Phone Numbers on TV

Normally whenever characters on TV shows or in movies give out phone numbers, they're fake. One of those '555' numbers. But the new trend seems to be to give out real numbers that people can actually dial up. For instance, on Scrubs the surgeon Chris Turk recently gave out his phone number: 916-CALL-TURK. If you call the number, you'll hear a message from one of the characters. Apparently a real number has also been given out on an episode of the Gilmore Girls.


Posted on Mon Nov 15, 2004


I thought they'd discontinued using 555 numbers on TV some time ago. It was about the same time they started rolling out additional area codes because the existing ones in some parts of the country were running out of available phone numbers.

They also stopped requiring that area codes have a middle digit of 0 or 1. Same reason, to open up more available numbers.

And by the way, when I say "they" I mean the North American Numbering Plan Administration (, which evidently manages such issues.
Posted by Mark  on  Mon Nov 15, 2004  at  01:51 PM
555 numbers seem so generic. But it seems wasteful to create a # just for a TV show or movie.
Posted by Maegan  on  Mon Nov 15, 2004  at  02:02 PM
I just called the number and one of the assistant directors picked up the phone and said "Scrubs set". Turns out they bought the number and a phone to go with it and since the episode aired in early Nov. '04, the phone rings constantly. If someone is walking by, they'll pick it up; if not, it goes to a pre-recorded message. Fun!
Posted by Phil  on  Mon Nov 15, 2004  at  03:37 PM
It's not just TV that's giving out real phone numbers. I first came across this feature when playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. In the game, there are radio stations and on those radio stations, commentators give out phone numbers that can actually be dialled and you can listen to a message left by a given character. One of the better ones is the Thor's Self Help Line. I believe the number is 1-866-PILLAGE. I know it's pillage but not sure about the prefix. I'm sure a quick online search will yeild the actual one if I am wrong. Very funny though, enjoy!
Posted by Codmo  on  Mon Nov 15, 2004  at  04:07 PM
they should pick someone's home phone number out of the phone book and use it.
Posted by John  on  Mon Nov 15, 2004  at  05:26 PM
I just had a literature class about conventions of drama and used 555 numbers as a modern example. Just one more of my references that's now outdated.
Posted by Mark  on  Mon Nov 15, 2004  at  05:28 PM
Ack-no...I hope they don't start using 'real' phone fun as it may be, if you have ever been on the wrong end of that scenario, it can be a nightmare! A place I worked inadvertently gave out this little old man's number as a place to call regarding ticket information for a play. He was *very* irritated with my company. Luckily it was a short term play, and a $100 gift certificate went a long way to making things up to him. Just think of the poor people who had 867-5309 as a number in the 80's....

I have also been on the recieving end of a phone error (not even a prank) that causes my current company a significant amount of lost time...We are a customer service based business, and a company called 'prepaid legal services' transposed their fax machine's area code on a mailing they sent out. Because we are service based, we have to answer every call that comes in. Our little 4-person firm, on a bad day, can get well over 100 repetative fax calls. If we actually get a person on the other end they frequently are abusive to us.

(And my home number used to be a hair salon. I think I'm actually going to start booking appointments just for the heck of it--especially when they call late at night or early in the morning--maybe I'll start giving them fun pre-appointment instructions as well--'please abstain from eating for 2 days before your appoinment to ensure proper chemical reactions to the hair dye)
Posted by Karen V  on  Mon Nov 15, 2004  at  07:09 PM
I always use 555 instead of the real prefix whenever a website asks me for my phone number. A couple websites have actually rejected them as invalid-- smart.
Posted by PlantPerson  on  Mon Nov 15, 2004  at  07:23 PM
Thanks for the NANPA site, Mark! Always thought SOMEBODY had to be at the wheel on this stuff. Exhausted FCC site, once - no answer.
Posted by stork  on  Mon Nov 15, 2004  at  08:46 PM
For years a kid called my parents house & asked for 'Brittney'. After about 10 years of it, we finally figured out what happened: A girl who lives down the street, named Brandy, gave her name (a fake name) to a boy she didn't like, but liked her. She also provided him with a phone #...but changed the prefix of her home phone. She said that a few years after she had done that she made friends with my little sister & realized she had given out our # to this boy. So after TEN YEARS of getting weekly calls for Brittney, we finally were able to convince this boy to stop calling. At least he was consistent.

