Janelle Kelly Missing: The Truth Behind The Viral Story

Janelle Kelly Missing

The tale of Janelle Kelly, a supposed 16-year-old from Sacramento, has sparked widespread curiosity and concern online. However, the reality is that Janelle Kelly never existed; she was a figment of imagination birthed by The Onion, a well-known satirical news platform. The narrative of Janelle Kelly’s disappearance was actually a comedic sketch from The Onion’s show, Today Now, which aimed to parody the media’s approach to covering Janelle Kelly missing cases. This article delves into the specifics of the skit, public reaction, and The Onion’s intent in crafting such satire.

The Skit: Missing Teen’s Friends Go On TV To Plead For Her Release

The segment titled “Missing Teen’s Friends Go On TV To Plead For Her Release,” broadcasted on May 17, 2011, featured two characters, Megan Cleary and Katie Clements, posing as Janelle’s best friends. Appearing on Today Now, they were ostensibly there to seek help but quickly diverged into a session full of school gossip and trivialities. The sketch humorously portrayed their indifference to Janelle’s situation, even admitting to ignoring a call from her, a sharp contrast to the serious nature of their supposed TV appearance. The segment concluded with a plea for tips about Janelle’s whereabouts, further blurring the lines between reality and satire.

The Reactions: Confusion, Anger, And Humor

The skit was a satirical stab at the media’s tendency to sensationalize missing person stories, particularly involving young women. However, the satire wasn’t universally recognized. Some viewers, mistaking the narrative for reality, expressed genuine concern for Janelle and her family. Others, realizing the true nature of the skit, were offended, deeming it insensitive and disrespectful to real-life victims of abductions and their families. Yet, there was also a segment that appreciated the satire, lauding The Onion for shedding light on media biases and societal attitudes towards missing person cases.

The Purpose: Satire As A Form Of Social Criticism

The Onion leverages satire to spotlight and critique various societal, cultural, and political issues. Through humor, it aims to spark reflection and debate about prevalent problems and contradictions. In the case of Janelle Kelly Missing, The Onion used satire to underscore the media’s often skewed portrayal of missing person cases, which can sometimes prioritize sensationalism over factual reporting and empathetic coverage. The skit also served as a mirror to society’s tendencies – our susceptibility to media narratives, apathy towards pressing issues, and quickness to judge.


The viral story of Janelle Kelly Missing, while fictional, ignited a range of reactions and brought to light the significant impact of media in shaping public perception. It served as a satirical critique of both media practices in reporting missing person cases and societal responses to such narratives. Ultimately, the story of Janelle Kelly serves as a poignant reminder of the media’s influential role and the collective responsibility of society to engage with such narratives critically and compassionately.

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