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Critical Research Failure / Live-Action Films

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Critical Research Failures in live-action movies.

Unintentional Examples

  • Roland Emmerich's disaster movie 2012:
    • This trailer for the film refers to the Mayans as "mankind's earliest civilization" within the first ten seconds. The Chinese, Sumerians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Egyptians are some of the many who say otherwise—also the Olmecs, who came up with the Long Count calendar all the brouhaha comes from in the first place.
    • The scene of Yellowstone inflating like a balloon in a matter of seconds and exploding like a nuclear weapon, clearly indicating they didn't even bother to get online and look up just what a super volcano is. An earlier draft of the script presents an even more absurd depiction, in which the ground just drops away to reveal a buried volcanic crater, which then erupts.
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    • The film also attributes the apocalypse to mutating neutrinos. Mutation, to put it in simple terms, refers to random changes in the genes of living things. Neutrinos are subatomic particles, and therefore not something that can 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'.
  • Alice in Wonderland (2010) claims the poem Jabberwocky is in reference to Alice when the poem clearly refers to a boy slaying the monster and also calls the creature "Jabberwocky" instead of the name "Jabberwock" that it goes by in the poem.
  • Near the end of Alvin and the Chipmunks Road Chip, Simon claims that there's no such thing as 1000%. As any child whose passed 5th grade math could tell you, percentage is a numerator built on relative quantity. Claiming that 1000% doesn't exist is roughly equivalent to saying the number ten doesn't exist. It was a clumsy way of stating something that is true; there cannot be more than 100% of something where 100% is defined as the limit of that thing. For example, you cannot give more than 100% of your time. But you could give someone more than 100% of the amount of money that is in your wallet, by using a credit card.
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  • The Amazing Colossal Man features a scientist who claims that "the heart is made up of a single cell."note 
  • 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 fake one must have been put onscreen. If they had to make a fake one, then why are they claiming it's a real flower in a film that claims to be based on history?! This is not even getting into the film's claims about De Vere writing Shakespeare's plays...
  • In Avengers: Age of Ultron, it's a huge plot point that Ultron is prevented from hacking into the "Nexus Internet Hub" in Norway and gaining access to nuclear codes. There are two major problems here:
    • Not only does the Nexus Internet Hub not exist in real life, but the entire point of the Internet is not relying on a central hub. It was originally created by the US government wanting to connect its defense systems in such a way that the network would still function if one or more points were destroyed. Even after the Internet went public and international in the 90s, it retains this fundamental aspect.
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    • No country keeps its nuclear codes online. In the United States, the codes are printed on hard copy and have to be spoken by the president over a secured phone line. The system has more or less stayed the same since the 1940s to avoid the exact problems this movie spells out (keeping the codes from falling into the hands of a malicious hacker).
  • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman frequently commits murder with firearms without showing any major signs of guilt. To justify this incarnation of Batman's use of guns, Zack Snyder claimed in an interview that the Dark Knight Returns incarnation of Batman "kills all the time" and stole a criminal's machine gun before he "shoots the guy right between the eyes with the machine gun". However, as the interview's comments section makes clear, this never happens in the comic: Batman takes a mutant's gun, and shoots the wall next to another mutant so that she gives up a baby. Neither mutant is killed, as shown here and here. The same mutant shows up perfectly alive later on to confirm that Batman did not shoot her. Furthermore, The Dark Knight Returns incarnation of Batman blatantly Doesn't Like Guns, and it is repeated several times in the graphic novel that no matter what happens to him, Batman cannot be pushed into killing.
  • Battle of the Bulge begins with opening narration describing General Patton's 3rd Army on the southern part of the front in Northwest Europe, and Montgomery's 8th Army in the north. The 8th Army had fought in North Africa, Sicily and Italy under Montgomery, and remained in Italy until the end of the war. Montgomery's command was the 21st Army Group, with two armies under command (1st Canadian and 2nd British). So while the identification of his command was wrong, so was the implication that Montgomery and Patton were somehow rivals. Montgomery was a step higher in the chain of command. Bradley, who commanded the 12th Army Group, was his closest equivalent in the US forces. This was only the first of a film full of anachronisms and research failures that prompted Dwight Eisenhower to come out of retirement and denounce the movie at a press conference.
