Best Fictional Businesses of All Time
A business doesn't have to be real to capture the imagination. Heck, most businesses don't capture anyone's imagination. And why should they? Businesses in real life are practical, predictable and boring because the stakes are grounded in reality.
But when it comes to fictional movies and television shows, all bets are off. A company can be a quaint little bed and breakfast that perpetually chugs along, or it could be a megacorporation so deliciously evil that the in-house slaughter of a boardroom executive is an understandable research and development mishap.
From evil megacorporations that would make you the next research lab guinea pig if it bumped its stock value, to businesses where the workplace seems like a blast, these fictional businesses in film and television are the best ones ever made.
25. Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency
Type of business: Advertising agency
Where it's from: "Mad Men"
First appearance: Season 1, Episode 1 of "Mad Men." Aired July 19, 2007.
Owned by: Puttnam, Powell, and Lowe
Did you know: Don Draper is based on Draper Daniels, an advertising executive who created the Marlboro Man. But Unlike Don Draper, Draper Daniels didn't like to peddle in that stuff. He left the ad business in 1962 for a year because he didn't want to promote something that caused cancer.
Bottom Line: Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency
The Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency is based on Young and Rubicam, a real-life advertising firm in New York. Y&R was known for its friendly company culture, which meant "locked office doors, private calls, doctor appointments and dirty laundry stuffed into filing cabinet drawers," according to Mona Abboud, who worked at Y&R as a secretary during the early 1960s.
Abboud notes that the office culture is something the show got absolutely right.
Joan Lipton, who also worked at Y&R before becoming an advertising executive, once said, "Of course people partook. But you have to understand I was married, had a 3-year-old son and lived in Connecticut." According to the Telegraph, when asked if she were aware of the unique office culture, she replied, "Aware? Heavens, I partook!"
24. Central Perk
Type of business: Coffee shop
Where it's from: "Friends"
First appearance: Season 1, Episode 1 of "Friends." Aired Sept. 22, 1994.
Owned by: Terry (Max Wright)
Did you know: The owner of Central Perk isn't Guenther. It's a man only known as Terry. He made just two appearances, one in Season 1 and another in Season 2.
Bottom Line: Central Perk
Why work when you can hang out with five other friends in a coffee shop all day? Central Perk was a key meeting point for "Friends" as well as a place for Rachel to waitress and Phoebe to sing "Smelly Cat."
While Central Perk was a stage, they did bring real coffee from backstage to give to the actors to sip during the scenes.
The location was almost a diner, though, as studio execs thought they could ride the coattails of "Seinfeld" by replicating one of its central locations.
23. BiffCo Enterprises
Type of business: Waste management, casinos and hotels, real estate
Where it's from: "Back to the Future Part II"
First appearance: "Back to the Future Part II," released Nov. 22, 1989.
Owned by: Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson)
Did you know: Biff Tannen is based on a famous political figure.
Bottom Line: BiffCo Enterprises
After Biff Tannen recovers a sports almanac from the future, steals Doc's (Christopher Lloyd) time machine, and gives the book to his younger self, the California town of Hill Valley is transformed into a dystopian hellscape.
Biff, having made millions on sports betting, has purchased swaths of property, built casinos and even has enough power to use the police as his own security force.
He also had Marty McFly's father (Jeffrey Weissman) killed and forced Marty's mother (Lea Thompson) to marry him. Surely, someone like this could never accrue so much power in real life?
Type of business: Criminal organization
Where it's from: The James Bond series
First appearance: "Thunderball" book by Ian Fleming, published March 27, 1961.
Owned by: Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Did you know: A long and complicated legal battle over the characters introduced in the film "Thunderball" prevented SPECTRE and Ernst Blofeld from being used in Bond movies for 50 years.
Bottom Line: SPECTRE
Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion, or SPECTRE, is one of the most famous fictional criminal organizations ever conceived, and its leader is one of the best villains ever made.
SPECTRE is notable for being an apolitical enterprise that waits in the wings, waiting for countries to fight one another and weaken themselves before swooping in for the kill, ideally to establish global domination. Its leader, Ernst Stavro Bloveld, is scarred under one eye and likes to pet a white cat. He's the basis for so many stereotypes in films, although his last appearance in 2015's "Spectre" was not so cartoonish.
