Critical Research Failure
Even (most) 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 has 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 (or less) 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. See also Dan Browned, for situations when an author falsely claims he did the research. For downplayed inaccuracies that requires more in-depth knowledge to notice, see Artistic License and its subpages. If it's specifically math that is off, see Writers Cannot Do Math.

Works with their own pages:

Unintentional Examples

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  • 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. The commercial's writer was probably fired from the advertising agency when the mistake was noticed.

    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, has absolutely no business being there.
  • A Lupin III episode had a sign marking the Kansas/Washington D.C. border. Was it that hard for the writers to get a map of the United States?
  • Generally, Detective Conan avoids these issues by Aoyama doing research, off and on there are instances where the reasoning for even simple things in the series just don't make sense. One instance is when Ludger, a German character, appears and he speaks near-perfect Japanese. Conan deduces that his wife is British because Ludger referred to the restaurant being on the 2nd Floor, when it would be the 3rd Floor in Japanese, and that this is because the British refer to the 1st Floor of a building as the Ground Floor and then begin to count number-wise upward. The problem? Germans do that, too, so his reasoning is faulty since Ludger, being German, automatically counts floors in the German fashion, making Conan's elaborate reason why his wife must be British obsolete.
  • Code Geass loves its chess metaphors and concepts. Lelouch is also an avid chess player throughout the series, which he displays in his strategies. However, he always plays by moving his king first, because he believes the king should lead by example. In chess, it is not possible to move the king on its first turn; it only can move one space in any direction, and is blocked in by its own pieces. Its also an extremely risky way to play chess in general. Also in the second season, Schneizel (who is supposed to be an even more awesome chess player than Lelouch), stalemates Lelouch by moving his own king into check, which is a completely illegal move, as any chess player knows.
  • Black Jack:
    • If you didn't know Osamu Tezuka was a certified M.D before he was a mangaka, you'd think he was this. As it is, the official translation actually has footnotes explaining the discrepancies between the manga and real life, with some being honest mistakes like claiming that dingoes are descendants of dogs brought to Australia by Europeans when in fact they were already present before colonization, which is a mistake anyone could make at first. Blatant errors in medical knowledge, are actually embellishments done on purpose for Rule of Fun and Rule of Cool, and a situation where a woman gets her ovaries removed and later on appears as a man is a case of cross-dressing, which was been mistaken for a literal Gender Bender due to the use of phrases like not being able live like a woman anymore used in dialog, making this a case where the readers, reviewers and critics are the ones that committed the failure in research, because a medical doctor like Tezuka would know that getting their ovaries removed wouldn't cause a woman to become a man.
  • Yoshiyuki Tomino named the fascist adversaries of Mobile Suit Gundam after the Nazi-like faction in the original Star Trek episode "Patterns of Force". He apparently didn't go back and watch the episode when he made this decision, because in that episode Zeon were the people being oppressed, and the pseudo-Nazis were actually called Ekos.
  • Reki Kawihara isn't known for his knowledge on video games despite having made two light novels centered around them, as this video explains (and criticizes Sword Art Online [the in-universe game, not the anime itself] along the way).

    Comic Books 
  • Marville:
    • It begins a descent into utter madness note  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.
    • It also contains the popular misbelief that shows upon a few times below that humans are the only creatures who kill members of their own species.
  • Superman once multiplied 10x20x16 and got 32,000. (It's 3,200, by the way.) That wasn't just math, it was Super Mathematics.
  • Tintin:
    • Hergé was famous for his research, but made a serious error in 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.
    • The previous story, The Seven Crystal Balls, also contains a whopper, as the plot partly hinges on an inscription inside Rascar Capac's tomb which predicts that after many moons pale-faced invaders would violate it, but that they would be struck down by divine retribution. The Incas had no system of writing before learning Spanish and hence left no inscriptions. The original version of the story, serialized in Le Soir, also contained a lead disc with symbols "resembling Aztec or Inca signs", but Hergé excised the panel that showed it and texts that mentioned it when the album version was produced, probably after learning that the Incas did not actually use lead in pre-Columbian times.
  • 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 check on what an American city actually looks like, resulting in Americans and non-Europeans in general to wonder in which European country Heatherfield is. Averted 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.
  • Chuck Austen's X-Men story "Holy War" — Where the hell to begin?!?
    • The plot hinges on exploding Communion hosts dissolving people making everyone think that The Rapture had come, while simultaneously unmasking Nightcrawler, who would be made Pope, somehow, in his usual demonic-looking form, thereby destroying Catholicism. Yeah. There are a few, slight flaws in Austen's plot...
      • Catholics do not believe in the Rapture. This was a very recent belief from an American Evangelical preacher from the 1890s. No Catholic subscribes to this belief.
      • Nightcrawler has about as good a chance being elected Pope as any other non-Cardinal, which is to say zero chance. While in theory any baptized Catholic male with no impediments to being ordained can be elected Pope, in practice, only a member of the College of Cardinals has a realistic shot. And it would require a vacancy at the Holy See, which as of the 2003 publication of the story arc, still solely meant the death of the incumbent Popenote 
      • And THAT's not counting that the so-called "Church of Humanity" is likely schismatic, which means they'd have as much clout in a conclave as the Baptists.
      • The "Church" plans to doctor enough Communion hosts to make a sizable number of the Catholic faithful dissolve. Leaving out the fact that those who may not be in on the plot could consider it sacrilege note , the bigger problem is that there is no single centralized depot or manufacturer for hosts (they tend to be produced by monasteries or convents or by small bakeries specialized to make the hosts), and so it would be highly unlikely to doctor enough to pull the plot off.
  • In the debut of the New Mutants, we are introduced to Roberto da Costa aka Sunspot. He is Brazilian, living in Brazil, where Portuguese is the common language. Everyone was speaking Spanish.
  • The Daughters of the Amazon featured early in Y: The Last Man cut off their left breast and use bows to emulate mythological Amazons. Cutting off the left breast does nothing to make drawing a bow easier for right-handed archers, as the characters should have realized immediately on trying it. This is exacerbated by the fact that "Amazons cutting their breasts to use a bow" isn't an actual part of the myths, and it's merely speculation made because of faulty translation, which actual research into Amazon myths would have shown.
  • This page from Tseu Hi, La Dame Dragon shows the "Palace Museum" tablet on the Forbidden City, even though the comic took place in the Qing dynasty, long before the Forbidden City became a museum.
  • In the first issue of Batman tie-in Batwing, writer Judd Winick establishes a new villain for the Africa-based Batwing to fight - a tribal warlord known as Blood Tiger. Tigers, of course, are native to Asia - not Africa.

    Fan Works 
  • Dumbledore's Army and the Year of Darkness: If Thanfiction knew enough about Demiguises to include them in DAYD, he should have known enough about them to not portray them as invisible goats when they're invisible apes.
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality's author usually makes sure to research the topic he investigates, and it shows. However, this trope is played very straight when discussing the Stanford Prison Experiment, which the author (or at least the characters) apparently take at face value. In real life, the experiment was a complete disgrace and is often held up as a textbook example of what not to do when performing scientific research; and what's more, Harry, being in this universe both well versed in science and obsessed with doing research, should absolutely know that. To make it worse Harry's summary is almost completely accurate and includes most of the biggest problems (the experimental group was non-random, the experimenter was an active participant, the experiment was ended early to impress his girlfriend...), he simply doesn't recognize them as the massive flaws they are.
  • In Ace Attorney fanfic Her Life Or Mine at one point relationship between Phoenix and Iris is pointed out as it could hurt his case since he'll be biased. Considering that Phoenix is defending Iris, being on her side is exacly what he's supposed to do! Considering that Phoenix canonically defends his friends all the timenote  there is no excuse for that.
  • 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 Saki After Story, the mahjong games in the tournament are presented as one-on-one, rather than four-player games, and the tournament takes place over the course of a single day, unlike canon, where it takes over a week to complete. 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.)
  • Tellygunge's celebrity fics will often involve a scene where a character getting gunged suffers a Wardrobe Malfunction (or a Panty Shot) at some point, and the narrative making a remark about how it would become a YouTube hit. Except that it wouldn't because nudity is banned on YouTube.note  From the policy centre:
    Videos containing fetish content will be removed or age-restricted depending on the severity of the act in question. In most cases, violent, graphic, or humiliating fetishes are not allowed to be shown on YouTube.
    A video that contains nudity or other sexual content may be allowed if the primary purpose is educational, documentary, scientific, or artistic, and it isn’t gratuitously graphic. For example, a documentary on breast cancer would be appropriate, but posting clips out of context from the same documentary might not be.
  • The Star Trek: Voyager fan-fic The Mysterious Case of Neelix's Lungs is being written by two people who admit that they have not actually seen the show in full, and thus is full of mistakes. Which would be perfectly excusable for an average fanfic, except that these two are presenting it as a "fixer fic" for the show. As a result, half the "flaws" they're trying to rescue the show from are things that were already fixed onscreen when it grew the beard, while others are just blown out of proportion. Said flaws are "discussed" in author's notes that rant against the show and certain characters, getting facts blatantly wrong. To add the final dose of irony, the authors have been enthusiastically trying to promote their "fixer fic" on various websites, and seem to respond to constructive criticism like they think it's fan mail.
  • The first line of Ruby Rose from RWBY is "Are you... robbing me?" The first line she speaks in Peggy Sue fic The Infinite Loops is "Are you... mugging me again?" The sudden word change is eventually lampshaded and played for laughs.

