I was just watching Jessica Jones and noticed the cab she was riding in was number 86Z5. Immediately afterwards I watched an episode of The Leftovers set in NYC, and one of the characters also hailed cab 86Z5. Is this just a coincidence or is this cab number used exclusively for filming, like the 555 exchange for phone numbers?

A Google search turned up a few other examples in movies and TV:

  • this Reddit post which includes a screenshot from Broad City
  • an IMCDB* post which has screenshots from the film Ocean's Eight
  • a script from the series White Collar

*Internet Movie Car Database

2 Answers 2


NYC yellow cab medallion numbers are always of the form #L## (where # is any digit and L is a letter), or sometimes #L##ʟ (where the second, smaller ʟ indicates re-use of a medallion number). 86Z5 is ##L#, i.e., not a possible medallion number.

The “new” green cabs for outer boroughs have a different scheme I don’t recall off the top of my head, but I’m pretty sure it was 5 characters long. And anyway I’ve never seen one of those in a show, so it probably doesn’t matter.

(Source: native New Yorker.)

As for why 86Z5 was re-used in these two shows, Tetsujin is almost-certainly correct that it is because the physical car offered to studios for this purpose exists with this particular fake medallion number and it’s not like whoever owns it creates a new medallion for every job. You’re probably looking at the same actual vehicle, not just the same medallion, in those two shows.


It quite likely came from a movie vehicle rental specialist.

I don't have a hope of tracking down the actual company, but vehicles used in filming are known as 'action vehicles' [possibly also 'picture vehicles' in the US] & a search for companies supplying them around NYC came up with this list - Picture Vehicles / Cars (NY 411)

Vehicles seen in movies and TV are quite often 'planted' there by the production, depending on how important placement is to the scene. In many scenes, every vehicle you see will have been rented specifically, or brought by each driver hired as supporting artist for the day.
They often get to drive them all no more than a few yards before someone shouts 'Cut. Reset.' & everybody carefully reverses back to their start point to go again for another take.

Official or liveried vehicles used in filming are very likely to be completely 'real' in all but identification numbers. Most often they are used vehicles bought from the relevant authorities and keep all the original decals/signage etc. though with advertising or official identification changed. Brand new vehicles can be purchased from the same coach-builders as the real thing too. They're the best people to get the details right. It's more expensive to use a movie vehicle supplier to do this, though if it's going to be a 'hero' vehicle then that's often done too. For instance a car chase vehicle will have several versions built - pristine, beaten up, air-rams built in for jumps, flips etc.

Just for fun - this is a gif [very small to make it uploadable] of the first ever scene I worked on in the film industry. Everything you can see, right to the very back of shot, is co-ordinated. Every person, every vehicle. This was a huge filming day and being Bond, as much as possible is 'real' not CGI. There are close to 1,000 people in this shot.

emergency vehicles and black cars lined up in the street, dozens of police officers running around

Late edit - again just for fun - I'd forgotten I still had this…
By equal token, my own car has been in several movies, though usually you'd never get to see the number plate for ready identification, which makes it like a million other cars.

This is a composite I made from my location pass on No Time to Die and a photo papped by a guy who had access to one of the buildings inside the closed-off zone, so no-one could touch him. It appeared in a national paper at the time [Daily Mail].
Mine is the second Merc back.

enter image description here

Unfortunately, as is often the case, the scene cut just before I came into shot, so this is all we see in the final edit… not from the same take, obviously, they changed the timings several times.
The 'main' Merc was driven by stunts not the owner, who sat in the passenger seat all day, because they had some very tight timings in some versions of the shot - which weren't used in the end.
Regarding my earlier comment about 'several vehicles', the Aston you can see just left of frame - they had two of those available for the day, identical down to the number plates. Famously, re-creations of the V8 used in The Living Daylights.

enter image description here

  • 2
    I don’t know if it was the same cab, I thought maybe the number itself was something like the 555 phone number exchange. In both the scenes I saw it wasn’t just a background element; characters were filmed riding in the cab.
    – miken32
    Dec 8, 2022 at 14:15
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    Now I'm struggling to date your gif! I'm not familiar enough with the fairly recent Bond films, and the modern cars combined with jam sandwich police car livery look odd to me. Getting Parliament St./Whitehall for filming (if I'm not mistaken - I've only been there once in the last 20+ years) must have been a rare treat.
    – Chris H
    Dec 8, 2022 at 15:04
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    I was also curious about this, so I went onto nyc.gov's taxi license number lookup tool to see if there was any publicly available info on that number. One the tool's page it says that the correct format is "one number, one letter, two numbers. For example: 5X55". 86Z5 is not a valid license number (it just looks similar enough to one). Since all examples given were shot primarily in NYC, the productions likely used the same local vehicle rental company and happened to get the same cab. It's likely not a real cab, just one that looks convincing enough. Dec 8, 2022 at 16:58
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    @Chris - Skyfall, early 2012. The Police cars were quite odd. Usually they're a direct copy of the real thing, these were brand-new model Skodas, pre-release, with the new front grille not seen before. The buses were the 'new' Routemasters, again pre-release. idk about the fire engines. Everything else was 'people's own cars' - with a radio in every single one so they could hear instructions.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 8, 2022 at 18:12
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    Thanks @Tetsujin - I've only seen Skyfall once, and (of course) Wikipedia has the answer about the livery: The Met switched to Battenburg patterns later than everyone else - starting .in 2012 in fact.
    – Chris H
    Dec 8, 2022 at 21:17

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