What fictional search engine has appeared in multiple, unaffiliated Hollywood television shows, effectively becoming an unofficial, open source stand-in for Google and its competitors?
The make-believe search engine is Finder-Spyder, which has made appearances in each of the following television programs:
- Breaking Bad, in the episode "The Cat's in the Bag"
- Criminal Minds, in the episode "Pleasure Is My Business"
- Crossing Jordan, in the episodes "The Hangman" and "Hubris"
- CSI, in the episodes "Meet Market" and "Time of Your Death"
- Hidden Palms, in the episode "Party Hardy"
- Journeyman, in the episodes "A Love of a Lifetime," "The Legend of Dylan McCleen," and "The Year of the Rabbit"
- Moonlight, in the episode "12:04 AM"
- Prison Break, in the episodes "Dirt Nap," "J-Cat," "The Legend," "Safe and Sound," "Unearthed," and the pilot
Finder-Spyder also reputedly has made appearances in the shows Without a Trace and Dexter, but it is perhaps most notorious for its decidedly Google-like color scheme and logo as shown in Journeyman. That's a bit daring, as Google is rather explicit in its trademark-protection philosophy, going so far as declaring "don't copy or imitate Google's trade dress, including the look and feel of Google web design properties or Google brand packaging, distinctive color combinations, typography, graphic designs, product icons, or imagery associated with Google" and "don't adopt marks, logos, slogans, or designs that are confusingly similar to our Brand Features."
In fact, you can't even sound like Google, according to the company's trademark policy: "That includes modifying a Google trademark, for example, through hyphenation, combination or abbreviation, such as: Googliscious, Googlyoogly, GaGooglemania. Do not shorten, abbreviate, or create acronyms out of Google trademarks." So for those of you planning a sitcom about coders at a fictional search engine called Gobbledygoogle, best hit the find-replace hotkey on your word processor right now.
If you were staring down a multibillion-dollar media powerhouse that was touchy about movie supervillains using its Web site to plot world domination, you'd make up a fictional search engine, too. That's not some sage Web-search substitution; it's a cinematically self-referencing slice of Geek Trivia.
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Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can also follow him on his personal blog.