A writer may want to set a story in a location, but that doesn't mean they want or need to be accurate- or even see it. This form of Artistic License can happen in a number of ways. The most common seems to be setting a story in a particular city without consulting a map, thus placing locations that are nowhere near one another quite close by, underestimating the time it would take to get from one to another, and sometimes transplanting whole landmarks from somewhere else entirely.
Lack of knowledge of regional climate can also be glaringly obvious. A rural landscape in Maine does not look like a backlot in California. Often the lack of knowledge beyond common National Stereotypes results in a Hollywood Atlas or worse. This is often used in a stereotypical way, since well Viewers Are Morons, the popular image of a country or regions geography is used rather than the actual one.
This trope may not be obvious to anyone unfamiliar with the locale in question, but anyone who lives there will spot it right away, and when it's bad enough it can destroy the believability of the entire project.
Compare Television Geography. If the writer intentionally has a character make geography mistakes, then that's a case of Global Ignorance. Artistic License - Astronomy has some examples of this trope, only in space. Also, for geography that's explicitly fictional but still unrealistic, see Patchwork Map.
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The idea that the Great Wall of China is visible from space is incorrect, even at the closest point that could be considered space. The variations for being visible from the space shuttle or the moon are even more so; from the moon, only massive cloud systems, continents, and the oceans are distinguishable with the naked eye. If you ever want to try, consider trying to pick out the highway systems of Russia in the same view, as they are wider and longer- but it's still too small. Cities are visible from space, but the only "single" man-made object that's visible from space are the wakes of large ships.
Interestingly Stephen King made an oft-quoted statement using this while speaking about writing. His point is good and very valid, but it still follows this trope.
“When asked, "How do you write?" I invariably answer, "One word at a time," and the answer is invariably dismissed. But that is all it is. It sounds too simple to be true, but consider the Great Wall of China, if you will: one stone at a time, man. That's all. One stone at a time. But I've read you can see that motherfucker from space without a telescope.”
As stated above, the "popular" image of a place is often used. In real life most regions show variety in landscape. Not the case in this trope. Siberia is always a freezing cold tundra, in real life it gets fairly warm 100F, 38C) in summers. The Middle East has several lush and green areas where it snows.
The "Junkface" ad from Neutrogena mentions "provinces, territories, and Nunavut", fails to include the border separating Nunavut from the Northwest Territories, and the eastern regions of Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and Cape Breton are completely absent from the map.
Anime and Manga
In 'London Calling' from the Beyblade series, the main characters are ditched in Southampton, England, on their way to Russia for a tournament battle. As the ship pulls into harbour at the start of the episode Southampton appears to have green mountains and picturesque brick houses. It's actually a large modern city and its docks look something like this◊. Definitely no mountains, too. Then the show redeems itself only a little, relying mostly on Willing Suspension of Disbelief. The scene suddenly jumps from Southampton to London, which means a distance of eighty miles. Kenny has previously mentioned that they have no money, and it's not said whether they walked, hitchhiked or anything else. However their arrival on foot does suggest that they walked. Yet the sky is still bright when they get there, and the only thing to suggest that Southampton is not right next door to London is Kenny's (vague) comment that seeing Big Ben reminds him of how much time they've lost.
Blood+ went for the climate. At one point in the series, when Red Shield ship came to Vladivostok, the heroes transfered to a train. Among them only Lewis wore a hat. In the middle of the winter. Apparently, nobody told the authors that the winds at the time could lift an adult man off the ground, and temperatures routinely reached -25C (-13F) with precipitation of 400mm or 32 inches. You'd be lucky if you end up with only frostbitten ears in such conditions.
In one episode in Vietnam, Kai walked from Hanoi to a port and back in a day. Firstly, if you look at the map, Hanoi has no port, the nearest one from there is in Hai Phong, which takes 4 hours to travel by car (assuming it doesn't cross the speed limit), and another 4 hour to go back, and somehow Kai traveled back and forth between the 2 places on foot... in a day... before the sunset. And no, Kai is a human character in this vampire series, and for the vampire characters, only the Schiff variants have sonic speed power.
Averted, though, in Darker Than Black 2, where they've did the research. Sure, the weather was shown to be a bit too balmy for a season, but warm spells do tend to happen around New Year, and everything else was spot on.
Invoked in Gundam 0080; Bernie, disguised as an enemy soldier and claiming to be from Australia, talks about how much it would snow in December. Minutes later, the soldier to whom he was speaking realizes that the Southern Hemisphere's seasons are flipped around, exposing Bernie as a spy.
The most common one is the colony drop scene from the original Mobile Suit Gundam: although the city is said to be Sydney, Australia, the location shown is quite clearly New York. Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn re-creates the scene, and this time gets the city's look right (including the iconic Opera House).
In ∀ Gundam, this map◊ places the Mountain Cycle near West Virginia and Vicinity Town in central Jersey. In the show, a group of teenagers are able to walk between the two locations in less than twelve hours. (Not even walking fast, either.) In general, the pace of movement between locations is far quicker than one would expect by looking at the map.
Shinzo takes place 300 years in the future; apparently, geography has changed until New York is nowhere near an ocean and the Statue of Liberty is partially buried by the land. At the same time, Egypt is entirely covered by ocean, and you can reach it in half a day starting from the Alps while moving in a vehicle that goes about 30 miles per hour.
Assuming Neo Domino City in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds is in Japan (and it probably is) the Crashtown Arc makes very little sense. Crashtown, which seems to fall under the jurisdiction of Sector Security (seeing as they showed up to arrest the villains in the end) is a town resembling an Old West mining town in a desert resembling the American southwest, and there simply aren't any places like that in Japan.
Parodied in Excel♥Saga. New Zealand is a massive desert filled with monsters, which Excel kills and sells their pelts in order to get back to Japan. It could be the usual mistake of thinking New Zealand is Australia.
In the manga version of Chrono Crusade, Rosette's journey from NYC to San Fransisco to rescue her brother goes as follows: She takes a pilgrimage to the time-frozen Seventh Bell Orphanage in Michigan. From there she drives to Washington DC (Roughly 500 miles the wrong way), where Satella destroys her car. Then she takes a train to Chicago (which gets hijacked and wrecked). From there, her superiors get tired of all the accidental destruction and charter a plane to take her directly to California. Since this rescue mission was the most important thing on Rosette's mind for the four years leading up to this trip, there are only two possible explanations for such a roundabout route: Either the mangaka forgot to plot the journey out on a map, or Rosette is incapable of cross-country navigation. Even with the story taking place 30 years before the creation of the interstate highway system, there had to be a more direct route than that.
The novel A Dog of Flanders is very popular in Japan. This lead to many anime adaptations of the story. Even though the story takes place in Antwerp, Flanders, some of these films depict the country in a stereotypical version of a neighbouring country, the Netherlands, complete with boys and girls on clumps walking in tulip fields.
The ROD OV As start with a shot of the rolling, forested hills of Washington DC. The city was built in a filled-in swamp and has little greenery outside parks and the Potomac waterfront. It actually looks much more like Alexandria (which used to be part of DC and is across the Potomac) than DC proper.
In one episode of Lupin III, a sign shows the Kansas/Washington D.C. border. No points for figuring out the problem with that.
In one episode of Dinosaur King, Rex's father is somehow able to drive from the Museum of Natural History in New York City to the Statue of Liberty, even though they are on two different islands, and the Statue can only be accessed by ferry. He also makes the distance in about five minutes or so.
The first two versions (the unfinished 1939 one and the 1949 one) of Tintin Land Of Black Gold took place in British Mandate Palestine, and Bab El-Ehr is a local insurgent against British rule rather than fighting directly with the Emir of Khemed (a name not heard until the revamped edition). As Tintin is led away into the desert, he eventually meets the oil-rich Emir Ben Kalish Ezab. Israel/Palestine famously has no oil in it. And Emir of what, anyway? The 1969 version - rewritten at the behest of the British publisher Methuen - have the story take place in a fictional country called Khemed.
While there is little oil in the territory of the former Mandate of Palestine, Haifa was an important port for the export of Middle Eastern Oil before Israeli independence, i. e. in the era the first two versions were set in.
Exaggerated in the Sam & Max: Freelance Police debut issue, in "Monkeys Violating the Heavenly Temple", when Sam and Max take a trip to the Philippines. Max lampshades the fact that the background behind him is drawn without reference material.
The Astérix series also like to feature travel episodes, where the characters visit a country and are confronted with many references to their modern day equivalents. Since the comic strip is humoristic and anachronistic itself many stereotypical jokes should not be taken that seriously.
Asterix in Belgium: The Belgian landscape is portrayed as being nothing else but a flat, monotonous grassy field without any other vegetation on it.
Jet Dream: In "The Powder Puff Derby Caper," Jet is shot down over a "South Pacific island" somewhere between Honolulu and San Francisco.
The Avengers: A villain controlling the Red Ronin mecha tried to fly to the USSR to start World War III was thwarted because he tried flying eastward from the USA when he could have had a much shorter flight flying north and over the North Pole to that nation.
A lot of fanfic writers think that California is sunny all year long, when the weather from September to mid/late May is completely unpredictable. Winters on the coast are also extremely rainy, windy, and cold. Though given media portrayal, one can hardly blame them...
Hogwarts Exposed has one scene in which Hermione watches the Sun set at 4 pm on the 1st September. If there's anywhere in the northern hemisphere where this is possible, it certainly isn't in Scotland. For the record, it's over four hours too early, and verges on Critical Research Failure since it's before the equinox and during daylight saving time. An earlier scene had it still dark at 5:50 am in August.
Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami has all of chapter 10, which takes place in "francs". In "francs", the locals speak in bizarre psuedo-French, which is mostly just English with -ez stuck on the end, random French pronouns and random accents on vowels (and on one odd occasion, Spanish), one can buy guns from "gun shops" without any kind of legal issue, is home to "the mona lisa church" and the "Eyfal tower", which you can apparently jump off of into the "river tames". The author butchers London (all of Great Britain) just as badly. The Channel Tunnel goes directly to London, from which you can catch the Tube to "whales", home to cliffs from which you can jump into Loch Ness.
It was Easter Morning in the town that Calvin and Hobbes live in. Is it Easter Morning where you are? Probably not, but go ahead and watch the show anyway.
Invoked in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series'': a flashback where Bakura is introduced as a new student from Britain has some generic student yelling "Go back to Russia!"
In Knight and Day, Tom Cruise's character seems to hop around different places in Salzburg during his stay there. This is especially apparent in the roof chase sequence, where he starts off in Altstadt centre on the roof of the Residenz* (with several faculty buildings of Salzburg University seemingly standing in as his hotel building) to the south of the river Salzach, and ends up on the northern bank near the foot of the Kapuzinerberg mountain before falling off and plunging into the aforementioned river (and not smashing head-first into the two-lane street, promenade and gravel bank that are actually there).
Hansel And Gretel Witch Hunters mostly takes place in Augsburg, a German village with half-timbered houses. In reality, medieval Augsburg was a thriving center of trade with it's own bishop and looked more like this◊.
In the 2010 film The Tourist, Frank Tupelo walks out of the Santa Lucia train station in Venice, and is immediately invited aboard Elise's boat. The shot then pans out as the boat speeds off, showing them to be moving north on the grand canal from Piazza San Marco, actually heading towards Santa Lucia from the opposite end of the island.
In Bill Friedkin's film The Guardian the protagonist family lives in Los Angeles, amidst enormous lush green forests.
A less extreme example is 10 Things I Hate About You. Only someone familiar with Seattle would realize the featured high school is actually in Tacoma, and that realistically it would take much more time to travel from the Fremont troll to the U-District. The only real misrepresentation is somewhat incidental, and that's the climate. Seattle never gets that much sun during an actual school year.
The climax of Blade Runner ostensibly takes place in and atop the Bradbury Building in downtown Los Angeles, but during the sequence where Deckard climbs up to the roof, he is obviously climbing up the side of one of the Rosslyn Hotel buildings several blocks away, as evidenced by the blue orbs on the roof line, as well as the increased height of the building itself (the Bradbury having only five floors in real life). Possibly justified in that most of the old buildings in the movie's 2019 L.A. seem to have been given major vertical extensions, and the fact that it is a very cool-looking roof line.
The 2007 Beowulf movie is set in Denmark. The highest above-sea level point in Denmark is a television tower. The highest natural point weighs in at a whopping 170 meters above sea level. But in the film it is full of huge cliffs, rivers and mountains.
Also done in Kenneth Branagh's version of Hamlet (though it is not like the bard's was good with geography either, see down).
2007 film adaptation of Hitman has the main character driving through the "Russian - Turkish border". Russia has no land borders with Turkey. Although one could see where this mistake comes from: the Soviet Union DID share a border with Turkey before its dissolution.
Dog Soldiers is guilty of this when the rescued damsel comments that the nearest city is Fort William and at least 2-3 hours drive. Which is a technical impossibility. What's worse is that the main actor is Scottish and should have known this. Then again, she was probably lying, because she was one of the werewolves. Alternatively, it's simply a case of Wild Wilderness, using that setting in Western Europe—with, just maybe, the exception of remote parts of the Pyrenees or the Alps—always requires some fantasy.
Bird on a Wire (1990) has the main characters taking a ferry from Detroit to Racine, Wisconsin, on a ferry explicitly labeled "DETROIT TO RACINE". The trip would be roughly 500 miles by water, as one would have to travel around most of Michigan's Lower Peninsula to reach Racine from Detroit. In Real Life, two ferries connect Michigan to Wisconsin across Lake Michigan: the S.S. Badger, which connects U.S. 10 from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, to Ludington, Michigan, and the Lake Express, connecting Milwaukee to Muskegon, Michigan. The latter (which only opened in 2004) is as close to a Detroit-to-Racine connection as you can get... if you consider three hours on westbound Interstate 96 and about 45 minutes on southbound SR-32 "close". Racine doesn't even have a dock that can handle a vessel of the size a ferry like that would be likely to be, and that it's a BC Ferry they're riding, from Tsawwassen (Vancouver) to Swartz Bay (Victoria).
