Virtually all US phone numbers on fictional programmes are made up of the following:
Area Code - 555 - four random digits
"555" is an exchange number commonly thought to be reserved by the phone companies for use by TV and movies in order to prevent prank phone calls to real people. In fact, only 555-0100 through 555-0199 are now specifically reserved for fictional use, and the other numbers have been released for actual assignment. The 555 exchange was originally useful for this purpose because it was (in North America) reserved for various internal phone company service numbers, so calling one of the 555 numbers would not have reached an actual customer.
As it happens, if the area code is "800", "888", "877", "866", "855", or "844" (the US area codes for toll-free dialing), "555" is a valid prefix. So 1-800-555-(four digits) will be a real phone number. Not everyone knows that.
Note: In Japan, 555 is the equivalent of 911 in America and 999 in Europe, an emergency phone number to dial.
A variation of this is IP addresses; media will commonly use addresses such as 127.0.0.1 (which refers to the local computer) or impossible addresses (an address in the most commonly used protocol, IPv4, is essentially a 4-digit number in base-256, so any address with a "digit" 256 or greater is fake).
Not to be confused withA Kamen Rider of similar naming.Or a popular timer IC of the same name.
Works set during an era when exchanges were commonly specified as names (say, during World War II) may use the exchange name "KLondike (or KLamath)" (followed, or not, by a 5 depending on the exact time period), which works out to the same thing. Works actually from those eras normally don't; the songs "Beechwood 4-5789" and "PEnnsylvania 6-5000" are examples.
See also Logging Onto The Fourth Wall for the website equivalent.
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A liquor brand once ran a series of billboards that resembled personal ads, complete with real phone numbers. Those who called heard a recorded message about the product.
There was a television ad in the 1980s about an old guy who drove a very old, reliable car. The point was that this brand of car would last forever if you serviced it fastidiously. If you didn't believe that, you were invited to call the old guy at his real phone number.
Shell Oil did this back in the 1980s, having someone tell how much better its oil was in their car, and if people didn't believe him, were instructed to call the person's number. One of these ads had a number that turned out to be a local number, and it was a recording where the same guy tells that it really is better.
LifeLock, a company offering identity theft protection, not only offered a $1 million guarantee that your identity would not be stolen, but also dared thieves to do so in its advertising. Todd Davis, the owner, placed his real Social Security number (457-55-5462) in commercials, averting this trope. Inevitably, within days of the commercial airing, someone was able to take out a $500 payday loan in his name.
A Rogers commercial had a woman start off saying, 'Hi. This is our family — and that's our home number.' They cut to a shot of the number...which was a 555 number.
Anime and Manga
In Initial D Fourth Stage, the URL of the racing team Project D is "http://project.d". ".d" is not a valid real-life top-level domain.
Manga in general place symbols like Xs and triangles over some of the phone numbers displayed outside a business, on an address book or phone. Same can go for license plates since Japanese plates are mostly numbers.
Another web-based example: Detective Conan has an e-mail address with a "#", which the author points out as invalid on the first page where we see it.
Monty Python's Flying Circus did a BBC album of some of their TV sketches in 1970, with the "Mouse Problem" sketch among them. What was added that wasn't on TV was the telephone number of Mr. A ("Although his real name is George Jackson, 32A Milton Avenue, Hounslow, Middlesex. Telephone 01-246-2847.")
Say you're watchin' a movie, and one character says to another, "Uh, what's your number, man?" What's the other character always say? FIVE FIVE FIVE, FIVE FIVE FIVE FIVE. You know why we gotta do that? Because stupid-ass people go to the movies, and then go home and try to call the characters that they just saw. HELLO? IS INDIANA JONES HERE?
In the 2008 TV film based on the 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun (and set in that time period), the for-sale sign outside the Youngers' new home lists the phone number as "KL 50148".
Back to the Future has the distinction of using both versions. In 1985, the number for Jennifer's grandma is "555-4823". In 1955, "Doc" Brown's number is "KLondike 5-4385".
Bruce Almighty was a particularly interesting case. In the original theatrical version, the number left on Bruce's pager was a real seven-digit number that actually happened to exist in certain U.S. area codes. The studio realized its mistake soon afterward, and so on the DVD release and TV airings, the number on the pager was replaced with 555-0123 and all dialogue mentioning it was overdubbed.
There was some shock and laughs when some called the original number and connected with a church in North Carolina reportedly tended by a pastor named Bruce, as well as other churches in Georgia and the private cell number of a pastor in Wisconsin.
