Arc Number

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Go ahead, guess.


TG: whats up with that number

TG: ive seen it around
Dave Strider, Homestuck

This is the number that pops up over and over again in a given work, often in seemingly unrelated contexts. Sometimes the number really is significant; sometimes, it's just an in-joke or Stock Shout-Outs. That is, it's the numeric equivalent of Arc Words.

Compare Numerological Motif, which is about the way numbers are used across multiple works. A good indication that a number is an Arc Number is that it gets used in Numerological Motifs that are associated with other numbers—so in a fantasy world whose arc number is twelve, there might be twelve deadly sins, twelve levels of hell, and an ice cream chain that sells twelve flavors at a time. Also, a sufficiently influential work may be the Trope Maker for a Numerological Motif involving its Arc Number.

Examples of Arc Number include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The number 25 appears all over the place in Macross Frontier - it's the 25th migration fleet, the Macross-class ship is called the Macross Quarter (=25 percent!), the hero mecha are VF-25, one of the characters is a quarter alien, etc. Whether all this leads up to something actually meaningful is still up in the air. Perhaps not so coincidentally, Macross Frontier celebrates the 25th anniversary of the franchise.
  • Similarly, the number seven crops up all over Macross 7, to the point that they withheld three episodes from broadcast so that the series would be 49 episodes (7 squared) long.
  • Seven also crops up very frequently in Nana.
  • "4423" from Dennou Coil. What could it be? A time? A date? A telephone number? A hospital room number/patient number? A really weird pun?
  • Because Four Is Death, Death Note has 4×10n. 40 seconds after writing a name in the Note, the person dies. 400 seconds is the amount of time a Kira has to write circumstances surrounding a death after they've written in a cause of death.
  • In Haruhi Suzumiya's Endless Eight arc, there are eight parts and it takes place during August (the broadcast of this ended at the beginning of August as well). A bit less obviously, turning an 8 sideways gives you the infinity symbol.
  • In Monster, Johan's hospital room number is 402; Eva stays at a hotel in room 402. For good measure, the number of people poisoned at the Red Rose Mansion is 42, and the apartment of the "Thursday boy" is 204.
  • In Darker than Black the number 201 (Hei's Contractor Messier Code) tends to find its way into everything.
  • "21" in the appropriately named Eyeshield 21.
    • It shows up more often than any number. It was Sena's number for the Deimon entrance exam. Sena's birth date is December 21. It was Hiruma's winning number from blackjack, earning them enough money to return home from America. Even Yamato's prediction of 42-0 for the Deimon-Teikoku game could be interpreted as 2 * 21 = 42. When Hiruma and Agon combined for the Dragon Fly, their jersey numbers are 1 and 2 respectively. Also Yamato before the Japan-America game confronts Mr Don at a casino and bets on red. The ball lands on Red 21.
  • Future GPX Cyber Formula: The number 11 plays a part in the Double-One arc. The story takes place during the 11th CF Grand Prix, Asurada has been upgraded into the Super Asurada AKF-11, and it is also the title for 2 consecutive championship wins in CF. In addition, the first episode of the OVA came out in November 1992.
  • Betterman has 26 as an arc number.
  • Speed Racer has 5's in many places; in one episode, Speed applied for some big testing program and was by total coincidence assigned the applicant number 555. (This is unsurprising, considering the Punny Name given the series in Japanese.)
  • The number 95 in Mawaru Penguindrum. It is a reference to the earthquake in Kobe and the Tokyo sarin gas attack, both of these events took place in 1995, in which Momoka Oginome was a victim of the gas attacks.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The number 52 appeared throughout The DCU for a year between 2006 and 2007, hinting at the mystery surrounding the weekly series 52. While eventually the title was explained (it referred to the 52 parallel Earths that had been newly created) why the number itself kept popping up in the unlikeliest places never was. The real reason was that the writers were told to salt their stories with "52" references, with the expectation that it would become meaningful later on. Most writers treated it as an oncoming cataclysmic event, with characters randomly spouting the number (or even having aliens scream the number in phonetic English. In hindsight, reading such references in context rarely yields anything remotely related to parallel Earths.
    • Note that it still exists as an arc number, with the recent DC relaunch having 52 new titles. Whether it still means anything or not will have to be seen.
  • In V for Vendetta, 5 is a recurring number. V (who tends to speak in iambic pentameter) was patient number 5, in a room marked with the Roman numeral "V". V's motto: Vi Veri Vniversum Vivus Vici (V.V.V.V.V.).
  • JLA #19 & #20: Odd things keep happening around the world, all related to the number 7. It turns out, this synchronicity was the result of 7 split photons trying to re-connect through "spooky action" and sending out messages to the universe in the form of warped probabilities, and the only hero who can stop the craziness is The Atom, who was the seventh person to join the JLA in its history.
  • The number 196, 833 pops up a lot in Planetary.
  • 7 in the Scott Pilgrim saga. It becomes more readily apparent when Scott finally reaches Gideon, Ramona's seventh and final evil ex. There's only six books in the series however, because two of her exes (a pair of twins) are defeated simultaneously in the fifth book. There are also mini-arc numbers for each ex; most wear their numbers, and coincidentally have them around them. Except for, again, 5 and 6, who get the number "11" (which is 5 plus 6). Scott Pilgrim himself is usually connected with the number zero.


