Virtually all US phone numbers on fictional programs are made up of the following:
Area Code 555 four random digits note
"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 under the North American Numbering Plan (NANP), which includes the United States, Canada, and several other nearby countries, it was reserved for various internal phone company service numbers, so calling one of the 555 numbers would not have reached an actual customer. In particular, in most areas in North America (AREA CODE)-555-1212 connects with directory assistance.
Another fake number used back in the 1950s through the 1970s when most of Southern California was entirely one area code, 213, was to reserve the extension 1 plus the prefix in every prefix, so that the number 462-1462 or 733-1733 was never a working number. Eventually the 714 area code would be split off from 213 in 1953 and later 818 would split from 213 in the early 1980s, but Pacific Telephone continued the practice of reserving the prefix-1-prefix number in every exchange as a non-working number. A number of TV shows and made-for-tv movies took advantage of this fictional number feature.
Still another fake number, used into the 1970s, was possible because under the original NANP, the second digit of a seven-digit local number was not allowed to be 0 or 1, whereas the second digit of an area code was limited to 0 or 1. This allowed fictional telephone numbers such as 606-0842 in the eponymous song by The B-52s. However, because of the need for additional prefixes and eventually additional area codes, this limitation was eliminated in certain large cities in the eighties and early nineties and throughout the NANP area in 1995.
Some movies and TV shows have taken advantage of a technical requirement of NANP telephone numbers, that the first digit of the seven digit local number cannot be 0 or 1. So they'll give a number like 818-162-1353 or 213-079-1611.
As it happens, if the area code is "800", "888", "877", "866", "855", "844", or "833" (the NANP area codes for toll-free dialing), "555" is a valid prefix. So 1-800-555-(four digits) could be a real phone number. Not everyone knows that.
Some works used to use 311 as a fictitious area code. Now, however, many communities in Canada and the US use 311 as a short telephone number for non-emergency county or municipal services, as a counterpart to 911 for emergency services.
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). Similarly, any hexadecimal character higher than F is fake (numbers in hex are represented with the characters 0-9 and A-F). And to top it off, there are certain IP addresses that are reserved for private networks and can never be assigned to internet-facing machines (see Real Life section for more info).
Another variation is street addresses. A work may be set at an address that is (or was at the time of writing) outside of the range of possible address numbers for the given street.
Still another is car license plates. If the licensing jurisdiction (e.g., a US state) is shown, the plate number may have a letter where a digit would be expected or vice versa, the plate number may be in a range not actually used in that jurisdiction, or a character may have a Vanity License Plate with more characters than that jurisdiction allows (e.g., eight in California, which allows only seven). The point is moot where the licensing jurisdiction is fictional or where its name is not visible. The latter is often the case in commercials for cars or car insurance.
Manga and anime in general often use symbols like Xs, triangles, squares and circles in place of one or more digits of phone numbers. This can apply to license plates too.
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.
This trope does not apply, or at least should not apply, to telephone numbers beginning with 555 in non-NANP countries where there is nothing special about such numbers. It does apply to telephone numbers or area codes reserved for use in works of fiction in non-NANP countries that have done so.
Compare to Jenny's Number, which is also commonly used as a phone number. See also Logging onto the Fourth Wall for the website equivalent. Whatever you do, don't confuse this with 666, though bonus points for works where that's the area code for The Devil.
- 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 $1,000,000 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. In fact, his identity was stolen 13 times over three years.
- 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.
- In 1938, the E.H. Ferree Company of Lockport, New York introduced a new wallet sold at Woolworth and other department stores across the United States which included a replica Social Security Card to demonstrate how one could fit in the wallet. The card used the number 078-05-1120, which happened to be the actual Social Security number of Hilda Schrader Whitcher, the secretary of the vice-president and treasurer at E.H. Ferree. Despite the card being printed in red (real ones were printed in blue) with "SPECIMEN" written on it, a lot of people began using the number as their own, either due to cluelessness or to hide the fact that they didn't have one. Despite the number being retired a few years later (Whitcher was issued a new SSN), over 40,000 people have claimed that number as their SSN and 12 were still using it as late as 1977.
- A movie theater had one of these shown before the movie, with the phone number 555-FILM being shown on a black background. Moviefone, the creator of the 555-FILM phone number, aired this commercial at certain movie theaters.
- Volkswagen advertising shows a vehicle with Pennsylvania license plate RF7-3B19. In real life, Pennsylvania license plates for that class of vehicle have three letters followed by four digits.
- Television commercials for the former Bell System showed telephones with the telephone number 311-555-2368 indicated on them.
- Boonie Bears: In the English version of Season 2 episode 1, Logger Vick calls the number 555-8111 to make money off having the forest destroyed and its land used for a new company that's going to be built.
- 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.")
- Dave Chappelle:
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?"
- Mitch Hedberg threw in a few jokes about this:
''I was at the Double Tree [hotel] and the lady at the front desk gave me her number — it's zero! I tried to call her from here and some other woman answered. 'You sound older!'"
- Prank-call artists The Jerky Boys occasionally gave their targets a 555 callback number (or, at least, the calls recorded on their albums were edited to make it sound like they did).
- In the "Sam Spayed" story in Garfield: His 9 Lives, he once has to call the number 555-1234. (He's not good at remembering numbers.)
- During John Byrne's run on Fantastic Four, the team's phone number is revealed to be, aptly enough, 555-4444.
- Stunt Dawgs: In the comic, Airball grabs some papers off Needham's desk. One of them reads "Call Vanessa Vavoom, 555-2439".
- Scooby Apocalypse: Thaumatrope Mining Co. has the phone number 555-7234.
- The Flintstones: A newspaper ad at Issue #9 reads "Call 555-cave — cave renovations!".
- A Pinky and the Brain story in the Animaniacs comics features High Bar Kindergarten School's ad with the phone number 555-ACME.
- In the Big Nate story arc where Nate dates Kelly, her number is 555-2832.
- One story line was 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.
- 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.
- If you want to get rid of clastrophobia in the world of U.S. Acres, you'd have to call 555-4296.
- 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 his young daughter, and the person on the other end ended up dropping the phone in shock.
