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[[caption-width-right:350:Seems right.]]

->'''Anime Fan #1:''' This anime is pretty good, but this girl's outfit is super annoying. The {{fanservice}} is really obnoxious.
->'''Anime Fan #2:''' Um, actually, if you watch the show the boob window on her suit is clearly satirical. It's a meta-commentary on human sexuality, and also it serves as a metaphor for how she wants other people to go past her outer-self and look within to her true self. It makes sense in context. And also the original mangaka intended an allusion to the final scene of ''Literature/TheGrapesOfWrath'' with the breastfeeding scene. There's a lot of subtlety in play here that is clearly going way over your head!
->'''Thomas Manga, Original Creator:''' No, I just wanted to see titties.
-->-- '''Creator/ProZD''', ''[[https://youtu.be/ke1YKF3tNCE anime fans]]''

Memories of that overzealous English teacher, who forced you to accept that every character, every scene and every action had a ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory deep inner meaning]]'' have led to widespread fear on the part of readers and viewers everywhere that every tale secretly contains some other story being told in {{subtext}}. The end result of this is a state of mind that interprets every plot as an allegory for the rebuilding of one's soul, every setting as a manifestation of purgatory, and every protagonist as a stand-in for [[UsefulNotes/{{Jesus}} the Christ]]: [[TitleDrop Everyone Is Jesus In Purgatory]]!

Rampant paranoia results from this state; one cannot look at anything without being suspicious that this is some kind of allegory brainwashing you into learning AnAesop ''[[SubliminalSeduction against your will]]''. Is that box of Corntos one character is handing another a mere confection or is it a blessing from On High, manna sent from a merciful {{God}}? Or wait... it could be a DealWithTheDevil; short-term pleasure resulting in permanent bodily ruination! [[FauxSymbolism What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?]] Thus the EpilepticTrees are planted.

The concept of "the DeathOfTheAuthor" has helped this state of affairs as it encourages everyone to insist that their pet theories are entirely valid (with or without justification), regardless of how many times the [[WordOfGod author of the text clearly states his or her intentions in writing the work]], or, as in many cases, that the pet theory absolutely ''isn't'' the state of affairs at all. Death of the Author is effective because WordOfGod isn't always reliable; the author him/herself can decide the work means different (even [[FlipFlopOfGod contradictory]]) things and if there are ''multiple'' authors, it's perfectly possible for them to disagree on what the work means and so [[FrenchJerk whoever]] came up with the concept of "DeathOfTheAuthor" has a good point. This is what literary {{Postmodernism}} is about. [[SelfdemonstratingArticle Thus it is proven that the tyranny of God gives way to the freedom of man!]]

This often arises from the improper conflation of symbolism (which doesn't imply a one-to-one correspondence and doesn't need to have one and only one meaning that can be stated in a simple declarative sentence) and allegory (which implies a one-to-one correspondence and a stated specific meaning).

The MindScrew series loves this state of mind. It cultivates it intentionally and takes advantage of it every chance it gets. John Lennon once stated that many artists just "stick things in" at random for this reason: "I bet Picasso sticks things in. I bet he's been laughing his balls off for the last 80 years."

Extreme cases of this can result in WhatDoYouMeanItsNotDidactic

See FreudWasRight (for sexual/phallic, subconscious symbolism when it's referenced in-story), GettingCrapPastTheRadar (for crowdsourced sexual/phallic, subconscious symbolism), WhatDoYouMeanItsNotPolitical (for political symbolism), and WildMassGuessing if you really want to blow your mind. Compare MessianicArchetype for characters with more obvious parallels to a Christ figure. Not to be confused with EveryoneIsSatanInHell, where something good is portrayed as bad, (relevant that it is not confused due to the popularity of "everyone is ''Dante'' in hell" as an alternate form of this) and DracoInLeatherPants when something bad is portrayed as good.

Compare FauxSymbolism and TheWalrusWasPaul. Contrast RuleOfSymbolism. Also conceptual art, in which the artist wants viewers to decide for themselves what the work is about.

Please don't use this page for any kind of possible symbolism. That turns this page into less of a trope and more of a WMG guess for every possible work and situation. Keep the title in mind when adding examples.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In ''Manga/DeathNote'', L [[WordOfGod is shown to be a Jesus figure]], especially with the foot washing scene in the anime. Light, the Judas in this case, also has ''lots'' of (more ironic) imagery.
* ''Anime/{{FLCL}}'' has enough confusing symbolism to fall into this, but it also features an in-story example that doubles as SelfDeprecation for Gainax. In episode 2, Kamon is rambling about having a robot in their house, and Naota explains to Haruko that his father "once wrote a book on the deep mysteries of [[Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion Eva]]."
* Many ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'' fans believe that the religion of Ishval was based off modern Islam, due to the Ishvallans' dark skin and the Literature/ArabianNights-esque setting they lived in. Creator/HiromuArakawa (the creator of the manga) has stated that she based it off of the Ainu, an ethnic group that were driven from Honshu and live on Hokkaido, where Arakawa was born. A similar theory is that Ishval was based off of Ishvara, a Hindu concept of monotheism.
* ''Anime/HaibaneRenmei'' was made to induce this kind of thing. Though they take a lot of the fun out by making the 'purgatory' part so literal and obvious. That aside, Creator/YoshitoshiABe also doesn't seem to be much of a fan of the WordOfGod approach, encouraging viewers to come to their own conclusions about the specifics of the symbolism. Creator/YoshitoshiABe was also involved with ''Anime/SerialExperimentsLain'' and ''Anime/{{Texhnolyze}}''. The person behind the story concepts was in fact the producer, Yasuyuki Ueda. The only one of the three where [=ABe=] contributed more than character designs was his pet project, ''Haibane Renmei''. Ueda and [=ABe=] later joked about this, saying that ''Anime/NieaUnder7'' and ''Haibane Renmei'' proved that [=ABe=] was the earnest and hardworking one.
* ''VisualNovel/HigurashiWhenTheyCry'': [[spoiler: Furude Hanyu? Jesus in Purgatory. Or, rather, Jesus in ''samsara''. What happens if God needs forgiveness too? Is a partly-human, self-sacrificial deity really that much better than the blood-thirsty gods of old, or does that just create new problems? What if no one even realizes there's been a change?]]
* ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion''. Angels fight humans and create cross shaped explosions. There's talk of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the NERV logo is the name covered in part by a fig leaf with the creed "God's in his heaven; all is right with the world." What does it mean? Who knows. Anno has made some statements on what it all means: absolutely nothing. The Christian imagery was put in solely to give the show an edge over other mecha anime.
* ''Manga/OnePiece'' has spawned a good example of this trope:
-->''Franky was born a carpenter, the 'son of a pirate', we never actually see his father, who is a nonentity in his life. He builds ships to destroy sea monsters, representing mankind's sins in their desire for progress. These ships also represent those created to serve him, i.e. the apostles. Naturally, a strong authority: Marines vs Romans, causes betrayal among the apostles, and Tom dies, who represents Franky's human aspects. Afterward, Franky dies through martyrdom (struck by a train is similar to crucifixion if you think about it) and disappears for a length of time, after which he rises from the dead better then ever.''
* ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'' due to the [[{{Faust}} Faustian]] overtones. Let's see... self-sacrificial AllLovingHero [[spoiler:who disappears to save humanity from despair]], a girl who makes a DealWithTheDevil [[spoiler:in order to save her best friend from damnation]], a WeaselMascot [[spoiler:and StarFishAlien in disguise]] who regularly promises a wish [[spoiler:in exchange for their souls and eventual damnation]], also coupled by the fact that the finale showed on Good Friday, of all days. [[note]]The final episode wasn't originally planned to air on Good Friday; it was delayed to avoid a too soon situation after the earthquake that hit Japan just before the second to last episode was scheduled to air.[[/note]]
* Played for deconstruction and perhaps TakeThatAudience in ''Anime/ReCreators'', where Alicetheria first hears from the protagonist a motivational speech about the high meaning of pop culture works, and then from a conversation with the creator of this manga (and accordingly, by her own creator), understands, that he did not put any aesop into his work and this is pure speculation of the readers.
%%* ''RevolutionaryGirlUtena''
* ''Manga/RozenMaiden''. Rozen is the immortal creator of the Rozen Maidens, bestowing upon them Rosa Mysticas (souls). His face is never shown, and he is consistently bathed in white light when he is. (In other words, they couldn't make it any more obvious that he is God-like if they tried.) He disappears as soon as he makes the seven maidens, telling his creations that they have to kill each other until one remains to become the perfect girl-Alice.
* ''Anime/TenchiMuyo'': Anybody who was part of the (in)famous [=TenchiFF=] mailing list at the proper time will remember one Mr. Grey, who argued that ''Tenchi Muyo'' was all an allegory for an obscure form of Zen Taoism. According to Grey, Ryoko and Ayeka were each half a universe, Ryoko represented the Altruist, and Tenchi represented the [[NoodleImplements goat]].
* ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'':
** Kamina [[spoiler:[[MemeticMutation Died For Your Sins]]]]. He is inspiration to his small group of followers but not accepted in his hometown; [[spoiler: He dies via HeroicSacrifice and then comes back from the dead with new abilities and saves his followers when they attack a rebellious and demon faction]].
** Simon is thought to be an expy for Simon-Peter because of the similar name, he was one of the original followers, Peter is Greek for 'rock' and Simon is 'the digger' and finally he is the one who [[spoiler: [[TakeUpMySword took over Kamina's role as The Leader after the latter's death]]]].

