Critical Research Failure
Even first graders know this one.
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 and/or a cursory knowledge of the subject realizes the writers made the whole thing up.
Many of these will be Disaster Movies
or Action Movies and will use state of the art computer effects to keep your interest
. This can be Played for Laughs
by having a Book Dumb
character make such an error so that a smarter character can spot and react to it.
Also see Didn't Think This Through
, which is less about research failure and more about planning failure. Contrast with the MST3K Mantra
, which tells us not to worry about these little details, Accidentally Accurate
, which is when non-experts think the creators are wrong, but experts know the creators are right—by complete accident
and Like Reality Unless Noted
, where what appears to be a research failure can be written off as the result of an Alternate History
or Alternate Universe
For Real Life
examples of this in action regarding media, see Cowboy Bebop at His Computer
. More specific failures have their own pages on Artistic License
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- A TV spot for the film Gamer became an Internet hit when it claimed that "the last time Gerard Butler kicked this much ass was 300 years ago." note
- A commercial for Oscar Meyer Franks has a father come home and see his three kids on those electronic gizmos kids use these days. Wanting to spend Quality Family Time, he trips the circuit breaker of his house, knocking the power out and shutting off the older brother's computer, the younger brother's game console, and the sister's cell phone.
Anime & Manga
- One scene in Baki the Grappler involved a character who blinded people by pulling out their optic nerves... by sticking a finger into the side of his opponent's neck and pulling said nerve out. The optic nerve, which connects the eye and brain via a hole through the eye socket, really has no business being there.
- 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?
- Marville begins a descent into utter madness starting in the third issue that includes, among many, MANY other offenses, the protagonists scooping up some water with microbes in it to use as a "biological clock" for their time machine, under the logic that they'll know to stop when the microbes evolve into a dinosaur. It just gets worse from there.
- Superman once multiplied 10x20x16 and got 32,000. That wasn't just math, it was Super Mathematics.
- Hergé was famous for his research, but made a serious error in Tintin and the Prisoners Of The Sun: The Incas, with all their astronomical research, would have understood that a solar eclipse is not permanent. Hergé later regretted this scene and always wanted to correct it.
- Also, Tintin's surprise that Incas still exist. The Incan empire fell centuries ago, but they still exist as a distinct people.
- The original authors of W.I.T.C.H. intended to set the series somewhere in America. This is obvious to an Italian, but they didn't bother to 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.
- Dumbledore's Army and the Year of Darkness:
- Recent rape victims are usually not receptive to male-initiated sexual acts as the post-Sluagh one-shot More Realer and the end of the Lavender scene in DAYD describe.
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- From a Supernatural fanfic: "At the next intersection, Dean turns left, heading south into the setting sun." (Which would only work if he were driving right on top of the north pole.)
- In Sylvia The Sylveon, the main character is forcibly evolved with an item, but it's revealed in the games that Eevee evolve into Sylveon by Pokemon-Amie and knowing a Fairy-type move. This is justified in that the story started in February 2013, and Sylveon's actual means of evolution weren't revealed until the games came out in October of that year. The author acknowledges this mistake in the epilogue notes.
- 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 — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- The Amazing Colossal Man features a scientist who claims that "the heart is made up of a single cell."note
- The tagline of the film Biggles is "Meet Jim Ferguson. He lived a daring double-life with one foot in the 20th century and the other in World War I." World War I happened in the 20th century.
- The 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 Captain 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.
- 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.
- 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 Godzilla 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.
- A disappointing one in Kingsman: The Secret Service, given the film is a love letter to the British spy movie, but the date on the medallion Harry gives to young Eggsy is in US format, MMDDYY, rather than the British DDMMYY format.
- In The Matrix Morpheus's exposition that people are kept in suspended animation because they were needed as batteries for the machines is such an egregious violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics that it makes everyone with just a cursory knowledge of physics groan. The original treatment had the brains of humans used as sub-processors, which is at least defensible, but thought to be too complicated for moviegoers. Then again, batteries are used for storing energy, which makes more sense than the common interpretation of Morpheus' line (that humans were used to generate energy).
- 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 parasites than animals. Many animals have gone extinct through overpopulation, when something happens to the population of their predators.
- The Asylum movie Mega Fault. The premise is that a giant earthquake opens a crack in the ground that stretches from the east coast of the US to the Grand Canyon. This one has a lot of cracks following people down roads.
- In a slightly more esoteric Critical Research Failure, 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. Really, Patch? Ever watch the Discovery Channel? It'd be more accurate to say that humans are the only ones who feel bad about it.
