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Critical Research Failure / Western Animation

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Critical Research Failures in western animation TV.

Unintentional Examples

  • Arthur's Perfect Christmas has Mr. Read planning on preparing a dinner based on what people would've eaten at the first Christmas. Arthur imagines having to eat a disgusting looking hunk of camel, but he needn't worry because camel is not kosher food. (Justified, as he is eight years old.)
  • Archer is famous for its pop culture references, but the characters still screw up their facts a few times.
    • In one episode, when discussing the world's worst co-worker, Pam suggests Bishop from Aliens, even though Bishop was extremely helpful to Ripley and the marines, and served as one of the film's main protagonists. If they wanted an evil android co-worker from the Aliens franchise, they probably meant the traitorous Ash from the previous film, Alien.
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    • While hunting in the snow, Archer is initially scared of the Predator, before reminding himself that he only hunts in tropical jungles. However, the whole premise of Predator 2 is a Predator loose in a city (though to be fair that city is Los Angeles in the middle of a heat wave).
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius:
    • Jimmy in one episode refers to the Cretaceous period as the Cretaceous era (the era was the Mesozoic), and that it ended 200 million years ago. Any dinosaur-crazed eight-year-old could tell you that it ended 65 million years ago.
    • In "The Big Pinch", Thomas Edison was said to discover electricity, and bringing him into the present would cause anything electric to vanish. That's actually just a common misconception: Thomas Edison dabbled in electricity, but he was not the first to discover itnote . Edison also even the only person in the world to popularize the light bulb (Joseph Swan did that in the UK) and modern electric systems are based on Tesla's alternating current, not Edison's direct current.
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    • Other examples include claiming that Chinese ginseng is a muscle relaxant, HDL Cholesterol is bad for you, Australia isn't a continent, and that people can never change because their personality is imprinted on their brain at birth.note 
  • An episode of Archie's Weird Mysteries had a mummy haunting the museum it was kept in. It turns out the mummy was vengeful because his fiancée left him because he kept putting off their wedding until after his pyramid was built. One, pyramids tended to take a pharaoh's whole life to build and sometimes weren't completed until after their death; two, pharaohs were married as children; and three, a pharaoh's marriage was arranged for them between them and one of their siblings, so no one could just decide to leave a marriage they were fed up with.
  • Ben 10:
    • The episode The Galactic Enforcers claimed that the mysterious "Bicenthium alloy" was extremely rare on any planet except Earth... except the "alloy" was iron, the sixth most common element in the galaxy. And iron isn't an alloy.
    • In Ben 10: Omniverse, Skurd, a Super-Intelligent shapeshifting parasite the size of a golf ball who feeds on DNA, is stated to be an unicellular organism. The majority of unicellular organisms are much smaller in real life (most of them can't even be seen with the naked eyenote ), and none of them are complex enough to have even human intelligence.
  • One reason Captain Planet and the Planeteers is so often ridiculed is because of how wrong its factual information is at times:
    • Captain Planet is damaged by crude oil, a completely natural material, yet is also healed by lava and magma, both far more dangerous than crude oil. Strangely, Hoggish Greedly calls the crude oil he fires "toxic waste", but it's a storyboard error as he fired a thick, shiny glop at Captain Planet, just like oil, as opposed to the colorful glop the show represents as toxic waste.
    • A Belfast Catholic using the taunt "Fenian Prods" in the "If It's Doomsday, This Must Be Belfast" episode makes one question how much the writers actually know about sectarian hate in Ireland. If you're wondering, Fenian is a word for the (largely Catholic) Irish nationalist, while Prod was a derogatory term for the (mostly Protestant) North Irish Unionist. One can't be a Fenian Prod anymore than one can be a White Chink.
    • The way they handled the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the South African apartheid wasn't much better, with the South African soldiers causing racial violence for the sake of causing violence and Palestinians throwing stones at Israeli soldiers and civilians and responding by demolishing Arab homes really makes one wonder if the writers knew anything about these real world conflicts.
