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Super Cell Reception

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"I hope trans-dimensional calls don't hurt my phone bill..."

With the advent of the computer age, writers still don't quite know how to work cell phones into a story. Half the time, the mere existence of the cell phone breaks the story entirely unless the author invokes some rationale to lose, break, or disable them.

This trope covers the other half, when writers have cell phones function like crazy James Bond-esque communication devices. Except when the plot demands, they work in places that no cell phone should — such as in a sewer, a cave system, Antarctica (which would only be viable with a very expensive and large satellite phone), or even other worlds and dimensions. They might probably come equipped with flawless webcams to boot.

A sub-trope of Plot-Sensitive Items. Futuristic communications not working have a Phlebotinum Breakdown. Such a cell phone could be a Supernatural Phone, if it's justified in-universe. Compare The Web Always Existed for another kind of device working against all logic. Contrast Sudden Lack of Signal, where a phone logically fails to work in a different world.

It should also be noted that in many large-scale emergency situations, cellular communication networks are often one of the first infrastructure systems to fail as everyone jumps on their cellphones and overloads the system (plus the cell towers themselves may get knocked out as well), making this trope even more glaring in works depicting disaster scenarios. Indeed, the emergency services are a major target market for satellite phones.

Compare and contrast Crystal Clear Picture, when it's TV signal that comes unbelievably crisper due to fixing the de-sync between the In-Universe screen and the camera.

Not to Be Confused with the music band called Supercell.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Astarotte no Omocha!: Naoya manages to receive a text message and picture from his sister... after he's been taken to the Youkai Realm. More bars in more places, indeed.
  • Ayakashi Triangle: After Lippy seals Suzu and boy Matsuri into a Pocket Dimension, girl Matsuri is still able to text message Suzu.
  • Averted in Dog Days. While Cinque is able to get cell reception in Flonyard, it's only while he's in a specific area (the place where the portal from Earth is located) and while using a special device Rico made to boost the signal.
  • Played with in Futari wa Pretty Cure. The protective forms that Mipple and Mepple have to take on during their stay on Earth resemble girly cellphones, resulting in everyone assuming that Nagisa and Honoka already had cells and didn't need new ones. However, Mipple and Mepple only look like cellphones, and can't be used to communicate.
  • In the anime series Gate Keepers 21, many characters use specially designed cell phones to activate "Gates", the source of the series' magic-like abilities.
  • High School D×D: When Ise and company get sucked into an alternate copy of Kyoto and sent across the city in the process (volume 9 of the light novel, S4E4 of the anime), they are still able to call each other on their phones. Either magical copy was perfect enough to also copy the towers, or Devils have some special phones.
  • Pretty much everyone in Hunter × Hunter, from the 12-year-old protagonists to the gang of bandits that Shalnark's a member of to the Chimera Ant commanders, have and use cellphones to communicate with each other over distances. Gon and Killua's beetle-shaped phones, in particular, are described as being able to get service nearly anywhere in the world.
  • Madoka's cell phone in Lagrange: The Flower of Rin-ne somehow has reception while in her mecha AND a few dozen meters deep underwater AND several kilometers off-shore. Not even the leader of the organization operating said mecha knows how that is possible. On the other hand, the battle takes place near a floating island fortress that does have reception (being the other end of Madoka's phone call).
  • The Human Aliens of Lyrical Nanoha have always remarked on the usefulness of Earth cell phones in the earlier seasons and have co-opted this technology by the time of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid. However, being from a much more advanced Magitek society, their cell phones are a lot more powerful, as shown in the first chapter of ViVid when Vivio uses a standard Mid-Childa cellphone to instantly send a picture to her family and friends, even though some of them are living in different planets and dimensions.
  • The Vision of Escaflowne has a pager (remember those?) that works on an invisible moon orbiting the Earth. This is debatably justified via Your Mind Makes It Real (or that could just be Fan Wank), but this still resulted in a lot of jokes.
  • Voices of a Distant Star:
    • The film is all about a mecha pilot and her boyfriend keeping in touch via SMS messages, which take longer and longer to reach the farther from Earth she travels. She eventually travels outside our solar system, and is still able to send the messages. That's some pretty amazing reception.
    • This is even played with in the anime short as the cell-phone displays the time it will take for the message to reach earth (8 years) and little note indicating she's in super-duper long distance mode. The manga fills in saying that she's really piggybacking on the fleet's communication grid, and thus her non-vital message takes a back seat to official communiques. And at the very end of the story, a newspaper article revels in the discovery of FTL communications. Too little too late for our heroine.
  • In YuYu Hakusho, Kurama calls his human mother during the Demon World Tournament arc via a cell phone connection. Keep in mind he's calling from an entirely separate dimension/planet where demons live; a place so far away that it takes warping space and time to open up portals to get there. Though it's justified somewhat given that Spirit World has been able to communicate across dimensions using video phone they gave to Yusuke, so Kurama might be using a similar technology.