  • The tagline of the film Biggles is "Meet Jim Ferguson. He lived a daring double-life with one foot in the 20th century and the other in World War I." World War I happened in the 20th century.
  • The writer of Courage Under Fire admits that when he wrote the script, which involves a female military officer who died in the first Gulf War becoming "the first female Medal of Honor recipient", he didn't even bother to check whether or not there already was a woman who had that honor. Turns out that Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, a US Army doctor, won the award during the Civil War, some 130+ years before Courage Under Fire was set, when she refused to leave patients she was treating despite the fact that her field hospital was being actively shelled by the Confederate army. What makes this worst is that there were two things that would have avoided this from becoming an example: A) The Medal of Honor received by Walker was not for bravery in actual combat while Walden (the officer in Courage Under Fire) does receive it for bravery in combat. As of 2016 no woman has ever received the Medal of Honor for actual combat against an enemy, so Walden would still be unprecedented; and B) Walker was a civilian employed by the Army as a surgeon, but in documents it was considered the equivalent of a commissioned captain, so Walden would also be the first woman to actually serve in uniform and receive the medal. Had they added any one of those notes, and it would have been a whole different case.
  • The MST3K-featured film Devil Fish has a rather infuriating example when a character who is supposed to be an expert is playing a slideshow of prehistoric marine life—mostly animals contemporaneous to, or even predating, the dinosaurs. We're then told they lived in the "Cetaceous" period (pronounced like 'cetacean'), which was two hundred years ago—not two hundred million, two hundred.
  • Die Hard 2:
    • If you have even a cursory knowledge of airports, the entire plot will fall flat on its face. It relies on the whole cast not knowing that all of those airliners flying around without a working runway can just fly to another airport. The movie tries to explain this by saying that the nearest other airport is shut down because of the snowstorm, but if those airliners are carrying enough fuel to circle the sky for two hours, they can just fly to an airport farther away. For reference, the film takes place in Washington, D.C., which has two nearby airports that are actually mentioned in the film: Dulles International (the target of the terrorist plot) and Reagan National (the one that's shut down). With the Mid-Atlantic United States being the most densely-populated region in the country, there are at least a dozen major airports within 300 miles of DC that an airplane can reach in two hours with fuel to spare (Baltimore International, for instance, which isn't that much farther away from Dulles than Reagan), not counting the various military bases that would receive commercial airliners in the event of an emergency.
    • It also features a scene where the hero claims that the criminals were carrying "Glock 7" handguns that are invisible to airport scanners because they are made of porcelain rather than metal. Even accepting this ludicrous premise (a real Glock is about 87% steel in reality and cannot get through an X-ray or metal detector, and the action of firing a bullet creates too much pressure for the barrel or chamber, even of a handgun, to be made of anything but metal), anyone would know that bullets are also made of metals such as lead (there's a reason the phrase "Eat lead!" refers to bullets), and would thus set off metal detectors regardless of what the gun carrying them is made of. This is also ignoring that airport scanners don't just look for metal, but shape as well. A non-metallic gun will still show up, and though it won't be as bright as a metallic one, anything gun-shaped will raise eyebrows.
    • Also, Dulles International Airport is constantly referred to as being in Washington, D.C. when it is actually in Virginia, dozens of miles away. Also, the airport in the movie looks nothing like the real thing. Did we mention the payphones in Dulles featured the Pacific Bell logo?
  • The kids' movie Five Children and It features a scene in which an eccentric math teacher is about to discover that kid-related shenanigans have been going on, while one of the kids is desperately trying to distract him by finding the answer to a complicated sum. The kid eventually announces that the answer is "3,486,522." The teacher beams "Ah! A prime number of the Siemens series!" and is successfully distracted. Admittedly, the "Siemens series" isn't a real thing so whatever it is we can't say 3,486,522 isn't one, but since 3,486,522 is an even number, and the only even prime is 2 (all other even natural numbers are multiple of 2), it isn't prime.
  • Fantastic Four (2015) had a lot of these, possibly justifying the Troubled Production and its Ash Can Copy status.
    • Victor's rant about how it's not "fair" that Planet Zero will be first explored by astronauts instead of the people who built the teleporters has a lot of this. He complains that maybe they're going to send in the CIA. The CIA, being an intelligence agency, would have absolutely nothing to do with the exploration of new planets. Their purview is more about already-established countries.
