Jump to content

San Francisco in popular culture

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fort Point by the Golden Gate Bridge where Hitchcock's Vertigo was filmed[1]

Depictions of San Francisco in popular culture can be found in many different media. San Francisco is frequently used with its iconic landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and cable cars;[2] social change of the Asian immigration, Summer of Love and the economic California Dream of the Gold Rush and Silicon Valley.


San Francisco's diversity, eccentric characters, and geographic scenery have provided a backdrop for many works of fiction, including:



As in the case of fiction novels, San Francisco has served as a backdrop to a large number of films, some of which show the Golden Gate Bridge.[9][10][11][12] Films set in the city include:



Although the city is a frequent backdrop for many television shows,[12] many 80s sitcoms set in San Francisco (such as Full House) were actually shot in studios in the Los Angeles area. Since the mid-90s, many productions supposedly set in the City by the Bay are actually filmed in Canada, most notably in Vancouver, a frequent double for the cities of San Francisco and Seattle on the small screen. Canadian provinces often offer attractive tax incentives and more flexible union regulations for production companies.

Monk was shot in Vancouver before moving to Los Angeles, and only a few exterior shots involving San Francisco landmarks are actually filmed in the city. Similarly, recent short-lived series such as Presidio Med, The Evidence or Killer Instinct were actually shot in the Los Angeles or Vancouver areas. The city of San Francisco has tried to counter this trend over the past few years by reducing filming fees and streamlining the permit approval process.

San Francisco is also a vital part of the Star Trek science fiction media franchise. It hosts the headquarters and council chambers of the United Federation of Planets, as well as its military/exploration arm, Starfleet. In addition, the Presidio hosts Starfleet's primary service academy, Starfleet Academy. A major Federation shipyard named after the city, site of the construction and refit of several starships named Enterprise, resides in geosynchronous orbit of Earth.

The TV shows Trauma, Midnight Caller, The Streets of San Francisco and Nash Bridges were filmed entirely in the San Francisco Bay area. The Nash Bridges Reboot pilot started shooting in 2021, 20 years after the final episode of the original series aired.[20]


Television programs that highlight the city and its people include:


Miniseries, specials or individual episodes[edit]


Video games[edit]

In the Carmen Sandiego computer games, the headquarters of the ACME Detective Agency is always located in San Francisco.

The Rush racing series is largely based in San Francisco, especially San Francisco Rush: Extreme Racing and Rush 2049.[25]

In Sim City, there is a scenario re-creating the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

San Francisco is the backdrop for all five Tex Murphy games by Access Software. The eponymous detective makes the POST WWIII city his home and his cases start there even if they don't ultimately come to resolution there. The games feature prominent S.F. landmarks such as The Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, and Alcatraz. In The Pandora Directive, there are 3 paths the story takes: Mission Street – The High Moral Path; Boulevard of Broken Dreams – The Low Moral Path; and Lombard Street – The In between (or Back and Forth) Moral Path.

Manhunter 2: San Francisco from Sierra On-Line (1989) was set in San Francisco, and included visits to such local landmarks as Fisherman's Wharf and Alcatraz Island.[25]

San Francisco is one of the key locations in Fallout 2.

San Francisco is a level in both Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4.[25]

It's one of the four playable cities in Driver and the main setting of Driver: San Francisco.

The City of San Fierro in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is largely based on San Francisco, though significantly smaller and with slightly more of a focus on Rural areas.[25]

San Fierro features Rockstar's interpretations of the Haight-Ashbury district ("Hashbury"), the Castro district ("Queens"), Chinatown, and the Golden Gate Bridge ("Gant Bridge"), as well as the city's prominent cable cars and hilly terrain. Several other familiar landmarks have been recreated, from the Ferry Building and the Transamerica Pyramid ("Big Pointy Building") to Lombard Street ("Windy Windy Windy Windy Windy Street"), and Scottish landmarks such as the Forth Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge. There is a district known as "Garcia", a tribute to Grateful Dead frontman and San Francisco native Jerry Garcia, and San Fierro's City Hall closely resembles San Francisco's ornate City hall.

In Destroy All Humans! 2, the first level is in Bay City, a parody of San Francisco featuring the Coit Tower, Alcatraz (called 'The Rock') and Hashbury Street, as well as the Golden Gate Park.