The 2008 Get Smart movie has a long sequence taking place in Los Angeles, in which the characters drive among the core downtown area, the Port of Los Angeles and Van Nuys Airport within the span of about 10 minutes. The thing is, the Port of Los Angeles is actually in Long Beach, some 20 miles away, and Van Nuys Airport is in the San Fernando Valley, not much closer. You'd think L.A. would be the one town Hollywood filmmakers could get right. And the tracks where the cars crash for the explosive finale are in Montreal...
Krakatoa, East of Java managed to get this in the title: Krakatoa is actually west of Java. Reportedly, they actually knew this, but decided that East sounded more exotic.note Well, it's east of Java if you go east for long enough
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen features a car chase in Venice, which has no roads. A car chase in Venice is like having a yacht race in the Atacama Desert. Venice's canals are apparently also deep enough to accommodate a battlecruiser-sized submarine, and have bridges over them on the sixth floor of the buildings lining the canals, under which said submarine's fuselage (never mind the turret) can fit. There are also cemeteries with below-ground plots—in a city at sea level.
No Way Out is legendary for its mashing of Washington, D.C., area geography.
Son of the Mask has an absolutely atrocious example, but it's pretty hard to catch. To wit: This movie is set ten years after The Mask and in Fringe City, which is 270 miles southwest of Edge City. Stanley Ipkiss tossed the Mask into the ocean at the end of the first movie, and at the start of the second, it's floating in a river toward Fringe City. So, not only did the Mask travel the wrong way up the river, it appears to be moving at about five miles an hour. In ten years it would have moved about 17,520 miles away from the coast. It's even more baffling because the first film ends with both his best friend and his dog jumping in the river to retrieve the Mask.
The Sound of Music: Even if you did "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" from Salzburg, Austria you would not end up in Switzerland. So where would you end up? Germany! Specifically, Berchtesgaden, where Hitler had his Alpine retreat (the real Von Trapps simply took a train to Italy for "vacation" and never came back; Georg had been born in a part of Austria-Hungary that was ceded to Italy after World War I, so he and his family could claim Italian citizenship).
Parodied in Team America: World Police, where Team America's operations regularly destroy historical landmarks that are nowhere near each other (for example, the Pyramids and the statues of Ramsesnote A statue was later moved to the Giza Plateau, not far from the Pyramids, but at the time the film was made, the move was still in the planning stages and that statue remained in central Cairo, about 20 kilometers away. Also, the statues depicted were at Abu Simbel, which is at the other end of the country, over a thousand kilometers away.).
At the opening of When Harry Met Sally, they drive off the University of Chicago campus on the South Side to New York... via a picturesque segment of Lake Shore Drive headed toward the south side. Did they have to visit a friend at Northwestern, DePaul or Loyola first?
In the movie version of Twilight, the scenes supposedly taking place in Arizona are completely inaccurate. It is clear in the book that Bella's house is in Paradise Valley, a highly populated suburb of Phoenix known for its large houses and for being a valley. However, her house in the movie is clearly not in Paradise Valley, especially because it is on a mountain. Also, the scene when the Cullens and Bella are playing baseball there is a view of a tall waterfall. That falls is called Multnomah Falls on the Columbia Gorge. And where Forks is 30 miles south of the Canadian border, Multnomah Falls is all the way in Oregon. However, this might simply be Oregon Doubling, since Oregon is cheaper to film in than Washington, and filmmakers figured most viewers wouldn't know the difference.
The Transformers franchise makes several errors. Among them, the second movie acts as though Giza, Aqaba, Petra, and Luxor and their associated landmarks are within an hour or less of each other. Its depiction of Petra suggests that there are driveable roads leading up to Ad-Deir. In actuality, any visitor to Petra has to hike up a long trail (with regular steps) to get to it, unless you want to pay the Bedouins the exorbitant fee they charge to ride a camel or donkey up. The filmmakers also assidously avoid showing you the rather large snack bar/gift shop complex that's right next to it. Also, the orangy-red desert that is represented as being in Egypt is recognizably Wadi Rum, in southern Jordan very close to the Saudi border.
The whole scene where we are introduced to Jetfire is confusing. The opening shot is of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, located in downtown Washington, DC (never mind that the Space Shuttle and Blackbird are located in the Udvar-Hazy Museum, located just off of the Dulles Airport, some 40 miles away!). When Jetfire leaves the hangar/museum, Jetfire and the others find themselves walking around in a rural desert-like area. What happened to downtown DC?????
Early in The Deer Hunter, the characters, who ostensibly live in Western Pennsylvania, go ... deer hunting, in a wilderness where there are many bare-topped, snowcapped peaks, betraying the film's California Doubling.
Cheapo '50s proto-technothriller Radar Secret Service is set in Washington D.C., but looks suspiciously like Southern California. Also there's apparently a canyon near Washington.
Jurassic Park has a scene that takes place at an oceanfront restaurant in San José, Costa Rica, but San José is inland. The subtitles establishing this had to be redubbed for the film's Caribbean release, but remain uncorrected elsewhere. It also ends with the helicopters flying off from Isla Nublar towards the setting sun - due west out over the Pacific Ocean, where there's no land for thousands of miles...
One facet of the hilarious badness of the vampire flick Innocent Blood is the utter havoc it wreaks on Pittsburgh geography. The most egregious example is probably the bit where a character demands to know how one gets to the neighborhood called Shadyside, whereupon the action cuts to a very recognizable intersection in another part of town entirely. Then there's the bit where the characters drive along the same short stretch of highway about seven times, because that's all the highway there is and the makers wanted a longer car chase. In another instance, a vampire drives out of the Fort Pitt Tunnels and sees the sun rising directly in front of him, between two skyscrapers of the city. The Fort Pitt Tunnels empty out in a northeast direction. There's no way the sun could be coming up in front of him. Note the shadows on the traffic don't reflect the sun directly in front, either! During the latter half of the year, the rising sun would shine directly on the Fort Pitt Tunnel exit as it rises up over Oakland and the Hill District. However, it would not be directly in front but rather to roughly 2 o'clock to the direction of traffic.
In Oxford Blues the sculling race on the Isis (the Thames in Oxford) is all over the place, if you're familiar with that stretch of river. They even randomly skip to Pangbourne (about 30 miles away by river). The funny thing is that it appears they had enough footage of the right stretch that they could have put the clips together in a realistic order if they'd been bothered.
In The Boy In Blue the river that stands in for The Thames looks like no UK river at all.
The John Ritter film from the 70's Americathon (set in the near future) includes an opening montage/narration to get the audience up to speed about what has happened to America. One included bit of information is that "North Dakota has become the first all-gay state." This is accompanied by a picture of Mt. Rushmore, with one of the presidents wearing an earring. Mt. Rushmore is in South Dakota. The same film had Great Britain as the fifty-somethingth state of the United States, and Israel united with its Islamic-state neighbors as the "Hebrab" coalition. Who knows if the Mt. Rushmore reference was this trope, or just another political-merger joke?
The Mighty Ducks movies are set in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area of Minnesota & frequently feature local geography. Which would be great if it didn't feature 13-year olds rollerblading to locations that are up to 60 miles away from each other in Real Life (and don't allow rollerblading in the first place).
In the Disney Channel Movie Princess Protection Program, the swamp in Louisiana is shown to be very mountainous. The only problem? The highest point in Louisiana is only 535 feet (163 m) high, and is nowhere near the swamps. Worse yet: the description on the DVD cover (or at least the one on the Redbox vendor screen) states the movie takes place in Wisconsin.
Highlander has Connor and Duncan MacLeod being born in Glen Finnan, but Glen Finnan is not in fact within the MacLeod clan's lands.
In the opening of Left Behind, a shot labeled "Israeli-Syrian Border" shows tanks driving over desert. The border of Israel and Syria, which is called the Golan Heights, is actually green and mountainous (and is a subject of dispute partially for this very reason). Fred Clark, in his brilliant analysis of the Left Behind series, is ruthless in his dissection of this series of shots. The film opens with a shot of Jerusalem, with the morning sun glinting off the eastern face of the Dome of the Rock, and the subtitle, "Jerusalem, 6:00 p.m." A moment later we see the title "Iraq, 6:03 p.m.", as Iraqi fighter planes stream west into the setting sun; and then, "Syrian-Israeli border, 6:03 p.m.", and flocks of helicopters and tanks with their shadows stretching out in front of them — except that Syria is east of Israel, so these helicopters and tanks appear to be invading Syria from Israel (Clark gave up after the next shot, "Mediterranean Sea 6:04 p.m.", which showed fighter planes with the sun directly overhead). And Iraq is an hour ahead of Israel and Syria.
In Mean Girls the students go to "Old Orchard" mall, a well known mall in suburban Chicago. The mall shown in the movie is indoors (the scene was filmed at Sherway Gardens in Toronto), whereas Old Orchard is an outdoor mall.
Tommy Wiseau spliced in a slew of establishing shots of San Francisco in The Room, but the movie was filmed in LA. This might have been forgivable if it had been more well done, but Wiseau—who claims in interviews to love San Francisco—filmed this in a way that reveals he must have never spent much time in SF, or even been there at all, perhaps. In addition to a very improbable scene of the lead character returning home from work on a cable car line that obviously could not exist, the rooftop scene in The Room is done using a "green screen". As the apartment building appears in the film, backgrounded by a postcard skyline view, the apartment building would have to be built out in the middle of the bay, or maybe on Alcatraz. It would look ridiculous to any San Francisco resident.
North Texas is essentially a prairie with hills to the south and woods to the east. Yet according to The X-Files: Fight the Future movie, there is a desert just outside of Dallas where the government sets up camp to research an alien creature found there.
Even worse, you wouldn't be able to see the Downtown Dallas skyline from that angle and distance. Too many hills and forests block the view. And let's not get started on those accents...
And many shots feature highly distinctive Vancouver landmarks in the background. And sometimes the foreground.
Even though The Jackie Chan film Who Am I? is filmed on location in Rotterdam, many random citizens shout out English curse words when Chan runs them over while trying to flee from the people who try to follow him.
And Jackie Chan's Mr Nice Guy features a chase sequence through central Melbourne, Australia, that features about two dozen sharp turns, two or three of which actually exist in real life.
The Covenant is particularly bad at this, if you know anything at all about the geography of Essex County, Massachusetts. Spencer Academy supposedly is in Ipswich, which is also the town where the party takes place near the beginning of the film. One of the characters mentions cutting across Marblehead to get away from the cops, which happens to be 20 miles away, down on the other side of Salem. Also, there are absolutely no cliffs along the coasts of Essex County. They are all either sandy or rocky, depending on how sheltered the coastline is, and how close it is to the mouth of the Merrimac River.
Blade: Trinity is really bad for this with Vancouver geography. Not only are a LOT of the landmarks instantly recognizable to a resident, but there are some bizarre warp portals. In the opening scene, Blade drives into one tunnel and out another, on the other side of town. The rooftop chase involves an apparent teleport across several blocks and at least one major boulevard.
In the original The Naked Gun movie, Leslie Nielsen is picked up from LAX and taken to the Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters (presumably in Los Angeles). On the way, they pass the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant, which is in San Diego County, just past the Orange County line but easily 75 miles from LAX. As this was a comedy and the power plant looks like two giant breasts (pointed out in this scene as a reference to one character's ex-girlfriend), the writers surely knew this. This is likely a reference to the short-lived TV show Police Squad! (which Naked Gun was based on). Even though the show took place in New York, you would frequently have backgrounds that clearly did not belong to New York City (i.e. when they are driving through "Little Italy" the background depicts the Roman Coliseum).
Two otherwise good war movies betray their locations: Dawn Patrol was set in Belgium but obviously filmed in Southern California (like every movie was at the time); Dark Blue World mostly takes place in southern England, but there are some conspicuous Eastern European mountains in the background of many scenes.
In 10,000 BC the protagonist lives in a massive Ice Age mountain range, filled with tundra, glaciers, and mammoths. He then treks down from those mountains, almost immediately entering a verdant jungle with a transitional climate about ten yards across. On exiting said jungle and crossing another ten yard transition, he's in an arid desert. Film Brain from Bad Movie Beatdown has a lot to say about the absurd geography in this film.
In Speed, the freeway depicted as I-10 is actually I-105, which was already complete in real life, and the I-105 sequence was filmed on I-110, which actually was unfinished at the time. The bus also exits the east I-10 freeway onto Western (south) using a cloverleaf ramp that doesn't exist in Real Life, then goes from there to the I-105 in El Segundo (around 18 miles away) in under a minute.
The opening freeway chase in Hancock is clearly filmed on a short one-mile stretch of the I-105 freeway in El Segundo, California (watch the buildings in the background). After the car is stopped on the I-105/I-405 transition, when Hancock carries it off, downtown Los Angeles is clearly shown in the background, even though it's 25 miles away.
In Independence Day, a British commander sends a message to the Americans, telling them that Israel and Syria have prepared air-strike wings to take out one of the alien spaceships. He says the aircraft are being prepared in the Golan Straits. The straits nearest to the Golan Heights are about a four hundred miles south, in the Indian Ocean. It also features an impossible road sign. The University of Houston and North Houston are a good thirty miles away from each other.
Cannonball Run II is about a cross-country race from the West Coast to the East Coast of the United States. However, the entire movie was filmed in the outskirts of Tucson, AZ—even the finish line, which is said to be in Vermont, but there is a large saguaro cactus visible on the screen.