    • Victor complains about how everyone remembers Neil Armstrong and that nobody remembers the scientists that made the moon landing possible, and that the scientists deserved to go to the moon first. The audience is supposed to side with him, but multiple failures in research become apparent:
      • Anyone who has even the slightest idea of engineering, physics, and space travel would be aware of how extensive astronaut training is and how expensive it would be to put even one person on the moon.note 
      • Anyone with a knowledge of sociology and politics would recognize how urgent the US's space race against the USSR was at the time and that obviously, only a small crew could actually make the trip.
      • Anyone with a decent knowledge of history would note that a key scientific figure who made the Apollo 11 mission possible — Wernher Von Braun — was very famous at the time (having made several television appearances in the fifties, sixties, and seventies), and that his absence in the conversation is pretty conspicuous.
      • Critic Brad Jones, in his Midnight Screenings review of the film, pointed out two other flaws with Victor's claim: 1) Apollo 11 was built by a crew of over hundreds of thousands, not just four teen prodigies, hence why the astronauts got most of the fame, and 2) the astronauts themselves have been vocal about their gratitude to the engineers whose work kept them alive during their journey.
      • Furthermore, the research failure comes across as being particularly egregious based on who is saying it — since Victor is a genius scientist who has worked in a similar field, he should know all of this, as should Reed. At the very least, for what little credit they deserve, Victor's over-inflated ego has consistently been a problem for him across all versions of the character and all three of them are shit-faced drunk during the discussion.
    • Any kid can tell you that 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea's plot is not about a man who builds a submarine which can go deeper than any other, since the 20,000 leagues refers to the distance traveled across the sea while under it, not the depth the submarine traveled. The ocean is only, at most, 36,000 feet/6.7 miles deep. while 20,000 leagues is 60,000 miles. Also, Reed calls Captain Nemo a hero a role model, while anyone who knows anything about the plot knows that Nemo is a villain who tries to wage a one-submarine war against Britain.
    • More based on the behind-the-scenes area, but one of Josh Trank's more controversial moments was when he described the comic book version of Susan Storm of being a 'slutty secretary', to negatively compare her to his version which he tried to present as a progressive change to the character. Ignoring the insulting connotations such a description has, it's simply not true; beyond being attracted to Namor, she's only ever been with one man in the mainstream comics and, save for a serious out of character moment, always dressed conservatively.
    • Josh Trank cited Bryan Hitch's work on The Ultimates as an inspiration for the movie, particularly Hitch's rendition of Reed Richards working in his garage. However, Reed Richards was not a main character in The Ultimates (he only briefly showed up in Ultimates 2 and only became a prominent figure in the Ultimate Comics era as a villain) and Bryan Hitch did not provide the artwork for the actual series that image originated from, which was Ultimate Fantastic Four. At best, Hitch came up with the character designs and provided cover art.
  • Flight Of The Living Dead has an amazing one for anyone with even a faint knowledge of medicine, by having a mutated Malaria Virus be the cause of the outbreak. That must be one hell of a mutation to turn a parasitic protozoan into a virus.
  • A major part of the criticism for God's Not Dead and it sequels is the slews of major mistakes made by the filmmakers.
    • All three films have constant statements on how "atheists hate God". This ignores the quite obvious issue that it would be pretty hard to hate something you don't even believe exists. Such an attitude actually belongs to misotheism.
    • The entire plot of the first film is that an Intro to Philosophy teacher demands a student proclaim there is no God. When the student refuses, the teacher basically tries to ruin his life. First, no modern-day college would allow a student to be persecuted by a teacher for his beliefs under any circumstances. Second, the idea that a minor philosophy professor is somehow a major influence in college is laughable. Third is that no self-respecting philosophy professor would force his students to accept a view without question as that would defeat the point of philosophy.
    • A Chinese student calls his father, one speaking Mandarin and the other Cantonese. The film treats it like all Chinese dialects are the same but any Chinese person can attest that it's like speaking two totally different languages. Not to mention how bizarre it would be for a father and son to speak two different dialects.
    • The father claims that his son becoming Christian will hurt the chances to bring his brother to America. Ignoring how that makes little sense, China's one-child policy makes it unlikely (though not completely impossible) for the boy to even have a brother.
