I no longer update this post, but you’ll find a lot of old information about Tarot in movies and Tarot on TV. Please post in the comments when you see one so we can keep a running list in the comments. The more info the better.

TV

  • bs-hpThe #1 TV Tarot appearance of all time: Xena: The Warrior Princess, Season 3, Episode 12 (Feb. 2, 1998), “The Bitter Suite.” The entire episode, that takes place in the land of Illusia, is sung. Most of the main characters appear as figures from the Major Arcana, with text that draws from Paul Foster Case’s Book of Tokens: “Aleph am I. From mine unfathomable Will, the universe hath its beginning. In my boundless Wisdom are the types and patterns of all things.” You can find lots of discussions of this episode on the web. See a video about the making of this show—with lots of scenes from the episode. Also here.
  • Life on Mars (ABC), Episode 15 (March 18, 2009): Irish Colleen reads a RWS-style tarot deck for Sam Tyler both as child (Ace of Pentacles) and as an adult (Tower). The meanings she gives for the cards have more to do with the plot than with traditional card meanings.
  • Mad Men (AMC), Season 2, Episode 12 (Oct. 2008): “The Mountain King”. Don gets his cards read. Read an analysis of the spread at City Weekly. Deborah Lipp offers an excellent, in-depth analysis at the fan site Basket of Kisses. Only thing she missed is the 5 of Swords as Draper’s possibily being headed toward divorce (a future that could change?). And here’s a long interview with Matt Weiner, who plays Don Draper, and the Lipp Sisters in which he talks about his own interest in tarot and how the reading was actually one done for himself – here. Sample: madmen12I thought of using that card [the Sun] during the pilot because I was so filled with happiness at having got to execute my vision and being surrounded by all these creative people, it seemed very magical, I felt like that baby on the horse, and also; there’s four sunflowers in it which are my children. . . . Some human beings devised that system of cards and their images that stand for millions of words, and what the Sun stands for is something that I wanted on my show.”
  • The Ex List (CBS) Season 1, Episode 1 (Oct. 2008): Bella gets a tarot reading informing her that her true love is someone she’s already dated and if she doesn’t get married within the year she never will. The cards aren’t visible in the scene. Our own James Ricklef‘s spouse, Wil Bowers, plays Marcus on the Oct. 24th (3rd) episode.
  • The Middleman (ABC family) – “The Vampiric Puppet Lamentation” episode (Aug. 2008). A tarot reader named Jamie reads for Wendy: brief glimpse of the RWS deck, with cards arranged in a Celtic Cross spread. Described here.
  • Torchwood (BBC), Episode #22: “Dead Man Walking” (Summer 2008) features a young girl Tarot reader. Captain Jack is, of course, on one of the cards – in a neo-RWS/Visconti style deck. Also appears in Season 2, Episode 12: “Fragments.” (Photo is from Torchwood.)
  • Criminal Minds, finale of Spring 2008 season. The perp leaves the Death card as a reference to the Washington D.C. murders.
  • Men in Trees, finale of Spring 2008 season. One of the characters wants to read tarot cards at the talent show.
  • Reaper, finale of Spring 2008 season. The devil card came up three times in one deck (the show really is about the devil).
  • Young and the Restless (daytime soap). It seems that tarot has appeared in several episodes. Watch a tarot clip here.
  • Carnivale (HBO), two seasons 2003-2005, featured a tarot reader, Apolloniaas, played by Diane Salinger. The opening title sequence begins with a deck of Tarot cards falling into the sand. They  later produced a 78-card promotional deck, which was not used in the show. Watch Ben’s tarot reading:
  • My So-Called Life (ABC), Episode 10: “Other People’s Daughters” (Nov. 3, 1994). Hippie mom reads cards. Uses Robert Wang’s Jungian Tarot. See the scene here (begins at minute 5:45) and here (minute 7:38): “They represent challenges and tests, twists of fate. . . . They move from terror and loss to unexpected good fortune, and out of darkness hope is born.”
  • “In the Cards” episode on Tales from the Darkside (January 27, 1985) – watch here.
  • Dark Shadows – Tarot readings were in several episodes from this 1960s daytime soap. Many of us saw our first tarot deck here. According to wikipedia: “Dark Shadows found its perfect demographic niche in teenagers coming home from school in time to watch the show”—that was me! The Swiss 1JJ deck seems to be the one most used.
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  • Lawman, Season 4, Episode 13 (Dec., 1961). “Tarot”: Lily’s old friend Joe Wyatt comes to town and reads the cards for four people, predicting, of course, that one will die. The deck appears to be one of the deLaurence ripoffs of a Waite-Smith deck.