    • If Darwinia from the episode "The Blue Car Line" is supposed to be a fictional representation of the Australian city Darwin, then there is a hell of a lot wrong with it. For starters, two decades on from the episode's creation, Darwin still has a minuscule population of less than 150,000 people, little to no high-rise development to speak of, and — the funniest error considering the episode revolves around alternative transport — there's no trains (save for one train line that runs to Adelaide and Alice Springs).
  • Dan Vs. gives us "Sergeant Saskatchewan", an overly patriotic Canadian Captain Ersatz of Captain America... who wears the American sergeant emblem on his sleeve. Then seconds later Dan encounters a man asking for donations to save the Canadian geese. You'd think this guy would know it's "Canada" geese, not "Canadian" geese.
    • In "Dan Vs. New Mexico", it depicts skyscrapers in Santa Fe, the state covered in saguaro cacti, and the state fair in the middle of nowhere despite it being held annually in the much bigger city of Albuquerque. The most egregious example of CRF is Dan's plan to fill the hot-air balloons with hydrogen and then igniting the gas, causing an explosion. Despite Dan calling them "hot-air balloons" out loud, they act like oversized latex balloons, although the ends are never tied up after being filled. Even then, the balloons expand and burst like latex balloons. In real life, hot-air balloons float because of hot air, so it's not designed to be airtight. What produces the flame are cans of propane that sit in the basket, so he didn't need to go out of his way to hijack a hydrogen truck. Even without propane, he could have simply used a box cutter to shred the balloons so that none of them would fly.
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • Batman: The Animated Series:
      • In "The Lion and the Unicorn" Alfred tells Bruce he's in London, in which Bruce asks 'London England?' and Alfred replies 'There is only one', though there is a city of London in Ontario, Canada, and at least 8 Londons in the United States, among others. Though, as Alfred is British, this statement can be taken as him either not knowing about them, or simply regarding London, England as the only TRUE London.
      • In "Perchance to Dream" Batman figures out he is trapped in a dream when he is unable to read the books or newspapers; he later explains this by saying that the parts of the brain responsible for dreaming and reading are on different hemispheres and that it's impossible to read in a dream. This is a myth — the brain is far more complex than that, and it is entirely possible and completely commonplace for people to read in dreams.
      • There is some truth to this though. Trying to read a book is a suggested method of testing to see if you are dream, as words in a book while dreaming commonly will not make sense, be in an unknown language, be completely absent, or will change when you are not looking at them, though it is possible none of those things will happen.
    • Justice League:
      • Some Atlanteans attempt to melt the polar ice caps to destroy the surface world. As in all of it would be submerged. There is not enough water on Earth, whether solid, liquid, or gas, to even come close to accomplishing this.
      • In the finale, Clark asks the Thanagarians about the machine they're building 'in the Gobi desert'. Later, the location shows up on the Watchtower's radars in northern Africa. That's the Sahara Desert - the Gobi is in eastern Asia.
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
  • In an episode of Fillmore! one of the chase scenes leads into the school's annual Figgy Pudding festival. The pursued character ends up in a vat full of American-style pudding labelled "Figgy Pudding". Figgy puddings are a type of boiled fruitcake (the word "pudding" in British English being a catch-all term for desserts in general with specific types like christmas pudding or blood pudding often referring to boiled cake or bread products), not the semi-liquid custard-like substance Americans call "pudding".
  • In the King of the Hill episode "Bobby Goes Nuts", when trying to punish Bobby for kicking Hank in the groin, Peggy gets kicked in the groin by Bobby and just smirks at him when in reality it should have hurt almost as much despite her lack of testicles. Maybe she was bluffing...
  • A terrible offender is The Mummy: The Animated Series in the episode "The Cloud People". Lake Titicaca is described as both puma-head shaped and as being found below the ruins of Macchu Picchu. A portion of the lake's southern bank vaguely resembles a cat's head in profile, but only if viewed from the air while flying north-to-south. The whole thing, not so much, and it's still southeast of Machu Picchu, not below it.
  • Two of the Scooby-Doo movies hit this particularly hard, mainly because the two movies got their respective monsters backward. Chupacabra is a reptilian hematophage that preys on goats. The Australian Yowie is supposedly a large humanoid creature, along the lines of Bigfoot and the Yeti. Monster of Mexico says that Chupie is Bigfoot, and Legend of the Vampire that the Yowie is a vampire. It's easy to think that the writers picked monsters that they thought nobody knew, but Chupacabra at least is rather well known.
