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.

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.

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Suggested correction: Generally, people aren't thinking too forwardly or rationally when someone they're pursuing is about to get away. Their lizard-brain just thinks "getting away -> chase," not considering how unlikely (though not impossible) it is for them to either catch up with the car before it fully accelerates or when it makes a turn, then either pull the driver out of the car or jump on the car.

The person acts on instinct. Many people would do the same in real life.

Catwalk Premium member

Character mistake: The victim will wait for the antagonist to finish a speech or villain song, rather than attempt to kill them while their guard is down. It's only the hero unexpectantly bursting in that won't wait for them to be done.

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

Character mistake: Characters will often tell other characters information they already know or overload them with far more information than they need or would even be natural to say or come up in conversation simply for the sake of exposition for the audience.

Quantom X Premium member

Character mistake: "Romantic" gestures which would actually get you arrested for stalking. Tracking down where someone lives and trying to sneak into their back yard with a bunch of flowers would get the cops called on you, not invited in for coffee.

Character mistake: Soldiers leaving the foldable stocks of their weapons folded, despite knowing that they are going into a combat situation. Particularly affects the MP-40 wielded by the Germans in WWII movies, but also some modern examples like the MP5 and the G36. Automatic weapons are difficult to control at the best of times, there is no reason a trained soldier would deprive themselves of this extra bit of accuracy.


Character mistake: Police officers or people with similar training never securing weapons that are on the floor or lying motionless, especially lying next to a fatally wounded character.

Character mistake: People almost never say goodbye when hanging up phones, even at times any normal person would 'sign off' in some way.

Quantom X Premium member

Character mistake: Mainly in Old West films, actors who are portraying barbers very frequently sharpen their straight-razors the wrong way, flipping the blade with its sharp edge against the strop. This would instantly dull and damage the razor's edge. No real barber would make such a clumsy mistake, but it's a common movie error.

Charles Austin Miller

Character mistake: Chess boards being set up wrongly, or pieces being in places that make no sense and they would never have got there in the course of a normal game.

Character mistake: When someone gets shot and the first thing people try to do is remove the bullet, often with a knife and no anesthetic.


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Suggested correction: This commonly happens but this is not a mistake. What is wrong with removing the bullet with a knife and no anesthetic. Many times the characters don't have access to a medical facility with all the accoutrements to remove a bullet or don't want to go to a hospital where bullet wounds are reported to law enforcement.


It seems my original entry was edited to make it more brief. But in real life, bullets are not commonly removed because there's no need. The bullet is not the concern, it's the hole the bullet caused that's the concern. They (and more specific to what I was trying to suggest, they as in medical experts) are increasing the risk factors for no viable reason and are never addressing the main cause for concern. And the point of not using anesthetic is they are increasing the risk factors even more for an already pointless surgery.


Character mistake: People who carry a loaded pistol, or keep a loaded pistol next to them, that never have a round in the chamber, just so the character can cock it right before a shootout. Or when a round is suppose to be in the chamber and the person cocks the gun anyways and no round is ejected.


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Suggested correction: On the first point, this is not a mistake. Proper gun handing would dictate that you don't have a round in the chamber until you are going to use the gun. On your second point, you are assuming too much that there is a round in the chamber.


Proper gun handling would be to use the safety. It's ridiculous for a character to keep an unchambered gun that they're planning on using, or think they might use. On the second point, I'm not assuming anything. I'm saying when it's suppose to be chambered because we saw it chambered, or it was fired and a round was chambered, etc. I didn't say when it's assumed to be chambered.


You are right that it would be ridiculous for a character to keep an unchambered gun they are planning on using, but that is not my point. My point is that proper gun safety would be to not normally keep a round in the chamber unless you were going to use it. Cocking the gun shows the audience he intends on using it. Before that, you didn't know his intent. On the second point, OK, you provided additional clarification.


Character mistake: When kids/teenagers have something urgent or important to tell adults (especially parents), the adults say "uh-huh" but aren't really listening OR do not believe the kids even though they are telling the truth. Adults might view the alleged event as a joke ("The Chumscrubber"), too far-fetched ("Eight-Legged Freaks" and "Dog Gone"), an emotional reaction ("Good Boys"), or due to an overactive imagination, often attributed to watching scary movies ("Home Alone III" and "Diary of a Wimpy Kid").


Character mistake: Someone kills an opponent with a sword, then immediately sheathes it without even a cursory wipe. That'll ruin their scabbard and probably rust up the blade too.

Character mistake: A lawyer in an American court will object to part of a witness' testimony and when the judge sustains it, the lawyer does not move for the objectionable testimony to be stricken from the record. In real life, if a judge sustains a lawyer's objection to a testimony, the lawyer will request the testimony be stricken from the record, otherwise it will be fair game for the opposing counsel to refer back to that testimony later in the trial.

Phaneron Premium member

Character mistake: When someone tries to call another person's cell phone in an emergency situation and it goes to voicemail, but they just keep calling over and over (with or without leaving a message). They never try sending a text message or similar, they just repeat the same pattern despite knowing the other person isn't answering.


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