    Films — Animation 
  • Foodfight! features main character Dex Dogtective, an anthropomorphic dog whose Trademark Favorite Food is raisins. It's a good thing that Foodfight! was seen by about six people, because raisins are poisonous to dogs.
  • An American Tail has Tiger, the vegetarian cat. Cats are obligate carnivores, unable to survive without meat proteins. (Though he does mention that he has a little fish now and then.)
  • The Road to El Dorado flopped in large part because the Latin American market it aimed the most to already receives more information on the film's subject at school than the makers bothered to research for the movie:
    • Hernán Cortés is introduced as a famous, feared figure recruiting a crew in Barcelona under the promise of finding large quantities of gold in the New World. In reality, Cortés was a nobody who had been living in Cuba for 10 years before the governor sent him west under orders of establishing trade with the natives. In addition, until the early eighteenth century, Seville was the only Spanish city that had the exclusivity of sending ships to the colonies.
    • Cortés does refer to Cuba in the movie, however - when he threatens to sell Tulio and Miguel there as slaves, to work in the canefields. It was illegal to enslave a Christian under Spanish law (nevermind a Spanish Christian) and even worse, Cuban cane production was negligible at the time. He should have scared them straight by telling them that they were going to become convict laborers in mines or galleys, both considered a Fate Worse Than Death in the movie's time period.
    • Eldorado arose as a myth after Cortés conquered Mexico (and Pizarro conquered Peru). It was presumably located in South America, not Mesoamerica.
    • Early in the movie, Tulio and Miguel make a bet of two pesetas. The peseta was not the official currency of Spain until 1868, about three centuries later. This was corrected in the Spanish version, where they bet maravedis, the currency used at that time.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Near the end of Alvin and the Chipmunks Road Chip, Simon claims that there's no such thing as 1000%. As any child whose passed 5th grade math could tell you, percentage is a numerator built on relative quantity. Claiming that 1000% doesn't exist is roughly equivalent to saying the number ten doesn't exist. It was a clumsy way of stating something that is true; there cannot be more than 100% of something where 100% is defined as the limit of that thing. For example, you cannot give more than 100% of your time. But you could give someone more than 100% of the amount of money that is in your wallet, by using a credit card.
  • The Amazing Colossal Man features a scientist who claims that "the heart is made up of a single cell."note 
  • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman frequently commits murder with firearms without showing any major signs of guilt. To justify this incarnation of Batman's use of guns, Zack Snyder claimed in an interview that The Dark Knight Returns incarnation of Batman "kills all the time" and stole a criminal's machine gun before he "shoots the guy right between the eyes with the machine gun". However, as the interview's comments section makes clear, this never happens in the comic: Batman takes a mutant's gun, and shoots the wall next to another mutant so that she gives up a baby. Neither mutant is killed, as shown here and here. The same mutant shows up perfectly alive later on to confirm that Batman did not shoot her. Furthermore, The Dark Knight Returns incarnation of Batman blatantly Doesn't Like Guns, and it is repeated several times in the graphic novel that no matter what happens to him, Batman cannot be pushed into killing.
  • 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 writer of Courage Under Fire admits that when he wrote the script, which involves a female military officer who died in the first Gulf War becoming "the first female Medal of Honor recipient", he didn't even bother to check whether or not there already was a woman who had that honor. Turns out that Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, a US Army doctor, won the award during the Civil War, some 130+ years before Courage Under Fire was set, when she refused to leave patients she was treating despite the fact that her field hospital was being actively shelled by the confederate army. What makes this worst is that there were two things that would have avoided this from becoming an example: A) The Medal of Honor received by Walker was not for bravery in actual combat while Walden (the officer in Courage Under Fire) does receive it for bravery in combat. As of 2016 no woman has ever received the Medal of Honor for actual combat against an enemy, so Walden would still be unprecedented; and B) Walker was a civilian employed by the Army as a surgeon, but in documents it was considered the equivalent of a commissioned captain, so Walden would also be the first woman to actually serve in uniform and receive the medal. Have they added any one of those notes, and it would have been a whole different case.
  • A View to a Kill
    • James Bond is presented with the Soviet Order of Lenin and described as the first foreign recipient of the USSR's highest decoration, when Italian communist politician Luigi Longo received it many, many years earlier.
    • Roger Ebert pointed out that the villain's evil scheme makes no sense if you have any knowledge of computer manufacturing. Zorin's plan is to corner the market on microchips by destroying Silicon Valley, which would wipe out his competitors. In reality, this would do very little to affect Zorin's market share, since microchips aren't usually manufactured in Silicon Valley. If he wanted to destroy his competitors, he would have had to attack factories overseas somewhere like Japan. Also, given that many of the tech firms in Silicon Valley produce devices that require microchips anyway, Zorin would essentially be murdering a huge chunk of his own customers.
  • 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.
  • Die Hard 2:
    • If you have even a cursory knowledge of airports, the entire plot will fall flat on its face. It relies on the whole cast not knowing that all of those airliners flying around without a working runway can just fly to another airport. The movie tries to explain this by saying that the nearest other airport is shut down because of the snowstorm, but if those airliners are carrying enough fuel to circle the sky for two hours, they can just fly to an airport further away. For reference, the film takes place in Washington, D.C., which has two airports: Dulles International (the target of the terrorist plot) and Reagan National (the one that's shut down). With the Mid-Atlantic United States being the most densely-populated region in the country, there are at least a dozen major airports within 300 miles of DC that an airplane can reach in two hours with fuel to spare, not counting the various military bases that would receive commercial airliners in the event of an emergency.
    • It also features a scene where the hero claims that the criminals were carrying Glock handguns that are invisible to airport scanners because they are not made of metal. Even accepting this ludicrous premise (a Glock is about 87% steel in reality and cannot get through an X-ray or metal detector), anyone would know that bullets are made of metals such as lead (there's a reason the phrase "Eat lead!" refers to bullets), and would thus set off metal detectors regardless of what the gun carrying them is made of.
    • The climactic scene of the hero lighting a trail of aviation fuel to blow up the plane also contains three errors:
      • Aviation kerosene is very difficult to ignite unless first vaporised (such as in the fuel injectors of a jet engine, or in a plane crash). A pool of aviation kerosene lying on a tarmac runway is unlikely to ignite under cold and windy conditions depicted in the film.
      • As pointed out by The Mythbusters, even a trail of gasoline which is far more flammable still burns at such a slow rate that you could overtake it at a brisk walk, making it impossible for a trail of fire to catch up with a plane which is accelerating to take-off speed.
      • As also demonstrated by The Mythbusters, even if the burning fuel did catch up to the taxiing plane and the flame reached the open fuel tank, it is almost impossible for that to cause an explosion of the fuel as depicted in the movie since there would not be the required fuel-to-air mixture for explosive combustion. (And the rapid air flow would probably blow the flame out anyway)
  • The kids' movie Five Children and 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 an even number, but 2 is the only even prime number.
  • Godzilla franchise:
    • 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.
    • Any and all films in the franchise can be expected to turn out half a dozen examples of this trope when trying to explain how Godzilla can exist. Nuclear bombs inevitably play a large role in his presence.
  • At one point in Jupiter Ascending, Jupiter uses a maxi pad as a makeshift band-aid for Caine's wound. That in and of itself is not a bad ideanote , but she applies the sticky side to the wound, not the side actually designed for absorbing blood. One would think her actress, Mila Kunis, would know herself which side does which.
  • The magic ticket from Last Action Hero is said to come from Harry Houdini. This couldn't be farther from reality, since Houdini was a staunch opponent of all things supernatural and acted pretty much like a debunker would today.
  • 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.
    • Agent Smith mentions his contempt for humans, claiming that humans are the only creatures that don't instinctively seek an equilibrium to stop population growth, saying they are more like viruses than mammals. Many mammals have gone extinct through overpopulation, when something happens to the population of their predators, and many others have reproduced out of control when introduced to a new environment (rabbits in Australia for example).
  • In Nightbreed, a character warns a civilian about "claymores" (a type of land mine) in the area. The camera cuts down not to a land mine, but a grenade connected to a tripwire. A little more subtly, on top of that, its blue detonator marks it as a dummy grenade.
  • In a slightly more esoteric Critical Research Failure, The Numbers Station has the transmissions being read live by a real person, who's also the one doing the encoding—in her head, for all that she has a perfectly good computer on her desk. Modern Numbers Stations only use live readers if their voice synthesizers break, and it would be a critical security failure to allow anyone who's ever seen leaving the bunker to see the clear-text versions of the messages. Plus, a computer can do the encoding much faster, and with no possibility of error.
  • 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. Ever watched the Discovery Channel, Patch? It'd be more accurate to say that humans are the only ones who bother to feel bad about it.
  • The Peacemaker: In this film dealing entirely with problems arising from the fall of the Soviet Union, the writers don't bother to check a post-Soviet map of the world, and include crossings of the non-existent Russo-Iranian and Russo-Turkish borders as critical plot points.
  • In Plan 9 from Outer Space, Eros informs the heroes that "a ray of sunlight is made up of many atoms." Light is made of photons.
  • 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.
  • Saving Mr. Banks has a moment where P.L. Travers is given a stuffed animal of Disney's design of Winnie-the-Pooh, and bemoans the quality of the Disney shorts. Saving Mr. Banks is a film about the making of Mary Poppins. The first of Disney's Winnie the Pooh shorts wasn't released until a full year after Mary Poppins had been released.
  • Swordfish: Gabriel Shear rants about Dog Day Afternoon, and how he would have liked it to end differently, with hostages being shot, yet Dog Day Afternoon was based on a real event, and made an effort to depict those events realistically. Though not confirmed as intentional, this might as well be a demonstration of how out of touch the villain is.
  • This Island Earth has this line: "It's only Neutron. We call him that because he's so positive." Neutrons of course have no charge.
  • 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 scene of Yellowstone inflating like a balloon in a matter of seconds and exploding like a nuclear weapon, clearly indicating they didn't even bother to get online and look up just what a supervolcano is. An earlier draft of the script presents an even more absurd depiction, in which the ground just drops away to reveal a buried volcanic crater, which then erupts.
    • 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?! This is not even getting into the film's claims about De Vere writing Shakespeare's plays...
  • In Vantage Point, Moroccan Muslim radicals want to assassinate the President of the United States. While part of Morocco was a Spanish colony at one point, Moroccans did not adopt Spanish names, nor do Spaniards who convert to Islam retain their Christian birth names.
  • In Resident Evil the Red Queen computer explains to the protagonists how the T-Virus works by reanimating cells. It then goes on to explain how some cells are still alive after a body dies, and says that a person's hair and nails keep growing after they die. That fact is actually an old disproven myth. Hair and nails don't keep growing, but as the skin dehydrates and shrinks around them, it gives that illusion.

  • Dan Brown is so egregious, he’s got a trope named after him:
    • Angels & Demons, while famed for a sister trope, has many examples. 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.
      • Another one is Gunther Glick, the so-called "British" journalist. Amongst several indications that Glick is an American pretending to be British (and failing badly at it), in an Imagine Spot about his future success he likens himself to Dan Rather. Even granted that his career in journalism makes him one of the very few Brits who have heard of Rather, somebody who imagines their own future success will liken themselves with someone with whom they're familiar (in this case, Trevor McDonald), not someone who is just a name or a face on a few video clips.
    • 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.note 
      • The Cathedral of Seville and its belltower, the Giralda, is a climatic location in the novel. Brown describes the cathedral as "11th century Gothic" and claims that it was built like a fortress with a single door to fend off attacks from the Moors. Gothic architecture is from the 12th century. The cathedral is from the 15th. It was built with the express purpose of being the largest cathedral in Christendom and boasts seven massive gates; at the time this happened the Moors were a hundred miles away and incapable of threatening it (and had they been capable, hiding in a church with a single entrance and no possibility of escape doesn't make a sensible strategy; the city had walls and castles for that). In the 11th century? Seville was ruled by the Moors, who obviously were in no hurry to build cathedrals. The Giralda in the novel has narrow, dangerous steps, while in real life it is famous for having no stairs but ramps expressly built to allow horses to climb to the top. The chase scene begins when all the parishioners get up to receive communion as soon as mass begins; in Catholic mass, communion is administered near the end.
      • Brown learned at some point that Christopher Columbus is buried in the Cathedral of Seville. Or maybe Santo Domingo. So, being ignorant of Catholicism beyond the fact that he's supposed to hate it, he made the logic leap that Columbus was made a saint. And everyone knows that Catholics chop up saints to make them into relics, right...?
    • The Dragon in The Da Vinci Code is Evil Albino marksman Silas, whose backstory includes getting arrested for murder in a port city of his native France, being sent to prison in Andorra, escaping during an earthquake and falling asleep in a train to Oviedo, Spain where he is rescued by a missionary from Madrid, Manuel Aringarosa, who has been sent to build a church for Opus Dei with his bare hands. Aringarosa names him Silas after Paul's companion because of his miraculous escape from jail during an earthquake. Once again, Dan Brown manages to hit all the wrong notes at once:
      • Albinism causes bad eyesight and even worse marksmanship.
      • Andorra is its own country, not a special prison for French citizens.
      • There is no train in Andorra. The nearest line goes to Barcelona and would need several train changes to reach Oviedo.
      • The very idea of someone sending a Catholic missionary to Asturias, the historical and religious heart of Spain, is ridiculous (a Spanish saying goes that 'Asturias is Spain, and the rest conquered country'). Oviedo is not the village claimed in the book but a city and the seat of an archdiocese, home to a 400 year-old archbishop's palace and over 60 churches and chapels.
      • Opus Dei is a lay order and does not have churches of their own. If this is supposed to be a Catholic church, its construction would be ordered by the head of the diocese, that is, Oviedo's archbishop, not someone in Madrid.
      • The biblical Silas was in jail with Paul when an earthquake hit the prison. He did not escape (he was on the stocks, like Paul), and neither did any other prisoner because everyone chose to continue hearing their preaching rather than gaining their freedom.
  • 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 does eventually get 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.note 
    • And the Macedonian general Pyrrhus had gone to war with Rome two and a half centuries before the Romans invaded Britain. Pyrrhus's troops employed "that unbreakable formation ... the Macedonian formation" in that war, and ended up being rather badly broken in the last battle. The Romans went on to beat phalanxes very often in the next century, conquering Greece.
  • 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 
  • The author of Dragons Lexicon Triumvirate tries to make Dennagon seem smart by making him recite scientific facts. This backfires at times, such as when he claims that "velocity is distance multiplied by time".
  • Ender's Game: Col. Graff says 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.
    • Even accepting light as meaning 'electric lighting', the latter two were invented by relatively large groups of people intentionally trying to create a specific effect long known to be realistically possible, and given that it was independently invented in several widely separate areas and adapted from an existing technology (pottery wheels) the same probably applies to the wheel. None of them were invented by a single inventor or researcher with special insight.
  • Lauren Kate has a lot of factual errors in her Fallen series.
    • In Rapture there is a following scene: Moscow, 1930s, (Orthodox) church of Christ the Saviour. The main character is waiting for a mass to start. The church is full of waxed wooden pews and organs are playing. First of all, there were no masses in this church at that time, since Stalin's regime was actively fighting religious belief. Secondly, in Orthodox churches are very few benches, usually at the back, for elderly or ill people. The rest stand during the whole mass (and kneel, when appropriate). Thirdly, there are no organs in Orthodox churches. Or any other musical instruments. People sing and that's all.
    • Also Rapture. Egypt 3100 BCE. The Egyptians use iron chains. No, they still used bronze.
    • Fallen in Love. Mediaeval English village smells of boiling potatoes. Wrong, since potatoes first appeared in Europe in 16th century and became food staple even later. The review site Smart Bitches, Trashy Books coined the phrase “potato rage” for reactions to this type of gross anachronism.
    • Unforgiven. A girl from a Danite tribe in 1000 BCE presumably can read and write, since her father gives her a book with "parchment pages" to write her songs in. Impossible.
    • Also Unforgiven. The author describes "Russian samovar" as if it was a device to keep food hot - one of the characters takes the lid off and inside is an iron skillet with shakshuka. Wrong. Samovars are like kettles, they have always been used to boil water (traditionally for tea only) and then keep it hot.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey:
    • E. L. James' incorrect depiction of BDSM (she doesn't seem to grasp that the sub's consent every step of the way matters, that Christian Grey's constant state of rage does not indicate self-control at all, or that any alleged dom who lashes out at his partner in anger as he so often does would be blacklisted by those in the Lifestyle).
    • At one point, Ana drives south from Vancouver, Washington to get to Seattle, which is north of Vancouvernote .
    • In Fifty Shades Darker:
      • Christian's personal private investigator tells him that Leila Williams has obtained a concealed-carry permit for a gun. Ana concludes (and Christian agrees) that this means that Leila can simply buy a gun. A concealed-carry permit has nothing to do with whether someone can buy a gun. Second, when it comes to concealed weapons—and by the way, there are states where having pepper spray in your purse is considered "carrying a concealed weapon"—Washington state is what is known as a "shall-issue" jurisdiction. That means that yes, you can get a concealed weapons license—but you have to meet very strict criteria. Leila does not qualify for five reasons: she is on record as Christian's stalker, and has been for a year; he has a restraining order against her and she's not supposed to come anywhere near him; she has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution; she is a fugitive from two mental institutions; and she's been on suicide watch since Grey broke off the relationship with her. All of these items would not only disqualify her from getting a CCW in even the most lenient jurisdiction, it would also prevent her from buying a gunnote 

        Also, in Washington state, Leila needs the following just to apply for a concealed-carry permit: a valid, government-issued photo identification (for example, Washington driver license or ID card). If you don’t have a Washington State driver license or ID card, you must provide proof you have lived in the state for at least the last 90 days. Well, Leila has neither a Washington driver's license nor a state ID, and not only hasn't she lived in the state for ninety days, she's a fugitive.

