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Critical Research Failure

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Even (most) first graders know this one.

"The London 2012 opening ceremony is going to be called Isles of Wonder, but there can be no wonderment more wonderful than the fact that Olympics organizers wanted Keith Moon to perform. Moon has been dead for 34 years."
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This is a particular instance where a story or character features something — a statement, the depiction of something — that is so egregiously off-the-scale in terms of inaccuracy that anyone with a high-school education (or less) and/or a cursory knowledge of the subject realizes the writers made the whole thing up.

Many of these will be disaster movies or action movies and will use state-of-the-art computer effects to keep your interest. This can be Played for Laughs by having a Book Dumb character make such an error so that a smarter character can spot and react to it.

Also see Didn't Think This Through, which is less about research failure and more about planning failure. Contrast with the MST3K Mantra, which tells us not to worry about these little details; Accidentally Correct Writing, which is when non-experts think the creators are wrong, but experts know the creators are right by complete accident; and Like Reality Unless Noted, where what appears to be a research failure can be written off as the result of an Alternate History or Alternate Universe.

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For examples of research errors regarding media, see Cowboy BeBop at His Computer. See also Dan Browned, for situations when an author falsely claims he did the research. For downplayed inaccuracies that require more in-depth knowledge to notice, see Artistic License and its subpages. If it's specifically math that is off, see Writers Cannot Do Math.


Example Subpages

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Unintentional Examples

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    Advertising 
  • A commercial for Oscar Meyer Franks has a father come home and see his three kids on those electronic gizmos kids use these days. Wanting to spend quality family time, he trips the circuit breaker of his house, knocking the power out and shutting off the older brother's computer, the younger brother's game console, and the sister's cell phone.
  • Mitsubishi once ran an ad for the Eclipse, discussing mankind's desire to harness the awesome power of an eclipse, and showed a literal one, suggesting the ad agency had no idea that an eclipse was just the moon briefly blocking direct view of the sun.
  • A advert from 2016 for the UK's leading internet service declared that "we believe that the country that invented the internet should have world class access to it". Unfortunately for them, the internet was invented by the US Department of Defense in the 1960s. The World Wide Web (the most common method of presenting and accessing data on the internet) was invented by a Brit, Tim Berners-Lee, though while working in Geneva and undoubtedly with some Swiss help.

    Comic Strips 
  • An early Garfield strip featured Garfield reciting a short poem about spiders. Problem is, he refers to them as insects, when they are actually arachnids. This was pointed out in the author's notes for one strip of Square Root of Minus Garfield.
  • The Far Side:
    • One cartoon caught fire for its inaccurate depiction of mosquitoes. In the cartoon, there's a hardworking (mosquito) husband who's home after a long day at work and comments to his homemaker (mosquito) wife how he 'must have spread malaria all over the country'. The problem is that only the females suck blood and spread malaria. However, the comic depends on the depiction of stereotypical suburbia, so swapping the genders around wouldn't have worked either.
    • Gary Larson's visual depictions of historic figures or celebrities are often so strikingly off the only real explanation is he could not be bothered to even glance at a photo or paining of them for reference before drawing. A cartoon depicting Albert Einstein playing basketball as a young man, for instance, portrays the famously bushy-haired scientist as balding, while one depicting "Henry VIII on the dating scene" depicted the king, who is probably one of the most visually recognizable monarchs in British history, as a generic, bald cartoon king with a crown and robe but no hair or beard (a simple beard was later sketched in for some later reprintings). To be fair, the young Henry was reportedly quite handsome, and also trim, very much contrasting with the famous painting of him when much older (when he'd become obese). However, even then Henry was bearded (along with most men) and it still bears little resemblance to his youthful portraits either.
  • Bill Watterson admits his early dinosaur drawings for Calvin and Hobbes are quite inaccurate, because he was basing them on half-recalled work from the 1960s. By the time he started it in the 1980s, science had advanced significantly and thus their depictions. He started reading up about how they really must have looked and his drawings improved accordingly. Of course, new facts have been discovered as well since the 1990s when the strip ended, and even his improved drawings are out of date now (for instance, many were shown to have had proto-feathers, among other things).

