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Artistic License – Biology
aka: You Fail Biology Forever
There are cases where the MST3K Mantra
certainly applies, especially if the entire world of the work of fiction is pretty crazy and, thus, all bets are off in terms of good science. Therefore, most of the examples below are culled from series who were at least trying to be taken seriously (so please keep that in mind before adding an example on this page).
A subtrope of Hollywood Science
. Contrast or compare Art Major Biology
, Improbable Taxonomy Skills
. See also Hollywood Evolution
open/close all folders
- In an H2OH commercial, the narrator voice comments how cool it is that nature gave spikes to the hedgehog, instead of you (human). In the video, though, the guy shoots spikes all around. It's said that porcupines can shoot their quills — porcupines are not hedgehogs, however, and the popular belief is in fact false. Porcupines may have their spines dislodged while swinging their tails around because the spines are very loosely attached to the porcupine so that they'll come out once they've been lodged in another creature's skin; however, they don't deliberately shoot their quills at a target. They're much more likely to reverse into your leg and fill it with hooked barbs.
- Yellow, the peanut M&M from the candy commercials, messes up when he and Red show off their muscles. Yellow boasts "Check out my adenoids!", but adenoids are tonsils, not muscles. Probably more of a Genius Bonus since neither of the M&Ms (especially Yellow) have ever been portrayed as incredibly smart.
- Lots of ads and other kinds of artistic portrayals show "parrots" that don't exist in nature, with bizarre coloration, patterns, etc. Oh well. But even depictions which were obviously done with a good attention to detail, including real-life parrot coloration, feather layout, anatomy, etc. still often mess up the feet. A very large fraction of all parrot artwork gives them "chicken feet" (with three toes facing forward, one facing back) instead of real parrot feet (which have two toes forward, two toes backwards). Corona Beer ads are especially bad about this. The same problem often crops up in depictions of woodpeckers, cuckoos, and roadrunners, which also like parrots have zygodactyl feet.
- Most commercials for hair care products use words like "nourishment" or "healthy hair." One commercial years ago even went so far as to call hair "a living, breathing part of your body." Too bad that the part of the hair being "treated" is biochemically dead. The only part that's actually alive is underneath the skin, in the follicle.
- There's the "oxygenated water" thing. Drinking water with more oxygen packed into it is good for you, right? Well, only if you had fish gills in your stomach. If your stomach and intestines could perform that sort of gas exchange, Coke and Pepsi with their carbon dioxide would be deadly poison. Lungs do that function excellently, thank you.
- There's one vitamin commercial that claims that it helps repair your "cell walls", a feature not found in mammalian cells. Even if they're just trying to put "cell membrane" in simpler terms, those terms only exist in biology (nobody knew about the things to name them before the invention of the microscope), so their technical usage is their only correct one.
Anime & Manga
- In-universe example in Axis Powers Hetalia'. Its most prominent female character Hungary used to think she was a boy. And she thought that penises grow as you age, which would "explain" her...lack of one. And she laughed at Prussia for "not knowing."
- In Baki the Grappler, in addition to all the other insane/biologically impossible things that fighters do, Shinogi Kanno can rip out nerves with his bare hands. In a fight with Baki, he blinds him by ripping out his optic nerves; apparently unlike all other humans, his optic nerves are located in his neck. Baki then temporarily repairs them by knotting the nerve endings. Of course, he makes a full recovery. Somewhere, a neurologist is weeping.
- Handwaved in Digimon, anything impossible that a Digimon (or the Digital World) does is explained away by saying "they're just data".
- Love Hina:
- Ken Akamatsu seems to have been blindsided by myths about eyesight. Supposedly, Naru 'ruined her eyes' by studying so much for her entrance exams, and towards the end, Keitaro has developed night blindness, unstated but implied to be from going on so many digs with Seta. While these things are possible, they would require our fun couple to do most everything by dim candle-light, never get enough Vitamin A in a modern culture, and seems a combo of somewhat realistic biology and old wives' tales. Maybe this was meant to symbolize their blindness about their mutual feelings, but genetics also plays a huge role in eyesight.
- Naruto was born the day of the Demon Fox attack. But at the time of the sealing he is shown without an umbilical stump. That usually doesn't happen until ten days after birth.
- In the Neon Genesis Evangelion episode that first introduces Asuka, there is a brief scene where Shinji and Pen-Pen are doing the Potty Dance as Asuka is in the bathroom. Pen-Pen is a penguin, penguins (and other birds) produce uric acid instead of urea as waste, which does not require dilution in water, so they have no urinary bladder which has to be regularly relieved.
- In Steins;Gate Rukako's sex is changed by making her mother eat a lot of vegetables instead of meat.
- Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle features, to make a long Mind Screw short, a My Own Grampa situationnote where all involved have the same DNA, despite the presence of a non-blood-relation mother.
- Hentai in general tend to invoke this, whether it comes to releasing fluid or how the body reacts to certain stimuli to how big certain parts of the body realistically are without causing major stress on the body. Basically, if it titillates, it works.
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer miniseries "Viva Las Buffy", in which our heroine travels to Las Vegas, the villains are two twins joined at the hip: the man's a vampire, the woman's a mortal with deadly aim. One problem: their joining was so minor (both had full limbs and organs), any sane doctor would have separated them at birth - and conjoined twins are identical and not fraternal and would therefore necessarily be of the same sex. This being Buffy (and as such, anything can happen), a wizard probably did it.
- In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin's mother once told him not to take Hobbes into a lake the family was camping by because "tigers don't swim very well".
Hobbes: Frankly, I'm not sure your mom knows so much about tigers.
- Although Calvin's mom probably thinks of Hobbes as a stuffed toy.
- Daredevil villain the Kingpin claims that only 2% of his body mass is fat. While it is possible for someone to have the type of "solid muscle" build that he has, such a claim is impossible.
- How to tell the birds from the flowers. A manual of flornithology for beginners by R.W.Wood parodied semiliterate "botanics" books:
Some are unable, as you know,
To tell the Crocus from the Crow;
The reason why is just be-caws
They are not versed in Nature's laws.
- Nearly the entirety of issues #3 and #4 of Marville is loaded with completely asinine science, with a particular focus on evolution. All to set up a joke that Wolverine was the first human, evolved from an otter.
- In-Universe example in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW): Sweetie Belle thought that teeth grew back. They do, but only once in horses—the baby teeth are replaced by the permanent ones, just like for humans.
- Swamp Thing:
- In the Wham Episode, it is revealed that Swamp Thing is actually a plant, not a transformed human. Fair enough (stranger things have happened in the DC Universe). The thing is, we're told that his memories were transferred to the plant in the same way that planarian worms can learn how to run a maze by eating other planarians that solved the same maze. While it is, admittedly, a fantastic idea for sci-fi writers to play with, it's too bad the planarian worm experiment from 1962 was faulty to begin with and has since been discredited. The new worms in the maze were actually following the slime trails left by the old ones, rather than relying on transferred memories. Placed in a fresh maze, they performed no better than the old ones. (Funnily enough, the scientist saying this in the story is, at his best, not quite right in the head. And later, Moore does, in fact, reveal that A Wizard Did It.)
- The conclusion to the Woodrue storyline has Swamp Thing pointing out that, without animals, there'd be nothing to turn oxygen into carbon dioxide for the plants to use. Fungi are perfectly capable of carrying out this task, as are the plants themselves when they switch from daytime photosynthesis to nocturnal aerobic respiration.
- The explanations for Superman's abilities combine Artistic License - Biology with Artistic License – Physics to a staggering degree, raising such questions as "how does he cut his hair?" and "how does his sperm not drill through Lois Lane's flesh like a sandblaster?"
- X-Men. While they're supposedly "The next step in human evolution", a claim which in and of itself shows a lack of understanding of the concept of evolution, absolutely none of their powers work without liberal use of the MST3K Mantra
- Also, the fact that one mutated gene can apparently do so much, and the constant claims that mutants are not humans show a clear misunderstanding of what the word "mutation" even means.
- Warren Ellis: After he explained the difference between normal and artificial mutants (or were they mutants from alternate reality? Probably both) in his first Astonishing X-Men story, people at Scans Daily pointed out that genetics don't work that way. Ellis admitted his mistake.
- When Ellis wrote Iron Man: Extremis, he explained the eponymous magic bullet (a single injection which would turn ordinary mortals into supermen) as a "Data package contained in a few million carbon nanotubes, injected directly into the brain". The information package would then rewrite the repair center in the brain — that is, the part of the brain which keeps a complete 'map' of our organs and functions. "The brain is telling the body is wrong"... and it compliantly changes according to the Extremis instructions. Perhaps needless to say, there is no "repair center" (although the "sensory homunculus" seems a little bit like what is described). Later writers retconned Extremis into a viral package, which is at least borderline believable.
- And in 'Supergod' it is a point that 'mushrooms only grow on dead things'. Which, well, they do not.
Films — Animation
- Bambi: Thumper is depicted with paw pads, something real rabbits do not have.
- Finding Nemo:
- Barracuda don't have much of taste for eggs. They prefer live prey.
- Also, clownfish don't keep their eggs in caves for the very reason that happened in the movie. To keep their eggs safe from anything that would eat the eggs, they lay them on a flat part of the sea anemone where egg-eaters can't get them. But then again, you need some reason to get the plot going......
- The interior of the whale's throat is too large. While blue whales have a gigantic mouth, their throat is tiny and unable to swallow anything larger a beach ball.
- They also have respiratory and digestive traits completely separated, you know, so that they don't unintentionally sneeze fish out of their blowhole. And where is the light inside its mouth coming from?
- Chuckles, the gift fish who was killed by Darla, was a goldfish. Which live in freshwater. The other Tank Gang fish are saltwater fish. You can see where this is going.
- None of the sea turtles seem to worry about having to breathe. They also don't travel in flocks, but this was intentional.
- Sea turtles don't live anywhere near 150 years; that honor belongs to tortoises. Their expected lifespan is still quite impressive at 80 years.
- Clownfish do live in anemones but they also live in harems dominated by one male and one female, with a lot of non-productive males in the rest. When the dominant female dies, the dominant male undergoes a Gender Bender and becomes the new dominant female. Clownfish will also reproduce with their relatives in times of emergency. This particular tidbit has raised eyebrows at the choice of clownfish for the film.
- Interestingly, a featurette on DVD addresses the whole Artistic License issue. An animator relates a story of one of their consultants talking about the biological inaccuracies in their final fish designs. The animator replied, sheepishly, "Well...in real life they don't talk either, so..."
- Ice Age: The Dodos are in fact extinct, but they didn't die out during the Ice Age. They were wiped out by man very quickly after discovering the remote island of Mauritius were they used to live. Not mainly for food (they tasted awful), but simply as some sort of sport... They were in no way "too dumb to live" as portrayed in the movie, but just evolutionary unfit for the challenge by naked apes who, after a long sea travel, would see clubbing fat flightless birds as appropriate entertainment. (Of course, many predators will kill prey animals even if they're not currently hungry, possibly because having carrion on hand that you recently had no use for can be quite helpful. Humans are just the only ones that guilt-trip over it.)
- Ice Age 2: The Meltdown:
- There is a creature which is identified as an aardvark, but though it has the ears of an aardvark, it has the bushy tail of a giant anteater, and its snout is weirdly elongated to be reminiscent of an anteater (not an aardvark), but that animal would have a tiny mouth at the tip of its snout, whereas the cartoon critter has its mouth at the base. Also, Scrat the proto-squirrel has huge saber-like canine teeth. Being rodents, squirrels — even prehistoric ones — don't have canines at all.
- The authors have said in an interview that it was Played for Laughs. Later crosses into Accidentally Accurate since a recently discovered prehistoric mammal was indeed squirrel-like, and did indeed have fangs. It was not a rodent though, and lived in the Mesozoic, not in the Cenozoic, much less the last ice age.
- In The Legend of the Titanic, dolphins even jump as high as the deck of Titanic and manage to float in the air for a short amount of time.
- The unrealistically large octopus which has a dog's nose, and has to take a breath before it goes underwater.
- Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron: Spirit is shown leading the herd, something that only mares do. A stallion stays at the very back, herding stragglers.
Films — Live-Action
- After Earth: Evolution does not work that fast. Biological changes on the scale depicted take millions, not thousands of years, and most plants and animals would have gone extinct trying to adapt to temperatures that fall far below freezing each night. In the time it would take for animals to change that much, humans would have changed significantly as well. Also, why would the animals continue evolving abilities to efficiently kill humans if humans don't even live on Earth any more?
- Alien: Resurrection:
- The plot hinges on creating a clone from blood samples to harvest the completely separate lifeform hiding out in the original Ripley's chest.
- Supposedly Aliens bond with their hosts at the genetic level, hence all the weird superpowers Ripley got from the genetic mutations caused by the Alien (ike the corrosive blood). That doesn't make very much more sense, but hey, it's Alien.
- Furthermore, red blood cells don't even contain DNA (at least, human DNA. There is mitochondria)
- Though, white blood cells do contain DNA, so that might explain it.
- In another '50s B-movie, The Alligator People, a physician uses hydrocortisone injections to induce accident victims to regenerate damaged body parts. While cortisones do reduce inflammation (swelling), and can therefore make injuries feel better, they actually slow down the healing process.
- '50s B-movie The Amazing Colossal Man has one of the doctors tending to the eponymous rapidly-growing man describe the human heart as "one big cell." As Tom Servo says, "You're not a real doctor, are you?"
- Oh so very much in the killer snake movie Anaconda, all in the name of the Rule of Scary. Among other things:
- Anacondas don't grow that damn big. The size thing is actually addressed in a sequel. The protagonists go looking for a life-prolonging flower. Its said that Anacondas keep growing until they die, and then they discover that the flower is an essential part of the snake's food chain so it is living longer than it should so its growth never stops, thus giant snake.
- They don't move at the speed of a cheetah in a chase.
- They don't predominantly prey on humans, especially after encountering life-threatening resistance each time.
- They don't eat multiple prey the size of a human being one after the other. After consuming a meal like that (which can take hours), the snake will find a secure location where it will remain immobile for months to digest its food.
