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." Yeah, we're pretty sure they missed a comma there.note Amusingly, Gerard Butler has done quite a few other historical epics and at least one time travel story... covering damn near every period but the early 18th century.
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.
Pablo tries to shoot Tintin, but a bunch of bananas falls on his head. The bananas are shown pointing to the ground. Banana tips always point toward the sky.
The chess board used by Tintin and General Alcazar, as seen on pages 28 and 29, has a black right bottom square. Normally, the right bottom square of a chess board is white.
"The Temple 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.
To balance this, in the previous story, "The Seven Crystal Balls", Professor Tarragon shows Tintin, Haddock and Calculus a translation of the prophetic inscriptions in Rascar Capac's tomb. The Incas actually did not have a system of writing.
Astérix: In Asterix in Britain, Asterix is seen peeling potatoes, a vegetable that wasn't introduced to Europe until after America was discovered. This may be intentional, though, since a lot of the humour in the series is derived from anachronisms.
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 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.
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 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'.
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.
In Plan 9 from Outer Space, Eros informs the heroes that "a ray of sunlight is made up of many atoms." Wow. Where to even begin on that?note For the art majors out there: light is made of photons.
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." Anyone who knows when World War I occurred should see the problem.
One of the more egregious, non-mutant bird-related examples in Birdemic involves Natalie's modeling career. Early in the movie, Natalie's been told she's been selected as a Victoria's Secret cover model. This is A Very Big Deal; the only comparable single (American) modeling gig, in terms of prestige and exposure, is the cover of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue. Everybody, from Rod to Natalie's mother, urges her to look into a second career, in case modeling "doesn't work out." The RiffTrax crew was quick to pounce on that bit of ignorance.
For all the good things we can say about the Japanese cut of 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.
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.
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.
In the first movie, the supercomputer Red Queen explains how zombies reanimate, saying that since hair and nails continue to grow after death, there's enough cellular activity in the body to jump-start a corpse. Problem is, hair and nails DON'T keep growing after death. This is not only part of the movie's entire rationale for having zombies at all, but is spoken by a supercomputer supposedly housing vast collections of knowledge and data.
The filmmakers completely contradict their own established rationale for zombies in the second movie, when the dead start to rise from a graveyard... presumably long after the 'cellular activity' would have stopped.
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.
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—forget graduated—would notice that 3,486,522 is even, and 2 is the only even prime.
In Die Hard 2, the villains shut down air traffic control at Washington Dulles International Airport so as to prevent interference with his plot. As a result, planes don't receive landing instructions and have to circle the airport, as their fuel runs out. There's just one problem: FAA regulations state that all airline flights must carry enough fuel to divert to another major airport close by in case of an emergency like the one depicted in the film. There are two major airports in the DC Metro Area, Dulles and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and three if you count Baltimore-Washington International Airport, which, as the name implies, is about halfway between the two cities. Joint Base Andrews (formerly Andrews Air Force Base) could certainly handle a number of emergency landings in a pinch. They attempt to Hand Wave it away in the movie by saying that the storm shut the other airports down, but other major airports like Philadelphia, Richmond, Newark, etc. are all within two hours away, which is about as much time the planes spend circling without running out of fuel.
The made-for-tv movie Asteroid has quite a few. In particular, the asteroid is destroyed using lasers designed to take out "tactical ballistic missiles" mounted on aircraft. For one thing, the laser systems are said to be less effective being fired in space, when the opposite should be true. Another issue is that the titular asteroid is ten kilometers across, something which defense lasers would barely scratch, let alone destroy in a spectacular explosion. Third, no one seems to be concerned about the debris that is still heading towards the planet until it's too late.
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.
This Island Earth has this line: "It's only Neutron. We call him that because he's so positive." Neutrons are neutral. It's protons that have a positive charge.