    Films — Animation 
  • An American Tail has Tiger, the vegetarian cat. Cats are obligate carnivores, unable to survive without meat proteins. (Though he does mention that he has a little fish now and then.)
  • The Emoji Movie:
    • The phone would not have been deleted, but given a factory reset.
    • Most phones do not have "firewalls" in the traditional sense.
    • Trolls aren't malware like viruses or Trojan Horses. They're actual people.
    • A factory reset can be performed by the user, using the phone itself, and it doesn't need to be taken to a repair shop for that to be done.
    • An emoji has no code; it's an image (which is internally stored as a Unicode character), therefore, it can't be reprogrammed. What can be reprogrammed is the code that puts the emojis in a text, but even then, it's already in the phone and there's no need to go to the cloud to change any code. In fact, the cloud wouldn't be housing any sort of code necessary for the use of emojis, as they already come pre-installed in phones as Unicode characters.
    • Guessing random words until you get the correct password is not a form of hacking. You’d think that Sony would know this after their infamous hack.

    Music 
  • Michael Jackson's "Liberian Girl" not only opens with Swahili, but with a South African singer singing it. They speak Swahili in East Africa, Liberia is in West Africa. The main language of Liberia is English.
  • Singer Mitsou wrote a song called "Les Chinois" which describe how the Chinese know how to make love and we should do the same as them. It obviously reference the Kama Sutra, which is actually Hindu, not Chinese.
  • Neil Young has a song called "Cortez the Killer", in which he praises the pacifist and egalitarian... Aztecs!? Yes, he says "Hate was just a legend, / And war was never known" while he's talking about one of the most bloodthirsty civilizations in human history. He also says they "lifted many stones" and "built up with their bare hands / What we still can't do today." Suffice to say, 16th century Aztec stone buildings are far surpassed by 1970s technology.
  • There is a Dutch DJ who, as of October 2011, claims to get phone calls from Madonna and Frank Sinatra on a regular basis. His phone bill must be through the roof, because Sinatra died in May 1998. note 
  • The song "The Legend of Xanadu" by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch sets the named city in a desert land, and has a Spanish/Mexican feel, especially the intro. Xanadu (modern preferred transliteration: Shangdu) was the summer capital of the Khans (the winter capital was what is now Beijing) hence is in China, a mostly temperate country.
  • The entire song "King Midas in Reverse", about a character who has the Midas talent but "with a curse" ("everything he touches turns to dust"). When he wrote that song, Graham Nash missed the Aesop of the Midas legend, that the ability to turn things into gold at a touch is itself a curse if not controllable; how would such a person eat or drink?
  • In his song "Peek A Boo," Lil Yachty includes the line, "She blow that dick like a cello." He explained on the Genius lyrics website that he mistakenly thought a cello (string instrument) was actually a woodwind instrument, so ergo, you can't blow it. He waves it off by saying he did it thinking Squidward played it, but of course, he was wrong. He says Squidward actually played a flute, which brings his Critical Research Failures to two, as Squidward actually - and famously - plays the clarinet. Nevermind that you don't even "blow" in the sense of the phrase. It's actually light sucking.
  • The Los Dos Grandes de la Sierra album Chevrolet 4 X 4 has a Ford Ranger on its cover. Not only is it the wrong car, Ford is also Chevrolet's arch-rival. It'd be like naming your album after the Boston Red Sox and having the New York Yankees on the cover.
  • Kanye West's "Black Skinhead" features the line "I keep it 300, like the Romans" - a reference to the 300 Spartans, who were Greek.
  • Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Jump on It" insinuates that prostitution is legal in Las Vegas, when it is not.
  • In the late 1970s, the DJ Anne Nightingale interviewed Paul Simon for The Old Grey Whistle Test.
    Nightingale: Do you find the need to bounce musical ideas off somebody? I mean, because obviously I don't know how you used to work with Artie Garfunkel, whether you did do that, how close a writing partnership it actually was.
    Simon: Well, we weren't a writing partnership... we didn't write together.
    Nightingale: It was always your song, his song?
    Simon: No. He didn't write any of the songs. I don't mean to... he didn't write any of the songs. I wrote all of the Simon & Garfunkel songs. Artie doesn't write.
    Nightingale: Yeah. Is that generally known?
    Simon: I think almost everyone but you, Anne, knows that.