- And they certainly don't regurgitate their prey just so they can hunt again out of sheer sadism. They sometimes do this for safety purposes, such as when they're threatened by a predator and they can't afford to be lethargic by having such a big meal in their stomach.
- James Cameron's Avatar has some Taxonomic Term Confusion.
- In Batman & Robin, cops in Mr Freeze's lair SCREAM "My Lungs!! My LUNGS are FREEZING!!" courtesy of some freezing gas by the icy villain. How, pray tell, does Joel Schumacher explain their ability to form sounds, much less scream, when their lungs are freezing?
- Going past all of the usual dragon examples that would apply to the beast from Beowulf (like wingspan), how does a heart that can fit in a man's fist pump blood through the body of a seventy foot long flying and swimming reptile? Never mind that a heart in the neck protected by tracing paper is a bad idea anyway. Blocking the trachea and being easily ripped out are not desirable traits in a heart. Although being the product of a gold thing and a human you can hardly expect it to have evolved properly...
- In The Cleaver Family Reunion, Grandma Cleaver reveals that she's been white all of these years, but has been taking melatonin to make her look black. Melatonin doesn't work that way...
- Doom has the mutant monsters come from the genetic experimentation of long dead human Martian Precursors. Fair enough. But it turns out that the mutations are caused by there being a "gene for evil" in the "poorly understood 10% of the human genome" which the genetically engineered chromosome reacts to. Now, when one of these mutants bites a healthy human, it infects them like a virus.
- Elysium: After his accident, Max says that he has so much radiation in his body that he is probably irradiating people in close proximity. Carlyle makes a similar claim when he worries about having to replace the sheets in the factory medbay, due to Max's skin falling off (which doesn't happen from radiation poisoning, neither in reality nor in the movie itself). Both are wrong because radiation can only be emitted by radioactive material; human tissue does not qualify. There's excuses for both, though; Max was trying to intimidate someone and may not even know better, and Carlyle is just a jackass.
- In a Final Destination movie, a girl is slowly pulled into the machinery of an escalator. As soon as her feet get crushed, she starts spewing blood all over her boyfriend. No reason for that, really. No digestive or respiratory organs in the feet. However, it is possible that getting her legs crushed between those cogs and gears caused her blood pressure to skyrocket, which would pop blood vessels (starting with the very weak ones, such as the capillary bed in the lungs). Imagine rolling a tube of toothpaste starting from the bottom up.
- Similarly, a SyFy Channel remake of The Fly has a man crushed in an open-shafted elevator (literally, the elevator "shaft" is a chain fence with no gate), it causes his eyes to bulge out while his face turns red, until his head pops and deflates like a whoopie cushion. Where is his skull? Never mind the weight of an open-air elevator being lowered that slowly wouldn't be enough to cause that much damage, most likely just pressing the lungs until he asphyxiated.
- While most of the less-than-realistic aspects of the films can be attributed to Rule of Cool and/or Rule of Funny, there's a scene in the 1993 Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II in which one of the human characters feeds Baby Godzilla a leaf. This would be fine and dandy, if Godzilla's species wasn't already established to be carnivorous (Godzillasaurus looks like a jumbo-sized T. rex) and that Baby Godzilla clearly has teeth better suited for tearing apart flesh rather than munching on veggies.
- The 1998 American Remake constantly showed Zilla running at a rather high speed. People, there's a very good reason why very large animals (IE: Elephants, Apatosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, etc.) don't move fast (or don't run very often). To put it nicely, if Zilla were to trip while running that fast, he'd splatter all over the pavement when he fell.
- Once again, the square cube limit on size as usual puts a crimp in giant monster viability in our universe, so we can breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy the movie.
- If the MUTOS eat radiation, what is the point of them having powerful jaws equipped with razor-sharp teeth? Of course, since their cocoons were inside a giant skeleton which was radiative, which likely means that when it was alive it was radiative, so it wouldn't be to far fetched to say that the Mutos simply ate radioactive animals.
- Same with Godzilla, however in previous films it is established (such as in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah that Godzilla (and his offspring) would eat whales and other giant marine animals as well as consuming radiation from nuclear test sites and nuclear plants.
- It's worth noting, though, that omnivory is far from exceptional for theropods; crocodylians and birds both engage in habitual omnivorous behaviour, thus theropods likely did it, too.
- In the James Bond film Goldfinger:
- A Bond girl is asphyxiated by covering her entire body with gold paint. Bond explains that people need at least a small patch of bare skin at the base of the spine to "breathe." This isn't true. It was Dave Barry who remarked on the "remarkable recent discovery that people actually breathe with their lungs, and not with their skin after all." This actually has a grain of truth, but the idea of asphyxiation due to painted skin is still 100% bilge. Death would be from heat exhaustion if the paint interfered with perspiration, or exposure to toxins if the paint were unsafe. And it would take a very very very long time. This also overlaps with Science Marches On: At the time the novel was written, "skin asphyxiation" was taken seriously, at least by the public. The studio had a team of doctors on hand while shooting the death scene, and left actress Shirley Eaton's stomach unpainted to make sure she could breathe.
- A woman is cut in half at the waist in Hillside Cannibals; her intestines spill out of her lower half.
- In The Horror of Party Beach, a doctor explains that the monster is actually a dead human whose organs were invaded by aquatic plants before they had the chance to decompose, and calls the result "a giant protozoa." Protozoa are single-celled lifeforms, and "protozoan" is the word for describing one in the singular. Also, algae are not "aquatic plants". They're algae.
- Island City a 1994 made-for-TV movie, had the few remaining regular humans living in a small enclave surrounded by animalistic mutants. The mutants were called 'recessives' because the trait was inherited that way. One of the characters was - get this - HALF RECESSIVE, with all the increased strength and toughness but without the bestial aggression and reduced intelligence. Also, the inhabitants of the city wore colored crystals making their genetic status clear, to prevent the wrong kind of couple forming and producing the wrong kind of offspring. That would be fine, except there were THREE colors (should only be 2, carrier or not) and people were forbidden from mating with anyone whose crystal was a DIFFERENT color (should be, 2 carriers may not mate).
- Jaws and its sequels are infamous for depicting sharks as relentless man-eaters. Sharks do not see humans as food due to lack of enough fat to provide them calories and usually attack if provoked, smelled blood, or in a case of mistaken identity. They also need much of their energy to maintain their body temperature.
- Jaws 2 had an orca that was mauled to death by the great white shark, and the supposed marine biologist claimed that there were far greater marine predators than it referencing the shark. In real life, orcas are more than capable of killing sharks and one of the only predators that prey on great whites. There has even been cases of entire populations of great whites fleeing from an area due to orcas preying on them.
- Jaws: The Revenge has the shark roaring, which sharks are incapable of due to lacking vocal chords (or lungs, for that matter).
- Jurassic Park contains a few:
- One character who is supposed to be a paleontologist saying "Dinosaurs and man. Two species separated by sixty-five million years." The problem being that dinosaur is not a species designation, but a much higher taxonomic rank. There are currently known to have been more than 1,000 species of dinosaur. Furthermore, most of these species have been extinct far longer than 65 million years (and most paleontologists would argue that some dinosaurs live to this day — these dinosaurs are technically known as "birds").
- Another scene has him holding a baby dinosaur in his hands. "What species is it?" he hisses to a nearby geneticist. "It's a Velociraptor," responds the geneticist. Neither of these trained scientists who really ought to know these things picked up on the fact that Velociraptor is the genus name. This is averted in the book, where the baby is identified as Velociraptor mongoliensis.
- An early scene has the paleontologists digging up a Velociraptor mongoliensis in the Montana badlands. As the name implies, they lived in Mongolia, and not Montana. The misidentification of Velociraptor was actually due to Science Marches On — the original book based its research on a (now debunked) palaeontologist who argued that Deinonychus antirrhopus was in fact a species of Velociraptor, which means what they were digging for in the novel (which the film did not correct) was a north-American Velociraptor antirrhopus. Every instance where the book and the film uses Velociraptor is therefore in actuality a reference to Deinonychus antirrhopus. This does not take into account the lack of feathers and an egregious misunderstanding of Deinonychus anatomy, but this could be explained away (at least in the book) by the knowledge that these aren't "real" dinosaurs but a facsimile created by geneticists working with patchwork DNA and a flawed understanding of the beings they're trying to re-create. The cheetah speed and chimpanzee intelligence can at least be filed under artistic license.
- The premise of the movie (and the book). If the amber-preserved blood was any more than 1 million years old, the DNA would have been irrecoverably decomposed, no matter what it was preserved in. Cloning extinct species from before 1 million years ago is impossible. Also, if the DNA were available, we have absolutely no idea how to turn that DNA into a viable dinosaur egg. You'd need complete information about how the oviducts of that particular species operated even to get started, and we don't even have any fossils of dinosaur oviducts, let alone a clue as to their gestational duration, average internal temperature, etc. It's possible Crichton knew, but bent things on purpose. It's probably a good thing we don't know how to make living dinosaurs. That would be like giving 5-year-olds dynamite.
- One more for the road: The Lysine plan. A plan to limit the growth of the dinosaurs by making them dependent on the amino acid Lysine, by taking away their ability to produce it themselves. Any first-year biochemistry student could tell you that Lysine is an essential amino acid, i.e., most modern-day vertebrates (including crocodiles and sharks; superorders who existed in the Jurassic period) can't produce it either. And we make do without it, because we get Lysine from our gut flora or by eating things containing Lysine (practically anything made from plant matter, or meat from things that have eaten plant matter, or who have eaten things that have eaten things that have eaten plant- oh, you get the point). The Lysine plan is a great way to limit growth of genetically modified bacteria, who depend on Lysine in the media if they can't make it themselves. For vertebrates, who obtains it from eating things anyway, it's not. The book at least acknowledges this as an in-universe whopper by InGen's scientists (who probably slept through their first-year classes), as it turns out it was no hindrance to the Dinosaurs whatsoever.
- Little Sweetheart almost avoids this, until the last few goddamn seconds. Elizabeth has taken a bullet to the arm, a bullet to the gut and then spent at least several minutes face-down in either the Pacific or the Gulf of Mexico. She's easily being moved by the ocean and she's not moving. A band-aid to the head is all you need!
- In The Matrix, Agent Smith gives a Breaking Speech on how humans are viruses, because they don't instinctively develop an equilibrium with their environment like other mammals and instead breed until they can't support themselves and have to move on. In reality, mammals do not instinctively do that, and equilibrium is something forced on them.
- Mission to Mars:
- One character arranges Skittles in the air in microgravity in the shape of about ten base pairs and declares it's the genome of his "perfect woman" (the human genome contains about 3.2 billion base pairs). Another character eats a couple; apparently it's now the genome of a frog. Easily written off as a joke, until later in the film: after seeing about five base pairs on a screen, a character declares that it "looks human". Five BP on their own would tell you nothing whatsoever about what you're looking at, not even which kingdom it belonged to, never mind species.
- The writers clearly lacked an understanding of genetics. To start with, one of the characters constructs a model of a DNA molecule from supplied spacial coordinates, then Jim is able to look at a (very small) string of computer-generated DNA, and see that it "looks human". This is impossible, because a) you can't tell what species a sequence came from by looking at such a small sample and b) spacial coordinates that form a double helix say precisely jack shit about what bases (and, by extension, what genes) are contained in the DNA sequence. Then someone mentions it's missing "the last pair of chromosomes," when the simulation makes it readily apparent it's missing the last pair of bases. To top it all off, the coloring of the bases appear to suggest that a base pair is made up of two identical bases, which is just wrong.
- The things they do with DNA in that movie are basically like having a character look at a single page worth of ones and zeroes, and say, "That's a Flash game."
- The Spleen from Mystery Men is an in-character example, as he named himself for an organ that has nothing to do with his superpower.
- A minor case in Mystery Team, but it is somewhat unusual that Jason can bike several miles with one flat tire without showing any signs of fatigue.
- The African exhibit in Night at the Museum includes an ostrich. Ostriches are African, so no problem, right? Except that the exhibit is specifically and prominently titled "The Hall of African Mammals."
- Piranha 3D contains an idea so egregiously stupid that it may very well have been put in just to make the dumbest people in the audience feel smart when they realized that it was impossible. The Piranha survived two million years in an enclosed covern through CANNIBALISM!!!! It's like they took The Matrix's bio-battery lunacy and turned it up to OVER 9000!!!!!!. For those of you who were absent the day they taught about food chains in Middle School, the general rule of thumb is that every predator gets about 10% of the energy his prey took in. So, every generation of piranha should have lost 10/11 of their population. Even assuming they magically preserved 90% of the energy, they wouldn't have made it that long without producers in their food chain! And just to add insult to injury at the end of the movie we find out they've been fighting the babies, which are apparently as big as their full-grown prehistoric ancestors. So, apparently, this process made them BIGGER.
- Predator. After being killed the scorpion cools down, even though it's cold blooded and should have already been at the same temperature as the surrounding air.
- Push has the lead character inject soy sauce directly in to his blood stream with no side effect at all.
- In the low-budget monster flick Razortooth, the giant killer eel breathes air and slithers like a snake. It's also alleged to be incapable of metabolizing glucose "like a diabetic": a double error, as A) diabetics can metabolize glucose, they just don't do so at the right rate, and B) any animal with a nervous system that can't metabolize any glucose would be dead, as neurons quickly die from accumulated waste products if they have to subsist on fatty or amino acids instead.
- The Reaping: Members of the Satanic cult sacrifice all their children to Satan, except for the firstborn, who are inducted into the cult, to ensure the cult itself can survive. In reality, you would need (on average) two offspring to survive (and reproduce) per couple just for the population to remain stable. Even if the cultists recruit outsiders to marry the kids they don't sacrifice, attrition would still wipe them out, as some of each generation are likely to die, fail to reproduce at all, or leave the cult.
- Reign of Fire: A whole species consisting of thousands of females and only one male? It's actually not impossible in real life: Blue-Headed Wrasses (a fish) have a reproductive pattern where they live in large schools of females led by a single male. When the male dies, one of the females actually switches sex and becomes the new male. In the film, though, killing the male results in the extinction of the species—the biological version of No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup—which is why it's listed here.