- There's also the Peanuts character 5, which is actually short for 555. But it's not the phone prefix; his last name is the family ZIP code, 95472. (He has older sisters named 333 and 444, so 555 was simply next in sequence.)
- 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.
- Garfield: Jon's ad looking for a date has a phone number that starts with 555.
- Calvin's parents' phone number, as shown in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series, is apparently 555-7186.
- Later, it's shown to be 555-6846.
- In the Death Note fanfic ''Autophobia'', after getting burned in the explosion, Mello calls one of these numbers, deluding himself into thinking that the automated response is his imaginary boyfriend, Matt.
- In Harry Potter and the Golden Ring Batman has Harry call a 555 number to get in touch with him.
- The Incredibles game a real number on the business card that Bob is given. While inactive at the time of original release, calling it as of the DVD release resulted in Mirage's voice telling you to enter the number on the website to access a Deleted Scene not included on the DVD.
- Used in Inside Out, on the "For Sale" sign at the beginning.
- In Zootopia, Doug's phone number, seen on a sticky note in Bellwether's office, is (805)555-0127 and Nick's benefits number seen on a tax form is 555-16-2239.
- Monsters University: The newspaper ad announcing the job offerings in the Monsters, Inc. mail room tells applicants to call 555-0199.
- In Oliver & Company, Jenny's address is 1125, 5th Avenue. It's a real New York address, but the building is an apartment complex rather than the single residence portrayed in the film. Also, Bette Midler, the voice of Georgette, lives in the penthouse of that building in real life.
- In Eight Crazy Nights, Whitey mentions the only time he had sex was through a hotline, the number being 1-555-BOOBIES.
- In Hocus Pocus, Max starts off "his number" as such, but doesn't finish it off with the last four, handing it to his Love Interest Alison.
- The Ghostbusters use it as the start of their business number.
- Last Action Hero lampshades this trope when Danny brings it up to Jack Slater to try to point out that they're inside a movie. Naturally, it doesn't convince him.
Danny: "I'm willing to bet that everyone has a 555 number."
Danny: "There can only be 9,999 phone numbers that start with 555. How many people live in L.A.?
Slater: "Eight or nine million."
Slater: "That's why we have area codes."
- In Die Hard with a Vengeance, McClane must stop a bomb by dialing "555 and the answer" to the riddle the villain just gave.
- Live Free or Die Hard used the Class C private IP version (192.168.x.y).
- 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".
- A prop replica of the keys to the DeLorean has an ID tag revealing Dr. Brown's present day number to be 555-1128.
- 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 North Carolina church reportedly tended by a pastor named Bruce, as well as other Georgia churches and the private cell number of a Wisconsin pastor.
- 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 branch 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 Larroquette's "actual" voicemail.
- 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!").
- In The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, a girl asks for Ford's number. He gives her a 555 number and she complains that they only use those in movies. He replies, "Hey, no shit, honey—what do you think this is, real life?"
- In I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, the number one of the characters asks someone to dial actually leads to author Tucker Max's real phone.
- In The Blues Brothers, 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 the 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.
- Avoided with Ramona's number, seen as 212-664-7665.note
- Played with in the original Black Christmas (1974), when one character convinces an ignorant and bumbling cop that the number to her sorority house is "fellatio" 20880, or FE (i.e. 332-0880). Makes for some laughs later, when the sheriff, who knows what the word means, reads the note.
- A typical example appears in The Ref when Gus gives Lloyd's number to Murray.
- Monument Taxi in True Lies has 555-2439. Another 800 number is written on their cars, too, for some reason.
- The Mask: Mrs. Kellaway's phone number, as shown in the picture of her which the cops find in the Mask's possession, is 555-9371.
- Claire's number in Free Enterprise is 555-1701. 1701 is the NCC number of the original USS Enterprise in Star Trek.
- In the Laurel and Hardy short "Blotto", Ollie repeatedly tries to call Stan at "OXford-0614." It was Stan's real phone number◊ at the time!
- 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 on, when the family goes to war, a possible mattresses address is 309 West 43rd St, a genuine NYC location.
- In The Fast and the Furious (2001), Dom's cell phone number is 323-555-6439.
- Inadvertent humor is provided in The Art of War when a cop reads out a list of phone numbers, all beginning with this trope.
- Many films that involve the White House, such as All the President's Men and The American President, avert this by using the actual number of the White House's switchboard—456-1414.
- Things Change: the phone number left by the showgirls begins with "KL5".
- The Kentucky Fried Movie. Dr. Klahn's Atomic Detonator is behind a door that says "For Service Call Ada Gronik 555-0712" on it.
- Unbreakable opens with a train crash; the number to call for family members to check on survivors is 800-767-1482. Originally this number went to a recording telling people it was reserved for use as a placeholder number for use in movies and tv shows, but has since become used by a fake survey allegedly offering "free" boat cruises.
- Home Alone 2: Lost in New York: Uncle Rob's number has 555 in it, as does a dumpster near his brownstone.
- Black Panther (2018): The phone number appearing on the van used by Killmonger and his crew to hide while they track T'Challa and Klaue in South Korea.
- Sierra Burgess is a Loser: Sierra's number is 555-0147.
- At the end of the So Bad, It's Horrible Night Of Horror they say the film was processed at "Pete's Quality Film Labs" and provide a phone number for it (it's no longer in service, in case anyone was curious).
- Averted with the 2019 Bollywood film Arjun Patiala, when actress Sunny Leone gave out a number, it ended up being the actual number of a 26-year-old man. He is now taking legal action against the production company both to have his number bleeped out and to make sure an incident like this never happens again.
- In Corvette Summer, Vanessa briefly works for an escort service that uses this.
- Dr. Strangelove: Group Captain Mandrake is trying to contact the President from a phone booth at Burpleson AFB in order to stop their bombers from attacking Russia. The booth's phone number is identified to the operator as Burpleson 3-9180.
- In the original release of The Santa Clause, the phone number of the mom of Scott's ex-wife's new boyfriend is given as "1-800-SPANK-ME", which turned out to be the number of an adult hotline when called. After a few parents complained about this, the scene was cut from future home video releases. In TV editions, her number is changed to 1-800-POUND, which isn't a real number, to keep the film's rating to TV-G.