* Just try to even see the "TrueArt" tropes.
* The 2001 Turner Prize was won by Martin Creed. His exhibit consisted of an empty room with a light turning on and off. When asked to explain his creation he stated that it was [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin an empty room with a light turning on and off]]. He seemed bemused by any suggestions that it symbolized anything deeper, yet that didn't stop people from theorizing. For instance, "Why of course it represents Biblical Creation! It's ''obviously'' 'Let there be light!'"
%%* Art historian Roger Kimball points out several JustForFun/{{egregious}} examples from his own field of expertise in his book ''The Rape of the Masters''.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Franchise/{{Superman}} is not really Superman. He's a stand-in for someone else.
** He's Jesus. For instance, consider this quote from ''Film/SupermanTheMovie'': "They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you... my only son". Also, Clark reveals he is 33 years old in ''Film/ManOfSteel''.
** He's Moses: [[SpaceIsAnOcean sent adrift]] to live with foreigners. Given that his creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were both Jewish, this might not be too far off.
** In the future of ''ComicBook/{{Legion of Super-Heroes}}'' where Superman is the inspiration for the heroes of the day, it's even more so. The animated series even has him [[spoiler:end up getting a crown of Kryptonite from his own personal Judas]].
* Parodied in ''Magazine/{{MAD}}''`s parody of ''Comicbook/{{Watchmen}}'', where Big Figure and his goons attempt to work out what's going to happen next by analyzing the comic's 'direct, concomitant parallelisms' as pertaining to an owl mask on a previous page. They come up with lots of deep, meaningful suggestions, but are cut off by [[http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v206/orejudo/Comix/madprison.jpg Nite Owl's Owlship crashing through the wall]].
* Somebody came up with the idea that the ComicBook/FantasticFour represent the four elements (Thing is Earth, Invisible Woman is Air, Human Torch is Fire (duh), and Mr. Fantastic is Water). This sounds like something that was developed retroactively. Creator/StanLee has no problem with being labeled a genius, so he hasn't discouraged this. It's lampshaded in the "Ultimate" version. The specific reasons why are in their entry in FourElementEnsemble. When Creator/JohnByrne took over the title in the 80s, one of his first issues features the Four fighting four elementals, who were ordered not to face their counterparts, thus making the mapping explicit. Creator/NeilGaiman later took advantage of the scheme for his ''ComicBook/{{Marvel 1602}}'' version of the Fantastic Four.

%%* Creator/PeterDavid and Creator/DavidLopez's ''ComicBook/FallenAngel''.