Fanfic[edit | hide]


Film: Animated[edit | hide]

  • A113 pops up a lot in animated films, particularly those from Pixar. It's the number for the animation room in the California Institute for the Arts (CalArts), where most modern animators learned their craft.


Film: Live Action[edit | hide]

  • The Jim Carrey movie The Number 23 is built on this concept.
  • The number 1138 pops up a lot in George Lucas' work, as a tribute to his first film, THX 1138. As does 327, for reasons unknown. The Star Wars Expanded Universe adds a third: 1977, the year the original movie was released.
  • The number 60659 in Cube 2: Hypercube
  • 37[1] is Kevin Smith's favorite number, and it pops up quite a bit in the View Askewniverse.
  • Stanley Kubrick frequently used the serial number CRM 114 or phonetic variations thereof (i.e. "Serum 114" in A Clockwork Orange).
  • Magnolia uses the numbers 8 and 2 often in conjunction, leading to a quote of Exodus 8:2 and the plague of frogs it describes.
  • 666 shows up a lot in The Doom Generation, most often in the form of some purchase or another costing $6 and 66 cents.
  • In Donnie Darko, Frank the Bunny tells Donnie that the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds. Donnie then writes these numbers on his arm to remember them.
  • in Lucid, (a 2005 Canadian film,) the number 209 comes up frequently; clocks display 2:09, the group therapy group is group 209, etc. This is because, except for the beginning, it was All Just A Dream. The main character is dreaming, staring at a digital clock, and it is 2:09 in the morning.
  • In Inception, Cobb forces Fisher to tell him the first six numbers that come into his mind, claiming that his father might have given him the code to his safe without Fisher knowing it was a code. Held at gunpoint, Fisher comes up with 528491. Since it is all a dream in which all the details are filled in by the dreamers, this number becomes the code for all further locks they later encounter in the dreams. Even the rooms in the Hotel have the numbers 528 and 491, even though one is supposed to be the one right below the other.
  • In the Alfred Hitchcock film The 39 Steps, the numbers 3 and 5 appear quite frequently. A couple examples include the numbers 5 and 10 (5 x 2) appearing in the corners of the film, the title being "39" (3 and 3 x 9, or 3 x 13), and the scenes being roughly 3 – 5 minutes in length. The significance is not present in the film itself, but a theme of bread and fish is seen throughout the film as an alleged reference to The Bible, where Jesus Christ takes 3 fish and loaves of bread to feed 5,000 people.
  • 47 in Inland Empire.
  • The numbers 180 and 23 crop up a lot in the Final Destination series, usually when a character is about to be killed.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In the Dragaera books, everything related to the Dragaeran Empire comes in 17, or in powers of 17. All novels in the series have 17 or 34 chapters, a custom that began by accident.
  • All significant numbers in the Discworld gravitate towards 7a 8. There's an eighth color in the spectrum, being the eighth son of an eighth son makes you a wizard (and a wizard's eighth son is a sourcerer), Box Five from The Phantom of the Opera becomes Box Eight in Maskerade...
  • Illuminatus! does this with 5 and 23, and to a slightly lesser extent 17. 5 is mostly associated with the Bavarian Illuminati and 23 with the Discordians (though there are exceptions in both directions). It specifically adds two extra elements to the Hegelian triad of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis: parenthesis and paralysis.
  • Foucault's Pendulum does it with 120.
  • Harry Potter has 12, 7 (7 books, 7 years at Hogwarts, 7 horcruxes, 7 children in the Weasley family, Harry takes 7 classes from his first to third year...), and 9.75 (Platform 9¾; school year of 9¾ months; Harry spends 9¾ years in the Muggle world).
    • 7 is, however, the only one given a direct meaning; 7 is the most magical number of the franchise (although, 9¾ is associated with the symbolism of the associated platform also).
  • 42, the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's what you get when you multiply 6x9. In reality though, this was because 6x9 was the distorted version of the real question imprinted on Arthur Dent's brainwaves, due to the fact that he was not actually the race meant to live on earth. The real question, "what is 6x7?", would have been the reveal if the original human race had not been accidentally replaced. Note that it actually does equal 42 in base 13 math. People asked the author if this was intentional:

Douglas Adams: I don't make jokes in base 13. No one makes jokes in base 13.

