Name something that mixes worse than Hollywood and hacking. With all the money floating around and the millions in budgets, you’d think they’d have at least one person on retainer for a few grand that just shows up to the set or sits in the during the script readings and goes, “No, that’s not at all how that works.”
Instead, we’re regularly given some of the worst attempts at hacking and lines filled with meaningless computer jargon. You’d think this would be a thing of the past now that computers are so prevalent and everyone knows that you can’t hack someone via Microsoft Excell, but alas, this list proves that people never learn from the mistakes of their predecessors. Here are 7 of the funniest hacking scenes across movies and TV.
It pains me to put Hackers on this list because I actually really enjoy it, but damn if it isn’t possibly the worst representation of hacking. There are quite a few legitimate techniques within the movie, most notably using different tones to trick payphones into placing calls free of charge, but when they actually need to showcase real hacking, they completely drop the ball.
The perfect example is the fight at the end of the movie between the hackers and the big bad guy, played by Fisher Stevens. Everything you need to know can be summed up in one moment of that scene when a “cookie monster” virus begins “eating data.” The tech asks Steven’s character what to do, and he replies, “Type ‘cookie,’ you idiot. I’ll head them off at the pass.” Yeah, that’s how you defeat a virus.
Live Free or Die Hard
In the fourth installment of the Die Hard series, John McClane (Bruce Willis) finds himself defending the world from yet another terrorist attack, this time from a group of hackers. There are a few things wrong with the overall hacking being done by the terrorists, but we should focus on the fact that the hackers threatened to wipe out his 401k as if that data isn’t backed across multiple different banking agencies and is impossible to remove with the click of a button.
Okay, this was the 80s, so we should cut them some slack, but they’re asking for too much with the hacking they did in Superman III. August “Gus” Gorman (Richard Pryor) was performing a type of scheme called “salami slicing,” where instead of stealing large amounts of money, you siphon off small amounts from different accounts to avoid detection.
Gorman hacks into the Webscoe Industries accounting department to have every half-cent from employee paychecks diverted into his own. How did he hack into the accounting department, you might ask? By typing “OVERIDE ALL SECURITY” when prompted for a security code, of course! If hacking were that simple, the world would be in shambles right now.
Jeff Goldblum has a stroke of genius as David Levinson in Independence Day. Apparently, he’s such a good computer whiz that not only can he hack into alien technology aboard a mothership in outer space, but he can do it all from his 1996 Macintosh. Levinson is so smart that he can somehow figure out the operating system the aliens use, but he can write a code that can interact with it and disrupt their shields. We shouldn’t have to say this, but we’d like to remind everyone that the aliens don’t speak English or use any operating system known to man.
Season 8, episode 8 of Castle is a prime example of writers not fully understanding something and running with it anyways. In this episode, a hacker is trying to access an NYPD database. The screen conveniently shows the number of firewalls, a percentage bar of the hacker’s progress in breaking them, and a bunch of Rubik’s cube-esque shapes with glyphs on them as the tech tries to fight back. To top it all off, the tech launches a “cyber-nuke” back at the hacker to get them to stop. Does anyone want to explain what a cyber-nuke is and where I can get one?
This one might take the cake as the absolute worst hacking scene in all of history. In the NCIS episode “The Bone Yard”, Abby (Pauley Perrette) and McGee (Sean Harland Murray) attempt to identify a hacker and stop them. The hacker is causing multiple pop-ups to appear on their screen, so the answer is obviously for both of them to begin typing in tandem to defeat the hacker and find out who it is. Keyboards are barely big enough for one pair of hands; how are we fitting in a whole other set, and how does it make sense that they would accomplish anything by doing so?
For a show that started decently strong, Arrow really started going nowhere fast after a few seasons. It truly got absurd when Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) gets in a hacking war (why is it always hacking wars?) with another guy. Long story short, the hacker makes some weird stuff appear on her screen and smirks as he slams down on the backspace button on his keyboard, causing a… power surge on Felicity’s machine?
Anyways, sparks start shooting everywhere because that’s obviously a thing, but Felicity is too good for this guy and runs an “executable” that sends the power surge back. Does it cause sparks? No, this time, it causes the other guy’s computer to explode and blast him across the room. Seriously, who writes this garbage?