    • Joe Wyatt: Well, I suppose I could lay out the tarot deck for all of us, a  kind of general fortune that might apply to any one of us here. Will the fair queen cut? (He lays out the cards in a six card cross, the first card, crossed under the Wheel of Fortune, is face down and is never turned up.)
      • 5 of Cups – Somebody’s going to get some money.
      • The Juggler standing upright – Somebody’s going to take a trip.
      • The Wheel of Fortune beside the dark of The Moon – That’s kind of hard to figure, unless somebody’s going to sit up all night with a pot of gold.
    • Lily (looking at the final card): The Hanged Man.
    • Joe Wyatt: Oh, it’s not exactly the best card in the deck. Stay out of bad weather, bad company, something like that.
    • Lily: You better tell him what it really means, Joe.
    • Joe Wyatt: If there were anything to this nonsense, it’d mean that somebody at this table is going to die.
  • The Andy Griffith Show, Season 5, Episode 14 (Dec., 1974). “Three Wishes for Opie” features tarot-like cards—when matching cards come up a book reveals the outcome, in this case, three wishes, which all come true. The final scene results in a wish for a June wedding.

  • An American Family1973 PBS reality series. Features a prophetic tarot reading for Pat Loud using the Alban0-Waite deck. Watch clip here.
  • The Name of the Game, Season 2, Episode 19 (February 1970) “Tarot.” With guest stars David Carradine and William Shatner.
  • Dynasty, Season 2, Episode 10 (1982). While in Rome, Alexis gets a reading using the Visconti-Sforza deck. Video here.
  • simpsons-lisaThe Simpsons, (Season 6, Episode 17), “Lisa’s Wedding” – Lisa gets the Happy Squirrel card in a tarot reading. Read more about it and see a storyboard version at Touchstone Tarot. As a result of this TV episode, the “Happy Squirrel Card” struck the imaginations of several tarot deck creators and has since become integrated into a couple of contemporary decks.
  • Monk, “Mr. Monk and the Psychic” – a psychic reads for Sharona using The Alchemical Tarot.
  • Buffy, The Vampire Slayer – several episodes.
  • Charmed – several episodes: for instance, “Marry-Go-Round,” season 4, episode 81 (March 14, 2002)—deck unknown, probably created for show:
  • NCIS – several episodes. The forensic specialist, goth-girl Abby Sciuto, periodically uses tarot cards “to get her head straight.”
  • X-Files. “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” (Season 3, Episode 4). Named the 10th greatest episode in TV history by TV Guide. Uses Fergus Hall’s James Bond 007/Witch’s Tarot deck. SPOILER: On seeing the Page of Cups, Scully realizes that the killer is the bellhop.
  • Joan of Arcadia – (Season 2, Episode 9). Joan gets a reading from God (in the guise of a tarot reader). Start watching at 5:13.

