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Who Shot JFK?

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Aliens did it.

"I've got it! Lee Harvey Oswald wanted to steal the Jack Ruby!"
Homer Simpson, The Simpsons

Americans love a conspiracy, and one of their single favorite conspiracies is who really killed the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. As such, if you want to show how a character knows something few others do (or thinks they do), you show that they know something about the Kennedy assassination.

The Kennedy assassination is a very fertile ground for this trope, if only because many Americans can't agree on who did it, why they did it, and how they did it. In fact, although longtime consensus from the Warren Commission Report is that Lee Harvey Oswald did it himself (by sniper shot from the sixth-floor window of the nearby Texas Book Depository), you're more likely to see the characters re-enact one of the most common alternative explanations popular among conspiracy theorists. It helps that there were a lot of different groups angry at Kennedy for one reason or another, including communists, anti-communists, and The Mafia (or an outlandish theory like the FBI, Nazi sleeper agents, Richard Nixon, or even Lyndon Johnson, suggesting a Klingon Promotion), and that Oswald was himself murdered two days later, while in police custody, without admitting responsibility, explaining why he did it, or even saying whether Kennedy was the intended victim.

In particular, you can expect to see explanations for:

  • The "magic bullet," suggesting that a single bullet could only have done the damage it did if it defied physics
  • The presence of another shooter on the "grassy knoll"
  • The footage shown on the Zapruder Film
  • Oswald's murder by nightclub owner Jack Ruby, while in police custody, just two days after the assassination (suggesting Ruby was connected to whomever really ordered the assassination, particularly the Mob)
  • Oswald's links to Cuba and particularly the Soviet Union
  • The attempted assassination of virulent anti-Communist General Edwin Walker a few months before Kennedy's death, usually also attributed to Oswald

There are two strains of this trope. The first is just mere discussion of the event, showing that a particular character is a Conspiracy Theorist (or making fun of people who believe in a conspiracy). The second is where the fictional characters turn out to be responsible, often explaining the inconsistencies in the common conspiracy theories through Time Travel or alien technology. In fact, causing or preventing the Kennedy assassination is one of the biggest reasons fictional people go time traveling (the first being to assassinate Hitler). Naturally, this can get really weird really quickly, which is why this is often Played for Laughs.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Mahoromatic anime, it was Management, who did it to prevent Kennedy from revealing the existence of Saint or Management to the public. In the manga version, it was a fictional president named "Greg" who was assassinated instead, and there is a mention of an earlier president (whose name wasn't stated) who was assassinated by Management/the Keepers for having seen a Saint spacecraft.
  • In The Professional: Golgo 13, the Kennedy assassination was revealed to have been carried out by the FBI at the request of Corrupt Corporate Executive Leonard Dawson.
  • In Lupin III: Alcatraz Connection, it was the shutdown of Alcatraz that led to the JFK assassination — specifically, Kennedy learned that Alcatraz wasn't really a high-security prison, but rather a Luxury Prison Suite. Robert F. Kennedy is implied to have been assassinated for finding out the same thing.
  • Billy Bat: It was done by a conspiracy to fulfill the Billy Bat's commands. Oswald was at work in the level beneath the shooter's, watching the parade, and became the fall guy.

    Comic Books 
  • Alan Moore really likes this one.
    • 1963 has both "Leo Harley Osborne" and the men on the grassy knoll as the would-be assassins, all acting on orders from the Communist supervillain, the Red Brain. The assassination itself is foiled due to the efforts of a time-traveling '90s Anti-Hero and the Ultimate Special Agent. An attempt is soon made on Osborne's life by a nightclub owner named Brian Ruby — secretly the Red Brain (note the Meaningful Name) trying to silence an accomplice.
    • In Watchmen, it is hinted that the Comedian and Richard Nixon are somehow connected to the assassination in that story's timeline (the Comedian later quips "just don't ask me where I was when I heard the news"), while the movie actually shows The Comedian in the act. In Before Watchmen, it's revealed that the Comedian definitely didn't do it (although Before Watchmen's canonicity is up to the reader).
    • The First American from the Tomorrow Stories is hinted to have accidentally done this while being Kennedy's chauffeur, the culmination of the Running Gag of FA firing a blunderbuss to make a vehicle go faster.
  • One issue of Hellblazer (during the short-lived run by Warren Ellis) suggests that Kennedy arranged his own assassination (as pictured above, The Greys and The Reptilians were also involved) because he caught his wife getting it on with a snake demon and enjoying it. This, though, is one of several tall tales John Constantine is telling a gullible reporter before faking his death at the hands of the conspiracy to lead him away from a perfectly mundane drug trafficking ring in Buckingham Palace — he also tells him that The British Royal Family are also secretly snake demons and killed Princess Diana because she was secretly impregnated by one of them.note 
  • In an issue of Teen Titans meant to replicate the feel of Silver Age craziness, Kennedy wasn't shot at all — a shapeshifting alien doppelgänger had replaced him, so that the real Kennedy could be brainwashed into fighting a war on the alien's home planet. To make matters worse, the Titans get Kennedy back just in time to see Alien Kennedy getting buried, so instead he decides to become a traveling spaceman superhero.
  • The Umbrella Academy:
    • The Apocalypse Suite alludes to Number Five being involved in the Kennedy assassination, but the point is never elaborated on.
    • Dallas reveals that Number Five was sent by the Temps Aeternalis to kill Kennedy, but he changed his mind and instead killed the other assassins. Later (in his personal timeline), he goes back to that day to stop his past self from stopping the assassination. He does so by having his teammate The Rumor pose as Mrs. Kennedy and use her reality-warping powers to kill JFK.
  • From DC Comics is the Guy Gardner series. Long story short, during the Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! crossover, Guy shoots at the Big Bad, Extant. The villain transports the shots through time, hinting these may be the blasts that killed Kennedy.
  • 100 Bullets has Joe DiMaggio, of all people, taking shots from the grassy knoll — he was pissed off that Jack Kennedy had Marilyn Monroe killed when she wanted to go public about her affair with the President. But DiMaggio does say that other people were shooting too, and he's not sure if his bullets were the fatal ones. Indeed, he's surprised to learn from Agent Graves that he wasn't part of any conspiracy; it was simply pure luck he picked that exact day and location to kill Kennedy.
  • The second and third issue of the 90s DC/Vertigo series Shade, the Changing Man give us a Sphinx with JFK's head that asks people this question and eats them when they're unable to answer. The JFK-Sphinx's madness is fueled by a Kennedy admirer-turned conspiracy theorist. In the end, he's forced to ask the question, and says we're all responsible, for letting the President's death overshadow his life, but the real truth is confronting the manifestation of his obsession allows him to come to terms with the death of his young daughter, which he can only blame on life's unfairness.
  • Red Skull was responsible for this in The Ultimates. The sad thing is that this is one of his lesser crimes.
  • From the regular Marvel Universe, meanwhile, we have the following:
    • After Bucky Barnes is outed as the Winter Soldier, Hawkeye incredulously asks if he shot JFK. He's summarily informed it was the CIA, because JFK was a Skrull.
    • One Wolverine story has a flashback to 1963 where Logan is being held in a CIA cell in Dallas after performing a mission.
  • One issue of Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 2 has Captain America mention to Nick Fury, in an attempt to convince him not to reveal the existence of the villain's Doomsday Device, that JFK was killed by "Cuban nationalists", which was covered up to prevent a war. This is, however, the same storyline that gave us Spider-Man with organic web shooters, insect telepathy, and Spider M-Preg, so no one takes it particularly seriously.
  • In The Manhattan Projects, fitting the story's Beethoven Was an Alien Spy style Alternate History, Oswald is revealed to be the fall guy for William Westmoreland, using Leslie Groves' magic bullet, under the orders of Lyndon Johnson, in retaliation Kennedy's attempt to take over the eponymous Projects.
  • In the original comic version of Wanted, Mr. Rictus references this trope when he sarcastically claims Lee Harvey Oswald killed Wesley's father. Wesley's father later claims to have "killed presidents from grassy knolls".
  • In The Filth, former cosmonaut, current assassin, and always chimpanzee Dmitri-9 claims to have killed "alpha primate Kennedy":
    Greg: Dmitri! For fuck's sake! You just shot the president!
    Dmitri: For me this is not the first time.
  • Äch bin schon wieder da has Adolf Hitler being responsible. (He used a time machine, what did you think?)
  • There was a 2000 AD short where a future Kennedy travelled back in time to kill 1963 Kennedy to reverse the consequences of a disasterous war.
  • Blake and Mortimer: Eight Hours In Berlin plays with this trope for most of the story: there really is a conspiracy against Kennedy by rogue elements of the U.S. military and Soviet GRU, but their goal isn't to kill him, but to replace him with a doppelganger, a plan they intend to repeat with all the major world leaders in order to bring about an end to The Cold War. And then they themselves are betrayed by their hired thug Olrik, who doesn't care about world peace and simply wants to use the doppelganger to start a nuclear war. The plot ultimately fails, but the last page ends with the heroes hearing the news of the Kennedy assassination. Whether the surviving members of the conspiracy had anything to do with it is left as an exercise to the reader.
  • Buck Danny: Alluded to in the Borneo story arc. The Mafia middleman running the opium plantation on the island warns Danny that he shouldn't underestimate his organization: the Kennedys did, and look what happened to them.
  • The Big Book of Conspiracies discusses a number of conspiracy theories related to the JFK assassination.