Resistance 2 for the PlayStation 3 based its first level on the edge of San Francisco in an underwater secret base belonging to SRPA. A memorable moment was when Nathan Hale steps outside to see the Chimeran fleet hovering over a destroyed San Francisco with the Oakland Bay Bridge in flames.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II features the "Raid" multiplayer map in California, along with the zombies map "MOB of the Dead," set in and around the Alcatraz Prison, seemingly infested by the undead.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare features the Golden Gate Bridge in the mission "Collapse".[26]

Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U features a race course named Toad Harbor, which is heavily based on San Francisco.

Watch Dogs 2 is based in San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area.[25]

In Sonic Adventure 2, the first level is City Escape, which is based on San Francisco. This level also reappears in Sonic Generations.

San Francisco is an explorable city in American Truck Simulator.

Mostly in ruins and barely recognizable, San Francisco is partially shown in Horizon: Forbidden West.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Vertigo - Fort Point", Reel SF – San Francisco movie locations from classic films, 31 March 2011
  2. ^ "The Most Famous Tourist Attraction in San Francisco". Travel Tips - USA Today. Retrieved 2021-05-16.
  3. ^ "Shaking Up History with '1906'". NPR.org. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  4. ^ "Angels In America Quotes (9 quotes)". www.goodreads.com. Retrieved 2019-12-23.
  5. ^ "SparkNotes: Angels in America: Symbols". www.sparknotes.com. Retrieved 2019-12-23.
  6. ^ a b c "The 14 Best San Francisco-Set Novels: SFist". SFist - San Francisco News, Restaurants, Events, & Sports. 2015-03-05. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "The Best San Francisco Novels recommended by Armistead Maupin". Five Books. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  8. ^ Avins, Jenni (16 May 2018). "Thanks for bringing us on the bus, Tom Wolfe". Quartz. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  9. ^ Buskirk, Jim Van; Shank, Will (2006). Celluloid San Francisco: The Film Lover's Guide to Bay Area Movie Locations. Chicago Review Press. ISBN 978-1-55652-592-6.
  10. ^ Pollock, Christopher (2013). Reel San Francisco Stories: An Annotated Filmography of the Bay Area. Lulu.com. ISBN 978-0-578-13042-2.
  11. ^ "Film Locations in San Francisco". The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  12. ^ a b "SF Filmography | Film SF". filmsf.org. Retrieved 2021-05-19.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Every Movie Where The Golden Gate Bridge Has Been Destroyed". ScreenRant. 2021-01-24. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  14. ^ Goodman, Tim (2004-04-30). "Earthquake epic '10.5' presents a choice: Either run screaming or pass the beer and savor a camp classic". SFGATE. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  15. ^ a b c "San Francisco On Screen: Where Famous Films & TV Shows Were Shot Around the City". San Francisco Travel. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  16. ^ a b c "Legendary San Francisco cop who inspired 'Dirty Harry,' 'Bullitt,' and 'Zodiac' has died". www.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2021-05-18.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g Brinklow, Adam L. (May 15, 2014). "Movies That Destroyed the Golden Gate Bridge, Ranked". sanfran.com. Retrieved 2021-05-19.
  18. ^ "Filming Locations for What's Up, Doc? (1972), around San Francisco". The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  19. ^ Harvey, Dennis (2005-02-18). "24 Hours On Craigslist". Variety. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  20. ^ "The 'Nash Bridges' Reboot No One Asked For Is On Its Way". SFist - San Francisco News, Restaurants, Events, & Sports. 2021-05-04. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  21. ^ Storm, Jonathan. "Jonathan Storm: The family way in a smarmy way". inquirer.com. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  22. ^ a b c d e Rouner, Jef (February 20, 2020). "A look at San Francisco sitcoms over the decades". Datebook | San Francisco Arts & Entertainment Guide. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Blick, Susan (April 2016). "13 Superb TV Shows Set In San Francisco". Culture Trip. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  24. ^ Roberts, Chris. "'Bait Car' comes to San Francisco". SF Weekly. Retrieved 2021-05-18.
  25. ^ a b c d e Hartlaub, Peter (2016-12-23). "A timeline of San Francisco in video games". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2021-05-11.
  26. ^ Staff (2020-06-29). "Video Games Set In San Francisco". San Francisco News. Retrieved 2021-05-11.
  27. ^ Finz, Stacy (July 16, 2006). "RICE-A-REDUX / After a 7-year hiatus, it's billed once again as the San Francisco treat". San Francisco Chronicle.

External links[edit]