Home Alone conspiracy theories that just might be true

Home Alone and its first sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, have become perennial holiday favorites for households all across the world. Some may find these two films incredibly shrill, stupid, and downright sappy, but lots of people can't get enough of 'em, even over two decades after they first appeared in cinemas. As with other Christmastime classics like It's a Wonderful Life, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and, yes, Die Hard, nearly every moment in the first two Home Alone films has been heavily scrutinized by those who've made viewing them an annual tradition.

So it should come as no surprise that fans have started cranking out "conspiracy theories" about what really went down in the McCallisters' neighborhood during the 1990 holiday season (and two years later on the streets of Manhattan). These theories involve everything from ghosts to the mafia. If you enjoy the films, you'll probably find these pretty interesting. So, as Johnny the gangster might put it, "merry Christmas, ya filthy animal!"

Home Alone proves that Elvis Presley didn't die in 1977

Is the once and possibly future "King of Rock 'n' Roll" still with us? If so, he would look even goofier in a jumpsuit than he did back in the '70s. If one theory about the original Home Alone is to be believed, Presley was still alive and kicking as of early 1990.

He can supposedly be spotted standing behind actress Catherine O'Hara, who plays Kevin's mother Kate in the film. The alleged Elvis can be seen standing over her left shoulder with an impatient expression on his face. He's dressed in a tan jacket, a black turtleneck, and has a dark beard.

According to IMDB, the first film was shot between February 14th, 1990 and May 16th, 1990. It also used actual locations at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, but this scene supposedly takes place at an airport in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Regardless of whether or not the production used an actual airport terminal, the then possibly 55 year-old Elvis would have been a paid extra in the film. It's highly unlikely that everyone involved with the production would have kept his brief cameo a secret.

A 2016 Noisey article dives further into the theory and analyzed everything from his beard to the length of his neck. It also took into consideration his mannerisms and comments director Chris Columbus made about the theory on a DVD commentary for Home Alone. The author's conclusion? Anything's possible, pretty mama!

Kevin grew up to become Jigsaw in the Saw movies

The Home Alone series is best known for its elaborate action sequences that conclude each installment. In the first two films, the young Kevin McCallister (played by Macaulay Culkin) displays an astonishing talent for building home security systems out of random bric a brac. He whips together a series of improvised boobytraps in mere hours that pretty much makes mincemeat out of the Wet (and later Sticky) Bandits, two hapless robbers played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern.

His remarkable abilities are reminiscent of those proudly demonstrated by John "Jigsaw" Kramer, the notorious serial killer who terrorizes and brutally mutilates his victims throughout several blood-soaked installments of the Saw series. As Grantland theorized in 2014, it's possible that the crafty Kevin grew up to become the even craftier Jigsaw. Consider the facts that both characters have anger-control issues, use recorded video and audio to torment their targets, and have no problems with severely hurting their victims.

The article also notes that Kevin suffers from hallucinations involving the creepy furnace in his parents' basement and that it's similar to one of the terrifying traps Jigsaw uses in one of the Saw films. Saw II also features an electrified staircase reminiscent of the one Kevin uses in the first Home Alone against Marv, the robber portrayed by Stern. Jigsaw and Kevin even physically resemble one another.

Kevin's father tossed out his plane ticket on purpose and wanted to kill him

Why was Kevin left home alone in the first place? You might assume it was all due to a series of unfortunate incidents that occur during the first act of the film. After he's sent to spend the night in the McCallisters' attic, a power outage causes all the alarm clocks in the house to reset. Everyone wakes up late and, in a mad dash to get to the airport for their holiday trip to Paris, Kevin is forgotten until his mother realizes he's been left behind well after their flight is on its way.

But a theory originally posted on Reddit (via Time) claims it was all part of a conspiracy by Kevin's father Peter (played by the late, great actor John Heard). Some milk and other beverages are spilled while the family is eating pizza, and Peter manages to toss out Kevin's plane ticket while he's cleaning up the mess. It's somewhat strange that a guy as successful and seemingly intelligent as Peter, who can afford to fly his entire family to France, would make such a blunder.

Maybe it wasn't a mistake. The Reedit theory suggests that Peter intentionally threw out Kevin's ticket so he'd definitely be left behind, regardless of any alarm clock mishaps. According to the theory, Peter also hired the Wet Bandits to rob the house without telling them Kevin would there, assuming they'd panic and kill him.

Peter might also be in the mafia

The McCallisters live in a majestic Georgian house in Winnetka, a village located about 16 miles north of downtown Chicago. It sold in 2012 for a reported $1.585 million, according to The Chicago Tribune. How could they afford to live in a place that's arguably a mansion? Because Peter's a ruthless mobster, of course!

That would explain how he paid for all those international plane tickets as well. This theory popped up a few years ago on Reddit (via The Independent). It calls into question why Peter seems so nervous when Harry (Pesci's character) shows up at the house pretending to be a cop in an early scene. His occupation is only vaguely alluded to and the script doesn't offer much in the way of specifics.

