Fans of ‘Finding Nemo’ are going crazy over dark movie theory

A new fan theory about the animated childhood classic “Finding Nemo” smells a little fishy.

Fans young and old will remember the heartbreaking scene in which clownfish Nemo is separated from his father.

However, on the “Just the Nobodys” podcast, the hosts conjectured that the character of Nemo never actually existed. In a “Beautiful Mind”-like twist of fate, Marlin — Nemo’s father, voiced by Albert Brooks — has just been imagining his son as a way to cope with the loss of his wife, Nemo’s mother, and their kids.

It may sound ridiculous at first, but there could be some truth to this theory — at least according to the podcasters.

“The word ‘nemo’ in Latin means ‘no one,’ ” they explained. “So Disney is literally telling the audience, ‘We have a movie called “Finding Nemo,” but it actually means “finding no one,” because Nemo’s not real.’ ”

The podcasters rationalize that this reality could explain why it made sense for Marlin’s Pacific-blue-tang sidekick, Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), to suffer from memory loss.  

“That’s why Dory is such a good friend for Marlin: because she has short-term memory loss and can’t remember that Nemo’s not real.”

While it’s true that “Nemo” in Latin translates to “no one,” the name could have also been chosen to highlight the fact that Nemo was missing for a large portion of the movie. 

After uploading on TikTok a clip of their podcast explaining the theory, the video’s views skyrocketed to more than 19 million.

Dubbed the “Finding Nemo Theory,” film fanatics seem to agree, even adding comments with their own speculations.

Nemo (left) and Dory team up in "Finding Nemo."
Nemo (left) and Dory team up — or do they? — in “Finding Nemo.”
Walt Disney/courtesy Everett Collection

“Clownfish will kill their own. So the part of the theory is that the dad killed the son and mom. And grieved by imagining,” said one TikTok commenter.

Some fans straight-up disagreed, saying the beloved character’s nonexistence was impossible and poking holes in the theory.

“This isn’t true. What about the other fishes and humans that interacted with Nemo? Such as: the turtles, humans, and other fishes,” wrote Dan Yang.

As the clip ended, one host seemed utterly defeated, saying, “That didn’t even ruin my day — that ruined my whole childhood.”