Avoided in Sneakers, where the NSA operative gives her phone number as "273-9164, area code 415". (At the time this was a real number for the San Francisco office of the Internal Revenue Service.)
If you call the number given to Dwayne Johnson's character at the beginning of Southland Tales (which goes to John Larroquette's character), you'll end up getting John Larroquette's "actual" voice mail.
Parodied in The Hebrew Hammer: The Jewxploitation hero enters the first six digits of a number ("555-555..."), then struggles to remember the seventh ("Oh, yeah! 5!").
Subverted in the Blues Brothers, in that the"fake" address Elwood gives for his driver's license is a real address. But the address is that of Wrigley Field.
Used for laughs in Fatal Instinct. Ned reads the entire business card of Le Hot Club out loud, pronouncing every word slowly and solemnly, including the phone number: 555-5555.
Drawn attention to in character Lucas Lee's movie-within-a-movie You Just Don't Exist in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, where he is shown punching "555" into a phone booth keypad with the barrel of a gun.
In Mean Girls the business card the mathlete hands to Cady has his phone number with a 555 in it.
In Iron Man 3, Tony at one point accesses a remote computer using a borrowed PC. The IP address is clearly displayed briefly, and the first "digit" of it is in the 900s.
In The Godfather, a scene in the "Godfather Trilogy" or "Godfather Saga" versions has Michael call the Corelone Mansion at LOng Beach (56)4-5620 - calling it now just gives a non-working number recording. Later in the film when the family goes to war, a possible mattresses address is 309 West 43rd St, a genuine NYC location.
Junie B. Jones on Telephone Numbers: "Its name is 555-5555. It's hard to remember, because I keep forgetting the 5."
Warren Ellis' novel Crooked Little Vein: When told to call (555) 555-5555 for help, Mike demonstrates his detective skills by pointing out that the number won't work, as it's only used by Hollywood. To which the Chief of Staff responds, "We gave it to them. It works for us."
Sherlock Holmes lived at 221B Baker Street. A fake London address at the time of writing, but since then the street has been expanded and now 221 Baker Street is a real address and a Sherlock Holmes Museum/Gift Shop.
Nero Wolfe lived on West 35th Street, Manhattan; the number varied, but consistently put his house in the river.
Harry Dresden's phone number, shown in a picture of his phone book entry in the game, is (312) 555-4-WIZ.
An address example (sort of): Harry Potter boards the Hogwarts Express at a real train station, but the fictional Platform 9 3/4.
This is used with the main character's phone number in Stuart J. Murphy's Freda is Found, a children's picture book about what to do and things to know in case you get lost. It's probably used in a number of such books about this topic as well.
In Curveball, all e-mail addresses seen so far end in ".ttl", which is a non-existent Top Level Domain. Later justified as it being a country-specific domain for a country that doesn't exist in the real world.
Live Action TV
In Smallville, Chloe Sullivan's phone number is 555-0164, Aquaman's phone number is 429-555-0169, Black Canary's is 429-555-0132, Oliver's is 207-555-0173, Zatanna's is 555-0131.
Drake & Josh: A radio station had a number starting with "55K".
Subverted in later seasons where characters would read out real phone numbers that could be dialed. Fans of the show have reported dialing the phone and speaking to various cast and crew members.
A "KL5" phone number can be seen on a background poster in Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, raising the question of how many members of the target demographic would even recognize that as being a phone number.
Subverted in an episode of NewsRadio: An elementary-school class is touring the station, and corporate boss and chronic wife-hunter Jimmy James spends the episode flirting with the teacher. Finally, as they're leaving, she gives him a piece of paper with a math problem on it, saying that solving it will give him her phone number. After she's out of earshot, Jimmy pulls the class' resident wunderkind aside and has him solve it; by the time he realizes it's "one of those phony TV numbers", everyone's gone and he throws it away in disgust.
The LOST episode "The Constant" used a London number beginning 020 7946 0, which is a range of numbers designated by the Office of Communications for drama purposes. This created a slight anachronism, as the 020 region code did not exist in 1996, in which half the episode took place.
Still, they've Shown Their Work enough not to give a Londoner a Lanark phone number (the area code 01555 in the United Kingdom).
Monk lampshades this to great effect in "Mr. Monk and the Big Reward", with the Scotland Yard inspector's first scene, prompting a small Sherlock Scan:
[Rufus pulls up to the MacMillan Museum in what is supposed to be a flower delivery van]
Inspector St. Clare: Excuse me! Any suspects, yet?
