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Critical Research Failure

Even first graders know this one.

"The London 2012 opening ceremony is going to be called Isles of Wonder, but there can be no wonderment more wonderful than the fact that Olympics organizers wanted Keith Moon to perform.

Moon has been dead for 34 years."

This is a particular instance where a story or character have something - a statement, the depiction of something - that is so egregiously off-the-scale in terms of inaccuracy that anyone with a high school education and/or a cursory knowledge of the subject realizes the writers made the whole thing up.

Many of these will be Disaster Movies or Action Movies and will use state of the art computer effects to keep your interest. This can be Played for Laughs by having a Book Dumb character make such an error so that a smarter character can spot and react to it.

Also see Didn't Think This Through, which is less about research failure and more about planning failure. Contrast with the MST3K Mantra, which tells us not to worry about these little details, Accidentally Accurate, which is when non-experts think the creators are wrong, but experts know the creators are right—by complete accident and Like Reality Unless Noted, where what appears to be a research failure can be written off as the result of an Alternate History or Alternate Universe.

For Real Life examples of this in action regarding media, see Cowboy Bebop at His Computer. More specific failures have their own pages on Artistic License.

Unintentional Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • A TV spot for the film Gamer became an Internet hit when it claimed that "the last time Gerard Butler kicked this much ass was 300 years ago." note 
  • A commercial for Oscar Meyer Franks has a father come home and see his three kids on those electronic gizmos kids use these days. Wanting to spend Quality Family Time, he trips the circuit breaker of his house, knocking the power out and shutting off the older brother's computer, the younger brother's game console, and the sister's cell phone.

    Anime & Manga 
  • One scene in Baki the Grappler involved a character who blinded people by pulling out their optic nerves... by sticking a finger into the side of his opponent's neck and pulling said nerve out. The optic nerve, which connects the eye and brain via a hole through the eye socket, really has no business being there.

    Comic Books 
  • Marville begins a descent into utter madness starting in the third issue that includes, among many, MANY other offenses, the protagonists scooping up some water with microbes in it to use as a "biological clock" for their time machine, under the logic that they'll know to stop when the microbes evolve into a dinosaur. It just gets worse from there.
  • Superman once multiplied 10x20x16 and got 32,000. That wasn't just math, it was Super Mathematics.
  • Tintin:
    • Hergé was famous for his research, but made a serious error in Tintin and the Prisoners Of The Sun: The Incas, with all their astronomical research, would have understood that a solar eclipse is not permanent. Hergé later regretted this scene and always wanted to correct it.
    • Also, Tintin's surprise that Incas still exist. The Incan empire fell centuries ago, but they still exist as a distinct people.
  • The original authors of W.I.T.C.H. intended to set the series somewhere in America. This is obvious to an Italian, but they didn't bother to go and look on how an American city actually looks like, resulting in Americans and non-Europeans in general to wonder in which European country Heatherfield is. Subverted by the cartoon version: in spite of being made in France, the staff of the animated series did do the research, and Heatherfield is recognizable as an American town.

    Fan Works 
  • In Moon Daughter, the author classifies dryads and satyrs as monsters. Also, Flavia claims that Percy Jackson killed Luke.
  • My Little Unicorn: Dakari-King Mykan gets the most basic facts about My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic wrong. The author believes Rainbow Dash has magic and doesn't know who Derpy Hooves is.
  • In the epic-length Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan fic The Road Back, al-Queda expands its September 11th attacks to include other locations around the country. One of the new locations is Walt Disney World in Orlando. In the story, an al-Queda terrorist drives a truck loaded with explosives up to one of the Magic Kingdom's entrances and detonates it, killing hundreds of people and destroying millions of dollars in property. The problem is, it is physically impossible to drive to the entrance of the Magic Kingdom. Physically impossible. To get to the entrance of the Magic Kingdom, one needs to use a boat, one of the monorail trains, or walk. At most, the bomb would have destroyed part of a parking lot. Now, had the terrorists targeted one of the Magic Kingdon resort hotels, then things would have been different.
  • In Saki After Story, the mahjong games in the tournament are presented as one-on-one, rather than four-player games. Additionally, the last match of the tournament is Saki against Teru, while in canon, Saki is the captain and Teru is the vanguard, meaning that Teru would face Yuuki, while Saki would face Awai.
  • The author of RWBY fic She couldn't understand admits to never having watched the series. And it shows.
    Fic!Blake: (to Adam, a mass murderer of civilians in canon) I've always been selfish, while you're selfless.
  • From a Supernatural fanfic: "At the next intersection, Dean turns left, heading south into the setting sun." (Which would only work if he were driving right on top of the north pole.)
  • In Sylvia The Sylveon, the main character is forcibly evolved with an item, but it's revealed in the games that Eevee evolve into Sylveon by Pokemon-Amie and knowing a Fairy-type move. This is justified in that the story started in February 2013, and Sylveon's actual means of evolution weren't revealed until the games came out in October of that year. The author acknowledges this mistake in the epilogue notes.

    Live-Action Film 
  • The Amazing Colossal Man features a scientist who claims that "the heart is made up of a single cell."note 
  • The tagline of the film Biggles is "Meet Jim Ferguson. He lived a daring double-life with one foot in the 20th century and the other in World War I." World War I happened in the 20th century.
  • The MST3K-featured film Devil Fish has a rather infuriating example when a character who is supposed to be an expert is playing a slideshow of prehistoric marine life - mostly animals contemporaneous to, or even predating, the dinosaurs. We're then told they lived in the "Cetaceous" period (pronounced like 'cetacean'), which was two hundred years ago. Not two hundred million. Two hundred.
  • A minor but rather jarring moment from the otherwise quite good Dr. No. When the script reads, "That's a Smith & Wesson, and you've had your six!", it's probably a good idea to make sure the man Bond is saying this to is holding a revolver. Not a Colt M1911, one of the most recognizable semi-automatic pistols ever made and which almost everyone knows has a seven round magazine.
  • For all the good things we can say about the Japanese cut of the first Godzilla, it's still got a pretty glaring one of these when Prof. Yamane says that dinosaurs lived 2 million years ago, when any child could tell you that they went extinct 65 million years ago.
  • In The Matrix Morpheus's exposition that people are kept in suspended animation because they were needed as batteries for the machines is such an egregious violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics that it makes everyone with just a cursory knowledge of physics groan. The original treatment had the brains of humans used as sub-processors, which is at least defensible, but thought to be too complicated for moviegoers. Then again, batteries are used for storing energy, which makes more sense than the common interpretation of Morpheus' line (that humans were used to generate energy).
  • The Asylum movie Mega Fault. The premise is that a giant earthquake opens a crack in the ground that stretches from the east coast of the US to the Grand Canyon. This one has a lot of cracks following people down roads.
  • In Patch Adams, the title character is ranting at God after love interest Carin dies. At one point, he laments that of all the creatures on Earth, humans are the only ones who kill their own kind. Really, Patch? Ever watch the Discovery Channel? It'd be more accurate to say that humans are the only ones who feel bad about it.
  • The Phantom Planet features a plot point where atmospheric changes cause the protagonist to first shrink in size, then grow back to normal. There's also a throwaway line in the movie stating that the planet's inhabitants have been shrinking for centuries due to the planet's gravity.
  • In Plan 9 from Outer Space, Eros informs the heroes that "a ray of sunlight is made up of many atoms." For the art majors out there: light is made of photons.
  • Speaking of MST fare, if you know anything at all about Aztecs or Aztec Mythology, you're doing better than the creators of Puma Man. To take but one example, Stonehenge is apparently an Aztec artifact according to this movie.
  • Reptilicus gives us this little gem: "It's impossible. The skin tissue of the lizard. The cells seem to multiply like bacteria." As opposed to what? Did you expect the skin cells to multiply by laying eggs?
  • This Island Earth has this line: "It's only Neutron. We call him that because he's so positive." (Then again, considering cats, it may have been humor on Cal's part.)
  • In Unknown nurse Erfurt brings a pair of metal scissors into the room with the MRI machine - which enables the protagonist to cut himself free and flee. Maybe the writers should have read up on MRI safety - or the scissors were made of a metallic substance that was MRI-compatible, like aluminum.
  • The kids' movie 5 Children & It features a scene in which an eccentric math teacher is about to discover that kid-related shenanigans have been going on, while one of the kids is desperately trying to distract him by finding the answer to a complicated sum. The kid eventually announces that the answer is "3,486,522." The teacher beams "Ah! A prime number of the Siemens series!" and is successfully distracted. Admittedly, the average person might not know that there's no such thing as the "Siemens series" in mathematics, but anyone who entered high school would notice that 3,486,522 is even, and 2 is the only even prime.
  • Roland Emmerich's disaster movie 2012:
    • This trailer for the film refers to the Mayans as "mankind's earliest civilization" within the first ten seconds. The Chinese, Sumerians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Egyptians are some of the many who say otherwise — also the Olmecs, who came up with the Long Count calendar all the brouhaha comes from in the first place.
    • The film also attributes the apocalypse to mutating neutrinos. Neutrinos cannot mutate. Dara O'Briain was able to spin this into a very successful comedy routine, also noting that for all the explanation's value they might as well have said 'The Latinos have mutated'.
  • Another Emmerich film, Anonymous, has Edward de Vere show off his garden bush of Tudor roses... a flower that has never existed as a real plant, only a figurative symbol. It's an error that must have been impossible for the director to ignore, since if the plant does not exist, a faked one must have been put onscreen. If they had to make a fake one, then why are they claiming it's a real flower in a film that claims to be based on history?!
  • In Eraser, Dr. Cullen (played by Vanessa Williams), apparently a physicist, explains that a rail gun fires "caseless aluminum shells at nearly the speed of light."
  • In Enemy at the Gates, Commissar Danilov (Joseph Fiennes) is trying to win the affection of Tania (Rachel Weisz) by offering her leftovers from a party for apparatchiki, including a sturgeon, which was a very rare luxury in the Soviet Union, especially in the middle of the battle of Stalingrad. When she is reluctant to accept, he points out that there is nothing in their religion (they are both Jewish) that forbids them from eating sturgeon. Except for the fact that Judaism forbids eating sturgeon.

