The Most Memorable D.B. Cooper References In Movies And TV

Few things can ignite an audience more than a cold case. What happened to Amelia Earhart? Where are the remains of Jimmy Hoffa? There's a reason true crime has become its own billion-dollar industry, with studios snatching up the rights to as many ripped-from-the-headlines tales as possible. It's a lot harder to take creative liberties with a story based on real events or real people who can publicly comment on the project, but if a story is tackling an unsolved mystery, who's to say that their interpretation is not the correct one? For over 50 years, Americans have been trying to figure out the answer to one of true crime's greatest questions: who is D.B. Cooper, and where did he go?

The Netflix docuseries "D.B. Cooper: Where Are You?" hopes to answer that question. For the uninitiated, D.B. Cooper is the name given to a passenger who in 1971 on Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305, held a flight hostage with a supposed bomb in his briefcase in exchange for $200,000 in $20 bills, four parachutes (two primary and two reserve); and a fuel truck standing by in Seattle to refuel the aircraft upon arrival. Once the flight landed, he exchanged 36 passengers for the money and parachutes and ordered that the plane take off for Mexico City, only to put on a pair of dark sunglasses and jump out of the plane somewhere around Nevada. He has never been seen again. His identity remains the longest unsolved case in FBI history, which has made his story ripe for adaptations. Here are some of the most memorable references to D.B. Cooper in movies and TV.


We really don't talk about "NewsRadio" enough, do we? Running for five seasons in the 1990s, "NewsRadio" was a workplace comedy about the staffers at WNYX, the fictional No. 2 news radio station in New York. The series boasted an ensemble cast of comedy greats like "Kids in the Hall" co-founder Dave Foley, Phil Hartman, Stephen Root, Maura Tierny, Vicki Lewis, and uh ...notorious pest Andy Dick and contributor to the decline of Western civilization, Joe Rogan, are there too, I guess. Stephen Root plays Mr. Jimmy James, a character with a deep knowledge of conspiracies and government cover-ups, claiming to have been "Deep Throat," the pseudonym given to the secret informant who provided information that took down Nixon during the Watergate scandal (who in real life was W. Mark Felt).

At one point, Mr. James is believed to have been D.B. Cooper, and looks to be facing serious consequences because of it. Alas, Mr. James is not D.B. Cooper because the true identity of the infamous skyjacker is ...ADAM WEST. No, not a character played by Adam West, the actual human being who pursued a career in acting, Adam West. During Mr. James' trial, West confesses the truth and reveals that James had been covering for him for years. Obviously, Adam West is also not D.B. Cooper, but I love living in a world where it's possible that TV's Batman was actually a master criminal.

Prison Break

Charles Westmoreland, Jr. (Muse Watson) was one of the longest-serving inmates at Fox River State Penitentiary on the show "Prison Break." The relatively quiet man was known for having a gray cat named Marilyn thanks to a grandfather clause in the prison's policy, and frequently showed his skills at manipulating legal loopholes to keep himself at Fox River to stay with his precious Marilyn. Throughout the first season, "Prison Break" lead Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) and many other prisoners speculate that Westmoreland is actually D.B. Cooper, which he at first denies. In a surprise to no one, Westmoreland finally confesses to Michael that he is in fact, D.B. Cooper, and proves it by showing him a hundred-dollar bill he kept after the skyjacking, that somehow hasn't been confiscated by the guards. Hey, he's a criminal mastermind. He knows how to pull one over on law enforcement.

Without a Paddle

Hey, remember that movie with Seth Green, Dax Shepard, and Matthew Lillard that played on Comedy Central at 4 p.m. in the afternoon like, every other Sunday in 2007? The bromance adventure comedy "Without a Paddle" is remembered mostly for its goofy sight gags (like the hairy-legged hippie women that were a part of every single commercial spot) and over-the-top performances from three of the most animated comedy stars of the aughts, but people often forget that the entire premise of the film centers on the trio trying to find D.B. Cooper's lost loot. It is on this adventure that the trio eventually wind up way off track and trapped in the wilderness, where physical comedy chaos ensues, all in the hopes of finding what no one has been able to find for decades. The three inevitably find the last vestiges of Cooper's ransom haul, and do their best to give the remains of D.B. Cooper a proper funeral.


Perhaps the reason we've been unable to solve the mystery of D.B. Cooper is that he wasn't a man at all, but a god. As was revealed in the first episode of "Loki," the solo series highlighting the Marvel Cinematic Universe's greatest trickster, the mysterious behavior of D.B. Cooper was the result of Loki losing a bet. The ransom note, the hostage threat, the stylish sunglasses, and the jumping out of a plane were all for the funnies. It helps explain why we've been unable to find any traces of D.B. Cooper after all this time, because in this timeline, Loki jumps out of the plane and is immediately snagged by Heimdall's Bifrost, with the money left to land wherever it falls. I've heard some ridiculous conspiracy theories in my day, but this "Loki" one weirdly makes more sense than say, the debunked theory that D.B. Cooper was actually Don Draper on "Mad Men." 

Twin Peaks

Ironically, the arguably most famous reference to D.B. Cooper in pop culture has absolutely nothing to do with skyjacking at all. Mark Frost and David Lynch crafted a brilliant Pacific Northwest mystery of their own when they unleashed "Twin Peaks" upon the world. Protagonist FBI Special Agent Dale Bartholomew Cooper was assigned to investigate the small town and help solve the brutal murder of popular high school student, Laura Palmer. Agent Cooper's name is a direct reference to D.B. Cooper, as is his trademark styling, which bears a striking resemblance to the FBI composite sketches of the famed skyjacker, right down to the slicked-back hair, pristine business suit, and black tie. Short of a pair of wraparound sunglasses, Agent Cooper is a dead-ringer for the supposed D.B. Cooper. "Twin Peaks" is a world shrouded in mystery and inexplicable enigmas, making Agent Cooper's name a perfect homage.

Bigfoot vs. D.B. Cooper

David DeCoteau has made some really interesting movies over the course of his career. The man behind 1980s cult hits like "Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama" and "Nightmare Sisters" has since delivered the homoerotic horror series, "The Brotherhood," and a whole lot of Lifetime movies with titles like "The Wrong [INSERT NOUN HERE]." No one makes movies quite like DeCoteau, and one of his more bananas features is the 2014 title "Bigfoot vs. D.B. Cooper." A gaggle of hunky young hunters arrives at a secluded lodge in the Pacific Northwest, only to find themselves in a fight for their life against America's most famous cryptid, who has a penchant for *checks notes* watching them as they perform a five-knuckle shuffle in the shower. Good news though, because the only way to defeat the greatest unsolved monster mystery in America is by enlisting the greatest unsolved human mystery in America, and yes, Bigfoot and D.B. Cooper fight it out. If you're familiar with DeCoteau's work, you know exactly what type of movie you're getting yourself into. If you're unfamiliar? Godspeed and good luck, soldier.