- The Phantom Planet features a plot point where atmospheric changes cause the protagonist to first shrink in size, then grow back to normal. There's also a throwaway line in the movie stating that the planet's inhabitants have been shrinking for centuries due to the planet's gravity.
- In Plan 9 from Outer Space, Eros informs the heroes that "a ray of sunlight is made up of many atoms." Light is made of photons.
- Speaking of MST fare, if you know anything at all about Aztecs or Aztec Mythology, you're doing better than the creators of Puma Man. To take but one example, Stonehenge is apparently an Aztec artifact according to this movie.
- Reptilicus gives us this little gem: "It's impossible. The skin tissue of the lizard. The cells seem to multiply like bacteria." As opposed to what? Did you expect the skin cells to multiply by laying eggs?
- This Island Earth has this line: "It's only Neutron. We call him that because he's so positive." (Then again, considering cats, it may have been humor on Cal's part.)note
- In Unknown (2011) nurse Erfurt brings a pair of metal scissors into the room with the MRI machine - which enables the protagonist to cut himself free and flee. Maybe the writers should have read up on MRI safety - or the scissors were made of a metallic substance that was MRI-compatible, like aluminum.
- The kids' movie 5 Children & It features a scene in which an eccentric math teacher is about to discover that kid-related shenanigans have been going on, while one of the kids is desperately trying to distract him by finding the answer to a complicated sum. The kid eventually announces that the answer is "3,486,522." The teacher beams "Ah! A prime number of the Siemens series!" and is successfully distracted. Admittedly, the average person might not know that there's no such thing as the "Siemens series" in mathematics, but anyone who entered high school would notice that 3,486,522 is even, and 2 is the only even prime.
- Roland Emmerich's disaster movie 2012:
- This trailer for the film refers to the Mayans as "mankind's earliest civilization" within the first ten seconds. The Chinese, Sumerians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Egyptians are some of the many who say otherwise — also the Olmecs, who came up with the Long Count calendar all the brouhaha comes from in the first place.
- The film also attributes the apocalypse to mutating neutrinos. Neutrinos cannot mutate. Dara O'Briain was able to spin this into a very successful comedy routine, also noting that for all the explanation's value they might as well have said 'The Latinos have mutated'.
- Another Emmerich film, Anonymous, has Edward de Vere show off his garden bush of Tudor roses... a flower that has never existed as a real plant, only a figurative symbol. It's an error that must have been impossible for the director to ignore, since if the plant does not exist, a faked one must have been put onscreen. If they had to make a fake one, then why are they claiming it's a real flower in a film that claims to be based on history?!
- In Eraser, Dr. Cullen (played by Vanessa Williams), apparently a physicist, explains that a railgun fires "caseless aluminum shells at nearly the speed of light." Railguns are magnetic, so the slugs need to be a ferrous metal, and approaching the speed of light with one is ... well, it's exactly as hard as with everything else.
- Jupiter Ascending: At one point Jupiter uses a maxi pad as a makeshift band-aid for Caine's wound. That in and of itself is not a bad idea. Problem is, she applies the sticky side to the wound, not the other side actually designed for absorbing blood. One would think her actress Mila Kunis would know herself which side does which.
- In Richard Lewis's 1980 eco-horror novel The Spiders, the author is constantly referring to the title creatures as "insects."
- In Julio Cortázar's story "The Pursuer" ("El Perseguidor"), the main character dies of an overdose of marijuana, which is impossible. Cortázar acknowledged this mistake.
- Ally McBeal, another David E. Kelley show, makes many legal errors, but the law firm is shown to be "functionally corrupt" and ethically questionable in many ways. Why every single other person in the entire bloody legal system plays by the same rules, on the other hand, is an open question.
- The Awesomeness TV sketch "Terry the Tomboy" got the "tomboy" part completely wrong. Apparently the showrunners think "tomboy" means "redneck stereotype".
- One episode of The Big Bang Theory 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.
- The British "historical" drama miniseries Bonekickers was so rife with simple factual errors, Diamanda Hagan deliberately avoided doing research herself when reviewing it, reasoning that she could get more than enough material to criticize just from what she passively knew was wrong. She was correct.
- Boston Legal frequently makes errors obvious to even non-lawyers. Lawyers routinely meet with judges without the presence of opposing counsel, evidence that has nothing to do with the case is introduced at the last minute, and the same firm occasionally represents both sides in a case.
