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. As such, 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. Generally (as alluded to in the quote above and as shown in many examples below) Stanley Kubrick is depicted as having directed the faked moon landing, usually in reference to his well-known perfectionism and attention to detail, as well as the "realistic" lunar scenes in 2001: A Space Odyssey, shot before the actual moon landing (which actually depict a lunar landscape quite unlike that of the real lunar surface).
NASA really did land on the moon (many times in fact), and there's an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence to prove it. The MythBusters had a lot of fun proving the theorists wrong many times over on this one. The Other Wiki also has a page which lists the various pieces of "evidence" for a conspiracy, with rebuttals to each. Please keep your wild mass guessing and theories to the Useful Notes page.
- 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."
- 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).
- Played with in Billy Bat: The moon landings are real, but a fake film had to be broadcast to cover up what they really found on the surface - a rather familiar-looking doodle...
- The final episode of Oh! Edo Rocket gives credit to the 1969 moon landing, but also makes light of it, because the Apollo missions weren't the first humans to land on it.
- Referenced in the Touhou manga story Silent Sinner in Blue: Reference materials about the Apollo program are surprisingly easy to find in Gensokyo. According to shopkeeper Rinnosuke, this is because of all the conspiracy theorists who think the lunar landing was faked, which caused the idea to pass into the realm of fantasy — which is what Gensokyo literally is. In Legacy Of Lunatic Kingdom, it's inverted: the reason Clownpiece wears American flag clothes is that it reminds the Lunarians of the time humans landed on the Moon, which acts as a living Brown Note to them (humans being mortal and therefore impure).
- Defied in Daryl Cunningham's How to Fake a Moon Landing: Exposing the Myths of Science Denial.
- Rocky and Bullwinkle: In a comic book story, Boris and Natasha fake a moon landing to claim ownership on Pottsylvania's name. Averted with the moon landing previously done by the Americans. Because the Americans never claimed ownership of the moon, it doesn't matter if Americans really landed on the moon or not.
- According to Great Lies To Tell Small Children, the Moon landings were fake, having been filmed... on Mars.
- The December 8, 2019 B.C. strip had Peter deliver the following speech:
I declare that one day man will travel to the moon! And this achievement will instill great reverence in the collective accomplishment of our species and lead to a technological revolution that will eventually culminate in a social network so connected, so influential to our daily lives that it will seed an idea that the entire thing was a hoax to begin with.
- In 1971's James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, there is a brief unexplained scene during one of Bond's excursions into a (terrestrial) Supervillain Lair where he stumbles onto a soundstage where a moon landing is being filmed. As the sequence goes by without any elaboration or plot-relevance, it's never really made clear why this is being done, though there are no-doubt sinister motives. It's the potential Ur-Example of the trope (America was still launching moon landings in real life when the movie was released), and in some circles, the scene is considered to be the primary popular inspiration for the conspiracy theory.
- During the Apollo era, NASA contractors had of mockups of space hardware at their factories for purposes of testing of equipment and procedures and for training astronauts. U.S. TV networks regularly featured these activities in their coverage of the program.
- In the film Capricorn One, the government fakes a Mars landing.
- In Interstellar, future school boards have rewritten American history textbooks to state that the moon landing was faked by the government in order to push the space race further and drive the Soviet Union bankrupt through trying to catch up; they did this to discourage the idea of space travel, so that people wouldn't try to look for ways to leave the (dying) planet Earth. The main character Cooper was a former NASA employee who was pretty disgusted by this.
- 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."
- During the Travel Montage in Minions, the Minion tribe casually wanders through the sound stage and interrupts the filming of the moon landing. It was also directed by a Stanley Kubrick lookalike.
- Sneakers: Mother gives us this quote while getting Martin ready.
Mother: Okay, boss, this LTX-71 concealable mike is part of the same system that NASA used when they faked the Apollo Moon landings. They had the astronauts broadcast around the world from a sound stage at Norton Air Force Base in San Bernadino, California. So it worked for them, shouldn't give us too many problems.
- In Transformers: Dark of the Moon there's an amusing variant: the Moon landing is real, but the video footage and radio transmissions are all faked in order to cover what Armstrong and Aldrin are really doing up there.
- The documentary Room 237, about the making of The Shining, features a conspiracy buff who explains that Stanley Kubrick was the one who directed the filming of the fake Moon landing (using sets ostensibly intended for 2001: A Space Odyssey), and peppered the adaptation of Stephen King's novel with subtle allusions to the Apollo 11 mission.