  • The number 19, in Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. Notable for the characters becoming very Genre Savvy about it, including Eddie figuring out a password in the nick of time because he knew 19 was in there somewhere. This became Harsher in Hindsight when King was struck by a car on June 19th, 1999.
    • Which he then incorporated into his later books with the smaller (but no less important) arc number 99 and the whole 1999.
  • Humorist Dave Barry seems to have a thing for the number 2038. This likely has to do with the "Chuckletrousers Incident" (partially recounted in Dave Barry In Cyberspace), in which Dave Barry accidentally sent a profanity-filled message to his Usenet fan group instead of by e-mail to Michael Bywater, whom he was replying to. Michael Bywater subsequently claimed to have received 2,038 forwarded copies of the message. It may or may not also have something to do with the 2038 Problem.
  • The number 16, in the Mistborn trilogy. (Especially in Hero of Ages.)
    • Which is also a meta-Arc Number for all Brandon Sanderson's adult fantasy works(which all take place in the same "Cosmere"), although it's less obvious in the others.
  • Katherine Neville novels:
    • The Eight has an Arc Number. Guess which one.
    • The Fire has 64, for the number of squares in a chessboard.
  • Stationery Voyagers has 86 (for ideals), 64 (for realism) and 22 (for shortcoming and goals.) 22, of course, being the difference between 86 and 64.
    • Pextel is mechanized at the age of 22.
    • He ends up piloting a ship that can travel at a top speed of Mach 86; the next-fastest ships around can at best go only at Mach 64.
    • Mitchell and Eliot, while fleeing for their lives, end up on board Flight #864. In a hurry to flee, but going only so fast. (They're not the only ones to escape danger on that flight number.)
  • Tolkien juggled around a whole bunch of neat numbers that kept cropping up, but this seems less intended to mean something and more characteristic of fairy-tales and mythology in general. Magic rings come in sets of three, seven, nine, or one. There are five wizards, and a fellowship of nine. Oh, and thirteen dwarves (plus one hobbit, picked for the lucky number), seven gods plus seven goddesses, and three Silmarilli, going beyond Lord of the Rings. Tolkien sure liked primes. Also, nine.

"Seven stars and seven stones / And one white tree."

  • Both 12 and 13 (and their multiples) in Midnighters.
  • 10 is important in The Stormlight Archive, mostly related to the Ten Heralds we meet at the beginning of the first book.
    • More like they are just another example of it. There are ten orders of Knights Radiant, ten forms of surgebinding, ten levels of voidbinding, the ten Fools, ten original Silver Kingdoms, ten major gemstones, ten trait combinations - there are a lot of these.
    • A big problem facing the hardcore fans is that this book series takes place in the same universe as the Mistborn example above. At least one piece of evidence (namely, the number of Shards) indicates the number sixteen is the Arc Number for the series as a whole, and given it is also present in the Mistborn books, the question is, why is it not present in The Stormlight Archive where ten is?
  • In A Void by Perec, a book written without the letter 'e', the two numbers are 26 and (always referring to the fifth out of all the 26 things being missing) the other is 25. (Meta: referring to the missing 'e'. Which really only works in the original French because there's no 'e' in 'vingt' (twenty in French).)
  • The number 7 in Septimus Heap, among others:
    • "Septimus" means 7 in Latin.
    • The books are about a seventh son of a seventh son, who will have amazing Magykal powers.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Star Trek:
    • 47 appears an awful lot in Star Trek. Many joke that it's "42 adjusted for inflation," and many sci-fi shows, notably Stargate SG-1, also see 47 cropping up frequently, most likely in tribute. It's become something of a Numerological Motif and/or in-joke in the sci-fi community at large. Trek's 47s were started by writer Joe Menosky, a graduate of Pomona College, which is the origin of the "47 Society," a group proclaiming that 47 is the quintessential random number. In the 1960s, a Pomona professor named Donald Bentley produced a "proof" showing that all numbers are equal to 47. Just for fun, one of the main libraries on the campus is named "The Borg" in part as tribute to this connection between the school and the show/movies
    • Star Trek has a more compressed example in the TNG's "Cause and Effect," featuring a Groundhog Day Loop in which the Enterprise is repeatedly destroyed. On the final iteration, the characters keep encountering the number 3, and discover that it's a message from themselves in the previous go-round telling them how to avoid destruction.
  • J.J. Abrams and his writers apparently tried their hardest to get the number 47 to appear in every single episode of Alias.
  • Abrams does the same thing with {{Fringe.
  • Lost has six Arc Numbers: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42, which recur both individually and together. As well as 108, the sum of the other numbers.
  • On that note, Heroes has the number 9. We still don't know why it's relevant, but it was on a bus that Isaac painted. It was also Maury's apartment number in Volume 2.
  • The number 12 on the new Battlestar Galactica appears quite often. The number 13 also appears with nearly as much frequency. Usually the thirteenth member of a group is somewhat different than their twelve predecessors and usually meets an unfortunate end. There's also 33, which is central to the mythology of the first episode then never turns up again in any significant way. Why? Because even Ron Moore doesn't give a shit, that's why.
  • The X-Files frequently uses arc numbers with the most common being 1013 (series creator Chris Carter's birthday and the name of his production company) and 1121 (Carter's wife's birthday). Use as times (10:13) and dates (November 21) being particularly common.
  • During the fourth season of CSI: NY, the number 333 popped up in a lot of episodes (Mac would be called at 3.33am, or a murder on the 3 train at 33rd St station).
  • Barely an episode of the third season of Ashes to Ashes goes by without 6-6-2-0 showing up. It turns out to be the collar number Gene was wearing when he was killed.
  • On Classic Concentration, contestants who picked square #22 were reminded that that is host Alex Trebeck's lucky number.
  • The number 11 crops up so often in Shoebox Zoo that it almost becomes irritating.