Sure, it's not really a company, but it's a vast organization that likes to steal nuclear and biological weapons and hold the world for ransom and make money while doing so. Sounds like a business to us.
21. Stark Industries
Type of business: Defense contractor
Where it's from: The Marvel universe
First appearance: "Tales of Suspense" comic book, No. 43, released July 1963.
Owned by: Tony Stark
Did you know: In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Stark Industries logo is a mashup of the Lockheed Martin and Northrop Gruman logos. Both are military contractors worth billions of dollars.
Bottom Line: Stark industries
Bruce Wayne's Wayne Enterprises may have more reach and political power, but Tony Stark has the militaristic might of Stark Industries.
Stark's company primarily deals in weaponry military technology and can manufacture space-age Iron Man suits equipped with advanced artificial intelligence. If there's something that needs to be blown up halfway across the world and under a rock in the desert, Stark Industries will find a way to create that weapon.
According to "Iron Man" comic canon, Stark Industries dates back to the mid-1800s and was founded by Dr. Isaac Stark Sr. Isaac developed technologies for the security sector and spun his company into an engineering juggernaut.
Stark Industries has stayed in the family for generations and was finally handed to Tony Stark, who, it turns out, was adopted.
20. Wayne Enterprises
Type of business: Conglomerate of multiple businesses
Where it's from: "Batman"
First appearance: "Detective Comics," No. 328, released June 1964.
Owned by: Bruce Wayne
Did you know: Wayne Entertainment, the media arm of Wayne Enterprises, owns The Daily Planet, where Clark Kent (aka Superman) works.
Bottom Line: Wayne Enterprises
Wayne Enterprises is an enormous multinational company in charge of at least 32 businesses, including Wayne Foods, Wayne Security, Wayne Shipping, Wayne Yards, Wayne Entertainment, and Wayne Medical.
Living in Gotham City must be like a dystopian nightmare, where nearly everything is controlled by one billionaire who moonlights as a crimefighter in a batsuit.
19. The Dragonfly Inn
Type of business: Bed and breakfast
Where it's from: "Gilmore Girls"
First appearance: Season 1, Episode 19 of "Gilmore Girls." Aired April 26, 2001.
Owned by: Loerlai Gilmore (Lauren Graham)
Did you know: The Dragonfly Inn's exterior is the Walton house from "The Waltons," the CBS show from 1972. Or at least, it's a recreation of it on the Warner Bros. studio lot. The original facade was destroyed when "The Waltons" ended in 1981.
Bottom Line: Dragonfly Inn
Who else wants to leave the lunacy of these godawful times and live in Stars Hollow, where the real world melts away?
The Dragonfly Inn is a peaceful little bed and breakfast and a dream occupation for Lorelai Gilmore, who buys the inn in Season 2.
18. Bluth's Original Frozen Banana Stand
Type of business: Frozen bananas
Where it's from: "Arrested Development"
First appearance: Season 1, Episode 1 of "Arrested Development." Aired Nov. 2, 2003.
Owned by: George Bluth (Jeffrey Tambor)
Did you know: That there's always money in the banana stand?
Bottom Line: Bluth's Original Frozen Banana Stand
"There's always money in the banana stand" was an oft-repeated line of George Sr., who desperately tried to get his son to listen to what he was actually saying — that there was literally money hidden inside the banana stand.
But George-Michael (Michael Cera) and Michael (Jason Bateman) don't know that and decide to burn the banana stand down. Then they find out that Gob (Will Arnett) had thrown the insurance check into the sea and later learn about the $250,000 hidden in the banana stand.
The frozen banana stand idea was stolen from a Korean immigrant, whom Lucille (Jessica Walter) had deported after he tried to sue. It's the American way.
17. Bada Bing!
Type of business: Strip club
Where it's from: "The Sopranos"
First appearance: Season 1, Episode 1 of "The Sopranos." Aired Jan. 10, 1999.