    • Ayisha's father is a "conservative" Muslim who makes her wear a Naqib… while allowing her to wear skirts and shirts that show off cleavage.
    • The classes take place over four straight days whereas most major colleges would have them every other day.
    • The credits list a set of cases meant to prove the movie's point of Christians being persecuted. Instead, many of the cases have nothing to do with religious issues but political ones and, in fact, many involve Christians persecuting LGBT people.
    • The sequel has a Christian teacher being pushed to be fired and then sued just for mentioning Jesus in school. This would be perfectly legal and only an issue if she was trying to indoctrinate the students into a religion.
    • The film perpetuates the myth that children are not allowed to pray in school, which is a total falsehood. In fact, it's considered illegal for a teacher to stop a child from doing it. There's also a statement of it being illegal to pray in any school, ignoring how there are slews of private schools where it's allowed. Only public school teachers are forbidden to lead students in prayer, as that would be government endorsement of a religion. Moreover, even with a case like this the public school would be the one who'd be sued (assuming they endorsed or permitted a teacher's preaching-here it's very much the opposite). They also couldn't take away her teacher's certificate. She could get another job at a public or private school elsewhere.
    • The ACLU is shown as an evil organization that's out to destroy Christians. This ignores how quite often, they've defended Christians as their mission is to protect all beliefs. They only get on the bad side of Christians in groups that insist on pushing their beliefs on others so much. In fact, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, one group that fights to preserve this, was founded by Christians who disliked preferences given to particular sects (this has caused frequent problems in America's past, including even riots).
    • Claire is appointed a public defender... for a civil law case. In fact, there's a plot about the jury used for the trial, ignoring how a case like this would be in federal court instead where there is no jury. Indeed, many of the legal terms thrown about are more for a criminal case. They never even make it clear what Claire is being sued for.
    • One character claims that the way our calendar counts from the approximate birth time of Jesus as proof of his existence. However, the anno domini (A.D.) way of counting years in the calendar wasn't invented until the 6th century by Dionysus Exiguus, a monk living in the Eastern Roman Empire, long after Christianity had been adopted as an official religion by the Roman and Byzantine empires. Historians believe Jesus was born between 4 BC (Herod's death) and 7 AD (Quirinius' census), based on the stories of his birth in the Gospels.note 
    • A somewhat troubling aspect is the movie seeming to argue that the First Amendment only pertains to Christians rather than be the free speech of everyone. There's also how it shows the government arresting preachers for not showing their sermons, which is blatantly illegal. To hear the movie tell it, separation of church and state is non-existent and the U.S. government is like a Middle Eastern nation able to throw people in jail just for being Christian. Not only is that totally inaccurate but some might argue it's the opposite in real life with Christians demanding the government put their beliefs first.
    • While the third film tones down the propaganda aspects, it still makes a key problem with its plot. The idea is that when a church on the grounds of a college burns down, the college attempts to use eminent domain to seize it and tear it down. Only a city or state government would have that power, not a school. Plus, it was on their grounds to begin with, meaning they technically already owned the building and thus have no need to seize it.
  • Godzilla franchise:
    • For all the good things we can say about the Japanese cut of the first Godzilla, it's still got a pretty glaring one of these when Prof. Yamane says that dinosaurs lived 2 million years ago, when any child could tell you that they went extinct 66 million years ago.
    • Any and all films in the franchise can be expected to turn out half a dozen examples of this trope when trying to explain how Godzilla can exist. Nuclear bombs inevitably play a large role in his presence.
    • In Godzilla vs. Megalon, the Moainote  of Rapa Nuinote  are described as being "3 million years old" - at oldest, they're only about 800 (humans been around 200,000 years, so this was really off).
  • In Godzilla (1998) has a scene where a US Army is inquiring what a Frenchman is doing at the scene of the clawed freighter. The problem? It's in Tahiti, a French overseas territory. The US troops are the ones who shouldn't be there. No wonder the French sent their secret service after them.
  • Indiana Jones is good for quite a few:
    • Raiders of the Lost Ark depicts a massive Nazi presence and archaeological dig in Egypt, which at the time was a British protectorate and would obviously have never allowed a substantial armed excavation force to turn up and dig.
