A phone number is much longer than a real phone number, or noticeably longer than other phone numbers given at the same time. The entire number may be listed or the audience may simply see a character dialing far more digits than would be reasonably expected without seeing which digits they are. Sometimes the number will be an international number and the extra digits are presumably country and area codes, but more often than not no explanation is given.
Sort of Truth in Television: To dial on a public phone from Tokyo to Guadalajara, Mexico, for example, you have to dial 0041-010-52-33-XXXX-XXXX, where 0041 is the long distance carrier,note 010 is the international long-distance code,note 52 is Mexico's country code, 33 is Guadalajara's city code, and XXXX-XXXX is the local phone number. Also, any extra digits are ignored once you've finished dialing a full valid number, so sometimes harmless extra letters are tacked on to a mnemonic (i.e. 1-800-BUSINESS-NAME).
- Inverted in the Simple Samosa episode "Pimple Samosa", where Samosa calls a TV station on the phone to try out a new pimple cream and get rid of an annoying talking pimple named Peter he has developed. The number he calls is literally just "1".
- Played with in Ralf König's graphic novel Hempels Sofa. As the psychotherapist protagonist Silke Hempel comes to her office in Berlin, her Cuban cleaning-woman is using the office phone, but when confronted, Conchita claims she was only making a local call to her husband. Silke then presses the redial-button, which is followed by three panels of the phone going "tickertitacka tickertitacka tickertick tacktick tickertackerticktick tickertacktik tickertacktick tackertickertack tickertacktack tacktick tickertick tickertackertick ticktacktick tackerticktacker tackertick" until she finally hears the beeps and a Spanish-speaking voice saying "aló?" (Conchita's mother in Cuba).
- The technical support line for the Insan-O-Flex in Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters.
- Also the emergency number Carl had to dial after Meatwad sawed both his arms off.
- Used in You Don't Mess with the Zohan to have some Palestinian-Americans call an extraordinarily long number to reach the "Hizballah Phone-Line". It turned out that "terrorist-supply service will resume as soon as negotiations break down".
- In a surreal comedy bit, John Lennon dials one of these from his below-ground resting area in the Beatles' house in Help!, to set off Paul, George and Ringo's alarm clocks late at night.
- What do you get if you dial 0383585999274658390110495728405?
- A sore finger! (More so when phones had dials, rather than buttons.)
- The "new emergency number" in The IT Crowd, complete with jingle: That's ♪ 0118 999 881 999 119 725 ...3 ♪
- In Little Britain Abroad, Caroll Beer dials a lot of numbers on the telephone in order to call someone.
- The Soup had a gag like this, but it was intentionally parodying 10-10-321 (formerly 10-321) and a host of other similar ads that were advertised at the time, especially on E! network. The chain ended with "...and pi, then press 1, and then the number you want to dial!"
- The Amanda Show did this for each of its "When ______s Attack!" sketches; for example: "1 (500) I-Just-Saw-the-Brady-Bunch-Attack-Some-Person-and-Now-I'm-Calling-This-Number-to-Report-What-I-Saw".
- Saturday Night Live:
- An Alec Baldwin episode had a false ad promoting a new collect-call service:
- Another SNL episode from the early 90s featured a commercial parody of a phone company willing to provide top notch customer service, which allowed a customer to choose 123-456-789note as her number.
- Done on The D-Generation. A poll on a news show was "Do you think unions have too much power?". The number to call for "yes" was short and the number for "no" was ridiculously long.
- The NBC prank show Betty White's Off Their Rockers had an old lady approach a guy and ask him to dial one of these so that she could talk to her grandson in another country. She recited at least thirty digits before stopping and asking to start over. The second time, she took the phone back, but then said it was a wrong number.
- In "Chef Rotten Food" on LazyTown, this is combined with 555 with a phone number that's nothing but 5s that seems to keep going and going.
- A B-Plot in Vicious has Violet head to Buenos Aires, where she leaves Freddie and Stuart a message stating she's in trouble. The contact number she leaves is "0054-770-09-0B-B04-K51Q".
