1) 12 Monkeys
Watch: Atari Clip
Comment: The SyFy online channel's time travelling thriller "12 Monkeys" has episode 4
called "Atari". A character called Ramse describes Go (and) how he used to play it. He
and his friend are in rather dire predicament and he tells his friend that they are in
atari. They only have one more move or they are finished. He says "Being in atari is bad."
Later when surrounded by men with guns he radioes through "Sorry ... I am in atari".
In another episode he taught his son to play, who was later seen playing in the background.
2) 24 (Episode: 3.15)
Cast: Kiefer Sutherland
Comment: In Series 3 of "24" (Episode 15 3:00am-4:00am), an agent called Wong
enters a seedy LA club where three games of Go are in progress in different rooms. The male
players are variously drinking and smoking and being watched by loose women and other men.
Later the hero, agent Jack Bauer, catches a terrorist suspect and then questions him seated
at a Go table with a recently abandoned game on it. When Jack fails to get a response from
the suspect, in frustration he scatters a lid of prisoners with his hand. The scene continues
in the room at the start of Episode 16 (4:00am-5:00am) and the Go Club incident is twice
referred to in later episodes.
A1) Ally McBeal (Episode 2.37 Pyramids of the Nile)
Cast: Calista Flockhart, Courtney Thorne-Smith,
Comment: There is a scene of two characters playing Go.
It is not just a background scene, as the scene starts
with a birds-eye view of the game. The Go game wasn't much
of a game but at least the position was legal - at least
until Richard Fish (played by Greg Germann) was put off his
game by Ling Woo (played by Lucy Liu) talking dirty to him.
A2) Altered Carbon
Comment: In this Netflix series set in the future, a man who has been
in suspended animation, the character Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman),
plays Go against his sister, in a flash back scene in episode 7 "Nora Inu",
on a roll-up board and with wooden bowls (40 - 42 minutes in). A Goban
appears in episodes 9 and 10; one character plays with a stone.
Year: 2000 - 2002
Cast: Kevin Sorbo, Lexa Doig
Source: IMDB Go on Andromeda
Comment: Go playing or Go references appear in several episodes. In various episodes
Captain Dylan Hunt (the hero played by Sorbo) plays 3D Go (three blue-glass with
white lines 11x11 Go boards stacked on top of each other, supported by a clear
plastic column in one corner, just like the 3D Chess they used to play on Star Trek).
The stones are the half-sized sort and are kept in a single light-pink bowl. He also
often thinks by the Go board because of the connections with his old first officer
Rhade. He gets the Seamus Harper to make a hologram of Rhade for him to play against.
Another of his opponents is Prince Erik.
Episode S1E05: Double Helix
In this episode the Captain, Dylan Hunt (played by Sorbo), is seen reflecting on what
to do whilst holding a single white stone. In a series of flashbacks (between 27 minutes
and 32.5 minute in) he is seen playing with his former first mate Gaheris Rhade
(played by Steve Bacic). Hunt does not know how to pick up a Go stone properly,
sometimes using his thumb and in one clip seen trying to move the stone to the
correct fingers. Rhade warns him "Careful Captain! 10 moves until I win". Hunt
says "I have played Go with you for 3 years now, why do you treat winning like
a matter of life and death?" "Because it is" Rhade replies. Sorbo then spots a
missing stone on point "5d4". Rhade says it is only cheating if you get caught
and reveals the stone in his fist. When asked if he has always been cheating,
he is surprised the captain hasn't been also cheating "in order to win". No
positions can be seen clearly, but what can be seen does not look much like a
real Go position.
Episode S2E02: Exit Strategies
At the end of this episode, Dylan Hunt and Tyr sit down for a Go game and Hunt invites
Tyr to make his move.
Episode S2E16: In Heaven Now Are Three
This episode contains several references to the game of Go. In one scene, Hunt's
approach to complex battle situations is said to be as if he were playing a game
of Go thinking many moves ahead. In another scene, when faced with a life-and-death
duel, the he suggests that he would rather settle the conflict by playing a game of Go.
