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Reality Is Unrealistic: Real L Ife
"Your theory is crazy, but it's not crazy enough to be true."
-Niels Bohr

  • Two U.S. presidents and founding fathers, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both died on the exact same day. While this is enough of a coincidence in and of itself, the downright scary part is that day was July 4, 1826...the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence signing. The anniversary of a document both of them wrote together.
    • Also related to presidents, every single one of them is descended from William the Conqueror, the Norman who conquered England. A bit less impressive than it sounds, since William, like most rulers of his time, had many mistresses and many children though them. A very large number of people living in Western Europe or with ancestry which goes back to Western Europe are descended from him.
  • An example of Hollywood Hacking that's completely exaggerated and would probably break the Willing Suspension of Disbelief, except from the fact it is on the Real Life section: one of the most secure encryption algorithms, 4096-bit RSA, was cracked using a rudimentary microphone listening to the tiny sounds of the CPU.
  • Dolly Parton entered herself into a drag queen celebrity lookalike competition. She received the least amount of applause. "..they just thought I was some little short gay guy."
  • Charlie Chaplin once lost a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest. Albeit, it was a more a lookalike contest for Chaplin's tramp character. Chaplin had the walk and mannerisms perfect, but he competed without a costume or makeup.
  • Along those same lines, Hugh Jackman once showed up to San Diego Comic-Con dressed up as Wolverine, and nobody recognized him. He claims he even got a snide remark from someone who claimed he was "too tall".
  • Jess Harnell was once told that his Wakko Warner impression "Didn't sound anything like him!" Ditto for Kevin Clash and Elmo.
  • An audience member at a late showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show was asked to leave the theater for being a Tim Curry impersonator. The member? Tim Curry.
  • One of the members of the band Barenaked Ladies was shown playing a karaoke game at the first Gphoria (G4's annual video game award show). The game rated his attempt to sing the song "One Week" as "Bad", to which he replied, "Bad? I wrote this!"
  • The rock band Rush attempted to play their song "Tom Sawyer" on the Rock Band game and got a failing grade. This is actually quite common - playing a real instrument and playing with a game controller shaped like one are still two different skills. Rush actually did very well by I Don't Know Mortal Kombat standards, since they were playing on the highest difficulty level and made it to 31%.
    • Plus a musician internally directs the music, while playing Guitar Hero is the opposite: you have to follow the external directions of the game.
    • One of the members of DragonForce tried to play his song "Through the Fire and Flames" in Guitar Hero, and failed at 2%.
    • Here's a video showing Scott Ian of Anthrax failing his own band's song on Easy mode.
  • The ending of Bridge to Terabithia is reasonably plausible. However, it was based on the author's eight year old son's friend, who was struck by lightning and killed. Real Life Writes the Plot and two Tear Jerkers.
  • One claim made by those who believe the Apollo moon landings were faked is that there is no visible star field in the photos, as one frequently sees in movies. In reality, those photos were taken during the lunar daytimenote , and despite the fact that the sky is black, the light from the sun and the camera's brief exposure time prevents any starlight from being captured on the film. You can even try this one at home: take a picture of yourself under a streetlight and never believe in the stars again!
    • When the Apollo lunar modules lifted off the Moon's surface on live television, they just went straight up, with no visible flames or smoke coming out, completely unlike anything ever seen in a sci-fi movie. This helped fuel speculation that the landings were faked. The reality is that while it's perfectly possible to make fire in space (you just have to mix the fuel and oxidizer together before igniting them), flames and billowing smoke are the result of the contents of your fuel (see 2061) and the interference of an atmosphere, and the moon's atmosphere has a total mass of 104 kg, for all intents and purposes it's total vacuum.
    • It is also claimed that the landing was a hoax because the flags the astronauts placed are not limp (as normal flags would be in an airless environment). However, this was because the supports inside them, to hold them out in the airless environment of the moon, ironically so you could see the whole flag, but they didn't quite deploy all the way.
    • One reason why the photos look fake is that the horizon is unnaturally close. On Earth, on relatively flat land, the horizon is about 3 miles (5 km) away — on the Moon, it's 1.5 miles (2.5 km), because the Moon is so much smaller.
      • Not only that, but the lack of an atmosphere on the moon means that, unlike on Earth, distant objects are not desaturated and faint and hence seem to be much closer and much smaller.
  • John Barrowman, who is openly gay, tried out for the role of Will from Will and Grace. According to the producers, he wasn't gay enough. They then proceeded to hire Eric McCormack, who is straight.
  • About fifteen years ago, there was a foiled bank robbery where one of the robbers had a submachine gun, and fired a couple bursts at the guards, with video shown on the news. There were accusations that the video was faked because none of the guards were hit, let alone shredded to pieces as they would have expected. This objection eventually was raised as the story developed, with a clip of a gun expert basically explaining that submachine guns aren't known for their fantastic accuracy, especially when you're holding it wrong, not even really trying to aim or keep it under control.
    • The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three. Near the end of the first segment, a Mook opens fire with an M-16 assault rifle, which he calls "The Wonderful Rambo Machine". He promptly cuts one of his own allies in half. The narrative then pauses to point out that with a weapon like the M-16, More Dakka will send you off target after about four or five shots. It describes the look of amazement on Eddie's face as the bullets miss him by a mile. The idiot in question is screaming "I got him!", "unable to distinguish between the script in his head and reality" when he is shot.