- In Zig Zag (2002), every single stripper who works at the Monkey Cage has this number.
- In Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, the missing child poster Mariana makes for Ricky uses this number.
- In Meadowland, the home and parents' work numbers listed on Adam's student file start with (555)555.
- Santa Who?: When Peter does a news story about a Santa with amnesia, he asks anyone who knows who is to call 555-1234.
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days: Holly's phone number is 555-42__.
- In Partners (1982), Benson gives one of these numbers to Jill when she asks for his contact information.
- Junie B. Jones on Telephone Numbers: "Its name is 555-5555. It's hard to remember, because I keep forgetting the 5."
- Warren Ellis's 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. This was 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.
- The Baby Sitters Club could be reached at KL5-3231.
- Harry Dresden's phone number, shown in a picture of his phone book entry in the game, is (312) 555-4-WIZ.
- The front cover of the Goosebumps book Calling All Creeps has the tagline that says "Just dial 555-CREEP".
- An address example (sort of): Harry Potter boards the Hogwarts Express at a real train station, but the fictional Platform 9¾.
- 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 nonexistent generic top level domain.
- Judy Moody: Girl Detective: When a police-dog-in-training goes missing, the number to report information is given as 1-800-MR-CHIPS. Later in the book, however, a 555 number is given as being seen on a van for a plumbing company.
- In Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Sticky-Fingers Cure, Penelope the parrot recites the advertising jingle "Call five-five-five-two-two-three-oh, and see your dentist now. Say goodbye to cavities!" while under the influence of a magical illness known as the Winter Effluvia.
- Miracle Creek has Potomac Mutual Insurance, which has the number 800-555-0199.
- In Saving Max, one of Jonas's doctors has 555-4600.
- The UK telephone system has reserved certain phone numbers for fictional use. Big cities such as London, Birmingham, Edinburgh or Cardiff have blocks of numbers set aside for productions set in these locations - Cardiff, for example, has numbers in the (029) 2018 0xxx range and London has the (020) 7946 0xxx range. For other parts of the country, the unused area code 01632 is preferred. Some areas will use more well known area codes which have blocks of numbers reserved, such as Rochdale in Waterloo Road which has the Manchester area code, 0161. 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. Blocks of numbers for mobile phones (07700 900xxx) and free phone numbers (0808 157 0xxx) also exist. More details here.
- It was also done in fake Nickelodeon commercials for ridiculous products, except using zeros instead of fives.
- The show once uses the illegal IP address version.
- In later seasons, characters 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.
- 30 Rock had the writer's room dig up an old, hilariously bad phone sex line commercial featuring a young Liz Lemon. The number given in the ad was "1-900-OK-FACE", which, on top of being ridiculously unsexy, isn't even enough digits for a real phone number.
- 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".
- Are You Afraid of the Dark? once features 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.
- Parodied in the Batman (1966) and The Green Hornet crossover. Bruce Wayne and Britt Reid go to a fashion show and Bruce asks a model for her measurements. She answers "555-555-5555". When Bruce quizzically asks if her measurements are really "five hundred fifty five, five hundred fifty five, five thousand five hundred fifty five?", the model corrects him and says that it's her phone number.
- Big Chuck & Li'l John: In a comedy skit on the local Cleveland comedy show, Chuck calls John on the phone and has him running in a frantic search around the house to find a pen so he can write down a phone number. When John finds a pen John delivers the phone number he can call back on: it's 555-5555.
- The Bill once used a "dotted decimal IP address" with a number in the 300s.
- The Blacklist: In "Luther Braxton", Reddington is captured by the military. He tells them to call a 555 number with a 202 area code, presumably the director of the CIA.
- Breaking Bad:
- 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.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After a hiatus at the start of Season 3, Buffy comes across the Scoobies all tooled up with holstered stakes and walkie-talkies. The digital frequency readout on Xander's radio starts with 555.
- In one of Cheers' standalone opening scenes, a radio ad for a court stenography course gives listeners a number to call starting with "five-double-five."
- Cold Case has 215-555-0196 in "Saving Sammy".
- Lampshaded in Community. Abed says that Jeff's 555- phone number "sounds fake".
- 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.
- Occurs frequently in forensic shows such as CSI, with the 555-01XX numbers showing up when the investigators or lab techs pull up phone records or analyze data from cellphones. Unsurprisingly, the fake IP (such as 172.168.355.27) and fake Hex (such as AG:61:BA:17:2Z:43) show up regularly on CSI: Cyber.
- Specifically, on CSI: NY, Danny's cell number is 212-555-0121, and Mac's office land line number is 212-555-0131.
- The Daily Show's favorite lawyer, Stanley Ragooch, has the phone number 555-GABAGOOL.
- 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.
- In one episode of Desperate Housewives, Mike writes a check and his ZIP code is shown as 910274 (six digits). screen grab◊
- Doctor Who:
- "The Stolen Earth": The Doctor's mobile phone number is given as 07700 900461, causing thousands to try contacting him using it. Appropriately, this number spells W—HO-. 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.
- "Praxeus": The phone number Adam uses when he sends Jake a text for help is 7700 900XXX, with a country code of +852. However, that code is for Hong Kong, where he was texting from, even though country codes are attached to numbers and don't change depending on where the phone with that number is calling from.
- Drake & Josh: A radio station had a number starting with "55K".
- 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 '90s, it was one of the first to make extensive use of this, but considering the family behind it, it's not too shocking.
- The KACL studio number in Frasier is 555-KACL.
- 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).
- Full House:
- One episode presents 555-6410 as the number for Steve, D.J.'s boyfriend.
- In "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.
- Invoked in one episode of Gilmore Girls, where Luke is messing with some annoying lawyers and tells them to contact his own lawyers at Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe, via phone the number 555-555-5555.
- Glee showed why it's a good idea: Kurt's NYADA application was analyzed to find a number which fans called, finding a real household at the end. Oops.
- One episode of The Golden Girls has Rose and Blanche campaigning a fundraiser telethon on TV. Rose's donation number is "555-GIVE", followed by Blanche's number: "555-EASY".
- 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!"