    Literature 
  • Angels and Demons, while famed for a sister trope, has an example. The book claims that the Catholic Church copied communion (eating God) from the Aztecs. Even young children know that Europeans and natives of the more southerly regions of the Americas didn't meet until Christopher Columbus' famous voyage of 1492... and that Christianity predates that voyage by about one thousand four hundred and sixty years. Also, the liturgies used by Orthodox Christians include communion, and some of them were composed by St. John Chrysostom, who died in 407 AD — four centuries before the beginnings of the Toltecs, the earliest civilization with any direct ties to the people we call Aztecs.
    • He actually got something backwards here: it was Aztec religious leaders who jumped on board with communion. They would occasionally cannibalize sacrifice victims to obtain the dead person's powers, so a ceremony eating a god appealed to them.
    • There's also the antimatter containment devices which need special "magic" chargers which will only work in the specific location where they are built, and whose components include "servo coils". As just about anyone knows, a servo coil is the part of a hard drive which moves the heads.
  • In The BFG, the eponymous Big Friendly Giant goes on a rant about how Humans Are Bastards because they're the only species that kill members of the same species. In reality, intraspecies killing (and cannibalism) has been common in many animals other than humans. He gets proven wrong when the other giants try to kill him.
  • Robert E. Howard's Bran Mak Morn series contains an absolute howler, when the main character leads the barbarian tribes of England to a crushing victory against the Romans through use of the alien tactic of the shield-wall:
    This was the first time the Roman legions had met with that unbreakable formation - that oldest of all Aryan battle-lines - the ancestor of the Spartan regiment - the Theban phalanx - the Macedonian formation - the English square.
A cursory look in a history-book at a Roman legionnaire, with his big, rectangular shield explicitly designed for shield-wall tactics, will tell you exactly what is wrong with this picture.
  • Dan Brown's Digital Fortress:
    • The novel portrays the entire NSA, the world's preeminent codebreaking organization, scrambling around trying to figure out the answer to a simple riddle that anyone who took high school chemistry could easily figure out. On top of that, the answer to said riddle printed in the book is wrong.
    • The novel depicts Spain (and, specifically, Seville) as something resembling a Third World hellhole with, among other things, Spaniards unable to have normal wounds treated in hospitals.
  • Jacqueline Rayner's Doctor Who novel, The Last Dodo, features "Mervin, the missing link between fish and mammals", which is just what it sounds like it should be. The thing is, we already know the steps between fish and mammals — they're best known as amphibians and reptiles.
    • The back cover for Doctor Who and the Silurians describes Tyrannosaurus rex as a 40-foot-tall mammal. note 
  • Ender’s Game:
    • In Ender's Game, Col. Graff says that they're looking for the generation-changing human like those who invented "the wheel. And light. And flight." Except nobody invented light. If he had said "the lightbulb" or "lights", then his statement would hold. Guess Graff just wanted to rhyme.
    • In Ender's Shadow, Graff claims one different gene is all it takes to make the genetically-modified Julian "Bean" Delphiki a different species, since humans and chimps differ by 4% of DNA and it must have been a smaller percentage with Neanderthals. Except that 4% still contains 35 million differences. People with Down Syndrome have an entire extra chromosome with 250 surplus genes and yet they aren't a different species. One could chalk it up as Graff simply being bad at science, except that the doctors responsible for the condition agree with the statement, even after it's confirmed that their subject doesn't have any genes different from humans; he has just an inert one turned on and an active one turned off.
  • The Fault in Our Stars:
    • Gus whines about how there are no paintings of people who die of diseases. Paintings depicting exactly that are very common, in fact the bubonic plague (one of the diseases Gus specifically mentions) was one of the most common motifs during the 14th through 18th centuries.
    • Gus claims to feel kinship with Anne Frank because he's ill from cancer and she died of illness. While technically he's not wrong (Anne died of tuberculosis), ignoring the pretty major awful state-sponsored-genocide part that was the cause of it and treating it like another death by bad luck (which is what the title refers to) comes off as incredibly ignorant. It'd be like claiming Abraham Lincoln died of a brain hemorrhage and ignoring the "shot by an assassin" part.
  • In The Son of Neptune, Octavian claims that 'sea travel has never been the Roman way'. This could just be written off as Octavian being a dickhead and wanting to screw up the quest, but the sum total of the Roman navy turns out to be exactly one very shoddy boat. While sea travel wasn't wholly embraced, saying that it was never 'the Roman way' is a massive error, and it begs the question of exactly how the Romans conquered places like Britain without ships.
  • In Night Of The Wolf by Alice Borchardt (sister of Anne Rice), the claim is made that wolves do not mate for life. This has been proven repeatedly to be false - they do.
  • Larry Niven is famous as an author of "hard" science fiction, but even he isn't immune to the occasional whopper. In Ring World, he gets the rotation of the Earth wrong in the first chapter, by having the hero teleport eastward around the Earth in order to extend his birthday. Eastward, as in toward sunrise. This is fixed in later editions.
  • In Christopher Pike's book The Secret of Ka, basic errors abound in the first thirty pages alone:
    • There is no desert outside of Istanbul. Indeed, the city is right on the water, lying on the rather famous Bosporus Strait, in fact.
    • Istanbul is likewise portrayed as an extremely violent city, similar to popular portrayals of places like the Gaza Strip, which it isn't. It's also portrayed as the capital of Turkey, which it also isn't.
    • The narrator is scolded for saying "Hell" and "Christ," because she's in an Arab country. Turkey is a Muslim country, but not Arab.
  • In the '70s horror novel The Sentinel, author Jeffrey Konvitz talks about translating Paradise Lost from the "original Latin".
  • In the Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels, Free Fall depicts Japan as a Third World country that sells kids to Americans for 100 American dollars. Again, that's Japan, as in the country that was widely believed to be taking over the world only a decade or two before the novel was written.
  • The Song of Roland is both a classic piece of literature and proof that this trope is Older Than Print. It claims within the first few pages that Muslims worship "Apollin" (who is either Apollo or Apollyon (or both)), "Mahomet" (Muhammad, a statement equivalent to claiming that Christians worship the saints or the Jews Abraham or Moses) and, perhaps most bafflingly of all, "Termagant" (a figure who seems to appear only as one of the "Moslem gods"). Early medieval troubadours didn't have access to Wikipedia, or even TV Tropes. All they had was garbled traveler's tales, accounts written by classical travelers, and the knowledge of what makes a good story. They worked with what they had, which wasn't extensive. It is also claimed that Charlemagne is 200 years old, and the The Song of Roland got major details about the story's historical battle wrong (such as who the two armies were).
  • The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries briefly mentions Hepatitis D as a disease that affects only vampires. Not only is it a real illness, it'd been known about for 24 years before the first book came out. The TV show dealt with this by changing the disease to Hepatitis V.
  • There's a Star Trek book in which the author tried to convert from Fahrenheit to Celsius merely by subtracting 32, without dividing by 1.8 afterwards. As a result, a supposedly perfect paradise planet is said to have a mean surface temperature of a "pleasant 50 degrees centigrade". That's actually 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Another Trek book, the otherwise excellent The Romulan Way, discusses the constructed language that the Romulans came up with when they left Vulcan by going back to an older version of the Vulcan language and "aging" it in another direction. The result is said to be as different from modern Vulcan "as Basque is from Spanish and their parent, Latin." Spanish is an Indo-European language descended from Latin...but Basque, famously, is one of the few languages of Europe that's not related to the I-E family in any way.
  • In To Light A Candle, a magically-made snow rose bush is grown, and the book mentions it has broad, flat leaves to catch as much light as possible. By the time you get into high school, it's pretty well known that coniferous trees, trees found in cold climates, have narrow leaves to conserve as much water as possible; a tree with broad leaves in a cold climate would die in months.
  • Examples from the Twilight series, whose author, Stephenie Meyer, has infamously bragged about doing as little research as possible. Garbled half-remembrances from high school abound:
    • There's no way in HELL that a teacher would be allowed to administer a blood test without sending home permission slips informing parents ahead of time. Had Bella enrolled in school after the permission forms had been sent out and returned, chances are she would have been excluded from the experiment. And even failing that, no teacher who didn't want his pants sued off would grab a kid's finger and jab it with a needle.
    • Rosalie says that, as her father was a banker, her family wasn't hit at all by the Great Depression and still retained their wealth. Except anyone who stayed awake during history knows that bankers were among the hardest hit by the Depression, because most of the banks failed.
    • The fourth book refers to giving Alice "free reign" over the wedding preparations. The correct term is free rein, derived from the technique of loosening a horse's reins so it can go where it likes - i.e. you give someone free rein, you give them the freedom to do whatever they want.
  • In Richard Lewis's 1980 eco-horror novel The Spiders, the author is constantly referring to the title creatures as "insects."
  • In Julio Cortázar's story "The Pursuer" ("El Perseguidor"), the main character dies of an overdose of marihuana (which is impossible). Cortázar acknowledged this mistake.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ally McBeal, another David E. Kelley show, makes many legal errors, but the law firm is shown to be "functionally corrupt" and ethically questionable in many ways. Why every single other person in the entire bloody legal system plays by the same rules, on the other hand, is an open question.
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon talks about using Negative Reinforcement in order to make Penny "correct" her behaviour, and Leonard says he shouldn't squirt Penny with water when she does bad things (like Sheldon did to Leonard). Sheldon says that that is absurd, and that he'd use electric shocks instead. Except, Negative Reinforcement is the removing of a negative thing to reward good behaviour, not the inflicting of a bad thing to weaken behaviour. What Sheldon and Leonard are referring to is Punishment Theory. Especially weird since Sheldon cites researchers and the like.
    • The writers seem to have realised this, because in a later episode, Sheldon of all people is the one to correct Leonard when he refers to Punishment Theory and Negative Reinforcement Theory.
  • The British "historical" drama miniseries Bonekickers was so rife with simple factual errors, Diamanda Hagan deliberately avoided doing research herself when reviewing it, reasoning that she could get more than enough material to criticize just from what she passively knew was wrong. She was correct.
  • Boston Legal frequently makes errors obvious to even non-lawyers. Lawyers routinely meet with judges without the presence of opposing counsel, evidence that has nothing to do with the case is introduced at the last minute, and the same firm occasionally represents both sides in a case.
  • In the 2012 episode of Brad Meltzer's Decoded, Brad brings up the prophecy of the "Blue Star Kachina" and mentions how NASA has recently discovered an actual blue star. They go on as if it's possible for an actual honest-to-goodness star to hit the Earth come December 21st 2012 - and ask a NASA guy about it.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered" Amy casts a love spell by invoking Diana whom she describes as "goddess of love and the hunt". While Diana was indeed the Roman goddess of the hunt, anyone could tell you that Venus was the goddess of love. What's more is that Diana was one of three goddesses who swore never to marry. The closest she comes to being associated with love is becoming a goddess of childbirth in other myths. Of course, this could be why the spell goes so badly wrong.
  • In CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Grissom goes to great lengths to say that the team are investigators, not policemen. Their job is to collect evidence at the scene and analyze it. But that doesn't stop CSIs from interrogating suspects, a practice that would normally be conducted by detectives, not crime scene investigators.
  • In the "killer gamers" episode of CSI: Miami, the bad guys are basing their crimes on the plot of a video game. The only way the team can find out what happens next is to play the game. Anyone who has ever set foot in a video game store has seen shelves full of Official Strategy Guides proclaiming "All Secrets Revealed!" on their covers. And GameFAQs and other online sites, which will reveal those secrets for free! Failing that, you could probably find a playthrough on YouTube.
  • An episode of CSI: NY had a corrupt ex-coroner who'd been stealing organs and tissues for a reason other than organ theft — to process them for the drugs they contained; the victims were all dead drug addicts from cases that came through his morgue. There wouldn't be enough of the drug left to get out, and it would be difficult to do so.
  • Dexter would sometimes look up potential victims of his prey, as well as their victims, on his police computer at the police station. Even if the computer's search history itself wasn't monitored, the police databases he would pull this info from had to be protected enough to keep tabs on who keeps asking for information...
  • Doctor Who can get away with a fair bit; but sometimes the only reaction to something has to be "no it isn't". In "The Impossible Planet", the Doctor and Rose find themselves on the eponymous planet, which apparently is so-called because it's in orbit about a black hole. Which is perfectly possible; a planet can orbit a black hole as easily as it can orbit any other massive body. What would be much more difficult would be to remain hovering over the hole, while material in the hole's accretion disk (which is in orbit) continually blows over it. That's actually the situation in the story, but somewhere along the way the exposition fell over and sprained an ankle.
  • Elementary: Holmes, during a Sherlock Scan, states that the weapon with which a detective was attacked had the "high-end modification" of rifling. That's been a standard for the past 200 years for any gun that isn't a shotgun.
  • On January 18, 2012, the commercials for Entertainment Tonight previewed a story about the Concordia cruise ship capsizing disaster, which they called "The Real Life Titanic". One would think the real-life Titanic would be, well, the Titanic.
  • In ''The Glades" At one point Cal is describing the Florida Seasons as 5 months of Hurricane Season, 3 months of touristy winter, and a too hot summer. Hurricane season is 6 months it runs from June 1 - November 30. That includes the whole summer season. Though most hurricanes occur during late August and most of September.
  • Heroes:
    • Almost any time someone mentions evolution, you can bet it will be entirely wrong. The book of a biology professor claims that the right combination of genes could do things that blatantly break the laws of physics. The son of said professor seems to believe natural selection works by destiny, randomly selecting an individual to be awesome, instead of gradually weeding out unfavorable mutations and allowing better mutations a better chance to survive.
    • The son also states that individuals with beneficial mutations have to fight harder than other people to survive. Which not only fails biology, but also inverts the definition of "beneficial".
    • And those ever-so-convenient eclipses, which somehow occur all over the planet. Even in Japan and the United States simultaneously, never mind how it'd be the middle of the night in one when it's mid-day in the other. Season 3 even has a two-parter where an eclipse lasts for several hours (which is... unlikely, to say the least).
  • In one episode of How I Met Your Mother Barney states that the wait three days to call a girl rule was started by Jesus since he waited three days to come back to life. Except Jesus waited two days not three. He was crucified on Good Friday and came back on Easter Sunday. The confusion likely comes from the fact that Easter is often referred to as the third day after his death, but this would mean that in order to wait three days he would have had to wait all the way through Sunday and then come back on Monday.
  • In the 2000 TV series The Invisible Man, Darien's surface temperature drops below freezing when he turns invisible. The reason given is that no light is hitting him, but this isn't a plausible one as his body is still generating heat. Not to mention that people's skins generally don't start freezing if they turn the lights out.
  • In Jeremiah there is a flashback scene where Ezekiel's father gives him a long-winded speech in which he states that the Big Death was really just a case of life overcoming adversity and flourishing; therefore even though it killed off a significant portion of the human race, it's actually sort of beautiful. This ignores the fact that it had been established that the Big Death was caused by a virus, which are not alive. This isn't just an academic point, since a perfectly virulent virus would end up destroying both the host species and itself; without any more cells to incubate it, the virus itself would become extinct.
  • Major Crimes, in the 3rd season a computer expert says that a webserver in police custody runs on either "Red Hat Linux" or "Apache". His credentials were earlier established as being a programmer for a successful Internet startup company, who would know the difference.note 
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, in "Return of the Green Ranger," features the Rangers going back in time to the late 1700s, where Angel Grove is a colonial town filled with British soldiers. Angel Grove is in California, which was originally ruled by Spain, and wasn't inhabited by Americans until the mid-1800s. Then again, this is the same show that has giant animal robots form into a giant humanoid robot with a sword piloted by teenagers who fight an evil sorceress and a skinless emperor, so maybe we shouldn't try to apply logic to Power Rangers..
  • The Taiwanese adaptation of The Million Pound Drop does this often enough to lead to suspicions that the show is rigged. Frequently, a blatantly false "correct" answer is given for an answer that happens to be one that the contestants left empty. One particularly obvious incident was when they claimed the correct answer to "Which of these animals is warm-blooded?" was salmon.
  • NCIS plays it pretty loose with science and technology, but a few examples are glaring enough to qualify for this trope:
    • During one episode, the NCIS computer network is being hacked by someone. Abby madly taps at her keyboard to try and counter this but isn't fast enough. So McGee jumps on the other side of the keyboard and they madly tap away at the same time, on the same keyboard! Unless anti-hacking software somehow involves a mini-game with a two player mode then they aren't going to accomplish anything.
    • And again, on the premiere episode of the ninth season, McGee suggests a fun gaming lounge that the team can go to, saying it has "3D, PS2 and a 60" plasma." The PS2 rarely ran high-definition, let alone 3D.
    • The team routinely drives up and down Virginia multiple times an episode, which may be possible for a state Virginia's size, but is a bit of a stretch.
  • The O'Reilly Factor, in an example that produced no less than two memes, had O'Reilly claiming that there was no scientific explanation for tides, notoriously claiming "You can't explain that!"note  while the guest he was interviewing, David Silverman, stared at him with a face that just screamed "you can't be serious"note . For bonus points, when the mechanics behind tides were later explained to him, he showed his lack of understanding of the scientific method by claiming that tidal forces are "just a theory."
  • In Red Dwarf, the usually very well-informed Kryten thinks that Virgil's Aeneid is about the rescue of Helen of Troy. Nope: that was Homer's Iliad.
  • Reviews On The Run's 2010 Blu-Ray award special gave the best voice actor to Kevin Conroy for his performance in Batman: Under the Red Hood. While Conroy voiced Batman in the DCAU and for some other projects, he wasn't in Under The Red Hood. That was Bruce Greenwood.
  • In one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, a character describes Picard as being "two meters tall". Given that he isn't even close to that height (equivalent to about 6 foot 7 inches), the writer clearly didn't know the metric system. Joked about in Picard's last appearance, Star Trek: Nemesis — Picard and his clone both lament not having reached two meters in height.
  • In the Supernatural episode "It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester", everyone in the episode, from the Winchesters to the angels, pronounces the name Samhain as "Sam Hane", when it's actually pronounced "Sawin".
    • In the episode "I Believe the Children Are Our Future", Castiel tells Sam and Dean that, despite what (he says) the Bible says, the Antichrist is not the son of Lucifer but just the spawn of a demon. In actuality, the Bible doesn't say that the Antichrist is the child of the devil at all, just that he's an evil human leader who rises up.
    • In fact, the evil leader from the Bible isn't even called the Antichrist. It's referred to as "the beast from the sea". The term "Antichrist" comes from a completely different book of the Bible, and it wasn't until the early middle ages that the two persons were combined. "Antichrist" is just used to mean "anyone who's against Christ," i.e. many people.
    • In a season one episode, Sam and Dean go up against shadow beasts who are identified as daevas. Dean states that daevas come from Zoroastrianism and that the word "daeva" means "demon of darkness." While daevas do appear in Zoroastrian lore, they did not originate there, and were originally worshiped as gods (Zoroastrianism reinterpreted the daevas as demonic false gods), and "daeva" doesn't mean "demon of darkness"-it means "being of shining light." Almost the exact opposite of what the show claims!
    • The Croatoan virus. The show explains that Croatoan is the name of a demonic disease that wipes out entire communities, and that this is what happened at the lost colony of Roanoke. Except that anyone who knows anything about the lost colony knows that "Croatoan" was the name of a nearby Native American tribe, and many historians believe that the colonists, who were unprepared and knew little of how to survive in the new world, simply joined the natives.
    • In an early second-season episode, John Winchester's blood type is shown on his dogtags as AB (though no Rh factor is given). Early in Season Ten, Dean's blood type is established as O...which is the one type it can't be if he's John's son, because A and B are both dominant and he has to have inherited one or the other. Either it's Critical Research Failure or Dean is not John's biological son. Which makes you wonder what would've happened if he'd ever said yes to Michael.
  • The Universe had an episode on Mercury and Venus, calling them the two most hostile terrestrial planets in the solar system. So far, so good. The problem was that when the narrator said "Mercury" in the opening, Venus was shown, and vice versa. The two planets look nothing alike: Mercury looks like our moon, while Venus's surface is completely hidden by its clouds.
  • The Weakest Link research team has proved itself to be the weakest link on occasion:
    • When the question "Montreal is the capital city of which Canadian province?" was asked to a contestant, the show claimed the answer was Quebec, while in fact the correct answer is none: Quebec City is the capital of Quebec.
    • The question "In which century did the First World War take place, the 19th or the 20th?" gave the right answer as "the 19th".
    • Another time, a contestant was asked to name the tallest structure in the world (in a pre-9/11 episode), and answered "The World Trade Center". They were told this was incorrect, as the correct answer was "the twin towers", which was an informal nickname for the tallest two buildings of the World Trade Center.
      • Hang up: what about the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lampur, tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004?
  • Zero Hour, which centers around a conspiracy related to Jesus' apostles, seems to think that Luke was one of the twelve. Ten seconds on Google would have confirmed that he wasn't.
  • The AwesomenessTV sketch "Terry the Tomboy" got the "tomboy" part completely wrong. Apparently the showrunners think "tomboy" means "redneck stereotype".

