National Treasure

Corrected entry: The main characters in the movie time and time again touched the document without gloves. The oils on their hands would have caused this old document to crumble.

Correction: Actually, this is incorrect. Although the Declaration of Independence would have undoubtedly been more fragile than was portrayed in the movie, the handling of documents with bare hands do not do any damage to the document as long as the hands are relatively clean. In fact, the National Archives, when restoring antique and ancient documents actually use their bare hands because gloves eliminate tactile comprehension and actually do more harm than good since the wearer is less sensitive to the impact their hands have on the document. Documents much older than the Declaration of Independence, such as one of the original Magna Cartas (from 1215, more than 500 years before the Declaration was written) have also been held with restorers' and historians' bare hands with no damage.

Corrected entry: A cashier tells Ben that the copy of Declaration of Independence costs $35. Copies of the Declaration of Independence are not, and never have been that expensive. Copies of the Declaration of Independence cost $9.99, not $35.

Correction: There's no universal law that says copies can only cost $9.99. Aside from artistic license invalidating this as a mistake, they may have decided to increase the price of the copies for this event since it was a gala being attended by wealthy people.

Phaneron Premium member

Corrected entry: Ben, Abigail and Riley are able to escape by a stealing his father's Cadillac De ville. The Cadillac De ville has an OnStar system that would allow the FBI to track them and intercept them, ruining any chances of escape for the three. The FBI would ask Ben's father what kind of car he has, and he would tell them. On star systems are very difficult to disable, taking several hours. By then, the FBI probably would gotten to Ben's father's house before Ben, Abigail, and Riley could escape.

Correction: It is quite possible the OnStar system was deactivated / disconnected long before Ben and the others took it. You unsubscribe, remove the fuse and disconnect the wires on the onstar box. Nobody would be able to track it.


So unsubscribing, removing the fuse, and disconnecting the wires on the OnStar box doesn't take very long?

We have no idea when it was unsubscribed from, disabled or for what reason - could have been months earlier. Whether it's a quick or slow process is irrelevant if it was done in the past. Onstar isn't free as an ongoing service - maybe his dad didn't think it was worth the money so cancelled it ages ago.

Jon Sandys Premium member

Correction: By the time the FBI released Ben's father, they were far ahead of them, most likely ditched the car since we didn't see it later in the film, and the FBI did catch up with them. Ben got arrested.


We do see the car later. FBI says "they found the car." And Ben is pushed against it to be arrested by the FBI.

Correction: How could have the FBI gotten to Ben's father's house before they did? They didn't steal the car until after they figured things out, and the FBI would have no way of knowing anything about the car.

Corrected entry: In the scene where Abigail and Riley are running from the bad guys, Riley bumps into some people but Abigail runs into traffic and drops the Declaration of Independence, which is in just a clear, plastic cover. In the next shot, after she's almost hit by a truck, Ian comes and picks up the Declaration of Independence, which is now in a white container; he even unscrews the lid to take out the Declaration.

Correction: I was watching this scene just as I was reading this entry, and wound it back several times. Abigail always has the white hard-shell container, and that is what she drops. She does not have the Declaration only in a clear plastic sleeve.

Corrected entry: When Ben, Riley, Ian and Shaw are on the Charlotte after Ben rolls the pipe with his blood on it in the notebook, somehow, the start of the clue is at the top of the notebook and it ends at the right place. How did Ben start rolling at exactly the right point on the pipe?

Correction: Pure coincidence. Not a mistake, just really good luck. And suspension of disbelief is a common film technique, so a lot of other great films would be wrong if this was counted as a mistake.

Corrected entry: When Ben and company finally find the national treasure, among the artifacts present are what appear to be Egyptian statues. America was not involved in Egyptology at the time of the Founding Fathers. Napoleon Bonaparte's invasion of Egypt introduced Egyptology to Europe in the early 1800's, but there is no record of the United States acquiring Egyptian treasures at that time.

Correction: The whole movie is based on secrets and conspiracies. In this vein, the treasures the US got were kept secret.


This treasure traded hands between many groups, including Egyptians, and I believe this was also shown in the opening scene.

Corrected entry: When Ben and Riley are trying to figure out Abagail's password to enter the room with the Declaration, Riley reads the result "Valley Frog", seen onscreen. Ben says it's "Valley Forge" and that she pressed the E and L twice. This suggests that Riley's password cracking program does not account for the fact that the letters can be used twice. If this is true, then "Valley Frog" should not have been a result in Riley's program because it has two L's.