      • This underlines why rifles like the M-16 have a selective fire option to limit bursts to three rounds and keep the gun 'under control' - professional soldiers don't empty magazines in a 'spray and pray' fashion.
    • Compare common graphic portrayals of people getting shot to this story, including a video of a man getting shot five times, which made the news rounds because it doesn't seem that "graphic".
  • A bizarre Real Life example: optical proportions, intentionally unbalancing the design of a flag to account for the distortion caused when the flag is flying in the wind.
    • Ancient Greco-Roman columns were sometimes built with a bulge in the middle to make them look straight from far away. The bases of large Greco-Roman buildings were likewise built ever-so-slightly concave, on a 3+ mile radius of curvature, so as to appear flat (a genuinely flat surface would appear to bow outward slightly). That said, this was only done on some buildings, and it is not necessary for columns and buildings to have these proportions to look straight; indeed, despite what they say about the Acropolis, where the Parthenon is, the columns of the Parthenon look straight because they are.
    • Similarly, door hinges are often not equally spaced; this is done to create the appearance that they are equally spaced, because you're typically not looking at a door from the exact centre, but slightly higher up. If the hinges were really spaced equally, they would appear not to be. Confused yet?
    • The Eiffel Tower is actually painted three different shades of brown-gray so that it appears as one color to observers on the ground.
    • The mat in some framed art is wider at the bottom to make the matting appear equal on all sides of the work; this is called a "weighted border". It's also done because a person's eye is typically 5-6 feet off the ground, so people are used looking at things that are on top of something else. Looking at a painting with a weighted border is visually similar to looking at vase on a table.
    • Letters are set up this way. Take the letter B, if you look at it even here, pixel by pixel, the top bow is smaller than the bottom bow. This is used in typography to make the letter look equally spaced, or "standing upright".
    • Statues that are supposed to be displayed on a high pedestal are intentionally disproportionate to make up for the distortion in perspective when looking at them from underneath; statues that are moved onto different pedestals later will look very uncanny if you don't know about that fact.
  • Real Life example: The platypus.
    • The Okapi, thought to be a hoax until 1901.
    • Similarly, archaeopteryx.
    • Also see: The Blobfish.
    • Even the gorilla. When early European explorers brought back reports, they were generally disbelieved.
      • It doesn't help that the discovery of gorillas still is a mysterious affair, since the first Europeans to have claimed to seen and hunted these previously mythical apes did so in an area where none have lived by any native accounts or physical evidence. Some historians have suggested that they unwittingly skinned and ate pygmies.
    • The Colombian 89-98 butterfly. Guess why it is called that.
  • In the early 19th century, reports of meteors were dismissed as hoaxes. When one impact was verified by two professors from Yale, Thomas Jefferson is alleged to have said "I would rather believe that two Yankee professors would lie than believe that stones fall from heaven."
    • A few years before, an even greater scientific authority, Antoine Lavoisier, said the following about meteors: "A stone cannot fall from the sky - there ARE no stones in the sky."
      • Although when you think about it, it's much more "realistic" for a stone to fall from the sky than for it to somehow magically stay up there indefinitely, floating weightlessly. Especially one large enough to be easily visible from the ground such as, say, the moon.
  • When the state of Maine began to produce a new style of personalized plates, they were originally going to paint the living lobster in its realistic colors (a greenish-black), but instead painted it red so that it would be recognized as a lobster, despite the fact that lobster is only red when cooked.
  • Occurs in the market for hand-crafted works, including blacksmithing, as referenced in Charles McRaven's The Blacksmith's Craft. Masterful smiths can make items so smooth and perfect that they look as if they might as well have been factory-made. Consumers for such goods, however, won't believe something that looks that good to be handmade. Paradoxically, the products of lesser smiths will be more popular as "better" and "more genuine."
    • If the masters weren't able to create smooth surfaces, how would people have ever had mirrors, polish-able jewellery, or blades that could cut cleanly without snagging all before machines?
  • Diane Kruger had to hound Quentin Tarantino for her role in Inglourious Basterds. She is probably the poster girl for "HOT ARYAN WOMAN", was born in Germany and started her modeling/acting careers in Germany, but Quentin was about to cast an American in her role because he "wanted someone more authentically German." Apparently, Miss Kruger's English is too good.
    • In a similar vein, Anthony LaPaglia was famously denied the role of an Australian character because his accent wasn't deemed authentic enough by the producers. The actor is Australian born and bred, and had only recently moved to the US at the time.
  • Sometimes, cute as they are, these little guys look a bit like puppets. It's the clumsy flailing.
  • The "smell of the sea", familiar to billions, isn't the aroma of salt water. It's the smell of rotting seaweed and other beach residue. Makers of water-additives for home saltwater aquaria have to add organic compounds as well as minerals to their mixtures, otherwise people complain that it can't be right for their fish.
  • On the gruesome side there's the amount of blood one can spill, depending on the wound. In the disturbing video of Budd Dwyer's suicide, blood gushes from his nose like a waterfall in a moment that looks like it came out of Dead Alive'''.
    • Or the interior of Dale Earnhardt's race car after his fatal NASCAR wreck. There's a reason why leaked images of the bloody car were flagged as 'Graphic' - basilar skull fractures can be quite devastating injuries.
