Created By: DRCEQ on May 29, 2014 Last Edited By: DRCEQ on June 7, 2014
Troped

Moon Landing Hoax

This moon landing was filmed in front of a live studio audience.

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The Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969 is one historical event that conspiracy theorists love to... theorize about. The idea of space travel seems so farfetched to some that they would rather believe that it was easier to film in a sound stage, because they have no actual means to go to the moon and see for themselves that it happened. So much so, that the conspiracy itself has been ripe for parody in the media.

This trope is a Historical In-Joke where the moon landing really was staged behind closed doors, or the conspiracy is otherwise Discussed.

No Real Life Examples, Please!. NASA really did land on the moon (many times in fact,) and there's an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence to prove it. In fact, The Myth Busters had a lot of fun proving the theorists wrong many times over on this one. Please keep your wild mass guessing and theories to the Conspiracy Theories useful notes page.


Examples:

Advertising
  • An ad for Red Bull references this, where the astronauts "get wiiings" [sic] on the moon. Mission control says "come back to Earth and we'll shoot the whole thing in a studio."

Anime & Manga
  • Wandaba Style: Susumu Tsukumo adamantly believes that the 1969 moon landing was fake, and is thus trying to get a rocket there himself (using environmentally safe methods).

Film
  • In the film Capricorn One the government fakes a Mars landing.
  • In Looney Tunes: Back in Action, when Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck are in Area 52, they browse through a videotape shelf. One of the videotapes read "MOON LANDING DRESS REHEARSAL."

Live-Action TV
  • On The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert turned how his character doesn't believe in the Moon landing into a Running Gag.
    • On the June 7, 2006 edition, Colbert said "Tonight's guest is a pioneer in Mars exploration. Hopefully tonight he'll explain how they faked a space landing there too."
    • On the July 27, 2006 episode, Colbert said "And here's the Smithsonian Institute's Air and Space Museum, where you can see the original rocks from the soundstage where they faked the Moon landing. It's a part of Hollywood history."
    • On the August 1, 2007 edition, Colbert said, "Unless you've been on the moon this week, you know I broke my wrist. And if you have been on the moon, congratulations, you are the first!"
  • In "The Three Days of the Hunter Job" episode of Leverage, Eliot says he's seen the moon landing sets, and that the reason they haven't been destroyed is that the government plans to paint them red and reuse them for Mars landings.
    Parker: We totally went to the moon.
    Eliot: Movie sets. I've seen them, they're outside of Albuquerque.
    Parker: Why would there still be sets there?
    Eliot: Because they're gonna reuse them for the Mars mission, repaint them all red.
  • The "Balloon" episode of Newsradio has Jimmy James pretends to fly a hot air balloon around the world, but was filming the whole thing inside a TV studio. Lisa finds out and calls him out on it.
    Jimmy: It's not like I was faking the Apollo Moon landings, now that was a big deal.
    Lisa: What?
    Jimmy: (Nervously) Nothing, I gotta go.
  • That '70s Show "Can't You Hear Me Knocking": Kelso accidentally threatens the president and the gang start to believe that everything is the Feds coming to arrest them. Even a car parking outside the house.
    Eric: The Feds wouldn't park a car right outside my house
    Hyde: Everything you think the Government aren't doing, they are doing, the only thing they didn't do was land man on the moon, Spielberg shot the whole thing in a Hollywood movie set, that's how he got the job for Jaws!
  • In one of a series of Conspiracy Theory sketches on That Mitchell and Webb Look, a shady government office plans to fake the moon landings. When they realise that no one will be fooled unless they really do build a massive rocket, and they'll have the cost of film crews and catering on top of that, they decide that it'll be cheaper just to pop to the moon and fake the footage there.

Music
  • The music video for Imagine Dragons "On Top Of The World" starts off with the band members leaving their perfect families and heading to NASA to be the astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission. Halfway into the video, it's revealed that the whole thing is being staged, with Stanley Kubrick directing it and Richard Nixon watching next to him. After the landing was successfully televised, the sound stage is rushed by screaming fangirls who listen to the band play while still wearing their space suits.