The 2010 Amy Adams film Leap Year is all over the place regarding Irish geography. The heroine's plane, traveling from Boston to Dublin is forced to land in Cardiff, Wales due to terrible weather. She ends up hiring a boat to go to Cork for some reason; now even if we are to assume the storm blocks off Dublin Port there are plenty of harbours closer to the city than Cork. Not that it matters, since bad weather forces the boat to put ashore in Dingle... which is north of Cork and yet further away from Cardiff. Further, as in about adding about a third again onto her trip.
In the movie Life-Size, Casey Stuart tries to convince her father that Eve is a plastic doll come to life. Part of her argument is that Eve says she's from Sunnyvale, which is an obviously fake place that does not exist. Except that... yes, Sunnyvale is a very real location in California.
In the film Joy Ride the boys drive through Wyoming, stopping to sleep at a hotel in Rawlins. When the sheriff shows up the next day to investigate a murder, his car identifies him as the Rawlins County sheriff. Problem is, there isn't a Rawlins County in Wyoming. There is a Carbon County, where Rawlins is.
Taking Lives, somewhat unusually, rather than having Montreal stand in for some random American city, set the action in Montreal. Which they indicated with a big establishing shot of the Château Frontenac, the most famous landmark in... Quebec City (it's a little like establishing a scene in L.A. using a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge).
In An American Werewolf in London, there are no hospitals in Yorkshire. The nearest hospital is apparently 250 kilometres away in London. Might be justified: the dialogue with the doctor after David regains consciousness suggests that he's been transferred to a London hospital because he's suspected of having some rare and exotic disease, which needs highly specialised skills and equipment of the sort that are usually only available in the more densely-populated south of England. The process of getting him to the nearest emergency room for an initial assessment and then down south for further treatment would still have been a significant undertaking however, probably involving a helicopter ride, but none of this is even touched upon in the film.
In Mr Beans Holiday, Mr Bean accidentally takes a taxi in Paris from the Gare du Nord (in the North-East corner of the city) to the business district of La Défense (west of Paris). The taxi passes the Eiffel Tower (which is not even on the way) and then Notre-Dame de Paris (which lies to the East of the Eiffel Tower). Also, if the previous example could be explained, there is no way the Millau Viaduct is remotely on the way between Avignon (the station where Mr Bean was filmed escaping the police) and Cannes. But then, there is no way either a road trip in France can take more than ~10 hours, and that's if the motorways are really clogged. And if you cross the whole country. This film has some screwed up geography. Maybe the cabbie was taking an extra screwy route to collect a better fare?
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer supposedly takes place in the Bahamas, but the hills and rock formations give away that it was filmed in Mexico. There is also a lot of Spanish architecture, also from Mexico.
In Charade, a climactic ride on the Paris Metro is between clearly-labelled stations that are not connected by any single line; so it's important to the plot that Audrey Hepburn never transfers from one train to another.
In The Jackal, Bruce Willis flees through a DC Metro tunnel from Capitol Heights to Metro Center stations, with Richard Gere in hot pursuit. Those stations are ten stops and a few miles apart. Never mind that the scenes are shot in the Montreal Metro, which looks nothing like the distinctive DC Metro architecture and has rubber tires.
Moonraker has a particularly bad scene where Bond is fleeing down the Amazon River, then comes to Iguazu Falls (a distance comparable to Los Angeles-Chicago; to make matters worse, the Amazon doesn't end in a waterfall, and the Iguazu Falls aren't even in the Amazon watershed), for his meeting with Q, then somehow walks to the enemy base in a Mayan temple (in Mexico, a whole different hemisphere).
In North by Northwest, Cary Grant is seen driving on a treacherous, winding coastal road along cliffs several hundred feet high... in Long Island, New York! While there are some small cliffs in parts of Long Island, there is no scenery or road there anywhere approaching the type of landscape Grant was driving in, which was clearly modeled after the California coast.
Though in another scene the movie got it right: when Grant's character and his secretary are riding in a taxi from his Madison Avenue office to the Plaza Hotel, the view through the taxi's back window is the actual route a vehicle would take between the two locations.
The war propaganda film The Green Berets ends with a shot of the Sun setting over the ocean. Only it's set in Vietnam, which has no western coastline, meaning the Sun would have to be setting in the east. There's also a suspicious lack of tropical vegetation and abundance of pine trees (it was filmed mainly in western Georgia).
Vietnam does have a west-facing coastline, in the very south of the country, in Kien Giang and Ca Mau provinces. However, that would put the film's heroes in the Mekong Delta area, which has a rather wet and tropical climate — not one in which you typically find pine trees. Also, if it was filmed in Georgia, USA, where did they find a west-facing coast? They probably shot that bit in California, then.
In My Best Friend's Wedding, Cameron Diaz is at her wedding at some large estate with at least a few acres of lawn. She goes running out the front gate ... into downtown Chicago.
To be precise, the camp was situated near Sagan in Western Silesia, which only became part of Poland after the war (not that far from the current Polish-German border). The shortest way at the time would most likely have been through Saxony, Bavaria and Western Austria (then part of Germany) if you wanted to reach a place where you did not have to cross the Rhine or Lake Constance to reach Switzerland.
Elizabeth The Golden Age: There is no cliff in England upon which Elizabeth could have stood to watch the Battle of Gravelines. The English Channel is in the way (there's also the problem that Elizabeth's speech to the troops was not given before the Battle of Gravelines, but some days after; the troops were there to repel a possible invasion by the Duke of Parma, which never materialized).
Any film about Elizabeth I that uses the phrase "golden age" non-sarcastically—her regime killed people at four times the rate of the Spanish Inquisition, and with much less fair trials—obviously doesn't care about historical details in the first place.
Intersection is one of the few Hollywood movies not only filmed in Vancouver, but actually set there too. As long as they are keeping it real, one wonders why they felt compelled to move the University of British Columbia to the North Shore of Burrard Inlet rather than keeping it in its real location at the edge of the peninsula that forms the city of Vancouver. Perhaps for the very nice views crossing the bridge.
In Paycheck (set in Seattle, Washington), John Wolfe shouts their location as 6th Avenue and Pine Street, which in real life is smack-dab in the middle of Downtown and has a number of buildings surrounding it.
In Green Zone, the main character, Chief Miller, needs to get to the Republican Palace. He enters the Green Zone through the Assassin's Gate, which is located in the northeast side of the Green Zone. In the next shot, he's traveling East past the crossed swords toward the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, then he ends up at the Republican Palace. The problem is, the Republican Palace is in the southeast corner of the Green Zone and the crossed swords are near the northwestern border. To get to the Republican Palace from the Assassin's Gate through the crossed swords would require driving back and forth or around in circles. All he needed to do was stay on the same road south from the Assassin's Gate and he would have ended up at the palace.
In Monsters (2010) the characters encounter a Mayan pyramid in the middle of the jungle... within sight of the Texas-Mexico border. Which jungle this is supposed to be or what a Mayan pyramid is doing several hundred miles too far north are not addressed.
The 1954 movie Drum Beat about the Modoc Indian War, shows beautiful scenery better placed in the southwest. The real Captain Jack's Stronghold was a rocky outcropping of jagged lava flows.
In action in Pathfinder which takes place between Vikings and natives in the new world. This means either the rocky coastal meadows of Newfoundland or the rocky coastal forests of Maine. Instead, it appears to be a Pacific Northwest-ish rainforest tucked away in the Alps, if not the Andes.
Scary Movie 4 shows the characters watching news footage of the city of Detroit before and after the aliens attack (the joke being that Detroit was already so bad that the aliens didn't have any effect whatsoever). But the city in the footage is actually San Diego.
In the third Austin Powers film Dr. Evil turns out to be a Belgian, born in Bruges. He demonstrates by talking some French, despite the fact that Bruges is located in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. Perhaps he shared his father's oddly-specific racism?
Belgium's language lines aren't hard and fast. Many French-speaking people live in the Flemish-speaking areas and vice versa. It's also not unsurprising to have French-speaking Belgians that dislike Dutch speakers, unfortunately (and vice versa).
The Jean-Claude Van Damme film Double Team shows how Van Damme visits a huge bordello in Antwerp, which cannot be found there in real life. What makes this mistake even more perplexing is that Van Damme is actually a Belgian himself!
In Mr. and Mrs. Smith, at the start of the film, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's characters claim that they met in Bogotá, Colombia. Flashback to said moment, and they show Bogotá, a real-life city of nearly 7 million (at the time of filming) with a cool climate, portrayed as a small river-side town where the sun always shines, people listen to flamenco music and there's no need for clothes. To make things worse, a soldier speaks with a heavy Mexican accent. Even the actors said that they've never been to Bogotá, or Colombia, for that matter. Colombians were so not happy.
In Entrapment, the protagonists head off to Malaysia to carry out a heist in the Petronas Towers at Kuala Lumpur. The movie portrays rural, ramshackle slums with open views onto the fabulous towers themselves. Kuala Lumpur looks like this◊.
In X-Men: First Class, there's a scene where Erik kills some bad guys that supposedly takes place in the Argentinian city of Villa Gesell. The establishing shot shows snowy mountains and a beautiful lake surrounded by hills; the only problem is, although you can find a lot of cities that look like that in the southern part of the country, the real Villa Gesell is a beach city located nowhere near that area. The shot resembles the Argentinian city of Villa La Angostura where, according to legend, some Nazis hid away after World War II with the help of President Perón. So the mistake wasn't THAT big, but it was extremely hilarious for the Argentinian public.
Cracked once ran an article that pointed out several common artistic licenses shown in film, such as Australia being stereotypically shown as being unmercifully hot all year round, or anything taking place in Australia usually taking place in the summer, despite Australia getting its fair share of snow (and more), or Russia being depicted as being constantly snowy, usually having at least a somewhat thick coating of snow on the ground, no matter when the story is taking place, although usually being shown in the winter. Also, Washington D.C. will often be depicted as a colossal metropolis with as many skyscrapers as many other very large cities, despite the fact that Washington has no true buildings taller than sixteen stories (and actual laws against buildings over thirteen stories).
The parts of DC with skyscrapers could theoretically be Arlington, Virginia, right across the river, which does have a traditional (if smallish) skyline. The other part of DC with skyscrapers would be the satellite city of Tyson's Corner, connected to central DC by two Metro lines.
The Devil's Advocate: The movie opens in "Gainesville, Florida". Or rather, a small rural town that looks nothing like the actual, modern, skyscraper-encrusted college town that is the real Gainesville, Florida, but does look like a one-horse hick town in the middle of nowhere, which was probably the point. Apparently the producers wanted Reeves' character to be from a small rural town and picked Gainesville, Florida off of a map at random, not realizing that "small rural town" does not describe Gainesville, Florida, and hasn't for about a hundred years. The Civil War-era "courthouse" where the trial was taking place is actually in a one-stoplight town some thirty-two miles east of Gainesville, for example; the courthouses in Gainesville proper are all modern, multistory buildings
In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, the duo steal a monkey from an animal testing lab in Boulder, Colorado and run off with it on foot. The next scene they are out in the wilderness, and the scene after that they are in a diner in Utah. Boulder to Utah would be a 300+ mile hike, over the Rocky Mountains, and would take weeks even for seasoned backpackers.
In The Graffiti Artist, one of the first scenes in the film is supposed to be set in Portland, Oregon and has the main character getting on what is clearly a Seattle Metro bus at what is clearly 3rd and Pine, in the middle of downtown Seattle, as identifiable by the businesses around it and the appearance of the bus shelter. The disregard for the differences in geography between the two cities is in some cases justified because Seattle has better graffiti art (thanks to much more permissive laws), but there is no need for it in this scene.
In Joe Dante's film Matinee the action takes place in Key West during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but in the final shot there's a great view of the Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad in the background — 400 miles to the north and 20 years in the future.
In the first National Treasure, there is a chase scene on foot in Philadelphia. Everything is fine until the characters run the wrong way to get where they wind up.
Near the beginning of The Rescuers Down Under, when we see the Travel Montage following the telegraph signal from Australia to the United States, Australia for some reason is unusually small and the United States is unusually big. In real life, both countries are approximately the same size. Also, Papua New Guinea is shown being the same size as Australia, the Marshall Islands the size of New Zealand, and Hawaii the size of Indonesia. Perhaps mice divide the world up differently than humans, but some of the Rescue Aid Society nameplates in the original Rescuers are rather... interesting. For example, there's a mouse representing Vienna (a city) and another mouse representing Africa (a continent). And there's a mouse representing Austria — you know, the country that contains Vienna. Incidentally, there's some accidental I Knew It mixed in with Germany and Latvia represented as countries. At the time the film was made (1977), Germany was divided and Latvia was part of the Soviet Union, but both are countries now.
The globe seen in various promotional media for ''Cars 2'' for some reason showed some continents as being either much larger or smaller than they are in real life. Justified, since the Cars series films all take place in a world populated entirely by anthropomorphic vehicles, and therefore everything in their world down to the rocks, trees, clouds, and "animals" (they are also shown as vehicles) is given a car motif, and the same is for countries and continents.
The obscure American 1940 movie Ski Patrol follows a group of Finnish soldiers in the 1939 Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union. The movie depicts the countries' border as a Middle European mountain range◊ - for reference, even the highest points of the countries' border doesn't rise above half a kilometre in height. Reportedly, the first panorama of this sight made the Finnish audience burst into laughter.
Similarly, Doctor Zhivago represents the Urals as high, rocky and snowcapped—like Glacier National Park, where the scene was filmed. In actuality they look more like the upper Appalachians, to which they are more comparable in height.
The Tommy Lee Jones vehicle Blown Away culminates with a car careening, in a straight line, through the Back Bay of Boston while our hero tries to defuse a bomb attached to the dashboard. If you traveled through the Back Bay for that long, that fast in a straight line, you wouldn't need to worry about the bomb, because you'd be underwater.
In Home Alone 2, Kevin has a terrific—and impossible—view of the New York skyline from the airport.
