The Best and Worst Password Hacking Scenes in Movies and Shows

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“We’re in.” How many times have you heard this line, usually following an extremely dumb scene where a character “hacks” into a computer or database? The word “hack” in this context is used loosely, as these scenes almost always involve a character using contextual clues from their physical surroundings to somehow guess a password. For example, a character is trying to gain access to someone’s computer, but it’s locked with a password. They look around the room and see a painting of a fisherman and guess that the password is “fishing.” Said character is then able to gain access to the computer (the Batman & Robin example below is the perfect instance of this.) learn about some good, bad and funny password hacking scenes with ForestVPN.

Password hacking scenes

Password Hacking Scenes: An Unrealistic Trope

The problem with this approach is that it assumes the characters who set their computer’s passwords are dumb…which to be fair, could actually be the case. Or, the password guessing trope is a deus ex machina style plot device that lazily removes barriers for the protagonist so that they can resolve a plot issue. The latter is worse because it assumes the audience is dumb.

In reality, blindly guessing passwords is a surefire way to either lock yourself out of a system or drive yourself crazy. Even if someone uses a weak password—one that is short and meaningful, such as their birthday or kid’s name—it’s still practically impossible to guess in, say, three tries.

That said, it’s still imperative to use strong passwords. That means ones that are long, complex, and random.

Good Password-Hacking Scenes in Movies and TV

WarGames (1983)

Starring a pre-Ferris Bueller Matthew Broderick, WarGames follows the exploits of high school student David who unwittingly gains access to a military computer, which he mistakens for a video game. But early in the film, David is hacking his school’s network to change his grades by using the password “pencil.” He then claims that while the school changes the password every few weeks, he knows where it is written down. This scene wins points for being realistic because of a failure to store passwords securely.

National Treasure (2004)

Leave it to Nic Cage to have one of the better entries on this list. In the scene, cryptographer and historian Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nic Cage) and his friend Riley are attempting to figure out the password to an access panel outside the preservation room within the National Archives. Why, you ask? To steal the Declaration of Independence. Dr. Abigail Chase, an archivist at the National Archives, has unknowingly left a residue on specific keys of the security access panel. While Poole runs these characters through a program, Gates figures out that the password must be “Valley Forge,” a reference to an important event in the American Revolution. This scene wins points for being fun more than anything else.

Sneakers (1992)

With an all-star cast including Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Aykroyd, and Ben Kingsley, Sneakers is an entertaining action, comedy, heist, tech thriller hybrid. Security specialist Martin Bishop has a task from the NSA with retrieving a top secret black box. At one point in the film, Bishop’s team needs to gain access to a secure facility that is partially protected by the use of vocal recognition codes. The team identifies a target, Werner Brandes, whose voice print is required for entry into the facility. An elaborate scheme is hatched whereby Brandes is set up on a date with Liz, who is tasked with getting Brandes to talk long enough so that the team can construct the following phrase from the conversation’s records: “Hi, my name is Werner Brandes. My voice is my passport. Verify Me.” Another great example of social-engineering-as-a-hacking-method in action.

Mr. Robot

Starring Rami Malek, Mr. Robot follows the life of cybersecurity engineer and vigilante hacker Elliot Alsderon. In one episode in the show’s fourth season, Elliot requires physical access to a laptop and has to break into his target’s apartment. He then proceeds to reset the Windows password by booting the device into recovery mode and altering certain files. It is, apparently, a common way to hack passwords on older versions of Windows.

Bad Password-Hacking Scenes in Movies and TV


In the first episode of the series’s sophomore season, Holmes obtains Irene Adler’s phone. Adler, a dominatrix, has sent Holmes her phone for safekeeping as she is in danger. Unsurprisingly, the phone is locked and constantly displays: “I AM _ _ _ _ LOCKED.” He finally figures out the code is “I AM SHER LOCKED” and chastises her for using a guessable password driven by her feelings for him.

In the episode that directly follows this, Holmes hacks the computer of a high-ranking major in order to access confidential CIA files. How, you ask? By using contextual clues in the Major’s office which include family photos, children’s drawings, maps, and military history books. From this, Holmes is able to deduce that the major is fond of former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher—and that the password is “Maggie.”

Batman & Robin

Widely considered to be one of the worst superhero films of all time, Batman & Robin stars George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell as the titular Batman and Robin, respectively. Toward the end of the film, Barbara Wilson discovers the entrance to the Batcave and becomes Batgirl. How does she access the Batcave you ask? Just watch the clip above…no words can describe how dumb it truly is.

Funny Password-Hacking Scenes on TV

The Office

After an office blackout, employees at the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company are attempting to figure out what the password to the server is or they won’t be able to access their tools to do any work. They eventually figure it out, and how they get there is absolutely hilarious.

Brooklyn 99

As with The Office scene above, this scene from Brooklyn 99 has the exact same energy. It’s better to see it rather than read about it!

In conclusion, while password hacking scenes in movies and TV often provide entertainment value, they’re often far from realistic. Guessing passwords based on contextual clues is a risky endeavor in real life and is rarely successful. However, some scenes, like those in WarGames and Sneakers, offer a more realistic portrayal of hacking techniques. Ultimately, it’s crucial to prioritize strong, secure passwords to protect sensitive information online.


1. Why are strong passwords important?

Strong passwords are essential for protecting your personal and sensitive information online. They make it significantly harder for hackers to gain unauthorized access to your accounts or devices.

2. What makes a password strong?

A strong password is long, complex, and includes a mix of letters (both uppercase and lowercase), numbers, and special characters. Avoid using easily guessable information like your name, birthdate, or common words.

3. Should I use a password manager?

Yes, we highly recommend using a password manager . It helps you generate and store unique, strong passwords for each of your accounts, reducing the risk of a security breach if one of your passwords is compromised.

4. How often should I change my passwords?

It’s a good practice to regularly update your passwords, ideally every few months. This helps mitigate the risk of someone gaining unauthorized access to your accounts through stolen or leaked passwords.

5. Can hackers use social engineering to hack passwords?

Yes, hackers can use social engineering tactics, such as manipulating individuals into revealing their passwords or other sensitive information, to gain unauthorized access to systems or accounts.

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