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[[quoteright:300:[[Anime/CowboyBebop http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/edhacker_9104.jpg]]]]

->''"What's more important, the data or the jazz? Sure, sure, [[InformationWantsToBeFree 'Information should be free']] and all that -- but anyone can set information free. The jazz is in ''how'' you do it, ''what'' you do it ''to'', and in ''almost'' getting caught without ''getting'' caught. The data is ones and zeroes. Life is the jazz."''
-->-- '''Datatech Sinder Roze''', ''[[VideoGame/SidMeiersAlphaCentauri "Infobop"]]''

As opposed to the malicious [[TheCracker Cracker]] who uses his computer skills for profit and mayhem, the PlayfulHacker normally wants nothing more than to explore new territory on the Net and learn new things. Sometimes he plays harmless pranks which can cause clueless authority figures to confuse him with his dark counterpart. Even when his actions are not strictly legal, though, his intentions and presence are almost always benign -- even heroic. [[http://catb.org/jargon/html/H/hacker.html This is what "hacker" used to mean, before mass media mutated it]].

When a PlayfulHacker and a [[TheCracker Cracker]] collide on the Net, it's always the PlayfulHacker whom authorities pursue first, a plot complication which puts additional pressure on the Playful Hacker [[ClearMyName to track down the Cracker]], the true culprit. When the final face-off comes, though, it's going to be the Playful Hacker versus the TheCracker at high noon at the [[StealthPun 0K]] Corral [[DuelingHackers with virtual six-guns.]]

The PlayfulHacker usually owns a MagicalComputer, which allows him or [[{{Hackette}} her]] to do all manner of things impossible to normal computers and users, especially when engaging in RapidFireTyping. (See HollywoodHacking.)

See also: EverythingIsOnline, ItsASmallNetAfterAll, OmniscientDatabase.

----
!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Ed from ''Anime/CowboyBebop'', currently pictured above. Ed creates animal-VR viruses in order to discover information about bounties for the ''Bebop'' crew that is being kept secret from the general public. Ed's child-like behaviour means she never seems to consider trying to give them money more directly.
* Michael from ''WitchHunterRobin''.
* Hatchuling from ''TowerOfGod'', a cheerful fellow who can take over your [[MissionControl Lighthouse]] like it's nothing.
* Shirase from ''BattleProgrammerShirase''.
* Amy from ''BurstAngel''.
* Matt Jeevas from ''Manga/DeathNote'' is often depicted as this in the fandom due to his ChaoticNeutral hacking in the main series.
* Seto Kaiba from ''Anime/YuGiOh''. He could also fall under TheCracker (he certainly never does this for fun), but technically, the few times we see him hacking, he's helping out the good guys.
** His younger brother Mokuba is this as well.
* The whole premise of ''BloodyMonday''.
* Chisame from ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'' falls under this when she's not being the [[MetaGuy Meta Girl]]. Eventually, her hacking skills literally become magical when she gains [[MagicalGirl magical girl powers]].
* The Laughing Man, from ''Anime/GhostInTheShellStandAloneComplex''.
* Aoi Kyougoku from ''Manga/{{Imadoki}}'', especially with the [[EvilElevator elevator]].
* Christina Sierra from ''{{Gundam 00}}'' and Hilde Schbeiker from ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamWing'' were hinted to be these, [[InformedAbility but we didn't get to see many results]]. Though we ''do'' see Hilde getting some info for Duo [[spoiler: which he uses to find Quatre and contact him.]]
* Takeshi Katori and Youko Sahara, the main charas of ''VideoWarriorLaserion''.
* Aramusha from ''Mythic Quest''.
* Helba from ''Franchise/DotHack''. She is considered a criminal due to the fact that hacking is a captial crime after Pluto's kiss, but does it entirely for fun and to protect the online game "The World".
* [[Manga/AxisPowersHetalia Russia]] is mentioned in the 2010 Bloodbath and Fantasia 2 as "tinkering" with his computer.
** ... Then he's countered by ''another'' playful hacker, Estonia.
* Ran Musen the genius programmer from ''LightNovel/{{R 15}}''.
* Lynn Lambretta in ''LightNovel/BodaciousSpacePirates''. She was arrested for it when she was in middle school. In high school, she uses her leet skills to foil a pirate attack.
* Kazari Uiharu in ''Manga/ACertainScientificRailgun''. In the hacker underground, she goes by the pseudonym "Goalkeeper", and is highly respected.
