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Depictions of San Francisco in popular culture can be found in many different media.
San Francisco's diversity, eccentric characters, and geographic scenery have provided a backdrop for many works of fiction, including:
As in the case of fiction novels, San Francisco has served as a backdrop to a large number of films. Films set in the city include:
Although the city is a frequent backdrop for many television shows, many 80s sitcoms set in San Francisco (such as Full House) were actually shot in studios in the Los Angeles area. Since the mid-90s, many productions supposedly set in the City by the Bay are actually filmed in Canada, most notably in Vancouver, British Columbia, a frequent double for the cities of San Francisco and Seattle, Washington on the small screen. Canadian provinces often offer attractive tax incentives and more flexible union regulations for production companies. Monk was shot in Vancouver before moving to Los Angeles, and only a few exterior shots involving San Francisco landmarks are actually filmed in the city. Similarly, recent short-lived series such as Presidio Med, The Evidence or Killer Instinct were actually shot in the Los Angeles or Vancouver areas. The city of San Francisco has tried to counter this trend over the past few years by reducing filming fees and streamlining the permit approval process.
San Francisco is also a vital part of the Star Trek science fiction media franchise. It hosts the headquarters and council chambers of the United Federation of Planets, as well as its military/exploration arm, Starfleet. In addition, the Presidio hosts Starfleet's primary service academy, Starfleet Academy. A major Federation shipyard named after the city, site of the construction and refit of several starships named Enterprise, resides in geosynchronous orbit of Earth.
Television programs that highlight the city and its people include:
In the Carmen Sandiego computer games, the headquarters of the ACME Detective Agency is always located in San Francisco.
San Francisco is the backdrop for all five Tex Murphy games by Access Software. The eponymous detective makes the POST WWIII city his home and his cases start there even if they don't ultimately come to resolution there. The games feature prominent S.F. landmarks such as The Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, and Alcatraz. In The Pandora Directive, there are 3 paths the story takes: Mission Street - The High Moral Path; Boulevard of Broken Dreams - The Low Moral Path; and Lombard Street - The In between (or Back and Forth) Moral Path.
San Francisco is one of the key locations in Fallout 2.
In Sonic Adventure 2 for the Sega Dreamcast, the first level is based on the steep streets of San Francisco. Some of the later cut scenes take place on the Golden Gate Bridge.
San Fierro features Rockstar's interpretations of the Haight-Ashbury district ("Hashbury"), the Castro district ("Queens"), Chinatown, and the Golden Gate Bridge ("Gant Bridge"), as well as the city's prominent cable cars and hilly terrain. Several other familiar landmarks have been recreated, from the Ferry Building and the Transamerica Pyramid ("Big Pointy Building") to Lombard Street ("Windy Windy Windy Windy Windy Street"), and Scottish landmarks such as the Forth Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge. There is a district known as "Garcia", a tribute to Grateful Dead frontman and San Francisco native Jerry Garcia, and San Fierro's City Hall closely resembles San Francisco's ornate City hall.
In Destroy All Humans! 2, the first level is in Bay City, a parody of San Francisco featuring the Coit Tower, Alcatraz (called 'The Rock') and Hashbury Street, as well as the Golden Gate Park.
Resistance 2 for the PlayStation 3 based its first level on the edge of San Francisco in an underwater secret base belonging to SRPA. A memorable moment was when Nathan Hale steps outside to see the Chimeran fleet hovering over a destroyed San Francisco with the Oakland Bay Bridge in flames.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II features the "Raid" multiplayer map in a California, along with the zombies map "MOB of the Dead," set in and around the Alcatraz Prison, seemingly infested by the undead.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare features the Golden Gate Bridge in the mission "Collapse".
Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U features a race course named Toad Harbor, which is heavily based on San Francisco.
Watch Dogs 2 is based in San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area.