        That's leaving out the problem of her buying the gun legally in the first place.

        Just to apply for a concealed-carry permit, Leila would have to walk into a county sheriff's office or a town/city police department. The sheriff or cops would fingerprint her and do a background check. For a non-resident of Washington, that would take about sixty days. Yet she is supposed to have obtained the concealed-carry permit the day before...despite having first been confirmed to have been in the state the previous Thursday. The timeline just doesn't fit.
      • Ana says that Christian is "intent on being first to market with a wind-up mobile phone." Well, he's not going to succeed. Know why? Because Swiss watchmakers Ulysse Nardin teamed up with European company SCI Innovations to develop the world’s first mechanical mobile 2009. It's 2011, in-universe. He's trying to develop something that's already in existence.
      • Mia Grey, Christian's sister, tells Ana that he was expelled from two different schools for beating up other students. There would have to be a hearing before expulsion, and his parents would have to specifically waive the hearing—which it's unlikely his lawyer father would do. And if there was a hearing, here are all the rights Christian would have had. Expulsion's not casual and it doesn't happen instantly. There's also an appeals process.

        Here's the reason for keeping a kid out of school in Washington state while he's appealing his expulsion. The kid is "an immediate and continuing danger to the student, other students, or school personnel or an immediate and continuing threat of substantial disruption of the educational process of the student's school." So Christian isn't some "poor sad disturbed boy"—he's too dangerous to have in school.
  • Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park:
    • Dr Sattler reveals to the vet Gerry Harding that the Stegosaurus' pupils are dilated, which is treated as a mighty revelation rather than as evidence that he's clearly not a very good vet, since this is a basic test.
    • The novel ends with the Costa Rican government sending in their military to bomb the island with napalm. The problem is that Costa Rica is notable for being the one country in the world that constitutionally forbids a national military. They wrote that constitution in 1949.
      • The actual mistake is calling it a military force. Costa Rica did have a Gendarmerie referred to as the Civil Guard at the time of publication (it wasn't dissolved until 1996), which did indeed have a small force of helicopters. The kind of large scale bombardment shown in the book would still be out of the question (Crighton gave them the right helicopters, he just didn't seem to know they only had one or two of each).
  • 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 raises the question of exactly how the Romans conquered places like Britain without ships.
    • For a list of Roman fleets, click here.
    • The series then tops itself by claiming Minerva was a minor god to the Romans. Those of you who play Assassin's Creed will be aware, she was one of the three deities important enough to warrant a statue on Capitol Hill. Those of us who are into Roman history know it too. Minerva was a very important goddess in Ancient Rome.
  • There are two classic ones in Lord of the Flies:
    • The boys use Piggy's glasses to focus the sun's rays and hence start a fire. Piggy is short-sighted; short sight is corrected with lenses of negative focal length, which cannot bring light to a point.
    • In one scene, the sun is setting while a thin crescent moon rises. A moon which rises at or around sunset in the tropics can only be a full moon. It is entirely possible in further north though, which is what the author would be more familiar with.
  • Maximum Ride. Anyone who knows anything about Game Boys could tell you that they don't have downloadable games, and certainly wouldn't have a bunch of them pre-installed if they did. And that you don't sell the display copy of a game console.
  • In Julio Cortázar's story "The Pursuer" ("El Perseguidor"), the main character dies of an overdose of marijuana, which is impossible. Cortázar acknowledged this mistake.
  • Larry Niven is famous as an author of "hard" science fiction, but even he isn't immune to the occasional whopper. In Ringworld, 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.
    • The Ringworld itself is scientifically flawed. At least one reader pointed out that a solid ring-shaped object cannot orbit a sun, and would soon drift out of alignment and crash into it. This required a technological fix in later books in the series.
  • Ratman's Notebooks: The narrator says repeatedly that he does not know how to tell male from female rats. (Rodents reach sexual maturity at six weeks. After this time, you can recognize males from the far side of the room.) There are several references to “furry-tails”, implying that the author thinks gerbils (who really do have furred tails) are a variety of rat.
  • Sidney Sheldon's The Sands of Time: The riveting story of neverending war and liberal revolution by the Catholic Church against Franco's dictatorship in Spain! The problem is that the Catholic Church was the main supporter - and beneficiary - of Franco's dictatorship. And the history of the Catholic Church ever backing anything that could be considered remotely liberal or revolutionary in Spain is somewhat lacking, to say the least.
    • One thing the book can't shut up about and keeps bringing over and over and over is the claim of Francoist forces raping nuns, murdering priests and ransacking convents during the Spanish Civil War and after. These were actually cornerstones of Francoist propaganda about what their enemies did, although the Republicans did shoot a lot of priests.note  The apparent source of Sheldon's mistake is the (real) execution of 16 Basque priests by Franco's forces, but he is oblivious to the fact that these 16 were executed for being Basque nationalists and Republican loyalists as a result, not for being priests (or even Basque). In fact, one thing the Vatican is criticised about is that, to this day, they still have to acknowledge these priests and others murdered by Franco's forces as victims, while they honor those murdered by republicans every few years.
    • The only other opposition group in the novel is the Basque separatist group ETA (who seems to be made of about six people and is all about Basque autonomy, not independence). Though Famous-Named Foreigners are rampant through the novel (and when not, they are called Juanito or Patricko - yep, with a 'k'), the only character with a Basque surname is Arrieta, the right hand man of the evil Spanish Colonel Acoca who hates Basques. The main ETA trio are named Jaime Miró, Felix Carpio and Ricardo Mellado.
    • Said ETA members are also vocal fans of El Cid, bullfighting, gazpacho and chorizos. In fact, everyone is such an over the top Spanish stereotype (and so in love with ETA, unless they are a member of the army or government) that readers should be excused for scratching their heads while wondering why is there a Basque identity at all. Though there is mention that the Basques "want their own language" (whatever this means), the only Basque words in the book are ETA's full name Euskadi ta Askatasuna — and it's misspelled.
    • The book is set one year after Franco's death, but there is no notion of political reform to come. In fact, the evil fictional prime minister that succeeds Franco seems to have greater powers than Franco himself, ordering hangings of separatists without even a mock trial, and gloating at his accession that his mandate will be the destruction of separatism. For added surreality, he's named and physically modeled after Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo, the blandest and most forgettable of Spain's heads of government after Franco.
    • As for hanging, it was abolished as an execution method in Spain in 1828.
  • 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 (it's Ankara).
    • 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 fact, one of the reasons why T.E. Lawrence had so much success in the Middle East back in the day is that Turks and Arabs generally don't play well together.
    • The only Turkish name in the entire book is the protagonist's friend's last name, Demir. Demir's first name is Amesh, an Indian name.
    • Turks are described wearing turbans, if male, and burkas, if female. Neither is Turkish attire. Turkey is actually a very secular state that tries to keep Muslim influence to a minimum, although Islamic fundamentalist movements have gained some traction there in recent years.
  • In the '70s horror novel The Sentinel, author Jeffrey Konvitz talks about translating Paradise Lost from the "original Latin". Yeah, John Milton was from this place—you may have heard of it—called England.
  • 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.
  • In Richard Lewis's 1980 eco-horror novel The Spiders, the author is constantly referring to the title creatures as "insects." Arachnids are significantly different from true insects.
  • 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.
  • Tarzan fought a tiger when the tale was first being released as a periodical. A reader complained that there are no tigers in Africa and E. R. Burroughs changed it to a lion in the novel version. Disney's Tarzan went even further and changed the lion to a leopard, because lions live in open spaces and are thus absent from the thick, dense African jungle, while leopards can be found in both.
  • The Tom Clancy's Op-Center series is a list of commissioned novels spun-off a list of "next big conflicts" from The '90s that uses Clancy's name to sell books (Clancy himself was only partially involved in writing the first book). Every line not in English is a "Blind Idiot" Translation, the exotic native models mentioned are made up weapons with the foreign words for "handgun", "rifle" or "caliber" as their name, and the ghost writer doesn't waste two seconds to look up what the given next big conflict is actually about.
    • Acts of War or, "what if PKK commandos from Syria blew up the Atatürk Dam?", has Turkey, the second largest army in NATO, being unable to even field enough men to watch its southern border, let alone fight PKK raids without being bailed out by America and Israel. Said PKK members are all stereotypical Muslims with Arabic names, despite PKK being a Kurdish nationalist, communist, and atheist organization.
    • Balance of Power or, "what if there was a Yugoslav-style ethnic war in Spain?", fails the moment the author doesn't know what is Yugoslavia, what is Spain or what is an ethnicity. The handpicked "ethnic groups" (Catalans, Basques, Castilians, Galicians and Andalusians) are described as being identical in culture, language and distribution in Spain, differing instead in social standing and skin color, like the traditional race castes of Hispanic America. The Op-Center agents that intervene in Spain are selected because they have experience in Mexico, Haiti, Panama and Cuba, but not Europe; two of them, one white and one black, manage to pass themselves as Spaniards because one learned Spanish in Mexico City. The country is an over the top Banana Republic, with nearly every adult male being either an extortioner working for a crime family of a corrupt cop asking for a bribe, and the only reliable ones work for Interpol, which does all the things Interpol does in fiction but not in real life. So-called historical grievances between ethnic groups are either made up or half-remembrances of the Basque conflict (described instead as something closer to The Troubles in Northern Ireland or the Colombian conflict, depending of the needs of the plot), and the movie El Cid, with the mythical murder of a 11th century king of Castile by his brother being treated as if it had a crucial relevance to modern Spanish society. El Cid is the Spanish national hero because he threw out the Moors and unified Spain in the 11th century, George Washington or Joan of Arc style. San Sebastián, one of three provincial capitals in the Basque Country with over 180,000 inhabitants, is described as a Castilian village of shepherds and fishermen and "a resort, not an urban center". Madrid is inhabited by Catalans and hated by Castilians because of it. The villain is a former member of the rabidly anticommunist Franco's staff and wants to be like him, yet he is also a leftist who worked with the Soviets in Afghanistan, because there cannot be a villain in a Clancy-esque thriller that isn't a communist. His plan to seize power involves taking over Madrid's Royal Palace (a museum with no strategic value) and surrounding himself with the Royal Guard, which is treated as the elite unit of the Spanish Army rather than a bunch of bodyguards in fancy uniforms. Meanwhile, the people of Madrid flee the impending battle by flocking to the Almudena Cathedral, which is the building next door in real life. The crisis is solved by drafting a new Spanish constitution that devolves autonomy to its regions, something Spain already did in the late '70s-early '80s. The interest of the writer for getting facts right is evidenced a mere 4 pages in, when the narrator briefly describes the Spanish Civil War and manages to confuse what side was the rebel and what was the loyalist.
    • Mission of Honor or, "what if there was another Rwandan Genocide in Africa?", has the team intervening in Botswana out of concern that the two thirds of followers of traditional religions will subject the one third of Christians to genocide. The real proportion in the country is the opposite. The plan of said anti-Christian rebels to eliminate Christianity from the country is actually taking a Catholic mission hostage and blackmail the Vatican into recalling all missionaries from the country, apparently unaware that the vast majority of Christians in Botswana, a former British colony, are Protestants. And don't think the author has forgotten about Spaniards: again he mentions Spanish crime families and swarthy faces, and also claims that the Madrid Accords were a secret pact between the Vatican and the King of Spain to put the Spanish military at the service of the Catholic Church whenever it had trouble in the Third World.
  • 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 Clutch Plague and still retained their wealth. Anyone who's ever taken a US History course would know 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. Although that usage still makes sense, Meyer still has the use of "reign" confused: later in the book a girl holds up a boy's hair "like reigns," and a reign with a G isn't something you can touch.
    • In Chapter 19 of New Moon, we get this passage about St. Marcus Day in Volterra, Italy: [Alice Cullen] chuckled darkly. "The city holds a celebration every year. As the legend goes, a Christian missionary, a Father Marcus — Marcus of the Volturi, in fact — drove all the vampires from Volterra fifteen hundred years ago. The story claims he was martyred in Romania, still trying to drive away the vampire scourge. Of course that's nonsense — he's never left the city. But that's where some of the superstitions about things like crosses and garlic come from. Father Marcus used them so successfully. And vampires don't trouble Volterra, so they must work."
      • First, there was no "Christian missionary to Volterra" in the fifth century A.D. There was no need for one. Catholicism, which hadn't split into Roman Catholicism and the Greek Orthodox Church yet, was legalized by the Emperor Constantine in 313 A.D. (or Common Era, if you prefer). And it became the state religion of the Roman Empire in 382 A.D. As a matter of fact, during the fifth century CE, Volterra was the residence of a bishop, and the bishops kept that power in Volterra until the twelfth century.
      • Second, Volterra does have a celebration every year in honor of their patron saint—San Giusto. St. Justus, it would be in English.
      • Third, the celebration isn't centered on the cathedral. There's a parade, a tug-of-war, and a city-wide foot race where participants hold lit candles while they run.
      • Fourth, it doesn't happen on March 19th, either—which is Saint Joseph's Day, by the way. It takes place on June 5th, probably because the weather is nicer on that day than on Saint Justus's real feast day—November 2nd.
      • Fifth, Volterra's actual patron saint doesn't have a thing to do with vampires—not in his life, and not as a patron saint invoked against them. This is significant, because some saints are enemies of vampires. St. Roch is prayed to in Poland to keep vampires at bay. And St. Sisinnius, the Virgin Mary and the Archangel Michael are invoked against the gello (a special kind of vampire-demon that steals and eats children).
      • Sixth, St. Marcus could not have been martyred in Romania in the fifth century CE, because Romania didn't exist then. Romania was formed from the provinces of Moldovia and Wallachia in 1859 and was named Romania in 1866. In the fifth century, the area would have been divided into two regions: Dacia Ripensis (a military province) and Dacia Mediterranea (a civil one). Dacia Ripensis flourished particularly well, becoming the birthplace of a noted fourth-century Christian theologican. Then it was captured in the 440s—the fifth century, in other words—by the Huns.
      • Seventh, it would have been difficult for this to be the origin of crosses as anathema to vampires when Bram Stoker wouldn't invent the prototype of this trope (specifically regarding crucifixes, not crosses in general, being that Stoker was a Catholic) until 1897. The Romanian legends of the strigoi had no such weakness.
    • Meyer's research failures extend to not even glancing at a globe. In Breaking Dawn, Edward and Bella honeymoon on the west coast of Brazil — Brazil only has an east coast.
    • For all that Bella supposedly reads the classics, she sure doesn't get much right about them. In New Moon, she contemplates what would have happened if Romeo had fallen in love with "Rosalind" instead. Rosalind was from a different play than Romeo entirelyRosaline is the character Romeo initially takes a shining to. Worse, this mistake happens twice, meaning Meyer's editor missed it both times, as well.
    • And then there's Jasper Hale.
      • First off, according to Chapter 13 of Eclipse, Jasper is described as being nineteen and the youngest major in Texas. Sorry, Meyer, but he wasn't. At least three guys who signed up circa 1861 at the age of sixteen or seventeen received battlefield commissions to captain, major, colonel and even general within the next two years. Apparently it was pretty easy to get promoted during the Civil War; if an officer in your unit died and you brought back most of the men alive, you tended to move up in rank. Also, the youngest major general in the Confederacy—a guy who outranked a brigadier general—was twenty-three. So Jasper being a plain old regular Confederate major at nineteen means very little.
      • However, it's unlikely that Jasper got any battlefield promotions, because Jasper was a Confederate major in Texas. Until about mid-1863, Texas was largely a supply depot. Know how many Civil War battles were fought in Texas? Five. And four involved naval operations.
      • Jasper also says that on the night he was turned—which he claims that he remembers very clearly—he was moving some civilians to Houston and then went off to Galveston to round up the last ones. The problem with this? Galveston is in the opposite direction from Houston, its harbor had been blockaded since the war started, and oh, yeah, it's an island. How he thought he was going to get across the harbor, past the blockade, onto the island and back again without any help or transportation remains a mystery.
    • Chapter 14 of Twilight says that Rosalie found Emmett when he was being mauled by a grizzly bear in Appalachia. Word of God says that he was living in Gatlinburg, Tennessee at the time. The problem is that there aren't any grizzlies in Tennessee and haven't been for hundreds of years. There are bears in Tennessee, yes—but they're black bears, which are rather shy of humans.