Bruce Almighty features streets on some awfully steep hills in Buffalo, NY. There's no place like it in Buffalo.
The film Zeigeist posits that the supposed North American Union, African Union, European Union, and "soon-to-be" Asian Union will be merged as the final step in a grand conspiracy to form a one-world government. So what happens to South America, then?
The scene in Trainspotting where Diane and Rents come out of the nightclub? Filmed outside the Volcano, in Glasgow. The characters are based in Edinburgh, which is fifty miles away. The taxi fare must have been ruinous.
Lola of Run Lola Run needs to get to her boyfriend in 20 minutes by running across Berlin - or, judging by the route she takes, schizophrenically teleporting...
Beverly Hills Chihuahua is quite hilarious in its geography for someone who has ever lived in Mexico. The female protagonist and her friends take a weekend trip to Puerto Vallarta from California (which would be a two-day drive if they took a bus), and the titular Chihuahua gets kidnapped and driven to Mexico City, however, some scenes are set in Guadalajara, which is six hours away from Mexico City. Going to all these places would have taken an entire week by car, yet, the film's time frame is set within three days. And, the most egregious example of all, in which both History and Geography fail in one scene, presumably all the Chihuahua dogs in Mexico gather by a Mayan temple in the state of Chihuahua, for a ceremony. The Maya civilization was set on the far South of Mexico and most of Central America, while Chihuahua never housed a particular culture for an extended time. Also, the state is depicted as a jungle-heavy terrain, when it is mostly desertic.
In Wild Orchid a cab driver goes from Galeão Airport to what seems to be some beach in Recreio (a 55 km travel, at longest), but he was considerate enough to take the passenger to visit the Pelourinho, a beautiful landmark ... in Salvador, Bahia! A detour that turns a 55 km trip in a 1,624 km travel! The Pelourinho isn't even located in the same region of Brazil. To a Brazilian, or anyone who has taken one extended vacation on Brazil, it was a blunder comparable to a cab leaving JFK, taking a shortcut in Gateway Arch, in St. Louis, before arriving in the Bronx.
Real-life Texas does not have the the rugged, pine-forested mountains seen in the climax of The Lone Ranger.note The state does have rugged mountains in the far west, but they're more desert, with only small areas of forest. Also, Promontory Point (where the transcontinental railroad was completed) is in Utah.
Blood Sucking Pharaohs In Pittsburgh was actually filmed in Pittsburgh, and several locations are instantly recognizable to residents. However, Pittsburgh does not have an "Egypt District" as seen in the film.
In Savages, at one point the protagonists are instructed to drive from Los Angeles to Chula Vista, a city south of San Diego. Besides the fact that the streets looking nothing like the actual city, not even the highway sign for the distance driven is accurate.
There are plenty of radiation sources in China and Japan far closer to the Philippines than the Kanto region, Yucca mountain was never operational nor that close to Las Vegas, and all three creatures take the long way from their respective positions to end up in San Francisco. Within the locations however, the geography is quite good- Godzilla takes a reasonable path from Waikiki to the airport, the Female MUTO heads the right way on the Vegas Strip, and so on.
Ford's son is evacuated to Oakland Regional Park (which doesn't actually exist, though Redwood Regional park in Oakland does) by bus. Via The Golden Gate Bridge. Those familiar with the the layout of the city know The Golden Gate Bridge leads north while Oakland is in the east. To get there via The Golden Gate Bridge would take far longer. It would make mores sense to head east via The Bay Bridge. A possible explanation though is that the city needed to be evacuated at all points due to the sheer amount of traffic trying to evacuated roughly a million people out of the city would create. It would make sense then to have some people evacuated to the north while others are evacuated to the south and directly to the east. It's still a stretch though.
The Golden Gate Bridge itself is 220 feet above the water, which is an additional 360 feet deep. Godzilla is 350 feet tall, so standing it wouldn't even break the surface near let alone whack into the middle span, and could easily swim under it.
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, near the beginning of the film, Nick Fury is involved in a lengthy car chase through "Washington, DC," being played in the movie by downtown Cleveland, OH. This chase, which lasts for several minutes and covers several city blocks, actually begins and ends on adjacent streets which form the southeast corner of the Cleveland Public Library.
Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code also fails in this area. When leaving the Louvre, the main characters head to the American embassy, realize they can't get there, and head for Gare Saint-Lazare. To get from the Louvre to where they start making their detour, they would already have passed the American embassy. Teabing parks on the House Guard Parade, so he can see the Parliament and Temple Church. In reality, from that position, he would be able to see neither. Several buildings block the view, and there are no parks to look across, as claimed in the book.
The Dresden Files early books were pretty bad on Chicago geography. Particularly notable was when Harry had a meeting in the massive parking lot outside Wrigley Field (in reality, it has about twenty spaces). He also moves the University of Chicago from Hyde Park (on the south side) to Lincoln Park (on the north side). Later on, after author Jim Butcher actually visited Chicago, he got better about it. This is lampshaded in the Tabletop RPG core book. The section on City Creation features, "For instance, let's say the local baseball stadium suddenly gains a parking lot..." Harry, who's reading over the notes for accuracy's sake, sardonically laughs about it.
In the first Left Behind novel, Buck is forced to make his way from Chicago to New York after the Rapture causes all manner of destruction. The timeline described is ridiculous, with Buck taking far longer using chartered planes and such to travel the distance than he would have simply by driving back roads. It culminates in a 20 mile bike ride along 13 mile long Manhattan.
One of the later books describes huge ships on the river Jordan. Said river is actually very shallow and could not accommodate ships of any kind.
Rick Riordan (Heroes of Olympus) seems to think Mt. Diablo is like some kind of lowland Yosemite mixed with the Australian outback, when truthfully it's just a gentle rolling brown hill with hardly any foliage on it. Anyone who actually looked at Mt. Diablo at even Google Maps could tell you the top is NOT a depression with eucalyptus trees, but rather a visitors' center, and there really aren't any cliffs like described. And while it is a Plot Point, there are not enough—or any—eucalyptus trees surrounding the mountain, certainly not enough to be overpowering. An early morning in the middle of winter might not be freezing, but it's cold. And the Golden Brown Berkeley hills are just that, golden brown — during summer. They do, in fact, get green(ish) in the winter.
The Lightning Thief has a scene where Percy jumps from the top of the Gateway Arch into the Mississippi River. Considering that the Arch is a hundred yards or more from the river under ordinary circumstances, with some wide concrete walkways, a huge 64-step grand staircase, and a road in between, he'd need a hang glider to do that in real life. (See this photo◊ for reference.) Even during flood season, the closest the river has ever been to the Arch is halfway up the staircase.
Twilight is terrible about this. Stephenie Meyer seems to have confused the Olympic Peninsula with northern Alaska, since she represents Forks as almost consistently overcast (simply googling "Rainiest Town in America" is more or less all Meyer did by her own admission in the introduction) and, well, twilit, yet at the same time underestimates how cold it can get at night, even in summer. She also seems to have forgotten that, yes, the Pacific Northwest does have a summer. A very sunny summer. It could go all of July and August, and sometimes September, without being completely overcast. Do the Cullens go on a three month camping trip every year? At another point "the west coast of Brazil" is mentioned. West is probably the only cardinal direction you couldn't really say that Brazil has a coast on. There are also multiple problem with Seattle geography: Lake Union is referred to as "Union Lake", and the shady part of town that Bella visits in the last book is vaguely reminiscent of some parts of Aurora Ave but doesn't come close enough to any real part of the city to be believable.
There is also no accounting for distance. The entire state of Washington appears to be significantly scaled down, as drives from Forks to places like Seattle and Port Angeles are described as taking far shorter than they would in real life. A drive from there to Alaska is also described as taking 16 hours, which is simply not possible on land.
In The Terror of Blue John Gap, the narrator at one point travels from the eponymous cave (which is a source of the semi-precious stone Blue John) to Castleton in Derbyshire, some 14 miles away. In reality, Blue John is found only in the vicinity of Castleton, a roughly 3-mile radius. Maybe this one is also Artistic License - Geology.
"On the road to Mandalay where the flying fishes play, and the sun comes up like thunder out of China 'cross the bay." The poem is set in Burma, as various references make clear. Burma has no sea coast of any kind facing China. It could be chalked up to Poetic License: Kipling was very well-traveled and knew geography very well; the bit about "thunder from China" is a simile (parsed "the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay"), and specifying a bay makes it clear that he's talking about the east-facing coastline of the Gulf of Martaban. Specifically in Rangoon, which is also home to the "old Moulmein Pagoda" mentioned in the first line. So...
Andrew Holleran admitted that he had written the part of Dancer from the Dance set in Washington, D.C., before ever setting foot in D.C. I could tell. Not only was the park scene improbable, but also, another scene described the garish commercial signage of a neighborhood whose only nonresidential land use is a country club.
Played with in the Dragaera novels, where Vlad complains about how the human ghetto of Andrilanka is called South Andrilanka, yet isn't located in the south part of the city.
Damon Knight's novella "Rule Golden" contains the line "England is only about 400 miles long, from Land's End to John O'Groats." While the first half of this sentence is roughly true, John O'Groats is not in England. Scotland adds another 4–500 miles to the length of Britain.
The hero of a Heian Japanese tale somehow manages to be shipwrecked on the Persian coast while traveling from Japan to China.
The Jack Prelutsky poem New York is in North Carolina is essentially one big lampshading of this trope.
Invoked in The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles when the main character is told a Masonic parable of the King of France who got lost riding in the woods, and suddenly found himself in Scotland. He proceeds to comment on the intelligence of a King who fails to notice his horse swimming across the Channel.
John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath has a particularly egregious example of this in the form of the main character's home town of Sallisaw, Oklahoma. In the book, the Joads are driven from Sallisaw due to the Dust Bowl ruining the land. The problem? Sallisaw is located in the eastern half of Oklahoma, commonly referred to as green country. It never experienced the Dust Bowl.
The Guns of the South has a scene where Robert E. Lee and his staff survey the heart of Washington D.C. from a nearby hill; in the author's notes, Harry Turtledove admits that this is impossible, remarking "Sometimes geography has to bend to suit the author's wishes."
There's also the fact that he invents a South Carolina town out of the blue for the time-travelers to come from; it could have been Hand Waved if it was just them, but the fact that one of the main characters is also from the town becomes an important plot point.
Stephen King did this on purpose in The Dark Tower series. In the foreword for The Waste Lands, he notes that his New York readers will notice that he has taken "certain geographical liberties" with the city. In the later books, when he writes himself into the story, he distorts the geography of Maine (where he lives) because he doesn't want people harassing him in his home. The former becomes a plot point later on, when Eddie finds out that Co-op City, where he's from, is in a different part of New York City on Keystone Earth than it is in the version of Earth he's from.
In Smoking Mirror by Mercedes Lackey, a modern horror/fantasy novel, an ancient god is claiming sacrifices in Dallas, Texas. One victim is found on a rock at Bachman Lake Park. The hero of the story, a paranormal investigator, is examining the crime scene with a local police detective. Their conversation is pretty standard for the genre—bloodstains, time of death, witnesses, &c. What's missing from their exchange are the times when they would not be able to hear each other due to the jet airliners landing at and taking off every five minutes from the adjacent Love Field airport.
Beatrice Sparks' Go Ask Alice is laughable for many reasons, but when our heroine tells us she's in Coos Bay, Oregon and then proceeds to describe hippie stores that only existed in San Francisco and closed long before she got there, one begins to wonder if the drugs she's taken have confused her that much or given her Time Travel powers.
The chemistry of Hal Clement's Iceworld may be solid enough; the Inland Northwest geography he describes is rather less so. It starts in chapter 2, where he places the Lightning Creek trail on the wrong side of the valley (it's on the east side, since the creek runs up against the hillside on the west), requiring the characters to cross the creek when they turn east (in June, it's still in full spring flood, and crossing is best done another day's travel upstream) and proceed through a Douglas Fir forest (it's actually Ponderosa) that is remarkably mud- and snow-free. A character proceeds to map the area from a mountaintop, noting that Snowshoe Peak is visible "between east and south", that parts of Lake Pend Oreille are visible (this is true of only three peaks in the eastern Lightning Creek drainage, and all three are very nearly due west of Snowshoe Peak), and that mountains are visible in every direction except west (oops, all three have mountains to the west). By chapter 7, it's clear he's making terrain up as he needs it: the hills are a thousand feet taller than they actually are, the slopes lessened so that a character can reasonably climb straight up-slope, and the trees are removed from the ridgelines for improved visibility (and plot-relevant reasons later on); directions to reach a highly-secret middle-of-nowhere location place it solidly in the middle of the well-traveled Bull River valley. The climax of the story involves a fast-spreading crown fire of the sort only seen in late August of especially dry years, but happens in late June, when the forest is much too wet to burn.
Given a Hand Wave in Young Wizards by Diane Duane in an "Admonition to the Reader" before her fourth book, A Wizard Abroad". She explains that the book geography of Ireland isn't necessarily the same in real life.
The cover of Atlanta Nights features a lovely photograph of a beach sunset with palm trees in the foreground. Atlanta is several hundred miles away from the nearest coastline. This is intentional.
In World War Z, Arthur Sinclair - director of DeStRes - describes his justification for agricultural land seizures in a way that does not reflect the actual capabilities of the area. Sinclair calls the land used by cattle ranchers in the west as "prime potential farmland" - however, in the West, cattle are run on dry rangeland that has insufficient irrigation to raise crops. In fuel-starved area (which the western strip of the US was described as) it would only be harder, not easier, to irrigate those areas. Using cattle to convert grass into protein is actually the efficient use of the land.
Several episodes of CNNNN and The Chaser's War On Everything have featured Julian or Firth talking with Americans on the street and exposing poor general knowledge about the world. One memorable segment had people being asked which country the US should attack next in the War on Terror. Thanks to deliberately mislabelled maps, at least three people thought the country they'd chosen was located in AUSTRALIA (specifically, Iran, France and North Korea (with Tasmania representing South Korea).