Owned by: Silvio Dante (Steven Van Zandt)
Did you know: The exterior and interior shots were filmed on location at Satin Dolls, an actual New Jersey strip club located on Route 17.
Bottom Line: Bada Bing!
It's a place to hang out with your buds, have a beer, and watch an angry Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) take out his frustrations on Georgie (Frank Santorelli). But the best thing about the Bing isn't what's happening on the floor, it's what's going on in Tony's office.
The Bing "[does] for 'The Sopranos' what the diner did for 'Seinfeld,'" writes media studies professor Paul Levinson at Fordham University in New York City. It's a sleazy, grimy place, and some of the show's key plot points and scenes take place there.
And it's owned by Silvio Dante, a legitimate businessman.
16. Wonka Candy
Type of business: Candy company
Where it's from: "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," a book by Roald Dahl
First appearance: Published Nov. 23, 1964.
Owned by: Willy Wonka
Did you know: Roald Dahl's inspiration for Wonka Candy came from the real-life confectionary war between Cadbury and Rowntree, two companies that were so secretive over their sweets they sent spies to one another's candy factories.
Bottom Line: Wonka Candy
Willy Wonka's candy factory is the most bonkers candy factory ever imagined, with entirely edible rooms, rivers made of chocolate and soda pop that makes you float. And it's all run by a lunatic in a top hat and purple coat.
While the book is a staple in children's literature, the movie, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," is really what captures children's imaginations. But like Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder in the 1971 film) himself, there's a capitalistic side to the film.
The movie was funded by Quaker Oats, which originally wanted to use the movie to promote a chocolate bar produced by one of its subsidiary companies, Breaker Confections. That company turned into Willy Wonka Candy Company, which was eventually sold to Nestle.
Nestle discontinued the Wonka candy line and put them under its own name.
Type of business: Bar
Where it's from: "Cheers"
First appearance: Season 1, Episode 1 of "Cheers." Aired Sept. 30, 1982.
Owned by: Sam Malone (Ted Danson)
Did you know: George Wendt, who played Norm, actually drank beer on the set, although it must have been dreadful. It was "near beer," low-alcoholic beer (3.2 percent) that included a pinch of salt to keep the suds flowing.
Bottom Line: Cheers
Everyone knows your name at Cheers, the Boston bar which served as the show's primary location. It's like a second home.
In a way, Cheers is actually a real business. The "Cheers" exterior shot was that of the Bull and Finch Pub in Boston.
The pub became enormously popular and has since renamed itself to Cheers.
14. Krusty Krab
Type of business: Fast food
Where it's from: "SpongeBob SquarePants"
First appearance: Season 1, Episode 1 of "SpongeBob SquarePants." Aired May 1, 1999.
Owned by: Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown)
Did you know: Several unofficial Krusty Krab locations have opened in non-U.S. countries, including Russia, the Philippines, Palestine and Costa Rica. The are all eating establishments.
Bottom Line: Krusty Krab
With only two employees, a tiny menu, and the best burger around for miles, the Krusty Krab must be enormously profitable, especially considering its tightwad owner.
The Krabby Patty is wildly popular in Bikini Bottom and its secret ingredients are closely guarded. Apparently, there's no meat or animal product in the burger, but we do know a Krabby Patty is made with the bun first, then patty, followed by ketchup, mustard, pickles, onions, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, and bun, in that order.
13. Monsters, Inc.
Type of business: Energy
Where it's from: "Monsters, Inc."
First appearance: "Monsters, Inc.," released Nov. 2, 2001.
Owned by: Henry J. Waternoose III (voiced by James Coburn)
Did you know: The company's slogan is "We scare because we care."
Bottom Line: Monsters, Inc.
A literal scarefactory to power Monstropolis, the energy company of Monsters, Inc., trains its monsters to scare the daylights out of children and capture their screams in special containers. Then, the bogeymen take the captured screams back to Monsters, Inc., and transform them into energy.
Monsters, Inc., might deal with frights, but you know what's even more frightening? Damaging the environment. Monsters, Inc., gets huge points for being a 100 percent renewable energy company. After it's discovered that laughter produces even more energy, Monsters, Inc., becomes a fully sustainable company.