- In Resident Evil, the Red Queen explains that zombification works by exploiting the cellular activity that continues after death, supporting the idea by stating that hair and nails continue to grow after death. No, they don't, and considering the fallacy is spoken by a supercomputer that really should know better and is used as the main rationale for including zombies to begin with, this also makes it a Critical Research Failure.
- When Major Cain tries to persuade Alice to cooperate with Umbrella in Resident Evil: Apocalypse, she calls herself a freak. Cain's reply? "No. You're not mutation, you're evolution!". If Alice were to breed and pass on her mutation, then it would be evolution.
- In the epic Patrick Swayze action film Road House, there is a sex scene involving Swayze's character, Dalton, and his love interest (played by Kelly Lynch) that reveals that either Swayze's package is located somewhere in the vicinity of his belly button, or else Mr. Swayze is a very, very fortunate man.
- In the Syfy movie Robocroc, CGI sequences show how the film's nanite-infested crocodile has her physiology transformed, bit by bit, into that of Mechanical Lifeforms. One of the first such scenes shows her red blood cells being converted by the nanites ... biconcave red cells without nuclei, which are found in mammals but not reptiles. Presumably the writers figured audiences wouldn't recognize blood cells unless they looked like the sort humans have.
- Sherlock Holmes and the Curse of the Spider Woman Holmes meets Spiderologist #1 who recommends that Holmes visits Spiderologist #2. Meanwhile, criminal has murdered Spiderologist #2 and is impersonating him. Holmes spots the fraud because the criminal uses wrong terminology. Meanwhile Holmes, Spiderologist #1, Spiderologist #2 and Criminal all call spiders "insects".
- Bill Bailey said "Spiders are not insects, but if there was a War, they would side with the insects."
- In Showgirls, does Kyle MacLachlan's penis exist in the midst of his stomach? A double case of this and Anatomically Impossible Sex.
- Snakes on a Plane is a horrendous violator of biology, and ignores rules which they mention within the film. The film is not meant to be serious, it is simply silly fun, and the day is actually saved because one character knows Mortal Kombat, but the biology does not even deserve an "F;" it gets an "Incomplete" because it did not even show up to enough classes to qualify as a full-time student:
- The snakes are shown as shockingly aggressive, actively pursuing prey, whereas most snakes (including those shown in the film) are relatively sedentary; the snakes in the film bite repeatedly for no apparent reason, simply killing without eating the people or defending themselves, and then move to attack and kill other people who are neither a threat nor viable prey. The snakes are described as being so aggressive and violent because they are being stimulated by sexual pheromones, except that snakes are not praying mantids or black widows and do not kill their mates while they have sex. If snakes were to be brought into a violent frenzy when in the presence of sexual pheromones they would require separate pheromones for each individual species, and would be just as likely to attack each other as humans, as any other species would be as much of a threat/competition as the people would.
- The Burmese python practically growls and flashes fang like an aggressive dog. Then it manages to kill the jerkass in moments, when in reality it would take much longer even if the guy had a heart attack almost immediately. Finally, the python has no problem getting human shoulders down its throat. A real python would need a few moments to unhinge and stretch out its jaw, and then would probably need some time to properly position a meal that wide. Assuming a snake that size could get its head over an adult male's shoulders in the first place; even most potentially man-eating snakes will have trouble consuming a large person. Yes, there were time constraints, but still. At least the python seems to still have been working on its meal when the poor thing got sucked out the window.
- Starship Troopers. A biology teacher calls the Bugs "insects" and calls up a holographic image of one which has four legs (by definition, insects have six legs). For bonus points, in the book the movie is very loosely based on, they're called arachnids, which have eight legs.
- Let alone the ability to poop city-destroying plasma accurately over interstellar distances, or the simple square-cube law that would make those giant bugs somewhat crunchy puddles in short order. This is another movie where logic was clocked in the head and left in a dumpster.
- A scene in the bad Canadian vampire B-movie Thralls features the lead villain vampire punch another man through his stomach, tear part of his spine out and show it to him as the now-spineless man merely stands there. And then, rather than break in half where his spine used to be... he just collapses.
- The Waterboy: Bobby Boucher tackles his biology professor over the fact that alligators get ornery because of their enlarged medulla oblongata, leading to more aggressive emotions, instead of Mama Boucher's explanation that "they got all them teeth and no toothbrush". They're both wrong, because the medulla oblongata has absolutely nothing to do with emotions, being responsible for breathing and heart rate. The amygdala is responsible for emotions.
- In The World Is Not Enough, Renard has a bullet lodged in his medulla oblongata that is "slowly killing off his senses". No One Could Survive That! This is credited with removing his sense of touch, despite this not being where the sense of touch is in the brain. The sense of touch is in the parietal lobe (mostly) which is at the top back of the brain. The medulla is at the bottom of the brain. While some have survived with bullets in their brains, such as Kiran Prajapati, who they were likely thinking of, if a bullet was damaging your medulla your heart would quickly fail, you would stop breathing, and your sense of touch would be fine. Until you die.
- Not to mention the absence of a sense of touch would produce a profound loss of balance. People who genuinely lose their sense of touch have to learn how to balance themselves all over again. And even then it's a tricky thing thereafter - every time Bond hit him, he would lose his spatial awareness and have to reorient himself, or he would keel over.
- The X-Men series has a whole collection of offenses. Mutants cannot be called another species, given that they can still interbreed freely with normal humans. There is also the continuous reference to a so-called "mutant gene". In reality, any gene in the genome has the potential to be mutated. Even if you don't have a biology diploma, it ought to be obvious that there could be no universal "cure" that suppressed all the flashy mutations (but not "regular" ones like, say, heterochromia?) on any given mutant without affecting anything else, and certainly not in a matter of seconds.
- In X2: X-Men United, when discussing the mutant gene, Pyro says that it is passed on by males. If the gene was on the Y chromosome, then there would be no female mutants. Then again, no one states the mutant gene is specifically in the Y chromosome.
The iron injected into the prison guard wouldn't have gone unnoticed, least of all by the guard himself. Iron injections have a risk of anaphylactic shock - high enough that many doctors won't prescribe them unless the patient has no other option - and are incredibly painful.
- Okay, X-Men: First Class is an X-Men movie, but still. The other films or the comics mostly feature semi-coherent fictional theories that only serve to justify the plot. That one contains totally wrong information, exposited as real science by Charles Xavier, PhD.
It has no meaning whatsoever to say of two contemporary species that one is "more evolved." If they live at the same time, they are exactly as much evolved.
- Any Christmas movie which shows female reindeer without antlers, or male reindeer retaining their antlers into December. Females of the species need antlers to guard their young from predators, whereas males shed theirs after the rutting season, with one exception: males retain antlers in winter if they have a "special operation".
- A ridiculous number of movies, including the majority of vampire-hunt flicks, depict the human heart as being located near or slightly above the left nipple. The heart is located at the bottom center of the human ribcage, which means an awful lot of would-be Van Helsings actually gored their way into the target's left lung - which, granted, is just as deadly. Also a Real Life misconception, given how people lay their hands over their left breast to salute the flag, pledge allegiance, etc. (mostly justified for women, though, as placing the hand directly over the heart usually means cupping their own breast).
- This specific manifestation is subverted in the Gary Oldman film Chattahoochee. Oldman's character tries to commit Suicide by Cop via a shooting spree, which doesn't work. He then takes his gun and shoots himself just above his left nipple. When he wakes up in the hospital, the doctor gives him a short anatomy lesson.
- This could be applied to the majority of vampire movies which try to sound "scientific." While it would be possible to rely on a blood-only diet similar to the vampire bat, the vampire in question would have to take half their weight in blood and become enormously bloated since blood contains about 90 percent water and only 10 percent in protein without any fats or carbohydrates. Magic vampires can handwave all of this.
- In addition, vampire bats after a feeding are usually too heavy to fly and must accommodate this by digesting the blood quickly and releasing most of it through their urine.
- Because of this, their necessarily high metabolisms and the sparse nutrients in blood, a vampire bat will die if it goes without feeding for two nights in a row. Even missing one night of feeding could make it too weak to go out the next night for blood unless it begs some blood off another bat in the roost. A human-sized vampire would have to completely drain several humans a night to keep up their health, and do all the things vampires can supposedly do (such as turn into bats, which have higher metabolism than humans, meaning they'd need to consume even more blood just to stop them running out of energy in minutes).
- Any form of metabolism would be odd seeing as vampires are physically dead, and as such they are living corpses.
- 'The Journey'-Marco starts showing Rabies symptoms far faster than he should have-it takes weeks or months for that to occur.
- Also the fact his immune system didn't attack the whole gang right from the start.
- The morphing process leaves traces of each absorbed animals DNA in the user, so it would necessitate some change to the immune system.
- In the first book, there's a mention made of Jake's knees reversing the first time he morphs into a dog. Dogs are digitigrade; presumably the author mistook the dog's ankles for his knees. This mistake allegedly prompted Applegate to start doing better research for the rest of the series.
- Morphing doesn't always turn body parts into analogous parts. E.g. sometimes, morphing into a horse has each limb become a leg, and sometimes the front legs sprout out of the stomach.
- Early in Artemis Fowl, Holly Short has a Character Filibuster denouncing sewage treatment as a horrible violation of Mother Earth, inspiring Fridge Horror in readers familiar with modern Germ Theory. When the elves are this obviously wrong, someone should definitely be arguing with them.
- Thankfully thee filibuster wasn't something the reader was supposed to agree with (because, as stated above, you shouldn't) but rather a demonstration of Blue and Orange Morality. The fact that elves think putting your restroom indoors is unhygienic was supposed to reinforce this.
- In A Series of Unfortunate Events the menacing pair of villains in the tenth book identify eagles as mammals. Lampshade Hanging from the well-read protagonists.
- In Madeleine L'Engle's A Swiftly Tilting Planet, all of the good and significant descendants of Madoc, the good Welsh prince who sailed to America, went native, and married a Native American woman of a tribe called the Wind People, have deep blue eyes—regardless of their racial background. It doesn't matter if they are 99% Native American, they have deep blue eyes. The evil significant descendants of Madoc's power-hungry brother (who intermarried with the warlike People Across The Lake—enemies of the Wind People—and whose descendants intermarried with the native population of Vespugia) have either metal-gray eyes or ice-blue eyes. Because genetics color-codes eyes according to a person's morality. Uh-huh. The genes for blue eyes of all sorts are dominant, too.
- Similarly to the above, in the Point Fantasy book Brog the Stoop, it's mentioned that a female "Stoop" (vaguely elven creatures with blue skin) can only bear one "Stoopling," which would mean every generation is half the size of the previous one, thus leading to extinction pretty quickly.
- Heretics of Dune. Highly oxygenated blood of a normal human is presented as being exceptionally black, while it should appear exceptionally red.
- Wayne Barlowe does a pretty good job of maintaining consistent and possible alien biologies in Expedition... except for the Daggerwrists. Pregnant Daggerwrists are cannibalistic and are executed by their tribes when their single offspring is born. If you can't do the math, this means that at least two Daggerwrists will die for every one born.
- Possibly an in-universe example, as the cannibalistic Daggerwrist may have been behaving abnormally, forcing its packmates to kill it and then salvage its offspring rather than wait for it to give birth. The researcher who observed this event came from a failed ecosystem and had no experience with animals' natural behavior, so could've overlooked the incongruity.
- Likewise, the vampire-like creatures from George RR Martin's Fevre Dream seem doomed to slow extinction, as their females give birth to single offspring and always die as a result. Granted, Martin's vampires are actually aware of this quandary, but that can't explain why their young would evolve the self-destructive habit of clawing their way out of the womb, in the first place. At least the source is clear: that's what they thought about lions in ancient times - hence the Aesop's fable about a hog boasting to a lioness about the number of her babies, to which the lioness replies "I have one, but it's a Lion".
- In the original Frankenstein, Victor worries that if his monster had a female monster to mate with, they would produce monster babies. That would be fine and dandy if the monsters weren't made from reanimated human flesh, almost guaranteeing them both to be infertile. Even if by some miracle, they were able to conceive, any child of the two of them would in fact be human, biologically descended from whoever the monsters' reproductive organs came from.
Like the Sherlock Holmes example above, this is also actually a case of Science Marches On. The original novel was published twenty years before Schwann and Schielden founded cell theory, and almost fifty years before Pasteur definitively disproved abiogenesis. In fact, the most exciting discovery of the time was the effect of electrostimulation in disembodied muscle tissue, so the story of a creature made from dead human material reanimated by lightning was as grounded in modern science (in 1818) as literature about sentient computers is today. However, there is no reference to Victor using lightning; there is a single reference to the "apparatus of life".
- Every image of Frankenstein is from the movies. There is no tower, no lightning. He seems to have created the monster in his apartment and deliberately says he won't reveal his method because someone else might do it. Neither medium explains why he used body parts instead of just reanimating a single dead body that the parts must have come from. Also, he would have avoided using "Abby Normal's" brain. (The novel handwaves by saying Frankenstein selected parts so his creation would be beautiful. Um, yeah.)
- In Gone, it is lampshaded when Astrid points out that there is no gene for shooting lasers out of your hands. Justified, however, when it is revealed that the meteor that carried The Darkness seems to have broken reality.
- Harry Potter:
- J. K. Rowling, says that "magic is a dominant and resilient gene." Given the number of wizards born to Muggle parents (and the extreme rarity of the reverse), this blatantly flies in the face of middle school genetics. You could say that A Wizard Did It (it is magic, after all), but a better explanation would perhaps be that magic is recessive and that squibs have mutations that block or repress the magic gene. This may be a whole class of subtrope: treating "dominant" and "recessive" as synonyms for "awesome" and "lame", rather than their proper meaning in genetics, which are "works even if you only get one" and "only works if you get two".
- Both the book and movie of Philosopher's Stone feature a snake that winks at Harry. Snakes can't wink.