    Music 
  • Meg and Dia's song "Fighting for Nothing" has this line, "But I know that/I was put here/To fight Vikings in The Cold War". Given that it's eight or nine centuries off, it was probably intentional.
  • Michael Jackson's "Liberian Girl" not only opens with Swahili, but with a South African singer singing it. They speak Swahili in East Africa, Liberia is in West Africa.
  • Neil Young has a song called "Cortez the Killer", in which he praises the pacifist and egalitarian... Aztecs!? Seriously, he comes right out and says "Hate was just a legend, / And war was never known" while he's talking about one of the most bloodthirsty civilizations in human history. He also says they "lifted many stones" and "built up with their bare hands / What we still can't do today." So, which early 16th century Aztec stone buildings were unmatchable by 1970s technology exactly?
  • There is a Dutch DJ who, as of October 2011, claims to get phone calls from Madonna and Frank Sinatra on a regular basis. His phone bill must be through the roof, because Sinatra died in May 1998. (Maybe he's talking about Frank Sinatra, Junior?)
  • The liner notes for the 2003 edition of Yes' Going For The One claimed that "Not one punk band topped the U.K. album charts during its Year Zero of 1977...". Either the writer is driving a Bias Steamroller or has probably never heard of a little punk band called The Sex Pistols, whose album, Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols, topped the charts in the U.K. in November of 1977 and stayed there for two weeks.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • An early Garfield strip featured Garfield reciting a short poem about spiders. Problem is, he refers to them as insects, when they are actually arachnids. This was pointed out in the author's notes for this Square Root of Minus Garfield.