Rufus: I wouldn't know. I'm just delivering flowers.
Inspector St. Clare: No you're not. You're a private detective, like me.
Rufus:[scoffs] Me, a detective? That's uh, very funny by the way! I can't wait to tell the guys-
Inspector St. Clare: Look, you're selling it to me: that satellite dish on your roof, the number on the side, "555", obviously a fake. Now conclusion number 1: you're after the Alexander Diamond. Conclusion number 2: you haven't got a prayer.
Amazingly, another 555 number is used in the episode, but it's "real".
Seinfeld typically prefixed its numbers with KL5, but in one episode Elaine reveals that when a man she doesn't want to see again asks for her number, she gives a fake one that spells "No Elaine", which is one digit more than a phone number.
Also from Seinfeld, in one episode Kramer's phone number is 555-3455, which is one digit off from Moviefone, 555-FILM (3456). Moviefone's actual number is 777-FILM; presumably, the writers wanted to spare the actual 777-3455 from a flood of prank calls, since they (like Kramer) were presumably already getting lots of wrong numbers.
In an episode of Happy Days, Ralph Malph is excited that a prospective date's number starts with Klondike 5—"Hey! I got a Klondike 5!"
Used and averted on Third Watch: In one scene, Doc asks for a woman's phone number, but we hear only the last four digits as a vehicle passes by, preventing us (but not Doc) from hearing the first three. Other episodes have used it straight.
The 07700 9 range is reserved in the UK for fake mobile phone numbers to be used in fiction. Lower numbers of the 07700 range are used by a local provider in Jersey.
The Law & Order franchise, filmed on the streets of New York City, uses the 555 phone numbers, and alternates between real and fake addresses, depending on the use. If it's a business address it will be a real number; a victims house, the location will be a real number or a fake that's between two real numbers. If it's the site of a crime or something shady (like an illegal whorehouse), the address would put the place in either the East River or the Hudson.
Subtly lampshaded in one episode when the detectives themselves have this one pulled on them. The detectives have had a suspect's vital information given, and it lists an address. When an officer reads that address off to Detective Briscoe, he says a line to the effect of "The middle of the Hudson River."
Another perp's home address was the Police Academy. One even had the gall to use the business address for One Police Plaza as his address. Sometimes, criminals do think of these things.
JAG: In "Heart & Soul" Mac says the number to her office phone is 555-0171.
Moonlight: When Beth Turner gives her phone number, she starts with 555, but is then cut off by a scene change.
It was also done in fake Nickelodeon commercials for ridiculous products, except using zeros instead of fives.
The Daily Show's favorite lawyer, Stanley Ragooch, has the phone number 555-GABAGOOL.
Are You Afraid of the Dark? once featured a story about a boy who was imprisoned by the "Phone Police" for making crank calls. When his friend tries to rescue him, he looks up their phone number in the phone book - and is shocked that said number only has six digits.
Kamen Rider Faiz possibly lampshades; the Transformation Trinket in the series is cell phones, activated by inputting a three-digit code then docking it onto a special belt. The title character's code is 5-5-5 (and is, in fact, a pun; cf. "Phi" (the Greek letter), "Fives", and "Faiz").
The fifth-season finale of NUMB3RS uses the IP address 2220.127.116.11.
The Canadian sketch comedy show "Hotbox" uses a recurring gag in which all infomercials use the number "555-PISS" as the number to call.
The Bill once used a "dotted decimal IP address" with a number in the 300s.
The UK watchdog responsible for this sort of thing designates the area code 01632 as preferred for this purpose (it's the now deprecated code for Newcastle). It doesn't always work, though - Coronation Street doesn't use it because everyone knows that the area code for Manchester is 0161. The local authorities have allocated a spare range in the 0161 codes for covering this, though. Other cities with well-known area codes have followed suit.
This is why Waterloo Road gives Rochdale the 0161 area code. It's near enough to Manchester that it's plausible enough if you don't know that it's actually 01706, which if you're not local you probably won't. The aforementioned 01632 can also be seen.
Breaking Bad averts this trope almost entirely - not only do the characters reference actual Albuquerque area codes, a real ABQ street became the basis for one moment of Season 3.
Walt: 6353 Juan Tabo, apartment six. Yeah.
In a more subtle variant of the trope, though, most of the actual 7-digit phone numbers begin with "1", which isn't done in North America.
