Common movie and TV mistakes - page 5

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.

Character mistake: Mainly in Old West films, actors who are portraying barbers very frequently sharpen their straight-razors the wrong way, flipping the blade with its sharp edge against the strop. This would instantly dull and damage the razor's edge. No real barber would make such a clumsy mistake, but it's a common movie error.

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

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.

Revealing mistake: Actors supposedly playing instruments in a scene but their hand movements don't match the music.

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.

Factual error: After waking up from a coma or being knocked out for several days, people in films often get up and proceed to wander around or have a conversation before moving on. But the body continues to function during this comatose state. When someone gets up after sleeping for 3 days straight, they would immediately need to head to the bathroom to relieve themselves. That, or they would smell very horribly to others around them and need to be cleaned up if they were not already taken care of when asleep by the other people.

Quantom X Premium member

Factual error: Regular, unmodified weapons firing blank rounds. Real weapons use large and obvious attachments to block most of the propellant gases from going out of the barrel, which cycles the weapon. Hollywood weapons have blockages or mechanisms hidden in the barrel to do the same thing (or they have other effects like CGI or a gas flame), but those would make them unable to fire actual bullets. Also, real blanks are dangerous when fired close to people because they can still fire out debris. Die Hard 2 is a good example, with the bad guys swapping back and forth between blank and live ammunition in the same weapons.

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

Suggested correction: Technically incorrect. You can get very high powered blanks called 4 in 1's that can cycle a weapon without the weapon being modified or having a blank firing adaptor. The reason they are not used commonly is because of how loud they are.


Factual error: Trains that do not stop, but crash through objects on railroad tracks. Train engineers will hit the brakes of the train when they see anything or anyone on the tracks, and if they come in contact with said objects, will stop to investigate what they hit, and cooperate with local and Federal authorities. Two examples are "Back To the Future, Part III" and "Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry."


Other mistake: Characters that are on the run from the law or otherwise go into hiding, and they cut their hair themselves and it looks like it was done by a professional stylist. Examples include "The Fugitive," "Gone Girl," and even "The Outsiders" showed two youngsters cutting each others' hair with a knife but having a decent end result.

Phaneron Premium member

Deliberate mistake: Characters who are being pursued on foot frequently hide in plain sight of their pursuers. You see characters (typically the "good guys") duck around the corner of a building, or a tree, or some other obstacle, where they freeze and glance over their shoulders to watch their oblivious pursuers (typically the "bad guys") wander past just a few feet in the background. Nevermind the fact that the good guy's body is only partially concealed by said obstacle, or not concealed at all. This is an old film-making trick intended to heighten audience tension, even though it is totally illogical.

Charles Austin Miller

Factual error: When the police are on the phone with a suspect who is using a landline and they try to keep them on the line long enough to trace the number and location. If the film takes place after the advent of Caller ID, then this information would be available instantly.

Phaneron Premium member

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

Suggested correction: If they are tracing a cell phone this information isn't available instantly.

That's a valid caveat, so I've amended this for suspects using landlines.

Phaneron Premium member

Deliberate mistake: Often in rainy scenes in movies, the crew has the rain machines set to have the rain drops far far larger than natural. Huge water drops so that they will actually be visible in the final print.

Quantom X Premium member

Character mistake: People almost never say goodbye when hanging up phones, even at times any normal person would 'sign off' in some way.

Quantom X Premium member

Character mistake: Chess boards being set up wrongly, or pieces being in places that make no sense and they would never have got there in the course of a normal game.

Deliberate mistake: How many times have we seen cars and trucks drive through snow, dirt and mud, only to arrive at their destination perfectly clean.

Mike Lynch

Revealing mistake: "Snowflakes" will stay on a person's coat/shoulders and top of head plus will not melt when the person goes indoors; it might "roll off."


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.


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

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: Modern cars crashing without airbags going off. Probably a deliberate mistake for safety (trained stunt drivers can create the scene safely with the airbags removed) and visibility (deflated airbags would obscure the actors and getting past them would slow down the action).

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.