  • Popeye:
    • Maybe it's a case of creative liberty, but the Al Brodax cartoon "I Yam Wot I Yamnesia" posits that if two people bump heads with each other, they switch personalities and voices. Wimpy diagnoses this as amnesia.
    • In the Famous Studios short "Big Bad Sindbad" of 1952, Popeye and his nephews go to a museum where they are looking at statues of some famous sailors across history. Among them is Noah from The Bible and the pedestal under his statue reads "The First Great Sailor"; Noah built his ark not to sail, but to take cover from the great flood along with his family, and the animals that came in pairs.
  • South Park: In the episode "Go God Go", a Catholic family scolds Principal Victoria for teaching evolution at her school. The Catholic church supports evolution (as do countless Protestant denominations), and Catholic schools do indeed teach it.
  • In the X-Men episode "Days of Future Past, Part 2", Gambit travels to Washington, D.C.. But the monitor shows the state of Washington (with Washington, D.C., captioned right below). For those of you not from the United States, Washington State is on the exact opposite coast of the country from Washington, D.C.
  • Even Ms. Frizzle on The Magic School Bus has gotten her lessons wrong on occasion, as this video shows.
  • In the "Pinky's Plan" episode of Pinky and the Brain, Pinky attempts to throw a surprise party for Brain featuring various world leaders. This includes Prime Minister Brian Mulroney of Canada, who by that time (1996) had been out of power for about four years.
  • In the Robot Chicken short "Summoning the Sword of Omens", the Sword of Omens impales several ThunderCats on its way to Lion-O. In ThunderCats, the Sword of Omens cannot harm benevolent beings, and will become inert if it does harm the ThunderCats.
  • The Simpsons: Bart, Millhouse, Nelson, and Martin go on a road trip to Knoxville, Tennessee to visit the World Fair site, only to find it utterly run down, with the Sunsphere turned into a wig shop. In reality, World's Fair Park is a well-maintained public space and the Sunsphere is the shining centerpiece of downtown Knoxville, a far cry from the dilapidated wreck presented in the show.

In-Universe and Invoked Examples

  • Quite common on Archer thanks to how the entire team are basically a pack of complete idiots and/or nutjobs.
    • Archer, Lana and Ray are on an assignment to find a killer only for the latter two to discover Archer didn't bother reading the full report. He only knows that the killer is from a country "that was with the Axis" in World War II. The killer turns out to be from Ireland.
      • You can also argue Lana and Ray fell into this as they know Archer tends not to read reports but still entrusted him to be the one in charge of it and didn't bother checking themselves.
    • Notable in the Running Gag of Archer seemingly with no understanding of history, science or culture but every now and then will perfectly rattle off some obscure tidbit and throw the gang on how he can know that but be completely oblivious to far more common knowledge.
      Lana: But seriously, how in the hell did you think Ireland was an Axis power?
      Archer: Oh, my God, I think this whole time I was actually thinking of Romania but only as an inevitable consequence of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and the Soviet invasion of Bessarabia. (Which all makes sense).
  • In one episode of Ben 10: Omniverse, Pax unleashes a tiny alien called the Screegit around Bellwood. The Screegit turns into a rampaging monster when exposed to nitrogen, but Pax thinks it'll be okay, since humans breathe oxygen. Ben angrily points out that Earth's atmosphere has nitrogen in it as well.note 
  • In one episode of Camp Lazlo, Lazlo is trying to motivate the Bean Scouts to participate in a Pinecone-Sitting competition with the Squirrel Scouts over a mud puddle. He does this by asking if Napoleon gave up the moon to the Swiss.
