Penn Badgley has played many different roles over his career. The ones that he will probably be best known for are those of stalkers: Dan Humphrey from Gossip Girl and Joe Goldberg from You. Fans, however, are taking things one step further. They believe that Joe Goldberg is Dan Humphrey, who is just embracing his darkest tendencies.
For those of you that need a refresher, in the series finale of The CW’s Gossip Girl, it was revealed the Dan Humphrey was the eponymous Gossip Girl. He’s been stalking and reporting on his friends (both platonic and romantic) for years along with catfishing and gaslighting them. What a guy.
Joe Goldberg from You is a stalker and a killer who woos the women of his affection and then murders them. Or, at least, that was the case with Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail) in the first season. Things worked out, in their own twisted way, with Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti) in the second season.
How does that theory work, you wonder? Well, there’s more substance to it then you would first thing. Let’s break down why the Dan=Joe actually makes a lot of sense.
Fans always bring it up
Fans will always find a way to joke about actors’ past roles with their current or future ones. Unsurprisingly, they were the first to make Dan Humphrey is Joe Goldberg quips on the Twitter-verse. Part of it is due to the fact that they just keep calling Joe Goldberg, Dan Humphrey, and refuse to budge.
MooneyEsquire said, “So Dan Humphrey becomes a serial killer while Serena kills her twin to fake her death for insurance money. Dark times since Gossip Girl”
MooneyEsquire also doubled down saying, “We all knew that Dan Humphrey was capable of this.”
DanaSchwartzzz commiserated on the struggle of finding Penn Badgley hot, but not agreeing with either of his most famous characters.
“The worst and most basic thing about me is having a crush on Dan Humphrey but a murderer”
_nancy_sam pointed out that there is no Dan becoming Joe after Gossip Girl. He was already Joe during Gossip Girl.
“Watchu mean Dan Humphrey became a creep after gossip girl?!? He was gossip girl,& gossip girl WAS a creepy stalker, sooooo”
Penn Badgley admits that there is a similarity
Badgley won’t go so far to say that Joe and Dan are the same person. What he will say is that there is a key scene that does show there is a similarity between his two most famous characters.
Talking with People, Badgley described the scene, “I do think in the first scene, he basically seems like Dan.”
Basically, way back in season one’s very first scene, that’s where Badgley thinks there is a similarity to Dan. Other than that, he’s been clear that he doesn’t want people to romanticize Joe at all. He also goes out of his way to give the creepiest performance possible in order to turn people off.
Okay, thinking about it, Badgley does admit there is a “progression” from Dan to Joe
In an interview with the New York Times, Badgley talks about how Joe is a “surreal progression” from his Gossip Girl character.
“First of all, any part of me that was resisting the Dan Humphrey comparison has stopped because I’ve come to recognize how much of this is a surreal progression of Dan Humphrey. He’s the very special white man who somehow thinks that he’s an outsider, and it’s like, ‘Bro, you’re not an outsider — you are the inside; everyone else is on the outside.’”
It’s clear that he believes that Joe is Dan if that mindset continued, isolating him from others and allowing him to give in to his worst impulses.
So is Joe really Dan?
In the world of You, we’re going to say probably not. Who knows? Sera Gamble could be gearing up for the shocking crossover reveal to end all reveals. Until we see Blake Lively playing Serena on You, then we’re just going to live happily in our fan theories.
Either way, it’s a fun theory. Also, it’s a reminder that for the Gossip Girl reboot, we don’t need a Dan Humphrey in our lives again.