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Hologram Projection Imperfection

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"I guess that's science fiction for you. They can travel faster than light at the drop of a hat, but still use non-error-correcting low bandwidth analogue radio signals."

Holograms are cool, right? But they never seem to work right for whatever reason. Fizzing, popping, static, wobbly'll be lucky if you get proper color! Would have thought they'd check these things at the factory, wouldn't you? But no, it seems like every last one of them has some sort of glitch. It's a wonder people put up with the things.

Related to Rule of Perception: A hologram has to look unreal, so the audience can see that it's a hologram; it's a visual equivalent of the Radio Voice. Also related to Holodeck Malfunction, and may suggest The Tape Knew You Would Say That if the protagonists are unaware they're talking to a hologram. Subtrope of Projected Man. However, it must be distinct enough that it's not simply mistaken for poorly implemented special effects. A poorly matched lighting or color for the surrounding environment on a Projected Man would not be inform the audience that he was a hologram, the assumption would be that it's an incompetent Chroma Key shot.

Many holograms falling under this trope are completely blue, perhaps a result of the famous A New Hope example below. Raster Vision, where the hologram appears to be made up of lots of little horizontal lines, is also common.

Note: To prevent us simply listing every hologram in fiction, be wary of adding too many examples of holograms that suffer minor blips during start-up or shut-down. Ensure that the example is intense enough to look like a real malfunction or interference of some kind.

Compare Ominous Visual Glitch and Monochrome Apparition.

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Straight examples - Holograms that show imperfections:

    Anime and Manga 
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: In one episode, a hologram of Asuka appears out of her Humongous Mecha, and it flickers when it slaps Shinji, who evidently feels it.
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun: The Beach Episode has a room presented to most of the cast as the latest technology to have photoshoots in. While it works out in the beginning (Beach, Poolside, Pleasure Boat), the room suddenly turns on the cast as it cycles thru several undesirable scenes for the swimsuit-wearing characters (Snowy mountain, desert, boat in the middle of a storm, & the surface of the moon). Fortunately, the system is stopped at a scene (Campsite) that allows the girls to take a break without being uncomfortable.

    Comic Books 
  • Pouvoirpoint: The starship is occasionally visited by the crew of another vessel, in the form of glitching holograms.
  • Superman:
    • In The Killers of Krypton, Appa Ali Apsa's hologram fizzle and flickers as talking to Supergirl.
    • Reign of Doomsday: Despite being state-of-the-art technology created by their universe's most brilliant minds, Dr. Mid-Nite and Dr. Fate's holographic projections glitch and are translucent.
    • The Death of Lightning Lad: Doble subversion. An holographic three-headed monster looks lifelike enough to fool Triplicate Girl until Saturn Girl reveals it's a three-dimensional projection, whereupon it looks like a 3D semi-transparent bluish image.
    • The Dominator War: When Cosmic Boy talks to the hologram of one United Planets delegate, the projection wavers and is green-tinted.
  • The Red Dwarf Smegazine's comic strips had Rimmer appear in black and white. They wanted to do this in the show but ended up making him look realistic for budget reasons.

