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The Finding Nemo Theory That Makes Marlin More Tragic

When Pixar's "Finding Nemo" came out in 2003, people couldn't stop talking about it. Between the animation, warmhearted story, and star-studded cast, there wasn't much to not like about the Oscar-winning adventure flick. But what if we told you about a fan theory — one that would alter your entire outlook on the movie?

Just imagine for a second, a clownfish — Marlin (Albert Brooks) — who lives inside a sea anemone situated along the Great Barrier Reef. His mate and love of his life, Coral (Elizabeth Perkins), tragically dies in a barracuda attack along with all of her eggs. Marlin gets knocked out during the attack and doesn't wake up until after. He rises to find the heartbreaking crime scene and discovers by the grace of Poseidon a single, still-viable egg, which he dubs Nemo. But here's where the twist comes in: What if we told you that there was never actually a Nemo? And that Marlin was just imagining their entire adventure as one big grieving mechanism? Let us explain.

Nemo never existed and Marlin's journey represents the five stages of grief, or so the theory goes

Nemo being a figment of Marlin's imagination as he processes the loss of his entire family is one of the countless Pixar theories floating around on the Web.

"In the beginning of Finding Nemo, the father imagines one son survived when in reality his whole family was destroyed," writes Redditor u/darklighter5000 in a discussion thread. "The movie is an allegory of the father's journey through the stages of grief." According to the Redditor, the movie shows viewers the different stages of grief, including denial, anger, bargaining, despair, and finally, acceptance, which is shown when Marlin "learns to 'let go' and let things be the way they are," through various moments.

Other users argue that this theory can't be true because Nemo interacts with other characters throughout the movie, but who's to say that Marlin wasn't imagining them too? As u/darklighter5000 points out, "Almost everyone in the story tells the father he has to 'let go' of his son. His travels takes [sic] him to the Land Down Under (aka Underworld). The movie ends with him saying goodbye as his son visually disappears into the void. And the kicker? 'Nemo' means 'nobody' in Latin."