    • The series contains numerous errors in basic medicine, anatomy and physiology. For instance Carlisle applies antiseptics after a wound has been closed, when it is utterly useless, and his go-to pain killer is always some form of morphine even in cases when a different analgesic would have a better effect or an opiate simply isn't called for (not to mention doctors cannot simply walk around with opiates in their pockets as they desire).
      • In Breaking Dawn Renesmee demands blood as Bella's main supply of nutrients during the pregnancy. Nevermind the fact that everything a baby receives from its mother in-utero is delivered via the bloodstream so that's all she'll be getting anyway, blood itself holds only what nutrients it picks up from the body's digestive system. Carlisle and Edward, both medical doctors, make Bella drink blood in order to sate the foetus. Her digestive system would destroy much of it before it even reaches the part of the system where the nutrients are picked up by Bella's own circulation and carried further to Renesmee (not to mention Bella would likely just throw up from drinking human blood). The reasonable decision would be to transfuse Bella. Reading the books you'd think a direct line runs from the mother's stomach into the womb and the baby's mouth.
    • Hilariously, the one thing Meyer claimed to have researched, she clearly did not. She stated in an interview that the only research she did was to google "vampire" for when Bella did it, but if you do none of the things Bella mentions turn up. It seems unlikely that it was very different in 2004.
  • Robert Muchamore falls into this quite egregiously when writing about rock music in Rock War. The band the lead female character is recruited into is first said to play 'thrash metal' - an extremely harsh, heavy, usually fast-paced style of metal with emphasis on guitar riffing. He then goes on to say the band has keyboards (which are not a feature in thrash metal line-ups, and would make the girls a melodic death metal band at best), has extremely short songs (a staple of grindcore, hardcore punk and sometimes brutal death metal, but seldom thrash metal), has melodic vocals (which are, for the most part, not present in thrash - making the girls' genre more akin to power metal or traditional metal) and cover songs by Rage Against the Machine. By this point, anyone who has even the slightest knowledge of metal sub-genres is rolling their eyes. It is likely Muchamore took exactly long enough to find out what the heaviest 'mainstream' metal genre was, and just dropped it in to make the girls' band seem edgy and rebellious. In truth, rich 14 and 15-year-olds are far more likely to be playing Paramore-style pop punk or riot grrl punk rock; using these genres would have made the band and characters a lot more believable and won the author cred points with metal fans.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Adam Ruins Everything:
    • The series does indeed cite its sources, however critics (and fans even) have pointed out that the show tends to only use sources that agree with the argument they are trying to make, along with omitting things entirely and/or drastically simplifying them.
      • In the episode about dog breeding, the fact that several dog breeds who are purebred are known for long lives.
      • The quoted interview where John Ehrlichman claimed racial motivations for the drug war came to light from the man who did said interview but only decades after it had occurred and after John himself was dead and thus unable to say if he had ever said those things, things his children and colleagues all claim he would not have said. The show itself presents the quote from the interview as a undisputed fact.
      • The "Electric Cars" episode pointed out that the electricity comes from the grid - which does not do much more to mitigate the carbon footprint due to how much electricity is produced by things such as coal, oil, or natural gas. This is ignoring that electric vehicles are sold in countries besides the United States and Canada which have far less "polluting" electric grids. It also neglects to mention how much goes into refining the oil before it can be used.
      • Ruins Summer fun features Adam making the claim that Nintendo had to market video games for boys because they had to pick a side. Nintendo They didn't. Most retailers like Walmart and Target, even in the 1990s, placed video games right next to the toy section in their own aisle - which eventually grew to the catch-all "Electronics section". The ads are also all shown to be towards boys, but it ignored a LOT of marketing that was just for "kids".
    • In Ruins college, he makes the claim that anyone is technically eligible for financial Aid, and that millions of dollars is actually wasted every year because students do not fill out FAFSA. As the comments on the YouTube video clearly display, loads of students do in fact fill out FAFSA, but are dismayed for being told that their parents either make too much, or instead receive applications for loans.
  • 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 season two of Arrow, Laurel Lance is the prosecuting attorney for Moira Queen's trial. In the real world, this would never happen because her presence could get any conviction overturned on appeal, considering not just that she is the ex-girlfriend of Moira's son (who publicly cheated on Laurel with her sister, leading to said sister's death) but also the fact that her boyfriend was one of the victims. In fact, even the fact that the trial was in Starling City is suspicious, in the real world, there probably would have been a change of venue, because it would be impossible for Moira to get a fair trial in the city she tried to destroy.
  • The Big Bang Theory
    • One episode has Sheldon wanting to become friends with his rival Kripke because Kripke could grant him access to special equipment. He goes to a book store and asks for books about making friends, and is told that all those books are in the children's section. Apparently the writers have never heard of the world famous book "How to Win Friends and Influence People," or the concept of self help books in general.
    • In another episode, Sheldon fills his office with hydrogen sulphide and ammonia in an attempt to drive out Raj. Raj retaliates by lighting aromatherapy candles, but accidentally ignites the flammable gases, causing them to explode. However, hydrogen sulphide is highly toxic, and the concentration needed for it to ignite is 43 times higher than the concentration required for it to kill a person. Therefore, the amount Sheldon produced would have also been more than enough to cause Raj and Leonard, who was also in the room, to instantly collapse.
  • Blackadder takes plenty of liberties with history under Rule of Drama and Rule of Funny, but in one episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, its stated that General Melchett has raised Speckled Jim, his pet pigeon, since he was a child, and the episode kicks off when Blackadder kills him. Melchett is in his 50's at least, and a pigeon's maximum life span is under 20 years. The Blackadder wiki speculates that the original Speckled Jim died, and Melchett was given another pigeon (possibly more than once), and was simply too stupid to notice, which is far more believable.
  • 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 was possible for an actual honest-to-goodness star to hit the Earth come December 21, 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, but it was more likely a coincidence since, like some other creators named on this page, Joss Whedon boasted about not doing any research.
  • In season 12 of Criminal Minds, an important childhood event for Dr. Tara Lewis is that, while at a school in Germany, she had to correct everybody's pronounciation of her name since they automatically pronounced it wrong ("Terra"). In real life, the pronounciation she insists on is the one that would come natural to native German speakers. A german boy teased her by repeating the "wrong" pronounciation over and over escalating to that boy beating up Tara's brother and painting a swastika onto her locker. The swastika would get a student onto the short list for being expelled, given that the symbol is out-lawed and even scribbling it into one's own papers would get a student into trouble. Also, German schools don't have lockers, making the whole event appear to be scripted for a US school and the moved to Germany.
  • 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. Not only that, the people who made the game could get arrested for refusing to help the police.
  • 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.
    • An even more egregious example came in the 2014 episode "Kill The Moon" which shamelessly breaks the Willing Suspension of Disbelief several times over.
      • The Moon's mass increasing tenfold caused "high tide everywhere at once". Quite apart from the question of where the extra water is supposed to come from, anyone who knows anything about lunar tides knows that they bulge out along the line to the moon, not in all directions. Also, the Moon having an Earth-like gravity should have made a tidally-locked binary system.
      • The "giant single celled prokaryotic bacteria" has teeth, hair, saliva, and joints, which are features too complex for a prokaryotic organism, and downright impossible to have if the entire thing is just one cell.
      • The entire concept of the Moon being an egg. An egg is a closed system with the same mass from when it's laid to when it hatches, meaning the Moon could not have just suddenly gained extra mass out of nowhere.
      • The egg breaking apart harmlessly, despite logic dictating that the gigantic shell bits should now rain down on Earth as fire meteor chunks (this is especially bad because one of the characters is treated as morally deficient for pointing out the danger and not expecting the deus ex machina dissolution). Also, the strange lack of flooded continents, despite tides having been mentioned as a problem.
      • The egg creature flying away at the end, by flapping its "wings". In space. Which is a vacuum. There is no possible way flapping wings can gain any propulsion without mass to propel against.
  • 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.
  • The Flash (2014) episode "The Sound and the Fury" is full of chess metaphors, but the actual game between Harrison and Hartley disregards the rules. Harrison, in check, moves his rook in front of Hartley's king, which is illegal because it doesn't remove the threat to his own king. Even if it were legal, it would only put Hartley in check because Hartley could have taken Harrison's rook with his knight.
  • Forever
    • In "Hitler on the Half-Shell", we see Henry's flashback to 1812, where he learned his father was involved with the slave trade. However, it had been abolished in 1807, and there's no indication this is illegal trading. This builds on the error in the pilot episode, in which Henry is shown on a ship carrying a black man described as "property" some time after 1814 (Henry narrates his first death as "almost two centuries ago" speaking from 2014). To add insult to injury, the ship is flying an out of date British merchant ensign - the ensign clearly lacks the cross of St Patrick, which was added to the flag in 1801 after the Act of Union with Ireland.
    • In "The Man in the Killer Suit" the fake aristocrat claims that he's not a Lord, he's a Viscount, despite the fact that a Viscount is by definition a Lord. His fake passport also, incorrectly, contains the title "Viscount". Given the amount of research the woman training him did to help him with his role, you'd have thought she'd spend five minutes checking Debrett's, which would have prevented these errors.
  • In Friends, Phoebe's boyfriend David ends their relationship when he takes on a scientific grant of some kind in Minsk, which he excitedly declares is in Russia. Even the cheapest world atlas would demonstrate Minsk is the capital of a different country bordering Russia, Belarus, and one made before 1991 would have still marked it as the capital of the Byelorussian SSR and a city in the USSR, not Soviet Russia.
  • Full House: One particular episode features Joey cleaning out his car and finding a number of baseball cards. Included in this list is a Nolan Ryan card, which DJ gives to Scott. Later, its mentioned that a Nolan Ryan rookie card sold for over $3,000 and Scott goes to try and find it. There are two issues with this one, number one, Nolan Ryan's 1968 Topps rookie card was a two player card featuring Ryan and Jerry Koosman, who is not mentioned at all. Second, the only way the card would be worth $3,000 is if it was in "near mint condition" or 8 on a scale of 10 in terms of condition. Since it was in the back of Joey's car for a number of years, it is next to impossible for a card to be near mint.
  • 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 the 90's sketch comedy series In Living Color!, the recurring skit "Men on Film" featured two Camp Gay men reviewing contemporary films and tv shows. Whenever the movie/show had female leads, the men would say in unison, "Hated It." One small problem: many of the movies and shows they hated are actually very popular with gay men even to this day, such as The Golden Girls, Roseanne, and Thelma & Louise. Granted, knowing this would have required the writers to actually be familiar with gay culture rather than just using it for easy laughs. Values Dissonance indeed.
  • 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.
  • A plot point in Legends of Tomorrow has Legends accidentally stopping George Lucas from directing Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, the second of which was actually directed by Steven Spielberg.
  • 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.
  • The O'Reilly Factor:
    • In an example that produced no fewer than two memes, O'Reilly claimed 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."
    • A viewer wrote that the average life expectancy in Canada is higher than in the US. Bill replies that this is only natural... then makes a statement that would fit right in as a "spot the flaw in the logic" problem in an elementary school math class: 'The USA has ten times as many people as Canada, leading to ten times as many violent crimes and accidents, leading to a lower average life expectancy.'
  • 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.
    • Though in fairness, the Aeneid does at least feature the rescue of Helen (as part of the flashback in book 2) whereas the Iliad ends before the rescue of Helen. And the Iliad is specifically stated from its opening line to be about the Wrath of Achilles.
    • Another something one would expect Kryten to know is how to pronounce ASCII (e.g. ass-key), which stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. Actually, he thinks the "II" at the end is a Roman numeral, so he calls it an "A.S.C. 2" code.
  • 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.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise has the Season 2 episode "Carbon Creek", which implies that Velcro was given to humanity by the Vulcans. Being a recent invention, the invention of Velcro is very well-documented. To be fair, the episode did hint that T'Pol was telling a made up story.
  • 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 (they might have mistaken meters for yards)note . Joked about in Picard's last appearance, Star Trek: Nemesis — Picard and his clone both lament not having reached two meters in height.
  • Seinfeld: In "The Contest", Jerry watches Tiny Toon Adventures, singing along to "The Wheels on the Bus", a song that has never been on the show, acting as if the show is meant for toddlers.note 
  • Sleepy Hollow features a character who was born and educated in England in the late 18th century:
    • “It’s Middle English. I studied it at Oxford.” (No, you didn’t. The history of the English language was not taught at Oxford until late in the 19th century.)
    • The gravestone of the main character’s wife says “Burned as a witch”. (No, she wasn’t. Witches in what is now the United States were hanged, not burned.)
  • Stargate SG-1: In "Between Two Fires", the SGC gets an ion cannon to defend the planet against Goa'uld ships in orbit. However, the cannon can only shoot line of sight, so the planet still has a large blind spot. Samantha Carter calculates that they would need 38 cannons at minimum to effectively protect Earth. Considering each cannon has 180-degrees laterally and longitudinally to aim, you would only need 4 cannons to cover all the blind spots on a sphere. It's possible she meant that only one cannon protecting a given region of space would be insufficient; an attacking force might destroy the sole cannon targeting them.
  • Supernatural: 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. This creates an interesting situation that is just this side of Accidentally Accurate in that it is technically possible but extremely unlikely. Dean can't actually have type O blood as the type A and B genes are dominant, so Dean should have inherited one or the other from his father and have either type A or type B blood. However, it is possible that Dean has the very rare h/h blood type also known as "Bombay blood" (denoted as h/h or Oh). People with Oh blood are missing the H antigen which is the precursor the A or B antigen. So an individual with Oh blood will appear to have type O blood even if they have the genes for A or B antigens because they simply can't make them. Basic blood tests won't pick up the difference, so Dean could have "type O" blood.
    • However, this explanation would complicate the show a little bit. People with Oh blood can't actually accept type O blood because it contains the H antigen. People with Oh blood can only accept blood transfusions from other people with Oh blood. Which, again, is rare. Like, generally only about 0.0004% of the population rare. So having Oh blood would pose a pretty serious problem for somebody in a dangerous profession that would almost certainly require blood transfusions at some point.
  • Averted in the episode “Jess-Belle” of The Twilight Zone (1959), when an Appalachian witch turns herself into a leopard—with spots—instead of the geographically plausible monochrome mountain lion. On the leopard’s last appearance, a character observes “I’ve never seen a wildcat with spots.” note 
  • 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.
  • White Collar
    • The pilot revolves around the counterfeiting of "Spanish Victory Bonds", some rare 1944 bonds issued by the US government "to support the Spanish underground in their battle against the Axis". But the Axis did not invade Spain during WW2, a neutral (and Axis-leaning) country through the whole war, and while there was a Spanish underground against The Franco Regime in 1944, the US never supported it financially or diplomatically. The plot could have been easily saved if the writers had explained the bonds' rarity as a result of the US government considering intervention in Spain and then cancelling it for some reason, but we are told that these bonds were printed in Madrid (what underground controls the nation's capital?) and then hidden in Cantabria's Altamira Caves, which would mean that the Axis invaded Spain from the south.
    • The Season 4 two-parter premiere "Wanted"/"Most Wanted" has Neal hiding from the FBI in Cape Verde. In a bizarre case of Latin Land, this episode is filmed entirely in Puerto Rico and there is no attempt to hide it. So while Cape Verde is correctly stated to be a former Portuguese colony, everyone speaks Spanish and has Spanish names. And in spite of Cape Verde being off the coast of Africa and a former hub of the Slave Trade, with a 78% Creole and 21% Black population in real life, the only black people seen are the American FBI agents trying to find Neal.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess was famous for playing fast and loose not only with myths but history and religion as well, often lampshaded in the scripts, but the worst example has to be the episode "One Against an Army" (based on the film Zulu and the battle of Rorke's Drift), in which Thermopylae (remember 300?) is located between Marathon and Athens) and the Persians are said to have arrived in three-masted "tall ships".
  • 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.