Michael Scot: Your dark days are numbered.
Toledo: In elevens, I presume?

  • Every episode of Touch has its own arc number, which is usually first show written by Jacob in his notebook. The number of the episode appears throughout: as everything from times to dates to addresses to phone numbers to ....


Music[edit | hide]

  • Weird Al Yankovic has the number 27 appear a number of times in various songs, album covers, specials etc.
  • The number 27 is pretty much an Arc Number for music in general, due to the startling number of musicians that have died at that exact age, including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Cobain.
    • Amy Winehouse too.
  • In the Gorillaz-verse, the number 23 seems to come up an awful lot, as noted in the "autobiography" Demon Days.
  • The number 9 for Slipknot.
  • Marilyn Manson with 15 (which is both Manson's birthday - January 5 - and the Devil's card in Tarot).
  • John Lennon loved the number 9 (Revolution 9, #9 Dream), and was born on the 9th of October.
  • Taylor Swift's lucky number is 13. She would often be seen writing the number on her hand during concerts and her Fearless album had 13 tracks.
  • 99 Luftballoons uses the number repeatedly.
  • The number 23 for The KLF. Note that one of the many names used by The KLF is the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, named for a Discordian cult in Illuminatus
  • Sound Horizon's Märchen makes mention of or alludes to the number 7 numerous times, examples from which range from obvious (it's based on seven fairy tales and Seven Deadly Sins; it starts off and ends with a countdown from the number seven), to obscure (Snow White is said to have become the "fairest of them all" at age seven in the original fairy tale; the "bonus track" is a collection of twenty nine sound snippets, each seven seconds in length.)


Theater[edit | hide]

  • In Les Misérables, the number 24601 (Jean Val Jean's prison number) is repeatedly referenced, mainly in his struggles with Javert.
  • In Rent the song seasons of love turns around the repetition of 525,600, the number of minutes in a year, as a way to emphasize the shortness of life and all that can be accomplished in that time, harkening to the broad themes of the show.


Mythology and Religion[edit | hide]

  • Greek Mythology had number 12 as a sacred number and its all over the place, without even sporting a duodecimal system. 12 Gods in Olympus (although not only 12 supernatural beings dwelt there), 12 hours in a day - 12 hours in a night, 12 labours of Hercules, 12 months in a year, and many more. Especially the latter seems to have been forced to be 12; a month, as its name suggests, is a full circle of the moon (29.5 days), however the ancient Greek calendar had 365 days. Their chosen system was to have twelve months alternating between 29 and 30 and have an extra 11 days not assigned to any month so they would remain 12. The same number was sacred in Egypt and probably originated from Mesopotamia. Eleven and twelve are special words in Greek, not resembling the format of other numbers in the teen region. The same is true in Germanic languages and possibly other languages of the Indoeuropean family.
  • The Bible:
    • 40 appears in The Old Testament quite a bit. (So do 7 and 12, but they also show up frequently in other works from that time...) Examples include Noah's Flood (it rained for 40 days and nights) and the Exodus (which lasted 40 years). It also pops up in the New Testament, when Jesus fasts for 40 days and is tempted by Satan.
      • To be fair, at the time of writing the word for 40 also meant "an unspecified large number", just as in modern English the word "a couple" can mean either "exactly two" or "an unspecified small number"
    • 7 tends to represent an endless or uncountable amount.
    • By Jesus' day "77" or "seventy times seven" had a similar use. Adjusted for inflation?
    • Three: The Bible does the Rule of Three a lot, but the New Testament identifies it with God (as in the Trinity). Also, Seraphim have three sets of wings.
      • To the ancient Hebrews, three represented consistency. Thus the prophet Isaiah's freakout when he found himself in the throne room of God with angels saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” because it meant that God was consistently holy while Isaiah . . . wasn't. Keeping this in mind, we also know that seven represented the "perfect number" to many cultures at the time, including the Jews. The number six, therefore, was short of perfection; so the number 666 represented consistent imperfection.[2]
    • Four: Usually identified with the created world: "The winds of the Earth", "the corners of the Earth", and the four beasts who stand before the Throne which show up in both Testaments. Also, there are four Gospels.
    • Seven: Applied to time and refer to completion. Seven days in a week, and the seventh is the Sabbath. Likewise, every seven years was a Sabbath Year when the fields were supposed to lie fallow, and the 50th year (seven times seven, plus one) was the Year of Jubilee, when all debts were cancelled, Jewish slaves were set free, and land reverted back to its original owner. Seven also shows up in prophecies about the end of the world: Daniel's "Seven Weeks" and there's a whole host of sevens in the Revelation of John (seven seals, seven bowls, seven trumpets, seven heads on the Beast, just to name a few.)
      • This was aided by the fact that the Real Life city of Rome is renowned for having 7 hills. The Revelation was likely referring to Rome when it said "The seven heads are seven hills" to get past the Roman censors.
    • Twelve: The Human Race. There were twelve sons of Jacob, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve stones representing them on the High Priest's garments, twelve gates in the New Jerusalem, and twelve disciples. The disciples didn't think it was a coincidence, either: after Judas hanged himself, they drew lots for a replacement.
  • Norse Mythology has the number 9 all over it. There are Nine Worlds, Odin learns "nine runes and eighteen (2x9) charms" and at Ragnarok, Thor will slay the Midgard Serpent but be poisoned by its dying breath, and stagger back nine steps before falling dead himself.
  • In American Indian mythologies, at least in North America, the number four shows up a lot. Mayan mythology also used the number 13, while plains mythologies liked the number 7.
  • 23 and 5 (= 2 + 3) are significant in Discordianism (and the source of the Jim Carrey film above).


