Aug 20 2013 10:00am

Movie Minutiae: 9 Common Film Errors That Are Just the Worst

Lord of the Rings, Boromir, Narsil

We’ve all got our pet peeves when it comes to what we see on film: bad clichés; certain types of plotholes; particularly ludicrous Deus Ex Machinas. Sometimes it can spell the difference between our choice to rant or rave about the latest blockbuster, but even so, many of those peeves are just never going anywhere. There’s no point in bringing them up because most people don’t even notice. And I’m not talking about the “sound in space” problems or never-ending ammo. Just weird niggling details that remind you all too easily that what you’re watching isn’t remotely real.

So these are some of the biggest offenders—to me, personally. Maybe you share my pain. Or maybe I’ll just sound like that crazy person at your house parties who won’t shut up about anachronisms and fake blood. I am sure you have to deal with those people all the time.

The Sword-From-Scabbard Noise

Merlin, Arthur fighting

I blame this one on an excellent art history professor of mine who taught us a lot about ancient weaponry. See, scabbards are often lined with fabric or wood. The reason why is this: if your sword is made of metal, and the inside of your scabbard is made of metal, your sword will get mighty rusty. It’s just science. So you line your scabbard to protect the blade.

But every time anyone unsheathes a sword in a film or television show, there’s this sound. You know the sound. That metal-on-metal schwing! one that tickles the ear and lets you know a fight is about to start. That sound a sword should never, ever make being pulled from a scabbard. It gets worse—on occasion, the sword makes that sound when it’s pulled from a leather belt. Like there’s a magical invisible scabbard you can’t see hanging from it, maybe, or a special plate fixed to the interior of the belt for the specific purpose of making that noise and letting every bad guy for five kilometers around know you want to start something.

Related: When people touch sword blades. DO NOT TOUCH SWORD BLADES. No, bad oils on your hands. No. Bad knight/freedom fighter/highlander.


Old Red Blood

Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets, blood wall

Blood is a very dramatic thing that can be used to great effect visually. It’s frightening in part because it’s so vivid. We have a visceral reaction to the color red either sensually or violently most of the time, especially to the scarlet hue of blood. So it’s hardly surprising that it’s all over the things we watch—splattered on walls, dripping from wounds, getting sucked up by vampires.

But here’s the problem: Blood dries. And when it dries it turns a very unappealing shade of brown. I can understand why set crews would prefer not to use that color, in part because it’s unflattering and in part because the cue is not so easily recognized after years and years of bright red blood on screen. But when people find notes written in blood or hit a day-old crime scene covered with it or find bloody stains on clothes and they are still red as fresh donor pints, it irks. Especially since dried brown blood has an eeriness to it that is never exploited on film. So someone needs to fix this.


Singing Requires No Breath

Little Shop of Horrors, Suddenly Seymour, Audrey

Okay, this is weirdly specific, and maybe it just bugs me in particular. In movies or television where people sing (in musicals or otherwise), the singing isn’t usually live during filming. Rather, a track is played and everyone lip-synchs to that because it’s easier and doesn’t require any fancy recording equipment. When an actor knows what they’re doing, they will usually make an effort beyond just moving their mouth. Singing requires breathing the same way talking does, but in a more pronounced fashion because it usually requires more oxygen and on specific beats that match how you sing a song.

Sometimes, whether as a stylistic choice, or because no one bothers to tell the actors what they look like, actors do not breathe visibly and in time as they are mouthing the words to musical numbers. Mind you, this even happens in music videos, from people who know how to sing. And it looks ridiculous. Like they are magical marionettes that have no lungs. Like song just pours from their bodies without any effort. Part of the reason why we watch singers sing at all is to form an emotional connection to music, but in order to do that, we have to feel every note—how hard it was to hit the high D and why they broke on that specific lyric. If no one looks like they’re actually singing, then who honestly cares how good it sounds?


Where There’s Fire, There’s No Smoke (Well, Maybe A Little)

Man of Steel Clark Kent on fire superman

There was a fire safety video I watched as a schoolchild; in it, the all-knowing voiceover person explained that real fires look nothing like they do on film. In a real fire, smoke is one of the main components. It’s the reason you might die well before the flames reach you—suffocation happens pretty quick when there’s no air in the room.

But in every house fire on film, it’s easy to run from room to room, to maneuver in temperatures that would likely melt flesh, and most importantly, it’s easy to see. There’s never much smoke in film fires. Of course there isn’t; if you can’t see the characters, you can’t know what’s going on. You can’t witness their heroics! But wouldn’t it be nice to see someone tackle it even semi-realistically? Have people crawl along the floor the way they’re supposed to rather than just running out the door as soon as someone authoritative-looking tells them they can go because everything’s-gonna-be-okay-ma’am-I’ll-take-your-baby-for-now?

Related: No one ever touching the doors to find out if the next room is on fire, and grabbing doorknobs like it’s no big deal.


Cash Out of Thin Air

Batman & Robin, batman credit card batcard

If the characters in your story are rich, awesome. It’s fun to live vicariously through the Tony Starks and Lord Peter Wimseys of the world. But lots of protagonists are broke. And that makes sense because the majority of the world is not rich, and can relate to characters who are strapped for cash. Some works make the point of figuring out a way for their characters to get money when they need it—in Supernatural we know that Sam and Dean get the majority of their money through credit card fraud and hustling pool, and the show leaves it at that so it doesn’t have to constantly explain where all that money for new flannel shirts is coming from.

But often the narrative never bothers to explain where characters get their money. Take The Wolverine, for example. Logan’s living in the woods of Canada, effectively homeless. He’s not bathing or shaving or eating much at all. He barely has a duffle bags-worth of stuff to his name. But when his radio starts acting up, he decides to head into town and get some new batteries. I guess he’s just hiding his debit card in his beard these days? Sleeping rough is a statement now? He’s working shifts down at the lumber yard whenever he needs to buy more protein bars to live on? We have no way of knowing because no one ever makes it clear. Maybe he found Xavier’s hedge fund and has been slowly draining it away. The Professor can’t need it anymore, right?


Face Bruises Are Not Cool

Supernatural, Dean Winchester, Goodbye Stranger

How often do heroes get punched in the face? Like real jaw-cracking, concussion-causing, stars-behind-the-eyes haymakers thrown at them from gigantic steroid laden opponents? It happens all the time. So much so that we’re completely desensitized to it. How much we’ve grown accustomed to violence as a culture is a conversation for another time, and it does make sense for superheroes not to show the same extent of damage that everyone else does—but what’s everyone else’s excuse? Don’t want to show the malformed black eye, fine… could I get a bruise? Just a bruise, that’s all I’m asking for! Something to prove that the hit landed at all.

In a way, I feel like this is part of a pervasive weirdness we have about letting actors get “ugly.” Some actresses get Oscar nods for deciding to look imperfect in super gritty roles, but overall, the general consensus is to not allow actors the chance to do anything that might make them look unattractive. Swollen jaws are not attractive. Broken noses are not attractive. Bloody teeth are not attractive. So we avoid them for the most part, usually unless the injuries in question are life-threateningly grave. And it’s just a little silly that we do.

Related: Crying is so pretty most of the time, because attractiveness again. Real crying? Not so pretty.


Squealing Wheels

Back to the Future, Marty, Doc, squeal wheels, burnout

Squealing tires can be inevitable in certain situations, but in those situations the driver has typically made a mistake (and might be close to an accident). In film, it’s commonly used to give everyone a little thrill during chase scenes and the like. Never mind the fact that it means the person is driving badly. Never mind the fact that it just make the driver in question out to be reckless rather than serious about the action at hand.

But the part of this that really drives me nuts? When drivers who adore their cars do a burnout. Those characters with special vehicles that they consider a practical extension of their own body, who still decide to mess with their axles, drivetrain, transmission, you name it, like they have a car built for drag racing and that’s all they’re using it for. It makes no sense. Sure, it’s dramatic, and in the right moments it does make sense for the tires to make some noise—like when a car spins out of control in a speed scene—but outside of those parameters, no. It’s just a dumb action cue that could easily be replaced with one that works better.

Related: Wheels squealing on dirt roads—HOW ARE THEY DOING THAT?! HOW?


That Painting Wasn’t Painted Yet

Troy, archaic Greek statue

I had this super snobby moment when I watched Troy (which was awful enough as it was on first viewing); during the sack of Troy the camera panned up to these Greek statues in the citadel. And I recognized them as a common example of Archaic Period Greek sculpture. The Iliad, which Troy was kind-of based on, is thought to occur in the 12th century BC. Those statues wouldn’t be created until centuries later in the 6th century BC. I threw M&Ms at the screen.

This would be less insulting were there not an entire profession of people dedicated to making sure those little whoopsies never took place. They’re called dramaturges. They dress you in period garb, they check your sets for anachronisms, they tell you what turns of phrase were in use during 1926. Which means that whoever artistically designed Troy either didn’t employ anyone to check their work, or they just didn’t care. And either of those choices are depressing to me—don’t we misrepresent history often enough as it is? I understand Troy was a bad action flick, but at least it could have gained some points for trying.

Related: Dropping Earth works of art into fantasy worlds with no explanation. Why are those unicorn tapestries in Once Upon A Time? You gotta give me something other than “Well, we had a replica in our prop department from another show….”