Another segment featured someone who also thought that there were about ten Eiffel Towers in Paris.
There are actually quite a few replicas of the Eiffel tower all around the world.
Sons of Anarchy is set in Northern California, in the fictional town of Charming, CA. You can avoid many issues when filming for a make believe location, but not when your fictional town is located somewhere in the very real San Joaquin County, California, in the show's universe, and that town has hills. The real life county of the show has no hills; indeed, the very name of the county could tell you that. It is in the San Joaquin VALLEY. Lodi is a frequent destination in the show, also, and features hills. Again, Lodi has none.
Among other things, they frequently ride around Northern California, often to their destination and back before sunset. It takes at least 4 hours to travel from the central valley, where the show is set, to Redding and Red Bluff, where they went to and returned from in no time in one episode.
There are other issues, too, such as there being "Stockton State Prison" and a DOJ facility in the series. Neither exist in real life.
In an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Dee describes running down Spring Garden street, through Fairmount park, in order to get to Paddy's Pub which is canonically located on South Street. Feel free to look at a map of Philadelphia and try to figure out how that works?
One of the first instances on TV likely occurred on I Love Lucy. Lucy thinks that Ricky is homesick and decides to make over the house to look like "home." Ricky is Cuban, but she makes the house over to look more like Mexico (complete with sombrero-and-poncho stereotypes a la Speedy Gonzales). They both speak Spanish and are in the same general area, so, bless her heart, she was close, but then comes out and sings a song dressed as Carmen Miranda, who was a Portuguese-speaking Brazilian. Wrong continent, wrong language, wrong hemisphere.
Lucy and Ricky's address for the entire series is 623 E. 68th Street. In real life, that would be somewhere in the East River. (Although this is likely intentional. Many shows use deliberately fake addresses and phone numbers so the real places aren't constantly hassled by fans and pranksters.)
An important plot point in Season 4 of 24 occurs near the mountains of Iowa. Take a good look at this topographic map◊ of Iowa. See any mountains? The highest point in the state is a little under 1,700 feet above sea level.
24's real-time gimmick gets it into a lot of trouble geographically. Just one example: in the final season, set in NYC, Jack is in Middle Village, Queens and tells Chloe he's 10 minutes away from Houston Street. Maybe if he traveled by helicopter. Trying to decipher the geography of 24 is a foolish proposition.
The first season of western Hell on Wheels is set in Iowa. At the end of one episode, the two leading men ride into the sunset with mountains behind them, to the east. Hell On Wheels is filmed in Alberta, Canada, where more scenic geography abounds.
LOST claimed that the discovery of the missing Oceanic airliner in the waters off Bali would allay suspicion. Bali is so utterly off course from the plane's planned flight path (several thousand miles in a completely wrong direction) that even in the weird universe of Lost it would raise alarms with even the most incompetent, lazy, or corrupt accident investigator. Or anyone with a map of the Pacific Ocean. In case you don't have one handy, imagine a flight from Miami to Boston crashing in Seattle and no one finding anything about that suspicious.
One of the extras on the series 4 DVD box set is a "conspiracy theory" video about the crash survivors, making that point among others. It's quite amusing, as they can take all the plot holes that viewers have already thought of, and flag them up mercilessly as part of the conspiracy. But it doesn't explain why it's not taken seriously in the world of the series.
Also in Lost when Ben Linus is born, a road sign suggests his parents are 32 miles from Portland, even though the surrounding vegetation is decidedly Hawaiian.
The Anvilicious9/11 episode of The West Wing refers to a terrorism suspect entering the United States via the "Ontario/Vermont border." It is Quebec, not Ontario, that borders Vermont.
Also on the The West Wing the episode "Two Cathedrals" has the presidential motorcade driving past National Cathedral to get from the White House to the State Department, which has to be a detour of at least 20 minutes.
In the first episode of the first season, there's a scene with Mandy driving fast in her convertible around the National Mall while having an argument on her cell phone. To the show's credit, this was filmed on location. However, anyone familiar with the layout of the National Mall quickly realizes that Mandy's car either magically flew backwards between cuts or she for some reason made a full circuit of the Mall (which would probably take at least five minutes, even going 60 or so in Bizzaro!land where there is apparently no other traffic). Also unrealistic is the fact that she was going about 60 miles per hour on Jefferson Drive, and yet does not appear to have bits of jaywalking tourists and school groups in the grille of her cute convertible.
During one "Scenes From a Hat" where the topic was "Unlikely State License Plates," Colin Mochrie gave "Miami: The Land That Time Remembered." When Drew buzzed and reminded him Miami is a city, not a state, Colin quickly changed it to "Florida: Not To Be Confused With Miami."
There was once a special episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation that took place in Detroit, but was quite obviously filmed in Los Angeles. For one thing, Detroit doesn't have palm-trees lining the streets. For another thing, there are no mountains on Detroit's horizon.
In another, the crime lab has to send some people up to Carson City to secure some evidence. They arrive in the middle of a blinding sandstorm, something that any person who lives in Carson City would tell you doesn't happen.
In the pilot of the short-lived series "Smith", there are a number of howlers. The alley out of which one character staggers to distract the cops, for instance, is downtown and a good five miles from the building the group is supposedly robbing—which is itself represented on the exterior by a completely different building. Then the crooks make their getaway in a boat that goes down the wrong river, and stops about 50 yards before they would have gone over a dam.
Carly's grandfather in iCarly lives in Yakima and commented on why he can't drive a hour-and-a-half to Seattle to see his grandchildren. Driving from Seattle to Yakima takes about two more hours than he claims.
In the series finale of Sisters, which took place in Winnetka, IL, a man tells a taxi driver to "Take the Kennedy to Sheridan Road." Those roads/highways are not connected in real life.
Happy Days seems to take place in a Milwaukee where mountains and palm trees populate the landscape (especially in the opening credits), along with California housing styles which never went near Wisconsin.
They also placed Sydney, Australia on the north coast of Australia during their 2011 Tsunami coverage.
CNN also had a blunder covering the same story (which The Daily Show called them out on) where they called the Galapagos Islands "Hawaii".
In Season 1 of Heroes, Sylar visited a man in Virginia Beach, VA. A quick peek outside the door revealed rocky hills, scrub, and lots of dust. Viewers in coastal Virginia rolled their eyes.
An episode of MSNBC's To Catch a Predator was set in Riverside, California, but all of the wrap-around shots were from Huntington Beach, which is 50 miles away from Riverside. This might be okay, except that several shots featured the Huntington Beach Pier. Riverside has several things between the city and the ocean, including several other cities and a mountain range.
Jericho seems to forget that Kansas is bigger than Rhode Island. Throughout the series, characters see mountains from Central Kansas (mountains are not visible from anywhere in Kansas), travel less than an hour to drive over 500 miles from Wichita to Denver and act like Topeka is next door. (There are approximately 140 miles and several towns between the two.)
The made-for-TV Olsen sisters' film Passport to Paris had a huge blooper. An animation sequence showed their plane crossing over the Atlantic, flying over London, then over the Channel, then over France and the Mediterranean sea to eventually land somewhere inNorth Africa. The Channel =/= the Mediterranean sea, guys.
Spenser For Hire did do some filming in the Boston area (don't remember how much), but the editing made Boston-area viewers giggle as a chase would jump towns just by turning a corner. This was especially amusing when the towns involved were separated by several other towns.
Hilariously lampshaded in an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street when scenes supposed to be in Pennsylvania were shot in a distinctive area of Ellicott City, Maryland. The characters mention every few minutes that they're in Whatevertown, Pennsylvania. (The show was filmed on location in Baltimore and was fairly popular there.)
It happens from time to time on The Amazing Race, what with teams traveling all over the world and all, but never so gloriously as in the Season 16 premiere, when Jordan, despite constantly being reminded that they were going to Chile, proceeds to request tickets to Santiago, China.
In British magician Derren Brown's one-off show The Gathering he performed a trick whereby he predicted which country somebody would think of out of all of the countries in the world. The "country" he predicted? Africa. He was correct. (Is this a failure on the part of him, or the audience member?)
QI. One example being a question about the smallest English county - expected "wrong" answer being Rutland, with the "correct" answer being the Isle of Wight, which apparently has a smaller area at the relevant tidemark. Unfortunately, in traditional terms the Isle of Wight isn't a county (it's part of Hampshire, and Rutland was the smallest traditional county), and in modern terms, both the reinstated Rutland and the IoW are unitary authorities - the smallest of which is Blackpool.
The traditional counties are counties which used to exist but don't necessarily still exist or have their original boundaries. A unitary authority, while being for most purposes a county in all but name, is still considered for ceremonial purposes to be part of a county. Hence the entities known as Ceremonial Counties, which are the current officially existing counties, which have the ceremonial institutions of a county such as a Lord Lieutenant & which may govern all their own territory, or alternatively some or even all of their territory may be under the control of unitary authorities. In any case, QI was wrong because the City of London is a separate Ceremonial County in its own right, not part of Greater London
The Soap OperaThe Young and the Restless featured a storyline where a character faked his own death and escaped Wisconsin. Then he went to Ottawa. Then he went to Brazil. So his father followed him to Ottawa on a vengeance mission. Apparently, Ottawa is some harbour-front dive-down, inhabited by rednecks in cowboy shirts. In order to enter Ottawa, you have to parachute out of a clunker aeroplane. And then, another character follows the father to Ottawa. By chartering a boat. From Wisconsin. While geographically possible, it still requires a detour through four lakes and the St Lawrence Seaway.
Friends: In "The One With Joey's Big Break", while he and Chandler are driving out of Manhattan for Las Vegas, the (rather grainy) bridge is obviously the Queensboro Bridge, which crosses the East River and connects Manhattan to Queens, but after Joey kicks out Chandler for saying the movie won't be his break, the Orbital Shot is of the Manhattan Bridge, also spanning the East River but connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn. At the coffee shop, Chandler mentions it was the George Washington Bridge, which would have been correct as it crosses the Hudson and connects Manhattan and Fort Lee, New Jersey.
Phoebe had a scientist boyfriend called David, who went to Minsk on a research trip. Minsk is stated to be in Russia several times, while it actually is the capital of Belarus. Belarus was the part of the Soviet Union to which Americans often referred as "Russia", but the Soviet Union was dissolved years before Friends even started.
Still, the characters would have been adolescents to adults at the time the Soviet Union fell apart, with already formed speech habits when it came to the geography they'd learned in school.
Although one of the characters referring to it as 'Russia' actually lives there, so the mistake is less forgivable...
Those of us educated during the Cold War are at a disadvantage after the redrawing of maps, even those who kept up with the changes still fall back on habitual reference to these countries, just because they were a common topic of discussion. The only ones who get it right now are the ones who took the opportunity to visit the post-Soviet states.
Especially bad because the citizens of former Soviet states generally do not appreciate the assumption that they are part of Russia.
In How I Met Your Mother, when Robin speaks of how she met her Argentinean boyfriend Gael, it shows how they first got involved in a secluded little beach-side cabin surrounded by palm trees, a beach that looks oddly Caribbean. Argentina's beaches are all on the Atlantic, and you're more likely to find pine trees than anything even slightly resembling Robin's flashback. This is probably to do with how Unreliable Narrator Ted is telling it.
In an episode of Have I Got News for You, Angus Deaton describes a US event has happening in "Carolina". Evidently the HIGNFY writers (or one the newspapers they got the story from) didn't realize that the state name was "North Carolina", and it wasn't a phrasing analogous to how you might say something happened in "north(ern) France".
Perhaps their confusion was reinforced by the common North Carolinian habit of referring to that state as "Carolina."
In Series/90210, Oscar figures out that there is something suspicious about rapist Mr. Cannon when he claims to be from Chelsea but clearly has a Dagenham accent. Now, while Chelsea has many upper-class parts to it, there are also several working class areas as well. There is no way that anybody could identify a "Dagenham accent" as opposed to any other working-class area of London.
But just try convincing Henry Higgins of that.
The US version of Shameless had a character drive from Chicago to Detroit to Toronto and then back to Chicago during the span of a single night. It takes about 9-10 hours to make that drive one way, not counting any delays at the border. The dialogue suggests that they thought that Toronto was just across the river from Detroit.
On one of the early episodes of GoGo Sentai Boukenger has the team traveling to Canada looking for the Power Item of the week. The Area that they head to is located in south-eastern Saskatchewan (known for being mostly flatland with some hills), yet features a huge Mountain range and obviously Japanese Flora. South-western Alberta might have been a better call on that one, what with the Rockies in all.
In The Event Vicky describes Murmansk as being in "Western Siberia." This could be a in-show mistake, but Murmansk is near the Finnish border in the most northwestern part of Russia, further west than Moscow (similar to saying Maine is in the Eastern part of the Old West).
1967 western Cimarron Strip was filmed in a variety of places, including Utah and Southern California - both of which look nothing like the Oklahoma panhandle, where it purportedly took place; where the real "Cimarron Strip" is flat and covered in prairie grass, the show's version is mountainous and sandy.
Torchwood: Miracle Day has the main characters arrive in Venice, California on their way to a location in Los Angeles. When asked by the Gwen, the Welsh character where their final destination is, the American character Esther answers that it's technically in another city: Los Angeles while they're in Venice. Venice is part of the City of Los Angeles.
It's also a plot point in Miracle Day that Shanghai and Buenos Aires are antipodes. According to Google Maps, that's about 150 miles off.
Viewers who are familiar with Kansas can never watch Smallville without smirking at how much greener, hillier, and wetter the in-show Kansas is compared to the real-world Kansas, and how much the in-show Kansas looks like the Vancouver area.