    Fan Works 
  • Message In A Bottle Starscribe: In "Security Override", a hologram's imperfections are noted as possibly so it's recognizable:
    She couldn’t see a substrate to support the large hologram, yet even so she could make the image out clearly, slightly transparent and with a gentle flicker every few seconds. It was very subtle, almost as though it was only there so she could identify it as artificial.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Ghost in the Shell (1995), the brain holograms are monochromatic.
  • In WALL•E, the Earth is covered with holographic billboards which fizzle and static frequently. Justified, since they haven't been maintained for centuries.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bicentennial Man: Andrew's robot head has the ability to project holographic recordings. The first time we see it is when he explains the Three Laws of Robotics, and the second time is showing the father-daughter dance after Little Miss is married. Both times there's slight wobbling and lines in the video, and the second video is sepia-toned as well as translucent.
  • Blade Runner 2049 has a few examples of this, but they all happen to be justified and otherwise played with in-universe:
  • During the Bar Brawl in Cosmic Sin someone disrupts the holographic projector on the jukebox, causing the band player to change from a cowboy-themed singer to a punk rocker with an electric guitar.
  • In Escape from L.A., the hologram of Snake appears flawless until after half an army tries to shoot the hell out of it. Then a guy walks forward and passes his hand through it, making it ripple.
  • In Galaxy Quest, right before the team is beamed on board, Laliari is revealed to be a holographic image when her projection goes through some flickering.
  • There's a hologram of Sinestro communicating in the Green Lantern (2011) movie, which is in perfect color, but it has a couple of jumps, and breaks. The implication was, though, that because Abin Sur's ship had been badly damaged, and the alien himself was badly wounded, the escape pod's functions were all working on getting him to safety and keeping him alive, so the hologram had limited transmit/receive power comparatively speaking.
  • In I, Robot, the hologram is shown to be 2D, can only respond to a limited range of questions, and has some visual static. It is, however, meant to fool the audience at first, as it looks perfect until the camera moves to the side.
  • The Last Starfighter. During Zur's transmission into the Starfighter base, his holographic head glitches several times.
  • Minority Report has a good example of not-great hologram tech, though it may be justified, being set 20 Minutes in the Future instead of a far-future Space Opera.
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. As the protagonists are walking up to Dr Totenkopf's office a Tesla-type generator creates a Huge Holographic Head image of Totenkopf that explains his motives and warns them to get out or die. Both the image and voice are distorted when powering up, highlighting the more primitive 1930's zeerust technology of the film.
  • Screamers. The protagonists have to report a cease fire proposed by the enemy forces. A pair of doors slide open and their superior walks through and starts talking to them — all appears normal until he suddenly starts to fizz and sputter and the protagonists complain about the unreliability of holographic projection from Earth. The scene hints at The Reveal that the Projected Man is actually dead, having been executed years before.
  • Serenity. When the hologram of the female scientist on the planet Miranda plays, there are occasional shifts in the picture.
  • Star Trek:
  • Star Wars. Most of the holograms talked about below are significantly blue-shifted, if not monochrome, and often have scan lines. (atop the page is a holographic message from Rogue One)
    • A New Hope. Princess Leia's message to Obi-Wan Kenobi (stored in R2-D2) starts with a burst of static.
    • The Empire Strikes Back. After his Star Destroyer is hit by an asteroid, a captain's hologram fizzles before cutting out.
    • Return of the Jedi. When Luke's message to Jabba (stored in R2-D2) plays, it starts off with a burst of static and ends with one too. Possibly justified as Lucas, et al, decided that since the signal had been bouncing halfway across the galaxy it'd be unbelievable for it not to have picked up some interference along the way. Though that doesn't explain why the recordings R2 carried, made by people standing right in front of him, suffered the same problem.
    • Holograms in the prequel trilogy frequently cut out as well, even though it's supposed to be the "more civilized age" of the galaxy.
  • The Time Machine (2002) also has a justified example, because the AI in question has been sitting around for many years — long enough that the heroes were lucky it played at all.
  • Total Recall (1990)
    • While Lori is practicing with a hologram designed to teach proper tennis serves, the hologram blurs a couple of times. It is a loop video of a person going through the motions, the blurs are when the image resets to the start of the loop.
    • The wrist device that creates a hologram decoy of its wearer.
      • When Quaid tests it while on Earth, his image breaks up into static.
      • When Quaid uses it on Mars to trick Cohaagen's troops, his image flickers after the trick is revealed.
      • When Melina uses it, her hologram breaks up when Cohaagen's troops fire into it.
  • The 2011 adaptation of The Whisperer in Darkness is made in the retraux style of a 1930's Universal Horror film. Those in the brain cylinders communicate with outsiders via a hologram which pops and fizzes excessively.

