Why did this happen? Well, according to one theory, it’s because—during his first shift as an elf at Gimbel’s department store—Buddy declared the Santa on duty (Artie Lange) to be a fake, and ripped his beard off, horrifying the group of children there to see “Santa.” By doing this, Buddy shattered the image of Santa those several dozen children had, and lowered Christmas spirit just enough to cause the failure of Santa’s sleigh. Of course, he didn’t mean to do that, but it still created a ripple effect.

    8. Buddy Was The Last Person With Christmas Spirit.

    Warner Home Video

      There’s another, bleaker theory for why Santa’s sleigh went down on Christmas Eve during the film, and it has to do with Buddy’s own emotional journey. Throughout the film, Buddy is doing his best to join the world of humans, and with most people he wins them over through his sincerity, kindness, and enthusiasm. That all wears thin on Walter when Buddy ruins an important presentation, though, and Walter yells “Get out of my life, now!” which sends Buddy out into the streets. After writing a goodbye note to his family, Buddy leaves, and is walking alone in Manhattan when he sees Santa’s sleigh fall out of the sky. According to Freakazette’s theory, the two events are very related. Buddy, in this version of events, was the only person left on Earth with Christmas spirit. When his father pushed him away, that spirit left him, and the Claus-O-Meter dropped to nothing. It feels like a stretch to say that no one left on Earth had any Christmas spirit, but perhaps Buddy’s was the strongest and it dimmed in that moment. Either way, it’s a darker take on the film.

      9. Buddy’s Mom Was Killed in Central Park.

        It’s established early in the film that Buddy’s mother, Susan Wells, gave him up for adoption and later died. What we don’t actually know is how or when she died, but AustinJacob claims to have the answer. Late in the film, we’re introduced to the Central Park Rangers, an elite group of police who are tasked with tracking down Santa. The news report mentions that the Rangers are still under investigation for their “controversial” crowd control tactics at the 1985 Simon and Garfunkel concert. Now, Simon and Garfunkel’s concert in Central Park actually occurred in 1981, but that discrepancy aside, why would the Rangers still be under investigation for that? Could it be because their crowd control caused someone to die? Could that someone have been Buddy’s mother? The film, of course, does not elaborate on this, but it’s an interesting idea that only deepens the menacing aura of the Rangers.

        10. It’s part of a larger shared Santa universe.

        Elf is a film that spends quite a bit of its runtime establishing its own rules and traditions within its little Christmas movie universe, but what if there’s more to the story than even this film is telling us? What if it’s all part of a bigger, longer tradition of Santa Claus on film, and Buddy the Elf’s story is just a small part of it. That’s the theory posited by AdamGreenwood1072, who laid out a complex web of story that connects the Leslie Nielsen comedy Santa Who to Ernest Saves Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, The Santa Clause, and yes, Elf. According to this theory, each of those films represents a different version of Santa as various men step in and out of the job over the years. In Elf, Buddy is first discovered at the orphanage by the confused, tired Santa Who version of the character, but adult Buddy is actually interacting with The Santa Clause version of Santa, as evidenced by the change in costumes Santa undergoes. Buddy doesn’t realize this because, to him, it’s all one Santa Claus, but if you believe this theory, there are subtle nods to a changing of the guard at the North Pole.