- The Tool Time number in Home Improvement is 555-TOOL. One season 4 episode includes the full version of the number, with area code 810, which was the actual area code for Royal Oak, Michigan at the time of said episode's writing. 810 is still used as the area code for Flint and parts of Livingston County and the Thumb, but Royal Oak is now in area code 248, which came into existence around the time season 7 premiered.
- The Canadian sketch comedy show Hotbox uses a recurring gag in which all infomercials use the number "555-PISS" as the number to call.
- iCarly: 1-555-SEND-ME-A-SACK
- I Love Lucy takes place in an apartment building whose address was 623 East 68th Street, which would be in the middle of the East River.
- In The Incredible Hulk (1977), David starts reading someone's number aloud by saying "555..." The rest of the number isn't heard.
- JAG: In "Heart & Soul" Mac says the number to her office phone is 555-0171.
- Kamen Rider Faiz possibly lampshades this; 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 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 victim's 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.
- In "Rockin' Robbie", Johnny B. Badd's phone number is "555-BBAD".
- In "Chef Rotten Food", this is combined with Ridiculously Long Phone Number with a phone number that's nothing but 5s that seems to keep going and going.
- In Le cur a ses raisons, Ashley's phone number is "555-0100".
- Leverage uses this trope often, since many of the team's cons depend on cell phone communication.
- 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).
- An In-Universe press release from Mad Men reveals Sterling Cooper & Partners' office phone number is (212) KL 5-0112.
- The Man in the High Castle: Some phone numbers, such as the one on Sampson's work truck, begin with "KL5".
- 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".
- When Al was calling his insurance company, their number was 1-800-HEAD ON. Also, when Kelly was the Verminator and had advertised an extermination company on television, their numbers were 1-800-LEGS UP and 1-800-R-U-DEAD.
- TV case: Al's favorite show, Psycho Dad, is seen on channel 83, a channel that was discontinued in 1982 along with channels 70 through 82.
- 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.
- Midnight Caller: When a caller's number is shown, it's usually this. The radio show's number is 555-TALK.
- In a week-long story arc during the Make Believe segment on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood King Friday and Queen Sarah leave and put Prince Tuesday in the care of Betty Aberlin. King Friday gives the phone number of the place they will be staying as 111-222-3334.
- 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".
- 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
Presenter: A most typical case here, whom we shall refer to as Mister A. Although his real name is this...
- From "The Mouse Problem", where an anonymous guest confesses to wanting to identify as a mouse:
Caption: Mr George Jackson
32A Milton Avenue
Tel.: (01) 246-8047
- Moonlight (2007): When Beth Turner gives her phone number, she starts with 555, but is then cut off by a scene change.
- 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.
- 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 fifth-season finale of NUMB3RS uses the IP address 218.104.22.168.
- Tying in with the May 6, 2010 episode of The Office, the website for the Dwight Schrute Detective Agency was put online complete with Phone (570) 555-0698, Mobile Phone (570) 555-0698 and Fax (570) 555-0245. The area code used was the real-life area code for the series' setting of Scranton, Pennsylvania at the time the episode aired, and is still the main area code for that part of Pennsylvania (though a second code of 272 has since been added).
- The Orville: In "Lasting Impressions", regular character Gordon Malloy falls in love with a girl from 2015 who left a smartphone in a time capsule. He creates a simulation from her and when he gets her phone number so that he can simulate his own phone to call her, it's a 555 number.
- Person of Interest does this with phone numbers, as well as with Social Security Numbers, which figure prominently into the plot. For obvious reasons, none of the ones shown on screen are real. Most, if not all, are in the form "000-XX-XXXX" or "XXX-00-XXXX", neither of which can be a valid number. One exception comes in the form of a recurring number (917) 285-7362, which is the voicemail of one of Finch's main aliases.
- Power Rangers Ninja Steel: In "Echoes of Evil", Victor and Monty sell a "monster repellant" and the ad directs potential buyers to call 555-321-456.
- Pushing Daisies, which is set in a 1950s Retro Universe, had an episode where Emerson Cod said his phone number was "KLondike 5-0155".
- Reba has 555-0165, the number for one of Kyra's one-time boyfriends.
- On Resident Alien, the Hawthorne family phone number, as seen on Max Hawthorne's "Have you seen this alien?" poster regarding the Harry Vanderspeigle alien, is a 555 number.
- Saturday Night Live:
- The phone number for "Coffee Talk" (or was it "Coffee Tawk"?) was 555-4444. (However, the three 5s were replaced with coffe mugs and the said 5s 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).
- Scream Queens (2015) has a security guard who tells her charges that if they need her, to call 1-866-KLJ-0199.
- Scrubs: For quite some time 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.
- The show 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.
- 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.
- The producers of Sex and the City signed up for real phone numbers to use onscreen so they could avert this trope.
- Carrie's address, however, would be right where Second Avenue crosses her street and thus doesn't exist in real life.
- 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.
- 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 555-0134.note
- 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 Fs translate to 555, of course.)
- Another Mathnet episode also involving a kidnapping has them recieve a call of touch-tones — 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 version of the Supernatural episode "Phantom Traveler" (S01, Ep04) 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."
- 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.
- The Twilight Zone (1959): "Night Call" used the KL-5 variant. Miss Elva Keene's phone number is KL5-2368.
- The Twilight Zone (1985):
- In "Shatterday", Peter Jay Novins' phone number is Klondike 5-6189.
- In "Her Pilgrim Soul", the Draytons' phone number is 555-1689.
- In "Gramma", Dr. Arlinder's number is 555-3502.
- In "Aqua Vita", the titular bottled drink company's number is 555-AQUA.
- In "The Call", Norman Blane sees a commercial for a classical music CD that he can order by phoning 555-4421. However, he dials 555-4412 by mistake and is connected with Mary Ann Lindeby.
- Invoked in the Two and a Half Men episode "818-jklpuzo", where "jklpuzo" is the mnemonic used for a phone number. This translates to 555-7896.
- Producer Chuck Lorre even discusses this trope, and the difficulty in getting the phone number on air, in his essay-like Vanity Plate at the end of the episode. CBS would eventually censor it from broadcast due to the number he gives to the idiots who dial all these numbers as well as the executives, 555-382-5968, which reads "FUCK YOU".