  • Holos are always like this in Ciaphas Cain, requiring Percussive Maintenance to work properly. When they see the Tau equivalent that works perfectly and doesn't go out of focus at the edges, the Imperials are more creeped out than impressed.
  • In Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox, Holly uses an old holographic communication device to talk to Julius. It works out to her advantage as it hides the fact that she's de-aged, and her tears. Subverted in that the hologram shows all this accurately and Holly writes it all off as this trope, which Julius is willing to buy. (She also blames the old technology malfunctioning on it displaying her location, around the world from where she's supposed to be, "inaccurately".)
  • The Chee holograms in Animorphs are normally an aversion, but when the Yeerks screw with the ship that powers them, the holgrams begin to fizzle, fade and fail.
  • The Red Dwarf novels are typically as much of an aversion as the TV series in the aversion examples above.
    • In Better Than Life, however, Rimmer's holographic image exhibited problems on one occasion. Severe time dilation caused by a black hole resulted in drastically different flows of time between where he was projected and where the computer that simulated him was located. As a result, he would flash, lose colour and even go two dimensional.
    • The novel also mentioned in passing glitches that had happened in the past such as transparency, turning a shade of blue and even having his legs separating from his body and wandering aimlessly which completely violates the established principle on which he is projected. The last one is a Mythology Gag to the episode "Queeg", which also had him acquire the personalities of other crewmembers (including Lister and, for some reason, the Cat. When the Cat's personality was added to the hologram files is not explained).
  • While the holodecks from Star Trek: The Next Generation usually averts this, the novelization to the first episode "Encounter At Farpoint" implies they normally play the trope straight with Riker noting that the holodeck on the Enterprise-D is the first one he visited where the projections look realistic.
  • The X-Wing Series elaborates slightly on the Star Wars examples above; in a rare example of a Star Wars Expanded Universe writer having a sense of scale, it's pointed out that real-time holographic comms transmission uses a lot of bandwidth and is not very fault-tolerant, especially at interstellar distances by Subspace Ansible.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andor: As the hologram of Maarva addresses the people of Ferrix is wavers and has portions glitch out at points.
  • Babylon 5:
    • A hologram of Londo Molari in one episode which appears slightly blueish and blurry. In this case, as it is a pre-recorded message, and Londo paces quite a bit, the hologram ends up walking through another character, facing the wrong direction (at one point, you can see the message's recipient smirking as Londo just barely manages to miss pointing accusingly at him.) Londo's hologram does manage to end the message facing Lord Refa and bidding him farewell, before the message ends and the gathered group of Narn witnesses beat Refa to death.
    • Holograms projected by the Great Machine on Epsilon III that were used for public address had a soft golden glow.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Empty Child": Near the end of the episode, Jack presents a holographic image of the object they are chasing. The projection goes through some flickering.
    • Through Emergency Program One and Security Protocol 712, shimmering holograms of the Ninth, Tenth, and Twelfth Doctors appear and waver throughout their projection. Oddly enough, holograms from the TARDIS in "Let's Kill Hitler" are perfect, opaque replications.
    • "The Almost People": The holo-call, though there is a lot of interference anyway (the hologram only really gets through because the plot wants it to).
    • The holograms of all of the different Doctors from "The Day of the Doctor" have a fuzzy, monochrome quality to them. This was done to make sure that the black-and-white archive footage of the first two Doctors and the non-HD-ness of the rest of the archive footage Doctors wouldn't stand out against the brand-new footage of the Tenth, Eleventh and War Doctors.
  • The hologram of Slartibartfast in the TV version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1981) is a fuzzy, white monochrome image.
  • The Lois & Clark episode "Top Copy" used a hologram which somehow convinced people that Clark and Superman were side-by-side despite the fact that it was flickering. The glitches were justified in that it was only built by a farmer's wife... but then that just raises other questions.
  • The Middleman communicates with an alien representative via hologram in "The Clotharian Contamination Protocol," and the image is blue and staticky. What makes this more amusing is that at one point, when the alien representative quotes a certain movie's catchphrase containing a swear word, the Censor Box covering his mouth is also blue and staticky.
  • In Stargate SG-1, Asgard holograms look incredibly realistic most of the time, but occasionally wobble or fritz just enough to let us know it's a hologram.
    • It is, however, used once to "prove" that an Asgard shown by a CEO attempting to reveal the secret was a hologram. The reporter interviewing Sam tells her she doesn't believe it, as she has seen the alien with her own eyes. The alien is, in fact, a mindless clone (as opposed to the clones with minds that all the living Asgard are).
  • Plot point in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "In the Pale Moonlight". A recording of a holographic meeting between the leadership of the dominion is identified as such (i.e. not being a recording of a real meeting) because of minor defects that are invisible to the eye. It is not elaborated what those defects were but one can assume that holographic animation even in the 24th century can't withstand a thorough investigation.
    • This plot point is eventually turned around to the protagonist's advantage, after the shuttle Garak sabotaged exploded; but the recording was on a sturdy enough physical media, and was in a sturdy enough black box, that the Romulan investigators were able to recover it. Of course, they found the imperfections, the same as the Ambassador did - but they wrote them off as being adequately explained as damage from the shuttle explosion, and took the fake message as genuine.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. Used in the teaser of "Revulsion". An alien is shown removing the corpses of his dead crewmembers. Suddenly he starts to fitz, showing he's a hologram and setting the plot in motion, as he realises his program is breaking down and so makes the Distress Call that brings in Voyager.
  • Star Trek: Discovery features a variety of holographic projections used for long-distance communication, allowing two people to share the room and walk around each other during a discussion. The holograms are still transparent and have a digital grainy quality, with various distortions presumably caused by interference. When the USS Europa is rammed by a Klingon warship, Admiral Anderson's hologram starts skipping and spazzing before being cut off suddenly.
  • SELMA from Time Trax; despite being a 22nd century, self aware, supercomputer her holographic "visual mode" suffered this trope. In one episode she managed to make herself appear perfectly for a brief time but implied it was too much of a strain on her power systems to maintain this for long.
    • CINDI is a poor man's version of SELMA, and its projection is even worse.

