Experts Point Out 45 Things That Movies Always Seem To Get Wrong

Published 5 months ago

It is common knowledge that movies and TV shows are not always historically accurate unless they are well-researched documentaries. To create drama, tension, and move the story along, writers and directors often take creative liberties. However, once you realize that something is factually incorrect, it can ruin the experience of watching the story. 

A Redditor named u/Eatar initiated an interesting conversation on r/movies, asking users to use their technical knowledge to “ruin” popular movie tropes for everyone else. Be careful, as you may never look at fire alarms, chloroform, silencers, and courtroom drama the same way again after reading their responses.

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Image source: Febre, CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Anytime they take some grainy footage or picture then the tech specialist taps a few buttons, zooms in, and makes the license place of the car in the parking lot 2km away fully legible. Like pulling the pixels from thin air.

That’s not how that works, that’s not how any of that works.


Image source: BertieTheLamb, Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group

Against popular opinion, an explosion will not “blow you to safety”. You are going to be dead, my dude. A shockwave can cause rupture of your lungs in an instant as well as where any gas pockets in the body live. Gut, sinus cavities, ears. Thermobaric shockwaves can leave a spider web of fractures in the skull. Long story short, if you’ve been thrown by a blast, you may not be dead now but you will be soon.

#3 In apocalypse the leather and natural fiber stuff will rot away first and the polyester and Lycra and spandex will last forever. So road warriors will be in lulu lemon.

Image source: TorontoTom2008

#4 As someone who competitively rode horses for over a decade, my husband now reflexively looks at me whenever a horse appears on screen because there’s always just so many things I have to eye roll at.

The most common offense is the horse neighs that are piped in as the hero rides on/off screen. Amazing that they’re vocalizing without moving their mouth/nose.

The “majestic stallion” is almost NEVER a stallion as they’re notoriously difficult to work with, and you shouldn’t pair with an unexperienced actor. And sometimes you can tell the horse changes gender or markings between scenes due to multiple horses being used.

Some actors and actresses are pretty good riders, but a lot of them are just hanging on for dear life.

I’m also remembering at the end of Hidalgo, Viggo’s character let’s his horse go free and as he’s dramatically galloping away you can clearly see he still has horseshoes on. Like congrats he’s free, but is gonna be crippled in no time with no one maintaining those shoes.

Image source: rigbeans

#5 Virologist here. Any movie, be it 28 Days Later zombie movie, or any other movie with a dangerous virus that acts in seconds or minutes is a Hollywood trope. Viruses do not, cannot act that fast. At best you might have something happen after 24 hours but even that is fast.

Why? Because the virus has to do some things in the body that take time. It needs to get in, find a receptor to bind to, go through the process of getting into a cell. Then once in the cell it has to go through the process of reproducing itself, then releasing those viruses which find other cells and do the same process. It does not happen in a blink. Those steps take some time.

Nor are you infectious immediately on exposure. Again the virus has to go through this process above before someone will be infectious.

And if you really want to talk about real life, be it COVID, the flu or common cold, you will get exposed to the virus, it will go through this process over a day or so, then you will be infectious but will not yet have symptoms. You are infecting others before you know you have millions of virus particles inside you. So if you are at work and a coworker has a cold it is good to avoid them, but if you interacted with them the day before when they had no cold, you were potentially exposed and may get the cold yourself. And as I teach students, the symptoms you experience are not due to the virus, but your immune response to the virus. Otherwise you would not be asymptomatic yet have the virus raging inside of you. When your body recognizes the foreign invader you start to get symptoms. One last tid bit, you are sick longer than you are infectious. With a cold you might be infectious till day three or four of symptoms or so, then no longer, but you still have several days of symptoms to go.

Ironically as a scientist, my beef with 28 Days Later was just this. Yet having zombies running around eating people I am able to suspend belief. I am a scientist hypocrite.

Image source: sciguy52

#6 Chest Compressions on an Unconscious Person: In reality, CPR is not a light pressing of the chest. It’s the physical equivalent of a car crash. Some 200 lb EMT *attempting to push to a point about two inches behind your body at *100-120 beats per minute. Even highly athletic caregivers have to swap out every *2-10 minutes or so to make sure you’re being sufficiently pulverized. Ribs often fracture. When it’s really bad, the whole chest feels like a sponge. TLDR: you do NOT want your 90 year old grandmother receiving CPR.

Image source: Emragoolio

#7 Dart guns do not instantly incapacitate anyone. The chemicals used for immobilization take anywhere from 3 to 20 minutes to work.

Image source: itwillmakesenselater, DreamWorks Pictures

#8  work for the airline industry.

Because of that I *cannot* watch Die Hard 2, anymore.

In the movie, terrorists shut down a Washington DC airport.

Literally all the plane had to do was divert to another airport.