The whole High Altitude Late Opening (HALO) jump sequence in Tomorrow Never Dies: Throughout the jumpmaster's instructions, the rear ramp of the plane is open; everyone on board except the flight crew up front (who are presumably on oxygen) is breathing the ambient air. They should all be unconscious from hypoxia. Also, a real HALO jump requires about an hour of "prebreathing" of the oxygen mix. Bond just listens to the spiel, puts on his oxygen mask, and jumps.
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").
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 recognisable semi-automatic pistols ever made and which almost everyone knows has a seven round magazine.
Mrs. Doubtfire begins with Daniel recording a voice for a cartoon - fair enough, except that the cartoon is actually being projected for him and in animation the voice actors do their work before the animators, not vice versa (he could have been doing a foreign dub, but it's never stated that he is). As a letterwriter to Empire pointed out, given Robin Williams did Aladdin (and Mork in the Animated Adaptation of Mork and Mindy) he really should've spotted that.
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.
Breaking Dawn features an island off the west coast of Brazil. The west "coast" of Brazil is made up of the borders with Uruguay, Argentina, Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia, Colombia and Venezuela.
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.
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.
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.
In Moby-Dick, Herman Melville/Ishmael consistently asserts that whales are fish. There's a whole chapter on it. He even goes on to warn of those who might lead the reader astray through talk of mammals and the like, which he essentially counters with "Come on guys, they're totally fish." Although he does acknowledge that they breathe air and give birth to live young, he still insists that they are, somehow, fish. Possibly a deliberate example of Unreliable Narrator, with Ishmael making the error, not Melville. Blurs with Science Marches On.
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.
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". The silliness here should be immediately evident to anyone who lives in a country that uses Celsius, but for the rest of you, that's 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
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" (Muhammed, 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).
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.
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.
In the '70s horror novel The Sentinel, author Jeffrey Konvitz talks about translating Paradise Lost from the "original Latin".
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.
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.
In Ski Nurse Mystery by Helen Wells (part of the Cherry Ames series), a doctor refers to Ève Curie as if she were an expert on radiology. While Ève was a remarkable lady in her own right, she was a journalist, and whatever knowledge she had about radiology probably came from talking with her mother Marie Curie — you know, the famous woman who's probably the only radiology expert the average person could name?
In Jurassic Park, the finale has the military of Costa Rica firebomb Isla Nublar to prevent the dinosaurs from escaping. The problem: Costa Rica has no military. Not even a little one. It only has a defence force, which, while equipped with some military-grade equipment, is not a standing army in the modern sense.
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.
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 Enders 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.
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.
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.
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".
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).
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." Even people with just a vague knowledge of modern video games would know that the PS3 replaced the PS2 almost half a decade earlier and 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 meme one while the guest he was interviewing, David Silverman, stared at him with a face that just screamed "you can't be serious"note meme two. 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."
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.
In one episode, Frank is scared out of a threat to sue when another character points out he owns a bunch of unregistered handguns and should avoid going near a court. While this would certainly be a concern in Los Angeles, where the show is filmed, Pennsylvania doesn't require handguns to be registered, nor does it allow municipal gun laws different from the state ones.
In one episode, the gang is shown buying wine from a grocery store. In the audio commentary, the makers admit that they found out later that wine is only sold in state-run liquor stores in Pennsylvania.
An early episode of Greys Anatomy manages to get Judaism wrong in a variety of ways:
Alex treats a devout Orthodox Jew in need of a valve replacement. She refuses because it'd have to be a porcine valve and pigs aren't kosher. In reality, Jews are only forbidden from eating pig, and even if they weren't, Jews are allowed to break almost any religious law if their life or the life of another person is in danger.
In the same episode, the patient prays with her rabbi before going into surgery and the rabbi is a woman. While there are female rabbis in some sects, they are completely forbidden in Orthodox sects.
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.
In the seventh series of The Big Bang Theory, the show opens with a (rare) complete blooper. Leonard Hofstadter is on a research boat in the North Sea where he and all the other partying scientists are playing a drinking game called "iceberg!". The premise is that whenever an iceberg is spotted, everyone downs a drink. It must have been a dry ship, then - as there are no icebergs in the North Sea. Even in winter. The open passage between Britain and Norway that connects to the Atlantic is crossed by the Gulf Stream bringing warm water north. Any ice making it this far south from the arctic just, basically, melts.