Video Games
  • The first of the Area 51 FPS had the main character getting deeper into the eponymous base to stop an Alien Invasion, and at one moment he would pass through a storage room holding a false lunar landscape, an Apollo capsule and some recording equipment. Bonus points for allowing you to shoot up the place.
    • If you unlock Dr Cray's third diary entry, he states that man has been to the moon but the Apollo footage was faked to hide what was really happening.
    Dr Cray: The moon landings nearly four decades ago were part of a misdirection by our government to confuse the public regarding alien encounters. We've certainly been to the moon but the mysteries and horrors found there would never make for quaint historical quotation.
  • When you read the thoughts of a male Russian in Destroy All Humans! 2, they may comment on how they think the moon landing was filmed in Newark, New Jersey. Later in the game, when you really do go to the moon, one of the sidequests involves receiving a delivery from a courier.
    Pox: It's being delivered by a courier company called... the North American Shipping Association.
  • In Duke Nukem 3D, one level set in Hollywood includes a movie set containing a fake lunar scenery with an American flag and the lunar module standing there.
  • In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, one of the warehouses in the movie lot contains a sound stage resembling the Apollo 11 landing.
  • After returning to Detroit later on in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a random citizen on the street expresses her disbelief of the current social situations by bringing up how the moon landing was faked in a studio as a relatable example.

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation
  • American Dad! "Phantom of the Telethon": After the CIA loses funding for torture, Stan hosts a telethon to raise money needed to continue. He opens up to the audience with a joke.
    Stan: This is the very soundstage where we faked the moon landing and the JFK assassination.
    Stan: No, I'm sorry, this is where we planned the JFK assassination.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: "Operation: M.O.O.N." starts with Sector V watching footage from the 1969 landing and laughing about how KND had managed to fool the Apollo 11 crew into thinking that they had landed on the moon, to stop them finding their secret moon base. They then learn that for the anniversary, a family is going to be sent to the moon and it happens to be Numbuh 4's family. They build a huge fake stage and control everything behind the scenes like The Truman Show in order to convince Numbuh 4's family that they actually had flown to the moon, lived there for a while, and came back to Earth.
  • The Family Guy episode "Don't Make Me Over" has a Cut Away Gag that shows Neil Armstrong finishing up the filming of the moon landing, then walking out back of the studio to head home. A fan recognizes him and questions why he isn't up in space. Neil nervously tries to make up an excuse before panicking.
    Neil Armstrong:Oh, uhh, there was a tape delay, and uh solar winds and... (Bashes the guy with his space helmet.)
  • Futurama
    President Truman: Take this to Area 51.
    Soldier: But sir, that's where we're building the fake moon landing set.
    President Truman: Then we'll have to really land on the Moon! Invent NASA and tell them to get off their fannies!
    Nixon: The one secret they never suspected was that I really did stage the moon landing... on Venus! Aroo! Muahahaha!
  • In the Kim Possible episode "Stop Team Go": Shego is temporarily turned good but Kim has trouble convincing Ron.
    Kim: (elbowing Ron) Ron, that's Shego!
    Ron: Nah, it's not Shego, it's Miss Go — see, it says so on the board.
    Kim: Putting something on the board doesn't make it true!
    Ron: Oh, sure, y'know, when I said that in 20th Century History, I got sent to the office!
    Kim: The moon landing wasn't faked in the Arizona desert, Ron!
  • In the "Meet the Manger Babies" episode of King of the Hill, conspiracy theorist Dale Gribble suggests that the Super Bowl is pre-selected and is filmed in an unidentifiable location where they filmed the fake Moon landing, months before the game ever began. In the "Dale to the Chief" episode, Dale discovers that the government report on the Kennedy assassination actually made sense and said, "If the government was right about this then maybe we really did go to the moon."
  • In the Megas XLR episode "Don't Tell Mom the Baby Sitter is Coop", Coop flys Megas to the moon in an attempt to show off to his cousin, once there they land next to one of the Apollo sites knocking over the lander. Coop comments about it before he kicks some dust over the lander.
    Coop: See I told you they didn't fake that.