Walter also buries about $80 million in cash, which is stolen and replaced with a couple of bodies at GPS coordinates that he documents as his picks on a lotto ticket. Attempting to dig them up is not recommended, as the coordinates given (+34° 59' 20.00", -106° 36' 52.00) actually point to Albuquerque Studios - which is about a mile away from a DEA station.
Full House has 555-6410, the number for Steve, D.J.'s boyfriend.
On the episode "Hole in the Wall Gang," Michelle tries to stall Danny by reciting her home phone number. She says 555-2424, but depending on what channel is airing said episode, the first two may be muted out.
Occurs frequently in forensic shows such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, with the 555-01XX numbers showing up when the investigators or lab techs pull up phone records or analyze data from cellphones.
Reba has 555-0165, the number for one of Kyra's one-time boyfriends.
In keeping with the Idiosyncratic Episode Naming, Degrassi Community School's phone number is (416) 867-5309. License plates are all over the place - Principal Simpson has ASKK-080 and Coach Armstrong has COACH001 (Ontario starts the regular number series at xxxx-100, no lead zeroes and has a seven-character Vanity License Plate limit) while Eli has a generic plate with no province (or state) caption.
For quite some time it was subverted with Scrubs. Calling Turk's new cell number actually brought fans to a phone on the set, giving fans a chance to provide feedback or even just have a friendly chat with the cast and crew of the show. It would later only play prerecorded messages, and the number was eventually deactivated by the time the show ended. The Other Wiki states on their page for Turk that the number has since been reassigned to a private cell phone.
Turk was excited about the number because it spelled out "Call Turk", except the valid seven-digit portion only spelled out "Call Tur". J.D. being J.D., he promised Turk that he'd always dial that extra digit.
Earth: Final Conflict had several domains bought out and fake websites assembled with background data and character notes. As the show was made during the late 90's, it was one of the first to make extensive use of this, but considering the family behind it, it's not too shocking.
Married... with Children had Al calling a business number he called previous for a mail order to complain about the shoddy product he received. He asked for the number of the phone operator's supervisor, and received as reply "1-800-BITE-ME". When Bud got assigned to volunteer a virgin hotline, the number was "1-800-ZIPP UP".
Cold Case has 215-555-0196 in the episode Saving Sammy.
A Terry Gilliam-animated "commercial" on Monty Python's Flying Circus features Shrill Petrol with the new miracle ingredient GLC 942-4075 (after 6 PM, 942-4047).note The GLC was the Greater London Council - abolished by Margaret Thatcher's government in (appropriately?) 1984 but subsequently replaced by the Mayor of London's Office.
Medium took the extra step of including Phoenix area code 602 (the show's setting) to all the 555 numbers seen on various characters' cellphones.
Subverted by Glee. Kurt's NYADA application was analyzed to find a number which fans called, finding a real household at the end. Oops.
On Saturday Night Live, the phone number for "Coffee Talk" (or was it "Coffee Tawk"?) was 555-4444 (However the three 5's were replaced with coffe mugs and the said 5's that were called were bleeped out because that phone number was Defictionalized.).
During "Weekend Update" in the first season, there was a segment about contaminated marijuana (in which, unbeknownst to the network, the joint shown on camera was real). Chevy gave an address for viewers to send theirs in for testing. NBC made the producers give a fictional address that would have been in the middle of the Hudson. Nevertheless, some viewers sent some of their stash to the show (you can bet it was "tested" and found to be safe).
As New Zealand has no official fictional numbers, Shortland Street uses phone numbers in the empty (09) 429-9xxx range. The entire 429 number range is allocated to Great Barrier Island, but with just 550 people on the island, only the 4290 range is used.
Averted by Sex and the City. The producers signed up for real phone numbers to use onscreen so they could avoid this trope.
165 Eaton Place, the Bellamys' house on Upstairs Downstairs, doesn't exist. For the exterior scenes in the show, the producers used the real house at 65 Eaton and painted a "1" next to the address (as well as the adjacent houses).
On one episode of America's Funniest Home Videos, Tom, while waiting for the clips to start, says that one of the girls in the audience gave him her phone number. He began reading it out, starting with "555".
Leverage uses this trope often, since many of the team's cons depend on cell phone communication.
An early example: The original series The Twilight Zone episode "Night Call" used the KL-5 variant, with Ms. Keene's phone label reading "KL 5-2352".
