Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Fez Fan Theory That Changes Everything On That '70s Show

The popular sitcom "That '70s Show" premiered on Fox in 1998 and ran until 2006, captivating millions along the way. The series starred Topher Grace, Laura Prepon, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, and Danny Masterson as a group of teens living in the fictional Wisconsin suburb of Point Place in the 1970s. While fans were very tuned in to the antics of Grace's character, Eric Forman, and Kutcher's character, Kelso, one of the most interesting — or perhaps we should say confusing — characters was played by Wilmer Valderrama.

Valderrama played Fez, a foreign exchange student from an unidentified country who landed in Point Place. To this day, "That '70s Show" fans know very little about Fez, despite the fact that he's a prominent fixture in the Forman family's basement. All that's known is that he has a very vague accent that can't be placed and a name that's a slightly incorrect acronym for "Foreign Exchange Student."

While Fez does try to communicate information about his background, every time he starts to talk about himself, he gets interrupted or a loud noise blocks out his voice. The mystery of Fez's identity becomes a running joke on the Fox sitcom, and viewers have never learned what "island" he's from or what his real name is. Because Fez never has a real identity on "That '70s Show," an interesting fan theory has been making the rounds online.

Explaining who — or what — Fez is

According to theory-crafter William O'Connor, writing for Overthinking It, the "nameless and placeless" Fez may actually be a figment of everyone's imagination. As fans know, the Point Place kids have a habit of smoking marijuana while hanging in the Forman basement. It's possible, then, that Fez is simply an illusion in the gang's discussion circle — "a narrative device to add depth to a handful of self-absorbed stoners" — and not a living person.

One fan theorized in the comments section of the article that perhaps Eric and Jackie dated in the time before the events of "That '70s Show," and that they created Fez following their breakup. "A fringe figure in their lives like Fez could and would be used as a catch-all for the protection of their egos," they wrote. Another fan added, "I also had to factor in an unseen relationship between Eric and Jackie to explain the idea of a shared Fez-construct. Your bitter breakup angle pulls it all together for me."

A riff on the original theory, also detailed in the article's comments, suggests that maybe the gang knew a lot of foreign exchange students and simply called them all "Fez," which could explain why the "Fez who dated Jackie wasn't the same one who married Eric's sister."

The shared-construct theory does require quite a bit of magical thinking, no matter how many basement "circles" may have facilitated its creation. The multiplicity of Fezes, however, is a very intriguing concept, especially for viewers who subscribe to the reading of "That '70s Show" as a pot-soaked retrospective. The fact that "Fez" just happens to be a somewhat-problematic acronym that could be applied to any foreign exchange student from anyplace whatsoever both complements the intentionally ambiguous aspects of Fez's character and blends seamlessly with the retrospective POV.

Valderrama has his own take on Fez

Fan theories can be fascinating, but sometimes it's just best to go straight to the source, and the actor responsible for bringing Fez to life on our screens has a few things to say about his own lived experience.

Here's Valderrama's own theory about Fez — or at least about his name: In an interview with ABC News, the actor revealed that he came to the conclusion that Fez's real name and persona is a combination of the first names of the other main characters — Eric, Donna, Jackie, Kelso, and Hyde. "I said that is what Fez's real name is, because that is what he is," Valderrama explained. "He is a little bit of all the characters on 'That '70s Show.'"

Huh. That certainly doesn't refute the shared-construct theory. For fans invested in the idea of Fez as a mutual hallucination, at least there's something there to go on.

Sadly, fans may never find out the whole truth about Fez. In 2016, Valderrama revealed to People that he isn't interested in reprising the role of the retro character, telling the outlet, "Fez will never happen again."