For centuries Man wondered what wiped out the dinosaurs millions of years ago. Then a bunch of know-it-all scientists ruined our fun and told us it was probably just a big rock from space. But that hasn't stopped science fiction from offering its own insane theories on what (or what evil alien race) killed off our reptilian predecessors.


THEORY:
A meteorite did wipe out most of the dinosaurs, but the impact also created a parallel dimension where they continued to evolve
THEORIST:
Super Mario Bros. (the movie)



What exactly is a koopa? Bowser seems to be a cross between a turtle and a dinosaur, but then what does he want with the human Princess? Controversial issues like these made the story of Super Mario Bros. difficult to adapt. The writers decided that koopas were dinosaurs who had been hiding out in another dimension, and while most had evolved into something vaguely human one had become Dennis Hopper. They were also apparently such big fans of Mario, they insisted that the exposition explaining the scenario be animated using the SNES classic Mario Paint.

THEORY:
Dragons burned the dinosaurs to ash
THEORIST:
Reign of Fire



It's only after a plague of dragons burns down most of civilization that the scientists in Reign of Fire realize that humanity's myths are real warnings meant to be passed down through generations. In an off-hand remark, narrator Christian Bale explains the scientists then figured out that in prehistoric times the dragons turned the dinosaurs to ash, and furthermore all that ash is what brought about the Ice Age. Here the extinction of the dinosaurs is used to raise the dramatic stakes — these guys wiped out tyrannosaurus rex, what chance do we have? Ancient man forgot to pass down a way to get rid of them, though dragon slayer Matthew McConaughey seems reasonably sure it doesn't involve sleeves.

THEORY:
Dinosaurs evolved into intelligent, reptilian humanoids and left Earth
THEORIST:
Star Trek: Voyager ("Distant Origin")



The Star Trek franchise has always relished in thinly veiled political allegories. Need we remind you of the half-black, half-white race of aliens at war with the half-white, half-black aliens? (Oh, we do? Um… we hardly remember pointless trivia like that ourselves.) So leave it to Capt. Janeway and the crew of the Voyager to stumble across a wounded alien and turn it into a metaphor for the creationism debate. After Janeway runs a DNA analysis on the being and finds a genetic link between its race, the Voth, and our dinosaurs, the old Voth conservatives cry heresy. They may be gross lizard people, but that's the way their gross lizard God made them.


THEORY:
A time-traveling spaceship crashed into Earth
THEORIST:
Dr. Who ("Earthshock")



Dr. Who presents what is by far the most terrifying dinosaur extinction theory yet: the British did it. More specifically, the show's titular English Doctor and his crew send a doomed cyborg ship through a time warp to the prehistoric era before crashing it into Earth. The Doctor points out the crashing ship was probably mistaken as the notorious dino-assassinating meteorite, which is a crazy theory, but oddly reasonable in a show about a phone booth that can travel faster than the speed of light.


THEORY:
An evil race of flying brains killed them off
THEORIST:
Futurama ("The Why of Fry")



Like Futurama's other villains, including the TV-obsessed Lrrr and Morbo the News Monster, the Brain Spawn never quite explain just why they want to destroy Earth — though it has something to do with a Brainiac-like quest to gather all knowledge in the Universe… then blowing it up. When 31st-Century hero/delivery boy Fry encounters the Spawn's all-knowing huge brain leader and asks what killed the dinosaurs, we learn the Brain himself laser-zapped them into oblivion. (We also learn that postage stamp glue is made from toad mucus — a theory we'd love to explore next.)


THEORY:
Warmongers send a comet to Earth as revenge after being outfoxed by the Animorphs
THEORIST:
Megamorphs #2: In The Time of Dinosaurs


Though there is much literature that speaks of a comet striking the Earth and killing the dinosaurs, only Megamorphs #2 pins the crime on the war-mongering Nesk. The Animorphs actually have an opportunity to stop the comet from wiping out the dinosaurs and their new friends the Mercoca, but decide to allow the genocide when they realize the implications of altering the timeline and allowing the Mercoca to establish a presence on Earth. Heavy stuff for a book called "Megamorphs."


THEORY:
A corporation run by a greedy triceratops destroyed the environment
THEORIST:
ABC's Dinosaurs



We sometimes think about the dinosaurs as disappearing quickly in a moment of time, but what if they knew it was coming? What was it like facing extinction, especially for all the singing baby dinosaurs and their extended families? That's a question Dinosaurs answers in it's poignant series finale when patriarch Earl's employer brings upon the dinopocalypse by building it's wax fruit factory on a rare bunch beetle mating ground. Earl, realizing his folly too late, comments, "Oh sure wax fruit's important, but so are bunch beetles." He then has to explain to his children, and particularly his baby who always hit him with a frying pan, that the end of the world is coming. Dino-mom Fran looks like she doesn't know what to say in perhaps the greatest silent performance ever given by a dinosaur puppet. The dark tone didn't surprise longtime Dinosaurs fans who had previously seen very special episodes where teenage son Robbie gets caught performing the mating dance by himself or the Wesayso Corp. starts a prehistoric Gulf War and sells weapons to both sides.


THEORY:
Time-traveling hunters poached them to extinction
THEORIST:
"Big Game" by Isaac Asimov


Think reading is boring? Well, it is. Which makes it that much crazier that one of the most badass dinosaur extinction theories can be found in a short story. Asimov, whose twisted, brilliant sci fi writing makes him like a Philip K. Dick with less shitty film adaptations, proposed in one of his earliest pieces that mankind's first order of business upon achieving the miracle of time-travel was to find new (or rather, old) animals to kill.


THEORY:
Dinosaurs didn't die, they just wear costumes and live among us
THEORIST:
Anonymous Rex (SyFy Original Movie)



How bad can a movie where Daniel Baldwin plays a private investigator/triceratops be? After all, he's the third best Baldwin! According to people who interpret the Bible literally and the "Dino History 101" segment of Anonymous Rex, dinosaurs lived alongside man. One of very few ways the Bible and Anonymous Rex are different is that Rex suggests dinosaurs never went extinct, they just went into hiding. Though the plot of the film concerns a secret cabal of dinos who want to overthrow man and take their rightful place as Earth's dominant species, it's unclear why the dinosaurs went into hiding in the first place. What velociraptor took a look at Daniel Baldwin and said "Oh shit. We better look out for this guy?"


THEORY:
They were poisoned when Earth passed through the tail of a comet
THEORIST:
Night of the Comet



What weird science-fiction compilation would be complete without an obscure film from the '80s? Night of the Comet is about the Earth's passing through the red tail of a comet and its devastating effects on the sex life of an 18-year-old girl. As the film opens, the narrator suggests a similar event wiped out the dinosaurs millions of years prior. And since Night of the Comet also features a handful of ghoulish, flesh-eating humans poisoned by the comet's red dust, the film is also technically claiming dinosaur zombies once roamed the Earth, which is the kind of scientific hypothesis we can absolutely get behind.


THEORY:
Noah's great flood wiped them out
THEORIST:
The Creation Museum


The theory (and accompanying illustration) is a bit of an oversimplification. The Creationist Museum of Petersburg, Kentucky, teaches that Noah did bring dinosaurs on to the Ark with all the other animals, but like the dodo bird, they were unable to survive in a post-Flood society. Perhaps, the museum speculates, dragons in historical literature were really dinosaurs, and brave knights hunted them until there were no more. This of course conflicts with not only the theory of evolution, but perhaps more controversially with Christian Bale's narration in Reign of Fire.