Metropolis is within visual range and an hour or two's drive from Smallville. It has a waterfront. The nearest ocean to Kansas is the Gulf of Mexico, over 400 miles away through Oklahoma and Texas. The nearest major water body is Lake Michigan, through Missouri and Illinois. It might be a large river, but there are none of those in Kansas, barring the Missouri, and the water establishing shots is pretty clearly too wide to be that. Oddly enough, Vancouver has docks as well.
On one episode of JAG, Harm's partner is kidnapped by gangbangers in South Central L.A. They tell Harm to drive back to Camp Pendleton, grab one of their members who has joined the Marines, and bring him back in one hour. Camp Pendleton is 90 miles from Los Angeles - even with no traffic it would be extremely difficult to make the drive down there in one hour, let alone back.
In several episodes they also drive awfully fast from Washington, DC to both Norfolk and Blacksburg in Virginia. Norfolk is in the southeast corner of Virginia, about 3 hours and change from DC without traffic delays. Blacksburg is near the western end of Virginia, about 4 hours from DC and even farther from Norfolk.
In one episode of Law & Order the evidence trail led to Lenny calling the Newburgh Arena in that city in the Hudson Valley. He says "what do they have going on there? Deer ticks?" In actuality, Newburgh is a city with almost 30,000 people and, at time, enough street crime to make Lenny appreciate his job in Manhattan. Justified, because the assumption that all of upstate is extremely rural and that life there is altogether uneventful is an entirely realistic depiction of the attitudes of people from the city.
On the other hand, Newburgh is located in Orange County, which has one of the highest rates of Lyme Disease of any county in the United States.
In one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Picard sits in a cafe in Paris with the Eiffel Tower behind his table. He then gets up, turns in a different direction to look at the view... with the Eiffel Tower in the background. This could be somewhat forgiven as it takes place on the holodeck.
In one episode of Vegas Sheriff Lamb establishes himself as a badass by throwing a suspect through a window in downtown Las Vegas (as indicated by the establishing shot of the Golden Nugget). However, the suspect lands near the sign for the Stardust, several miles away on the Las Vegas strip. It's probably best not to wonder why the casino even has windows on the ground floor in the first place.
Glee is rather notorious for getting various details about Ohio wrong. Even if you forgive the occasional palm tree in the background, you still have characters casually travelling between towns that are hours apart in real life. For example, Unique is a former member of rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline, based in Akron, but transferred to McKinley High in Lima, where the show is set. Since it hasn't been established who she is living with in Lima, she apparently drives 155 miles every day to go to school.
The Office (US), set in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and filmed in LA, frequently shows palm trees and LA's surrounding mountains in the background in exterior shots (the title sequence is actual footage of Scranton, filmed by John Krasinski, and the show is actually quite faithful to the location otherwise).
ER has a rather nebulous idea of the location of Cook County Hospital. Some exterior shots have it near the Chicago River where it intersects with Michigan Avenue. Others have it well south of the Loop. The actual hospital is on the West Side, miles away from either location.
Most things regarding New York locations. For example, in the episode with a flying carpet, they are badly superimposed over Manhattan, where they see Shea Stadium. Shea Stadium, when it existed, was very much in Queens.
Not only that — Waverly Place itself is about a two block street just off Washington Square by NYU, at least the portion that is east of Washington Square Park, and this portion is definitely nothing like the So Cal-icized location shown. It does continue west of the park, however, for several blocks well into the West Village, and the set depicted on the show appears to be a somewhat plausible fictionalization of Waverly Place in the West Village. Not overly so, but at the very least, it's probably intended that the Russos live on Waverly Place somewhere in the West Village, as opposed to the eastern portion of it, which in reality is bounded by nothing but NYU buildings and one or two non-NYU apartment buildings.
The most egregious error regarding the actual depiction of Waverly Place is that it's shown as a pedestrian mall/walkway, complete with a staircase in the middle of it just before the entrance to the Waverly Sub Station. The real Waverly Place is a major thoroughfare for car traffic, like any other major street in a large city. Such a blatant error was probably done to make the set more friendly for television production.
Additionally, the area surrounding the baseball field in the episode "The Supernatural" has a little too much fauna (and not exactly specific to Downstate New York) to be located anywhere in the five boroughs.
One episode of Murder, She Wrote referred to a character coming from someplace "twenty miles east of Sheboygan, Wisconsin." Which would place it in the middle of Lake Michigan. And no, there are no inhabited islands in the vicinity. (There is a Cheboygan—pronounced the same—MICHIGAN, almost directly opposite from the Wisconsin town. Perhaps the writers were confused by that.)
In the San Francisco season of The Real World, two of the housemates fly into Nashville and rent a car to pick up Jon, who lived in Owensboro, Kentucky, so they can go to SF together. Apparently, they took the wrong highway out of Nashville. A later shot, taken before they get to Jon's house, shows them on Interstate 24 near Eddyville, Kentucky—heading northwest toward St Louis, with Owensboro about 100 miles northeast of their then-current location.
The pilot of the American remake of Skins is another particular egregious example as it has main character Tony leave his house, located in the Cabbagetown neighbourhood in Toronto and end up on a very distinctive railroad bridge, near the Toronto waterfront, all in the span of about twenty minutes (when the actual walking time for such a trek would be somewhere closer to two to three hours).
In "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash, he is in Folsom Prison because he "shot a man in Reno/Just to watch him die." Folsom Prison is a California state prison, and Reno is in Nevada.
In Lefty Frizzell's "Saginaw, Michigan", the narrator claims that he lived in a house on Saginaw Bay. Saginaw, Michigan is about 20 miles inland from the bay, so it would be physically impossible to be in both Saginaw and on Saginaw Bay.
And then there's Lead Belly's "Cotton Fields" song which mentions a place "in Louisiana, just about a mile from Texarkana". Texarkana is sitting on top of the Arkansas/Texas border, but it's nowhere within one mile from Louisiana's borders.
Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" has the line "Just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit." There is no South Detroit; directly south of downtown is Canada (specifically Windsor, Ontario), while the area south of the city on the Michigan side of the Detroit River is known as "Downriver." It's entirely possible that he could be referring to Downriver, but just didn't know about the specific name. It's also very likely that the lyric is not in fact "South Detroit" (name) but "south Detroit" (description); after all, by the laws of geometry there must be somewhere in Detroit that's further south than any other part of the city, even if it isn't formally called "South Detroit".
Similarly, The Feeling's "Without You" (its lyrics referring to the Virginia Tech spree shooting) mentions "North Virginia", a term that is not used by locals and in no way describes the location of Virginia Tech within the state of Virginia.note Tech's location of Blacksburg is in the New River Valley of southwest Virginia, a good four hours' drive from anything that's locally considered to be part of Northern Virginia.
Averted/parodied by The Beatles' "Back in the USSR"; the lyric "and Georgia's always on my mind" refers both to the song Georgia on my Mind (about the US Georgia and/or a woman named Georgia) and the Georgia in the Caucasus.
The very first verse of the Canadian-geography-extolling patriotic song "Something to Sing About" begins, "I've stood on the sand on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland..." The Grand Banks are between 24 and 100 metres under water.
Very, Very strong diving suit?
Actually at low tide there are areas you can wade on (or if you're trying to actually fish, avoid like crazy.) That's justification after the fact though: it was probably originally just put in to sound good.
British artist Kim Wilde's "Kids in America" includes a perplexing line about "East California". California is long and narrow and is usually divided into north and south regions. The northeast part is dominated by mountains, the southeast is dominated by desert, and both are sparsely populated.
Sade's "Smooth Operator": "Coast to coast, LA to Chicago", though you can argue that they're supposed to be two unconnected phrases.
"Sausalito Summernight" by Diesel (from The Netherlands) is about a road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco, but the actual verse about Sausalito implies that it's south of San Francisco, when it's actually north. Also, the notion of a "hot summer night in Sausalito" is pretty laughable, because Sausalito is right on the SF Bay and is very breezy. The average overnight low temperature during summer is about 55(F)/13(C).
Music video for "Pipppero" by Elio e le Storie Tese takes place on the italian-bulgarian border. Needless to say that the italian-bulgarian border doesn't exists.
"The Night Chicago Died" says that the police shootout took place on the east side of Chicago. As Dave Barry pointed out in his "Bad Song Survey" column, Chicago has no east side. East of Downtown Chicago is Lake Michigan.
There is a neighborhood in Chicago called East Side; it's along the Illinois/Indiana border. However, in the 1920's, East Side was a quiet, residential, and predominantly Swedish neighborhood - hardly the site of the bloodbath described in the song.
Parodied in "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Canadian Idiot", where the singer mentions "driving a Zamboni all over Saskatchewan". In real life, Saskatchewan is considered a prairie province, and definitely isn't covered in ice. This however, is making fun of people who think that all of Canada is a frozen wasteland, as if the Great Plains stopped at the US-Canadian border or something...
In the song "Uneasy Rider", Charlie Daniels sings about his left rear tire going just as he crosses the Mississippi line on his way to Los Angeles. He limps along the shoulder until he gets to a bar in Jackson. Talk about pushing your luck ... Jackson is at least 120 miles from the eastern boundary of Mississippi (and further from the northern boundary).
"South Australia" by the Pogues has the line "In South Australia around Cape Horn." Cape Horn is in South America, nowhere near Australia.
It is, however, on the route from Ireland to Australia, which is probably what they meant.
There's still lots of debate over the chorus of the Robert Johnson blues classic "Sweet Home Chicago": "Oh, baby don't you wanna go?/Back to the land of California/To my sweet home, Chicago." The consensus is that this wasn't a mistake on Johnson's part, but there are endless guesses as to why he wrote it that way. The song's supposed to be about a road trip from California to Chicago. Or he was combining two places that people in the Mississippi Delta wanted to move to. Or the song's Unreliable Narrator doesn't know that Chicago isn't in California. Or Johnson was giving a Shout-Out to friends/relatives who lived in the small California towns of Chicago Park or Port Chicago.
Pavement's "Box Elder" has the line “I’m gonna head to Box Elder, M.O.”. There are a few places in the United States called Box Elder, but none are in Missouri, the state with the post office abbreviation of MO; They most likely meant to refer to Box Elder, Montana, which would be "Box Elder, M.T."
Dan Fogelberg's "Run for the Roses", about the Kentucky Derby, begins with the lines "Born in the valleys/And raised in the trees/Of western Kentucky..." Although Kentucky is indeed the epicenter of the American Thoroughbred industry, the horse farms are mostly around Lexington, locally considered to be in Central Kentucky, and far removed from anything that anyone from Kentucky would call "Western".
"Rollin' Home" by Pirates of the Mississippi: "Picked up a load in San Angelene / Dropped a transmission down in New Orleans". There is no place anywhere in the world called "San Angelene".
The following was said in Botchamania 21 by Macho Man Randy Savage, completely seriously and unironically. Whether or not it's a straight example due to Savage being a bit of a Cloud Cuckoo Lander remains to be seen:
"I've been in the danger zone — yeah! — I've been in the danger zone east of the Pacific Ocean, west of London England, south of Mars, and north of Hell! Yeah!"
The New World of Darkness somewhat esoterically treats Europe (and the American seaboards) this way in its Vampire installment. It's explained that vampires don't want to risk driving even to the nearest city from their own, because it might end up with them stranded with not enough time to make it back to their own city. This makes sense in the middle of the US or Canada, where it can take hours to drive to the city limits of the nearest city and more to drive to the centre and the same amount of time back. In Europe and along the coast, few cities outside Scandinavia are more than an hour from their nearest neighbours.
In its defense, part of the consideration is likely tactical. Do you really want to be stuck in an unfamiliar city in a world as Crapsack and conspiracy-inundated as the World of Darkness?
The Lexicon, the geography volume of Bard Games's Atlantean Trilogy, can be forgiven for re-drawing the map of Earth to make their ancient civilizations more interesting. However, referring to salt-water straits as "rivers" merely because they're wet and narrow would surely have been a boo-boo even in the Second Age of Atlantis!
As pictured above, Risk redefines the borders of many countries by incorporating smaller ones into their larger neighbors or by grouping them together to form geographic regions in order to simplify the game and to make the map more legible. However, the game mistakenly refers to one region in Central Asia as "Afghanistan" despite not incorporating the country at all; it's instead a part of the neighbouring "India" region.
Interestingly, larger countries such as the USA and Russia get broken up into smaller territories. This is likely for the sake of game balance.
The game Outburst is playing by giving a team a category and seeing how many of the 10 examples of things within that category they can name within a short period of time. Somewhat like Family Feud, but without taking turns. Each card will feature at least one answer that is factually incorrect or just plain off-the-wall, on the basis that someone is likely to say it anyway. One edition had a card listing "Cold Countries", with "Siberia" as one if its answers. Siberia is a region of Russia, not a country unto itself. So a globally ignorant player who pipes up and gives this response may end up winning the round for their team.
One Shadowrun adventure taking place in Bogotá describes the landlocked mountain city as having a port. It has an airport, but no seaport to speak of.
The infamous War! book was famous for many, MANY Artistic Licenses, being Geography just one of them...
Australia was tired of winning the Oceania qualifiers only to lose The World Cup playoff, so they moved to the Asian confederation.
As many of the Asian members refuse to acknowledge the existence of Israel, they play the European qualifiers instead. Kazakhstan is also in Asia, but joined UEFA in 2002.
Related, the winner of the 1958 African\Asian qualifier was Wales, as everyone else on the final round had refused to play Israel and thus an European runner-up was brought instead.
Given Suriname and Guyana are already odd countries in South America (and the other teams are much stronger), they play in the North\Central America zone. French Guyana is also a member of CONCACAF, but not FIFA as they are still part of France (thus they can't go to the World Cup).
In his first press conference after being drafted by the Utah Jazz, Karl Malone told the Salt Lake City media how happy he was to be in "the city of Utah".