    • The first part of the film revolves around an archaeological dig in "the lost city of Tanis" which had just recently been discovered. Tanis is a rather well known archaeological site, and has been the site of digs since 1866. A world famous archaeologist should have known this.
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom has a portrayal of India and Hinduism that is either shockingly racist (as in 1920s era racist) or laughably ridiculous, and hopelessly misinformed all the same.
    • The general idea of a Thuggee cult that sacrificed victims existing in the 1930s - the Thuggees had their reputation exaggerated out of all proportion and whatever gangs existed pretty much fell apart in the late 19th century. Indiana Jones would have been more likely to run into honest-to-goodness Communists than Thuggees in 1930s India.
    • Shiva and Kali are not Good and Evil - in several branches of Hinduism, particularly in West Bengal, Kali is Shiva's wife and no matter where in India, Kali is an entirely benevolent deity no matter how terrifying she may appear. There's an entirely different male demon with a similar-sounding name (who is indeed supposed to be the living embodiment of vice), but he has nothing to do with the goddess Kali.
    • Monkeys may be a nuisance and nowhere near as sacred as cows (the trope Sacred Cow exists for a reason) but they're nevertheless considered representatives of the God Hanuman and nobody in India would ever think of eating monkey brains. An Indian maharajah would either be entirely vegetarian or stick to non-taboo meats like chicken, fish and mutton.
  • At one point in Jupiter Ascending, Jupiter uses a maxi pad as a makeshift band-aid for Caine's wound. That in and of itself is not a bad idea—the disposable absorbent pad was actually developed to treat battlefield wounds and was quickly adapted for menstrual hygiene—but she applies the sticky side to the wound, not the side actually designed for absorbing blood. One would think her actress, Mila Kunis, would know herself which side does which.
  • According to Kingdom of Heaven, Jerusalem is in the middle of a flat desert. A bit of a surprise to anyone who saw or read about the holy city's verdant hills.
  • The magic ticket from Last Action Hero is said to come from Harry Houdini. This couldn't be farther from reality, since Houdini was a staunch opponent of such claims and debunked many himself.
  • The entire premise of Lucy rides on the concept that we only use 10% of our brain. This concept has never had any scientific backing and in fact was started by a misquote in the 1936 self-help book How To Win Friends And Influence Peoplenote . Although even Albert Einstein quoted this once, the fact of the matter is people use 100% of their brain and most people have known this for quite a while now.
    • Also notable is the scene in the end, when Lucy goes back in time while sitting in Times Square, until she reaches the time before European settlement and meets four horse-riding Native Americans. It was the Europeans who introduced horses in the area. While she can also move through space, it is clear that she is only traveling through time in this instance.
  • A Matter of Faith: The debate ticks pretty much every box on the list of long-since refuted creationist arguments, from "evolution claims life created itself out of nothing" to "evolution hasn't been observed":
    • Evolution makes no claim about how life came into existence: that field is called abiogenesis. Evolution explains how life exists the way it does now and how it changed over time into its current state.
    • Evolution has been observed, not just by examining the available evidence in the fossil record, but also by observing the change of species in the present. Examples include insects becoming resistant to pesticides, and the Italian wall lizards who were introduced to the island Pod Mrčaru from a neighboring island and changed radically in just a few decades.
    • During one of his classes, Kaman cites the fact that athletic records today are higher than they were decades ago as a proof of evolution changing us genetically. No real biology professor would chalk that up to evolution since humans don't change that much genetically from one generation to the next or the one after that; several other factors affect athletic records. Modern running tracks, for example, are made of synthetic carpets specifically designed to allow runners to move as fast and unhindered as possible, while older running tracks, like the one Jesse Owens set his Olympic record on, were made of soft cinders that stole a lot of energy from the runners' steps and slowed them down. Then there's changes in rules of the different sports, advancements in technology and the differences in mentality between athletes then and now. Genetics do play a part as well, but only in the sense that an average build used to be considered ideal for all sports, but now professional sports tend to pick athletes with physiques better suited for the sports, such as extremely tall people for professional basketball and smaller people for professional gymnastics.
