Quick Read: JFK Conspiracy Theories Explained

Is the assassination of JFK the world’s greatest unsolved mystery? On November 22, 1963, the earth-shattering event sent shockwaves across the globe, dramatically altering the course of history. But what really happened that day? Read on to discover some of the well-known JFK conspiracy theories, and some of the most shocking…

1 November 2023

After arriving at Dallas Love Field Airport at 11.40am on November 22, 1963, six people, including President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline, got into a 1961 Lincoln Continental Convertible for a ten-mile drive through downtown Dallas. They were on their way to lunch at the Dallas Market Center.

The four other passengers were Texas Governor John Connally and his wife Nellie, Special Agent Roy Kellerman, part of the president’s protection detail, and Secret Service agent Bill Greer, the driver.

As the motorcade turned left onto Elm Street and into Dealey Plaza, shots rang out. The President was rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead at around 12.30pm.

A ten-month investigation known as the Warren Commission concluded that JFK was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository.

These primary facts are well-known and undisputed.

Almost instantly however, theories about the Kennedy assassination surfaced that challenged the official version of events. With Oswald’s arrest and subsequent murder by nightclub operator Jack Ruby in the basement of the Dallas Police Headquarters, countless individuals have questioned the narrative, leading to an avalanche of alternative JFK conspiracy theories and speculations.

From the realms of plausible to the outlandish, here are some of the JFK theories explained.

Theories About JFK: The Ultimate Unsolved Mystery

President John F. Kennedy (Credit: Bettmann / Contributor via Getty Images)

In the immediate aftermath of the assassination, a veritable cottage industry of JFK conspiracy theories sprang up, fuelled by distrust of government accounts, inconsistencies in the evidence, and the dramatic and sudden nature of the event itself.

These theories have woven themselves into the fabric of contemporary history, revealing a widespread scepticism and unease surrounding the official account of the President’s death. Countless books, documentaries, and investigative reports have been dedicated to uncovering what really happened that fateful day, each proposing different scenarios, suspects, and motives, from the involvement of the CIA or the mafia to the proposition of multiple gunmen.

Who killed JFK? Was it, as the official account suggests, Lee Harvey Oswald, or was it someone – or something – else?

There remains a swirling cloud of JFK assassination theories, and this article offers a concise examination of the prevailing theories and their foundations, from the CIA to the father of a Hollywood A-lister. While it may not settle the debate – a feat nearly impossible given the depth and breadth of the topic – it will attempt to shed light on the enduring mystery of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

JFK Conspiracy Theories Explained

Governor Connally, President Kennedy & Jacqueline Kennedy (Credit: Bettmann / Contributor via Getty Images)

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy has given rise to numerous theories beyond the official account, which posits Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone gunman. Here’s a brief exploration of some of the most discussed conspiracy theories about JFK and their potential veracity.

The CIA Theory


This theory suggests that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) orchestrated the assassination due to JFK’s alleged lack of support for anti-Castro Cuban exiles and other Cold War issues including the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.


While there’s evidence of tension between President Kennedy and the CIA, hard proof of CIA involvement in the assassination is lacking. Declassified documents have not revealed any direct CIA role in the assassination.

The Mafia Theory


Some believe the American mafia was behind the assassination, motivated by the Kennedy administration’s crackdown on organised crime. At the time, the efforts to combat organised crime were spearheaded by JFK’s brother, Robert F. Kennedy, the United States Attorney General. RFK was himself assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles in 1968 while campaigning for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.


Connections between purported assassin Lee Harvey Oswald and the mafia have been suggested, but are unconfirmed and speculative, and no concrete evidence has substantiated these claims. This is one of the most common JFK assassination theories.

The Multiple Gunmen Theory


This is one of the JFK conspiracy theories explained in thousands of books, TV shows, documentaries, articles and on the internet. It contends that more than one gunman was involved in the assassination, a claim seemingly supported by varied eyewitness accounts and conflicting ballistic evidence. The most common suggestion was that there was a second gunman on the grassy knoll overlooking Dealey Plaza.


This theory holds some potential as initial investigations were criticised for their handling of forensic evidence. In addition, some acoustic analyses have proposed the sound of additional gunshots, but the findings are debated and inconclusive and have also faced significant scientific criticism and scepticism.