Episode S4E18: Trusting the Gordian Maze
In this episode Dylan Hunt says "I am excellent at Go." Indra Xicol replies "...I can beat
anyone at Go."
A4) Arrested Development
Comment: In the latter episodes of the first series of this US comedy,
the mother adopts a teenage Korean boy called Annyong (played by Justin Lee).
At the very end of the last episode of the series (episode 22 "Let 'Em Eat Cake"), he
is seen playing the girl Maeby (played by Alia Shawkat). They have small stones and board
and there are heaps of mixed-up stones on the table all around the board.
Cast: Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis
Comment: In this American drama, starring Go player Paul Giamatti, season 2 episode 5
"Currency" features Go. The series, loosely based on a true story, portrays a high-stake
legal battle between U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades and hedge-fund manager, Bobby Axelrod.
In the episode, Rhoades (played by Paul Giamatti) enters a conference room to find one
of his lawyers, Brian, and finds him playing one of several active Go games. After Rhoades
points out that he had tried calling, Brian replies that they put all of their phones in a
basket before they play because “Go players didn’t have cellphones in ancient times.”
Rhoades gets back to business, telling Brian that he needs to coordinate with the FBI to
set up surveillance. He’s about to leave when he remembers, “Oh, I almost forgot… You’d
better block that monkey jump at the bottom.” Naturally the games are realistic, one game
is nearly over and another in early middle game, played with smaller stones than normal.
Previously the dialogue of season 1 episode 9 "Where the F*ck Is Donnie?" refered to Go
by calling one of the actions in a case a "kikashi play".
Comment: In epside one "Hella Duplicitous" of season 4 of this FBI crime thriller
two players can be seen seated at a table playing Go on a board with short
legs and wooden bowls.
Cast: Eric Stoltz, Esai Morales, Alessandra Torresani
Comment: In episode 2, "Rebirth", of this prequel to Battlestar Galactica as two characters
walk through a market an old man is seen playing Go with a nice looking board (21:40 mins in).
Cast: Terence Stamp
Comment: Terence Stamp stars as a spy master. He had a board on his office desk and would
occasionally place a stone for dramatic effect. British dan-level player Michael Culver
appeared in this as Nick Hannah, so it is assumed that Go was introduced by his influence.
Cast: J K Simmons, Harry Lloyd, Nazanin Bonicidi
Source: IMDB Youtube Episode 1
Comment: This new thriller, available on Starz, involves two parallel universes which
started due to an experiment in the cold war thirty years before. Howard Silk works
in Berlin in the building where the gateway between worlds is but is unaware of that
until his double comes across to our world.
The title sequence features many patterns and one is a Go board pattern being
populated very quickly. It appears four times - the last time with just black stones
that form into the title.
In the free episode one the first scene after the titles (at 4:45 in) shows Howard
playing a friend, Andrei, seated at a round glass table of a riverside open air cafe. They
have a folding board, glass stones and wooden bowls and place the stones properly
in real positions. We see a double threat being set up in close up. The friend
suggests Howard loses on purpose, but Howard replies how else would he teach him.
At 25:09 they are back in the cafe, and talk philosophy of existence. We see the friend
atari five stones that cannot escape due to shortage of liberties. In both games Howard
There are further Go and Go book references throughout the series and in episode 5
Howard nearly beats Andrei which is integral to the plot.
C4) Criminal Minds
Comment: Go featured prominently in the 22nd September 2005 premiere of CBS Criminal Minds
television drama. Discovering a Go board in the attic room of a suspect's house,
FBI profilers Greenaway (Lola Glaudini), Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler), Gideon (Mandy
Patinkin) and Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) discuss the game:
Greenaway: What kind of game is it?
Reid: In China, it's called weiqi, here we call it Go. It's considered
the most difficult board game ever conceived.
Gideon: Chairman Mao required his generals to learn it.