Don’t Check the Clock

Watchmen Doomsday Clock

How long does it take to drive from Point A to Point B? How long do we have to sit here and talk before the party starts? Visual storytelling demands that you mess with time because there’s no written narrative that conveniently lets the audience know how much of it is passing. But this leads to certain hiccups: like when a character has exactly 60 seconds to defuse a bomb, but it really takes more like five minutes with all that back and forth between them and the people on the other end of their bluetooth headsets.

It gets even better where travel is concerned—like when people arrive in other countries by plane and you know it’s the wrong time of day on the other side of the ocean. Or when someone takes a road trip that appears to go for less than half a day, when you know it would take 20+ hours to get across those four U.S. state lines. It’s not the worst timey-wimey offense that could be made, but it stands out because it’s almost as though no one expects the audience to notice.

We always notice.


So those are mine. My Top of the Pops—what are yours?

Emily Asher-Perrin makes this funny cringe-y face when the sword makes that ’schwing’ noise. She has written essays for the newly released Doctor Who and Race and Queers Dig Time Lords. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

Tristan Henry-Wilson
1. TristanHenryWilson
I read this article just to see if you mentioned the squealing tires on dirt road. All spot on.
2. a1ay
Outrunning explosions, simultaneous sound and sight of an explosion (or any noisy distant event really), and GOING ROUND WITH YOUR FINGER ON THE TRIGGER. You notice this in poster after poster and it is infuriating, especially when the person doing it is supposed to be some sort of experienced soldier/secret agent/whatever.
shiva orie
3. jadedlemon
I have a litany of issues with Archery. In general, quivers as depicted were rarely used (they were more likely to damage fletching and expose arrows to the elements, than a simple pouch or drawsting sack).
Additionally, bows were rarely kept strung, the bow would lose power if kept in that position constantly.
Also, in battlefield combat, drawing the bow wasn't done back to the eye for aiming, but further back (to the ear) for more power. Aiming was done based on experience, not sight.
Kerry Engelhardt
4. geniusscientist
Sound in space battles, and streamlined spaceships.
5. AlyxL
The one that really, really bugs me in historical films is parchment. It is not the same thing as paper - being basically a sort of leather, it's quite hard (and smelly) to burn, so you can't just touch a flame to a document and expect it to catch instantly, and it's also very much more expensive than paper, so you wouldn't use it for writing casual notes.
David Thomson
6. ZetaStriker
Don't Check the Clock I definitely agree with, and I hate the way grenades always explode into huge burning fireballs when they're meant to kill via shrapnel.
Evie Manieri
7. eviemanieri
Because I'm a New Yorker, a) playing fast and loose with the geography of Manhattan, and b) ridiculously huge New York apartments, both of which were played out for fun in the tragically underrated "Down with Love." Also, I am gifting you all my gold coins for referencing Lord Peter.
Sean Tabor
8. wingracer
A few thoughts.

The sword from a scabbard sound is an example of the tvtrope "reality is unrealistic". The sound has become expected. So much so that on the rare occassions when someone tries to be more realistic by changing or eliminating it, they get criticized for it.

Tire squealing.
I, in a former life, was a race car driver. I can tell you from long years of personal experience that any street car on street tires taking a corner at speed on dry asphalt WILL squeal the tires. It doesn't have to be sideways or spinning out to do it. Just going around a corner at near the limit of the car's performance potential is going to squeal. Hell, my first street car, a Buick Century would squeal them with only slightly aggressive driving. Go to any racetrack where "showroom stock" cars are running on street tires and you will hear it. A modern racing slick tire usually will not squeal like that, especially on a race car with better suspension geometry.

As for tire squealing on dirt roads, that's not impossible either. Sprint cars running on a blue groove dirt oval are usually sqealing the tires, you just can't hear it over the VERY LOUD engine noise. It is unlikely to happen with a street car on a dirt road though.
10. Adairbear
The blood thing drives me CRAZY! Dried blood is almost as frightening as fresh blood. It flakes and smells and in some places gets thick and sticky and... *shiver* I'd like more realistic body injuries!! Face bruises are boring.
Susan Davis
11. sue
DO NOT TOUCH SWORD BLADES. No, bad oils on your hands. No. Bad knight/freedom fighter/highlander.

Except that half-swording (intentionally grabbing the blade halfway down) is a critically important part of Western armoured fighting, and it's done in Japanese sword arts, too. The sword needs to be cleaned and oiled afterward before it's put away, but that needs to happen anyway because of all the blood that you presumably got on it.

Knights, samurai, and the like are not 21st century sword collectors.
Susan Davis
12. sue
In addition to sound in space, spacecraft that are laid out with their decks parallel to the axis of thrust, like a seagoing ship. And "laser" bolts that move noticeably slower than bullets do.
Eric Wells
13. ewells
When two spacecraft approach each other they are always oriented in the same direction as if there is a universal "up" that they recognize.
Susan Davis
14. sue
Not bothering to disguise very recognizable parts of Toronto or Vancouver (Yonge Street, Simon Fraser University, Toronto City Hall) when they're standing in for US cities or science fiction locations.
Joseph Cook
15. Jobi-Wan
Great list! I would add horses raising up on their haunches and whinnying loudly everytime they are on screen, it drives me crazy. Every single movie with a horse or horse like creature, buckbeak from Prisoner of Azkaban comes to mind, they do this.
Susan Davis
16. sue
Bad swordfight choreography. For that matter, the sort of fight choreography where sixteen mooks stand around in a circle and attack the hero one at a time instead of swarming him.
17. edavidmayer
When an emotional standoff scene requires a character threatening another with a gun to "get serious" by cocking his semi-automatic pistol. Wait, so you hadn't even chambered it yet? What was I scared of?

That, and guns (and as often swords) that are already drawn, yet make noise every time their operator shifts or moves. Either your clip is about to fall out (or your sword hilt is loose) or else that's some seriously dense air you got there...
Francisco Guimaraes
18. franksands
I agree with all the items, specially the clock, but I think that how much it bugs me depends on the type of movie I'm watching. I don't mind Army of Darkness or Machete having infinite ammo, red blood or squealing wheels. But if it's a more serious film, it definitely bugs me, as in, the whole of Prometheus.
Some things, as the "Sword-From-Scabbard" noise or radio noise is used as short hand to describe a scene without recurring to visual cues. I don't have a problem with that, as it's kind of expected from some genres. Also, the "wham" punch sound.
19. Nymeria
Actors constantly "drinking" from mugs, glasses, or to-go coffee cups that are clearly empty. Just fill it with water, people, we can tell you didn't actually take a sip from that clearly weightless cup!
Derek Broughton
20. auspex
Ahem. Touching sword blades. Besides the point mentioned by @sue, there are no "bad oils" on your hand. Oil isn't a problem (though I see it mentioned as such in too many movies). There are bad acids on your hands: not so bad as to be a problem for your normal Western broadsword, which has all the finesse and structure of an axe, but I'll concede it might be an issue for a Japanese blade.
21. MDominic
My biggest bugbear is related to the last point in this article, regarding the fast and loose use of time. Specifically, convergence of timelines in multiple story threads. Let's say you have one set of events happening at point A and another set of events happening at point B. The characters for each set of events separated at Time Stamp X and reconverge at Time Stamp Y. However, events at point A take place over a period that is siginificantly longer (or shorter) than events at point B. Given that, there is no reasonable way that events and characters should netaly converge at Time Stamp Y.
It's the kind of assumption of non-obsvervance by the viewer that really insults my intelligence and breaks my suspension of disbelief every time. The new Galactica did it often, which was for me the most glaring flaw in an otherwise great TV series.
22. av Willis
With regards to wolverine's finances, I would say their is a difference between living simply and being broke. The man has been around for over a hundred years, is it really stretching the imagination to say at some point he built up a nest egg of sorts?
Emily Asher-Perrin
23. EmilyAP
@sue - Which really comes down to the extra problem; no one ever cleans sword blades. Ever. If you're lucky, you get a cursory 'wipe the blood away' moment, and outside of that, you're done.
Derek Broughton
24. auspex
@Nymeria Even water isn't always possible. The story goes that Olivia Newton John was stitched into her jeans for Grease. So she didn't even drink water on set. But yeah, usually it's annoying.
25. davide
Weird anachronisms. Like in Kate & Leopold, where it's constantly drilled into you that Hugh Jackman has come to contemporary New York from 1876, but then he starts impressing some girl in a bar by talking rapturously about Puccini's La Boheme. Which was written in the 1890s.
Sean Tabor
26. wingracer

Indeed. I myself know a guy that if you ever went to his house, you would swear the guy is a broke hermit. He lives in this tiny little shack full of clutter and drives a rusty old Nova. In actual fact, he's a millionaire. He sold off all his car dealerships years ago and has been living off the interest ever since.
Katherine Page
27. taconista
Sword and space battle noises and recoiless guns. The actors could at least pretend their firearms just kicked, even a little.
Christopher Bennett
28. ChristopherLBennett
The thing that bugs me about Hollywood swordfights is that you just do not use a sword to block another sword. That blunts or damages the blade. Maybe it works for fencing with foils/epees because they're designed for that, but in real swordfights, you would never use the blade to block another sword. That's what shields are for. What's really frustrating is watching all these screen/stage fights where the combatants are obviously aiming at each other's blades instead of each other's bodies.