Community Feedback Replies: 65
  • May 29, 2014
    DRCEQ
    Perhaps I overlooked a trope that already covers this, but I wasn't able to find anything other than the Conspiracy Theories page that I linked in the description.

    I'm noticing good potential for a trope here: examples in media where the moon landing either really was staged, the conspiracy itself is discussed In Universe, or the whole she-bang is replicated and parodied to some degree.

    I know there are some good examples out there, but for the moment I can only think of these two.
  • May 29, 2014
    AP
    This was also debunked in Penn And Teller Bullshit among other theories.

    The popular theory is that Stanley Kubrick himself filmed the fake moon landing using props and sets from ''A Space Odyssey ''.
  • May 29, 2014
    partner555
    Perhaps this need a No Real Life Examples Please disclaimer.
  • May 29, 2014
    DRCEQ
    ^ Good idea. THOSE can go to the Conspiracy Theories page where they belong.
  • May 29, 2014
    randomsurfer
    • An ad for Red Bull references this, where the astronauts "get wiiings" [sic] on the moon. Mission control says "come back to Earth and we'll shoot the whole thing in a studio."
    • In the film Capricorn One the government fakes a Mars landing.
  • May 30, 2014
    DRCEQ
    ^ Yes! Thanks for the Capricorn One example. It doesn't just have to be the moon here.
  • May 30, 2014
    lakingsif
    Maybe a funnier (or just plain funner) name? I like Apollo 11 Sound Stage.
  • May 30, 2014
    robinjohnson
    • In Grand Theft Auto Vice City, one of the warehouses in the movie lot contains a sound stage resembling the Apollo 11 landing.
    • In an episode of Leverage, Eliot says he's seen the moon landing sets, and that the reason they haven't been destroyed is that the government plans to paint them red and reuse them for Mars landings.
    • In one of a series of Conspiracy Theory sketches on That Mitchell And Webb Look, a shady government office plans to fake the moon landings. When they realise that no one will be fooled unless they really do build a massive rocket, and they'll have the cost of film crews and catering on top of that, they decide that it'll be cheaper just to pop to the moon and fake the footage there.

    EDIT: corrected typo 'sayd' for says, here and in draft.
  • May 30, 2014
    TonyG
    • Referenced in the Futurama episode "Roswell That Ends Well". When President Hoover orders the captured alien and spaceship remains (actually Zoidberg and Bender's body) to Area51 for analysis, he is told that it's being used to film the moon landing. Hoover then orders that NASA be invented so they can really land on the moon.
    • In Codename Kids Next Door, it is revealed that the KND created a fake moon set for the astronauts in order to keep their moon headquarters secret.
  • May 30, 2014
    jormis29
    • Futurama: Parodied in Roswell That Ends Well, when Truman is shown Zoidberg and the remains of Bender recovered from Roswell:
      President Truman: Take this to Area 51.
      Soldier: But sir, that's where we're building the fake moon landing set.
      President Truman: Then we'll have to really land on the Moon! Invent NASA and tell them to get off their fannies!
  • May 30, 2014
    zarpaulus
    • One XKCD referenced the number of conspiracy theorists commenting on the moon landing videos on You Tube.
  • May 30, 2014
    jormis29
    • Wandaba Style: Susumu Tsukumo adamantly believes that the 1969 moon landing was fake, and is thus trying to get a rocket there himself (using environmentally safe methods).
  • May 30, 2014
    lakingsif
  • May 30, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    " THOSE can go to the Conspiracy Theories page where they belong. "

    In this case, I would encourage that line to follow the NRLEP link.

    I'm not sure the Tropes Examined By The Mythbusters belongs in the definition of the page. Recommendation: soft-split the page between Conspiracy Proving and Conspiracy Debunking.