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* In ''ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}'', a common theory is that Linus' belief in the Great Pumpkin is a way of making fun of Christian evangelism, because there's no evidence for the Great Pumpkin's existence, and Linus tries to convince people he's real. The fact that Linus often [[AsTheGoodBookSays quotes from the Bible]] adds more fuel, as does the strip where Linus travels from door to door asking people if they've heard of the Great Pumpkin, in the manner of a Jehovah's Witness; when Peppermint Patty decided to believe in the Great Pumpkin (she needed a new baseball glove) Marcie called Linus and told him that he had "a disciple". This has been officially {{Jossed}}, with Charles Schulz claiming that the only inspiration for the Great Pumpkin was that he thought it would be funny if a character believed in a Santa Claus-like figure for Halloween. A darkly existential take on Linus and the Great Pumpkin can be found [[http://www.reverseshot.com/archive/entry/206/its_the_great_pumpkin_charlie_brown here]].
%%* [[http://img14.imageshack.us/my.php?image=pearlsdeconstruction.jpg Hilariously parodied]] in ''ComicStrip/PearlsBeforeSwine''.
* A ''{{ComicStrip/Garfield}}'' [[http://www.retrojunk.com/article/show/417/the-death-of-garfield Halloween storyline]] in 1989 depicted Garfield waking up and finding everyone and everything he knew to be gone and broken down. The storyline ended with Garfield embracing denial and suddenly Jon and Odie are back in front of him. A fan theory began on the Internet suggesting that every strip since that point has been Garfield slowly starving to death in his delusions or already dead. (Of course, if the former's the case, it's taking him a good goddamn long time to die.) Davis was made aware of those theories in 2006 and is reported to have laughed about them. In any case, if you read the postscript of the last strip in this series, it's pretty clear that the nightmare about Garfield being alone forever was just that - a nightmare, a product of his imagination. And his only escape was to embrace the hope that he would wake up, and thus shift his mental state back to normal, in a combination of YourMindMakesItReal and ClapYourHandsIfYouBelieve.
* Not so much Jesus, but it's generally accepted amongst its (''many'') detractors that the entire population of ''ComicStrip/FunkyWinkerbean'' (and by extension, ''{{ComicStrip/Crankshaft}}'') is in Purgatory (Limbo is also accepted) and merely awaiting inevitable death.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In an in-universe example, in ''FanFic/EquestriaAHistoryRevealed'', the LemonyNarrator considers everything to be a symbol, such as religious allegory. Even certain word choice from ancient sources. She spent three paragraphs analyzing the meaning behind the inclusion of the word hellfire before concluding that it meant an evil fire.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* The more popular theories behind ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory3'' are that the film explores the LivingToys version of damn near ''every'' kind of afterlife imaginable. {{Heaven}}, FireAndBrimstoneHell, Purgatory, Limbo, TheNothingAfterDeath, Reincarnation, WarriorHeaven, IronicHell... it's like they didn't want to leave anyone out.
* ''Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'': one theory speculates that Snow White stayed dead and her soul was taken to Heaven.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheLandBeforeTime'' has one particularly horrifying interpretation of the film: [[spoiler:The earthquake near the beginning was a result of the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event, AKA the extinction of the dinosaurs. Meaning everyone was DeadAllAlong. The film is their journey through purgatory towards heaven, represented by the Great Valley. The dinosaur that comforts Littlefoot directly after his mother's death is an angel trying to get him to overcome his anger over his mother's death, for which he blames both her and (secretly) himself. The lava field is where Cera overcomes her sin of excessive pride, and where the rest of the group learns that there are no "shortcuts" to heaven, and that they must go on the path set for them, and have faith in it, or they'll never get there. The Sharptooth is representative of the kids' fear of their own mortality, and by killing him, they have finally let go of all of their earthly attachments, aside from Littlefoot, who still has guilt for the death of his mother. When he finally accepts her death, he finds the Great Valley, along with everyone else, where the rest of their families are waiting for them in the afterlife.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheBraveLittleToaster'': Think about it. The main characters are journeying to the "City of Light" to see "The Master".
* The light-hearted ''Film/WhoFramedRogerRabbit'' makes a surprising amount of sense as an allegory for racism, with toons standing in for black people (as argued by for instance Website/{{Cracked}}). It's set in 1940s Los Angeles with toons being treated as second-class citizens mostly living in their own segregated part of town, whose occupations consist of entertaining white folks, Eddie Valiant as a TragicBigot against toons but somewhat confused by his attraction to Jessica (due to attitudes against miscegenation), [[spoiler:Judge Doom]] as an Uncle Tom character, and the whole EvilPlan of the BoomerangBigot villain is basically a gentrification scheme.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Creator/StanleyKubrick's ''Film/TheShining''. Given its open-endedness (especially compared with the [[Literature/TheShining Stephen King novel]] it's based on), this film is a Rorschach test for most commentators. There could be religious allegory or it could be about the Cold War, the Holocaust, the genocide of Native Americans, a pontification on mankind's predilection for violence through the ages, or a commentary on the breakdown of the family, the crisis of masculinity, the state of modern America and its ideologies, sex­ism, racism, or the dominance of big business. A documentary has been made about different interpretations of the film, called ''Room 237''.
* Literature-to-film example: during pre-production for the 2005 ''Film/CharlieAndTheChocolateFactory'', Music/MarilynManson expressed interest in playing the role of Willy Wonka, and outlined his theory that Wonka was Satan, tempting and leading the damned souls (the children) into Hell.
** Compare ''Literature/CharlieAndTheChocolateFactory'' to Dante's ''Inferno''.
* Creator/DavidLynch [[ShrugOfGod encourages]] people to come up with their own theories on ''Film/{{Eraserhead}}''. The Lady in the Radiator is frequently interpreted as [[TheGrimReaper Death]], Henry is the everyman, and the Man in the Planet is either {{Satan}} or {{God}} but nobody can agree what the Baby is.
* ''Film/DonnieDarko'' is never interpreted the same way by any two people, with interpretations going all over the allegorical scale. Which is hilarious because Writer/Director Richard Kelly has stated that he didn't create the movie with any particular allegories or "depth" intended, and that (to him) it's just a science fiction movie, plain and simple. Naturally, the creators specifically telling people they're wrong has never stopped fandom before. This has lead to an interesting relation between the theatrical cut and the director's cut: the theatrical cut is open to interpretation, the director's cut is the [[DeathOfTheAuthor director's interpretation]].
* ''Film/PulpFiction'' possesses several plot points that are subject to this; one revolves around the mysterious glowing contents of Marcellus Wallace's briefcase that are never explained (with one popular theory being that it is Wallace's soul, which he bought back from [[{{Satan}} Mr. S.]]) and another being the reason for a band-aid that is prominently displayed on Wallace's bald head as it is filmed from the back. The first is merely a plot MacGuffin that Tarantino never bothered to explain; the second is merely a result of actor Ving Rhames (who played Wallace) cutting the back of his head whilst shaving it and requiring a band-aid to stop the bleeding. Let's face it: it's ''cooler'' if you [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotSymbolic give it cosmic overtones]]. Tarantino's official response about the briefcase was a fairly lackluster "[[ShrugOfGod whatever the audience wants it to be.]]" For the record, it was originally supposed to be the diamonds from ''Film/ReservoirDogs'', but Tarantino decided to leave it deliberately ambiguous for the sake of this type of discussion. Tarantino [[WordOfGod once stated in an interview]] that he saw it as an allegory to the Arthurian Legend, with Wallace as King Arthur, Vince as Lancelot, Jules as Galahad, Butch as Mordred, The Wolf as Merlin, and the briefcase containing the Holy Grail.
* The final scene of (fittingly enough) ''Film/JesusChristSuperstar'', the film, shows a shepherd walking through the desert. Some thought it was supposed to symbolize Jesus's resurrection, which was not itself featured with the movie (and the play it was based on). However, it was not one of the actors but a real shepherd, who just happened to walk by when the crew was filming, and they decided to leave him in. This could mean they had some plot-based reason for leaving him in or didn't want to bother editing him out.
%%* Need a really good laugh? Then read [[http://wtf-film.com/site/2009/06/26/night-train-to-mundo-fine/ this review]] of ''Film/RedZoneCuba'' and keep in mind that the author is praising the artistry found in the rich, sociopolitical symbolism of a ''[[Creator/ColemanFrancis Coleman Francis]]'' movie.
* Roy Batty in ''Film/BladeRunner'' is rather Christlike, in that [[spoiler: he saves Deckard in the end]]. If so, he's a very Gnostic Christ, with Tyrell as a fallible and imperfect God. It needs to be pointed out that [[spoiler: Deckard is saved from death by Roy Batty's bloody, nail-pierced hand. After Deckard is safe from danger, Batty "gives up his spirit" by letting go of the white dove he's been clutching]]. Say what you will about professors over-analyzing for symbolism, but this film's [[CrucifiedHeroShot Jesus Christ posing]] is obvious and intentional, so consider also MessianicArchetype.
* ''Film/{{Signs}}''' initially rage-inducing ending is improved by this sort of interpretation. Consider for a moment that water ''per se'' is never explicitly stated to be the invaders' AchillesHeel - a television newscast on the subject only refers to something along the lines of "an esoteric method discovered in the Middle East," the birthplace of the major Abrahamic religions. Moreover, the only water that is ''shown'' to harm the invaders has been handled by a [[GoodShepherd priest]], and is only effective after he begins to resolve his crisis of faith. That would tend to suggest that the "aliens" in question are, in fact, ''demons'' (which makes the whole "creeping around in the shadows and screwing with people instead of death-raying the entire planet" thing a lot more reasonable), and are subdued by holy water and (presumably) similar religious articles. The considerable volumes of work in which folklorists draw numerous parallels between the superstitions of antiquity and the modern UFO phenomenon helps this interpretation. Intentional or not, it makes the movie ''seem'' less stupid. [[ArtisticLicenseReligion Now if only holy water worked that way.....]].
* Creator/BillMurray's ''Film/GroundhogDay'' stands as Hollywood's sole Buddhist message movie. As Phil (short for 'philosopher', obviously, a common name for the Buddha), Murray eventually realizes what takes many lifetimes to understand; namely, that every cycle of birth-death-rebirth (every 'day') is always the same, over and over, depressing, painful, and bound by karma (i.e.- how you've treated others in the past), until you awaken and make a conscious choice to change that destiny. It's interesting that Phil takes the Tantric path, initially using the opportunity of being 'reborn' every morning to simply fulfill all desires, and therefore, to ultimately purge himself of them. Still, over who knows how many 'days' -- how many lifetimes of days -- he eventually comes to see the connectedness of all things, the sacredness of all life, and the joy to be found in knowledge, wisdom, and simply making a difference in the lives of others. By his own effort, and even against his initial nature, over many lifetimes he achieves Enlightenment, and is able to move on. Plus, that scene where he lets the groundhog drive the truck is freakin hilarious.
* An argument has been made that the ''Literature/{{Twilight}}'' series was Meyer subconsciously writing a Mormon treatise (short version: Edward is Joseph Smith, vampires are Mormons, werewolves are Lamanites, and all women are good for is having babies. Long version [[http://stoney321.livejournal.com/317176.html here]]). That would make this series the ThemeparkVersion of Mormonism.
* Literally true in the case of the western ''Film/{{Purgatory}}'', in that the title town contains a number of wild west legends, all seeking redemption.
* Fans of the movie version of ''Film/SinCity'' often wondered if the three protagonists were one and the same. Marv was the real character with John Hartigan as his AuthorAvatar made up by his own delusions while in a near-death experience. Dwight is Marv "with a new face" after faking his death. A lot of this came about because much of Dwight's backstory was alluded to but not explained (his story was essentially a sequel to his OriginStory from the comics). Comic fans explained that these were, indeed three separate characters that were featured in different stories published years apart and in a different order (in fact, two of them actually teamed up in one of the stories the movie didn't cover).
* ''Film/TronLegacy''
** It might as well be called ''Gnosticism: the Movie''. Finding something that ''isn't'' capable of being read as symbolic of gnostic philosophy!
** It's the resurrection of Jesus Christ with Sam Flynn as Jesus and Kevin Flynn as God.
* Creator/WillSmith's ''Film/AfterEarth'' has been interpreted as being about the ChurchOfHappyology.
* ''Film/{{Kontroll}}'' is set in the Budapest Metro (the '''underground''' railway). In the final scene, Szofi (previously seen wearing a bear suit) is wearing a dress in Virgin Mary blue, with wings on the back, and she accompanies protagonist Bulcsu up the escalator which has blue daylight streaming down from above. This might change the viewer's interpretation of the rest of the film.
* Creator/TimBurton's ''Film/{{Beetlejuice}}'' (1988) can be interpreted as a conflict between Heaven and Hell, although the metaphors are ''heavily'' cloaked. The name "Betelgeuse" - at least as pronounced in the movie - sounds a lot like "Beelzebub", the ancient mocking Hebrew name for the Devil (literally meaning "Lord of the Flies", and Betelgeuse does indeed have a connection to insects). Also like Lucifer, Betelgeuse is named after a star. But what clinches the argument is Juno telling the Maitlands that Betelgeuse was once her assistant, but went off on his own because he thought he could be a better "bio-exorcist" - a story that has very interesting parallels to ''Literature/ParadiseLost''. (By the way, this explains why Betelgeuse loves watching ''Film/TheExorcist'' so much; [[FridgeBrilliance it's about him!]]) And yes, this would mean that Juno is supposed to be God (and, in fact, she is named after the chief goddess in Roman mythology). While this doesn't exactly square with the implication that Juno was a suicidal chain-smoker who was [[MundaneAfterlife forced to become a civil servant in the afterlife as punishment]], it's entirely possible that she is merely appearing to her fellow case-workers in AFormYouAreComfortableWith. Also, why do you think the whorehouse is called "Dante's Inferno Room"?
* Creator/StevenSpielberg's ''Film/CloseEncountersOfTheThirdKind'' can be interpreted as a metaphor for a spiritual awakening and journey: An ordinary man (Roy Neary) has an experience with a higher power (encounters [=UFOs=] one night on the highway) that completely changes his life (becomes obsessed with [=UFOs=] to the detriment of his family and social life) and is subsequently compelled by this higher power (through a mentally implanted image) to make a pilgrimage to a predetermined location (travels to Devil's Tower, Wyoming) where he communes with the higher power (takes part in FirstContact with the aliens) and is ascended into the heavens (departs with the aliens after being chosen to join them). Roy getting sunburned by the [=UFOs=] during his initial encounter marks his symbolic baptism from normal everyman to alien contactee.
* ''Film/{{Dogma}}'': This claim is put forth by Loki, the exiled Angel of Death, in his attempt to convince a nun that God does not exist. He wins and tells her to buy herself a nice dress and go find a man...or woman.
* Creator/RobinWilliams believed that his movie, ''Film/{{Jumanji}}'' represents childrens' fear of being abandoned by their parents.