    Pinballs 
  • Earthshaker! is about earthquakes but designed with the assumption that earthquakes are like wind-based natural disasters, like tornadoes or hurricanes: People are encouraged to go into underground "earthquake shelters" when they feel one coming, even though this would be much more dangerous than remaining above ground.note  In addition, the player character works for the "Earthquake Institute", traveling up and down fault lines in California to gather data — that should be the work of the U.S. Geological Survey.

    Podcasts 
  • In Rooster Teeth's podcast, episode #371, Burnie goes on a rant about NASA's discovery of 55 Cancri E, complaining about how NASA can announce so much detailed information about the surface of an exo-planet over 40 light years away when they are still unable to confirm if there is or isn't a 9th unknown planet in our own solar system. Quite a lot of viewers chimed in to point out that it's easier to see planets in another solar system than in our own because a distant solar system can be observed all at once.note 

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Wrestling Hockey Players, The Ballard Brothers, took up a valet to serve as their Cheerleader, even though hockey doesn't make use of cheerleaders. This could be excusable in that Canadian hockey has some people that resemble cheerleaders, they just don't call them cheerleaders...
  • WCW boasted that an album of a group known as Three Count had gone Platinum. Fair enough. Then Evan Karagias claimed an upcoming second album of there would be more successful than that, going not double platinum but gold, to the amusement/bewilderment of anyone who knows anything about album sales.
  • Vince McMahon, pleased with the success of Rey Mysterio on SmackDown, decided he wanted another high-flyer luchador. So he hired Ultimo Dragon and then got upset when he discovered Ultimo Dragon really was not a high-flyer at all, which shoud've been obvious to anybody within the wrestling business (such as McMahon) with a knowledge of wrestling outside the United States, as Ultimo Dragon is a Japanese wrestler, and Japanese wrestling, or puroresu, is bound to entirely different dynamics to those of Mexican lucha libre. This is despite the fact Ultimo Dragon had wrestled under the WWF banner before and won a WWF championship, suggesting Vince did not even watch his own product.
  • During WWE's Monday Night War series, The Miz inadvertently took a shot at his own company by suggesting the women of the 1980s did nothing interesting, conveniently forgetting Wendi Richter was almost as big as Hulk Hogan during the time and subterfuge involving The Fabulous Moolah had to be used to stop her.
  • Damien Sandow's character was that of 'the intellectual savior of the masses', a highly-cultured Insufferable Genius who claimed that he was superior to everybody else. His merchandise included a T-shirt with the slogan 'I > U: The Sandow Equation'. Unfortunately an equation, by definition, must include an equals sign. Sandow should have been smart enough to realize that his mantra was an inequation.
  • In a story similar to the title quote, Dave Meltzer reported that, for the WWE Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia in 2018, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman requested that Vince McMahon bring some of wrestling's top stars to the Kingdom, specifying names such as Ultimate Warrior (who had been dead for four years at the time) and Yokozuna (who had been dead for 18 years)
    • Almost two years later, it hasn't stopped. For the November 2019 event in Saudi Arabia, Brad Shepard reports that the Crown Prince has requested Vince to bring Eddie Guerrero (who had been dead for 14 years at the time), Big Boss Man (who had been dead for 15 years), Randy Savage (eight years) and Miss Elizabeth (16 years).