    Fan Works 
  • Sue Mary:
  • In the Paris Burning 'verse, it's strongly implied that Washington DC did it.
  • Child of the Storm, unlike the canon Marvel Universe, states that the Winter Soldier did in fact kill Kennedy. Specifically, he was the main shooter, Natasha was on the grassy knoll, Oswald was the fall guy, and Jack Ruby was a patsy whom Natasha seduced and manipulated into killing Oswald in order to cover their tracks.
  • Pre-Internet, pre-home video, a crudely edited gag film clip combined elements of multi-generational copies of a short by The Three Stooges and the Zapruder Film to make it look like Curly shot JFK.
  • Infinite Coffee and Protection Detail: According to Barnes, an operative named Yevgeny Ochinko shot JFK. The Asset/Winter Soldier (Barnes' former self, under Soviet and HYDRA control at the time) shot Ochinko and dumped his body outside Fort Worth.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • JFK by Oliver Stone is the Trope Maker, to the extent that many instances of the trope will be a send-up of the film. It did not reach any tangible conclusions about the assassination, aside from that there must have somehow been a conspiracy, and that the late Clay Shaw was probably involved somehow. The film helped popularize such terminology as the "magic bullet" and the "smoke from the grassy knoll". But it wasn't really advocating for a conspiracy, instead serving as an allegory for the general public's frustration at not knowing the definitive truth about the assassination.
    • Stone's follow-up movie Nixon has more subtext about the assassination. First, a scene set the day before the assassination has Richard Nixon meeting with some shadowy big business and Cuban exile types who encourage him to run for President in 1964 and suggest he won't have to run against Kennedy this time.note  Then it references Richard Nixon's mention of "the whole Bay of Pigs thing" being blown open by Watergate and the theory that Kennedy was assassinated in retaliation (Nixon's belief that he was personally responsible for the situation spiraling out of control might just be his paranoia at work, though).
  • Executive Action, from 1973, was one of the earliest films to discuss the topic. It described the assassination from the point of view of the conspirators, a bunch of industry tycoons who saw Kennedy's increasingly liberal ways and mishandling of foreign policy as threats to their interests (as well as a possible follow-up presidency from Bobby or Ted). Three gunmen are hired to give "triangulation of fire", and a Lee Harvey Oswald impersonator is sent to be publicly conspicuous before the event.
  • The 1969 film The Price Of Power is often seen as an even earlier allusion to the Kennedy assassination, but using the 1881 assassination of James Garfield. It makes heavy use of JFK lore, including the First Lady wearing Jackie Kennedy's pink dress, the Zapruder-style staging of the assassination, the shooter's "improbable accuracy", the murder of the fall guy, and the Vice President conspiring with big business to achieve power (though more sympathetically portrayed than LBJ usually is). Oddly enough, it's a Spaghetti Western.
  • In Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Ace loudly explains "I CAME TO CONFESS! I was the second gunman on the grassy knoll!" when his (unwanted) presence at the police station is questioned.
  • In Annie Hall Woody Allen's character flashes back to him arguing with one of his ex-wives played by Carol Kane about who killed JFK.
  • In Armageddon (1998), after the drillers are recruited to stop The End of the World as We Know It, they give the government a list of requests, among them being who shot JFK and, "None of them want to pay taxes anymore. Ever."
  • Blind Horizon alludes to JFK conspiracy theories, including using three hitmen to provide "triangulation of crossfire" and Frank's rendezvous with the other hitman in a movie theater, paralleling Oswald's visit to a theater which some theorists believe was for the same purpose.
  • In Bubba Ho Tep, He's Just Hiding in a retirement home with Elvis Presley and fighting an evil mummy. To prevent him from being recognized, the CIA turned him into a black man.
  • In Bull Durham, Kevin Costner's character concludes a famous (though dramatically unjustified) rant by saying "I believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone." Of course, this is not what he believed as Jim Garrison in JFK. The year JFK was nominated for Best Picture, a clip of the Bull Durham line was shown at the Oscars, which got a big laugh.
  • The Captain America (1990) movie showed that the Red Skull trained Oswald, as well as Sirhan Sirhan (who shot Robert Kennedy) and James Earl Ray (who shot Martin Luther King).
  • Played for Laughs in Jean Dujardin's The Connection, a film about the French judge whose investigations during the seventies and eighties crippled and helped bring down The French Connection in Marseille. After an especially in-depth interrogation in which a low-level gangster has been forced to give up far more information than he'd hoped, this happens:
  • At a low point in A Few Good Men, Kaffee sarcastically suggests that since the lawyers' hard work has served so far only to make their clients look guilty as hell, "if we work hard, maybe we can get Dawson charged with the Kennedy assassination."
  • In the 1984 thriller Flashpoint, two Texas Rangers discover a buried Jeep with a skeleton, a rifle, and $800,000 in cash out in the desert. They think their fortunes are made; unfortunately it turns out the dead man was the real assassin of JFK, and the U.S. Government is willing to go to great lengths to destroy the evidence — and anyone who's seen it.
  • In The House of Yes, the main character confuses JFK's murder with the (possible) murder of her father, implicating that her mother killed JFK. She was not well.
  • Interview With The Assassin is a Mockumentary in which a former Marine claims he was the real gunman, with it being left ambiguous as to whether it's true.
  • Discussed in In the Line of Fire: The details of the assassination itself are not called into question, but near the end of the film, Frank (who was one of Kennedy's bodyguards during that day and is haunted by the event) expresses his contempt for all of the drunken armchair theorists who've invented conspiracy theories about it. Even Leary, about as paranoid and anti-government as you can get, never suggests that he thinks Oswald wasn't a lone gunman.
  • One of the skits in the comedy film The Kentucky Fried Movie is a commercial for the board game "Scot Free" about the JFK assassination.
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, specifically Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this is obliquely referred to in Zola's Motive Rant when he says that "when history did not cooperate... history was changed", with a ominous zoom-in of the Winter Soldier crouched on a walkway with a sniper rifle.
  • In National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, the heroes find the book with all of the nation's secrets. It had a page with the truth about the JFK assassination on it, but they were in such a hurry to find the next Plot Coupon that they didn't have time to look at it, much to Riley's disappointment.
  • On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald was a mock trial in 1986 which sought to basically try Oswald for the murder of JFK, with many real witnesses testifying and being examined. The prosecutor was Vincent Bugliosi, famed as leading the successful prosecution of the Manson Family, while Oswald's lawyer was the exerienced defense attorney Gerry Spence, while a real judge presided. Perhaps surprisingly, Bugliosi convinced the jury (who were selected like a real one) to find Oswald guilty of doing it alone (he later argued for this and opposing conspiracy theories in a book).
  • At the end of The Rock, Nicolas Cage recovers the microfilm (containing everything the government doesn't want you to know) that Sean Connery's character had stolen and caused him to be locked away for so many years. As he drives away from the hiding-place, he looks through the film and asks his wife "You wanna know who really killed JFK?" (Which doesn't make sense, however — Sean Connery's character went to prison before JFK was shot. Ahh, maybe he planned it years in advance.)
  • Salt: Salt (played by Angelina Jolie) interviews an aging former Soviet agent who claims that Lee Harvey Oswald was substituted with a Soviet Body Double early on during his time in Russia. It was this double who actually performed the shooting.note 
  • In The Salton Sea, Vincent D'Onofrio's character "Pooh-Bear" is introduced re-enacting the assassination... with pigeons!
  • Shooter (2007): The ex-sniper protagonist is called in to advise on a planned sniper attempt on the President of the United States, only to discover he's the fall guy for the actual assassination. Later he consults a firearms expert on how the hit could have been carried out, and the JFK assassination theory is discussed.
    Mr. Rate: That's how a conspiracy works. Them boys on the grassy knoll, they were dead within three hours, buried in the damned desert, unmarked graves out past Terlingua.
    Nick Memphis: You know this for a fact?
    Mr. Rate: Still got the shovel.
  • Sneakers includes a brief conversation between former CIA agent Crease and conspiracy theorist "Mother":
    Crease: You're telling me the NSA killed Kennedy?
    Mother: No, they shot him, but they didn't kill him. He's still alive.
  • In the early stages of production on Star Trek II, Gene Roddenberry proposed a storyline in which the time-traveling crew of the Enterprise assassinates JFK to repair a corrupted timeline. Paramount rejected it and demoted Roddenberry from executive producer to executive consultant.
  • The sketch at the beginning of the Italian comedy film Tre uomini e una gamba has the three main characters (a trio of well-known Italian comedy actors) as bumbling Mafia goons who are revealed to be the ones who shot Kennedy. See here.
  • In the James Woods vehicle True Believer, the only eyewitness to the shooting Woods' client did not commit is a conspiracy-obsessed street person. He has to be coached for hours to answer "Lee Harvey Oswald" when the DA tries to discredit him. Later, when the witness' other loopy claim (the victim was not shot by an Asian man) proves true, Woods throws in the line "Does this mean the phone company killed Kennedy?".
  • As noted in the Comics section above, the film version of Watchmen depicts The Comedian as Kennedy's killer, in league with Richard Nixon. The comic, however, only implies this. It further implies that Blake posed as an informant (presumably Deep Throat) and killed Woodward and Bernstein.
  • The film and novel Winter Kills is a fictionalized version of a Kennedy conspiracy theory, where the late President's brother (Jeff Bridges) hears the confession of a man who claims to have been the second gunman — in the course of investigating, Bridges discovers their own father behind the assassination.
  • The Wrong Guy gets an honorable mention for its offside proposal of the No Bullet Theory:
    Hitchhiker: His head just did that.
  • Matt Vaughn has said he wants to open a sequel to X-Men: First Class with Magneto killing Kennedy by controlling the Magic Bullet with his powers.
    • The Bent Bullet, part of the ARG campaign for X-Men: Days of Future Past, has Magneto as the man on the grassy knoll, having used his powers to alter the trajectory of Oswald's bullet, which led to Kennedy's death. However, it is implied that Magneto was trying to stop the shooter... who was actually Mystique and not the real Oswald (Though this would seem out of character with her portrayal in the film, where she is stated to have never tried to kill anyone before Trask).
    • In the film itself, Magneto is being held in the Pentagon for it, but claims to Xavier that he was trying to save Kennedy because he was a mutant. We never find out if he was lying or not.
  • Zoolander has a Conspiracy Theorist reveal that all the major political assassinations of the past few centuries were pulled by the fashion industry using male models as assassins. When it's pointed out that Lee Harvey Oswald wasn't a male model, the Conspiracy Theorist reveals that the two shooters on the Grassy Knoll were.