- In the 2012 episode of Brad Meltzer's Decoded, Brad brings up the prophecy of the "Blue Star Kachina" and mentions how NASA has recently discovered an actual blue star. They go on as if it's possible for an actual honest-to-goodness star to hit the Earth come December 21st 2012 - and ask a NASA guy about it.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered" Amy casts a love spell by invoking Diana whom she describes as "goddess of love and the hunt". While Diana was indeed the Roman goddess of the hunt, anyone could tell you that Venus was the goddess of love. What's more is that Diana was one of three goddesses who swore never to marry. The closest she comes to being associated with love is becoming a goddess of childbirth in other myths. Of course, this could be why the spell goes so badly wrong.
- In CSI, Grissom goes to great lengths to say that the team are investigators, not policemen. Their job is to collect evidence at the scene and analyze it. But that doesn't stop CSIs from interrogating suspects, a practice that would normally be conducted by detectives, not crime scene investigators.
- In the "killer gamers" episode of CSI: Miami, the bad guys are basing their crimes on the plot of a video game. The only way the team can find out what happens next is to play the game. Anyone who has ever set foot in a video game store has seen shelves full of Official Strategy Guides proclaiming "All Secrets Revealed!" on their covers. And Game FA Qs and other online sites, which will reveal those secrets for free! Failing that, you could probably find a playthrough on YouTube.
- An episode of CSI: NY had a corrupt ex-coroner who'd been stealing organs and tissues for a reason other than organ theft — to process them for the drugs they contained; the victims were all dead drug addicts from cases that came through his morgue. There wouldn't be enough of the drug left to get out, and it would be difficult to do so.
- Dexter would sometimes look up potential victims of his prey, as well as their victims, on his police computer at the police station. Even if the computer's search history itself wasn't monitored, the police databases he would pull this info from had to be protected enough to keep tabs on who keeps asking for information...
- Doctor Who can get away with a fair bit; but sometimes the only reaction to something has to be "no it isn't". In "The Impossible Planet", the Doctor and Rose find themselves on the eponymous planet, which apparently is so-called because it's in orbit about a black hole. Which is perfectly possible; a planet can orbit a black hole as easily as it can orbit any other massive body. What would be much more difficult would be to remain hovering over the hole, while material in the hole's accretion disk (which is in orbit) continually blows over it. That's actually the situation in the story, but somewhere along the way the exposition fell over and sprained an ankle.
- 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 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 Harley 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. Then again, they were trying to fool Americans, who are not known for their detailed understanding of the British aristocracy, as the episode does acknowledge, so this could just be Truth in Television.
- 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 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.
- The Taiwanese adaptation of The Million Pound Drop does this often enough to lead to suspicions that the show is rigged. Frequently, a blatantly false "correct" answer is given for an answer that happens to be one that the contestants left empty. One particularly obvious incident was when they claimed the correct answer to "Which of these animals is warm-blooded?" was salmon.
- NCIS plays it pretty loose with science and technology, but a few examples are glaring enough to qualify for this trope:
- During one episode, the NCIS computer network is being hacked by someone. Abby madly taps at her keyboard to try and counter this but isn't fast enough. So McGee jumps on the other side of the keyboard and they madly tap away at the same time, on the same keyboard! Unless anti-hacking software somehow involves a mini-game with a two player mode then they aren't going to accomplish anything.
- And again, on the premiere episode of the ninth season, McGee suggests a fun gaming lounge that the team can go to, saying it has "3D, PS2 and a 60" plasma." The PS2 rarely ran high-definition, let alone 3D.
- The team routinely drives up and down Virginia multiple times an episode, which may be possible for a state Virginia's size, but is a bit of a stretch.
- The O'Reilly Factor, in an example that produced no fewer than two memes, had O'Reilly claiming that there was no scientific explanation for tides, notoriously claiming "You can't explain that!"note while the guest he was interviewing, David Silverman, stared at him with a face that just screamed "you can't be serious"note . For bonus points, when the mechanics behind tides were later explained to him, he showed his lack of understanding of the scientific method by claiming that tidal forces are "just a theory."
- 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.
- Reviews on the Run's 2010 Blu-Ray award special gave the best voice actor to Kevin Conroy for his performance in Batman: Under the Red Hood. While Conroy voiced Batman in the DCAU and for some other projects, he wasn't in Under The Red Hood. That was Bruce Greenwood.
- In one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, a character describes Picard as being "two meters tall". Given that he isn't even close to that height (equivalent to about 6 foot 7 inches), the writer clearly didn't know the metric system (They might have mistook 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.