- Throughout the run of the show, the writers experimented with a way to avoid the trope which they hoped would be less distracting: with the exception of the titular phone number of "818-jklpuzo", when a phone number is spoken in Two and a Half Men, it's not a 555 number but, to make sure it's still not real, it doesn't have as many digits as a real phone number does.
- The "Broom Cupboard" episode of The Unit features a foreign phone number containing 5555.
- 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).
- Veronica Mars is set in a fictional town whose ZIP code is 90909. In real life, the prefix 909 is unassigned, although it is between valid prefixes used in Los Angeles County.
- The West Wing reverses this trope. In the second-season episode "In this White House," Ainsley Hayes reads the telephone number of an incoming call off her Caller ID as (202) 456-1414. This is in fact the switchboard number at the White House.
- On Yellowjackets, the business card that Jessica Roberts hands Shauna to supposedly prove that she's a journalist with the Star-Ledger gives her number as a 555 number.
- In Young Sheldon Season 2 Episode 21: A Broken Heart and a Crock Monster, when Sheldon looks through the ledger at the church donation records, John Alberts' account number is listed as 555-0120. note
- 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.
- Rail magazine's humorous column "The Diary of Derek the Diesel" gave Derek the number 47548 — in real life, number 548 was never carried by a Class 47 locomotive, with the sequence skipping from 547 to 549.
- 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.
- Soulja Boy's song "Kiss Me Thru The Phone", starts off by reading out a number. In the US, this number called a relevant recorded message. Fans in the UK were just bothering an innocent family.
- AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" might seem like an example because its lyrics mention the phone number 36-24-36. However, it's a real number: The band are Australian, and phone numbers in towns outside the capital cities there were actually six numbers instead of seven back in the 1970s.
- Slipknot's song "The Heretic Anthem" featured the chorus: "If you're 5-5-5 then I'm 6-6-6", though the lyrics feature no real Satanic overtones and the use of the number was really just for shock value.
- Since 555 is commonly used as the exchange for phone numbers in movies and television, the line could be interpreted to mean that if you're trying to fit in and be acceptable, he's trying to be edgy and unacceptable.
- 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 Animaniacs 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 - the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City, which continued to use the number until its closure in 2021.
- "BEechwood 4-5789" by the Marvelettes. Song co-writer Mickey Stevenson later admitted that, while they did check if the number was not in use, they only checked in the Detroit area, which supposedly resulted in a slew of calls asking for the Marvelettes to people who really had BE4-5789 as their phone number. Coincidentally, the number is one digit away from the below-mentioned "634-5789".
- Of course, there's "867-5309/Jenny", the 1981 smash hit from power pop band Tommy Tutone. Which is still a bane to anyone in the US with this number. A few scans of the number in every area code have been made: this one-man effort in 2004, this collaborative effort in 2007 and an attempt at a wiki whose last sign of life goes back to 2010. All three have found that 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.
- Two extensions in Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts are owned (and trademarked!) by local plumbing company Gem Plumbing & Heating. Their television and radio commercials prominently feature the number, but they aren't allowed to use the Tommy Tutone song or even a soundalike (their jingle that uses the number sounds like it was intentionally written to sound as little like "Jenny" as possible). Gem even sued a national plumbing outfit for using the same number for their toll free line. That case made national news and greatly annoyed Tommy Tutone singer Tommy Heath, who called the whole thing ridiculous (courts ultimately found for Gem, since they had the trademark).
- Rumor has it that attracting crank calls was the purpose of the song: it was written to get back at the singer's ex.
- 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. (And, eventually, most of the 900 numbers going the way of the dodo anyway, thanks to changes in both laws governing them and technology.)
- "Light" by KMFDM instructs you to call 1-800-ACCEPT-NO-IMITATION, which is probably far too many digits for a phone number anywhere, but is valid in the U.S. and Canada only because the switching system ignores all digits after the seventh. Dialing the number in the song is interpreted as 1-800-ACCEPT-N.note
- Chuck Berry asked the operator to get him "Norfolk, Virginia, TIdewater Four Ten Oh Nine" in "Promised Land". At the time the song was originally written and recorded in 1964, that would make the full number (703) 844-1009. By the time of Elvis Presley's famous cover in 1974 the area code had shifted to 804, and Norfolk is now served by area code 757.
- In Darkbuster's "Gurley's Cellphone Number", the chorus 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.
- "Red Frame/White Light" by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark was about a red telephone box the band used to organise their gigs in the late '70s. The pay phone's number, 6323003, was recited in the lyrics but without the Wirral area code that would put callers through to the actual box. Anybody dialing the number without it would just get through to someone near where the caller lived.
- Mid-2000s rapper Mike Jones gave out his real phone number - (281) 330-8004 - on several of his hit songs. The gimmick helped him stand out, however briefly, amongst the crowd of Southern rappers in the era. At the height of his fame in 2005, the line would often be completely and hopelessly jammed (Jones' phone bill was nearly $50,000 a month because of the thousands of calls he got every day) but he would indeed chat with any fans that got through.
- Logic, Alessia Cara and Khalid's "1-800-273-8255" is a real phone number specifically, the main number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline until being superseded in 2022 by the three-digit code 988. (The title number is still active, though 988 is now preferred for obvious reasons.) Since it is not a toll-free number outside North America, overseas releases add a disclaimer on international calling charges and may even list an equivalent local number.
- (619) 239-KING is Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper's special telephone number to report Elvis sightings. It's a San Diego number.
- The B-52s' "6060-842" was an aversion - though the liner notes to their Self-Titled Album include a disclaimer advising against actually dialing the number and harassing someone.
- Beastie Boys' "Ask For Janice", a Spoken Word in Music interlude from Paul's Boutique, includes the phone number 718-498-1043 being recited as part of a fake ad - the group actually registered the number themselves since it wasn't currently in service, and hooked it up to an answering machine with an outgoing message purporting to be from a fictional clothing shop called Paul's Boutique. This would get a callback on "The Maestro" from their next album Check Your Head: The song starts with a phone message from a fan who tried calling the number and cussed out the machine, apparently disappointed he didn't get to talk to one of the B-Boys themselves.
- Sesame Street:
- In a mind 1990s episode, The Amazing Mumford sets up an instant magic hotline with the phone number 555-555-5555.
