The Fear of the Children of Monsters, Inc. Comes from the Plague – The Theory Explained

Based on the advanced technology and behavior of the monsters, the monsters in Monsters, Inc. may fear children due to their arrival during the Bubonic Plague.

Although Monsters Inc. never explains why the monsters are afraid of children in the film, one theory holds that this fear may be due to the bubonic plague. When Monsters Inc. premiered in 2001, the Pixar film enjoyed both box office success and positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. Monsters Inc. follows the story of two monsters, James P. “Sulley” Sullivan and Mike Wazowski, who work to scare children. However, when a little girl, nicknamed “Boo”, accidentally gets lost in the monster world, Sulley and Mike must help her get home.

One of the key premises of Monsters Inc. is that despite the need for children’s screams as a source of energy, monsters are terrified of humans. They believe children are poisonous and dangerous, so even touching them can be fatal. For this reason, Boo’s presence in the monster world causes panic. Throughout the journey of Monsters Inc. However, monsters learn that they don’t need to be afraid of children, or scare them since laughter also provides energy, but it is not known where this fear of children comes from.

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However, one theory (via Reddit) provides an explanation for this, arguing that the monsters of Monsters Inc. may be afraid of humans because they first visited the human world during the bubonic plague. This means that when the monsters invented an interdimensional portal and entered the human world for the first time, it was in the mid-1300s, which was the height of the Black Death. After this visit, the monsters not only discovered that the screams created energy, but returned home with fleas carrying the disease. This would have led to an epidemic in the monster world and a long-held belief that children carry deadly diseases. Although this theory may seem unlikely, it could reasonably be expected to fit into the Monsters Inc. timeline and would explain some details in the movie.


One of the reasons this theory may seem improbable is that it requires monsters to have successfully visited the human world during the late Middle Ages, but both worlds appear to have similar lifestyles in Monsters Inc. However, the film shows that the world of monsters has much more advanced technology. By the time Monsters Inc. takes place, the monsters have already perfected interdimensional travel and harnessed clean, renewable energy from sound vibrations (in the form of screams). When they contain an area that Boo has “contaminated”, the monsters even use a massive force field. Given this superior technology, the monsters could reasonably have invented the first basic portal to the human world in the mid-1300s. Additionally, the previous film, Monster college, mentions that Monsters University (the institution) was founded in 1313 and has always been a leader in scientific innovation. For this reason, it is possible that researchers at the university invented the first portal to the human world decades after the school was established.


This theory also explains several key elements of Monsters Inc. More fundamentally, the monsters exposed to bubonic plague through humans explain why monsters believe children are poisonous and are afraid to touch them. More specific evidence for this theory includes the Child Detection Agency (CDA). This government group is responsible for detecting and destroying all human contaminants in the monster world. They wear biohazard protective suits, supporting the idea that they believe children are spreading disease. At the beginning of Monsters Inc., there is even an incident where a scarer, George Sanderson, returns from one of his missions with a child’s sock stuck to his orange fur. In response, the CDA not only destroys the sock, but shaves George, which would prevent fleas from hiding in his fur, as fleas were how the plague commonly spread. Although Pixar has never confirmed this theory, advanced technology and the behavior of monsters towards humans does support the idea that their fear of children could be rooted in a major epidemic, such as the bubonic plague – although this does make the comedy based on monsters’ fear of children and makes it both more reasonable and decidedly darker.


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