  • There is an old joke about two JFK conspiracy theorists who died and went to heaven. Upon arriving in heaven, they ask God who really shot JFK. "Lee Harvey Oswald and he acted alone," says God. One conspiracy theorist turns to the other and says, "This goes even higher than we thought!" (In more recent times, this joke is often updated with 9/11 truthers or Trump supporters contesting the 2020 election replacing JFK conspiracy theorists.)
  • Another old joke, beloved of those who don't think much of the CIA:
    "How do you know the CIA wasn't involved in the Kennedy assassination?"
    "Because Kennedy actually died!"

  • In Stephen King's 11/22/63, Jake Epping, a man from 2011, attempts to prevent Kennedy's assassination by going back in time. He has five years in which to do it (the portal he uses can only take him back to September 9, 1958), but he refuses to make a move against Oswald until he can be certain that Oswald was the lone gunman — if he was a patsy (or not involved at all), getting rid of Oswald would do no good. As it happens, King's version of events dismisses the theories; Oswald is indeed acting alone and independently. King noted in the Afterword that after researching everything that he could into the subject, he considered this the most likely explanation.
  • In The Stand, it's implied in passing that Randall "the dark man" Flagg had a passing acquaintance with Oswald, and — given the context of the passage — might just have influenced him to pick up the gun.
  • Stanley Shapiro's A Time To Remember is about a man who goes back in time to the book depository just a few minutes before Kennedy was killed, aiming to stop the assassination. Unfortunately, he gets there too late, he gets blamed for the assassination, and Lee Harvey Oswald is labeled a hero for helping capture him. Eventually, the man who built the time machine goes back himself the day before the assassination and completely averts Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act.
  • The Illuminatus! Trilogy had a field day with this one. Oswald is about to shoot when he spots the man on the grassy knoll, who in turn is about to shoot when he sees a rifle poking out of a sewer grate, who in turn.... In its entirety, there was Oswald in the book depository, Harry Coin at the sewer at the Triple Underpass, a mafia gunman on the roof of a nearby restaurant, John Dillinger (one out of five) on the Grassy Knoll, and a fifth man behind him, who actually shot the fatal shots. Motive? Kennedy's speech about the final frontier made the stock prices of "Blue Sky Inc." skyrocket, just after the man had sold all his shares.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's novel Friday has the protagonist summarize the topic of the assassination by stating that even though all events before, during, and after the killing were well documented, even in the future of the story, it's impossible to tell "who shot him, how many shot him, how many times he was shot, who did it, why it was done, and who was involved in the conspiracy if there was a conspiracy."
  • The Discworld novel Jingo uses the assassination of a visiting dignitary in Ankh-Morpork to spoof the JFK conspiracy theories. The Watch come to the conclusion that he was shot in the back by a man in front of him who couldn't possibly have used the bow. Stealth Pun: One witness is a troll-related creature known as a "gnoll". Gnolls are essentially living heaps of dirt, so of course he is covered with grass. Worse than that, a slang term for an informer is a "grass" — so he was a gnolly grass.
  • In The Bourne Identity, Jason Bourne reads a magazine article suggesting that Carlos was the killer, disguised as a known homeless man who was later found dead.
  • Don DeLillo's Libra is a fictional biography of Lee Harvey Oswald with a bit of Greek tragedy that has him blaming fate itself for the shooting in Dallas. To be specific, Oswald in the book is not the only gunman; there are also two guys on the grassy knoll, one of whom fires the fatal headshot. The conspiracy is cooked up by a bunch of disgruntled CIA operatives who initially just want there to be a rumour about a planned assassination, but then realise that they'll have to do it for real.
  • In Meat Loaf's autobiography To Hell and Back, Mr. Loaf tells a story about meeting an alleged international crime boss, and jokingly asking who really shot Kennedy. He was apparently met with a stony glare and the response that "If I were you, I would never ask that question again."
  • In one of a series of Columbo tie-in novels each involving famous crimes of the past, Columbo's homicide investigation touches on the JFK assassination. It turns out that there really was a conspiracy to kill Kennedy, but Oswald beat the hired assassin to the punch. Said assassin then skips town with his pay before the conspiracy realizes that Oswald was the killer, thus sparking the events of the book.
  • James Ellroy's Underworld USA Trilogy (American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand and Blood's a Rover) is all about this and the fallout, as well as the Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy assassinations. Ellroy pins it on a combination of the Mob, Cuban exiles, FBI agents, and right wing extremists.
  • In Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, there is a book with the title "How America Was Saved From Communism: Elvis Shot JFK."
  • Nicholas A. DiChario's story "The Winterberry" is told from the point-of-view of a brain-damaged JFK, officially dead and hidden away in order to avert a national crisis.
  • In Rene Barjavel's The Immortals, JFK is assassinated because while under the influence of strong pain drugs (famously prescribed for his back), he deliberately infected himself with the immortality virus that is at the core of the plot, convinced he is the only person who can save humanity from Communism and global thermonuclear war. The virus incubates for days or weeks before rendering the host immortal (and contagious) and the Dallas trip falls into the incubation window. So, in a unique take, JFK is assassinated so that all other life on Earth can live.
  • In Ken Grimwood's Replay, the protagonist attempts during one of his "replays" to thwart the assassination of JFK by forging a threatening letter bearing Lee Harvey Oswald's name and address and mailing it to the White House, leading to Oswald's arrest. However, the assassination still plays out exactly the same (including Ruby's murder of the assassin), except a different man takes Oswald's place, leading to speculation that there was a conspiracy, and the plotters had back-up shooters prepared to step in.
  • The Doctor Who Missing Adventures novel Who Killed Kennedy reveals the assassination was a plot by the Master to get World War III started just in time for the First Doctor's arrival on Earth on November 22, 1963, and that the attempt was supposed to fail — so in order to prevent nuclear catastrophe, the narrator of the novel, journalist James Stevens, eventually has to travel back in time from 1996 and shoot Kennedy himself.
    • However, a chapter the writer wrote for the twentieth anniversary has the narrator, with help from the Twelfth Doctor, instead travel back to stop his pregnant girlfriend getting murdered by the assassin before they travelled back, leaving it unclear what actually happened.
  • The Robert Littell novel The Sisters has two CIA agents planning the assassination of Kennedy — never named, but obviously him — by activating a Soviet agent to be one of the assassins, so he can be blamed for it. Of course, then it turns out one of the two agents, as well as the Soviets, has an agenda of his own...
  • In the novel The Lacey Confession a very rich old man leaves a deathbed confession stating that he had JFK assassinated. The reasons turn out to have nothing to do with politics at all; he hated Kennedy for purely personal reasons.
  • Played with in the Alternate History novel The Two Georges, set in a world where the The American Revolution was resolved peacefully, but which later features an assassination very similar to several theories of the Kennedy assassination, including snipers apparently at work from behind a nearby grassy knoll — except that the victim in this case is an alternate version of Richard Nixon. Kennedy himself is still alive, but in this world is a newspaper publisher.
  • In the President's Vampire series, this assassination was, much like nearly everything else in the series, engineered by the Shadow Company. Though it turns out that was just stage one of the plan — they were also supposed to blow up Air Force One while Johnson was on board being sworn in, then leave evidence that pointed towards Cuban agents, in order to trigger World War III. Fortunately, Cade hunted down and killed the team responsible before this could happen.
  • According to The AMLASH Legacy, an unpublished Roman à Clef written by former CIA agent David Atlee Phillips, Lee Harvey Oswald was assigned to AMLASH, the CIA's project to assassinate Fidel Castro, but became a Rogue Agent and assassinated Kennedy by following the same tactical plan.
  • In The Mongoose Deception an African-American private detective from Denver stumbles on information that unravels the conspiracy to kill Kennedy decades later, which is revealed as involving at least the Mafia (who wanted revenge on Kennedy for cracking down against them) and embittered Cuban exiles who'd blamed him for his refusal to back the Bay of Pigs invasion. He also finds that they had two alternate sites for their attempts against Kennedy in Miami and Chicago, which didn't pan out. A Corsican Mafia hitman (a real one some theorists have claimed was involved) turns out to be the assassin. It's never revealed however who's ultimately behind the plot, implied to be people much more powerful than either the Mafia or Cuban exiles, and possibly with reasons of their own (just using the rest as tools).