As for sound effects, what I love in Japanese cartoons is that a glint of light off a sword blade or other polished surface makes an audible "tshweeee!" sound. (They used this all the time on Dexter's Laboratory.)

@2: I agree. I hate how sound-effects editors always have thunder in sync with lightning. I mean, literally every person on the planet has first-hand experience with thunderstorms and therefore knows that the thunder comes several seconds after the lightning. Every sound-effects editor on Earth must know this as well. Yet they all intentionally choose to do it in a way that they and every single member of the audience knows is wrong. Why? What really infuriated me was a Young Indiana Jones Chronicles episode where the sound lag was actually a plot point -- the characters were watching a distant artillery piece through binoculars and using the sound delay to calculate its distance -- yet the sound editor still put the "boom" sound at the exact moment we saw the cannon fire, in direct contradiction to the explicit dialogue! What is wrong with these people???

As for gun handling, it's really painful watching old episodes of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and seeing Robert Vaughn carelessly wave his gun around with his finger on the trigger, point it directly at his friends, and the like. He was handling it like a prop rather than like a weapon, and that made it look very fake. Similarly, there was an episode where he was holding an unsheathed sword, and he quite carelessly gripped its blade in his hand in a way that would've severed his fingers if it had been real.

@3: I hate the kind of arrow shot that's been common since Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves where the camera follows the arrow as it flies missile-straight through the air. Arrows in flight actually wobble back and forth, and of course they go in ballistic arcs rather than laser-straight paths, since gravity is a thing that exists. Kudos to Brave for getting this right in its slow-motion shots.

@4: Actually Alastair Reynolds's Revelation Space gives a good explanation for why relativistic starships would have to be streamlined. Space is only an approximation of a vacuum, and at high percentages of the speed of light, the interstellar medium becomes a significant source of drag. An interplanetary ship wouldn't need streamlining, but an interstellar ship would. Although if the ship is presumed to be inside a warp bubble or traveling through hyperspace, that reasoning might not apply.

@13: I've seen the "both ships in the same plane" trope averted in a few works. Notably in Star Trek Into Darkness, when the Vengeance comes out of warp opposite the Enterprise, they're a bit tilted relative to each other.

@14: What bugs me is that in Continuum, which is actually set in Vancouver, the Vancouver Public Library (the famous spiral building that's probably the most popular shooting location in the city) is used as the exterior of Vancouver Police HQ!

@19: What bothers me is just the opposite: whenever there's food on the table, the actors usually just ignore it or toy with it (since they'd get stuffed if they actually ate it over and over for multiple takes), and often they walk away from the scene after a 2- or 3-minute conversation with their dinner completely untouched. I hate seeing all that food to go waste!
CE Petit
29. Jaws

Loud footsteps.

Loud footsteps implying actual, exposed nails — or perhaps even taps — in the soles of every pair of shoes in existence. Including the typical Vibram/other rubberized sole of the issue-style shoes of every bloody police department in the known world. Including the casual shoes/running shoes/deck shoes worn by everyone except movie characters.
30. g33kboi
Following on "Not bothering to disguise very recognizable parts of ", not bothering to obtain stock footage of a smaller city's real and very recognizable skyline and using generic stock instead. In particular I am referring to Albany, NY. It's not a big place but its proximity to NYC means that it gets referenced in film and television ocassionally and it's skyline is unique thanks to the Empire State Plaza.
31. edavidmayer
The archery comment got me thinking about the way bows are essentially treated as firearms. One hit kills, and the like. I mean, if you grope the wound and fall off a wall, sure, but a more likely scenario is a slow, agonizing death from bleeding out, or in the event that that was stopped, by eventual infection. But that's not very dramatic, now is it?

Related would be ignoring the fatigue one would experience rapid firing a longbow for any amount of time.
32. helbel
#14 - Oh yes. BSG slightly ruined when they start wandering round the Vancouver library.

Also in general Bad Science movies - Volcano - the only bit they got right was that lava flows downhill.
33. g33kboi
Hmm. Apparently square brackets and any text therein gets ommited from a comment. That didn't happen in the comment preview.

First line of my previous comment should have read: Following on "Not bothering to disguise very recognizable parts of left square bracket big city right square bracket".
David Gunter
34. spdavid
I tend to be a bit forgiving of some of these things.I mean this list and the comments are spot on but I look at some of this from the standpoint of that whatever tech issues etc is being looked at through a filter of the technology of today or the technoligical limitations of today.Things like gravity effects on space craft and so forth might have changed by the time a certain type of tech really exists such as space travel.But I do have a pet peeve that's been mentioned here which is making something somewhere and calling it somewhere else.Here's my prime example:I live in Virginia just south of Richmond,was born and raised in Richmond.NCIS is set in the DC area and it's cases are almost always in the general area of DC.MD,VA.THERE ARE NO PALM TREES IN VIRGINIA!And people in Va do not put the word "the" in front of a route number for a road.We don't use "THE 95"!Finally I get tired of humanized aliens.I'm talking to you Defiance and Falling Skies!It's just too convenient that invading or visiting aliens think and act like humans,have the same motives as humans and so forth.
Gerd K
35. Kah-thurak
It is a matter of the fighting style I guess. In the filipino martial arts the relativly short swords/machetes are used to block each other as far as I know, though (ideally) only with the flat of the blade.
Iain Cupples
36. NumberNone
@11: Except if you're half-swording, you're wearing gloves or gauntlets, and so you don't get oils, acids or anything else from your hands on the blade.

Most medieval combat stuff, I more or less let go, because like the scraping drawn-sword noise, I recognise that film has its own demands, and they're not always about accuracy or realism. They're about communication. Principal characters don't wear a helmet, because that would make it hard to follow who was who, even if no serious fighter would dream of going bareheaded in a fight. The scraping sword is an action cue, like a cocked pistol or pumped shotgun. People take huge swings and dance around instead of closing because it looks better.

Cinematic combat is a stylised form of its own, and its aim is not realism but communication: it needs to get a message across
to audiences about what's happening in a way that's clear and appealing to the senses.
37. Whitegauntlet
I have never re-watched Troy, so my recollections could be wrong, but I am pretty sure I remember noticing that (a) in one of his first scenes it was clear that Achilles had received a smallpox vaccination; (b) there were llamas in Troy; and (c) at one point the sun rose in the west.
So I would suggest that they simply didn't care about historical or geographical accuracy.
shiva orie
38. jadedlemon
@31 Depends on the archer, the bow and the arrow, but one hit kills with are bow aren't that egrigious to me.
An English/Welsh type longbow circa 1200 with a bodkin arrow could pierce the armour of a knight, and reasonably be expected to kill a person.
(I feel obligated to say I' not an archery expert, just read a ridic amount of history and historical fiction involving it.) But to the question of fatigue, while it would take it's toll on the average person really quickly, the longbowmen of that period trained from a youth, so if we're to buy the idea that this is someone's profession, I'm fine with them going all day (so to speak)
Sean Tabor
39. wingracer

I too am from Richmond and notice when a Virginia set film is wrong but fortunately, a lot of such stuff actually is filmed in VA and gets it right. In fact, I once helped delivered some state police cars to a set. We often loaned out some old cars to give a realistic look.
Margot Virzana
40. LuvURphleb
I totally agree with the punching! Batman should have no teeth anymore and his nose should be perpendicular to his ear. (But I will admit that I love batman so don't really want to hurt him) He is just a normal guy and other movies with Tom Cruise and other dudes need to have more then a small cut on the nose or cheek. Their eyes should be ginormous and swollen shut. Their face should be purple and their jaw should most likely be dislocated.
Personally I don't want to see this. However I also hate how we see this painful fistfights and there is only slight damage.
I mean I am seeing blows that make me cringe or cover that part of my throat or face. There is no way these people are walking away from that.
41. Dietes
I hate it when characters pump a shotgun for effect- all they would be doing is ejecting a perfectly good shell.
Sam Mickel
42. Samadai
the idea that all bad guys are stupid enough to shoot bullets at the heroes from behind them as they run instead of moving their aim in front of the heor and shooting back towards them, or any variation of that
43. a1ay
Except if you're half-swording, you're wearing gloves or gauntlets, and so you don't get oils, acids or anything else from your hands on the blade.

But you are still going to get blood (and other body fluids) on it, at least if you use it right. If you are really worried about getting a bit of sweat and skin oil on your blade, what do you think's going to happen to it when you stick it into someone?

Actually Alastair Reynolds's Revelation Space gives a good explanation for why relativistic starships would have to be streamlined. Space is only an approximation of a vacuum, and at high percentages of the speed of light, the interstellar medium becomes a significant source of drag.

Never found that very convincing, to be honest. Even at close to light speed, is the interstellar medium really going to be flowing like a fluid? Isn't the drag going to result from hitting individual particles one at a time - in which case you need a ship that's narrow in cross-section but not necessarily streamlined?

in real swordfights, you would never use the blade to block another sword. That's what shields are for

As long as you have a shield. If not, yes, you use a blade. I've looked at Renaissance and mediaeval manuals of swordfighting - Thibault, Capoferro, Agrippa, all that lot - which definitely include using sword and dagger to block another blade.
Ethan Harris
44. eeh

Do you really instantly die from a knife wound to the stomach? I don't know! But I feel like people need more plod and pluck! So you have 5 inches of steel in your tummy? Get up you ninny! Do something! Don't just groan... Adrenaline... something...