* Kululu from ''KeroroGunsou''. He “could” drain all information from the internet and singlehandedly take over earth, but he seems more interested in causing mischief and making softcore porn.
* During ''Anime/LupinIIIDeadOrAlive'', Lupin is able to hack into highly secret government files. As an international thief, he is easily mistaken for a {{Cracker}}, however, he doesn't use his computer skills to steal or manipulate people's identity. Lupin's computer skills are used to discover information only.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comics]]
* Marvel UK introduced Adam Reynolds for one of their ''[[ComicBook/TheTransformers Transformers Generation 1]]'' annuals. He was attempting to find out how much money was in a friend's bank account to win a bet, but managed to accidentally hack into the Decepticons' data files. Which is the equivalent of walking to the bank and ending up in the secret military lab in the middle of the ocean.
* An issue of ''SpiderMan Family'' had a couple of kids looking for the next big game stumble into one of Stark Industries' files. What they thought was an awesome game turned out to be a program devised by Howard Stark dating back to World War II to protect America from the Nazis. Both Spidey and IronMan had to destroy the robots that were activated and Tony (as Iron Man) made sure the boys knew they were in trouble.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* The ''Series/BabylonFive'' fanfic ''Fanfic/TheDilgarWar'' has Francis O'Leary: in his first scene he boasts about his ability to penetrate protected websites, and tries to impress a girl by penetrating the site of [=EarthForce=] and showing her the photography of a female officer. [[OhCrap Who just happened to be the girl he was trying to impress.]] Next scene, he joins the Earth Intelligence Agency to avoid serving prison time.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films]]
* Flynn from ''Film/{{Tron}}''.
** His son Sam in ''Film/TRONLegacy'' is just as computer savvy as his dad, using his skills to annually crack Encom and prank them.
* Riley from ''Film/NationalTreasure''.
* The entire cast of ''Film/{{Sneakers}}'', except Creator/MaryMcDonnell.
* David Lightman, Matthew Broderick's character in the movie ''Film/WarGames'', is a PlayfulHacker whose attempts to preview games nearly causes a global nuclear war.
* The entire plot of the movie ''Film/{{Hackers}}'' -- while the protagonists are not wholly benign, they are put in contrast with an extremely evil villain who makes them seem positively helpful in comparison.
* Two of the three heroes of ''Film/LiveFreeOrDieHard''.
* Mr. Universe from ''Film/{{Serenity}}''.
* Attila in {{Dante 01}}, who repeatedly teases the head of the prison when he hacks into his computer.
* Aram Fingal (played by [[WTHCastingAgency Raul Julia]]) in the MadeForTVMovie ''OverdrawnAtTheMemoryBank'', at least initially. He kicks off the film's plot by spending his work hours "scrolling up cinemas" at the office, but once his consciousness is placed in the [=HX368=] supercomputer (long story) his shenanigans end up creating severe weather disasters all over the world, causing billions in property damage to the [[MegaCorp Evil Corporation]] that he works for.
* Stanley Jobson in ''Film/{{Swordfish}}''. Arguably {{Deconstructed}} - he's got the requisite madskillz and moral compass, but this just means TheGovernment is that much more smug when they catch up with him and punish him for his actions: destroying the FBI [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnivore_(software) Carnivore]] program was actually praised by enough of the public to force them to parole him away from computers instead of giving him a prison sentence. But, when his alcoholic wife divorces him due to him losing his job, they have a judge award her with their daughter even after she marries the porn king she works for. The FBI even brags about how his daughter will end up "a fluffer in her new daddy's videos" as punishment for him screwing up their ability to read every American's email.
* Tony Stark, AKA ''Film/IronMan''. The guy ''effortlessly hacks a live senate broadcast and several military satellites'' just to prove a point. He also has a tendency to hack other people's sound systems to play appropriate music for his dramatic entrances.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Gwendolen from ''[[Literature/{{Dragons}} The Last Dragon Chronicles]]'' easily fits this trope. And what makes it all the more awesome? She's an 'inanimate' dragon figurine.
* Creator/CoryDoctorow's book ''Literature/LittleBrother'' centers around a group of PlayfulHacker characters as they are caught and detained under suspicion of a terrorist attack. Interestingly, TheCracker isn't even represented in the book -- it's the PlayfulHacker versus the evil Homeland Security.
* Net in ''Literature/FeliksNetAndNika'' is genius hacker who gets informations by hacking, in addition to being amazing programmer.