  • Supernatural. Episode 4/12 (January 26, 2009) – minor appearance of tarot in story about stage magicians.
  • Lies and Deception (2005). Made-for-TV movie, shown on Lifetime.
  • The Middleman (ABC-Family, 2008, Season 1, Episode 10).
  • Roommates (ABC-Family, 2009, Season 1, Episode 2).
  • The Fashion Show: Tarot Card Design Challenge (July, 2009). Each clothing designer has to design an outfit based on their reading with a psychic and a tarot card (not that you’d recognize the card in the designs). See video of readings.
  • True Blood (HBO, 2009, Season 2, Episode 8). In “Timebomb” Lafayette reads the tarot for Tara.
  • The View (ABC, Aug. 17, 2009) Tarot reading for Whoopi Goldberg by Sandy Anastasi.
  • Cyndi Lauper BoothBones (FOX, Sept. 2009, Season 5, Episode 1, “Harbingers in a Fountain”). Cyndi Lauper as tarot reader, Avalon Harmonia, reads for Temperance Brennan and Booth. The first card drawn: Temperance, of course. Well worth watching!
  • Harper’s Island (CBS, May 2009, Episode 4). In this suspense/horror mini-series, a tarot reader reads for the women at the bachelorette party. Trish gets The Hierophant, Tower, Ten of Swords, Three of Swords, and Death. Hummm??? Nice discussion of the cards here.
  • The Vision of Escaflowne (1996), a 26 episode Japanese anime series created by Shoji Kawamori. The cards are shown here and a story overview (emphasis on the cards) appears here. A 2000 film version is not considered to be as good.excaflowne

MOVIES

  • Nightmare Alley. Fabulous 1947 film noir with Joan Blondell as the tarot reader, Zeena. Based closely on the novel by William Lindsay Gresham about a carny Mentalist, played by Tyrone Power. Deck is a RWS, probably a Pebbleback “Pamela C”. See the “rough-cut” trailer with a second tarot scene – here. A newly released DVD is now available and an Audio CD of the book. Highly recommended!
  • Touch of Evil(1958). Orson Welles’ masterpiece in which Marlene Dietrich plays a fortune-teller, Tanya, whose tarot reading [1JJ cards] seals the anti-hero’s fate:
    • Quinlan: Come on, read my future for me.
    • Tanya: You hadn’t got any.
    • Quinlan: What da’ya mean?
    • Tanya: Your future’s all used up.

  • Night Tide (1961). Johnny (played by a wooden Dennis Hopper) is on shore leave and meets Mora (Linda Lawson) whom he believes is a mermaid and kills during the full moon. Surprisingly good tarot reading with RWS deck and Marjorie Eaton as Madame Romanovitch. Watch it free here (reading begins at 50:00).
  • Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962). French film by Agnès Vardas. The opening five minutes features a card reading with the Grand Jeu de Melle Le Normand and then a five-card reading with the Grimaud Tarot de Marseille trumps, followed by a short palm reading. The cards are seen in color but the rest of the film is in black and white. This version has English subtitles:

Dr. Terror: “Tarot cards are the key to ancient wisdom. The tarot deck is a picture book of life, an answer to the deepest questions of philosophy and history, and sometimes a means of prediction. . . . There is within each of us a twin destiny: the natural and the supernatural. The cards are attracted to the supernatural part of our destiny as one pole of a magnet attracts an opposite pole. . . . This deck can forewarn us. I call it my ‘house of horrors.’ . . . The person whose fortune is to be told taps the deck three times, then they are shuffled and dealt. The first four cards predict his destiny. The fifth gives him the knowledge to change it—if change is possible.”

  • Games (1967). Opening credits feature the 1JJ tarot deck. Simone Signoret is the tarot reader.
  • Tarot (Spain) / Autopsy (US) (1973). Thriller. The tarot cards tell a young woman traveling in Europe that pain and suffering will cross her path.
  • liveletdie2Live and Let Die (1973). James Bond film in which Solitaire (Jane Seymour) can predict the future with her tarot cards only so long as she remains a virgin. “Us?” asks James Bond as he holds up The Lovers card just dealt by Solitaire.liveletdie
  • Tarot (1986). German film directed by Rudolph Thome in which a reading suggests a predestined relationship. I believe the Thoth deck is used.
  • The Duellists (1977). Directed by Ridley Scott. A film about honor and duels during the Napoleonic wars with Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine. Excellent swordplay and costume drama. Short tarot reading with 1JJ deck. The soundtrack also has a piece called “Tarot.” Well worth watching.