    Radio 
  • An episode of Fags, Mags and Bags centering around the local rabbi, imam and priest all sitting in the same bath of baked beans for charity includes the priest's disappointment that as the representative of the newest Abrahamic religion, he has to take the traditional youngest sibling place at the tap end. This line should really have gone to the imam.
  • BBC Radio 2's Popmaster quiz is assembled by just two question-setters, and the requirement for at least 100 questions a week, all year round, leaves it prone to errors when it strays outside of the setters' comfort zone. On one occasion, a caller was asked to identify a group from a clip of a song that was described as "their first release following a name change", the clip being of "One Step Closer" by S Club 8. The question setter obviously thought this was the same group as S Club 7, who by coincidence had in fact just changed their name at the time — to S Club, having parted with one of their original members. S Club 8 were created to expand the franchise, but were a completely separate line-up, and "One Step Closer" wasn't their first single after a name change, it was their first single ever.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Dark Sun setting was originally designed as taking place on an icy frozen world. During development, it was changed to a desert world because the developers thought that a warm climate would justify fanservicey art with Stripperiffically dressed characters. Showing that much skin is just as dangerous in a desert as it is in the cold because it leaves the body open to sunstroke and allows for more water loss from perspiration, as evidenced by how actual desert-dwelling peoples traditionally dress in long, flowing robes that cover the entire body.
  • Mercenaries, Spies, and Private Eyes, a spinoff of Tunnels & Trolls from 1983, cites certain 'military' guns as only available by capture or issue. Note that this includes the M1911 pistol, as well as M1 Garand rifle; both are relatively easy to find for civilian use.
  • The first Rifts sourcebook, printed in the 1990s, had an animal/monster race called the Ostrosaurus. In the description, they note that despite the name, it's not a lizard like a dinosaur, but closer to a featherless bird. The irony kicks in with the realization that Theropods, which the Ostrosaurus resembles, essentially were featherless birds. Or more accurately, birds are feathered dinosaurs. Or, even more more accurately, birds are dinosaurs with (perhaps) a few more feathers.
  • The Top Trumps card game has Flavor Text that attempts to be informative and educational, but the creators don't seem to have done very much research.
    • There's a particularly monstrous error on the "Life" card in the "Wonders of the World" pack:
      The first known animals to roam the Earth were dinosaurs, over 65 million years ago.
    • Particularly infamous is the Space Phenomena themed deck. Amongst other glaring errors, it states that the Moon was spotted in 1651, Ganymede was discovered before the Sun, and asserts that Halley's Comet has negative mass. Somehow.
  • The Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition core rulebook states that vampires are unable to use touchscreen devices unless they have Blush of Life active, as their biologically dead bodies don't have the proper conductivity for touchscreens. This has a number of problems that even a layperson should see including the fact touch screen styluses don't require body heat so why would vampire fingers not work? First of all, conductivity and body heat aren't related to each other, so body heat is irrelevant here. Second, many touchscreens, particularly older ones, do require an electrical field to work (for example, the ones created by a human nervous system). The styluses used for those touchscreens have a wire running through them that creates an electrical field.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse: One sourcebook describes the Ajaba werehyenas as serving the function of werewolves in a continent without wolves. Not only does Africa have at least two wild canines that are often described as wolves due to their size and pack units, but they're even acknowledged within the game as having ties to the Garou: The Silent Striders are bred from Abyssinian wolves, and the Red Talons have a large African offshoot tribe, the Kuchu Ekundu, bred from African wild dogs aka painted wolves. One could make the case that hyenas are far more numerous in Africa than canines, but saying wolves don't exist there at all is right out.