    Video Games 
  • Copy Kitty: "Dayelo - 7-Arms", as the Encyclopedia says, bears a "configurable holographic shell, allowing it to mimic a large variety of other Constructs!", which flickers between its true appearance and the mimicked one, along with being blurry and bearing colors that don't match the mimicked construct.
  • Deus Ex: Invisible War: Holograms are frequently imperfect, with horizontal strobing blue lines, higher end holograms are better quality.
    • Deus Ex: Human Revolution can be mistaken for normal people, except at close range. Possibly as a side effect of the game having better graphics.
      • In-universe, this can probably be justified by the agencies from the first game trying to cut corners on budgets, especially when they've got much more important computer projects to spend money on.
  • In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, when a hologram appears, not only is the picture glitchy, but the first thing the hologram "says" is always "ffffffffffff... ffffffff..."
  • In Fallout: New Vegas Dead Money add-on, the holograms scattered around the Sierra Madre are a uniform color, rather fuzzy and have prominent lines all over their figures. Oh yeah, and they shoot lasers. Granted this is two hundred year old equipment, though the Cloud was supposed to protect most of the Old World artefacts in the area. And lasers are cool. The fact that they can change colors suggests someone just wasn't willing to put in the work (humorously, Old World Blues has log entries which pretty much give this exact excuse; the designers were programmers, not artists).
  • Knights of the Old Republic mostly averts this trope as the holos look rather good. The audio, however, is a little tinny in the case of Dodanna and Vandar. Amusingly, if you turn down the graphics settings, the holograms will look physical.
  • Mass Effect also has an example with Vigil. The hologram doesn't even really show up you just get this weird jumble. Justified since the VI in question has been sitting around for tens of thousands of years, you're lucky it was still functional to begin with and in fact it shuts down soon after your group talks to it. Also, the game designers are trying to hide the Protheans' appearance and The Reveal in the second game that the Collectors are modified Protheans.
    • In Mass Effect 2, the holograms of Shepard and The Illusive Man are wavery and have horizontal lines going through them like they are on a screen instead of a 3-D projection.
    • Mass Effect 3 has anyone Shepard talks to via the Normandy's holographic communications equipment appear blue. Anderson's in particular are also shot through with static, although that isn't surprising, seeing as he's transmitting from a planet embroiled in an alien invasion.
      • Both of these examples might be justified as a property of quantum entanglement comms rather than more typical systems; the QEC has a much tighter restriction on bandwidth, requiring the transmission be heavily compressed.
    • The Decoy power in Mass Effect 3 creates, as the name implies, a holographic duplicate of the user to act as a decoy and draw fire. It is distinguishable from the original, being slightly blurred and bluish in color, but it's not clear if this is what it really looks like, or an effect that the player's HUD adds in to make it stand out.
  • In the Mega Man X series the Dr. Light holograms flicker and have a blue hue. Quite odd seeing as the hologram projector used in Mega Man 2's final boss works perfectly, though it could be argued that age is a factor, since the X series is set a century after the Classic series.
  • The holograms in Emperor: Battle for Dune have a distinctive fritzing effect where the red, blue and green channels of the hologram briefly fail to line up, just as happened with some earlier colour films and TV.
  • In World of Warcraft, there is one example. In the Burning Crusade expansion, the draenei and blood elf races were introduced. There is one quest in the draenei starting zone where you help Technician Zhanaa fix a hologram so you can contact Technician Dyvuun. When you complete the quest, it becomes pretty clear the device has its fair share of damage from the ship crashing into Ammen Vale.
    Image of Technician Dyvuun says: By the seven Ata'mal crystals! Others have survived the crash! Zhanaa, is that you? It is so good to see you again!
    And who do we have here? No doubt th... crzzzk ...ade this communication possible? I give you greetings fro... psshzzzk... Azure Watch.
    Judging by your signal we put you... ust southeast of the larger part of the island we crashed onto. Cross the Crystalbrook River to ge... kshhhhk zzzt. Sorry, there's a lot of stat...
  • Star Wars: Empire at War, Forces of Corruption expansion.
    • In the opening sequence, the holograms of Jabba the Hutt and Urai Fen both flicker while Tyber Zann is talking to them.
    • Jabba's hologram on Hypori flickers several times while Tyber Xann is talking to it.
  • Sage, Dr. Eggman's holographic assistant and surrogate daughter in Sonic Frontiers, looks like a little girl, albeit with some parts of her body flickering black and red or, when she begins to undergo a Heel–Face Turn, white and blue.
  • The Mofangs' holographic force-field generators in Obduction project images that are interspersed with red sparkles that make them easy to spot. This is justified: the devices were originally designed for Mofang use, and they have a different visual range, so from their perspective the images look fine. This is evidenced by Fauxsef, an enemy Mofang who disguises himself as the Mayor. His disguise is full of visual errors, but he doesn't seem to notice.
  • In Death Stranding, holograms of clients outside the chiral network are fuzzy to the point where only their general outline can be made out. After they're connected to the network this is much less the case, though their projection still distorts slightly.
    • Looking out for such imperfections is one way to spot fake, holographic rocks in MULE territory that hide their postboxes.