* Brazilian writer and "jazz musician" Creator/LuisFernandoVerissimo once wrote a essay in which he claimed that the Walrus and the Carpenter from ''Literature/AliceInWonderland'' were metaphors for Buddha and Jesus (one being fat, and the other, a carpenter), and the oysters they brainwashed represented the followers of both religions.
* From Wikipedia: "In ''The Annotated Alice,'' Martin Gardner noted that when Creator/LewisCarroll gave the manuscript for ''Through the Looking-Glass'' to illustrator John Tenniel, he gave him the choice of drawing a carpenter, a butterfly, or a baronet (since each word would fit the poem's meter). Tenniel chose the carpenter. Because of this, [[MessianicArchetype the carpenter's significance in the poem is probably not in his profession]]. Although the two characters of the poem were interpreted later as two political types, there is no indication of what Carroll may have intended; Gardner cautions the reader that there isn't too much intended symbolism in the ''Alice'' books; the books were made for the imagination of children, not the analysis of "mad people". (Others have claimed that they're clearly about logic, but the imagination of children part is certainly a nice side dish.)
** Listen to Carroll's Duchess from the first book:
-->'''Duchess''': There's a moral in everything, if only you can find it.
* All seven books in ''Literature/TheChroniclesOfNarnia'' have been claimed to be AnAesop focusing on one of the SevenDeadlySins. This just goes to show that this trope applies even when there's plenty of real, valid symbolism, allegory, and "supposition" to choose from. Later still, a book was published saying that each novel corresponds with one of the seven heavens of the medieval cosmos. Creator/CSLewis has specified how the books compare with Christianity: "''The Magician's Nephew'' tells the Creation and how evil entered Narnia, ''The Lion etc.'' -- the Crucifixion and Resurrection, ''Prince Caspian'' -- restoration of the true religion after a corruption, ''The Horse and His Boy'' -- the calling and conversion of the heathen, ''The Voyage of the Dawn Treader'' -- the spiritual life (especially in Reepicheep), ''The Silver Chair'' -- the continuing war against the powers of darkness, ''The Last Battle'' -- the coming of Antichrist (the ape). The end of the world and the last judgement." ([[http://atheism.about.com/od/cslewisnarnia/a/chroniclenarnia.htm Source]])
* ''Franchise/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy'':
** Despite Creator/DouglasAdams explicitly saying that the number 42 was randomly chosen with no intended hidden meaning, EpilepticTrees involving everything from base thirteen to Tibetan monks continue to live on.
** Creator/StephenFry, on the other hand, has [[http://www.stephenfry.com/forum/topic/stephen-knows-the-meaning-of-the-ultimate-answer claimed]] that Creator/DouglasAdams once told him in confidence "exactly why 42." Apparently, "The answer is fascinating, extraordinary and, when you think hard about it, [[ItMakesSenseInContext completely obvious.]]" However, he has vowed to [[SecretKeeper take the secret with him to the grave]].
** In-universe example: When Vogon Jeltz asks Arthur and Ford what they thought of his poetry, they attempt to save their own necks by going into excruciatingly sycophantic analytical detail. At one point they comment that the poem serves to "counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor." Jeltz doesn't buy it, and sentences them to being tossed out the airlock, grumbling: "'... counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor.'... Death's too good for them." (For the record, Jeltz's authorial intent was, in his own words, "to throw my mean, callous, heartless exterior into sharp relief!")
* ''Literature/HarryPotter''
** John Granger teaches a class, and wrote two whole books, on how the series can be seen as a fully Christian work filled to the brim with symbolism culled from classic authors the likes of which Tolkien and Lewis were reading in their heyday. Whether he is right or wrong, it could be too much of a coincidence that all the good guys are on the team with the [[AnimalStereotypes lion mascot]] and all the bad guys are on the team with the serpent mascot (which commonly represents Satan). There's also [[http://www.exposingsatanism.org/harrypotter2.htm this]], which "argues" that Harry is ''TheAntiChrist''.
** [[http://www.harrypotterforseekers.com Harry Potter for Seekers]] is an entire website devoted to the alchemical and spiritual symbolism in Harry Potter, as if it's a genuine discipline of mysticism. One page evaluates the symbolism of the characters. Take the lead protagonist, for example:
---> "Harry...symbolizes the new soul force in the seeker who wants to go the Path of Alchemical Transformation resulting in total liberation. Harry...will break all seven chains tying the seeker to the universe of time and space, and he will defeat the root-force of the fallen universe that dwells within the seeker."
--->"Minerva symbolises the divine force that conducts the process of transfiguring the mortal imperfect human being into a perfect child of God."
** Rowling addressed this in a 2007 interview with ''Time'' magazine. She said that she used Christian themes because it was what she was familiar with, but that the themes could apply to any religion. "I did not set out to convert anyone to Christianity. I wasn't trying to do what Creator/CSLewis did."
* In ''Literature/LordOfTheFlies,'' is Simon Jesus? Is the lack of girls on the island proof that boys are evil and therefore Eve is not at fault? One thing is for sure: the name of the demon Beelzebub (בעל זבוב or Baʿal Zəbûb in Hebrew) from Literature/TheBible literally means "Lord of the Flies". [[note]] The name Beelzebub may be a dig at the Philistine deity of the city of Ekron, whose name might originally have been Baal-zebul ("Lord of Lords", or "Lord of the Heavens"). According to this theory, the Israelites satirized this deity by renaming him "Lord of the flies". [[/note]]
* Santiago of ''Literature/TheOldManAndTheSea'' is UsefulNotes/{{Jesus}}, though Hemingway stated that the book was just about fishing and old age, nothing else. It's also noted that, when the eponymous character is carrying his mast and sail back to his home, he falls five times, just like when Jesus when he was carrying the Cross. [[CriticalResearchFailure Too bad the Stations of the Cross state that Jesus fell three times, not five]].
* Unsurprisingly, Creator/NealStephenson [[LampshadeHanging hangs a lampshade]] on this trope by having several of his characters explicitly identify themselves with figures from ancient and classical mythology (e.g. Hiro and Juanita in ''Literature/SnowCrash'' are Enki and Inana fron Sumerian mythology, and Danial and Eliza in ''Literature/TheBaroqueCycle'' are Pluto and Hermes from Greco-Roman mythology).
* ''Literature/TheWonderfulWizardOfOz'' works beautifully as a metaphor of the Search For Enlightenment. The heroine wants to Get Home (to return to her innocent past), her companions are hoping to find Wisdom, Love, or Power: the Teacher turns out to be a fraud, and the final moral is - what else? - she had the way to get her wish with her all along.
** This is not to mention the several scholars who have been theorizing that the book has political undertones.
*** Henry Littlefield, seemingly the first of the bunch, and probably the most well-known, believed that the books argue in favor of bimetallism, a form of economic policy tat sought to create a fixed exchange ratio betwene the U.S. dollar, gold, and silver. Apparently, in his interpretation, the Wicked Witches of the East and West and clearly allegories to wealthy investors from the east coast and those who became wealthy as a consequence of the Gold Rush, respectively, as both of those groups opposed the adoption of silver and preferred to maintain the gold standard (as it would've severley devalued the U.S. dollar). The Good Witches of North and South represent the interests of farmers, who supported the change to bimetallism as to lessen their debt. The Yellow Brick Road in here represents the Gold Standard, which causes the Scarecrow (in here an allegory to farmers) to trip several times, but Dorothy can walk through it with the Silver Slippers.
*** Ranjit S. Dighe implies that the Winged Monkeys might be an allegory to Native Americans in their enslavement to the Wicked Witch of the West.
* If you believe the critic R.W. Stallman, Jim Conklin in ''The Red Badge of Courage'' is Jesus Christ and redeems Henry. Stephen Crane [[LyingCreator lied and said it was just a "psychological portrayal of fear."]]
* John Cotton in ''Literature/BlessTheBeastsAndChildren'' is Jesus. After all, he's [[spoiler:killed by a Judas truck]]. Yes, this is taught in schools.
* Creator/JohnSteinbeck himself said that ''Literature/TheGrapesOfWrath'' had five distinct "layers," and that he didn't expect everyone to understand or even notice all of them.
* Creator/JRRTolkien.
** You can't write a successful good-versus-evil story in the twentieth century without every other English High School teacher hijacking it for a lesson on metaphors. He stated in the introduction of the first volume that no, it's not an allegory of any kind (and he disliked [[Literature/TheChroniclesOfNarnia straightforward allegories]] anyway), and doubly no, not one on fascism, The Bomb or what have you. Doesn't stop some teachers who cite The Inklings, the informal group of literary scholars of which he was a member, and included people like Charles Williams (notorious for allegory) and C.S. Lewis (notorious Christian convert).
** Some people also seem to think that the West into which Frodo & Co eventually go is ''only'' allegorical. While it ''can'' be construed as symbolic (see the quote below), it's also very much a physical place (as explained in the Appendices and ''Literature/TheSilmarillion''). Yes, it's a place. Where the angels and High Elves live, and the dead rest in the ever-expanding Halls of Mandos.
---> "To Bilbo and Frodo the special grace is granted to go with the Elves they loved – an Arthurian ending, in which it is, of course, not made explicit whether this is an 'allegory' of death, or a mode of healing and restoration leading to a return." J.R.R Tolkien, ''[[Literature/TheHistoryOfMiddleEarth Morgoth's Ring]]'', pp 365-6
** Tolkien drew a distinction between "allegory" and "applicable." The fact that a story has parallels with a real life event doesn't mean the parallels can't be legitimately drawn, but it doesn't justify "explaining" the story by the parallels. Nor does it mean the author intended the parallels.
* Creator/MarkTwain attempted to defy this in the opening of ''Literature/AdventuresOfHuckleberryFinn''. Bonus points for meta-humor, as many readers develop strange theories concerning the identity of "G.G., Chief of Ordnance." WordOfGod made that one pretty clear: [[spoiler:[[GatlingGood Gatling Gun]]]].
-->"PERSONS attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.
-->-BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR, Per G.G., Chief of Ordnance."
* In ''Literature/{{VALIS}}'' by Creator/PhilipKDick, many things are Jesus. Its successor, ''The Divine Invasion'', outright says that Everyone Is Jesus In Purgatory.
* ''Literature/TheConfidenceMan'' is one of Herman Melville's strangest works, and not only a satire but it has his views on [[ReligionTropes religion]], [[MoralityTropes morality]], and the SlidingScaleOfIdealismVsCynicism. The confidence-man character in himself is interpreted as either {{God}} or {{Satan}}, depending on how much you think about the name of the coal company he claims to work for. The symbolism adds on even ''more'' MindScrew.
* François Rabelais's ''Literature/{{Gargantua}}'' has a preface that mocks the reader who looks for any hidden meaning, and then encourages them to dig deeper to find the wisdom in the book. The "hidden wisdom" is probably to [[MST3KMantra sit back and enjoy the damn book]].
* ''Literature/TheDivineComedy'' has everyone as Jesus in Purgatory, and one third of it takes place ''in'' Purgatory. The other two thirds are Hell and Heaven.
* Joseph Heller's expy in his semi-autobiographical novel argues that people only see a connection between ''Literature/{{Ulysses}}'' and ''Literature/TheOdyssey'' because James Joyce personally explained it to everyone who wasn't running away while covering their ears.
* Nostradamus's ''Prophecies'' was made to invoke this trope. Its content is so random and meaningless that commentators can read whatever they want in it. Biblical End of Days, Freemason Conspiracy (without and without satanism or connection to Knight Templars) whatever.
* ''Literature/ThePowerOfFive'': Matt's story is ''suspiciously'' similar to the life of UsefulNotes/{{Jesus}}. Born with special powers according to some higher plan, destined to save the world from TheLegionsOfHell and their very {{Satan}}-like leader, leads a small group of followers of whom the closest to him is named Pedro ('Peter' in Spanish), accepts his destiny despite wishing there was another way, betrayed by one of his companions, flogged and beaten and hung up to be jeered at, [[spoiler: died, came back and ascended to Heaven right in front of his friends]].
* An in-universe example occurs in Creator/StephenKing's ''{{Literature/It}}'': when Bill Denbrough follows a writing course in college, he gets an instructor who keeps insisting that each story has deeper meanings and messages, be it political, religious etc. One day Bill has enough and finally stands up to his instructor, asking him point blank if it has ever occurred to him that sometimes a story can be just ''a story'', without socio-anything. His instructor disagrees.
* Creator/StephenKing promotes [[ExploitedTrope taking advantage of this in your own works]] in ''Literature/OnWriting''; his message there is, don't shoehorn in symbolism, instead look at your draft and polish up what naturally shows up as a recurring theme to make it really stand out. He uses the recurring motif of blood in ''Literature/{{Carrie}}'' as an example. In short: If you see not-actually-symbolism showing up prominently, encourage it to grow and make it ''actual'' symbolism.
* Creator/IsaacAsimov's (very) short story, ''The Immortal Bard'', features Creator/WilliamShakespeare being brought to modern times by means of a time machine. He expresses amazement at the amount of crap people have made up about his work in the intervening 400 years; the chap who built the time machine enrolls him in a modern Shakespeare class, and he fails.
* Zilpha Keatley Snyder's ''Literature/GreenSkyTrilogy'' has Raamo, the young Ol-zhaan priest who while denying that he is holy, becomes increasingly otherworldly throughout the books, until [[spoiler: the inevitable happens and he [[HeroicSacrifice plunges into the abyss]] with the weapon he brought there to destroy. The two races of Green-sky unite and make peace in his name.]] Readers complained, and an amazing video game sequel ensued.
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' has numerous prophecies, strange dreams, vivid imagery, and a fully-stocked ChekhovsArmoury. Naturally, parts of the fanbase have tried to derive meaning from nearly every word, from AnimalMotifs and [[MessianicArchetype Messianic Archetypes]] to off-hand comments and what the characters eat for dinner. They're actually quite creative with what they come up with, such as the infamous "[[http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/96129-corn-code-revision-8-the-game-of-thrones-exposed Corn Code]]", when fans speculated that the repetition of certain words, especially the squawking of Joer Morment's pet raven, was actually a cryptogram that they could use to predict events in the series.
* This is {{satir|e}}ized by Frederick Crews in ''The Pooh Perplex'', a collection of mock-literary essays proposing to explain the symbolism of ''Literature/WinnieThePooh'' according to various literary critical theories such as Marxist, Freudian, Christian, Leavisite and Fiedlerian approaches. When those schools of thought gradually fell out of favor, Crews rejoined with a sequel, ''Postmodern Pooh,'' which analyzed ''Pooh'' according to modern theories including deconstruction, feminism, queer theory, and recovered memory therapy-- complete with [[NotMakingThisUpDisclaimer citations to real academics]] who had actually made some of the same EpilepticTrees assertions he presents satirically!
* In Rebecca Levene's deconstructive fantasy novel ''Literature/SmilersFair'', one of the characters is a MosesInTheBullrushes type goatherd named Krish who is either a MessianicArchetype or TheAntiChrist. In an interview on the Midnight in Karachi Podcast, she was asked whether the name was inspired by Krishna, and answered that she had initially spelled his name Chrish- and while that spelling sounded more like Christ, that symbolism as well as the Krishna one were completely unintended.
* The first book of ''Literature/TheCompanyNovels'' is called ''In the Garden of Iden'', and while the book does involve a garden which is the setting of doomed romance and theological discussions, the obvious Eden symbolism is unintended as the title was suggested by Baker's editor as a pun on the Iden family estate on which the novel is set. In fact, although the Iden characters are fictional, the surname is a real one. Sir Walter Iden tells a story about an ancestor capturing the rebel Jack Cade, and although Sir Walter never existed, Cade was indeed captured by a guy named Alexander Iden.
* This trope gets discussed in [[Creator/StephenKing Stephen King’s]] book ''Literature/LiseysStory''. Lisey, the widow of famed novelist Scott Landon, refers to these kind of people as “Deep Space Cowboys”, and describes them as:
-->Deep Space Cowboys have a lot to say. They want to grab Scott by the arm and tell him they understand the secret messages in his books; they understand that the books are really guides to God, Satan or possibly the Gnostic Gospels.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
%%%% Weblinks Are Not Examples
%%%* Parodied on a Not the Nine O'Clock News episode. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asUyK6JWt9U Watch it here.]]
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' had many examples of subtext and allegory, which led naturally to some overanalysis by the fans.
** One theory involves each season representing one of the seven steps on the path to Buddhist Nirvana (originally posted between seasons 6 and 7, with an amendment after the finale).
** Because Creator/JossWhedon knows his audience he enforces this in the season 4 DreamSequence episode: everything in the characters' dreams has a meaning. You can read something into absolutely everything... except for the man with the cheese. This hasn't stopped [[http://www.stonesoup.co.nz/ecoqueer/archives/003318.html some from trying to prove otherwise]]. There's nothing Joss loves more than [[{{Jossed}} Jossing]] fans.
* ''Series/AshesToAshes'': the weird thing is that [[spoiler: the truth turns out to be the trope title minus the Jesus part. Except that by the end Gene Hunt kind of ''is'' Jesus.]] According to the finale, [[spoiler: yep, everyone was in a copper's purgatory, Gene was their (amnesiac) spiritual guide, and Nelson the bartender is something akin to St. Peter.]]
* ''Series/BreakingBad'': It would be an understatement for fans of ''Series/BreakingBad'' and its prequel/spinoff ''Series/BetterCallSaul''. Literally every aspect has been analysed by the fandom for some sort of meaning, from the RV, to the choices of the cars that characters drive, to everyone's fashion choices, to coffee mugs to the fact that Walt wears white briefs. One reddit user decided to take this UpToEleven by trying to find tongue-in-cheek symbolism for every item in the [[http://i.imgur.com/M6nGsJy.jpg restaurant scene]] from "Confessions".
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'':
** The series is a series with much deep meaning and symbolism, but many fans take it too far. This is, after all, the fandom where the name for EpilepticTrees came from. There are even theories that include this exact trope title, which have already been discredited by the WordOfGod and the show itself, as [[spoiler:the survivors escape alive into the outside world, plus characters come to the Island from what is clearly an existent world]]. Yet people still claim they are in Purgatory; for them, there's the omniscient character, the omniscient character's son (whom she [[spoiler:sends to the island to die to save it]]), the baby born with a prophecy, the character who looks like Jesus, [[spoiler:dies arms spread then gets resurrected]]; the character named Christian Shepherd, and [[spoiler:the god who dies]].
** "The End" reveals that [[spoiler:everyone, after they die, ''will end up as'' Jesus in Purgatory. The "flash-sideways" timeline turned out to be a flash-''forward'' to a "meeting place" of sorts, where the cast of the show was already dead and had to find each other and remember their past life on the island before they could move on to the next/afterlife]].
* The episode of ''Series/{{Cheers}}'' entitled "The Triangle" features an in-universe one centering around the Wile-Coyote as part of the patrons' [[CavemenVsAstronautsDebate larger debate]].
* ''Series/DoctorWho'',
** Right before he dies, Dalek Sec says "My Daleks, understand this. If you choose death and destruction then death and destruction will also choose you" which [[http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2026:52&version=NASB sounds familiar]]. Oh, and he said it right before he was killed by the people he was trying to, in the words of the Doctor, "lead from the darkness."
** Eleven "saves the soul of a rich man" in "A Christmas Carol".
** Ten is supposed to be Madame de Pompadour's angel.
** There are plenty of suggestions of a religious subtext in Creator/RussellTDavies' work, from the obvious ''Series/TheSecondComing'' to the Host in the ''Series/DoctorWho'' story "Voyage of the Damned" to (some say) the Doctor almost turning into Jesus in "Last of the Time Lords". Not to mention the Resurrection Glove (and a guest appearance by Death) in ''Series/{{Torchwood}}''. (Whether most of this is supposed to mean anything, however, is a different question.)
* Parodied in the ''{{Series/Supernatural}}'' episode "Hunter Heroici". Castiel watches a ''WesternAnimation/RoadRunner'' cartoon and becomes convinced it is religious allegory.
* ''Series/GilligansIsland''
** A theory that the cast represent the seven deadly sins: Mary Ann is envy, the Professor is pride, Ginger is lust, Mr. Howell is greed, Mrs. Howell is sloth, the Skipper is both gluttony and wrath (or Mrs. Howell is both sloth and gluttony--over indulging herself with her hundreds of outfits), and Gilligan himself is Satan. An alternate form of the theory assigns Gilligan gluttony (either because he [[BigEater constantly eats but never gets fat]], or because [[TheMillstone all he does is take up space]]) and leaves the Skipper with just wrath.
** Gilligan is the Devil, and the island is Hell, with no escape possible. That's why he [[JustEatGilligan continuously sabotages escape attempts]].
* Keep an eye out for wacky theories about Christian allegory in ''Series/InTheNightGarden''. Makka Pakka lives in a cave, and garages his scooter in another cave, rolling a round stone in front to close the entrance (like Christ's tomb). He also goes around washing everyone's faces (John the Baptist). Igglepiggle goes out in a boat (sermon from the boat/"fishers of men"). Upsy Daisy (Mary Magdalen). The Pinky-Ponk (merkabah). And so on. The point is that the creators of ''In the Night Garden'' are all old enough to have had compulsory religious education at school, and have all the Christian imagery floating about in their heads, waiting to slip out into a programme concept.
* In ''Series/TheSopranos'' episodes "Join the Club" and "Mayham," Tony Soprano, while in a coma, dreams of himself as a salesman who loses his wallet and takes the identity of Kevin Finnerty. Numerous fan theories have suggested the dream was Purgatory, which Tony was visiting. Note that while series creator David Chase has {{Jossed}} all theories of the significance of the "Kevin Finnerty" name, he has neither confirmed nor denied the Purgatory theory regarding the dream itself.
* Parodied on ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000.'' At the end of ''Bloodlust,'' the villain ends up nailed to one of his own trophy stands, causing Tom Servo to quip "Why ''this'' symbolism? Did Christ hunt people on deserted islands?"
* Of all the shows likely to avoid such theories, you might expect ''Series/{{Seinfeld}}'' to be one of them. You'd be wrong. Interpretations of the final episode have claimed that the airplane on which the four leads were flying crashed, killing them all. Their trial was actually a stand-in for their judgment in the afterlife, and their prison sentence represents a ''very'' lengthy stay in Purgatory.
* ''Series/{{Community}}'':
** Abed's idea for a viral video for Shirley's church was a film about a filmmaker who was making a film about Jesus who realized that he himself was Jesus was having a film made about him.
** In "Course Listing Unavailable", it's ''revealed'' Greendale was actually [[spoiler: an insane asylum that the group all were kept at for 3 years]]. After initially being fooled, they realise that's ridiculous, and this trope is tried out on them; apparently the entire study group is in purgatory, being watched by the devil;
--->'''Troy:''' *GASP*\\
'''Jeff:''' Troy, stop letting him make you realize things.
** Parodied in an episode when Abed took a class on ''Series/WhosTheBoss'' and the professor insisted on interpreting the sitcom this way. See [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPSi_7PwIxE here]].
* John Zmirak once [[http://www.catholicity.com/commentary/zmirak/08634.html explained his tongue-in-cheek theory]] that Series/TheAddamsFamily represent "[A]n [[BlueBlood aristocratic]], trad-Catholic homeschooling family trapped in a sterile Protestant suburb".
* Parodied in ''Series/{{Spaced}}'' where [[MadArtist Brian]] has to do an installation piece in a swanky art gallery. He paints three walls and a floor entirely red, leaves a telephone and a tape recording of said phone ringing on a chair in the middle of the piece. Frustrated that it still seems to be lacking something, Brian trips over, knocks over his ladder and promptly knocks himself out with the tin of green paint he had rested on top of the ladder and awakes several hours later to a hearty congratulations from the gallery's owner for the incredibly deep artwork he has displayed.
* A lot of people believed the first season of ''Series/TrueDetective'' was a Franchise/CthulhuMythos-esque CosmicHorrorStory thanks to a ShoutOut to ''Literature/TheKingInYellow'', the unusual way the murder victims were posed, incongruities between what the detective being interviewed said happened and what actually happened, and hallucinations the detective experienced. Fans would take any inconsistency and unexplained instance as evidence that something supernatural was going on instead of what was really going on: a self-serving UnreliableNarrator detective with a substance abuse problem was recounting a case poorly, right up until the last episode when nothing overtly otherworldly happened. It's why the second season, which did not have anything weird in it, was far less popular.