    • The head has a surprisingly high blood volume for its size. It is also well-supplied with many arteries. Some of these are very superficial. Head wounds will bleed significantly, even if relatively minor. Professional wrestlers take advantage of this when they need something to look brutal — the technique known as "blading", or innocuously slicing your head to get the blood flowing. The largest collection of blood is in the veins of the legs, however, which is exactly what would be predicted by considering the effects of gravity. Muscle action is required to push that blood to the heart (and this is the main reason veins have valves, to keep the blood from flowing back down; when they fail, you get varicose veins). However, arteries in the limbs tend (with exceptions, such as the radial and ulnar arteries at your wrists) to be deep structures. The consequence is small head wounds bleed heavily, while small limb wounds bleed slowly.
    • If we're talking disturbing medical facts, Hollywood consistently shows characters 'passing out from pain' after being injured in car accidents etc. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way in real life. As any paramedic will tell you, people can be in truly horrific accidents and be suffering extreme pain but remain conscious throughout, provided their head is relatively uninjured and they have a decent oxygen supply to the brain.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger's Austrian accent would be almost gone by now if he didn't make regular visits to a dialect coach (since it's such a big part of his character). That's right; he goes to a dialect coach so he doesn't sound too American.
    • Accents in general don't sound as standard as they are in fiction. People can pick up bits and pieces of odd pronunciations depending on what accents they've been exposed to and how they've learned the language, to the point where some people's real accents sound like Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping.
    • Surprisingly Good English and its inverses count as well. People assume that anyone who knows a second language must speak it with a thick accent from their first. Depending on how long they've been studying and how they study (actual person to person interaction instead of reading and memorizing,) people like the Japanese Kei Hosogai (who lived in Seattle for quite a while) and the Swedish Marie Serneholt (who had an American English teacher) surprise a lot of people when they speak English with nearly flawless American accents.
      • Part of this is due to the fact that many polyglots get their second (and third, and so on) language from formal study, so they learn to speak it on a more "academic" level, with textbook correct grammar and pronunciation, rather than the "street level" dialects that many native speakers grow up with. For some, this ironically results in them being more articulate in their second language than their first.
      • Liam Neeson has occasionally been criticized for his poor fake American accent. He's been living in the US for over twenty years, and his speaking voice is arguably hard to distinguish from that of an American unless one is actually aware he's Irish.
    • This isn't entirely true. For some people, accent vanishes easily. For others, even being in a country for decades won't affect things. It depends highly on who you're around. If you're only around native speakers of English, you won't get any reinforcement from the ambient environment. On the other hand, if you're around someone who speaks your native language, you'll likely retain some accent, possibly all of thing, even without trying.
      • This can also to some degree be genetic—the ability to acquire languages does have a genetic component—but not always. Famously, Henry Kissinger half-joked, half-complained that out of his family—his parents and his younger brother—he was the only one not to lose his German accent.
  • In 1945, twelve prisoners escaped from Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary through a 97 foot-long tunnel dug underneath the prison wall. Although many people on the busy street outside witnessed the escape, most of the escapees managed to make it across the city without being caught. Why? When surveyed, a number of the witnesses claimed that they did not believe that they were actually watching a "real" prison break. They believed that it was just a movie being filmed.
  • Violet Jessop was a cruise ship stewardess who survived the sinkings of the Titanic and Brittanic, and also was aboard the Olympic when it collided with another ship.
    • During her childhood, several of Jessop's siblings died as a result of infective diseases like diphteria, tuberculosis, smallpox, meningitis and scarlet fever. Jessop was hospitalized several times but survived.
  • As destructive as atomic bombs are, many people survived the Hiroshima bombing in 1945. Their homes destroyed, the survivors vacated the area to live with relatives, including several who moved to Nagasaki. This means a few dozen Japanese residents, such as Tsutomu Yamaguchi, survived not one, but two atomic bombings.
  • In Animals Make Us Human, animal-husbandry scientist Temple Grandin relates how her research on the stress-free collection of blood samples from wild antelope had to be published under another title, because no one was willing to acknowledge that traditional methods of capturing wildlife were stressful. Her own data proved otherwise, as levels of stress hormones in antelopes tested using her methods were far lower than the alleged "baseline" levels in animals that'd been netted and held down.
  • This article explains the extreme danger of failing to notice someone drowning, because Hollywood has told us they flail wildly and cry for help. Actual people drowning can not speak or wave, they just mostly stand still until they die. They do struggle and gasp for air, but once you have breathed in enough water, you'll pass out, and of course you can't move if you're unconcious.
    • This is actually done right in Doonesbury, though played for laughs. BD and Mike go on a vacation and at one point visit a pool. All we're shown is BD and a girl hanging around the side of the pool, looking into the water (presumably at Mike), commenting on how he's got such great stamina to hold his breath underwater for so long. In the last panel, we see Mike thinking "Actually, what I'm doing is drowning".
    • According to the CDC, in 10% of cases where a child dies from drowning, an adult is not just present but watching the child drown, having no idea that that's what's happening.
  • An Older Than Feudalism example from Herodotus' account of the Phoenician circumnavigation of Africa:
    These men made a statement which I do not myself believe, though others may, to the effect that as they sailed on a westerly course round the southern end of Libya, they had the sun on their right — to northward of them.
  • People are less dense than water is. Regardless of what Hollywood tells you, if you fall in water, you don't instantly drown unless your lungs fill up with water, and even then, you won't sink motionlessly to the bottom.
