A Comprehensive Guide to Crypto References in Pop Culture
10.29.2018

What will it take for bitcoin to truly go mainstream? When you can buy a coffee with crypto at Starbucks? When someone figures out how to explain blockchain to kindergarteners? Or maybe it’s when a rapper who peaked in 2007 devotes a track from his newest album to the OG cryptocurrency?

That milestone, at least, has now been achieved. Soulja Boy references bitcoin (and Litecoin) in his latest album, Young Draco. He’s not the only one, however. Bitcoin appears in multiple Simpsons episodes; DJ Kahled shilled crypto on his Instagram, and CSI‘s writers can’t resist throwing in blockchain buzzwords to their scripts—not that they’re necessarily getting the technical details right.

We’ve attempted to compile a comprehensive list of the movies, songs, and TV shows where cryptocurrency, or any blockchain reference, occurs. Here’s everything we managed to find, dating back to when a single bitcoin would barely set you back more than a Bitcoin for Dummies book would today.     

Bitcoin (bitcoin rap)” by mc bitcoin (September 2011)

Enthusiasts began writing songs about bitcoin back in September 2011, when it was worth less than $10. And yes, in case you were wondering, most of them are truly terrible (“Authority might be strong/Everyone knows it’s wrong/Waiting for a new dawn/Maybe it will take long”). But what these songs lack in lyrical ability, they make up for in highly specific references. That’s just as good, right? See also: “Bitcoin Rap” by hoodwinkedfool, “Alpaca Socks” by Max Min, “Bitcoin” by miteigi nemoto, “Bitcoin Song: He Gave Us Change” by TheKoziTwo, and “The Bitcoin Rally Song” by orymth.

Bitcoin for Dummies” – The Good Wife (January 2012)

One of the first network TV mentions of cryptocurrency. Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) defends a lawyer representing a group of individuals who invented a new digital currency. The writers even manage to explain bitcoin pretty accurately—unlike many of those who will follow.

Love You Like a Bitcoin” by Kryp Tina (November 2012)

In 2012, the first parody songs start popping up. The original title of this song—”Love You Like a Love Song,” by Selena Gomez & The Scene—seems like a parody in itself. (It’s debatable which version is worse.) Similar tracks include Bitcoin’s Here” by ZhouTonged, based on Drake’s “Started from the Bottom,” and “The proudhon song (bitcoin is a bubble)” by TheKoziTwo, which is a play on “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys, and “Everything Has Changed, Lovesong for Satoshi Nakamoto (Taylor Swift cover)” by Naomi Brockwell.

Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross (July 2013)

Economic concepts are central to the plot of this “light-hearted” space opera. The book’s characters use cryptocurrency, which comes in three varieties—slow, medium, and fast. Fast money, Stross explains, is basically what we earthlings are familiar with today, while slow money is “backed by debt.”

Bitcoin Baron” – YT Cracker (August 2013)

With the price per bitcoin now around $100, more mainstream artists are beginning to incorporate references to digital currency in their music. Nerdcore DJ/MC YT Cracker is a programmer who made a name for himself by targeting government websites to highlight security flaws in the late ’90s. In this song, he references everything from the Silk Road to ASICs to the NSA.

Bitcoin Barbarians by Elaine Diane Taylor (November 2013)

“The Ponzi game of fiat currency is reaching its maximum limit,” writes Canadian singer-songwriter Elaine Diane Taylor. Bitcoin, on the other hand, passed the $1000 threshold for the first time in November 2013.

Pump and Dump” by BLOCKCHAINZ (December 2013)


“I’m a crypto gangsta laughin’ all the way to the blockchain/I’m a pump and dump hustla with my Twitter army I make it rain.”

Yellow Subterfuge” – The Simpsons (December 2013)

 

A pivotal moment for any cultural phenomena: appearing on The Simpsons. Lisa asks Krusty if he’s broke, and Krusty responds: “Yeah, all it takes is some bad luck at the ponies, worse luck in the bitcoin market, [and] heavy investment in a high-end bookmark company.”

