Best Political Conspiracy Movies & TV Shows

A split image of stills from White House Plumbers, All The President's Men, and Homeland

With White House Plumbers recently debuting on HBO, it’s obvious that audiences still have an appetite for political conspiracy TV shows. Whether it’s presidential assassinations, international espionage, or terrorist plots, there are plenty of entertaining political thrillers on the small screen and the big screen.

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While many of the best political thriller movies came out in the 1960s to the 1990s, the greatest TV shows of the genre are far more recent. From the Nixon-era Watergate scandal to the unsolved murder of JFK to post-911 Homeland Security, the best political conspiracy thrillers are often ripped from the headlines.



10 White House Plumbers (2023)

White House Plumbers is a highly anticipated 2023 TV show on HBO that recounts the grand conspiracy of the Watergate Scandal. The miniseries focuses on how President Richard Nixon’s close political appointees – E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy – conspired to break into the Watergate Hotel and conceal incriminating evidence to protect the president.

While the show is still trying to find its footing in its second episode, White House Plumbers distinguishes itself from other political thrillers with Hunt and Liddy’s hilarious bumbling nature. Woody Harrelson and Justin Theroux have drawn solid reviews for their goofy portrayals of incompetent politicians who can’t get out of their own way.

9 Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (2018-Present)

Piggybacking on the legacy of Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is an epic political action thriller. The series follows the titular CIA operative, who uncovers grand international conspiracies involving trafficking, terrorist funding, and assassinations of an FBI Agent and an American ambassador.

Jack Ryan has plenty of high-octane action and superb plotting, which are bolstered by John Krasinski’s excellent performance. Each season focuses on an entirely new international conspiracy for Ryan to solve. No matter how outlandish the conspiracy plots become, audiences can’t help but root for his character.

8 The Night Agent (2023-Present)

The recent Netflix smash hit The Night Agent concerns Peter Sutherland, a subordinate FBI agent who is suddenly swept up in a massive conspiracy relating to a mysterious mole atop the U.S. Government. While he attempts to protect a young woman, Sutherland uncovers far more than he bargained for.

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Although The Night Agent stretches the imagination, it is an extremely involving, bingeworthy Netflix series. Fans have praised the show for its riveting action and thought-provoking storytelling. The tense episodes keep viewers glued to the very end, as The Night Agent stays focused on slick entertainment.

7 The Parallax View (1974)

The Parallax View stars Warren Beatty as Joe Frady, a Washington reporter who enters a frightening network of conspirators after a U.S. Senator is suddenly assassinated. When witnesses also begin to die, Frady must figure out who is responsible and why.

Some of the best political conspiracy thrillers were made during the real-life Watergate scandal in the 1970s. Alan J. Pakula was at the forefront of the sub-genre and made the highly celebrated “Fear” trilogy from 1971 to 1975. The Parallax View does a wonderful job of placing viewers in Frady’s shoes and making them feel the weight of the world-against-one-man perspective.

6 Three Days Of The Condor (1975)

Sydney Pollack’s Three Days of the Condor follows Turner, aka Condor, a nerdy CIA researcher who goes to lunch one day and returns to his office to find everyone dead. As Turner works to solve the case, he exposes a stunning conspiracy relating to the U.S. government and the oil industry.

Aside from realistically echoing the tone and tenor of post-Watergate times, Three Days of Condor features top-notch performances from Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, and Max Von Sydow. The fast-paced editing stands out among the slower movies of the 1970s and, thanks to the excellent screenplay, the unpredictable conclusion is just as satisfying as the shocking opening scene.

5 Homeland (2011-2020)

Winner of 8 Primetime Emmy Awards, Homeland primarily concerns Carrie Mathison, a CIA analyst who must get to the bottom of one vast international conspiracy after another. Her work mainly relates to terrorist attacks and how to protect U.S. citizens from a potential attack on domestic soil.

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Homeland brilliantly encapsulates the fear and paranoia that stems from vast international conspiracies around the world. Few shows raise such tough ethical questions without providing easy cut-and-dry answers. While Seasons 6 and 7 dipped a bit in quality, Homeland has remained consistently entertaining and educational throughout its run.

4 24 (2001-2010)

24 is one of the most thrilling TV shows about political conspiracies. 24 spends 9 seasons tracing the heroic exploits of Jack Bauer, a Counterterrorism expert who faces a harrowing ticking-clock scenario in each episode as he rushes to dash one violent conspiracy attempt after another.

24 is an interesting, urgent, and fast-paced television show. The character-driven story and the time-sensitive formula perfectly captures the high-stakes drama that makes conspiracy thrillers so intriguing. 24 is also the first mainstream hit show of its ilk following the tragic events of 9/11.

3 JFK (1991)

Oliver Stone’s JFK is a landmark movie and tour-de-force in film direction. The great conspiracy thriller goes to painstaking efforts to recount John F. Kennedy’s mysterious assassination. JFK also challenges the Magic Bullet theory, which suggests that one man was responsible for lethally shooting the 35th President of the United States.

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The three-hour epic is a stylish historical drama, a courtroom procedural, and a truly thought-stirring indictment on the nature of government cover-ups, military coups, and power. JFK won Oscars for Best Cinematography and Best Editing, but D.A. Jim Garrison’s moral quest for the truth is what really makes the narrative so compelling.

2 The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate features one of the scariest political conspiracies ever committed to celluloid. The story concerns a U.S. prisoner of war during the Korean Conflict who is psychologically terrorized to become an assassin and advance a communist agenda.

1962’s The Manchurian Candidate is one of the earliest explorations of sleeper agents in political campaigns. The inventive psychological thriller released during the height of Cold War tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Bold, dangerous, and far ahead of its time, the story has become such a compelling cautionary tale about bad politicians that the film was remade to great acclaim in 2004.

1 All The President’s Men (1976)

Alan J. Pakula began his “Fear” trilogy with All the President’s Men, a movie so important that it’s often taught in American high schools. The story traces the relentless efforts of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they slowly unravel the Watergate Scandal during the Nixon administration.

What begins as a piece of routine investigative journalism soon becomes one of the greatest exposures of a real-life American political conspiracy in history. All The President’s Men won four Oscars and proved that even the most powerful politicians are not above the law. Some movies try to entertain while others try to foster change, and All The President’s Men squarely resides in the latter category.

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