    • The police regularly make use of this fact in both cases of murder and accidents: corpses thrown into water will float very easily, both for the above reasons and because of decompositional gases. As such, trying to dispose of a corpse in a lake or river may actually get it found quicker than simply throwing it in the trash.
      • Most people are less dense than water, but fat is less dense than muscle. If a high enough percentage of a person's body-weight consists of muscle instead of fat, it is possible for that person to be denser than water, or at least dense enough to have difficulty keeping afloat.
      • Bone is a lot denser than any of muscle, fat, or water, so the people who float the worst are the skinny ones.
      • The type of water is also a factor, as even skinny people can usually float in seawater, which is denser than fresh water.
      • All of which assumes we're talking about a naked human body. Some fabrics (say, denim) can take on enough water to pull a person down. (This is why, among other hazards, western women in long gowns of old were more at risk of drowning- the volume of fabric they wore could absorb more water. Mary Woolstonecroft actually deliberately walked round London in the rain for hours before jumping into the Thames for this reason, although she still survived, and seemed to recover from the crisis that lead her to it.)
  • Surgeons may tell you of suicidal patients who slit their own throat... then walk all the way to the clinic because they survived, but were left unable to talk. Thing is, not only do people survive a sliced throat (as long as the arteries are undamaged of course), there are actual medical procedures that require cutting the patient's throat and windpipe.
    • Survival depends on getting enough oxygen to the brain and heart. If the main arteries and veins of the neck are spared, it is unlikely that a person will bleed to death. However, speech requires all kinds of cartilages, nerves, and tiny muscles to work properly. If these structures are destroyed, speech will be severely limited or impossible. The blood vessels are off to the side and sometimes hidden behind muscles. The organs of speech are front and center.
  • Contrary to what most comments on this video will tell you, using magnets and iron pellets to control goldfish looks nothing like this. Anyone who ever saw a magnet in real life can tell you, if it's powerful enough to move an object, it's powerful enough not to let them go. That's not mentioning that the fishes keep their distance, while a magnet would just pull them together. A Hanna-Barbera villain may be able to pull it off, but for real people, it's a lot easier to just train them.
  • Twenty or so years ago one of the members of Helsinki University of Technology role-playing club had made himself a mail hauberk. He wanted to go swimming with it - and he did, without the slightest issues. As the other members of the club witnessed it, one comment was "Now all the statistics of all RPGs are obsoleted immediately. It is completely possible to swim in armor".
    • This was well-known even in medieval times. If someone drowned in armor, either A.) they didn't know how to swim in the first place, or B.) they were too exhausted to move, as metal armor makes it difficult to remove body heat, and visor-type helmets restrict breathing, not to mention carrying around all that extra weight. At the battle of Agincourt, quite a few French knights actually drowned in mud during the fighting. In addition, armor was typically worn with a great deal of shock-absorbent padding underneath, making it even easier to overheat.
    • Similar to this is the idea that someone wearing full plate body armor couldn't move quickly, or mount a horse, or whatever. This might be true for some specialized tournament armors, but people wearing armor in battle had to have nearly the same mobility and agility as an unarmoured opponent. Contemporary records of armor fittings hint that a standard test of proper fit and weight was for the purchaser to put the full ensemble on and then do some gymnastics like rolls, cartwheels and dancing with a lady-friend. Of course, this does require the person to be accustomed to the armor's weight.
    • There are reports of final knighthood tests that involved mounting a horse, dressed in full battlefield kit, without using anything except the normal saddle to do so. Some reports imply that the knight had to do it without even using the stirrups.
    • Thinking about this would quickly make a person realize how stupid the idea is: a full plate suit of armour could weigh (depending on style and material) between 30 and 70 pounds. Aside from soldiers, who routinely go into the field with 90lbs or more, ordinary civilians go hiking and climb mountains carrying that much extra mass. A more direct comparison (applicable to even more people) would be someone who gains 30-70 pounds when they're an adult: someone who packs on an extra 40 or 50 lbs is not suddenly rendered immobile. Also, the weight of plate armor is dispersed all over the body, making it less stressful on any individual part of the body.
  • Actual freshly-severed heads tend to take on a latex-like appearance (thanks to blood drain and post-mortem bloating) that makes them look remarkably like Hollywood-style fake heads.
    • Similarly, fresh blood is closer to bright red Kool Aid color (and consistency) than the darkish red viscous fake blood.
  • After Osama bin Laden's death was declared on May 2nd, 2011, 9/11 Conspiracy Theorists said Muslim burial practices don't allow sea burial, and it was done to keep "the people" from seeing and identifying the body. Said burial practices do, in certain circumstances, allow sea burial, such as the body being at risk of disinterment and mutilation on land. Also, his DNA was tested. The "Truthers" said that he couldn't have been tested in an hour, since DNA testing takes several weeks. Not only did no official sources say that he was, but most of the weeks for police DNA testing is the backlog of cases the lab has to get through. In other words, The CSI Effect just removes the backlog and uses a snappy montage to make the process look faster. The actual testing part only takes a few hours.
    • Not to mention that the body itself doesn't have to be present for the DNA test. A blood and/or tissue sample is quite enough.
    • If a movie had used the account of how Osama went down as a plot point, some internet nerds surely would have complained. "Oh, let me get this straight, a super secret squad of soldiers came in over international borders and through a residential area, next to a military installation, in a helicopter, and got in without arising suspicion? What did they have, like a STEALTH HELICOPTER or something?" Of course, in reality, military helicopters flying about weren't exactly in the area to begin with, and as the famous tweets reveal, it was noticed.