    Western Animation 
  • Arthur has one in "Meet Binky", due to Arthur mistaking a CPU case for a trash can.
  • Danny Phantom: Vlad Masters has some AI programmed holograms of Maddie Fenton, all designed to be madly in love with him. But they display the usual translucency and dither problems of fictional holograms, as well as being a bit....temperamental.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: They've done riffs on Star Wars, so those holograms are the trope played straight. But when Jimmy Neutron shows up for the Jimmy/Timmy Power Hour, Jimmy is convinced the fairies are just really good holograms.
  • Played with in Futurama: Although it is presumed that hologram movies in the year 3000 are suitably higher quality, they started out rather like a silent film, with grainy, black and white video and no audio other than a soundtrack. For some reason they were also made on Laserdiscs.
  • Played straight in the Ready Jet Go! special, "Back to Bortron 7". Jet 2 has to project a hologram of Jet's house, while the real house converts back into a starship for a trip to Bortron 7, so Mitchell doesn't get suspicious. However, Jet 2 has a hard time keeping the hologram stable, as it keeps glitching. Towards the end of the movie, it disappears completely, which gives Mitchell an opportunity to expose Jet (which luckily fails).
  • Played with in Superman: The Animated Series: Lobo is given a hologram plate of Superman which works more or less perfectly until he crushes it. Later, he shows someone the taped-together plate, which now projects a fragmented image of Superman.
  • Any sort of hologram in Totally Spies!, even those that are supposed to give the illusion of people's presence.
  • Justified in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power with Light Hope, and the holograms in the episode "Signals", as the holograms in question are incredibly old, being Lost Technology left over from the First Ones.

