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List of conspiracy thriller films and television series: Wikis


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This is an incomplete list of conspiracy thriller films and TV series.



Name Date Description
Above the Law 1988 A Chicago vice unit cop stumbles on a CIA plot to finance black ops with crack cocaine
Absolute Power 1997 A master burglar goes on the run after witnessing the President murdering his mistress
Air America 1990 Pilots in Laos discover that they are patsies for a CIA heroin-smuggling plot
All the President's Men 1976 Two young reporters uncover the Watergate scandal
Angels and Demons 2009 A Harvard symbologist discovers an Illuminati plot to destroy the Roman Catholic Church
The Arrival 1996 Mysterious forces cover up an alien invasion
Arlington Road 1999 A former FBI agent, grieving for his deceased wife, suspects his next-door neighbors are terrorists
The Assassination Bureau 1969 An international anarchist organization performs political assassinations of the "socially undesirable" for pay
Blow Out 1981 A movie sound effects man goes on the run after recording the Chappaquiddick incident-style assassination of a prominent politician
Bob Roberts 1991 Mockumentary; a right-wing politician, embroiled in the Iran-Contra affair, is the apparent target of an assassination
The Bourne Identity 2002 An amnesiac CIA assassin goes on the run from his superiors, who want to cover up their illegal activities
The Boys from Brazil 1978 Nazi fugitive Josef Mengele plots to use cloning to create the Fourth Reich
Brass Target 1978 Rogue U.S. Army officers plot to assassinate General George S. Patton to cover up a massive theft of Nazi gold
Canadian Bacon 1995 Comedy; the President and his advisors seek to boost his approval rating by fabricating a cold war with Canada
Capricorn One 1978 The government fabricates the first manned mission to Mars
Charlie Wilson's War 2007 A Texas congressman illegally funnels money to the Afghan Mujahideen via a rogue CIA agent
The China Syndrome 1979 Management covers up safety flaws at a nuclear power plant; foreshadowed the Three Mile Island accident
Chinatown 1974 Film noir; a private eye stumbles onto murder and political corruption involving real estate interests in Southern California
Coma 1978 A big hospital illegally harvests organs from comatose patients
Company Business 1991 Two former spies, one CIA and one KGB, go on the run in Berlin after stumbling onto a plot to trade drug money for hostages
Conspiracy Theory 1997 A conspiracy theorist cabbie goes on the run after stumbling onto a real conspiracy involving brainwashing
The Constant Gardener 2005 Big pharmaceutical companies pull the levers of power
The Conversation 1974 A paranoid surveillance expert thinks he has overheard a murder and that he is being spied on
The Da Vinci Code 2006 A Harvard symbologist discovers a cover-up of the secret history of Christianity
The Dancer Upstairs 2002 Hunting terrorists in South America, a policeman encounters roadblocks in a corrupted state
Dark City 1998 An amnesiac awakes to discover that he is accused of murder, and that a mysterious group of men who possess the power to stop time and change reality are involved
The Day of the Jackal 1973 OAS leaders plot to assassinate President Charles de Gaulle
Death of a President 2006 Faux documentary; government officials cover up the truth of President Bush's assassination to push an anti-terrorism agenda
Defence of the Realm 1985 A reporter investigating an MP's sex scandal stumbles onto a web of MI5 cover-ups involving murder and nuclear weapons
The Domino Principle 1977 A mysterious organization busts a Vietnam War vet out of prison for an assassination
Double Take 2001 Comedy; an innocent investment banker goes on the run from the CIA and a Mexican drug cartel after stumbling onto a money laundering scheme
Enemy of the State 1998 An attorney goes on the run from rogue NSA operatives after he is passed a videotape of them assassinating a congressman
Eraser 1996 Rogue Pentagon officials sell high-tech arms under the table and eliminate the witnesses with the help of rogue U.S. Marshals
Executive Action 1973 A group of right-wing business magnates and mercenary covert ops specialists plot and carry out the John F. Kennedy assassination
Extreme Measures 1996 A secretive hospital attempts to covers up medical experiments done on the homeless.
Flightplan 2005 A woman's daughter disappears without a trace aboard an airplane
Foreign Correspondent 1940 Spies masquerading as peace movement leaders arrange a peace conference and a phony assassination in order to kidnap a diplomat
The Fourth Protocol 1987 A rogue KGB chief bent on prolonging the Cold War sends his top spy to detonate an atomic bomb at an American nuclear airbase in Great Britain
From Hell 2001 A psychic detective in Victorian era London investigates the Jack the Ripper killings and uncovers a Masonic plot
The Fugitive 1993 An innocent surgeon is framed for his wife's murder and goes on the run to uncover the conspiracy
The Game 1997 An unsuspecting investment banker is enrolled in a mysterious "game" as a birthday present and becomes the target of sinister forces who may or may not want to ruin his life
The Godfather Part III 1990 Rival Mafia factions compete to use the Vatican Bank for money laundering, leading to the assassination of a reformist Pope
Hidden Agenda 1990 A CID detective investigates the suspicious shooting of a human rights lawyer in Belfast and discovers both evidence of an RUC murder and a cover-up of a CIA/MI5 plot to destroy the governments of Harold Wilson and Edward Heath
Hoffa 1992 A union boss gets embroiled with the Mafia and politics and is eventually murdered
Hopscotch 1980 Comedy; a renegade CIA agent threatens to write a memoir revealing decades of agency conspiracies and is pursued by both the CIA and the KGB
I Witness 2003 A human rights investigator and an honest cop investigating the massacre of 23 campesinos in Mexico find links to drug cartels, dirty cops, and a multinational corporation embroiled in a union election
Illustrious Corpses 1976 An Italian cop investigating the assassinations of several judges finds that they are part of a neo-fascist "strategy of tension"
The Insider 1999 Big tobacco seeks to cover up the health effects of tobacco and silence a whistleblower
The International 2009 An Interpol agent investigating a shadowy banking cartel discovers money laundering, political corruption, war profiteering, and assassination plots
The Interpreter 2005 A United Nations interpreter stumbles onto a plot to assassinate a controversial African head of state on the floor of the General Assembly
Interview with the Assassin 2002 Faux documentary; a critically ill ex-Marine sniper admits to his next-door neighbor that he assassinated President Kennedy
Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956 Pod people subtly take over a small California town
Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1978 Pod people subtly take over San Francisco
Jacob's Ladder 1990 The government performs chemical experiments on unwitting Vietnam soldiers.
JFK 1991 The District Attorney of New Orleans investigates the Kennedy assassination and prosecutes a co-conspirator