- In a 2004 episode Snuffy gets a magic ukulele. The number to call to have it activated is 1-555-UKE. After he accidentally breaks the ukulele the hotline to get it fixed is 1-555-OOPS.
- In the 1997 direct-to-video "Big Bird Gets Lost", Maria helps Big Bird remember both her (555-1234), and Granny Bird's (555-6789) phone numbers. With a line dance.
- 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 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 UK area code system, the introduction of commercial competitors to British Telecom and the increasing popularity of cellphones it's rather unlikely that the number still works.
- The movie, in addition to updating the number (now 020 79460347) to reflect said changes to area codes, replaced the number with a straight example - 020 79460XXX is the range that Ofcom blocked off for fictional London numbers.
- In some editions of the six-book trilogy, 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. What they all think of prank calls from H2G2 fans is unrecorded.
- Flash game 5 Differences uses a 555 number for the funeral advertisement, but decrements it whenever a difference is found.
- The Adventures of Willy Beamish both uses this and "real" numbers. Whenever someone leaves a phone number on the Beamishes' answering machine, it's a 555 number. But a phone booth in West Frumpton instead has normal phone numbers scribbled all over it, two of which are plot-critical.
- 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.
- In Big City Adventure 3: New York, a poster in St. Mark's Place advertising "accurate psychic readings" gives the number 212-555-1234.
- Burning Fight has one background warehouse whose awning bears the number (123)-4567.
- The Call of Duty series has portable toilets in some areas such as Overflow and S.S.D.D and Invasion from Modern Warfare 2 with this number plastered on them: 555-DUMP.
- The side of a tow truck in Delicious 4: Emily's Taste of Fame says "Call 555 TOW TOW."
- In Depression Quest, a friend gives you the phone number for a great therapist: 647-723-5274. In real life, that phone number goes to The Toronto Therapy Network, a directory of therapists in the Greater Toronto area. The therapist you see, Dr. Susan Melville, is fictional however.
- 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 original God of War has 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 December 2017, twelve years after the game's release, both numbers still work.
- In 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.
- Played straight, however, in Grand Theft Auto III with Fernando's New Beginnings
Fernando: "Call cinco cinco cinco nueve dos nueve dos"
- Played straight at one point in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, when Carl is asked to plant some evidence and then give 555-WE-TIP a call.
- Played straight again in Grand Theft Auto IV. Aside the abundance of 555 phone numbers on shop fronts, every cheat code in the game is a 555 number.
- Played straight, however, in Grand Theft Auto III with Fernando's New Beginnings
- A Freeze-Frame Bonus in the intro cutscene of Guitar Hero III, where your character circles a phone number that reads (815) 555-5555, which turns out to be the address for the band that you play with.
- The Hitman franchise: the tattoo on 47's head is a real barcode... from a dildo holder.
- The Jackbox Party Pack series: Trivia Murder Party 2 in the sixth game has a mini-game called "Telephones" where the players have to use a rotary phone to dial one of several phone numbers before any other player as well as the timer, or they are killed by the game host-slash-Serial Killer. Befitting the deranged nature of the game, all of the numbers that can be dialed start with 666.
- 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.
- One form of Copy Protection in the Leisure Suit Larry games involved matching an image of a woman with her telephone number, which always began with 555.
- The Manic Miner cheat code "6031769" is said to have been author Matthew Smith's (Liverpool) telephone number at the time.
- In his ending in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Taskmaster advertises his mercenary training academy with the number given as 555-TASK. He still gets lots of signups though, as in the next 'panel' he's rolling in money. Presumably these numbers work in the Marvel universe.
- In Mystery Case Files: 13th Skull, the tavern has a list of its employees' phone numbers in the office, and all of them start with "555-".
- 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. Dial 1-555-MYSTICO and prepare to be amazed!
- In the cult NES game Nightshade, the hieroglyphs in the villain's hideout allegedly say, "Are you reading this? Then so are your customers! Contact Sutekh at 555-EVIL"
- 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 Manhattan.
- In Revived Legends 2: Titan's Revenge, a sign on a building in Greece says "FOR RENT: 555-152".
- In San Francisco Rush 2049 Tournament Edition, you are asked, as part of the process for creating an in-game account, to enter your phone number for tournaments (a feature that is now long-gone). If you enter 555 as your area code, you'll get a special message about it.
- Silent Hill:
- The first puzzle in SPY Fox in Dry Cereal involves using a phone booth to dial a 555 number with a randomized 4-digit number at the end, in order to call Monkey Penny and enter the Mobile Command Center.
- Superliminal: SomnaSculpt's phone number is 1-555-SOMSCULPT.
- The Spectral Halloween Special for Team Fortress 2 includes a hidden page resembling the classifieds for "The Teuford Reader". It includes several ads from characters such as the Scout, the Soldier and the Bombinomicom. Each of those ads uses a 555 number.
"DINNER IS SERVED, LADIES — Grass grows, birds fly, sun shines, and girls, I am your Prince Frickin' Charming over here. Extremely handsome man, lots of money, sick body, seeks lady friend who's smart enough to know a frikkin' catch when she's got one. I work out. Stop somebody on the street and describe me, and they are gonna tell you that you would be nuts not to date me. 555-1103. If you get a busy signal, that's just all the other ladies calling, so keep trying."
"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."
- 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. Its Spiritual Successor Hacknet has the servers use realistic, if randomized, IP addresses.
- 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.
- 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.
- In the licensed NES game Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a clue tells you to call Jessica Rabbit at a certain 1-800 number. (Of course, this was an actual number that you, the player, were expected to call in Real Life so you could receive the necessary clues to continue the game. Many players, not knowing this, spent hours searching for an in-game phone that the characters could use. Guide Dang It! indeed. And as The Angry Video Game Nerd discovered, The number is now a sex hotline.)
- The World Next Door features a number of 555-65-7829 on a poster asking for any information on the students who recently went missing.
- Parodied in the Homestar Runner episode "Senor Mortgage" with the number 555-55-55855-55-5-SENOR-MORT-GAGE-TODAY.
- 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 Brooklyn-based limo company complained that people were calling trying to purchase the album. The new phone number is 1-800-555-SBSINGS.
- 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.
