Unsurprisingly, the briefcase in Pulp Fiction has inspired plenty of theories. Even when Quentin Tarantino's films aren't as successful commercially, they still inspire countless essays and examinations. His unique storytelling technique and the way he leaves certain mysteries unanswered have also led to all kinds of speculation and fan theories from viewers. And Pulp Fiction, among his most complex and convoluted films, may reign supreme when it comes to '90s movies fan theories.
There are several unexpected developments throughout the film, but the biggest lingering question involves the contents of the film's MacGuffin: the briefcase. So what was in the case in Pulp Fiction? It's a mystery that's never explained in the movie, and its cryptic nature has led some fans down a seemingly bottomless rabbit hole to find answers.
Some of the most bizarre (but equally well-thought-out) explanations should provide fans with at least an inkling of what might be glowing in Marsellus Wallace's coveted briefcase. When you're done obsessing over the theories, make sure to also check out our list of more great shows and movies like Pulp Fiction!
One prominent theory about the contents of the briefcase proposes that a spiritual item is housed within it. The item in question is Marsellus Wallace's soul. This theory relies on several key pieces of evidence. First, the combination to open the suitcase is “666,” an obvious reference to the devil. When the character is introduced, a shot lingers on the back of his head, where a bandage covers up a wound.
Some speculate that when the devil steals a soul, he does so by taking it directly from the back of the victim’s head (though there's no biblical evidence to back up such a claim).
The theory posits that Marsellus sold his soul to the devil and is actively trying to get it back. As an interesting side note, this supposition could explain why Jules and Vincent are unharmed after being shot at. Since they're attempting to save a man's soul, God intervenes, seeing it as a holy endeavor.
Although this links in with another theory about the suitcase containing diamonds, this one is far more specific. That's because, according to several theorists, the valuables are not just any gems; they're the diamonds from Reservoir Dogs. In that film, several crooks carry out a heist on a jewelry store and one person eventually escapes with the goods.
Combined with the theory that suggests Tarantino’s films take place in the same universe, it could mean the contents have a noteworthy history.
One rather rational and simple explanation for what's inside the suitcase comes from several Redditors. They theorize that since the crooks are all interested in getting their hands on the briefcase, this must mean it's valuable. It also glows with an unmistakable gold tint. The only logical conclusion is the contents must be gold.
This would fit the bill in terms of color and its inherent value, with the likes of Marsellus Wallace willing to go to gruesome lengths to get it back.
The glow given off by the case indicates the contents are extraordinary in some way. Only something supernatural could give off such light, at least according to Redditor /u/Spurioun. They argue the briefcase could contain the Holy Grail from Arthurian myth.
In this instance, Jules and Vincent could be seen as the mythical knights of the Roundtable. Jules is the loyal and spiritual Sir Galahad, while Vincent is the more adventurous Lancelot. They embark on a quest to return a valuable item to their leader, in a parallel to the King Arthur story.