Year later, when the Dallas Mavericks faced the Utah Jazz in the 2001 NBA playoffs (the Mavs' first playoff in 11 years), Dirk Nowitzki caught flak for saying how Dallas was going to the "city of Utah." True, Nowitzki is German, but he'd been in the league three years and the Mavs and Jazz were in the same division at the time.
The Big East Conference, which was originally comprised of all Northeast schools, really went to hell with this after the turn of the century. In an attempt to expand their base (and status as a football conference), they added the University of Louisville, Cincinnati, Chicago's DePaul University and others to make up for the departing Boston College and University of Miami, then they started going after Texas teams like TCU (who eventually went to the Big 12 instead), SMU and the University of Houston and even further west with Boise State and San Diego State (both of which ended up staying in the Mountain West Conference). They had enough teams to make East and West Divisions, and put Philadelphia's Temple University in the West while Louisville and Cincinnati were in the East. All this led to longtime members West Virginia, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh bolting for other conferences, and then seven schools in the conference (dubbed the "Catholic 7'note 4 of them are the Founding Schools of the Big East Conference in 1979 due to them sharing that denomination) got fed up in 2012 and all left to form another conference altogether, winning the right to the Big East name in the process.
As for the conference that the Catholic 7 left behind, which became the American Athletic Conference... in 2015, Navy will join for football only. This will give that league 12 football teams, enabling it to split into divisions (in this case, East and West) and play a conference championship game. Six of the teams are in states in or near the East Coast, and the other six schools are either well inland or near the western half of the Gulf of Mexico, which makes for a pretty clean split, right? Well, not quite. Navy, located on Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, will be in the West Division. Cincinnati, well inland, will be in the East (although it does share the Eastern Time Zone with the other five East Division schools and Navy).
Dallas' sports teams have it crazy. The Cowboys are in a division with all Northeast teams (see above) while the Texas Rangers and (until the NHL's 2013 realignment) Dallas Stars are in divisions with all West Coast teams. Only the Mavericks get to be in a division with two other Texas teams and one in New Orleans. And the Memphis Grizzlies.
For a long time before Major League Baseball expanded and reorganized divisions, the Cincinnati Reds and the Atlanta Braves were in the National League West division, while the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs were in the NL East. (This was solely to ensure the Cubs and Cardinals were in the same division due to their rivalry; why they couldn't have both gone to the West and made things much easier is anyone's guess.)
The stated reason was that the Cubs and Cardinals, by being placed in the NL East, would get more games against the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets, which would result in a more lucrative schedule - whether that means more fan interest against the big cities of the Northeast where baseball was strongly-rooted or an easier schedule in a division with a Phillies team whose history is dearth of success (at that point, the Phillies had won the NL pennant just twice and zero World Series wins in 81 years of play) and a seven-year-old Mets team whose best finish up to then was 9th place out of 10 (or possibly both) is not clear. Outside of that, the league also had competitive balance concerns about placing the top three NL teams from the 1968 season (the Cubs, Cardinals, and San Francisco Giants) in the same division (only division winners played postseason baseball - the Wild Card would first be used in 1995).
If the Cubs' reason for insisting on being in the Eastern Division was for an easier schedule, they got their comeuppance that season - the '69 Cubs held a 9-game lead in the division in mid-August over the Cardinals and Mets before the latter earned their "Miracle" nickname by finishing 37-11 while the Cubs choked out a 20-28 finish, with the end result of the Mets claiming the division by 8 games.
The NFL, up until the 2002 re-alignment, was an exercise in geographical insanity. Of the five teams in the NFC West division in 2001, three of them (New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers) were Southern cities while the Arizona Cardinals of the NFC East was the westernmost city in the NFC after the San Francisco 49ers. There are still a few oddities present today (the NFC West's Rams are still farther east than the NFC East's Cowboys; the Indianapolis Colts of the AFC South are farther north than the Baltimore Ravens of the AFC North), but for the most part, the current partitioning makes a lot more sense.
Somewhat justified, as the Cardinals had moved from St. Louis in the late 80's, and when the Panthers came into existence in 1995, the NFC West had an open spot, having only four teams to the other divisions' five. And when the AFL and NFL merged, the new NFC alignment was drawn out of a hat.
The Cowboys remain in the NFC East solely because of their longtime rivalries with the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles.
NFL geography has been somewhat jacked up since 1953, with the Baltimore Colts joining the Western Conference. It got worse with the 1967 realignment into four divisions, with teams going all over the place. Oddly enough, one 1967 division remains intact (and geographically reasonable) to this day: the Central Division, which became the NFC Central, and since 2002 has been the NFC North. The division has had Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, and Minnesota the entire time (adding Tampa Bay from 1977-2001).
The NHL had quite a bit of it once changed into Western and Eastern conferences: the Pacific Division had Phoenix (like in the eponymous NBA division, where the Suns are the only non-California team), and Dallas, closer to most eastern teams than California; and the Columbus team was also in the Western Conference (Detroit being the West was justified by both its location and the rivalry with Chicago). Then came the realignment where a division consisting mostly of Northeastern US\Canada teams has also the Florida ones (though at least it's been renamed from the "Northeast" to "Atlantic" Division...which forced the hitherto "Atlantic" Division to be renamed the "Metropolitan")
Many American pro sports teams are not based in the cities they represent, but bordering suburbs: The Washington Redskins currently play in FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, and have their offices and practice facilities in northern Virginia. The New York Giants and New York Jets don't play in New York (the city OR the state); their shared home ground at MetLife Stadium is in East Rutherford, New Jersey (this has led combative New Jersey governor Chris Christie to refer to the Jets as the "Jersey Jets" on at least one occasion). The Buffalo Bills play in the suburb of Orchard Park. The Miami Dolphins do play in a city with the word "Miami", but it's Miami Gardens. The Detroit Pistons play in the Palace of Auburn Hills. With the opening of their new stadium, the San Francisco 49ers now play in Santa Clara.
Finally averted by the team now known as the Arizona Coyotes in the 2014 offseason. They had been playing as the Phoenix Coyotes in the suburb of Glendale since December 2003. (The team had been playing in Phoenix since arriving from Winnipeg in 1996.)
Zig-zagged by the Cleveland Cavaliers. They originally played in the Cleveland Arena until it was torn down in 1974, then they played in Richfield, almost an hour south, for over twenty years. However, Gund Arena (now Quicken Loans Arena or "The Q") was built in downtown Cleveland in 1994, and the Cavs have been playing in Cleveland proper ever since.
The Atlanta Braves' 2017 move to a new stadium plays with the trope. While the team plans to move out of the city center to an unincorporated area of Cobb County, the new stadium will have an Atlanta address.
The famous blunder of soccer player Andreas Möller when asked about his new team: Milan or Madrid as long it's Italy.
Although the Carolina Panthers are considered a "regional" franchise, representing both North and South Carolinanote Portions of the Charlotte Metropolitan Area extend into South Carolina, the Panthers hold their training camp in Spartanburg, South Carolina on the campus of Wofford College (Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is an alumnus of Wofford), and the team played their first season at Clemson University in the South Carolina city of the same name, Nike accidentally printed T-shirts with South Carolina identified as North Carolina.
In Two Gentlemen of Verona, the character of Valentine takes a ship to go to Milan from Verona. In the sixteenth century, Verona and Milan were connected by a canal, allowing Valentine to make his trip by boat to Milan from Verona.
In The Tempest, Prospero, Duke of Milan, and Miranda, are put forth from Milan on a "bark", or boat, and are taken "some leagues to sea" to "a rotten carcass of a boat" (Act I, Scene 2). Milan's Grand Canal (Naviglio Grande), still around today, linked Milan to the Ticino river, which in turn empties into the Mediterranean Sea, some leagues away from Milan.
In The Taming of the Shrew, Tranio’s father was a ‘sail maker’ from land-locked Bergamo. Bergamo is the nearest large city to Lake Iseo and close to Lake Como, creating a Bergamo boat-making and sail-making industry which started long before the 16th century and continues to this day.
In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo is exiled and goes to Mantua - Mantua is within reasonable distance of Verona.
The Bohemian Errors - They depend on what is meant by "Bohemia": is it the original country itself, or the entire kingdom of Bohemia? Also, what exactly is a "desert" to an Elizabethan man?
This was also present in the original text that Shakespeare lifted the plot from, so it may be that Shakespeare doesn't fail geography, he just doesn't check the source material.
Originally "desert" simply refered to wilderness rather than the more specific modern definition of a very dry region (usually hot and sandy/rocky), so Bohemia having a "desert" might not be as bad as it sounds. At least to Britons and Americans who think that most of Central Europe consists of steppe.
King Ottokar II (r. 1253-78), King of Bohemia, extended his rule to the Adriatic Sea by inheriting Carinthia and Krain (which however did not become part of the Kingdom of Bohemia) in 1269. As Shakespeare's King Polixenes of Bohemia in The Winter's Tale vaguely parallels the life of King Ottokar II, some think that it is admissible to speak of a "Bohemian coastline" with reference to the tiny part of the Istrian coast that belonged to Krain (most of that coast was Venetian), but it really is only as legitimate as referring to the White Cliffs of Dover as part of the Scottish coast after the accession of James I to the English throne. Not to mention that Ottokar lost Krain as well as his life after a grand total of nine years' possession.
The Habsburg ruler Rudolf II (1552-1612) became king of Croatia and Hungary in 1572, then became king of Bohemia in Germany in 1575 and Holy Roman Emperor in 1576, effectively creating a personal realm with an Adriatic Sea coastline and Bohemia combined. But the Hungarian-Croatian coastline was not regarded as "Bohemian", even if Rudolf did make Prague his main residence.
Measure for Measure is a play with a Duke named Vincentio, his deputy Angelo, a nun named Isabella, her brother Claudio, his lover Juliet, and their friend Lucio... set in Vienna.
In Timon of Athens, his description of the Athenian countryside sounds nothing like Greece, but like so many of his other plays depicting foreign parts more like a generic culture with a generic wealthy society.
In Othello, he puts Venice only a day away by sail from Cyprus. Venice is over 1,100 nautical miles (2,000 km) from the Cypriot coast; in Shakespeare's time it could take up to three weeks if the winds were right to sail from one to the other.
Especially bad because in act 1, everyone seems to fully expect Othello to arrive in Cyprus before the Turks do, despite having to travel a much longer distance. Luckily a storm manages to sink all the Turks' ships anyway so it doesn't matter.
While the events of the play span three days, they occur in two periods: a time period of one day in Venice leading up to the departure in Act I Scene 3, and then the arrival in Cyprus in Act II Scene 1 starting another time period of two days in Cyprus, with an unspecified period of time between the two periods. Thus the actual length of the journey between Venice and Cyprus is never specified in the play itself.
In Macbeth. A witch says she'll keep a woman's ship-captain husband from making port in Aleppo, because she wouldn't share her chestnuts. Aleppo is some distance from the sea, located near Euphrates River which empties into the Persian Gulf.
Shakespeare would have had easy access to the account of one Ralph Fitch, who in 1583 set sail on the Tyger bound for Tripoli and Aleppo in Syria. Aleppo's seaport in the late 1500s was located on the nearby Euphrates River. It was seven day journey according to Mr. Fitch. Mr. Fitch arrived back in London in 1591, with plenty of time to write his description before Shakespeare read it.
If Mr. Fitch claimed to have made port at Aleppo, he was either sorely mistaken or lying. The Euphrates flows, in fact, into the Persian Gulf. In order to make port there, a ship from England would have needed to circumnavigate Africa. Furthermore, Aleppo is in fact roughly 50 miles from the banks of the Euphrates, and cannot be said to have a port. It is more probable that Fitch made port at Tripoli, on the coast of the Levant, and subsequently traveled overland to Aleppo.
The final act of Puccini's Manon Lescault is set in the deserts of Louisiana, with the heroine eventually dying of dehydration right outside of New Orleans. (The original novel makes the same mistake.)
Railroad Tycoon 3 includes a mission to build a railroad over the Rocky Mountains...Between Sacramento and Salt Lake City. Those are the Sierra-Nevada mountains, by the way.
Railroads! (or RRT 4), wasn't much of an improvement. It almost looked like a 3D version of the original 1990 game maps.
Because it was conceived to be just that.
Hilariously parodied by Backyard Hockey, which says that Buddy Cheque came from the town of Janestown, which, they say, is near the geographically impossible border of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Canada.
In Rad Racer, you're racing in the "Trans America'' competition, but one of the tracks is set in ancient Greek ruins.
Similarly in Radmobile, when you arrive in Chicago you'll see palm trees and a gigantic cruise ship on what is presumably Lake Michigan.
Resistance 2 has a secret military bunker on Yerba Buena Island. When you exit the bunker The Bay Bridge has suspiciously been painted red.
Soviet jungle: The jungle is actually one of the southern republics of the USSR, likely bordering the Himalayan mountains, west of China. It's actually stated that even the FOX unit would be nuts to initiate a mission into Russia, but Soviet territory is fair game.
The Turkic ex-republics of the Soviet Union are very arid. It's, you know, in the middle of the world's largest continent, and the only (faux-)sea shore is the western Caspian coast of Turkmenistan (western coasts tend to be arid throughout the world). Kazakhstan is steppe country, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are mostly desert, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are mountainous. No jungles, anywhere.
Same for Zanzibarland in Metal Gear 2, said to be in the "former Soviet Union". Conversely, there is a real archipelago called Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania, which does have jungles.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert: Abound in almost all missions that feature major cities and/or landmark structures. The most Egregious example is probably the final Allied mission in Yuri's Revenge, where the 1000-or-so-kilometer distance between Tierra del Fuego and the Antarctic Peninsula is compressed into about 1.
And even better in Command & Conquer: Generals: at one moment in USA campaign, we witness an American aircraft carrier in the waters of the Caspian Sea. The thing is, that "sea" is actually a lake, and has no connection with an ocean whatsoever. Cue the thoughts how that ship could get there in the first place.