Space Noises...

No, not any more, stop it, quit the noise-making...

FIRE in Space...

It doesn't happen, it's not real! Or else I'm reading the wrong wikipedia articles...

But really, the instant deaths drive me nuts... Incredibly boring.
James Kehr
45. Jammrock
My #1 gripe is rapid atmospheric decompression in scifi movies. Tiny ship, on a universal scale, sitting in vaccum and someone opens the airlock, or there is a hull breach, or something like that. The hero grabs on for dear life as the air is sucked out of the ship.

The problem here is even a "large" ship would decompress in not many seconds from an open airlock or a hull breach. The force of the ship's atmosphere being ejected would be so powerful it would be humanly impossible to hold on.

Furthermore, the ship would be equipped with pressure seals (think blast doors in Star Wars) in case of said problem that would close immediately so not everyone on the ship would die. This will decrease the overall volume of air that would escape and further reduce the decompression time.

And then there is the part where you would have instant severe decompression sickness because of the rapid pressure change (more commonly called "the bends"). At this rate of pressure change that could include your blood boiling and a rather painful death. There is a good reason why spaceships and space suits are pressuraized, and this is it. The human body does not like rapid changes in pressure and tends to die rather painfully when that happens.

Assuming you survived the bends you would then quickly freeze to death because it's damn cold in outer space.

While I love my sci-fi shows, the whole rapid decompression trope is painful for me to watch. I find myself yelling at the screen "they're already dead!" Which is why I try to disable the part of me that thinks logically about these things when I watch movie and enjoy the artistic liberties.
Sean Tabor
46. wingracer
A knife or arrow wound through the eye and into the brain, you're dead on the spot. Straight to the heart, you're dead pretty darn quick. To the lungs, also pretty darn quick. Most anywhere else, you might live if sepsis, infection, blood loss or other major organ damage doesn't kill you but all those usually take at least some time.

Fire in space. Most manned spacecraft are full of oxygen and chemical rockets require vast amounts of an oxidizer so anything that destroys the craft is likely to release those and cause a fire or explosion, though it probably wouldn't last long and certainly wouldn't look the same as earth bound fires and explosions.

Sword fighting.
In life and death combat, you do anything you can to survive. If a sword is about to run me through and all I have is my own sword, I'm going to use it to block or deflect, damage be damned. A knicked blade is far better than a massive gash to the abdomen. Also keep in mind that unlike curved Japanese swords, European swords were straight and designed and used for stabbing more than slicing. A thrust can be deflected with little or no damage to your own sword much easier than an overhead chop or slash.
47. commawaffle
The way that whenever someone drinks through a straw, it always sounds like the end of the drink irks me.
Flint Timmins
48. Giovanotto
One that's particularly bad in Westerns is the instakill gut wound. The hero shoots off his gun, the bad guy throws his hands to his gut and falls over dead (unless he's important enough to wait and whisper something to the hero with his dying breath).

I also hate when people get tossed into walls and cars or skid 20 feet over asphalt and get up like nothing happened.
Fredrik Coulter
49. fcoulter
Related (but opposite) to your comment about squealing tires:

Have you ever gone into a parking garage with the polished cement floors. (Yes, it's probably not cement. It doesn't matter.) Every car that moves on that surface squeals. Even in a straight line. Even at one mile an hour.

Waiting for my car to be delivered is like living in some really badly foley-ed movie.
James Reid
50. JamesReid
According to NASA:
"If you *don't* try to hold your breath, exposure to space for half a minute of so is unlikely to produce permanent injury. Holding your breath is likely to damage your lungs, something scuba divers have to watch out for when ascending, and you'll have eardrum trouble if your Eustachian tubes are badly plugged up, but theory predicts -- and animal experiments confirm -- that otherwise, exposure to vacuum causes no immediate injury. You do not explode. Your blood does not boil. You do not freeze. You do not instantly lose consciousness."

Link to the NASA webpage the above quote is from
Drew Holton
51. Dholton
I have two pet peeves. The first is not so much lack of realism, it just bothers me that whenever you see a desert scene, and it cuts to the merciless sun, you hear the scream of some kind of raptor. It's one of those audio cues that's become too cliche. Then other is when you see the characters making instantaneous transfers of millions and billions of dollars. I'm sorry, but it doesn't happen that way. Banks require a lot to confirm fund transfers that large. I understand it's expedient to keep the storytelling going, but it's one that still trips me up. An example of good use of sound in space is 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick not only doesn't show sound in space (when at least the camera angle is clearly external), but he uses the sound of astronauts breathing and radar pings in such a way as to create huge amounts of tension. It's really a beautiful sound design. (and why can't I put any line breaks in!?)
52. Deadly Kwob
Space is not really "cold" as we know it. Temperature is a property of matter, and space has very little, so it can't be hot or cold. Without matter around to exchange heat with, you can only lose heat by radiation, which is a slow process.

Air, however, does have mass and temperature. So all those characters in movies who think they're safe as long as they don't actually touch the lava, sorry, the superheated air surrounding the lava would burn them to a crisp.
Chris Hawks
53. SaltManZ
My personal peeve can probably be considered a subset of Don't Check The Clock: when people hold their breath underwater for ridiculous lengths of time. I always try to hold my breath along with them, and almost always fail miserably--and I'm just sitting on my couch, not swimming underwater trying to free whales from the inside of a sunken Klingon Bird-of-Prey or whatever!
54. LOTR Battle
How easily people die in epic battles. In lord of the rings Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli run through hordes of orcs with one small sword/axe/knife swipe at each, though despite the fact that Aragorn only scraped his sword agains the orc's armored leg, he's dead immediately?
55. Canada: America's Hat
I know, it's so you can see the actor..but it drives me nuts when they are on the telephone and hold it under their chin.

56. lorq
Glad you brought up #5 (money from nowhere). A *lot* of films, both genre and otherwise, fall apart as soon as you ask, "Wait a minute -- who's *paying* for all this?"

In "Blade Runner," Rick Deckard describes himself as having "quit" his former police job. So presumably he's not yet collecting a pension. Then what does he do all day? How does he afford that posh apartment?
Bruce Arthurs
57. bruce-arthurs
"Shoulder wounds are minor wounds." Stitch it up with some sewing thread, slap on a few gauze pads, and you're good to go.
Devin Singer
58. DevinSinger
I just spent some time with my armory and I can get that noise drawing a sword from a wooden scabbard, especially one with a brass collar. But leather and/or belt loop is just ridiculous and it totally bugs.
Thomas Thatcher
59. StrongDreams
Obviously because Deckard was never actually a cop...
61. a1ay
The problem here is even a "large" ship would decompress in not many seconds from an open airlock or a hull breach. The force of the ship's atmosphere being ejected would be so powerful it would be humanly impossible to hold on.

I ran the numbers on this and it's quite right. Take the scene at the end of Aliens: if you open that airlock, assuming it's about 6m deep and 3m square, the air is going to rush through it at about three kilometres a second. (Mach 9, more or less.) Even if you assume that Sulaco's designers did the logical thing and gave her a 0.2 bar pure oxygen atmosphere rather than a 1 bar air atmosphere, you're still looking at 1500 metres per second flow rate. Not only won't Ripley be able to hold on, but Sulaco will be losing its atmosphere at twenty tonnes a second.

But that's only true for the instant that the hatch opens. Obviously, Sulaco is a warship and will have pressure bulkheads. The only air going out of that is going to be the contents of the hangar bay - let's say that's 50 m by 20m and 10m high (sounds about right from what we see of it). So it contains 10,000 cubic metres of air, or ten tonnes.

So in the first quarter of a second, half the air in that hangar bay is going to whoosh out of the airlock. But then the pressure's halved, which means that the flow rate drops. Even so, that bay is going to be pretty much empty of air within a couple of seconds, and everyone in it is going to start dying (except Bishop, who has his own problems).

But that's because it's a honking big airlock. Say it's the (far inferior) Alien Resurrection, and we're just looking at a tiny hole in a window. Flow rate: just 90 litres a second, at about a thousand metres a second. Stand a few metres away from that, and you won't even notice a slight breeze. 90 litres a second crossing the surface of a sphere that's, say, five metres across. That's a pressure of a few thousandths of a newton per square metre.
62. a1ay
In "Blade Runner," Rick Deckard describes himself as having "quit" his
former police job. So presumably he's not yet collecting a pension.
Then what does he do all day? How does he afford that posh apartment?

What 59 said; also, it's a dying city, with far more housing than people. Everyone lives in large (if crumbling) apartments.
Christopher Bennett
63. ChristopherLBennett
@44: Noise in space scenes has never really bothered me. I see it as being akin to background music -- it's embellishment for the audience's ears but isn't meant to be heard by the characters. It only bothers me in cases where the characters are supposed to hear sounds coming through vacuum.

