Among the legions of pop culture-related conspiracies out there are some truly bizarre ones, mentioning dead people who are actually alive, government mind control and celebrities putting hits out on each other. And these 20 theories in particular are so outlandish that they would even struggle to make a convincing narrative for a one-hour special on Syfy.
20. Michael Jackson’s famous falsetto came from an acne drug
Michael Jackson was a magnet for conspiracy theories, plagued by rumors just as bizarre as he was throughout his lifetime. One such story, for example, held that Jackson’s famous voice was high-pitched because the young man had been chemically castrated. The claim came from French surgeon Alain Brancherau who, despite having had no contact with the superstar, alleged that he could have been taking the experimental hormone cyproterone acetate for acne. And this, Brancherau argued, would have blocked his male sexual hormones and stopped his voice getting any deeper.
19. J.K. Rowling only pretends to have written the Harry Potter series
It’s hard to understate the enormity of the popularity of the Harry Potter series. And that could be why some people evidently have a hard time believing that they could have been written by just one person. In 2005, for example, Norwegian film director Nina Grunfeld claimed that J.K. Rowling couldn’t possibly have written such a long, commercially successful franchise in such a short space of time. Grunfeld asserted as a result that the popular books had been penned by a group of commissioned writers instead.
18. Lewis Carroll was Jack the Ripper
The identity of Jack the Ripper remains one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of all time. In fact, literally hundreds of people have tried to figure it out. Perhaps the wildest claim, however, is that he was none other than Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll. In his 1996 book Lewis Carroll: Light-Hearted Friend, moreover, Richard Wallace claimed that Carroll and a friend not only committed the gruesome attacks, but that the author actually admitted to them through hidden inferences in his literature.
17. Tupac is actually still alive
No, we’re not talking about that hologram at Coachella, but the real, living and breathing Tupac. Because while the rapper’s untimely death in a drive-by shooting is a well-documented story, some claim that he actually fabricated his tragic demise to escape the pressures of fame. What’s more, it’s been said that he’s actually alive and well and enjoying a life in Cuba, away from the spotlight.
16. John Lennon was actually killed by Stephen King
There are a few different theories surrounding Mark Chapman, the man convicted for killing John Lennon. And while the most popular conspiracy theory argues that the CIA was manipulating the gunman’s mind, there’s an even crazier explanation out there to be believed. In 2009 a man named Steve Lightfood disrupted a city commission meeting in Sarasota, taking control of the mic to make a bizarre declaration. Specifically, Lightfood claimed that Chapman was actually horror writer Stephen King, and that he’d killed the Beatles star at the behest of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
15. The Simpsons predicted 9/11
Ah, the old 9/11 conspiracy theory: an art unto itself. This one is kind of special, though: The Simpsons saw it coming. Yes, in the 1997 episode “The City of New York vs Homer Simpson,” an ad appears in which a $9 price tag is placed next to a silhouette of the Twin Towers. And to one eagle-eyed conspiracy theorist, it looks suspiciously like the three objects are deliberately spelling out 9/11. That’s literally it, but it was more than enough for David Icke.
14. Stanley Kubrick helped NASA fake the moon landing
The faked moon landing might be the most well-known theory of them all, but did you know that legendary film director Stanley Kubrick was supposedly in on it? The story goes that after Kubrick was finished shooting his 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, NASA asked him to direct “live” footage on the moon set. These fabricated scenes, moreover, were then used to fake the landings. This theory stems from a 2001 French mock documentary program that parodied the idea, but some believers actually took it to be a real documentary and proof of the conspiracy.
13. Walt Disney’s dead body is being kept on ice
Walt Disney remains one of the most influential figures in Hollywood to this day. But while his legacy undoubtedly lives on, will he himself be one day resurrected? Well, in 1972, the president of the California Cryogenics Society told the Los Angeles Times that Disney had wanted his body to be frozen when he died. And while he goes on to say that it never happened, that morsel was enough for many theorists. To this day, then, the rumor persists that Disney’s body is in cold storage underneath the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disneyland.
12. Nicolas Cage is a vampire and at least 150 years old
Is Nicolas Cage an ageless being, raised from the dead? According to one eBay user, he definitely is, and there’s even a photo to prove it. Indeed, there’s no getting away from the fact that the above image looks a lot like everyone’s favourite brilliantly awful actor. But Jack Mord claims that, because the subject of the photo remains unnamed, it has to be Cage and therefore he has to be a vampire. Flawless logic.
11. Dozens of celebrities are being mentally controlled by the CIA
In the ’60s the CIA used the “MK Ultra” campaign to experiment on people using LSD. It was pretty appalling, and certainly no conspiracy, but some believe it’s still going on today. And the victims? Teen stars like Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus and, more recently, Amanda Bynes. Basically, some theorists believe that these celebrities are being hypnotized into becoming Hollywood industry puppets. What’s more, they claim the stars’ very public breakdowns are the proof.
