29 Movies and TV Shows Starring Philadelphia
Philly spots that shine on screens big and small...
With its urban authenticity, inspiring exteriors, vibrant neighborhoods and rich history on display at all times, Philadelphia is the perfect backdrop for movies and television shows.
Philly’s gig in 2020’s buzzy AMC anthology series Dispatches from Elsewhere further proves this point, as the city’s stunning public art, eye-catching attractions and memorable streetscapes shine in episode after episode.
Of course, the entertainment industry has recognized the city and region’s potential for awhile, thanks in part to The Greater Philadelphia Film Office’s hard work at attracting film and video producers to the region.
Sylvester Stallone’s triumphant run up the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s steps in Rocky is one of the most memorable scenes in movie history, and Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence’s outing — “not a date” — in Upper Darby’s Llanerch Diner is a central part of the story in Silver Linings Playbook . Many famous actors and actresses — Grace Kelly, Will Smith, Tina Fey and more — grew up in Philly as well and have brought the city into their roles.
Philly stars in many different movies and TV shows — and seeing the city’s realness on screen is part of what makes watching these movies and shows so fun.
Check out some of the entertaining movies and TV shows set or shot in the Philadelphia area, below. And click through on the name of each TV show or movie to head to justwatch.com to find out where to stream each film or show.
Upper Darby native Tina Fey stars in this 2008 comedy about an uptight executive in her late-30s and her brassy surrogate from South Philly (Amy Poehler). Look for LOVE Park and Rittenhouse Square in scenes from the film, which is set in Philly but mostly filmed in New York City.
Did you know one of the most memorable scenes from sci-fi classic The Blob (1958) was filmed in Phoenixville ? In the film , petrified patrons run frantically out of the historic Colonial Theatre in an attempt to get away from the rampaging, gelatinous creature. Every year, the weekend-long Blobfest brings locals out to celebrate the town’s claim to fame at the iconic theater with several screenings of the film and a recreation of the unforgettable scene.
This critically acclaimed film (1981) set in Philly follows a B-list movie sound effects man (John Travolta) who unknowingly records a car accident that turns out to be a murder while working one night at a park. The car accident takes place on the Henry Avenue Bridge, and other high-energy scenes are filmed around City Hall and Penn’s Landing .
Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin are a father-son duo in this Netflix western that debuted in April 2021 and presents a fictionalized story about Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, the North Philadelphia-based stables and club that teach youth how to ride and care for horses. Filmed in Philadelphia , the movie not only shows the very streets where locals are likely to encounter horses stopped at red lights, but also stars some members of the real-life riding club.
Philly-based best-selling author Jennifer Weiner wrote the book that inspired this comedy-drama (2005) starring Toni Collette as a successful attorney living in Rittenhouse Square and Cameron Diaz as her unemployed, underachieving little sister. Jamaican Jerk Hut on South Street makes several appearances in the movie, and the outdoor garden area next to the restaurant is where Collette’s character gets married. Other spots featured include the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Italian Market .
Based on the true story of Vince Papale, a local bartender who shows up to the 1976 open tryouts for Philadelphia Eagles and makes the team, this positively Philly film (2006) starring Mark Wahlberg shot in many locations across the city. The film’s final scene —when Papale scores a touchdown — was filmed at Franklin Field , though it was edited in post-production to make it look more like the old Veterans Stadium in the finished product.
Holmesburg Prison in Northeast Philadelphia was the setting for many of the prison scenes in 2009’s Law Abiding Citizen , a Philly crime drama starring Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler. City Hall is featured heavily in the movie as well.
This quirky romantic comedy (1987) centers around a window dresser (Andrew McCarthy) working in a Philadelphia department store and his relationship with a mannequin who springs to life (Kim Cattrall). Filming primarily took place in Wanamaker’s — now Macy’ s — at 13th and Market streets, as well as at the old Gallery Mall, now home to Fashion District Philadelphia.
This feel-good film (2008) about one family’s life with a poorly behaved-yet-lovable yellow labrador retriever is based on the autobiographical book by writer and former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist John Grogan. The stone farmhouse that the family relocates to in Pennsylvania is actually located in Chadds Ford, while other scenes were filmed on location in Philadelphia around Broad and Walnut streets.