  • 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. The main language of Liberia is English.
  • Singer Mitsou wrote a song called "Les Chinois" which describe how the Chinese know how to make love and we should do the same as them. It obviously reference the Kama Sutra, which is actually Hindu not Chinese.
  • Neil Young has a song called "Cortez the Killer", in which he praises the pacifist and egalitarian... Aztecs!? Yes, he 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." Suffice to say, 16th century Aztec stone buildings are far surpassed by 1970s technology.
  • 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. note 
  • The song "The Legend of Xanadu" by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch sets the named city in a desert land, and has a Spanish/Mexican feel, especially the intro. Xanadu (modern preferred transliteration: Shangdu) was the summer capital of the Khans (the winter capital was what is now Beijing) hence is in China, a mostly temperate country.
  • The entire song "King Midas in Reverse", about a character who has the Midas talent but "with a curse" ("everything he touches turns to dust"). When he wrote that song, Graham Nash missed the Aesop of the Midas legend, that the ability to turn things into gold at a touch is itself a curse if not controllable; how would such a person eat or drink?
  • Jerry Goldsmith's score for Under Fire makes heavy use of panpipes to go with its Latin American setting of Nicaragua - except that panpipes aren't used in Nicaraguan music. Interestingly, Goldsmith actually knew this, but panpipe music was used in the movie's temp track and a film company executive commented to Goldsmith how well they worked with the movie, and the composer agreed.

    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 one strip of Square Root of Minus Garfield.

    Pro 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 in that Canadian hockey has some people that resemble cheerleaders, they just don't call them cheerleaders...
  • WCW boasted that an album of a group known as Three Count had gone Platinum. Fair enough. Then Evan Karagias claimed an upcoming second album of there would be more successful than that, going not double platinum but gold, to the amusement/bewilderment of anyone who knows anything about album sales.
  • Vince McMahon, pleased with the success of Rey Mysterio on SmackDown, decided he wanted another high-flyer luchador. So he hired Ultimo Dragon and then got upset when he discovered Ultimo Dragon really was not a high-flyer at all, which shoud've been obvious to anybody within the wrestling business (such as McMahon) with a knowledge of wrestling outside the United States, as Ultimo Dragon is a Japanese wrestler, and Japanese wrestling, or puroresu, is bound to entirely different dynamics to those of Mexican lucha libre. 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.
  • During WWE's Monday Night War series, The Miz inadvertently took a shot at his own company by suggesting the women of the 1980s did nothing interesting, conveniently forgetting Wendi Richter was almost as big as Hulk Hogan during the time and subterfuge involving The Fabulous Moolah had to be used to stop her.
  • Scott Steiner once asked "Remember when Pearl Harbor bombed the Germans?" Though this was almost certainly intentional, making a Shout-Out to John Belushi's famous line from Animal House with the twist of Steiner's own insanity thrown in.
  • Damien Sandow's character was that of 'the intellectual savior of the masses', a highly-cultured Insufferable Genius who claimed that he was superior to everybody else. His merchandise included a T-shirt with the slogan 'I > U: The Sandow Equation'. Unfortunately an equation, by definition, must include an equals sign. Sandow should have been smart enough to realise that his mantra was an inequation.

  • 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 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 Stripperiffically 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.
    • Particularly infamous is the Space Phenomena themed deck. Amongst other glaring errors, it states that the Moon was spotted in 1651, Ganymede was discovered before the Sun, and asserts that Halley's Comet has negative mass. Somehow.

  • 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.
    • 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.
  • In one promotional appearance for the then-upcoming Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Julie Taymor went on record saying that she was drawn to the character of Spider-Man because of his long-running popularity, as he remained beloved by audiences since his creation in the 1950's. Nearly everyone with even a passing knowledge of Marvel superheroes knows that almost all of them debuted in the 1960's, and more serious fans could tell you that Marvel Comics didn't even exist in the 1950's (the 1950's were an infamously bad decade for superhero comics, occupying the slump between the Golden Age of Comics and the Silver Age of Comics).