    Comic Books 
  • Operatives on the Global Frequency had really cool phones that appeared to use their own satellite network and give users access to any electronic resource Aleph could hack into.They also had audio/video capabilities that were terribly advanced when the graphic novels came out in 2002, but by 2016 are Boring, but Practical off-the-shelf smartphones. This proves that writers don't need to bypass cell phones to create tension; these geeks kick ass, but they still get into trouble the phones can't gimmick them out of.
  • I Can't Believe it's not the Justice League! has the Super Buddies sent by Booster Gold to 'the deepest, darkest pits of Hell! (muahahaha!)' and are able to call their headquarters. It's lampshaded when Max Lord immediately demands to know what service they have.
  • In Loki: Agent of Asgard Loki explicitly states that they're using magic to boost their cell reception, this means they can call from Asgardia or can be reached even if the caller is trapped in an underwater base, or Loki's in the Metaphorical Space (yes. That happened.). They're also not above spreading the enchantment so thanks to them there are several (mostly teenage) supers in the Marvel universe with magic cell reception, for example Miss America.
  • In Planetary, the Drummer receives a cell call while on the Authority's extradimensional spaceship/headquarters. Possibly justified in that the Drummer's superpower is control over information and information transmission.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dick Tracy's first and most famous gadget is his Two-Way Wrist Radio, first used in the 1940s. Thus, the detective had a wrist communicator that was incredibly small and powerful for its day and the strip took maximum advantage of it for the heroes to get themselves out of sticky situations.

    Fan Works 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfics often feature the Willow Special, a magically-enhanced cell phone that always has reception (and never runs out of charge), no matter where you are. This can lead to weirdness, such as the Stargate SG-1 crossover where Dawn casually answers her phone while on another planet.
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail has Chloe somehow able to get text messages from Goh, while she's on the titular Train. She later learns that it's because One-One installed a wi-fi system and other apps for passengers to use while on their journey. In the Intermission she uses this to send her farewells to her father and former friend, telling them to not reply to her so she can move on with her past.
  • Sunset Shimmer Is Mad About Everything In The Beard with a Jerk-Ass Hanging off of It, the Element of Magic turns out to function as a telecommunications relay. Unfortunately, it isn't very useful since they have one phone between them and it doesn't work with hooves. Also, Order can still butt dial them without it.
    Order: Their magical powers are critical to the operation of what I do. The lightning bolt gives me electricity, the balloons give me gas to heat up the place, the diamonds give me water—for some reason—the butterflies are also my air conditioning, and the star thingy gives me wifi!
    Sunset Shimmer: Wifi? (checks phone) Holy crud! I’ve got a signal! And bars!? But no fingers, unfortunately.
  • Turnabout Storm: Phoenix receives a cellphone call from a "concerned friend" in the middle of his investigation. The kicker? He's in the middle of Equestria, a complete other world with no cellphones of any kind, let alone cell towers. This freaks him out quite a bit. It is later explained as a telepathic message intercepted by his phone and interpreted as an oncoming call.