The Last Boy Scout 1991 A private eye and a football player discover that a team owner is planning to assassinate the U.S. Senator who is blocking legalized sports betting
The Man Who Knew Too Little 1997 Comedy; an innocent American tourist in England stumbles on a plot by the heads of MI6 and the KGB to bomb a treaty signing ceremony and reignite the Cold War
The Man Who Knew Too Much 1956 A team of rogue foreign spies kidnap an American couple's son to silence them about their plot to assassinate an important dignitary
The Manchurian Candidate 1962 Communist spies use mind control for a political assassination
The Manchurian Candidate 2004 A multinational corporation uses mind control for a political assassination
Marathon Man 1976 An innocent grad student finds his CIA agent brother murdered and is ensnared in an international Nazi money laundering plot
Mercury Rising 1998 An NSA official sends assassins to kill an autistic nine-year-old who cracked a state-of-the-art encryption cipher
Minority Report 2002 Science fiction; a cop who "solves" murders before they happen with the help of several precogs finds himself pursued for a crime-to-be he thinks he will not commit
Missing 1982 An American businessman searching for his "disappeared" son in a Central American dictatorship finds evidence that the American government was involved
Most Wanted 1997 A former special forces officer goes on the run after being recruited into a secret assassination squad and framed for the murder of the First Lady
Mulholland Falls 1996 An LAPD detective investigates his mistress's murder and follows the evidence to the Nevada Test Site
Murder at 1600 1997 A Washington, D.C. detective investigates the murder of a White House intern inside the West Wing and begins to suspect that a member of the First Family is the killer
Murder by Decree 1979 Sherlock Holmes investigates the Jack the Ripper killings and uncovers a Masonic plot
The Net 1992 A white hat hacker stumbles onto a software company's machinations and goes on the run from cyberterrorists
Nick of Time 1995 An innocent accountant's daughter is kidnapped by mysterious operatives who demand that he assassinate the Governor of California
No Way Out 1987 An aide to the Secretary of Defense sleeps with the Secretary's mistress, who is subsequently murdered
North by Northwest 1959 An innocent advertising executive goes on the run after being mistaken for a spy by foreign operatives and finds that the CIA wants it that way
The ODESSA File 1974 A journalist tracking a Nazi war criminal's whereabouts discovers ODESSA's ratlines to Latin America
The Package 1989 An American soldier stumbles onto an assassination plot by rogue American and Soviet military officials who wish to prevent the signing of a nuclear disarmament treaty
Panther 1995 The FBI seeks to destroy the Black Panther Party by any means necessary, while teaming up with Mafia to keep the blacks down by flooding the ghetto with cocaine and heroin
The Parallax View 1974 A journalist re-investigates the assassination of a presidential candidate and discovers a mysterious organization that seemingly recruits assassins
The Pelican Brief 1993 A law student goes on the run after writing a paper speculating that a billionaire had two Supreme Court justices assassinated to fix a lawsuit appeal
The President's Analyst 1967 Comedy; an innocent psychotherapist becomes analyst to the President and goes on the run from operatives of every intelligence agency on Earth
Red Eye 2005 An innocent hotel manager is trapped aboard an airplane with a ruthless mercenary who threatens to kill her and her father unless she helps with a planned assassination
The Secret 1974 A French fugitive takes refuge with a couple, claiming that he is being pursued by the authorities carrying out a cover-up.
Serpico 1973 An honest cop works to expose police corruption in the NYPD
Seven Days in May 1964 An Army colonel discovers that rogue generals are plotting a coup d'état against the President
Shadow Conspiracy 1997 The White House Chief of Staff conspires to assassinate the President
The Sigma Protocol 2010 Multinational corporations conspire to manipulate the global economy
Silkwood 1983 A whistleblower at a nuclear plant is silenced
Silver City 2004 A journalist hired to investigate a dead body at a gubernatorial campaign event stumbles onto a web of corruption involving the election and a mysterious copper mine
Snake Eyes 1998 A corrupt Atlantic City police detective investigates when the Secretary of Defense is assassinated while ringside at a championship boxing event
Sneakers 1992 A team of industrial espionage experts are recruited by NSA agents to steal a mysterious "black box", only to discover too late that their employers are not really with the NSA
The Spanish Prisoner 1997 An innocent chemist in possession of a lucrative secret formula is targeted by con men and framed for industrial espionage and murder
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country 1991 Science fiction; rogue Federation and Klingon military officials attempt to assassinate the Klingon chancellor and Federation president to prevent the end of their cold war
The Stepford Wives 1975 A housewife suspects that the women of Stepford are being replaced by androids
The Stepford Wives 2004 A post-feminist executive suspects that the women of Stepford are being replaced by androids
Syriana 2005 A CIA agent, an energy analyst, and an antitrust lawyer are embroiled in a web of corruption and assassination involving Big Oil
The Tailor of Panama 2001 A rogue MI6 operative fabricates a Panamanian revolutionary group and starts a war to line his own pockets
Three Days of the Condor 1975 An innocent CIA researcher goes on the run from officials at his own agency after coming back from lunch to find all of his coworkers murdered
Topaz 1969 A CIA agent stumbles on a high-level KGB spy ring with moles in every Western intelligence agency
U.S. Marshals 1998 A Diplomatic Security Service agent involved in covert ops is framed for murder and treason and goes on the run to uncover the conspiracy
Valkyrie 2008 The July 20 Plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler and overthrow the Nazi Government
Vantage Point 2008 The attempted assassination of the President at an anti-terrorism treaty signing ceremony is more than meets the eye
Wag the Dog 1997 Black comedy; when the President is embroiled in a sex scandal two weeks before the election, two government operatives and a film producer fabricate a war with Albania to distract the public
Who Killed Atlanta's Children? 2000 Journalists re-investigating the Atlanta child murders stumble on a government cover-up of Ku Klux Klan involvement
Winter Kills 1979 Black comedy; a slain President's brother investigates his assassination
The X-Files 1998 FBI agents Mulder and Scully investigate the bombing of a federal building and stumble on evidence of a conspiracy between aliens and a shadow government
xXx: State of the Union 2005 The Secretary of Defense plots a coup d'état against the President
Z 1969 In an unnamed European country, a prominent opposition leader is assassinated by elements within the government

