130: Julia Stiles

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Julia Stiles
I found an old tape of this episode in my family's closet. Check the news section of the forums to see the clip!
Title text: I found an old tape of this episode in my family's closet. Check the news section of the forums to see the clip!


Julia Stiles, who later became a well-known actress as an older teenager and adult, did in fact appear in the children's television show Ghostwriter as a 12-year-old in 1993. The sketch in this comic depicts Stiles as she appeared in the episode, and all the dialogue attributed to her is taken from her character's actual dialogue.

Although this dialogue was supposed to establish Erica (Stiles' character) as an expert on hacking, it actually consists mostly of buzzwords (some of which are fake), none of which would impress an actual computer hacker. The term "console cowboys" is stated to be a reference to the book Neuromancer in the full scene.

The thread in the news section of the forums, as referenced in the title text, could originally be found here. However, as the forums went offline in 2019, the link is no longer available. A copy of the video with better audio can be found here.


The best thing ever to appear on TV:
12-year-old Julia Stiles as a hacker in a 1993 episode of PBS's "Ghostwriter"
[A sketch of Julia Stiles, as a 12-year-old, with a bandana over her head, long wavy hair, elbow shirt, wrist band, and pants.]
Julia Stiles: Do you know anything about hackers?
Julia Stiles: Can you jam with the console cowboys in cyberspace?
Julia Stiles: Never experienced the new wave? Next wave? Dream wave? OR cyberpunk?


  • This is a rare comic on xkcd to feature a drawing of a recognizable human being, as opposed to a stick-figure representation of them.

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Randall is right once again. Netherin5 (talk) 13:30, 5 March 2019 (UTC)

I can't beleive it took over 16 years for this factoid about Stiles to be included on her Wikipedia page. IIVQ (talk) 23:14, 23 December 2023 (UTC)

Is there a category for actual recognisable people on explainxkcd.com, as said in the Trivia section? 42.book.addict (talk) 23:13, 2 February 2024 (UTC)

Category:Real people, do you mean? 00:22, 3 February 2024 (UTC) (PS, Welcome. You're a very busy newcomer (at least via a username), catching up on everywhere you can. I hope you enjoy your time here, I'm sure you've got a useful contributions in you!)