Aversions - Holograms that work perfectly:

One circumstance where this trope is commonly averted is when a Projected Man or other hologram is a regular fixture on the show, and for budgetary reasons it's easier to film them as actually physically present, with only very, very, occasional glitches on special occasions to remind viewers what they are.

    Anime and Manga 
  • The holograms in Yu-Gi-Oh! are so realistic the animators sometimes forget they don't have a physical presence. This is because of the rare circumstance in that the audience is supposed to forget they are real—just like their fictional consumers.

    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman (1987): While the stolen Sangtee Empire hologram tech originally had some imperfections, mostly being noticeably transparent, H'Elgn quickly fixed those imprefections to the point that Diana is able to wear a hologram as a disguise and at another point project one into the throne room and convince those present she was there until a knife was thrown through it.

    Films — Animated 
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 had the antagonist, Chester V, utilize his own holograms programmed to travel and run errands for him (as well as provide him company, facilitating his villainy). Unless touched, the holograms looked exactly like their maker. Chester actually uses it to overwhelm Flint by creating multiple holograms to tauntingly throw him off, until Flint uses one of his own inventions, "Party-In-a-Box" to create an explosion of paint and stickers that removes the holograms but completely stains the real Chester.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, there are instances when what looks like in-person conversations really are comunications using holograms.
  • Played with in Superman II, in which Lex Luthor escapes prison by sticking a hologram of himself in his cell. The hologram itself is flawless, and the guard is tipped off only when he steps in front of the projector.
  • Man of Steel Jor-El's hologram is indistinguishable from reality except when a physical object interferes with it. Apparently Kryptonian technology is capable of either that or pinart but nothing in between.
  • Star Wars:
    • When the commander of the Imperial Walkers talks to a hologram of Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back, the hologram works fine. Likewise, when Darth Vader talks to the Emperor, the Emperor's hologram works O.K. (there's some minor flickering but it's not blatant).
    • Unless it's disturbed, Snoke's hologram in The Force Awakens is only distinguishable from reality by its lack of a shadow (a beam of light can be seen going straight through it) and monstrous size (60 feet tall)—though it wasn't until The Last Jedi that we could say for sure he wasn't really that big.
  • The holographic security recording in the prologue of Serenity is flawless, except for a bit of odd lighting — it only becomes clear that it's a hologram when the Operative walks through it. The Miranda Recording later in the film is also unusually luminescent but otherwise free of artifacts.
  • Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol: Although not actually a hologram, the projection screen used in the Moscow Kremlin mission is sophisticated enough to create a false 3d image of the corridor in front of the real corridor of one of the guarded rooms—so good that it fools the guard patrolling the area despite Ethan and Benji being right behind the other side of the screen. The machine even had recognition sensors to track the movement of the person's eyes so that the illusion of the empty hallway could be maintained even while the guard was moving and watching the screen from different visual perspectives. The illusion only gets broken when more than one of the guards occupy the area, confusing the machine into projecting the image from multiple viewpoints back and forth.