- Similar, again, is a Dutch book by A.F.Th. van der Heijden called Het Leven uit Een Dag (Life In A Day). Humans only live one day in the book. They can only have sex once, then their reproductive organs will wither away (the woman will get pregnant instantly). Since the humans in that world only get one child, each generation will be half the size of the previous one. Since a new generation only takes a day to grow up and die, humankind would be extinct pretty darn soon.
- Hothouse Flower and the 9 Plants of Desire:
- Orchidaceae are, in actuality, marginally more difficult to care for than graminoids.
- Berwin greatly miscalculates the value and rarity of certain plants. Oxalis, for instance, is a relatively common and inexpensive plant.
- Propagation is significantly more difficult in real life than it is in-universe.
- Played straight and averted in Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle. At one point, the Big Bad sends soldiers who are immune to pain. This seems to endow the soldiers with cockroach-like resilience, with them surviving hideous trauma and being able to move despite cut tendons and broken limbs. One takes dozens of arrows and still has to be beheaded. In reality, the injuries would kill them despite an immunity to pain. Averted in Inheritance, where the irradiated Vroengard is full of mutants, suggesting Hollywood nuclear physics, but it is in fact a magical effect.
- This might be a homage to the Discworld series, which also frequently draws parallels between magic and radiation.
- According to his backstory from James and the Giant Peach, James Henry Trotter's parents were eaten alive by an escaped zoo rhinoceros. In real life, rhinos are herbivores (they are the largest extant perissodactyls, i.e. related to horses). Fortunately, the film adaptation averted this by changing said rhino from an actual rhinoceros to a large rhinoceros-shaped demon made entirely out of thunderclouds.
- At what point did Lesbian Land 2250 get an aspect of human biology correct? "Ginger Winters" thinks that vaginas are indestructible, all-encompassing, and incapable of infection, that breast milk can sustain a grown human. Under any normal biological conditions, entire chapters would culminate in much of the cast dehydrating and succumbing to desiccation. Also, the Voodoo Shark that comes up in the course of handwaving No Periods, Period, and the overall capacity it has to drive geneticists to alcoholism, and...
- Maximum Ride often has shades of this, particularly by abusing the LEGO Genetics trope. Splicing bird DNA into human DNA isn't exactly easy, and trying to engineer a Winged Humanoid would be far more complicated than taking bird DNA for wings and putting them into a human zygote. There are no genes for bird wings that one can just take and put into another creature. It gets worse when the characters start developing superpowers, some of which were planned by the scientists and others of which mutated randomly. How would they even do that? There are also some little things, like hawks nesting in large groups and large sharks in less than 5 foot deep water, but the genetics is the big one. It also makes no sense for the Erasers to transform so constantly between human and wolf - this also doubles with Artistic License – Physics, since it breaks the Law of Conservation of Matter.
- In The Girl Who Played With Fire, Ronald Niedermann is a 6'6" musclebound blonde giant, who has a disease which renders him unable to feel pain. The book even mentions that most people who have this disease die at a young age, but then hand waves it away by implying he's just too tough to die. This is not how it works. Normal life is dangerous enough for people with this affliction, but this character was an amateur boxer and gets in several fistfights over the course of the book. One untreated injury could conceivably kill him, most notably when he takes a full-strength punch to the kidneys from a pro boxer. But even before that, the kind of muscular frame he has cannot be maintained without weight training, which would be catastrophic without pain sensors to determine one's limits.
- The Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child novel Mount Dragon has a transgenic strain of influenza virus called "X-FLU." It was designed to be a relatively harmless strain of flu that makes anyone infected immune to all forms of flu. Problem is, it kills everyone because the revolutionary new method used to purify it damages the capsid. This should only affect the first generation of the virus, which certainly shouldn't cause lethal brain swelling on its own. All progeny virions would be produced from the viral RNA and left unpurified, making them more or less what they were designed to be.
- In Prince Caspian, Reepicheep the talking mouse has lost his tail in battle, and he argues with Aslan over whether it needs to be regrown. Both of them seem to think a mouse's tail has no practical value, and is of use only as a badge of honor or vanity, but the tails of mice and rats are actually important thermoregulatory structures, without which he'd be quite vulnerable to heat stroke.
- In Gardens of Rama the refugees from the New Eden colony find another alien colony raising fields of corn, fruit and vegetables in the total dark of Rama ... by having giant fireflies fly over and illuminate them. Clark may be an astronomer to the bone, but even elementary physics would tell him the energy economy can't work.
- Mariel of Redwall, of the Redwall series, mentions Gabool the Wild having gold replacements for his canine teeth. Sadly, he is a rat, and rats do not have canine teeth to begin with. Judging by the illustrations of Gabool, the author may have meant his incisors.
- In the Replica series of YA novels, the bad guys repeatedly try to get hold of Amy's super-DNA by cutting her hair and fingernails. The installment where her DNA reverted to "normal" after getting her ears pierced ... wait, what?
- For Arthur Conan Doyle, at the time the Sherlock Holmes stories were written, legitimate scientists were speculating that some things might be theoretically possible, so it's more of a case of Science Marches On. That said:
- In "The Creeping Man", the eponymous character "devolves" into an ape by shooting up with monkey blood, or brain juice, or something. Just... no (an episode of Mystery based on this story had to put a disclaimer at the beginning of it explaining this fact, lest the audience treat the story's events as pure narm. It is instead claimed that the character has been driven mad by the adverse effects of the hormones so that he thinks he is a monkey).
- In "The Speckled Band", the villain controls a snake by whistling, which a snake would be unable to hear. This one was lampshaded in a Russian miniseries. Watson points out that the snake couldn't possibly hear its master's call. Holmes replies that the villain wasn't sure in his method either, and so also tapped his cane on the floor.
- The man also tempts the snake with milk (a common misconception). Holmes calls it "a swamp adder, the deadliest snake in India", a name which does not correspond to any species of the snake's characteristics.
- In the same story, a man who collects Indian wildlife is said to have a pet cheetah and pet baboon. While cheetahs hadn't yet been driven to extinction in India in Doyle's day, baboons come from Africa: large ground-dwelling monkeys from the Indian subcontinent are properly called "macaques".
- Speaker for the Dead: Microbiology and crop cultivation are two overlapping fields but have vastly different implications. Justified by Xenobiologists being extreme Omnidisciplinary Scientist types.
- Michael Crichton's novel Sphere has quite a few. The squid might get a pass for being an alien manifestation, although the biologist should know better than to believe that a normal squid could tear a metal structure to pieces. More flagrantly and not given a pass by the Rule of Cool, same biologist sees a seasnake and finds it perfectly normal to see one 1,000 ft down in near total darkness, AND makes a completely ludicrous evolutionary argument that marine organisms have more potent venoms because it's had longer to evolve (implying that land life arose separately rather than as an extension of marine life?). The whole discussion can be eliminated from the book with no negative impact yet it stands as a short Author Tract.
- The Stand:
- The explanations given for the operation of the superflu virus are sketchy at best, and it seems highly unlikely that the disease would have resulted in such massive destruction. (Among other things, a plague is deadliest if it has a long incubation period, giving it maximum lead time in which to spread before the victim becomes too sick to move around.) Still, there aren't any obvious screw ups... until the end. Up until this point, the superflu had been a binary proposition: Either you got it and died, or you didn't get it. At the end, however, a baby born to one immune and one non-immune parent gets the superflu and then recovers; which leads the thoughtful reader to ask, what happened to the children of immune and non-immune parents born before the flu? As a bonus, the explanation given for how the baby recovered is a load of crap.
- The explanation for why the baby recovers and the children of immunes and non-immunes don't before the plague seems implicitly to be that the babies not born until after the plague have acquired protection from the plague by being in their immune mothers' uteruses at the time of the plague; those born before the plague are no longer connected to the mother and thus don't have the ability to catch it and recover.
- In 'Salem's Lot Dr. Cody, who is not depicted as an ignorant quack but an at least semi-competent professional, says, "Why should your head hurt? Your brain doesn't have any nerves." First off, if your brain had no nerves then it would functionally be useless. He means that your brain doesn't have nociceptors, which is true, but doctors universally knew very long before the book was written that there are all sorts of reasons why your head still hurts. For example, while the gray matter itself doesn't feel pain the blood vessels that run through the brain do. Ice cream headache is one example of this type: the sudden rush of cold to the head makes the vessels temporarily painfully retract. Also, sinuses can cause headaches, as can the inner scalp. Very often it's the back of the eyes (which are less round and go further back into the skull than they look from the outside) hurting due to eye strain or what not. The skull can feel pain too, but probably only if you've suffered serious cranial damage. No one with an M.D. wouldn't know all this.
- In the Star Trek New Frontier book Stone and Anvil, it is explained that Mark McHenry gets his abilities because he is descended from Apollo and Carolyn Palamas. No one else in the line has these abilities because the godhead is carried on the Y chromosome, and all their descendants prior to Mark are female. Females have only X chromosomes, and there's no explanation where Apollo's Y chromosome was hiding out for the intervening century.
- Medb, Queen of Connacht, from Táin Bó Cúailnge, is defeated because her period saps the strength of her army. The biology artistic license comes about because her period makes her piss blood. Enough to flood three parade grounds in fact.
- Vampires are stated to freak out when they smell human blood. When Bella gets a freaking papercut, it's like throwing a hunk of meat into a shark tank. So, why don't vampires freak out when a girl is menstruating? It's dead blood.
- Considering the fact that sexual desire requires blood flow, there's no way vampires could have sex or sexual desire the way it's portrayed many times in the novels. Meyer says that venom serves the function of blood, but without a heartbeat? Not so much.
- Breaking Dawn:
- Vampires don't have any blood in their tissues, so Edward shouldn't be able to get an erection in the first place. Also, Meyer has said that Vampires' cells don't divide, but sperm is created by a type of mitosis called meiosis, which means that Vampire men shouldn't be able to get women pregnant repeatedly a la Nahuel's father.
- Meyer stated that the reason female vampires can't get pregnant is because when you become a vampire your body can't change. That goes for male and female... so how do they have sex? Male and females reproductive organs have to be able to 'change' in order to have sex and I doubt every single vampire was turned when they were having sex or aroused.
- Vampire venom at one point was stated to replace all fluids in the body which is why it turns into a sparkly rock like substance. If you follow that logic, his semen should have been replaced. So the first time they had sex and he orgasmed... she should have become a vampire instead of becoming pregnant.
- Also, Vampires somehow gain two extra pairs of chromosomes after they change. Yeah.note
- Werewolves also gain one extra pair of chromosomes. And Renesmee has one extra pair of chromosomes. Yeah, that she should have two unpaired chromosomes doesn't matter. In fact, all of Breaking Dawn has no clue at all when it comes to genetics.
- Smeyer has made it known that she is oblivious to how the eye functions, and how she lacks any knowledge of the color spectrum.
- Bella sees rainbows around each source of light. We humans can experience the same using micro prism films, those glasses that make every light have a little image over them, or going around with the new 3D movie glasses. The only difference is that the glasses/prism film have a warning not to operate any machinery, drive, or go into direct sunlight wearing the glasses.
- That's why she's so clumsy?
- In one John M. Ford short story, a research lab comes up with a drug called Argent 7 which gives the user superpowers. One user gives himself vision extending into the ultraviolet, by extending his retinas' sensetivity into that region. The problem with this is that human retinas are already naturally sensitive to UV — what prevents us seeing in UV is that the cornea filters it out.
- In World War Z, the organ-smuggler claims that a transplanted heart from an infected donor would convey infection faster than an infected liver or kidney, because it has "direct access" to the cardiovascular system. While the heart does propel blood, it doesn't interact with the vast majority of blood that moves through its chambers; the liver and kidneys, which constantly add and remove substances from the bloodstream, would probably spread a viral infection much quicker than the largely-impermeable lining of the heart's chambers.
- Dr. Holt (A Gifted Man) had apparently never heard that you're not supposed to diagnose paternity based on ABO groups when he told an AB- man on the spot that his son, O+, wasn't his biological child. Although it is rare, the man could have been cis-AB and had an O child.
- In Season 5 of Angel there is a scene in which someone looks into a microscope and tells Fred he can see that the disease-causing agent is a retrovirus. Not only would he be unable to see something this small without an electron microscope, but there is no easy way to tell by looking whether it is a retrovirus or not.
- Animal Planet really, really should know better...
- An episode of Animal Planet's: The Most Extreme was about modern day animals and their ancient ancestors. Fair enough...until they start talking about the Komodo Dragon and state that its ancestor was the Tyrannosaurus rex. If the producers of the show had done even five minutes of research on the internet (or even just read a current book on dinosaurs), they would've realized that Komodo dragons and the Tyrannosaurus rex aren't even closely related to one another. A more true ancestor for the Komodo dragon would be the ancient Mosasaurs (sea-dwelling reptiles that lived around the same time as the dinosaurs). This is Artistic License – Paleontology - Your common farm chicken is more closely related to the T-rex (birds are essentially modern-day theropods) than the Komodo dragon is.
- As a lead-in to some trivia about prairie dogs, the narrator of 50 Outrageous Animal Facts speaks of how mammals can sometimes be found in large groups. As he talks, shots of animal crowds appear on screen, including a beachful of walruses, a field full of wildebeest, and ... a lake full of flamingos. Large groups of mammals, right...
- Battlestar Galactica
- In season 2, episode 13, the supposed genius Dr. Baltar heals president Roslin's cancer by injecting her with some cylon/human hybrid blood that is more resistant to diseases because it has no antigens (which means it has bloodtype O) and therefore it has no blood type. Therefore it is somehow capable of destroying a cancer in a very late stage. Furthermore, cancer cells (or any other animal cell type) aren't cultivated in a petri dish and on agar, as it is shown on the pictures Dr. Baltar has, but are instead cultivated in cultivation flasks in a fluid.
- Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory. Yes, Sheldon. When he is unable to learn to drive on a driving simulation without crashing into a pet store or ending up on the second floor of a building, he claims that because he is the next stage in evolution of humanity, citing his small incisors and his massive brain, he does not need to learn how to drive, because the task is beneath him. Evolution does not work that way! Sheldon Cooper is also egotistical and occasionally delusionally convinced of his own superiority. He has been known to occasionally ignore various scientific principles in order to win arguments, particularly when it comes to superhero physics.
