Factual error: Most ventilation ducts are not large enough for a person to crawl around in, and any duct large enough for an adult to fit in wouldn't be able to support the person's weight. In the rare event that a company could afford a large ventilation system that could support a person's weight, they would likely forgo it anyway, as it would pose a security risk.
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.
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: Knocking someone out by hitting them in the head is in no way a "safe" means to incapacitate them. Leaving a person unconscious after a head injury is extremely dangerous and can lead to death. It is absurd for a hero who doesn't want to kill anyone to go around punching people out and just walking away.
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.
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: Someone gets punched in the face or otherwise knocked out and comes around hours later, then goes 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.
Factual error: Babies being born and looking a) much older than newborns, b) not covered in blood and gunk, and c) perfectly normal skin colour. Often no mention of cutting a cord or delivering the placenta either.
Factual error: In many action movies someone will instantly kill a man by approaching them from behind, grabbing their cheek, and twisting their head to the side, breaking their neck. The move is even frequently used one-handed. The torque required to actually break a neck this way is enormous and would require much more leverage than simply standing behind someone and twisting their head. Neck cranks are certainly real but they are done in a more traditional "head-lock" style on a grounded opponent. Also, a broken neck is not always fatal, let alone instantly fatal. A broken neck is not even an assured knock-out, so it is absurd to use this move as an effective "stealth kill" in spy movies.
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: Characters gain access to secure facilities using a single thing: a stolen ID card, fingerprint on sticky tape etc, but with no second factor to verify identity like a PIN code. This might be appropriate for something low key like the back room of a store but in thrilling shows the characters are usually trying to get into places like the CIA or high tech laboratories. In real life, higher level security access controls include at least two factors to reduce the risk of unauthorized entry. This is often a deliberate mistake by movie makers as it would slow the story down to describe multiple security measures and show how the characters gain everything needed for access. Exceptions are movies like Mission Impossible or Sneakers where this sort of complexity is part of the plot.
Factual error: It's common in movies and shows, and even games sometimes, to see characters effortlessly lifting manhole covers. Usually when climbing out from them or even just walking up and lifting them with bare hands. In the case of the TMNT, where they have enhanced strength, it's a little more believable. However, in real life these lids are super heavy and usually require a crane or other heavy equipment to lift.
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: 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.
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