Mr. Robot and EFnet: The day a TV show enacted a scene on our IRC server (2016)


My spouse and I have had a long history of interacting with various communities on the Internet. One of them is an Internet Relay Chat network called EFnet, which reasonably asserts itself as the original IRC network (with a generous helping of Ship of Theseus reasoning!). We’ve been community system administrators since the 1990s and I even developed some services code for the network. As it happens, we also volunteer our time running one of EFnet’s chat servers, (kindly sponsored by Colo Solutions based in Orlando, FL), which by historical coincidence is the default server that the BX IRC client software connects to on startup.

In 2015-2019 a techno-thriller TV show called Mr. Robot was airing, with plot themes which gravitated around Internet underground subcultures. My spouse and I had enjoyed the show partly because of its authentic portrayal of information technology and we were avid viewers. In its second season the show had a short scene where two of the main characters arranged to communicate over “the same channel as they used to” back in the day.

And you guessed it, it so happened that the old school scene was played out on EFnet, the classic BX software with its associated chic, and its default server To be clear, the TV show creators did not use the actual real-world chat server for the shoot, but instead had built a virtual look-alike called

The Scene

My spouse and I obviously had no idea that this had been done, and so we learned of it around the same time as everyone else.

As season 2 episode 4 progressed, I was nonetheless excited to see the main protagonist Elliot Alderson (a former cybersecurity engineer struggling with mental illness) getting his hands on a computer system. Finally there was some terminal action, and even better, it looked like he was getting on IRC!

I have been a long-time user of the BX client software myself and so I was quick to perceive the terminal outputs as they happened on the TV show episode.

I immediately spotted the line “Connecting to port 6667 of server” and shouted “Eversible!” to my wife ( was a former IRC server we had also admined, which was now redirecting its DNS address to Colo Solutions instead)

She thought I was joking.

Processing connection to .. Look!” I continued pointing. On the TV was the Colo Solutions connection handshake that we were both very familiar with. By the time the scene progressed to show a facsimile of our server bot, “colodrone” carrying out its customary VERSION request on connecting clients we had both gotten very quiet.

The moment felt surreal. One of our favourite TV series had actually made a pretty good facsimile of the chat server we operated (and even “colodrone” had gotten its 15 seconds of fame). Everything looked more or less like the real service, with the exception of some very minor details. And, they had just enacted a scene on it! Even after the scene was over my wife and I looked at each-other and asked ourselves, “Did that just happen?”

I will not spoil the rest of the scene itself for anybody who hasn’t seen the (IMO great) TV show yet!

The Aftermath

The talented creators of the TV series created a web-accessible and interactive chat page for engaging viewers and sharing plot clues between the premieres. After episode 4 had aired the actual real-world chat server (and EFnet in general) also got an influx of traffic from curious people joining the channel #th3g3ntl3man and paying homage to the scene. Whilst we do not keep track of any statistics, my empirical observation was that many dozens (even hundreds?) of people joined the channel just to see what was going on.

Even 8 years later, a chat channel called #th3g3ntl3man still exists on EFnet, and whilst I don’t know what (if any) discussion is taking place in it, there’s no doubt that the show and the scene still have its fans out there!

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