Reid: It also looks like he's playing himself.
Greenaway: How can you tell?
(Spins board which is mounted on a turntable)
Reid: This might provide an advantage; actually Go is considered to
be a particularly psychological revealing game. There are profiles
for every player: the conservative point counter, the aggressor,
Hotchner: What kind of player is this one?
Reid: Extreme aggressor.
D1) DaVinci's Demons
Cast: Tom Riley, Blake Ritson
Comment: This fantasy adventure series is set in the mediaeval Florence of the Medicis and
is a fictitious account of Leonardo DaVinci's early life as he searches for the mythical
Book of Leaves.
Episode 3 "The Prisoner" is structured to parallel a game of Go. The game is played by
Count Girolano Riario and the eponymous, mysterious prisoner in the pope's castle
through the grille of the prison cell and is interspersed with the action. It is played
with a set of small Chinese-style stones with what looks like a thin card "Ariel" Go set
stuck onto wood.
The opening words of the episode are "Shall we... I find the game fascinating, deceptively
simple isn't it?" The prisoner says he has already begun to play before he has even touched
the board and explains that first you obviously take the corners as they are easier to defend.
The game is only won by pursuing seemingly opposing objectives simultaneously. A stone can
inhabit one of three states: alive, dead and unsettled. The latter of which may case problems.
He mentions a strategy called "crossing the sea unseen" which means identifying a weakness
and exploiting it. The next comment is about breaking off the local exchange and starting a
new front. At 46 minutes in two black stones are captured and the prisoner says he has been
taught well, but warns to be "careful not to press a desperate foe too hard or you may
find yourself at the mercy of a divine move, the inspired play that turns a losing game into
At 56 minutes in, the game ends and they discuss strategy and which path to follow, before the
board is tipped over with the stones going flying. The last words of the episode as the prisoner
snuffs his torch are "As one game ends another begins".
Comment: "Devs" is a 8-part sci-fi series available first on streaming channels and later shown
on BBC2. The series is set at a tech company called Amaya which has a mysterious quantum
computing division called "Devs". In Episode 5 (9 minutes in) the main character, Lily Chan
(played by Sonoya Mizuno), is shown in flash back to her childhood, playing Go with her father.
They sit at a table in a window bay and play a real-looking game with Chinese stones (with the
correct fingers), held in wooden bowls on a thick table board. As the play a joseki, the
father asks in Chinese how many moves ahead she thinks (maybe three) and why a stone
was played where it was; she replies that she liked it because it feels strong. He agrees.
Later (40 minuntes in) Lily is seated alone at the board making patterns with the stones.
The Go scene was filmed at Harefield in England.
D3) Diagnosis Murder
Cast: Dick van Dyke, Barry van Dyke, Charlie Schlatter, Michael Beck
Comment: In the series 5 episode "Deadly Games" (episode 89),
Frank Waldeck (Michael Beck) is a body guard who is in hospital
and plays himself at Weiqi whilst recovering. Dr Mark Sloan (Dick van Dyke)
admits he has played Weiqi occasionally and very badly.
Waldeck also plays whilst on duty watching over his client.
Mark is then challenged to a game when Waldeck and so spends some
time with Steve Sloan (Barry van Dyke) and Jesse Travers (Charlie
Schlatter) studying and reading from a Go leaflet at home.
By the time they play, Mark suspects Waldeck of plotting
a murder and tries to understand his plan from his Go strategy.
Eventually Waldeck's plan is sussed, but at the end Steve produces
a Mancala set and convinces Mark that they'd be better off playing that.
Several of the Weiqi scenes look more like 5-in-a row and
in one a close up is a different position. In the game Mark add a
second stone to remain in atari and Waldeck plays the capturing
move without removing.
The set is a mini set with black and white bags for the "men". At
least they have a try at holding the stones properly, Waldeck picking
up the stone with his left hand and placing it between his two right
fingers, but it is hard with mini-stones. First shown 9th October 1997.