    Pinball 
  • The Player Character in Earthshaker! works for the Earthquake Institute. For some reason, the United States Geological Survey doesn't exist in Earthshaker!'s universe, which would conduct research and testing on the very types of phenomena found in the game. Even if the Earthquake Institute is a smaller, local entity operating independently of the USGS, it's highly improbable that the USGS would have no involvement of a seismic event on a scale as catastrophic as the one this game revolves around.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Wrestling Hockey Players, The Ballard Brothers, took up a valet to serve as their Cheerleader, even though hockey doesn't make use of cheerleaders. This could be excusable but the Ballards are Canadian, so there really is none.
  • Vince McMahon, pleased with the success of Rey Mysterio Jr on Smackdown, decided he wanted another flippy luchador. So he hired Ultimo Dragon and then got upset when he discovered Ultimo Dragon really was not all that flippy. This is despite the fact Ultimo Dragon had wrestled under the WWF banner before and won a WWF championship, suggesting Vince did not even watch his own product.
  • The 2013 Bruno Sammartino action figure released by Mattel has the following mini-bio: "In 1963, he defeated Nature Boy Buddy Roberts to became the first WWE champion." Bruno became the second WWE Champion by beating Nature Boy Buddy Rogers, the first WWE Champion. As for Buddy Roberts, he never called himself "Nature Boy" and didn't debut until 1965.