    Video Games 
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask sometimes came packaged with the promise that the game is for 1 to 4 players. The manual and official guide clarified that the game is for 1 player only. Couldn't research your own game, huh guys?
  • In Mega Man 8, the English voice actors pronounce the name of Mega Man's rival not as "Bass" the sound, but as "Bass" the fish. Considering the number of references to sound in the names of Mega Man characters, it's baffling how Capcom got this wrong.
  • Total War tends towards accuracy, which makes its shortcomings all the more glaring.
    • Sieges in the early modern period required the careful and continuous digging of trenches to shield oneself from heavy artillery housed in fortresses and move one's own siege guns up to the curtain wall, and the thick, low, sloped bastions of trace italienne fortresses were almost immune to field artillery. Even when the wall was breached, attackers were often hesitant, since it would mean advancing through overlapping fields of artillery fire from the bastions. However, in Empire: Total War and it's successor, it's the bastions that will break under light artillery fire in under three minutes, while the curtain wall is generally indestructible. This leaves the assault force relatively safe from overlapping fire, and makes fortresses a questionable investment, when in the Early Modern Period, they were so essential that states bankrupted themselves to pay for these fortifications.
  • The reason why the 8th gen Paper Mario games only have Toads as a recurring friendly species is because producer Kensuke Tanabe thinks they're the only allies Mario has in the main series, and has encouraged his fellow staff to think likewise. Even a quick glance towards early gameplay of several main series games quickly demonstrate the utter falsehood of this belief, with species such as Piantas, Nokis, Jibberjays and Whittles, among many others.
  • 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 greatest 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 note . The writers ignored the defensive benefits of those Pokémon's typings, and four of the Pokémon they mentioned this on can learn moves of their type by TM note .
  • 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, and 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.
  • Scratches takes place around the 1970s. This setting has led to two mistakes.
    • When Michael Arthate keeps calling the bank, the employee on the other hand eventually answers the phone with the words that he will call the police if Michael keeps calling. Given the above setting, the employee's phone would not have any Caller ID, making it impossible for him to know that it's Michael calling, without even saying anything.
    • One newspaper article talks about how a large amount of money was stolen, with the currency listed as Euros. The Euro currency was not established until 1999, a good 20 years after this game takes place. There's also the fact that Britain never took on the Euro currency and has retained using Pounds, making this a double-whopper of a mistake.
  • Spec Ops: The Line:
    • The Dubai civilians in the game all speak Farsi, which is not commonly spoken in the entire Arabian Peninsula. Arabic is the official language of the United Arab Emirates.
    • CIA agent Riggs justifies his decision to kill everyone in Dubai by stating that if the world ever knew what Colonel Konrad and his men did in order to maintain order in Dubai, every country in the middle east would declare war on the US, and the US would definitely lose. This doesn't work from either a story or factual standpoint, because A. Konrad's 33rd had disobeyed orders and gone rogue long before they started killing civilians, so no reasonable country could hold the US responsible for their actions, and B. No middle eastern country has the resources to attacks the United States in an all out war. This leads to the fairly popular Alternative Character Interpretation that Riggs was deluding himself to justify doing horrible things, which is the central theme throughout the game.
  • 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: it completely omits the whole "trainer-Pokémon trust" dynamic that plays a critically thematic part of the franchise (especially in the Generation V titles), claims that Ash wants to imprison Pikachu in a tiny Poké Ball for the rest of his life even though Ash never put Pikachu in a Poké Ball, and has the Pokémon supporting Team Plasma despite the fact that they were revealed to have less than savory ulterior motives in the previous game. Moreover, N, one of the few characters whose ideology does align with PETA's mission at least until he realized the error of his ways in the first game never makes a single appearance to support the player's liberation campaign!
  • One of the various news bulletins in Tomodachi Life claims that children attend kindergarten at age 0.
  • The 8-Bit adventure game Sherlock (successor to The Hobbit (1982), using the same game engine) was based on various details from the stories. Sadly, Mitchell and Megler got one detail wrong — they assumed that Leatherhead was a fictional town, hence the heroes travelled to it from King's Cross Station, placing it somewhere to the north of London. Leatherhead (like nearly all towns in the Sherlock Holmes stories) is real; and is in Surrey, to the south-west of London. Try travelling there from Waterloo next time, guys. (They also sometimes misspelled it "Leather Head".)
  • In EA Sports UFC 2, Russian martial artist Khabib Nurmagomedov is shown doing the Sign of the Cross, a Catholic gesture, in his victory pose. Nurmagomedov is a devout Sunni Muslim. He is of Avar descent, which has been predominantly Muslim for centuries. EA quickly apologized and fixed the mistake in a patch.
  • The reason why Sonic the Hedgehog has Super Drowning Skills is because lead programmer Yuji Naka thought that hedgehogs couldn't swim. Too bad they didn't have Wikipedia back in 1991, because a quick skimming of the article on hedgehogs plainly says they can. note 

  • 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 
    • In his Castlevania series, he mentions the plot of Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow but talks about Dawn of Sorrow, which a sequel to Aria that takes place about a year later and doesn't feature Dracula's Castle. His "fatal flaw" in Castlevania 64 is actually his own inability to try hitting the "interact" button (which is surprising, since he made it that far); instead, he had tried to use the items from the menu, which is for items you use on yourself.
    • On a making-of video, he revealed a particular blunder from his review of Street Fighter 2010 wherein he said the final boss looked like Grimace from Sesame Street. Grimace is from McDonald's. Fortunately, a friend had caught the mistake before the video went live.
    • Other, non-AVGN videos from James Rolfe sometimes have similar errors. His review of Yokai Monsters: Spook Warfare incorrectly identifies it as the first film in the series when it is actually the second, totally misses the fact that the monsters in the film are characters from Japanese mythology rather than original creations, and features a lot of misconceptions and false assumptions about Japanese culture and how it relates to western culture. He also mistakes the "hopping vampire" archetype as a Japanese invention when it is in fact Chinese.
  • In their video about sexuality, Extra Credits they talk about how tired the trope of a tough male with a feminine side is. In a quick visual montage of examples, they show Final Fantasy XIII's Lightning, who anyone looking at the character can tell you is female.
  • 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 Irate Gamer claims a lot of these, including the fact that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time was only released on the Super Nintendo.
  • 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.
    • Often overlooked: Jimmy's battle with Hitler and "President Japan" takes place on a military base in Tokyo, China.
  • Matthew Santoro:
    • In "20 Reasons Why NOT to Be 'In Da Club'", Matt says that if you're at a club and you fall anywhere, you should just assume you have AIDS or herpes, because of all the broken glass lying around. In reality, falling on broken glass lying around is extremely unlikely to give you AIDS, as that has only happened a few times.
    • In "Catching Up: With Matt! (#1)", Matt says that Mexico is part of South America, but it's actually only part of North America.
    • In "10 Famous Paintings with HIDDEN CODES!", Matthew refers to Hades as a "Greek goddess." However, Hades is a Greek god, for he is male.
  • The Mysterious Mr. Enter
    • He 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.
    • In his videos on the Worst Cartoon Themes, he refers to the theme song for Street Sharks as bluegrass. This is the Street Sharks theme. This is bluegrass.
  • 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 his review of Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "Yesteryear", Chuck claims that the series was perhaps best known for the infamous audio clip of Shatner arguing with a producer over the pronunciation of the word "sabotage". Said audio clip was actually from the recording session for the video game Star Trek: Judgment Rites, not Star Trek: The Animated Series.
  • 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, and several of the Marine Red Shirts beginning in the first game have identifiably Latino accents, 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.
  • Epic Rap Battles of History: It could probably be chalked up to Rule of Funny, except that this series is usually so well-researched that almost every line is a reference to one of the rappers' lives. Mr. T calls Mr. Rogers a "40 Year Old Virgin." This is just wrong. Fred Rogers married at the age of 24, and had his first son at the age of 31.
  • Death Battle tends to get a number of their information wrong about various characters they're pitting against. One that was actually caught and changed concerned Tony Stark and being genetically altered to be a transhuman savior of the universe. That was actually his brother Arno Stark and Tony was adopted to fool the one doing so.
  • In the 2007 YouTube classic "SpongeBob In China", a parody of SpongeBob SquarePants which satirizes the Chinese economy, SpongeBob explicitly states that Patrick works in a factory. However, Patrick is wearing a conical hat, whose purpose is to protect outdoor workers from rain and sun.
  • Some Call Me Johnny
    • In his review of Pokémon Red and Blue, he mixes up a photo of Satoshi Tajiri (creator of Pokemon) with that of Tsunekazu Ishihara (the president and CEO of The Pokémon Company). Not a huge offender, but it's still a failure in research.
    • Another minor one appears during his Pokémon Gold and Silver review not from Johnny, but from co-reviewer Ryan when they question some of the evolution methods. Ryan then takes a potshot a Generation 4 for its use of trade evolutions which has existed since the beginning of the series and has appeared in every generation. Even worse, this was said when the Porygon line was shown on-screen, which received its first evolution by trade in the same generation they're reviewing.
  • One editor on the Disney Wiki reckoned that all cameos in Wreck-It Ralph movie are either Disney or Nintendo. They even gave among the "Nintendo" examples, Pac-Man and Dig Dug — both of which are Namco. This edit also ignored the Qix (Taito) and Q*bert (Gottleib), amongst other decidedly not-Nintendo examples. Even better is the fact that Sonic and Dr. Eggman are from a series made by a former competitor of Nintendo's and never appeared on a Nintendo console until the early '00s.
  • There is a YouTube video called Romance Languages Explained. Oh boy, where to begin? According to this video, there are only five Romance languages: French, Italian, Romanian, Portuguese, and European Spanish (apparently, Latin American Spanish is not a Romance language because it’s “a different dialect”). This claim is made all the more bizarre by the fact that we are later shown a list of many more Romance languages. Also, Romanian is supposedly much closer to Latin than to the other Romance languages because “Salut, ce mai faci?” (Romanian for “Hello, how are you?”) is obviously much more similar to the Latin translation “Salve, quid rerum geritis?” than to its French counterpart “Bonjour, comment allez-vous?” Yeah, don’t you see the similarity? True, the Latin "salve" is somewhat similar to the Romanian "salut", but the word "salut" also exists in French. You may also notice that the Latin phrase doesn’t make much sense because the creator of the video uses Google Translate for everything. The video goes on to say that Vulgar Latin is “difficult to untangle.” Why? Well, the author simply shows us a tree of the Satem branch of the Indo-European languages and goes, “Look at how complex this is!” What the Satem languages have to do with the supposed difficulty of untangling Vulgar Latin is anyone’s guess. The real kicker is the claim that German (yes, we’re suddenly talking about German, a Germanic language, in a video that is supposedly about the Romance languages) is “derived from a contraction of Greek and Latin” (whatever that means — for the record, Greek is a Hellenic language (and, in modern day, the only living one) and German, which is more closely related to English than either of those, didn’t descend from either of those languages) which is somehow the reason that German words are, according to the narrator, “abruptly harsh.” Oh yeah, and “German languages” are also difficult to untangle, which, apparently, we “can see.” No explanation beyond that is given. All this is rounded out with baffling and irrelevant deviations discussing things like the Schengen Area. The people on the subreddit /r/badlinguistics had a field day with this video.
  • In Lady Jess's crossover review of The Jazz Singer with The Rap Critic, she briefly discusses heroines in young adult novels, putting up images of their covers. Problem is, half of them have male protagonists (I Am Number Four, Beastly, The Maze Runner, Harry Potter, and The Hobbit). This is all the more egregious by how the male lead of Harry Potter is right on the front cover on the image and The Hobbit (which isn't even a YA book) has no female characters.
  • A Chain Letter which circulated in the late 1990s promised that if it were kept going until the millennium, all participants would get their names listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. Apart from the obvious fact that what goes in GBWR is solely up to Guinness Superlatives and nobody else, there are a few other points:
    • Guinness can and sometimes does reject records which it considers undesirable or unwholesome (for instance, all food-consumption categories have been retired). A spam-related record is likely to fall foul of this.
    • Guinness only publishes names where the record is held by an individual or a very small group; where there are hundreds or thousands of holders, it would be tedious and pointless to name every last one, so they are acknowledged only as "[X number of] people".
  • The 101 Facts About Space video uploaded by 101Facts has A LOT of inaccuracies that would make astronomers and space enthusiasts cry, but by far the most egregious example on the video is fact #23 where the speaker says it would take a spacecraft 70,000 years to reach the Sun. This is completely false. It's been estimated that it would take today's fastest spacecraft less than a year to reach the Sun. And while no spacecraft to date has ever reached the Sun directly yet, the closest any spacecraft had ever gotten to the Sun was Helios 2 during its closest approach in April 1976 at a distance of 0.29 AU (that's closer to the Sun than Mercury), a mere three months after it had launched. In addition, several other spacecraft had also crossed distances in our Solar System greater than 1 AUnote . The 70,000 year claim is only true for the other closest star system to us called Alpha Centauri.
  • Channel Frederator's "107 Facts" videos occasionally have rather glaring cases of misinformation. One particular example is claiming that Dan Castellaneta voiced Squidward Tentacles in some episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants instead of Rodger Bumpass, when the only source of information claiming that was an article for an upcoming episode that turned out to be a hoax. Another damning case was in their video containing 107 facts about Scooby-Doo, where they acknowledged that Fred Jones' voice actor Frank Welker did voice work for The Transformers and the Transformers Film Series, but claimed that he voiced the character Barricade in both of them. G1 Barricade was a toy that came out a good while after the Generation 1 Transformers cartoon ended, and the Barricade of the live-action films was in fact voiced by Jess Harnell.
    • Their video about Transformers had many wrong claims too:
      • The most obvious one is when they say that Transformers Animated is the show where Bumblebee can't talk, when actually that is in Transformers Prime.
      • It also claims that the Diaclone toyline was a spinoff of the Microman one when they were actually two separate franchises... and when they talk about the Microchange Cassette Man that was used as basis for Soundwave they show the AM Radio Robot, the basis for Blaster!
      • They claim that the plot of the episode of The Transformers "Auto-Bop" was recycled from the G.I. Joe episode "Cold Snake". The title of the latter episode was actually "Cold Slither".
      • At a certain point they say that the Autobots befriend a Witwicky in "Every incarnation of the G1 series", giving the implication that the Michael Bay movies are intended as a G1 reboot, when they're their own thing.
      • In multiple moments, when talking about the toys, they often show pictures of newer toys implying that they're the original G1 figures, such as the Generations Jetfire and Masterpiece Ironhide. In a similar fashion, when mentioning that Brad Garrett voiced Trypticon, they show his Transformers: War for Cybertron incarnation rather than the G1 one, and when talking about Optimus Prime's death in the Marvel Comics they show panels from the IDW one-shot The Death of Optimus Prime.
      • Arcee is mentioned as the first female Autobot ever introduced to the franchise. Actually, the episode "The Search of Alpha Trion", who came before Arcee's introduction, already featured four female Autobots (Elita-1, Chromia, Firestar and Moonracer).
      • When saying that Frank Welker voiced Ravage, they say the growls were recycled for his appearance in the 2007 movie... except Ravage appeared only in Revenge of the Fallen.
      • Talking about Transformers: Robots in Disguise, they claim that both Bumblebee and Sideswipe have "Scissor doors" in altmode, just like the DeLorean. The kind of car doors the DeLorean haves are actually called "Seagull doors".
  • In Rooster Teeth's podcast, episode #371, Burnie goes on a rant about NASA's discovery of 55 Cancri E, complaining about how NASA can announce so much detailed information about the surface of a exo-planet over 40 lightyears away when they are still unable to confirm if there is or isn't a 9th unknown planet in our own solar system. Quite a lot of viewers chimed in to point out that it's easier to see planets in another solar system than in our own because a distant solar system can be observed all at once.note 
  • This article from Game Informer about video game characters that don't deserve their own games clearly shows that the writer has not heard of either Kid Icarus game. Several comments posted even point this out. The fact that 2 years later, a 3rd game would later come that would reuse Pit's design from Super Smash Bros. Brawl might also count as Hilarious in Hindsight.
  • In the Feminist Frequency YouTube essay series, Anita claims that Betty DeVille from Rugrats is a Straw Feminist in her episode on the eponymous trope, which anyone who ever watched an episode of the show featuring her can tell you is blatantly false. Betty was nothing more than a masculine woman with a feminine husband. The fact that all the other examples in the video are correct just makes this even more infuriating for any Rugrats fan.