* Music/TheBeatles get this a ''lot'', partly because many of their songs do have quite a bit of ''[[TheCloudCuckoolanderWasRight intentional]]'' [[TheCloudCuckoolanderWasRight deeper meaning]]:
** Any of the various outlandish interpretations of the lyrics of "Come Together", such as what "toe-jam football" is.
** "Helter Skelter" and the rest of the ''White Album'', along with several other Beatles songs, are all a huge (and tragic) example of this. The song was written about nothing (or a playground slide, or maybe UsefulNotes/TheRomanEmpire), but UsefulNotes/CharlesManson built up this whole mythology around it about how it was prophecy and so on. Then he went around murdering people to fulfill the prophecy. Turns out it wasn't any of that at all...
** When John Lennon received a letter from a student about an English class at his former High School analyzing the lyrics of the band's songs, he was so amused that he set out to write the most confusing and absurd song he could come up with that still had a valid meaning to interpret. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_the_Walrus He titled the song I Am The Walrus]].
* "Particle Man". Is it a pastiche of superhero comics, an allegory for the struggle between science and religion, or just a goofy little song by Music/TheyMightBeGiants? The TMBG Wiki actually has an "interpretation" section for each of the band's songs.
* The genre of ProgressiveRock is known for songs which are loaded with allegory, metaphor, obscure symbolism, and the ConceptAlbum, in which all the songs on an album are all based on a specific theme, or which are all part of a larger story. For instance, the song "Music/SuppersReady" by Music/{{Genesis}} was based on the Literature/BookOfRevelation. Or their ConceptAlbum ''Music/TheLambLiesDownOnBroadway,''; which is about... [[MindScrew take your pick]].
* The notion that "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was [[http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/12days.asp written by English Catholics as a coded catechism lesson]] has become widespread, even appearing in reference books about Christmas. Too bad there isn't any evidence for it.
* Go to any [[{{Music/PetShopBoys}} Pet Shop Boys]] fan forum and ask who the title character of "Birthday Boy" is. The replies will either be Jesus, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Shepard Matthew Shepard]], or both.
* Music/{{XTC}}'s "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" has often been interpreted as an allegory about Jesus, John Lennon, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., etc. The music video particularly plays up Jesus and JFK comparisons.
* The song "Don't You Worry Child" by Music/SwedishHouseMafia have been interpreted by some Christian groups as being about man's relationship with God, and has even been covered by Christian group Anthem Lights, who also added a reference to [[Literature/TheBible Psalm 139]].
-->My father said,\\
"Don't you worry, don't you worry, child\\
See, Heaven's got a plan for you\\