A Square One TV episode of Mathnet centered around the disappearance of Steve Stringbean before he gave a concert. When the kidnappers call, Steve sings, "Please do what these people say" to prove he's with them. After expressing some concern as to why he's singing, what pitches he's singing ("FFF-E-G-FE?") it dawns on the Mathnetters that the tones he's singing correspond to the tones of the numbers on a touch-tone phone, giving them the kidnappers' phone number. (And the three F's translate to 555, of course.)
Another Mathnet episode also involving a kidnapping has them recieve a call of touch-tones - but it's subverted when they're given twelve tones that don't correspond to any phone number in service. But thanks to George using the power of combinatorial analysis (i.e.: George putting the letters each touch-tone represents vertically on little sticks and moving them up and down until they make out words) they determine the real meaning of the touch-tones: BLEAK HOUSE NY - the kidnappers' location.
In the Friends episode "The One With the Ick Factor", Ross gets a pager so that his ex-wife can contact him for the birth of their child. His number is 55-JIMBO or rather 555-4626. Throughout the episode, Ross gets wrong-number calls for a male prostitute whose number is 555-8626 (55-JUMBO).
Criminal Minds does this a lot. One notable example is in "Painless", where Morgan gives out Reid's phone number during a press conference as a prank. Reid's number is listed as 702-555-0103, "702" being the area code for Reid's native Las Vegas.
Lampshaded in Community. Abed says that Jeff's 555- phone number "sounds fake."
In the Supernatural episode "Phantom Traveler" (S01, Ep04) this was an averted trope if you watched the version of this episode that aired on December 13, 2005, the number of Dean's phone is 866-907-3235. For a brief period after the episode aired, when you called this number you'd get the following message: "This is Dean Winchester. If this is an emergency, please leave a message. If you are calling about 11-2-83, page me with your coordinates."
At one point during the first Pirate Special on MythBusters, there was a fake infomercial for a cannon that Adam and Jamie made and one of these was scrolled along the bottom of the screen.
Continually averted on The Wire; the show always uses real-sounding phone numbers.
A dating columnist once put her real phone number on the cover of a magazine.
Nickelodeon magazine has a format for E-mail addresses and domain names for their pranks: they use the .not suffix as an Incredibly Lame Pun on .net, e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org or www.fakecompany.not.
Renowned Russian rocker Boris Grebenschikov has a song about the phone number 2-12-85-06, which was a fake number... until the Russian area code system was changed and "2-" was added to a lot of numbers. There is now a washhouse in St. Petersburg that keeps getting calls from B.G. fans all over the country.
AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" averts it mentioning the phone number 36-24-36.
Though being an Australian band, that's how Australia's phone numbers outside the capital cities were back in the 1970s (the capital cities were seven digits).
De La Soul's "Ring Ring Ring" averts this: "You wanna call me? Take my number down. It's 222-2222. I've got an answering machine that will talk to you." The number is usually blanked out in TV and radio broadcasts of the song and its music video, because it's actually used by the Chicago Tribune, among others.
The video for Genesis's song "Jesus He Knows Me" featured the (parodied) televangelist's contribution hotline as '1-555-GEN-ESIS'. Area code 555 is reserved for directory assistance purposes, though Wikipedia is rather unclear as to what those are.
The incomplete form used for a website name in the Animainiacs song "LA Dot""You can find me on my webpage spot w w w dot dot dot
Glenn Miller's song "PEnnsylvania 6-5000" was the number of a hotel the band had performed at.
"BEechwood 4-5789, you can call me up for a date, any old time." Whether any trouble came from this is currently unclear.
Of course, there's the aversion of "867-5309/Jenny."
Which is still a bane to anyone in the US with this number. One person actually called every permutation of the number and documented it. Most were disconnected (for obvious reasons), but most that worked went to voicemail, and most of those made some reference to the song (ie, "...and no, Jenny is not here." or sometimes "Hi! This is Jenny, leave a message.")
At least one extension of the number is held by the company Retrofitness, a chain of fitness gyms. It uses the number for potential franchisees.
Despite what "Baby Got Back" tells you, dialing 1-900-MIX-A-LOT just gets you a disconnected number.
During the song's release, it was a working number and you could hear Mix say pre-recorded messages for 99 cents a minute. When he let the number go, several companies attempted to use it when it went back into circulation (mostly phone sex lines); it eventually was retired from the 900 pool because of the song and people calling looking to talk to Mix.
"Light" by KMFDM instructs you to call 1-800-ACCEPT-NO-IMITATION, which is probably far too many digits for a phone number anywhere.