    • One of the debate topics is the claim that both evolution and creationism is "a matter of faith". Faith is defined (here) as a belief without evidence. Evolution has mountains of evidence to back up its claims whereas creationism only has the Bible or other books that heavily use the Bible for its "evidence". This is the main reason why evolution is accepted in the scientific community as it constantly withstands the test of time and evidence, whereas creationism hasn't changed since its original hypothesis.
      • In addition, defining "faith" as "belief without evidence" is a critical research failure by itself. Or, at the very least, a definition that only the most fundamentalist of fundamentalists could accept. Not even then usually either-they mostly claim the evidence shows that their faith is correct (more specifically here, that creationism is true). Believers will largely define faith as something like "trust in God based on the evidence they have for him".
    • One of Rachel's classmates mentions Kaman teaching that humans came from apes. Evan interrupts him and starts asking him if his mother, grandmother or other recent relative "looked like an ape" and "which of them was a monkey". While it's presented as an Armor-Piercing Question that shoots the other student clean out of the sky, it is a tired creationist argument that fails for a couple of critical reasons:
      • Nobody is saying a monkey-like species suddenly started giving birth to humans just a few generations ago. The transition into humans from ape-like ancestors such as Australopithicus afarensis and Homo erectus happened over millions of years.
      • While apes and monkeys are both primates, they are not the same thing; they are separate suborders within the primate order and have very different physical characteristics. Humans are a branch of apes that shares common origins with the others, not descended from an extant type.
  • The Matrix:
    • Morpheus's exposition that people are kept in suspended animation because they were needed as batteries for the machines is such an egregious violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics that it makes everyone with just a cursory knowledge of physics groan. The original treatment had the brains of humans used as sub-processors, which is at least defensible, but thought to be too complicated for moviegoers.
    • Agent Smith mentions his contempt for humans, claiming that humans are the only creatures that don't instinctively seek an equilibrium to stop population growth, saying they are more like viruses than mammals. In reality, all animals will reproduce out of control if given the opportunity (i.e. enough food and a lack of predators). Humanity has witnessed (and caused) this to happen in a wide range of species when something happens to the population of their predators or when introduced to a new environment (rabbits in Australia for example). There is no natural instinct against it-rather, a species will continue doing this until they wreck their environment and go extinct, or are culled by predators (assuming they are prey animals).
  • In Nightbreed, a character warns a civilian about "claymores" (a type of land mine) in the area. The camera cuts down not to a land mine, but a grenade connected to a tripwire. A little more subtly, on top of that, its blue detonator marks it as a dummy grenade.
  • In Patch Adams, the title character is ranting at God after love interest Carin dies. At one point, he laments that of all the creatures on Earth, humans are the only ones who kill their own kind. Ever watched the Discovery Channel, Patch? It'd be more accurate to say that humans are the only ones who bother to feel bad about it.
  • The Peacemaker: In this film dealing entirely with problems arising from the fall of the Soviet Union, the writers don't bother to check a post-Soviet map of the world, and include crossings of the non-existent Russo-Iranian and Russo-Turkish borders as critical plot points.
  • In Plan 9 from Outer Space, Eros informs the heroes that "a ray of sunlight is made up of many atoms." Light is made of photons. Eros then says that an atomic bomb works by exploding a single atom, so that a bomb which detonates sunlight will be vastly more powerful due to sunlight having many atoms.
  • According to Puma Man Stonehenge is apparently an Aztec artifact. Even if you only have passing knowledge of the Aztecs and Aztec Mythology, you'd probably know Stonehenge is in Europe while the Aztecs were in Central America.
  • In Resident Evil the Red Queen computer explains to the protagonists how the T-Virus works by reanimating cells. It then goes on to explain how some cells are still alive after a body dies, and says that a person's hair and nails keep growing after they die. That idea is actually an old disproven myth. Hair and nails don't keep growing, but as the skin dehydrates and shrinks around them, it gives that illusion.
  • Saving Mr. Banks has a moment where P.L. Travers is given a stuffed animal of Disney's design of Winnie-the-Pooh, and bemoans the quality of the Disney shorts. Saving Mr. Banks is a film about the making of Mary Poppins. The first of Disney's Winnie the Pooh shorts wasn't released until a full year after Mary Poppins had been released.