Comment: It is reported that this UK drama series about diamond merchants
included an character playing Go and has a Goban visible in the background
of several episodes. British dan-level player Michael Culver appeared in
this as David Kremer, so it is presumed to be him playing Go. Intriguingly
two episodes are called "A Taste of the Orient" and "Middle Game".
E1) Enterprise (Episode: 2.48) "Cogenitor"
Cast: Scott Bakula, Connor Trinneer, Jolene Blalock
Source: Star Trek Webpage
Comment: The Enterprise's engineer Charles "Trip" Tucker III (played by Connor Trinneer)
teaches Go to a Vissian cogenitor (third gender being) (played by Becky Wahstrom) seated
at a goban on the floor of his cabin.
Trip captures a white stone and the Vissian takes a clearly long dead black stone off of
the board and asks if it means it has won. Trip reveals that in two years of playing of
playing this (Go is not named) that was the first time he was beaten.
H1) Have Gun - Will Travel
Comment: In Episode 186, "The Coming of the Tiger" (season 5 episode 30) of this
classic TV Western, the hero, Paladin (Richard Boone) is shown playing a game of Go
in San Francisco. To the dismay of his Japanese opponent, Paladin announces that
the position is seki. The game is interrupted by a crisis and resumed at the end
of the episode. It looks more like they were actually playing Five-in-a-row though,
if so, white has already won!
H2) Hell on Wheels
Comment: This western series, set around the construction of the American railroads, has a
game of Go being played (between 43 and 45 minutes) in season 5 episode 10 "61 Degrees".
The board is quite full as two men play in a dimly lit wooden-panelled room, whilst some
women watch, the scene viewed through the bars of a screen.
Comment: There is a Go scene in the second episode in season 2 of this drama (shown on UK's
Channel 4) about how humans cope with androids called Synths, some of who gain consciousness.
One of the scientists, Milo Khoury, in a US AI laboratory plays Go in the rest area against
Eric, the son of one of the other workers. At the end of his game talks about Go to Doctor
Athena Morrow. He explains to her about the number of positions and the number of atoms in
the observable universe.
Cast: David James Elliott, Catherine Bell, John M. Jackson
Comment: In the episode "The Game of Go" (S2/10 first shown 28th February 1997), the
team investigate a Columbian drug lord, Carlos Estruga, who is a Go fan. We first
see him holding a black stone to the camera and placing it on a board with thick
lines and an ornamental edge (14 minutes in). The stones are flat topped and kept in
blue pottery bowls. Later we see the board with several stones spaced out on it (28
Commander Harmon Rabb is familiar with the game and when he visits Estruga, he finds
Estruga at the breakfast table with a mostly complete game (35 minutes in). The
commander assumes he is playing white and Estruga agrees as white is the one almost
surrounded. However they are playing in the squares, it does not look like a real
game and has fewer stones on it than at the start of the scene.
At the end Estruga is surrounded in a bamboo grove and he congratulates the commander
on his excellent play.
L1) La Femme Nikita
Year: 1997 - 2001
Cast: Peta Wilson, Roy Dupuis
Comment: In one episode it is explained how Go is very popular
among their super spy group. They show a Go board that uses
triangular stones and the board is a glass see-through table
with black lines painted on it.
L2) Last Resort
Cast: Andre Braugher
Comment: The series is about a renegade U.S. submarine crew on an island in the
Indian Ocean. In episode 10 ("Blue Water"), a Chinese diplomat named Zheng visits
the crew offering humanitarian aid. He meets with Captain Marcus Chaplin, who is
wary of what strings might come attached with the aid.
The first Go scene (13 minutes in) opens in a shack with Zheng at a table pouring
small Go stones from pots into porcelain bowls. Zheng then offers Chaplin his
grandfather's Go set as a gift, which is in a wooden case. Chaplin says "I'm more
of a Chess man." Zheng says "In Chess, the victor is the one who annihilates his
opponent's armies. In Weiqi or Go, victory goes to the one who can control the most
territory with the fewest armies. A better game for our time... maybe."
