Revealing mistake: When Clarice is at the archive, she sees two articles, one entitled "Baltimore Psychiatrist Receives Highest Honor" and "New horrors in 'Cannibal Trial'." The column beneath both titles to the right is exactly the same, and in the first article, that same column is repeated at the leftmost and rightmost columns and in the second, is repeated at the rightmost column. That same column is scattered on every article she sees. (00:21:35)
Plot hole: It makes absolutely no sense that there would be over a dozen cops and soldiers in the lobby of the courthouse and leave only two cops to guard Lecter regardless that he was locked in the makeshift cell. Yes the plot needs a reason for him to easily escape but this still goes against every conceivable protocol for such a dangerous prisoner especially when there were dozens of armed personnel just in the scene alone when he was being transferred from the plane.
Continuity mistake: In the scene in the hangar at Memphis airport, Senator Martin's hair keeps changing in each return shot. (01:02:55)
Continuity mistake: When they find out Lecter is on the elevator, they look down the shaft at him and there is quite a lot of blood on his back, so much that it even reaches down to his belt. However when they open the elevator shaft and the body falls down, there is only a small amount of blood on his back. (01:23:40 - 01:24:50)
Continuity mistake: When Clarice tries to push up the blocked door of the self storage container she puts her gloves on her lap. In the next scene the gloves have disappeared. (00:24:15)
Factual error: Many of the vehicles in the movie have Pennsylvania inspection stickers on the lower driver's side windshield. This is not surprising being that most of the movie was filmed in Pennsylvania. However, they should have been removed when the car is suppose to be from another state. For example, the Senator's daughter, just before her abduction in Tennessee, is seen driving a car with Pennsylvania inspection stickers. Also, the driver for Yourself Storage in Baltimore also has Pennsylvania stickers on his car.
Continuity mistake: At the beginning when Clarice is jogging through the woods, the sweat on her sweatshirt varies from shot to shot.
Continuity mistake: When Clarice is searching the basement, the first door she approaches is hinged on the left and opens towards her. She opens it, and it turns into a door that has the hinges on the right and opens away from her. (01:43:50)
Factual error: In the scene with the ambulance in Memphis, the Tennessee license plate on the ambulance says Davidson County. Memphis is in Shelby County, while Davidson County is Nashville. (01:21:33)
Continuity mistake: While travelling from the post mortem examination, Clarice is in the back seat speaking to her boss. In going back and forth in conversation, her hair changes from being curled up to being curled under, all in one swift change. This is a different style and not done as could be by running your fingers through your hair as the camera cut away. (00:37:45)
Character mistake: Dissecting the chrysalis, Dr. Roden says that "Somebody grew this guy. Fed him honey and nightshade." Nightshade is indeed one of the typical plants eaten by the Death's head moth, but since "he" is only a pupa, would have not eaten honey, which is something only the adult specimen eats. (00:48:50)