We've all seen the computers of Felicity Smoak and every other similar character with similar environment in Hollywood shows. Is everything going on on the computer screen real software applications or just animation?

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    Out of universe? It's all total and utter cow poo. It will all either be a scripted animation or just click here click there apps. As a side most code written on a TV show is either extremely futile and wouldn't do anything other than change directory, is impossible or would still take too long to do anything worthwhile. There's a show called Mr Robot that is praised for being accurate towards Hacking this show still makes coding blunders. Nov 22, 2015 at 10:53
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    I have watched Mr. Robot. It still has a few errors but other than that, it's pretty accurate.
    – Elliot
    Nov 22, 2015 at 11:17
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    Besides that, "Environment with access to everything federal or government-related" don't really have anything to do with the OS they run on. They are just applications (programs, apps, executables, whatever you want to call them), and they can look however they want to look.
    – Mr Lister
    Nov 22, 2015 at 15:24
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    @CandiedMango what about LCARS?
    – Escoce
    Nov 23, 2015 at 18:16
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    Probably just a more fancy version of hackertyper.com
    – Schuere
    Oct 14, 2016 at 13:28

6 Answers 6


I suspect the cheapest option has been used, namely mock-ups using PowerPoint.

All the actor has to do is click the mouse or poke the screen and the next slide will come up, sometimes with a transition effect, sometimes with animations inside frames.

My old company used to do this a lot in demonstrating software - it would all be mocked up screens and the sales people would simply move the mouse to the right place and click - customers were fooled into thinking it was real software being used.

I guess that computer screens can also be added digitally in post-production. This provides a was of obviating annoying physical issues like reflected studio lighting - or maybe there's just an automagical anti reflective coating on computer screens for use in film/TV studios.

  • Wow. How lazy was your old company. Oct 9, 2017 at 18:00
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    @DCOPTimDowd Not really. They simply mocked up a proof-of concept to present to customers. If they accepted, the system would be built to look like the PoC. If they didn't, it only wasted a couple of hours of power-point building.
    – user71418
    Oct 10, 2017 at 10:16

It has a task bar and all the 'cool things' seem to be windowed applications.

All the things she is doing are likely effects based. And none of the windowed applications i've seen seem like real identifiable things.

The actual OS might also just be effects. It could be custom theme for KDE (that's what it looks the most like to me).

But unless someone working for show or someone who has noticed something recognizable that I haven't,...

I think "Custom skinned modern OS" is best answer at this time.

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    At least in early seasons, the show seems to really like Windows 8. We see the Start screen multiple times.
    – Kevin
    May 15, 2017 at 17:29

Early on in the Arrow show it looks like the tablets have Windows 8, but the open Windows themselves have the Windows 7 red close buttons on them. So it’s like Windows 8 themed as Windows 7. The tablets do have the Microsoft logo on them so I'm sure Microsoft sponsors the show to some degree.

  • This seems like a nice answer but could you edit in any evidence to support this such as images from the show?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Mar 15, 2019 at 7:51
  • Actually no. Anyone who looks closely will see they are commonly using a Microsoft Surface tab. Just go back and watch the season where Felicity becomes a common character. Mar 29, 2019 at 9:04

In season 5, I caught a glimpse of what looked like a spreadsheet on screen when Felicity was doing her thing. It stuck out because the current plot didn't support a spreadsheet being the mysterious hacker juice. I briefly looked scanned through the episodes but couldn't find the clip again. It was especially fast; I had to pause and rewind several times to catch it on screen to study it.

Long story short, it looked like Excel 2016 or Office 365's toolbar, and the window looked like a Windows 10 window. Given the dark color scheme, it's possible that it's a skinned Windows 10. At least, that shot in that episode was.

If I can figure out what episode it was, I'll add in more details and a screenshot. I want to say it's between episode 10-ish and 17.

  • I gave up watching the show altogether after season 3 but it's mostly animation and fake screens to make it look more appealing to audience.
    – Elliot
    Jul 10, 2019 at 7:11

Great advice that has been listed here, mostly it is an animation that is fed on their screen and nothing else. The real hacking stuff is mostly seen on Mr. Robot and the screens of Arrow and Flash are mostly nothing but CGI, or, as said, created temporary screens.

  • 3
    How do we know it's not mock software? Do you have a source that says its all post-production CGI?
    – amflare
    Oct 9, 2017 at 16:35

She might be using Linux OS considering any one can have a comfortable environment on Linux.But it might be windows7 with black desktop and some animations.

  • 1
    Could you provide some photos to support this?
    – Adamant
    May 15, 2017 at 17:54
  • Nothing on Hollywood computers (with very few exception close to reality like The Social Network or Mr. Robot) is real. It's all flash animation. Even Mr. Robot (which has a team of computer security experts and hackers as technical consultants) uses flash animation and nothing is real.
    – Elliot
    Jun 11, 2017 at 21:41

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