- In a Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis hosted edition of the Colgate Comedy Hour, during a library sketch, Jerry Lewis tries to call his friend Herbie so he can help him retrieve his lost library card:
Jerry: Hey, operator, would you please be good enough to give me Academy 72467... 24771... 329984... 721111111111—(Dean hits him on the head)—8239... 72665444444—(Dean hits him again)—293... 333336! (just before Dean hits him yet again) 29?Operator: Sorry, this number has been changed to Academy 31658473657895468—aack! (Dean rolls up the phone line on itself, "strangling" her)
- Inverted in Supernatural, where Crowley's phone number is just "666".
- Allan Sherman had one of these in The Let's All Call Up AT&T and Protest to the President March.
- This might be considered the closest thing Sherman had to a 1960s protest song. AT&T had recently introduced direct dialing for long-distance calls, letting customers avoid the charges associated with operator-assisted calls. This required knowing a lot of extra digits. Introduced in 1951 in the NYC area, it didn't get big until the 1960s when smaller communities got the routing equipment for such calls.
- Mitch Hedberg jokes about company phonewords that are much longer than the actual phone number, saying that he always he insists on dialing the words out to the bitter end.
- Dane Cook's rant about car accidents (specifically, when the other guy is an absolute jerk) includes a list of utterly absurd details about the contact information that gets exchanged, such as a 48-digit phone number and a sketch of a monkey screwing a coconut for a name.
- In Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: Homestar Ruiner, if Strong Bad attempts to call Homsar with Homestar's phone, a really, really long sequence of simulated button presses (via speed dial) is heard, though the numbers can't be seen.
- A fake advert in Homestar Runner features Senor Cardgage Mortgage inviting you to "come along down and dial 555-55-55855-55-5-SENOR-MORT-GAGE-TODAY!"
- Stuart Ashen once did a fake promotional message to support Sad Onions (long story). The YouTube comments were quick to jump on the fact that the long phone number he recites is different from the number that scrolls along the bottom of the screen. Someone put the "promo" into its own video here.
- Day Job Orchestra's Star Trek: The Next Generation Gag Dub "Happy in Paraguay" ends with a phone number for ordering DJO apple juice, spoken very fast: "ACT NOW CALL 1-800-608-652-5612..24-652-642-, THAT'S 1-800-608-56-56-56 1-800-608-642-562-642 1-800-56-56-56-"*BOOM*!
- The Simpsons:
- When Homer calls Japan, he dials a ridiculous series of digits (we can't see what he's dialing). At one point, he touch-tones the theme to The Magnificent Seven. (Note that it's made to seem longer than it is by Homer looking back to the phonebook after every digit.)
- There was a similar bit on the episode of The Simpsons where Bart plays a phone prank in Australia and the dial tone sounds like the National Geographic theme.
- Another example comes from "Poppa's Got A Brand New Badge", where Homer creates his own security agency. He implores customers: "don't dial 911, dial 636... 555... 347... 2."
- Sheep in the Big City had one episode where they cut to commercial as a character picked up the phone. When it returns, the character is still dialing, and the narrator comments, "If you're wondering why he's still dialing, he's calling one of those really long collect call numbers."
- Lilo & Stitch: The Series: Recurring villain Dr. Jacques von Hamsterviel's phone number is, in one episode, given as "5550198293434533655882".
- In Family Guy, a Cutaway Gag involved Hitler as the host of a TV talk show.
If you are going to be in ze Los Angeles area und vould like tickets to Hitler, call 213-DUWERDESTEINEKRANKENSCHWESTERBRAUCHEN! note
- When the Griffins return from their vacation in Italy, Brian gives Stewie the long Italian phone number of 195-655-501-881-453-989-900-168-94-52.
- 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.
- D and J's plumbing has another long phone number. 1-555-0175-D-AND-J-TODAY-FOR-ALL-YOUR-PLUMBING-NEEDS, Extension 402.
- Placing a phone call in the United States using a prepaid phone card will add 25 digits to any phone number.
- Sometimes an advertisement will state to dial a number that is longer than an actual number just so that the word or words they're using to represent the number won't be cut off. You don't actually have to dial anything other than the actual number in order to reach it, but dialing the extra digits won't hurt. (For instance, "1-800-JENNY-CRAIG" is actually just 1-800-JEN-NYCR; the AIG won't do anything because the phone system already connected you and isn't listening anymore.)