There's also all the cash that Peter has stashed in his carry-on bag in the sequel, which Kevin winds up using to fund his adventures in New York City. Traveler's checks would be much more prudent….unless you're a mobster who avoids banks in order to hide his earnings from the authorities. The theory goes a step further and argues that Kevin's willingness to defend the house and all but murder the Wet Bandits has to do with his father's potentially violent occupation, making the McCallisters a mob family in more ways than one.

No, wait, Uncle Frank is the real criminal!

The novelization of the film, written by author Todd Strasser, reveals that Peter actually works as a businessman while Kate earns big bucks as a fashion designer. As a rundown in The Houston Chronicle goes on to reveal, this is explains why the McCallisters have all those mannequins around the house that Kevin uses in the party scene.

That doesn't mean that Uncle Frank, played by Gerry Bamman, isn't crooked as all get out.  

A writer for Crave came up with a theory arguing he's a criminal and formed an elaborate conspiracy in the first Home Alone to rob his brother and kill Kevin in the process. It notes that Uncle Frank is stingy, refuses to pay for the pizzas at the beginning of the film, and may have even figured out an elaborate plot to make Kevin flip out and get sent to the attic. Then he knocked out the power and even convinced a neighborhood kid to create a distraction the following morning. Uncle Frank also really, really doesn't like Kevin.

Further exposing Uncle Frank's criminality is his behavior in the scene showing the family's flight to Paris. After realizing that his glass is made of crystal, he tries to convince his wife to steal it by stuffing it in her purse. Then, when the family arrives in Paris, the theory alleges that he calls the Wet Bandits and gives them the all clear to rob the house and kill Kevin. Sacré bleu!

Thankfully, Old Man Marley is actually an undercover cop!

A similar theory that originally appeared on Reddit and was later shared on Clipd also suggests that Uncle Frank is having serious money trouble or could be a full-fledged criminal. After he catches Kevin snooping, he realizes the kid now knows too much and he's got to do something about him. So he contacts Harry and Marv, two thieves he knows from his dealings with Chicago's criminal underbelly, to stage a series of robberies around the neighborhood and murder Kevin.

Uncle Frank springs a plot that ensures that Kevin will get left behind as the family races off to the airport. Unbeknownst to him, "Old Man Marley" (played by the late, also great, and uniquely named Roberts Blossom), is actually an undercover police officer. Marley is merely pretending to be a kindly albeit freaky old man who spends his evenings salting sidewalks around the neighborhood while grappling with guilt surrounding his troubled relationship with his adult son.

According to the theory, it's all a cover. He's actually been tailing Uncle Frank and trying to gather enough evidence to bust him. Then along come the Wet Bandits. He calls his colleagues on the force and they bust Harry and Marv. 

Unfortunately, Uncle Frank manages to evade capture and returns to participate in one of cinema's most disturbing shower scenes. "The heaviest cat you ever did see," indeed!

Or is Old Man Marley actually the Ghost of Christmas Future?

This theory comes from a writer working for That Moment In. Along with being pretty creepy and possibly the "South Bend Shovel Slayer," Marley has a rather ghostly appearance. He wears a long, black jacket, he has a white beard that's also pretty lengthy, and his skin has a cadaverous pallor. As the writer notes, "he is an old man, ghost-like to Kevin, wandering Earth, weighted by years of regret, his salt-filled garbage can and shovel, the chains he literally drags along with him. "

Much like Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, Kevin is portrayed as bitter and ungrateful. After being sent to the attic, he even makes a wish to make his family "go away." In short, he's the sort of character that could really use a cautionary life lesson dished up by a spirit or two from the great beyond. So along comes Old Man Marley, who just so happens to share the same name as Jacob Marley, the first ghost that visits Scrooge

Perhaps that's just a coincidence, but he does lecture Kevin and suggest that he behave more nicely with his family during a pivotal scene in a church in the first film. Just like Jacob, Old Man Marley is speaking from experience. He too is bearing a great deal of regret, which is why he tries to convince Kevin not to repeat similar mistakes in his own life.

Hold on, nope, Old Man Marley is really a time traveler!

According to this theory, Marley is a time traveler. And not just any time traveler: he's actually Kevin's future self and he's gone back in time, Terminator-style, to change the future for the better. This bizarre Reddit theory relies on divergent timelines similar to the ones in Back to the Future Part 2. It argues that, in the first timeline, Kevin never encountered Old Man Marley in a scene that causes him to flee back into the house and spend much of the film absolutely terrified of all adults. Instead, when the police come to check on him, he opens the front door and goes with them.

This leaves the house unoccupied, which allows the Wet Bandits to rob it without too much trouble. This incident sends the McCallisters into turmoil. The robbery shatters the family, Kevin's parents divorce, and he spends the rest of his life blaming himself for not being there to defend the house.