TV series and miniseries

Burn Notice

A 2007 American TV series, airing on the USA Network, following the exploits of Michael Westen, a former covert operative for the American intelligence community who is stranded in him hometown of Miami after a burn notice is put out against him for reasons unknown. Although individual episodes of the series generally focus on Westen's work as an unlicensed private investigator and mercenary, the series' overall story arc involves his investigation of the reasons behind his burn notice and his discovery that he is a pawn in an international conspiracy.

The series has been nominated for an Emmy Award and a Writers Guild of America Award, and won an Edgar Award in 2008. It stars Jeffrey Donovan as Westen; Gabrielle Anwar as Fiona Glenanne, his ex-girlfriend and a former member of the IRA; and Bruce Campbell as Sam Axe, a former Navy SEAL and Westen's best friend.


A 2007 American TV series, airing on the FX cable television network, following the exploits of Ellen Parsons, a naive and idealistic young lawyer who goes to work for Patty Hewes, one of the nation's wealthiest litigators. Told in flashbacks, the series relates Ellen's involvement in Patty's cases against high-flying corporate fraudsters, the murder of her fiancee, and her discovery that Patty can be every bit as ruthless and cruel as her opponents.

The series has won four Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award and been nominated for an additional 10 Emmies and three Golden Globes, as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Writers Guild of America Award. The series stars Glenn Close as Hewes, Rose Byrne as Parsons, and Tate Donovan as Hewes' partner Tom Shayes.