Later in the episode (24 minutes in), they sit sit on the veranda at night and
play a game against each other. Again the stones are small and held in flat wooden
trays. Zheng catches one of Chaplin's black stones. "A tricky game: you caught me."
This mirrors exactly what the captain fears might be the real-life situation if he
accepts Zheng's aid.
M1) The Man in Room 17
Watch: YouTube Episode 1
Cast: Michael Aldridge, Richard Vernon, Willoughby Goddard, Denholm Elliot
Comment: This British crime drama from 1965 (Series 1) and 1966 (Series 2),
featured a "Mycroft Holmes" approach to crime-solving. The two men never left
room 17, but directed minions by telephone who went to catch the criminals.
In between crimes the men played Go. The scripts are full of Go allusions like
"We must surround the opposition before launching our attack, then drive them
into our territory". The was also an explicit reference to the similarity
between crime-fighting and Go playing, though Go itself was never explained.
The title sequence of Series 1 was a graphic of a sequence of blocks of stones
being added to a Go grid, and more graphics appeared at ad breaks and the end.
In Episode 1 "Tell the Truth" first aired on UK's ITV on 11th June 1965, the men,
Oldenshaw and Dimmock, are first seen sat at their coffee table playing Go, though
the stones are all in clumps. Dimmock drops a stone and is later told "Tactically
sound, Dimmock, but you may regret it strategically." At the end of the episode
they get the board out again, but Dimmock has been drugged and instead of chosing
which hand for colour, he slumps forward his head ending on the two decorated white
Most positions shown do not look like real games, apart from theat in Episode 3.
They do not play Go in every episode, and some some have other pursuits, such as
Tarot, Monopoly or the crossword. In Epsiode 9, the final words are "I taught him
M2) Marco Polo
Cast: Ken Marshall, Denholm Elliott, Tony Vogel
Comment: In a scene in this mini-series in the imperial palace you
see a Go board in the distance.
N1) Navarro (Commissaire Navarro or Commissario Navarro)
Year: 1989 - 2007
Cast: Roger Hanin, Sam Karmann
Comment: In one episode of this French crime drama, a Go player kills all others
to win a tournament.
O1) Orange is the New Black
Comment: A prison-based US comedy released on Netflix, the episode "Fool Me Once" (S1/12)
features a Go board seen on a table for about 6 seconds (about 29:30 minutes in),
near to two taking characters. The board is a mini board, small black stones can be
seen and there are things piled on the board including some bananas.
O2) The Originals
Watch: Season 2 Trailer on YouTube
Comment: The CW Network's "The Originals", a spin off from the popular Vampire Diaries,
featured a Go game between two characters in a key scene in Season 2 Episode 1. Original
vampire Klaus Mikaelson (played by Joseph Morgan) is seen playing Go with Marcel (played
Davis), a vampire he sired in the 1800s who then became his enemy in later years.
The game represents a kind of detente between the two characters, in their ongoing
fight to control New Orleans, and prevent the witches, the werewolves, and the
humans from getting the upper hand. The game featured is a famous one and is played on
a Goban with ornate side panels.
P1) Pine Gap
Comment: In this Australian espionage series in episode 6, there is a brief
monologue by a Chinese character talking to an American about how Chess
verses. Go thinking affects how each country responds to the other. To
drive home the point, a few scenes later the same Chinese guy compliments
another person on how well they played the long game.
Cast: Jerry O'Connell
Comment: In series 1 episode 7 "Eggheads" Quinn Mallory explains
that the game "Mindgame" is just like Go or Othello.
T1) Teen Wolf
Cast: Dylan O'Brien, Arden Cho, Tamlyn Tomita
Comment: MTV's popular drama "Teen Wolf" features Go prominently in episode S3/21,
"The Fox and the Wolf". Part of the episode is set in a Japanese internment camp,
during the second World War, and a character named Satomi uses Go throughout the
episode, to help control her emotions. "You take too frequently, and you take too
much," Satomi tells a younger woman, in a conversation at the Go board that is as
much about stealing supplies for sale on the black market as it is about the game.