  • The Norman Mailer book Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery concludes that Oswald was guilty and acted alone, but also suggests that there might have been a second shooter on the grassy knoll who, by pure coincidence, was attempting to kill Kennedy at the same time as Oswald.
  • The Richard Condon novel Winter Kills deals with a fictionalized version of the assassination, in which the brother of the late president “Timothy Kegan” investigates the crime years later. It turns out that His own dad did it.
  • Robert Mayer’s novel I, JFK is told by the ghost of the man himself. JFK is coy about whodunnit, but reveals in the end that Joseph Kennedy himself ordered the hit.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Almost Live!, a 90's sketch comedy show had a fake game show called "Conspiracy!" where an unknown Bill Nye kept insisting "Tiger got him."
  • American Horror Story: Double Feature all but outright states that Eisenhower and Nixon had Kennedy killed after he threatened to expose their treaty with the aliens.
  • On Angel, a conspiracy theorist character encounters the goddess Jasmine, who clears up the mystery and tells him that there was no second gunman, and Oswald acted alone. However, it is revealed in the fifth season that Joe Kennedy had made a deal with Wolfram and Hart and then tried to back out of it. Fred comments that this explains a lot.note 
  • Salomé from Battle Fever J did apparently, if the montage of people she's killed we get in her introduction is any indication.
  • If Blackadder ever had a sixth series, it would have shown Baldrick accidentally killing the President while playing around with a gun in Dallas.
  • In Bones, Kennedy's skeleton is brought in by The Men in Black. It turns out there was indeed a second shooter, which leads to Booth getting really upset, and then they find out that it wasn't the skeleton of JFK anyway. Maybe?
  • In a comic sketch on Chappelle's Show, Dave Chappelle as the President reveals to the world that JFK was killed by Oswald acting alone. With a magic bullet. Literal magic.
    "Yes. Magic is real. We've known about it for almost two thousand years."
  • In an episode of CNNNN, we see how the network (then known as CNNN) covered the Kennedy assassination as it happened, with Chris and Julian initially assuming the President's head just exploded from the stress of running the country, and Craig, who suggests he was shot by a lone gunman from a distance, being treated like a crazy conspiracy theorist. Forty years later, Chris still stands by his first theory and the book he wrote on it.
  • The Colbert Report: Stephen Colbert deduces that JFK was not assassinated the way they say he was — but can't agree on how. At one point, he claims JFK traveled back in time and killed himself. In another episode, he claims that Jackie killed Kennedy. In another, he blamed Bigfoot. In yet another, he claims Oswald indeed killed him, but that Oswald was a robot built by the Cuban government.
  • Dark Skies: Majestic 12 had him killed after the protagonist told him and Bobby the truth about Roswell and The Men in Black. Jack Ruby, on the other hand, was an agent of the Hive. The protagonist also recounts the story to the Warren Commission, but they don't buy the ludicrous story about aliens and conspiracies. Nevertheless, his testimony is still included in the locked archives of the investigation.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Deadly Assassin" riffs off this as a Whole-Plot Reference: the Doctor gets framed for assassinating the Lord President of Gallifrey with a sniper shot from a high vantage, and has to prove a second gunman did it.
    • "Rose": A man who's been collecting information about the Ninth Doctor reveals he was present at the assassination, with the tone of his voice suggesting he believes the Doctor had something to do with it. It's never mentioned again, but the implication from the photo (and given what we know about him) is that the Doctor was actually there to find out for himself what was going on.
    • This interesting line in "Let's Kill Hitler":
  • In an episode of Early Edition, Gary finds the real shooter and prevents him from assassinating the current president.
  • In The Good Place, Janet conjures up an elephant made of pure light that tells one the secrets of the universe. The first thing it says is "Shirley Temple killed JFK."
  • On Hawaii Five-0, a conspiracy theorist friend of Jerry's comes to Hawaii on the trail of new evidence that might reveal a conspiracy behind the assassination, only to be shot dead in public. The cops continue her investigation and in the end find out that she actually discovered evidence of a conspiracy by senior White House officials to assassinate Fidel Castro, something that has been publicly known for decades. She was killed because of a separate investigation she was conducting into a chemical company.
  • The History Channel has shown a couple of programs that shot several conspiracy theories straight to hell:
    • In one program, they basically blasted the most common conspiracies by going to extreme lengths to recreate the official account of the assassination. They put a champion marksman in a bucket truck at the exact same height as the window in the Texas Schoolbook Depository, gave him the exact model rifle Oswald used, and told him to shoot. His target was a similar convertible to Kennedy's, at the same distance away, towed at the same speed, and containing four dummies made of ballistics gel — with pig bones in the exact locations where Kennedy and Connally were hit. They even tried to replicate the exact wind conditions at the time. The examination determined that:
      • It was indeed possible to replicate the shot. In fact, the bullets followed virtually an identical trajectory, shattering all of the misconceptions of the "magic bullet"note  — including going through one body and hitting the other one. While this doesn't prove conclusively that this actually happened, it makes a strong case that it did.
      • The ballistics gel was designed to replicate human bodily fluids, and they were able to replicate the spatter pattern that was found on Kennedy's car — and even the "cloud" pattern seen on the Zapruder Film.
      • They tried to replicate these results by moving their sharpshooter to several of the most popular alternative locations, including the grassy knoll, the overpass, and the sewer (à la The X-Files). From the sewer, the shot was practically impossible; from the overpass, the gunman couldn't even see Kennedy; and from the grassy knoll, Kennedy would have probably had his head blown clean off (or Jackie would have died as well).
    • Another program tested the idea that Oswald couldn't have gotten from the sixth floor to the break room in the amount of time it took for the police to arrive. They had someone of Oswald's size and fitness level try it. He didn't even need to walk particularly fast. Then they had him walk Oswald's supposed route that eventually led him to his confrontation with Officer Tippet, and again, he didn't even break a sweat. In fact, Oswald didn't even walk the entire way — he took a local bus and then a cab for part of the route. Some people speculate that he was trying to catch a bus for Mexico when Tippet stopped him.
  • The In Search of... episode "Lee Harvey Oswald" suggests that the KGB did it in revenge for the Soviet Union's humiliation in the Cuban Missile Crisis. The case of Yuri Nosenko is discussed, and it's claimed that the FBI killed an investigation of Nosenko because they didn't want to admit they had failed to properly investigate whether Oswald was a Russian agent. Some talking heads tell us that Oswald was replaced by a Soviet double and that his diary was a Soviet forgery. The show offers no explanation for who fired from the grassy knoll, but nevertheless insists that some unknown person did.
  • The Invisible Man TV series had a brief reference to this.
  • In Leverage, the assassination is the basis for a Seinfeldian Conversation between Eliot and Sterling on a job. The camera returns to them in the throes of a shouting match in which Sterling loudly and unequivocally proclaims it "absolutely humanly impossible" for the rifle to be fired that fast. Naturally, Eliot's pulled it off.note 
  • JFK: The Smoking Gun, a Reelz produced special, put forth the idea that JFK's death was an accident, and that Secret Service Agent George Dickey's AR-15 went off by accident when the car lurched following Oswald's first and second shots, fatally striking the injured Kennedy in the head. A book in the 90's, Fatal Error, made the same claim. It's pretty unpopular with both believers in a conspiracy and Oswald acting alone, like you might expect.
  • MADtv (1995) had a recurring sketch about a kids' TV show called "The Reading Caboose". It centered around two conspiracy theorists trying to teach kids about the JFK assassination (and other theories) and avoiding repeated attempts made to silence them.
  • Murder, She Wrote: In "Dead Eye", Jessica gets involved in a murder centered on a set of photo negatives that prove the involvement of an organized crime figure in the Kennedy assassination. At the end of the episode, the negatives are lost in the harbor and the mob boss dies trying to escape the police, with the implication that someone might have tampered with his brakes.
  • The Murdoch Mysteries episode "Back and to the Right", despite being set around 60 years prior to the Kennedy assassination, nonetheless homages most aspects of the conspiracy theories with an apparent assassination attempt on the mayor of Toronto.