10. Paul Walker was murdered because he knew too much
Paul Walker suffered a tragic, untimely death in 2013, but some believe the car crash that killed him was no accident. That’s down to the fact that, shortly before he died, Walker was doing relief work for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. And according to an article on the website Before It’s News, the Fast and Furious actor found out that sterilization drugs were secretly being hidden in the medical supplies and administered to the local victims. Moreover, theorists maintain that Walker’s car was tampered with and his death was deliberate to keep him quiet.
9. Fallout 3 predicted the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
Given one apparent message contained in Fallout 3, perhaps the post-nuclear wasteland it depicts isn’t so unlikely after all. Specifically, late in the game players can tune into radio transmissions that read out code – and one of them appears to spell out the exact time and date of the BP oil spill. Moreover, the code actually mentions an oil spill – and so it’s since sent many gaming forums into a frenzy. Another transmission, incidentally, suggests that Britney Spears will win an Oscar in 2023, so there’s that to look forward to as well…
8. Joan Rivers exposed Michelle Obama as transgender, and she died for it
Joan Rivers passed away after suffering medical complications during an operation. At least that’s the official explanation for her death, but did she possibly die at the behest of Michelle Obama instead? Shortly before she breathed her last, Rivers made a joke about the First Lady being secretly transgender – a favourite topic among many right-wing conspiracy theorists. And one theorist in particular, a man named Alex Jones, decided that it was no accident that Rivers died so soon after the quip. In fact, he claims that Obama herself put the hit out.
7. The War of the Worlds broadcast was actually a psychological experiment
Orson Welles’ 1938 radio dramatization of The War of the Worlds famously convinced many that Earth was actually being invaded. Although given that we’re not currently being ruled by the iron fist of Mars, we can probably close the book on that one. However, according to a post on conspiracy site Nexus Illuminati, some assert that the whole production was actually a behavioral experiment conducted by the Rockefeller Foundation to see how people would react in a real invasion. Now we don’t know what to believe…
6. Pokémon Red and Green made kids suicidal
Anyone who’s ever played the original Pokémon games will remember Lavender Town and its creepy theme music. But some people go as far as to claim that particular versions of this theme in the Japanese versions of Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green included an audio code that could make children suicidal. Sounds like a pretty far-fetched theory, right? Well, around the time the games launched in Japan, child suicide rates did indeed see an unusual spike. And while there’s nothing more to link the two incidents together, the story still haunts gaming forums to this day.
5. Paul McCartney and Eminem are making music from beyond the grave
Neither Paul McCartney nor Eminem are exactly at the peak of their careers right now, but are they both actually dead? Well according to some, yes. The Beatles Book fan magazine first addressed the rumours that McCartney had died in a car crash in 1966, and from there more and more evidence was identified in his music. Eminem, meanwhile, allegedly died of a drugs overdose ten years ago and was promptly supplanted by a robot who looks – and presumably sounds – exactly like him.
4. Barack Obama, Jack Nicholson, Benedict Cumberbatch and many more are alien lizards
David Icke may have had a hand in the the Simpsons 9/11 theory, but the lizard theory is really his conspiracy masterpiece. For years, in fact, Icke and many of his supporters have claimed that there are underground bunkers across the world inhabited by humanoid reptiles from the Alpha Draconis star system. And some, it’s claimed, are even hiding among us in plain sight – Obama and Jack Nicholson, for example. Amazingly, surveys suggest that four percent of Americans believe this theory to be true.
3. The Catcher in the Rye turned people into assassins
Here’s another theory related to John Lennon. Mark Chapman was apparently a big fan of the novel The Catcher in the Rye, and he even took it with him to the scene of Lennon’s murder. According to some folks, though, he isn’t the only killer linked to the book. After Lennon, in fact, dozens of other shootings – successful or otherwise – were seen to relate to J.D. Salinger’s classic, including the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan and, most infamously, the murder of JFK. Theorists have argued that the book acted as a password to activate latent CIA conditioning in the subjects.
2. Andrew W.K. doesn’t actually exist
Andrew W.K., a.k.a. the “Party Hard” guy, doesn’t exactly seem like prime fodder for conspiracy – and yet one exists. It’s a ridiculously convoluted yarn but, to boil it down, Andrew W.K. either never existed at all or was replaced by an actor some time around 2005. It all started with a 2004 show in New Jersey, during which some audience members have claimed that the man on stage wasn’t Andrew W.K. And the bizarre story has done nothing but gain traction ever since.
1. The U.S. invaded Iraq because of an inter-dimensional “stargate”
Most of us remember Stargate as a sub-par Roland Emmerich film or a reasonably entertaining TV show. But to some, it’s the reason we went to war in 2003. Yes, according to Dr. Michael Salla, an Australian philosophy Ph.D, Saddam Hussein wasn’t harbouring WMDs. Rather, Iraq was home to an inter-dimensional gate and Hussein was plotting to use it to help aliens invade and ultimately conquer Earth.