"The young fox always knows the rules so she can break them, the older wiser animal
learns the exceptions to the rules," says Satomi as she captures a stone.
In the next episode (S3/22) co-star Dylan O'Brien, as Stiles Stilinski, has been
possessed by a dark fox spirit, the Nogitsune, who is controlling his mind and body.
Go is alluded to, when two werewolves are discussing strategy. One is trying to use
a Chess board to figure out what Stiles would do, but the older werewolf observes
"Chess is Stiles' game, it's not the game of a Japanese fox". Later, using psychic
werewolf powers, Stiles' friends are able to enter his mind, where they find him
engaged in a game of Go with the Nogitsune. Like all good Go players, he is immersed
in the game, and deaf to the cries of his friends. It appears that while his mind is
trapped in the Go game, the Nogitsune has complete control of his body. We see the
board from multiple angles, with Stiles playing white. Unfortunately, the only move
he makes on the board is an empty triangle, although the board position is at least
reasonable. The spell is broken when Tyler Posey, as Scott McCall, transforms into
a werewolf and his howl gets through to Stiles. Suddenly realizing what is going on,
Stiles looks up at the Nogitsune, and then sweeps all the stones off the board.
US Go teacher Joe Walters set the game up. It was one between Michael Redmond 9P and
Chino Tadahiko 9P played on 15th March 2012 in the B section of the Meijin. The
empty triangle is the last move, after which white (Chino) resigns.
The following episode features another conversation about strategy, with Kira learning
about Go from her mother; she explains what the game is about and describes territory.
Later in the episode, Kira's father tells her that Go is called Baduk in Korea, and that
her mother is a very aggressive player - too aggressive for her own good.
The fourth Go episode is titled "The Divine Move". Early in the episode Mrs. Yukimura
advises a desperate Stiles, while the family is seated around a Go board, "He made a
powerful move by splitting the two of you." "So what's our move?" responds her daughter
Kira, as she places a stone on the board. "The Nogitsune has had sente until this point,
what you need is a 'Divine Move' in order to turn this game around." responds her mother.
Stiles does find a divine move, in the story arc at least, and his friends defeat the
Nogitsune at last. Towards the end of the episode, Kira's parents are seen picking up
the pieces from the Go board, drawing a conclusion to the story arc.
T2) Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Cast: Lena Headley, Summer Glau
Source: IMDB Youtube
Comment: Season 2 Episode 10 is titled "Strange Things Happen on the 1-2 Point".
Cameron (Summer Glau) unfolds a Go board and starts laying out stones
on the table in front of Sarah Connor (Lena Headley). The stones have
flat tops and are held in glass bowls.
Cameron says that Xander does not play Chess but prefers Go and that
the game was invented by the Chinese 5000 years ago and has more
permutations than atoms in the universe. He is going to teach her to
play. She says that "strange things happen on the 1-2 point" is a Go
proverb, which means the usual rules do not always apply.
Sarah grabs some white stones and three stick her hand. There is a shot
of her hand above a Go board with a game in progress on it, which is
clearly a different set from that which Cameron had used to lay out just
a few joseki moves a few seconds earlier!
T3) Tower High
Comment: In Episode 12 of this US teen drama, set in a mysterious school/prison,
a Go board can be seen (25 minutes in). Suki Sato (played by Dyana Liu) returns to
her room to find her mysterious elder brother Shinji leaning against her table.
On the table is a flat Go board with a position on and rectangular trays for the stones.
V1) Verbotene Liebe (Forbidden Love)
Comment: around about episode 2080 of this German soap opera, while visiting Castle
Koenigsbrunn, Charlie Schneider plays Go with Count von Lahnstein. The Count is said
to be a descendant of Lasker and it is also said that he has won several times the
German Go Championship and that he often travels to Japan.