- The whole plot of Moonwalkers is that a CIA agent is tasked with the job of getting Stanley Kubrick to make a convincing film of this just in case the Apollo 11 mission doesn't go as planned, but due to a mix-up, he's forced to work with a down-on-his-luck rock band manager and his hippie acquaintances to do the job. Hilarity Ensues.
- This is the entire plot of the conspiracy thriller Operation Avalanche. A group of CIA agents are sent to NASA during the Apollo missions to investigate a potential Russian mole. They end up discovering that NASA doesn't have the capability to actually land astronauts on the Moon - so the protagonist sells the CIA director on the idea of filming a fake landing and having NASA broadcast it instead.
- Fate/Requiem: This story is set in a futuristic society. When a class is taught about the moon landings, Koharu F. Riedenflaus thinks it is a hoax, as she highly doubts the primitive 1969 people could have possibly developed the technology to go to space.
- Adam Ruins Everything covers this topic in "Adam Ruins Conspiracy Theories", complete with a "re-creation" of the "set" (where the director, though he is not mentioned by name, is of course Stanley Kubrick). As is standard for his series, actual experts are brought in to explain the subject at hand. The expert explains that it was technologically impossible to stage the moon landing, using the fact that all the shadows in official pictures are completely parallel to each other, as there was only one single light source located 93 million miles away. Shadows produced by lighting in a sound stage would be conical from one point of origin, and the only way to replicate the same effect as the sun would be to use millions of lasers that could only be produced individually through huge bulky machines, and they could only be red lasers back in the 1960s. They also point out the fact that they would've had to prevent 400,000 NASA employees from talking about it, and that the broadcast was picked up in numerous countries across the planet, including the Soviet Union, who would've done anything in their power to prove it was faked just to stop from being one-upped by their Cold War enemies.
- 30 Rock: A group of candidates for Jack's old position take a tour in the "A Goon's Deed in a Weary World" episode and one gets quite excited when he sees Studio 6H.
- Arrested Development "The B. Team": Ron Howard keeps the Lunar Excursion Module that was used to fake the landings in his office and holds meetings in it.
Ron: Hey, lets go inside the LEM. You want to?
Michael: Is this the one that landed on the moon?
Ron: On a soundstage.
Michael: Oh, right, from Apollo 13.
Ron: No, no, 1969. I'll tell you about it inside the LEM. It's soundproof in there. And it's a national secret. (Cut to Inside the LEM). So, NASA did go to the moon in 71. That one was real. But in 69, they weren't ready, so they faked the whole thing on the soundstage of Gentle Ben.
Ron: Me and my brother, we hid up in the rafters. Weve seen the whole thing.
- 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!"
- Cold Case: One of the suspects in "One Small Step" believes that the moon landings were faked. The murder they are investigating occurred on the day of the first moon landing and the events of that day may have fueled his later delusion.
- Friends: While at a thanksgiving meal in the "The One With Rachel's Other Sister" episode, Joey realises he was meant to be on a parade float with his fellow Days of Our Lives stars and has difficulty trying to come up with a good excuse as to why he is not there.
Phoebe: Hey what's going on, Joe?
Joey: Listen, I...I...I... need a good lie.
Phoebe: Oh...ok..How about the whole man walking on the moon thing? Y'know? You can you can see the strings people!
- In "The Three Days of the Hunter Job" episode of Leverage, when poking fun at Parker, 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.
- On My Name Is Earl, Ray-Ray calls up Joy (who is surrogating a baby for him and his wife Liberty) and tells her to switch to PBS, where they're showing a documentary about the moon landing, and to stand in front of the TV speakers so the fetus can hear it. Darnell kneels down towards Joy's bump, and talks to the fetus, telling her that the moon landing is a hoax, and that he as Harry Munroe knows the real story. Joy comments that the fetus has turned away (in apparent disinterest) and that Darnell is therefore talking to her butt.
- 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.
- Stargate SG-1: O'Neill is sent out to meet a man called Martin in the "Point of No Return" who somehow knows about the Stargate program, and O'Neill finds out that he believes in a whole lot of other conspiracies too.
Martin: For the longest time, I was obsessed with all those alien conspiracies. Crop circles, cow mutilations, the Apollo cover-up.