- 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...which is the one type it can't be if he's John's son, because A and B are both dominant and he has to have inherited one or the other. Either it's Critical Research Failure or Dean is not John's biological son. Which makes you wonder what would've happened if he'd ever said yes to Michael.
- The Universe had an episode on Mercury and Venus, calling them the two most hostile terrestrial planets in the solar system. So far, so good. The problem was that when the narrator said "Mercury" in the opening, Venus was shown, and vice versa. The two planets look nothing alike: Mercury looks like our moon, while Venus's surface is completely hidden by its clouds.
- The Weakest Link research team has proved itself to be the weakest link on occasion:
- When the question "Montreal is the capital city of which Canadian province?" was asked to a contestant, the show claimed the answer was Quebec, while in fact the correct answer is none: Quebec City is the capital of Quebec.
- The question "In which century did the First World War take place, the 19th or the 20th?" gave the right answer as "the 19th".
- Zero Hour, which centers around a conspiracy related to Jesus' apostles, seems to think that Luke was one of the twelve. Ten seconds on Google would have confirmed that he wasn't.
- In Agent Carter, the title character immediately decrypts an encoded message after realizing it uses a "one-time pad system." The thing about one-time pads is that, if done properly, they are absolutely impossible to decipher without the key, period. Even assuming that the message Carter decrypted wasn't generated properly, it still should have taken some time to decrypt it.
- Meg and Dia's song "Fighting for Nothing" has this line, "But I know that/I was put here/To fight Vikings in The Cold War". Given that it's eight or nine centuries off, it was probably intentional.
- Michael Jackson's "Liberian Girl" not only opens with Swahili, but with a South African singer singing it. They speak Swahili in East Africa, Liberia is in West Africa.
- Neil Young has a song called "Cortez the Killer", in which he praises the pacifist and egalitarian... Aztecs!? Seriously, he comes right out and says "Hate was just a legend, / And war was never known" while he's talking about one of the most bloodthirsty civilizations in human history. He also says they "lifted many stones" and "built up with their bare hands / What we still can't do today." So, which early 16th century Aztec stone buildings were unmatchable by 1970s technology exactly?
- There is a Dutch DJ who, as of October 2011, claims to get phone calls from Madonna and Frank Sinatra on a regular basis. His phone bill must be through the roof, because Sinatra died in May 1998. (Maybe he's talking about Frank Sinatra, Junior?)
- Hamas released a video clip in late 2014 for a propaganda song in Hebrew meant to scare Israelis titled ‘We Shall Take the Zionists to the Gallows’. Aside from it being incredibly Narmy in general, the chorus mentions that resistance movements that existed prior to the foundation of the State of Israel have bitten the dust. The only problem is, not only were they mostly concerned with ending the British Mandate, not fighting the Arabs, they were disbanded by the State of Israel itself to form the IDF, making this about the most idiotic Badass Boast they could think of.
- 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.
- Wrestling Hockey Players, The Ballard Brothers, took up a valet to serve as their Cheerleader, even though hockey doesn't make use of cheerleaders. This could be excusable but the Ballards are Canadian, so there really is none.
- Vince McMahon, pleased with the success of Rey Mysterio Jr on Smackdown, decided he wanted another flippy luchador. So he hired Ultimo Dragon and then got upset when he discovered Ultimo Dragon really was not all that flippy. This is despite the fact Ultimo Dragon had wrestled under the WWF banner before and won a WWF championship, suggesting Vince did not even watch his own product.
- 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.
- William Shakespeare, as the son of a glove-maker whose schooling mostly included Latin and classic literature (written in Latin), was prone to making these when discussing geography. His plays also include a healthy dose of Anachronism Stew-allusions to Christian themes are frequent even in stories that took place before Christ was born, there are references to contemporary English clothing and culture regardless of setting, etc., so how much of those errors are just stylistic choices is debatable.
- In The Winter's Tale, Shakespeare committed a Critical Research Failure and was called out on it by his contemporary, Ben Jonson. Shakespeare had his characters shipwrecked on the coast of Bohemia (which is now the Czech Republic) "where there is no sea near by one hundred miles." Shakespeare's mistake was likely an artifact from his original source, which took place in Sicily, not Bohemia.
- In Antony and Cleopatra, Cleopatra suggests playing a game of billiards, a game which wouldn't exist until about 1000 years later.