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Eberron: 12+ 1, a Baker's dozen. The guy who designed Eberron is named Keith Baker. There are lots of examples where you get twelve obvious things and a hidden one. Twelve dragonmarked houses—and the eradicated (?) dragonmark of Death. Twelve Planes—and the sealed Plane of Xoriat. Twelve moons—plus the dark moon. Twelve nations in the Khorvaire continent, plus Cyre...which is now the D&D equivalent of Fallout.
  • Each Chaos God in Warhammer 40,000 has a favorite number that tends to show up in connection with them (six for Slaanesh, seven for Nurgle, eight for Khorne, and nine for Tzeentch). The Imperium tends to prefer things be in units of ten.
  • Mocked, like so much else, in the Planescape setting for AD&D. According to the Rule of Three, everything always appears in sets of three. Since reality is very much defined by what people believe, this remarkably often proves to be true. Though some cynics quite rightfully point out that it works with every number if you just look long enough.
  • Almost everything in Exalted is based around the number 5. This is even the case when it looks like it isn't; there are seven types of Exalt - Solar, Lunar, Terrestrial, Sidereal, Alchemical, Abyssal and Infernal - but since the last two are based on corrupted Solar shards...
    • There are only three Lunar castes... But there used to be five.
  • Likewise White Wolf's three main New World of Darkness settings are also based around the number 5. Vampire has five Clans & five Covenants, Mage has its Paths & Orders, Werewolf has Auspices & Tribes. The limited gamelines, however, cheerfully break the pattern.
  • 333 in Unknown Armies.
  • Five in Magic: The Gathering. There's a reason: There are five colors of magic, each with two enemies and two allies (as illustrated on the card backs) so the creators often do the same thing with a variation for each color.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Square Enix loves doing this. Most of their games have multiple Arc Numbers, but the Trope Codifier for Video Games has to be Final Fantasy. If the number is in the title of the game, it is most likely an Arc Number.
    • Final Fantasy: There is Final Fantasy IV (and its sequel), Final Fantasy VII (including the Compilation), Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy XIII, Dissidia, and possibly more. Interestingly, the number II is mentioned enough on This Very Wiki and the Final Fantasy pages to make it an Arc Number (for example, VII has II in it, Final Fantasy VIII's page mentions II as an influence, and XII's page is a combination of the two).
    • The World Ends With You repeats the number seven—each game lasts a week (seven days), there's a character named 777, when Joshua says Makoto has done a 180, Neku corrects that to seven times 180.
    • The Kingdom Hearts series tends to make heavy use of the numbers 3, 7, and 13, though the first two are played more subtly.
      • A more subtle one: Xemnas, the final boss of Kingdom Hearts II, is the number 1 of the Organization; Marluxia, from Chain of Memories, is number 11 - double one. The final boss in 358/2 Days is no.i...an imaginary number whose algebric square is -1.
      • They managed to get two arc numbers into the recipe for Ultima Weapon in KH2. Without the mandatory Energy Crystal (which cuts crafting requirements in half), it requires 13 pieces of Orichalcum+ to forge (which is more than the amount that exists in the game). With the Energy Crystal, though, the game rounds up to 7.
  • Riven is all in units of 5.
    • The D'ni culture (which you first get glimpses of in Riven, and pick up through every other game and novel) has a base 25 numbering system. The little toy in the classroom in Riven does a good job of showing you the basics; it uses only four symbols plus a zero (the '5' is just the '1' turned on its side, and a '6' is a '5' with a '1', and so on). The only tricky part is numbers with more than one digit: while they arrange things in fives, their numbers go up to 25 (five times five) before you see another character.
    • The name Riven is 5 characters long.
    • The title Riven: The Sequel to Myst is 5 words long.
    • Pentagonal architecture and pentagrams are prevalent in the game world.
    • The original CD-ROM version came on five discs.
    • There are 5 islands, 5 entrances to the Big Bad's lair (one per island), a series of 5 associated color-symbol puzzles to unlock them, and a 5-step code to get in.
    • There is a 5-step code to enter the Rebel age.
    • The submarine on Jungle Island has five stops.
    • Knocking five times on the door of one of the Jungle Island dwellings will elicit a response from the people living inside.
  • 13 in The Longest Journey.
  • 7 in the Marathon trilogy, and later Halo. In fact 7 appears to be an Arc Number for Bungie Studios in general: many of their event dates, character names, and even their fan club (the seventh column) feature the number seven or multiples of seven. Even the studio Microsoft set up to handle any future Halo products after Reach is called 343 Industries.[3]
  • Kingdom of Loathing:
    • There's a strong implication implies the number 12 is evil, what with the Sinister Dodecahedron, fuzzy dice killing you if they get boxcars, the level 12 quest being to start a war, etc. This may or may not be related to Jick's apparent hatred of the number 13. Look at the object numbers carefully.
    • And there's so many references to the number 11 in the game, it's ridiculous. It's not even funny.
    • And of course, the number 23FNORD
    • That and using/attaining 37 ("In a row?!") of anything is always funny.