  • NewsRadio: In Bill's goodbye letter to Jimmy James, he thanks him for letting him in on who really killed Kennedy.
  • PBS' Nova analyzed the ballistics of the assassination in "Cold Case JFK", and again demonstrated that the "magic bullet" really could do what it was claimed to. Carcano bullets have weird ballistic properties, including extremely high material penetration and a tendency to tumble after striking objects. This explains the "magic bullet" inflicting the wounds it did on the governor (it hit him traveling sideways and ended up slightly flattened), and the horrific damage to Kennedy's brain (it tumbled as it passed through).
    • In the fifth season episode 'Conspiracy Theory' a subplot deals with Colby and David arguing about who shot at Kennedy with David bringing up theories and Colby dismissing them. By the end of the episode they try to get Alan to referee but Alan gets them to cut a truce and get over the issue.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • Discussed in "Breaking Point": In a conversation about the possibility of changing history, Andrew McLaren asks his friend and colleague, the physicist Carl van der Meer, what he believes the most likely outcome would be if someone travelled back in time to stop the assassination. Carl believes that JFK would leave Dallas without a scratch, dismissing all of the conspiracy theories about a second shooter on the grassy knoll. However, he notes that the fatalists would argue that someone else would shoot Kennedy and he would still die in Dallas as history recorded.
    • Also discussed in "Something About Harry": When her son Zach is worried that their new boarder Harry Longworth may be a con artist or some other kind of criminal, Nancy Henniger jokes that he was the second shooter on the grassy knoll when he was five years old.
  • In one flashback in The Pretender, young Jarod is pretending Oswald's part, and concludes that he wasn't acting alone.
  • In the QI episode "Journeys", Stephen comments that, unlike everyone else in the show, he's old enough to remember the assassination. Phil Jupitus suggests that he remembers it because he was standing on a grassy knoll with a rifle in his hand.
  • In the Quantum Leap episode "Lee Harvey Oswald", Sam and Al puzzled about it while he leapt back and forth through the life of Lee Harvey Oswald. In the end, they determine that Oswald acted alone, and Sam leaps out of his body and into Secret Service agent Clint Hill just in time for Oswald to make the shot. Sam's mission was to keep Oswald from killing Jackie Kennedy, who had died in the "original" timeline, according to Al. The series' creator Donald P. Bellisario originally didn't want to make this episode (he had vowed that they would not at the series' beginning) but did a 180 after he started noticing his son and crew fall down the conspiracy rabbit hole after watching JFK — Bellisario actually served with Oswald in the Marines and wanted to show that he was absolutely capable of making that shot.
    Gushie: No conspiracy?
    Al: No. Just one angry, envious man who-who wanted to propel himself into infamy.
    Gushie: But one lone man?
    Al: I know, it's more comforting to believe in plots, because if Kennedy could be killed that easily by one sicko, what hope is there for the rest of us?
  • The Red Dwarf episode "Tikka To Ride" had the crew causing a Bad Future by travelling back in time to 1963 (by mistake — they'd originally intended to hit the 23rd century in order to replenish their depleted stock of curry) and accidentally knocking Oswald out of the window before he could fire the fatal shot. Kennedy survives but goes on to get impeached for having an affair with the mistress of a mafia boss, causing a scandal that traumatises America and allows the Soviet Union to win the Space Race, while the mob blackmails the next President into allowing the Russians to install missiles in Cuba, causing a mass evacuation of the southern states. They initially try to restore history by sending Oswald up to the sixth floor of the Depository (Oswald originally fired from the fifth), but this makes his trajectory so steep that Oswald can only wound Kennedy. So they need a second gunman to shoot Kennedy from the grassy knoll; with none of them willing to do it, Lister suggests that they bring the disgraced Future Kennedy back in time to shoot himself in order to restore the original timeline. It works.
    JFK: You mean ... assassinate myself?
    Lister: Yeah. It'll drive the conspiracy nuts crazy, but they'll never figure it out.
  • In a 1992 Saturday Night Live Weekend Update skit, then-anchor Kevin Nealon discussed a then-recent report on the trajectory of the fatal bullet, claiming that its path had been tracked to Albertville, France, where it would be competing in the skiing events of the upcoming Olympics. Citing the many conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination, Nealon snarked:
    "It is not yet known if the bullet will be representing Cuba, Russia, the Mafia, or the CIA."
  • Seinfeld:
    • Parodied in an episode in which Newman and Kramer describe an incident where they get spit on by baseball player Keith Hernandez, with both of them getting hit by the same spitwad. Jerry then acts as the token Conspiracy Theorist by claiming that Kramer's story is "impossible", then has the two reenact the scene just like in JFK and claims that "there must have been a second spitter". As an extra gag, Newman's actor Wayne Knight was in JFK, and was reenacting his role in the film as Kevin Costner's character demonstrates the "magic bullet".
    • In another episode, Kramer becomes convinced that Jerry is connected in some way to the CIA and that his life as a comedian has been a cover.
      Kramer: He might even know who killed Kennedy!
  • On Strangers with Candy, Mr. Noblet (played by Stephen Colbert, who shows up elsewhere on this page peddling his theories) tells his history class that syphilis is one of the most destructive forces in human history ("right up there with Germans"):
  • Taken:
    • In "High Hopes", Owen Crawford's involvement in the assassination is implied when he says, "That pretty boy isn't going to be President forever" in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy posed a major threat to Owen as he had threatened to shut the UFO project down.
    • Discussed in "Acid Tests". Jesse Keys' drug dealer Willie tells him that he would believe him if he said that aliens killed the Kennedys.
  • Treme: Discussed in the second season episode "On Your Way Down"; a police chief who has no love for Toni (she's sued him before) dismisses her as a Conspiracy Theorist who still claims the Marcello crime family and LBJ had Kennedy killed.
  • In the The Twilight Zone (1985) episode "Profile in Silver", a time-travelling history professor prevents Kennedy's assassination, but history corrects itself by causing the assassination of Nikita Khrushchev, thus creating a timeline where mankind eventually goes extinct because of the nuclear war this sparks. When informed of this, Kennedy volunteers to go back, which impresses the professor so much that he sends JFK to the future, goes back in time himself, and dies in Kennedy's place, returning the timeline to normal. The Aesop? Don't mess around with history. Extra points for the professor being JFK's very distant descendant (but not an Identical Grandson), and JFK becoming a professor of history himself.
  • The plot of Twin Peaks never actually addresses this, but Cooper muses:
    Cooper: (to his tape recorder) There are two things that continue to trouble me, and I'm speaking now not only as an agent of the Bureau but as a human being: what really went on between Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedys? And who really pulled the trigger on JFK?
  • Nearly the entire second season of The Umbrella Academy focuses on this trope and Diego's obsession to stop it. Included in the conspiracy theories is the presence of the Majestic 12, the "Umbrella Man" presumed to be the siblings' father in the Frankel Footage, and Mrs. Frankel herself resembling the "Babushka Lady" who films the event.
  • In one episode of Walker, Texas Ranger, Walker is tracking down "The Viper", a notorious assassin. While talking with an Interpol agent, it eventually comes out that The Viper was the second shooter. It's also revealed that a very young Walker was at the parade, and very few feet away from JFK when he was shot.
  • On Witchblade, Sara is investigating the murder of a guy who made off with the Zapruder Film, while being haunted by the ghost of JFK himself.
  • The X-Files:
    • The episode "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man" examines through the Lone Gunmens' perspective the potential backstory of the Cigarette Smoking Man, and through it, we're presented with the possibility that he killed Kennedy as a young man at the behest of the American government by taking a potshot at him from a nearby sewer. Although none of the potential events that may or may not have taken place in the Smoking Man's life as seen in this episode are ever confirmed as having any truth to them, on one occasion in another episode he responds to Mulder threatening him by coolly responding that he's "watched presidents die."
    • In "Unusual Suspects", Byers asks this question to X, who snidely replies "I heard it was the work of a lone gunman." This inspires Byers and his friends to name themselves The Lone Gunmen.
    • Ironically the biggest conspiracy nut on the show, Mulder himself, actually says in "Unrequited" that he believes the Warren Commission report.
  • Seth Myers comments on Bob Dylan's first original recording in years being a 17-minute song about the assassination of John F. Kennedy:
    "Even crazier, in minute ten, he confesses to it! 'I didn't think you'd listen this long! Nnnn! You got me!'"

