Why Do TV Characters Use Fictitious Search Engines and Not Google?

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Good ol’ “Search Internet,” also known as “Internet Search.”



Need to stalk a ______? Head to “Search the Web” with its goofy logo!



The URL for “Netrangler” ends in .web and not .net? Missed opportunity.


Law & Order

At least “Searchling” has a 2000s-era Google aesthetic?


Doctor Who

“Search.” Short. Straightforward. We like it.


American Horror Story

“Roundsearch,” for which you must type a space between each letter.


Switched at Birth

What do you do if you need to search but you’re feeling berzerk?


Criminal Minds

As Mashable points out, “Spyder Finder” or variations thereof pop up everywhere from The X-Files to Breaking Bad.



You can even buy a “Finder Spyder” T-shirt, just to prove you’re in the know.

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Besides weightless coffee cups and phone conversations that don’t end with a goodbye, nothing on television is more unrealistic than TV characters’ apparent distaste for Google. Why do people on TV use blatantly fictitious and janky-looking search engines when Google exists? Like, they can’t even use Bing?

Well, for starters, using Google on a television show can be a hassle for producers. You have to submit a request to the company — providing a synopsis of the production, a description of how Google will be used, a production script, and even mock-ups of how Google will look on screen. Google also doesn’t want its products used “in association with crime, adult content, or other negative activities.” And the company says it can take up to two weeks for them to get back to you.

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Beyond the logistics, the issue might also be a legal one if Google feels defamed by the storyline, as James Crowne, deputy executive director of legal affairs at the American Intellectual Property Law Association, tells The Washington Post. “I think that these folks would rather switch than fight in general,” Crowne says of TV producers. “That is probably the simplest explanation of how these dynamics work.”

So it seems like we’re stuck with bogus sites like Netwranger, Roundsearch, and the pervasive Spyder Finder. Check out the gallery above for even more examples of obviously fake search engines.