    The description looks good for a first draft. Do we have any Useful Notes on Apollo 11 or the Moon landing yet?
  • May 30, 2014
    jormis29
    • Disney's Hollywood Studios had an attraction called Superstar Television where audience members are randomly picked to be put in front of a green screen and inserted into some classic television moments. Most replace characters from the original shows but some are made up... like the guy holding up cue-cards for Neil Armstrong.
  • May 30, 2014
    jormis29
    • Kim Possible "Stop Team Go": Shego is temporarily turned good but Kim has trouble convincing Ron.
      Kim: (elbowing Ron) Ron, that's Shego!
      Ron: Nah, it's not Shego, it's Miss Go — see, it says so on the board.
      Kim: Putting something on the board doesn't make it true!
      Ron: Oh, sure, y'know, when I said that in 20th Century History, I got sent to the office!
      Kim: The moon landing wasn't faked in the Arizona desert, Ron!
  • May 30, 2014
    jormis29
    • That70s Show "Can't You Hear Me Knocking": Kelso accidentally threatens the president and the gang start to believe that everything is the Feds coming to arrest them. Even a car parking outside the house.
      Eric: The Feds wouldn't park a car right outside my house
      Hyde: Everything you think the Government aren't doing, they are doing, the only thing they didn't do was land man on the moon, Spielberg shot the whole thing in a Hollywood movie set, that's how he got the job for Jaws!
  • May 30, 2014
    DRCEQ
    @ Crazysamaritan: From searching around the site, the only thing I found about the moon landing was just another example listed on the Conspiracy Theories page I linked in the initial draft.

    I wasn't sure if I should include the Tropes Examined By The Myth Busters or just list them off as an example... or even do that at all. I haven't decided if this trope should just be about references to the event, or just staging such types of events in general.

    Input about that would be appreciated.
  • May 30, 2014
    jormis29
    XKCD comics on the subject: http://xkcd.com/893/ http://xkcd.com/1074/
  • May 30, 2014
    robinjohnson
    Another XKCD: http://xkcd.com/258/

    893 is about the moon landings, but doesn't refer to the belief that they're a hoax, unless I missed something.
  • May 30, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    ^^ TEBTMB is an index, it isn't crosswicked here. If my soft-split suggestion is taken, then the Mythbusters series (and hopefully episode) should be used as an example in the "Conspiracy Debunked" section, along with Bullshit!.

    Some of the people suggesting examples seem to have confused a trope being a parody, a parody being a trope, and a straight example. Strictly speaking, the Futurama example is a straight use of "The Moon landing was faked". I also think the quote works as the trope quote.
  • May 30, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    Note Discussed Trope: perhaps another soft-split, but I could also argue that any form of discussed trope about this is actually an example of Conspiracy Theory person instead.
  • May 30, 2014
    marcoasalazarm
    The first of the Atari Area51 First Person Shooters had the main character getting deeper into the eponymous base to stop an Alien Invasion, and at one moment he would pass through a storage room holding a false lunar landscape, an Apollo capsule and some recording equipment. Bonus points for allowing you to shoot up the place.
  • I don't know if this counts or not, but...

    Film
    • Daddy Day Care. Eddie Murphy invokes this during the Hilarious Outtakes during the end titles, where we see the crew is apparently having some camera trouble, much to Murphy's annoyance, as he remarks, "And that's how I know we've never been to the moon."
  • May 30, 2014
    DRCEQ
    Hmmm.. We could write in the description about how the hoax conspiracy actually has been proven wrong by irrefutable scientific evidence... but for now, I just want to gather examples.
  • May 30, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    That really belongs more in a Useful Notes or Analysis namespace, instead of the trope definition. The historical event is popular enough....

    When I get some time, I will use Sandbox.Apollo 11 Moon Landing to launch in the Useful Notes namespace. If I'm really lucky, I'll be finished tonight. Trying to avoid the Planning Fallacy, so two weeks is a good expectation. That won't really be about disproving the Hoax, but it should help you think about how to define this trope in turn. We're not really about facts, but about stories. There are stories about the hoax being true and fake.

    Which reminds me. Include a redirect: The Moon Landing Was Faked!