Averted with "6060-842" by The B-52s - though they must have foreseen listeners trying to dial the number, as the liner notes for their self-titled album include a disclaimer advising against exactly that.
Averted in "634-5789" by Wilson Pickett (written by Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper), which appeared in The Blues Brothers 2000.
Chuck Berry asked the operator to get him "Norfolk, Virginia, TIdewater Four Ten Oh Nine" in Promised Land. At the time, that would make the full number (703) 844-1009, although Norfolk is now area code 757.
Averted in "Gurley's Cellphone Number" by Darkbuster - the chorus of the song repeatedly gives out the actual cellphone number of their bassist (the "Gurley" of the title), and the lyrics even revolve around how much he would love receiving calls from strangers at all hours of the day.
Aversion: The newspaper comic Dilbert once had a story line about a "Date-a-Dilbert" service. The cartoonist thought it needed a real phone number, so he put his own number in the strip. It got hundreds of calls, mostly from women who really wanted to date a Dilbert.
Variation: In one strip, Dogbert got a job as network administrator. The only ways to contact him were e-mail (which would obviously be impossible if the network failed) and a pager "number" that included a tilde.
In Ginger Meggs, one of Ginger's friends has a poster up saying "Missing since 4:00PM Ph: XXXX XXX XXX". The phone number is of a colleague of the cartoonist.
For a lark, Charles Schultz of Peanuts once put Bill Melendez (animator of the Peanuts Christmas special) on a strip as Lucy's phone number. Apparently, the first person to pick up a call from a reader was the his young daughter, and the person on the other end ended up dropping the phone in shock.
FoxTrot had a strip where Jason and Marcus are surfing the Web by entering site's IP addresses rather than the domain names (no challenge in that!). All of the IP addresses are invalid (with a number over 256), except for one — which is (or at least was at the time) the address for foxtrot.com.
Safe Cracker's backglass shows that to contact Bob's Getaway Rental, you'll have to call 555-FAST.
Douglas Adams used a seven-digit number for a measurement of probability in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Due to the Infinite Improbability Drive, the number turned out to also be the phone number of the Islington flat where Arthur met Trillian at a party. Unfortunately, Adams averted the trope and used the number of his own flat, also in Islington. The official script book contains a footnote that the tenant who lives there now has nothing to do with Hitchhiker, and doesn't appreciate prank calls. Between a couple of updates to the area code system in the UK, the introduction of commercial competitors to British Telecom and the increasing popularity of cellphones it's rather unlikely that the number still works.
In some editions of the six-booktrilogy, Adams writes about how the whole story came to be. The anecdote concludes with a section called "How To Leave Earth." Adams suggests calling (in order) NASA, The White House, The Kremlin, and The Vatican, giving working phone numbers for each, averting the trope. What they all think of prank calls from H2G2 fans is unrecorded.
Uplink does both of these. It uses random phone numbers in almost all ranges (02, 05, 06, 07, 08 and 09 from memory) - the avoiding of 01 is almost certainly to force an appearance of non-residential numbers (the only use of telephone numbers is for individual people's voicemail systems). It also uses bogus IP addresses all the way down to 0 and up to 999. It does get one IP address right, though - your own gateway is at 127.0.0.1, the local host loopback IP.
In the Nancy Drew computer games, all of the numbers you can call from Nancy's cell phone start with 555. Even the alphanumeric numbers for the 1930s telephone in Secret of the Old Clock convert to 555.
In games of the Grand Theft Auto series, if a Parody Commercial has a phone number, it's probably a real toll-free number. At the time of the game's release, calling the number would get you a recording relevant to the ad, typically giving more detail on the product.
The old Fahrenheit 451 text adventure (yes, it exists. Yes, Bradbury wrote a good chunk of it) had this as a plot point, complete with Zeerust flavor. Calling NYC-XXX was how Montag got in contact with certain members of the Underground. The game also included numbers which, when dialed, gave useful information, utter garbage, or fake "hints" that would get you killed if you tried them.
The Manic Miner cheat code "6031769" is said to have been author Matthew Smith's (Liverpool) telephone number at the time.
"NEW ROOMMATE WANTED — What's up guy? My name is the Bombinomicom! I am an eldritch book of unfathomable evil. I am currently living in a big smelly castle with an idiot who can't read and a stupid wizard who treats me like his own personal bomb-making machine. Oh he is the worst. I get to decide who I throw the bombs at, you know? Anyway, give Bombinomicom a call. I am a real good conversationalist, and I got a lot of bombs too. It's pretty good. 555-1294."