On a similar note, whenever my sister goes somewhere that you can fill out a visitor card to show you were there, or for more info, she fills out totally fake names, but uses her ACTUAL address & phone. Whenever items show up for Courtney, Lisa, or Kelly my mom makes my sister, Thea call the company and let them know they no longer need to send items to those people...because they aren't real. She also has to apologize for wasting their time & money. (She's only 16 & has been doing this since she could write!)
Posted by Maegan  on  Tue Nov 16, 2004  at  08:21 AM
This trend isn't really that new - the movie 'Sneakers' did that years ago in a scene where a female FBI agent gave one of the actors her phone number.
Posted by Dave  on  Tue Nov 16, 2004  at  10:49 AM
Actually, the "555" prefix IS NOW VALID; the growing demand for numbers for faxes, data lines, and cell phones means that there can no longer be the luxury of foregoing the extra ten thousand phone numbers per area code wasted by having a generic invalid prefix; also note that telephone companies are beginninng to implement changes in their switchgear to eliminate the need for prefixing direct-dial long-distance calls with "1"; collect calls will still need the "0"; which, now that the 3-digit service numbers are becoming prevelant, removes the "operator" function once required.(The "three digit service" numbers? The original one - "411" - directory assistancee, "911" - police/fire/med; "711" in some areas will get police or emergency services - "911" for non-emergencies; "511" is becoming universal for motorist info; "611" will - with some providers, at least - get you their customer service department, and so on)
Posted by Tom  on  Tue Nov 16, 2004  at  08:05 PM
A local news channel once gave out a wrong number to phone if you wanted to adopt a labradoor (a woman who once bred them was deemed unfit and there were about 150), so an old lady was answering phones all night, I know because my dad phoned up for one. Difference between him and the majority of people was that my dad actually phoned after nine am, as the reporter told you to. This poor lady had people phoning at three in the morning! I hope TV shows don't start giving out real numbers...
Posted by Amy  on  Wed Nov 17, 2004  at  04:36 PM
Can you tell me whey "they" started using the 555-prefix in movies. When I was a kid, they used REAL phone numbers! Then they changed it to the 555 thing.

Posted by Carlton  on  Thu Feb 03, 2005  at  11:12 AM
carlton, I'll be glad to tell you. 555 is a prefix used by the Former Soviet Union Red Button System. It was hoped that numerous calls to 555 prefixes would tie up the Red Red Button System, thereby allowing for a devastating first strike by NATO Forces. The Kremlin countered by flooding the airwaves with late-night TV ads for 1-900 numbers, which was the prefix for The White House Oval Office during the Clinton administration. The current administration's prefix is very similar to that of the Viagra Helpline and Alchoholics Anonymous phone prefixes. Hmmmm...
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Thu Feb 03, 2005  at  12:37 PM
The phone number below belongs to someone that like to call me and hang up almost daily. He never speaks english just spanish. Can anyone help. Thanks. (559) 871-5478
Posted by juan garcia  on  Sat Mar 05, 2005  at  06:19 PM
Su problemo del telefono es el Presidencio loco, Jorge Bush. De nada.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Sat Mar 05, 2005  at  06:35 PM
Espanol no es mi lingua primera. Escusa me. Gracias
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Sat Mar 05, 2005  at  06:41 PM
:shut: did you call him hairy?????????????????
Posted by person  on  Fri May 20, 2005  at  02:46 PM
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Fri May 20, 2005  at  03:08 PM
so a friend and myself just watched sneakers, copied down the number and called. dude from oklahoma city picks up, obviously knows that a call at 3am is about the movie, goes along with it great and hangs up. we vowed to call him every sunday at 3am.
Posted by Drew  on  Mon Nov 28, 2005  at  01:35 AM
for a thorough list of tv/movie phone nos.
Posted by tipster  on  Wed Nov 30, 2005  at  08:27 PM
i would like to become a actor because it is very cool to see yourself on television
Posted by cynthia saad  on  Wed Jul 05, 2006  at  04:17 PM
Posted by Jasmine  on  Sat Apr 05, 2008  at  02:04 PM
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.