The first season co-starred Ted Danson as crooked ex-CEO Arthur Frobisher, Željko Ivanek as his attorney Ray Fiske, Noah Bean as Parsons' doomed fiancee David Connor, Peter Riegert as corrupt former SEC Commissioner George Moore, and Peter Facinelli as key witness Gregory Malina.

The second season co-starred William Hurt as whistleblower Daniel Purcell, Timothy Olyphant as repentant hitman Wes Krulick, Marcia Gay Harden as attorney Claire Maddox, John Doman as ruthless energy company CEO Walter Kendrick, Clarke Peters as shadowy powerbroker Dave Pell, Glenn Kessler and Mario Van Peebles as FBI Special Agents Werner and Harrison, and David Costabile as corrupt cop Rick Messer.

The third and current season co-stars Len Cariou as convicted Ponzi scheme fraudster Louis Tobin, Campbell Scott as his son Joe Tobin, Lily Tomlin as his wife Marilyn Tobin, Martin Short as Tobin family attorney Leonard Winstone, Dominic Chianese as money launderer Stuart Zedeck, Mädchen Amick as Tobin's mistress Danielle Marchetti, and Tom Noonan as NYPD Detective Victor Huntley.

Edge of Darkness

A 1985 British miniseries that ran for six episodes, following the exploits of Ronald Craven, a Yorkshire police officer who investigates the brutal murder of his environmentalist daughter and stumbles upon a web of corruption and deceit involving British and American intelligence agencies and revolving around the nuclear power industry.

The series won six BAFTA Awards and one Broadcasting Press Guild Award. It starred Bob Peck as Craven and co-starred Joanne Whalley as his daughter and Joe Don Baker as mysterious CIA agent Darius Jedburgh.


A 2006 American TV series that ran for one season of 13 episodes, following the investigation into the kidnapping of Leopold Cain, son of Wall Street billionaire Conrad Cain. Although the case at first appears to involve a simple ransom demand, after the senior Cain brings in a mysterious "retrieval expert" named Knapp and an FBI agent named Latimer King becomes involved, it soon develops that the crime is actually the work of an international conspiracy, and that the motive is vengeance on the Cains themselves.

The series starred Jeremy Sisto as Knapp, Timothy Hutton as Conrad Cain, Dana Delany as Ellie Cain, Will Denton as Leopold Cain, Delroy Lindo as Special Agent King, Linus Roache as Special Agent Andrew Archer, Mykelti Williamson as Leopold's bodyguard Virgil Hayes, and Carmen Ejogo as Knapp's assistant Turner.

Law & Order

An American TV series that combines elements of police procedural and legal drama, Law & Order has aired for 19 seasons since its debut in 1990, making it the longest running primetime drama currently airing on television. Although not specifically a "conspiracy thriller" show, many episodes have focused on conspiracy theories taken in whole or in part from real-life news stories, as well as wholly original conspiracy plot lines. These include:

Title Episode No. Season Description
"Everybody's Favorite Bagman" 06 01 A city councilman is found comatose after being stabbed in his car, and the investigation of what appears to be a simple mugging soon reveals a plot between high-ranking city officials, a Mafia crime family, and a deputy police commissioner (Ron Foster) to skim the city's parking meters.

This episode was inspired by the suicide of Queens Borough President Donald Manes.

"The Troubles" 20 01 The murders of two federal prisoners — a Lebanese gunrunner and a Cuban drug smuggler — are linked to the Provisional Irish Republican Army and a renowned republican activist (Anthony Heald) who is fighting deportation.
"The Blue Wall" 22 01 Three bankers accused of money laundering are acquitted after the key computer evidence against them is deleted while in police custody, and the investigation implicates the detectives' captain (Dann Florek), his "rabbi" on the force (Robert Lansing), and a prominent Congressman (Pirie MacDonald).
"Severance" 35 02 Two men are gunned down in a parking lot, and evidence indicates that they are collateral damage in the disappearance of a witness slated to testify against an imprisoned millionaire (Jay Devlin).
"The Working Stiff" 44 02 The murder of a legendary corporate raider is thought to be the work of one of his outraged victims, until evidence surfaces of a complex plot involving bank fraud, union racketeers, and the former Governor of New York (William Prince).
"Conspiracy" 46 03 The assassination of a charismatic black nationalist (Harold Miller) is blamed on a white lone gunman (Jeff Gendelman), but direct evidence is scarce and his attorney (Eric Bogosian) claims he is the fall guy for a plot within the victim's organization.

This episode, which won the 1993 Edgar Award for Best Television Episode, was inspired by conspiracy theories regarding the assassination of Malcolm X.

