As long as there have been creative works and fans of those creative works, there have been fan theories. Fan theories fill in information gaps, tie up loose ends, write (or re-write) character motivations, and generally just give people with similar interest fun topics to jaw about.
(Until everything invariably spins out of control and said fans start shredding one another on social media.)
Final Fantasy is a series with no shortage of fan theories. Final Fantasy VI came to the SNES around the same time the average RPG fan discovered the joys of the internet, and nary a day went by when a webpage or a message board failed to post a "secret trick" to revive the doomed Imperialist, General Leo.
Bizarre fan theories about Final Fantasy VI have endured, and later Final Fantasy games were certainly saddled with their own urban legends (especially theories about Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and X – games that hit the market long before people engaged in data-mining and shared their findings on subreddits). Kotaku's Jason Schreier cornered Square-Enix's Yoshinori Kitase at PAX West last weekend to ask him about the legitimacy behind some of the series' most popular theories. Kitase has designed and directed games since Square-Enix's 16-bit heyday, so if anyone knows if Squall died in Final Fantasy VIII, it's him.
Spoilers, by the way: Squall lives.
"I think [Squall] was actually stabbed around the shoulder area, so he was not dead," Kitase told Schreier through a translator. He added, "But that is a very interesting idea, so if we ever do make a remake of Final Fantasy VIII, I might go along with that story in mind."
I imagine some Final Fantasy VIII fans might react to that statement with "Ew, no, we don't want that." But Kitase brings up an interesting point when Schreier confronts him with the theory that Final Fantasy VII's "Knights of the Round" summon features members of the lost Cetra race (not true, either): "Everyone's thinking too deeply, reading between the lines too much. That makes it difficult because if you think about it that way, we might have to make it that way."
Kitase had another interesting thing to say about the rumor that Square initially intended to let players revive Aeris: The flower-girl was never destined for resurrection, because her death is partially meant to make a statement about the preciousness of life and the finality of death.
"There are all these fantasy stories where, [for example], the princess would come back from death with the kiss of her prince," Kitase said. "For children, it was normal for them that people would come back to life. And we wanted to question that idea and thought. So we wanted to depict that there is weight to life, and just put weight on the loss as well to life, and that's where we all started with Final Fantasy VII. That was our core concept."
I'd make a cure remark about the Final Fantasy series' Phoenix Down item, but the internet's done that several times over.
While Kitase seemed to be familiar with the rumor you can resurrect Aeris, there's one question that probably baffled him because, to my knowledge, it's exclusive to English-speaking territories: "Is Gogo [the mimic from Final Fantasy VI] actually Daryl, who crash-landed while racing her airship against Setzer?"
Kitase assured Schreier that Gogo is a cipher – a character with no real backstory who's just a fun option for anyone who wants to use them. But Gogo is also the name of a mimic boss in Final Fantasy V. While Gogo from Final Fantasy VI isn't necessarily the same Gogo from Final Fantasy V (though the latter does fling themselves into another dimension after the encounter), they're clearly meant to be a tribute. Japanese fans likely had no problem latching onto the reference. North Americans, however, never received an official Final Fantasy V translation, so we filled in our own theories about the mysterious mime's origin.
Some of those theories were out of this world. At least "Gogo is Daryl" sounds sane next to "Gogo is Adlai Stevenson, the deceased 31st governor of Illinois." And I believed that one longer than I believed "Mega Man X and Zero can join your party!"
Read all of Schreier's interview for more answers to the hot theories you traded with your peers on Usenet.