    Edit: no, better: Apollo 11 Was Faked! :)
  • May 30, 2014
    DRCEQ
    ^ can't use either of those because they both sound like statements. A redirect isn't needed unless the main title could use help with inbounds anyway.
  • May 30, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    Redirects Are Free I've never heard of a redirect getting cut for being a line-of-dialogue title.
  • May 30, 2014
    DRCEQ
    Oh yeah. Fair point. Now that I think about it, "was faked" still works well since it refers to the past-tense, and this site does have the whole Examples Are Not Recent thing, so we're suppose to write them as if they already happened anyway.
  • May 30, 2014
    Chabal2
    "Lies To Tell Small Children" tells us that the moon landings were faked. On Mars.

  • May 31, 2014
    jormis29
    • American Dad "Phantom of the Telethon": After the CIA loses funding for torture, Stan hosts a telethon to raise money needed to continue.
      Stan: This is the very soundstage where we faked the moon landing and the JFK assassination.
      Stan: No, I'm sorry, this is where we planned the JFK assassination.
  • May 31, 2014
    DAN004
  • May 31, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    The current title is fine.
  • May 31, 2014
    jormis29
  • May 31, 2014
    DAN004
    May be confused with moon landings after Apollo 11...
  • May 31, 2014
    robinjohnson
    I like Moon Landing Hoax. It's clearer and briefer than anything else suggested, and the hoaxers generally believe all the landings were faked, not just Apollo 11.
  • May 31, 2014
    jormis29

  • May 31, 2014
    Psychopompos007
    Video Games
    • In Duke Nukem 3 D, one level set in Hollywood includes a movie set containing a fake lunar scenery with an American flag and the lunar module standing there.
  • May 31, 2014
    DRCEQ
    Is there a reason why the edit history in these YKTT Ws never show what ANYONE ELSE changes in your draft? It only shows what I've changed myself.
  • June 1, 2014
    Arivne
    ^ Actually it does show the changes made by other tropers. It just credits them to the original poster, regardless of who actually did it. It's a flaw in the Wiki software.
  • June 1, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Fix that plz.
  • June 1, 2014
    lakingsif
    ^ it's always been like that, you'd have to take it to Fast Eddie
  • June 1, 2014
    randomsurfer
    ^It most definitely has not "always" been like that, it's relatively recent.
  • June 2, 2014
    jormis29
    Web Original
  • June 2, 2014
    DRCEQ
    I'd rather not use the Snopes article since that drifts too close to real life examples. I haven't mentioned the Myth Busters episode as an example bfor the same reasoning- it just doesn't fit the trope for fiction.

    Also, Jormis, I appreciate the assistance, but please stop editing my article just so that every show has the exact name of the episode. Wait until I launch it first, I want to see this trope to thrive with a large edit history.
  • June 2, 2014
    DRCEQ
    Ok, lets see what indexes this trope would best fit under.

    So far, The Index Is Watching You is the best since it covers other conspiracy tropes, but what else beyond that? hmmm.. Television or space tropes? Truth And Lies? Yeah... Yeah I think it'll fit there. Censorship?
  • June 3, 2014
    DRCEQ
    If anyone has any other index suggestions, I'll keep this open for another day. Otherwise I'm going to launch tomorrow.
  • June 3, 2014
    XelrogT.Apocalypse
    I thought this was about any variety of situations similar to the moon landing conspiracy theory (which, taking no sides here, is not completely without merit, nor is it based on "I wasn't there so it didn't happen"). But what you're describing is just anything at all that references that specific incident. That's not a trope at all.

    That would be like adding a trope titled "Michael Jackson Diddles Kids," including examples of every TV show or movie that's ever referenced the Michael Jackson allegations. Then we'd have to add "O.J. Simpson Was Guilty," "Country X Has Nuclear Arms," and every other debated or theorized real life occurrence anywhere, ever. It would make no sense.
  • June 3, 2014
    BrokenEye
    Double Subverted in the Wired online article 51 Conspiracy Theories That Don't Exist But Should, where one of the listed theories is "The moon landing was not a hoax. However, every NASA mission after that is because - let's face it - how can you top landing on the moon!"