      • And funnily enough, after the mission there were reports of a previously unseen stealth variant of the Blackhawk helicopter, one of which was damaged when delivering the troops.
  • In Adventures in the Screen Trade William Goldman mentions an idea for a film; someone wants to meet the most powerful and heavily guarded woman in the world, and discuses two ways a screen writer might approach this. The first way would be a Mission: Impossible style plot in which the man hires a team of experts to break in. The second is having the man just walk in and none of the highly trained and paid security guards taking any notice. He then points out that the second way is exactly the way that Michael Fagan got to meet the Queen.
  • The Egyptian pyramids as we see them today (and as they are depicted in historical works) are as brown and worn out as the dunes that surround them. However, during history, they were gleaming white due to an outer layer of heavily polished limestone (and topped off with a gold cap). Thousands of years of wear and tear from sandstorms and attackers (particularly medieval sultans pilfering the precut blocks to build Cairo, which is nearby) revealed the brown core underneath. The Mummy and The Egyptian were among the few pieces of work to get this right.
    • Speaking of the pyramids: you often find them portrayed as being in the middle of nowhere, being very majestic, and easily accessed by pretty much anyone. In fact, they are only being saved from becoming engulfed in the urban jungle that is Giza (a "suburb" of Cairo with a population of nearly 3 million and growing fast) by the fact that tourist revenues would decline quite a bit if every view of the pyramids had a 10-story concrete apartment block behind it, the place is crowded with salesmen and tourists, and actually getting to the pyramid will put you back a fair amount of money (unless you're an Egyptian citizen or the spouse or child thereof). Or, well, hear Cracked explain it.
      • Additionally, the standard panoramic shot of majestic rolling dunes with camel drivers in the foreground and the three pyramids and the sphinx visible in the background is impossible, as there's only a single spot in the entire complex from which all three pyramids are visible simultaneously without any of them partially blocking the view of any of them others or being too close to one to see the whole thing, and from there, they completely block any possible view you might have had of the sphinx, which would be facing away from you anyway. The sphinx is also much smaller in comparison to the pyramids than it's generally portrayed, being "only" about half a city block long from nose to tail and a little over a story tall at the head. To be fair, this is still incredibly large, but the pyramids make it look positively diminutive unless you're up close. Also, the surrounding natural terrain consists largely of rocky sandstone hills rather the relatively flat sandy desert generally seen on film, and this tends to block large portions of the view from outside the complex. There are plenty of camel drivers, but the only reason they're anywhere near the pyramids is to offer rides to tourists. At least they got the "majestic" part right.
  • Continuing with the Egyptian theme, people often call foul whenever they see a white Cleopatra on television or film. In actuality, Cleopatra was ethnically Greek, although she was a native Egyptian (being born and raised in Alexandria and spoke the Egyptian language). Her family, the Ptolemys, were descended from one of Alexander the Great's generals when he conquered Egypt. Cleopatra's ancestry is well-documented and, upon becoming rulers of Egypt, the Ptolemys practiced many of the customs of the Pharaohs, such as brother-sister incest and marriage. Although Cleopatra and her older sister Berenice were probably of predominately Greek decent, there is some evidence that her younger siblings (Arsinoe, Ptolemy XIII, Ptolemy XIV) may have been of mixed race since Cleopatra and Berenice's mother/aunt disappears from the historical record before the births of their younger siblings and no information is given about their mother.
  • The Alamo has the same issue as the Pyramids. Perhaps in 1836, it was an isolated building at the outskirts of a small rural village as it's shown in the movies. Today, it's in the middle of the third-largest city in Texas and dwarfed by the surrounding buildings.
  • You know how whenever you see an eagle in the movies or on TV, they make a very loud high-pitched noise? Well you're more likely to hear a Red-Tailed Hawk's screech, as an eagle's vocalisations are more along the lines of chirping, although they can certainly be quite loud.
    • Lampshaded in Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? where the player can give Ann Tikwite a bald eagle whistle to use. When she uses it, a rather.. generic sounding chip is heard, followed by the eagle responding. Anne says "Whoa! For a big bird that's quite a small call!"
  • This remarkable landscape painting is actually a photograph.
  • Apparently, a lot of people think narwhals are mythical and that wolverines are just some fancy title for a certain X-Men character. Best illustrated by this.
    • In addition a lot of commentators refused to believe the sounds made by the Australian lyrebird (a bird known for mimicking practically any sound, including constructing equipment such as chainsaws) were real.
  • The sound of someone being punched in the face is a dull thud - akin to a textbook being dropped onto a table - rather than that psht sound you hear in TV and movies.
  • Some people become confused whenever fiction depicts someone without eyes using sound to get an accurate image of the shape of something. Such as in Daredevil and The Dark Knight films. It's actually possible; in fact, it's recently being used to help blind people. Nicknamed the 'bat boy' technique, they merely teach them how to make a small sound, and then map the resulting bouncing soundwaves off of nearby objects.
    • Humans have a small amount of innate ability to do this, for instance being able to know where walls are despite a room being pitch black, even in unfamiliar environments.
    • Indeed, some blind people can do some pretty amazing stuff with human echolocation, including extreme sports that most sighted people you know would never be able to pull off.