    Radio 
  • An episode of Fags, Mags and Bags centering around the local rabbi, imam and priest all sitting in the same bath of baked beans for charity includes the priest's disappointment that as the representative of the newest Abrahamic religion, he has to take the traditional youngest sibling place at the tap end. This line should really have gone to the imam.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The entire firearms section of Call of Cthulhu is full of errors obvious to anyone with a cursory knowledge of the history of firearms. For example, silencers are depicted as having been invented about a century before they actually were.
  • The Dark Sun setting was originally designed as taking place on an icy frozen world. During development, it was changed to a desert world because the developers thought that a warm climate would justify fanservicey art with Stripperifically-dressed characters. Showing that much skin is just as dangerous in a desert as it is in the cold because it leaves the body open to sunstroke and allows for more water loss from perspiration, as evidenced by how actual desert-dwelling peoples traditionally dress in long, flowing robes that cover the entire body.
  • The first Rifts sourcebook, printed in the 1990s, had an animal/monster race called the Ostrosaurus. In the description, they note that despite the name, it's not a lizard like a dinosaur, but closer to a featherless bird. The irony kicks in with the realization that Theropods, which the Ostrosaurus resembles, essentially were featherless birds. Or more accurately, birds are feathered dinosaurs. Or, even more more accurately, birds are dinosaurs with (perhaps) a few more feathers.
  • The Top Trumps card game has Flavor Text that attempts to be informative and educational, but the creators don't seem to have done very much research. There's a particularly monstrous error on the "Life" card in the "Wonders of the World" pack:
    The first known animals to roam the Earth were dinosaurs, over 65 million years ago.

    Theatre 
  • William Shakespeare, as the son of a glove-maker whose schooling mostly included Latin and classic literature (written in Latin), was prone to making these when discussing geography. His plays also include a healthy dose of Anachronism Stew-allusions to Christian themes are frequent even in stories that took place before Christ was born, there are references to contemporary English clothing and culture regardless of setting, etc., so how much of those errors are just stylistic choices is debatable.
    • In The Winter's Tale, Shakespeare committed a Critical Research Failure and was called out on it by his contemporary, Ben Jonson. Shakespeare had his characters shipwrecked on the coast of Bohemia (which is now the Czech Republic) "where there is no sea near by one hundred miles." Shakespeare's mistake was likely an artifact from his original source, which took place in Sicily, not Bohemia.
    • In Antony And Cleopatra, Cleopatra suggests playing a game of billiards, a game which wouldn't exist until about 1000 years later.
    • Two Gentlemen of Verona has a plot point often regarded as a Critical Research Failure, but it's actually an aversion. While the gentlemen and their servants take a ship to get from Verona to Padua (or Milan, the script says both at different times), and all three cities do not have access to the sea, the three cities did have access to an extensive network of canals linking Verona to Padua and Milan, as well as to various points within each city. Some of these canals are still around today, though their transportation uses have been replaced by modern transportation methods.
    • The Tempest has a similar aversion in Act I Scene 2, where we are told that Prospero and Miranda were taken from Milan by "bark" (i.e., "barque," a type of ship) "some leagues to the sea," where they were put aboard "a rotten carcass of a boat". Again, while Milan lacks direct access to the ocean, it did have access to an extensive network of canals, and the Grand Canal (Naviglio Grande) is still around today.
    • In Julius Caesar, Caesar proclaims himself to be "constant as the Northern Star". As was well-known to educated people by Shakespeare's time, the Northern Star isn't a constant (which star it currently is, is affected by the precession of the equinoxes) and there are even long periods when there isn't a Northern Star — such as Caesar's time. Isaac Asimov called out Shakespeare on this in his essay "Constant as the Northern Star" — partly as evidence that the plays (or at least Julius Caesar) couldn't (as some people suppose) have been written by Francis Bacon, as Bacon was well-educated and would have known this.
      • Brutus is spooked by the ghost of Caesar in the middle of reading a book centuries before bookbinding was created.

    Video Games 
  • Batman: Arkham City features the Penguin bragging about how the machine guns he makes available to mooks can fire over 100 rounds per minute. While this is technically true, the line probably should have been "per second" instead.note 
  • In the PSP game Def Jam: Fight for NY: Takeover, there is plenty of cringe-inducing trash-talk that gets tossed back and forth before almost every fight in the main storyline. One of the opponents you can fight for money in the Dragon House is Prodigy. All trash talk pertaining to this opponent makes reference to him claiming to be a prophet. Prodigy, prophecy, what's the difference?
  • The Strategy Guide for Pokémon Red and Blue that was published by Versus Books is considered Snark Bait by people even moderately good at the games, because of how badly underrated many of the Pokémon were, but the Most Triumphant Example of research failure is the claim that several Pokémon which do not learn any moves of their type through leveling up would have just been better off being Normal-type, so that they are unaffected by Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors (which isn't true either; Normal is weak to Fighting but mutually immune to Ghost). Because apparently TMs don't exist or something.
  • In Rise of Nations, the "Kremlin" wonder looks nothing at all like the Kremlin. It does look very much like a large cathedral (St. Basil's) that is next to the Kremlin. Of course, they're not the first people to get this wrong; if you do a Google image search for "Kremlin" you'll see more pictures of St. Basil's than you will of the Kremlin. In Russian the word kremlin means "fortress", which the actual Kremlin is. That building with the colorful turnip-shaped domes on its towers? That's St. Basil's.
  • In Koudelka, the first part of the Shadow Hearts series, the action takes place in an old abbey in Wales, which the manual says is a "small country in the north of England." Wales is southwest of England, but calling it a country is a stretch - it's part of the UK. It's a fairly common error in Japan (and other parts of the world as well) to think England, Britain, and the United Kingdom are synonymous.
  • PETA's video game parodies tend to fall into this. Super Tanooki Skin 2D's entire "fur is murder" message is undermined by the fact that the titular Tanooki Suits aren't made from actual tanuki. Then there's Pokémon Black and Blue, which completely omits the whole "trainer-Pokemon trust" part of the franchise.
  • Sony's embarrassing slip-up at E3 2006: "The stages of the game will also be based on famous battles that actually took place in Ancient Japan. [Demonstrating the game] So here's this Giant Enemy Crab..."

    Webcomics 
  • This episode of Neko The Kitty is set in a museum, near the Giant Slug exhibit. The author admits to doing no research on museums for this sequence.

    Web Original 
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd ranted, among other things, about being killed by a frog in Super Pitfall. The Granular Poison Frog has killed more than a few people, and yes, it lives in the jungle. That's also not counting people killed by weapons dipped in their poison, or various other kinds of frogs from the jungle that are also deadly to the touch.
    AVGN: Has anyone ever died by being attacked by a fucking frog?!note 
  • Extra Credits calls out Call of Juarez for this in their blatant disregard for what it is actually based off of, including things that are actually not
    • In their video about sexuality, they talk about how tired the trope of a tough male with a feminine side is. As an example, they show Final Fantasy XIII's Lightning, who anyone looking at the character can tell you is female.
    • They also mention in their "Transgaming" episode that the Pokémon in the TV show function like the Pokémon in the game - except that the TV show on a regular basis ignores the rules of the games, and this happened as early as the Kanto season.
  • Gaia Online made a terrible mistake whilst describing a new item called Lala the Koala Plushie.
    "Lala the Koala Plushie pays tribute to the noble koala bear, which is now just returning from hibernation to resume it's [sic] voracious consumption of eucalyptus".
    • While regular bears hibernate, koalas (which are not bears, or even placentals) live in Australia, which even in its temperate zones doesn't get cold enough to necessitate hibernation.
  • In the Half in the Bag preview for their Prometheus review, Mike claim that there were 65 million years of dinosaurs before humans. Unfortunately, he has that backwards: dinosaurs have been extinct for 65 million years.
  • The now-memetic "Jimmy McPerson" essay includes, among others:
    • Having Jimmy grow up in Illinois while living in Harlem.
    • Having the Japanese attack Jimmy's town, when neither NY nor Chicago was attacked.
    • Alleging blacks couldn't join the military in World War II because Martin Luther King Jr. wasn't born yet. Yes, they could, and MLK was born in 1929.
    • Jimmy meets with the president of Japan. President of the Japanese Empire?
    • There's also the rather hilarious image of Jimmy fighting off "countless samurai and ninjas" in his quest for revenge.
    • Jimmy battles with both said president/emperor/whatever AND Hitler.
    • Jimmy kills Hitler in a suicidal charge. Which is not how Hitler died.
  • The Mysterious Mr. Enter claimed in his Animated Atrocities review of the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "One Coarse Meal" that whales only eat krill, ignoring that some whales in Real Life actually do eat plankton.
    • He actually does bring up this point in his "Top 11 Worst Episodes Reviewed" video, admitting he did some research and yes, some whales do eat plankton...and then points out that some whales also eat crabs, fish, and squid.
    • In the same video, he mentioned that Pearl was a Sperm Whale, which doesn't eat plankton.
  • The Nostalgia Critic
    • In a satirical skit (so the character's stupidity isn't an excuse), he once called The Little Mermaid "English". What's weird is that back in Disneycember, Doug knew all about the book and compared it to the Disney movie.
    • In his review of Pearl Harbor, he embarked on a Reason You Suck Speech about how Michael Bay had disrespected the sailors who were at Pearl Harbor by, among other things, having a sailor shout, "I can't swim!" before falling into the water. Not only was it common for sailors to not know how at the time (swim tests in the Navy weren't introduced until years later), but Doug's father is a Navy veteran, so he had easy access to the correct information.
  • In Quality Control's review of Interstella 5555, he claims that Discovery was Daft Punk's first album. Discovery is their second album. Homework was their first.
  • SF Debris has a couple minor examples. Chuck says in his Batman Beyond review that the movie was censored because it was judged too violent. While that helped, the real catalyst was the Columbine Shooting that occurred before the film came out. ** Another small error is in his review of The X-Files episode "Aubrey", where Chuck says Harry Cokley (a suspect in unsolved serial murders from the 1940s) did only 8 years for attempted murder and rape. In the dialogue, however, it's said he was convicted in 1945 and released December 5th, 1993, meaning he must have served 48 years at least.
    • Another error in the "Encounter at Farpoint" review: while on a rant about actors with foreign accents playing roles of a completely different nationality, he mentions Sean Connery playing a Russian. However, Captain Ramius was Lithuanian.note 
  • In spite of Death Battle being known for showing their work, even they have their moments.
    • "Kunoichi" is a term for female ninja, not Distracted by the Sexy as Wizard claimed, but this is understandable since the latter was a major tactic employed by the former.
  • In the short EC Gunge story, "Curry" On Louise, the Islamic men tell off Louise for adding 'Halal' meat in their curry, and punish her by covering her in curry. The problem is that 'Halal' means 'permissible', as in, they are allowed to eat the curry. The correct term would be 'Haraam'. Instead, it comes off as the Muslims at the restaurant behaving like Jerkasses, for serving them legal food.
  • Bob Chipman once did an episode about how Halo was racist because the UNSC was composed of white people, while the Covenant were ethnically diverse. However, both of these are quite false. Sergeant Johnson, one of the biggest badasses in the series and a fan favorite, is black, the Elites leave the Covenant to assist humanity in Halo 2, and in Halo: Reach, the majority of the place names are Hungarian, while Emile is black and Jun is Chinese, making it clear that the UNSC is composed of all of humanity. As for the Covenant, while they do have a wide range of alien races, they're segregated in a strict caste system and most of them are enslaved (and the reason the Elites jumped to humanity's side was because the Brutes and Prophets enacted genocide against them); hardly a shining example of ethnic diversity.
  • Youtuber Omega2040 had such a case in his Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 video analysis of [[Tekken6 Lars]] Alexandersson's moveset, stating that his inclusion was pointless and made no sense whatsoever. However, Lars was in that game because that particular outfit was designed by the series' creator Masashi Kishimoto and Omega2040 didn't know that.