* Replace 'hacker' with 'cracker' and you have the three guys who make up "The Smoking Gnu" in ''[[Literature/{{Discworld}} Going Postal]]''. This being the Discworld, they hack the semaphore-driven "clacks" network, which is a telecommunications system, but without the electricity.
** As of ''The Science of Discworld II'', Hex has also joined the PlayfulHacker ranks, as it's hooked up to the semaphore network, has cracked their operations codes, and can slip messages onto the network for free, passing them off as internal signalling. So far as we know, it's only done this to save the UU faculty the expense of sending c-mail messages.
* Cadel Darkkon functions as this in Catherine Jinks' ''EvilGeniusTrilogy.'' Slightly subverted, as in the first book Cadel was closer to a [[TheCracker cracker]], given his initially amoral nature- until he met one of the victims of his destructive schemes.
** Most of the members of Genius Squad are [[PlayfulHacker playful hackers]], though Hamish Primrose would be the best example.
* (Smokin') Jay Gridley from Tom Clancy's ''Literature/NetForce''.
* One of the [[PlanetOfHats Hats]] worn by [[StarWarsExpandedUniverse Bothans]] is that of the hacker (the others are vicious backstabbing politician and spy). The Bothan pilot who makes it into [[XWingSeries Wraith Squadron]] is a bit malicious but more or less Playful.
** Ghent, from ''Literature/TheThrawnTrilogy'' and later the ''HandOfThrawn'' duology, is one of these. He is very good at hacking and does so for the sheer pleasure of it. He also has blue hair.
* Bobby Newmark in the SprawlTrilogy.
* Wyatt Gillette from Jeffery Deaver's ''The Blue Nowhere''
* ''Literature/{{Ravirn}}''. In a world where computer hacking skills and magic have combined, Ravirn definitely fits this trope.
* SnowCrash. Although his [[MyCard business card]] boasts of his BadAss swordsmanship and pizza-delivery skills, [[AwesomeMcCoolName Hiro]] [[StevenUlyssesPerhero Protagonist's]] skills as a hacker actually serve him better in the story than his skills with a [[KatanasAreJustBetter katana]].
* Bob Salmon in the ''Series/DoctorWho'' Literature/PastDoctorAdventures novel ''Blue Box'' by Kate Orman, who uses his skills to help the Sixth Doctor and Peri take down [[TheCracker cracker]] Sarah Swan.
* Ender in ''EndersGame'', who cracks into the desk system in the Battle School and figures out how to send messages under other student's names, while preventing other students from using his name. This is only used for pranks, of course, as Ender is only six years old at the time.
** And it's implied that the computer system is deliberately set up to allow and encourage this sort of competition/play/hacking.
* In Creator/VernorVinge's cult-classic novella, "Literature/TrueNames", most of the members of The Cabal fall under both this and TheCracker. They're all out to have fun, and to gain bragging rights, but they're all also criminals. Of course, some of them are more criminal than others, so we do eventually get the classic Playful Hacker vs TheCracker showdown.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Directly inspired by ''WarGames'', Richie Adler from the short-lived series ''Series/WhizKids''. Richie even ''acknowledges'' some similarities but says that he, as opposed to Lightman, is a genius. But then, his computer RALF is also a MagicalComputer.
* Adam from ''Series/DoctorWho'' was a {{Deconstruction}} of this character type. His playfulness and extreme intelligence made Rose find him charming and appealing, but as time went on it became apparent his lack of a distinction between a harmless prank and something dangerous and threatening; his worrying ambition; his cowardice; and his dangerous impulsions all rather obscured his better traits. [[CoolAndUnusualPunishment He ends up back home with a hole drilled into his forehead which opens whenever anyone snaps their fingers]], denied the chance to explore the universe with The Doctor.
* Mac on ''Series/VeronicaMars'': a PlayfulHacker with the tendency toward being a bit of a [[TheCracker Cracker]]. She's helpful to Veronica in solving cases, but as Veronica herself operates outside the law for profit, Mac does the same.
* Penelope Garcia from ''Series/CriminalMinds'' would appear to have been this for a few years before being recruited by the FBI. (Recruited, very possibly, as in [[BoxedCrook "volunteer, or else."]])
* Willow on ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''.
* Frohike and Langley of ''Series/TheXFiles'' and ''Series/TheLoneGunmen'' would seem to qualify. Byers, for the most part, is their StraightMan.
* Though ''GeneralHospital's'' Spinelli is portrayed as this by friends, he's a lot closer to the [[TheCracker Cracker]] archetype.