- Given that humanity is still evolving, every generation is a new stage. Sheldon's only mistake is that he overexaggerates his own significance in the process.
- He is missing the point of natural selection. Because of his psychological quirks and self-centeredness, his fitness level currently appears to be very low (moreover he has a very low interest in finding a mate in the first place, much less conceiving and raising a child). Unless his attitude changes completely, he is going to be naturally selected against, and not pass on his genes. Evolution favors those who have multiple children.
- Though really, it was just an excuse for not being able to learn to drive, rather than him making a definitive statement about his evolutionary significance.
- In the episode "The Dwarf in the Dirt," Dr. Brennan tells Sweets the chunk of brain Booth is missing would in no way mess with his aim because it was taken from his Frontal and Parietal lobes (which according to her only deal with memory). She then states that only the Occipital lobe (sight) and Cerebellum (coordinated movement) have anything to do with aiming a gun. The part of the Frontal lobe closest to the Parietal lobe is called the "Motor Cortex" and, oddly enough, is in charge of motor control. The Parietal lobe (which is a major part of spatial relations) has a part next to the Motor Cortex called the "Sensory Cortex" which, you guessed it, is about feeling ones body. Moving, feeling and spatial relations have nothing to do with aiming a gun... Nothing at all...
- The frontal and parietal lobes are the largest two lobes of the brain, so it depends on which parts were taken. But the motor cortex and sensory cortex are right beside each other, straddling the border between the lobes, so it's hard to imagine how a single piece could be removed that incorporates both lobes and not involve the motor and sensory cortices (in which case Booth would have troubles far more than just aiming a gun - he'd be liable to be paralyzed on one side of his body in at least one limb). Also, the part of the brain most involved in memory is the Temporal lobe. And in a later episode they show an MRI scan of Booth's brain, and the missing part is most definitely not anywhere near the frontal or parietal lobes.
- In a minor example, one episode starts with a human falling to his death and landing in a field of cows. The witnessing cows just stand there placidly, and politely keep their distance from the investigators. Real cows tend to be curious, so would gather to see what was going on.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- "Some Assembly Required'' would have been a lot easier to swallow had there been a mention of the guys using magic to augment their biology work, but there wasn't anything said about it. First, it's highly unlikely that all three dead cheerleaders would have had the same blood type and been compatible enough for their parts to be grafted together. Second, there's no way any of their cells would have still been living by the time the bodies were recovered and used. (ditto with the dead football player who was brought back). Third, no one seems to recall that heads can't be transplanted without severing the spinal cord and resulting in complete paralysis. It's hard to imagine that's what the re-animated dead kid had in mind when he wanted a girl built for him.
- This trope is occasionally lampshaded in the scripts. A line in the script for "Some assembly required" written by Ty King reads, "it's of a woman's body, with muscles, joints, all kinds of equations and science type stuff (English major much?) scribbled all over it". Joss Whedon's script for "Graduation day, part one" has the stage directions "swabbing blood off the tip and putting it on a slide. That sounds real sciencey! Did I mention I was an English major?"
- Somewhat justified since Sunnydale sits on top of a Hellmouth, which constantly leaks magic (and attracts supernatural creatures) - this probably allows a lot of people to do what they want to do, if they want it badly enough, even if normal biology wouldn't permit it.
- On one episode of Charmed two characters performing an autopsy in the coroner's office both appear to believe that a woman with "high levels of testosterone" in her bloodstream is a biological anomaly, rather than a statistical outlier. "Testosterone? How's that even possible?" It's as if the writers believed that women normally have no testosterone in their bodies at all (in actuality, they do, and some have more of it than others).
- An enemy agent injects herself with a sizable amount of ricin so that she will not talk. That's all well and good, as ricin has no antidote...but it also takes days to do its dirty work. She died instantly (cyanide is a better idea).
- On the third episode of Season 3, a foreign leader requires a blood transfusion and has AB- blood type.
Dr. Captain Awesome is trying to find someone with AB- blood type; even though people with AB bloodtype can receive A, B, AB, and O blood types as long as they are negative. AB- people can also receive red blood cells from all other blood types, however if it was a whole blood transplant, as would happen in an emergency, the sera (which contains antibodies) could cause major problems if not also from an AB- donor, as it would "attack" and cause an immune reaction against the recipient's own cells.
- In The Tag for an episode of Community Abed, Troy and a character played by Betty White rap the biological classification of human beings with a remixed "Africa". While the song is an Ear Worm there are two minor mistakes when the last 's' is dropped from Primates and Sapiens.
- In the CSI episode "Crash and Burn," the suspect says, "I have to feed my fish. Clown loaches, tetras, angelfish..." when the aquarium clearly contains goldfish, angelfish, and a couple other species (possibly tetras in there somewhere). There are, however, no clown loaches - probably because they're best kept in groups of 5 or more, in tanks over 100 gallons, which the tank in the episode definitely was not.
- On an episode of CSI: NY, a laboratory mouse is used to demonstrate how an apparently dead victim had been put into an experimental state of hibernation. The mouse is hooked up to a heart monitor, which can be heard slowing as it enters hibernation and then speeding up as it revives ... but only to a (human) rate of ~75 beats per minute, rather than the 500+ beats per minute that would be typical for a mouse. A mouse with a human's heart rate would have to be in hibernation just to be alive.
- Something similar to Chuck occurs in the first season of Dexter, when Dexter has a flashback to being sick enough that he needed blood. He apparently has an extremely rare blood type that meant donor blood was in short supply, and they had to find a close biological relative of his to donate. That blood type? AB negative. While this is the rarest blood type, it's also compatible with any other type of blood, as long as that blood is also negative, to the point that AB people are referred to as "universal recipients". That said, there are extremely rare blood types... they're just not the ABO system types that everyone's heard of (in particular, there's an Oh type that's both very rare and which can't accept even the so-called "universal donor" O-type blood).
- Doctor Who has many, many, many examples shown over the years. Some of these could be handwaved in one of three ways: 1) The TARDIS doesn't give a literal translation of the Doctor's biobabble, it instead renders something the companions can understand, even if it's wrong. 2) The Alien physiology/technology in question could work differently from our understanding. 3) The Doctor makes it up cause it sounds cool.
- The classic episode The Invisible Enemy beggars description. The Big Bad is a prawn-shaped space virus which spawns... let your imagination fill in the blanks.
- New Earth had the Doctor discovering an underground lair full of cloned humans infected with, in his words, "EVERY DISEASE IN THE UNIVERSE." They didn't die since all the diseases kept each other in equilibrium but if they touched you, you died instantly and painfully. How did the Doctor cure these poor souls? Why, he doused himself in ten or so intravenous solutions designed to cure the diseases, then transmitted the cure by touch. One of these diseases, called "petrifold regression", turns you into stone.
- In Daleks in Manhattan, the Daleks are using a giant lightning rod to power their genetic experiments. Okay. The Doctor mixes his own DNA into the results by hugging the lightning rod as it's struck by lighting. Whu? DNA is conducted by electricity now?
- In The Lazarus Experiment, the weird scorpion monster that Professor Lazarus transforms into is said to be an evolutionary possibility that humanity rejected long ago but has remained locked in the genes, or something along those lines.
- Planet of the Ood has Mr. Halpen constantly downing hair tonic which turns out to be Ood-secretions that TURN HIM INTO AN OOD. Complete with the external forebrain, which can apparently break through the hard palate to come out his mouth.
- In The Hungry Earth while explaining that the Silurians aren't aliens, he calls them 'Homo Reptilians', which implies that reptillian aliens are the same genus as mammalian humans, which is impossible in Real Life.
- In Time Heist, the Teller's ability to reduce its victims brains to soup somehow also caves in their skulls, the bone going from a nice convex dome to a concave section where the forehead and front half of the top should be. It makes the victims actually look like their heads are empty, and is all the more horrifying for it.
- Kill The Moon features giant single-celled prokaryotic spiders. Not only would this make eating and web production very difficult, not only is it outright impossible, but the Doctor apparently cannot pronounce "prokaryotic".
- Throw in the spiders being instantly killed by a spray of disinfectant, the Moon being an egg that somehow gains mass, and the hatched Moonling instantly laying another moon-sized egg exactly where it was before, and the show hit a new low for biological (and scientific) plausibility
- Eleventh Hour likes to screw up cloning (at least the clones are born as infants and not carbon-copy adults with complete memories). In the first episode, Jacob Hood insists that cloned pregnancies are more dangerous to the mother carrying the clone and that you need the "real scientist" at the birth, when in fact a cloned infant poses no more threat to the mother than an in vitro pregnancy, which is scarcely more risky than a natural one (and in fact the mother's health is only in jeopardy if her own body is incapable of carrying a pregnancy; if the baby is unhealthy it will simply miscarry). Then in a later episode, he makes the claim that clones are born genetically the same age as the original that they were copied from (so even though they look like babies, their genes are actually adult or even geriatric), stating that the telomeres which break off each time a cell replicates are severely shortened. However, scientific research measuring telomere lengths has proved this to be false; the developing embryo somehow "knows" how long its telomeres should be and resets them to this length with the enzyme telomerase.
- Friends : Rachel is pregnant for at least fifteen months, being already pregnant at Chandler and Monica's wedding (May 15th) and going on maternity leave in August the next year.
- Not to mention the episode with Emma's first birthday party airing in the fall.
- Despite many season premieres taking place within minutes or even seconds of the previous season finale, hair has somehow managed to grow several inches.
- That's why they don't film entire scenes before the season is over. That way, the audience has a summer to "forget" what the characters looked like and will accept the changes with little fuss.
- Ironically enough they also Lampshade plot devices like this through Joey's work on Days Of Our Lives: his coma-bound character gets a brain transplant that turns him into the donor's character in a new body. Later, he somehow reverts back to his old character (Drake Ramoret) when his body rejects the brain.
- In an episode of Fringe, the Monster of the Week is a fast-moving, foot-long slug that turns out to be an engineered cold virus. Walter attempts to Handwave this by stating that it isn't entirely unprecedented since large ostrich eggs are single cells. Except viruses aren't cells. Cold viruses are strands of genomic DNA contained inside of a protein coat, and entirely unable to move under their own power. Saying that it was a "giant" cold virus makes as much sense as a "giant" hemoglobin molecule.
- This is seen in Game of Thrones when we're old that the Targaryens often married brother and sister to keep their bloodline pure over their 300 year reign, with an inference that they'd been doing it prior to Aegon's conquest, as well. In reality, severe mental and physical debilitation would result from this level of inbreeding (Charles II of Spain is a good historical example of the result). Instead, the Targaryens are physically flawless and only suffer from occasional instances of madness. It's implied that there's more than a little magic in their bloodline, which might be a mitigating factor.
- This is seen frequently in Helix, in spite of the attempt to ground Plague Zombies in epidemiology, using fictional CDC employees.
- The CDC team accepts injected RFID chips from a shared device. This is risky, considering that this could be a method of transmission of The Virus, and they don't know who are asymptomatic carriers, including the device's handler.
- Arctic Biosystems designer lab rats, who lack sex organs so they're more docile, are a solution in search of a problem, since lab rats are already docile, and removing sex organs removes both avenues of study (effects on reproduction, etc) and ability to compare or extrapolate from research on non-customized rats.
- Less than a day is insufficient time to determine, via rat observation, if The Virus is airborne. Even if true this shouldn't be cause to remove a Hazmat Suit, as it could be absorbed through the skin, and bodily fluids can aerosolize.
- Mutagens are, in and of themselves, not so disturbing to work with as Julia and Hatake say. They're used in cell biology.
- Alan is frightened that an infected Peter will be killed by halothane gas, and wants him alive because he may have developed antibodies which takes five days, while Peter's had The Virus for three.
- Viruses are not typically searched for by shape, and when Julia says she's searched for all of them, "even isocahedrons" she's treating the most common shape as though it were unexpected.
- The Zeiss phase-contrast microscopes depicted can't produce such animated images, much less show a virus that's smaller than usual. (viruses also don't move like protozoa). They'd need electron microscopes to see such small objects.
- In "Vector," Julia says rabies "doesn't include a compulsion to spread the disease" but that's exactly how rabies works. This error is odd since Peter's first symptoms are a supernatural exaggeration of rabies. His frightened refusal of water mirrors its hydrophobia, and the neck pulsations evoke the painful throat spasms that happen after those with rabies try drinking.
- Isolation and safety protocols are more talked about in the abstract then abided by. Isolation facilities should be larger and more secure given Arctic Biosystems extensive work with pathogens. In "Vector" Dr. Bryce is correct that he and Sulemani should be separated from the sicker Haven, since late stage infectees are super strong and violent. In "274" Daniel is likewise correct when he thinks now-symptomatic Sulemani and Bryce should stay isolated from the asymptomatic in quarantine, and Alan's failure to account for this violence results in Bryce and Sulemani's deaths.
- By the same token, the switch, over the course of three days, from Hazmat Suit to face shield for interacting with infected is unwise, given that, in "274" its easy for a Vector to slip one off mid-assault, and one strain is known to be hemorrhagic and lethal. Even face shields aren't employed consistently.
- In "274" That the rapid response test wouldn't work is almost a Foregone Conclusion, given that Sarah sampled too few people to be assured of its efficacy, even given a limited population and time frame to work with.
Do girls have
Carly: "Do butts have muscles?"
- Maurice the Chicken. Called a male name. Makes rooster sounds. Is actually a hen, a female.
- On Discovery Channel's I Shouldn't Be Alive, the narrator explains the effects of hypothermia on human cells, using the term "cell walls", in one episode (and is sure they have used it other times). Animals do not have cell walls (in fact, Animalia is the only kingdom where they are absent). Yes, they probably just don't want to explain what a cell membrane is/assume the audience won't understand the explanation, so they use a term the audience will know. Considering Discovery's association with fact and science, it seems like they would be willing to spend an extra ten seconds quickly explaining what it is.