O'Neill: I thought the lunar landings were a hoax.
Martin: (surprised) No! That was a story created by the government to direct attention from the real cover-up. Everybody knows that!
- In one of a series of Conspiracy Theory sketches on That Mitchell and Webb Look, a shady government office (who also for unspecified reasons are covering up the successful Mars landings) plans to fake the moon landings. When they realize that no one will be fooled unless they really do build and launch the Saturn V rocket and that the other costs ("mainly catering") would be cheaper for three astronauts for a mission than an entire film crew for the duration of a shoot, they decide to just pop over to the moon and fake the footage there.
- In series 3 of Toast of London, boozed-up jobbing actor Stephen Toast tells a TV interviewer about how he stumbled onto Stanley Kubrick filming the first Moon landing at Pinewood studios, while Richard Nixon looked on. The CIA sends hitmen after Toast, but that actually works out quite well for him.
- The X-Files shows the Cigarette-Smoking Man was on the set used for the fake landing.
- In Fargo episode "The Lord of No Mercy", Varga mentions the moon landing was faked at a soundstage in New Mexico. And we get to see some visuals from the actual set.
- The 2002 French mockumentary Dark Side of the Moon (in French Opération Lune) pretends that the footage of the Moon landing was faked and filmed by Stanley Kubrick.
- For one challenge on Impractical Jokers, Murr has to rub sunblock on a sunbathing man. To distract him, Murr starts talking to him about the moon landing conspiracy.
- 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 spacesuits.
- Played with in the video to Rammstein's "Amerika", which is fundamentally about America's cultural and political impact on the rest of the world and includes a studio where "moon" shots are being taken among its scenes.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic lists this among the conspiracy theories he subscribes to in the second verse of "Foil", where he goes full-on Conspiracy Theorist.
- Before it was replaced by the American Idol Experience, Disney's Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios) had a show where members of the audience were selected to appear (via green screen) in several iconic television scenes. One of these scenes is the moon landing, where the participant steps onscreen to show cue cards for Armstrong.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- Played with in Battle Zone 1998. The moon landing was real, but not in the traditional sense as it was a cover-up to explore the solar system for Bio Metal. The first mission starts by panning around the Apollo lander - then pans around to show a massive military base in the background full of Hover Tanks. The famous picture of Neil Armstrong standing alone on the moon was taken by the leader of the National Space Defense Force, General Collins.
- In The Darkside Detective, the conspiracy theorist Dooley believes that not only was the moon landing faked, so was the moon. When McQueen asks him who would do that, he explains that it was the inhabitants of the real moon, which is hidden behind the fake one. In a later scene, he also claims that Columbus faked the America landings and that there's no real evidence such a place as America even exists.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Referenced in Saints Row: The Third, during the "Gangstas in Space" DLC missions. During one of them, as you're running backstage to the next set, the Boss and Jennifer run through a bizarre series of sets. The Boss has no idea what they're doing there, but Jennifer notes that they look a little like the Moon...
- Control features a Double Subversion of this in the AWE DLC. Within the Federal Bureau of Control's Investigations Sector, Jesse can find what appears to be a large soundstage with a lunar lander on what appears to be a facsimile of the moon's surface... but with an actual alien in a cell next to it. NASA did indeed go to the moon, but as the three astronauts of the Apollo 14 mission arrived back to Earth, they were accompanied by the alien, who shapeshifted into the form of a fourth astronaut. The entire reason the NASA gear is present is because the FBC wanted to cover up not a hoax, but the alien.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
- xkcd has done a few comics about the topic.
- The moon landing was emphatically not faked in El Goonish Shive (the government may be covering up the existence of magic and aliens, but faking a moon landing is just silly). However, the comic has made a few jokes about it.
- The first was in regards to a supernatural incident that proved rather difficult to cover up, namely a fight between a flying superhero and a fire monster that was videotaped by a number of people, and witnessed by many more. Things had progressed to the point that the only people who didn't believe the events in question were real were the kinds of nutjobs who believe the moon landing was faked.
- The second such joke occurred when the Immortal Helena wanted to prove that Immortals were capable of lying, so she told a long string of Blatant Lies. One of those lies was, "The moon landing was a hoax."
- According to some of the side materials, in the Drugs And Wires universe, the belief that the moon landing was faked has become so widely accepted that the most prevalent nutjob conspiracy theory is now "the US really did land the moon".