Arrhythmia” – Almost Human (December 2013)

What happens when you combine the deep web, assassins, and decentralized currency? A fast-paced—but probably inaccurate—TV episode that aired five years ago. Almost Human starts the trend of TV shows mentioning bitcoin solely in connection with crime. To be fair, Almost Human is set in the future, so it’s hard to judge how accurate the reference is, but in this show, bitcoin takes the form of a random silver stick in a dead person’s sock. Not only is the stick immediately identified as bitcoin (or a bitcoin wallet, anyway), but its value is also instantaneously detected, just by glancing at the stick. Other shows that reference bitcoin’s more illicit uses include “4C” of Person of Interest (January 2014), and “Chapter 15” of House of Cards (February 2014), where bitcoin laundering is mentioned to explain the deep web.

Ode to Satoshi” – Bitcoins & Gravy (February 2014)

With the price of bitcoin above $500 in early 2014, more songs by hardcore bitcoin enthusiasts keep popping up. See also the horrific—but heartfelt—“10,000 Bitcoins” by Laura Saggers (March 2014), and The Bitcoin Jingle” by Tatiana Moroz (June 2014). Moroz claims to have created the “first ever artist crypto currency”—the Tatiana Coin.

“Articles of Interpretation” – Silicon Valley (March 2014)

Bitcoin is referenced as a form of payment. The next day, Parks and Recreation aired an episode called “New Slogan,” which also mentions bitcoin. In it, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) is talking to a supposed computer expert about her online poll. He tells her to “just PayPal me some bitcoins when you get a chance.” (Almost Human, Supernatural, and NCIS: LA would soon follow suit with similarly brief references.)

Bitcoin Beezy” – ¡Mayday! & Murs (June 2014)

“I got 50 bitcoin worth about a hundred grand.” Aw, how retro.

Catwoman (June 2014)

Various panels reference bitcoin. Four years later, in May 2018, Marvel released Hunt for Wolverine – Adamantium Agenda #1, which mentions crypto. 

“Clown in the Dumps” – The Simpsons (September 2014)

A billboard can be seen showing James Corky Jones. It reads “Send me your lunch money online! – Accepting Bitcoin.”

Horrible Bosses 2 (November 2014)

Bitcoin makes it to the big screen in 2014. MF Jones (Jamie Foxx) uses the currency to make an “untraceable” purchase of prepaid cell phones.

Show #6961 – Jeopardy (December 2014)

Another cultural milestone: Alex Trebek reading a bitcoin-related answer: “The ‘Magic: The Gathering’ Online Exchange website was part of the 2014 scandal involving this commodity.”

Money” – Peace (February 2015)

The music video for this song consists of men in suits doing complex handshakes with a never-before-seen intensity. Chorus is “Money, do you need it?/ Do you eat it when you’re hungry?/Does it taste good?” Capitalism, man.

Bit by Bit” and “Family Secrets” – CSI: Cyber (May 2015)

Based loosely on a real-life murder, this two-part season finale has plenty of cryptocurrency buzzwords but involves seemingly few writers who actually understand what they mean.

Dope (June 2015)

Cryptocurrency has a starring role from this film’s beginning, when Malcolm, a geek from Inglewood, declares that he, “just read that money as we know it is dead.” He predicts that soon people will only use bitcoin. Dope is also the first movie to accept bitcoin as payment for tickets.

Mr. Robot (June 2015-present)

Bitcoin is replaced by “e-coins” in this award-winning TV show widely praised for its technical accuracy. The series is the first to make cryptocurrency a recurring element. Crackle’s StartUp continued that trend in 2016.

“Arioch Cain” – The Blacklist (October 2015)

The Blacklist follows in the footsteps of shows like House of Cards exploring the illicit uses for cryptocurrency. In this case, “haters” make bitcoin donations in an attempt to crowdfund the assassination of FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone).

The Peanut Butter Kid” – Family Guy (January 2016)

One of those rare neutral-to-positive bitcoin references. “Every month our savings get smaller and smaller,” says Lois Griffin. “We’ve really got to figure out a better way to budget for this family’s future. Bitcoin. I don’t know.”

Deadpool (February 2016)

Definitely in the running for most subtle cryptocurrency reference: A bitcoin sticker can be seen at the bar in one scene.

