Memorable Conspiracy Theorists in TV History

The JFK assassination junkies are proof enough that you can fool all conspiracy theorists all of the time. The plethora of people who find it easier to accept that at the very least a thousand people would have had to be involved in the public assassination of a President who would have been the easiest politician in American history to blackmail than find it easy to accept that one lone nut could have pulled off an extremely doable job with a rifle leave little wonder that some of the most memorable characters in American TV history have been conspiracy nuts. Here is a list of my top conspiracy theorists or paranoid wingnuts in TV history.

Les Nessman: WKRP in Cincinnati.

Les Nessman was the bespectacled news reporter for the low-watt Cincinnati radio station of this sitcom from the late 70s and early 80s. Nessman appeared in every episode with some kind of band-aid or bandage or sling, though his injuries were rarely explained or even alluded to. Nessman was a product of the Cold War. Like George W. Bush and terrorists, Nessman saw Communist lurking on every street corner. But his paranoia extended to the personal as well. Besides believing in pretty much every conspiracy theory imaginable, he Nessman also always seemed to believe that he was the butt of a joke almost as impossibly comprehensive as the JFK assassination conspiracy.

Les Nessman’s trail of conspiracy actually wound up turning him into a Marlowe on his way to a meeting of the heart of darkness. Nessman’s Kurtz turned out to be his own father, whom Less discovered in one episode actually had been a card-carrying Communist. Just as with most members of that hardly exclusive club of victims of the Communist Witch Hunt, it turned out that Les Nessman’s father was hardly an enemy of the state. The whole Communist Witch Hunt episode in American history reveals the lunacy present in the soul of all conspiracy theorists.

The Lone Gunmen.

Perhaps no conspiracy theorists are quite as out there in their search for the truth as Langley, Frohike and Byers. They not only fully bought into the ridiculous JFK assassination conspiracy, but also believed in any number of truly fantastical conspiracies. In fact, the Lone Gunmen themselves could point to only one other human alive who believed in conspiracies more outrageous than they did: Fox Mulder. Fox Mulder is not one of my top conspiracy theorists, however, because he believed in factual conspiracies and not theories.

Dale Gribble: King of the Hill.

Dale Gribble remains my all time favorite conspiracy theorist and one of my favorite Dale Gribble episodes of King of the Hill is about what happens to Dale when he finally realizes that all the hard evidence conclusively points to the fact that the only possible positioning for the bullet that killed JFK was from behind and to the rear. That particular episode also provides a perfect opportunity to reveal the paranoid mindset at work:

“The U.S. Postal Service is bogged down in the most elaborate sci-ops campaign in history. First they fatten us up with all those two-for-one pizza coupons. Then, when we’re too logy to put up a fight, they sell us off to the Red Cross, who removes our kidneys which go back on the pizzas, to start the process all over again.”

It is no coincidence that in addition to being a conspiracy nut, Dale Gribble is also a gun nut. Have you ever noticed how paranoid members of the NRA are? I am willing to bet that if you could devise a test to provide an analysis of the brain chemistry at work in conspiracy nuts you would discover that it is exactly similar to anyone who owns more than two guns.

Kramer and Newman: Seinfeld.

Okay, so Kramer and Newman aren’t really all that huge of conspiracy nuts, but in one two-part episode they really rise to the occasion. Remember the episode where Elaine starts dating druggie and former baseball player Keith Hernandez? There are two extended sequences that use a dead-on parody of the infamous silly “back and to the left” scene in Oliver Stone’s JFK to give Kramer and Newman the ability to create a conspiracy theory about “one magic loogie.” The JFK parody segments of this episode were probably the absolute peak of comedy on this somewhat overrated sitcom.

Bill O’Reilly.

Odd thing about this conspiracy theorist: Bill O’Reilly could not identify a factual conspiracy when it was staring him in the face, yet he was able to put together lunatic conspiracy theories that almost make the JFK theories look believable.

Donald Trump.

Sadly, there is no evidence that the processing of a man who lost the actual election (votes are what makes an election; counting is what allows the will of the people to be overridden) is himself the architect of a conspiracy. Oh sure, there was definitely a Russian conspiracy to get him elected, but it is safe to say that Donald Trump benefited from that effort in spite of his involvement rather due to his involvement. Yes, Trump is an idiot of truly staggering dimensions and one need only list all the conspiracies (disproven) that he regularly has appeared on television to endorse as nothing less than irrefutable fact. You voted for him. Not me. We’re still waiting for that apology.