Hollywood has portrayed the “coder” and “hacker” character in movies and TV shows for years, but realism has never exactly been the operative word in their character descriptions. Most programmer characters are either rife with stereotypes or saddled with zero character development and a set of unexplained coding skills allowing them to hack their way into just about anything. Though of course that doesn’t mean they’re not supremely entertaining to watch.
We ranked each coder on a scale of 1-10 Gibsons (from the movie “Hackers”) from relatively believable to outlandishly ridiculous.
Theodore Donald “Rat” Finch, “The Core” (2002)
Actor: D.J. Qualls
Coder Skills: Hacks a cellphone for free long distance using only a gum wrapper, can “hack the planet” by keeping global disaster news off the Internet, hacks Project DESTINI mainframe, releases “Virgil” mission data to the world.
Quirks: Cannot code effectively without an unlimited supply of “Xena” tapes and Hot Pockets.
Best Quote: “One Zero One Zero Zero. With that I could steal your money, your secrets, your sexual fantasies, your whole life. Any country, any place, any time I want. We multitask like you breathe. I couldn’t think as slow as you if I tried.”
Plausibility Level: 3/10 Gibsons. Nowadays, any hacker who needs Xena to get in the zone is in serious trouble.
Stanley Jobson, ”Swordfish” (2001)
Actor: Hugh Jackman
Coder Skills: Infected the FBI with a computer virus, writes a worm that steals government slush fund money from a world bank, hacks a U.S. government system in 60 seconds.
Quirks: Likes leather jackets and outdated band t-shirts, forbidden from “touching” a computer as part of his parole, gets to see a topless Halle Berry.
Best Quote: “I’m happy with what I’m wearing, thank you.”
Plausibility Level: 2/10 Gibsons. Hugh Jackman has never and will never be a believable hacker.
The main dudes of “Silicon Valley” (2014-Present)
Actors (from left): Kumail Nanjiani, Martin Starr, Thomas Middleditch, Zach Woods, T.J. Miller
Coder Skills: Compression algorithms, Java and Scala coding, and systems architecture.
Quirks: One of them is an illegal alien from Canada, one has a penchant for ‘shroom-fueled Vision Quests. They all live together in an “incubator” house.
Best Quote: “Steve Jobs was a poser. He didn’t even write code.”
Plausibility Level: 10/10 Gibsons. They’re socially awkward, wear hoodies and can’t talk to girls. Sounds about right.
Skye, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (2013-Present)
Actor: Chloe Bennet
Coder Skills: Hacked governments to publicly reveal classified data. Tracked Centipede financial transactions to locate the secret base where they held Agent Coulson. Various “hacking” and “encrypting” activities for S.H.I.E.L.D.
Quirks: May or may not be of Alien origin. May be in love with a Hydra operative.
Best Quote: “All right, All right. I get it. I didn’t go to your stupid S.H.I.E.L.D Hogwarts or whatever.”
Plausibility Level: 2/10 Gibsons. On top of never explaining how she codes or hacks anything, she may not be a human and is far too good-looking.