Common movie and TV mistakes

This is a list of mistakes, things done wrong, etc. that happen so frequently onscreen we barely notice any more. 'Movie logic', stupid behaviours, and everything related.

New this month Factual error: In many TV shows and movies that show two parties speaking to each other on either a landline phone or pay phone, as soon as one party hangs up the phone, the other party hears an instant dial tone. Phones did not have a dial tones after calls were disconnected in reality, but rather silence followed by loud annoying buzz sounds.

New this month Factual error: Often when bombs are shown falling, they're depicted with a distinct whistling sound. Two problems there. Bombs don't inherently whistle - some bombs in WW2 were specifically fitted with whistles for the psychological warfare element, but the vast majority are silent. Secondly, the standard noise heard from the ground, a high pitched whistle slowly getting lower, is wrong. The doppler effect, whereby a sound changes as it moves closer to someone hearing it, means the pitch heard would increase, not decrease, as a bomb falls towards you. The sound most often used in movies/TV shows of a whistling bomb is what the pilots dropping the bomb would hear, not the people it was falling towards.

Jon Sandys Premium member

New this month Factual error: In movies where people are fighting with bows and arrows, whenever someone gets hit by an arrow, they flinch in pain and die on the spot. In most cases, the arrow injury is insufficient to cause a person's immediate death. Or they may die from the arrow wound, but only after they bleed to death, which takes time.

Mike Lynch

New this month Character mistake: In many space-based action sequences, all the craft involved act like space isn't 3D. Ships fly at each other head on, surround other vessels in a circle, not a sphere, attack with a pincer movement from the left and right, rather than above/below, etc. Most of the time the action is all broadly on one plane. Makes things easier to understand from an audience perspective, makes zero sense tactically speaking.

Jon Sandys Premium member

New this month Stupidity: Whenever a gun battle is taking place, and the protagonist is being shot at by a machine gun, multiple shots spit up near his/her feet, which makes no sense. They are aiming their weapons straight at the person, not at the ground.

Mike Lynch

New this month Revealing mistake: After somebody gets run through with a sword, knife, spear, etc., and withdrawn from the stabbed body, there is no blood, gore, etc., seen on the blade.


New this month Factual error: In numerous sci-fi films and TV series, planets, moons, and other similar celestial objects always appear to have gravity equal to that of Earth regardless of the object's size or mass. For example, a moon the same size as a small planet (such as Yavin 4 or Endor's forest moon from the Star Wars films) has the same apparent gravity as larger bodies, while in reality, the smaller objects would have noticeably less gravity than larger ones.


New this month Factual error: Characters referring to another star system as a "Solar System." Solar System is a proper name, it refers specifically to the system that contains Earth. Our sun is called "Sol", hence "Solar System." Any time an alien from another planet uses the term Solar System to refer to an alien star system it indicates the writer or actor is making a common error.


Factual error: In many films and TV series that feature passwords being cracked by a "brute-force" attack, individual characters of a password are found independently of each other. (See Ocean's Eight, Under Siege 2, various episodes of Alarm für Cobra 11 - Die Autobahnpolizei, or Person of Interest.) In reality, this is impossible; most of the times the password itself is not stored anywhere. Rather, an irreversible cryptographic hash of the password is stored, and the typed password's hash is compared with that. Either the whole thing is right or no access is granted.


Factual error: Whenever police officers are involved in some kind of shooting while on duty, they are always kept on the case. They're never suspended or investigated by internal affairs. In real life, there's a full on investigation that takes months to make certain the officer in question was justified in the shooting, not to mention the intense media scrutiny surrounding the incident.


Revealing mistake: "Hacking" something by hammering a keyboard and characters appearing they're nowhere near actually typing.