- A Korean drama special entitled Last Flashman has a girl find out a shocking birth secret (that she's an alien or something) because she has blood type O but both her parents have type A. Most of the people are shocked and confused and maintain strongly that it's impossible to have blood type O from A parents. This is biologically wrong, since having O blood type with A parents are perfectly possible — a person with A bloodtype can have the allele pattern Ai, and if each parent donates an i, the child gets an O. It would be odd if it was two ABs giving birth to an O, or two As giving birth to an AB, or two Bs giving birth to an A, or two Os giving birth to an AB or A or B, but this is not the case.
- Life After People just lapsed into this trope, showing footage of Volvox and Paramecium — two well-known varieties of protist — while discussing how living bacteria might've hitched a ride on one of NASA's deep space probes. Protists are more closely related to us than to bacteria, and the types shown would die just as quickly as we would in hard vacuum.
- Nobody expects a fake-cryptid-sightings show like Lost Tapes to keep up scientific credibility, but the statements of their bogus "experts" can contain such idiocy it makes you wonder if they're doing it on purpose. When discussing werewolves, a fake biologist cites instances of a chameleon or octopus changing color as examples of "metamorphosis".
- Monk: A woman kills a billionaire by poisoning a death-row inmate, thus ruining the kidney he was going to donate to said billionaire. They both apparently have the "rarest blood type in the world" — "AB Negative with D antigen." Except, the Rhesus D antigen is what we mean when we say "positive" or "negative." No wonder AB Negative with D Antigen is so rare... it doesn't exist! "AB with the D antigen" would mean he's AB+ ... and therefore can accept any blood type! Also, only blood expresses the Rhesus antigen. All that's required to match in organ transplantation is the ABO blood type; all the recipient needed was another AB-type kidney.
- Cryptid-buffs on Monster Quest attempted to catch photos of Bigfoot, baiting camera-traps with smelly chunks of salmon. If Bigfoot is alleged to be a great ape, why assume it would use smell to find food, or consider fish edible? Apes are mainly vegetarians, the species that do eat meat don't scavenge it, and their sense of smell is only slightly better than our own. Brightly-colored fruit would seem the better ape-attracting food to offer.
- Bigfoot accounts often mention them eating meat. If they're a great ape, they could be at least partly a carnivorous one (like humans).
- Likewise, a suspect on NCIS told Ziva that his aquarium held clownfish, triggers and lionfish. The fish in the tank are clearly clownfish, porcupinefish and surgeonfishes, and keeping lionfish in the same tank as smaller fishes is a great way to get the latter envenomated or swallowed.
- The 1995 Outer Limits remake's Season 7 "Flower Child" was a flagrant offender in this category, featuring Violet, a plant lifeform taking the form of a hot chick via stealing human DNA. At the end of the episode and when her plans are questioned, she reveals her plans for Earth - to the human male who "fathered" her family of spores, no less - with the words "A new species, part you but more of me. To spread across this land, to become many. To become dominant." Correct this troper if he's wrong, but isn't the whole point of inherited genetic characteristics that each parent contributes HALF of their DNA to the child, and not more than half?
- But even more so, since Violet's human form isn't 100% E.T. by default, isn't the new species going to be more him?!?
- The creators of Primeval do this knowingly and willingly for the sake of Rule of Cool.
- Most notably, the Dracorex looks less like an ornithischian dinosaur and more like a dragon, with wing-like dorsal crests, exaggerated horns, and no cheeks.
- Also, while the time for tranquilizer darts to take effect varies, it's usually more than ten minutes, as opposed to less than five seconds.
- In the first episode, Cutter comes across a human skeleton. He is initially worried that it may be his missing wife, but he soon realizes that it's a male skeleton and thus can't be her. Fair enough, but the way he checks is by counting the number of ribs. Never mind that this is based solely on the Biblical account, which even then only affected one individual from who knows how long ago (it was never said to be a hereditary trait). Checking the shape of the hipbones would be easier.
- QI had an episode about animals and Sean Lock, either as a joke he kept up all evening (claiming that he learned everything he knew about animals from glamour-model Katie Price), or through what he professed to be sincere ignorance, was unable to score a lot of points. Among other "facts", he claimed that Rhinos are dinosaurs, because he thought they were called "Rhinosaurus".
- On Rides, the build team works to incorporate a real human skull into a spooky-themed vehicle's sound system. The narrator constantly refers to the skull as "he" and "Don", yet the numerous close-ups show features that suggest it's really a "Donna". Granted, the show's cast have no training to recognize this ... but you'd think the suppliers who provided the skull would've mentioned it.
- In the third episode of Sanctuary, Zimmerman claims that the last major outbreak of the Bubonic Plague was in 800 AD (the end of the Plague of Justinian). Leaving aside for the moment that he should have said "AD 800," the last major outbreak of the plague was in 1945. He was only off by about a millennium. Even ignoring the occasional outbreak in modern times, he's completely missed a little thing called "The Black Death" in the 14th century, the most famous plague outbreak in history, where it killed one in four Europeans.
- In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicless' first season, Derek needed a blood transfusion. Apparently, he needed his own blood type despite being AB ("Universal recipient", able to take blood from any other type)... Sarah said she was type O ("Universal donor", able to give blood to anyone), but her biological son John was AB?! Even if John's father Kyle was also AB, John must have an O from his mother, so he's either A or B, yet his not-AB-blood worked just fine...
- In one of the early episodes of Smallville (which, admittedly, is not well-known for scientific accuracy), an embittered loner entomologist decides to take out his newfound mutant aggression on his mother. He blames this on his nifty bug genes, but rather than describing a real critter, he likens himself to the fictitious pharaoh spider. The fact that this creature exists in Sphinx And The Cursed Mummy is either a coincidence or a Shout-Out, as the game wasn't released until two years later.
- The entire StargateVerse series is filled with terrible biology.
- In Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis there are many references to humans not being as evolved as other alien races. Plus how you ascend, you have to evolve into it, or jump into an evolution machine, or have your brain operating at a certain "wavelength" or whatever happens to be the trope of the week.
- The Asgard have a serious problem-they are all clones and because they simply clone their last body their DNA is degrading! It seems that nobody had the bright idea to not copy the last clone, but just use the original copy every time.
- Well, this is actually the point - they do not have any original from back in the time when they were still well enough. They found some ancient frozen Asgard, but those were not yet ready to be used as "hosts". There is no saying what the requirements of the clone are - possibly, the mind transferring process isn't actually as simple as they make it to be - possibly, the body has have some compatibility with the "transplantee". By the time they realized they have a problem, it was already too late. Yes, they could have bought some time if they stored some current copies for later use, but at the end of the series, they made it clear they do not want to protract their "death" as a species any longer, when there are no advancements in their condition.
- In Stargate Atlantis Dr. Becket concludes that the Wraith evolved from the Iratus Bug by using every trope in the biology book. The DNA of the Iratus Bug mixed with human DNA, and because parasites are normally identical to hosts they feed from, the Wraith were born.
- Too many Star Trek episodes to name (some are covered on the subtrope pages).
- Another Enterprise offender: an Ensign has a slug-pet that is not faring well on board ship, so they drop it off on a planet. Not its native planet — just a planet. Admittedly it won't have any breeding stock, but still...
- In the episode "Macrocosm" we have viruses(!) which can grow in size - up to a meter, fly, and hover in the air. It turns out that they somehow could do it by taking an alien growth hormone.
- The Occampans (Kes' race) In Voyager, can only reproduce once, and have one child. What kind of species would evolve such a trait and thrive? You'd need EVERY member of your race to reproduce to have 0 population growth. If any member of the race dies, then the race as a whole has taken a blow it cannot recover from! How did the Occampan race come about? Since they can have only one child, and thus cannot grow in numbers, how are there so many of them? It was actually explained in a novella that twin and triplet births were extremely common among Ocampans, so it depends how you look at it. It still doesn't excuse the fact that they can only give birth while standing up, increasing the chance somebody is going to drop the baby upon delivery.
The way Kes's species reproduces makes no real sense. The child can only be delivered standing up (the baby coming from the back), maximizing the chance of mortality from the baby falling to the ground, sex is a very complicated procedure which includes foot massaging, and they can only have ONE child in their ENTIRE lives. Even if both the men and the women of the species had babies with a 0% mortality rate (and none of those babies die between birth and having their own child) that means they can only maintain their current numbers.
- Perhaps those are limitations caused by the dependence from the Caretaker.
- In the second episode, Kes asked for soil samples to help her in setting up a hydroponics bay. Hydroponics is the means of growing plants without soil.
- The TNG episode "Genesis" was on a par with "Threshold" — demonstrating that Brannon Braga may have a PhD in this trope. Switching on Barclay's T-cells causes the Enterprise crew to — sigh — devolve to a variety of different species... most of which have common ancestors diverging HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF YEARS AGO — and Spot the cat becomes an iguana. Apparently in Star Trek, everyone walks around with copies of not only the future evolutionary patterns of their own species but ALSO whole swathes of species that are completely unrelated to them from their home planet. The worst offender being Barclay's devolution (and presumably re-evolution) into a spider, which would only be possible if he devolved into a pre-Cambrian lifeform first.
- Data devolving into a pocket calculator would have made more sense.
- Rhis was already plumbed with TNG's "The Chase", which attempts to cure at least three problems at once...by making all of the Alpha Quadrant's DNA part of a message by a progenitor race, also humanoid, that "seeded" planets with their genetic code in the hope of more sentient humanoids like themselves popping up. Cue Picard facepalm.
- An original idea that inspired a lot of 'ancient ancestor' settings. The original humanoids found that their home galaxy (not just one quadrant) contained no life that was like them. Their own extinction fears drove them to seed the Milky Way and as a result encourage humanoid life to develop. The code was like a signature for them - they wanted the Milky Way races to find out their origin to encourage cooperation.
- One episode involved changelings that replaced children, then fed on the unsuspecting mothers' synovial fluid. The creatures left big lamprey-like bite marks at the bases of the mothers' necks, which only makes anatomical sense if they feed on cerebrospinal fluid; to get synovial fluid, they ought to have bitten knees, hips, and other large diarthrotic joints. A loss of synovial fluid should not cause death, by the way: it causes severe arthritis, which none of the afflicted mothers exhibited.
- In another episode, a charred bone from a witch's bundle is identified by the boys as that of a newborn baby. Long bones of infants don't have fused epiphyses on their ends, while this one clearly has them.
- Brannon Braga, of Star Trek fame, went on to create a short-lived sci-fi series also called Threshold. The premise? Alien space signals cause people's DNA to begin re-writing itself! At least this time, the characters acknowledged that this should be impossible and had trouble dealing with the idea that it was actually happening.
- The Tomorrow People. What makes it worse in this case is the fact that the show had a scientific advisor listed in the credits!
- Claims that evolution takes "thousands" of years. It is far more complicated than that. Populations and species are constantly evolving - they are not simply different a million years later. Microbes, bacteria and viruses especially, evolve in terms of decades and single years. Why do you need a flu vaccine every year? Why do bacteria like MRSA come along? Microevolution.
- In "Hitler's Last Secret", John explains, straight faced, that "Genes are those body cells known as the DNA molecule." Which is like saying "voting districts are those sovereign nations known as the first-past-the-post electoral system"—each of the component phrases has a definite meaning, but they are combined into gibberish.
- The spin-off Torchwood has a character ask if Weevils might be mutating and thus becoming immune to the Weevil spray. So far so good. Then the Battle Butler adds "or evolving".
- An episode of the National Geographic Channel's series World's Deadliest claimed that the lion is the largest African predator. A large Nile crocodile can weigh five times as much. Potentially due to confusion over "Carnivore" (as in "order Carnivora", of which the lion is indeed the largest member in Africa), and "carnivore" (as in "meat-eater in general"), which is often used interchangeably with "predator" (despite scavengers also eating meat).
- The X-Files has a bit of this with most monsters-of-the-week.
- Human-flatworm hybrids can happen on their own with enough radioactive sludge.
The same monster also mashes together three different and entirely unrelated flatworms: planarian (the "larva" prop animal note ), tapeworm (it has a scolex, i.e. the "head" of a tapeworm), and finally fluke (the name given).
- In "Blood" an LSD-like substance was combining with adrenaline to produce a hallucinogenic substance... in the eyeball. They have visual hallucinations (or did they?) The eyeball could probably absorb it into the blood, but the coincidence is a bit much.
- Dem Bones song found here (warning for sound)
- "...the toe bone's connected to the heel bone..." [Nope.]
- "...the thigh bone's connected to the backbone..." [Also nope.]
- "...the neck bone's connected to the head bone..." [No such thing as "the" neck or head bone.]
- Depending on how you look at it, either very few bones are actually "connected" to other bones, or all of them are connected to all the others (the various skull bones are pretty clearly connected to each other, as are the fused bones at the other end of the spine; other than that, they mostly just hang out near each other and are connected only by soft tissue without actually touching).
- In the children's song "I'm Being Eaten By A Boa Constrictor", the snake swallows its prey feet-first. This is backwards from how snakes normally feed (granted, doing it the right way around would make for a much shorter song...) Another problem with the song is that boas kill their prey before they start to swallow it.
- Back in Stampede Wrestling, the Dynamite Kid, a Heel, was feuding with Davey Boy Smith. Dynamite took a rather, to put it mildly, unique approach to generating heat for the feud. He and manager JR Foleynote were being interviewed and Dynamite claimed that Davey Boy was a test tube baby, but that's not the unscientific part. The unscientific part was Dynamite saying that Davey being a test tube baby meant that he wasn't human and that he should "go back to Jupiter or Mars."
- White Wolf's Aeon Trinity contains the following gem: "[Psions are] the product of natural human evolution, not genetic mutation." This was later retconned to refer to mankind's spiritual evolution.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- For example, all human/tiefling descendants are tieflings. Forever. Nobody ever finds a tiefling hiding unknown in their family tree; oh no, if your great-grandfather is a tiefling so is everyone descended from him. Apparently when devils are involved, Mendel's laws are more like suggestions. Depending on the sourcebook, some tried to correct it to "half-demon for a few generations, tiefling for a few generations, human eligible for Demon Bloodline feats", judging by the various sourcebooks on the subject (and depending on who you mate with). As of 4th edition, thought, tieflings are back to having supernaturally tainted blood, rather than a genetic condition; the first tieflings were the result of normal humans undergoing an infernal ritual, rather than interbreeding with demons.