    Theatre 
  • William Shakespeare, as the son of a glove-maker whose schooling mostly included Latin and classic literature (written in Latin), was prone to making these when discussing geography. His plays also include a healthy dose of Anachronism Stew—allusions to Christian themes are frequent even in stories that took place before Christ was born, there are references to contemporary English clothing and culture regardless of setting, etc., so how much of those errors are just stylistic choices is debatable.
    • In The Winter's Tale, Shakespeare committed a Critical Research Failure and was called out on it by his contemporary, Ben Jonson. Shakespeare had his characters shipwrecked on the coast of Bohemia (which is now the Czech Republic) "where there is no sea near by one hundred miles." Shakespeare's mistake was likely an artifact from his original source, which took place in Sicily, not Bohemia.
    • In Antony and Cleopatra, Cleopatra suggests playing a game of billiards, a game which wouldn't exist until about 1000 years later.
    • In Julius Caesar, Caesar proclaims himself to be "constant as the Northern Star". As was well-known to educated people by Shakespeare's time, the Northern Star isn't a constant (which star it currently is, is affected by the precession of the equinoxes) and there are even long periods when there isn't a Northern Star — such as Caesar's time. Isaac Asimov called out Shakespeare on this in his essay "Constant as the Northern Star" — partly as evidence that the plays (or at least Julius Caesar) couldn't (as some people suppose) have been written by Francis Bacon, as Bacon was well-educated and would have known this.
  • The Book Report song in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown is a fairly blatant example of this, as Linus's overly-detailed analysis on The Tale of Peter Rabbit has very little to do with what's actually going on in the book. When he goes on a long explanation on "the sociological implications of family pressures so great as to drive an otherwise moral rabbit to perform acts of thievery which he consciously knew were against the law," and claims that "Peter Rabbit is established from the start as a benevolent hero," anyone who's actually read the book knows he's talking out of his ear here — Peter is a rather amoral protagonist, the entire story happens because he refuses to go along with his family, and his first action in the book is a willful act of disobedience; nowhere in the story does he display any sort of benevolence or heroism.

    Web Animation 
  • Extra Credits:
    • In their video about sexuality, they talk about how tired the trope of a tough male with a feminine side is. In a quick visual montage of examples, they show Final Fantasy XIII's Lightning, who anyone looking at the character can tell you is female. Of course, they've admitted to deliberately including errors in their videos in an effort to prevent viewers from blindly accepting everything they say, so this may very well be intentional. Or an Ass Pull.
    • At one point in their video about faith in video games being nothing more than a simple mechanic instead of something more meaningful they segue into a completely inaccurate description of early 20th century physics, which they claim to have all been made on faith. That is completely inaccurate. Physics was undergoing rapid advancement in part BECAUSE the up-and-comers of the field were challenging the classic assumptions, which is the opposite of faith.
  • Zero Punctuation:
    • In his review of Hob and A Hat in Time, Yahtzee offhandedly calls Doki Doki Literature Club! "upbeat cartoon pornography".
    • Yahtzee claimed that the different level styles in Super Mario Maker are all just different tilesets - except they aren't, they actually run off of different engines and as a result have different physics.
    • In his Far Cry Primal review, he complained that the game kept shutting off his detective vision. In options, you can switch the vision to not shut off automatically.
    • What he considers poor design of Kingdom Hearts III having a mixture of real time and menu based combat is in fact his own inability to figure out that the game has a quick cast feature (Which is impressive, since he made it far enough to have learned the Cure spell). He also expresses confusion at why Sora&Co are visiting Hercules first. Continuity Lockout aside, the reasons why they are visiting Hercules is made clear within the opening video.
    • In his Middle-earth: Shadow of War review, he complained that he didn't have enough in-game currency to afford fort upgrades during Act IV, not knowing players could sell their useless gear to gain more.
  • Death Battle tends to get a number of their information wrong about various characters they're pitting against.
    • One that was actually caught and changed concerned Tony Stark and being genetically altered to be a transhuman savior of the universe. That was actually his brother Arno Stark and Tony was adopted to fool the one doing so.
    • A few years later, many fans cried foul over the Android #18 vs. Carol Danvers fight when they gave Android #18 absorption powers due to her having them in Dragon Ball Xenoverse when, in canon, she and her brother Android #17 were Eternal models that didn't need to absorb energy. Ben Singer actually went back, realized that they were completely correct and apologized for it.
    • An earlier example of this can be found during Ragna's analysis in Ragna the Bloodedge vs. Sol Badguy. During the analysis, Wiz and Boomstick conclude each question and topic of the BlazBlue universe with the frequent answer "no-one knows", as if claiming that there are no answers to those topics. However, to many BlazBlue fans, Critical Research Failure was really apparent here. There are, in fact, answers to many of the topics they bring up in the analysis, which can be found by simply playing the games and looking up the BlazBlue Wiki page. For example, Ragna's bounty, which they said was in an unknown currency, is revealed both in the games and on the Wiki page to be "Platinum Dollars". Many fans flooded the video to give the correct answers to the topics that Ben and Chad failed to even look up.
    • Most of Erza's bio in Erza Scarlet vs. Roronoa Zoro. They made several claims that could have been easily rectified, such as claiming that Erza's best speed feet was blocking a bullet from a flintlock pistol, when in fact her greatest speed feat was outspeeding a mage who was fast enough to cut every nerve ending in the human body in under one second. They also stated that Erza had no armor that increased her speed, which she does, in the form of her Flight Armor. Finally, it was stated that the Clear Heart Clothing was Erza's strongest requip, when in fact it's the Nakagami Armor.
  • Common Sense Soapbox's video "The Myth of Scandinavian Socialism" describes Finland as a Scandinavian country. Finland's culture is not Scandinavian at all, and is instead Finnic.

