Dirty Harry (released on December 23, 1971), directed by Don Siegel and starring Clint Eastwood, was filmed in San Francisco. In the movie, which is very loosely based on the Zodiac case, the killer (played by Andrew Robinson), who calls himself "Scorpio", at certain points sends intimidating letters, with the handwriting based on the real life killer's and kidnaps a school bus full of children and threatens to kill them all.
The "Gemini Killer" in the movie The Exorcist III (released on August 17, 1990) was also loosely based on the Zodiac Killer.
The Zodiac Killer is mentioned in the film The Addams Family Values (1993). While at Summer camp, Wednesday, Pugsley and Joel go over a set of "Schizo's and Serial Killers" trading cards, with Joel mentioning the only cards he doesn't have are "Jack The Ripper and that Zodiac guy". Pugsley then offers to trade an Amy Fisher card for Joel's Black Widow card.
A short film entitled Disguised Killer (2000) was produced in Vallejo; set in the present, it is based on the Lake Herman Road murders and has a Filipino cast.
In 2005, Lions Gate Entertainment released Zodiac Killer. Set in the modern day, the films features a nursing home employee who begins copycatting the Zodiac, angering the original killer, who is revealed to be a member of a moralistic secret society, and who has been living under the guise of Zodiac-expert Simon Vale (portrayed by writer and director Ulli Lommel). Two years later, the company released Curse of the Zodiac, a loose retelling of the original murders, also written and directed by Lommel.
In the 2012 movie Seven Psychopaths, there is a flashback sequence depicting Zachariah Rigby (played by Tom Waits) and his wife Maggie, who have spent their lives gruesomely murdering serial killers, arriving at the Zodiac's house, where he has been apparently farming rabbits. Maggie pins him to a table by his hands using two large knives, and burns him to death with gasoline. After witnessing this, along with many other grisly things she'd done, he tells her he can no longer continue murdering people, and she leaves him. After relaying this story to the main character, Marty, Rigby laments, "I shoulda helped her kill that hippie."
The song "Unhuman" by industrial artist Architect samples dialogue from the film Zodiac. The line "I like killing because man is the most dangerous animal alive" spoken by Gyllenhaal's character is used.
Kamelot's album Poetry for the Poisoned features two songs, "Dear Editor" and "The Zodiac", about the Zodiac Killer.
The heavy metal band Macabre's album Sinister Slaughter features a song entitled "Zodiac", about the killer.
San Francisco metal band Machine Head's 1997 album The More Things Change... features "Blood of the Zodiac", inspired by the Zodiac killer.
The band Pleasure Forever's 2003 album Alter features a song called "This is the Zodiac Speaking".
The 1998 demo Poverty Sucks by San Francisco Bay Area's Poverty included the song "Insane Instinct," whose lyrics were drawn directly from a Zodiac Killer letter. The late Buddy Mills (Insanity) played drums on the recording. The session vocalist, Rob Huffman, is author of the short story "Campin' With The Zodiac." A rough edit of the story was quoted heavily in Robert Graysmith's Zodiac Unmasked, the sequel to Zodiac. Huffman's family had ties with prime Zodiac suspect Arthur Leigh Allen.
The Japanese horror punk band Balzac have a side project band consisting of the same band members that is called Zodiac. Song lyrics make frequent references to the words and actions of the Zodiac Killer.
The song "Gemini" by Slayer deals with the cruelties of the serialkiller, the "Gemini" killer (written by Kerry King and Tom Araya).
The song "My Name is..." by The Old Main references the Zodiac killer in their song off their first album The Old Main, written by Rod Lacy.
The Zodiac killer is mentioned numerous times in Criminal Minds - a television program which follows a team of profilers at the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit. On January 18, 2012, an episode set in the Bay Area with a Zodiac Killer copycat aired.
A Season 6 episode of Medium, entitled "The Medium is the Message," portrayed a killer called "the Libra Slayer" who showed a proclivity for symbols. His case was decades old, much like the Zodiac Killer's.
The Zodiac case forms the basis for "The Mikado," a second season installment of the television series Millennium. The episode, featuring a fictionalized version of the Zodiac Killer known as Avatar, was written by Michael R. Perry and first aired on February 6, 1998.
The season 2 episode of Nash Bridges, titled "Zodiac," has the inspectors following a copycat using the same methodologies as the original killer.
The show Psych has a recurring serial killer/killers "Yin/Yang", whose crimes bear similarity to the Zodiac killer's.
Towards the end of Sanford and Son, season two, episode one, titled "The Light Housekeeper," Fred begs Lamont not to leave him alone as the Zodiac Killer has never been captured.
San Francisco's Finest: Gunning For The Zodiac(2012), a crime suspense thriller novel by Joseph Covino Jr, combines authentic elements from actual crimes committed by both the Zodiac killer and Black Muslim criminals in an original story reminiscent of the Dirty Harry saga.
The Zodiac Paradox, a 2013 tie-in novel with the television series Fringe, features the Zodiac Killer being brought from the show's parallel universe due to one of Walter's experiments.
^"Just the Facts: David Fincher's Zodiac". stopsmilingonline.com. Retrieved 2010-07-15. "However, the Zodiac blueprint is derived largely from the “original case files” of the serial killings that terrified Northern California throughout the late Sixties and Seventies."