The Soviet Union or Anti-Castro Cubans Theory


Given the Cold War context, some theorists propose that the Soviet Union or Cubans opposed to Fidel Castro’s regime orchestrated the assassination. These theories about JFK also stem from Lee Harvey Oswald’s known connections to the Soviet Union (he defected to the Soviet Union in 1959 and returned to the US in 1962) and his reported sympathy for the Cuban cause.


No compelling evidence supports these theories, and geopolitical analysis suggests that the assassination didn’t align with the Soviet Union’s strategic or political interests. Similarly, no proof links anti-Castro Cubans directly to the assassination plot.

The Government Cover-Up Theory


This overarching theory suggests that various US government entities (including the FBI or Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson) were involved in a plot to kill Kennedy or in covering up the true circumstances of his death.


Tangible proof for these theories about the Kennedy assassination are scarce. Despite suspicions and alleged connections, no government conspiracy has been uncovered.

The More Bizarre JFK Theories Explained

Presidential motorcade, Dallas, Texas, November 22, 1963 (Credit: © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Beyond the prevailing theories about JFK, a number of more outlandish theories have emerged regarding the assassination of President Kennedy. While these lack substantial evidence and are largely dismissed by historians and experts, they highlight the extent of public fascination and scepticism surrounding the event.

The Accident Theory


One far-fetched theory proposes that after Oswald was alleged to have fired the first shots, a Secret Service agent accidentally discharged his weapon, firing the fatal shot that killed Kennedy.


This theory is highly improbable. Detailed ballistic and forensic analysis does not support this scenario, and no credible evidence suggests any involvement in an accidental shooting.

The Aliens Theory


This theory alleges that extraterrestrials were involved in the assassination because Kennedy wanted to share UFO secrets with the Soviet Union.


Almost every unsolved mystery, from the disappearance of Flight 19 in the Bermuda Triangle, the legend of the Dropa Stones and the baffling Baltic Sea anomaly, have a theory linked to aliens or extraterrestrials, and the JFK conspiracy theories are no different. This is generally considered a fringe theory with no factual basis. There’s no credible evidence linking Kennedy’s assassination with extraterrestrial entities or UFO secrets.

The Illuminati Theory


Some claim that the Illuminati, a supposed secret society, were behind Kennedy’s assassination due to his resistance to their global control agenda.


This theory also lacks any solid evidence or factual basis. The existence of the Illuminati as a global controlling entity itself remains unproven and the subject of debate and conjecture, and this is widely regarded as one of the more outlandish JFK assassination theories.

The Federal Reserve Theory


This theory posits that President Kennedy was assassinated by agents of the Federal Reserve due to his supposed intentions to limit the power of the Federal Reserve, potentially by issuing debt-free, government-controlled currency.


No direct evidence supports this claim, and experts generally dismiss it as speculative and unfounded.

The A-Lister’s Dad Theory


The father of a Hollywood A-Lister was a convicted murderer. Some conspiracy theorists suggest that this man was the youngest and tallest of the ‘three tramps’ arrested in Dealey Plaza, and was involved in JFK’s assassination. It was also suggested that he had tenuous connections to Jack Ruby, the killer of Lee Harvey Oswald.


Despite these claims, this is one of the JFK conspiracy theories explained more often than not as having little merit. No reliable evidence supports this person’s involvement in the assassination. The ‘three tramps’ theory has been widely debunked.

Beyond the Book Depository: The Search Continues

President John F. Kennedy (Credit: Bettmann via Getty Images)

The assassination of John F. Kennedy remains one of history’s most potent sources of intrigue and speculation. The JFK conspiracy theories explained here, from the CIA, the mafia, and various other groups or individuals, to the more outlandish suggestions involving accidental shootings, aliens, and secret societies, the real story behind Kennedy’s tragic end is a cornucopia of countless possibilities.

Will the real story ever come out? Who knows. But until it does, the quest for the ultimate truth behind JFK’s assassination continues, a reflection of the enduring impact of that fateful day on the global consciousness and the annals of history.


You May Also Like

Explore More