"Blood Libel" 120 06 When an anti-semitic high schooler (Jackey Vinson) goes on trial for murdering a Jewish teacher who caught him buying grades, his Klan-affiliated lawyer (Chris Cooper) claims that he is a victim of a Jewish conspiracy.
"Entrapment" 143 07 The son (Chris McKinney) of an assassinated black nationalist is accused of attempting to kill the rival movement leader (Ron Cephas Jones) he believes ordered his father's murder, but his attorney (Samuel E. Wright) claims he was entrapped by his girlfriend (Michelle Hurd), who works as a paid informant for the FBI.

This episode is the sequel to "Conspiracy".

"Ramparts" 192 09 A Volkswagen microbus containing the skeletal remains of a 1960s student radical is dredged out of the river, but the the truth about the victim's identity and the circumstances of his death is buried within the files of the NYPD's infamous Red Squad, which the department refuses to unseal.

This episode was inspired by revelations about COINTELPRO and Operation CHAOS.

"Sideshow" 195 09 The investigation of the staged suicide of a Social Security Administration bureaucrat from Baltimore leads to allegations of lesbian sexual harassment, a female contract killer (Delissa Reynolds), an imprisoned drug lord (Charles Malik Whitfield), and an address book containing the number of a White House cell phone, but a meddling Independent Counsel (George Hearn) threatens to derail the investigation.

This episode, the first part of a two-part crossover with Homicide: Life on the Street, was inspired by Kenneth Starr's investigations into the Whitewater controversy, the Lewinsky scandal, and the suicide of Vince Foster.

"Empire" 201 09 An investment banker with a history of heart disease collapses and dies after being poisoned with Viagra-spiked champagne, and the investigation implicates a professional fundraiser (Julia Roberts) and the legendary real estate developer (Daniel Hugh Kelly) whose bond credit rating the victim was threatening.
"Vaya Con Dios" 229 10 An old man is found dead at the bottom of an apartment building stairwell, and it is discovered that he had been investigating the forced disappearance and murder of his son in Chile shortly after the 1973 coup, in which he believed officials of the American government were involved.

This episode was inspired by the investigation into the disappearance of Charles Horman.

"Burn Baby Burn" 235 11 A former Black Panther (Clarence Williams III), now a respected community organizer, is brought to trial for the murder of a white police officer, and his attorney (Joe Morton) claims that he was defending himself from an assassination attempt by a member of a racist police cabal.

This episode was inspired by the murder trial of H. Rap Brown.

"Deep Vote" 253 11 A housewife is shot to death in her car, and detectives suspect that she was killed by a mob hitman (David Roya) who mistook her for a reporter (Kate Jennings Grant) investigating allegations that a crucial State Senate race was decided by electoral fraud.
"Soldier of Fortune" 257 12 Two bystanders are killed during the daylight kidnapping and murder of a diamond merchant perpetrated by a special forces officer (Lance Reddick) from Sierra Leone who claims to have acted under orders from his government, but prosecutors suspect the crime is the work of a shadowy diamond cartel looking to cover up its dealings in blood diamonds.
"Missing" 267 12 A young political aide (Anna Damergis) vanishes, and the investigation leads to her married boyfriend (Brian Kerwin), a powerful state gaming official, and his childhood friend (Timothy Wheeler), who is now a ruthless criminal.

This episode was inspired by the disappearance of Chandra Levy.

"Embedded" 309 14 A sleazy reporter (Nick Chinlund), who was expelled from Iraq for divulging troop movements, is shot and wounded on a street corner, and the Army seems willing to stoop to any level to shield the prime suspect (Keith Nobbs) from prosecution.

This episode was inspired by the controversy over Geraldo Rivera's reporting in Iraq.

"Coming Down Hard" 329 15 A rash of suicides on a local college campus exposes the sordid business practices of a pharmaceutical company, which has been covering up the terrible side-effects of its best-selling antidepressant.
"Enemy" 335 15 The massacre of seven people in a Manhattan crack house is linked to a drug-smuggling ring run by a notorious Afghani warlord (Christopher Maher), who claims that he is immune from prosecution because his acts were sanctioned by the government as part of the War on Terrorism.

This episode was inspired by journalist Gary Webb's allegations of a "dark alliance" between drug lords and the CIA during the Cold War.

"Kingmaker" 369 16 An undercover police officer is murdered, and it is revealed that her identity was leaked to the press by a ruthless political operative (Garret Dillahunt) in retaliation for her pundit father's (Sam Freed) attack on a liberal congressman (David Forsyth).

This episode was inspired by the Plame affair.

"Profiteer" 377 17 The CEO of a body armor manufacturer is gunned down at his daughter's sweet sixteen party, and the investigation uncovers a plot to cover up the deliberate sale of faulty bullet proof vests to soldiers stationed in Iraq.
"Bottomless" 397 18 The prosecution of a murderer (Will Chase) who killed over a pair of pants is at first helped and then hindered by the security operatives of a multinational department store chain, which seeks to cover up its role in the distribution of toothpaste contaminated with antifreeze.