    Western Animation 
  • Free Birds involves delivery Chuck E Cheese pizza as a plot device. Anybody who knows the first thing about the restaurant is that they do not, and never have, delivered pizza, which is served exclusively for the restaurant.
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius:
    • Jimmy does a report on Thomas Edison. Why? Because Edison invented electricity.
    • Another particularly glaring example was that Jimmy in one episode refers to the Cretaceous period as the Cretaceous era (the era was the Mesozoic), and that it ended 200 million years ago. Any dinosaur-crazed eight-year-old could tell you that it ended 65 million years ago.
    • The series has a surprising tendency to do this. Other examples include claiming that Chinese ginseng is a muscle relaxant, Australia isn't a continent, and that people can never change because their personality is imprinted on their brain at birth.note 
  • In Yakko Warner's otherwise wonderful song from Animaniacs where he lists all the nations of the world, Ireland isn't noted as being two countries (Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, although the animators actually include the divide!) and Wales is the only country in the United Kingdom that's not mentioned at all.
    • Also, the Korean peninsula is made up of two separate countries: The Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
  • An episode of Archie's Weird Mysteries had a mummy haunting the museum it was kept in. It turns out the mummy was vengeful because his fiancée left him because he kept putting off their wedding until after his pyramid was built. One, pyramids tended to take a pharaoh's whole life to build and sometimes weren't completed until after their death; two, pharaohs were married as children; and three, a pharaoh's marriage was arranged for them between them and one of their siblings, so no one could just decide to leave a marriage they were fed up with.
  • Ben 10 claimed in one episode that the mysterious "Bicenthium alloy" was extremely rare on any planet except Earth... except the "alloy" was iron, the sixth most common element in the galaxy. And iron isn't an alloy.
  • Dan VS gives us "Sergeant Saskatchewan", an overly patriotic Canadian Captain Ersatz of Captain America... who wears the American sergeant emblem on his sleeve. Then seconds later Dan encounters a man asking for donations to save the Canadian geese. You'd think this guy would know it's "Canada" geese, not "Canadian" geese.
  • The Fairly OddParents:
  • A terrible offender is The Mummy The Animated Series in the episode "The Cloud People". Lake Titicaca is described as both puma-head shaped and as being found below the ruins of Macchu Picchu. A portion of the lake's southern bank vaguely resembles a cat's had in profile, but only if viewed from the air while flying north-to-south. The whole thing, not so much, and it's still southeast of Machu Picchu, not below it.
  • Two of the Scooby-Doo movies hit this particularly hard, mainly because the two movies between them got their respective monsters BACKWARDS. Chupacabra is a reptilian hematophage that preys on goats. The Australian Yowie is supposedly a large humanoid creature, along the lines of Bigfoot and the Yeti. Monster of Mexico says that Chupie is Bigfoot, and Legend of the Vampire that the Yowie is a vampire. It's easy to think that they picked monsters that they thought nobody knew, but Chupacabra at least is rather well-known.
  • In the X-Men episode "Days of Future Past, Part 2", Gambit travels to Washington, DC. But the monitor shows the state of Washington (with Washington, D.C. captioned right below).
  • When Family Guy makes one of its many, many Take Thats at religion, you can bet that the writer will get every one of their facts wrong. For example, when Brian mentions about how there was no war before "religion", a cutaway shows friendly men fighting each other immediately because Jesus was born, even though of course wars happened before Jesus was born.
    • Not to mention the fact that Brian apparently thinks there were no other religions before Christianity.
  • Maybe it's a case of creative liberty, but the Al Brodax Popeye cartoon "I Yam Wot I Yamnesia" posits that if two people bump heads with each other, they switch personalities and voices. Wimpy diagnoses this as amnesia.

In-Universe examples

    Comic Books 
  • The ordinarily Genre Savvy Ambush Bug once made a huge error In-Universe. Seeing a young blonde woman in a familiar costume flying by, Ambush Bug immediately realized that some malevolent magic or Red Kryptonite had turned his "pal" Superman into a girl, and that Superman desperately needed the Bug's help. Somehow, Ambush Bug was completely ignorant of the existence of Supergirl, who was naturally mystified by the encounter. (Supergirl, In-Universe, was publicly known and quite famous in her own right at the time.)note 
  • In the Team Fortress 2 comic Ring of Fired #1. When the Demoman and his sentient sword the Eyelander are watching the show Ghost D.A., the title ghost character disappears with a "doodily-doodily-doot" noise. The Eyelander, which is possessed by a ghost, points out that it never does that and questions whether the writers are actually ghosts. It has more to complain about when the TV ghost puns "the defense rests... in peace."
    Eyelander: Ugh. "The defense rests"? He's the @$%ing prosecution! Ghost D.A.! "District Attorney!" It's in the title of the @$%ing show!
    • Turns out the entire town of Teufort suffers from a major case of this in Unhappy Returns. The Mayor is apparently completely oblivious to what he can and can't do in his position, apparently thinking he's allowed to force someone to become a fake-italian, and hang people without a trial. No one else in the town finds a problem with this. This is due to them having drunk toxin-contaminated water for over a generation.

    Fan Works 
  • Occurs in-universe in Queen Of All Oni with Lung. Not only did his Evil Plan revolve around the stubborn as a mule Jade submitting to his will, he clearly has no idea about the curse that only allows her to summon her Co-Dragons.
  • In an in-universe example, the Lemony Narrator of Equestria: A History Revealed seems to fulfill this trope in spades. To her credit, she does do research, but she blatantly ignores what is stated in favor of her own opinions, going as far as to cross out sections of quotes that don't agree with her view.
  • A Brief History of Equestria: Apparently it's common — due to their rivalry prior to and during the Lake Trot Crisis — to portray Viscount Arsenic as Lady Cripps' father, who abandoned her mother after a brief affair. This despite the fact that at the time of said affair, Arsenic was two years old.
  • The fictional authors' works in Bleach Fan Works have several of varying severity. For example, Christina doesn't realize who Oshimanote , while Jolene Myer has Ichigo's father called "Barnubus" rather than Isshin, and claims that Masaki divorced him when the twins were born (instead of getting killed by Grand Fisher and Yhwach, although they most likely couldn't have known that when this installment was uploaded).
  • In Turnabout Storm: Phoenix makes a loud objection during the trial when it's revealed that the decisive evidence against the defendant is a storm cloud, mocking the prosecution for suggesting that his client could move that cloud around and make it shoot lightning at will. Too bad he happens to be in Equestria, a world where controlling the weather is a common sense fact.
    Phoenix: Oh... Hehe... Sorry! My mistake...
    Twilight: Maybe you should have... Oh, I don't know, studied!?
    Phoenix: I said I was sorry!
    • Shortly after he makes another mistake in trying to contradict a statement, pointing out that the thunder is heard after the lightning strike, not at the same time. Not in Equestria, though.
  • Used intentionally and Played for Laughs in the Twilight fic Third Wheel. (The narrator is something of a ditz.)
    [Discussing Bella Swan's family] So the acorn didn't fall too far from the pine tree.