- Two Gentlemen of Verona has a plot point often regarded as a Critical Research Failure, but it's actually an aversion. While the gentlemen and their servants take a ship to get from Verona to Padua (or Milan, the script says both at different times), and all three cities do not have access to the sea, the three cities did have access to an extensive network of canals linking Verona to Padua and Milan, as well as to various points within each city. Some of these canals are still around today, though their transportation uses have been replaced by modern transportation methods.
- The Tempest has a similar aversion in Act I Scene 2, where we are told that Prospero and Miranda were taken from Milan by "bark" (i.e., "barque," a type of ship) "some leagues to the sea," where they were put aboard "a rotten carcass of a boat". Again, while Milan lacks direct access to the ocean, it did have access to an extensive network of canals, and the Grand Canal (Naviglio Grande) is still around today.
- In Julius Caesar, Caesar proclaims himself to be "constant as the Northern Star". As was well-known to educated people by Shakespeare's time, the Northern Star isn't a constant (which star it currently is, is affected by the precession of the equinoxes) and there are even long periods when there isn't a Northern Star — such as Caesar's time. Isaac Asimov called out Shakespeare on this in his essay "Constant as the Northern Star" — partly as evidence that the plays (or at least Julius Caesar) couldn't (as some people suppose) have been written by Francis Bacon, as Bacon was well-educated and would have known this.
- Batman: Arkham City features the Penguin bragging about how the machine guns he makes available to mooks can fire over 100 rounds per minute. While this is technically true, the line probably should have been "per second" instead.note
- In the PSP game Def Jam: Fight for NY: Takeover, there is plenty of cringe-inducing trash-talk that gets tossed back and forth before almost every fight in the main storyline. One of the opponents you can fight for money in the Dragon House is Prodigy. All trash talk pertaining to this opponent makes reference to him claiming to be a prophet. Prodigy, prophecy, what's the difference?
- The Strategy Guide for Pokemon Red And Blue that was published by Versus Books is considered Snark Bait by people even moderately good at the games, because of how badly underrated many of the Pokémon were, but the Most Triumphant Example of research failure is the claim that several Pokémon which do not learn any moves of their type through leveling up would have just been better off being Normal-type, so that they are unaffected by Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors note . The writers ignored the defensive benefits of those Pokémon's typings, and three of the six 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.
- PETA's video game parodies tend to fall into this. Super Tanooki Skin 2D's entire "fur is murder" message is undermined by the fact that the titular Tanooki Suits aren't made from actual tanuki. Then there's Pokémon Black and Blue, which completely omits the whole "trainer-Pokemon trust" part of the franchise.
- Sony's embarrassing slip-up at E3 2006: "The stages of the game will also be based on famous battles that actually took place in Ancient Japan. [Demonstrating the game] So here's this Giant Enemy Crab..."
- One of the various news bulletins in Tomodachi Life claims that children attend kindergarten at age 0.
- 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.
- The Angry Video Game Nerd ranted, among other things, about being killed by a frog in Super Pitfall. The Granular Poison Frog has killed more than a few people, and yes, it lives in the jungle. That's also not counting people killed by weapons dipped in their poison, or various other kinds of frogs from the jungle that are also deadly to the touch.
AVGN: Has anyone ever died by being attacked by a fucking frog?!note
- Extra Credits calls out Call of Juarez for this in their blatant disregard for what it is actually based off of, including things that are actually not
- In their video about sexuality, they talk about how tired the trope of a tough male with a feminine side is. As an example, they show Final Fantasy XIII's Lightning, who anyone looking at the character can tell you is female.
- They also mention in their "Transgaming" episode that the Pokémon in the TV show function like the Pokémon in the game - except that the TV show on a regular basis ignores the rules of the games, and this happened as early as the Kanto season.
- Gaia Online made a terrible mistake whilst describing a new item called Lala the Koala Plushie.
"Lala the Koala Plushie pays tribute to the noble koala bear, which is now just returning from hibernation to resume it's [sic] voracious consumption of eucalyptus".
- While regular bears hibernate, koalas (which are not bears, or even placentals) live in Australia, which even in its temperate zones doesn't get cold enough to necessitate hibernation.
- In the Half in the Bag preview for their Prometheus review, Mike claim that there were 65 million years of dinosaurs before humans. Unfortunately, he has that backwards: dinosaurs have been extinct for 65 million years.
- The now-memetic "Jimmy McPerson" essay includes, among others:
- Having Jimmy grow up in Illinois while living in Harlem.
- Having the Japanese attack Jimmy's town, when neither NY nor Chicago was attacked.
