Total Nerd Coen Brothers Universe Fan Theories That Just Might Be True  

Lisa Waugh
493 votes 122 voters 10k views 17 items

List Rules Vote up the most plausible fan theories about the universe of Joel and Ethan Coen that could actually be true.

If you like Coen brothers fan theories, here's a list to tuck away with the Creedence records, and share with whomever in your life is the equivalent of Donny and Walter. Ethan and Joel Coen have spent a few decades making deeply intelligent, wacky, and violent films that only they could make. In the process, they've attracted fan theories as unique as their work.   

From The Big Lebowski foreshadowing 9/11 to Llewyn Davis attending Marva Munson’s church in the ‘60s, Coen brothers movie fan theories are far from boring. Many Fargo theories have sprouted since the film's release in 1996, and again in the wake of the TV series premiere in 2014. Showrunner Noah Hawley and his writers love to embed Coen Easter eggs in the series.

 Making connections or nailing down symbolism in an original Coen brothers film can be a tough task. There’s merit to not believing what the Coens say about their own work. Many fans believe the filmmakers are unreliable narrators. Fans think, “That cat in Inside Llewyn has meaning, right?” The Coens shrug and say the cat is just a cat. But cat lover Marva Munson from The Ladykillers may have other ideas.  

This list brings together some of the more reasonable and plausible Coen brother fan theories. Vote for the ones you think could be true. Needless to say, SPOILERS ahead. 
1 44 VOTES

Bunny from "The Big Lebowski" Is from the "Fargo" Universe

Bunny from "The Big Lebows... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Coen Brothers Universe Fan Theories That Just Might Be True
Photo: Gramercy Pictures/FX
In The Big Lebowski, Bunny’s real name is Fawn Knudson. She was born in Moorhead, MN, and ran off to California to find fame and fortune. In Los Angeles, she landed big fish Jeffrey Lebowski, and became a world-class underachiever in the wife department.   
In the Fargo TV series, Betty Solverson tells her husband, Lou, that he should remarry when she passes away from cancer. But, she adds, “So long as it isn't Rhonda Knudson.” Bill and Lester in Fargo also reference a teacher named Mrs. Knudson. Who is Rhonda Knudson? Is she the same person as Mrs. Knudson? Is one of them Fawn’s mother? Or sister? Or aunt? 
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2 69 VOTES

"The Big Lebowski" Is a Retelling of "Alice in Wonderland"

"The Big Lebowski" Is ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Coen Brothers Universe Fan Theories That Just Might Be True
Photo: Gramercy/Disney

Cracked suggests The Big Lebowski is a retelling of Alice in Wonderland, and it's an extremely convincing argument, especially given the Coens's well-known tendency to re-imagine classic literature. 

As per the theory, The Dude and Alice, both extremely lazy, disappear down figurative (The Dude) and literal (Alice) rabbit holes, which leads to an adventure. Alice follows the White Rabbit on her journey, while the The Dude is led, in part, by Bunny Lebowski. Both protagonists do drugs, and those drugs alter the physical size of both the Dude (his trip) and Alice. Both stories also feature nitwit duos, Walter and Donny and the Walrus and the Carpenter. Countless more similarities abound. 
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3 36 VOTES

"A Serious Man" - Schrödinger’s Cat Paradox and the Book of Job

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Video: YouTube
Larry, the protagonist in A Serious Man, is a physics professor who teaches the theory of uncertainty. Soon after we meet Larry, he denies God/science/the universe several times, setting off a series of tragedies mirroring the tribulation of Job. Larry seeks out three rabbis for advice, and is given Jefferson Airplane lyrics from the wisest one.   
One Redditor points out the super-deep meaning behind Larry’s frequent denials, to a Columbia Record Club representative, that he’s a member of the club and ordered Santana’s Abraxas. This bizarre subplot ties into Larry's denial of religion, and the role of the abraxas is Gnosticism and Christianity. 
The film ends with the viewer in the same position similar to that of the observer of a Schrödinger’s Cat Paradox; you don't know what happens to Larry, and as long as you don’t know what befalls him, he is both dead and alive. Schrödinger’s Cat ties back into principles of uncertainty, and the importance of quantum physics, in Larry's life. 
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4 36 VOTES

Why Donny Is Told to Shut the F*ck Up Over and Over

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Video: YouTube
Carl Showalter, Steve Buscemi’s character in Fargo, is an incessant talker. His character, in Lebowski, Donny, was quite the opposite. When Walter, played by John Goodman, tells Donny to "Shut the f*ck up!" over and over again, he's talking to Carl, not Donny. Which only makes sense as a meta joke, rather than one the characters themselves understand. As per this theory, the Coens are commenting on their own work, making a joke about casting the typically very chatty Buscemi as the quiet man. 
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