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 week Plot hole: Minuscule towns where you'd expect even a robbery at the local diner would be big news and horrify the local community for months, somehow end up having a crime rate worse than a Mad Max dystopia. Examples; Cabot Cove, Maine (where Jessica Fletcher lives), or the "This is the police" videogame series, where a small town in the mountains ends up having in just a couple months hostage situations, bomb threats, several murders, armed robberies and about half a dozen of violent crimes every day.

Sammo Premium member

New this week Factual error: In recent years, blood tends to be represented with a certain degree of realism, but in past eras especially before the 80s, the industry standard for fake blood appeared to be a much brighter red that often looks odd to a contemporary eye, and distinctly fake. In general, every movie sorta has its own 'blood' not necessarily factually accurate.

Sammo Premium member

New this month Other mistake: A common error for Batman films, despite Gotham City being a large and heavily populated city akin to New York or Chicago, Batman never gets stuck in traffic. In fact, whenever Batman is shown driving through the streets of Gotham, there is little to no traffic at all.

Phaneron Premium member

New this month Factual error: When pistols are empty, the person holding it is often surprised when it clicks empty. In reality, the slide on semi-automatic pistols lock back when the gun runs empty, making it easy to see that you're out of ammo. Sometimes happens in movies, often doesn't.

Friso94

New this month Deliberate mistake: Trains should stop when the engineer is killed or otherwise incapacitated because of a switch known as a "Dead man's" which is used in these events to stop the train. This mistake is often done purposely to keep the action going and for plot purposes. This is especially common in action films.

Movielover1996

New this month Factual error: IP addresses are 4 groups of up to 3 numbers each, maxing out at 255 - it's a fundamental limitation of the technology. But IP addresses in movies are often shown as something like 564.100.432.165, which is impossible. This isn't like movie phone numbers all starting with 555, because that's still a feasible phone number, just with a "movie" area code.

Jon Sandys Premium member

Stupidity: A character on foot when chased by a boulder, vehicle, etc., will often run in the same direction as the object, rather than off to the side where the object can't reach.

Character mistake: In almost every film or TV show, if the villain actually bothered to kill the hero as soon as they met face to face instead of just talking about their plans, the villain would actually succeed in his or her plans. Instead, the villain letting the hero live becomes their real downfall.

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
Video

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.

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: 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.

Factual error: Someone gets punched in the face or otherwise knocked out and comes around hours later, then go on to pick up where they left off as best as possible and forget the incident in about 30 seconds. 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: 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.

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

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.

lionhead

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.

oldbaldyone

This mistake has four 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 down too. Doing all of these requires immense superhuman strength. In films about superhumans, 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.

FleetCommand

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.

lionhead

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.

FleetCommand

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.

lionhead

Factual error: True gun silencers do not exist in real life. There do exist what are called "suppressors," but they don't quiet the sound of a gunshot anywhere near what you see in movies and television shows.

Phaneron Premium member

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.

The_Iceman

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