Alternatives to "My phone number is 555-5555" in films

frankly, I don’t get why this convention has to be. I mean, I think I’ve heard “He lives at 318 Third Avenue” without the people who really do live there getting beseiged by lunatics confusing real life with films, but whatever.

But there’s gotta be an alternative to using this convention which just screams out to me “You’re watching a movie. This isn;t real. Someone invented what you’re seeing. You paid money to watch an illusion. That’s all this is, a fake event” etc. They might as well have those words in red letters projected on top of the images for all it brings right me out of the film.

I can take “Here’s my phone number” and the character scribbles something, which is truer to life than the person orally giving a seven digit number which the other character is expected remember. I write down people’s numbers all the time–why don;t they?

Or “You know my phone number, right?”

Or simply cutting from the scene after one character asks, “You got a number I can reach you at?”

Any other ideas? I can’t believe filmmakers still use the 555- convention.

And yet, decades later, people are still calling Jenny.

But that’s from a song - did people ever call the numbers from movies?

I think they did. People were naive back then. Now, of course, astute filmmakers should have a character say “My number is 323-956-5575,” and when people dial it, it will be a recording promoting their next film. That’s done in novels – the characters visit a web site, and it’s a real site.

Physical addresses are different though. I live on 968 XX Street. My neighbors on either side are 962 and 972. A film maker could use 970 and it won’t be real and would never be real.

Yes. The number for God in Bruce Almighty was inundated with calls, even in England. One of the people with that number was actually a pastor named Bruce. They actually digitally changed it to a 555 number on the DVD and TV releases.

What’s funny is that I just got through reading about this on the TV Tropes article FiveFiveFive.

I recall some Woody Allen movie, maybe from the 70’s, in which throughout the movie one of the characters was leaving messages like “For the next 15 minutes you can reach me at 243-2423, and then until 2:15 I’ll be at 534-0902, after that call 892-0234…”. He did that numerous times. In that movie they got away with using non-555 numbers - so why can’t the rest of Hollywood?

Really? And you never realized that fiction is not reality? You’re probably also shocked that there’s gambling going on at Rick’s Cafe.

I have seen shows use KLondike 5, but really, if the 555 is going to put you off a movie, you’re better off not watching anything but documentaries.

I can’t remember what film it was, but a character on a payphone said “my number is triple 5, 4367” or something similar. It took me out of the movie in such a huge way, because my brain translated “triple 5” as “555, oh yeah, they use that in movies, which is what I’m watching”. The trope needs to be changed.

Numbers get reassigned, though. As a test, I just did reverse number look ups on some of my old phone numbers. All of them have been reassigned.

It takes a HELL of a lot more effort to visit an address, which would be Lord-knows-how-many miles away for 99% of viewers, than to dial a phone number.

I don’t remember the title of the book, but I read a ‘tell all’ about some Chicago mafia types. The book had an address for a rather infamous home, and it turned out to be near a friends house. On a lark, we decided to drive by the house. Turns out, the address, had it existed, would have been in the middle of the Dan Ryan. fooled us.

Since the Dan Ryanhas only existed since 1962, it’s possible that it used to be a real address.

Cecil on whether people really call phone numbers in movies:

I agree with the OP, though–by now, this convention has been so overused that it jerks you out of the movie. But, I don’t know that I have an alternative.

Cecil again (keep in mind that “a few years ago” was in the 1970’s):

Brilliant! I never thought of that. I am not a native Chicagoan, and figured the Dan Ryan was platted out by the Illinois tribe in pre-Columbian times.

As a service the community one of the major studio groups could just buy a handful of phone numbers in every area code that they give permission to any TV or movie project to use as needed for saying on screen.

If that small cost is a bother to someone, charge it off to any studio picture that uses them and sell the advertising opportunities for people who call hyping the movie that recently used it or some other project.

Even if every movie set in Eureka, CA, used the same single phone number of 717-297-1447 most people would never notice regardless of how many times they heard it.

I believe it was actually carved by a glacier.


Thanx for the humor, I am home sick with a really nasty sore throat today, and need the camaraderie.

Chief Wiggum: “Yeah, his number is…555? Ah, that’s gotta be fake.”


No shit, really? I never knew movies weren’t real.

For me, seeing the 555 area code is like if the camera panned to the side and you see a shot of the director sitting behind a monitor. Something that takes you out of the narrative because you know it’s fake.