    Films — Animated 
  • Lampshaded in Curious George (2006). Ted's phone goes off in the depths of Africa, and he comments about the "strong signal" before answering it. Then again, the movie seems to enjoy lampshading and breaking the fourth wall every so often.
  • Lampshaded in Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius when Jimmy asks for Libby's cellphone with Libby replying that she doubts her phone reception exceeds their solar system (they were on an alien planet several million light years away). Inverted a moment later when Jimmy was just ringing his robot dog in a room not too far away.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Empire Magazine's review of 2012 includes this response to Emmerich's "wilfully ignoring science to keep the plot boiling": "For future reference, sudden continental drift probably will affect your cellphone reception." And even if it doesn't, good luck getting through when literally the whole world is trying to call someone.
  • In Buried, Ryan Reynolds's character manages to make calls to the USA with a mobile phone, while buried in a wooden coffin in Iraq. He only loses one or two calls to a bad signal, and the battery manages to last the entirety of the film. Of course, since the action never leaves the coffin, he has to be able to call people, otherwise we'd be treated to an hour and half of him gibbering to himself in a pine box.
  • A few years ago there was talk of the "discovery" of a time-traveller in a Charlie Chaplin film from 1928 who looked to be talking on a cell phone. Apart from the ability (or lack thereof) to travel in time — there weren't any cell phone towers to make it work.
    • It turned out to be an ear trumpet.
  • Most people took issue with how one of the main characters could use his cell phone in the subway station in Cloverfield. This, however, was a savvy case of Truth in Television (and Reality Is Unrealistic), since the MTA is actively wiring subway platforms for cell service, specifically so riders can use their phones during emergencies. Indeed, after much of Manhattan had been smashed into oblivion, the subway station might be the only place where you can still get cellphone service.
  • The Dark Knight:
    • Sonar emitting phones.
    • A cell phone that works inside a guy. Inside a prison cell. It arms a bomb. Boom. This is justified because phones are often used by terrorists to arm bombs, because they are relatively cheap, and the other phone can simply be thrown away or destroyed once used. The cell was in a police station was in the centre of Gotham, so it is hard to see how it wouldn't have cell reception, and the human body is nowhere near dense enough to block signals. Finally, all Joker needs to do to stop the phone being damaged by being inside someone is pop it in a plastic bag. Simples.
  • Averted in Dead Snow: the characters are stuck high in the mountains in Norway, and when they DO manage to get reception, the emergency dispatcher thinks they're kidding.
  • Die Hard with a Vengeance, released in 1995, has the villain calling from the vault of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. While it's in Wall Street, this is still underground... and the phone somehow doesn't pick up the noise made by the heavy machinery picking up gold as he speaks.
  • In Enchanted, Nancy gets cellphone reception in a magical fairytale kingdom. The bizarreness of this is lampshaded right before she destroys the cell phone.
  • James Bond:
    • In Casino Royale (2006), Bond is issued a super-awesome Sony Ericsson phone that could make calls from the most isolated places in the world, browse the Internet like it was plugged in with a 1024 kbps data link, with a GPS map that could follow tracker bugs. It follows in the tradition of Bond's obscenely advanced gadgets.
    • In the sequel Quantum of Solace, the phone is able to transmit tons of high-res, multi-angle headshots from the Austrian Opera theatre to London MI:5 almost instantaneously. Cell phones play a significant role in the plot, as Bond and MI6 swap information and co-ordinate on multiple occasions, even during action scenes.
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) had a cellphone that works at the center of the Earth. Worse yet, not only is it just a joke that's not essential to the plot, but there was a scene in the same movie where a cell phone won't work inside of a normal cave.
  • Jurassic Park III: There's a satellite phone working perfectly quite some time after being eaten by a dino. Early in the film Dr. Alan Grant is trying to contact some one with a satellite phone, he can't and several reason are suggest why it won't work ending with "or she could have turned it off"
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Iron Man:
      • Tony has his cell phone wired through his armor. Maybe the armor is Bluetooth compatible.
      • Then there's the video chat on the non-armor-based cell phone in the middle of Afghanistan at the start of the movie.
    • In Iron Man 2, the phone gets an upgrade to be able to instantaneously access projection screens. It also appears to be as big and transparent as a piece of plexiglass.
    • In Thor, Jane Foster has no problem making a phone call despite being in the New Mexican desert and Thor's hammer scrambling electronics.
    • A plot point in Thor: The Dark World, Jane Foster receives a phone call while she and Thor are stuck on Svartalfheim. This lets her find a portal back to Earth.
    • Justified in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, when Kevin Bacon wonders how he is getting cell reception out in deep space, Kraglin responds that ships often are equipped with satellites that can pick up signals from up to 500 light-years away.
  • Sent up in Ocean's Thirteen, where billionaire casino magnate Willie Bank is discovered by the crew to have a desire to own a top-of-the-line Samsung that isn't even available commercially yet, with gold plating no less, that he harps on his assistant to get a hold of. He eventually receives it courtesy of the crew, and during the climax while in his ultra-secure security center, he receives a call. When his security manager comments that it's impossible to receive a call in the vault, Bank comments that with this phone he can. But no, the vault was specifically designed to prevent cell signals from getting through; his "call" was a direct-beam signal to activate the booby trap in the phone to bring down every computer and server in close proximity.
  • In Three Kings, one character manages to make a phone call to his wife, on a cell phone, in the middle of Iraq just after the First Gulf War, from inside a fortified bunker.
  • The Jami Gertz character in Twister had a cell phone which was immune to atmospheric conditions, such as giant tornadoes.