The original God of War had two secret phone numbers - one for finishing the game on God Mode, and another for destroying the statues near Kratos's Olympus throne at the very end of the game, which requires about five minutes of solid smashing. The first phone number is given as a phone number, but the second only appears as what appears to be a bunch of randomly-placed numbers. (Follow them left to right and from top to bottom to get the number.) As of March 2013, eight years after the game's release, both numbers still work.
Resident Evil 3 takes place in the fictional "Mid-West town" Raccoon City. However, in the prologue, there's a billboard for "Grady's Inn", which gives an obscured phone number with a 212 area code. This would put Raccoon City inside New York City.
WarioWare Twisted has an unlockable telephone that you can dial. Once you get it, you may be awarded phone numbers every now and then to call — but all of them have only four digits.
The Last of Us had a flyer on the wall listing a couple of pretend "555" phone numbers. Unfortunately, the numbers used an 800 area code, which meant they actually were valid phone numbers—and one was the number for a phone-sex line.
Variation in the Hitman franchise: the tattoo on 47's head is a real barcode...from a dildo holder.
Batman: Arkham City features these with Zsasz when he plays his payphone killer game. Every payphone in Arkham City has a (455) area code and 555 prefix, and neither has a real world counterpart.
Wally Bear And The No Gang featured a number that appeared on the title screen, 1-800-HI-WALLY, that kids can call to receive some pre-recorded messages of the titular character espousing some anti-drug advice. The number bizarrely remained active until October 2007, 15 years after the game's release.
An early version of an early Homestar cartoon advertising a (fake, at the time) album of Strong Bad's greatest hits featured a real phone number, 1-800-BAD-SONG. The Brothers Chaps had assumed that no one would actually try to call it. They changed the cartoon shortly after a limo company complained that people were calling trying to purchase the album. The new phone number is 1-800-555-SBSINGS.
Email example. Homestar Runner has used a number of real e-mail addresses for the characters (generally ending in @homestarrunner.com) but at least one of Bubs's buisness cards lists his e-mail address as email@example.com.
Then there's the Web addresses, which they've been inconsistent about. A fake movie trailer listed www.whatthepfargtl.egg (a callback to an earlier episode in which Homestar believes the suffix for some site is "dot-egg, or dot-muffin or something") as its official site, but a later cartoon has Strong Bad registering virtualpizz.biz, a real domain that a fan snatched up quickly afterward and fortunately did not turn into anything untoward.
ThisSubnormality comic: As North American area codes can't have 9 as a second digit, the number it uses [(590) 238-1665] isn't valid.
The Adventures of Dr. McNinja goes all out: the main site for this webcomic currently features his fake phone number (301-555-4982), fake fax number (301-555-4983), fake address (23 Haunted Wood Drive), but then subverts the trope by taking place in the very real Cumberland, Maryland. (After teasing readers to figure out where the doctor practiced, future stories featured the doctor purchasing an MTO sandwich from Sheetz and noting that "The real mayor of Cumberland gave my family a dog once.")
Write What You Know: Although the 555 exchange is obviously fictional, 301 is indeed the area code for Cumberland, Maryland.
In Girls with Slingshots unlucky guy Jim gets a number from a girl which contains area code 555. He doesn't realize that it's a fake.
Curveball: So far, every e-mail address in the story has ended with ".tti", which is a non-existent Top Level Domain. This is later justified as belonging to a country.note Although all existing country-specific TL Ds are two letters, not three.
A Rugrats Christmas episode had the phone number 555-NOEL. Confused, Angelica just typed in 555-5555... and actually got someone.
Also, the episode where Angelica thinks she's going to get a baby brother. She calls in to a psychology-type show using the number 555-5555 (again).
The Simpsons also parodied this trope by having Chief Wiggum receive a lead in a case: a telephone number. "555- aw, geez, that's gotta be phony."
Note that they got this number by using police equipment to trace the call. There's a reason that this man is the father of The Ditz.
Another episode featured Marge making a call to Chief Wiggum, which resulted in him getting mad and demanding to know where she lived so that he could arrest her - Marge then slowly comes up with the address 123 Fake Street. This turns out to be an aversion, however, since later in the episode Bart and Milhouse try to hide out from some people at...123 Fake Street. Hilarity Ensues.