- Some D&D examples of this trope don't even have A Wizard Did It as an excuse. One of the Mystara setting's supplements featured a former underground empire of gnomes, now abandoned and infested with kobolds, various dungeon vermin, and wild herds of fungus-grazing mules. The mules were supposedly the feral descendents of the gnomes' mule beasts of burden. While female mules may not be 100% sterile, fertile males are so rare that the only evidence of such creatures is anecdotal, making a wild population of mules virtually impossible even on the surface, never mind underground!
- Fungal enemies, such as the shrieker or violet fungus, are generally listed as belonging to the Plant type. "Plant" and "fungus" are mutually exclusive.
- FATAL allows for completely out-of-whack character biology. Would you like to have nipples the size of your head and an anus with negative circumference? Equally silly is being able to hit a very specific internal organ AND NOTHING ELSE on the enemy; to quote one of the more infamous reviews:
"The two stared at each other, then struck simultaneously. Jack's sword cleaved through the cultist's chest, cleaving through the nipple, the xiphoid process - the lowest part of the sternum - and the shoulder blade. The cultist's blade only caused damage to Jack's appendix and his adrenal gland, somehow missing everything else in front of and in back of Jack's adrenal gland and appendix."
- Having your heart torn out kills you in two rounds, which is slower than having your testicles cut off, which with a failed save will kill you instantly. Exactly why the creators of FATAL consider the testicles more vital to life than the heart is left as an exercise for the reader, one you probably don't want to solve.
- In FGU's Space Opera, a character who has died can be injected with "TKM"; a drug that stops cell decomposition. But the drug reaches the whole body via circulation, a function that stops at the moment of death.
- Two specific cases in Rifts, listed separately:
- In the Atlantis Sourcebook, a parasite called a Brain Feeder is said to "...excrete a chemical that anesthetizes the area of the brain it is eating..." This would be unnecessary, as there are no pain receptors in the brain, and therefore it can't feel pain.
- This one could well be a case of Science Marches On. There is an animal race in the books called an Ostrosaurus, which is not a dinosaur but "a large featherless bird." According to modern paleontology, birds are dinosaurs.
- The description of dragons says that they are actually mammals, not reptiles, even though they are scaly, hairless, egg-laying creatures that don't produce milk.
- In Warhammer 40,000 science generally takes a backseat to the Rule of Cool, but...
- One particularly egregious example needs to be mentioned: The Eldar are stated to have TRIPLE HELIX DNAnote and are somehow still hinted to be capable of birthing a viable human/Eldar hybrid, the sole example of which is one of the Ultramarines. This has since been retconned out of existence. The fact that female Eldar may have ample chests even though Eldar have literally not a single gramm fat in their bodies is almost tame in comparison.
- Genestealers. Apparently, after three generations of hybrids getting progressively more and more human (which presumably means that the Genestealer DNA is getting more and more diluted), a fourth-generation hybrid has a chance of being... a purestrain Genestealer. Yes, it's alien DNA (and thus presumably subject to somewhat different rules), and yes, purestrain Genestealers are awesome, but come on.
- Genestealers alter the target's DNA when they reproduce, thus making the offspring closer and closer to purestrain with each passing generation until the 4th.
- The Kroot. Mostly blank DNA, and they evolve very rapidly by incorporating DNA from everything they eat into their genetic structure. Now answer us this: if their DNA is "blank", how do their embryos form into Kroot in the first place? Definitely a case of 'well, it sounded cool when I wrote it''.
- Ork DNA, in past editions, contained an "algal base" that explained their resilience. This made no sense whatsoever and was dropped; now their DNA just happens to be very, very similar to algae, to the point where they can photosynthesize.
- Occurs sometimes in the Beanie Babies plush toy line:
- A weasel-like Beanie named Runner has mustelidae officially listed as its species. The poem suggests that it could be "a ferret, mongoose, weasel or mink." Although the other three species are legitimately mustelidae, mongoose are kind of on their own classification-wise, and are actually more closely related to felines and hyenas than anything else. This research lapse may have something to do with the "mean poem" that the toy was originally released with (itself a Crowning Moment of Funny for the franchise), which identified it as a mongoose.
- Seaweed the Otter is depicted with seaweed in her paws, as if she were eating it. Sea otters eat largely eat marine invertebrates and fish. While sea otters do sometimes wrap themselves in sea weed, the purpose is to anchor themselves while they sleep.
- From BIONICLE: According the Greg Farshtey, the Makuta "evolved" into antidermis. However, if the Makuta were originally meant and specifically engineered by the Great Beings so that this would happen, this would make it simple metamorphosis.
- Greg Farshtey has addressed his use of the term "evolution." Because natives of the Matoran Universe don't biologically reproduce, such changes are referred to as evolution. In the story's final days, it was revealed that dead beings are send to the Red Star for healing and repairs, but a malfunction kept them from returning.
- Bratz has "'Lil Angelz" veterinarian toys, including pets who get sick. The problem? You take their temperature orally. That's passable, for a children's toy, but the animals' temperatures are at normal human temperatures - as opposed to their actual regular temperatures.
- FurReal Friends has a line of baby animal animatrons that you feed fake milk. Unfortunately, that line contains a duck and a parrot. When did baby birds start drinking milk?
- In Amnesia: The Dark Descent, When Daniel has to (quoting TV Tropes here), "drill a hole in the head of a corpse,[sic] insert a copper tube into the hole, and stick yourself on the needle to give yourself an injection of a vaccine." God only knows if they're the same blood type or how long the body's been dead, if he had any infectious diseases, or if the antibodies have degraded and are no longer viable.
- Somewhat justified since the game takes place in 1893. Blood groups weren't starting to be identified until 1901. How blood-borne pathogens work and the intricacies of vaccinations was also not as well understood at the time.
- In Borderlands 2: Mister Torgue's Campaign of Carnage, Big Bad Piston mocks the Vault Hunter throughout the main story missions. At one point, he claims to have less than one percent body fat and thirteen pecs, which earlier laughed at the Vault Hunter.
- Donkey Kong Country:
- Diddy Kong is often called a chimpanzee (and, in some instances, referred to as Donkey Kong's nephew), even though he has a tail.
- Cranky Kong is explicitly the original DK. He was a gorilla then. He's currently somewhere between Chimp and Baboon, with a demonstrably different bone structure, body shape, set of limb proportions, and cranial shape. Miniature Senior Citizens as applied to non-human primates?
- An IGN article identifies Diddy Kong (who, again, has a tail) as an "ape", and then goes on to say that Lanky Kong is "not an ape, but an orangutan". Orangutans really are apes.
- The Cure Virus in Ever17. Willing suspension of disbelief can take you a pretty long way... but a natural retrovirus that not only rewrites the host to be immortal and have a Healing Factor? Maybe that one can slide. But with no apparent benefit to itself and also apparently adapting itself to give infrared vision to cover the inability to cope with UV rays and therefore be unable to go out when it's not dark? Don't think so! Retroviruses are not magical, intelligent and they do not change DNA for the benefit of their host. Odds are, however, that the Cure virus isn't natural. Leiblich was researching virus engineering, after all. It would explain how and why they knew Tsugumi had been infected at all. They infected her. Then, they studied her to try and find out what was about her that made the virus work.
- Never7 reveals that the Cure Virus was created as a result of a Cure Syndrome delusion, so the "magical" part of the virus can be explained that the virus adapted itself to work in a human's body that way.
- Ironically, an Edutainment game - though, thankfully, it wasn't one that teaches biology. Jump Start Spelling features some cavemen mistaken Edison Firefly for fire. And yes, his abdomen gives off heat.
- Metal Gear Solid:
- The whole business where the Les Enfants Terribles twins were created as double-dominant and double-recessive for absolutely no reason other than to give Liquid Snake something to obsess over. And no, you can't be a homozygous recessive individual because the term is meaningless outside a breeding population.
- There's also the part where Liquid grossly misapplies Asymmetry Theory. His ramblings just make it seem like the writers had at some point heard of the biology/genetic concepts mentioned, but didn't actually bother to look into them any real way.note Then there's the guy whose body carries a charge of 10 million volts, the man who can't decide if his pet internal beehive is full of bees or hornets...
- Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. Four words. Deadly poisonous Zanzibar hamsters.
- In Metal Slug 3D, there's a scene when Rumi tells Marco that carbon dating estimated that an alien ruin Marco was exploring was 8 billion years old. Even bypassing Ragnarok-Proofing, carbon dating will only work on artifacts less than 60,000 years (or so) old. Other methods of testing radioactive decay are necessary for something far older. The alien ruins are well on their way to being twice as old as the Earth (4.6 billion years old).
- Monster Hunter features a ridiculous number of monsters; some of which, admittedly, could have existed on this or some other planet. Many of them, however, cause Capcom to adhere to this trope - the world on which the game takes place presumably has similar atmospheric conditions and gravity, and yet... the Deviljho...
- Mortal Kombat is very guilty of this, especially in the 3D games: Rip out a brain, the body is still standing AND feeling pain; rip out a skull, and the head still has shape; rip out your own tibias, and you're still standing; sever someone's head, and the body is still standing; the list goes on...
- Lampshaded in Mortal Kombat 3, where certain Fatalities could cause several of the same thing to get ripped out, including multiple hearts, rib cages, and skulls. Also, most often these were ripped out through the chest. Yes, even the skulls...
- NetHack variant Slash Em Extended has goats and other mammals that lay eggs.
- Pokémon :
- Several of Cubone's Pokédex entries state that it wears the skull of its mother. Every Cubone encountered has a skull on its face, which means that EVERY SINGLE Cubone commits matricide (or its mother just dies) shortly after birth and each female Marowak/Cubone can only have one child. The species should have either died out or have rapidly dwindling numbers at this point.
- If it's wearing the skull of the mother, the Cubone cannot grow large enough to match the mother's size (that or it must find a larger skull to wear) since a skull should be smaller than a Cubone's head. Are Cubones therefore growing smaller with every successive generation?
- the most common explanation is that cubone is actually a baby kangaskhan. apparently, simply wearing the skull turns cubone into an entirely different species (as impossible as that is). it's never officially confirmed, though, despite cubone being about the right size, and the portion of its head seen on a japanese card from the trading card game does look similar to kangaskhan's face.
- For the size part considering the different shape of the skull and how it no longer appears to be loose fitting, it could be inferred that when a cubone evolves it's head fuses into the the skull so the final size is always about the same. Though it still leaves the glaring problem that A. If true then their numbers could never go up since no mother could ever have more than one child, and B. Once breeding comes into play after the first generation of games you can get as many cubone as you want from one mother and they ALL have skull helmets so... make of that as you will.
- Pokémon also states that Vaporeon's 'cell composition is similar to water molecules. As a result, it can melt away into water.' A cell is a lot more complex than a three-atom molecule. Even if we assume this to be a mistranslation that should read something like 'its cells are composed mostly of water', then we and (everything else alive) could too.
- Red Dead Redemption: A rare example of simple mistakes than mismanagement of biological knowledge. In some cases random glitches or hacks allow you to ride other animals that are often used for hunting challenges. However, they still gallop and neigh like horses (as well as floating inches off the ground)- including the elk, wolf, grizzly bear, cougar, deer, bobcat, dog, and a jack-rabbit. Others were more intentional. For example pumas don't sound like jaguars. In fact they don't roar at all, but growl, hiss and make snarly near-human screams.
- In Ripper, the killer is revealed as hacking people's minds/brains to program their bodies to self destruct. While there are ways to theoretically kill someone if you interface with their brain, the Ripper somehow increases the internal body pressure to cause them to explode from the inside. Somehow the forensics investigators keep thinking the killer is killing by slicing people up with a knife, which would look nothing like exploding from within, even assuming programming your body to explode was possible.
- In Sly 2: Band Of Thieves, one of Bentley's plans works on the assumption that tigers dislike water. In real life, tigers are one of the few known types of cat who like to get wet. Also in the Sly Cooper games, Bentley (a turtle) and Murray (a hippopotamus), both aquatic creatures, are incapable of swimming, instantly drowning upon contact with a body of water.
- Starcraft. For a series that goes to great length to explain how everything works, the powered marine armour really shouldn't require multiple shoulder dislocations...
- Arguably explained and justified by the opening cinematic for Starcraft II. Though that depends on whether you believe Tychus Findley's build is at all realistic.
- Star Ocean The Last Hope features a number of baffling evolutionary presumptions. For instance, there are apparently "right" and "wrong" ways to evolve, and we should "make our hearts worthy" of evolution. Edge Maverick must not hold protozoa in very high regard. Edge, sweetie, that's "cultural development" and "reaching a specific level of technological advancement (specifically interstellar travel) within that culture" you're thinking of, not evolution, the two are almost entirely unrelated.
- Wario: Master of Disguise has a dolphin boss who breathes water instead of air, and the way to beat it involves trapping it above water so it gasps like a fish. Because dolphins are obviously fish.
- World of Warcraft
- The devs don't know how horses run (the game animates them the same way as a cheetah, with legs outstretched in the suspension phase instead of collected). But is it a big enough deal for the devs to correct it? Not really.
- Elekk (a pseudo elephant mount) freakin' gallop. Come to think of it, so do the mammoths. Knee joints of adamantium!
- The wolf mounts, and by extension all wolf mobs using the worg model◊ run nothing like an actual wolf would run. Wolf mobs using the alternative wolf model◊ run properly.
- Orcas apparently produce humpback whale song. When fighting, no less.
- In Cow of the Wild, Rune's distinctive scar supposedly resulted from the pupil of his eye being ripped out. The pupil is a hole in the iris. Just think about that for a minute.
- George the Dragon has a sword fighting scene where the duelists have an improbable Darth Vader/Luke Skywalker moment. "Lobster, I am your Fish"
- Ménage ŕ 3: DiDi's breasts defy the laws of both biology and physics — despite having enormous natural Gag Boobs, they not only fail to sag at all, but are completely spherical, with the nipple appearing on the upper-third of the breast. A Rule of Sexy here, as Gisele almost never draws breasts as anything but round and perky.