    ALSO: I think the "Needs Hats" tag can be removed now.
  • June 3, 2014
    DRCEQ
    darn, someone removed one of theirs.

    Also, that's exactly what a Trope is: recording examples of a story telling device. This isn't People Sit On Chairs because there's quite a lot of variety as to how the event is referenced. It WOULD be People Sit On Chairs if every example here said "X references the moon landing" and nothing more. Many of the examples here actually relate to the plot being told, even if it's just a simple reference.
  • June 3, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    No, that would be Zero Context Example, a possible sign of PSOC, but not actually PSOC itself.
  • June 3, 2014
    JonnyB
    Web Original
    • There was a website in the early 2000's called moontruth.org which spoofed the Moon landing hoax conspiracy theory. A video on the site purported to be an outtake from the filming of Neil Armstrong's first steps on the Moon. The video can still be viewed here.
  • June 3, 2014
    XelrogT.Apocalypse
    ...except that "X references the moon landing" is exactly what every single example has been and the only thing examples can possibly be. There's no broad literary theme here. It's a reference to a specific real-world event, and nothing more. It is absolutely not a trope because a trope is a literary device or concept. Not an event. Which this is. Not a trope.
  • June 3, 2014
    SharleeD
    Having a particular character reference the moon landing as a hoax lets a writer demonstrate to the audience something about that character's personality and judgement, though. That's surely a "literary device".
  • June 4, 2014
    jormis29
    ^^ Compare Who Shot JFK, Roswell That Ends Well and The Tunguska Event tropes. All of these are references to a specific real-world events and act as a literary device.
  • June 4, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ This and all of those are subtropes of Historical In Joke
  • June 4, 2014
    DRCEQ
    ^ Right, right! How are those any different?

    Anyways, lets go over the list of examples then.

    • Wandaba Style: the character's belief that the landing was fake is the driving cause behind his goal to make an environment friendly rocket to get there.
    • Area 51 FPS: The landing was filmed because the public must never know of the horrors that were actually found up there.
    • Codename Kids Next Door: The K.N.D. trick the adults into thinking they landed on the moon by staging it in order to prevent the Adults from finding their moonbase headquarters.

    If you want a literary device, I just gave the minimum three examples required to launch a trope where the event is justified and serves to further the plot.
  • June 4, 2014
    robinjohnson
    In all cases it's at least a Historical In Joke. It may not further the plot, but it illustrates characters and adds to the style of the work.

    Note that it's not "X references the moon landing", it's (at least) "X references the story that the moon landings were faked."
  • June 4, 2014
    XelrogT.Apocalypse
    Well, I still think it's silly for something so absurdly specific to have a trope (as well as the three examples compared above). Historical In Joke more than covers all bases by itself, and is actually a trope. But, I guess I'm outvoted, and at the very least it's not without precedent.
  • June 4, 2014
    DRCEQ
    If I'm understanding your line of thinking correctly, then I'm guessing you find there to be no point to the You Monster trope. You Monster is a Stock Phrases trope, and it is nothing more than characters saying that someone else is a monster for the actions they performed. Many of the examples describe what leads up to the phrase being spoken, but the phrase itself rarely has anything to do with the plot of the story.
  • June 4, 2014
    Nithael
    Well if you agree that Historical In Joke is a trope, then I don't see where the problem is. It's just that there are enough examples of Historical In Joke that are about the moon landing being faked that it's become an actual subtrope. Just like we have the trope Whole Plot Reference and subtrope Its A Wonderful Plot.
  • June 6, 2014
    DRCEQ
    So uhh... Not that I want to fish for hats, but I am ready to launch this article now that it's been cleared up just what this trope is. I don't HAVE to have 5 hats, do I? I notice the launch button is usable.
  • June 7, 2014
    SharleeD
    Added one more, so launch away!
  • June 7, 2014
    JonnyB
    Add my example first, though... ;)
  • June 7, 2014
    Bisected8
    Five hats just means that five tropers have agreed it's ready to launch. You don't technically need five hats, it's just a good idea.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=d3m4pqi47g6g0spxngeafcze&trope=MoonLandingHoax