- Alleging blacks couldn't join the military in World War II because Martin Luther King Jr. wasn't born yet. Yes, they could, and MLK was born in 1929.
- Jimmy meets with the president of Japan. President of the Japanese Empire?
- There's also the rather hilarious image of Jimmy fighting off "countless samurai and ninjas" in his quest for revenge.
- Jimmy battles with both said president/emperor/whatever AND Hitler.
- Jimmy kills Hitler in a suicidal charge. Which is not how Hitler died.
- In 20 Reasons Why NOT to Be "In Da Club" by Matt Santoro, 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.
- The Mysterious Mr. Enter claimed in his Animated Atrocities review of the Spongebob Squarepants episode "One Coarse Meal" that whales only eat krill, ignoring that some whales in Real Life actually do eat plankton.
- He actually does bring up this point in his "Top 11 Worst Episodes Reviewed" video, admitting he did some research and yes, some whales do eat plankton...and then points out that some whales also eat crabs, fish, and squid.
- In the same video, he mentioned that Pearl was a Sperm Whale, which doesn't eat plankton.
- The Nostalgia Critic
- In a satirical skit (so the character's stupidity isn't an excuse), he once called The Little Mermaid "English". What's weird is that back in Disneycember, Doug knew all about the book and compared it to the Disney movie.
- In his review of Pearl Harbor, he embarked on a Reason You Suck Speech about how Michael Bay had disrespected the sailors who were at Pearl Harbor by, among other things, having a sailor shout, "I can't swim!" before falling into the water. Not only was it common for sailors to not know how at the time (swim tests in the Navy weren't introduced until years later), but Doug's father is a Navy veteran, so he had easy access to the correct information.
- In Quality Control's review of Interstella 5555, he claims that Discovery was Daft Punk's first album. Discovery is their second album. Homework was their first.
- SF Debris has a couple minor examples. Chuck says in his Batman Beyond review that the movie was censored because it was judged too violent. While that helped, the real catalyst was the Columbine Shooting that occurred before the film came out.
- Another small error is in his review of The X-Files episode "Aubrey", where Chuck says Harry Cokley (a suspect in unsolved serial murders from the 1940s) did only 8 years for attempted murder and rape. In the dialogue, however, it's said he was convicted in 1945 and released December 5th, 1993, meaning he must have served 48 years at least.
- Bob Chipman once did an episode about how Halo was racist because the UNSC was composed of white people, while the Covenant were ethnically diverse. However, both of these are quite false. Sergeant Johnson, one of the biggest badasses in the series and a fan favorite, is black, the Elites leave the Covenant to assist humanity in Halo 2, and in Halo: Reach, the majority of the place names are Hungarian, while Emile is black and Jun is Chinese, making it clear that the UNSC is composed of all of humanity. As for the Covenant, while they do have a wide range of alien races, they're segregated in a strict caste system and most of them are enslaved (and the reason the Elites jumped to humanity's side was because the Brutes and Prophets enacted genocide against them); hardly a shining example of ethnic diversity.
- The creature, the Kiseichu Ryu is said to be a Carnivore at birth (after devouring from dead criminals), then a Herbivore for the rest of its life. Animals cannot switch diets at will; the stomach for both Carnivores and Herbivores, and their digestion system are not the same thing, meaning that they could most likely die of malnutrition.
- Game Theory infamously claimed Wario was ten feet tall, a deduction based on an incorrect calculation from an earlier episode, a calculation that in itself relied on rather shaky evidence. Mat Pat would later make the statement a Running Gag for his other research mistakes.
- 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.
- An episode of Archie's Weird Mysteries had a mummy haunting the museum it was kept in. It turns out the mummy was vengeful because his fiancée left him because he kept putting off their wedding until after his pyramid was built. One, pyramids tended to take a pharaoh's whole life to build and sometimes weren't completed until after their death; two, pharaohs were married as children; and three, a pharaoh's marriage was arranged for them between them and one of their siblings, so no one could just decide to leave a marriage they were fed up with.
- Ben 10 claimed in one episode that the mysterious "Bicenthium alloy" was extremely rare on any planet except Earth... except the "alloy" was iron, the sixth most common element in the galaxy. And iron isn't an alloy.
- Dan Vs. gives us "Sergeant Saskatchewan", an overly patriotic Canadian Captain Ersatz of Captain America... who wears the American sergeant emblem on his sleeve. Then seconds later Dan encounters a man asking for donations to save the Canadian geese. You'd think this guy would know it's "Canada" geese, not "Canadian" geese.
