Con artists and scammers have always existed. Where there are honest, good people, there is someone ready to take advantage for their own gain. And there is no recent example quite like the man who inspired the hit podcast, Dirty John, which featured one of the most successful and upsetting con jobs in recent history. Seriously, you won't believe how this story ends.
In fact, the story of John Meehan is now a TV show starring Connie Britton as victim Debra Newell and Eric Bana as Meehan himself. In honor (?) of this terrible human, we decided to recount some genre con artists who managed to successfully weasel their ways into our hearts — as every good scammer does.
Han Solo and Lando Calrissian in Star Wars
These two seem pretty harmless because they're so damn charming but, let's be real, that's how every successful con artist works. Remember how Han got the Millenium Falcon in the first place? That was some classic scamming. Plus, Lando was totally looking out for himself when he betrayed Han in Empire Strikes Back. They both have their moments of glory but clearly are willing to scheme when they need to.
The Winchesters in Supernatural
You don't get over 300 episodes of your TV show without having a charming lead. And in the case of the Winchesters, there are two. As Dean and Sam make their way around the country hunting demons, they have to resort to some... unethical means of deception. Whether they're impersonating law enforcement or hustling some poor suckers in pool, they've been successfully scamming for 14 seasons, which is a pretty good track record.
Grunkle Stan in Gravity Falls
Grunkle Stan basically started an official business to con people in Gravity Falls. He opened The Mystery Shack as a tourist trap, which he founded on a fake identity pretending to be his brother. Fake identities are straight out of the con man playbook. But the touristy town has tons of mysterious and unusual happenings, so can you really blame Stan for figuring out how to make a buck from it? When it comes to scamming money from unsuspecting tourists, Grunkle Stan has it down as an art form.
Sarah Walker in Chuck
Sarah Walker enters Chuck's life scamming from the start. Her fake identity is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to her con artist skills. In her role with the FBI, she not only has to constantly deceive Chuck but also everyone around her. She can fake her way through every occupation on Earth, and as we learn later in the series her father is a master con artist as well. Maybe scam skills can be passed down through genetics?
John Constantine... everywhere
The DC Comics antihero John Constantine has appeared in basically every form over the last several decades. But whether animated, live-action, or drawn, he has serious con skills. He's got the charisma needed to convince people to do whatever he wanted them to do in the first place without them even knowing. Plus he's so confident in his natural skills of manipulation that he doesn't even really need to use his magical prowess. That's #ConArtistGoals right there.
Loki in the MCU
Who is more deceptive than the God of Mischief himself? Sure, Loki has actual magical powers, but he also is skilled at emotional manipulation — a con artist's greatest tool. Remember when he got into Black Widow's head about her traumatic past? Or deceived his own brother by impersonating his father? There was also that time he selfishly was totally down to destroy Earth to get what he wanted. Despite all of that he's still easy to love, which is perhaps his most dangerous quality of all.
Littlefinger in Game of Thrones
Littlefinger may originally appear as merely a loyal servant but in actuality, he's only ever looking out for #1, which is every con artist's M.O. Whether trying to turn the Stark sisters against one another, using people as pawns in his personal game of chess or just creepily trying to get with Sansa, he's one of the sleaziest Game of Thrones characters — which is saying a lot.
Sawyer and Kate in Lost
While Sawyer and Kate are Lost's most notorious con artists, they went about their deception in different ways. From the beginning, Sawyer didn't seem trustworthy. He was obviously narcissistic and unlikeable. He actually says the words "every man for himself." [Insert eye roll here] But over time, he wormed his way into our hearts (and Kate's). Kate's history pre-crash was classic con artist: multiple identities, flights around the world, lacing drinks. But once on the island, she continued her conniving ways through manipulating fellow passengers in ways that would help her. It's hard to judge exactly how people would act in a life-altering situation such as the plane crash but it's safe to say most of us wouldn't instinctively act the way these two did.
Brothers Grimm in The Brothers Grimm
No lies, 10/10 would call the Brothers Grimm when in need of an exorcism or help with a neighborhood ghost. But unfortunately, they probably wouldn't actually be able to help. In their 2005 film, these con artists make their way around Germany scamming unsuspecting victims who are just trying to solve some of their supernatural issues. They even revel in their deceptions clearly not feeling the least bit guilty. But luckily the joke's on them in the end and they end up leaving the con game to pursue a most honest profession: writing.
Dirty John premieres at 10/9 Central Sunday, November 25, on Bravo.