    Live-Action Film 
  • Bluto's speech in Animal House gives us this gem:
    "Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!"
    "Germans?"
    "Forget it, he's rollin'."
  • S.H.I.E.L.D of all people have this at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger. After Steve Rogers is unfrozen after crashing the HYDRA Valkyrie in 1945, they try to ease him into the present day by building a fake 1940's hospital room, complete with a 1940's baseball game broadcast "live" on the radio and a woman in period-appropriate attire entering to greet him. However, Steve immediately notices something is wrong - because the "live" baseball game is from 1941, he knows because he was there. Cue him breaking out and experiencing massive culture-shock at 21st Century Times Square. Nice going, S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • In Dr. Strangelove, the Russian ambassador explains that the Soviets built their world-ending machine because they feared a "Doomsday-gap" when they "discovered" that the Americans were building one. When the US President truthfully rebukes that as a ludicrous fantasy, the ambassador replies: "Our source was The New York Times."
  • In Hitman, 47 meets with an arms dealer under a false identity. When his cover is secretly blown, the dealer attempts to intimidate 47 by showing off some of his weapons and even threatening to kill one of his prostitutes with a pistol. In so doing he misidentifies aspects of every gun he picks up (such as calling an M4A1 Assault Rifle with an M203 Under Barrel Grenade Launcher as an "M203 with under barrel grenade launcher"). 47, not the slightest bit intimidated, points it out to him.
  • Trading Places has this example from the heroes' Massive Multi Player Scam:
    Coleman: Let me see, you would be from Austria. Am I right?
    Ophelia: No, I am Inga from Sweden.
    Coleman: Sweden? ...But you're wearing ...Lederhosen.
    Ophelia: Ja, from Sweden.
  • The title character in The 40-Year-Old Virgin displays his complete lack of sexual experience when he mentions that breasts feel like bags of sand.

    Literature 
  • The villains of The Slippery Slope proudly boast about how they control "two of the greatest mammals: the lions and the eagles!" Klaus calls them out on their error, but they don't care.
  • The Catcher in the Rye:
    • Holden Caulfield writes a paper about ancient Egypt, which reads thus: "The Egyptians were an ancient race of Caucasians residing in one of the northern sections of Africa. The latter as we all know is the largest continent in the Eastern Hemisphere. The Egyptians are extremely interesting to us today for various reasons. Modern science would still like to know what the secret ingredients were that the Egyptians used when they wrapped up dead people so that their faces would not rot for innumerable centuries. This interesting riddle is still quite a challenge to modern science in the twentieth century." That is the paper, in its entirety.
    • The title of the book comes from Holden mistaking a line from the song "Comin' Through the Rye". He thinks it's "If a body catch a body comin' through the rye", but it's really "If a body meet a body comin' through the rye."
  • Ender's Shadow: Bean's nemesis Achilles thinks that Josef Stalin was promoted by Vladimir Lenin then imprisoned and killed him, when in reality Lenin died of a stroke while urging his followers to not put Stalin in charge. His mistaken belief may be due to his own lack of schooling coupled with his desire to become a dictator twisting his memory of history.
  • An in-universe example from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, when the police drug 'expert' tries to explain why a marijuana cigarette is colloquially referred to as a "roach".
    "What the fuck are these people talking about?" my attorney whispered. "You'd have to be crazy on acid to think a joint looked like a goddamn cockroach!"
  • From Gordon Korman's Son of the Mob 2: Vince is heading off to film school in California with his girlfriend and best friend and decides to chronicle their road trip in script form. His girlfriend immediately points out one minor problem: he has them driving west into the rising sun.
  • Harry Potter: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them mentions a Kappa, and states it's Japanese. One of Harry's notes next to it says "Snape hasn't read this book either", since Snape identifies the Kappa as Mongolian in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
    • Ford Prefect chooses his name-the name of a rather mediocre British car-apparently on the assumption that cars were the dominant species on the planet. The movie adaptation extrapolates from this the scene of Ford and Arthur's first meeting-Arthur saving Ford from attempting to shake hands with a car.
    • The Cutaway Gag sequence about the Vl'Hurg-G'Gugvuntt fleet that attempted to invade the Earth, only to be accidentally swallowed by a small dog in its entirety "due to a terrible miscalculation of scale".
  • The Hunger Games: Delivered by none other than Effie Trinket: "Well, if you put enough pressure on coal it turns to pearls."
  • In Stephen King's novella The Body, the 12-year-old protagonist wrote a bunch of stories about Americans trying to take a French town from the Nazis... in 1942. Only two years later did he find out that the Allies didn't land in France until 1944.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Whenever Andrew flexes his storyteller muscles, he'll usually include events of which he has no first-hand knowledge (i.e. previous seasons) in his spiel and is thus occasionally widely off the mark. For example, when he talks to the Potential Slayers about Faith he claims that she killed a Vulcan, "the most pacifist and logical of races". Flashback to Faith locked in deadly hand-to-hand combat with a Vulcan. In reality she killed a volcanologist. When one of the Potentials tries to correct him, he says "Why would she kill someone who studies Vulcans?"
  • Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report uses this intentionally and mixes it with Insane Troll Logic for laughs. This is really the entire premise of the show.
  • Downton Abbey: Cora (mother of three girls) grumbles about having daughters: "you think it's going to be like Little Women but instead they're at each other's throats." It must have been a while since she read the book, since at least two of the little women (Jo and Amy) were constantly at each other's throats.
  • One scene from Flight of the Conchords's HBO series has a racist fruit vendor mistake Australian stereotypes for New Zealander ones.
    Jermaine: I'm a person. Bret's a person. You're a person. That person over there's a person. And each person deserves to be treated like a person.
    Vendor: That's a great speech. Too bad New Zealanders are a bunch of cocky a-holes descended from criminals and retarded monkeys.
    Jermaine: Hey you're thinking of Australians.
    Vendor: No no no, New Zealanders, "throw another shrimp on the barbie", ride around on your kangaroos all day.
    Jermaine: No, no no, that's Australians. You're thinking of Australians; that's not us.
    Vendor: I've totally confused you with Australians, I feel terrible. It's just your accents are just kinda similar.
    Jermaine: Our accents are completely different. They're like: "Where's the cahh?" and we're like "where's the cahh?".
  • How I Met Your Mother: Barney's "Platinum Rule" was based off his belief that the Golden Rule was "Love your neighbor." The other characters were quick to point out that it's actually "Treat others as you yourself would want to be treated."
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • Crow doing this trope is a Running Gag. Crow makes a documentary about The American Civil War. Titled Crow T. Robot's Bram Stoker's The Civil War, it opens with this line... which is actually pretty much the film's high point when it comes to historical accuracy:
      Crow: The Civil War was a war that took place during a certain period in our nation's history. When, exactly? No one can say.
    • He's also done reports about Rutherford B. Hayes ("Serving heroically in the Civil War, Hayes later admitted that it was in the army he first tasted human flesh.") and a PSA about how to treat women that mostly asserts that women are a cryptozoological phenomenon, like Bigfoot, except for the very, very end:
      Crow: Ah. ... Oh, um, yes. So anyway Mike, in conclusion, in the off chance that you do run into a woman, uh, you know, treat her with respect and stuff.

      Mike: You know, Crow, you do know women. Now what about Pearl?