  • "After all, it was you and me", at least according to The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil".
    • The Stones recorded the song in early June, 1968. The original lyric was “who killed Kennedy?(singular)” In between sessions, Robert Kennedy was assassinated, and Jagger adjusted the lyric accordingly.
  • There's a (comedic) Laura Cantrell song called "Lee Harvey was a Friend of Mine" about how Mr. Oswald was too nice a guy to kill Kennedy.
  • Obliquely mentioned in the They Might Be Giants song "Purple Toupee":
    I remember the book depository
    Where they crowned the King of Cuba
    That's all I can think of, but I'm sure there's something else
    Way down inside me, I can feel it coming back.
  • New Order's song "1963" is based on the theory that this was an attempt by John F. Kennedy to Murder the Hypotenuse (Jackie) Gone Horribly Wrong.
  • The Music Video for the "Reload" song by Ministry is a spoof of the assassination with the band members playing the various roles. A series of people are shown taking a shot, including Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol, The Pope, Richard Nixon, Fidel Castro, an alien, and Jesus with a nail gun.
  • Chumbawamba's "Everything You know Is Wrong":
    See my silhouette, in the Super 8, around the Grassy Gnoll
  • The Postal Service's "Sleeping In":
    Last week I had the strangest dream
    Where everything was exactly how it seemed
    Where there never any mystery on who shot John F. Kennedy
    It was just a man with something to prove
    Slightly bored and severely confused
    He steadied his rifle with his target in the center
    And became famous on that day in November
  • Andy Prieboy's "Tommorrow Wendy" (although the Concrete Blonde cover is probably better known):
    Underneath the chilly grey November sky
    You can make believe that Kennedy is still alive
    And we're shooting for the Moon
    And smiling Jackie's driving by
    They say "Goodbye"
  • Jonathan Coulton's song "The Presidents" had this line:
    Kennedy was killed by a magic bullet
  • Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence" is commonly interpreted as a tribute to JFK, although Paul Simon claims he started writing it a year before the incident during a low point in his personal life.
  • The video for “The Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead” by Music/XTC ties the song’s Christlike figure with JFK.
  • In 2020 Bob Dylan returned to recording after 8 years with “Murder Most Foul,” a nearly 17 minute epic about the assassination. Dylan is less concerned with whodunnit than what it all meant.