In Life Charlie repeatedly states early on that he was in a "maximum security federal penitentiary" but it's later shown he actually went to Pelican Bay, a state prison. The crimes he was convicted of were all in state jurisdiction too.
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 bloodiest 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?)
There was a period in the 2000s when the media tried to convince people that "emo" was a "cult" and that the "Black Parade" was a Valhalla-type place where emos go after they die.  Critical Research Failure indeed.
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".
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.
Any medium that mentions Beethoven writing all his music while being deaf. Beethoven was not born deaf, and losing his hearing was — obviously — devastating for him. He did, however, write some of his works after he lost his hearing, by attaching a stick to the piano and holding the other end in his mouth, thus letting him feel the vibrations of the notes through his jaw.
Michael Jackson's "Liberian Girl" not only opens with Swahili, but with a South African singer singing it. The de facto official language of Liberia? English. And on a Wikipedia list of about 25 languages spoken in Liberia, Swahili isn't one of them.
In a Calvin And Hobbes strip, Calvin and Hobbes get lost in the woods on a Scout hike, at which point, Calvin says not to worry because their motto is "Be prepared." However, that's the Boy Scout motto; Calvin was a Cub Scout, whose motto is "Do your best."
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 thisSquare Root of Minus Garfield.
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.
The various armor types. There has historically been exactly one type of armour made from interlocking rings, and its name is mail. Not chainmail, not ringmail, not splint mail, not banded, mascled or augmented mail but mail. Likewise, the correct term for "plate mail" is plate armor and that of "scale mail" is scale armor. The D&D armor types have, nevertheless, become Common Knowledge, as many more people have played D&D or its various derivatives than have a cursory knowledge of real-world armor.
The contrived difference between a longsword, a bastard sword, and a two-handed sword: In the game, a longsword is a one-handed, straight bladed weapon, and a bastard sword is somewhere between this and a two-handed sword in size. In reality, a longsword was a two-handed sword, a bastard sword was smaller, and the one-handed version was called either an arming sword or a short-sword (sorry, halflings).
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 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.
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.
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.
The play takes place in Athens in the time of Theseus, placing it around 800 BC at the very latest. Yet there is a reference to a clock striking twelve. The same occurs in Julius Caesar, wherein a clock strikes three.note While there were clocks as far back as ancient Greece, they weren't the kind we usually think of when mentioning a "clock striking twelve". They were horribly expensive, complicated, prone to breaking down, and not all that accurate unless maintained very thoroughly.
Characters in the play also mention Cupid, a Roman god. The Greek name would have been Eros.
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 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.
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?
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.
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 the Top 11 Dumbasses in Distress, he claims that Princess Peach's ability to fly was only shown in Super Mario Bros. 2, which was a dream. It was also shown in her game, which he himself mentioned and showed clips from, claiming all she could do was cry. Said game also showed her being able to control fire as well. He makes this error again in the editorial on Mario comics.
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 Yes.
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.
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).
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.
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, never mind that 200 million years ago was when the dinosaurs were just beginning their dominion over animal life on Earth, and here he is saying it's when they became extinct.
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 The latter two examples are argued against in-series, however.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The ordinarily Genre SavvyAmbush 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 Supergirl #16 (1984)
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. This is due to them having drank toxin-contaminated water for over a generation. 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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
Ender's Shadow: Bean's nemesis Achilles thinks that Joseph 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.
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.
"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 match 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.
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.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Whenever Andrew flexes his storytellermuscles. 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 about Faith he doesn't understand why she killed a Vulcan, "the most pacifist and logical of races". Flashback to Faith locked in deadly hand-to-hand combat with a Vulcan (she killed a volcanologist.)
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."
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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?"
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 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 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 breath oxygen. Ben angrily points out that Earth's atmosphere has nitrogen in it as well.
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 not mentioned at all.