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The Marsellus Wallace Fan Theory That Has Pulp Fiction Fans Scratching Their Heads

There are few films that, nearly 30 years after release, still spark myriad debates and theories among fans. Released in 1994, Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction went on to nab a best original screenplay Oscar and jump-start the careers of John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, and Uma Thurman, all while launching several fan theories about the movie.

While the crime film is celebrated for its superb acting, memorable script, and unique use of chronology, it's also filled with moments that make us wonder about Tarantino's intentions.

One of those moments is hitman Vincent Vega's (Travolta) opening of a mysterious briefcase. Vega and his "business" partner, Jules (Jackson), retrieve the briefcase from Brett (Frank Whaley) for their boss Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). When Vega opens the case, he becomes entranced by its contents. A golden aura emanates from the case, with no hint as to what's inside.

Ever since the film's release, many have speculated about the contents of the cryptic case. Theories include diamonds, a human head, and a stolen Academy Award. Though Tarantino has never officially revealed the contents of the film's MacGuffin, fans have ultimately honed in on one theory.

Marsellus Wallace wanted his soul back

Across various YouTube videos, reddit threads, and podcasts, fans have almost definitively agreed on the theory that the briefcase holds the crime boss' soul.

In a YouTube video from Metaflix, the channel explains that the briefcase holds the soul. They support this theory with various pieces of evidence throughout the film. When Vega unlocks the briefcase, the combination is 666, the mark of the beast, and a number commonly associated with the devil. The channel goes on to say, "The supporting evidence suggests that Marsellus Wallace sold his soul to the devil and now wants it back." In a Reddit thread positing why Wallace has a bandage on the back of his neck, u/liesbuiltuponlies writes that he "had his soul sucked out at that point, and that was what was in the case." Another Reddit thread argues that the band-aid was a choice made by Rhames to cover up a wound after he "accidentally cut himself when shaving his head for the role."

Other elements in the film that support the soul theory include scattered gold throughout the film, such as Butch (Bruce Willis) and his trainers all wearing gold, Wallace's earrings and shirt, and the glow emanating from the guns when Jules and Vincent shoot Brett. 

We may never receive a true confirmation regarding Wallace's soul, but we do know what's really in the briefcase. According to Jackson, it was a light bulb with two battery packs.