Common movie and TV mistakes - page 4

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: When someone's body is engulfed in flames, s/he must spend at least a couple seconds flailing arms in the air and making awkward leg movements (sometimes zombie-like) before falling to the ground.


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.


Other mistake: When a man proposes to a woman and gives her an engagement ring, it always fits perfectly on her finger.

Mike Lynch

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: Military characters who deliver incorrect or inaccurate salutes to each other. Real military personnel know how to deliver a proper salute.


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.

Other mistake: During a car chase, both vehicles are going flat out, but somehow there's always a higher gear they can shift to.

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: Lawyers making a scene in the courtroom, such as raising their voice or being forceful/threatening with a witness. This sort of behavior is never allowed. Even when the attorney has permission to treat a witness as "hostile", it doesn't mean they can scream and yell. Courtroom trials are in general very quiet affairs. Any emotional outbursts by an attorney could lead to a mistrial, as this sort of behavior can influence a jury. An attorney would never be given enough leeway to badger a witness until they break down and confess to a crime on the stand, no matter what evidence they present during questioning.


Other mistake: People are often seen knocking on someone's door only for it to be answered with 2 or 3 seconds regardless of the size of the house. The house could be the size of a mansion or a little 1 bed flat and response times are always around the same. 2 - 3 seconds.

Ssiscool Premium member

Factual error: Characters living in an expensive city (such as New York or San Francisco) and somehow being able to afford a spacious apartment that their job couldn't realistically pay for.

Phaneron Premium member

Deliberate mistake: Particularly in space-fantasy and science-fiction movies and television series, electronic control panels and components erupt in a shower of sparks when overloaded (as during space battles, collisions and technological failure scenes). Such furious sparking has been used in numerous futuristic films and TV shows dating from the mid-20th Century right up to the present. Of course, this sparking effect is intended to add "gee whiz" action and spectacle to otherwise mundane shots. But the implication is that advanced, futuristic technology idiotically neglects to incorporate electrical fuses or circuit breakers, which are designed to prevent equipment sparking and meltdown during power overloads. In reality, all of these control panels and electronic components should instantly and safely go dark and stop functioning as soon as the breakers are quietly tripped or the fuses are quietly blown.

Charles Austin Miller

Factual error: Wild animals are depicted to be much more violent and vicious than in reality. Truth be told, most wild animals will avoid and run from humans. Even wolf packs, snakes, and jungle cats will avoid humans out of fear.

Quantom X Premium member

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

Suggested correction: This is only a common mistake if this always happens in a situation where there is absolutely no way the animal can be aggressive. It can happen, especially with a wolf or snake, so in that movie it just happened. Not a common mistake then.


I can see your point. I guess it's not common enough to be considered a common mistake. It is almost always depicted this way in movies with wolves... Maybe the mistake is more about them then.

Quantom X Premium member

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.