  • Artemis Fowl once received a text message in the Arctic. Sent from a laptop inside the Earth. One could speculate that the fairies have set up underground Internet and cell phone service providers... but it was Artemis' own laptop, so it probably ran on a plain old human-run ISP. Then again, it was Gadgeteer Genius Foaly at the keyboard, and Artemis has occasionally updated his stuff with Fairie tech, though Artemis himself notes that it should have been impossible for him to receive the message.
    • The story adheres more to actual physics when, asked if they can send a reply, Artemis nonchalantly quips, "Certainly. Just give me six months, some specialized equipment and three miles of steel girder." Foaly himself mentions how hard it was to patch into the human networks.
  • Fate/strange Fake: When False Rider traps several people in its Reality Marble, which is basically another dimension, Flat Escardos is still able to call Lord El-Melloi II on his cell phone.
  • In the Left Behind book Glorious Appearing, though God severely shakes up the earth, the protagonists are still able to get perfect cell-phone reception to call each other through. In the Dramatic Audio version, Chang Wong wonders if the cell-phones will still work after the Lord has appeared, and Naomi Tiberias tells him to stop worrying about it because it no longer matters.
  • Liv in the Future: After travelling to the future, Liv's smartphone is able to make posts on social media that appear in the present day and otherwise functions as if it were still the late New 10's aside from being unable to access GPS maps.
  • The Lost World (1995) novel has sat phones that are explicitly extra-durable and specifically made for the island.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24's cell phones can do anything. Anything. This is subverted for humor in a parody video that claimed to be the "lost pilot" of 24 from 1994:
    Jack: Chloe, can you send the schematic to my cell phone?
    Chloe: ... No.
  • The writers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer purposefully avoided using cell phones much, as it would ruin too many of the plots. However, for the first episode of season 7, they broke down and let Buffy get herself and Dawn cell phones, which work in the school basement (Dawn at least makes an enthusiastic comment), a place where the laws of reality don't quite work right. It seems Sunnydale finally got a tower (which nobody complained about before). The phones are rarely seen again.
  • In the Charmed episode "It's A Bad Bad Bad Bad World Part 1", while in a parallel universe, Paige and Evil Paige's phones both pick-up the call from Evil Piper while they are in the Underworld.
  • In the new Doctor Who, the Doctor can use the sonic screwdriver and "jiggery-pokery" to upgrade any cell phone to Universal Roaming, allowing you to make a call from and to anywhere in space and time. No special dialling code needed. Also, people who know the Doctor's number (such as Winston Churchill and Clara Oswald) can call the TARDIS directly, which is only impeded by either Satan or the nearby black hole in “The Impossible Planet”. "A Good Man Goes to War" sort of confirms the obvious explanation - the phone calls are routed through the TARDIS, a sentient, telepathic non-linear entity who exists in all of time and space at once.
  • JAG: In "Tiger, Tiger", Harm's cell phone starts ringing, despite being onboard a frigate out in the Mexican Gulf somewhere between the Florida Keys and Cuba, and he had tried to use before to no avail. Moments before it started ringing, Harm told the terrorists holding the ship's crew as hostage something to the effect that "It won't work out here." The caller is Mac, but she plays the role of an ignorant tourist. After the non sequitur call is over, Bud explains it away as an atmospheric distortion, which the terrorists buy for lack of a better explanation.
  • Averted in Journeyman, where Vasser's cell phone fails to work even ten years in the past, as it's incompatible with the cell networks existing at the time. So, he finds his old huge phone from ten years ago and carries it in case he ends up in the past.