Similarly with visible beams. In atmosphere, an energy beam could plausibly be visible; I've seen footage proving that a really powerful laser scatters enough light off the air to be visible, and a particle beam could ionize the air like a lightning bolt. But neither of those would be the case in vacuum, so energy beams should be invisible in space. Again, I can accept it as dramatic license for the audience -- and in my Star Trek novels I often put in passing mentions to the viewscreen image showing false-color enhancements of beams and spacetime anomalies and such. It's when the story requires the beams to be naked-eye visible that I have a problem.

@45: The worst decompression scene I've ever seen was in Ron Moore's Virtuality pilot movie. The hero was in a closet-sized airlock which was sealed off from the rest of the ship and opened to space -- and he was caught in a continuing hurricane-force gale for over a minute! What???? They just did not think that one through.

Of course, most film/TV producers tend to ignore that air exists at all except when they need wind. They never acknowledge that the main damage from an explosion is from the blast and shock waves in the air (as well as shrapnel); a fictional character can be right next to an explosion, even in an enclosed room next to one, but be totally fine as long as the fireball doesn't touch them.

@49: Yeah, when I pull out of my building's parking lot with the windows down, I can hear my tires making a soft squealing sound even though I'm moving very slowly. I guess if you're turning, it's hard to avoid having some parts of the tires scrape sideways.

What I always find funny is when the shot of a car peeling out or screeching around a corner is not the first take of the stunt, so there are already skid marks on the road before the car goes through!
64. DrPedanticStrikes!

Your blood would not boil as a result of rapid depressurization, because your blood is inside a sealed, pressurized container--namely, your circulatory system (unless of course you have an open wound--but if you're in vacuum and bleeding... then you're just plain screwed).
And you would not in freeze quickly: Freezing--heat transfer--only occurs through convection, conduction or radiation. Vacuum being vacuum, there's nothing there to transfer via convection or conduction (unless you're actually touching something already cold); and the human body is very inefficient at radiating heat. In fact, if you were exposed to light from the local primary star (depending on distance, of course), you'd more likely end up crispy rather than frozen.
Rich Bennett
65. Neuralnet
@53 glad I am not the only one who does this... seriously those underwater actors are part mer creature.
Kerwin Miller
66. tamyrlink
when people die from small wounds that arent lethal. or get knocked out cold from one punch. i cant stand when a bad guy gets shot in the shoulder and "dies" but the hero gets shot and manages full function of his arm.

also i cant stand when the bad guys dont seem to be able to aim. MR. and MRS. SMITH!!!! they should not have survived that whole movie let alone that scene in the mall shopping center place. ( i mean in kill bill when B fought the Crazy 88 she took damage at least)
Marc Gioglio
67. Fuzzix
I don't know if this really counts, but I cannot stand the fact that explosions happen at 120 dB (hyperbole) through my TV but speech occurs at 1dB. Please just equalize the volume. It makes everything unwatchable to people with children, either I can hear the actors and wake the kids with explosions (or heck, even sword-drawing "schwings" are louder than any person's voice) or watch the movie on effective mute. ............................................................................................ As far as ending a line/line breaks, IE does not support it on my computer, (which is how I primarily view the site :(, but if I use chrome, I can use the enter key to create a new line. I asked that question several times before someone finally answered, so I hope this finds you soon.
68. gallen
Swimming underwater! This one drives me nuts, everyone has done some underwater swimming at some time, but movies always get it wrong and nobody seems to care.

First off, you can't see well without a swim mask or goggles. When people open their eyes in very clear water it's hard to see much of anything and what you can see is distorted because of water's refractive qualities. Since most underwater stuff takes place in lakes, the ocean, rivers or less than perfect condition the characters would be essentially blind.

Also, swimming underwater is a lot of work, and when you work, you can’t hold your breath very long. So how can our heroes open and close doors, undo locks or fight underwater when they are drowning and blind? How can they keep this up for upwards of five minutes without deep breathing pure oxygen first and conditioned to work/fight underwater?
69. Difficat
My peeve is when humans take off their space helmets on a planet because the air is breatheable. They don't test for spores or viruses or toxins or whatever. Just oxygen. Nor do they consider whether their own microorganisms might damage the world they are standing on. Here, other planet, have some plague!

@32 - The other science that worked for me in Volcano was the geologist. She was the one of the better scientist characters I have seen, putting the actual science aside. Scientists in movies, and especially female scientists, are usually depicted as cold and socially awkward, and the females are often overly emotional or sexy, sometimes at the same time. The geologist in Volcano was comfortable in front of a camera or working with the public, reacted with emotion when she lost someone, and reacted with thinking otherwise, and was never cold-hearted even when the situation was dire. (But yeah, not great science.)
Genevieve Williams
70. welltemperedwriter
Related to the bruises one, and to someone's comment previously, it's amazing how much physical punishment perfectly ordinary people can take in movies without showing so much as a black eye. I do martial arts and train with some pretty tough dudes who can take a hit and keep going, but a punch in the nose still frickin' hurts.
Christopher Bennett
71. ChristopherLBennett
@66: As far as aiming goes, it depends on what kind of guns are being used. Apparently, automatic rifles/machine guns can't be aimed well at all in continuous-fire mode, because of all the recoils. That mode is more for suppression fire, to force an enemy to keep under cover and pinned down. The odds of actually hitting a target are fairly low.

Of course, TV/movie automatic rifles all have bottomless magazines and can fire in continuous mode for great lengths of time, when a real one would run out of ammo in about two seconds.
72. MontanaSteve
How 'bout when the reluctant hero or the awkward teen takes a microphone to rally the troops or profess his love. There's always the feedback sound. I can't see how that would happen unless they get too close to the speakers.
Susan Davis
73. sue
Every opposite-sex couple sleeps on L-shaped sheets that cover her breasts but expose his chest.

Police officers commandeering vehicles by flashing a badge to the driver. Police officers doing things that would get them immediately fired, if not thrown in jail.

Crawling through air vents which are large enough and sturdy enough to admit humans, and which don't make ferocious amounts of noise when you move around in them.

Outrunning an explosion, even a deflagration.

...and really, anything else that Mythbusters has busted.
74. SteveG
The sharp blade schwing is even used with kitchen knives grabbed from a worktop. The pitch and volume of the schwing seem to relate to the sharpness and shinyness of the blade, irrespective of whether it is in contact with any surface that would cause the friction necessary to vibrate the blade and produce the sound.

Car headrests removed so they don't block the shot of actors in rear seats when the camera is in the front. Rear-view mirror removed so you don't see the film crew on the back seat while they film the driver and front seat passenger.

No one says goodbye over the phone, they just silently hang up!

More on blood being all one colour - deoxygenated veinous blood is dark red; oxygenated arterial blood is vivid bright red. Lets see some variety!

Instant death from wounds to anywhere other than heart. Even some brain injuries aren't necessarily instantly fatal (but may impair cerebral function!)

Along with earth art in alien places, any obvious earth designs in alien locations is always annoying. A personal hate are the obvious WWII four-barrel anti-aircraft guns on the millenium falcon - copying the earth guns even to the extent of recoiling from energy weapon discharge!!

Any pseudo technology serving no genuine function - such as the crap '70s buttons/switches on Darth Vader's chest plate. What do they do? We never see them being used. How would vader use them when he can't bend his neck to see them and operate them?!

I agree - all this stuff is easily fixable, it just shows that some directors just don't care about science, science fiction or anyone who does care about science and science fiction!
Laura Southcott
76. tallgrass
Gratuitous R2D2-esque computer noises! Whose computer actually makes beep-boop-beep sounds all the time?!

Also, using red-tailed hawk screams as "eagle" screams for that generic wilderness feeling.
Sean Tabor
77. wingracer
A lot of these don't really bother me much because they sometimes make sense in world or have become acceptable film tropes or are needed to make the plot work or spice up the action. What does bother me to no end are things that are just plain wrong, are not tropes, do not matter in anyway to the story and could easily have been done right without changing anything else. An example:

That show about the rogue submarine a while back. It was attacked and damaged by a cruise missile fired from a B2 bomber. B2s are not anti-submarine aircraft and cruise missiles are not anti-sub weapons. That was an immediate turn off for me. If there had been some reason for it, like that B2 bomber was the only thing anywhere in the area that just happened to come accross the sub and figured "what the hell, let's fire a cruise missile at it and see what happens" and got a lucky shot, ok I might accept that. But that's not what happened. They were sent purposely. Any idiot writer could pick up a Jane's manual or do a google search, change the script to be a P3 Orion dropping torpedos and everyone is happy.
78. chaosprime
@EmilyAP #23: Ugh, yes. I am constantly cringing, "oh for fuck's sake, at least WIPE THE BLOOD off of that thing before you put it back in its metal scabbard to rust into one big wedge". My expectations are so low at this point that when somebody in Game of Thrones bothers to swab the thing on the grass I feel vindicated.
Benji Cat
79. benjicat
I can't stand it when someone in a movie or TV show with a rifle or shotgun holds it with the butt cradled in the crook of their elbow rather than against their shoulder.
Karl Compton
80. oldubergoober
Spaceships that always face forward.... I was just about to give up on Bablyon 5 one or two episodes in when a fighter swung around to fly (and shoot) backwards. That saved it for me.
Ross Newberry
81. rossnewberry
Gunplay: Constant racking of slides on autos, and cocking of hammers on revolvers.