  • Most of the time in Animorphs, except for a couple of occasions.
  • The Naked Sun: Zig-zagged and Discussed, since Earth's "tridimensional images" do flicker within their force-field enclosures, while the technologically superior Outer World colonies' are perfectly realistic. Elijah, an Earthling on assignment to an Outer World, is surprised the first time his conversational partner is revealed to be a hologram.
  • Holograms in Dream Park are so realistic that Gamers who allow themselves to step out-of-character still can't guess when real actors and animatronic models are switched out for holographic ones. The one time a holo's response is delayed by a couple of seconds, the Game Master chews out his technicians for the lapse.
  • In contrast to Imperial holograms (see above), Tau holography in the Ciaphas Cain series is always portrayed as lifelike and in perfect focus at all times. This is, naturally, rather unsettling to anyone used to the fuzzier, more "analog" Imperial systems.

    Live-Action TV 
  • ''Babylon 5': Unless being used for public address as noted above, holograms projected by the Great Machine on Epsilon III looked perfect in every way.
  • Subverted in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: the holograms look perfect, but Coulson mentions that due to the lag, people using them cannot react as fast to whatever is happening on the receiving end as they would in person. This is a plot point when Coulson and Lincoln are looking for the leader of the Watchdogs - Coulson realizes that Agent Blake they are talking to is a hologram, and next scene reveals the real Blake being in a wheelchair.
  • In Continuum, the only sign that the therapist is a hologram is that he can walk through walls.
  • Doctor Who: The hologram that the Doctor projects through a hole in the universe to say goodbye to Rose is clearly just David Tennant standing on the beach with her. Normally, there wouldn't be much of a problem, except for the strong wind on the beach making his hair move in every shot.
  • Quantum Leap: Al.
    • Played straight in the episode "Killing Time". Events transpire such that Gooshie has to use the Imaging Chamber to talk to both Al and Sam. For Sam, both the visual and audio is distorted heavily, while Al can't see him at all and gets only audio. Justified in that the technology is specifically made for Al and Sam to communicate across time. For anyone else it's very difficult to get working right.
  • Similarly, Addison in Quantum Leap (2022).
    • Played straight in "O Ye of Little Faith," where Janis attempts to contact Ben via her own homebrew Imaging Chamber, but spends most of the episode manifesting as a smokey apparition. When she finally gets through at the end, her image and audio are very glitchy.
  • Red Dwarf: Rimmer is one of the few fully-functional holograms in fiction, and even the Trope Namer for Hard Light. Shame about the man himself!
    • Ironically, an early idea was that he would be monochrome to make his status clearer, but it had to be shelved in favour of the metallic H on his forehead because real-world technology and/or a BBC science fiction serial's budget couldn't make him look that unconvincing.note  It was used in the early Red Dwarf Smegazine comic strips.
    • The novel continuity actually kept the aversion and turned it into a plot point; apparently holograms are so perfect that it caused a bit of an Uncanny Valley effect. Fantastic Racism ensued, played for Black Comedy when a much younger Rimmer accompanies his parents to throw rocks through holograms on a civil rights protest march.
    • The Promised Land TV movie finally showed us Rimmer in black and white during a power saving mode.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: For a little while Starfleet experimented with holographic communicators, where it looked like the other character was actually in the same room with Sisko et al. (because the actors were). It was quietly dropped after a couple episodes. Note that it played the trope slightly straight; the person being projected would usually be oddly lit, to show they weren't really there. (The Real Life reason it was shelved was that this wasn't sufficient, making the scenes confusing unless someone said "We're using the holographic communicator" every time.)
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: The holodeck. Even when it malfunctioned, as it so often did, it usually looked real, without scan lines or flickers. On those occasions when the holodeck did have visual artifacting, it was because the entire simulation matrix was breaking down (and badly needed a reset) or someone was meddling with the system without understanding what they were doing (but was trying to learn), or (in a more minor case) something had been done to disrupt the image (such as a crew member throwing their comm badge into the holographic emitters on the back wall).
  • Star Trek: Voyager: The Doctor almost always worked perfectly, even while using his mobile emitter. (Although the mobile emitter is much more advanced than the regular system, being from the future.)
  • Used as a plot point in season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery where the rogue AI Control uses a perfect hologram of the real head of Section 31 to fool the Discovery crew, who don't realise the person they think they are talking to was murdered days earlier.
  • In Voltes V: Legacy, General Oscar Robinson's hologram always stays perfect all the time, with some occasional glitches.

