Could Don Draper be the infamous D.B. Cooper?
For a significant period of time, Mad Men fans speculated that the central protagonist and enigmatic figure, Don Draper (portrayed by Jon Hamm), would eventually be revealed as the infamous hijacker, D. B. Cooper. The theory is rooted in the rich and intricate backstory that was slowly unveiled throughout the show’s seven-season run.
Mad Men is set in the 1960s in New York City and revolves around the creative director of Sterling Cooper advertising agency, Don Draper. Throughout the series, Draper undergoes an identity crisis and is forced to confront his troubled past. He was born into poverty during the Great Depression, suffered abuse from a cruel step-mother, and served as a soldier in the Korean War. The man known as Don Draper is actually Dick Whitman, who took on the identity of Lieutenant Don Draper after his death in an explosion during the Korean War. This allowed Whitman to escape his previous life and start anew.
The D. B. Cooper theory, however, was debunked by showrunner Matthew Weiner. The theory originated from the real-life case of D. B. Cooper, a hijacker who took over a Boeing 727, procured a ransom of $200,000, and then disappeared after jumping out of the plane with a parachute. The case remains unsolved to this day, and the FBI officially closed the investigation in 2016.
Despite Weiner’s objections, the Don Draper/D. B. Cooper theory still managed to garner significant attention and support leading up to Mad Men’s final season. The theory is based on the similarities between Draper and Cooper – both men have a history of assuming new identities and both are assumed to have military experience, which may have allowed them to successfully execute the hijacking and parachute escape. Draper is also described as middle-aged, well-dressed, and a bourbon drinker, which matches the witness descriptions given during the Cooper investigation. Additionally, Draper works at Sterling Cooper under Bert Cooper, which provides a possible explanation for the origin of the Cooper alias.
The idea of Don Draper becoming D. B. Cooper also fits in with Mad Men’s overarching themes of fractured identities and American history. The show frequently touches upon historical events, blending fact and fiction in a manner that mirrors the eventual mythologization of the Cooper case. The show’s title sequence features a recurring falling motif, which could symbolize Cooper’s parachute jump.
Despite the official denial from Weiner, the D. B. Cooper theory still remains a popular headcanon among Mad Men fans who are eager to know what happened to Don Draper after the series ended. The series finale is somewhat ambiguous, with the timeline working out – the series ended in November 1970, while the hijacking didn’t occur until November 1971. While there are suggestions that Draper went on to create an iconic Coca Cola commercial after the series, none of this is explicitly shown onscreen, leaving the character’s future open to interpretation.
In conclusion, the Don Draper/D. B. Cooper theory is a captivating and intriguing possibility that brings together the elements of Mad Men’s rich storytelling and the enduring mystery of the D. B. Cooper case. Although it was officially debunked, it continues to fascinate and inspire fans who are drawn to the allure of unresolved mysteries and the unknown.