- In GEOWeasel, the number 1-555-000-0000 appears as part of an advertisement for an imaginary friend-killing gun.
- In BIGTOP BURGER, the Zomburger's phone number as seen in their ad is 555-BURG.
- Apricot's phone number is 324-555-1297.
- This Subnormality 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.
- This Wapsi Square strip features an Ambulance Chaser named Marcus P. Smooze whose number is 555-5555.
- In El Goonish Shive, Sarah's number is 555-7272. Susan's number is 555-3239.
- 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.
- Ménage à 3: Annie Conda shows the usual response to DiDi by, umm, giving her a number here. In this case, the use of the 555 number must be a matter of dramatic convention rather than a sign that the number is invalid in-story.
- Paranatural: The phone number on the lost dog poster for the long dog is 555-1234.
- Sleepless Domain: Interstitial 2 shows a magical girl recruitment poster, with a phone number written using Roman numerals: V.V.V.-IX.VI.VI.IX. In Arabic numerals, that's 555-9669.
- Fillbert: 1-800-555-0142 is the number in an ad on a math worksheet.
- Kitboga is a scambaiter popular on Twitch and YouTube. One of his favorite tactics is to pretend on a call to be a rival scammer named Daniel using his own voice. In "Scammer Wastes Entire Day Expecting My $2,000," a popup supposedly appears on Kitboga's computer with a 555 number that connects to Daniel the scammer for supposed free virus cleaning.
- Linus Tech Tips: In "Why would you even...? Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Review", the Parody Commercial's phone number is 1(800)555-6969.
- Scott The Woz's phone number as seen in the episode "Nintendo DS: Touched at First Sight" is 555-555-5555.
- Pokémon Talk: The phone number for reporting the Lost Marshadow in the titular episode starts with 555-555.
- This is used as the basis of a joke in the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "Phone Home". Bloo decides to phone a number involving "555" by using a phone imaginary friend (who was actually a man trapped in a costume), so when he dials the number by jumping on the numbers, he ends up jumping on the man's stomach three times in a row. Ouch!
- The Amazing World of Gumball: The Wattersons' phone number is 555-0199.
- A Christmas Episode had the phone number for a hotline for anyone dealing with holiday stress or depression, 1-800-555-YULE. Confused, Angelica figured it was to talk to Santa, and just typed in 555-5555... and actually got someone; a representative from Cogs Unlimited. She decides to asks his advice about Christmas anyway, which he doesn't mind giving.
- In the episode where Angelica thinks she's going to get a baby brother, she calls in to a psychology-type show that gives out the number 555-5555 (again). Interestingly, her finger bounces all around the keypad when punching it in.
- Futurama Averted quite cleverly in the Mars University episode. Gunther holds up Chrissy's telephone number and the first 3 digits are real. The 6th is a Greek lambda.
- The Simpsons
- "Burns, Baby Burns" parodies this trope by having Chief Wiggum trace a call to get a phone number. "555- aw, geez, that's gotta be phony."
- "KL5-3226" was used as Homer's number when working as Mr. Plow with Homer reading it as "Klondike Five", while Barney's number was "KL5-4796" (as sung in his ad) when he set up as the competing Plow King; singer Linda Ronstadt, however spells out "K L" rather than singing "Klondike".
- In "The Last Traction Hero", Homer sees an advertisement for an attorney named Maxwell Flich, whose phone number is "555-555-5555".
Homer: (while dialing for Flich) Wait, what was the number after the first three 5s, but before the last six 5s?
- Lisa's e-mail address is smartgirl63_\@yahoo.com. Backslashes in e-mail addresses are technically possible, but most e-mail clients won't be able to handle it.
- In "Principal Charming", the school's contact card for Homer Simpson lists his work number as KL5-6832, his home number as KL5-6754 and Moe's Tavern's number as KL5-1239. However, other episodes have used different numbers for Moe's Tavern, such as 764-8437 in "Homer the Smithers" (where Mr. Burns tries to call Smithers by dialing in his name and gets Moe, who thinks he's another prank caller) or 355-1337 in "The Bonfire of the Manatees".
- The original broadcast of "Homer's Triple Bypass" averted this trope by giving Dr. Nick Riviera the perfectly functional phone number 1-800-DOCTORB ("The B stands for 'bargain'!"). However, this number belonged to a real doctor, whose lawyers objected; the area code was changed to 1-600 for all future broadcasts.
- In "Brother from the Same Planet", Lisa gets addicted to a 900 number belonging to Corey, a Teen Idol. Corey's full number is 1-900-555-CORY.
- In "Burns, Baby Burns", after Homer and Larry Burns (Mr. Burns long-lost son) fake a kidnapping, Mr. Burns has the police trace a call from Homer. Because their number starts with "555", Chief Wiggum assumes its a fake number and throws it into the fire.
- Used in Danny Phantom in the episode "The Ultimate Enemy". Mr. Lancer is making a phone call to Fentonworks and dials "555-1221".
- Gigi's number in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, as copied down off the bathroom wall by Harvey, is "555-0111".
- 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.
- 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.
- Another episode had a scene in which Consuela, the Hispanic maid, was watching a Spanish infomercial. So naturally, "Cinco cinco cinco, cinco cinco cinco cinco!"
- In The 2000 Year Old Virgin, when Peter suggests writing to the Family Television Council so Jesus won't have sex with Lois, an address is given on screen which in Real Life, would lead into the Pacific ocean.
- Peter's Suit-Chute commercial has a 555 number flashing at the bottom of the screen. The viewer is led to believe it's a straight example of this trope until the Cutaway Gag ends, whereupon Peter explains that his failure to recognize that 555 indicates a nonexistent phone number killed his company and cost him $200,000.
- The Fairly OddParents: In Abra-Catastrophe!, the phone number for Vicky's Babysitting Service is 555-LOVE.
- 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.
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius had the number for turning in convicts be 555-555-5555.
- Big City Greens: The number to call Don & Dawn Realtors is 555-0192.
- In DuckTales (1987), the Beagle Boys advertised a teleporting gas as insect repellant with a commercial giving the number 555-5555.
- 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.
- Played straight a few times too, however. When Peggy decides to take guitar lessons, the number she calls is 555-8703, and when Hank sees an a for a new job the number is 555-1407.