- As referenced above, Liquid Snake's appalling grasp of biology is repeatedly referenced and mocked in The Last Days Of FOXHOUND. It actually explains that the entire dominant / recessive genes thing was complete rubbish, and that Liquid was told he was the inferior one as a part of installing a massive inferiority complex in him, so he'd constantly keep on pushing himself to do better. And then it turns out to be a Double Subversion, because Big Boss explains that it was actually Solid that got all the "recessive genes." It isn't just Liquid's grasp of genetics; it's Hideo Kojima's that's so hilariously wrong. Subsequently lampshaded when Liquid consults the American Journal of Inaccurate Genetics.
- In the world of Off-White, humans normally can't have blue eyes at all. This is necessary for the plot to work, because White Spirits are indicated by their blue eyes. If humans could have blue eyes in this comic, they would have no way of knowing that the human White Spirit is gone, something that drives much of the plot.
- Actually averted in The Order of the Stick #921, though in a bit of a misleading way: Vaarsuvius' familiar refers to pteranodons as "clade brothers". While pteranodons are not the precursors of modern birds, they do share the clade Archosaura. But then, in cladistics, almost any two organisms can be part of the same clade if you go back far enough. Lions and Tigers are part of the clade Felidae; dogs and cats Carnivora; cats and monkeys Mammalia; and so on.
- In Teahouse the brother-sister twins Remy and Rory are said to be identical even though that's impossible for a brother and sister pair. Word of God claims they did this on purpose◊.
- Downplayed in Contest Jitters. Janet is very buff for a natural bodybuilder, but her trainer did comment that she had the genes for it. It is also shown that she works very hard at weights.
- An episode of Jimmy Neutron involved extracting mitochondria from a virus. Viruses aren't cellular and don't have cells, and by extension don't have mitochondria.
- In an episode of Ben 10, some cows and a human were turned into mutant monstrosities due to exposure to an alien mutagen. Fortunately they were 'only briefly exposed', so the mutation reversed itself by the end of the episode.
- The sequel series Ben 10: Alien Force features numerous human/alien hybrids, biologically impossible enough on its own. One of these had a nonhuman parent of a species made of fire.
- In an episode of the short-lived The Buzz on Maggie, Maggie's older brother zaps her with a hand buzzer, resulting in X-Ray Sparks. For those who have never heard of the show, it's a high school comedy involving insects. Insects do not have inner skeletons.
- In Danny Phantom, failed cloning resulted in a female, younger version of Danny, named Danielle, who would devolve into ectoplasm if she used her powers. She got better. Cloning should produce a younger version, just a fair bit more so than the cartoon likely portrayed. The entire thing was an obvious reference/homage to the 90's Clone Saga from Spider-Man, which similarly botched cloning in many, many ways.
- Combine that with Artistic License – History: In Rankin/Bass Productions' The Easter Bunny Is Comin' to Town, one music segment has the chickens tell a story in a song that makes fun of the riddle of "chicken or the egg": They explain that "the chicken came first" by retelling The Bible story of Noah's Ark, and comparing the riddle to who came first: "the pussycat or the fiddle", "the Fountain or Ponce de León", and "the cow or Mrs. O'Leary".
- Science Marches On: Scientists now think the dinoid oviducts had to evolve to produce the proper egg before the chicken('s ancestor) could be hatched. Technically, the chicken did evolve first.
- Done in The Fairly OddParents episode where Timmy's Dad's first time on the Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? spoof, "Are You Brighter Than A 6th Grader" had him answer "sea cucumber" to nearly all the questions until the last one, "what kind of cucumber lives in the sea" prompting him to say the wrong answer. Forcing himself to re-attend school, Timmy's Dad retakes the competition and goes on a roll until the last question, "which sea vegetable would suit perfectly on an undersea salad", causes him to hesitate until he find it in himself to say the right answer. In spite of the name, sea cucumbers are not cucumbers or vegetables in general, but animals - specifically echinoderms, like starfish. Regular cucumbers aren't technically vegetables, even.
- Family Guy:
- Most of the jokes based on Joe's crippled status fall under this. Anyone who knows ANYTHING about paralysis knows the problem isn't the legs, it's the damage to the spine that keeps the legs or anything below the damage from being used. Leg transplants wouldn't repair the damage at all, correcting the damage to the spine would. Even stranger in that in one episode when he was cured, he got re-paralyzed by a gunshot wound to the lower back, and they also make a lot of jokes about how nothing else below the waist works very well. Like most things on the show, Joe's paralysis mostly seems to run on Rule of Funny. Never mind the Unfortunate Implications of all the cripple jokes.
- Franklin and the Green Knight, a film from the Franklin series depicts Mrs. Turtle, an anthropomorphic turtle, as being pregnant with Franklin's sister, Harriet, rather than laying an egg. Franklin can also remove his shell in the cartoon series. In reality, a turtle's shell is fused to its spine and ribcage. Even if it were possible to take it off, attempting such an act would kill the turtle in a very messy way. (While we're on the subject, someone should remind a certain Italian plumber of this.)
- Among the many errors regarding animal physiology and behavior, one of the more minor in Hero 108 is the Deer King and his men, who neigh, grunt, and whinny like horses even though deer in real life make noises more like they have kazoos stuck in their throats or barking.
- In one episode of Johnny Test, Johnny and Dukey go into their sisters' lab and take their ladybug when they run out of insects (which they used by photographing them in products and sending the pictures to the companies so they can get free stuff as an apology). Predictably, things don't go as planned as the ladybug is revealed to be highly unstable and grows into a voracious giant that threatened to eat all vegetation in its path, including an extremely rare giant pansy in Porkbelly's greenhouse exhibit. Unless it was a part of the subfamily Epilachninae (which are in fact herbivores and present a significant problem as crop pests), a majority of ladybugs (family Coccinellidae) people know are carnivorous and feed mainly on aphids. Most jarringly is that Johnny's sisters, who frequently tout themselves as geniuses, never point this out.
- Much like the Warhammer example above, Jonny Quest The Real Adventures had an episode where Dr. Quest found out that Moai statues that he was studying were resonant chambers, and by playing a certain tone could speed up evolution. They discovered this by testing some odd-looking grass nearby, which had triple helix DNA. Jeremiah Surd used this in QuestWorld to devolve Race and Benton into cave men, but only their minds. How this works is never explained since their bodies don't change (since simulations don't have DNA) and there was no suggestion that it could be used in reverse. It also doesn't explain why only certain things are targeted and others aren't, even if they're in range to be affected.
- Justice League has a biological inaccuracy serve as the key plot-point to a season 1 episode. In "Fury", Arisia attempts to wipe out all men on Earth with a deadly "allergen". Allergens are not contagious; different people (and different species) have different allergic reactions to the same substance. And crystals do not make something super-allergic!
- Also, the episode focuses on the sociological implications rather than the very glaring one of "All non magically guided humans will die off very quickly with no men to participate in the reproductive process with." Yes, the villain grew up on an island of women who are created from clay and greek god magic, but pointing out to her that that's the ONLY place this happens might be helpful.
- Krypto the Superdog: Lex Luthor's pet Iguana and Harmless Villain Ignatius often gets himself into trouble using the Phlebotinum or technology of the week to catch an elusive bug or make them bigger, or in another episode, using a time machine to go to the past and try to eat a dinosaur egg. In reality iguanas are complete herbivores, as any protein is harmful to their health. Although they may accidentally eat a bug or two in the wild, they never actively hunt for anything other than leafy greens, fruits, or vegetables.
- The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack plays with this with how medical practices were back in the day with Doctor Barber. One infamous quote from him is, "Silly Flapjack. The human body is a complex system of pulleys and counterweights, all working to manipulate the food hole." This was probably intentional, given how the show revolves around a prepubescent sailor and his captain who uses a talking whale as a ship trying to find an island made of candy.
- In the episode where everyone catches the plague, Dr. Barber needs the uninfected Flapjack's blood to make a cure. Vaccines are actually made by studying infected blood.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- The most obvious example of this on the show is seeing the ponies in poses that would be physically impossible for actual horses, such as standing upright and crossing their legs. Less obviously, horses cannot belch, but that didn't stop Apple Bloom from doing so adorably.
- The ponies are sometimes seen feeding ferrets with vegetables and nuts, even though ferrets are entirely carnivorous. One episode has averted this when Fluttershy is shown feeding them fish.
- Contrary to "Winter Wrap-Up", mice, rabbits, porcupines, and tree squirrels do not hibernate.
- The bald eagle in "May the Best Pet Win!" screams like a red-tailed hawk.
- Toucans are portrayed with generic bird feet with three toes in front and one in back, when they should have two in front and two in back like parrots.
- Beavers are drawn with white incisors. Real beavers have orange incisors.
- When a pony opens their mouth especially wide, you can often see their uvula - very few animals outside of humans have uvulas, and horses are not one of them. Of course, the uvula exists primarily to aid in speech, and Equestrian ponies are much more talkative than Earth ones.
- The seal in "May the Best Pet Win!" is more evidently a sea lion, with ear flaps and more upright posture.
- "Inspiration Manifestation": Robins make their nests out in the open and not in hollowed out trees and therefore don't use birdhouses. Robins also do not eat birdseed so would have no interest in the rather copious amount of it Fluttershy provides.
- While they may play this trope straight to egregious levels for the sake of the plot and settings, it's also obvious that the animators and writers have seriously done their homework on the subject. Everything from the way the ponies walk to little things most people would never notice are actually done by horses in real life.
- In one episode of Phineas and Ferb, someone pitches ideas for an "inaction figure" based on Perry the Platypus, one of which is "The Mad Marauding Marsupial of Death." Right continent, wrong order. The platypus is a monotreme, not a marsupial. note Ferb has also stated that the platypus is the only mammal that lays eggs; apparently, he's never heard of echidnas.
- Also, in one episode Phineas states that platypuses are supposed to stay inside at night. One problem, platypuses are mostly nocturnal.
- Perry's behaviour and appearance in general is nothing like that of normal platypodes (yes, that's the plural). He doesn't have webbed hands/front feet and his tail is more like a beaver's (the platypus is covered in fur all but for their bills and feet). Overlooking all this is seemingly played for Rule of Cool, though.
- The ostriches in the show have three toes on each foot, instead of two like in real life.
- Alligators are drawn as more closely resembling crocodiles (i.e. V-shaped snouts, lower teeth visible when mouth is closed).
- "Belly of the Beast" claims sharks have molars and incisors (they do not).
- 1973/74 Super Friends episodes:
- "The Shamon U". A miniaturized sperm whale returns to normal size on a city street. It should be crushed by its own weight and be unable to breathe, but it's just fine.
- "The Watermen''. When the title aliens extract silicon from sea water, it causes the sea water to immediately turn into red tide. Just one problem: red tide is caused by microorganisms, not a lack of silicon. This is lampshaded when Professor Matey notes that it should be impossible.
- A group of Decepticons from The Transformers, known as the Predacons (whom, believe it or not, are actually the ancestors of the Predacons from Beast Wars), actually compose of Razorclaw (a lion), Rampage (a tiger), Divebomb (an eagle), Headstrong (a rhino), and Tantrum (a bull). In real life, the alt-modes of the last two are supposed to be herbivores - very vicious herbivores, but herbivores just the same.
- Yin Yang Yo had at least two instances considering the like:
- In a few episodes Yin and/or Yang throw up; however, since that they're rabbits, they shouldn't be able to barf. Truth in Television states that rabbits are incapable of vomiting. Real rabbits lack opposable thumbs, bipedal locomotion and the ability to vocalize in English, so perhaps they possess more non-lagomorph characteristics than strictly necessary for the sake of story and audience association purposes.
- In one episode, Master Yo once suggested that he was related to raccoons, which was a popular scientific theory... once. Genetic testing conclusively proved otherwise years before the episode aired; now, it's generally accepted by zoologists that pandas are members of the bear family, even if their unusual bi-colored fur makes them the black (and white) sheep of that family.
- Any gag where a character eats spicy food and drinks water or juice to cool down their tongue. Spicy foods contain a chemical called capsaicin, which binds to the taste buds, causing a burning sensation. Water only alleviates the pain momentarily and sugary juices only make it worse by opening up the taste buds and allowing more capsaicin in. The best thing to drink is milk — or alcohol, which is why Indian food and lager is such a popular combination.
- However, many people don't know this, making these gags quite realistic. Plus, almost any beverage is better than nothing, since it will dilute or wash away the capsaicin to some extent.
- Milk works mostly because of the fat content. Any fatty food will kill the burn fairly effectively. Starchy foods also work, to a lesser extent.
- One of the episodes of Timon & Pumbaa, had the hyena trio, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, being manipulated by a pair of cheetahs by sending them through a literal wild goose chase to prevent them from disturbing their hunts. Their first meeting has the hyenas obviously being intimidated by the cheetahs. Shenzi even puts her paw over Ed's mouth when he rudely demands what they want from them, and then immediately tries to defuse the situation with flattery, calling them "big, bold, brave cheetahs". In reality, the exact opposite would occur. Despite their speed, hyenas are much stronger than cheetahs, and since hyenas hunt in packs most encounters between the two species involve hyenas stealing prey from cheetahs. As a result, cheetahs will actively avoid hyena packs as much as possible. Also, among the animals that fell prey to the cheetahs by the end of the episode are implied to be a rhino and a hippo, which cheetahs do not prey on due to large size and immense strength.
- In another episode, Timon called a capybara-like rodent a marmoset (a type of monkey).
- Another episode claimed that toucans have serrated bills for crushing and the antagonistic toucan character was shown crushing a snail shell. While the bill of a toucan is certainly serrated, it has weak muscles and is incapable of crushing even soft fruit.
- Yet another episode implies that scorpions are insects, when they are arachnids like spiders.
- In one Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode, Flanders ends up the ruler of the world and demands that everyone be happy and non-aggressive under his rule, or he surgically removes their frontal lobes to force them to be happy. Actually, damage (not to mention removal) of the frontal lobe would cause depression and aggressive behavior, not alleviate it.