[[folder:Myths & Religion]]
* Literature/TheBible itself is subject to this, even in a literal sense, as many Old Testament figures, such as Moses, show parallels with Jesus. Certain theologists believe that these were prophetic foreshadowings for the Messiah, while skeptics believe that the New Testament was intentionally written to match these older stories. Even the writers of the gospels have this happening, where some of them, through narrative use of AsTheGoodBookSays (although it's a different Good Book), claim that this event or that saying were to fulfil what had been said by the prophets beforehand. Some of them are significant stretches. Also, the New Testament writers' practice fits squarely into the tradition of Jewish midrash. For example, the Gospel of Mark begins with Jesus' baptism at which Jesus comes up from the water, the heavens are opened, a voice comes forth, and the spirit descends. This is clearly midrash on the creation story from Genesis 1 in which God's spirit hovers over water and God's voice summons the light. In so doing, Mark is making a theological point through narrative. In addition, common in the First Century CE was the use of typology as a way of understanding scripture (Isaac is seen as a type of Jesus, Elijah as a type of John the Baptist, etc.). In this way, the authors of the NT are not claiming literal prophecy/fulfillment as much as reminding the reader that what God has done before, God is doing again.
* Another favorite in the theme of Christianity is to make everything that's too obviously not an allegory of a Christian theme into a post-facto allegory for a Christian heresy, and therefore a [[ItsAllAboutMe subversion of Christianity]]. Since most heresies stemmed from actual discussions of mythology and interpretation of the scripture as literature (despite the [[TheInquisition usual implications]], 'heresy' didn't necessarily imply some sort of feud, just the explanation the church decided not to go with) it's pretty trivial to tie anything to one movement or another. The gnostics get hit with this one especially hard, since their idea involved knowing god through what amounts to an emotional epiphany. Therefore, obviously, every work where a character experiences an emotion that shifts their point of view [[FourTermsFallacy is necessarily a Gnostic allegory]] for some analysts.