  • The number '451' pops up in both Deus Ex and System Shock 2 (both of which were Warren Spector's brainchildren), as well as BioShock (series) (the Spiritual Successor to System Shock). This a reference to the office door code for Looking Glass Software (developer of both System Shocks), which is in turn a reference to a certain other dystopian society written about by Ray Bradbury.
  • Infocom games have 69,105 as the traditional answer whenever something needs to be counted.
  • Games from Konami invoke the number 573 from time to time; it appears on high score tables and background elements from time to time. This is a pun on go-nana-mitsu; take the first syllable of each and you have go-na-mi [4]. The background elements in question are sometimes quite subtle or hidden references.
    • There are 573 arrows on the Heavy chart for MAX 300; something that wasn't immediately obvious because it was listed on the DDRMAX stats screen as 555 steps of which 18 are jumps.
    • On really old Beatmania versions, there is a mix of the Metal Gear Solid theme where you repeatedly trigger a bass drum sample - 5 times, then 7 times, then 3 times - on sixteenths, with well-spaced single hits in between.
    • In many cell-phone games that feature the Konami Code, "B and A" at the end is often substituted with 573.
    • Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow has three areas where you need a certain three digits at the end of your money amount to open doors. One of them is, yes, 573.
  • Similarly, a lot of Namco games use the number 765. This comes from nana-mutsu-go, which becomes na-mu-go—Namco [5].
  • More of a Chekhov's Gun, really, but two one six is important in Fallout 3. It's introduced at the very beginning of the game as the chapter and verse of the PC's mother's favorite Bible passage, Revelation 21:6. It's mentioned a few times during gameplay. Fully twenty years later, at the very end of the game, it recurs as the keycode to the MacGuffin-two-one-six. The importance of this sequence is NEVER explicitly told to the player by anyone who would know it, but it does show up as one of the response options when the player is interrogated for the code (providing the closest thing to a direct clue in the game as to what the code might actually be).
    • Also in Fallout 3, the number 2 scrawled on the walls of nearly every building with a heavy Raider presence.
    • Fallout: New Vegas has 6. 6 Couriers, 6 items, 6 destinations. You can also find a canyon wall full of graffitti tellin Courier Six to come home.
  • The number seven has a cropped up constantly in many of Nasu Kinoko's works. Examples include the seven Servants of the Holy Grail War, Ciel being the seventh agent of the Burial Agency (which is, of course, made up of seven members), the Seventh Holy Scripture (Nanako), the Seventeen Piece Dissection (Shiki's 'signature move'), the Twenty-Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors and so on. It is explained in Tsukihime that the number seven is considered "the most perfect number".
  • Several Silent Hill games use at least one Arc Number to add to the creepy factor; in Homecoming, for instance, every clock in the town of Shepherd's Glen is stopped dead at exactly 2:06. This later becomes the solution to several puzzles. Cutscenes and scattered documents imply that "206" was Alex's room number during his horrific stay at Alchemilla Hospital; in the cutscene before the final boss fight it is also revealed that 2:06 is the time when his little brother Joshua died.
  • The magic number in Half Minute Hero, as one might guess, is 30. Each of the four main modes is 30 stages long, and also 30 seconds long, barring any attempts to turn back the clock.
  • Pi in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots shows up on number plates on cars, posters on walls, and in the lyrics to a song, amongst other places, probably to symbolise how Ouroboros-shaped the plot is.
  • There are 27 levels in the main dungeon of Dungeon Crawl, the maximum level of a character is 27, and skill levels are also capped at 27.
  • Grand Theft Auto has 69 popping around in many places, from the number of a fire truck to a military base.
  • In Oktober, 636 seems to crop up a lot. None of the characters seem to know what it means; however, due to their extreme Genre Savvy, they've learned to note its importance.
  • 11 in Billy vs. SNAKEMAN. For instance, the game's webmaster and creator goes by the name of the "Eleventy Billionth Hokage", and multiples of 11 are frequently used in bonus multipliers and some of the mini-games ("Over 11,000", anyone?)
  • Hellsinker has 771.
  • 8492 in Ace Combat 5 The Unsung War. Towards the end of the game, it is revealed to be the the callsign of the Belkan aggressor squadron, which doesn't officially exist but acts as a shadowy nemesis of the Wardogs/Razgriz.
  • Similar to the Silent Hill example above, Eternal Darkness seems to really like 3:33. Alex is woken up at 3:33. The clock in the main hall of the mansion? Stopped at 3:33. And it should come as no surprise that when you find a puzzle involving a clock, it has to be set to... yep, 3:33.
  • In Achron, the AI Echo is fond of repeating the number 76,013, which is ultimately revealed to be the number of time loop iterations so far.
  • The Elder Scrolls and the number 9. Often expressed as a form of "eight plus one". There are Nine Divines in the Imperial religion, comprising eight conventional gods and one human who is worshipped as a god. There are nine provinces in the Empire, and nine districts and principal cities in the provinces of Skyrim and Cyrodiil. The Amulet of Kings has eight small jewels and one large jewel.
  • The Rance Series just loves the number 4. 4 countries, 4 Holy beasts, and so on.