- Also there was the time Hank tried to get Dale's social security number:
- The writers of Futurama 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.
- 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.
- Higglytown Heroes: Kip's mom's phone number is 555-0144.
- Phineas and Ferb: Linda's phone number is 555-0142.
- In Regular Show all the telephone numbers in the episode "Cruisi'n" start with this.
- South Park:
- The episode "Towelie" 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.
- In "Hooked on Monkey Fonics", Liane buys Cartman a Hooked on Monkey Fonics spelling aid that comes with a live monkey. The cassette advises calling 1-800-555-4500 to replace the monkey if it arrives dead in the box.
- The client calling Porky and his helper Dippy in Porky's Moving Day (1936, King) asks the operator for "Bunion-0, 0, 0, OHHHH!!"
- Sponge Bob Squarepants:
- In one episode, a business card is shown with 555 as the area code, but the prefix itself is 123.
- In the Employee of the Month computer game, the number to call Sublime Seafoods is 555-4444. SpongeBob lampshades this.
- Tiny Toon Adventures:
Steven's Car Phone #:555-5555 ($1.95 Per Minute)
- The gag credit for "Fox Trot" is:
- The episode "Tiny Toon Music Television" featured one of these at one point. However, it was a toll-free 555 number, and was made right around when toll-free 555 numbers were made available publicly. It went to an "adult entertainment" line, and the episode was removed from rotation for a time. Some edits just removed the number from the segment (which produces a minor Pot Hole as the characters refer to a supposedly onscreen number), while others removed the entire segment that had the number.
- The Tom & Jerry Kids episode "The Vermin" has Jerry order a guitar off of TV, giving the number 555-555-5555. When Jerry dials, though, his finger pushes all around the number pad (similar to the Rugrats example above.)
- In an episode of Uncle Grandpa, Andrew W.K.'s party hotline's number is 555-5555-5555-555-555555555-5555-55-5-5-55-555-555-555555-55-55555-55-55.
- Animaniacs: In "Moby or Not Moby", Captain Ahab has a "Have You Seen This Whale?" sign asking people to call 555-harpoon.
- The sixth episode of the reboot originally contained an aversion where a phone number displayed on screen to help Brain take over the world turned out to be an adult hotline. It was later edited out so the entire screen was blank, and then re-edited to restore the text but change the number to 1-800-555-0199.
- Taz-Mania: In "Pledge Pledge", Mr. Thickly runs a fundraiser where he asks viewers to call "555-tazz" to make donations. They don't receive any donations. It's revealed in the end that 555-tazz is Digeri Dingo's phone number and he's been keeping the donations for himself.
- Gravity Falls: Marius' phone number is 555-0176.
- What A Cartoon! Show: In the title card for "Lost Cat", the lost cat sign has the phone number 555-1234 written on it. In the episode proper, the phone number is 555-9603.
- Wacky Races (2017): In "Smokey and the Racers", Peter Perfect advertises a Japanese product named steakasaki and the phone number for orders is 1-555-0123.
- Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!: In the episode "American Goth", a sign posted at an abandoned building tells potential buyers to call 555-0198.
- Pinky and the Brain: In "The Helpinki Formula", The Brain tries to sell a shrinking formula on TV. The ad gives the phone number 555-1234.
- Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: In the "Sonic Says" segment about remembering your phone number, Sonic whispers Tails what to tell the operator. "555" is audible.
- Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?: The Kenathon has the message "Call now 1-800-555-0199".
- Let's Go Luna!: In "Leo Moves It", Dr. Flavio's phone number is 555-HIPS.
- In the Paramount Modern Madcap "TV Or Not TV" with Swifty and Shorty (here as Ralph and Percy), Shorty's residence is 30 West 55th Street in New York City. The address exists; it's a mixed development high rise a couple miles southwest of Central Park.
- The Patrick Star Show: "Lost in Couch" includes a Parody Commercial for furniture tours, hosted by Rube Goldfish. The phone number RBE-555-01GOLDFISH appears on screen.
- As noted in the intro, there are in fact many actual phone numbers using the 555 exchange, the most widely used being the one assigned for directory assistance services.
- 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. (The practice has fallen out of use since a US federal court has ruled such "false facts" as ineligible for copyright protection.)
- There were also "paper towns", an entire fictional community that would appear on a larger map. For example, the official state map of Michigan in the late 1970s included the fake towns of Beatosu and Goblu in Ohionote . This strategy sometimes backfired when people would move to the area and Defictionalize the paper town (a more famous example is Agloe, New York).
- Several IP addresses are reserved for special uses. For example, no external address can have an IP of 127.0.0.1 as this is for loopback testing. The 192.168.x.x range is for local private networks, as are any addresses within 172.16.x.x through 172.31.x.x and 10.x.x.x (respectively, 256 class C subnets, 16 class B, and 1 class A).
- Similarly, 192.0.2.x, 198.51.100.x, and 203.0.113.x (plus IPv6 addresses starting with 2001:0db8) are reserved specifically for documentation, along with the domain names "example.com", "example.org", and "example.net".
- If the source address does read 192.168.x.x, then it could be a case that the messages are coming from inside the house.
- 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.
- This has carried on to IPv6 addresses, the entire range of addresses starting with fd are reserved for local private networks.
- UHF Channel 37 has never been used for broadcast TV in most countries because it would interfere with radio astronomy; it's sometimes used as a dummy channel in instruction manuals. That doesn't mean it won't be found on your cable or satellite TV box, though.
- In some countries Channel 35 is conveniently reserved for local RF electronics (ie VCRs or game consoles, for compatibility with very old TVs that do not have composite video input). This makes it very convenient to use the channel for test/fake broadcasts. Likewise, channel 2-4 on VHF band I are often also used for this case since band I was all but abandoned even by the 80s.
- In the present age of digital broadcasts, 37 is still reserved for radio astronomy physical transmissions. However, stations' display channels (called "virtual" channels) could be anything from 0 to 999. So technically, 37 could be used as merely a display channel. Channel 1, for example, which was discontinued in the late 1940s, is used as the display channel for KAXT, a low-powered station in Santa Clara CA, which physically broadcasts on channel 22.