‘Elf’: A Disturbing, Tragic Fan Theory Will Change the Way You View This Christmas Classic

Elf is a modern-day Christmas classic that warms the hearts of viewers each year. But what’s not heartwarming is a tragic fan theory that has been online for a while. The theory has floated around for years connects the death of Buddy’s biological mother to the film’s main antagonists.

Will Ferrell
Will Ferrell | James Devaney/WireImage

What is ‘Elf’ about?

Elf revolves around a man named Buddy (Will Ferrell), who as a toddler, ends up living at the North Pole in the midst of Santa’s elves. Buddy is raised by Papa Elf, (played by Bob Newhart) and works in the toyshop and grows up with the other elves. However, because he is not a biological elf and is a human, he grows in size as he gets older, while the elves stay smaller.

Buddy soon learns that he is a human and is not an elf because he is a grown man. Because of this, he is not an elf and toy maker like the rest and is instead just a toy tester. He decides to travel to New York to find his biological father.

It is a bumpy journey, but Buddy learns a lot about himself and finds his family, including his father, brother and step-mother. He also falls in love and is able to save Christmas when it is almost lost because people were not believing in him.

An interesting fan theory adds a lot more depth to certain parts of the film

A crucial part of the film’s early plot is how Buddy is actually the son of Walter Hobbs. We learn that he is the son of Walter and Susan Wells. The film does not state how Susan died, but a theory states that Susan has a connection to the film’s Central Park Rangers. The Rangers emerge as the antagonists near the end of the film as they try to stop Santa Claus from being able to save Christmas.

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A thread on Reddit seems to believe that the Rangers are responsible for Susan’s death. The theory hinges upon the thought that Susan was at the 1985 Simon and Garfunkel concert where crowd control was an issue. It is a real-life event that happened in 1981, but not much is documented about what happened in reality. In the movie, it is unclear what actually happened, but it is stated that the Rangers are still under investigation because of their actions there. The theory on Reddit says puts the idea out there that Susan was at the concert and died, which is why the Rangers are still under investigation.

The Central Park Rangers may be even more villainous than the movie depicts

In the world of this theory, because the police know that Buddy is the son of a murder victim, they could be chasing buddy and actually aren’t trying to destroy Santa Claus and Christmas.

Reddit user AustinJacob wrote in part:

“Being rough in crowd control is not that big, (at least for naughty list material, just think cops, sometimes they have to be rough.) Now, MURDER, on the other hand has a very high chance of putting them on naughty list..and I’m pretty sure it would be a cold case file, but I think. A strange man who is the son of a murder victim who went missing in 1973 dressed as an elf,(the doctor said that he could be reverting to child like dependencies, but what would cause something like that? I know, figuring out that your mother was murdered and the perp was never cought (even though In the movie he was just an elf kid (elves age slower then humans))) I think that would call for the case to be re-opened? And that also probably why THEY WERE CHASING BUDDY, not santa, buddy.. because in the snow, without goggles, it can be hard to see, so if they were after santa, they would have gotten Walter.

While all of this may be a stretch and may not be plausible, the theory does fill in a lot of holes and context. Why were the Rangers so feared and why were they determined to take down Santa? Maybe the reemergence of a true-crime saga that they were behind is the real story of Elf.