  • A Running Gag on Behind the Bastards is that every time the Kennedy Assassation pops up as a tropic, the host, Robert Evans, will jokingly insist that Bernie Sanders was the actual assassin. As the joke has been on-going, Evans has added more details to the tale, such as claiming that Sanders shot Kennedy from the grassy knoll, and that he also somehow managed to frame Oswald for the crime.

    Print Media 
  • MAD likes its jokes about the JFK conspiracy. They once filled a whole page with particularly outlandish theories, ranging from Aristotle Onassis doing it (i.e. Jackie's second husband — cue tanker on the crime scene) to Zapruder doing it (you still think it was just a camera?) to "we all did it" (a Shout-Out to the The Rolling Stones, as seen above). Another article, "Commemorative Plates of Revisionist History", depicts JFK shooting himself to prevent the exposure of his plot to turn the U.S. government over to The Pope.

    Puppet Shows 
  • According to a deleted scene in Team America: World Police, it was Winnie the Pooh.
    Spottswoode: That cock-sucking bear killed Jack Kennedy!

    Tabletop Games 
  • Conspiracy X has one of the most convoluted explanations in any medium: Kennedy found out that his Secret Service agents were working for Aegis (the default conspiracy for the player characters), and tried to blackmail them into becoming his own personal covert operations team. So Aegis decided that Kennedy had to go and got Oswald, one of the successful MKULTRA subjects, to take him out. However, rival conspiracy agency Black Book got wind of the plan, tipped off Kennedy, and made a deal with him that they would stop Oswald — but they didn't get there in time, and Oswald still got two shots off. He missed, but Aegis had a couple of psychics as backup to create the "magic bullet". But even that wasn't the kill shot — that came from a mysterious shooter using an unknown, totally quiet weapon on the grassy knoll, who shot Kennedy at exactly the same moment Oswald did and got him in the head. It's that sort of game.
  • GURPS Technomancer mentions that Oswald was using a CIA-developed Magic Bullet spell. Exactly how he got his hands on it is unexplained...
  • Twilight Struggle references the JFK assassination with the "Lone Gunman" card, a Mid-War 1-op Soviet event card that allows the Soviet player to look at the US player's hand and then play one operation point on the board — it's effectively the Soviet version of the Early War card "CIA Created". The game makes no claim that the Soviets had any hand in the assassination; rather, it represents Soviet willingness to capitalize on the chaos caused by the shocking event.
  • Dark•Matter says that it was Lee Harvey Oswald who shot him, then complicates matters by stating Oswald was under the command of Freemasons, who had Kennedy assassinated as a sacrifice, noting his geographical coordinates were numbers important to Freemason rituals.

  • In Assassins, Oswald is the shooter, with Presidential assassins (successful or not) from John Wilkes Booth clear through to John Hinckley in the Texas Schoolbook Depository encouraging him. Booth even makes references to the various conspiracy theories.
  • The Complete History Of America Abridged parodies this trope. The "Shot Heard Round The World" that started the American Revolution is said to have been a bullet "fired from the fourth floor of the Lexington and Concord Scroll Depository" by an unknown person, moving along a bizarre trajectory including at least one U-turn, and ultimately killing seventy-three people — at least, if you believe the Official Benedict Arnold Committee Report. The oversized bullet prop from this sketch is recycled to portray the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (which is followed by a bunch of random and mostly unrelated conspiracy theories) and, after the show reaches the 1960s, is carried across the stage once again when the Texas Book Depository is mentioned (this scene is not fully staged, though a couple of toughs are later seen asking about where Lucy Ricardo was that day). At the end of the play, Conspiracy Guy, after Taking the Bullet (the very same bullet), makes a dying confession that he, not Oswald, shot JFK, and also claims responsibility for killing RFK, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Marilyn Monroe, and J.R.
  • In MacBird!, an American political travesty of Macbeth written in 1967 by Barbara Garson, the question of who shot John Ken O'Dunc is asked but never answered. The implication of the parody is that MacBird (i.e. Lyndon Johnson), who thereby becomes President as the witches prophesied, somehow conspired to murder Ken O'Dunc, and perhaps his assassin as well. Bowing to public pressure, MacBird orders a "full investigation" from the Earl of Warren, whose results are not reported in the play.

    Video Games 
  • Mafia III: Though taking place five years afterward, the country still understandably reels from such a horrific event. News broadcasts throughout the length of play bring it up. The Framing Device is partially composed of one of the protagonists, a Vietnam veteran turned CIA agent, telling his story after the events of the game. The interview, and indeed his entire involvement in the plot of the game, is a setup for said protagonist to begin his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the conspirators in the assassination plot.
  • Deus Ex: DeBeers implies that the Illuminati had JFK killed when he said too much.
    Lucius DeBeers: We don’t equivocate about outsiders, do we? Mr. Kennedy mentions a "plot" during a speech at Columbia University, he’s out, no discussion, no matter that we got him elected. But a student of ours, an initiate — oh, heavens, no!
  • The controversial JFK: Reloaded recreates that fateful day from Lee Harvey Oswald's point of view, the point of the challenge being whether the shots fired according to the Warren Commission can be reproduced by the player. That's three shots, one right in front of the car, the second causing one injury in Kennedy's neck and three in Connally (through the torso, wrist, and thigh), and the final one taking off the back of Kennedy's head. The game makes it depressingly easy to assassinate the president, and many players amuse themselves by making the kill in as creative a way as possible, such as shooting Kennedy's driver and killing Kennedy in the ensuing crash.
  • An official Skirmish map in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun was called "Grassy Knoll". The map featured an urban area with a grassy elevation, and the roads and buildings in similar positions to the real life Dealey Plaza. On top of the elevation was a single custom unit called "Assassin" whose weapon used the "sniper rifle" sound clip and had little effect on vehicles but high damage on infantry.
  • There's an official CTF map in Unreal Tournament 2004 named "Grassy Knoll". Besides an abundance of sniper rifles, though, there isn't much of a similarity to the assassination itself.
  • In Assassin's Creed, the Templars killed him because he was going to go public with the existence of the Pieces of Eden. Oswald actually did the deed, Zapruder was his backup, and the shooter on the grassy knoll was a Piece of Eden-created illusion meant to confuse witnesses and muddle up the investigation.
    Operation: New Frontier

    HQ has given the go-ahead to extract the resource. Negotiations are over. F. is planning to give the vote to everyone. Reason just doesn't work with someone like that.

    I'll send you the driver. We've trained him with PE2 in our labs, he shouldn't be any trouble.

    The motorcade route is marked below. Once the target has been downed, either by Oswald or Z., use PE1 to stage a distraction. Make some kind of phantom appear around this slope I've marked with an X. Freak people out. The driver will grab PE3 in the confusion.
  • In Call of Duty: Black Ops, it's implied that the main character, Alex Mason, was the one who killed JFK due to being conditioned mentally with number codes after being captured by the Russians. That said, it may still have been Oswald, as Mason's brainwashing was hijacked by Reznov and redirected at Reznov's enemies, who were in charge of the whole brainwashing thing. The end credit scene where a brainwashed agent assassinates Kennedy is done from first person, so we don't know who it actually was.
  • In the Metal Gear Solid universe, Word of God says the Boss killed JFK, but this never comes up in the games.
  • Referenced in Psychonauts in the Milkman Conspiracy level. Raz must navigate a field of trenchcoat wearing G-Men holding rifles while another shooter tries to hit him from the Book Depository.
  • In Gone Home, Sam and Katie's father Terry promotes a book he wrote about several conspiracies, including one theory seen on Terry's wall suggesting JFK was kidnapped and the assassination was a cover-up. The book barely sells, with a majority of the unsold books taking up space in the house. It sends Terry into further despair.
  • Crusader Kings II parodies this with the Flavor Text for one version of the "assassination" plot, which comments that the victim was killed in a barrage of arrows between a "scroll repository" and a grassy knoll. It goes on to say that your co-conspirators are spreading rumors of a "lone bowman" (unless your character was the victim, in which case the button text says "This was no lone bowman!", and the text of the event says that your head was snapped "back and to the left").
  • Girls' Frontline features Carcano M91/38 as an obtainable character. Being the personification of the gun used to kill JFK, she does reference the assassination within her description.
    M91/38: I've remained only as an observer until I let that bullet rewrite history... That has to be the biggest lie I've told to this world.
  • Referenced by Worms Armageddon with the superweapon called "Patsy's Magic Bullet".