M. Night Shyamalan Films
Prolific filmmaker and Philly native M. Night Shyamalan makes a point to shoot his movies in his hometown. In his breakout thriller shot in Philly, The Sixth Sense (1999), Bruce Willis’ character lives at 20th and Delancey streets and he meets the troubled boy played by Haley Joel Osment for the first time inside St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church in Old City. The Philadelphia region gets screen time as well in 2002’s Signs (filmed around Bucks County) and 2008’s The Happening (featuring Ridley Creek State Park in Delaware County). A few other Shyamalan movies you’ll see the city in: Lady in the Water (2006), Unbreakable (2008), Split (2017) and Glass (2019).
A historian’s discovery of a secret treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence fuels National Treasure (2004), the Nicolas Cage vehicle that was filmed partially in the original birthplace of liberty and inspired an equally thrilling 2007 sequel. In the movie, an epic chase takes place through Washington Square and Reading Terminal Market , and other scenes are filmed at The Franklin Institute , Independence Hall , and the Liberty Bell Center (where Cage’s character believes a clue is hidden).
This 1993 legal drama set (and filmed) in Philadelphia was one of the first big-budget Hollywood films to address HIV/AIDS and change the national conversation about the disease. The film stars Tom Hanks, who won the Academy Award for his lead role as the successful lawyer who sues his firm (in the BNY Mellon Center building in Center City) when he’s fired for having AIDS. In a pivotal scene, fellow lawyer Denzel Washington grabs a sandwich from Famous 4th Street Deli and heads to the library to meet Hanks’ character, where he finally agrees to represent him in court. The powerful courtroom scenes take place at City Hall .
Though not filmed in Philly, this witty romantic comedy centers on the upcoming nuptials of an uppity socialite from Philadelphia’s Main Line and hijinks that ensue when her ex-husband and a tabloid reporter looking for a scoop show up the day before her wedding. The main character, played by Katherine Hepburn, was inspired by real-life socialite Helen Hope Montgomery Scott and the set was modeled after her family’s estate, Ardrossan. The 1940 film — one of earliest and most highly regarded rom-coms — also stars Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart.
There might be no other fictional character as synonymous with Philadelphia as Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa, the aspiring boxer and determined underdog in the Academy Award-winning film Rocky (1976). Since his first famous run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art , the original franchise has spawned five sequels. It’s also led to a super-successful spinoff franchise with 2015’s Creed and 2018’s Creed II , which follow Balboa’s training of Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the son of the hometown boxer’s former rival and friend Apollo Creed. Check out our guide to all the memorable spots featured in these films.
Set in Philadelphia, this DC Comics film (2019) about a teenage boy named Billy (Asher Angel) who can turn himself into an adult superhero (Zachary Levi) simply by saying “shazam” features a bunch of city visuals. Though it was mostly filmed in Toronto, one scene shows Billy and his brother sitting on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art , looking out at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Logan Square.
Montgomery County native Bradley Cooper stars as Pat, a former teacher with bipolar disorder who, after a stint in a psychiatric hospital, obsesses over reconciling with his ex-wife in this critically acclaimed film (2012) set in Upper Darby. The town’s Llanerch Diner gets noteworthy screen time, when Pat meets Tiffany (played by Jennifer Lawrence, who won an Academy Award for the role) there for “not a date” and she offers to help him connect with his ex-wife. Other memorable scenes include Pat’s fight at the Wells Fargo Center parking lot ahead of an Eagles game and the climax of the movie: the dance competition, filmed at Ballroom at the Ben.
This sci-fi blockbuster (2009), praised for its visual effects and action sequences, was filmed partially in Philly. Scenes set at Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf)’s college campus were filmed at the University of Pennsylvania (the character’s fraternity house is Penn’s Psi Upsilon, located at the corner of 36th Street and Locust Walk). Other notable spots featured include Laurel Hill Cemetery (Sam meets with Optimus Prime here) and Delaware Power Plant (where Sam and his roommate are held captive by Grindor), which is adjacent to Penn Treaty Park on the Delaware River waterfront.
In this classic 1983 comedy , stuck-up executive Louis Winthorpe (Dan Aykroyd) and con man Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) switch lives as part of a bet between two rich brothers. In Rittenhouse Square , Billy Ray pretends to have no legs and asks strangers for money before his life is changed. Near the Clothespin sculpture across the street from Dilworth Park , Louis meets Ophelia (Jaime Lee Curtis), who offers to help him when his credit cards are confiscated. The Wells Fargo Building, the Curtis Institute and Independence Hall all making cameos as well.