This episode was inspired by the Pearson v. Chung lawsuit, by the 2007 Chinese export recalls, and by the several controversies over the Wal-Mart chain.

"Political Animal" 399 18 The investigation of a triple murder disguised as a murder-suicide leads to a closeted State Senator (John Doman) and a prominent businessman (John Ortiz) whose work as a top political fundraiser conceals his past as a con man and fugitive.

This episode was inspired by the arrests of Norman Hsu and Senator Larry Craig.

"Bogeyman" 408 18 The shooting death of a young writer (Emily Dorsch) looks like suicide, but her husband (Daniel London) claims it is the work of a sinister cult with a reputation for harassing and spying on its critics.

This episode was inspired by the numerous controversies related to the Church of Scientology.

"Excalibur" 411 18 The prosecution of an escort agency operator (Eric Sheffer Stevens) who murdered his brother-in-law (Ted Koch) is derailed when it is revealed that New York's youthful new Governor (Tom Everett Scott) is one of his clients, and willing to take any steps necessary to keep that information secret.

This episode was inspired by the prostitution scandal that led to the resignation of Governor Eliot Spitzer.

"Knock Off" 416 19 A small-town sheriff (Clancy Brown), famous for his anti-drug exploits, is suspected of murdering a former informant (John Bianco) to cover up his involvement in illegal activities, but detectives discover that the only evidence against him has been destroyed by a member (Matt Walton) of a special squad of state troopers who answer only to the Governor (Tom Everett Scott).

This episode continues the storyline begun in "Excalibur".

"The Drowned and the Saved" 433 19 An investigation into the stabbing death of the head (Tom Bloom) of a prominent charity leads to two dominatrices (Jodie Markell and Tanya Fischer), a private investigator (Luke Kirby), an ambitious city councilwoman (Susan Kelechi Watson), the Governor (Tom Everett Scott) and First Lady (Alison Elliott) of New York, and a plot to sell a vacant U.S. Senate seat.

This episode, inspired by the corruption charges against Governor Rod Blagojevich, concludes the storyline begun in "Excalibur."

Law & Order: Criminal Intent

A 2001 spinoff of the original Law & Order, this series focuses more on elements of police procedural, with the elements of legal drama associated with other shows in the franchise often almost nonextistent. Although not specifically a "conspiracy thriller" show, many episodes have focused on conspiracy theories taken in whole or in part from real-life news stories, as well as wholly original conspiracy plot lines. These include:

Title Episode No. Season Description
"The Pardoner's Tale" 08 01 An investigative reporter (Matt Servitto) and his fiancee are gunned-down outside their favorite restaurant, and the attack is linked to a fugitive money launderer (Mark Zimmerman) and an alleged cash-for-pardons scheme involving the Governor of New York.

This episode was inspired by the controversy over President Bill Clinton's pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich.

"Semi-Professional" 15 01 A law clerk working for a prominent judge (Michael Murphy) is found dead in her employer's home, and the investigation leads to a contentious battle for an appellate court appointment.
"Tuxedo Hill" 22 01 A high-powered executive (Cindy Katz), found unconscious and amnesiac in her wrecked car, is first implicated in and then exonerated of her boyfriend's murder, and detectives suspect she is being manipulated by corrupt officials at her own company.

This episode was inspired by the fall of Enron.

"Cold Comfort" 39 02 The daughter (Maureen Mueller) of a recently-deceased U.S. Senator is murdered in a public restroom and the case leads detectives to a probate dispute, cryonics, and the family of a noted philanthropist (Josef Sommer).
"Mis-Labeled" 59 03 A salesman (Darren Goldstein) for a major pharmaceutical company who sold synthetic blood in the Far East is strangled, chopped in half, and stuffed into his own luggage, and the investigation into his death uncovers a plot to cover up an even more nauseating act of corporate greed.
"Proud Flesh" 102 05 The eldest son (Alex Draper) of a legendary media mogul (Malcolm McDowell) is the victim of what appears to be a latex fetish exercise gone wrong, and all evidence points towards his father's much younger new wife (Cindy Cheung).

This episode was inspired by the family of Rupert Murdoch.

"Wasichu" 103 05 A Secret Service agent (Georgia Hatzis) is murdered in her home, and the investigation zeroes in on her lobbyist husband (David Alan Basche) and the infamously corrupt congressman (Bruce McGill) whose favor he was illegally courting.

This episode was inspired by the Jack Abramoff scandal.