  • During the finale of the 4th season of Lost Keamy is wearing a heart rate monitor set to transmit a signal to detonate C4 back on his ship should he die. When he dies far undrground at the Orchid station, somehow the transmitter is capable of transmitting through dozens of feet of earth and out to sea to trigger the detonator.
  • The Mighty Boosh had one character receiving a phone call on an expedition somewhere in the arctic. We can safely suspend our belief to include it, considering that at the time the expedition, comprised of two zoo-keepers, was trying to defrost the frozen last words of an explorer killed by Jack Frost.
  • The Ministry of Time: Zig-zagged with the Ministry's cellphones. They can call to and from any time period, but only work within Spanish territory, and even then can suffer the same reception issues as regular phones. In episode 3, a 1945 agent mentions that the phones are essentially "props" in the mountains.
  • Queen In-hyun's Man, a Korean Drama, must hold the record for this trope. When Boong-Do time travels from 2012 back to 1694, the cell phone that Hee Jin gave him goes along. After Boong-Do has been in 17th century Korea for a year, his cell phone still has a charge, surely setting a record for battery life. But that's not all, as Boong-Do's wondrous cell phone picks up a call from 318 years in the future when Hee Jin calls him.
  • In the first Story Arc of the second season of Read All About It, the characters have a portable communicator created by an eccentric inventor that's bulky and transmits only text, but has an astounding range that can transmit not only over vast distances, but also into different time periods. It's a handy function to have when you've been whisked to 1812 and you are desperate to contact the coach house in 1983.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • The episode "Threads" has Carter's cell phone ring in the SGC briefing room. The briefing room is 28 floors underground inside a mountain. (See also Rule of Funny, given that she thought she had it turned off.)
    • In "200", Martin Lloyd complains that his cell reception is terrible in the SGC briefing room. As above, the fact that he gets any signal at all is a miracle. Again, Rule of Funny may be in play given the mostly parodic nature of the episode.
      • In the same episode where Martin and the team were pitching ideas for his Show Within a Show one of the show pitches was about a teen-aged version of the show with the characters using cell phones on an alien planet and the ship above that planet.
  • Naturally, the communicators in Star Trek: The Original Series came before cell phones, but they look much like them (having arguably inspired their modern look), and were often subject to both ends of this trope.
  • The students, crew, and passengers about the S.S. Tipton in The Suite Life on Deck all seem to have phones that get reception anywhere in the world (including remote locations in developing countries and at sea), are standard models that aren't at all bulky or complex (as one would expect from a satellite phone with such capabilities), and never incur any sort of roaming charges.
  • Zig-zagged in Teen Wolf. The cell phones that almost every teen carries have never fallen into any of the usual dead battery or no service cliches. It would be completely implausible, seeing as how they are in the middle of the suburbs. Oftentimes, the phones worked into the plot without breaking it, with missed and interrupted calls taking the places of complete silence.
  • Justified in an episode of Time Trax. Lambert takes a cellphone into an Amazonian swamp area, and his companion-of-the-episode gives him grief because it won't work where they are. He claims it's a satillite phone, but it's really SELMA, his computer-on-a-credit-card.
  • In the season two finale of The X-Files, "Anasazi", Mulder makes a cell phone call, while stranded in the middle of a desert inside a boxcar buried underground.