  • Shanghai Knights: Roy proposes that he and Wang go to Hollywood to get involved in the film industry, which is a major anachronism in a couple of ways. The film is set in 1887, while the first motion picture camera was patented in 1889, screening films for an admission fee didn't originate until the mid-1890s, and Hollywood didn't have a film industry until the 1910s.
  • Short Circuit: The 2nd movie shows Johnny 5 reading The Hound of the Baskervilles, halfway through the book he says, "I think the chauffeur did it" and upon finishing the book he says, "He did." The actual book ends completely differently than what Johnny 5 claims (a butler is not even one of the suspects).
  • The Sum of All Fears is about a missing nuclear weapon. The movie's poster has pictures of surface-to-air missiles designed for shooting down airplanes. Not only that, the nuclear weapon that is missing is a warhead that was attached to an airplane-dropped free-fall bomb, not a surface-launched missile.
  • Swordfish: Gabriel Shear rants about Dog Day Afternoon, and how he would have liked it to end differently, with hostages being shot, yet Dog Day Afternoon was based on a real event, and made an effort to depict those events realistically. Though not confirmed as intentional, this might as well be a demonstration of how out of touch the villain is.
  • This Island Earth has this line: "It's only Neutron. We call him that because he's so positive." Neutrons of course have no charge.
  • In Vantage Point, Moroccan Muslim radicals want to assassinate the President of the United States, but they all have Spanish names like "Veronica" or "Suarez". While part of Morocco was a Spanish colony at one point, Moroccans did not adopt Spanish names, nor do Spaniards who convert to Islam retain their Christian birth names. Matthew Fox's character also reveals himself to be working for the bad guys by talking in Spanish, even though his character is not Hispanic and his grasp of the language is poor, to say the least.
  • A View to a Kill:
    • James Bond is presented with the Soviet Order of Lenin and described as the first foreign recipient of the USSR's highest decoration, when Italian communist politician Luigi Longo received it many, many years earlier.
    • Roger Ebert pointed out that the villain's evil scheme makes no sense if you have any knowledge of computer manufacturing. Zorin's plan is to corner the market on microchips by destroying Silicon Valley, which would wipe out his competitors. In reality, this would do very little to affect Zorin's market share, since microchips aren't usually manufactured in Silicon Valley. If he wanted to destroy his competitors, he would have had to attack factories overseas somewhere like China. Also, given that many of the tech firms in Silicon Valley produce devices that require microchips, Zorin would essentially be taking out a huge chunk of his own customers.
  • Waterworld. Even if every single polar ice cap and iceberg on the planet melted, it wouldn't be nearly enough to flood the entire Earth. Let alone have Denver be a mile underwater.

In-Universe and Invoked Examples

  • 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.
  • Bluto's speech in Animal House gives us this gem:
    "Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!"
    "Forget it, he's rollin'."
  • S.H.I.E.L.D. of all people have this at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger. After Steve Rogers is unfrozen after crashing the HYDRA Valkyrie in 1945, they try to ease him into the present day by building a fake 1940s hospital room, complete with a 1940s 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 are because Nick Fury wanted to know how much sharpness Captain America lost during his long sleep, making this an Invoked Trope.
  • Avengers: Endgame: When listing movies that use time travel, Scott Lang names Die Hard, a movie with no time travel whatsoever. He may have been thinking of Looper or 12 Monkeys. Fortunately, Scott catches his mistake.
  • 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.
  • Actually serves as a plot point in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. The characters win a vacation on a radio contest by answering the question "What is the capital of Brazil?" with "Rio de Janeiro", while the actual capital is Brasília. It is however revealed later that the trip was a set up, so they would have won regardless of what answer they gave.
  • Snatch.: Tommy says to Turkish that he shouldn't drink milk because it's not in sync with evolution and that human digestion hasn't gotten used to drinking dairy products yet. Not only is this complete nonsense on every level (human infants all drink milk, and lactase persistence is one of the best-known examples of divergent evolution between human populations after our exodus from Africa), but Turkish seems aware of it as well.
    Turkish: Well fuck me. What have you been reading.
  • Trading Places has this example from the heroes' Massive Multi Player Scam:
    Coleman: Let me see, you would be from Austria. Am I right?
    Ophelia: No, I am Inga from Sweden.
    Coleman: Sweden? ...But you're wearing ...Lederhosen.
    Ophelia: Ja, from Sweden.


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