There’s like a dozen all within thirty minutes: DC Reagan, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Annapolis, Richmond, even LaGuardia or JFK.

Also they wouldn’t fly a military prisoner such as General Esperanza into a civilian airport.

They’d fly him to an Air Force/military base.

Image source: Prof_Tickles

#9 Red laser dot on someone from a sniper

Snipers would not ever project a laser pointer over at someone they’re trying to shoot, firstly it would not be accurate at all because bullets drop while the laser light stays straight.
it would also alert the enemy and give away their exact position.
and lastly, why would they need a dot on their target? They’re already looking through a scope with crosshairs showing where the bullet will hit

Laser Pointers on guns is an actual thing but it’s only really used for close range work where you may not be able to aim quickly or easily, such as chasing feral pigs with a shotgun from a vehicle

Image source: CombatWombat707

#10 If you put the lights on the inside of your space helmet, you wouldn’t be able to see s**t outside of your space helmet. Of course, if you put the lights on the outside then we wouldn’t see your pretty face. ?

Image source: BigMickPlympton, Amazon Prime Video

#11 Tying a rope around your waist will not save you from a fall. Climbing harnesses go around yout pelvic bone and hips. They are designed to stretch to cushion your fall and place all your body weight on your a*s, which can take it. Tying a random rope around your waist will crush your internal organs and break your spine.

Image source: nowhereman136, Paramount Pictures


Image source: TheUmgawa, Netflix

Mine is a complete misunderstanding of the weight of money. I think Way of the Gun pretty well nailed it, in that our protagonists wanted a million dollars in unmarked twenties and fifties or something, and I think it was two good-sized heavy-a*s duffel bags. This is accurate, because the weight of an American bill is about a gram, so you can figure the math from there.

Which brings me to that Zack Snyder Netflix Zombie Movie. So, Hiroyuki Sanada wants Dave Bautista to loot $200 million from a casino vault. At this point, I don’t even care about zombies; I start thinking about how to move that kind of cash. Like, physically move it; not like how to launder it or anything like that. Even if every single bill in that casino’s vault was a hundred dollar bill, we are talking about two thousand kilograms, or about 4,400 pounds, and the plan is to fly it out on what appears to be a UH-1H “Huey.” Problem is, they’ve got a big group, but we can sidestep that, because we know people gonna die. So, let’s say they’re planning on half of the people getting out. I think that ends up at seven people (I don’t know, because I haven’t seen this steaming pile of s**t since it was new), and we will just ballpark each person at 70 kilos, or about 154 pounds, which leaves about 2500 pounds for payload and, y’know, fuel. Well, now we’re already down to $100 million and change, which is great for the seven people, but this is still assuming everyone who walked into the casino with cash had $100 bills and nothing else.

At this point, Dave Bautista should have done some basic math on the napkin of the s****y restaurant he was working in and told Hiroyuki Sanada to go f**k himself, and everybody would have been a lot happier, including the audience.


People cutting the palm of their hands when blood is needed. I would prefer to cut a lot of places on my body BEFORE the palm of my hand because YOU NEED THAT. You are going to be moving that hand. It’s not a trivial pain either.

Maybe if you’ve got a love handle, or part of a butt cheek. Maybe someone can help me out with “best place to draw blood.” I’m pretty pain resistant, but some of the worst injuries to heal are the palm. Or between the fingers.

Image source: Fake_William_Shatner

#14 Duct tape is ridiculously easy to remove from a mouth by pushing it outward with the tongue. Once it is removed, it is very hard to retape. Every hostage movie gets this wrong.

Image source: devotchko, Sony Pictures Releasing

#15 Babies are born with an umbilical cord attached. And healthy babies look purple for a few seconds.

Image source: opinionyperson, ABC Studios

#16 Computer geek breaks into super protected mainframe trope. Hacking is social/psychological skill these days. Nerdy guy from mums basement can’t “hack” into NASA mainframe. I would say that 95% of “hacking” is ordinary phishing.

Image source: Easy_Driver_4854, Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group

#17 I just want to see people charge their cellphones at night on a movie. Just once.

Image source: Johnykbr

#18 Space movies always have a scene flying around an asteroid field, like dodging thousands of giant rocks tumbling all over the place. In reality you’d need a telescope to even detect another asteroid. Space is so big that dodging stuff is the least of your worries, it’s not missing stuff that’s hard.