Scenario: Hero with a 1911 .45 semi-auto. Sees a bad guy. Draws his pistol and racks the slide to chamber a round, because hey, who wants to be prepared for a gunfight? Hero and baddie have a bit of snarky banter, and hero decides he needs to get serious about offing the dude. So he racks the slide (mysteriously not ejecting the chambered round) and points the pistol at the baddie.

Same thing happens with revolvers and cocking the hammer, but the best of all is when someone draws a revolver and the foley team inserts the racking of a semi-auto slide.
Luis Milan
82. LuisMilan
Shootouts that end when the bad guy gets hit once and drops to his knees. If he still has his weapon in his hand, you don't step out of your hiding place in order to have some sort of closure or something before he kicks the bucket; you keep shooting until you run out of ammo or he's dead with 100% certainty.

No sense in getting close enough for the bad guy to draw a backup gun and try to shoot the hero when he turns his back and walks away (only to be saved with a last-second shot by the hero's sidekick / significant other / grumpy partner / comic relief coward who finally gets the courage to end someone's life).
Brian R
83. Mayhem
Re time issues :
I always loved the "Vegas baby, Vegas" scene from Swingers, where they're all like "We're going to Vegas!" and then it cuts out to the car roaring off, and cuts back in to canned country music, yawning, and a muted "vegas baby" then cuts to dawn rising as they finally reach the city and the passenger is asleep ... after all, LA to Las Vegas is a heck of a long drive.
84. amilder
Electricity that flows on the outside of a conductor. Those long blue glowing lines they paint on to say: "look out! it's got electricity in it!" Think the last scene of "Back to the Future" where the juice from the lightning flowed along the cable to the delorean, but you see this all the time in tv and the movies. Its just a cheap little visual trick, but so ridiculus. Electricity will take the path of least resistance, it's going to flow through the nice metal conductor, not the air outside it. Could be 1000's of amps flowing through a cable, with 100's of volts, but there will be no visual indication. It might get hot and melt, but then it would just pop like fuse...
85. reyler
With regard to Don't Check the Clock, this is one of the smaller things that I love about The Dark Knight. During the Hong Kong raid scene, the explosives Batman sticks to the windows have a timer counting down from (if I recall) 2m30s - there ends up being exactly that much movie before they detonate.
86. Rue
The rattlesnake's rattle noise any time any kind of snake is on screen. Here comes the ball python, better have the rattle sound or people might not realize it's a scary snake.
87. raaj
in regards to automatic or even prolonged fire. Bullets are propelled by explosions, explosions cause heat. Eventually the barrel and chamber can become so hot that rounds "cook off" i.e. fire without pulling the trigger. and eventually the barrel starts to melt. That's why M-60's and Ma Deuces have interchangeable barrels and sometimes the assistant will actually hold the barrel vertically to try and remove the bend. When i was active the gloves issued to the gunner were asbestos, not sure what they use now.
88. Atane
Actors NEVER locking car doors, or winding up car windows when parking and getting out. How many people are going to leave a major investment completly unsecured?
Christopher Bennett
89. ChristopherLBennett
On the subject of timing issues, one incredibly stupid one was Heroes' "The Eclipse" 2-parter in season 3. A solar eclipse is seen in multiple different parts of the world simultaneously and lasts for several hours! (It was also described as "a total annular eclipse," which is a contradiction in terms.) The pilot of Heroes did much the same thing, having a total solar eclipse visible in far more parts of the world than could ever be possible for a single eclipse, but at least there it was possible to assume that the appearance of simultaneity was a trick of editing. Here, it was unambiguously happening all at once. Evidently Heroes took place on a flat Earth.
90. shock5006
13! Thankyou! I watch a lot of sci-fi, and it's always bugged the hell out of me that everything in space operates on the same horizontal plane. It's space! There's an extra axis of movement, use it!
Alan Brown
91. AlanBrown
I must disagree with those who mock the sound of a sword leaving the sheath. I agree that the sound today is much exaggerated, and possibly reached its ludicrous peak in the BBC Merlin series, when swords were drawn from leather belts with that distinctive shwink sound. (And I know they were on a budget, but for pity's sake, couldn't the King of England afford a scabbard?) But the sound is based in fact.
I can't speak for ancient weapons, but most swords and some knives and bayonets I have handled from the 19th and 20th century have metal scabbards, and have either a very tight fitting piece of metal at the mouth, or even a little tongue of springy metal, which has the purpose of keeping the blade from falling out of the sheath even when it is held upside down. I went into my den, and pulled my ceremonial officer's sword down off the wall for the first time in a decade to confirm my recollections. And the sound of the blade coming out and brushing that metal fitting at the mouth of the scabbard did indeed produce a schwinky kind of sound I remember, some times more pronounced than others, but definitely similar to that familiar sound from the movies.
And with respect to Mr. Bennett, who I have otherwise found to provide valuable contributions, I do not believe his theory of swordplay is terribly accurate. You do fight sword to sword, even when you have a shield. You don't fight edge to edge, as that would nick the blades, but the main goal of defense in sword fighting is to deflect your enemy's blade. Not to meet it head on, but to slap it aside (someone above also mentioned the use of the flat of the blade). Using the sword only for offense and the shield for defense would be hard on the left arm, to say the least.Perhaps S.M. Stirling, who I have sometimes seen in these discussions, will chime in, as he has quite a bit of knowledge in this area.
Christopher Bennett
92. ChristopherLBennett
@91: I may have misremembered some details, but I'm going from articles like this one:

What the surviving sources show us is wholly different from the familiar pop-culture version, as well as being dramatically distinct from what has gone on for years in assorted reenactments and contrived living-history efforts. Rather, Medieval and Renaissance sword fighting was a hell of a lot more violent, brutal, ferocious, and astonishingly effective. The way in which these swords were held, the way they can be maneuvered, and the postures and motions involved, differ substantially from common presumptions and modern-era fencing styles.
Alan Brown
93. AlanBrown
@92 I had not seen that article, and thanks for linking it, as it raises lots of good points. While we may quibble on details, I agree on your point that what we see in movies is often miles from the way people really fought in days gone by. Wielding a heavy broadsword lacks the finesse and style of modern fencing, for example.

Now, on to other pet peeves of my own:
- While some question streamlined spaceships in the vacuum, I am always troubled by seeing unstreamlined ships flying in and out of atmospheres. Like the Millenium Falcon, which has all the streamlining of a dumptruck.
- I do remember a clever way around the lack of sound in space. In the Star Wars NPR radio dramas, as the Falcon makes its first contact with TIE fighters, and there is a line where Han tells Luke that the turret has a sound synthesizer that feeds fake sounds that help you keep track of the targets, as if they were right in the turret with you. A very clever retro-explaination of all the space battle sounds in Star Wars.
- And speaking of sounds in space, while a vacuum does not carry sound, and you would not hear from another spacecraft, you do hear all the sounds in your own craft. I have heard some people criticize sounds in movies that would be accurate.
- And, to bring up the most egregious of mistaken criticisms, if my memory serves me correctly I remember a Washington Post review of the movie 2010 which complained about the portrayal of aerobraking around Jupiter. The reviewers point was something like "everyone knows there is no air in space, so this wouldn't work." Almost as dumb as the famous newspaper line that rockets won't work in space because there is nothing to push against.

I am not surprised this article has drawn so many comments, as quibbling about details is a team sport in the geek world!
Shelly wb
94. shellywb
@91, I too had to go test this on a couple of old Spanish cavalry swords I have that have metal scabbards. They're lined but have a metal collar that produces that noise when drawing them.

But one thing that does annoy me about sword noises on film is that they clink when someone grips them, like they're made of moving metal parts. There's nothing to clink against!
95. Sybylla
One things that sends me absolutely around the bend is when the characters screw up reading. Just...reading a book.

For example, in When Harry Met Sally (not SF, but bear with me), Harry boasts of his "darkness" during the characters' first meeting, claiming that when he reads a book, he always reads the last page first, so if he dies before he finishes it, he will know how it ends. It's a brick joke, because roughly an hour later in the movie, he picks up a new hardcover book, opens it and goes immediately to the last page and makes a face as he "reads" the ending.

However, he flips to literally the last page in the book. He's looking at the endpapers. Anyone who has ever read a hardcover book knows that there's no bloody text there!

There was also a commercial for a help-your-child-read product that was narrated by Alex Trebek in which the happy scene of the little girl contentedly reading was rather undermined for me by the book's being upside down. Seriously. The large bar code that appears on the bottom of the back cover was clearly visible on top of what should have been the front cover based on how she was holding it.

