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.

Audio problem: Characters holding conversations on board aircraft where they wouldn't normally be audible such as military helicopters or cargo planes. In real life those are loud places where people wear hearing protection and communicate with radios or built in comms. (Not a mistake for luxury helicopters or airliner size cargo planes with sound proofing).

Factual error: Characters gain access to secure facilities using a single thing: a stolen ID card, fingerprint on sticky tape etc, but with no second factor to verify identity like a PIN code. This might be appropriate for something low key like the back room of a store but in thrilling shows the characters are usually trying to get into places like the CIA or high tech laboratories. In real life, higher level security access controls include at least two factors to reduce the risk of unauthorized entry. This is often a deliberate mistake by movie makers as it would slow the story down to describe multiple security measures and show how the characters gain everything needed for access. Exceptions are movies like Mission Impossible or Sneakers where this sort of complexity is part of the plot.

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: Helicopters appearing from out of nowhere and surprising characters. Helicopters are loud enough to be heard from a considerable distance and will also vibrate the ground/buildings/homes if they are flying low enough. The only feasible way a person can be surprised by the sudden appearance of a helicopter would be if they are deaf.

Phaneron Premium member

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: Computers, security keypads, cellular devices, etc. that make loud beeps with each button press or mouse click and every image popping up on the device screen accompanied by a loud sound effect. Working in an office where computers make as much noise as they do in films and TV would drive the average person mad.


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.

Deliberate mistake: Common in shows from the 60s to the 90s, the rear view mirror is missing from most cars. A deliberate mistake for several possible reasons: Mirrors might block the actors, they might show reflections of crew and equipment and sometimes scenes were filmed with the windscreen removed, taking the mirror with it (for instance if the car is filmed while stationary or mounted on a trailer).

Factual error: People are often watching or staring at the explosion of a nuclear bomb as it goes off, and witness the mushroom cloud form. In reality, the flash from this explosion would be so bright that it would cause instant, and usually permanent blindness. True Lies is a notable exception to this rule where Arnie specifically protects their eyes as the bomb goes off.

Quantom X Premium member

Deliberate mistake: In almost every movie with shootouts, highly trained soldiers, or experienced mercenaries or thugs suddenly get "Storm Trooper Aim" when shooting at the heroes. Even cops do this where they have clear shots of people running away from them, often times multiple of them with fully automatic weapons firing rapidly at a semi close target and somehow just hit all around them and even the ground.

Quantom X Premium member

Factual error: Whenever someone flatlines and a doctor (or nurse) grabs the defibrillator and is able to shock the person back to life. Defibrillators only work when the person still has a heartbeat, but the heart is in fibrillation. And even when doctors do use a defibrillator, they still perform regular CPR afterwards, which is rarely (if ever) shown being done. Usually in the film or show, the person comes back to life, sits up, and takes a huge gulp of air as if they had been holding their breath underwater.

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: The spirit of this entry is correct - defibrillation is WAY overused to add drama - but the facts are wrong. First, defibrillators are rarely used unless there is electrical activity but no heartbeat, as is the case when fibrillation is occurring. In fibrillation, the heart is not beating, only twitching without rhythm. CPR is never done after restoring the heartbeat, no doctor would perform compressions on traumatized heart. Finally, most patients suffer serious complications after defibrillation. A patient who jumps up after defib only happens... in the movies.

I did oversimplify when I said heartbeat. But a twitching heart is different than a completely stopped heart. And the point of the entry is the fact that defibrillation machines are over used and patients don't jump up afterwards, which you only confirmed, so the correction is unnecessary. And, where do you get your information about not performing CPR? The general consensus is to do CPR. Here's a short article. Again, this correction is unneeded.


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.


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.

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.

Factual error: Padlocks being shot off or unlocked by gunfire.

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

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.

Revealing mistake: In driving scenes, the driver of the car usually has very over exaggerated movements of his or her hands on the steering wheel. When in reality you're not moving it that noticeably except a few micro corrections every few seconds or taking turns.

Quantom X Premium member

Deliberate mistake: Characters in super hero movies commonly wearing only a small mask over their eyes which somehow keeps people from identifying them. Despite the fact that most of their facial features and hair styles are visible and recognizable. Great examples being Robin, Green Lantern, The Lone Ranger, and The Incredibles.

Quantom X Premium member

Factual error: Babies being born and looking a) much older than newborns, b) not covered in blood and gunk, and c) perfectly normal skin colour. Often no mention of cutting a cord or delivering the placenta either.

Factual error: Using a car door as a shield for bullets. They're really thin and you'd be shot right through them really easily.

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.


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