[[folder: Standup Comedy]]
* Creator/GeorgeCarlin abhorred this trope. Quoth Carlin: "I leave symbols for the symbolminded."

* Most of the works of Creator/{{Shakespeare}}. Try asking your English teacher what Iago's motives are in ''Theatre/{{Othello}}'', and what Iago stands for. The obvious one is that he's {{Satan}}, which has a bit of weight to it. Another is that Iago is [[PostModernism the author, trying to engineer a tragic play]]. Or maybe -- just maybe -- he's an intolerant redneck who has a problem working under a black man and a teetotaller, and suspects both of nailing his wife, like he says in the play. Or, he's in love with Othello.
* ''Theatre/WaitingForGodot'' is either an allegory of the Cold War, a collection of Jungian archetypes or an examination of human existence and the role of God, depending on who you ask. Godot himself is often thought as being God, largely because of his name and the fact that both him and God are described within the play as having a white beard. Samuel Beckett himself was very insistent about the fact that Godot was not God and if he meant Godot to be God he would have called him God.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Thief}}'':
** The game is utterly rife with symbolism, particularly symbols and language that make it clear that certain factions are meant to stand in for things we have in the real world, such as Christianity, science and, more obviously, nature worship. While these forces all have very clear-cut domains, in theory, the waters are so muddied that it is almost impossible to tell what the overall allegory is. The most you can really tell is that that the developers seemed to think that the early Christians persecuted the Pagans rather than vice-versa and that the world of Thief is apparently run by fanatics of various kinds who both create and solve all its problems.
** Within the games themselves, the Keepers are an old order of sages who are trying to decipher ancient and cryptic prophecies, but even they don't really have a good clue what they are meaning, to the point that their different interpretations are starting to turn them against each other.
* For an in-universe example of this, ''VideoGame/FableI'' has the book "The Rotten Apple" seen as one Albion's premiere philosophical works. However, if the book is taken literally, it just gives good advice on fruit farming.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'': This trope goes a long way to explain the continuing fascination with its convoluted plot and psychologically damaged characters. Maybe it was all the references to Nordic myth, Jewish Kabbalah, and Judeo-Christian FauxSymbolism, maybe it was main hero's [[DarkAndTroubledPast troubled past]] and unresolved LoveTriangle, the abrupt and ambiguous GainaxEnding, or maybe it was just the [[{{BFS}} bishonen with huge swords...]] but they're ''still'' arguing about this one, and the new games aren't clearing much up. The inspiration for this trope title ''comes'' from here, after all.
* ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger''. Crono is Jesus, Marle is Mary Magdalene, and the entire game is simply rife with Biblical symbolism. [[http://www.chronocompendium.com/Term/CTT:ChronoEnigma.html It's true! This site says so!]] Then there's Lavos! Evil, fell from "heaven", has (in the english version) been manipulating humanity since it came to earth, causes the Apocalypse once it reveals itself, is powering the allegory to the Anti-Christ, spends all its time in the center of the Earth, the place where Hell is usually depicted. Come on! It's Satan! It's obviously Satan! Finally, we have the kingdom of Zeal; Over'''zeal'''ous people following what turns out to be the wrong deity? Yeah, that works.
* ''VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou'' is a Everyone Is Jesus In Purgatory game as a whole. Subliminal messages and religious symbols can be found everywhere if you look hard enough, and the roles of characters in the plot can be delved into something much deeper. Not to mention the fact that [[spoiler:Joshua is the Jesus figure whose name is literally "Jesus" in another language...]]
* ''VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2006'' is considered a metaphor for the Rapture with...
** Shadow as the First Coming of Christ - a virgin birth long ago, immortal, brought down from an untainted place to live among men, persecuted throughout his life while giving out wisdom beyond his years, and finally wrongly accused and made a scapegoat of for humans fouling up; he is betrayed by all he cares for and put into stasis for what might be forever, despite all he's done for us. He's held in stasis in the Crucifix position.
** Silver as the Second Coming of Christ, also a virgin birth (nobody knows his parents) he is once again coming to save us from our sins. He's completely innocent with powers beyond comprehension, coming from an unknown and rather horrible future and met with doubt. His close work with Shadow is also noted, and many people suspect Silver could be Shadow's son or grandson.
** Mephiles as the Anti-Christ; he's copying Shadow despite how weak he is on his own, and is mistaken for him, and even wants his power. He creates copies of himself to serve him and try to destroy Shadow. He slaughters and tricks good people. He brings doubt and fear and death, and when he comes to power, he brings utter destruction in his wake.
** The murder of Sonic being symbolic of the persecution of good people for standing up to evil people.
** The four hedgehogs might also be considered as one of the more complex interpretations of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - Conquest (Sonic, the White Horseman), Persecution (Shadow, the Red Horseman), Justice (Silver, the Black Horseman), and Death (Mephiles, the Pale Horseman). They've gathered to help humanity repent before its sins overwhelm the world; between the four of them this is something they actually succeed in doing.
** The final boss, Solaris is absolutely dripping in Biblical symbolism as well.
*** In the first phase, Solaris has 6 claws, 6 horns on its head, and 6 stones across its back, a reference to the number of the Beast which is 666.
*** The second phase has Solaris take on a brighter and more angelic appearance, much like how the Bible describes Satan appearing as an angel of light.
*** And finally is the two halves of Solaris representing the Beast (Iblis) and False Prophet (Mephiles) respectively, with both their names being synonymous with the Devil.
* ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'':
** There's [[http://www.zeldauniverse.net/articles/the-stone-tower-why-termina-was-doomed/ a theory]] with popularity that says the Stone Tower temple of ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaMajorasMask'' is an allegory of the Tower of Babel. It also turns the mask into a punishment from the gods and Link into a messianic figure sent to "redeem" Termina from their "sins".
** The Game Theorists channel on Website/{{Youtube}} pulls the purgatory card with its theory that [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7S1SVkysIRw Link is dead in the game and the real quest is to accept his death and move on]].[[note]]This theory has been completely debunked with the revelation that the Hero's Shade seen in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'' is actually "VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaMajorasMask"'s Link, which means he survived the events in that game, at least long enough to grow up into an adult; Termina's nature as a parallel dimension to Hyrule also contradicts the theory.[[/note]]
** ''Majora's Mask'' is full of this. There is a theory that Termina represents the five stages of grief. The Clock Town residents are in denial about the coming apocalypse, the Swampland Deku scapegoat an innocent monkey who was in the wrong place at the wrong time when the princess was kidnapped. All the Gorons of Snowhead can do is bargain and hope someone will save them while the Zoras are all in a depression at their loss. The Ikana region is mostly dead, made up of the spirits of a kingdom that fell in a long finished war; Link needs to get them to accept their fate and move on.
** From Link literally being ''Jesus'', to the Master Sword, the Moon Pearl and the Shadow Mirror symbolizing the imperial treasures of Japan (therefore making Hyrule, despite all evidence to the contrary, Japan), to absurd reasons why Link can't talk and overinterpratetion of Zelda's many Alter Egos as her having a SplitPersonality. It has all been there.
* ''Franchise/FinalFantasy Wiki'' theorises that the final battle of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'' is a direct allegory to ''Literature/TheDivineComedy''. The first part of the battle has you fighting a huge demon half submerged in ground, like how Satan is depicted in ''Inferno'', thus making that part a symbolism for Hell. The second fight is against a multitude of suffering mortals, meaning the purgatory. The third fight has you face a [[PietaPlagiarism pieta figure]] with Kefka in place of Jesus, representing Heaven. In the final, fourth part, you ascend above the clouds and Kefka himself comes to you, dressed in a toga, telling that he will destroy everything. Divine Comedy ends with Dante ascending to meet God, who tells him the meaning of life.
* Just what the hell is ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}''? Satanism (enslaving creatures), atheism (you can capture GOD), and so on. WordOfGod is ignored.
* ''VideoGame/ThePath'' can be (and was intended to be) interpreted in many ways. Is it a cautionary tale about the dangers of temptation in its many forms? Is it a metaphor for life and growing up? Are the girls the memories of the grandmother at different stages in her life?
* ''VideoGame/{{Earthbound}}'' has a lot of this going around, but one of the bigger reasons for this is the EldritchAbomination final boss Giygas.
** One interpretation that the only reason that you can beat Giygas--who can't be damaged by anything--is because he is the final boss of a video game, and therefore, it is your duty to beat him. Hence, Paula's prayer command only really works when it reaches you, the player.
** There are still people who purport a metaphorical "Giygas is a fetus" theory, despite the fact that ''Mother 1'' clearly shows his origins (which many are unfamiliar with due to the game's NoExportForYou status up until 2015).
** ''VideoGame/{{Mother 3}}'': The [[RunningGag doorknob]] represents happiness. If you ''really'' think about it [[FridgeBrilliance it makes sense]]. Even the game's creator, Shigesato Itoi, liked that one.
* ''VideoGame/SpecOpsTheLine'' is a MindScrew of a game which did an amazing job of pretending to be a second-rate ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty'' clone. The game's demo and press featured none of its blatantly PostModern plot inspired by ''Literature/HeartOfDarkness'' and ''Film/ApocalypseNow''. The game is rife with LeaningOnTheFourthWall, WhatTheHellPlayer, and a TheReasonYouSuckSpeech aimed ''at the player''. The devs have stated that scenes which fade to white are hallucinations and scenes which fade to black are real - and all the endings fade to white. Fans have concluded that one of the best explanations for what happens in the game is that the protagonist is either already dead or trapped in a hellish DyingDream to serve as his IronicHell. The developers' response has been a ShrugOfGod and stating that it's certainly a valid interpretation of events. In fact, from their point of view, it [[GoneHorriblyRight was too effective at deceiving everyone]]; lots of players judged the game on the merits they would judge a typical war shooter, while the sort of gamer who would value its dark plot and innovative narrative style would be turned off by it ''looking'' just like every other shooter [[FollowTheLeader following the leader]].
--> Soldier: "You know, Captain, we drove through this whole city to find you. We... we saw things. If you don't mind me asking, what was it like? How did you survive all this?"
--> Walker: "Who said I did?"
* An in-universe example occurs in ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'', where [[UnknownRival Ulysses]]' obsession with the Courier revolves around finding a deeper meaning in everything they've done, due to his belief that the destruction of the Divide (which they were [[MikeNelsonDestroyerOfWorlds indirectly responsible for]]) simply ''couldn't'' have been just an accident.
* In the backstory to ''VideoGame/TheBeginnersGuide'', Davey drove away Coda by trying to see the symbolism in Coda's games, even though there was no symbolism involved in his games.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
%%* [[http://survivingtheworld.net/Lesson509.html This]] ''Webcomic/SurvivingTheWorld'' piece sums it up.
%%* ''Webcomic/OneOverZero'' goes over the whole "subconscious" thing (in reference to an in-story EIJIP linking an earlier arc to the Taliban) [[http://www.undefined.net/1/0/?strip=676 here]].
%%* Parodied [[http://www.viruscomix.com/page434.html in Subnormality]].
%%* Parodied in [[http://www.machall.com/view.php?date=2003-04-05 Mac Hall]].
%%* Parodied by Riku in [[http://www.ansemretort.org/ansemretort/index.html?comic=141 this]] issue of ''Webcomic/AnsemRetort''.
%%* [[http://threepanelsoul.com/2007/06/25/on-literary-criticism/ This]] ''ThreePanelSoul'' strip deserves a mention.
%%* In one [[FootnoteFever footnote-y]] ''Webcomic/SquareRootOfMinusGarfield'' strip, it's [[http://www.mezzacotta.net/garfield/?comic=1436 parodied]].
* ''{{Webcomic/Homestuck}}'' [[http://stormingtheivorytower.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/seer-of-light-ascend-why-homestuck-is.html is a modern retelling of a Gnostic creation myth]].