“The Two of Swords, reversed.  Strife without reason, a quarrel pursued for its own sake.  Does this suggest your problem? . . .
Seven of Cups.  It would seem that you must make a difficult choice. . . . The Moon.  The Moon is a symbol of solitude.  There is the path you must take, which is the path of instinct.  Everyone who travels on that path travels alone.”
“Between the two dogs.  Do I leave them both behind?”
“You must answer your own questions now.  You’re alone.”

  • Dead Alive (1992). Horror film directed by Peter Jackson and made in New Zealand. The film is set in 1957 but a doctored Thoth deck is used. The Queen of Swords is repainted to look like Eva. The Star card is completely different.
  • Hideaway (1995). Horror film from a book by Dean Koonz, in which Rae Dawn Chong reads Jeff Goldblum’s Tarot cards.
  • The Red Violin (1998). Five stories interconnected by a violin and predicted by a tarot reading. Significant tarot theme. Outstanding!redviolin2
  • The Ninth Gate (1999). A Roman Polanski mystery-thriller with Johnny Depp featuring nine tarot-like engravings. Based on El Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte.
  • Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her (2001). Film by Rodrigo Garcia with Glenn Close, Cameron Diaz, Calista Flockhart (who plays the tarot reader), Kathy Baker, Holly Hunter, and many more. Watch the scene here.
  • What’s the Worst That Could Happen (2001). Minor I-Ching and Tarot readings. A thief (Martin Lawrence) tries to get back his good luck ring from Danny DeVito.
  • Le Lion Volatil (2003). A short (10 minute) film by Agnès Varda about an apprentice tarot reader, her magician boy friend and a lion. Watch it in French here.
  • Monster-in-Law (2005). Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda. Short tarot reading.Monster in Law
  • BloodRayne (2005). Vampire movie based on a video game. Geraldine Chaplin plays a tarot reader using the Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg deck. (What are a few great actors doing in a really bad movie?)
  • Devour (2005). Low budget horror film with brief tarot scene.
  • Just My Luck (2006). A romantic comedy with Lindsey Lohan, in which a fortune teller furthers a plot that’s all about “luck.”
  • Chicha tu Madre (2006). An Argentine Peruvian film about a tarot reading taxi driver who wants to do good by his family but somehow it’s never enough. “Playing off local literary conventions, the film actually uses the Tarot cards to narrate its tale of fate, free will and chance.” Uses Thoth deck.
  • Scoop (2006). A Woody Allen romantic comedy murder mystery.scoop
  • Edmond (2006). Based on a one-act play by David Mamet. Violent.edmond
  • Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (2006). Limited edition soundtrack comes with 8 original tarot cards.
  • The Other Boleyn Girl (2008). Short tarot clip. The DVD bonus features section includes a scene of Ann doing a reading for Henry. The cards are based on a so-called Charles VI deck and probably created specifically for the movie.boleyn
  • Tarot (2007). A 22-second film by John Condon. Finalist Cannes online competiton 2007, Dereel Film Festival, Sci-Fi London, VIS Vienna, Final Cut, Nokia Shorts, Faux Film Festival, Wildsound, Imaginaria film festival, Commedia, Just for Laughs film festival, Icon 2007, Holzstock short film festival. A mysterious Gypsy Tarot reader reveals the cards for her nervous customer.tarot-Filipino
  • Tarot (August 2009) A Filipino horror movie from Regal films starring Marian Rivera, Dennis Trillo, Roxanne Guinoo. I love it when the Ace of Swords jumps out of the card. This may be the most tarot-centered movie yet.
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009). A film by Terry Gilliam that features a Hanged Man, Devil and other tarot references. Heath Ledger’s last film. Extraordinary! 

See also the Internet Movie Base listing for tarot. Links to several trailers are given in the Comments. Check out the listings at Tarot Totes for tv and movie appearances from 2001 and before. NationMaster.com offers a list of tarot in popular culture.