    Web Comics 
  • This episode of Neko the Kitty is set in a museum, near the Giant Slug exhibit. The author admits to doing no research on museums for this sequence.
  • This Eddsworld comic introduces us to Edd's..."brothers", Ed and Eddy, obvious expies of the titular trio from Ed, Edd n Eddy. Anyone who's seen the show will notice that the character expies are actually of Ed and Edd ("Double D")—Eddy is the short one in the yellow shirt.
  • In the "CWC's Love Quest Saga" sub-episode of Sonichu, while Chris-Chan is talking with a girl named Hanna, said girl mentions that she enjoys reading Chuck Palahniuk among other things. The problem is with the footnote at the bottom, which states that Chuck Palahniuk was the director of Fight Club - the director of the film adaptation was David Fincher; Palahniuk was the author of the booknote . To be fair, Fight Club is a case of Adaptation Displacementnote , but one can't help wonder how Chris knew about Chuck Palahniuk's involvement, yet didn't know he was an author.
  • Vegan Art Book has enough of these to warrant it's own page

    Web Original 
  • Gaia Online made a terrible mistake whilst describing a new item called Lala the Koala Plushie.
    "Lala the Koala Plushie pays tribute to the noble koala bear, which is now just returning from hibernation to resume it's [sic] voracious consumption of eucalyptus."
While regular bears hibernate, koalas (which are not bears, or even placentals) live in Australia, which even in its temperate zones doesn't get cold enough to necessitate hibernation.
  • A popular Urban Legend among certain Christians is that a student standing up to his Hollywood Atheist professor who usually with The Reveal at the end to be Albert Einstein... which is almost instantly debunked when you remember that Einstein was Jewish and while he wasn't an atheist, he identified as agnostic (albeit as he put it "a religious nonbeliever").
  • Invoked by this article from Game Informer about video game characters that don't deserve their own games. The list, which contains several humorous characters, ends with Pit, the protagonist of Kid Icarus. The writer, parodying the widespread confusion regarding who Pit was following the release of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, claimed that Pit was an original character, and therefore an odd choice to be in Smash Bros. The fact that 2 years later, a third game would later come that would reuse Pit's design from Brawl might also count as Hilarious in Hindsight.
  • Some posts from the late Miiverse site were downright idiotic.
  • This infamous image became a minor internet meme because of this. People were quick to slap a banner that read "Americans: Yes they are that stupid", only for others to quickly point out the outlets on the power bar and extension cord are clearly European and therefore British people are clearly that stupid. Then others still pointed out the UK doesn't use that style of plug eithernote . People seem to have settled on "Americans ON VACATION: Yes they are that stupid."
  • The Visual novel database page of characters in Corpse Party Blood drive claims that characters like Seiko Shinohara, Naho Saenoki and Sayaka Ooue have "avoidable deaths". Anybody that has played the game knows that they're already dead by the time the game begins. And by the end of the game, nobody comes back to life.
  • Cracked.com did a photoplasty article titled "15 Movie Character Traits That Make No Sense", and entry #5 is about The Fonz and Happy Days, questioning how people from Wisconsin would suddenly become expert water skiiers upon going to California. Water skiing was invented on the border of Wisconsin and Minnesota, and it's still prominent enough in the state that Wisconsin has more show-skiing clubs than any other state.

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