Type of business: Biotech
Where it's from: "Jurassic Park" franchise
First appearance: "Jurassic Park," by Michael Crichton, published Nov. 20, 1990.
Owned by: John Hammond (founder), Masrani Global
Did you know: InGen's address is 100 Farallon Road, Palo Alto, California, and its phone number is 415-209-5451. The address is fake (there's no Farallon Road), but the number works. Call it, and you'll get a prerecorded message informing you to direct all calls to the company's lawyers.
Bottom Line: InGen
Well, there it is. InGen perfected cloning and used all of its world-changing technology to clone dinosaurs from the blood found inside fossilized mosquitoes. Hey, we'd do the same thing.
InGen is actually not a bad company. John Hammond, the founder, was just realizing a boyhood dream! It was the blasted corporation, BioSyn, which sabotaged InGen's Jurassic Park, allowing its Mesozoic predators to run wild.
After Hammond died in 1997, Masrani Global purchased InGen and is now its parent company in the current Jurassic Park films. They have a website.
11. Tyrell Corporation/Wallace Corporation
Type of business: Androids
Where it's from: "Blade Runner"
First appearance: "Blade Runner," released June 12, 1982
Owned by: Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel), Niander Wallace (Jared Leto)
Did you know: In the original "Blade Runner," the film's creators used a $25,000 screen for Eldon Tyrell's headboard. His room was designed to look like the Pope's bedroom.
Bottom Line: Tyrell Corporation/Wallace Corporation
The Tyrell Corporation was located in a pyramid-shaped building in Los Angeles and was headed by Eldon Tyrell. Tyrell created the replicants, assigned them to slave labor and gave them a four-year lifespan, which didn't sit well with the very self-aware robots. Tyrell met his fate when Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) crushed his skull between his hands.
In "Blade Runner 2049," the Wallace Corporation acquired Tyrell Corporation under Niander Wallace, a sociopath who believed he was a god, although he never could figure out how to get replicants to reproduce. Wallace was originally written for David Bowie, but Bowie passed away before director Denis Villeneuve even contacted him.
These companies are not evil, but they walk a gray line. Tyrell created androids to do the work that people didn't want to do, but he also imbued them with emotions, free thought and mortality. Wallace thinks he's a god, but has no respect for android life. Both companies are headed by men with a twisted sense of morals, and the world suffers for it.
10. Paddy's Pub
Type of business: Bar
Where it's from: "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"
First appearance: Season 1, Episode 1 of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." Aired Aug. 4, 2005.
Owned by: Frank Reynolds (Danny DeVito)
Did you know: The unique smell of Paddy's Pub comes from the furnace, which is fueled by the trash Charlie (Charlie Day) finds.
Bottom Line: Paddy's Pub
With almost no customer base aside from some resident drunks, Paddy's Pub is the worst bar in Philadelphia. Its owners are known for kidnapping, arson, defrauding the government, destruction of property, embezzlement, illegal drug use, illegal gambling and illegal adoption.
Frank, Charlie, Mac (Rob McElhenney), Dennis (Glenn Howerton) and Dee (Kaitlin Olson) are a danger to society. But if we could sit in a dark corner of Paddy's Pub and watch the gang play a round of Chardee MacDennis, it would be worth it — even if Cricket (David Hornsby) tried to solicit us.
9. Cyberdyne Systems
Type of business: Computers, artificial intelligence, defense
Where it's from: The "Terminator" franchise
First appearance: "Terminator," released Oct. 26, 1984.
Owned by: Not revealed in the original movie or sequel. Owned by the United States Air Force in the "Terminator: Salvation" timeline.
Did you know: There's a real robotics company called Cyberdyne. It was created in 2004 by Dr. Yoshiyuki Shankai, a professor at the University of Tsukuba in Japan. Its main product is HAL, a cybersuit for assisted movement. Which, in turn, is named after HAL from "2001: A Space Odyssey."
Bottom Line: Cybderdyne Systems
Not much is known about Cyberdyne Systems, the mysterious computer company responsible for Skynet and the end of humanity. We know that Cyberdine was a military contracting company that developed Skynet for NORAD and everything went wrong, but not how. Although there is a clue.