- Dan freaks out when he unthinkingly drinks a milkshake, thinking he will die. In actuality intolerance to lactose isn't fatal (worst case scenario, he'll have a bit of gas and possibly need a change of underwear—plus, a couple of swallows of dairy might not even do anything if one's lactose intolerance is fairly mild. Of course, Dan tends to be a drama queen.)
- The Fairly OddParents:
- A terrible offender is The Mummy: The Animated Series in the episode "The Cloud People". Lake Titicaca is described as both puma-head shaped and as being found below the ruins of Macchu Picchu. A portion of the lake's southern bank vaguely resembles a cat's had in profile◊, but only if viewed from the air while flying north-to-south. The whole thing, not so much, and it's still southeast of Machu Picchu, not below it.
- Two of the Scooby-Doo movies hit this particularly hard, mainly because the two movies between them got their respective monsters BACKWARDS. Chupacabra is a reptilian hematophage that preys on goats. The Australian Yowie is supposedly a large humanoid creature, along the lines of Bigfoot and the Yeti. Monster of Mexico says that Chupie is Bigfoot, and Legend of the Vampire that the Yowie is a vampire. It's easy to think that they picked monsters that they thought nobody knew, but Chupacabra at least is rather well-known.
- In the X-Men episode "Days of Future Past, Part 2", Gambit travels to Washington, DC. But the monitor shows the state of Washington (with Washington, D.C. captioned right below).
- When Family Guy makes one of its many, many Take Thats at religion, you can bet that the writer will get every one of their facts wrong. For example, when Brian mentions about how there was no war before "religion", a cutaway shows friendly men fighting each other immediately because Jesus was born, even though of course wars happened before Jesus was born. Not to mention the fact that Brian apparently thinks there were no other religions before Christianity.
- Maybe it's a case of creative liberty, but the Al Brodax Popeye cartoon "I Yam Wot I Yamnesia" posits that if two people bump heads with each other, they switch personalities and voices. Wimpy diagnoses this as amnesia.
- In the Justice League finale, Clark ask 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.
Anime & Manga
- 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. Problem is that 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.
- The ordinarily Genre Savvy Ambush Bug once made a huge error In-Universe. Seeing a young blonde woman in a familiar costume flying by, Ambush Bug immediately realized that some malevolent magic or Red Kryptonite had turned his "pal" Superman into a girl, and that Superman desperately needed the Bug's help. Somehow, Ambush Bug was completely ignorant of the existence of Supergirl, who was naturally mystified by the encounter. (Supergirl, In-Universe, was publicly known and quite famous in her own right at the time.)note
- Team Fortress 2 comics:
- 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. 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 6-year-old, and after writing the story got sent more information on bats than he ever wanted to know.
- Calvin and Susie are assigned to be partners on a project about the planet Mercury. The following is Calvin's only contribution, which he wrote the morning before class despite having a week to work on his report:
: 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.
Films — Live-Action
- Bluto's speech in Animal House gives us this gem:
- 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:
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.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Whenever Andrew flexes his storyteller muscles, he'll usually include events of which he has no first-hand knowledge (i.e. previous seasons) in his spiel and is thus occasionally widely off the mark. For example, when he talks to the Potential Slayers about Faith he claims that she killed a Vulcan, "the most pacifist and logical of races". Flashback to Faith locked in deadly hand-to-hand combat with a Vulcan. In reality she killed a volcanologist. When one of the Potentials tries to correct him, he says "Why would she kill someone who studies Vulcans?"
- Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report uses this intentionally and mixes it with Insane Troll Logic for laughs. This is really the entire premise of the show.
- Downton Abbey: Cora (mother of three girls) grumbles about having daughters: "you think it's going to be like Little Women but instead they're at each other's throats." It must have been a while since she read the book, since at least two of the little women (Jo and Amy) were constantly at each other's throats.
- One scene from Flight of the Conchords's HBO series has a racist fruit vendor mistake Australian stereotypes for New Zealander ones.
Jermaine: I'm a person. Bret's a person. You're a person. That person over there's a person. And each person deserves to be treated like a person.
Vendor: That's a great speech. Too bad New Zealanders are a bunch of cocky a-holes descended from criminals and retarded monkeys.
Jermaine: Hey you're thinking of Australians.
Vendor: No no no, New Zealanders, "throw another shrimp on the barbie", ride around on your kangaroos all day.
Jermaine: No, no no, that's Australians. You're thinking of Australians; that's not us.