- Gus from Rooster Teeth Comics is a Conspiracy Theorist who actually does believe the US landed on the moon. He believes the Vikings got there first, though.
- As part of the CollegeHumor Conspiracy Kitchen Sink video, "Deceptive Deceptions," the moon landing was faked by NASA to hide that the moon is really a prehistoric hologram that hides an enormous starcraft behind it.
- There was a website in the early 2000s 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.
- The Onion had the story, Conspiracy Theorist Convinces Neil Armstrong Moon Landing Was Faked that two Bangladesh newspapersnote reprinted as real news.
Added Armstrong, "I suppose it really was one small step for man, one giant lie for mankind."
- SF Debris made a crack about this when one of his put-upon characters claims that the moon landing was faked — on the moon. "That's why it looks so real!"
- Scp Foundation:
- The Great Big Library of Everything known as SCP-1986 has a book alleging that by studying the great literary works, such as Winnie-the-Pooh, it can be discovered that the moon landing was a hoax created on a sound stage on the Moon.
- SCP-2047 has the Apollo program happening... before Earth forcibly traded places with an alien world, forcing the Foundation to plant the things NASA had left in the old satellite on our Moon.
- SCP-4220 is the Moon, which is hollow and a prison for something. Since NASA couldn't land on the moon, but also couldn't not land on the moon thanks to the publicity, they had to make a fake moon landing. Not a moon landing that is fake, but a landing on a fake moon, that is to say SCP-1812.
- Conversational Troping by Terry Pratchett when asked in a Usenet discussion why the moonshot from The Last Hero hadn't had a lasting effect on society. He explained that it had been a one-shot deal, the Kite had never flown again, Leonard had lost interest and by now there were probably people denying it had ever happened ... before backtracking and saying Discworlders weren't that stupid.
- Brazilian website chargesdotcomdotbr came up with this theory about how to prove the picture was faked. There was tape covering a rip in the scenery, a production member forgot a coca-cola can, and it was Clint Eastwood playing Neil Armstrong.
- Kilian Experience faked a moon landing in Kerbal Space Program. The only issue? He accidentally landed the soundstage on the moon.
- The Footprint of Mussolini: [[spoiler:To shore up flagging domestic support, the Soviet Union decides to give its government a boost in popularity by faking a moon landing. The timeline demonstrates exactly why trying to do so is a very bad idea: Israeli intelligence agencies know the Soviets don't have the resources for a genuine moon landing, some of the people involved with the hoax are outraged at the idea and have to be coerced into participating, multiple scientific inaccuracies expose the fakery, and Soviet attempts to "debunk" hoax claims only result in them ending up even deeper in the hole they've dug themselves into. The whole debacle destroys any credibility the Soviet government still has, both at home and abroad, and a subsequent famine proves the final straw for not just the USSR, but communism in general.
- In the American Dad! episode "Phantom of the Telethon", After the CIA loses funding for torture equipment, 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.)
- In the Kim Possible episode "Stop Team Go" (the one where Shego is temporarily turned good), it's revealed that Ron is utterly convinced that the 1969 moon landing was a hoax (despite personally knowing a rocket scientist and actually going into space himself at one point).
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!Ron: New Mexico, Kim!
- 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 and knocks 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.
- Parodied in Turbo FAST where Skidmark says on a talk show that the moon landing was real, but the moon itself is fake.
- In Rick and Morty, during a fight scene between Rick and the President in "The Rickchurian Mortydate", the two of them end up fighting their way through numerous historical events that were staged underneath the White House. Among them include the Lunar Lander and planting the flag on the moon. The government also apparently actually carried out the murder of Tupac Shakur, and staged the JFK assassination, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and George Washington crossing the Delaware.
- Subversion: The Dick Tracy Show episode "Rocket and Roll" had Joe Jitsu out to rescue Hemlock Holmes and the Retouchables, who have been sealed in a rocket aimed for the moon by Stooge Viller and Mumbles. After Joe defeats the criminals, the rocket crashes to the ground. Hemlock thinks they're on the moon until he sees Joe Jitsu and Tracy. Hemlock and the Retouchables are heartbroken they didn't get to go the moon after all, but Tracy figures out a make-good.
- In Capture the Flag, a billionaire wants to use his rocket to claim the Moon and its resources, so he states the Moon landing was a hoax while secretly planning to destroy all proof of the Apollo landings.