  • Adolf Hitler embodied so many Villain Ball Contrived Stupidity Tropes that World War II would never have passed muster as a fiction series. Just the fact that he escaped some 40 plus assassination attempts is probably enough to kill the series. (Even though most of the assassination attempts failed because they were abandoned, or the assassins got cold feet, or a Body Double was killed, not because of anything Hitler did.)
  • Speaking of, the Colonel Bogey March tune is true- Hitler did only have one ball.
    • Well...maybe. A medic from his unit in World War I ostensibly claimed to his confessor that Hitler lost it at the Battle of the Somme. The British popular press loved the idea and ran with it a few years ago, but the claim is still secondhand and unsubstantiated.
  • Quantum Mechanics and all its bizarre but true descriptions of phenomena. At one point it was revolutionary enough to belong here. Wave Particle Duality anyone?
    • Quantum Tunnelling is very significant at the scale at which electronics has shrunk to today. Heck, even the sun and stars wouldn't glow if it weren't truly possible. And that means...
  • If string theory and higher dimensions can actually be verified, than our picture of reality would turn out to be a lot weirder.
  • Reality is stranger than reality. Some scientists even say that it is impossible to fully understand it.
    • G. K. Chesterton once mentioned this in an essay, saying that (paraphrased):"Of course, reality would be stranger than fiction, as fiction suits our own tastes".
  • Some people think Pilgrims always dress something like this. In Real Life, those were actually formal wear as Pilgrims were agrarian people and were much more likely to be wearing clothes more suited for farming on a day-to-day basis.
  • Marco Polo's journal for centuries wasn't believed by Europeans to be true for quite some time. During his day, Europe couldn't wrap its head around the idea of far-off advanced Empire (China) that had silly stuff like:
    • Money made of paper.
    • Artificial shells (Porcelain)
    • Cloth that doesnt burn (Asbestos)
      • Asbestos was known in Ancient Greece (which is where the name comes from, ἄσβεστος = imperishable). The eternal flame on the Akropolis of Athens had a wick made of asbestos, and Greek physicians used handkerchiefs made of asbestos that could be cleaned in fire.
    • Furthermore, gold was nothing to them and they treasured a certain green stone above it (jade, which truly was worth more than gold in Imperial China).
    • While he didn't see a griffon's claw, if he were near Mongolia, it's perfectly possible that what he did see was the fossilised foot of a dinosaur.
    • Quadrupedal animals with a human face that monks feed out of the belief that they are humans reincarnated. In other words, langur monkeys in India.
  • The 2012 Mexico earthquake. 7.9 on the Richter scale, only two people died: one died because his house was poorly built, the other died of heart complications due to the fear caused by the earthquake. A pedestrian bridge collapsed on a bus with no passengers, leaving the driver with minor injuries, a man jumped off a building and only broke his legs, and buildings all over the city just had cracks appear on walls and windows bursting, but no collapsed structures were registered. This is in fact strange since it's the strongest earthquake ever registered in Mexico City since 1985, it was only 0.2 degrees off and was actually higher than the other three earthquakes (the 1985 aftershock and the 1957 and 1979 earthquakes that were registered at 7.6, 7.8 and 7.9 each).
    • This might be due to the fact that most buildings in Mexico are made of concrete blocks, and many construction regulations were enforced after the 1985 earthquake, making modern structures safer and evacuation plans be taken seriously and well known by everyone.
  • This controlled demolition of an actual dam looks like bad CGI, doesn't it?
  • Gravity makes no sense.
  • Food- people have gotten so used to certain artificial flavors that the real thing just doesn't taste right. For example, many people have only had the syrup made with corn syrup and the such so when they taste real maple syrup it just tastes off.
  • It is not always the case that "successful" suicides are obviously unhappy in the last few days or weeks of their lives. Some people who are suffering enough that they're considering taking their own lives actively try to hide their inner turmoil. A lot of times, they are so successful that their loved ones recall that they last time they saw their dead friend or relative alive, they seemed happy.
    • There's also the real possibility that these people were actually happy due to the thought that their pain would soon be over. Often, the inner turmoil lies in the earlier self-debate ("To be, or not to be"); once they have made the decision, they can be remarkably calm, methodical and at peace in the planning and execution of the act.
  • Brinicles, which are icicles formed underwater from extremely cold salt water, look a whole lot like a special effect even at regular speed. This is actually the first time a brinicle has been filmed in action, back in 2011 for the BBC's Frozen Planet documentary.
  • Part of the reason that so many conspiracy theories exist about the 9/11 attacks. People believe that the towers should have fallen over like cut trees instead of collapsing, causing many people to conclude that the destruction was caused by controlled demolition.
    • Another common claim is that the jet-fuel from the planes simply wasn't hot enough to melt the steel structural beams. Apparently, conspiracy theorists seem to be under the belief that the Twin Towers were either completely empty; or were filled with futuristic types of carpet, desk, paper, chairs, etc that doesn't burn! More importantly the steel bars didn't melt; they weakened and bent, as steel suddenly loses nearly half its strength after reaching a certain temperature.
    • Another claim is that the attack on the Pentagon was really a missile and the crash in Pennsylvania was rigged. The common claim being that there wasn't anything in the wreckage that looked like it was from a passenger jet. Nevermind that given a sufficient amount of force, any object will simply disintegrate into millions of pieces upon impact of a hard enough object. Here's a video of what happens when a fighter plane meets a reinforced concrete wall at 500 knots. The plane atomizes into unrecognizable dust.