Visual Novels[edit | hide]

  • The image from this page comes from Nine Hours Nine Persons Nine Doors. To elaborate: 9 victims, 9 hours to escape, numbered doors from 1 to 9, 9 seconds before the numbered doors close when they open them, and 81 seconds (9x9) to find the detonator-deactivation-scanner once inside, in the Nonary game that happened nine years ago, nine clovers were handed out by Snake.
    • And ICE-9 despite being a Shout-Out to Cat's Cradle.
    • And to top it all off, the final puzzle is a sudoku puzzle, which is all about sets of 9.
    • The incinerator incinerates after 9 minutes.
    • The digital root of all the known ages of the characters is a 9. Ace/Ichinomiya (50) + Snake/Niels (24) + Santa (24) + Clover/Yotsuba (18) + Junpei (21) + June/Murasaki (21) + Seven (45) + Lotus/Yashiro (40) = 243 = 2 + 4 + 3 = 9.
    • In the Captain's Quarters after telling Clover about the bookmark Santa gave you she takes 6 paces to the left, 6 paces to the right, then 6 paces to the left. 6+6+6=18 > 1+8=9
    • A key aspect of the game revolved around the calculation of Digital Roots. Although not explicitly stated, calculating a Digital Root is mathematically equivalent to calculating the number modulo 9.
    • The passnumber to the coffin is 14383421. Multiply that number by 9, and you get 129450789: the actual numerical value of everyone's bracelets.
    • The characters themselves were based off The Enneagram.
    • In fact, 9 seems to be the arc number of the whole Zero Escape series: the sequel, Virtue's Last Reward, once again has 9 players, now with the objective to obtain 9 points and become able to open the 9 door in the facility they're in.
  • The visual novel Sekien no Inganock: 41 Creatures who brought doom to Inganock, 41 Kikai standing behind someone's back and 41 people disappearing every year.
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni has quite a few:
    • The plot before the core arcs questioned the existence of a 19th person, the events of the series were built up for 19 years, and the core arcs themselves revealed that the true culprit's age is 19. Lampshaded and invoked by Furfur and Zepar in Episode 6 in the fantasy duel, where the duelists are asked to walk 19 steps away from one another.
    • 07151129 was scrawled on the walls in Episode 3. It's also repeated ominously in a song on the VN soundtrack.It's the code to a safe, specifically, the code to the "Golden Land" which contains the liquidated gold from the island.
      • More than that, July 15th is Battler's birthday, and the 29th of November is the day "Yasu" solved the epitaph and became 'Beatrice'. Thus it is the combined birthdays of a pair of lovers.
    • For the When They Cry universe, we have 34. Miyo's name (as well as Lambdadelta's), can be read as 34, and the controversial file in Higurashi was called File No. 34. Less related is the fact that Shannon's real name can be read as 34.
  • The number 17 pops up a lot in Ever 17. And if it isn't 17, it's somehow divisible by 17.
  • In Yu No we frequently hear about four hundred year periods of time, which turns out to be when Dela Grante and Earth make their closest causality based passes and thus travel between the two is somewhat possible.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Gunnerkrigg Court has 113. The number is also something of an Author Catchphrase for Tom Siddell; considering that the number has appeared in his artwork that predates and/or has nothing to do with Gunnerkrigg, it does seem more likely that the number has personal meaning for Mr. Siddell, rather than a meaning specific to the comic.
  • Homestuck of MS Paint Adventures gets a ton of mileage out of this trope.
    • There's 413, corresponding to the date that the comic debuted (April 13). This shows up repeatedly in the series, first with the main characters (four thirteen-year-olds), but also involving the length of time on the cruxtruder, the wireless network Rose connects to, and countless other incidences. The significance of this in-story is not yet known, if there even is one. Doesn't stop the fans from speculating wildly whenever it appears.
      • Also, for a while, Andrew Hussie lived in area code 413
      • Additionally, the 4th anniversary of Homestuck will be in April 2013
      • Terezi's typing gimmick involves replacing the letters a, i, and e with 4, 1, and 3, respectively. She says that they are the Numerals of the Blind Prophets, but isn't entirely sure what that means. Vriska likes the number 8 a lot – 4+1+3=8.
    • 612 seems to be the arc number for the Troll session. It was introduced in Act 5, which began on 6/12/2011. A solar sweep (troll years) is 2.16 years. The date of exactly one solar sweep after Homestuck's beginning is actually 6/12/2011. The name Andrew Hussie contains six letters in each part, twelve letters total, just like the trolls. Hmm. How very interesting (though Andrew has said the fact that 6/12/11 was exactly 1 solar sweep away 4/13/09 was complete happy accident.)
    • 1025 is also a significant number, as it is the sum of 413 and 612. Most recently, it's the date on which the latest End of Act Flash was posted. It tends to signify events that involve a connection between the Trolls and the Humans.
    • In the post-scratch session, 11 appears to be the new arc number. It was introduced in Act 6, which began on 11/11/2011.