A deleted scene from the original "Terminator" film shows a Cyberdyne worker finding a computer chip leftover from one of the machines sent back in time, indicating that the terminators created themselves — a Bootstrap Paradox.
8. Moe’s Tavern
Type of business: Bar
Where it's from: "The Simpsons"
First appearance: Season 1, Episode 1 of "The Simpsons." Dec. 17, 1989.
Owned by: Moe Szyslak (voiced by Hank Azaria)
Did you know: Universal Studios Florida offers a Flaming Moe at Springfield USA, a "Simpsons" theme land, and it's a travesty to humanity. There's no booze or cough syrup included — it's just orange soda and dry ice. And it costs $9!
Bottom Line: Moe's Tavern
Moe's Tavern is the place where you go to drink crappy beer out of old cups, watch the fights on an old tube television, and secretly hope that Duffman will show up and shower you with free beer.
Moe Szyslak's bar is dirty and rundown, but he likes it that way. He briefly transformed the Tavern into a successful family restaurant but couldn't handle the stress and ruined the establishment after losing his temper on a small child, yelling, "I'll tell you where to put your freakin' sodie, too!"
Moe isn't cut out to be anything more than a bar owner, and he knows it.
7. Planet Express
Type of business: Interplanetary delivery
Where it's from: "Futurama"
First appearance: Season 1, Episode 1 of "Futurama." Aired March 28, 1999.
Owned by: Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth (voiced by Billy West)
Did you know: The slogan is "Our crew is replaceable. Your package isn't." The Planet Express ship doesn't travel around the universe. Instead, the ship uses dark matter to move the universe around it.
Bottom Line: Planet Express
Planet Express is Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth's delivery service business and the reason behind most of the crew's adventures.
It was briefly a publicly traded company under Steve Castle's leadership, who almost propelled its shareholders to riches had he not dropped dead and Philip Fry not given this speech.
6. Weyland-Yutani Corporation
Type of business: Megacorp with strong arms in technology, defense, and space aviation
Where it's from: The "Alien" and "Predator" franchises
First appearance: "Alien," released May 25, 1979.
Owned by: Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce)
Did you know: The Weyland-Yutani corp's slogan is "Building better worlds."
Bottom Line: Weyland-Yutani Corporation
Weyland-Yutani is the futuristic megacorp which builds spaceships and androids, and also has extensive interests in biological weaponry and the colonization of other worlds.
The company is ruthlessly aggressive in its research and regularly kills its workers in the name of science and profits. Who needs to worry about the ethics of putting a chest-bursting alien in your employees when the markets are down?
Weyland-Yutani is definitely not a place we'd like to work, but it's one of the most iconic evil corporations ever invented.
Los Pollos Hermanos
Type of business: Fried chicken
Where it's from: "Breaking Bad"
First appearance: Season 2, Episode 12 of "Breaking Bad." Aired May 17, 2009
Owned by: Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito)
Did you know: In 2014, a 21-year-old guy in Cook County, Illinois, was arrested for having a meth lab. He's wearing a Los Pollos Hermanos shirt in his mugshot.
Bottom Line: Los Pollos Hermanos
Los Pollos Hermanos was the fried chicken business that drug kingpin Gus Fring used as a storefront to operate his illegal businesses, like money laundering and meth trafficking.
The fast-food chain had 14 locations strategically throughout the southwest United States, while Fring kept tabs on them (and his meth lab) from his office in the Albuquerque restaurant.
The company's catchphrase, "Los Pollos Hermanos, where something delicious is always cooking," is a not-so-subtle wordplay as to what's really cooking behind the scenes.
Type of business: Consumer products
Where it's from: Many sources
First appearance: "The Neighbors," released Dec. 22, 1920.
Owned by: Unknown
Did you know: Acme means "highest point" or "pinnacle" in Greek.
Bottom Line: ACME
ACME is mostly famous for its appearance in various Looney Toon cartoons, but its history dates back to 1920. In fact, ACME has appeared in many movies and shows outside of Looney Toons.