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur's Perfect Christmas has Mr. Read planning on preparing a dinner based on what people would've eaten at the first Christmas. Arthur imagines having to eat a disgusting looking hunk of camel, but he needn't worry because camel is not kosher food.
  • Archer is famous for its pop culture references, but the characters still screw up their facts a few times.
    • In one episode, when discussing the world's worst co-worker, Pam suggests Bishop from Aliens, even though Bishop was extremely helpful to Ripley and the marines, and served as one of the film's main protagonists. If they wanted an evil android co-worker from the Aliens franchise, they probably meant the traitorous Ash from the previous film, Alien.
    • While hunting in the snow, Archer is initially scared of the Predator, before reminding himself that he only hunts in tropical jungles. However, the whole premise of Predator 2 is a Predator loose in a city.
  • 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. South Africa, Singapore, Cote d'Ivoire, Central African Republic, San Marino, Vatican City, and various countries in Oceania (such as Samoa or Tonga) are also not mentioned, and Transylvania is mentioned as a separate country from Romania.
    • Also, the Korean peninsula is made up of two separate countries: The Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or South and North Korea as they are often referred to as.
    • One of the countries mentioned is Dahomey, a country that ceased to exist a century before the episode was aired.
    • Czechoslovakia is mentioned, although it was already split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, although in this case it's likely the song was recorded before the split, as they officially became the Czech Republic and Slovakia January 1, 1993, and the episode featuring the song aired in the fall of 1993.
    • USSR splited up into several independent countries back in 1991. It's still looked like USSR on the map, but called Russia. All other countries, like Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan etc., wasn't mentioned at all. Ouch.
  • 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.
  • The main character in Back at the Barnyard is Otis, the male cow. He has udders.
  • 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.
    • In "Dan Vs. New Mexico", it depicts skyscrapers in Santa Fe, the state covered in saguaro cacti, and the state fair in the middle of nowhere despite it being held annually in the much bigger city of Albuquerque. The most egregious example of CRF is Dan's plan to fill the hot-air balloons with hydrogen and then igniting the gas, causing an explosion. Despite Dan calling them "hot-air balloons" out loud, they act like oversized latex balloons, although the ends are never tied up after being filled. Even then, the balloons expand and burst like latex balloons. In real life, hot-air balloons float because of hot air, so it's not designed to be airtight. What produces the flame are cans of propane that sit in the basket, so he didn't need to go out of his way to hijack a hydrogen truck. Even without propane, he could have simply used a box cutter to shred the balloons so that none of them would fly.
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
  • In the King of the Hill episode "Bobby Goes Nuts", when trying to punish Bobby for kicking Hank in the groin, Peggy gets kicked in the groin by Bobby and just smirks at him when in reality it should have hurt just as much despite her lack of testicles.
  • 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 head 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 Family Guy episode "Road to Germany," they make a jab at modern American politics by saying that America didn't attack Germany for building nukes because they didn't have any oil. Everything about this is wrong. 1) Germany's project to make an atomic bomb ended before WWII began. 2) During WWII, the U.S. and Britain did attack Germany's atomic projects (which were not focused on making bombs then, but on making reactors). 3) President Roosevelt did not order the bomb research project on an accelerated basis till December 6th, 1941, the day before the Pearl Harbor attack. All U.S. research up till then was concentrated on the question of whether a bomb was even theoretically possible. 4) In WWII, uranium could be obtained from Canada and the Belgian Congo. Radium was extracted from uranium ore, and uranium itself was used in pottery, as a glaze ingredient. 5) During most of WWII, Germany controlled oil fields in Poland and Romania. 6) The U.S. was actually a top exporter of oil, helping support nearly all the fuel for the Allied war effort.
    • A Back to the Future cutaway has George Mc Fly accuse his wife of cheating on him with "the guy that set [them] up" because she insisted on naming their son Marty after him. Anyone who actually watched the film would know that Past Lorraine only ever knew time-travelling Marty as her friend "Calvin Klein", because he never used his real name.
  • Popeye
    • Maybe it's a case of creative liberty, but the Al Brodax 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 the Famous Studios short "Big Bad Sindbad" of 1952, Popeye and his nephews go to a museum where they are watching statues of some famous sailors across history. Among them is, apparently Noah, and the pedestal under his statue reads "The First Great Sailor"; Noah built his ark not to sail, but to take cover from the great flood along with his family, and the animals that came in pairs.
  • Justice League
    • Some Atlanteans attempt to melt the polar ice caps to destroy the surface world. As in all of it would be submerged. There is not enough water on Earth, whether solid, liquid, or gas, to even come close to accomplishing this.
    • In the finale, Clark asks the Thanagarians about the machine they're building 'in the Gobi desert'. Later, the location shows up on the Watchtower's radars in northern Africa. That's the Sahara Desert - the Gobi is in eastern Asia.
  • South Park: In the episode "Go, God, Go!", a Catholic family scolds Principal Victoria for teaching evolution at her school. The Catholic church supports evolution (as do countless Protestant denominations), and Catholic schools do indeed teach it.
  • In the X-Men episode "Days of Future Past, Part 2", Gambit travels to Washington, D.C.. But the monitor shows the state of Washington (with Washington, D.C. captioned right below).
  • Even Ms. Frizzle on The Magic School Bus has gotten her lessons wrong on occasion, as this video shows.
  • In the "Pinky's Plan" episode of Pinky and the Brain, Pinky attempts to throw a surprise party for Brain featuring various world leaders. This includes Prime Minister Brian Mulroney of Canada, who by that time (1996) had been out of power for about four years.
  • In The Simpsons:
    • One episode has Homer accidentally eat a poorly prepared Fugu (blowfish) at a Japanese restaurant. He was then told he'd be dead by the next day and there was no way to survive it, and the episode treats it as a standard poison. On the one hand, poison doesn't last that long — if you survive ingesting potentially lethal poison to the next day you've probably metabolized it safely. On the other, it's irrelevant, because Fugu poison is a neurotoxin that causes death by paralysis and then asphyxiation, not generic poisoning, and it's very survivable granted you get medical aid (if you can get assistance breathing when the paralysis sets in you can survive until you metabolize it, though it has long-lasting, crippling effects). It's also illegal to sell fugu in the United States. Even in Japan you have to have a certificate.
    • An early episode focuses on a mutant fish that grew a third eye due to nuclear pollution. Burns nicknames it "Blinky" and it displays its ability to blink its eyes in sequential order. However, pretty much everyone knows that fish don't have eyelids. While the fish is a mutant, no one ever implies that the eyelids are part of its mutation. However, later episode show a rhinoceros hatching from his egg and a giraffe coming out of a hole so being a cartoon applies to animals too.
    • In "The Regina Monologues" Sir Ian McKellen is cursed with bad luck from the Simpsons saying MacBeth and wishing him good luck. Traditionally, it's only considered bad luck to say these things inside the theater, and they're standing outside of a theater.

In-Universe and Invoked examples

  • 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 

    Comic Books 
  • 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 
  • Jack Of Fables often notes the hero's lack of understanding of history or science. He boasts of himself before a battle like Napolean at Waterloo or the defenders of the Alamo "and like them, I will be victorious."
  • Team Fortress 2 comics:
    • In 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 lead-contaminated water for over a generation.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Calvin has to do a report on bats, but being the typical lazy six-year-old that he is, he does absolutely no research on them. He assumes bats are bugs because "they fly, right? They're ugly and hairy, right?" Despite literally everyone who hears this telling Calvin that bats aren't bugs, he refuses to listen (“Look, who’s giving the report, you chowderheads… or me?”). Predictably, he fails the assignment. 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 six-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, which he wrote the morning before class despite having a week to work on his report:
    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.
  • One The Far Side cartoon caught fire for its inaccurate depiction of mosquitoes. In the cartoon, the hardworking (mosquito) husband comes home after a long day at work and comments to his homemaker (mosquito) wife how he 'must have spread malaria all over the country'. The problem is that only the females suck blood and spread malaria. However, the comic depends on the depiction of stereotypical suburbia, so swapping the genders around wouldn't have worked either.
    • Gary Larson's visual depictions of historic figures or celebrities are often so strikingly off the only explanation is he could not be bothered to even glance at a photo or paining of them for reference before drawing. A cartoon depicting Albert Einstein playing basketball as a young man, for instance, portrays the famously bushy-haired scientist as balding, while one depicting "Henry VIII on the dating scene" depicted the king, who is probably one of the most visually recognizable monarchs in British history, as a generic, bald cartoon king with a crown and robe but no hair or beard (a simple beard was later sketched in for some later reprintings).

    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 Oshima (an extremely minor character who tries to threaten Ichigo, only to get taken down by Chad), 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).
  • Turnabout Storm:
    • Phoenix Wright 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.
  • In With This Ring In-Universe example with Senator Knight's proposal to ban magic after the 'deaths of thousands of children' in Displaced. Senator Knight didn't know that literally anyone can learn magic and he could found this out by asking Zatara, a Justice League member with a public address who is a magic specialist. His name became synonymous with obliviousness and ignorance when Orange Lantern calls him out on it in a live interview.
  • Supper Smash Bros Mishonh From God shows various examples in relation to the games that Smash Bros are based upon. The most egregious examples are in 'The REEL Sekwel', where she believes Pacman is a Pokémon and Captain Falcon is a villain in Fire Emblem.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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!"
    "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. Sharp-eyed fans have noted that's not the only thing wrong with the scene—the woman's hair is wrong, her attire isn't quite period-appropriate, and so on... and so they've theorized the many minor mistakes is that Nick Fury wanted to know how much sharpness Captain America lost during his long sleep.
  • 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.
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: When Charlie's incompetent math teacher is lecturing about percentages, he gets annoyed when Charlie claims to have eaten 2 chocolate bars (out of a theoretical 1000 bars.) The teacher blusters that he can't make a percentage of just two out of one thousand, when in fact he can: 2 bars out of 1000 is an 0.002 portion of the total amount, multiplied by 100 makes it 0.2 percent.

