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.

Corrected entry: When men wake up in the morning they often look clean shaven.

Mike Lynch

Correction: The speed at which facial hair grows is not the same for every man. I can shave my face and still look clean shaven two or three days later.

Phaneron Premium member

Correction: Also, key word is look. Some men have light colored facial hair that doesn't reveal itself to the eye. But can to the touch.

dizzyd

Corrected entry: Whenever a character comes home at night to their house or apartment, every single light has been left on.

Mike Lynch

Correction: I wouldn't really call this a mistake. Especially depending on the area they live. Often times people leave their lights on when they are away to make it appear that people are still home so it's less likely they get broken into and robbed.

Quantom X Premium member

Agreed. My family frequently left lights and/or the TV on when we were away when I was growing up.

Phaneron Premium member

Also agree. It's not uncommon to see especially in more rural areas.

Ssiscool Premium member

Yes, leaving lights on in your home when you're away is normal, but it seems that every single light in every room is a common occurrence in movies and TV shows.

Mike Lynch

Could you give some examples? I don't remember ever seeing this happen. It certainly doesn't happen every time.

Corrected entry: Despite being a lawyer, architect or whatever, the male character will have a garage filled with high end, spotlessly clean tools.

The_Iceman

Correction: Several issues with this entry being a mistake: - first, how often do we actually see this? If this has happened in some shows, perhaps it would be better expressed as a mistake in those specific shows, instead of 'common'. - second, why a male character? Can't female characters have tools in a garage? - third, the writers may have given the character shiny tools for a reason: the character is wealthy but still handy; they feel they needed to buy the tools to project an image even if they don't use them; they like buying shiny toys (the character does the same with the kitchen or home cinema); somebody else in the family uses them; the character has a hobby or a long term DIY project, etc.

To me, it's a mistake because it almost always feels out of place for the character, their life, lifestyle etc.

The_Iceman

Again, do you have an example?

lionhead

Correction: How is that a mistake?

Ssiscool Premium member

A garage full of top of the range, specific, expensive and spotlessly clean tools? How many lawyers, office executives etc do you know who perform sophisticated diy projects on a regular basis to need a whole garage full of tools like that?

The_Iceman

My brother is a CFO and he built a treehouse for his kids by himself. He has a garage full of nice tools which are kept clean. Clean tools are long lasting tools.

Bishop73

Can you give an example?

lionhead

Corrected entry: Whenever the antagonist tells the protagonist to kill him/her, the protagonist doesn't do it but simply lets the antagonist live and walks away. Big mistake because the antagonist will definitely come back for revenge. If the protagonist just killed the antagonist when he/she asks to die, that would give the protagonist a quicker victory.

Correction: In most films I see this in, the protagonist is better than the antagonist and isn't a cold-blooded murderer. The protagonist is content with letting the judicial system take care of punishment. It's when the antagonist escapes police custody or is found not guilty he or she comes back for revenge. There are many movies where the protagonist then kills the antagonist, but only in self defense of life.

Bishop73

Corrected entry: Whenever someone comes home with some groceries, a baguette is frequently seen sticking out of the bag.

Mike Lynch

Correction: How is this a mistake? It's more of an observation that an actual mistake.

Ssiscool Premium member

Correction: This is more of a cliché.

Phaneron Premium member

Corrected entry: A more recent goof in the action and spy thriller genres, a group of henchmen setting out on a mission in black SUVs will be tailgating each other. If any car other than the one in the rear were to slam on their brakes, it could potentially cause a pileup.

Phaneron Premium member

Correction: Some police and military teams practise driving fast and close to prevent other vehicles coming between the ones in the convoy. Since the bad guys in current movies are often shown to be ex-military, this may be the reason they drive like that. That's speculation but it is no more or less credible than them being licensed to carry automatic weapons or explosives. Depends on the quality of the movie and the willing suspension of disbelief of the audience.

The difference being that police and military teams will be sanctioned to drive like that. In addition to being a dangerous driving habit, tailgating is also illegal. So henchmen and mercenaries driving like that in civilian vehicles could also draw the attention of law enforcement who could pull them over and put a monkey wrench in their mission plans, especially if they discover illegal weapons.

Phaneron Premium member

Corrected entry: It's very common for shows, games, or movies that take place after the end of the world to still show people using fossil fuels like gasoline and diesel in vehicles. However, with the production of gas having ended, this could not last very long. Even when properly stored, civilian gas supplies would go bad and be unusable after about a year, diesel a little longer but not by much. Private stashes of gas, like in cans, would only last about 5 months. And the military supplies of gas would, at best, last for 5 years.