Argh. Now I'm getting annoyed all over again.
96. Sybylla
Edit: I realize this may not be the most common movie error around, but it's an error about something really common, so it counts, dammit! :)
97. Dan 17
Shooting door panels to make them either open or stay shut (or whatever is needed for them to do). Bugs the hell out of me. And lift (elevator) doors that shut squishing the hand/leg/appendage of whatever is caught between them. Hello - health and safety much?
Tom Smith
99. phuzz
It's possible to be punched in the face quite a lot and not briuse at all. I guess drunk people can't punch.
Gerd K
101. Kah-thurak
I personally have no great faith in the reconstruction of medieval or
renaissance fighting styles from ancient fighting manuals. The reasons for this are the following:

a) I do not believe in learning fighting techniques from books (or even videos). I have practiced martial arts for fourteen years now, and even when I look at notes I have made myself I am often not able to reconstruct what I meant when I wrote them. Looking at pictures (or videos) is better, but there is usually some vital information lacking. Therefore whoever makes a technique out of such material will fill in the missing parts with whatever he/she allready knows or finds sensible.

b) The larger part of the martial arts books available today are hopeless nonsense. They work from wrong assumptions, depict techniques in the wrong way and are often more self glorification of the author then anything else. Why would the old sources be any different?

c) The martial arts practiced today are in many cases very far away from the reality of combat. Most techniques are overcomplicated and can only be applied under very special circumstences (i.e. sparring, sport events, martial art shows). While that is very enjoyable and leads to great sports, it also means that in real street fight most of this stuff is useless. Which means that even if a future researcher might be able to reconstruct these arts in say 500 years, he would still not know how "a real fight" looks like "today". Again I see no particular reason why this should have been different with the instructions found in those old manuals.

Therefore my reference to the filipino arts - they have obviously some of the problems mentioned in "c)", but they have an ongoing tradition from actually employed sword fighting styles which means that they are probably closer to "the real thing" than most other systems.
102. mutantalbinocrocodile
THANKYOUTHANKYOU for "outing" the ridiculous facepalming statuary in Troy. It's especially egregious because the one, I'm not going to say "success", but maybe "idea that could have sorta worked if it had been executed well but it wasn't" was removing the gods from the story by otherwise turning it into a realistic story about Bronze Age geopolitics. So keep it in the Bronze Age, will ya?

Also, like you, baffled by the real-world stuff in Rumplestiltskin's manor in OOAT. I'm actually a lot more baffled by the obviously Christian tapestries, since it seems from what little evidence we get from characters that much or all of the Enchanted Forest is polytheist.
Christopher Bennett
103. ChristopherLBennett
@95: Another common book-reading error is in American animated shows where the animation is done overseas in Japan, Korea, or thereabouts. Since books in Asian languages are paginated in the reverse direction from books in European languages, a lot of older shows depict English-speaking characters reading books the wrong way, evidently paging from back to front.
104. a1ay
I may have misremembered some details, but I'm going from articles like this one

...but that's full of pictures of people using swords to parry swords.

101: all good points, but I think it's maybe going a bit far to assume that the manuals are completely unlike the reality. If there's lots about how to use a buckler, then we can conclude that people used bucklers, even if the manual isn't reliable on how they used them.
Gerd K
105. Kah-thurak
I am not saying that these manuals are completely unlike reality. I just doubt that the fighting styles recreated from them accuratley resemble what happened in medieval swordfights. Espeacially if the potential difference between sparring, formal duels and real all-out life and death combat is considered.
Christopher Bennett
106. ChristopherLBennett
Okay, okay, I may have gotten some details wrong, and I've already conceded that, so can we please stop harping on it? The larger point is that stage/screen swordfights have very little in common with the real thing, whatever the real thing may be. Like I said, much of the time it's obvious that the swordfighters are deliberately aiming to hit each other's swords rather than each other's bodies. You don't have to be a swordfighting expert to know that's not the way you'd fight if you were actually trying to kill your opponent. It's the way you fight if you want to put on a lengthy show for an audience and not actually hurt your fellow performer.

Back to Robert Vaughn and guns, I just saw a TMFU episode where he was shooting at some bad guys who had him pinned down, and he gave his gun a little outward/downward shake every time he "fired," which would pretty much preclude any kind of aiming. It looked like the way a little kid would pretend to shoot a gun.

Oh, here's one that bugs me -- when someone in a show or film grips an electrified fence or rail or the like and gets blown away from it, like the kid in Jurassic Park. An electric current through your hands would contract the muscles and lock your grip even tighter, so you couldn't let go.
Gerd K
107. Kah-thurak
This is not limited to sword fights though. Hand-to-Hand combat is usually displayed even more unrealistic than armed combat. The question is, whether this is actually a bad thing. Real fights are ugly, short, chaotic and rarely use anything but the most simplistic techniques. This does not work for most movies. However: Aiming the swords / strikes / kicks at the actual target should not be impossible while still making a thrilling or even beautiful fighting choreography. So, what you are complaining at is not really unrealism, but bad craftmanship ;-)
108. a1ay
Hand-to-Hand combat is usually displayed even more unrealistic than
armed combat. The question is, whether this is actually a bad thing.
Real fights are ugly, short, chaotic and rarely use anything but the
most simplistic techniques.

About the only realistic hand-to-hand sequence I've seen is in "Bridget Jones' Diary", of all things. "It's a fight! It's a real fight!" Tom yells out at the crowded restaurant as Hugh Grant and Colin Firth start in on each other, and indeed it is. It's haphazard, slightly embarrassed and completely incompetent. It's a real fight between two people who actually don't really know how to fight very well.
Gerd K
109. Kah-thurak
The fight between John Cusack and the french assassin in Grosse Pointe Blank is done reasonably realistic as well. Again a movie where you would not necessarily expect it.
110. olethros
Pretty much everything involving building electrical, HVAC, and security systems. Especially the above mentioned ductwork suitable for human occupancy.
Christopher Bennett
111. ChristopherLBennett
@108 & 109: Have you seen Rashomon? The first couple of versions of the fight, as told by the combatants, are depicted as these grand, finely choreographed martial-arts battles, but the final version related by a spectator is messy, clumsy, and desperately improvised, and it feels like two people really fighting for their lives.
112. MBruce
A single blow from a wrench/lead pipe to the back of the head conveniently making some person "fall asleep" for some plot-convenient duration. Especially when it happens to the hero of a show multiple times over the course of a movie or series. Multiple concussions are pretty serious and can have long lasting effects, even death!

Bonus points if the person who swung the club stands over the prone body of their victim and pronounces that "they'll be OK"!
113. hoopmanjh
@106 -- Oh, little Timmy might be coming off the fence when the current goes through it. It's just his hands that will be staying.
Rob Rater
114. Quasarmodo
"Sword from scabbard noise" - The example of this that sticks in my craw is on Red when John Malkovich's character puts his knfe against Bruce Willis' lower body. As far as I can tell, he just moved the knife. Didn't have it in any kind of scabbard or belt or anything. Still got the sound. To make it worse, it was the clip they used every time the movie was promoted.

My own examples: yelling while falling. Every time someone falls from a height on film, they yell. Even when they're actively trying to sneak out, like say Keanu Reeves in Bram Stoker's Dracula.

People sitting straight up in bed as they wake with a start. Doesn't happen. Someone on the internet pointed that out and now I see it all the time.

The phone rings and goes to voice mail and the characters listen as the person leaves a message. But the phone only rings 1 time. Who in the world sets their phone to go to voice mail after one ring? My guess would be people who plan to never answer their phone.
115. alcatherwood
I hate when someone carries an ax one-handed, and their hand is on the end of the handle opposite to the blade. People usually carry an ax with their hand near the blade because that's where the weight is.
116. hoopmanjh
A relatively modern thing: Information Vital To The Survival Of The Rebellion (or what have you) is on a USB thumb drive (or what have you) that Our Heroes have acquired. Inexplicably Our Heroes do not then immediately make many, many, many copies and/or upload the information to publicly available sites (whichever would be more approriate under the circumstances).
Alan Brown
117. AlanBrown
Oh, I almost forgot to say, thanks Emily for the remarks on lip synching. I always wondered how I could tell it was fake even when the lips were perfectly matched to the sound--it is the lack of appropriate breathing that I was noticing.
118. Norm from the UK
US films (proper English for movies) have too many Brits as villains. I'm offended! Worse still getting Alan Rickman to do a German accent in Die Hard...and THAT film must have all the points above - except maybe, space....er... and singing.....er and swords....oh I think I'll head off into the sunset!
121. harmonyfb
Blood dries. And when it dries it turns a very unappealing shade of brown.

When it dries on concrete walkways, it doesn't clean up well and leaves an orange-y stain. (Personal observation of a sidewalk in the town where I work, after a murder. It was eventually replaced.)

during the sack of Troy the camera panned up to these Greek statues in the citadel.