  • Many from the West who see portrayals (or even actual recordings) of Soviet people invoking God's name or the like as expletives or in prayer often call it out as unrealistic, mostly because the USSR has always been said to be anti-religious to the point of suppressing any and all things even remotely related to religion. The reality was far more complex. Active religious practice was allowed in the Soviet Union, and while suppression or support tended to vary depending on the current leadership and sociopolitical atmosphere, there was never any real attempt to completely eradicate it. "Opium of the people" or not, centuries of influence from the Russian Orthodox Churchnote  isn't going to disappear just like that. At the inception of the USSR there was an attempt to enforce state atheism, but practical reality made implementation increasingly troublesome, and toward World War II Stalin himself also drastically reduced anti-religious regulation note . Some of the anti-religious restrictions were put back during the Khruschev era, but were again relaxed from the Brezhnev era onward.
    • And of course, experts on Karl Marx's writing will tell you that the famous "opium of the masses" quote meant something very different from what it's commonly been taken to mean -a Critical Research Failure that even the Soviets were not immune from.
    • For that matter, many of the details of Soviet life in general, which many Americans only saw in Cold-War-era Hollywood films and propaganda.
      • On the other hand, much Soviet bloc humour is surprisingly close to the reality while sounding outrageous to those living in the West. Case in point: one Polish comedy series involves an inventor designing a robot for the sole purpose of standing in queues. The robot was a joke, sure, but queues presented - 40 people in line to a small butcher's shop, for example - were absolutely everyday Polish reality.
  • Many people have a misconception about a person's body fat being used to prevent them from getting cold, most likely stemming from how whales are kept warm in cold waters due to their blubber. In actuality, an animal's (and person's) fatty deposits does reduce the amount of heat escaping from the body, but it doesn't prevent the animal or person suffering from frostbite when exposed to the elements for a prolonged amount of time. An overweight or obese human being would still need to wear layers of clothing when going outside in cold weather and their fat would not protect them that much better from the cold than someone who has less body fat. The reason whales and similar animals survive in the cold is because blubber is a different type of fat that is extremely dense and is packed together, which allows the body to collect and store lots of blubber while the common type of body fat is more loose and takes up more space.
    • Being fat does allow the human body to retain heat a bit more efficiently, but this has more to do with overall body shape than with fatty tissue's insulating properties. A plump body has a lower ratio of surface area (where heat is lost) to volume than a scrawny one.
    • There's also a misconception that only fat people pass gas, or fart. While most people who are overweight may have a poor diet that can cause a lot of gas to build up in their bodies, skinny people who also share similar bad diets (or eating certain kinds of foods in general) can also pass a lot of gas. Thanks to most forms of media showing that all fat people are total slobs that lack table manners, many people are more shocked in real life when a slim person passes gas and they don't bat an eye if a fat person passes gas.
  • Neopagans tend to speak of interacting with their gods in a more matter-of-fact way than most people are used to, "as if they're people." Historically, most pagans DID view their gods as (immortal and immensely powerful) people, or at least more accessible than how those of Judeo-Christian faiths view God.
  • Fans of Steampunk seem to have very little interest in actual early industrial steam technology like triple expansion stationary engines, steamships and steam locomotives. Common's too hot.
    • An even bigger irony is that a lot of people think steam power is obsolete. Coal, nuclear, oil and geothermal power plants rely on it to turn the turbines. Also, modern steam hobbyists have done some rather interesting things with steam technology.
  • Some people usually don't think of the Middle East as a place for snow because it's assumed to be too hot, or rather a desert. While the desert part is certainly true, there's a fair deal of heavily fertile land out in the Middle East. (Otherwise people wouldn't live there.) But as for snow covered mountains? Actually, for Iranians, that's perfectly normal - Iran actually has plenty of ski resorts. In fact, Persepolis even features a part where Marjane describes her friends taking her to one of said ski resorts.
  • One congresswoman hung up on Barack Obama, thinking he was a prank caller pretending to be Obama.
  • Radio controlled model helicopters. To most people unfamiliar with how helicopters actually work videos like this one and this one look very, very fake. In fact this is 100% real.
  • Here is someone saying that Alexis Denisof's American accent sounds fake even though they know that Denisof is American. He is best known for playing a Fake Brit on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • The Fertile Crescent. Yes, it still does exist and it is home for almost 100 million people. More people live there today than ever in history.
  • A common reaction on YouTube and the like to many fatal wrecks in auto racing is "that doesn't look bad", "I can't believe that was deadly", "that other wreck looked far worse". As the old saying goes "It's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop" - the same applies; spectacular fiery wipeouts with multiple somersaults and flying debris are usually far less dangerous than a sudden impact with a wall or another car.
    • Generally in auto crashes, the state of car's outer body-work has nothing to do with the chances for the people inside. Up to a certain point, if the car has buckled with the shock, then that shock has been absorbed rather than impacting on the driver/passengers- really sturdy cars can be barely dented by fatal crashes, and flimsy ones can be almost destroyed but leave all humans unharmed. (This is only up to a point, of course.)
  • Methane gas has no smell. The "rotten egg" aroma that's popularly associated with methane is an artificial additive, used to let people detect when commercially-delivered gas is leaking. Likewise, the aroma of flatulence is sulfur gas generated by intestinal bacteria, not methane.
  • People got so caught up in whether or not The Amityville Horror was fake that people thought the DeFeo murders was made up, and that the house didn't even exist.