Quantom X Premium member

Correction: Stored gasoline is typically treated with fuel stabilizer (about 2 ounces of stabilizer will treat 5 gallons of gasoline and prolong its shelf-life by years). All of my stored gasoline is treated with stabilizer, and I've used cans that are 5 years old and older. Even untreated gasoline can have a remarkably long shelf-life: Some years ago, I sold an old Volvo that had been sitting in my garage with a dead battery for 11 years; the buyer brought a fresh battery and installed it just to test the starter, to see if the engine was frozen. To everyone's amazement, the old car immediately started, revved and purred like a kitten, burning the gasoline in its tank from over a decade earlier.

Charles Austin Miller

Correction: This all highly depends on the quality of the gasoline and the amount of ethanol and its exposure to oxygen. I've heard about jerrycans of gasoline 25 years old still usable. It's also possible to purify the gasoline again so it's usable by filtering it. Don't need a huge refinery for small amounts.

lionhead

But then again, the common person or every day man wouldn't know how to do these things. Use of gas after the apocalypse is too common in films.

Quantom X Premium member

Usually plenty of people around to figure it out. On a small scale at least.

lionhead

Corrected entry: Particularly in sitcoms, characters will talk about another character behind their back while still being in the same room and talking at a normal speaking level, but the character being talked about somehow never hears anything.

Phaneron Premium member

Correction: Considering the fact that most sitcoms are recorded in front of a live audience, I wouldn't really say this is a mistake. Like in a live play, it needs to be heard by the audience. Also it's more of a cheat than a mistake, with the implications that they are speaking low enough that the person in question can't hear them but the person they are speaking to closer can. If anything, you might could consider this a Deliberate mistake. However it's more just a result of the style of the medium.

Quantom X Premium member

I don't see how doing this for the benefit of a live audience invalidates this as a mistake, especially since the actors could just as well go into another "room" on the set to have their conversation. If you are speaking at a normal volume and the person five feet away from you can't hear you, unless they are dead or hard of hearing, then it's a legitimate mistake, deliberate or otherwise.

Phaneron Premium member

*deaf or hard of hearing.

Phaneron Premium member

I agree. If you think they characters are talking too loudly not to be heard, turn down the volume of your TV till you can't hear them from across the room.

Bishop73

Corrected entry: Unless the character is being portrayed as a bumbling oaf then their car is always spotlessly clean inside and out. No empty sweet wrappers, drinks cans, receipts, window streaks etc.

The_Iceman

Correction: How is this a mistake? Clean people do exist and it is not a mistake to want to film them. Cleanliness is a virtue, and the films might want to deliberately exploit the fact. Women with hourglass-shaped bodies? Now, that's a mistake.

FleetCommand

Every single person? I've never, in my life, been inside a spotlessly clean car.

The_Iceman

Bear in mind the vast majority of the time we aren't shown the entirety of the car. My car's pretty clean but has bits of leaves, etc. in the footwell because I never clean there - no movie ever shows the footwells! I don't throw random garbage around the inside either, it gets put in the side pockets, again, not somewhere that tends to be of great focus in movies.

Jon Sandys Premium member

Films are intended to bend reality. Wanting to have clean cars in the film is not automatically a mistake. It is at best a cliche or trope. Sometimes, it is advocacy.

FleetCommand

Corrected entry: Movies, and TV shows often treat jails and prisons as if they are the same thing. They're not. Jails are typically run by local law enforcement, and local government agencies, and are designed to hold inmates awaiting trial or serving short sentences for misdemeanor crimes. Prisons on the other hand are facilities typically operated by either a state government, the federal bureau of prisons. Prisons are designed to hold inmates serving longer term sentences for more serious crimes.

Correction: This is not necessarily a film/script mistake. Even the American English speakers, who have this distinction often speak in metonymy and metaphor a lot. For example, when they say "it won't make a difference when you go to jail", they really mean "it won't make a difference when the authorities catch you." It does not matter whether the culprit is sent to a jail, sent to a prison, incarcerated at home, receives capital punishment or is forced to pay fines and do community service.

FleetCommand

How do you know if they are speaking in metonymy, and metaphor, and don't actually believe jail and prison are the same thing?

How do you know if they aren't? (After all, the burden of proof is on the proposer.) Actually, how do you it is not because the character is dumb, illiterate or non-American?

FleetCommand

Because I've talked to people who call jail prison. And they told me jail and prison are the same thing, which isn't true.

Then what you are reporting is not a movie mistake in the first place. Real-world languages evolve and there are people who don't go with the change; they'd rather argue with others who do. I've already had enough of the argument of "freeway vs. Highway." Or the argument about the meaning of "nauseous."

FleetCommand

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