Actually, you can get to the Caspian Sea by water, but not in anything remotely approaching the size of a carrier. Russia has canals that connect the Volga River, which drains into the Caspian, with several other rivers that eventually end up in an ocean. But, forget about using them with anything much bigger than river barges.
Age of Empires III has the Netherlands as one of its playable countries. The capital, Amsterdam, is depicted with a mountain-range in the background. It isn't called the Low Countries for nothing.
Let's Go Find El Dorado features great mountain peaks separating cities and rivers with random names on them. As such, you can go from Santa Fe, New Mexico, fly over the mountains, and end up in Panama City. Yep.
Halo 3 not only has jungles in the Tsavo area of Kenya, but also temperate plants from the Pacific Northwest. Mt. Kilimanjaro looks more like Mt. Rainier, and is far too close for the location, which is on the opposite side of the country. The jungles of Tsavo may be forgivable, seeing as Halo takes place 500 years in the future, and mankind may have done a bit of terraforming. No excuse for the moving mountain, however.
Rival Turf has a pretty bad one. The game is supposedly set in Los Angeles, yet the level screen shows a map of Canada.
Need for Speed II featured the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and Uluru. All on the same track.
Need for Speed III has a track set in a Grand Canyon-type area, with an underground Greek temple.
Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones starts with the Hero on a boat, sailing to Babylon. He sails past a couple of huge rocks and spots his besieged and burning city. The problem is that Babylon was in what is now Iraq, which is a fairly flat country, so there are no huge rocks in the river.
While mostly faithful to actual geography, Empire Earth at times goes happy-go-lucky on perspectives. Examples include cities changing locations from a mission to another, Alexandria spreading over the whole Nile delta, or Brittany being completely obliterated from the map of France in the Roman campaign.
The Knight Rider NES game overlaps this and Hollywood Atlas. The Houston level is set in a desert, complete with Cacti. The St. Louis level has the landmark arch on a hill and in a village setting. However, in real life, it's in the downtown area by the river on common ground. Phoenix has the Grand Canyon in the background, when it is practically on the other end of the state..
Generally averted, but still lampshaded in Uncharted, particularly in the third game.
Sully: Only you could find a jungle in the middle of France.
Likely deliberate, but still quite noticeable in No More Heroes, namely in the positioning of Santa Destroy. Driving around will find the border with Mexico, and the city is on the coast, likely overwriting the existence of a little town called San Diego.
The UK actually does have a "Desert", but since it's a gravel covered piece of coastland that houses a bird sanctuary and a nuclear power plant, it's hardly the ideal place for a city...
If you're on pogo.com and playing a hidden-object game set in London, expect numerous localization errors such as American power points in shops, and American fire hydrants on the streets.
One that may have been completely intentional: Dynamite Dux features penguins in the Texas stage.
In World Driver Championship for the N64, one of the tracks is in Sydney, Australia. The start/finish line is at Sydney Airport. Most of the lap runs through the city of Sydney... and then towards the end of the lap, you get off the Sydney Harbour Bridge and find yourself driving through the Barkly Tablelands, in the Northern Territory, before arriving back at the airport. Google Earth approximates a 34-hour drive from one to the other. A good car in the game should be able to do an entire lap in, give or take, 1 minute 40 seconds.
Ogre Battle has Kastro Valley. According to the town of Almalyk, the Kastro Valley is, quote: "580 baums long, 75 baums wide, and 1.8 baums deep" and a baum is: "the distance an adult walks in 1500 minutes," or 25 hours. Assuming an average speed of three miles an hour, that gives us dimensions of 43,500 miles long, 5,625 miles wide, and 135 miles deep. Assuming an earth-like planet, that's a length nearly twice the circumference and a depth enough to go well in to the mantle. It's roughly one hundred times the area of the Amazon basin. Dividing the size of a baum by ten still gives us a problematic (but handwaveable depth) but a much more reasonable, Amazon-basin-sized area.
The Amiga game North and South, based on the American Civil War, has a... strange idea of US geography. All of the states are depicted in a very odd angular manner. To list just a few examples: several states have diagonal borders when they should have straight ones; West Virginia, New Jersey, and Maryland are all lumped together in one great blob; Missouri and Arkansas "lean", intruding upon the states to their west; Wisconsin is all but unrecognizable with the bulge at the top being given to of Michigan and its western edge rendered a diagonal line; Pennsylvania is a generic parallelogram, missing the extension on top and the eastern "nose"; Lakes Ontario and Erie are connected by a strait (and are drawn as one body of water in the NES version); Iowa's southeastern "arm" is missing a la the Animaniacs example below; and Texas's southern border is completely wrong (it does bear some resemblance to Bell's proposal during the Compromise of 1850, but in 1861 when the war started it had its modern-day boundaries.)
In the Mafia themed La Cosa Nostra set in the Mid 1800s where the Irish main character emigrating to America meets a Japanese boy on a ship going across the Atlantic. The sad part is, that isn't the only instance.
That's only a real Wall Banger if you assume that the Japanese boy was coming over from Japan. In Real Life, the Japanese diaspora has been sizable if not that large since the Shogunate was kicked out, and many came first to Europe via the Suez Canal and from there to New England. And they weren't the only confusing case of this as well, such as in the "Great Railroad race", where the company on the Pacific coast primarily used Irish labor while the company on the Atlantic used Chinese. Hence why Reality Is Unrealistic
In Scandinavia and the World, America cannot see Denmark and cannot tell the difference between Sweden and Norway. On the flipside, he seems to be the only main character that acknowledges South America.
This page mocks a news headline which claims that a man has disappeared on the border of Austria and Spain.
...because Lithuanians are skilled in disappearing in places which don't exist.
In Jerma985's video called Jersey Boys in Sentry Town, STAR_ held this license when he said that Plymouth Rock is in Pennsylvania somewhere during his Rambling Old Man Monologue when Jerma corrected him by saying that Plymouth Rock is in Massachusetts. STAR_ tried to justify it by saying that he never been to Massachusetts, cue the video captions stating that STAR_ lives there.
Vaguely Recalling JoJo: During their travels, the Stardust Crusaders somehow manage to travel to Singapore and then travel to its capital. In reality, they traveled to Hong Kong, and then they traveled to Singapore.
Disney's Pocahontas depicts majestic cliffs and pine forests in the Tidewater region of Virginia. While western Virginia is mountainous and thickly forested, the Tidewater is a low-lying coastal plain characterized by a lot of swampland. Even the Appalachian areas of western Virginia (hundreds of miles from Jamestown) look nothing like the movie.
In 101 Dalmatians (the Disney cartoon), a reference is made to the "small village of Suffolk". Suffolk is a county, just like the ones in Massachusetts and New York.
In the Dora the Explorer special where she travels the world, Dora can spot Africa by from where she's standing in Mexico by looking directly behind her.
Headmasters takes place in the year 2011, making it that much worse.
In the X-Men animated episode "Days of Future Past, Part 2," Gambit travels to Washington, D.C. But the monitor shows the state of Washington (with Washington, D.C. captioned right below).
In the Direct-to-video Franklin special Back To School with Franklin, when Miss Koala points out where Australia is to the kids with a globe. Apparently, southern Thailand has ceased to exist on their version of Earth.
There actually was a large inland sea in the midwest of the USA during the Late Cretaceous period, about 75 million years ago. In which case their map is a little outdated.
One South Park episode featured Ethiopians wanting to get away from the missionaries trying to convert them, which they deemed obnoxious, despite the fact that in reality Christianity is the major belief in Ethiopia.
In the Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures episode "The Mummies of Malenque," the Quest team goes on a trip to Columbia. Luckily they specified it was the Columbia that is in South America, else the kiddies might've gotten confused.note It's Colombia.
In Total Drama's "Celebrity Manhunt Special" the gang travels from Ontario to New York, and somehow get lost in a desert with a nuclear testing site (Trinity Site is in New Mexico if you are wondering.)
In the Inspector Gadget episode "Wambini Predicts", Gadget goes to "Alpakistan", where there are diamond-spitting llamas. Llamas and alpacas are from South America, only camels are found in the Middle East.
The song "Yakko's World" from Animaniacs, ostensibly listing all of the countries in the world, left out several countries, such as South Africa and Burkina Faso.
As is traditional, the song messes up the UK completely by listing England, Scotland and Ireland. It should either list England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, or just the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. And possibly adding Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, depending on definition of 'country'.
The 50 states and capitals song is great, but the animation that goes with it is really screwed up. Many of the states are the wrong shapes in some shots (but correct in others), such as the ones bordered by the Missouri River, which are shown as having a straight north-south border. Iowa in particular is unrecognizable, with the eastern "nose" and southeastern "arm" missing.
Also (understandably for rhyming purposes), despite its name and theme the song actually contains 51 capitals:
"...Tallahassee, FL and Washington, D.C., Santa Fe, NM and Nashville, TN."
The Simpsons: The creators claim they often do a lot of research before they sent the family to another country. Yet they like to make use of stereotypes and intended mistakes, excused by the Rule of Funny. This makes it hard to determine which mistakes are really ignorant blunders and which ones are simply intended to be that way. Either way they might be funny to the creators and ignorant American viewers, but really jarring to the countries themselves and Americans who are informed about other countries.
In "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson", Homer reaches the top of the (original 2 World Trade Center) South Tower and discovers the men's restroom is out of order. He has to travel back down to the ground, run across the plaza and go up the (original 1 WTC) North Tower. When he gets to the summit, the North Tower's 360 ft. tall TV antenna is noticeably missing. It's worth noting because all other shots of the roof in this episode show it. This could also be considered a goof by the animators.
In "The Bart Wants What It Wants" the family travels to Toronto, Canada. However, their depiction is absolutely abysmal; the biggest goof of the episode was depicting the C.N. Tower as being in the middle of a field... anyone who has ever been to Toronto could correct that.
In "Simpson Safari" they travel to Africa where a lot of local fauna are intentionally inaccurately depicted: giraffes live under ground, rhinoceroses lay eggs, hippo's are afraid of water and giant spiders live in jungles.
The Masai tribes are depicted as if they practice lip plates and neck rings, while in reality they don't.
After the Simpsons travelled to Brazil in "Blame It On Lisa" the Brazilian government complained about the way their country was depicted in the episode: rampant street crime, kidnappings, slums and a rat infestation. A spokesman for the Tourist Board of Rio De Janeiro added that "what really hurt was the idea of the monkeys - the image that Rio de Janeiro was a jungle." They even threatened with legal actions.
In "30 Minutes Over Tokyo" several Japanese landmarks are depicted being within short distance of one another.
Krusty visits The Hague in "Elementary School Musical" and arrives at the local airport. Despite the fact that The Hague has no airport in real life!
"The Regina Monologues" acts as if the United Kingdom still has the death penalty, which is acted out in a medieval fashion by ordering beheading in The Tower Of London. Ironically capital punishment no longer exists in the U.K., while some states in the United States still practice it!
The same episode also features a secret tunnel from the Tower of London — which comes out in the Queen's bedroom in Buckingham Palace, which in reality is some five miles away.
Whenever the Earth is shown in Homestar Runner, the United States is actually drawn as a single landmass surrounded by oceans, with Alaska, Canada, Mexico, and Central and South America nowhere to be seen!
Dino Squad tends to set itself in locations that actually exist, but at the same time tends to ignore the actual travel times. The episode "Easy Riders and Raging Dinos" has the kids driving to places in excess of 400 miles away from their hometown (Kittery Point, Maine to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Niagara Falls) like they're going to the next town over.
In Justice League, the Thanagarians are building a planetary force field on the great Gobi desert, which covers part of China and Mongolia. However, we later the see that it's located in North Africa, in the Sahara desert (you can spot it on Batman's monitor during the Colony Drop).
In one Family Guy episode, Brian and Stewie visit Munich, and drive in a tour-bus past Munich's Old Town Hall, the Sendlinger Tor◊ and the Mariensäule◊, which are all presented next to each other on a medieval intersection. This couldn't be further from the truth - not only are there hardly any truly medieval buildings left in Munich, but the Mariensäule is in front of the new Town Hall building a hundred meters away from the old one◊ (and all three buildings are on the central Marienplatz square, not on some intersection), while the Sendlinger Tor is almost an entire kilometer away from the Marienplatz. Obviously, Family Guy's Munich was just a setpiece for yet another unfunny 'All Germans Are Nazis' joke. Some Germans actually took offence to that.
The Doctor Who animated special Dreamland opens with an establishing shot of the "New Mexico Desert, June 13, 1947◊". Aside from the roadsign itself being an Anachronism Stew (due to neither the style of sign, nor Interstate routes, existing in 1947), it places the (not-yet-existent) I-25 within "35m"note modern US roadsigns either spell out "MILES" in all-caps, or have no unit indicated as miles are assumed; the lower-case "m" shown is used to indicate meters of Roswell. The real-life I-25, built along the path of US Route 85 (which did exist in 1947), runs over a hundred miles west of Roswell.
One episode of The Powerpuff Girls has the Mayor give the geographic coordinates of Townsville (the intersection of Lincoln and Main, specifically) as 32 degrees north, 212 degrees west. Degrees of latitude and longitude only go up to 180, but even if you wrap around the globe past that mark, going 212 degrees west of the Prime Meridian puts you in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Japan. While the Mayor is The Ditz, the girls follow his advice and arrive at a proper location.
The King of the Hill episode "Uh Oh Canada" depicts Boomhauer meeting up with a French-speaker in Guelph, Ontario, very improbable in real life, and them kayaking with mountains in the background. As anyone who has been to Ontario will tell you, mountains are nowhere to be found in the province, especially not in Guelph.
The Totally Spies! episode "The Getaway" has the spies going to a volcano research lab in Iceland, which is covered in ice and snow, but it's actually Greenland that's covered in ice.