* ''Series/{{Leverage}}'s'' Alec Hardison falls under this trope.
** His nemesis [[WilWheaton Chaos]] is the villanous variant who's willing to kill to get what he wants.
* Freddie tries to be this in the "iRue the Day" episode of ''ICarly'' to counter {{Cracker}} Nevel without success.
* Kermit in ''KungFu: The Legend Continues''.
* Caleb from ''Series/PrettyLittleLiars'' is one of the resident [[TroubledButCute]] bad boys of Rosewood, [[LoveableRogue a kind hearted]] hacker with a DarkAndTroubledPast of being TheCracker.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The Computer Phreak secret society in ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* B.B. from ''VideoGame/MetalGearAcid 2''. Instead of being childlike, though, he was -- literally -- a child (age negotiable, but still in Elementary School). He played comic relief throught the game, culminating in him copying PsychicPowers from a boss and hypnotising the President of the United States -- totally ridiculous, but it [[RuleOfFunny worked because it was funny]].
** One of Otacon's talents in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'' to boot. He clearly takes great pleasure in hacking into his boss's files during the third act, and cheerfully remarks that the hacker label describes him "pretty well".
*** In fact, that's why the FBI fired him.
* In ''VideoGame/DeusEx'', Silhouette's claim to fame is hacking a Superbowl broadcast and inserting anti-UN propaganda.
* Hammer from ''VideoGame/{{Xenosaga}}'' is said to have top-notch hacking skills, so much so that he's been head hunted by the top corporations of that 'Verse. The database states that in his youth, he hacked into a criminal database, and that his current employers, the Kukai Foundation, protected him from them.
* The "hacker" from the original SystemShock. The story gets kicked off when he gets caught.
* The way [[ClassyCatBurglar Kasumi Goto]] meets [[PlayerCharacter Commander Shepard]] in ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' is by hacking an advertisement machine to talk to him/her.
--> "Commander Shepard, enter the password and recieve a free gift."
--> "Having trouble with Collectors? Try Kasumi's credit agency."
--> "We have the best women for you. Perhaps something cute, petite and Japanese would be to your liking."
--> "Just enter the password for a fabulous prize worth billions of credits."
--> "[[CrowningMomentOfFunny Seriously, how many times can you walk past without investigating?]]"
** Between the events of ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' and ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'', Cerberus attempts to regain control of the ''Normandy'' after Shepard cuts off ties with them. [[spoiler:Unshackled]] EDI's response? Spamming the Cerberus hackers with ''seven zettabytes''[[note]]For the uninformed, the Internet is roughly half a zettabyte of data. EDI essentially flooded the Cerberus servers with '''''14 Internets''''' worth [[/note]] of porn...from Joker's PornStash.
** The crew of the ''Normandy'' is joined in ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' by Samantha Traynor, who among other things enjoys strategy games and manages to impress EDI with her ability to sift through data to track a Cerberus shuttle.
* Shinji Naruse, a childish and {{Tsundere}} high school student in ''LuxPain'' is a gifted hacker who manages to break into the files of the main character's secret organization... because he can. He ends up facing the CoolAndUnusualPunishment of having doctored (and dirty) photos of him posted on the internet by said organization.
* Yukabacera from ''VideoGame/{{Iji}}'' is apparently one, at least according to his [[http://www.remar.se/yuka/index.php hidden character pages on Daniel Remar's official site.]] He'll hack one of the station terminals in the room just to code a video game for other people's enjoyment. (This game can actually be played in Sector 6, the sector where Yukabacera is hiding)
* [[VideoGame/TronTwoPointOh Jet Bradley]] is as bad as his HonoraryUncle (see the film section). His father is ''definitely'' not thrilled.
* ''You'' in {{Uplink}}, if you so choose. Hack someone's academic record and give him nonsense degrees! Change their status from "Single" to "Married" or even to "Deceased" for no particular reason. Hack into the bank and steal exactly ''one credit'' [[ItAmusedMe just because you can]].
* Bentley of the ''Franchise/SlyCooper'' series is the team's tech expert and can hack practically any computer they need him to. He's also technically TheCracker as he's part of a gang of thieves, albeit a largely heroic gang.
* Isis and probably Alice from ''VideoGame/HackNSlash'' have the attitude and means down, except they're hacking [[RewritingReality the fabric of reality]] instead of just computers.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Jack from ''Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt'' has made a hobby of hacking his dorm's security system so he can sneak out and explore the Court after-hours.