Imprisoned man James Cole travels back in time to try to save the world from a killer disease in this 1995 dark sci-fi thriller starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt. Cole comes to Philly from the future and lands out front of City Hall. Eventually, he is incarcerated at Eastern State Penitentiary . Memorial Hall, Delaware Power Station, and a pre-renovations Met Philadelphia make appearances in this bleak film, as well.
The Upside (2019) is a heartwarming comedy starring North Philly native Kevin Hart as a man on parole who strikes up a friendship with the wealthy man with quadriplegia he’s caring for, played by Bryan Cranston. The movie is set in New York City, but filmed in Philly at places like the Kimmel Center (where the two men see an opera together) XIX Restaurant at The Bellevue Hotel .
Kathryn Morris plays a detective — the only woman on her homicide unit in Philadelphia — who works unsolved cases, seeking justice for all the victims she can in this crime drama (2003-2010). The show — primarily filmed in L.A. — shot in Philly several times over the course of its seven seasons to get proper visuals of places like City Hall , the Masonic Temple and Swann Memorial Fountain .
This 2020 anthology series , created by and starring Jason Segel, follows four people searching for purpose who connect through a puzzling interactive game. Every episode shows off Philly spectacularly, with scenes highlighting the city’s amazing public art and neighborhoods like Fishtown , South Philly and Rittenhouse Square . Easy-to-spot establishments — like the Philadelphia Museum of Art , the Continental Mid-town in Center City and Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens — make the show all the more fun to watch for Philly fans.
Though The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996) wasn’t set in Philly, Will Smith’s character was — as the wildly catchy theme song goes — born and raised in West Philadelphia. Smith infuses his character with an authentic Philly personality and demeanor on the hit sitcom, which probably wasn’t a stretch, considering the actor is famously from West Philly, too. Though L.A. is the primary setting, the show is still widely associated with Philly and considered a must-watch by residents.
Jenkintown is the setting of this family sitcom based on the creator and show runner’s real-life experiences growing up in the 1980s in suburban Philadelphia. Though the show isn’t filmed in the city, characters dressed in vintage Flyers tees and references to places like Jenkintown’s Hiway Theater, the bar Buckets and, of course, Wawa add real Philly authenticity to the show, which debuted in 2013.
In the thrilling legal drama How to Get Away With Murder (2014-2020), lawyer and law professor Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) teaches at the fictional Middletown University in Philadelphia. Though not filmed in the city, visuals of the skyline and City Hall are often shown.
This long-running comedy — a massive hit since its pilot in 2005 — follows the hilarious antics of a group of friends and family running a neighborhood Irish pub in Philadelphia. The show films mostly in L.A., but returns to Philly occasionally for episodes like season three’s The Gang Gets Invincible , where Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Mac (Rob McElhenney) and Dee (Kaitlin Olson) take part in the Philadelphia Eagles’ open tryouts, a-la Vince Papale in Invincible . Swann Memorial Fountain , Helium Comedy Club, the Italian Market and more recognizable spots show up in other episodes.
Not only does Season 5 of Queer Eye showcase the fabulousness of Philadelphia , but it also features real Philadelphians. The Fab Five — Tan France, Antoni Porowski, Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk and Jonathan Van Ness — spent a summer in the region helping 10 locals find their best selves. Throughout, the City of Sisterly Love , the City of Murals , the City of James Beard Award Honorees and so much more gets the spotlight it deserves for its shopping, styling, wellness and dining scenes in the 10-episode run. Keep an eye out for spots like Reading Terminal Market, King of Prussia Mall, Society Hill Dance Academy, Greensgrow Farms, Zahav and many other Philadelphia treasures. The whole season is streaming on Netflix, and don’t skip the Fab Five’s makeover of Flyers mascot Gritty .
Co-created by Lower Merion native Marshall Herskovitz, this angst-filled drama (1987-1991) set in Philadelphia follows seven thirtysomethings trying to navigate adult life. The show was well received, and won 13 Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards over the course of its four seasons.
This flashback-heavy, tear-jerker of a drama that premiered in 2016 features Philly during its third season, when Randall (Sterling K. Brown) runs for a seat on Philadelphia City Council. In the fourth season, when Randall’s family moves to Philly, he takes everyone sightseeing and they all end up running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art . Some scenes were also filmed on South Street and around Headhouse Square.