  • In Narbonic, 5478 pops up occasionally. For example, Artie was originally Lab Test Subject RT-5478. In Real Life, it's the author's birthdate.
  • Despite the title, Sarah Zero is brought to you by the number 28.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Ben Drowned: Also known as Haunted Majora's Mask Cartridge story, has 423 popping up in pretty much everything related to the story.
    • April 23 or 4/23 is the date on which Ben drowned.
    • You shouldn't have done that... appears on screen in DROWNED.wmv at 4 minutes and 23 seconds in.
    • Ryukaki moved into Ben's old house on April 23
    • One of the login details, mhftt has been revealed by Jadusable to mean Matt Hubris four two three.
    • The last note in TheTruth.rtf by Jadusable was written at 4:23PM.
    • The BEN file in the game was saved at an owl statue in the Stone Temple at 23:04.
    • One of the pages on the official website (Youshouldn'thavedonethat.net which is now down and redirects to the Within Hubris forum) had "for the fold number three" written at the bottom of it. For = Four. the fold = two (folding in half) and number three is self explanatory.
    • The Jadusable video "2" is 43 seconds long.
  • In Sub Machine, the number 32 and variations thereupon (23, 3.2) can be found somewhere in most of the games. This is possibly a reference to Discordianism, or just coincidence.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Rugrats: Lou Pickles, and his obsession with the number 15.
  • Cotton Hill from King of the Hill constantly referred to the number 50 as an estimate probably because of his favorite accomplishment during the second World War in which he took out 50 Japanese enemy soldiers an event that also cost him his shins.
  • Parodied in Aqua Teen Hunger Force's 100th episode. It shouldn't take a century to figure out the number. I'll give you 'til 1:00.
  • In Nickelodeon's Doug, the number 47 gets used a lot.
  • Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy seems obsessed with 62.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • 3.14..., the ratio of a circle's diameter to a circles circumference, is known as Pi (π).
    • Not to be confused with 1.618..., otherwise known as Phi (Φ), the number at the heart of the Golden Ratio. The Golden Ratio (1.618(or (1+(√5))/2))... to 1. can be found everywhere in nature. It really is freaky when you learn more about it.
    • Phi is the ratio where a portion of a line is to another portion as the whole is to the first portion, i.e. (Φ+1)/Φ=Φ.
    • Additionally Φ^2=Φ+1 and Φ^-1 (or 1/Φ)=Φ-1.
      • Not necessarily a number, but the Fibonacci sequence (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21...) appears just as much in nature as Phi (which makes sense seeing as they're related).
    • There's also e, or 2.718... And i, or the square root of -1. By the way, e^(i*pi)=-1.
    • There's also 2*pi, the ratio of a circle's radius to its diameter. There's a movement to start using that number (represented by Tau (τ)) instead. For example, e^(i*τ)=1, sine and cosine both have a period of τ, etc.
  • Mostly averted in programming, where repeatedly using a number whose significance may not obvious is known as using "magic numbers" or "magic constants"; this is generally thought to be bad style, making code harder to understand. The alternative is to declare a constant, tying a unique name to the number that can be used in place of it.
    • Played straight with programing limits, where anyone who didn't know better would wonder why the numbers like 8, 256, and 1024 show up so much. The answer is since data is digital (1 or 0) the amount of data that can be stored in any given number of bits, n, is 2^n. It also has the effect of causing numbers that are (2^n)-1 showing up a lot.[6] This is most apparent in old RPGs where the limit to a stat would be 255 a lot.
  • Everyone even a bit versed in European history knows about the multitude of revolutions that broke out all across the continent in 1848. The most successful was arguably the one in Hungary that required not one but two superpowers to break down.[7] At various points in modern history (especially after the world wars and during the 1956 revolution), oppressed Hungarians strived for reestablishing the 1848 government without success. Today the postal code of the Hungarian government is 1848.
  • There's a reason one book on English history was titled 1066 and All That ("All That" being the rest of English history).
  • 69 is a common Arc Number as a way of Getting Crap Past the Radar.
  • 10, as the base of the most widely-used number system.

Notes

  1. In a row?
  2. Which is ironic, because mathematicians consider 6 a perfect number - the smallest such number, being an integer which is the sum of its own factors (other than itself) - 1 + 2 + 3 = 6.
  3. 343 is equal to 7 times 7 times 7
  4. G sounds like go are considered variants of K sounds like ko in Japanese rather than fully different sounds, hence why they are written as こ and ご respectively-Ed
  5. See above -Ed
  6. The extra place is reserved for 0
  7. the country was under Habsburg control for quite some time and the revolution was aimed at changing this; taking advantage of the fact that most of the Habsburg forces were bogged down in the west, Hungary actually managed to fight off the local forces and gain independence... until the Russians entered the fray on behalf of the Habsburgs