      Crow: Ok, so one woman exists. That means all women exist?
    • Tom Servo is also guilty of this, in the episode The Skydivers. During the prologue he puts on a planetarium show, giving us such gems as referring to the speed of light as "well over 500 miles an hour" (which is true, but in the same way it's true to say the Pacific Ocean is more than a gallon of water: the speed of light is well over 600 million miles per hour) and calling Mars "the brightest star in our galaxy."
  • NewsRadio: Bill, while trying to stage an office rebellion, shouts, "Do you think the Pilgrims really cared about all the tea they dumped into Baltimore Harbor?" It may well be a shout-out to Bluto's speech in Animal House.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: Played for Laughs with Pavel Chekov, who sometimes gets his Russian history wrong, claiming just about everything to be a Russian invention. That was probably what he was taught, though, as this was before The Great Politics Mess-Up, and the USSR in the 1960s really did have this attitude in its education.
    • According to Diane Duane's novels, he's joking, as when he claims that the roller coaster is a Russian invention and is not believed he protests that this time it's true.
  • This sketch from That Mitchell and Webb Look. Many faults are pure and simple Gretzky Has the Ball issues, but not all:
    • "West Germany, famously a bunch of cheats" references East Germany's history with performance-enhancing drugs. And "Cricket? 'Ere in Yorkshire?" makes no sense as cricket is really popular in Yorkshire.
    • The Ashes isn't a tournament with "second rounds" and "semi-finals". It's a revered test cricket series between the national teams of England and Australia. The West Indies, the Dallas Cowboys (an American football team), West Germany (a country that ceased existing for 17 years at the time of airing and in which most people have no idea what cricket actually is) and Pisswiddle Steel Batters are ineligible. Manchester United is an association football team.
    • Mitchell and Webb have a whole series of skits based on two screenwriters who never, ever, do any research. The medical drama in particular is hilarious.
    "Now he's poorly from too much electric."
    • There's also the archaeologist who makes the incredible find of an ancient Roman...videotape. It appears to show several people having a toga party, but he and other researchers talk about the incredible discoveries they're making, while one stares at them in disbelief, and eventually brings up the obvious. He's then guilt-tripped into going along with it.
  • The Young Ones:
    • When Rick is trying desperately to recall his history lessons, he finishes the statement "Crop rotation in the 14th century was considerably more widespread after..." with "1172". Which isn't even in the 14th century.
    • Neil never sleeps because he thinks sleep causes cancer.
  • Characters on The West Wing are consistently getting called out for this; it's most always Played for Laughs. Perhaps the best example occurs in the pilot episode, where Sam Seaborn is asked to speak to Mallory's fourth-grade class about the history of the White House, on which subject he's clueless. Meeting them in the Roosevelt Room, he fakes it, saying the room is named after "our 18th president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt." After listening to Sam spew out factoids for a few moments, Mallory asks to speak to him outside the room:
    Mallory: I'm sorry to be rude, but are you a moron?
    Sam: In this particular area, yes.
    Mallory: The 18th president was Ulysses S. Grant and the Roosevelt Room was named for Theodore.
    Sam: Really?
    Mallory: There's like a six-foot painting on the wall of Teddy Roosevelt.note 
    Sam: I should have put two and two together.
    Mallory: Yes.
    Sam: The thing is, while there really are a great many things on which I can speak with authority, I'm not good at talking about the White House.
    Mallory: You're the White House Deputy Communications Director and you're not good at talking about the White House?
    Sam: Ironic, isn't it?

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Calvin's report on bats consists only of fluff, and one "fact" (bats are bugs) that Calvin himself made up. He's called out on it by everyone and his tiger. Bill Watterson said in a commentary that one of the nice things about writing this strip is that he didn't need to know more than a lazy 6-year-old, and after writing the story got sent more information on bats than he ever wanted to know.
    • Calvin and Susie are assigned to be partners on a project about the planet Mercury. The following is Calvin's only contribution:
    Calvin: The planet Mercury was named after a Roman god with winged feet. Mercury was the god of flowers and bouquets, which is why today he is a registered trademark of FTD florists. Why they named a planet after this guy, I can't imagine. ...Um, back to you, Susie.

    Radio 
  • A Bob & Ray sketch has Bob interviewing the author of a History of the United States. It turns out that the 1,100-page tome contains numerous glaring errors, including Abraham Lincoln driving to his inauguration in an automobile, the Civil War breaking out in 1911, and the nation's original capital being located in Bailey's Mistake, Maine. The author readily admits it's "a shabby piece of work", but quickly adds that it's leather-bound.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40K: The Imperial Guardman's Uplifting Primer is hilariously filled with these, presenting the enemies of man as easy to defeat by the common soldiery. Features gems such as "ork tusks can easily be pulled out of their jaws", "the Tau are evolved from cattle and will spook at loud noises", and a magnificent illustration of a Guardsman looking around a corner like a guy who showed up early for a Scooby Stack.
    • Those are actually partially true though. Orks have shark-like teeth that are constantly being shed and could conceivably be pulled out fairly easily while the Tau are descended from grazing ruminants and display many vestiges of that past (spooking at loud noises NOT being one of them).
    • Indeed, a common theory is that the Primer is lying to you on purpose ("Genestealers are slow and sluggish") in order to raise morale. Any company worth even half its salt has a few units of Veterans who know what fighting in a Cosmic Horror Story is really like.

    Video Games 
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • Played for laughs in Meet the Soldier. The Soldier starts with a (correct) quote from Sun Tzu and The Art of War, but then goes on to say that Sun Tzu invented fighting, perfected it, and used his fight money to herd two of every animal onto a boat and beat the crap out of them.
    And from that day forward, anytime a bunch of animals are together in one place, it's called a ZOO! Unless it's a farm!
    • In Meet the Director, it's shown that the Soldier went on even more about Sun Tzu. The director had to point out that Sun Tzu never wrote books on how to punch out someone's ribcage.

     Webcomics 
  • This episode of Closet Gamers contains a literal example, when a Dungeons & Dragons character informs the party that a "Purple Worm" is a tiny creature eaten by harmless, flightless birds, as opposed to the giant, nasty Sand Worm monster it actually is.
  • From Loli Loves Venom #32 — why you should not ask Venom for homework help:
    "In nature, spiders have many natural enemies. There is one main predator they always have to watch out for. The mighty octopus. Their tentacles of sheer fury are fierce opponents. Only through agility, resolution, and quick banter can the amazing spider atone for the danger he faces."

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of Ben 10: Omniverse, Pax unleashes a tiny alien called the Screegit around Bellwood. The Screegit turns into a rampaging monster when exposed to nitrogen, but Pax thinks it'll be okay, since humans breathe oxygen. Ben angrily points out that Earth's atmosphere has nitrogen in it as well.
  • In the Home Movies episode "History", Brendon makes a movie with George Washington, Annie Oakley, and Pablo Picasso as the primary villains, with very obvious inaccuracies for their backstories (such as Washington freeing the slaves, Picasso cutting off his ear, etc.). It's later revealed that he's been receiving tutoring from Coach McGuirk, and he's flunking history.
  • In a likely nod to the Animal House example above, TJ from Recess once made a speech to convince Gretchen to not give up on the "space travel training" the gang was putting her through:
    "Did Albert Edison give up when they stole his Theory of Regularity? Did Ben Franklin give up when the Germans shot down his kite?"
  • Total Drama World Tour:
    • The intern responsible for doing the research comes up with Rome, rather than Greece, as the birthplace of the Olympic Games. He is fired by Chris, the host of the show, when the mistake is pointed out... by being shoved out of the plane.
    • Courtney tried correcting Chris when the contestants were in China, and he told them the Great Wall was built eight million years ago. The kicker? Even though Courtney realized the Great Wall couldn't have been built until much more recently, she explained there were dinosaurs in 8,000,000 B.C. Probably joking?
  • In The Simpsons, Bart calls a bunch of countries in the Southern Hemisphere to see which way the water flows in their toilets and drains. Among them is apparently Burkina Faso. This might actually be justified since Bart isn't exactly the brightest tool in the shed.
  • Dan freaks out when he unthinkingly drinks a milkshake, thinking he will die. In actuality intolerance to lactose isn't fatal (worst case scenario, he'll have a bit of gas and possibly need a change of underwear—plus, a couple of swallows of dairy might not even do anything if one's lactose intolerance is fairly mild. Of course, Dan tends to be a drama queen.
  • Futurama references the Matrix example given above, with Bender saying "Doesn't that violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics? Wouldn't just about anything make a better battery than a human? Like a potato? Or a battery?" Leela explains that while everyone at the time it was made thought The Matrix was the worst movie ever because of this "mistake", it turns out the film actually got it right. Of course, this is a universe in which it's possible to travel between stars in hours or at most days because "scientists increased the speed of light in 2208."

Both

     Fan Works 
  • Gensokyo 20 XX almost has on a meta-level when it comes to Tosca, an opera she alluded to the author initially thinking it was by Shakespeare. Fret not, she later corrects her mistake both in Real Life and in-universe.
Contrived Stupidity TropesThis Index Is Highly ImprobableCut the Fuse
Concepts Are CheapBad Writing IndexDepartment of Redundancy Department
Contrived CoincidenceImageSource/Comic StripsDeclarative Finger
Critical Psychoanalysis FailureIndex FailureDefensive Failure
Crapsack WorldAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Diabolus ex Machina
Creepy CuteYMMV/Home PageCrosses the Line Twice
Creepy CuteYMMVCrosses the Line Twice

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