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: 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.

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Factual error: In movies, TV shows, cartoons, and videogames people are often depicted as standing right next to molten lava or magma. Frequently walking or fighting next to it, getting inches away or only a few feet above it. In reality the heat coming off it alone would cause people's clothes and skin to catch fire and burn their lungs just from being within like 20 feet of lava.

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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.

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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.

Factual error: The importance of leaving a crime scene undisturbed is greatly exaggerated in films and TV. Crime scenes are often disturbed deliberately by responding police officers. Immediate safety and the preservation of life are paramount to all other concerns. If a body is found, the scene must be secured to be sure a suspect is not still present and the area is safe; this often involves searching through the scene itself. The body must also be inspected to be certain the victim is deceased and doesn't require medical attention; this act often involves moving the body. The idea of police stopping anyone from going anywhere near a crime scene until forensic examiners arrive is a movie cliche not based in reality. It is rare, to the point of being almost unheard of, for a criminal case to hinge on the positioning of a dead body or the exact location of evidence in a room.


Factual error: IP addresses are 4 groups of up to 3 numbers each, maxing out at 255 - it's a fundamental limitation of the technology. But IP addresses in movies are often shown as something like 564.100.432.165, which is impossible. This isn't like movie phone numbers all starting with 555, because that's still a feasible phone number, just with a "movie" area code.

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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).

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.

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Factual error: People often jump from great heights into bodies of water and avoid fall damage. But the surface tension of water is great enough it would be no different than hitting concrete if you're high enough up.

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

Suggested correction: If you jump in feet first you can survive a jump into water from a very great height without injuries.


About the max distance you can fall into water without injury is 65 feet, even at feet first. Professional high divers even struggle to control themselves from that height without doing actions they can control like flips. An untrained individual leaping from a bridge down into water would most certainly kill them in real life.

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To dive for up to 90 feet is an official sport, while daredevils dive from up 120 feet. And "dive" means head first. Normal people can and do jump feet first without injury, although is a coin toss. Certainly fatal bridge jumps are from very high ones (The Golden Gate is something like 250 feet).

Plot hole: An easily-explainable misunderstanding where one person storms off without even giving the other person the opportunity to clarify what's happened. "A pair of woman's underwear in your apartment?! You're cheating on me, we're done forever, don't ever call me!" But his sister came over to do some laundry that day, if she'd only bothered talking about it for a second.

Audio problem: Characters in a fist fight landing all punches that all sound like loud smacks or worst case (Rocky) car doors slamming.

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.


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.

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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: Hearing a dial tone after someone hangs up a phone - that wouldn't be heard unless you hang up and pick it back up yourself.

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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: Movies where a truck or train is uncontrolled and the brake lines have been cut. The whole point of those brake lines is that they keep the brakes from closing - cut them and the brakes apply automatically, for safety reasons - that's the whole point.

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