  • Futurama refers to the Matrix example given above, with Bender saying "Doesn't that violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics? Wouldn't just about anything make a better battery than a human? Like a potato? Or a battery?" Leela explains that while everyone at the time it was made thought The Matrix was the worst movie ever because of this "mistake", it turns out the film actually got it right. Of course, this is a show that runs on nonsensoleum, so chalk that up to Rule of Funny.note 
  • In the Home Movies episode "History", Brendon makes a movie with George Washington, Annie Oakley, and Pablo Picasso as the primary villains, with very obvious inaccuracies for their backstories, such as Washington freeing the slaves, Picasso cutting off his ear, and he confused Annie Oakley with Little Orphan Annie (well, along with sharing the same name, they were both the subject of Broadway musicals). It's later revealed that he's been receiving tutoring from Coach McGuirk, and he's flunking history.
  • Recess: In a likely nod to Animal House, TJ once made a speech to convince Gretchen to not give up on the "space travel training" the gang was putting her through:
    TJ: Did Albert Edison give up when they stole his Theory of Regularity? Did Ben Franklin give up when the Germans shot down his kite?
  • Scooby-Doo: In the Imagine Spot short "The Wrath of Waitro", Shaggy and Scooby—er, Commander Cool and Mellow Mutt—escape the villain's trap, a vat filled with chocolate pudding, by eating their way out of it. In real life, chocolate is harmful to dogs and all that rich, savory mousse would have killed A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. Fortunately, (a) it was all in Shaggy's imagination; (b) a young boy legitimately might not know this fact, and (c) Scooby being sapient may mean he can safely eat the stuff, who knows?
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Bart vs. Australia" Bart calls several countries in the Southern Hemisphere to see which way the water flows in their toilets and drains. Among them is apparently Burkina Faso. This might actually be justified since Bart isn't exactly solid with the book-learning.
    • "Lisa the Simpson" has an "educational film" featuring Troy McClure giving an oversimplification of what DNA is. When he's asked what DNA actually stands for, he freezes up and the film abruptly ends.
      • The same film also mentions that DNA is the reason fat people have fat children. Weight is determined by environmental factors, not DNA. The video clip also shows a baby (presumably a newborn, given that the scene seems to take place in a hospital) eating a slice of pizza, which would be impossible for two reasons: 1. The baby wouldn't have any teeth with which to bite the pizza yet, and 2. Being a newborn, the baby's digestive system wouldn't be able to handle solid foods yet.
  • In South Park, Cartman tries to make it look like the girls jumped him and drew a vagina on his face. However, he failed to realize that vaginas don't have testicles, something any girl would have known. Kyle quickly calls him out on it.
    • A double example, both In-Universe and out-of-universe: At one point, Cartman establishes a plan to ambush one of the girls, Nelly, by kicking her in the balls. This, naturally, fails, as she's a girl and therefore doesn't have balls, something Cartman didn't know. However, what the writers failed to realize (similarly to the King of the Hill example above) is that, despite lack of testicles, getting kicked in the crotch isn't painless for women. Subverted later on when Wendy kicks a girl in the groin and it does hurt.
  • Steven Universe:
    • "Chille Tid": Pearl states that it feels like they've been on their mission for "light years". Amethyst attempts to be the smart one, but subverts it by stating that "light years measures light, not time".
    • "Buddy's Book": Connie, when asked why she prefers using the library rather than the Internet when researching for school work, says that the last time she trusted the Internet she ended up writing an egregious essay that claimed that "raccoons have Heat Vision".
  • In the Teen Titans episode "Revolution", Beast Boy gets a ton of major details about the Revolutionary War wrong when trying to explain the 4th of July to Starfire, such as mixing up the year it started with the year of Columbus's first voyage and saying that the Boston Tea Party was a literal tea party. Raven responds by asking if Beast Boy learned history from a cereal box. Later, after they've been repeatedly beaten by Mad Mod's robots, Beast Boy says, "Now I know how George Washington felt when Napoleon beat him at Pearl Harbor."
  • Total Drama World Tour:
    • The intern responsible for doing the research comes up with Rome, rather than Greece, as the birthplace of the Olympic Games. He is fired by Chris, the host of the show, when the mistake is pointed out... by being shoved out of the plane.
    • Courtney tried correcting Chris when the contestants were in China, and he told them the Great Wall was built eight million years ago. The kicker? Even though Courtney realized the Great Wall couldn't have been built until much more recently, she explained there were dinosaurs in 8,000,000 B.C. Probably joking?


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