Correction: This is not a mistake. The program Riley is using displays, "VALEY FROG, " not, "VALLEY FROG." Ben realizes it's Valley Forge because Riley said, "Valley frog, " but didn't spell it over their radio and Ben didn't actually see how it was misspelled. "She pressed the E and the L twice, " is what Ben says as he's figuring it out because of the fact that he knows Riley is reading a misspelled version of Valley because of Frog.

Correction: Passwords do not need to be real words. Also, if you do an online search on "valey," you get a number of hits (some are misspellings of "valley," but others are real words).

Noman Premium member

Correction: But Valey is not a word so the program shouldn't have even listed it as a result.

Valey is a last name of about 1000 people in the United States so could be included in a password cracking dictionary. I found it in my password cracking dictionary.

Corrected entry: In a scene near the end, Ben sticks the bottom of the pipe into a lock device on the wall and is able to easily spin it counter-clockwise to open the door. This lock device has been deep underground for well over 200 years, and he's able to spin it with a flimsy pipe with one hand? Why hasn't it rusted?

Correction: While the locking mechanism is metal, it takes both moisture and high enough levels of oxygen to oxidize. Neither of which would be in significant quantities in an underground tomb which had been sealed for a couple of centuries. It also doesn't mean it was steel. It could just as easily have been aluminum or titanium - for both of which the mining processes were new to that period of time.

Corrected entry: When Riley writes "S,S,A,N,D" on the paper, the kid points out how odd his N's are. But when he looks over the whole message, there are two normally written N's.

Brad Premium member

Correction: The kid points out just the one letter "N", not any of the other "N"'s. It's just the one "N" that's unusual.

And he might be making just one N different in case someone finds the paper. "It's a cipher"

Corrected entry: The Knights Templar are mentioned a number of times during the film as if they were part of Freemasonry. They were not. They were a Catholic order of Knights who were originally established in the 1100's to protect the Holy Land. They had nothing to do with Freemasonry.

Correction: Or so they want you to think. Actually there have been many theories that the Knights Templar continued on to form many modern day institutions, including the Freemasons. In any case this falls under artistic license.


By this theory, they also took form as many other more ancient groups, and is currently the Illuminati.

Corrected entry: When Ben trades the cashier the one-hundred dollar bill back for his watch, she doesn't put the money back in the register.

Correction: When they are walking away from the cashier, though it's out of focus a bit you can see the cashier replace the bill into the register.

Corrected entry: When the whole group is underneath Trinity Church they give Ian Howe another clue. Patrick Gates tells him: "signal Paul Revere that the British were coming, one if by land, 2 if by sea." When Howe is gone, Dr. Chase asks: "what's going on? If the British came by sea was 2 lanterns, not one." That's exactly what Gates said, so no point for Chase to 'correct' old Gates. One of the two should have said it the other way round.

Ronnie Bischof

Correction: She didn't say "If the British came by sea was 2 lanterns, not one." She said, "the British came by sea, two lanterns." When Patrick Gates gave Ian the fake clue he said: "The Olde North Church in Boston where Robert Newman hung a lantern in the steeple to warn Paul Revere that the British were coming, one if by land, two if by sea, one lantern." He specifically said "one lantern" because there was one lantern hanging in the room ("the lantern is the clue"). When Chase corrected him, she was talking about how, according to history, there were in fact TWO lanterns hanging in the steeple of the Olde North Church, not one like Patrick had said.

Corrected entry: When Ben is escaping from the National Archives with the Declaration of Independence, he has to pay for it at the gift shop. As seen later in the film, the gift shop does use bar codes. Why would the cashier not have scanned the real document for a bar code?

Correction: It is entirely possible to ring up a purchase without scanning a barcode. Especially if the item does not have one. There are plenty of explanations for why the cashier didn't scan a barcode for the real document: It's simple to assume that after noticing the sleeve didn't have a barcode, the cashier could have just entered the transaction manually... Some gift shops keep barcodes for commonly purchased items affixed to the counter or somewhere else easily accessible, in order to save time, instead of looking for one on the item, they just scan the code on the counter... Ben ended up buying an actual souvenir copy off screen. The cashier could have scanned the souvenir copy twice.

Corrected entry: When Ben escapes from the police, the helicopter pilot says "sir, this is the Hudson, nothing is visible." However, the Hudson river spans from upstate New York to New York City area, not Philadelphia. The river they should have referred to is the Delaware River.

