Top 10 Movies for Programmers

Different areas sometimes share the same concepts. A lot of concepts of computer programming have been used in movies. Some of them are just so cool, they even help developers to understand some programming concepts. The following are my list of top 10 movies and my understanding of programming concepts they use. A collection of movies from comments are also summarized at the end.

1. The Matrix(1999)

Concepts: online/offline, recursion, loop, matrix, etc.

This movie is revolutionary. The end of one civilization is the start of another. There are some movies that are similar like this one later.


2. Loopers(2012)

Concept: Loop.


If life runs into an endless loop, how to break the loop?


3. Tron: Legacy(2010)

Many computer scientists of a certain age would agree that this movie kind of lead them into computing(or War Games).


4. Next(2007)

Concept: Recursion.

This movie uses the concept of recursion, especially in the final searching part. It is a recursive search on a tree.


5. Final Destination 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Concept: if else jump


Somebody sb = new Somebody();
} exception(e) {
     //not dead;
} finally {


6. Inception(2010)

Concept: Recursion.


7. Cloud Atlas(2012)

Concept: Parallelism.


8. Flatland 2: Sphereland (2012)

Concept: 2-dimension.


9. Source Code (2011)

Concept: Reentrancy.

I'm curious about where the source code is running. If the machine is powered off, then the other world will disappear?


10. Triangle (2009)

Concept: Dead loop.


The movies above are my favorites. There are surely others good movies for programmers. If you leave comments, I will combine them later here. It would be so great if you can mention the concept relevant to programming(e.g., recursion).

More Great Movies from Comments

Hackers (1995) Evil system admin
Office Space (1999) Virus
Wargames (1983) Back door
Tron (1982) Virtual reality
Deja Vu (2006) Problems are often seen before, but finally lead to catastrophe.
Pi (1998)
Groundhog Day (1993) Infinite Loop
Antitrust (2001)
Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999) Apple and Microsoft
Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970) Supercomputer
The Social Network (2010) Social network
Ghost in the Shell (1995) Matrix
The 13th Floor (1988) Virtual reality
Moon (2009) Clone
Takedown (2000)
A Beautiful Mind (2001) Mathematics
Category >> Top 10  
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  1. José Cruz on 2013-9-30

    Original good post. I missed only one of the list! And yes, there are some kind of relation between the movies and programming algorithms.

  2. PavelRudensky on 2013-9-30

    Where is “A Beautiful Mind”? Why “Tron: Legacy”?

  3. Dave on 2013-9-30

    How about “Hackers” movie?

  4. Channing Walton on 2013-9-30

    Blade Runner?

  5. Andrew Lee on 2013-9-30


    (Hackers is awesome.)

  6. Ryan on 2013-9-30

    Thanks, I haven’t watch them all. What programming concepts are related?

  7. khan on 2013-9-30

    How about Antitrust

  8. Chris on 2013-10-2

    Office Space: Get your TPM reports.

  9. Oded Arbel on 2013-10-6

    you mean, why not “Tron” (1982)?

  10. Felipe on 2013-11-10

    How about Takedown?

  11. macs on 2013-11-17

    I like the Matrix.

  12. Alex Liu on 2013-11-17

    Social Society

  13. Xxiii on 2013-11-20

    “Deja vu”
    Concept: problems are often seen before, but finally lead to catastrophe

  14. Andy on 2013-11-20

    Martix is a decent action movie, but isn’t scientific at all. Especially part 2 and 3 are quite questionable, showing programs having emotions etc. Might be philosophical, but not related to CS. Also, there’s always the point that using cows instead of humans as “energy source” would’ve been way easier for the machines. Doesn’t take much effort to create a matrix to keep cows happy 😉

  15. Joss Macallan on 2013-11-20


  16. ryanlr on 2013-11-20

    What programming related concept is used?

  17. H. J. Im on 2013-11-21

    “Groundhog Day (1993)” – Infinite Loop

  18. azar on 2013-11-21

    I’ve seen most of them listed above. Apart from that Die Hard 4 and Sword Fish are nice hacking movies.

  19. Joss Macallan on 2013-11-21
  20. io_Outlaw_io on 2013-11-27

    Ammm yeah, Office Space, ammm… one of the best 😉

  21. Max Nomad on 2013-11-29

    Hackers was HORRIBLE — and I say that as a retired hacker that actually knows the hackers who served as creative consultants on that movie. The characters in the movie weren’t hackers but more like privileged Manhattanites that were a pretty good imitation of flaming gay 90s ravers (minus the Ecstasy and glow sticks).

  22. hujik on 2013-12-5

    The Net with Sandra Bullock

  23. DannyB2 on 2013-12-19

    I think that was TPS reports, if I recall correctly.

  24. George Anderson on 2013-12-30

    I agree, but it helped to boost my interest in CS and programming when I was young. I have watched it recently and found it an horrible movie as well, but back in 1999 it was GREAT. I made a small post about it here:

  25. Chris on 2014-4-11

    “Next” is about nondeterminism, so akin to Nondeterministic Finite State Automata, not recursion.

  26. Josh Watson on 2014-6-2

    Jobs was a great movie. I thought they did it rather well. Almost made me want to try to build an os from scratch…

  27. David Refoua on 2015-1-14

    I’ve seen most of the movies listed here and I really like them.
    I’m gonna see the others too, I think you’ve listed nice movies for us programmers 🙂

  28. Speedy Marsh on 2015-2-25

    More of a Do Until, with a hidden condition. (But, it sure felt like an infinite loop)

  29. MCL Editorial Team on 2015-10-4

    Thanks for Sharing

  30. Joshua Belisle on 2016-5-9

    what about “her” a drama about the birth of AI and its development? at least i find that one inspiring in my quest to create AI

  31. Daemon on 2016-6-17

    *While loop

  32. saurabh on 2016-8-5


  33. saurabh on 2016-8-5

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