10 Times Scrabble Made a Surprise Cameo in Pop Culture

woman watching scrabble scene television show

Adapted from Getty Images

Scrabble has been a popular game for more than 80 years. Just about everyone knows about the game and how it works. With this in mind, it makes sense that Scrabble has been featured in a fair amount of popular media. It’s a simple yet dynamic game that always garners attention. Working the game into various TV shows, movies, and other media has led to iconic, memorable and amusing moments.

Seinfeld: Is Quone a Scrabble Word?

In the Seinfeld episode “The Stakeout,” there is a scene where Jerry and his mother are playing Scrabble in Jerry’s apartment. During her turn, Jerry’s mother plays the nonexistent word “quone.” Jerry knows the word doesn’t exist. Despite objections from Kramer, who is in the apartment too, Jerry challenges it. Jerry’s unwillingness to let his mother cheat pays off when he proves that “quone” is not in the dictionary.

Friends: The One With Marcel

In the Friends episode “The One with Two Parts, Part 2,” Ross and Chandler are playing Scrabble as Ross’s pet monkey, Marcel, watches. At one point in the game, Ross spells “kidney” and adds 43 points to his score. Chandler contests that, saying he got zero points for spelling “idney.”

Ross doesn’t understand where his K went. But, when he and Chandler look at Marcel, they understand what happened: Ross’s pet had swallowed and is now choking on the letter tile. Panicking, they rush the monkey to the hospital.

The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon Cooper vs. Stephen Hawking

The Big Bang Theory, a TV sitcom about a group of so-called nerds, extends far beyond physics and engineering. As it turns out, they “geek out” over language and words too. In “The Extract Obliteration” (season 6, episode 6), Sheldon reveals that he has been playing Words With Friends with renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. 

As the episode progresses, Sheldon boasts to his girlfriend Amy that he is badly beating Professor Hawking. Like so many other Words With Friends players, Sheldon gets frustrated when Professor Hawking takes a long time to make his move in the game. Eventually, Sheldon throws the game to maintain his friendship with “Rolling Thunder,” a nickname he coined for Professor Hawking. 

Calvin & Hobbes: Fake Scrabble Words

Scrabble appeared in two Calvin & Hobbes strips. The first time was in a Sunday strip. Calvin and Hobbes are playing a game of Scrabble, and Calvin is clearly falling behind. Rather than stick it out, he kicks the board across the room and suggests they play cards instead. 

The second time was a weekday strip. Calvin excitedly spells the fake word “ZQFMGB,” which also lands on a double word score. Hobbes complains that it isn’t a real word, but Calvin defends it. Hobbes attempts to look it up in a word finder, which Calvin counters by daring to look up a 12-letter word Hobbes previously played with X and J tiles. Not wanting to get caught in his own lie, Hobbes reluctantly adds the points from ZQFMGB to Calvin’s score.

Rosemary’s Baby: A Life or Death Scrabble Game

During a critical moment in both the book and movie adaptation of Rosemary’s Baby, Rosemary uses Scrabble tiles to solve an anagram. Another character, Hutch, told her how a name in a certain book, All Of Them Witches,would help answer questions she had about her unusual pregnancy and the apartment building she and her husband live in. 

Using the Scrabble tiles along with a copy of the book, Rosemary discovers that one of her neighbors is a member of a satanic cult. She doesn’t fully understand the implications, but it becomes clear that the man has plans for her and her baby.

mia farrow rosemary's baby moviemia farrow rosemary's baby movie

Foxtrot: A Scrabble Victory Song

Scrabble appeared in one of Foxtrot’s Sunday strips. Roger, the father and husband character, shows his wife Andrea an “R” tile he had found under the sofa. He then goes on a tirade. If he had not lost that letter tile the last time they played, he would have been able to spell “quartz” for 72 points. That would have probably won him the game.

Not stopping there, Roger explains further that he would also have been able to sing his Scrabble victory song. Andrea is confused to hear her husband say he has a Scrabble victory song. Much to her surprise, and regret for saying anything about it, Roger begins to sing it for her.

The Office: Playing Scrabble Online

The Office was one of the first in popular culture to explore online Scrabble. In the episode “The Seminar,” Erin Hannon, played by Ellie Kemper, is having trouble with a game of Scrabble she’s playing on her phone

Her co-workers try to give her suggestions, but every time they do, she relates their ideas to words that relate to cows. She plays “moo,” and someone asks why she didn’t play “mood” instead. She feels dumb after hearing this, thinking it’s like “the cow mooed yesterday.” No matter what anyone says, Erin brings it back to her unexplained obsession with cows.

Jimmy Kimmel Live! vs. School Scrabble Champions

Jimmy Kimmel has featured Scrabble in multiple segments on his late-night variety show. Monologues have discussed the inclusion of strange words in the Scrabble dictionary. And, multiple Scrabble champions have appeared as guests on the show.

Jimmy has also challenged some of the champions to games of Scrabble on the show. One amusing example involved a two-on-two game between Jimmy, Joe Rogan, and two children who had won the National School Scrabble Championship.

Black Hawk Down: A Battle of Words

During a flight scene in Black Hawk Down, chief warrant officers Cliff Wolcott and Michael Durant load into a black hawk helicopter and begin to take off. As they do, they resume an off-screen argument about the validity of the word “limo” in Scrabble. The audience is meant to assume that Wolcott played “limo” in an ongoing game of Scrabble and Durant has been contesting whether or not it’s a valid Scrabble word.

Durant explains that “limo” is not a word but an abbreviation. Wolcott, not wanting to yield, explains that it is a word in common usage. He suggests that common usage is the most important component in Scrabble. This riles Durant, who adamantly explains that if a word is not in the dictionary, then it doesn’t count.

Cruise Ship: Bonding Over Board Games

Scrabble makes an appearance in Cruise Ship, a scripted podcast. The podcast, described as “a cross between The Love Boat and Love Actually,” features a number of unique main characters who all meet and interact with each other on a cruise ship. Many of these interactions occur in pairs. One pair of characters, Renata and Edie, meet each other during the ship’s first onboard Scrabble tournament. 

An Entertaining Game Loved by Entertainers

Scrabble gets a lot of love from the entertainment industry for a lot of reasons. And, there are plenty more examples than the ones listed above. It’s not just the shows, artists and writers who love Scrabble though. Read on to learn which celebrities love Scrabble as much as you do. Many celebs play Wordle too, including Jimmy Fallon! 

Zac Pricener has been a content creator for the past eight years. He’s a bit of an all-around nerd, and he has a bad habit of working movie and TV show references into conversations whenever possible.


See more popular articles