He grows up to become Old Man Marley, a guilt-ridden guy who, fortunately, has access to a time machine. So this "Future Kevin" decides to transport his wife and son back in time to the 1980s when life was better. In the past, things only get worse and his son stops speaking to him after having a daughter of his own. That's when he decides to fix everything by intervening in events of the 1990 holiday season. What you see in the first Home Alone are actually his efforts to change the future.

Perhaps Old Man Marley is just a regular old dude...with a very magical hand!

Marley has a strange injury on his right hand that's never explained in the film. It's bandaged and appears to be bleeding when Kevin encounters him in a grocery store. When he meets him again in the church, the wound only warrants a small bandage. Flash forward to the final scene in the film when Marley reconciles with his family and waves at Kevin. The bandage is missing and his hand has miraculously healed.

That's kind of quick for what seems like a pretty serious injury. Another Reedit theory (via Express) suggests it heals itself rapidly or serves as a metaphor for Marley healing the wounds of his relationship with his son. An MTV article goes even further and suggests that poor Marley might even be suffering from some form of stigmata. It could even be a physical manifestation of his family problems that go away as he hugs his granddaughter on Christmas morning. Perhaps time heals all wounds, both literal and figurative.

Oh, and by the way? John Candy is the devil!

One of the wildest theories involves the late and also very much great John Candy. During the scene at the airport in Scranton, Kate becomes increasingly desperate to get back to the house after being awake for nearly 60 hours straight. She confesses that she'd give up everything she owns and even hitchhike on a runway to get home to her son. During this tirade, John Candy's character, Gus Polinski, starts eavesdropping.   

Then she says, "I'd sell my soul to the devil himself." That's when Gus intervenes. He says, "allow me to introduce myself." That dialogue echos the famous first line from "Sympathy for the Devil," the classic ode to Beelzebub written and recorded by The Rolling Stones. Reddit users (via CinemaBlend) picked up on all this a few years ago. They theorized that Gus is Satan in disguise, and that he offers to get Kate home in return for her immortal soul.

They further fleshed out the theory by noting that the airport serves as a "crossroads," a common location for Satan to do his dirty work. The Father of Lies also has a fondness for wind instruments and Gus just so happens to play clarinet in a polka band. Further sealing the deal: the late/great John Hughes wrote the screenplay for Home Alone and 1987's Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, a film that actually put Candy in a Satan costume.

Kevin is a poltergeist

A writer for The Daily Beast shared this theory on Christmas Eve 2017. She offers an M. Night Shyamalan-style riff on the film by suggesting that Kevin is actually dead. Even worse, he doesn't know it, just like Bruce Willis' character in The Sixth Sense.

This would explain why his entire family despises him. He's a troublesome spirit that leaves toy cars on the floor and occasionally attacks his older brother. Uncle Frank calls him "a little jerk," a cousin dubs him a "disease," and another cousin even insults him in French. Peter becomes unnerved by the spirit of his dead son creepily messing around with fish hooks in the garage as well. Later, Kate says to a pizza delivery guy, "I'm sorry, this house is just crazy." Yes — crazy because it's haunted by an 8 year-old poltergeist, of course! They're all heading off to Paris for the holidays to get away from him.

The theory also notes that Kevin fears both the attic and the basement, two locations that could serve as gateways to heaven or hell. It also suggests that Marley's salt has another purpose. He's using it to create a sacred space to protect Kevin from the Wet Bandits. They're unkillable demons, thus explaining their ability to withstand his booby traps. At the end, the family returns, thankful that Kevin protected the house in their absence and they decide to continue putting up with him.

Mr. Duncan and the Pigeon Lady in Home Alone 2 were once married

The original Home Alone isn't the only film in the series that's spawned weird conspiracy theories. This one from Reddit claims that two characters in the sequel were once lovers, if not married. During his time in New York City, Kevin meets a mysterious homeless woman dubbed "[The] Pigeon Lady" (played by Academy Award winning actress Brenda Fricker) and E.F. Duncan (played by the late and, you guessed it, great Eddie Bracken).

Duncan owns an elaborate toy store similar to FAO Schwartz, and he reveals to Kevin that he quite likes turtle doves. He even gives him an ornament featuring the birds. The Pigeon Lady also a thing for birds and she's almost constantly surrounded by them. She later takes Kevin to a hidden attic space in Carnegie Hall to catch a symphony and tells him she's seen everybody from Luciano Pavarotti to Frank Sinatra perform downstairs. She also reveals she hasn't always been homeless. Once upon a time, she had a job and a family but divorced after her husband "fell out of love" with her.

So maybe — just maybe — the presumably quite wealthy Duncan is her ex. After all, he could probably afford lots of tickets to concerts at Carnegie Hall. He also wears a wedding band. Maybe he never quite got over his marriage to the Pigeon Lady and they hook back up after she (maybe) uses her pigeons to horrifically murder the Wet Bandits in Central Park. Love makes anything possible!