"Albatross" 124 06 A prominent judge (Daren Kelly) is killed by sniper-fire while rehearsing a reenactment of the Burr–Hamilton duel with a notoriously corrupt businessman (Xander Berkeley) whose wife (Donna Murphy) is the leading candidate for Mayor of New York City, and detectives can't decide who was the real target.

This episode was inspired by scandals related to Jeanine Pirro and her husband.

"30" 127 06 A journalist (Lee Tergesen), poisoned with slow-acting-but-deadly Polonium 210, aids in his own murder investigation, which leads to a cover-up of circumstances related to the controversial death of a young American schoolteacher (Anna Moore) in Israel.

This episode was inspired by the Alexander Litvinenko poisoning and the death of Rachel Corrie.

"Smile" 136 07 A dentist (Adam Heller) is murdered in his office, exposing a plot between FDA officials and a major corporation to cover up the existence of counterfeit mouthwash containing antifreeze, but a whistleblower (Amy Acker) may have a sinister agenda of her own.
"Untethered" 142 07 When his delinquent nephew (Trevor Morgan) tells him that inmates are being murdered in the psychiatric ward of a prison overseen by a sadistic warden (Debra Monk), a detective (Vincent D'Onofrio) goes undercover without his superiors' knowledge to investigate and gets a closer look at the truth than he bargained for.
"Assassin" 147 07 A man is killed while attempting to assassinate an exiled Tamil politician (Indira Varma), a highly-paid European hitman (Roberto Purvis) is photographed entering the country and then disappears, and evidence indicates that someone within the target's own inner circle is behind the plot.

This episode was inspired by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

"Playing Dead" 156 08 A drug addict (Elan Moss-Bachrach) is gunned down in his apartment by an assailant who spares the life of his girlfriend (Betty Gilpin), the stepdaughter of a city councilman (Scott Cohen) whose ruthless mother (Kathy Baker) is maneuvering him toward Gracie Mansion.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

A 1999 spinoff of the original Law & Order, this series focuses on investigations into sex crimes and crimes against children and the elderly. Although not specifically a "conspiracy thriller" show, several episodes have focused on conspiracy theories taken in whole or in part from real-life news stories, as well as wholly original conspiracy plot lines. These include:

Title Episode No. Season Description
"Wrong is Right" 23 02 A man is found shot to death and set on fire on the beach, and detectives discover that he was a rocket scientist whose history as a convicted child molestor was mysteriously erased after he went to work for a major defense contractor.
"Paranoia" 36 02 A respected police sergeant (Khandi Alexander) is raped and nearly murdered while on patrol, and the investigation is stymied by two Internal Affairs detectives (Scott Sowers and Dominic Fumusa) who tamper with evidence, order witnesses to lie, and try to frame the victim for corruption.
"Perfect" 90 04 A young runaway is found dead of exposure and prolonged torture, and the investigation leads to a prominent doctor (Gale Harold) whose glitzy clinic specializing in anti-aging hormone therapy acts as a front for a cult that abducts and brainwashes girls to become test subjects for human cloning.

This episode was inspired by the claims of the Raëlian Movement.

"Goliath" 139 06 A rash of rapes and murder-suicides committed by Operation Enduring Freedom veterans exposes a plot between a pharmaceutical company and officials at the Pentagon to cover up the horrific side-effects of an anti-malaria drug being tested on unwitting soldiers.

This episode was inspired by the controversy over the drug Lariam.

"Retro" 207 10 A physician (Martin Mull) is prosecuted when his alternative treatments, based on claims that AIDS is a hoax perpetrated by the medical establishment, lead to two deaths.
"Zebras" 224 10 A series of savage murders are thought to be the work of a schizophrenic conspiracy theorist (Nick Stahl), and after an error by a rookie CSU tech (Noel Fisher) sets him free, those involved in the case begin to die.
"Spooked" 230 11 The double murder of two Gulf Cartel members looks like a run-of-the mill drug hit, but when the detectives find their phones tapped, they learn that they have stumbled into a shadowy world of Cuban spies and crooked FBI agents.


An American police procedural which ran for two seasons and 32 episodes. In it, LAPD officer Charlie Crews, recently exonerated after serving 12 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, is returned to the force and promoted to detective, as well as receiving a sizable settlement. Although individual episodes of the series generally focused on Crews using his unique experiences and Zen Buddhist outlook to solve individual and unrelated murders, the series' overall story arc revolved around his secret investigation of the murders for which he was convicted, and his discovery that they were the result of an intricate conspiracy involving police corruption and the missing multi-million-dollar haul from a violent bank robbery shootout.

The series starred Damian Lewis as Crews, Sarah Shahi as Detective Dani Reese, Adam Arkin as fellow ex-con Ted Earley, Gabrielle Union as Detective Jane Seever, Robin Weigert as Lieutenant Karen Davis, Donal Logue as Captain Kevin Tidwell, and William Atherton as crooked ex-cop Mickey Rayborn.


