Though on its face it might seem trivial, pointless, a terrible way to waste a beautiful afternoon, etc., solitaire has unquestionably transformed the way we live and work. Computer solitaire propelled the revolution of personal computing, augured Microsoft's monopolistic tendencies, and forever changed office culture. It has also helped the human race survive innumerable conference calls and airplane trips. If solitaire is not the most important computer program of all time, it is at least in the top two, along with Minesweeper.
[Via CG at TPW]
I include this because it's interesting. And I played numerous games on one trip to Egypt when I had innumerable downtime days. Never got into Minesweeper or Freecell, but the Chinese tile game (name escapes me at the moment) I really got into. The latter needed something exciting to happen at the end like Solitaire's dancing cards; it's kind of anticlimactic to win and then everything just sits there.
It is a good way for newbies to learn basic computer skills though, because it uses a familiar concept that's easy to pick up. Before you know it, you're moving on-screen items around without even thinking about it.
Best use of it on screen was an episode of Millennium: Spooky music plays as the camera shows Frank Black in a darkened room staring intently at his computer. Is he looking at crime scene photos? As the camera pans over behind him and the spooky music builds to a crescendo, we see he's just playing Solitaire.