Image source: RoboticElfJedi


Image source: sqwidsqwad, Netflix

The obligatory corset lacing scene in any period piece, particularly if the woman has to hold a bed post while she’s being tight laced, PARTICULARLY if she’s not wearing anything under the corset. These scenes are media shorthand for ‘look how oppressed women were back back then’ and perpetuate a lot of myths. For one, very few women tight-laced their corsets, only those who were extremely fashionable (on this note, you also shouldn’t believe every antique photo of wasp-waisted women you come across – folks edited their photos back then too). For another, tight-lacing only even became possible part way thru the 1800’s when metal grommets started being used for eyelets – in previous decades and centuries, these would be hand-stitched, and would rip if you even tried to tight-lace (here’s looking at you, Pirates of the Caribbean). For a third, ALL women wore these garments for back and bust support, stomach support (when you spend a lifetime bearing kids, this comes in clutch), and garment support (wearing layers of petticoats, skirts, etc. would be extremely uncomfortable if hung directly off your waist). And finally, they were NEVER worn directly against your skin! They’d have been worn over a chemise, which would protect your skin from rubbing, and protect the corset from your body oils since it’s a difficult item to wash.


Image source: grandramble, Warner Bros. Pictures

A ton of foley effects are basically just things we’ve been trained to expect earlier use in other movies. Swords don’t make *shing* sounds when they’re just being waved through the air (or even when pulled out of most types of scabbard), and even when hitting other swords they make more of a clacking sound most of the time. Punches are sometimes more realistic but a lot of movies use foley from smashing watermelons. Real eagles make sounds more like seagulls (the standard foley sound is a hawk). The MGM lion roar is actually a tiger sound. My favorite: a lot of animal sounds in movies are actually just Alan Tudyk.

#21 There are virtually never surprises in court, and 98% of the work is done before you ever get in front of a judge. Most court events other than trials are minutes long. Shout out to my homies who drive an hour or more to attend a five minute status conference.

Image source: HagbardCelineHere, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc.

#22 The scientists who knows everything about everything…That person doesn’t exist. I work as an organic chemist, and I regularly have to consult with biochemists and molecular biologists because it’s not feasible to be an expert in even field that are directly adjacent to my own.

Image source: Stillwater215

#23 Rifle bullets go through the trunk, the backseat, the drivers seat, the driver/passenger, and out the front of the car(if they don’t hit something particularly chunky in the engine bay, like the engine block). So when the good guys are in a car chase and their trunk has 700 bullet holes in it, the occupants of the vehicle are dead.

Image source: SwaggyP997, Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group

#24 The majestic shriek associated with movie eagles is most likely that of a red-tailed hawk. eagles have a high squeaky call and chirp like little b**ches.

Image source: cubs_070816

#25 It’s not ‘over and out.’ It’s ‘over’ [I’m done transmitting, waiting for a response], or ‘out’ [I’m done transmitting and signing off]. Saying both is like saying ‘No no keep talking, I can’t wait’ then hanging up.

Image source: Cutter9792, 20th Century Studios

#26 Giving a diabetic insulin is the last thing you want to do when they are displaying signs of hypoglycemia, which is usually what you see happen in movies and TV shows. In this case, you’d be advised to give them something with sugar in it, like a soda.

Image source: Vandelay23

#27 Train brakes apply when there is an air hose separation. So if our hero cuts a train car full of bad guys from the train as soon as the air hose separates the train will have air brake trouble and brakes will apply or the train will have issues at the very least. Locomotives also have a dead man switch so if there’s no one behind the controls the train will apply brakes once it’s tripped.

Image source: Jagermonsta, The Cannon Group, Inc.

#28 My sister is an architect and absolutely hates the spy trope of maneuvering through the air vents. air vents are designed to hold air, not people. they’d certainly collapse under the weight of fully grown, muscular man.

Image source: OneTrueHer0, 20th Century Fox


Plus, even if it didn’t collapse, it would be like crawling through a drum kit. The bad guys would hear you two floors away.

#29 Electricity has no idea what color wire it is flowing through. While there are standards colors for certain things (Black and red come to mind), trusting the mad bomber to follow any kind of color scheme is never done.

Image source: StaticDet5, Warner Bros. Entertainment

#30 Gun silencers don’t magically make bullets completely quiet.

Image source: BeigeAndConfused, Lionsgate

#31 Autism isn’t a superpower. My extensive knowledge of geeky s**t isn’t useful, I hate math, and no movies ever want to talk about the intense fear of death a lot of autistic folks deal with.

Image source: Rosebunse


Image source: Kiyohara, Sony Pictures Releasing

Swords do not cut through armor like butter. There’s a reason why people wore armor. Even arrows *designed* to penetrate armor are more likely to bounce off or get stuck in armor. It still hits like a strong punch or fist and can wear you down if a hundred arrows nail your a*s.

But heroes do not carve their way through armored warriors. You basically had to catch them where they had no armor: eye holes, arm pits, groin, that sort of thing.

Armor was also fairly easy to move in and trained knights could run, jump, vault onto horses, and do kip ups from lying flat on their backs. The idea you’d get knocked over and lie there like a turtle sadly awaiting death did not happen unless ten peasants were straddling you and pulling daggers out to cut your throat. Which did happen.


Image source: gogul1980, Icon Productions

A bullet wound to the shoulder isn’t just a flesh wound. Taking a bullet to the shoulder isn’t something you can “work through”. Something like that will have you rolling around in agony unable to focus, or you go into shock. Also bullets don’t always pass through, they can ricochet off bone and travel around the body. A bullet can enter your leg, run up the inside of the body and shread every organ it comes into contact with. They have previously found bullets in the brain that entered via the foot too.

#34 Numerous medieval/fantasy movies that show iron/steel weapon making like swords via pouring molten metal into a mold: Conan the Barbarian, Lord of the Rings, the Game of Thrones show etc.

You can’t really cast proper weapons out steel that way. Firstly that high of a heat to make the metal molten will cause a serious loss in the carbon that gives the steel its hardness. Second, the steel solidifies too irregularly and likely won’t be homogeneous throughout. Forging is really the best and only way to make steel anything discounting magic.

Image source: chaotic_steamed_bun

#35 Gasoline has a shelf life. If the apocalypse was a few years ago, the gas that is left isn’t going to work so great anymore.

Image source: microgiant, Lionsgate

#36 Gun fights indoors without ear protection, everyone’s ears would be bleeding. I love how the cartoon show Archer actually makes fun of this consistently. Actually just bullet physics in general in movies.

Image source: Foam_Blacksmith_42

#37 Any server room ever, or whenever they put racks of high power computer equipment in a scene to make it look techy, and then proceed to have a normal conversation at normal volume. Server rooms and server hardware is f*****g loud. The fans are f*****g loud. The ac units are f*****g loud. I generally need hearing protection when I’m in a server room. Literally no movie server rooms are realistic.

Image source: NovaS1X, Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group

#38 The fire alarm is a good one. The male lead pulls the alarm, and his lady love kisses him while the water romantically showers them both. As an electrician who has been there while they change the system, that water stinks and is black and disgusting. Chances are, especially in old school buildings, that water has been sitting in those pipes for possibly years. Whole generations of bacteria have lived their lives in those pipes. That s**t is the worst smell, it stinks up whole rooms when they drain it. And it’s nasty brown black. I don’t think I could kiss someone that just took a shower in it.

Image source: NBizzle

#39 Private investigators existing in some legal gray area where they’re willing to risk their lives/do highly illegal s**t for clients. I make good money as a PI, I’m not about to risk my license to do anything illegal for a client, and I’m certainly not going to get in a fist fight on the roof of a high rise building.

Image source: elevencharles, BBC

#40 Chloroform takes ages to have an effect. You wouldn’t just touch a rag doused in it to their face and then they’re out … you’d be there a good 10 minutes.

Image source: nameg0e5here, The WB

#41 Typically, a cigarette thrown into a puddle of gasoline will simply go out rather than igniting the gasoline.

Image source: Chuckychinster, Paramount Pictures

#42 The reactor is going critical. A reactor loves being critical. It’s running perfectly fine when it is critical and is probably the safest state it can be. Most of its safety features are designed around it being critical.

Image source: redstategays, 20th Television

#43 Lifelong mental patient here. It’s only the rich people — like Hollywood screenwriters — who go to see a therapist and that therapist writes them a prescription. That’s because they’re seeing a psychiatrist who does hour-long talk sessions. Keep in mind, it’s expensive enough to see a therapist with a PhD, but to see one with a PhD *and* an MD, you need to spend a lot of money. Us plebes over here are seeing a therapist for talk, and seeing a psychiatrist for meds. You don’t make some big breakthrough in your session and then your therapist writes you a scrip. It just doesn’t happen that way.

Image source: Nerditter

#44 Car airbags never deploy.. the car chases are so extreme with multiple collisions, and not one airbag (that has been a required standard safety feature since 1998) ever goes off.

Image source: upv395


Image source: Amtonge, Sunn Classic Pictures

Not a mechanic, but those scenes/schemes where the villains cut the break lines and the hero only discovers this while driving down the highway at full speed or down a hill towards a crowded area?

Unless you’re driving a manual, good luck trying to get out of your garage and getting into reverse or drive without your foot on the brake. Cutting the break line would pretty much brick your car these days and inconvenience you.

Shanilou Perera

Shanilou has always loved reading and learning about the world we live in. While she enjoys fictional books and stories just as much, since childhood she was especially fascinated by encyclopaedias and strangely enough, self-help books. As a kid, she spent most of her time consuming as much knowledge as she could get her hands on and could always be found at the library. Now, she still enjoys finding out about all the amazing things that surround us in our day-to-day lives and is blessed to be able to write about them to share with the whole world as a profession.

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cinema, debunked, entertainment, movie tropes, movies
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