* Yuri from ''{{Spacetrawler}}''. She can open or lock any door on the ship, and she's already read a number of files that the captain doesn't want anyone to see.
* Vauxhall from ''ATaleOfFiction'' fits the bill. He seems to know more about the tyrannical [[TheEmpire DUF]] than almost anybody else from his hacking activities and works against them, but otherwise is a harmless and funny (if porn-addicted) guy.
* Sollux Captor and Alpha [[spoiler: Roxy Lalonde]] from {{Homestuck}}. Sollux is a better example of the trope - he once managed to hook Terezi into contact with Doc Scratch. Who doesn't have an account on the chat client she uses. And uses a TYPEWRITER. AND LIVES ON THE MOON.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Zaboo occasionally ventures into this territory in ''TheGuild''.
* Several of them in the Literature/ChaosTimeline.
* Freddie from Roleplay/BehindTheVeil fits pretty well, despite being born a wolf. Mike Hoffman also has shades of this.
* [[AlliterativeName Mysterious Mr. M]] of ''{{LIS_DEAD}}'' can infiltrate deep into a secret organization[[spoiler:, barely escape by the skin of his wits,]] and code a nice little Tetris minigame when he gets home, snarking all the while
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Occasionally in ''CodeLyoko'', when Jérémie is testing a new program. However, he normally uses the Supercomputer to escape from sticky situations. For example, when the school staff tries to find out about William's disappearance and Jérémie uses his voice synthesizer.
* Mouse from ''ReBoot''. Even weirder when you consider she actually lives ''inside'' a computer. One could guess she's some sort of hacking software (just like how Bob is essentially a computer security suite).
* Once in ''RobotChicken'' the nerd accidentally nuked Canada while looking for cheat codes, he was sent to Guantanamo Bay and waterboarded until he told them where Mordor was.
* While he's more of a {{Technopath}}, Doc Hartford of the ''[[WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfTheGalaxyRangers Galaxy Rangers]]'' never lacks for a sense of humor, and is more likely to try and sweet-talk or trick an AI than overpower it.
* Randy Hernandez in ''WesternAnimation/GodzillaTheSeries'', often getting into restricted networks.
* Robin in ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice''.
** "I hacked the motion sensors."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Many computer geeks feel themselves to be exactly this. This flavor of hacker refer to themselves as "White Hats" (at least, those who just look for exploitations and inform the authors of the software). Word of advice -- don't screw with government pages, though. It seems any sort of hacker does time after vandalizing a government page.
** The trick is to vandalize some other government's page than your own. (Just kidding, never do anything like that -- honest!)
** [[http://cosman246.com/jargon.html#The%20Meaning%20of%20Hack The meaning of "Hack"]].
* A popular April Fool's day joke on websites is to alter the front page to make it look like the site has fallen victim to internet vandals. Fark.com is (apparently) particularly vulnerable to guinea pigs, or as they call themselves, TEH PIGZ.
** You Tube [[RickRoll rickrolled]] everyone on April Fools.
* Though it did not involve computers, the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Headroom_broadcast_signal_intrusion_incident Max Headroom broadcast hijacker]] still applies. The incident occurred in 1987 when a guy dressed like MaxHeadroom was able to get into the signals of WGN and PBS and broadcast his [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sM7Q1WiepoQ&feature=related surreal]] [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWdgAMYjYSs video]].
* A hacker called [=NeoN=] [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome exposed a Russian company's propogation of the fake antivirus progam]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malware_Defender MS Antivirus]] and posted their earnings from the fraudulent program. The company's name? {{Baka}}software.
* Lulz Security/Antisec members consider themselves to be these, as evidenced by their snarky, meme-laden press releases.
* The NSA has their own department of white hat hackers that constantly test their own systems. And do some [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRISM_%28surveillance_program%29 other]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuxnet stuff.]]
** It is becoming increasingly common for corporations to do that. This is called [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penetration_test penetration testing]].
* M.I.T. has a long tradition of "hacks" dating back long before computers were available, with their own [[http://hacks.mit.edu/ website]] dedicated to tracking them, as well as at least five books -- one of which is published by the university's museum press.
* Despite all the good many real life playful hackers do, for the most part it's {{Deconstructed|Trope}}. Many hackers idea of fun is spreading viruses, crashing websites and all other sorts of mayhem for their own [[ItAmusedMe entertainment.]]
[[/folder]]

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