Subverted and played straight regarding emergency numbers - one episode has Chief Wiggum not wanting to be disturbed while the lotto numbers are being drawn, so he answers the phone with - "Um...no...this is nine-one...two." But in the episode where Homer joins the Stonecutters, Carl tells Homer that he shouldn't call 911 anymore - he then hands him a card with the 'real' number on it: 912.
Klondike 5 was used as Homer's number when working as Mr. Plow, while Barney's number was "KL5-4796" (as sung in his ad) when he set up as the competing Plow King.
Used in Danny Phantom in the episode "The Ultimate Enemy". Mr. Lancer is making a phone call to Fentonworks and dials "555-1221".
In the Family Guy episode "Three Kings", when Richard Dreyfuss gives Roy Scheider his phone number, he starts off with 555. At which point Roy just tells him that if Richard doesn't want to give him his real phone number, don't lie.
Don't forget Alan Rickman's answering machine: "Hello. You've reached Alan Rickman at 555-0122."
In one episode, Stewie gives out his email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. The address was registered to someone working on the show and was set up to answer fan mail, although it's no longer in use.
In Batman: The Animated Series, there is an episode where The Joker says that after his laughing gas, people are even laughing at a phonebook. Harley Quinn proceeds to read a few entries; all the numbers, naturally, start with 555.
In DuckTales, the Beagle Boys advertised a teleporting gas as insect repellant with a commercial giving the number 555-5-555.
In King of the Hill, Nancy Hicks-Gribble works for Channel 84, a subtle joke on how (prior to the 1980s) the highest channel that was issued to TV stations was 83. This could also be a joke on how backwoodsy Arlen is, given that low power UHF stations in remote areas are usually stuck with the less desirable high-numbered channels.
Also there was the time Hank tried to get Dale's social security number:
Hank: All right Dale, for the last time I can't turn in this rental application without your social security number. Dale: Fine. 555-55. Hank: That's not even enough numbers. Dale: 5. (beat) 5. Hank: Okay, I'm leaving your name off, but you're still responsible for one-fourth of the rent.
Interestingly averted on an episode of Futurama. The writers didn't want to use a 555 number, so they made a number with one of the digits a Greek lambda (784-36λ9), going with the futuristic setting of the show.
The Incredibles used a similar aversion as the one above with the number on the business card that Bob is given.
Hey Arnold! goes the extra mile and makes a number that wouldn't be valid even if it wasn't a 555 number. Arnold's phone number is 555-123, which is one digit short of a real phone number.
In Regular Show all the telephone numbers in the episode "Cruisi'n" start with this.
Double Subverted in the South Park episode "Towelie", which featured a Parody Commercial for various Towelie merchandise. The number at the end was originally Comedy Central's toll-free number presumably used for ordering the stuff, "1-800-4-COMEDY", but was changed to "1-800-555-TOWL" in reruns and DVDs.
The client calling Porky and his helper Dippy in Porky's Moving Day (1936, King) asks the operator for "Bunion-0, 0, 0, OHHHH!!"
In an episode of Kim Possible, someone who's committed several high stunts in several impressive thefts has a tattoo that reads "555" in the back of his neck. Subverted, as the tattoo actually reads "SSS", which stands for Señor Senior Senior, who used to be a stuntsman.
Cartographers have always had to worry about others plagiarizing and reselling their maps - the problem being that it's very difficult to legally prove if someone copies their work. There used to be a clever solution - the mapmakers would deliberately add a fake street in a nondescript area of the map. That way, if another map had the same fake street, it would give the original mapmaker solid proof of copyright infringement.
There were also "paper towns", an entire fictional community that would appear on a larger map. This strategy sometimes backfired when people would move to the area and Defictionalize the paper town.
Zig-zagged: circa the 1960s, the telephone number of WCBS in New York City (excluding area code) was 765-4321.
A few places request this number deliberately to make it easy to remember.
Several IP addresses are reserved for special uses or examples in documentation. For example, no external address can have an IP of 127.0.0.1 as this is for loopback testing. The 192.168.xxx.xxx range is for local networks. As is any numbers between 172.16.xxx.xxx through 172.31.xxx.xxx and 10.xxx.xxx.xxx (respectively, class C, B and A reserved IP addresses)
So are the domain names "example.com", "example.org", and "example.net".
While not reserved for anything in particular, it's a bad idea to assign certain port numbers different tasks than what they're commonly used for. Example: using Port 80 for anything other than HTTP requests as you'll break your accessibility to webpages.