  • The first episode of This Duckburg Life, a podcast based on DuckTales (2017), has Dewey and Louie end up in what basically amounts to an Acid-Trip Dimension. When they try dropping a pin on their location "it's just white emptiness but with a pin in it", but their phones are still able to flawlessly get through to Launchpad's answering machine. Lampshaded when Dewey asks the dimensions resident entity how they get such great cell phone reception and the entity itself doesn't know.
  • Hello, from the Magic Tavern has the main character creating and uploading his podcast from a tavern in a Dungeons & Dragons-style fantasy world, which he arrived in via a magic portal behind a Burger King. Although he can't get home, apparently there's wifi from the Burger King getting through quite well.

    Tabletop Games 
  • One of the Relics in the Scion Companion book is the iGjallahar, based on the ancient horn of Nordic myth that summons the glorious dead from Valhalla for Ragnarok. It's a special cell phone that gets a signal anywhere because it transmits to a tower in the Overworld.
  • In the d20 Modern sourcebook Urban Arcana, one of the miscellaneous magic items is the Eldritch Cell Phone. It is explicitely a Supernatural Phone, needing no battery, and able to call from anywhere. You call someone, and in case he forgot his phone, his battery is dead or he plain doesn't owns a phone, the phone closest to him rings. He is magically assured of your identity, and the communication is perfectly clear (in the sense that if you are speaking clearly, the message will be understandable in any situation), though there is a slight sound distortion.
  • It's a common trick in Werewolf: The Apocalypse for Glass Walkers to put spirits into cell phones so that they can call from and to anywhere. Yes, even the Spirit World.

