What killed Michael Jackson? Perhaps the question should be: What didn't kill Michael Jackson?
With a situation as fluid as a Motown 25 moonwalk, and pending toxicological results from a pair of autopsies, there is no shortage of theories as to what, or who, killed the King of Pop.
We were going to say we assembled the top ones below in order of most plausible to, well, less plausible, but with this story we're not sure there's a distinction. We settled for alphabetical order.
• Accidental Overdose, aka Performer's Remorse
According to the Daily Beast, Jackson didn't want to do his London concerts, couldn't afford to cancel them, and thus came up with, as one source put it to the site, "a note from the doctor." Namely, the entertainer downed a lot of prescription drugs with the intention of OD'ing, forcing a hospital visit—and, back to the top, getting out of the shows.
• Empty Stomach, or aka Not-Empty-Enough Stomach
In a denounced report in London's Sun, the newspaper, which said it had the goods on the autopsy findings, said at the time of his death Jackson was "skin and bone" and "had been eating nothing but pills."
• "Enablers," aka "Leeches," aka Anna Nicole Smith Redux
Within hours of Jackson's death, Brian Oxman, an attorney who has worked with the Jackson family, was arguing that the entertainer was the all-new Anna Nicole Smith: an overmedicated mess beset with "enablers." In London's Sun, Matt Fiddes, ID'd as Jackson's former head of security, did not seem to disagree with Oxman, talking of "leeches" who plied the singer with "sedatives to relax him—or 'uppers' to lift his mood." E! Online's Ted Casablanca has his own source on Jackson being "way, way overtreated."
• "Greed," aka Comeback Concerts Still Sounding Like Very Bad Idea
In London's Daily Mail, Jackson author Ian Halperin argues the 50-year-old singer signed his death warrant when he signed on for the London concerts, that he was too broken by the 2003-05 molestation case to command the stage, and that he was pushed into the shows by his handlers and mounting financial obligations.
• "People," aka the Beatles Songbook Coveters
The new Life & Style asks whether Jackson was "drugged in a bid to steal [the] millions" that nobody much else seems to think he had. (See: the London comeback shows and why he supposedly agreed to do them.) Oxman supplies the magazine with its money quote: "He feared somebody wanted to kill him. He was even concerned people would kill him to somehow try to take control of the Beatles back catalog."
• Stage Fright, aka Yup, the Comeback Concerts Again
Per the London Sun, Jackson's apprehension about the U.K. shows was as paranoiac as it was disabling: "I owe money everywhere," the paper quotes the singer as allegedly fretting. "They will kill me if I don't sing in London."
• Too Much Demerol…
• Too Much Morphine…
• Too Much Preoccupation with Diprivan
For the record, Jackson nutritionist Cherilyn Lee didn't say her boss died from anesthesia use. But she did say he wanted the drug to help him sleep and that she warned him it might put him in a sleep from which he wouldn't wake.
• You Knew This One Was Coming, aka the Faked-Death Theory
According to Michael Jackson Sightings, a man who "spoke like [Jackson] and in fact doubled for him many times," but was not Jackson, died June 25. The real Jackson, meanwhile, "is alive and well and happier than ever," no doubt because his reputed 10-years-in-the-making "plot" is working like gangbusters: Everybody seems to think Jackson is dead. Gunther von Hagens, in fact, thinks Jackson is so dead that the German doctor told London's Daily Mail "an agreement is in place" to preserve Jackson's corpse with polyurethane.
Of course, per the article, von Hagens thinks Bubbles the chimp is dead, too…
Be there as the world says goodbye to the King of Pop. Watch the Michael Jackson Memorial on Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, live on E! and E! Online.