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Most of ''WebVideo/GameTheory'''s episodes tend to be this at times. A Notable example would be the [[VideoGame/{{Undertale}} Sans]] is [[VideoGame/EarthBound Ness]] Theory, which was disproved by the creator of ''VideoGame/{{Undertale}}''.
* This very wiki's WildMassGuessing page often includes these kinds of claims. The most common ones are "X is really Haruhi Suzumiya, who may or may not be a goddess herself" and "The setting is actually in Evangelion's Instrumentality and thus a sea of souls".
* [[http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/blogs/latest/entry/my-toy-collection-for-a-horse-gender-roles-and-comparative-mythology-in-nellas-pony-epic This]] was written after WebVideo/TheNostalgiaChick's friend Nella shared her childhood story involving ''MyLittlePony''. The author later created WebVideo/BrowsHeldHigh, specializing in pretentious art films of this sort, and was later picked up by Website/ChannelAwesome.
* Defied in a ''[[Website/NotAlwaysRight Not Always Learning]]'' [[http://notalwayslearning.com/reading-too-much-into-it/31168 story]]:
--> '''College Student:''' Our professor told us that [character]‘s room being blue is a symbol of his loneliness and isolation. Is that what you meant?\\
'''Author:''' No. [[AuthorAppeal I just like blue]]. [[SugarWiki/FunnyMoments You can tell your professor they’re full of s***]].
* In one ''[[Roleplay/GlobalGuardiansPBEMUniverse Global Guardians]]'' story, superheroine-turned-new-author Battlecat is asked by a talk show host what Battlecat meant in one chapter when she talked about "fighting werewolves, vampires, and other monsters", and why pick those creatures as metaphors for the problems she faced. Battlecat responded that, no, she was talking about fighting ''real'' werewolves, vampires, and other monsters, and that there was no metaphor involved at all.
* Crossing with Music, [[http://genius.com/ Genius]] (formerly known as Rap Genius) is a wiki for analyzing song lyrics, and some people decide to show off their interpretations. For instance, both Music/DavidBowie's [[http://genius.com/David-bowie-space-oddity-lyrics "Space Oddity"]] and Music/EltonJohn's [[http://genius.com/Elton-john-rocket-man-lyrics "Rocket Man"]] are described as "parallels between drug use and space travel" (while both singers had MushroomSamba phases, Bowie and lyricist Bernie Taupin said the songs were really just attempts to do an astronaut song). And seeing people do long explanations on WordSaladLyrics [[LyricalShoehorn wrote this way on purpose]] is pure {{Applicability}} at work.
%%* Discussed by [[Creator/BobChipman Moviebob]] in [[http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/the-big-picture/9733-Why-We-Should-Look-Closer-at-our-Games-Movies-and-Comics this]] episode of ''The Big Picture''.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Parodied with [[Webcomic/MacHall Three Panel Soul's]] [[http://threepanelsoul.com/2007/06/25/on-literary-criticism/ interpretation]] of ''WesternAnimation/WhereOnEarthIsCarmenSandiego'' as representative of the struggle between God and Satan.
* [[http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/subcultures/ed-edd-n-eddy One fan theory]] about ''WesternAnimation/EdEddNEddy'' takes the "[[DeadAllAlong purgatory]]" part of this trope [[FanFic/CulDeSac literally]].
* Some fans of ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'' have interpreted [[spoiler: Soos becoming a zombie and coming back to full life]] as symbolism of Jesus coming back to life, since his name is short for Jesús.

* Creator/UrsulaKLeGuin's famous "gerbil" rant was about this: "In many college English courses the words myth and symbol are given a tremendous charge of significance. You just ain't no good unless you can see a symbol hiding, like a scared gerbil, under every page. And in many creative writing courses the little beasts multiply, the place swarms with them. What does this Mean? What does that Symbolize? What is the Underlying Mythos? Kids come lurching out of such courses with a brain full of gerbils. And they sit down and write a lot of empty pomposity, under the impression that that's how Melville did it."
* In religious scholarship, ''exegesis'' is when the reader/scholar analyzes the religious text as is, whereas ''eisegesis'' involves interpreting the text beyond, and even in spite of, what is stated or culturally or contextually implied. The latter, if taken too far, is considered an example of this trope.
* Aleister Crowley once produced an exegesis of the hidden magical meaning contained in the NurseryRhyme "Old Mother Hubbard".
* Nursery rhymes have been a fertile field for folklorists, especially with regard to the events in history that supposedly inspired them. If one reads ''The Annotated Mother Goose'' by W. S. and L. M. Baring-Gould, which makes mention of some of the more elaborate theories, one gets the impression that whenever a nursery rhyme mentions a "little man", some folklorist will rise up and state that this is clearly and unambiguously a reference to king Philip II of Spain.
* British English Literature courses that are GCSE level and above rely on the analysis of a wide variety of texts to make up a significant portion of the course, whether that analysis is sensible or not. The texts can include plays, novels, magazine, articles and poetry - even if they clearly had no thought put in to them.
''I think I understand now. The Example Folders are there to symbolize the man's curious nature and endless desire for knowledge in pursuit of enlightenment... and [[TvTropesWillRuinYourLife the embrace of their ugliest and most persistent obsessions]].''