Common movie and TV mistakes - page 3

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 taking cover behind very small / flimsy things, like car doors or wardrobes, dozens of bullets being fired at them, but they emerge unscathed.

Jon Sandys Premium member

Other mistake: Drivers are able to look directly at front or back seat passengers for relatively long periods of time (i.e, take their eyes off the road) but don't crash or veer off the road.


Factual error: In movie plots that take place hundreds or even thousands of years ago, the characters have perfectly white, straight teeth. It is a known fact that Queen Elizabeth I was virtually toothless by age 40. Good dental hygiene didn't really exist until after WWII. Some movies get it right, but only for the bad guys.


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Suggested correction: False teeth have been around for centuries; they could be made from a variety of materials including wood, porcelain, or even human teeth taken from corpses or people who willingly sold their teeth to make some quick cash. People with the means to do so could acquire them quite easily, and they were often indistinguishable from a person's own natural teeth.


Your reasoning is very weak. Yes, false teeth have been around for centuries, but even today with much better technology, with close observation you can tell someone has false teeth. Everyone knew G. Washington had false teeth. No, these characters from 500 years ago are not ALL wearing false teeth.


Australian Aboriginals have (had, before colonization) almost perfectly white, straight teeth and it's known that this is somehow related with their foraging diet. If it's true, then most people back ago could have almost perfect teeth too.

Furthermore, widespread tooth decay before great age was only a rich person's problem until refined sugar became cheap, so the peasants wouldn't have bad teeth either.


Tooth decay is not caused by refined sugars. Any carbohydrates will promote bacterial growth, which can cause tooth decay. Additionally acidic food and drinks and alcohol (which can be high in carbohydrates) can damage the teeth and promote bacterial growth. And the mistake is talking about movies in general with countless characters, not a few select characters with significant means.


Thanks for your response. You said it better than I could have.


I mostly agree with you, but I am talking about characters who are rich with perfectly white teeth (and more importantly) great gums - no recession. What I disagree is that only sugar causes teeth decay. Not true. Virtually all food breaks down into simple sugars with enzymes in your saliva.


Deliberate mistake: Characters who are being confined in an area (typically inside cages, prisons cells, et cetera) that provides enough space for the character to escape, but they still consider themselves stuck (e.g. the iron bars of a cage/prison cell having enough distance between each other to allow the character to squeeze through between them). This is more common in cartoons and animated films.


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.

Jon Sandys Premium member

Other mistake: Despite having killed two dozen people, the hero will always be allowed to walk away at the end without any police officer so much as taking a statement.


Revealing mistake: So many times people drinking coffee and similar from cups, they're empty. These cups are being tilted so much if they had any liquid in them it would be spilled everywhere. Or else the sound of the empty cup being put down is that of an empty cup, or else the cups are defying the laws of gravity which should be applying to full containers.

Factual error: Actors playing police, soldiers or agents who keep their fingers on the triggers of their firearms. In real life, trigger discipline is an early and repeated part of firearms training. This is often most obvious on movie posters. This mistake has become less common as military veterans started to become advisers to movie makers and actors have sometimes undergone training before filming begins.

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Suggested correction: Except in the case of Secret Service Agents on the Presidential detail who are trained to keep their finger inside the trigger guard any time they draw their weapons.

Not a counter-correction, but has this been seen in fictional shows about the Secret Service? Eg In The Line of Fire or Olympus Down. It could be an interesting mistake or trivia, depending on the era and accuracy of the show.

Yes, it was a plot point in Line of Fire, but I have no idea if the finger inside the trigger guard policy was made up or true. Your suggestion that this is an interesting mistake is a good one. I doubt the Secret Service will be giving us any confirmation on how they train their agents.

Factual error: When pistols are empty, the person holding it is often surprised when it clicks empty. In reality, the slide on semi-automatic pistols lock back when the gun runs empty, making it easy to see that you're out of ammo. Sometimes happens in movies, often doesn't.