  • When previews of CBS's Elementary came out, some people said that Johnny Lee Miller's British accent sounded fake. Johnny Lee Miller is British.
  • People are so used to the "fact" that carnivores and herbivores only eat meat and plants, respectively, that the idea of cows and deer eating meat and caiman and alligator eating fruit would qualify for this trope.
    • Most people don't believe that not only chicken eat meat they turn cannibalistic on their wounded, and that wild chickens are dangerous(they always go for the eyes first).
  • CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable): It is neither clean, nor pretty, nor reliable. While CPR does help save people in cardiac arrest, it's only if it's started immediately after the patient arrests. Even then, CPR alone doesn't bring someone back. It merely helps preserve the body, specifically the brain, by circulating what little oxygen is left in the body until proper life support measures can be performed, like defibrillation or cardiac drugs. Even so, the rate of return of spontaneous circulation in out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, with full Advanced Cardiac Life Support measures implemented, is only around 3-5%, with neurological recovery (i.e. not a vegetable) is less than that. That's the "reliable" part. The "clean and pretty" part doesn't usually show fractured ribs or copious vomit.
    • A corollary to that: the Magical Defibrillator. Defibrillation is only used in specific arrythmias, like ventricular fibrillation (hence the name, defibrillator) or ventricular tachycardia. It does no damn good in any other situation. A defibrillating shock actually stops the heart, in the hope that the heart's natural pacemaker will take over again. If a patient's heart has completely stopped (asystole, or "flatline"), a defibrillator is useless. Cardioversion, which is a specific type of shock synchronized to the heart rhythm, is used to treat dangerous tachycardias that are still perfusing.
  • Some people with Rapunzel Hair find it as difficult to manage as the trope implies, but just as many people find it easier to take care of since they can just braid or bun it, they have considerably fewer bad hair days, and they don't have to waste money on styling products or haircuts every few weeks.
  • It's fairly easy to see the moon during the day if the sky is clear enough, but it's commonly assumed in fiction that the moon only appears at night.
  • Fans of anime and manga are usually surprised to find out that Japan is nothing like how it is portrayed in Japanese pop culture.
    • Similarly fans of Yaoi can find it hard to believe that Japanese attitudes toward homosexuality and bisexuality are very varied. Only among fujoshi/fudanshi (the local "yaoi" fans), actual GLBT subculture, and some parts of Visual Kei are both embraced as a legitimate orientation. In mainstream society it's often seen as taboo or "immature" behavior not to be spoken of, or that gay men or lesbian women need to "grow up and get married to an opposite sex partner and have kids." While it isn't illegal to engage in consensual same-sex relations or relationships in Japan nor is it "illegal" to present as either gender, it is nigh-impossible to codify the relationship formally via law (no same-sex marriage, no listing on family registry) or to change one's gender legally and formally (to have one's gender in all official documents changed from female to male or male to female).
    • The same can be said about any country with pop culture exports.
  • People who have sex for the first time are often surprised that it doesn't feel like they thought it would. As always Cracked have covered this one with The Five Parts of Sex Porn Doesn't Prepare You For.
  • The life of King Henry IV of England reads like a laundry list of Heroic Fantasy and adventure story cliches. The eldest son and heir of John of Gaunt, the red-haired Henry of Bolingbroke was the best jouster in all of England, heir to an immensely wealthy estate, and popular with most because of his integrity, honesty, and generosity, and he was a crusader. All this put him in direct contrast with Richard II, an incompetent and capricious monarch who surrounded himself with corrupt favorites and whose taxes impoverished the populace. He joined a cadre of leading noblemen to prosecute Richard's favorites. When Richard, in response, had most of these nobles exiled or killed, he challenged the man he thought responsible to a Duel to the Death, and was exiled by Richard for it. While in exile, his father died and the estates of Lancaster were seized by Richard to pay for his wars in Ireland. He returned to England with a party of retainers to reclaim his inheritance, and along the way, his noble supporters seized the rest of the country and he was crowned king. He soon learned that it wasn't always great to be king when he was forced to imprison and then kill Richard II after a rebellion had risen in his name, and the experience shook him to the core, and he spent the rest of his reign angsting about what he did to become king.
    • Let's not forget Geoffrey Chaucer vanished under mysterious circumstances when he became King - keep in mind, Chaucer attacked the Church mercilessly in his writings, and it became treason and heresy punishable by death to criticize the Church.
  • Steve Jobs is a thinly-veiled ripoff of Kevin Flynn from TRON and Peter Weyland from Prometheus, as shown by this 1984 press conference.
  • Modern software development is not a one-shot deal, that is, the team is working on that software product from start to finish. Most companies that do software development with large enough teams do so in assembly line fashion. Taking a game for example, the artists aren't on the team for the entire development period of the game. Once they're done, they move onto the next project while the coders start their work using the artists' assets. People who don't know this tend to be irate when things such as day-one DLC come out, the complaint that if it's available at launch, why wasn't it included in the main game? The answer: because the DLC was worked on when the other teams were done and because it has a shorter development cycle, it may just very well be done when the main game is.
  • Adherents to the widely-held belief that Elvis Presley was solely responsible for the birth of rock and roll find it hard to accept that many artists, most notably the likes of Bill Haley, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley (none of whom fit the "sexy rocker" stereotype Elvis personified) were innovating, recording and having hit records with rock and roll well before Elvis became a national sensation.
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