    Web Original 
  • Parodied in Our Dumb Century, whose initial article on the JFK shooting alleges that the President was shot by "CIA, Mafia, Castro, LBJ, Teamsters, Freemasons", and possibly aliens and Governor John Connally as well. His body was then stolen and used for myriad purposes. And all forty-three shooters were gunned down by Jack Ruby. Ultimately, the Warren Commission concludes that its eight members did it acting alone.
  • The Onion:
  • In a Clickhole video interviewing eyewitnesses to the assassination, one of them questions if someone besides Oswald killed the president, like the gorilla in the crowd holding up a sign saying "Gorilla Kill the President".
    Man Holding a Bunch of Hot Dogs: Holy shit! That bullet was meant for me.
  • A long-circulated piece of Internet humor calling for the return of the United States to Great Britain has a list of conditions, one of which is "Please tell us who shot JFK. It's been driving us nuts." The American retaliation reads "We'll tell you who shot JFK when you apologise for the Teletubbies."
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-157-ARC is the bullet that killed JFK (and was used in many other historic shootings, like the "shot heard around the world" at Lexington), but due to its low quality the page is now only preserved for archival purposes.
    • SCP-3780 pretty much boils down to "the Foundation shot JFK"; while Lee Harvey Oswald did indeed make the killing shot, the time period is cluttered with temporal anomalies to a ridiculous degree, all of which involve Oswald being thwarted. Thus, the 23rd century-era Foundation continuously has to go back in time to destroy the anomalous interventions and help Oswald shoot JFK.
    • Roget's Proposal II states that while, again, Oswald shot JFK, the bullet itself was supercharged with anomalous properties that caused reality to slowly start breaking down from the perspective of future generations, creating, among other things, the Mandela Effect and the slew of conspiracies surrounding Kennedy's assassination. By the time the file is written, the Foundation is left struggling to support the last people on Earth capable of making consensus truths about reality.
  • This video claims (as a joke, probably) that Kennedy was killed by a then two-year-old Barack Obama.
  • In 100th Video Spectacular! (MEGA COLLAB)! by Matt Santoro, Zak says that Matt, who was only 28 at the time of the video, helped kill John F. Kennedy.
  • During the brief time in which Ask Vector Prime was hijacked by Sideways, the bot in question claimed to have been responsible for killing JFK. And the dinosaurs. Problem is, he isn't exactly known for being honest. And he's also a Minion of Unicron.
  • A popular meme on Tumblr jokingly posits that the real purpose of the conspiracy is cover up the fact that JFK wasn’t actually shot; his head just did that on its own, for no readily apparent reason.
  • History Matters did an episode on the topic of the assassination, but from a surprisingly seldom-discussed perspective - that of the Soviet Union, in "How did the USSR React to JFK's Assassination?" The simple answer was, even the people in charge of the USSR were alarmed and puzzled by the whole incident, but their biggest reaction behind closed doors was blind panic and to immediately start investigating who did it as well, mainly because if any of the KGB's agents or contacts did it, there was a risk of nuclear war, and nobody wanted that, and having JFK assassinated was not worth that risk. The USSR cooperated with the investigation and turned over to the US all of its files on Lee Harvey Oswald, who was a Marxist who had previously lived in the USSR, but hadn't been recruited by the KGB because he was seen as unreliable (the assassination itself probably vindicated that assessment). The KGB themselves believed the assassination was masterminded by the American far-right in a plot to make the US invade Cuba and start a nuclear war, though not all of the USSR's leadership believed this particular theory.
  • The Puppet History episode "America's First Black Aviatrix" features a musical number by a singing cloud who uses his song's musical break to claim that he witnessed the JFK assassination… but that he can't tell his listeners who carried it out. Only that, indeed, "they did that". It turns out in the next episode that he's actually another character using a holographic disguise, who was probably just making shit up.

    Western Animation 
  • Dilbert: In "The Assistant", the company that Dilbert works for had Kennedy killed, as a marketing stunt to draw attention to their line of pillbox hats. It continues to have "unforseen repercussions".
    Board member: You know, sometimes, I think it might be wrong to manipulate world events just to sell women's hats.
    (Board breaks out in laughter)
  • Subverted on Duckman: Coming face-to-face with the leader of a conspiracy, the leader explains all the 20th Century events they're responsible for. When asked about JFK, he just says that was a lone gunman.
  • Family Guy:
    • Parodied in a cutaway implying that Lee Harvey Oswald was a poor marksman; Oswald is cheering for Kennedy from the sixth story window when he sees a shooter on the grassy knoll about to fire on the president. Drawing a rifle, he takes aim and says "All right, Lee, time to become an American hero!"
    • Parodied in another cutaway when Brian and Stewie travel to a parallel universe in which "Frank Sinatra never used his influence to get Kennedy elected, which led to Nixon botching the Cuban Missile Crisis", resulting in a completely vaporized Quahog. When Brian asks who Lee Harvey Oswald shot, Stewie casually replies "Mayor McCheese".
      Brian: That joke's not in bad taste, is it?
      Stewie: Of course not, he's a cheeseburger!
  • It’s been alluded to in Gravity Falls that Bill Cipher, the show’s Big Bad, an inter dimensional chaos demon had a hand in JFK’s assassination, since in a Freeze-Frame Bonus in “Dreamscaperers”, his face is shown among many other famous conspiracies when he mentions he knows “lots of things”.
  • In Inside Job (2021), the act was committed by Grassy Noel Atkinson, who did it because apparently, Kennedy had sex with the alien from Roswell and got pregnant as a result. Have to prevent the eggs from hatching, you see. He's hailed as a hero within Cognito Inc. despite being well past his prime — but his Kennedy assassination skills come in handy when a bunch of JFK clones start taking over the building.
  • In Justice League Unlimited, Conspiracy Theorist super-hero The Question is being tortured for information after he stole computer files from a secret government organization plotting against the superheroes of the world. When the Torture Technician demands that he "Tell [us] what you know!", he responds thusly:
    The Question: There was a magic bullet. It was forged by Illuminati mystics to prevent us from learning the truth!
  • On King of the Hill, Dale is a hardcore Conspiracy Theorist, so it's no shock that this is one of his favorites. He calls the Warren Commission Report his favorite fairy tale, and reads it to his son as a bedtime story. That's until he looks over his detailed scale model and finds he reversed a direction (he has No Sense of Direction, really) — and when he fixes it, he realizes it all makes perfect sense. This triggers a bout of depression, a trip to Dallas to see for himself, a run-in with a helpful and polite policeman, and a reversal of his anti-government views overall — until Hank needs his paranoid knowledge of local officials and their private details to fix a bureaucratic snafu, and everything's back to how it was.
  • Parodied in Robot Chicken, in which a mongoose with a sniper rifle does the job.
  • The Simpsons
    • Spoofed when Homer and Marge are said to be looking for "their own mystery", and cuts to the two going through books with a sign saying "Who really shot JFK?". Homer's conclusion? "Lee Harvey Oswald was trying to steal the Jack Ruby!" He's very disappointed when he learns that Jack Ruby was actually a man.
    • In "Marge in Chains", Professor Frink attempts to implicate Marge in the assassination, showing a courtroom a film of the assassination and pausing on a frame when something that appears to be Marge's distinctive hairdo can be seen in the background.
    • In "Today I Am A Clown", when Krusty steps down from his show to study for his Bar Mitzvah, Homer takes over and turns it into a talk show. Lisa mentions that he now has great power to put to good use, as he imagines himself saving Lincoln from the attack at the theater. He later fantasizes there is a man aiming at JFK, and both he and Lincoln appear in the scene to give him a beating.
  • Alluded to in the Teen Titans Go! episode "Master Detective" where "Illumino", triangle-headed head of the Illuminati, combines Calling Your Attacks with sort of conspiracy-themed attack names with a barrier called "CONPSIRACY COVER-UP!" and something as specific as "GRASSY KNOLL GAZE!"


Video Example(s):


Kennedy Bowling Spoof

As part of the group's challenge to make offensive bowling animations, one of their creations depicts JFK, as a bowling pin, being shot by a bowling ball.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / BlackComedy

Media sources: