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The Coconut Effect

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The reality tends to color people surprised.

"It is doubtless true, as somebody pointed out, that a yoke of oxen would be driven, not with a whip but with a goad; but the lash of a whip can be heard on the air, whereas it is useless to ask the studio-effects-man to stand by making a noise like an ox-goad."

The Coconut Effect describes any sound effect, special effect, or design feature that is unrealistic, but still has to be included because viewers have been so conditioned to expect it that its absence would be even more jarring.

The trope namer is the traditional foley effect of using hollow coconut shells to recreate the sound of horse hooves in theater, and later radio, film and television.

Horses hooves do sound like a pair of coconut shells being tapped together... when the horse is walking on cobblestones or some other hard pavement. However, it's fair to say that the vast majority of depictions of horses are upon dirt, grass, or other unimproved terrain where the sound would be muffled to inaudibility. Nevertheless, filmmakers and radio producers stuck the coconut sound on the audio track even when the horse was on grass or gravel (rarely even in synch with the movement of the horse) until audiences came to expect the specific audio cue. Real recorded hoofbeats on later, more sophisticated productions sounded "wrong" to test audiences (or more likely, clueless producers).


Many other Stock Sound Effects are prime examples:

  • The Audible Gleam made by a specular reflection or intense light.
  • Kinetic Clicking: So ubiquitous that mobile phones tend to add clicking sounds to buttons pressed on their touch screen. All geared machines tick, switches make a loud 'clack' when turning on or off, crossbows have to make either a mechanical "klang" or a neat "tchak" to be taken seriously, and of course all Guns and Land Mines Go Click.
  • Noisy Nature and Incorrect Animal Noise: flapping sound effects for large birds taking wing (even owls, whose main advantage is that they don't make noise in flight), migratory Kookaburras, and roaring mountain lions for just a few examples.
  • The Audible Sharpness of a sword being drawn from a scabbard or a knife being waved around.
  • Noisy explosions in space.
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  • Kung-Foley: The 'whump' of a person getting punched in the face, or the exaggerated smack of a boxing glove. note  Real-life fistfights tend to be eerily silent, which obviously wouldn't be very dramatic or exciting (and more than a little creepy.) Any "aerodynamic" missile (from arrows to throwing knives or poisoned dart) must make a distinctive "fssshhh" when traveling through the air.
  • Laser noises. While there's a wide variety in the way they actually sound, "pew" is usually a pretty accurate onomatopoeia for anything short of a Wave-Motion Gun. In reality, a laser is basically just a precision variation on the common flashlight, and as such makes no more noise than one. Nevertheless, most of us would think there was some sort of issue with our audio if we saw Captain Space, Defender of Earth! fire an energy pistol that didn't make any noise, hence this trope.
  • All bullets in movies, regardless of caliber, will often make "zzzzip!" or "ffffwwwt!" sounds as they zip past. In reality, most bullets that miss their targets are still traveling at supersonic speed when they pass by, which creates a small "sonic boom" commonly referred to as a "ballistic crack." In truth, a bullet whizzing past you would sound more akin to a small firecracker going off than anything else.
  • Car and driving noises: "Wildest Police Chases" / "Wildest Security Camera Video"-type programs are big on this; squealing tires and crunchy crashes are all dubbed in after the fact in cases featuring security camera footage, which rarely features an audio track. Even a moped will make V8 Engine Noises. Squealing tires are Truth in Television when a car is driven at or slightly beyond the very limits of the tires' performance, but only on hard surfaces that provide enough friction, such as paved roads. On loose surfaces like gravel, grass/soil, sand, snow, and so on, tires simply cannot squeal.
  • Beeping Computers and Pac Man Fever cover the standard sounds of modern technology and interactive entertainment.
  • The Stuka Scream is a common example of this when planes are seen on screen.

This trope does not apply exclusively to sound, but to any instance of an element that is used simply because the audience, consciously or unconsciously, expects it to be included, and/or because Stock Visual Metaphors allow writers to avoid long expositions via Show, Don't Tell:

  • Mainframe hackers had "green lightning" (or "compatibility logic" when the suits were around) named after an Ascended Glitch in an IBM terminal monitor left in so people would think the computer was "doing something".
  • Every cockpit must have Billions of Buttons.
  • Lens Flares are everywhere.
  • Technicolor Science: All chemicals are brightly colored note 
  • Radiation always has a Sickly Green Glow note 
  • Every explosion will be accompanied by Impressive Pyrotechnics, and Every Car Is a Pinto.
  • People freezing or popping in space.

This trope has a sister trope in the Rule of Perception, which explains why one would bother with any of these effects at all.

The color version of this trope is Stock Object Colors and Typical Cartoon Animal Colors.

See also Reality Is Unrealistic, Artistic License, Science Marches On, Common Hollywood Sex Traits, Mickey Mousing, Radio Voice, Vinyl Shatters, and the semi-related Extreme Graphical Representation. Related in concept is The CSI Effect and Eagleland Osmosis. Nothing to do with Coconut Superpowers (except insofar as both relate to Monty Python and the Holy Grail). Thankfully, this won't be causing any real-world casualties. We hope. Compare Aluminum Christmas Trees and Small Reference Pools. Also see Necessary Weasel.


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    Media in General / Common Tropes 
  • Here are a few things about fruit that may seem wrong if they aren't portrayed wrong:
    • Coconuts. The brown, furry part we're used to seeing is actually the "stone" of a mature coconut. Coconuts themselves are very different-looking. They are green or yellow when young, and turn brown as they ripen. Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 actually got this right. There's even a boss in Galaxy where you're told to hit coconuts back at him. This trope is so ingrained that some players will try to hit the big brown rocks that are clearly on fire instead of the harmless green things.
    • Pineapples do not grow on trees. They grow out of the ground.
    • Wild bananas grow pointing up, not down. They will point downward as they mature. They are also small with scant flesh and lots of seeds, unlike the domesticated stand-ins more often used. They are also not necessarily yellow. That was the result of a single variety, the Gros Michel, becoming the preferred banana to eat worldwide. When the Gros Michel's weakness to fungal blight made continued large-scale cultivation impossible, its successor, the Cavendish, was chosen partially because it, too, is yellow.
  • One peculiar instance is the addition of Lens Flare to computer-generated scenes. Lens Flare is a flaw resulting from the physical properties of the camera lens, (and to a lesser extent, the human eye) but it is so ingrained in the public consciousness that its absence makes a scene look "fake"; adding it adds to the audience's Willing Suspension of Disbelief by implying that the scene was actually shot by a camera (perhaps via the Literary Agent Hypothesis).
    • The new Battlestar Galactica deliberately took this concept to the logical extreme: the CGI space scenes not only included Lens Flare, but also moments where the camera takes a second to find or focus on an object, or where a speeding spacecraft is blurry and slightly out of frame.
    • Firefly makes similar use of faux camera effects for many space scenes; in one episode, the camera is even struck and knocked spinning by debris from an explosion. Joss Whedon points out in his commentary that brand new, state-of-the-art lenses had too little lens flare for him, so they switched them out for cheaper ones that would have wider lens flares.
    • Traditional animated programming — anime in particular — often includes drawn-in lens flares as well. Exaggerated lens flare is fairly pervasive in 2010s anime.
    • It's not limited to anime - there have been at least a few manga where the artist has drawn a lens flare when a character is, say, looking into the sun.
    • Not only that, lens flare occasionally crops up in 1st person computer games, especially after the introduction of affordable 3D accelerator chips in the '90s, when games began featuring exaggerated, colorful lens flare because it could be rendered it without a noticeable drop in performance.
    • Many video games make digitized water droplets fall onto the camera screen. Sometimes this has justification — video game protagonists love Cool Shades — most of the time it doesn't.
    • Motion blur often similarly gets added to games for reasons of this trope. Unlike lens flares or water droplets, it tends to be more of a Scrappy Mechanic, as it either makes the game look worse graphically, slows it down, or blurs up the screen so much it turns into an Interface Screw.
  • In many 3D animated movies, film grain is added into the film. The audience is so used to seeing the artifacts of film grain that when it isn't there the image seems "unnatural" to the viewers. Ironically film grain is something that the industry has been trying to reduce for years to get better image quality.
    • In the making of WALL•E, the Pixar animators brought in renowned cinematographer Roger Deakins to demonstrate real-world lighting and camera techniques, using real cameras, lenses, and lights, which they then replicated digitally in the film. He was highly amused that they wanted to duplicate effects that technicians and equipment makers have been trying since the advent of film to eliminate.
    • Starting with Inside Out, Pixar also makes a point of using the limitations of actual camera lenses when it comes to focusing on objects, as simply keeping everything in focus makes everything look sterile and unrealistic. Toy Story 4 made amazing use of this, using the split diopter effect (where two specific points in a scene are in focus, done in real life with two separate cameras) and even using different camera lens effects for different characters (using a spherical lens when focusing on Woody and an anamorphic lens when focused on Bo Peep). In other words, the movie looks so good because it imposes graphical limitations on itself.
    • Similarly, the author of an early-1970s book on musical electronics (amps and recording equipment, not synthesisers) rather disgustedly remarked that engineers had worked for decades to eliminate distortion from amplifiers ... at which point, musicians promptly invented the fuzz box to put it back.
    • There's been a jarring trend for makers of 3D movies to add in lens flare and then apply 3D effects to it. This makes the lens flare come out of the screen towards you.
  • The stroboscopic effect often seen on spoked wheels, fans, helicopter blades, etc. is another example of a camera artifact which is so expected by audiences that it's left in, even though there are cameras and shutter mechanisms available which would eliminate it.
  • Morse code is always received as through a WWII-era radio: bee-beep-beep-bee-bee-beep.
  • Use of defibrillators (those machines that deliver a short pulse of electric current via two paddles when someone has one of a number of heart condition emergencies) always causes the recipient to flex up from the bed, which never happens in real life.
    • When using the defibrillator, it always charges with an audible, high pitched sound, the paddles are always rubbed against one another when charging, and when discharged, it must make a loud SHUNK. Let's not forget that the person using them always says "CLEAR!!"

      "Clear!" is sort of Truth in Television. In reality, the users will say, "Clear the patient," and then check to see if all persons are no longer touching the patient. A single dramatic "Clear!" followed by no safety check and a zap is pure Hollywood. Also, a conductive gel is used on the electrodes; rubbing them together helps smear this out evenly, though in many filmed cases it's pretty clear that no gel was applied and the actor is just rubbing the electrodes together because "that's what you do."

      The high-pitched sound is a case of Up to Eleven, as it is true (it is a characteristic whine of many devices using large capacitors) but it can be heard only in perfectly quiet room, not among the hectic activity that usually accompanies resuscitation, not to mention sounds of other hospital equipment, background noise etc.
    • Manual defibrillators with handheld electrodes are very rare nowadays. Modern systems almost always come with a pair of stick-on electrode pads (just like an AED) on which the adhesive also acts as a conductive material. These pads are applied to the patient and left in place, with the defibrillator itself being an integrated feature of a modern portable EKG monitor that also tracks the heart's electrical activity when not delivering a shock.
    • In Great Britain, paramedics are trained to shout "STAND CLEAR!" before delivering the current, to make absolutely certain bystanders know what the command means.
    • In addition to this, a defibrillator is unable to revive a "flatlining" (asystolic) patient, contrary to their depiction in medical dramas. The heart's electrical system controls the muscles of the heart. A defibrillator is designed to "reset" the heart's own electrical system when it's erratic and causing the muscles to contract wildly (fibrillation, as in defibrillator). If the muscles of the heart are no longer responding to the electrical system (for example, Pulseless Electrical Activity), or if the electrical system is down (asystole), there's nothing to be gained by shocking the patient.
    • Not to mention now that AEDs have become fairly common in large public venues, the device, while completely silent for charging and discharge, has a speaker built in that recites instructions to the user and tells them if the patient's heart rhythm is shockable. Some will include a high-pitched warning tone to alert you that it is charging, and another synthetic sound effect when the shock is delivered. Others will simply say "CHARGING" and "SHOCK DELIVERED." All models will announce "CLEAR" or some variation thereof before delivering a shock.
  • Kilts in Scotland. The pleated kilt as we know it today was invented in the 18th century; prior to that there was the greatkilt, which was essentially a big blanket (which may or may not have been tartan) wrapped round the waist and pinned at the shoulder. This probably dates from the 16th century. It was illegal for Highlanders to wear a kilt between 1746 and 1782 - it was seen as a rebel military uniform. Exceptions were made only for the government's own Highland regiments. Modern "Highland dress" was invented in the lowlands in the 19th century. The upshot of all this is that Scotsmen in kilts in nearly every historical period tend to be wrong, unless it's The Present Day and they're at a wedding. It does appear that Highlander got this fairly right, at least in the series flashbacks. Duncan and co are wearing the correct greatkilt.
  • Medieval clothes are usually depicted as dull drab, grey or brown colours. The truth is that natural fibers (sans linen, which is notoriously difficult to dye) can be easily dyed and the whole spectrum of vegetable and mushroom dyes were available in Dark Age Europe. Medieval clothes were actually brightly colored, even garish, especially those of townsfolk. Even linen could be dyed blue in the Middle Ages.
  • Similarly, leather gear in ancient- or Medieval-period fiction usually looks like museum artifacts, which tend to be dark brown from exposure to various elements and with any original dye long since faded. Historical leather could look like that when new, but depending on the tanning and conditioning, it could also be white, peach, buff, or different shades of brown without dye, and leather-dyeing is documented as far back as the Bronze Age.
  • Ruffs, pleated Elizabethan-era neck ornaments, are invariably depicted as pure white in period pieces and in artworks from that time which have been restored. But back in their heyday, ruffs were often dyed with vegetable dyes, in pastel shades to compliment one's other garments. The reason everyone assumes they were always plain white is that early art restorers, largely guided by portraits of the Queen herself (who preferred white ruffs for the color's virginal symbolism), assumed that any true-to-life tints in 16th century British paintings were discoloration from age, and primly painted them over in white.
  • Depictions of Color-Coded Armies of the muzzleloader era prefer to show one nation = one color, but this is an exaggeration of preferences that couldn't always be achieved. More than one Continental regiment in The American Revolution wore red coats, which would be pretty damn confusing in a movie.
  • 19th-century clothes are usually depicted in dull, dirty-looking colors such as cream or dusty rose (otherwise known as antique pink). Bright colors were in fact both available and fashionable. This is most likely because people are used to seeing clothes in museums, where the dyes have faded and dulled over time.
    • This is also why brown ink is associated with olden times. The black ink they really used faded to brown.
    • Aniline dyes were available from 1854 onward, and fashion called for color combinations most modern people would describe as clashing, like bright yellow and mauve.
    • The Gay '90s may be an exception, at least when done in color. See also Gorgeous Period Dress.
    • One of the reasons we assume the Victorian Age was big on whites and pastels is that the Neo-Classical period that immediately predated the Gay Nineties was influenced by contemporary beliefs about Roman and Greek times (see below). It's not surprising that the best-known fashion crazes of Victorian times are the last two: more survives from the 1880s and 1890s than from the 1840s and 1850s.
  • When a character in a film sparks up a cigarette lighter, nine times out of ten it will make the distinctive "Ching!" of a Zippo lid opening. Since the 1930s, the Zippo (and its knockoff twin the Star) has become so ubiquitous that many viewers unconsciously associate it with the act of lighting a smoke, even if the lighter in the shot would not make that sort of noise at all.
  • Whenever someone activates night vision goggles (or even switches a camera to night vision mode), they almost always make a Splinter Cell-style high-pitched whine. Modern night-vision goggles are almost completely silent; any sound would be compromising.
  • People expect to see ancient Romans and Greeks in films wear white togas, etc., apparently because Hollywood costume designers originally tried to make actors look like the pale statues that were their best examples of period dress. Of course, the ancient sculptors actually painted those statues in lively, more or less realistic colors, right down to the pubic areas. The paint simply wore off over the centuries.
    • You'll often see the toga worn by all kinds of Romans and Greeks. But in the Roman Republic and early to mid Empire the use of the toga was restricted to male citizens, and as it was hot and uncomfortable it tended to be worn only when absolutely necessary - in the Senate, for instance, or in a court of law. Roman women wore very stylish and fashionable clothing - and their styles changed from season to season, just like ours - but they generally didn't wear the toga: only freeborn prostitutes wore the toga, and there weren't very many freeborn prostitutes out there. The Greeks didn't wear the Roman toga at all but they did wear a variety of other garments, including one that looked quite like the "toga" worn by modern college Greeks... and one that could be mistaken for a toga at a distance or by someone with poor eyesight or limited knowledge.
    • There are a few examples of sculpture still retaining its paint. One example in Turkey that had been buried underground was preserved well enough for restorers to see a (faded) version of the original color and infrared tech is now allowing us to see the invisible paints. Many of the statues found by 19th century archeologists had visible traces of paint on them - which they then carefully scrubbed off, because that's not how they were supposed to look!
    • For togas, basic wool was used, starting white and dirtying with use. There was little washing outside of servants and those who did a large quantity of business went through 3 to 4 togas a year. It was more or less standard in the way the black or dark blue suit is today and generally considered formal wear for business, in the Forum or elsewhere. The pure white toga candida (colored with chalk) was the uniform, so to speak, of men running for office, hence the word 'candidate.'
    • Dye was relegated to women, who wore a Stola if married and a Chiton if single. Even then these were poor and the colors faded to pastels quickly.
    • There were also special Togas besides the aforementioned toga candida: Toga Praetexta had a purple or maroon colored stripe around the border which represented a current magistrate, former magistrate, priest, or freeborn boys who were not yet men. A black or grey toga called Toga Pulla was for mourning. And the Toga Picta dyed a deep purple/crimson/maroon depending on the historian, which was originally presented to and worn to a celebration in honor of generals who returned victorious from wars and conquers because it was the color of the gods who obviously showed them and the empire great favor. When Caesar seized power he often wore this, which convinced people he was crazy enough to think himself a god - this led to his downfall.
    • Fortunately the misconceptions are avoided in the series Rome, which portrays characters as accurately wearing the toga candida as noted above, but otherwise wearing colors appropriate to their rank (such as the senators wearing Togas with the appropriate stripe). Peasants wear a variety of colors, as do nobles, when not in a formal environment where the formal clothing must be worn. Of course this is also from the series that researched correct Roman graffiti, so hardly surprising.
    • Also, the 'toga' proper was only worn on very formal occasions; it was spectacularly impractical, using huge amounts of fabric and needing one arm constantly held up just to keep it on. The clothes worn by most people most of the time are confused with togas, probably because it seems to have been loose and drape-y most of the time, but probably comprised a lot less fabric (and more actual seams)
  • One example that even Rome failed to avoid is Ancient Greeks and Romans wearing wristbands. Forearm armour did exist, but was not common; no culture of the Ancient world ever wore the things as standard part of their dress. Armbands and other forms of jewelry were of course worn but they would have looked quite different. Yet, every movie, every TV series and every documentary about the period will show just about everyone wearing wristbands, and will frequently involve scenes showing them in loving detail as they are donned or taken off. All because the early epics of Hollywood were supposed to look exotic, and they needed more ways to display the lavish riches of the Ancients. Another reason sometimes posited is that it helps hide actors' tan lines from long sleeves and/or wristwatches.
  • Greek architecture and statue-work is almost always shown to be austere marble. At the time, it was austere marble covered over with bright, gaudy paints. famously pointed out that although we now know better, no one ever attempts to depict Greek statues this way because the pure white marble fits with the image of dignity, wisdom, and philosophical brilliance that we expect from Greek culture so much better than the actual original statues, which, as seen in the page image, were rather garish (although the originals likely didn't look quite that bad, given the limitations of reconstructing the exact colors used). Modern statues are generally not painted, since the wiped-clean look of ancient statues is what people have come to expect.
    • Speaking of Greek architecture, they built some of the larger temples with pillars closer to the edges leaning slightly towards the middle to give the illusion to the viewer that they were completely vertical. (One notable exception being the Parthenon; the pillars on that one actually are straight.) Might count as the first example of the trope.
    • It was pointed out on QI by Jimmy Carr that in movies set in ancient Roman and Greek times the iconic buildings appear as ruins. Usually caused by location shooting instead of mattes (or CGI nowadays).
    • Alternatively, movies tend to portray Rome as full of grandiosely planned monuments, streets and public buildings; in real life Imperial Rome was usually a mish-mash of things built decades if not centuries apart and many never-finished projects (due to various reasons, such as the inevitable result of a government of fiercely ambitious and competing bureaucrats, unpredictable and abrupt regime changes, and several God complexes from various emperors). The classic example of this is in Gladiator, where Commodus enters Rome along a long road in the middle of a large open space so that crowds can cheer him. Neither the road nor the open space existed until Mussolini's regime.
  • Similarly, movies featuring the ancient Egyptians tend to make the dominant building colors sand or gray (because that's what the tombs and temples look like now, and what the audience has seen in pictures) rather than the bright painted look that archaeologists have known for a long time they originally were. One of the more effective and realistic portrayals was, ironically enough, in fantasy/horror/action film The Mummy where the backstory setting in Ancient Egypt showed the bright colors.
    • The Pyramids are a perfect example of this. When they were originally constructed, they were covered in limestone and gold, so they would have been sparkling white with a gold tip. But they're always sand colored in shows. The gold was actually stolen in the meantime, as was the limestone (which was used for many buildings in Cairo).
    • The Egyptian showed this in the opening scenes: first, what the Pyramids and Sphinx are like now; then a dramatic cut (with musical flourish) to what they looked like when new and shiny.
    • Interestingly, a lot of video games set in Ancient Egypt avert this. Whether that's because the developers did do their research or because they realized that normal people don't like to stare at variations of beige for hours on end is another question. One intro movie even includes the golden pyramid tips, though in-game, the pyramids are only shiny, shiny white.
    • The Sphinx is an even bigger example of this: about 400 years after it was built the body, made of softstone, was starting to deteriorate, so the then Pharaoh had it covered in tiles and painted BRIGHT RED, with a blue headdress and gold painted face. This was maintained for centuries and was one of the most common forms of Sphinx. There's also evidence that the face originally had a beard.
    • Arabian-style music wasn't present during Ancient Egypt times, yet it is constantly used as a background music when Egypt is depicted. At the moment, only the instruments played back then are known, but none of the actual music scriptures have been found.
    • Giuseppe Verdi managed to avert this in Aida. The chant and dance in the Temple Scene are based on Egyptian traditional songs brought to him by Edouard Mariette Bey, the Egyptian Museum director who asked Verdi to write this. Mostly, he used a pentatonic scale of the kind heard everywhere in the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe.
  • Even less known is that the Mesoamerican natives also painted their pyramids in bright colors (the Aztecs mainly in white, while the Mayas favored red). This is probably where the penchant for bright colored buildings in modern day Mexico and Central America comes from.
  • Thunderclaps are usually heard at the same time as lightning, even though we all know light travels faster than sound. This is also a problem with other loud things happening far away, such as fireworks or nuclear explosions.
    • Amusingly, in The Sound of Music, Maria tries to comfort the children during a lightning storm by explaining that "the lightning says something to the thunder and the thunder answers back". Of course, the thunder and lightning in the film happen at once, so apparently Lightning and Thunder are talking over each other.
    • Poltergeist is one movie where lightning flashes silently, followed by the rumble of thunder several seconds afterwards, but this is actually a plot point.
    • The 2002 Video Game Remake of Resident Evil features thunder that lags several seconds behind the lightning, typically seen through windows. This arguably creates a sort of setting-based Uncanny Valley that further reinforces the Haunted House vibe you get from exploring the mansion.
  • For that matter, most anything sufficiently old will tend to be a bit drab. Things set in the early part of the 20th century will tend toward grays, while the latter half of the 19th tends to favor browns. While this is sometimes intentional to evoke the feel of a black and white film or sepia photographic plate, it just as often comes more from the fact that the set and costume designers were working from colorless references. In the Middle Ages, houses, clothes, and churches were uniformly brown, and in colonial America, everyone had white hair.
  • Characters reading from books will typically open to the middle of the book and start reading from there, as if the pages up until that point were all blank. The only exceptions are if the book is comically huge, opening just the cover to emphasize how heavy the reading will be.
  • In any film involving skydiving, the parachute is deployed either by pulling the metal handle on the harness or pulling a rip cord. The metal handle actually deploys the reserve chute, not the main, and modern parachutes do not have rip cords. The handle for the main chute is located underneath the bottom of the parachute pack, and it is connected to the drogue, or pilot, chute. The skydiver simply pulls off the handle and throws it in the open air. The handle is connected on the drogue chute, which opens in the slipstream, and then deploys the main parachute.
    • Likewise, all depictions of parachutes tend to be the old-fashioned "bell" parachutes. In reality, they are today used only by army paratroopers (as they open quickly at low altitudes) and dropping gear and equipment. All skydivers today use square "wing" parachutes.
  • Flynning in a real sword fight might get you killed. Also, sword fights tend to be rather quick, which doesn't fit much with the tone of most works where it's included, particularly those involving the Swashbuckler. In addition, the high-pitched "ting-ting-ting" sound of swords clashing against each other has become far too commonplace in movie sword fights, despite not being even close to realistic. Yet audiences have become so used to the idea that Flynning is what a sword fight actually looks and sounds like that not including it would be viewed as odd.
  • Swords tend to make a metal-on-metal scraping sound when drawn, no matter what the scabbards are made of. The first metal scabbards which really do make this sound come from the late 19th century. Scabbards were usually of leather and/or wood before that.
    • In The Lord of the Rings movies swords make a steel-against-steel sound when drawn from leather scabbards. It is alleged that they originally intended to use more realistic sounds, but in a textbook example of the Coconut Effect decided that it sounded "wrong" on film.
    • The visual commentary from Kingdom of Heaven states that the metal-on-metal sound is just for dramatic effect; if a scabbard were designed in a way that would produce that sound would likely end up ruining the blade's cutting edge.
    • In his Little Movie Glossary, Roger Ebert describes the application of this cliche to slasher movies as "The Snicker-Snack Effect":
  • The modern version of the last entry is that people apparently always walk around, even if actively hunting somebody or in battle, with their guns effectively unloaded. They will then apply the up-to-date dramatic noise of chambering a round (or cocking the hammer) before firing.
    • Truth in Television, for most westerns. Guns of the period tended to be dangerous to carry in a charged state—an unlucky bump could discharge the weapon prematurely. Hence, most revolvers were loaded with five rounds and left uncocked on the empty sixth chamber. Repeaters and shotguns received similar treatment, requiring the showy pump to be ready to fire.
    • Lampshaded by Kiefer Sutherland in Phone Booth:
      The Caller: [cocks his gun] Now doesn't that just torque your jaws? I love that. You know like in the movies just as the good guy is about to kill the bad guy, he cocks his gun. Now why didn't he have it cocked? Because that sound is scary. It's cool, isn't it?
    • A pump-action shotgun is always pumped before being fired. Even if the shooter had fired and pumped it once already, or pumped it upon loading. Sometimes it's done for emphasis in a "hold up" or "interrogation" scene to show the one wielding the gun means businessnote .
  • Anyone carrying a weapon that has full-auto capability will always shoot on the auto setting. They will also fire many more rounds than the weapon is capable of holding. In reality most police or military-trained operatives are trained to use their weapons on single shot setting or only fire in small bursts on full auto (the M16A2 doesn't even have a full auto setting, but rather single-shot and three-round-burst). Firing all out on full auto is inaccurate, in addition to emptying the magazines rather quickly. Fully automatic fire is usually used for suppressive fire i.e. throwing a lot of bullets at an enemy position to discourage return fire, and typically isn't done with assault rifles but light machine guns insteadnote .
  • The view through a pair of binoculars is usually depicted as two intersecting circles, whereas if you go and pick up a pair of binoculars right now you'll only see one circle, assuming they have been adjusted properly for you. This is parodied in Hot Shots! Part Deux, where they are revealed to be looking through a black sheet of construction paper with two intersecting circles cut in it. Top Secret! does something similar with a giant cardboard cutout...that a herd of cows jumps through.
  • Even in Real Life, calling a number on a cell phone invariably results in a rapid-fire "dialing" sound effect, despite the fact that no cell phone actually uses touch-tones to dial numbers. This is most noticeable in the first half of the 2000s, though more movies/TV shows after then tend to perpetuate it unless they're shilling to a specific phone company who presumably want their product to be realistically, or at least favorably, portrayed.
    • Ironically, calling the touch-tone sound "dialing" reflects an even older convention, harking to back when phones had actual dials instead of buttons. Touch tone phones have been around since the 1960s, yet we still call it "dialing" the phone.
    • Additionally, unless there's a joke or other reason to focus on it, a cell phone will make an electronic trilling noise that almost no real phone owner uses anymore.
    • xkcd: When someone calls my phone, it makes a damn ringing sound.
    • A model marketed almost exclusively to senior citizens emphasizes as a selling point that it has a dial tone and other features — all essentially functionless window dressing — that exist solely to make the cell phone behave like a land line phone.
    • DTMF tones can be optionally set by the user so that the phone makes them when pressing the number keys when not in a call (otherwise, the phone can be set to just make simple beeps or clicks during these presses, or for silent mode, no sound at all), but they will always be heard in the earpiece when pressing the keys during a call (e.g. during automated/prompted calls, where the cellphone's network [not the phone itself] actually generates the touch-tones for the other party to receive and decode). Phone buttons making some kind of beep when pressed is there to let the user know that yes, the button presses are being registered as normal — with how laggy modern computerized phones can get, you might need this kind of confirmation. Using the old DTMF tones specifically is purely for the coconut factor.
    • And at the end of the call most movies and TV shows will add a dial tone so the audience knows the call was deliberately ended whereas real cell phones have no dial tone (some do now emit a double beep when the call ends so movies and shows have started doing that). If there's no dial tone one character will inevitably exclaim "Hello? HELLO?"
  • When a character goes to switch a TV set or radio on or off (or turn the volume up or down, change the channel, etc.), the actor will invariably mime the turning of a knob or dial on the electronic appliance in question, even if it's a modern one without anything resembling an actual knob or dial. In theater the big hand gestures are easier for the techs to see and adjust stage lights on cue.
  • In a similar vein, apparently in the fictional realm all devices that have a monitor are analogue and an interference will be manifested through static, wave-y picture and tearing, even when the work take places in the distant future. In reality, analogue signals are increasingly rare and digital TV interference will look like a faulty DVD or a computer trying to play a corrupted videofile. More over, at no point tablets suffered from static in real-life, but apparently in fictional works, tablets are analogue too.
  • Space Is Noisy: Weapons used in space battles (e.g. Star Wars) produce cool sounds when fired, despite the inability of sound waves to travel in a vacuum. One Star Wars novelization had Han explain to Luke that ships helped tell their pilots where other things are by simulating the appropriate sounds as if they were in an atmosphere. This will likely be implemented in Real Life if society ever advances to the point of having ship-to-ship combat in space. There's also the theory that the sound is like no different than the words floating in space or the music playing during battles. It's there for the viewer, but the characters don't see/hear it.
  • Two-handed swords, especially the Renaissance "Zweihänder," are usually depicted as heavy and extremely cumbersome in combat. In real life, a longsword weighed between 2.5-4 pounds, with the largest Zweihänder tipping the scales at 6-8 pounds at most (a modern assault rifle with full magazine is 8-10 pounds) and, due to much lower blade-to-handle length ratio, they could be operated just as fast as a regular medieval war sword (basic lever principle). In the case of the latter the ratio is roughly 4:1; in the case of the former it's 13:5 with two-hand handle grip or 10:8 with handle-and-ricasso grip. It is true that longer swords are, well, heavier (specifically, a longer sword has a higher moment of inertia than a shorter sword; this means reaching a particular angular velocity requires more torque/angular force) which is what the different weighting ratio is specifically designed to compensate for. Although some extremely large swords may have weighed as much as 10-12 pounds, these were purely ceremonial weapons never intended for combat. Even an executioner's sword would seldom have weighed more than 8 pounds, and relied instead on blade geometry to concentrate enough mass behind the blow.
    • Speaking of longswords, this was not the one-handed knightly sword as it is commonly depicted in media. Depending on the exact period, that type of sword would either be called a war sword, arming sword, or simply just a sword. The longsword was specifically a two-handed sword, though still capable of executing one-handed attacks. Additionally, the term "hand and a half sword" often applied to these weapons does not exist prior to the 19th century. "Bastard sword" is a term of much more complex origin, being a specifically French (épée bâtarde) or English term that originally meant a sword of unusual make or unknown origin. The use of "bastard sword" as a specific type of weapon appears to date to no earlier than the English master Joseph Swetnam in the early 17th century, who described the bastard sword as a sword between the arming sword and longsword in length. The idea of the bastard sword being larger than the longsword originates primarily with Dungeons & Dragons, and has filtered down through many depictions in media that drew influence from it.
    • Similarly, the concept of medieval knights wearing armor that was so cumbersome it rendered them immobile and they couldn't even mount their own horses without a crane to hoist each knight up onto his horse. That myth dates back to 19th-century jokes, and was ingrained in the public mind via Laurence Olivier's movie version of Henry V. A real-life knight's armor only weighs up to 55 pounds, which is much lighter than the kit of a Roman legionary or a World War II GI (said kit can weigh up to 90 pounds). And besides, not only could knights mount their own horses with little or no assistance, there are records of high-profile knights actually leaping onto their horses in full suits of armor. If a knight had to rely on machinery just to mount his horse, he would have been a nice easy target for opportunistic archers.
  • Frogs, save for one species, do not go "Ribbit." Unfortunately, that one species (the Pacific tree frog) lives in Hollywood, so movie frogs tend to make that noise, and as a result we all think frogs ribbit, and even tell our children that.
    • Real frogs make a wide variety of sounds, depending on species, including barking, croaking, and chirping.
    • Smokey mountain jungle frogs scream: "Ow! Ow! Ow!"
    • The album ''Sounds of North American Frogs'', reedited by Smithsonian Folkways, is a great resource that illustrates just how varied frog sounds are (and that's just the ones in North America).
    • The striped marsh frog makes a popping sound similar to the sound Donkey makes in Shrek 2, for lack of a better description.
    • The bullfrog's physical appearance is instantly recognizable. But the sound it makes, which is very similar to (though often much longer than) a bovine "moo," is almost unheard in media despite it being what the bullfrog is named for.
    • Classically educated people know frogs really go "Brekekekex koax koax."
    • At least one documentary show had a scene of frogs doing mating calls at night. Sounds included chirps, whistles, a whimper, and something akin to a rapid fire toy laser gun.
    • On a similar count, depictions of frogs exaggerate the length of their tongues, showing them as being at least the length of their entire bodies. No frog has a tongue like that; most of them have tongues about the length of their head or a little longer. The misconception seems to arise from their fellow long-tongued insectivorous green ectotherms, the chameleons, which actually do have tongues that long. A lot of pictures of frogs you see in children's books or science magazines even get Photoshopped to make their tongues look longer.
  • For all gunplay based mistakes, please see this link. For example, people do not fly backwards when shot in real life. As pointed out by the MythBusters Newtonian physics surprisingly applies to firing a gun.
  • The ubiquitous "ping" sound heard everywhere where submarines are concerned. It's actually a very specific sound: a signal pulse of the ASDIC — an early WWII British sonar, widely used by all Allied navies in the war. It was so ubiquitous that it got thoroughly associated with every thing submarine, so it even came to be used where German submarines were involved, and their sonar pulses sounded nothing like that.
  • Animal sounds:
    • Real bald eagles do not actually make the long, majestic "keer" noise they always make in films. That sound is actually the call of a Red-Tailed Hawk, but because Bald Eagles and some other birds of prey have really lame and silly sounding calls in real life, their calls are usually replaced with the keer to make them sound "better". And of course, this has become so ubiquitous that now if one were to use the right sound, audiences would complain. This is only untrue in the case of nature documentaries. They actually sound like a combination of seagulls and hearing loss.
    • Any shot of Circling Vultures is accompanied by those same redtail screeches. Real Life vultures are quiet birdsnote —too quiet for the average sound-editor's taste, it seems.
    • In a similar vein; that "Oo-Oo-Oo Ah-Ah-Ah" bird call you hear over virtually every jungle scene is made by the Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae), which can only be found in Australia.
    • Mountain lions/cougars are a victim of this all too often as well. The cougar does not roar; instead it shrieks or lets out a growl much like a house cat would, albeit much louder and with a deeper tone. In some movies however, cougars roar like lions but a few notes higher on the octave scale. The mountain lion name is misleading - bear in mind the cougar/puma/mountain lion/etc/etc is a big small cat, not a small big one (it is a member of the Felinae subfamily, which includes, among other things, the domestic cat, while tigers, lions, and other big cats are members of the Pantherinae subfamily). In other words, it is not a slimmed-down version of the true big cats but in fact is the largest of the small cats, with vocalisations to match. Yes, it can meow as well, albeit one that sounds jarring to people accustomed to a domestic cat's meow.
    • Lions themselves are not immune to this, the powerful roars they are often associated with being those of tigers. The real life roars of lions actually sound more like moaning. This prevalence can mostly be attributed to the later versions of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lion, whose vocalizations came from a tiger.note 
    • Large whales are always accompanied by the vocalizations of humpback whales. Including orcas, which despite their moniker ("killer whales") are actually dolphins.
  • Heart in the Wrong Place: From vampire stakings to target-sheets at firing ranges, countless film and television images depict the heart as being located in the upper left quadrant of the chest cavity. It's actually in the center of the chest, and much lower, about where the sensation of acid reflux is felt. (Hence, the term "heartburn".) The reason for the misconception being that the heartbeat does feel/sound like it is focused in the upper left of the chest. That is actually primarily the pulsing of the aorta as blood flows into it from the heart, while the heart itself is mostly hidden behind the sternum.
  • People are so used to the compression artifacts of MP3s that they prefer them to lossless codecs. Reminds of an xkcd strip. Ultimately, any recorded media will, by definition, be compromised by the recording and playback equipment used. Different mics have different properties, speakers vary wildly in tone, the media itself will always have an effect, even "lossless." When people say they prefer to hear a "realistic" sound quality, they really mean a quality that sounds pleasing to their ears, hence people who like the "warmth" of vinyl are simply preferring the artifacts of that form.
  • Similarly, music instrument amplifiers often strive to emulate those produced in the early 20th century, which couldn't accurately reproduce sounds at volume due the low power vacuum tubes which drove them. Tube amplifiers produce "warm" overtones when driven beyond their "correct" operating range, causing a "break-up" distortion effect found on the recordings of rhythm and blues musicians such as Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry. Even "accurate" solid state amplifiers will often incorporate an op-amp "drive" circuit that emulates "tube sound."
  • The Uzi, vz. 61, MAC-10, and many other submachine guns are shown so rarely with their stocks extended or unfolded in any medium that most people truly believe they're actually pistols and that the folded or collapsed stocks are some deranged-looking part of the working mechanisms. The SPAS-12 and Striker-12 (to a lesser extent) also suffer from it. All folding stocks in movies in general tend to get hit with it but the aforementioned ones pretty much never see any exceptions to this rule, causing the issue.
    • Every lock and load sound ever.
    • The distinctive "ping" sound of M1 Garands make is very soft compared to the round firing. You're more likely to hear it because the clip hit something hard.
  • Similar to the fruits, we're so used to seeing the final product of walnuts that most people wouldn't recognize walnuts in the wild. Much like coconuts, many types of walnuts have a thick green outer skin that is very tough to remove (some people with walnuts trees hull them by simply putting them in the driveway and letting cars drive over them). The shells inside are also very tough and coated with a dark goop that will stain your hands green if not careful. It's only after they've been dried that they're anywhere near brittle enough to crack with a traditional nutcracker.
    • Also, cashews. Most people have not seen a cashew in its shell, and few realize cashews even have shells. They do, though they are usually removed from the shell before they're sold, because cashews are in the same botanical family as poison ivy, and the shell contains a lot of the irritant urushiol. In addition, they grow at the bottom of bell-shaped fruits called "cashew apples." These, however, are rarely seen outside of areas where cashews are typically grown, because they do not keep or ship very well.
  • A minor yet ubiquitous example: When a revolver's cylinder is open, it will make no ratcheting sound when spun, because when open there is no cylinder lock to ratchet against.
  • Similarly, ratchet wrenches in fiction tend to make their ratchet sound when the user is applying force, which is precisely when they shouldn't: they should be clicking when the user "re-arms" for another push. This mistake is egregiously visible in Lily Shen's introduction cutscene in XCOM2.
  • Drowning is portrayed in many movies with the drowning person splashing and flailing about frantically as they sink. In reality, a person drowning will not be able to do this, as such actions require oxygen and their body is starved of it. They will stand still vertically with hands raised to the side and attempt to crane their neck and raise their mouth when underwater. An involuntary instinctive drowning response will be triggered and they will be unable to flap about to get attention, or even grasp a rope or flotation device thrown to them. A person with their mouth above water and desperately flailing about trying to get attention is not actually a drowning least not yet. In that state, they would be known as a "distressed swimmer". Once underwater and drowning, they will not be able to continue this, and an untrained observer will not even know they are drowning.
  • When a woman goes into labor in the movies or on TV, her water usually breaks to kick things off. In reality, only 10% of women have their water break at the start of labor. Most women don't have their water break until things have been underway for a few hours. Of course, water breaking is far more dramatic than standing around with a stopwatch for two hours, timing contractions to see if they're regularly getting closer together. On the other hand, Screaming Birth-style contractions also aren't there until you're well into it. The mother may be complaining for ages of backache, cramp, indigestion or just be feeling indescribably crappy (all common enough when you're very pregnant) until the waters appear to make it clear that it's a little more dramatic than that. (Particularly prevalent if she's been asleep through the early phase of her labour, as many women are, and is woken by suddenly lying in a wet bed.)
    • Audiences often expect the initial spank on the ass to be a routine part of childbirth, to "help" the baby draw the first breath by crying. When a baby is born off screen, the sound effect after the mother's screams die down will usually be a smack first, then a baby's cry. It actually happens that way rarely, if at all. Past generations sometimes held a newborn upside down by the ankles and thumped the back to clear the air passages, but in real life, most babies breathe and cry on their own when they are born. If that isn't happening, modern medical personnel employ some other means of intervention.
  • Time Bombs are rarely used in the real world since the advent of remote technology. But for a variety of reasons, including alerting the characters to danger and an excuse for dramatic tension, keep the trope relevant in spite of this.
  • Whenever someone is drinking something through a straw, there is always the sound of air coming up with the drink as if it's nearly empty. Curiously, this phenomenon persists even though people drinking with straws is an everyday and mundane occurrence.
  • The world of art restoration furnishes an example of how Broken Base can ensue when one side believes this trope is in effect while the other doesn't. Between 1980 and 1990, the Vatican embarked on a drastic cleaning and restoration of Michelangelo Buonarroti's Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes, setting off a huge controversy in the art world over whether the project was merely removing centuries of dirt in order to reveal what it really looked like, or irreversibly destroying authentic parts of Michelangelo's masterpiece. Fabrizio Mancinelli and Gianluigi Colalucci, co-directors of the restoration, led the camp which proposed that Michelangelo had completed the entire ceiling using one technique, only painting on wet plaster (buon fresco) without painting any additional details on top using glue- or size-based paint after the plaster had dried (a secco). They were convinced that the traditional understanding of Michelangelo's fresco style as dark and full of chiaroscuro was a misconception from people viewing the ceiling covered in centuries worth of dirt, glue, and later alterations by inferior artists. The restoration would remove not only dirt but everything down to the frescoed plaster, and they predicted that people would be surprised by the revelation that Michelangelo was actually a vivid colorist. Critics such as James Beck and Michael Daley questioned the assumptions and motivations behind the cleaning, pointing out the lack of contemporary writings mentioning Michelangelo using bright colors, and the danger of assuming that the artist hadn't used any size- or glue-based secco painting despite it being common at the time and various evidence suggesting he did use secco painting. While the scientific and art historical arguments are too complicated to summarize, the Vatican restorators basically dismissed the criticism as stemming from the Coconut Effect and completed the cleaning, resulting in the much brighter and more colorful state it's in today. Whether it's been restored or ruined is a matter of debate, but at least the Coconut Effect is at work in another way: some movies made since the restoration, such as 2012, still depict it in its former dark and somber condition.
  • While it's mostly now gone away, for years printers in movies and TV would make the loud sound of a dot matrix printer, even when an obvious laser printer was being used.
  • Ninjas do not dress up in all black from head to toe. Instead the best disguise for a ninja is to look like the everyman from farmers to monks. The trope started in kabuki theater with stagehands dressed in all black. These stagehands are supposed to be invisible so the audience are meant to pretend they don't exist. When a character is killed by a ninja, a stagehand does it to show that the character has been killed out of nowhere for dramatic effect. In modern times, the only way you can recognize a ninja is from this costume. The mere existence of there being such a thing as a "ninja costume" is an example of this trope in action. Ninjas were stealth assassins who used careful disguises to avoid being detected. While it's useful if audiences can instantly look at a character and say "yup, that's a ninja", by definition it would defeat the purpose of their job if there was a costume that was instantly visible as a ninja.
  • The color black as a whole for the Stealth Expert was likely caused by ninjas, and you frequently see Sam Fisher and Solid Snake wearing all black or very dark gray. In reality, black is one of the worst colors you can wear for blending into the environment and remaining innocuous, as there are very few things in nature or even urban environments that are that dark, and groups like SWAT Teams and security guards actually wear black because it makes them stand out and they want to be seen. In reality you want your outfit to match your surroundings, just like if you were blending in in broad daylight, because as logic dictates your outfit will darken right along with your surroundings as the light fades.
  • Computer monitors, even in the far future, will always shimmer and have visible scanlines. In live-action films, this is a result of the monitor and the camera being out of sync (this is the reason why television and computer commercials simulate the image on the monitor, rather than use a live image). This is far less justified in animated works and video games.
    • This effect also occurs only with CRT type displays. If it occurs on an LCD or plasma display, it's because someone thought Reality Is Unrealistic.
    • Video Game emulators for older consoles often have an option to mimic the scanlines of a CRT tv, as many gamers who grew up with the actual consoles find the games look "wrong" without them. The scanlines also help blend the pixels making them look slightly blurry, like a very early anti-alias effect.
  • Most media show underwater scenes with rippling and/or distortion. In real life, this distortion only happens when two liquids with different indexes of refraction are mixed. This underwater image distortion may occur at estuaries, where salt water and fresh water, which have different indexes of refraction, mix together, but in large bodies of a single type of water, distortion does not occur at all. There's also the random bubbles that fish that are yards underwater and have never seen the surface will make with every movement, or bivalve shellfish will open their shells and release bubbles.
  • One will almost never hear complete silence in film. Even in parts of a film which an audience understands to be "silent", there is nevertheless sound playing on the soundtrack. If the audience heard dead silence, they would perceive it not as an aesthetic effect but as the sound system in the cinema malfunctioning. This actually caused some confusion when The Last Jedi was in theaters, with one chain hanging notices warning that there was a few seconds of intentional silence in the film.
    • Indeed, this reluctance to include intervals of silence in films has given rise to a standard audible cue for temporary deafness: that distinctive, whining high-pitched tone that follows whatever explosion or impact has rendered a film's characters incapable of hearing anything.
  • We have been trained by growing up watching movies at 24 frames per second to expect movies to have a certain look and feel to them that is an artifact of that particular frame rate. When these movies are shown on televisions that process the images to double the frame rate, or are filmed and shown at 48 FPS like Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy, the extra sharpness and clearness can make the movies look wrong to viewers, even though the video quality is actually closer to real. This is commonly called the Soap Opera Effect, because some feel it makes these expensive movies look like cheap shot-on-video soap operas (because the videotape format historically used on soap operas worked at 30 FPS rather than film's 24 and so had a similar visual effect to higher-framerate film).
    • 24 fps also looks stilted and unnatural to viewers, and always has, when the frames are in-focus and of good quality. Physical film's chemical makeup was designed by extremely intensive empirical testing to make the individual images intentionally lower in quality, most notably by setting the exposure times to introduce some motion blur in each frame to trick the brain into interpreting it as a continuous movement instead of a series of images. Because all of the tens of thousands of tests to establish how much blur etc is necessary obviously only applies to the thing being tested, this has meant that every big change in formatting has initially looked strange to audiences. The insertion of CGI is an especially glaring example, but early digital films at 24 fps actually had it even worse in terms of audience complaints than the Hobbit. It's not really a matter of viewers being "used to" the old formats, later testing has revealed that people used to modern digital 24 fps pictures have roughly the same reactions to earlier works where how to complete the illusion of movement again hadn't been completely re-discovered.
  • There are a few of these associated with electric-driven miniguns. First of all, there's the fact that electric driven miniguns do not require much time at all to begin firing. This action, called "spooling", takes less than a second in real life. There are a few reasons for this. In films and television, the spooling acts as a convenient way not only to have a tense moment, but to allow a hero or villain the ability to actually dodge the weapon's fire. Otherwise, our hero would be a red smear before they have a chance to react. In video games, this is a balance measure, largely for the same reasons as the delay appearing in live action works or animation, since otherwise it would make an already powerful weapon nigh-unstoppable. The second is that a minigun does not sound like any other weapon when firing. In reality, they sound a lot like a buzzsaw. Usually, you will instead hear a more traditional machine gun rat-tat-tat sound. More often than not, it is because the sound effects people either can't get the more realistic sound to work with the scene (imagine the hero and villain trying to trade insults over that, or the challenge it would be to lower it enough so they can without making it sound like a kazoo) or won't put it in (because, once again, it is what the audience expects).
  • Media will unfailingly indicate that a character has received mail by having the flag on the mailbox sticking up. The little red notification marker on email and other messaging systems is also derived from this. But this is completely backwards. The purpose of the mailbox flag is to alert the postal carrier that there is outgoing mail in the box to be picked up.
  • Actual rain tends to be mostly invisible to cameras. What you see in films and on television is created by special effects departments. Nowadays done with fairly simple CGI but before CGI it was done with various white powders dissolved in water and sprayed over the set between the camera and actors. Of course, rain is generally visible to your eyes, so this is all meant to approximate what the scene would really look like.
  • Raindrops aren't really raindrop-shaped, as they appear in cartoons, comics, and other illustrations. Any falling liquid will quickly become a nearly perfect sphere. It's how they used to make nearly perfectly-spherical musket balls; melt lead and drop it inside "shot towers" into a pool of water.
  • As stated above, bows in sword-and-sorcery movies usually escape this trope, except for one notable instance. In any fantasy movie, count on the foley guys to insert an audible *creeaak* sound when the bow is drawn back. Seems to make sense on the face of it. A bow is a piece of wood and that's what wood sounds like when it bends, right? In real life, bows should never creak. If a bow does creak, that's a bad sign. It may mean the bow is developing a crack, or the wood and/or the string has become brittle and is likely to snap. And considering the tension held in that bow, especially at a full draw, if it did snap it would likely cause a pretty bad injury to the man holding it.
  • That slight swooshing sound when someone's eyes dart back and forth, and that little "plink plink" that denotes blinking. See Squeaky Eyes.
  • Anything that holds immense power will usually hum or ring. See Audible Gleam.
  • A cracking bullwhip whenever a character snaps his/her head around or makes some other sudden jerky motion.
  • The rolling bongos that go along with a Wheel o' Feet.
  • The slide whistle, a universal indicator that something is falling (up or down). If it's something big, substitute the sound of a dive-bombing Stuka airplane. More whimsically, it can be literally used to show that a Cute Mute is depressed, embarrassed, or confused.
  • Old people will creak and squeak with every movement, like an unoiled hinge or a loose floorboard.
  • Lit fuses will always emit a menacing hissssssss.
  • The inevitable 'ting!' sound of light glinting off the hero's (or cheesy villain's) gleaming, white teeth. This particular example is used with humorous intent in the occasional sugar-free gum or dental product commercial.
  • The 'frooff' noise of an object passing by the camera.
  • People being knocked over to the sound of bowling pins.
  • Someone sneaking around will be accompanied by strings: pizzicato for tip-toeing, slides for strides (think The Pink Panther theme). See Mickey Mousing.
  • Anything with a ponderous pace (elephant, bear, fat dude, Jabba the Hutt) will be accompanied by tuba. The tuba's sound will also be used to simulate a character farting.
  • The little 'fwip' sound of a ninja or similar character jumping improbably high or simply vanishing without a trace.
  • The high-pitched sound of a coiled spring ("boing-boing") whenever someone is jumping or an object is bouncing. If the person/object is large enough, substitute a kettle drum.
  • Then there's the "WAAAH-HAAH-HAAH-HAAH-HAAH!" sound of someone crying in a cartoon, often with Ocular Gushers. In reality, these loud cries are made only by babies, and only because they haven't yet learned to talk. But even though actual crying is usually much quieter, cartoon characters have to cry like this because if their crying were more true-to-life, the scene would look like it was being Played for Drama, and thus not be funny. (Oddly, sometimes this sound effect will be consciously used to undercut the pathos of a serious or semi-serious scene, with the result being intentional Narm. In The Lion King (1994), for example, Timon and Pumbaa cry this way after they reason that, now that Simba has a girlfriend, he won't be hanging out with them anymore.)
  • Whenever the musical tastes of the elderly are depicted in media, expect it to always be swing or big band music (or classical, if they're the more intellectual kind). Even though, today, nostalgic elderly adults would be far more likely to listen to something like Elvis or The Beatles.
  • Women and sports just don't mix in television and film. While Real Life women often engage in sports (and have engaged in them since at least the 60's), the idea of women scoffing at or being completely clueless about them has become so prevalent in media that any unironic depiction of them playing sports (unless, of course, it's something "feminine" like figure skating, cheerleading, synchronized swimming, and gymnastics) might seem too jarring to the average viewer. Thus, many movie and television directors continue to depict women and athletics as being mortal enemies.
  • High-pitched cutesy voices haven't been popular with Japanese girls and young women for a long time, but they're still nigh ubiquitous in the media simply because that's what consumers expect to hear.
  • Backward thermometers. Almost all animated and drawn works depict thermometers with the bulb sticking out of the mouth. Needless to say that's not going to help much in real life, it's been done this way for so long (particularly because it's easier to tell it's a thermometer this way) that audiences universally accept it.
  • Holly mistaken for mistletoe. It's extremely common to use a holly plant in place of mistletoe in media due to its bright red Christmassy berries. While there is red mistletoe, most media just uses holly with its easily recognizable spiky leaves because it's a lot more accessible and has a very festive red and green color, and many viewers think the two plants are one and the same.
  • Grenades. Ask anyone how a grenade works, and 90% of the populace will reply "you pull the pin out with your teeth and 5 seconds later it explodes". Absolutely no part of that is correct. Attempt to pull the pin with your teeth and odds are you'll only pull out some teeth: the pin takes considerable effort to remove and must be done with your hands. Secondly, the pin only holds down the lever: flipping the lever out is what actually lights the internal wick and starts the countdown. A grenade with the pin removed won't explode until the lever is flipped out, and once that lever is flipped, trying to reinsert the pin won't deactivate the grenade like you sometimes see in fiction; it just means you're going to die looking like an idiot. Finally, 5 seconds is almost correct, but in reality they're very untrustworthy as far as time goes and also come in a variety of delays. Often video games keep the pull the pin and 5 second detonation thing purely as a game mechanic so you can time the explosion and can't carry a primed grenade forever, while most media in general keeps the teeth pulled pin thing purely because it's cool.
  • Arguably, most paleontological inaccuracies, particularly when they are made by people who do have up-to-date knowledge on dinosaurs. It's a little hard to create a series featuring prehistory without a lot of liberties, since they've been portrayed those ways for so long they've become permanently ingrained in the public image (scaly raptors and long-legged spinosaurs, anyone?). The (very) rapidly changing image of dinosaurs makes this even harder. Referenced in the book version of Jurassic Park. When they cloned the dinosaurs, they found that dinosaurs were not the big, dumb brutes of popular imaginationnote  and considered modifying them to make it so the audience would accept them. Also used in Jurassic World where they deliberately cloned the dinosaurs to be scaly because it was what the public expected when they see dinosaurs.
  • Real wild beehives are not shaped like a cross between an antique bee skep and a hornet nest like in many cartoons or illustrations. They're actually walls of honeycomb hanging from trees or inside hollow tree trunks. Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree and The Berenstain Bears, however, both correctly portray beehives as being inside trees.
  • Arguably, the common portrayal of the Yeti as having white fur. While the creature is still a cryptid, local legends and eyewitnesses describe it as having brown or red fur. The white-furred depiction might have been to associate it with its snowy habitat, or simply because of its nickname "Abominable Snowman". When the Yeti does get portrayed with brown fur as according to legend and sightings, expect viewers to confuse it for the North American Bigfoot or Sasquatch. This became all the more ironic when a white-furred Bigfoot was reported in Pennsylvania.
  • When a large group of soldiers (battle droids, clones, etc) are shown marching or doing drill, either of the following can happen: the visuals show differences in timing or movement even though the sound effects are snappy and unified, or everyone is seen to move in unison but the sound effects are more dispersed. The visual differences may be because a CGI army moving in perfect unison makes the troops look more artificial; the sound difference is to make the loud crunch of boots hitting the parade ground more impressive.
  • Whenever a newspaper appears (mostly in animation), expect the pictures to be black and white. Newspapers with colored pictures have been part of culture for decades, but it just seems right for them to be depicted as still printing in greyscale.
  • Seeing stars whizz past a moving craft in pretty much every work involving space travel. At best they'd appear to be moving past very very slowly, unlike the way they move in fiction which seems to imply they are tiny and much closer. Most viewers and creators realize this, but it's done to show movement and to make said movement appear faster and less boring.
  • Despite the fact that floppy disks and the old "dumbbell"-shaped phone receiver have both been obsolete for over a decade now, both are still used as icons for "save" and "call/telephone," respectively, because they're recognizable. (Even to kids and teens who only ever saw them as those icons.)
  • Same for the Record Needle Scratch (and its sister trope, Letting the Air Out of the Band), generally used to denote a dramatic or awkward moment. Because that aspect is so understandable, it's recognizable, even to people who have never listened to a record in their life.
  • When modern televisions lose signal in Real Life, rather than getting static or "snow," they will usually just go to a plain black, blue, or green screen, or go to a "this channel is not available" error. But the static effect is still used, because it has been around for so long that people know that it means the TV isn't working (even if they've never actually seen one do it.)
  • Anytime gorillas are portrayed pounding their chests with clenched fists. They actually do it with open or cupped hands. The clenched fists were probably done to make them look more "powerful". Additionally, the chest-pounding sounds different in real life, like popping rather than drumming. Tarzan actually got it right, Kerchak pounds his chest with flat palms and open hands rather the clenched fists that audiences expect, although the spin-off TV series forgot this and shows Kerchak and other gorillas pounding their chests with their fists. Both works, however, make the common mistake of having gorillas roar when they pound their chests.
  • Whales spouting water from their blowholes. There's a grain of truth to this in that they need to blast a small amount of water out after surfacing before they can inhale, but fiction tends to portray this as a huge fountain, skipping the air-intake part entirely. Fiction also tends to forget that the blowhole closes when the whale submerges, to prevent drowning.
  • Several anatomical inaccuracies in animals qualify.
    • Rabbits in real life do not have pads on the bottom of their paws nor button noses like a cat or a dog, unlike how Bambi and many cartoons portray. Also, their incisors tend to be hidden inside their mouths, rather than sticking out like on a beaver.
    • The same would go for cat- or dog-like button noses often drawn on certain other mammals such as rodents, walruses, sloths, ruminants, and even primates.
    • Most rodents, like beavers and porcupines for example, have orange or yellow teeth. Not white teeth like in cartoons.
    • Chipmunks are often depicted with shorter deer-like tails in cartoon, likely to distinguish them from squirrels.
    • Male orangutans are sometimes depicted without flanges or cheek pads, making them resemble female orangutans.
    • Spotted big cats often have their features generalized with each other, which results in jaguars lacking spots in their rosettes and both jaguars and leopards with solid spots. This confusion extends to cheetahs (which are not even big cats; like cougars above, they are part of the Felinae subfamily, so they are big small cats, or small big ones), sometimes portrayed with rosettes and no stripes.
    • Hippos are usually drawn with blunt canines and lacking the lower incisors, possibly due to being based on captive hippos which often have their teeth filed down. Wild hippos have sharper and longer teeth, since they need to use them as weapons.
    • Whales:
      • Sperm whales are always drawn with their blowhole on the top of the head like most whales, rather than as a left nostril like in reality. Also, baleen whales are usually drawn with a single blowhole instead of two.
      • Sperm whales are always depicted having a shovel mouth rather than the proper thin jaw, with teeth on the upper jaw (only prehistoric sperm whales had those).
      • Belly lining seem to be associated with all whales in cartoons, but in reality it's restricted to baleen whales.
    • Koalas in real life have two thumbs, not one. Though who would think a two-thumbed hand is not weird?
    • The common portrayal of parrots, toucans, woodpeckers, and owls having three toes in front and one in back, due to people often associating all birds with chickens. Seeing a foot with two forward-pointing toes and two backward-pointing toes would seem freaky and alien for some. ...Unless you DO own a parrot (or a budgie, which is basically a smaller cousin to parrots.) Alternatively, they may be portrayed with two toes in front and one in back, like an animal equivalent of Four-Fingered Hands.
    • Similar to the above, ostriches actually have two toes and only one claw on the larger inner toe.
    • Animal Gender-Bender in birds. Most notably peahens with trains, female mallards having the coloration of the males, and female ostriches being black like the males instead of the correct brown or gray (not helped by both sexes having long eyelashes usually associated with females).
    • The oversized bill pouches commonly seen in cartoon pelicans are actually a result of being filled up. Real-life pelicans normally have fairly thin bills.
    • Since many people tend to have trouble telling them apart from crocodiles, it is quite common for alligators to be portrayed with more croc-like features in cartoons. The only difference more commonly known is that gators have more rounded snouts, while other distinguishing features such as overlapping jaws and darker colors are forgotten. The same could be said for crocs being portrayed with overbites rather than the accurate interlocking teeth.
    • Crocodilians (and, by extension, archosaurs as a whole) can only have up to three claws on each hand, but they are always drawn having a claw on each finger likely due to people associating them with lizards.
    • Constrictor snakes are not toothless, nor do they have fangs (they're not venomous). For that matter, snakes and lizards do not have their teeth protrude out of their mouths, with the exception of venomous snakes with giant fangs.
    • The blobfish we are used to seeing is actually the result of it being taken onto land, suffering tissue damage from the pressure. They actually look less ugly in their natural habitat at extreme depths.
    • The common portrayal of arthropods with more vertebrate-like features such as two eyes, a nose, a mouth that close upwards and downwards, and fewer limbs. Considering many people are afraid of insects and spiders anyways, these are deliberate to make them look more "appealing" to the audience.
    • Six-legged scorpions, due to the pincers or pedipalps being considered "arms" when they're actually part of the mouth.
    • Octopuses and squids have beaks located underneath their bodies (the center of their arms), not lipped mouths on their foreheads. They also have only one siphon on one side of their bodies; it is not an ear or a sucker-mouth. They are also occasionally depicted with fewer than eight arms, even though "octopus" is Greek for "eight-footed".
    • If you haven't grown up on or near a farm, you may be surprised to see sheep with long tails, like this. Sheep are born with long tails, but they're usually "docked" (that is, cut short) not long after birth, to help prevent a variety of hygienic and veterinary problems. Farmers that choose not to do this are the exception, not the rule.
      • You may also be surprised to see that not all sheep are woolly. "Hair sheep" have hair (not wool), and are usually kept for their meat, milk, and hides more than their hair. They're more common in hot climates, where wool would cause the animal discomfort and worse. They're also harder to tell apart from goats, especially if (as is common in the Middle East) they're herded together. (Now you know why Jesus used a metaphor about "separating the sheep from the goats.") Considering that the wild ancestors of sheep, mouflons, don't have wool, this actually makes hair sheep closer in appearance to their undomesticated folk. However, you will almost never see "hair sheep" or sheep with long tails in media.
  • Real-life iguanas are herbivores, but they will usually be insect-eaters since the existence of herbivorous reptiles that aren't tortoises tends to be forgotten in media.
  • Whenever kippers appear in cartoons, they are usually drawn as whole fishes with no signs of being cooked or cut. Real-life kippers are different from that; they are split from head to tail in butterfly fashion and smoked so the flesh turns a reddish-orange color.
  • VHS tapes in fiction, especially after tapes were replaced with DVDs and other media in the 2000s, often feature glaring scanlines and visual glitches. Most tapes don't look this way. It takes either a lot of wear-and-tear or age for them to look so bad. It's unlikely that a tape from the 1990s will look worse than a beat-up home movie from the 1960s.
  • 8-bit and 16-bit retraux games look different compared to how actual games from the emulated eras do. One major difference is that with most old games you couldn't see each individual pixel. On televisions, the pixels blend together and aren't clearly visible.
  • Zoos in cartoons usually consist of smaller enclosures and cages. Old-fashioned zoos look like that, but most modern zoos have more open-spaced enclosures and exhibits that simulate natural habitats so that the animals can live better.
  • While most people know full well real life cavemen didn't speak English, having cavemen talk in a stereotypical dumb guy voice is ubiquitous, likely due to the belief that cavemen were stupid. The Homo sapiens cavemen living 10000 years ago weren't genetically much different from modern humans at all, meaning they were only as likely to Hulk Speak as anyone you might meet today. So, say ... a 50/50 chance.
  • Tanks in movies are invariably rather slow moving. While the original WWI era tanks were like that, modern day tanks can move up to 60-70 MPH.
  • People answering smart phones often say "hello, who is speaking" or the like, even though the vast majority of smart phones today show on the screen who is calling, so unless it was a stranger they would already know before they answered. Most likely this is for the viewer's benefit as they can't actually see the phone screen.
  • Judges (in America at least) don't usually use gavels any more. However, most crime/legal shows set in America still depict judges using gavels precisely because people think they do. Judge Judy is a notable exception, although likely due to the association of gavels with judges being so strong some fans of the show "remember" her using a gavel in some episodes.
  • People in historical settings speaking with modern British accents, even when not playing British characters. Years of classy British productions mean that anything else just sounds goofy.
  • Gasoline in comics, cartoons, and videogames almost always is a thick black liquid resembling crude oil, even though anyone who's ever owned a motor vehicle or operated a gas pump knows it's really a very thin, clear liquid. The reason is obvious: if it looked like it did in real life, there would be know way to know it wasn't just water (unless a character outright says).
  • That said, oil is always black in fiction. In real life, while crude oil is black and used filthy oil from an engine tends to be a reddish almost coffee-like color, fresh oil has a color not unlike honey or apple juice.
  • Nuclear waste is usually portrayed as a green liquid. Real nuclear waste usually just looks like dirt (possibly with metal (plutonium or uranium) rods mixed in.)
  • Whenever a fire alarm goes off on a movie or TV, whether a building is burning or it's a fire drill or someone pulls a false fire alarm (either to create a diversion or just as a prank), it is almost always a bell that sounds similar to a school bell or a general signaling bell. In the USA, bells being used as fire alarms was once common in real life but now very scarce, as many of them have been replaced by newer electronic horn/strobe units that sound very similar to a common household smoke alarm, or in the case of bigger newer buildings (including newer schools, hospitals, high-rises, etc.), "voice-evacuation" fire alarm systems. (At one time, loud electric buzzers similar to a scoreboard buzzer were often used as fire alarm horns, but are also being replaced with the newer electronic fire alarms.)
    • In Canada, fire alarm bells are still fairly common. Some Canadian schools even use both actual school bells and fire alarm bells, though typically the inside school bells have smaller gongs while the fire alarm bells have bigger and louder gongs, sometimes ringing in a certain code instead of a continuous ringing. This was the type of setup often used in United States schools prior to around The '60s, when horns started to be used more as school fire alarms.
  • In many fictional works, archers have the capability to draw out their bowstrings for what is considered unrealistic amounts of time. In-Universe, this is a case of Master Archer when they do this via an inborn advantage like your fatigue-resistant elves or as a Charles Atlas Superpower borne of intense training.

    Reality Is Unrealistic sets in here a bit too, on a couple fronts- In modern works (and modern archery competitions), you'll often see them using compound bows which use a set of cams and pulleys to offset the tension such that they can be held at full draw using only a fraction of the effort needed at the start of the pull.

    Certain historical archery techniques/types also involved actually doing this to a certain extent- a hunter for instance might use a low-draw bow because it was light enough for them to sit motionless at full draw for a few minutes waiting for a deer to wander into position. While the scrawny archer is the modern stereotype, military archers were historically known for their immense strength from training to draw and hold briefly to fire in volleys with the rest of the contingent, and archaeologists have found distorted skeletons of marksmen-type shooters who clearly trained to body builder extremes to be able to draw and aim at a specific target with stupidly heavy bows. It also depends on how much is the bow's draw weight in question, making it a case-by-case basis.
  • When people think of banks, the first thing they will likely think of are buildings styled after the parthenon by the Greeks. While there were some banks in the United States that did bear the parthenon design when the country was still relatively new, it wasn't that common, yet the old design stuck with many people. While banks in the past and present were built with a more mundane design, banks in pop culture and media are always seen as grand old buildings that stood the test of time.
  • When memories and flashbacks are shown in TV and film, they are often presented in sepia tone, even if the memory or flashback didn't originate from a time where sepia tone was used to enhance black and white photos and footage. Also, due to the fact that we naturally much prefer remembering warm, happy, memories, and the sepia tone gives these memories a warm, heavenly, "golden age" appearance, these scenes just feel right to us when displayed this way; they wouldn't feel visually distinct from the present if displayed in full colour.

    Anime and Manga 
  • In many anime, most noticeably Rurouni Kenshin, every time a sword moves while drawn, it makes a metallic clicking noise. This is usually used like gun cocking to indicate that a character is serious. This is only Truth in Television for a loose sword with an all-metal hilt, not a common construction for Japanese katana. Oddly enough, the Trust And Betrayal OVA (which is done in a more realistic style than the TV anime) actually uses this clicking sound in the correct context — it shows that the sword has not been used for some time and has not been maintained and emphasizes the desperation of the situation. Under normal circumstances you should never hear this sound.
  • Pani Poni Dash!: When Becky and the 1-C class go into Himeko's mind, Himeko serves a meal of crab...only it tastes like cheap imitation crab, which Himeko is more familiar with than the real thing.
  • More casual anime fans and non-fans in the West expect anime to have a particular character design, with semi-realistic bodies and distinct eyes and hair, commonly called the "anime style." As a result of this, some of these fans tend to either be baffled or react negatively whenever there's an anime that doesn't fit into their tunnel vision perceptions of Japanese media, forgetting that artists have vastly differing styles and unaware of the fact that Japanese animation was inspired by Western animation. Even hardcore anime fans run into this problem; with the increased involvement of Western studios helping with Japanese animation in The New '10s, some think the more "non-standard" art styles are due to demands from said studios rather than the Japanese studios themselves. What further muddles it is that some of the more notable character designers that helped in Western animation throughout its history were in fact Japanese, meaning their time working on those series would inevitably rub off on them when they did original properties (as was the case with the team behind The Big O).
  • Expect any crime anime that takes place in the United States during Prohibiton to exclusively use Italian hoods, Irish and Jews be damned.
  • One Gundam technical text says that Mobile Suit computers will supply sound effects for their pilots' benefit while acknowledging that Space Is Not, In Fact, Noisy. However, this doesn't change the fact that every single Gundam universe has sound effects in space battles...

    Comic Books 
  • The Flash has long been able to use his super speed to perform a great many feats which make absolutely no sensenote , but kind of feel like things a speedster should be able to do: he can vibrate the molecules of his body at super speednote , to let him become intangiblenote ; he can run across the ocean or up the sides of buildings as if he were running on the groundnote ; he can carry people at near-light speed without hurting themnote ; and he can catch bullets out of midair inches in front of their target without them punching through his hand or slipping between his fingersnote . Needless to say, every other speedster in The DCU has to be able to do all these things too. In fact, they've added a special phlebotinum to the Flash canon - the Speed Force - to explain the more impossible ones (it lets him absorb speed from bullets, impart it upon people he carries, and gives him total control of his body's molecules). Most non-DC speedsters won't be able to turn intangible, but they'll still be expected to be able to run across water and along walls and ceilings and to catch bullets as though their palms were armored - hey, the Flash can do it, why the heck can't Quicksilver!? The running across water is justified: it's been calculated that someone running at 100 kilometers an hour (more or less, depending on bodyweight and foot size) or greater would be able to run across water.
  • The use of huge, gaudy onomatopoeia (or, depending on how people describe the phenomenon, "sound effects", "Batman words", or even "noise words"). It's obviously a ludicrous convention in more serious comic works (bright red letters saying "BUDDA-BUDDA-BUDDA" and "ZARTZ!" and "KRA-THOOM!" look downright grotesque in the middle of a realistic shootout with blood spraying everywhere), but artists still have to include them or otherwise "it wouldn't look like a comic book."
  • Whether or not Clark Kenting is used effectively, or if Clark doesn't change his mannerisms at all other than wearing glasses, it doesn't matter-every incarnation of Superman will use some variant of the classic trope. He is the Trope Namer, after all.
  • The creators of Asterix knew well that the Colosseum and other landmarks from the time of The Roman Empire didn't exist during the comic book series' time, the final years of The Roman Republic (the era of Julius Caesar). Rome just doesn't look as good without them.

    Comic Strips 
  • In FoxTrot, Jason Fox is eating a watermelon and tells Andrea how it doesn't taste like his watermelon gum. Naturally this earns a weird look from her.

    Fan Works 
  • In one chapter of the Fanfiction Nightmare Night And Nyx, Princess Luna decided to tease her older sister by wearing a Nightmare Night costume... of Celestia as a "Pretty Pretty Pony Princess." Along with deliberately ridiculous levels of girly accoutrements and shades of pink, it featured its own cloud of twinkling lights— that made actual tinkling noises and even, on occasion, said the words "twinkle twinkle" in tiny voices...

    Films — Animation 
  • In Incredibles 2, Elastigirl rides an electric-engined motorbike — but it sounds like a petrol-engined bike. This is probably because most people wouldn't know what an electric vehicle sounds like, and because they expect a bike to sound like, well, a bike.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Parodied in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: They didn't actually have horses, just the coconuts. Ironically, the producers actually wanted to use real horses but didn't have the budget and the coconuts did a better job at the whole Rule of Funny bit.
  • Rocky Balboa, the sixth Rocky film, had realistic boxing sounds inserted during the actual match between Rocky and his opponent. The last few Rocky sequels before this had grown increasingly dependent on unrealistic boxing sounds, and the more authentic noises spat in the face of that dependency. Accordingly, instead of using the dramatic cinematic effect for the entire ending, the fight was presented like an ESPN pay-per-view event, complete with stats charts, graphical widgets and even the clock during the first round.
  • Ironically, Ring Girls, which is for all intents and purposes a documentary (although "creatively" edited to look more like a reality show), nevertheless added Hong Kong sound effects over all the punching and kicking, completely ruining it for every martial artist (or even fan) out there. It did not make the movie any more popular.
  • In another camera example, many films will add in the sound of a chemical flash bulb firing (a very recognizable whoosh) whenever they show flash photography, regardless of whether these old-timey flash bulbs are depicted on screen, or what era the movie is set in. Martin Scorsese and Wes Anderson frequently do this. In an interesting inversion, when an older-model electronic flash is used, the noticeable whine many make as they recharge is usually absent. This may be due to the sound effect having been co-opted by futuristic Noisy Guns.
  • The sound effects used in hand-to-hand combat in the Indiana Jones films are extremely over-the-top (e.g. obtained by beating piles of leather coats with baseball bats) - so much so that the sounds are basically iconic to the series.
    • Ben Burtt, the sound designer for all the films, says on a DVD extra that he decided to make the punches over-the-top on purpose as he felt they were making a comic book brought to life.
    • And any Bollywood movie portrays it much, much more over the top.
  • The Batman film franchise on a whole is guilty of this; despite the fact that blue and grey are much better urban camouflage colors, he always retains his black rubber armor in Live-Action Films (save for the Adam West one).
    • The sound effects in The Dark Knight are deliberately "one up." Minigun sounds for Uzis, Howitzers for shotguns, etc. More a stylistic choice, but still the trope.
  • Bud Spencer and Terence Hill made a career out of fight scenes with exaggerated SFX.
  • The movies in the Spider-Man Trilogy start off highlighting Spidey's use of Spider-Sense in slow-motion, but as the films progress, the Spider-Sense is more often implied that explicitly depicted, usually in the form of whiplash-quick reflexes and/or an Offhand Backhand. Notably, the third movie never highlighted it at all, with Spider-Man's reflexes and Spider-Sense all rendered in real-time.
  • Digital readouts are an excellent example. In The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, the subway's digital speedometer makes a series of increasingly faster beeps when shown on screen, despite it being established there's no beeping noise when the trains are driven normally.
  • Common also in Knight Rider: Closeups of KITT's speedometer, usually during massive acceleration, have a frantic ticking along with each MPH displayed. In only a few cases are there closeups of slow speed changes with the corresponding tick. In addition, no wide-angle shot includes audible ticking.
  • The serial The Phantom Empire, since it has a radio Show Within a Show, actually shows coconuts being used to make horse sounds. Being partly a Western, it no doubt had many traditional examples too.
  • An intentional example in Airplane! has the jet liner in the movie sounds just like it has propellers instead for comedic effect. The creators originally wanted to use a propeller-driven DC-4 (the one from Zero Hour!, the movie on which its based), but Executive Meddling forced them to use a jet. Airplane II: The Sequel has a similar effect, but on a space shuttle.
  • Cowboys & Aliens featured incredibly overdone punch sounds, similar to those in Indiana Jones (this may have been intentional due to the presence of Harrison Ford in the movie). Jake's punches seemed to be even louder and more exaggerated than other characters.
  • Star Wars:
    • The films are notable for their use of invented foley effects created by sound designer Ben Burtt. For Attack of the Clones, George Lucas decided not to use the stock sound effect of lightning and thunder coinciding with each other during the thunderstorm on Kamino, instead having the lightning happen a few moments before the thunder crashing.
    • In the commentary for the prequels, they talk about how Yoda's CG design had to compensate for the visual effect of Yoda being a puppet in the older films. For instance, Yoda's ears wiggling when he moved was originally a side effect of the material used to create the puppet, but they actually replicated the ear-wiggling when he went CG simply because audiences had already accepted that Yoda's ears are just supposed to do that.
  • The image of the alien spacecraft in Independence Day sweeping over the flag on the moon is probably the most iconic sight of the film second only to the destruction of the White House. What this and countless other films forget/ignore is that there is no American flag currently on the Moon. In the same way a poster exposed to direct sunlight fades over time the dyes used in the flags by the Apollo missions have all completely faded away leaving nothing but white pieces of fabric in their place.
  • Sunshine is especially guilty of this as, despite aiming for scientific accuracy to the extent of having Brian Cox acting as an advisor, it's still riddled with inaccuracy. In the movie's defence, however, Danny Boyle noted that the movie didn't feel right without things like audible whooshing and visible distant stars.note 
  • In-universe in The Dilemma, Ronny's and Nick's job is to work Coconut Effects into products. During the movie, they're making silent electric cars "roar" as if they had loud combustion engines.
  • Done literally and in-universe in Murder!, where one of the actors in a stage play claps coconut halves together off-stage to simulate a horse's hooves.
  • Also done in-universe in Spite Marriage, when Trilby's theater troupe needs to simulate horse's hooves.
  • In It (2017), the titular entity no longer has the original story reasons for assuming the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. In the book, this was because IT could not change forms on a whim and IT's guises followed the rules of the form it took; for example, a werewolf form would be vulnerable to silver bullets, but scary clowns have no rules, so it's an ideal avatar. In the film, though, IT can shapeshift at will and IT's weakness is simply that its victims' imaginations can overrule IT's plans, so there's no real reason for IT to default to Pennywise other than the fact that it's such an iconic character.
  • The Saw series have traps which mostly involve digital timers. They make an audible beep every second, but it's not actually the case for real life digital timers such as the one in microwaves.

  • The short story Damned Spot by Julian Rathbone, a Deconstruction of historical whodunnits, notes that oak darkens with age, so the dark oak we associate with Elizabethan architecture and furniture would have been quite pale at the time, before deciding that it's more important the setting fits the modern perception of Elizabethan era.
  • In the Hyperion Cantos, farcasters are implanted with devices to make a person stepping through feel like he is traveling.
  • Taking aim at the hourglass/spinning wheel/whatever which is there to convince you that your computer is actually doing something, Discworld's Hex, which is as close as they have to a computer (or more precisely a semi-sentient magical computerish thing) will sometimes drop an actual hourglass from a spring in order to demonstrate that Hex is doing something. Of course, nobody really knows if he is or not, but they do wait patiently.
  • The Cyril M. Kornbluth story The Marching Morons features this in cars, which have speedometers that go to somewhere around 200 MPH and exhausts that literally belch fire, both purely for effect. The modern-day "protagonist" notices that when the speedometer reads 140 he feels like he's going maybe 60, and then later notices that the engine roar cuts off a fraction of a second AFTER the car stops (because it's an effect added to make it seem like the cars are faster and more powerful than they really are).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Despite the fact that it purports to have at least something to do with reality, the hit U.S. boxing show The Contender features "exaggerated impact" sound effects during the footage of boxing matches between its participants.
  • In the 1950s, the Univac I computer executed operations so slowly that the engineers made a different "beep" occur for every type of instruction. This allowed programmers to tell, for instance, if the machine was executing a long loop, had stalled, etc. Only the Univac I did this, it was used almost exclusively in a back room at the U.S. Census bureau, and the beeping computer was quickly retired when faster computers were built in the late 50s. However, when the machine was new, the marvelous "artificial brain" was demonstrated for TV news and documentaries. The "beep-beep-boop" sound then got a life of its own because there wasn't really anything else in a TV computer to tell the audience that the computer was doing anything. Soon, all TV computers had to produce a series of beeps of various tones. The original Star Trek avoided this by having the computer's voice say "working..." in a monotone instead of beeping, but the show then did it anyway as the sound of an old punch-card tabulating machine was dubbed in after the computer voice. The beeping sound was mandatory in TV-show computers well into the 80s, until the trope happened in reverse. The common man began using home computers and the pointless, sourceless beeps came to be properly seen as idiotic.
  • There is a parody of this concept similar to that in Monty Python and the Holy Grail in one of the Swedish Chef sketches on The Muppet Show. The Chef is trying to get his chicken to lay an egg and after it looks like she has, he angrily declares that the object is not an egg but a ping-pong ball. The humor is, of course, that the audience would expect the ball to double for an egg in the sketch, making it surprising when the Chef refers to what it really is.
  • Battlestar Galactica did this when the Galactica warped into the upper atmosphere of a planet and immediately burst into flames. Reentry fire comes from the massive sideways velocity any orbiting object has. The ship started from a dead stop, but most people equate falling from space with fire. But they probably did it because fire makes things cooler. Potentially justified due to possibility that the flames were caused by the near-instantaneous displacement of an enormous volume of air caused by the Galactica's jump.
  • Half of what the MythBusters do is based on this trope, testing out the way things work in reality vs. the way they're portrayed in the movies.
  • Parodied in Gilmore Girls Ep.3/06 after Lorelai and Rory egg the car of the resident Bad Boy:
    Lorelai: Wait, is that a siren?
    Rory: I don't hear anything.
    Lorelai: Neither do I, it just seemed like a cool thing to say at that moment.
    Rory: It was!
    Lorelai: Hey, let's run back and speed off like we did something really awful and the cops are after us!
  • In the mid- to late 1970s, pocket calculators were just coming into their own. However, they didn't make cute bloop bleep sounds — the way they did in some television shows, notably Barney Miller, when Harris practically plays a tune on his.
  • Hustle had an in-universe example when the British character Stacie conned an American by posing as staff for the BBC. Instead of using her natural British accent, she put on an over-the-top stereotypical British accent, complete with "Toodle pip!"
  • The DVD set of the documentary series The World at War had a bonus feature showing some of the raw footage that was used to make the series. The footage, like much of the film shot in combat areas of that era, is completely silent. The narrator matter-of-factly talks about adding in all the sound effects.
  • Gene Roddenberry intended to avert Space Is Noisy in Star Trek: The Original Series, but test audiences liked the space scenes better when they were noisy.
  • Firefly might be the only aversion of Space Is Noisy. At the very least it's the most prominent. All space scenes are set to music, which totally replaces sound effects. There are still noises on board the individual ships, but as there is air there, it makes sense.
  • Martin Scorsese confessed that the biggest surprise of shooting the Boardwalk Empire pilot was "the color". Like most people, the mental image of the 1920s he had was based on black and white photographs, but the fashion magazines the production crew had access to showed that people in that decade really had a love for excess.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: Lampshaded in a segment of the Cave Dwellers episode.

  • The warmth of analogue recordings is caused partly by tape hum, which often makes people think digital recordings sound cold and sterile by comparison. Note that this largely depends on the type of music. The same could be said of the faint hum and crackle of vinyl: people missed it so much that it actually resurfaced as a medium and vinyl records of brand new albums can be found in stores.
  • The Loudness War has led to certain people thinking that maximum loudness, low dynamic range, 'whispering' on the voices (caused by parts of the vocal track to have come off) and excessive brightness are a sign of improved technology, when most of the time they are just to make the music louder.
  • We've gotten so used to hearing some type of post-processing on vocals (be it reverb, double-tracking, flangers, phasers, delay, compression, you name it) that just hearing raw vocals on a track can sound jarring. Don't believe me? Try it yourself.
    • Actually, this sounds jarring because studio recordings are made in sound-dampening rooms to avoid accidental undesired effects on the music. Real-life sound however sounds very different, because the acoustics of the surroundings produce echo and reverberations. This is why there's a science to the construction of auditoria and theatres used for live music. Thus some post-processing is required to make studio recordings sound more realistic. Of course in practice, the amount of post-processing used goes way beyond adding realism, and wraps back to unrealistic.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Back in the '60s, televised Professional Wrestling placed a microphone under the ring which made some very impressive sounds when wrestlers jumped off the top rope or stomped their foot during a forearm smash. They still do that. It's why fights backstage seem to fall a bit flat - the bumps don't have the same 'oomph' as bumps in the ring.
  • Fans often tend to complain at the 'dead crowds' on WWE television. The seemingly uninterested crowd are in fact very animated but the sound is just not being captured. If you watch fan footage recorded on someone's phone from the crowd, the noise is deafening. WWE just doesn't mic up the crowd because it runs the risk of people's personal conversations being broadcast on the air among other things. So the only time you'll actually hear a lively crowd is if they're screaming insanely at the top of their voices.
  • The big smack you hear when someone gets superkicked or big booted is of course the wrestler slapping their leg for dramatic effect. Slapping your leg and stomping for dramatic effect is falling out of practice these days. Also the big smack made when someone gets kicked in the head is usually caused by the kick pads the wrestler is wearing. Also wrestlers are taught to throw punches with the meaty part of their arm because it makes a nice impactful sound when hitting off the face.
  • Blading. Since the 1970s (if not earlier), American audiences have grown accustomed to fight scenes in action movies that cause the combatants to bleed like stuck pigs, when in fact mild bruises and maybe a few chipped teeth are bound to be the results of a real-life fight. If pro wrestlers didn't bleed as much as they do, spectators might suspect that they "aren't really hurting each other" (even though they are), or that the staged fights aren't "realistic" enough. Hence, the custom of wrestlers slicing themselves on the sly for that good old "bloodbath" effect.

  • The Reduced Shakespeare Company Radio Show mentions the use of coconut shells as a character starts to ride away.
  • In the 1930s, Australian radio broadcasts of cricket overseas weren't actually done from the ground. The commentary was based on ball by ball telegraphs, and sound effects such as canned applause and an artificial bat-on-ball sound were used. The trope didn't come into play because listeners knew the difference from having listened to local games; "synthetic broadcasts", as they were known, were abandoned in 1938 when shortwave reception had improved enough that the action could be delivered directly.
  • The Mercury Theatre on the Air used the classic coconut effect in the first scene of the first episode, an adaptation of Dracula, as Jonathan Harker's coach makes its way to Dracula's castle.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Laser weapons in Rifts are said to come with built-in noisemakers to satisfy customers who expect sci-fi-style sounds when they're fired. Otherwise, they would be mostly silent.
  • Lasguns in the Warhammer 40,000 universe have explored every angle of this trope they could find. In the art and the video games they are huge highly-visible coconuts, because otherwise you wouldn't know they were firing. In the fiction they are described as firing invisible, near-silent beams. There is a button to make the beam visible again, but this is officially for training purposes (read: playing laser tag) rather than actual combat. The only 'Pew', so to speak, is the audible snap of the air ionizing.
    • This also comes up when lasguns are given to Guard regiments who come from planets where most readily available weapons use chemical propellant. Guardsmen who expect guns to make a loud bang and flash when fired get fake noises and lights because the familiarity is good for morale. Guardsmen from less developed worlds are used to the relatively silent bow or crossbow and get no special treatment, while Guard regiments on appropriately advanced worlds are already used to las weapons.
    • In a similar fictional case, the guns in Gantz make a pathetically small sound and do nothing more than glow at the barrel.
    • In reality the predominant noise is the sound of cooling fans and water pumps. Occasionally, there will be a soft "pfft" sound when the laser fires, and that comes from the noise of the Xenon flash tubes used to pump the laser. High power microwave sources are also silent except for the cooling. What fun is a death ray that sounds like your air conditioner?
    • High power laser weapons actually might not be silent so much as they would switch which end the noise is on. The impact of a laser weapon on a target would actually produce a loud bang since it's vaporizing material into a rapidly expanding gas cloud; AKA an explosion. This might incidentally make them pretty crappy stealth weapons since the sound is inherent to their damage mechanism and can't really be dampened.
  • Also in Warhammer 40,000, the Orks manage to justify and exploit this trope. Because their latent reality warping abilities make anything a sufficient number of Orks believe become true, Red things go faster, louder guns do more damage, and things that look science-y and have most of the wires in the right place can do whatever a halfway competent Mekboy says they can. A commonly held theory is that orks specializing in stealth gain much of their inexplicable ability to infiltrate locations despite being, well, extremely large, heavily armed, green slabs of muscle with impulse control issues from the fact that most orks believe stealthy, disciplined orks do not exist. It's canon that they get a considerable boost from the fact most humans don't believe they exist, and so get lazy about perimeter security.

  • Figures of Ben Reilly as the Scarlet Spider invariably includes his hands in Spider-Man's classic "web-shooting" pose. However, Ben never actually did that; he modified his web-shooters to fire without the pose. But the pose is so iconic that it gets included anyway.

    Video Games 
  • Crate Expectations has become a sort of coconut effect. Almost every game that involves ammo (and many that don't) have crates that must be broken to get ammo. Valve, for example, found this out during playtesting of Half-Life. They attempted to avoid including crates, but so many people wanted something to use the crowbar on and get ammo from that they eventually had to give in.
  • Exploding Barrels could easily be classified as this. By now, most people realize that shooting a barrel won't actually cause it to explode, but for a game to not have explosives that can be triggered by shooting them would be just odd to the gaming audience. People Can Fly found that just trying to change the ubiquitous colour (red) of the exploding barrels to green for Bulletstorm didn't work right for the players.
    • Which is odd, given that green exploding barrels are also common in games - usually releasing poison or knockout gas - so gamers are just as conditioned to shoot them as red ones.
  • Every Platform Game since Super Mario Bros. has had a special sound effect for when the hero jumps, except for some of the Metroid games (but the Double Jump made a woosh noise to indicate the upgrade activating). Then again, Jump Physics in platformers is generally not realistic.
    • This even affects the 'realistic' platformers as seen in the SNES' heyday. Climbing up 3 straight-jump-up ledges in a row makes it sound like the hero of say, Flashback, is attempting to drop a log cabin in an outhouse. The boingy springy sound gets replaced with 'old man toilet grunts.'
    • In more classic first-person shooters, the main character says "hop" or grunts with every jump which is rarely the case in real life.
  • In the MMORPG EVE Online, the standard space-battle trope of explosions and other sound effects happening despite the inability of sound to travel in the vacuum of space is justified in the game's lore. The sounds aren't actually real, but because the player's character is piloting the ship from within a sense-depriving goo-filled pod, the outer-space sounds are created by the ship's computers to give the pilot's mind something to focus on.
    • This may be justified in this game specifically, however. Space in EVE Online seems to have fluidic properties, as ships will slow to a stop without constant propulsion, cruise missiles are described as a "lifting-wing" missile, and corpses instantly freeze when exposed to space. If this is true, the space would also presumably transmit vibrations.
    • Tyrian uses the same justification: The ship's computer simulates sounds from outside to help the pilot keep paying attention and as a navigation aid.
    • This seems to be "industrial standard" justification, right from the A New Hope book back in 1979.
    • The onboard television crew in Starship Operators mentions that they have to add explosion noises to satisfy the viewers at home; ordinarily, the fights would be silent.
    • The space combat computer game Elite justified the noise of laser impacts and enemy ship explosions as the sound of the hits/explosion broadcast from the target's radios.
  • A number of video games have film grain among the video options, as an homage to older movies:
  • Mass Effect has a couple examples. Along with the above-mentioned film grain, one NPC in the third game mentions turning off the sound emulators so he can watch an enemy dreadnought "sink" in complete silence. This suggests that Space Is Noisy is enforced in-universe, probably due to this trope.
    • Flying vehicles default to having inertial dampeners active, which the players and Shepard take for granted. Steve turns them off in one instance so the two of them can feel actual G-forces and the sensation of speed.
  • The whole trope Real Is Brown pretty much sums this up nicely. In real life, colors of all saturation and paleness exist, let alone lighting can vary in both outdoor and indoor settings, so things like ray tracing and desaturating are actually unrealistic.
    • A special mention can go to Sim City 4, in which took the trope to the extreme in which not only modern (which is somewhat justified, because some people associate brown as "earth-friendly") but also classic Victorian and Gothic (the Chicago 1890 and New York City 1940 styles) into the brown filter. Considering that most Victorian houses were nicknamed "Gingerbread houses" for their use of many colors, one must wonder what they were thinking... Of course, the fanbase is now led to believe that if anyone creates a building that isn't drab brown or gray and dull, they're insane.
    • This idea comes from the sepia photographs leading people to believe that everyone at that time wore drab clothing. The same phenomenon happens in Old West movies. People of that era loved bright colors, but any depiction of them will be in dark brown and black clothing.
  • Many modern video games use a variety of effects to look more realistic, which are far from it. These include, but are not limited to: bloom, grey colour pallets, blood and water splattering on the screen, ridiculously bumpy normals and a weird 'wet glisten effect' on skin and characters. Strangest of all, it seems like the viewer would be aware of what the sun or people actually look like.
    • Parodied in Uncharted: Drake's Fortune where the "realistic filter" option removes the vibrant colors and replaces them with muted browns and grays and puts in so much bloom that the game is virtually unplayable.
    • In the same way that animated studios take efforts to replicate shortcomings of real cameras, video games often go to great lengths to get the washed out effect of an overexposed shot (or a really bright light source), which is dubbed "HDR," when in reality this is tone mapping. Amusingly, HDR is also what photographers use to get rid of that effect.
    • Many 'realistic' video games have very long draw distances, making everything look extremely crisp and sharp all the way to the horizon. In reality, atmospheric perspective means everything should get hazier (and tinted blue) the farther away it is.note 
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, which is known for its cartoony graphics, actually takes into account the effect of atmospheric perspective. It even simulates the effect of the curvature of the Earth on the appearance of far-away objects.
    • These effects have largely gone away or toned down as graphics developers shifted towards a new paradigm known as Physically Based Shading. As the name implies, all of the lighting functions are based on actual physics rather than an artist playing around with the lighting until it looks right. The result is scenery that looks highly realistic to most lay people.
  • Plenty of gun tropes are like this, due to the fact that most people who played FPS video games or watched action movies started years before being allowed to handle military weaponry (if they ever do so). In fact, this article in Popular Mechanics indicates many times the guns in games such as Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 are first made "extremely accurate, based on factory stats and more" then toned down, not just for balancing reasons, but because of "the drive to make guns feel like the ones we've seen in movies." Like shotguns loaded with buckshot:
    People associate shotguns with powerful, close-range weapons ... So a shotgun blast [in the game] will punch through walls and armor just fine, even though buckshot is known for its lack of penetration in the real world.
    • Sniper Rifles are especially the case for this. One of the earliest sniping games, Silent Scope, gave bonuses for head shots because they were more challenging. This has led to the trope of sniper rifles in games only killing on a head shot - even though real sniper rifles will kill on a shot anywhere above the waist, which is a far preferable shot precisely because aiming at the head has a high chance of missing.
  • While it has been noted that the movement speed of FPS player characters has been noticeably reduced since the days of Doom and Duke Nukem (who could manage about 50 mph at full sprint), not many know that, by scale, modern FPS player characters still move much faster than a real person (especially a real soldier with their rifle readied and aimed forward). Most can manage more than 20 mph simply walking forward, with higher speeds obtained if sprinting. A character moving at real human speed would be painfully slow, especially in Wide Open Sandbox games like Far Cry or STALKER
  • The guitar peripheral for the first Rock Band game drew some criticism in that, unlike the older Guitar Hero counterpart, the strum bar didn't click. Many players were disconcerted at this, and felt as though the lack of audible feedback meant that it wasn't working properly. For this reason, later versions of the peripheral included a clicking strum bar.
    • That said, if you actually strum the strum bar, there will be a sound. Too loud a sound, in fact.
    • Might be justified in the fact that no matter how off you are in playing the song, as long as the game thinks you hit the note, the song will play perfectly. This is jarring because you can't figure out if you're on beat or not.
  • The Elder Scrolls series games feature a day/night system with night colors vivid enough for distant objects to be seen clearly, albeit in blue tones. Naturally, many players feel that these nights are unrealistically bright, leading to numerous "darker nights" Game Mods which make it near-impossible to see without a light source (torch, lantern, spell, etc.). In actuality, the vanilla games are very faithful to what a pastoral country would look like with no electric light pollution, especially considering the large size and brightness of Mundus' twin moons in the night sky.
  • For military shooter players, how does the M18 Claymore mine work? It's a directional proximity mine that detonates when enemies pass in front of it, right? Actually, no. As the Land Mine Goes "Click!" page will tell you, it's fired by remote control like a block of C4, never being a proximity mine. However, the perception of the M18 Claymore mine being a directional proximity mine is so ingrained into people's minds that almost all depictions of the Claymore in video games feature it being proximity-detonated instead of command-detonated (though most Hand Wave it by adding fictional laser tripwire triggers).
  • Dead Space, the flamethrower does not work in a vacuum. This makes perfect sense, as a fire requires oxygen. However, this version, intended as a tool for melting ice in the absence of an atmosphere, is actually one of the few chemical designs that could work in a vacuum, as described in supplemental material, even though it doesn't in-game.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Reflections of shiny objects in many animations often appear as sparkles even if the objects or light sources weren't moving at all. "Ting" and "ping" and sometimes metallic "whii" sounds are quite common to accompany with reflections.
  • The Simpsons:
    • From the episode "Radioactive Man":
      Martin: Uh, Sir, why don't you just use real cows?
      Painter: Cows don't look like cows on film. You gotta use horses.
      Ralph: What do you do if you want something that looks like a horse?
      Painter: Ehh, usually we just tape a bunch of cats together.
    • You can also thank the opening (as well as numerous episodes, like the Treehouse of Horror short The Terror of Tiny Toon) for making a lot of people think Plutonium is a glowing green rod. So much so that a lot of people are surprised that Plutonium is actually a silver-gray metal that glows red or orange. Radium is the material that glows green, and even then it doesn't glow green on its own: as it decays it releases ionizing radiation which excites fluorescent chemicals to cause the glow.
  • Done in the CG Clone Wars show with R2-D2, where effects like brush strokes (as if he were hand-animated) were included on it to make it appear like it had been produced by hand. Lampshaded on Ace of Cakes, when Charm City Cakes were commissioned to make a cake to look just like that version of R2, and they noted that they had to also include those elements, which they generally tried desperately to avoid.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Being a setting populated by sentient equines, the show uses the old "two coconuts banging together" sound effect in interesting ways. For example things that would normally involve hand sound effects are replaced by the coconut sound effect to reflect the fact that the characters are hoofed creatures who are using their forelegs as a substitute for hands.
  • Exploited Trope In-Universe in Batman Beyond by an infiltration android that Grew Beyond Their Programming and was hunted by the NSA for it. After taking heavy fire and falling several stories, said android (named Zeta) is left a burning wreck. Turns out, he was using his holographic projector (that allowed him to pass for human by superposing the hologram over his robotic frame) to fake the flames, and the agents, clearly believing that Damage Is Fire, were fooled by the holographic flames long enough to convince them to break line of sight so that he could create a new human like illusion and leave before the agents get in line of sight range again. And then Batman drops explosive to create some rubble and make it seem like Zeta self-destructed. The NSA team leader was Genre Savvy enough to order his squad to dig into the rubble until he finds what's left of Zeta or is forced to realize he's been had...
  • Lampshaded in Rick and Morty, when Rick's ship gets a flat tire in the middle of space.
    Morty:It's just crazy, how much it feels like a regular flat!
    Rick: Oh, no, no. That's just my custom-programmed, fully-immersive flat tire indication experience. I...I can turn it off. (He does. The ship stops shaking.) I thought it was cooler than the celebrity voice package, but here. (Presses another button.)
    Christopher Walken: Flat tire? You should be Walken!
    Morty: Oof.
    Rick: Yeah.

    Real Life 
  • Some people tend to be skeptical of touch screens because of the lack of physical feedback. Many things with touch screens that have pressable buttons on them will make a click button when you touch them to add to the illusion of pressing a button. Of course, this has the use of telling you that you've pressed it, but still.
    • The Blackberry Storm tried to remedy this by making the entire screen a button. Needless to say, the phone didn't really take off.
    • Nokia addressed this by using the vibrator to gently shake the phone when a "button" is touched.
    • This is becoming common on many different smartphones. Depending on the manufacturer, it may even be described with the accurate-and-awesome term "haptic feedback" in the phone's settings.
    • Talk to any serious typist and you'll find just how important physical and auditory feedback is. It's why some people will shell out $70-$100 for thirty-year-old Model M keyboards, and why even modern mechanical keyboards can and do still use its buckling-spring mechanism, among various other switch types that deliberately create loud clicking noises when typing.
    • In fact, The Coconut Effect is an essential component of user-interface design. There are extremely rare exceptions, but for the most part, people get frustrated when devices don't behave the way they expect them to, which includes fake buttons clicking.
    • Furthermore, if there's any delay between the button press and the system responding, without a visual or auditory response, it's not immediately obvious that the button-press has been registered, and many people - especially savvy computer users - don't trust the computer to actually be doing what they asked it to do, so they'll press again, which starts the process over.
    • The Wii remote has an interesting method to simulate the "feel" of buttons: every time your cursor passes over a button, the controller makes a very slight vibration.
    • Apple created a linear actuator system called the Taptic Engine that simulates the "click" feel of a button when pressing down on something that appears to be a button or button like, such as the Macbook Pro's trackpad, the iPhone's home button, and the face of the Apple Watch. The feeling is very convincing that you're pressing a button. More bizarre, if you cover your finger with a cloth and try pushing the "button," it won't "click."
  • Many low-end digital cameras attempt to simulate the old-fashioned shutter click when taking a picture - some even have inbuilt mechanical contraptions specifically to that effect.
    • Consumer digital cameras still have an old-fashioned shutter click, what with them having shutters, although the noise is practically inaudible in comparison to a $5 disposable camera. The sound they're emulating is more like the action of the reflex mirror in an SLR camera, with a hint of motor-driven film feeding, which is the stereotypical "taking a photograph" sound.
    • In a reversal of that, in one episode of Scrubs, The Janitor is taking pictures with a camera and making a clicky noise with his voice whenever he hits the shutter. A young girl asks him why he's making the noise and he explains that his camera doesn't make a real sound... problem being that he's using an SLR, so it would make the clicky noise whenever he took a shot.
    • There was a controversy in the early 2000s that digital cameras had to make the clicking noise, so people would know a picture was being taken. It had something to do with surreptitious photos taken by a camera phone in certain women's dressing rooms.
    • BlackBerries, Playbook tablets included, with cameras make a loud audible "shutter" noise when a picture is taken that can't be muted (barring a bit of creative hacking), even if the phone volume is set to silent. The reason given is to make it harder to take images surreptitiously—aside from the above issue, a legitimate concern involving a device carried by military, government and business officials. Something similar happens with some Lenovo tablets, in which no matter what app you use the "shutter" sound is there and cannot be muted even setting the volume to silent.
    • Likewise the Nintendo 3DS, which plays a shutter-click noise when a picture is taken even if the sound on the console is otherwise muted. This is because there was an issue of voyeurs surreptitiously taking photos of women in personal circumstances in Japan, so a rule was made that small electronics like cell phones or the 3DS must have an audible sound when a photo is taken.
    • The Android Camera application makes a very loud click (significantly louder than an analog camera), but it's generated by the application, not the hardware. Coincidentally, there's a completely silent user-made Camera application for sale on the app market, and it's suspiciously high up on the popularity lists. Android 2.1, Motorola DEFY - you can turn the camera sounds off. Thankfully.
    • Likewise, Apple won't let different camera sounds in the iPhone store, or provide a way to select them like every other sound. Strange enough, you can turn the entire volume on your phone down to 1 and the camera is very quiet. (Or you can just hold your finger over the speaker.)
    • There do exist exceptions. Most digital SLR cameras beep when the autofocus is locked on, though the expected "click" of the mirror flipping is still audible when the picture is taken. Many cell phones have the option of turning the shutter sound off. Also most professional grade cameras don't bother with sound effects.

      Just to be clear, the mechanical sound a digital SLR makes is not manufactured since those cameras have an actual physical mirror that directs light from the lens to the viewfinder (SLR stands for "Single Lens Reflex"). When a picture is taken, the mirror is flipped up out of the way just long enough for the image to be captured before it pops back into place. This is the source of the "clicking" sound and also the reason why the viewfinder momentarily blacks out when taking a picture with an SLR camera. The advantage of this design is that it allows the photographer to optically see exactly what the lens is seeing which has certain benefits appreciated by experienced photographers.
  • The digital signboards in some train stations produce a click-click-click that approximates the sound of flipping numbers on an old mechanical board as they grabbed attention better.
  • You know that smell of medicated creams? That is actually added, because it gives people the impression that it works. Ironic, since most people find it unpleasant, but they add it anyway because people don't think that something medicated can be working if it doesn't have that smell.
  • Many cosmetics that are supposed to clean up oil and dirt have a tingling sensation when you use them. That is thanks to an added ingredient that they put in to make people feel like it's working. They add that to some acne medications too, which is a bad thing: the tingling sensation is actually a warning that the product is harming the outer layer of skin. Harming the outer layer of skin makes it more prone to acne, which naturally means that the sufferer will go right out and buy more of the product. The old slogan was, "it tingles because it works". They simply didn't tell the consumer that "works" meant "gives you more acne".
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate is added to most soaps/cosmetics/toothpastes these days because it's a cheap way to create the satisfying froth that makes the consumer think the cleaning action is better. Both of these are skin and eye irritants (laureth is milder than lauryl, but to most people who aren't allergic to them, they're both pretty innocuous at the concentrations usually used). Commercially produced soaps without SLS clean just as well, they just don't froth.
    • SLS is also added in powdered egg white for the same reason; 100% pure powdered egg white doesn't froth like fresh egg white, so it's added in to avoid less savvy consumers complaining that there's something wrong with the product.
    • The same issue hurt Schlitz beer in the U.S. in the mid-'70s when they switched to a cheaper method of brewing beer that coincidentally meant the beer produced a lot less froth, i.e. less of a head, when poured. The taste hadn't really changed but drinkers were convinced it had, and not for the better.
  • There was an antiseptic for cuts developed to be sting-free, but it sold poorly because people didn't believe it worked. They had to put some alcohol back in it to make it sting.
  • Natural Gas is odorless, its characteristic smell coming from methylmercaptane added so that human beings will notice a gas leak by smell rather than by unexpected immolation. This also has the side effect that methylmercaptane leaks, despite not being really dangerous, are handled with the same urgency as a gas leak, because people have learned to associate the smell of methylmercaptane with natural/propane gas.
  • The smell of WD-40 is artificial and added deliberately because breathing in too much of it is dangerous.
  • Cough suppressant syrups like Robotussin are made thick because consumers are often under the impression that such syrups need to coat the throat to work, even though the active drug is just absorbed into the bloodstream in the usual way, via the gut. This obnoxious thickness, combined with overwhelmingly strong flavors, also helps discourage many people from drinking large amounts to get high. That being said, cough syrups that include menthol or alcohol can nonetheless have a secondary soothing effect on the throat by coating it. It's the same reason why you might be told to drink soup or milk, as they coat the throat in a very similar fashion.
  • Thanks to consumer psychology, people who consume bad-tasting medicine are not only more likely to believe that it's working, but actually have their conditions improve.
    • This works for energy drinks, too. People consuming bad-tasting energy drinks burn more calories during a subsequent workout!
    • You know what else helps? Raising the listed price. The more expensive the energy drink, the better the workout later. Even when it's the same drink. People believe that the produce has to taste bad and be more expensive to work better.
    • By proxy, the price of goods in general. People are conditioned to believe that more expensive=better product and cheap=shoddy product, which gets people to spew the age old quote "You get what you paid for". Many establishments bank on such a mindset to rake in easy profits and people tend to fall for it, despite the fact that the internet today can quickly show you with some searching that you can get some pretty good products without having to fork over a small fortune.
    • This is related by a possibly-apocryphical story about a rabbit breeder, who advertised his rabbits at $20 a head and hardly sold any, but when he raised the price to $100 a rabbit, he quickly found himself running short of bunnies...
  • Food is often Colour-Coded for Your Convenience to convince you that it tastes how it looks.
    • Natural mint flavoring has no color, but consumers have come to expect mint-flavored foods to be colored green. Only gourmet mint foods will abstain from doing this, allowing consumers to feel proud that they don't need the coloring. The exception is peppermint sweets, which are usually white. In ice cream at least, part of the reason that they have mint green is because green is quite visible - if you notice, other than pistachio, lime sherbert, or homebrew flavours (such as lime ice cream), it's the only green ice cream flavour there. There have been a few customers surprised by this, and if you ask around at an ice cream place that doesn't use food colouring, you'll probably hear a few stories about how a customer or new employee mistook the mint for vanilla.
    • Strawberry-flavored food is always colored pink.
    • Most consumers expect raspberry flavoring to be red, but strains of dark blue raspberries exist, leading to some (often brightly) blue-colored raspberry flavors.
    • Raspberry candies and ice pops are often colored blue because research showed that children like the way it stains their tongue, and also to distinguish them from cherry.
    • Similarly, lobsters are always depicted as red in fiction. Live red lobsters do exist but are fairly rare in reality (along with other colors like blue), and they most commonly have a muddy black/brown coloration. Red lobsters appear in fiction because people are used to mainly seeing them prepared as food, where the heat from cooking turns their exoskeleton a bright red.
  • Many artificial flavors don't actually taste much like their real-life fruit counterparts. The most famous is methyl anthranilate, better known as grape flavor, which is a chemical that only occurs in one breed of grapes (and it appears to have been by coincidence). Banana flavoring is a special case; urban legend posits that it was based on the Gros Michel strain of bananas, which was reportedly more common back in the day but was supplanted by the much milder-tasting Cavendish after the emergence of a fungal plague made them too impractical to produce. While the story about the Gros Michel's initial popularity, decline, and supplanting by the Cavendish is true, there isn't any evidence indicating that artificial banana flavoring was based specifically on the earlier strain, and the high similarity in taste between the two appears to be a coincidence. In actuality, banana flavoring comes from isoamyl acetate, a chemical found in all strains of banana, not just the Gros Michel specifically. The legend may be partly inspired by the decline of blackcurrant flavoring in the United States, which was also the result of a fungal plague (specifically one in which blackcurrant plants acted as a vector for white pine blister rust, which was a considerable threat to the logging industry) and resulted in artificial grape flavoring taking over as the archetypal "purple" flavor.
  • Margarine is white, not yellow. To look more like butter, yellow colouring is typically added.
    • Said yellow coloring has long been a point of contention for dairy farmers in the U.S.; starting in the 1880's, various state laws were enacted which either forced margarine manufacturers to dye their product in an unpalatable pink or levied heavy taxes against yellow margarine, all in the name of protecting the dairy industry. However, margarine companies sidestepped around the law by providing the yellow coloring separately, and bootleg yellow margarine became commonplace, which shows how effective those laws were. After World War II, the margarine lobby gained enough power to get those restrictions lifted, with Wisconsin being the last state to lift theirs in 1967.
    • Canada did one better than the U.S. by banning margarine entirely starting in 1886. After being temporarily allowed from 1917 to 1923 due to dairy shortages, the federal law was lifted in 1948† , but after a court ruling in 1950 allowed provinces to regulate the product, most of them started requiring that margarine be dyed bright yellow, orange or colorless depending on the province. Most of these laws were repealed by the 1980's, with Ontario lifting theirs in 1995 and Quebec in 2008. (Quebec took so long thanks to its powerful dairy lobby, whose industry employs a lot of rural Francophone voters.)
    • The butter that margarine is trying to mimic probably also had yellow coloring added, as butter's natural color varies and depends on the cow's diet. Which makes the dairy industry's opposition to yellow margarine slightly hypocritical.
    • Flour is bleached in part so that it looks appealingly white. Naturally it would be a yellowish color that might look unwholesome to some consumers (especially now, after years of conditioning). Also to differentiate it from corn meal.
    • The ingredients in any natural key lime pie will cause it to be a dull yellowish color. While limes (usually) are green, lime juice isn't. However, since it is common for people to associate lime with green, green food coloring is often added to key lime pie to give it a green color. It's usually the mark of an inferior pie.
    • Banana Ketchup, popularized in the Philippines as an alternative/substitute to Tomato Ketchup since World War II (during which major shortages of tomatoes threatened Tomato Ketchup production, and the abundance of bananas in the Philippines led to its use as a substitute ingredient), is normally brown (and is sold as such in a few places), hence it's usually colored red to mimic Tomato Ketchup. Being made from bananas, it's also normally sweet, hence some manufacturers add vinegar to make it taste like the sweet-sour Tomato Ketchup (though some consumers like Banana Ketchup for its sweetness and consider it more pleasant than Tomato Ketchup).
    • The color of salmon flesh varies from almost white to the well-known pinkish-orange color that shares the name, according to the fish's diet. On fish farms, food coloring are added to the salmon's food to achieve the same color. However, red salmon (also known as sockeye salmon) are naturally just as red as they are when sold. Leading to an Urban Legend where one canning company tried to boost its sales of white salmon with the slogan "Won't turn pink in the can!", only to backfire when a rival company started advertising their pink salmon with "No bleach used during processing!"
    • Cheddar cheese is actually white. The bright orange cheddar North Americans are used to is dyed to have those colors (using carrots and beets, so there's no cause for alarm). What is shown off as "white cheddar" is just cheddar with no food coloring added.
    • No rice is naturally white. "White rice" is just brown rice that has outer layers milled off. This is actually detrimental to the health value of rice, as it removes the nutrients, minerals and fiber present in rice hulls. This is partly counteracted in manufacturing by spraying white rice with a nutrient mixture. This is the reason you're not supposed to rinse white rice, because rinsing would just wash off the spray and make the rice little more than empty calories and starches. On the other hand, white rice reportedly keeps longer without spoiling, so it's useful as emergency supplies where you just need calories for a few days/weeks, and don't need to worry about malnutrition in the long run. Plus, of course, it's more appealing to people who don't like the "grainy" texture of brown rice or other whole grains.
    • Similar to rice, sugar isn't naturally white; brown sugar (which contains some molasses) is its more natural state and tends to clump together, whereas white sugar (which is basically brown sugar minus the molasses) doesn't and is thus easier to use in cooking and to flavor another dish at one's leisure.
    • Ironically, not all oranges are orange. In certain climates, oranges will actually be green, but will be painted with orange food-safe paint to give it the illusion of just being another orange.
  • The Coconut Effect can prove quite a shock in a cadaver lab or dissection. Anyone who has taken even elementary school science knows muscles are nice red, arteries a brilliant red, veins are blue, and nerves are yellow, right? In vivo, muscles are a dark red and most of the other tissues are dull colors (although they tend to all just look red, because live tissues are supplied with blood—if you're in a position to see a live person's tissues other than their skin, "red" is the main color you'll see; the exception is in surgeries, when one of the assistants removes the excess blood so the surgeon can see). In a prepared cadaver, the muscles have lost their blood and are a very sickly pale grey, while most of the other tissues come in various shades of grey, dull-brown, dark brown, and yellowish beige. Likewise, bones in labs are never, ever that nice, bleached white many shows use.
  • Laboratory supply companies sell preserved frogs for dissection which have been injected with colored latex to make the blood vessels appear red. Some of them go even further and use red in the major arteries and blue in the veins.
  • On most mobile phones, the sign on the button for ending a call looks like a receiver about to get hung up. Of course, that has nothing to do with what actually happens, but many people still talk about "hanging up" their phone, even when they're just pressing a red button. Likewise, the standard "Save" icon in most office suites is a floppy disk. Most of the people using them don't remember what a floppy disc is. This is also present in video games, even ones not on the PC. The reason is likely due to the floppy disk symbol being so universally associated with saving due to these office suites. The *nix desktop GNOME averts this with its recent change to a green arrow pointing down into a file folder. Of course, this is an even older skeuomorphic object, which is already used as the standard "Open" icon in the above-mentioned programs.
  • The original typewriter keyboards were in alphabetical order. This presented a problem for people when the keys would frequently jam because words had the letters and the subsequent typebars too close to one another. Thus it was redesigned into the familiar "QWERTY" key scheme we are all familiar with. Why with the invention of the electronic keyboard, where there are no typebars for letters (hence no issues of jams) this has continued, is mostly attributed to the endearing familiarity of the typewriter scheme. As an interesting side effect, the QWERTY layout resulted in faster touch-typing, since it enforces more frequent alternation than the alphabetic layout; words whose letters alternate hands are faster to type than words that are typed entirely with the same hand. This is actually the crux of the QWERTY-versus-Dvorak debate, the claim being that Dvorak keyboards (named after the layout's creator rather than the physical layout) have even greater alternation than QWERTY keyboards. (In reality, the distribution of letter-frequencies in English texts subtly varies depending on the format and vocabulary of the document in question, so which keyboard layout has better alternation is context-dependent... and that's not taking into account other languages: Dvorak was developed with English in mind and it performs worse than QWERTY in other languages, like Spanish and Italian.) However, it appears from several studies that all the proposed alternate keyboard layouts provide, at best, a modest increase in typing efficiency/speed/what have you, not worth upsetting QWERTY.

  • Also regarding typewriters, some of the early computer word processor programs in the 1980's had an option to produce a typewriter "click" sound for each key pressed for those who weren't used to silently typing. Now, if included, it's merely a cute nostalga thing.

  • Early remote controls were mechanical and did have plastic buttons that clicked into place when you pressed them (hence the nickname "clicker"). In the earliest remotes (like the one linked), the clicking sound wasn't just a result of a mechanical button being moved, it's how they sent the signal to the T.V. Each button flicked a different time, setting it resonating (like a tuning fork), and the T.V. was able to detect this sound; different tones would trigger different functions. Naturally, there isn't a lot of bandwidth there, so these early remote controls did little more than adjust the volume, power, and sometimes change the channels. Said limited bandwidth could be sometimes problematic, with random noises (such as a toy xylophone's overtones) triggering the T.V., and the ultrasonic signals could be heard by (and annoy) some a la "The Mosquito". It was only later that televisions began to be signaled electrically, first by wired remote and later wireless (via infrared or radio-frequency).
  • Oddly, for years after the introduction of early B&W televisions, it was assumed by a significant number of people that dreaming in monochrome was the norm and dreaming in color was a rarity. If you could have asked someone from a time before the age of TV if they dreamed in black and white, they'd look at you funny like you just said the sky is green with pink polka dots. This study notes that before the advent of B&W TV, most people dreamt in color, but people who were exposed to only B&W TV during childhood are more likely to dream in B&W than people raised on color TV.
  • Digital telephones have a clause in their governing standards that mandates the use of "comfort noise", a soft hissing generated in the receiving end, in order to fake the atmospheric noise from normal landlines. The most often cited reason: in a normal analog telephone, a soft hissing means the line is working fine, whereas complete silence means the line is dead, and the audio data sent by digital phones is pretty much impervious to atmospheric noise and thus it must be added. Another reason is that while the silence is encoded as true silence, transmitted speech always contains some noise from the speaker's environment and speech encoding. If comfort noise was not added during silence, the end result would be a chopping background noise whenever the speaker says something.
    • Similarly, Bell System engineers discovered long ago that feeding the speaker's voice back into the earpiece prevented users from shouting into their phones. This feature, called sidetone, actually had to be carefully calibrated: too much and users will speak too softly. Most cell phones are on the soft end of the extreme, which is why people on cell phones in public are often so obnoxious.
    • This is where the practice of blowing into the receiver to generate sidetone and make sure you are connected originated.
    • Talking on the phone without comfort noise usually results in a "hey, are you still there?" after nearly every sentence. This is noticeable particularly in VoIP programs with automatic voice activation, and button activation to a lesser extent. When the participants aren't speaking and the program isn't transmitting anything, the lack of any environmental noise makes it hard to tell who is present without visual cues. This is part of the reason for sound bites used to signal when a user connects or disconnects from a channel because adding background noise might be annoying during long conversations.
    • Telephone networks in offices typically have the dial tone added so the phones emulate what the users are used to at home. It's also a quick way to make sure you've picked up an empty line, and that the line is working.
  • Pulsing progress bars, spinning wheel graphics and similar graphical tricks used in computer operating systems and applications, sometimes referred to as "customer assurance widgets". They're there to convince you that something's happening - that your files are actually being copied or the computer's working hard in some way.
    • Perhaps the most famous example of this is the strobing bar that has appeared for years on the various versions of Microsoft Windows as it boots up. The progress of the bar doesn't actually mean anything, but people - particularly those of a non-technical disposition who make up the bulk of computer users, to the bane of technical support staff everywhere - tend to get antsy when they're stuck watching a computer apparently not doing anything for several seconds.
    • Conversely, eschewing the graphical interface and running from a command line in most OSes will produce little to no visual indication that the computer is actually doing anything at all, even when it's running hell for leather under full processor load.
    • This actually goes back to the days before computers became mainstream. In the olden days when computers only existed in labs and were attended by white-coated priests, it often took the primitive systems of the day several hours to complete a single job. If a scientist didn't sit in front of the terminal the whole time, what usually ended up happening was that some idiot would come along, try to use the machine, be unable to because it was busy, assume it had crashed and reboot it, screwing everything up. Graphical progress representations curbed this trend and improved productivity, despite the fact they effectively doubled the time it took to perform the operation because of all the processor power they used (this was back in the day when a "megabyte" sounded big, remember).
    • Similarly, the progress bars in web browsers are largely meaningless, since there’s no way to predict how long it will take for all the parts of a page to load. Generally, they jump forward a certain amount when the page starts loading, then asymptotically approach full in random bursts while data is being received. One version of Safari got rid of the placebo progress bar and replaced it with a spinner, but it was brought back by popular demand.
  • In Finland, there have reportedly been young women worried because their menstrual flow wasn't blue. This is because sanitary pad adverts used to use blue fluid instead of actual blood to demonstrate the pad's being less leaky than a Brand X pad. Some brands of scented tampons have a tendency to turn your flow blue with the (blue) scent-disperser.
  • In modern Continuously Variable Transmissions (C.V.T.s) the car does not have traditional gears. C.V.T.s have some form of cone, belt, chain, or "universal gear" which smoothly transitions to the appropriate power ratio among a seemingly infinitesimal progression of available states. However, many people feel that the lack of discernible gear changes made the car feel underpowered or flawed. This led many automakers to incorporate the option of simulating the bump of gear changes that aren't really there.
    • A Formula 1 car with CVT was built by the Williams team in the early 1990s. It was used only in testing and the technology was outlawed before it could be used. As designer Adrian Newey noted in his autobiography the CVT would probably have driven onlookers and broadcasters crazy as it resulted in a continual single-pitch drone from the engine rather than the rising and falling notes everybody associates with racing cars, even though the engine was still performing the same function.
  • UK broadsheet newspaper the Financial Times was originally printed on pink (i.e. unbleached) newsprint because it was cheaper. In time, white newsprint became ubiquitous and therefore the cheaper option, but by then everyone expected the FT to be pink. The modern newspaper is printed on white paper that has been dyed. So first the paper is bleached, then it's dyed to look unbleached.
  • High-end electric pianos weight the keys differently, with the higher keys on the right side with less weight, and the lower keys on the left side with more weight. The rationale is that this gets the keys even closer in feel to a real piano, which do require less weight on the high notes because of the smaller impact needed to hit a shorter string... except that, well, high-end grand pianos have weights in the high keys to equalize the key weights.
    • In the world of keys, there's a division between hammer-weighted keyboards and "synth action" keyboards, which aren't weighted at all. Synth-action keyboards require less force to play a note, which makes them easier to play, especially when playing faster music. They are also more friendly to people with arthritis, and they can be more pressure-sensitive than a weighted piano. Higher-end keyboards use hammer actions not because they are better, but because of people who are used to acoustic pianos.
  • Annoyed by loud lawn mowers on the weekend? It's possible to make them much quieter, but then they don't sell because people think the louder ones are more powerful and do a better job.
  • The "stage accent" that American actors use when portraying actors (or making fun of themselves) hasn't been seriously used for at least a century, and in most performances they're advised against using it. Why does the stage accent still persist? Partly because it's fun, and partly because audiences don't expect actors to talk normally even in contemporary plays that are clearly stated to take place in a specific area.
  • Modern ATMs make almost no sound. The clicks and whirrs of machinery that you hear in modern ATMs are usually sound effects that are added to give the user confidence that it is working.
  • Modern slot machines are completely computer controlled and the outcome is determined by a random number generator but machines which show physical reels are still popular despite the outcome being determined before the wheels even start spinning. It goes as far as having arms on the side which function exactly like buttons and devices inside to simulate the ratchet sound of the arm and the click of the wheels stopping.
  • Purely digital slots are still common in lower budget casinos and gaming centers, but are often seen as trashy or suspicious compared to the ones with superfluous mechanical parts. Another interesting feature is that, for legal reasons, various "slot machines" in certain areas are actually bingo machines. The machine plays out a game of Bingo (usually indicated by a tiny bingo card graphic in a corner of the screen), and they simply use the slot machine face to indicate whether or not a player has won.
  • Ironically, in a major sense-of-humour failure, Monty Python founder Eric Idle threatened to sue an independent film-maker who used the "that's not a horse - you're using coconuts!" gag, claiming he had originated it for Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Saner counsel prevailed, when it was pointed out to him exactly how old the gag was, and that (for instance) a radio comedy show Idle himself had written for had used this gag way back in the 1960's - ten years before the Holy Grail movie. And the BBC radio comedy archives preserved older examples still...
  • Many clocks and watches with an analogue display featuring roman numerals use four I's (IIII) to represent the number 4. The common roman numeral representation for the number four would be "IV", which is something anyone who has been exposed to roman numerals would know right off the bat (both are valid, but the subtractive method is what most people learn). There are several theories for why only clock faces do this, but none of them are definitive.
  • The concept of buying used or refurbished items is ingrained in most peoples' minds as "this item will break down faster than a brand new item", even though, depending on the product, most items can work as good as their newer counterparts and last just as long (e.g. a refurbished car part like an alternator usually means a reused housing, but every other component capable of breaking or wearing out is new).
  • The original HP-12C financial calculator was one of the devices that won famously conservative bankers over to the idea of relying on electronics back in the early 1980s. When performing even simple calculations the HP-12C would go "blank" for a second before returning the result. When the electronics were modernized in later years it was discovered that the bankers and accountants that used the calculators didn't trust the instant results that the upgraded circuits were returning. To make the results more "trustworthy" an intentional delay was added between hitting enter & when the final calculation was displayed. This delay doesn't actually do anything except make the user feel like the calculator is working really hard.
  • In real life in a normal atmosphere, a laser beam is seen as a single intense dot of light on the thing the laser is pointed at. All of the light is focused in one direction, and if that direction is not towards your eye (which hopefully it isn't), none of it enters your eye and so you don't see anything until the laser hits something and the light diffuses. Creating a visible beam in real life requires an atmosphere of smoke, fog, or dust, so that the beam is constantly reflecting off dust particles - and this reduces the power of the laser. Many items or toys which use lasers will show the item operating in such an atmosphere to create a visible beam; purchasers are often disappointed when the beam turns out not to be visible in normal circumstances. Laser tag areas often deliberately have dusty atmospheres inside to maximize the visibility of the beams. Downplayed in the case of green lasers (which cause the air to glow slightly in the path of the beam, making it visible, though it has to be in dark conditions to be seen). And averted in the case of blue lasers, which will make the air glow much more brightly, causing it to be visible even in lighted conditions. It still doesn't look like a visible Hollywood laser though.
  • Even though the reading of the will is not a legal requirement, some lawyers and executors will do it because it is expected, due to what people see on television and the movies.
  • After watching Breaking Bad, many people assumed that the purest meth is blue. This is not correct (clear meth is transparent), but because of that many dealers now color their wares blue to make it look pure. It actually makes meth less pure. Even the show establishes that it's only blue because Walt needed to synthesize a precursor for himself because he couldn't get his hands on it directly, and that the final product is more pure because of Walt's ability independent of that. Hank refers to it as "biker meth" derived from a different process, rather than intrinsically being more pure. Amusingly, the trope itself takes effect when Jack's gang produces some fairly pure meth that raises concerns for not being blue.
  • When video playback fails, YouTube displays a window with static and a rolling bar of brightness. This is based on what appeared on old analog televisions when the signal was lost, but is entirely simulated. Neither of these naturally appear as a result of a failure in digital streaming, and most modern televisions will simply blank out the screen if no intact signal is being received. (Actual digital video failures tend to resemble the image falling apart into square fragments as the decompressor fails to receive new blocks.)
  • When satellite radio services such as SiriusXM are experiencing poor signal, they often play a static sound, akin to the static produced by terrestrial AM or FM radio.
  • According to Harley-Davidson's official videos when the Milwaukee-Eight motor was launched for the 2017 model year, the engine's gear-driven counterbalancer mechanism, previously introduced on Twin Cam Softails in 2000 as a chain-driven unit, was so effective that it cancelled out all engine vibration. This would've been good and all, but Harley riders have gotten so accustomed to the vibrations that they complained the new motor was too smooth and thus didn't feel like what a Harley should; Harley reportedly made the counterbalancer a bit less efficient to appease enthusiasts.

Alternative Title(s): Coconut Effect


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