Bitcoin Heist (February 2016)

A Vietnamese action movie directed by Ham Tran in which a special agent hires a team of thieves to catch the most-wanted hacker, known as “The Ghost.” It only received 5.9/10 on IMDb, but it’s available on Netflix if you want to judge for yourself.

Satoshi Nakamoto” – Gramatik feat. Andrian Lau and ProbCause (March 2016)

“Crypto-artist” and DJ Gramatik launched the GRMTK token* in November 2017 and raised more than $2 million in 24 hours. “Ayo fuck yo’ shoebox money,” indeed.

Whoodeeni” – De La Soul feat. 2Chainz (August 2016)

With a single bitcoin costing around $600, the currency has officially gone mainstream. Dave raps about “bitcoins, Vivian Maiers to bid on.”

“CTRL ALT” – Chicago Med (April 2017)

A hacker gains control of the hospital’s computers and demands a bitcoin ransom. Perhaps they were inspired by real life? Grey’s Anatomy also gives this plot line a try in November 2017.

Celebrity endorsements (September 2017)

Cryptocurrency endorsements peaked in September 2017, with celebs like Floyd Mayweather, DJ Khaled, and Paris Hilton taking to social media to talk about their favorite coins. Soon after, the SEC warned that celebrities must disclose “the nature, scope, and amount of compensation received in exchange for the promotion.” (They’re a bit late to the game,  though. Mike Tyson has endorsed bitcoin products since 2015.)

CREAM coin (October 2017)

Crypto Rules Everything Around Me. Ghostface Killah launches his own cryptocurrency. Young Dirty, son of Wu-Tang Clan’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard, announced he would launch a currency on the TAO network in March 2018 (which was delayed).

(ID)entity – book by PJ Manney (October 2017)

Blockchain technology is central to the plot of Manney’s second novel in the Phoenix Horizon trilogy.

Explaining Blockchain to Marketing” (October 2017)

Even Dilbert knows how hard it is to explain blockchains.

“The Bitcoin Entanglement”The Big Bang Theory (November 2017)

It was major news that The Big Bang Theory, one of the most popular shows on television, devoted an entire show to cryptocurrency. Commenters on r/bitcoin responded by complaining about the laugh track, and taking over Big Bang Theory Reddit. That seems about right, somehow. Brooklyn Nine-Nine also references the currency in November 2017.

Bitcoin Commercial: What Is It and How Does It Work? (December 2017)

“Is it like investing in stocks?”
“Kind of, but not at all.”
“Well, I’m on board.”

“Bitcoin Ca$h” – Lil Windex (March 2018)

This video tells the fascinating tale of how Lil Windex went from cleaning car windows (with Windex, obvs) to owning a platinum toilet.

Season 5 of Silicon Valley (March 2018)

In the words of Stefon, this season of Silicon Valley has everything: a decentralized internet, an ICO, and a 51 percent attack.

Related: Silicon Valley‘s 3 Kinds of Fuck-You Money

“Not You Mr. Dake”Billions (May 2018)

“One million dollars straight in crypto, in cold storage.” The Ledger Nano S, a popular hardware wallet, plays a starring role in this episode.

“Big Bank” – YG feat. 2 Chainz, Big Sean, Nicki Minaj (June 2018)

Big Sean: “I might buy her red bottoms with the crypto/Three coins, that’ll pay your whole semester/But you gotta ride it better than a Tesla.”

Superfly (June 2018)

“I swapped cash for crypto, and redefined the hustle.”

The Bold Type (July 2018)

“So you owe me $185, and no bitcoin this time,” says Alex Crawford (Matt Ward), after he purchases tickets for Sutton Brady (Meghann Fahy). “Ripple?” asks Brady. “Cash,” says Crawford.

“Not Alike” (August 2018)

Eminem’s new album Kamikaze features a bitcoin reference, though he’s not the one to give the shout out; rapper Royce Da 5’9″ gets that honor (“Remember everybody used to bite nickel/Now everybody doing bitcoin”). A few months later, in October, (slightly more recently relevant) rapper Soulja Boy goes all in, with his track “Bitcoin.” He mentions the eponymous currency more than 40 times in one song. Litecoin also gets a mention.

*Gramatik has a partnership with SingularDTV. SingularDTV owns BREAKER, which is editorially independent.