An American police procedural featuring the exploits of FBI special agent Don Eppes (Rob Morrow) and his brother, Professor Charlie Eppes (David Krumholtz), a mathematics prodigy who applies his knowledge to solving crimes. Although not specifically a "conspiracy thriller" show, several episodes have focused on fictional conspiracy theories. These include:

Title Episode No. Season Description
"Structural Corruption" 04 01 An architectural student (James Immekus) plunges to his death in an apparent suicide, but Charlie believes he was murdered, and his investigation reveals that the victim had stumbled onto dangerous structural flaws in a new office building that is the symbol of its financier owner (David Hunt).
"Democracy" 55 03 An eccentric statistician (Kelli O'Hara) who believes that she has found a link between a series of seemingly random deaths is herself found murdered, and the investigation leads to a shady billionaire (William Sadler), some supposedly un-hackable electronic voting machines, and allegations of electoral fraud in a race for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
"The Janus List" 61 03 A legendary former MI6 cryptographer (Martin Jarvis) suffering from slow-acting thallium poisoning threatens to blow up a bridge and delivers a series of coded clues to the agents, leading them into the shadowy world of private intelligency agencies in search of a fabled master list of double agents and moles.
"Trust Metric" 62 04 FBI agent Colby Granger (Dylan Bruno), recently outed as a double agent for China, escapes from custody along with fellow spy Dwayne Carter (Shawn Hatosy), and the agents must wrestle with their emotions as they race to recapture them before their handler (Val Kilmer) can spirit them out of the country...or kill them to cover his tracks.
"In Security" 67 04 A woman (Jennifer Riker) living in the Witness Protection Program is murdered in her home and it at first looks like a simple case of revenge killing by the crime boss (Peter Onorati) she put away, until the agents discover that her assassin (Chandler Parker) is also a protected witness, assigned to the same U.S. Marshal (Erika Alexander) as the victim.
"Blowback" 82 05 Eight people are found massacred inside a coffeehouse, two of whom are revealed to be undercover LAPD detectives, and the investigation leads to a film producer (Jonathan Silverman) who admits one of the victims was blackmailing him and allegations of corruption within the LAPD's notorious Intelligence Division.
"Conspiracy Theory" 88 05 A controversial charity composed entirely of billionaires is the target of a bombing, and the initial suspect is a conspiracy theorist (Josh Gad) whose theories begin to seem all too real when he becomes the target of assassins looking to recover video he took of the charity's board meeting prior to the bombing.

Prison Break

An American TV series, which ran for four seasons and 81 episodes from 2005 to 2009. In it, structural engineer Michael Scofield infiltrates the prison in which his brother, Lincoln Burrows, has been unjustly imprisoned for a murder he did not commit. Eventually, the two successfully escape along with several other inmates and learn that Lincoln's framing was the work of a shadowy consortium of conspirators called "The Company". The two spend the rest of the series combatting the Company's machinations.

The series was a ratings success and was nominated for an Emmy Award, two Golden Globes, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Saturn Award, and a Satellite Award. It starred Wentworth Miller as Scofield, Dominic Purcell as Burrows, William Fichtner as FBI Special Agent Alexander Mahone, and Robert Knepper as Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell, a villainous fellow inmate who escapes with Scofield and Burrows.

The Prisoner

A British TV series, which ran for one season of 17 episodes from 1967 to 1968. In it, a former British secret agent, dubbed "Number Six", is abducted by unknown forces and taken to a mysterious, idyllic village, where a succession of interrogators, known collectively as "Number Two", attempt to extract the reason for his resignation from him via a variety of methods, including 24-hour surveillance, torture, double agents, mind control, hallucinogens, and hypnosis.

A commercial flop upon release, the series has since become a cult favorite for its surrealism and blackly comedic plots. Nominated for a single Hugo Award upon its release, it was awarded the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award by the Libertarian Futurist Society in 2002. It starred co-creator Patrick McGoohan as Number Six and featured 17 different actors as Number Two.

A Very British Coup

A 1988 British miniseries, based on a novel of the same name by future Member of Parliament Chris Mullin. The series concerns the events following the election of an avowedly socialist Labour Party leader as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on a platform of unilateral nuclear disarmament, withdrawal from NATO, nationalization of major industries, and other policies unacceptable to the power elite. Following his assumption of office, a conspiracy is hatched that includes high-ranking officials of MI5 and MI6, the CIA, and wealthy business moguls, who plot to bring down the Government through subterfuge, rather than violence.

The series won four BAFTA Awards and an International Emmy Award. It starred Ray McAnally as Prime Minister Harry Perkins and Alan MacNaughtan as MI5 chief Sir Percy Browne.

See also

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