Correction: They jumped from the Intrepid which is in New York City (on the Hudson).

Corrected entry: When Ben, Riley, and Abigail show up at Ben's fathers house, the screen shows a title stating they are now in Philadelphia, PA. However, when Ben's father confesses that he donated the Silence letters, he says "I donated them to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia." Normally when you tell someone where something is, you don't include the city if you are located in that city at the time. (Not to mention that I'm sure Ben knows exactly where that museum is anyway). This coincides with the next scene where you see sky shots of downtown Philadelphia and the Ben Franklin Bridge, implying they are driving into the downtown area. That means they would be coming in from New Jersey. Maybe Ben's father is supposed to be living in Jersey somewhere, and not in Philadelphia.

Correction: As a somewhat educational film targeted at a family audience, this line is written this way to make it clear to the viewers, many of them children, that the Franklin Institute is in Philadelphia. Perhaps a better way to have worded it would be "I gave them to the Franklin Institute, right here in Philadelphia" or something similar. Regardless, awkward dialogue is not a movie mistake.


Corrected entry: When Gates is walking towards the room where the Declaration of Independence is, he is wearing nothing on his hands, but when he is pulling the sheet off of the glass frame he is wearing white gloves.

Correction: Actually Ben has the white gloves on when he is reading off the letters of Abigail's password before he enters the preservation room.

Corrected entry: When describing the Ottendorf cipher, Ben says the groups of three numbers on the back of the Declaration represent words and mentions that the numbers stand for page-line-word, yet the child ends up reading individual letters from the Silence Dogood letters.

Correction: The Ottendorf Cipher used in the film is actually "the page of the key text, the line on the page and the letter in that line." He does say word a little earlier, but I think he's just being vague and goes on to clarify.

Corrected entry: Near the beginning of the movie, while inside the Charlotte, Ben says "on the back of a resolution". How does he know the secret coding is on the back of a document?

Correction: The last line of the riddle on the pipe's stem reads, "Mr. Matlack can't offend." As Ben says at the beginning of the aforementioned sentence, "And to make sure he [Mr. Matlack] could not offend the map..." This means that, had the map been on the same side that Timothy Matlack had written on, the map would have been ruined (offended). So it was drawn on the back.

Corrected entry: After cracking the clue of Silent Dogood letters, while leaving the shopping mall, Riley asks Ben and Abigail, "Who was the first to propose daylight saving time?". They reply "Benjamin Franklin". But, it was George Vernon Hudson in 1895. (Source: Wikipedia).

Correction: George Vernon Hudson is credited with proposing the modern system of daylight savings time. Ben Franklin initially suggested anonymously in a letter the idea of saving candles by rising with the sun.

Phaneron Premium member

Corrected entry: Having recently visited the National Archives, I find it amazing that Ben and Riley entered the Archives as much as they did. Entry to the National Archives requires waiting in a very long line which takes hours and getting into the rotunda where the Charters of Freedom are requires waiting in line as well. I don't think that Ben and Riley had that much time on their hands.

Brad Premium member

Correction: I too have been to the National Archives and there was never a line for me. It depends on what time of year you go. You must have gone during vacation season.

Phixius Premium member

Factual error: As Ben is clinging to the staircase while it is falling apart, there is a close-up of a nail being pulled out of the wood. This nail is round-headed, rather than square as it would have been over 200 years ago. It's also shiny instead of rusty, which indicates that it's galvanized. Galvanization as an industrial, metal-preservation process was not patented until 1837, and was not used in building materials until well into the late-1800s. Since the film states the staircase was made by "the Founding Fathers, " and there was no galvanization of iron nails in any industrialized nation in 1780s-1830's, this is a huge anachronism.

More mistakes in National Treasure

FBI: Here are your options. Door number one you go to prison for a very long time, door number two you help us get back the declaration from Ian, and you'll still go to prison for a very long time, but you'll feel good inside.
Ben Gates: Is there a door that doesn't lead to prision?
FBI: Someone's gotta go to prison, Ben.

More quotes from National Treasure

Trivia: When Ben is talking to Riley in front of the Lincoln Memorial, you see a long pool behind them. This pool is filled with computer generated water, because the pool was drained at the time of shooting.

More trivia for National Treasure

Join the mailing list

Separate from membership, this is to get updates about mistakes in recent releases. Addresses are not passed on to any third party, and are used solely for direct communication from this site. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Check out the mistake & trivia books, on Kindle and in paperback.