    Video Games 
  • City of Heroes cuts both ways. On the one hand, you can get a signal in the sewers, or alternate dimensions, or ancient Rome (this one's Hand Waved as being something the Midnight Squad set up). Inside a mission - even one in an outside area of Paragon City - your phone is useless. And there are plenty of times where you have to go talk to someone whose phone number you have, but nooooo, you have to go see them in person - which is sometimes justified as needing to deliver something to them or the person being paranoid and wanting to meet face to face, sometimes not. Conversely, sometimes a MacGuffin is given to you over your cellphone.
  • Final Fantasy VII:
    • There is a PHS (Party Hensei System, a pun on Personal Handiphone System) which allows you to summon your comrades from anywhere — in the middle of the desert, on a mountain, in a cave or underneath a giant metal plate. However, it doesn't seem so much cellular as Save Point-ular, and only works when on one.
    • In Crisis Core, Zack has access to a far better phone as a member of SOLDIER which allows him to receive e-mail and shop online and — apparently — fuse materia. And it even continues to work as if the game's four year Time Skip never happened even though Zack himself was out of commission.
    • Before Crisis, the other Final Fantasy VII prequel which seems to be mired somewhere between No Export for You and Development Hell as far as an international release is concerned, lets you use your own cellphone to make materia in the game via snapping pictures. The dominant color determines the element and grade of the materia - for example, a majority yellow picture produces Thunder materia.
  • Final Fantasy XV: Cell phones are something of a Lucian Secret Art, as no lands outside of Lucis have them. Even so, Noctis and his friends can call one another, and their allies still in Lucis, as they ride a train across the lands of Eos and in the post-cataclysmic Lucis without so much as static.
  • In the Grand Theft Auto games, your character can receive phone calls and messages from anywhere on the map, including deep underground tunnels or in the wilderness far away from cities or towns. Funnily enough, in Grand Theft Auto V this trope is averted with regards to your GPS, which cuts out upon entering tunnels.
  • The red video phones The ClueFinders use may or may not be cell phones but they certainly demonstrate this trope as they work perfectly underground and even on another planet with no reception issues unless they are forcibly turned off (notably the one time the kids lose contact with the video phones is in Search & Solve Adventures, through Santiago and Leslie's captor noticing the device, snatching it away and presumably turning it off).
  • Kingdom Hearts III explains this by the details of the cell in question. Sora, Chip and Dale, King Mickey, Riku, and Ienzo each have a Gummiphone that allows them to converse with each other between worlds. Sora sends and receives most of his calls from the Gummi Ship mid-voyage, with one brief call while he's in Twilight Town; Ienzo is at Radiant Garden; Chip and Dale are at Disney Castle; and King Mickey and Riku have apparently been giving the latter two status updates from the Realm of Darkness. None of these worlds have direct connections; the Garden and Disney Castle are in the Realm of Light, while Twilight Town is in the Realm Between; and different worlds are canonically on different time axes. The name indicates it's built with the same technology as Gummi Ships, which are created from the pieces of broken-down walls between worlds, but with all the incongruity it's a miracle that Chip and Dale losing contact with the King and Riku is considered an abnormal occurrence.
  • Peret em Heru: For the Prisoners: In order to prevent Nei Ichikawa's death, Ayuto either needs to get very lucky when guessing which coffin that they've been trapped inside... or call them on his cellphone, enabling him to hear their ringtone. All of this is happening deep, deep underground, in some newly uncovered ancient ruins, yet the signal's still strong enough for this to work.
  • In Persona 2, the phones somehow receive reception in places like the Velvet Room and the Zodiac Temples. It is even lampshaded at one point.
  • Pokémon:
    • In Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver, the Pokégear's phone can receive or make calls anywhere. Including deep inside Mount Silver, an area so remote that there are only three people in it and the route leading to it, one of whom is the nurse in the Pokemon Center.
    • Averted in Pokémon Legends: Arceus: the time-displaced protagonist has their cellphone upgraded into an "Arc Phone" by Arceus itself, but despite the name (and the divine empowering), it doesn't actually function as a cell phone in any way we're familiar with.
  • Ratchet & Clank: The Gadgetron PDA can be used to provide instant ammo delivery no matter what planet you are on. It even works in the open vacuum of outer space on the Gemlik Base or outside the Blarg Tactical Research Spacestation or Drek's fleet. How a call could work on any planet or in the open vacuum of space is a mystery, nevermind how the ammo delivery arrives instantly.
  • Scarface: The World Is Yours. Having one of the very first satellite phones ever, stolen from a rival crimelord, is vital to the plot and many of the gameplay mechanics. It always works, from inside any building to remote island dirt roads. Possibly handwaved in that if you're a millionaire drug kingpin, you can afford the best.
  • Starcraft: Whatever communications systems are used by Terrans work perfectly, no matter the terrain or distance. The closest it comes to Cell Phones Are Useless is in Brood War, where Duran claims Admiral Stukov's signal is breaking up, and that he can't see the Zerg swarms supposedly attacking the base, possibly due to a sensor malfunction. He is, of course, lying, as the player sees the Zerg attacking.
  • In Super Paper Mario, the Queen of the Underworld makes a phone call to the King of Mario's-equivalent-to-Heaven. That's not a normal phone whichever way you look at it.
  • In Syberia, Kate can use her mobile phone anywhere, while travelling to particularly remote locations. In the second game it extends to the middle of Siberia.

    Web Animation 
  • Love of the S*n: A phone starts buzzing in the room Charger Block and Crown are hiding in, even though they're in the afterlife. Lampshaded by Charger Block.


    Web Video 
  • In Helluva Boss the imps somehow have no trouble getting a cell signal from Hell to Earth, even when their portal is closed. Much to Blitzo's annoyance when Stolas calls him up while he's running from a maniac with a shotgun.
  • Vision of Escaflowne Abridged: Lampshaded when Hitomi's pager receives a call from home even though she's in a planet in another magical dimension.
    Hitomi: One missed call from... Amano?! What the heck, he's on a different planet!
    Closing Credits Narrator: This episode of Escaflowne Abridged has been brought to you by Chekhov's Cellphone Service, bringing you more bars in more places — even on Gaea."