Factual error: People using computers and having what's shown on the monitor's screen projecting clear sharp mirrored images onto their faces. That's not how monitors work. For example in Jurassic Park, when the raptor breaks into the control room and is hopping around the computer workstations, sharp, distinct "GTAC" genetic coding is shown projected from a computer screen across the raptor's face. Another example is seen in the 1995 film Hackers, when sharp, distinct text and even graphics are shown projected from an early laptop onto the faces of Angelina Jolie and Jonny Lee Miller.

Deliberate mistake: In fight scenes, it's often one person against a small army. Despite having the person greatly outnumbered, the enemies proceed to attack them one at a time, allowing each to be easily dispatched. The whole point of having so many is to overwhelm your enemy... not take turns getting punched out.

Quantom X Premium member

Other mistake: The hero can usually knock out henchmen with one or two punches, but the main villain (as well as the hero themselves) can take much more punishment. This is practically akin to enemies in video games. In fact, heroes are so confident of their abilities that they can knock an opponent down and know that they are down for the count without even having to verify.

Phaneron Premium member
Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: How is this a mistake? Of course the main villain, the boss, is hardest to knock out. If his henchmen were just as strong or stronger, why are they just henchmen? See it like a race, the champion is hardest to beat, that's why he is champion.


He doesn't mean that it's in video games, he's meaning that this makes movies and shows like video games using that.

Quantom X Premium member

Just to give an example, at the beginning of the movie "Goldeneye," James Bond knocks out a henchman sitting on a toilet with one punch. But at the end of the movie, Bond and Trevelyan are beating the crap out of each other and neither is knocked unconscious. It's certainly reasonable for someone to be a more formidable fighter than their underlings, but it wouldn't make them magically impervious to blows to the head.

Phaneron Premium member

The mistake is that the hero of the movie very rarely checks to see if a disabled opponent got back up. They are supremely confident that they are out, even if the hero literally just rolled them on to the floor. Makes for good movie magic, but is totally unrealistic.


This mistake has three aspects. (1) The hero knocks someone unconscious for good with just one hit. (2) The hero does this to several enemies in succession, with the same results. (3) The hero shows no signs of fatigue. (4) The hero takes on the tougher villains and takes them dow too. Doing all of these requires immense superhuman strength. In the films where the character is designated superhuman, this is not a mistake. But there are films that deliver this and are cheeky enough to give the appearance of there being a modicum of reality in it.


It's not necessarily a measure of strength, technique has got a lot to do with it. When one goes for the throat for example or the jaw a knockout is almost always certain, if you know what you are doing. You have to if you got no time to hit someone twice because the next opponent is not waiting.


You are right. But we don't see proper technique either. I really have issues with people getting unconscious for good from a punch between their eyes, especially when John Reese does it.


I agree with you that some movies take it too easy. But is it really common? The first knock out of Goldeneye example isn't all that unlikely, he may even have hit that guy twice, but a blow to the head, a surprise blow to the head can definitely knock someone out, happens in boxing all the time. Even between the eyes, as long as the head is knocked around.


Factual error: Unless it's a high powered shotgun, bullets don't throw people back when they get shot.

Quantom X Premium member

Factual error: Someone gets punched in the face or otherwise knocked out and comes around hours later. If you've been unconscious for hours you've got a traumatic brain injury and need medical attention, you won't be hunting down your assailant any time soon.

Jon Sandys Premium member

Factual error: People being in a vicious gunfight with no ear protectors and still being able to have a normal conversation afterwards.

Factual error: Enhancing an image by zooming in to blurry CCTV footage and somehow reading the reflection of a ticket in someone's pocket off a nearby fridge.

Stupidity: Giving a long drawn out speech before killing someone, allowing the hero to arrive at the last second and save the day. Just pull the trigger and you've won.


Factual error: Snipers using a laser mounted to their rifle to line up their target. Snipers in real life don't use lasers in this manner. For one thing, it gives away their position, and additionally because lasers won't line up a target accurately at a long range, as the bullet is affected by gravity, the rotation of the Earth, and other factors.

Phaneron Premium member

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