Vendor: I've totally confused you with Australians, I feel terrible. It's just your accents are just kinda similar.
Jermaine: Our accents are completely different. They're like: "Where's the cahh?" and we're like "where's the cahh?".
- How I Met Your Mother: Barney's "Platinum Rule" was based off his belief that the Golden Rule was "Love your neighbor." The other characters were quick to point out that it's actually "Treat others as you yourself would want to be treated."
- Mystery Science Theater 3000:
- Crow doing this trope is a Running Gag. Crow makes a documentary about The American Civil War. Titled Crow T. Robot's Bram Stoker's The Civil War, it opens with this line... which is actually pretty much the film's high point when it comes to historical accuracy:
Crow: The Civil War was a war that took place during a certain period in our nation's history. When, exactly? No one can say.
- He's also done reports about Rutherford B. Hayes ("Serving heroically in the Civil War, Hayes later admitted that it was in the army he first tasted human flesh.") and a PSA about how to treat women that mostly asserts that women are a cryptozoological phenomenon, like Bigfoot, except for the very, very end:
Crow: Ah.... Oh, um, yes. So anyway Mike, in conclusion, in the off chance that you do run into a woman, uh, you know, treat her with respect and stuff.
Mike: You know, Crow, you do know women. Now what about Pearl?
Crow: OK, so one woman exists. That means all women exist?
- Tom Servo is also guilty of this, in the episode The Skydivers. During the prologue he puts on a planetarium show, giving us such gems as referring to the speed of light as "well over 500 miles an hour" (which is true, but in the same way it's true to say the Pacific Ocean is more than a gallon of water: the speed of light is well over 600 million miles per hour) and calling Mars "the brightest star in our galaxy."
- NewsRadio: Bill, while trying to stage an office rebellion, shouts, "Do you think the Pilgrims really cared about all the tea they dumped into Baltimore Harbor?" It may well be a shout-out to Bluto's speech in Animal House.
- Star Trek: The Original Series: Played for Laughs with Pavel Chekov, who sometimes gets his Russian history wrong, claiming just about everything to be a Russian invention. That was probably what he was taught, though, as this was before The Great Politics Mess-Up, and the USSR in the 1960s really did have this attitude in its education. According to Diane Duane's novels, he's joking, as when he claims that the roller coaster is a Russian invention and is not believed he protests that this time it's true.
- This sketch from That Mitchell and Webb Look. Many faults are pure and simple Artistic License – Sports, but not all:
- The Young Ones:
- When Rick is trying desperately to recall his history lessons, he finishes the statement "Crop rotation in the 14th century was considerably more widespread after..." with "1172". Which isn't even in the 14th century.
- Neil never sleeps because he thinks sleep causes cancer.
- Characters on The West Wing are consistently getting called out for this; it's most always Played for Laughs. Perhaps the best example occurs in the pilot episode, where Sam Seaborn is asked to speak to Mallory's fourth-grade class about the history of the White House, on which subject he's clueless. Meeting them in the Roosevelt Room, he fakes it, saying the room is named after "our 18th president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt." After listening to Sam spew out factoids for a few moments, Mallory asks to speak to him outside the room:
Mallory: I'm sorry to be rude, but are you a moron?
Sam: In this particular area, yes.
Mallory: The 18th president was Ulysses S. Grant and the Roosevelt Room was named for Theodore.
Mallory: There's like a six-foot painting on the wall of Teddy Roosevelt.note
Sam: I should have put two and two together.
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.
- 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.
- Warhammer 40K: The Imperial Guardman's Uplifting Primer is hilariously filled with these, presenting the enemies of man as easy to defeat by the common soldiery. Features gems such as "ork tusks can easily be pulled out of their jaws", "the Tau are evolved from cattle and will spook at loud noises", and a magnificent illustration of a Guardsman looking around a corner like a guy who showed up early for a Scooby Stack. Those are actually partially true, though. Orks have shark-like teeth that are constantly being shed and could conceivably be pulled out fairly easily while the Tau are descended from grazing ruminants and display many vestiges of that past (spooking at loud noises NOT being one of them). Indeed, a common theory is that the Primer is lying to you on purpose ("Genestealers are slow and sluggish") in order to raise morale. Any company worth even half its salt has a few units of Veterans who know what fighting in a Cosmic Horror Story is really like.
- 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."
- In Third Rate Gamer, the Third Rate Gamer gives us many examples, such as claiming that the Super Mario Bros. film is the original and the game is just a cheap licensed cash-in.
- 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.
- 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.