  • A Series of Unfortunate Events:
    • 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.
    • Earlier in the same book, Esme defines "individual practitioner" as "a life of crime". Even baby Sunny knows that she's completely off the mark (and, funnily enough, provides the correct definition).
  • At the end of the Belisarius Series, top spymaster Narses is sent to China as an ambassador. He asks which kingdom he should be heading for, as there are sixteen kingdoms making up China at the time. Only one problem: the Sixteen Kingdoms period had ended a century earlier, and never had more than ten kingdoms present at any one time. The person he's asking says it doesn't matter (the important thing is that he not be present in India anymore), but that he'll find there are rather fewer kingdoms to choose from.
  • 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." That should be diamonds.
  • Pick Up Sticks: This trope is the murder motive. It seems the killer didn't realize the land he'd bought for a new vacation resort was part of the Appalachian Trail. Thatcher points out at the end of the novel that if the killer had done any local research, he would have learned that. note 
  • 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.
  • In There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom the titular boy gets in an altercation with a few other boys. Afterwards, he claims he gave one of them three black eyes.

    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?"
  • An episode of Class has Matteusz draw a comparison between the characters' situation (fighting amongst themselves after they're forced to tell the truth to each other) and Susan Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia, citing the scene in which she magically overhears a friend gossiping about her (which ruins their friendship). Except this didn't happen to Susan, it happened to Lucy in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
  • 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.
  • Baroski correcting the Sons of Anarchy on the use of the term "Persian" is both intentional and unintentional. The country has officially been called Iran by the West since 1935 and by the East long before that. However, some of its people culturally self-identify as Persian. It would be acceptable to call the pornographers Persian if they identify as such, but it's never made clear if this is the case. If the Sons are also unaware, it would be better to refer to them as Iranian (while most Iranians are ethnically Persian, minorities of Arabs, Azeris and Kurds also exist). Baroski's claim that "Persia hasn't been a country since 637 AD" is incorrect; the Persian Empire fell that year, but that doesn't mean it ceased to exist as a country.
  • 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.note 
  • Supernatural: Dean loves cowboys (perhaps a bit too much), but he has no idea how they dressed.
    Cas: Is it customary to wear a blanket?
    Dean: It's a serape. And yes.
    • He refers to a poncho as a "serape" (they're similar, sort of, but they're constructed differently, worn differently, and were invented by two different cultures), treats it as street clothes (it was cold-weather gear), and wears it in the Midwest (it was Southwestern). Naturally, when the brothers have to travel back in time to the days of the cowboy:
    Cowboy: Nice blanket.
  • This sketch from That Mitchell and Webb Look. Many faults are pure and simple Artistic License – Sports, 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 a year that isn't even in the 14th century, 1172. Though thanks to the qualifier of "after", he is not technically wrong.
    • Neil never sleeps because he thinks sleep causes cancer.
  • Characters on The West Wing are consistently getting called out for this; it's usually 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 eighteenth 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?
He has a point. He deals with political messaging. The person to ask for information about the White House as a building would be a tour guide, which means that whoever decided he needed to talk to the class about it had their own failure.
  • The Last Man on Earth: In-universe. OK, fine, Tucson is Phil #1's hometown, but as Phil #2 points out, it's high on the list of the worst possible choices for a post-apocalyptic abode on the North American continent.
  • When Power Rangers Ninja Storm's Rangers first enter the fray, the usually smart Lothor protests that nobody told him there were Power Rangers on Earth (he's referring to active Rangers, as his initial plan was based on attacking the Ninja Academies specifically to prevent the activation of any Power Ranger team he knew of, but still...).

  • MC Historical Inaccuracy's verse in Jon La Joie's WTF Collective 2 is based on this trope. It's better heard than read, but here are the lyrics:
    Yo, I'm MC Historical Inaccuracy
    I drop lyrical bombs like Hiroshima in '73
    I write rhymes like Shakespeare when he wrote Anne Frank's Diary
    Which is about the Civil War of 1812 in Germany
    I'm like the Spanish Inquisition when they killed Jesus
    And Abe Lincoln's suicide was the theme for my thesis
    Like Moses when I focus, I can split the Red Sea
    Which he did in 1950 with the Chinese Army
  • The Pink Floyd song "Have a Cigar" has the singer (evidently a recording industry executive) sing the lines,
    Well I've always had a deep respect
    And I mean that most sincere
    The band is just fantastic
    That is really what I think
    Oh by the way, which one's Pink?
    • The joke is that the band name is Pink Floyd; none of the members are named "Pink."

  • 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.
  • In the episode The Big Big Big Ben Bungle of the British political satire The Men from the Ministry Mr. Lamb refers to the "Hunchback of Amsterdam"

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer40000: 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). It also includes a few nods to the series' Gameplay and Story Segregation; for instance, the entry on Orks mentions that despite being musclebound and much bigger the typical Ork is inexplicably no stronger than a typical human (hilariously false in the fiction, completely true on the tabletop). 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 
  • Portal 2 has the Fact Sphere, and, being a corrupted core used to stop Wheatly and create a stalemate resolution, it keeps giving out several incorrect facts constantly, mixed in with genuine correct facts. A whole list of all of them can be found here (Beware of end game spoilers).
  • 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.
      Soldier: And from that day forward, anytime a bunch of animals are together in one place, it's called a TZU! ...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.
  • Bravely Default: Ringabel gives a lengthy analysis to Agnes and Edea about the various sheep races after encountering one. Then Tiz explains that the animal they were looking at wasn't a sheep, but a goat.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV has Playboy X, the leader of a drug crew who fancies himself an intellectual. Niko Bellic quickly realizes, however, that his professed knowledge is dubious at best. Some of his more egregious errors include thinking Dubai is in Africa and that Jesus killed John the Baptist.
  • The Marathon series has Tycho, who often tries to mimic Durandal's penchant for quoting from classic literature in order to appear to be his intellectual equal, but frequently makes mistakes. One of these which Durandal takes great pleasure in pointing out is Tycho's claim that Roland in The Song of Roland was able to break the sword Durandal (after which the character Durandal is named). He couldn't. No one can.
  • In Metal Gear Solid, Snake has a three-way conversation with Naomi and Master Miller where the former talks about her father, claiming that he was an Asian-American FBI Agent who helped perform some sting operations to bring down the Mob in New York during the 1950s. At first Miller rolls with it, but later on he contacts Snake and points out that J. Edgar Hoover would have been way too racist to hire Asians for the FBI, that the first sting operations against the mob began in 1960 instead of The '50s, and that they began in Chicago instead of New York. He uses this to lead in to some information he found that suggests "Naomi" is an imposter and The Mole.

    Web Comics 
  • 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."
  • Misfile: Rumisiel, a slacker angel, claims to be from Canada while on Earth. Normally it's not a big deal, but when he's ecstatic about seeing snow for the first time, Dr. Upton is understandably confused.
    Dr. Upton: This is the first snow you've ever seen? [...] Aren't you from Canada?
    Rumisiel: Yeah... but I'm from, like, the tropical part of Canada. The vast Canadian Empire ranges all far and wide, you know, eh?
    Dr. Upton: ...there's something desperately wrong with that sentence, but I'm too tired to care. Remind me in the future never to talk to you until after I've had my coffee.
    Rumisiel: The Emperor of Canada told me the same thing once.

    Web Original 
  • In one of their top 10 lists, Jalopnik posted that front license plates are "useless". Actually, they are not. In many cases, speed cameras take pictures of a car's front. That is what front plates are needed for: identification of a car in such situations.
  • YouTube channel My Life in Gaming occasionally invokes this in their Retraux-style "How to Beat" videos, such as by mispronouncing terms and by getting the backstory of Super Mario 3D World wrong, to mirror the errors that often occurred in the '80s-era "how to beat" VHS tapes that the series is imitating.
  • Invoked by Some Jerk with a Camera. As he reviews the ABC sitcoms that went to Disney World, he quickly finds they make some blatant errors about the park:
    • The Full House episode has the family meet Donald and Goofy right outside of their hotel when the costumed characters never go that far from the park.
    • In Step by Step:
      • Flash attempts to break the record for fastest time riding every Disney World ride, with his neighbor Mark helping him from the park's control room. While riding the Astro Orbiter, he's advised to not go to Alien Encounter and instead go to the Jungle Cruise because the parade is in progress. Since going to Alien Encounter from Astro Orbiter would not pass through the parade (since it doesn't go through Tomorrowland) but passing through Fantasyland to the Jungle Cruise would, Jerk concludes Mark must be trying to sabotage him.
      • The Indiana Jones Epic Spectacular show fills up and Flash is let in if he plays the part of Indy. This infuriates Jerk, as the show is the most dangerous stunt show in the park and would never let a random novice play such a central role.
      • J.T. and Rich blow all their money on trying to impress girls by treating them to dinner at a supposed Disney World restaurant called Pinetta's. However, Jerk finds not only is there no place at Disney World called Pinetta's, the only dining place he can find with that name in the world is in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
    Jerk: Was it this hard to find an expensive restaurant in Disney World?! The freaking churros have installment plans!
    • The Sabrina episode has her and her supporting cast travel from Animal Kingdom to their hotel room four times in one episode, even though the hotel they're at (the Coronade Springs Resort) is 3 miles away from the park. Roseanne commits a similar error, as the family somehow makes it from their hotel room to Main Street USA in only 14 minutes.
    • During his coverage of The George Lopez Show, a clip plays where George's mom claims she rode the Matterhorn ride while pregnant with him. As the safety announcement played every 5 minutes during the line to the ride shows, pregnant women are heavily discouraged from riding the Matterhorn.
    • In a later series, when reviewing Escape from Tomorrow, Jerk rips into the film after it claims that Disney's turkey drumsticks are actually made from emu. Given that Disney sells roughly 1.6 million turkey legs a year, it'd mean that Disney would have to breed and slaughter over 800,000 emus, more emus than even exist in their native home of Australia.
  • The Third Rate Gamer gives us many examples, parodying The Irate Gamer's above examples, such as claiming that the Super Mario Bros. film is the original and the game is just a cheap licensed cash-in.

    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.note 
  • 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, and he confused Annie Oakley with Little Orphan Annie (well, along with sharing the same name, they were both the subject of Broadway musicals). 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:
    TJ: 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?
  • The Simpsons:
    • Bart calls several 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 solid with the book-learning.
    • One "educational film" features Troy McClure giving an oversimplification of what DNA is. When he's asked what DNA actually stands for, he freezes up and the film abruptly ends.
  • Futurama refers to 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," besides which, in the real world, the original movie is still roundly considered very good by most people who have seen it.
  • In the Imagine Spot short "The Wrath of Waitro", Shaggy and Scooby—er, Commander Cool and Mellow Mutt—escape the villains trap, a vat filled with chocolate pudding, by eating their way out of it. in real life, chocolate is harmful to dogs and all that rich, savory mousse would have killed A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. Fortunately (a) it was all in Shaggy's imagination (b) a young boy legitimately might not know this fact and (c) Scooby being verbal and partly bipedal may mean he can safely eat the stuff, who knows?
  • In one episode of Camp Lazlo, Lazlo is trying to motivate the Bean Scouts to participate in a Pinecone-Sitting competition with the Squirrel Scouts over a mud puddle. He does this by asking if Napoleon gave up the moon to the Swiss.
  • Steven Universe
    • The episode "Chille Tid", Pearl states that it feels like they've been on their mission for "lightyears". Amethyst attempts to be the smart one, but subverts it by stating that "lightyears measures light, not time".
    • When asked why Connie prefers using the library rather than the Internet when researching for school work, she said that the last time she trusted the Internet "she ended up writing an egregious essay that claimed that raccoons have Heat Vision."
  • In South Park, Cartman tries to make it look like the girls jumped him and drew a vagina on his face. However, he failed to realize that vaginas don't have testicles, something any girl would have known. Kyle quickly calls him out on it.
    • A double example, both In-Universe and out-of-universe: at one point, Cartman establishes a plan to ambush Wendy by kicking her in the balls. This, naturally, fails, as she's a girl and therefore doesn't have balls, something Cartman didn't know. However, what the writers failed to realize (similarly to the King of the Hill example above) is that, despite lack of testicles, getting kicked in the crotch hurts just as much for a girl as it does for a guy. Subverted later on when Wendy kicks a girl in the groin and it does hurt.
  • In the Teen Titans episode "Revolution," Beast Boy gets a ton of major details about the Revolutionary War wrong when trying to explain the 4th of July to Starfire, such as mixing up the year it started with the year of Columbus's first voyage and saying that the Boston Tea Party was a literal tea party. Raven responds by asking if Beast Boy learned history from a cereal box. Later, after they've been repeatedly beaten by Mad Mod's robots, Beast Boy says "Now I know how George Washington felt when Napoleon beat him at Pearl Harbor."


    Fan Works 
  • Gensokyo 20XX 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.