Factual error: If a super speed character like Superman or Quicksilver grabbed and/or suddenly stopped people, such actions would most certainly kill the people they are trying to save. Taking them zero to hundreds of miles an hour or vice versa in a split second would snap necks, break bones, slosh brains, and pull apart limbs.

Quantom X Premium member

Factual error: Characters, typically the hero, can crash through windows without so much as getting a cut on them.

Phaneron Premium member

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Suggested correction: Depending on the age of the window, that's the whole point. Safety glass is designed to break in a way to stop people getting hurt.

Ssiscool Premium member

Not every window is made from safety glass. When was the last time you saw a movie where a main character crashed through a store window, office building window, house window, plate glass window, etc. and ended up getting shredded to ribbons?

Phaneron Premium member

You don't often see blood but items of clothing do get ripped. One example I can think of off the top of my head is The Last Stand where Arnie gets chucked through a glass door. His jacket gets rips on it.

Ssiscool Premium member

For whatever it's worth, the one time in my life I had to break through a window in an emergency situation, it was definitely not safety glass and I got some fairly deep cuts even though I thought I'd cleared away the pieces. Also in spite of everything I made sure to smash it with an object because I knew there was no way I was just going to be able to leap through a solid pane of glass, and I suspect even if I did I'd just end up impaling myself on a huge shard.


Factual error: In almost every sci-fi feature, things like explosions, laser blasts, ships colliding, asteroids hitting, and planets exploding, can all be heard. However in reality sound can not travel though empty space. So almost all of that would really be completely silent.

Quantom X Premium member

Deliberate mistake: Whenever someone needs to dump out someone's garbage because they're looking for something, it's always dry and clean, never disgusting.

Mike Lynch

Deliberate mistake: The criminal tells his evil plans to a priest, who is then unable to prevent a crime because of the "seal of the confessional." Yes, priests may not tell another what is heard in confession, however the 'seal' protects only those who seek absolution for past sins. Confessionals are not boxes into which you can tell a priest your dastardly plans and they can't do anything about it. There is no seal on this misuse of the confessional. Examples include 'Priest' (1994).


Factual error: Protagonists who have been able to clear their name after being framed, but only in the process of committing several other crimes, for which they receive no punishments. The law is still the law and crimes are all separate from each other committed in that time period.

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Suggested correction: This can be true or not. Prosecutors have a lot of discretion whether to prosecute a crime of not. If you help the police solve a crime that you were originally a suspect by committing another crime, as long as that crime is not murder (it can be self-defense) the prosecutor has discretion whether to prosecute.


Plus, in the case of common mistakes, they are not working with the police to clear their name. And just because they're not murdering people doesn't mean they're not assaulting people (outside the realm of self-defense). Plus, this common mistake is especially true for police officers kicked off the case and then break all sorts of police procedures with no consequences.


The only point I am making is that prosecutors do have discretion whether to prosecute crimes. If the crime is minor AND you helped the prosecutor with other more serious crimes, they can choose to not prosecute you for the minor crimes. The OP was vague as to what kind of additional crimes they committed. If murder, then I don't see how they get away with that just because they helped solve other crimes. It would depend on what kind of other crimes the protagonist committed.


I would have to disagree as your explanation leads to them being a vigilante acting outside of the law.

Quantom X Premium member

Factual error: Whenever police officers are involved in some kind of shooting while on duty, they are always kept on the case. They're never suspended or investigated by internal affairs. In real life, there's a full on investigation that takes months to make certain the officer in question was justified in the shooting, not to mention the intense media scrutiny surrounding the incident.


Factual error: When characters are knocked out with syringes or cloths, they almost immediately go under when actually it would take a few minutes, not seconds. Not to mention the likelihood of getting the dosage wrong and killing them, not knocking them out.

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Suggested correction: This can be done by an experienced shooter.

Ssiscool Premium member

It takes more than an experienced shooter to shoot open a padlock with a gun. You need to use the right gun, and the right bullet.

An experienced shooter will never take the risk of a ricochet or shrapnel from doing such a thing.

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