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake: Fionna's cellphone is able to receive and send texts from different dimensions (especially impressive in this case, because her universe is explicitly disconnected from the rest of the multiverse). Which is pretty useful when one of her friends texts to make sure she's okay, since she's been missing the whole day.
  • In one episode of American Dragon: Jake Long, when Jake and his friends were underground, Spud was surprised that Jake's phone had full bars, claiming that his reception was like magic...before realizing that it actually was magic.
  • Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines. The candlestick phone Dick Dastardly used to communicate with the General had to be cellular. It appeared in the air sans landline and even as far as Arabia.
  • Kim Possible:
    • The Kimmunicator has never once failed due to signal interference, unless it was deliberately jammed. It works anywhere on Earth or in near-orbit space, even deep underground. At one point, the Kimmunicator sprouts wheels in order to get Kim. According to Wade, it also has its own satellite. She has, however, lost it a few times, and when the writers got sick of that plot, they gave her a compact wrist-mounted version. Justified, though, because Kim has helped so many people and done so many favors for others, that everybody helps boost the signal worldwide for her.
    • In the Christmas Episode, Drakken's cell phone was able to make calls from the North Pole.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • The title characters use Candace's cell phone in prehistoric times and on Mars. Candace lampshades this in "Unfair Science Fair Redux" by asking "How is it we have bars here?" on Mars.
    • In "Candace Disconnected", Candace's new cell phone is broken and her mother wouldn't buy her a new one because she's already lost so many of them. The last one bought couldn't be used for anything other than making and receiving calls. Phineas and Ferb then built one that could even be used as a teleporting device.
  • The Owl House:
    • Subverted with Luz's phone. While Luz is able to send and receive messages from her mother while in the Boiling Isles, in addition to watching internet videos, it's only because Eda's portal door opens up Earthside (within walking distance of Luz's house, no less) to give her constant access to a cell signal and Wi-Fi. She ends up having to destroy the portal at the end of season one, making re-establishing contact with Earth her main goal in the following season.
    • Played straight in the Season 2 episode "Eclipse Lake" where Luz and Amity are able to communicate with each other using a pair of Tamagotchi-like devices despite the later being on the other side of the Isles and (perhaps more importantly for this trope) inside a mine shaft. It can't even be chalked up to the devices being powered by magic, since the walls of the mine shaft are explicitly stated to have Anti-Magic properties.
  • In Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Marco's cell phone works in other dimensions. In "Interdimensional Field Trip", he comments that he gets more bars in the world they are in than on Earth.
  • Averted in an episode of Teen Titans. Cyborg tries to make a call while the guys are in another dimension but gets concerned when the call doesn't go through. Robin is quick to point out that they are certainly outside the coverage area.
  • Double subverted in Transformers: Prime. When the kids are stranded in another dimension, they try using a cell phone to call for help, and while the call reaches the Autobots, there's too much interference for it to be legible. They try to get around this problem by sending a text message, which works.
  • Tutenstein has an episode where Cleo and Tut have to go into the Underworld after her kidnapped cousin. While they're there, Cleo's mom calls her cell phone, which picks up. Cleo immediately lampshades this, mentioning that she doesn't get reception downtown and it makes no sense she gets reception in the Underworld.
  • In the pilot of Ugly Americans Mark visits Hell, apparently accessible from New York by escalator, and is surprised to see his phone gets five bars down there.

    Real Life 
  • There are special systems for miners which allow to them make calls from deep mines; however they consist of not only the phone itself, but also a set of "picocells", or routing relays placed all over the mine. Many cities have installed similar devices in metro systems and traffic tunnels to ensure continuous cell phone coverage during their citizens' commutes, and there have even been a few experiments with installing them in airliners.
  • Normal-looking phones communicating with a mobile satellite relay (e.g. on a van).
  • External mobile phone antennas and modded internal antennas may extend range significantly.
  • The state of the art in satellite phone handsets are comparable in size and weight to a regular cellphone from about 1989. Their sound quality is pretty poor but they can make and receive calls from just about anywhere on Earth's surface. Some of them can even be tethered to a laptop and provide internet access, albeit painfully slowly. However, they have a noticeable delay - you'll always notice that it takes several seconds for the person on the other end to talk back after you've spoken as if you are making a call from the moon, even if the person you're talking to is just down the street.
  • iPhone 14 and future Android phones can send emergency text messages, though the available bandwidth is not enough for a voice call.

Alternative Title(s): Magic Cell Phone