I'm doing a research on free-software references in movies, TV series, etc.

Things like: "in Dr. House they use KDE as DE" or "Sheldon from the The Big Bang Theory uses Ubuntu." And the like.

I'd love to include some TeX/LaTeX facts, but I've not managed to find any reference. Can you help me?

Only restriction is that the movie/TV series etc. must be English.

I didn't know where to put this question so went for fun. Hope you don't mind this sort of questions, please forgive me if this is not allowed.


8 Answers 8


The movie Stealth (2005) has the following storyline summary:

In the near future, the Navy develops a fighter jet piloted by an artificial intelligence computer. The jet is placed on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific to learn combat manuevers from the human pilots aboard. But when the computer develops a mind of its own, it's the humans who are charged with stopping it before it incites a war...

The artificial intelligence computer (or AI) was programmed by the character Dr Keith Orbit (played by Richard Roxburgh). Trivia for this movie includes a reference to LaTeX:

When Keith Orbit is looking at the code for the AI, we can see that the code is written in LaTeX, which is a language for typesetting mathematics much as HTML is used on the Internet for typesetting web pages.

Here's a screen grab from the movie (1:09:06):

enter image description here

  • 4
    I wonder whether this source would be traceable to a publicly available document... Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 13:58
  • 8
    I would say that if it is an AI, it surely should not be programmed in TeX, but iTeX (bell ringing here), but alas, it is not XML...
    – JLDiaz
    Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 17:49
  • 2
    @JLDiaz Well, Steve Hicks wrote a Mars Rover controller in TeX, so why not a stealth fighter? :D
    – Xavier
    Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 23:00
  • Has anyone figured out what is being sown on screen, or is there not enough of it to compile a reasonable facsimile?
    – Canageek
    Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 7:26
  • 1
    My code isn't exactly clean as a whistle, but wow, that's messy...
    – Ingmar
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 13:23

The XKCD comic File Extensions references TeX directly:

I have never been lied to by data in a .txt file which has been hand-aligned.


Not directly related to TeX, but to its creator (so it's worth mentioning it); there are some references to Donald Knuth in some of xkcd's comics:

Donald Knuth

1337: Part 2

Log Scale (hover the mouse over the drawing)

Applied math

  • 1
    To read the alt-text in a iPad (which does not support hovering), prepend m. to the url of the xkcd comic. Eg, m.xkcd.com/1162
    – JLDiaz
    Commented Jun 30, 2013 at 20:56

Maybe can help:

"So you can create these tables?" she asked him. "In a form suitable for a TEX file?" TEX, pronounced like "Tech," is a computer program that's used for typesetting technical papers and books. "No," said Turner. "I don't do TEX. I do Troff (a comparable program). I guess I'll have to learn it, though. It's an invention of the devil."

Lemonick, M. D., The Light at the Edge of the Universe (1993)

(cited in David Salomon, The Advanced TeXbook (1995))

  • +1 for 'invention of the devil' :) Does it mean Knuth is the devil?
    – Count Zero
    Commented Jun 26, 2013 at 12:55

I've seen this one from Something of that Ilk pop up a few times:

It seems that the official site of the comic has been shut down, hence the link to archive.org.

enter image description here

  • I love that one ;)
    – phx
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 15:41
  • Unfortunately, that site seems to've closed down and is now a squatter. Link to the Wayback Machine Archive?
    – WillAdams
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 4:36

I once saved the following picture from a Facebook group called "Trust Me I'm an Engineer". Pretty sure those are LaTeX codes ;-)

Here is the link to the "source"

enter image description here

Also, PHD Comics published two episodes where LaTeX was referred to:


A reference to the creator of TeX - DEK: Doctor Fun produced cartoons over a "520 week" period (spanning around 10 years). This one is from February 10th, 2000:

enter image description here

This alleged book, Donald Knuth's Big Dummies Guide to Visual Basic, is purely fictional.


The central character of R.A. MacAvoy’s wonderful fantasy novel, Tea with the Black Dragon settles down to read Dr. Donald Knuth’s The Art of Computer Programming with, “a contented sigh”.

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