Back when the phone book was the only way to search for a company, tons of businesses labeled themselves as "ACME." The AC-positioning in the phone book meant their business would be shown first. So there was a glut of companies called ACME tires, ACME tools, ACME whatever.
Since ACME means "pinnacle" in Greek, the gag was that ACME products were garbage. "The Neighbors," a silent film with Buster Keaton, is regarded as being the first appearance of ACME products. In the film, an ACME wedding ring bends like cheap plastic.
3. Dunder Mifflin
Type of business: Paper company
Where it's from: "The Office"
First appearance: Season 1, Episode 1 of "The Office." Aired March 24, 2005
Owned by: David Wallace (Andy Buckley)
Did you know: Dunder Mifflin's unofficial slogan is "Limitless paper in a paperless world" to "The Office" fans, but in the show's fictional world, that advertisement never ran on air. It was Michael Scott's conception, but his homegrown advertisement was rejected by the company.
Bottom Line: Dunder Mifflin
As a company, Dunder Mifflin isn't exactly a successful business. The company was unable to adapt to an increasingly paperless world, and its attempt to revitalize the company backfired when they hired Ryan Howard (B.J. Novak) for an executive position.
Ryan subsequently got arrested and fired for committing fraud by inflating sales numbers and misleading shareholders. And the company also had limited ethics, as can be seen when Michael Scott (Steve Carell) is directed to steal the clients from a friendly, family-owned competitor
Dunder Mifflin came under the management of the horribly mismanaged Saber, which produced faulty printers and triangle-shaped tablets. By the end of "The Office," former Dunder Mifflin executive David Wallace buys the majority share in the company, reverting it back to a somewhat normal operating procedure.
Of course, Dunder Mifflin is not much more than a reason for "The Office" to take place, but that's more than enough to make it one of the best fictional businesses of all time.
Springfield Nuclear Power Plant
Type of business: Energy
Where it's from: "The Simpsons"
First appearance: Season 1, Episode 1 of "The Simpsons." Aired Dec. 17, 1989
Owned by: Montgomery Burns
Did you know: The plant's unofficial mascot is considered to be Blinky, a three-eyed fish that appeared in the show's fourth episode of the second season. Blinky has made several appearances throughout the series.
Bottom Line: Springfield Nuclear Power Plant
Monty Burns' (Christopher Collins, Harry Shearer) wealth comes from his dangerously unstable (and inadequately staffed) nuclear power plant, which powers the town of Springfield. Burns' plant consistently leaks radiation into various Springfield waterways, while his greed drives him to think up more and more insane ways to make money.
Most notoriously, he developed a giant disc to cover the entirety of Springfield and block out the sun, putting Springfieldians under perpetual darkness and forcing them to use more electricity. A number of residents went on to shoot Burns after this scheme, although Maggie Simpson beat them all to it.
Burns had other endeavors, too, like Mr. Burns' Casino, and the Montgomery Burns State Prison. But none of them have endured like the power plant.
1. Omni Consumer Products
Type of business: Virtually everything, especially robotics and defense
Where it's from: "Robocop"
First appearance: "Robocop," released July 17, 1987.
Owned by: The Old Man (Dan O'Herlihy)
Did you know: In "Robocop 3," OCP was taken over by the Kanemitsu Corporation. Under its control, OCP deployed ninja androids to fight anti-OCP forces, including Robocop. But because the movie is so terrible, most fans of the series pretend that never happened.
Bottom Line: Omni Consumer Products
Omni Consumer Products is the quintessential evil megacorporation. There isn't a shred of humanity among its board members, who care more about company profits than the worker that ED-209 accidentally murdered right before their eyes.
In Robocop's universe, OCP (known as OmniCorp in the 2014 reboot) owns Detroit and has privatized everything, including the police force — which it keeps understaffed and on low pay. By doing so, OCP can introduce its own machines and rebuild Detroit in its vision. And citizens can have their voices heard in "Delta City" by buying shares in OCP.
OCP is as evil as a fictional corporation can get, but watching how they work is just as fun as watching "Robocop." Their product commercials are amazing, too.