    Video Games 
  • Death Stranding, in contrast to its straight examples, also features high-fidelity "chiralgrams" employed by the main cast. The illusion provided by them only gets broken whenever their user phases behind a wall or through Sam himself.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, holograms are almost perfect when they're working properly, which becomes a plot point when it turns out Eliza Cassan is a holographic projection made by an AI.
  • Halo:
    • From Halo 4 onward, the War Games and other multiplayer modes are all officially holodeck simulations, and yet the graphics are identical to the campaigns and Spartan Ops.
    • Halo: Reach introduced a Hologram armor ability, which sends a holographic copy of the player to wherever they're aiming at. There are no visual errors on the decoy unless it is shot or hit. If this ability is used properly, it can become quite annoying.
  • Zig-zagged, but mostly averted in Elite Dangerous. Ship HUD elements are holographic in nature, and are relatively low resolution but perfectly readable. The Multicrew feature introduced in the Expansion Pack uses telepresence; rather than physically entering another player's ship, you are holographically represented. Aside from the first few seconds as the ship renders the hologram with steadily increasing complexity, they are perfect and almost totally indiscernible from the flesh-and-blood pilot.
  • Zig-zagged with the Holographic Shroud in The Outer Worlds. When activated upon entering a restricted area while carrying the appropriate ID cartridge, the Shroud creates a perfect holographic disguise for the player and their companions, allowing them to fool any nearby guards as long as they don't act aggressively. As they move about, however, a meter representing the Shroud's effectiveness decreases and, upon depletion, creates imperfections that nearby people will notice. The player has a chance to talk their way out of trouble if this occurs, which recharges the Shroud; but you can only do this three times before the guards finally catch on to you, and each subsequent speech check will be harder.

    Visual Novels 
  • Averted pretty hard in Ever17 with the character Sora. It's a point of pride for the company whose technology it is, as well as the character, who is extremely self-conscious about what few limitations it does have, in order to maintain the illusion of reality. It's also a major plot point and the subject of a reveal, despite the fact visitors are told about it up front.

    Western Animation 
  • The Announcer in Love, Death & Robots's first episode, "Sonnie's Edge", doesn't seem too perturbed by the fact that he's standing in a tiny arena between two huge monsters. Then he flickers and the tiny robots floating around him (who merely looked like a flying microphone) flies upward making the announcer disappears.
  • American Dragon: Jake Long. Similar to the tactic used by Lex Luthor from the Superman sequel mentioned above, one of Jake's enemies, a dragon who once belonged to the Dragon Council but made a Face–Heel Turn to aid the Dark Dragon, used this as part of her powers common to all dragons by creating a magical doppelganger capable of fooling the guards while she escaped out of her prison cell, until the spell was broken by Jake's former new animal companion, Bananas (who also joined and became Chang's new companion out of cowardice).
  • This was initially played straight in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, where every hologram communication was the same shade of blue, had the same scan lines, and the same static, even if it was just being sent across the street. Later seasons introduced more advanced hologram technology that avoided these traits and only faltered when disturbed. These types of holograms were often used for disguises (a Clawdite bounty hunter used one to complement her shape-shifting) or setting up traps. This technology would appear in later works from the rebooted canon such as Star Wars Rebels and The Force Awakens, suggesting this technology was still relatively new at the time.

Alternative Title(s): Beta Holograms, Holograms Are Always Beta, Holograms Have Bad Reception, Bad Hologram Reception, Flickering Holograms, Holograms Always Flicker, Flawed Holographic Projection