After the horror of the llamas (yes, really) in the opening scenes, how did you notice? I couldn't get past it, myself. Spent most of the rest of the movie thinking, "Did I hallucinate that? Surely they didn't use llamas?" But yes, llamas. In ancient Troy.
122. Evan H.
I'm amazed that in 121 comments from people who were at the time typing, nobody mentioned the way "hacker" characters type. :)

Why, it's easy! You just hover your hands over the keyboard wiggling your fingers at random, a clacky sound effect from some 80s-era PC keyboard spontaneously occurs, and text appears on the screen faster than any human could conceivably type it, with nary a typo or pause for thought.
Chuk Goodin
123. Chuk
@106; I once carefully touched an electric fence with an object so it wouldn't shock me. Unfortunately the object I used was part of a car bumper and this was back when they were still metal. I definitely jumped back -- it felt like all my joints briefly disconnected. (Maybe there are AC and DC electric fences?)
Michael Walton
124. tygervolant
Sound in space? Streamlined spaceships? Pfft. I can't get over spacecraft turning by banking. IN FREAKIN' VACUUM.
125. DVassily
Another point to make on the Greek statues, in ancient Greece, Egypt and Rome, statues were commonly painted to make them more life like. So when we see a movie set in ancient Greece the temples and statues should be painted.

http://www.cracked.com/article_18627_6-things-from-history-everyone-pictures-incorrectly.html See example #4
126. davecohn
Binoculars! The ones that no one ever adjusts, so that you see two just barely overlapping circular fields of view rather than one. And computer monitors that still make that old teletype noise as text appears, one ... painful ... letter ... at ... a ... time.
127. rfoxmich
Flame in space explosions.
128. ACLipscomb
Stirrups in any movie set before about 5-600 AD. The stirrups in the movie "Gladiator" were a bigger anachronism than if Lee's troops had carried AK-47s in the movie "Gettysburg".
129. cmccrzy
When someone is driving on a straight, concrete road (that's also often empty - or they're not making any lane changes) and not taking any turns. And yet their hands are going back and forth on the steering wheel like they're trying to dodge spontaneously appearing icebergs on the road. Not just like the slight twitches many drivers make when their hands are resting on the wheel, or the slight adjustment you make when your hands get a little tired of being in the same spot. I mean like "look at me, I'm supposed to remind you that we're in a car so I'm gonna pretend I'm a two-year old who just discovered that a steering wheel can be turned!" Ways to tell if the vehicle is ACTUALLY following through with those wild-ass turns or they're running over rough terrain that causes such movement and requires such efforts from the driver? Look out any of the windows or see if the car is bumping or the characters in the car are being bumped in their chairs. It's also interesting when they then proceed to NOT make those necessary movements for ACTUAL turns and backing up (putting the car in reverse, checking your mirrors, and the movements with the wheel to allign the car). If the car were stuck in gear or not responding to the steering wheel, this movement might make sense, but I almost never see this happen. It's just an actor screwing up for some reason.

This happens so often in film, but off the top of my head, this was really obvious in "The Wolverine" when Logan was in the car with Yukio and you can clearly see out the window and tell that the car isn't following her movements on the steering wheel. It was also obvious when Sam and Quorra get in that vehicle thing after Quorra rescues Sam from the arena. Olivia Wilde is turning that wheel back and forth like she's trying to either figure out how far it'll turn or like it's stuck in gear. It also just... pains me when they do this in animation. At least with a live person, they're probably focusing on the script and interacting with the other cast members and looking in the right directions and showing the right expressions at the right time. With something drawn/made on a computer, someone or multiple someones took the time to do this entire sequence WRONG.

And there's no excuse for it, save for it being not so important as other crap, I guess. So many people drive. I assume that most of these actors drive. Most of these people have at least seen someone driving before. A number of people who work on films work on cars, either their own or because their job is to take care of the cars on set. This isn't hard. I understand that you're probably not on a real road and/or that you're most likely not actually driving and/or that you're taking a made up road somewhere, but come on... I'm staring at people who are least twice my age screw up on this and I was spotting this idiocy when I was 14 years old just because I watched my parents, sister, family members, and bus driver driving.

Also, the dramatic looking at people in vehicles while a person is driving. There should be twenty times more accidents in films than there are because so many drivers think it would be a GREAT idea to stare at their passengers for long periods of time WHILE they're driving, often in busy traffic, on dangerous roads, in STORMS. A glance is understandable. Maybe a brief look (still unsafe, but whatever for the drama). But just turning your head away from the road for minutes at a time to stare at that person? You could crash into another car stopped/slowing down, a tree, a sign or fall off a cliff or I don't know because you're not watching the road in front of you. Think texting while driving or doing anything that doesn't involve being aware of everything around you.
130. JRThro
Although it's not a new thing at all, something that started to bother me a lot fairly recently is computers or control panels with all kinds of blinking lights and switches, etc., but without a single label on them.

How in the world could anyone operate one of those things if none of the controls are labeled?
131. alaska3foot
Personally I like time travel ala CSI Miami. You know, where Horatio is in the headquarters building and a girl is about to hang herself in a horse stable way on the outskirts of somewhere and in the time it takes her to throw a rope over a beam, maneuver a stool under the rope, get up on the stool, hook herself up and step off the stool, Horatio drives his Hummer from downtown to the barn in time to rescue her. CSI Miami had been getting really bad but that was the episode that did it in for me.
133. hertzogsays
You missed: laser beams/photons/any forms of light/EM radiation as weapon--they always fire in discrete chunks that we can see moving across the screen. What, your laser pistol slows the light down enough when it leaves the barrel that our eyes can actually perceive it traveling across a room?


When making contact with an alien civilization for the first time, how can they each speak a common language so fluently? Even if you had a computer that could simultaneously translate foreign words, how could it do it without ever having encountered the word before--not to mention the foreign grammar? I'm looking at you, Star Trek.
134. Baggage Handler
How about giant suitcases that clearly have nothing in them? Try carrying your 50lb suitcase in one hand while running/walking/shooting/dodging. Can't do it.
135. KiltedShane
I can't believe that in 134 comments nobody has meantioned the Holywood magic that makes lead bullets spark every time they strike any other metal object ... and sometimes non-metalic objects.

Movie physics in general ...
136. Megs
Related to the lack-of-face injury blooper is the lack-of-FIST injury blooper. Sure, you get the occasional wacky hand shake and grimace after punching someone in the face, but more often you get serious beatdown without a split knuckle in sight. This drove me bonkers in Star Trek Into Darkness when Kirk whales on *spoiler* for uncomfortably long, and walks away without a scratch. Dude should have broken his hand after all that.

Second peeve for me is when a film completely ignores relative heights of the actors. I don't care about a little tweaking for angles and stuff, but shots like the kiss at the end of Thor between 5'nothing Natalie Portman and 6'amillion Chris Helmsworth where somehow he didn't have to bend down at all are just insulting.
Charles Hamlyn
137. cbhamlyn
That time thing used to drive me crazy in the first season of 24. They'd show the "Tick-BOOM Tick-BOOM" clock, then Jack would be seen leaving his office and running to his car. Then he's in his car shouting into the phone not to kill someone or whatever. Then he'd get to where he was going and the "Tick-BOOM Tick BOOM" comes back and 4 minutes have gone by, but he's traversed out of the city center up into the hills on the outskirts.

The other huge offender for me is Game of Thrones. I have a map of Westeros with an HBO logo in the corner. Somehow Rob and his entire army can traverse a mountain range that was inpassable in the books (it was a huge part of the war strategy). In that same vein, Cat releases Jaime and Brienne and they had East. Rob and his entire army sets off several days later and all but teleports a 3 week jouney worth of land to Harrenhall, which presumably Jaime and Brienne haven't reached yet for some reason.

Oh, and I hate when the hero of super hero movies gets beat to hell, or seriously wounded. They can barely make it to the final fight (I'm looking at you Andrew Garfield) and then they manage to make it to the final fight and it's like they've been resting and training for weeks. Dealing damage and being tossed around and then springing back up like they landed on marshmallows rather than stone and broken glass.

I also hate that every Batman movie (and the earlier Spider-man ones) kills the villian(s) at the end of the movie. Especially where they're based on comics where the villians come back hundreds of times before they are finally (if ever) dealt with! Is it so much more gratifying to think Dr. Octopus is dead (after being controlled by advanced computer AI to steal some things largely against his will and nature) rather than just turned over to some authorities?
138. Colorado Fencer
Re the various sword-on-sword comments. Depends very much on the time and setting. From the Renaissance on, for civilians, in urban European settings, the smallsword, rapier, and their predecessors were the weapons of choice. These were thrusting weapons -- the blade was seldom sharpened more than a few inches down from the point. I've had a chance to handle a few antique weapons. A smallsword handles very much like a modern epee, only a bit heavier. OTOH, I'm seriously impressed with anyone whose wrist is strong enough and quick enough to do anything well with a full-length rapier.

Yes, theatrical fencing is different. Even blunted and dulled, a sword, particularly a reproduction of a rapier or smallsword, is a dangerous weapon capable of easily producing a serious injury by accident. To be able to make it look real without excess danger requires years of training. It's interesting to go back and look at some of the Errol Flynn scenes. "Errol" was a much more realistic fencer when the camera shot was from behind him -- because it was a local fencing master in costume who could make it look good and still be safe.
Charles Hamlyn
139. cbhamlyn
Oh, maybe this is me being dumb about horses, but why is it that whenever someone gets on a horse and tries to make a get away, they are ALWAYS overtaken by 4 or 5 guys (usually heavier and armored). Wouldn't a single person (under-fed prisoner wearing rags) on a horse stand a better chance of at gaining speed than 5 well fed and muscled guards wearing armor? And it's not like one really skilled rider catches them, usually it's everyone that set up to catch him. There are several cases in book (like Storm of Swords) where a character is trying to flee and the pursuer says something like "Give it up, there are 5 of us and you know we'll just over take you." Like is there some natural law about horse racing where the more horses in your party, the faster you can go?

My rage is magnified when the escapee has stopped to rest for an hour or two and the guards ride up, having run their horses the whole way and the guy gets on his semi-refreshed horse and they STILL overtake him?!?!
140. Cable99
I have a beef about blood and swords. Swords leave extremely gory wounds. Anyone WINNING a sword fight would be soaked in blood. Nothing takes me out of the story more than a movie where the Hero is slicing throats-and there's no blood flying. Or when they run someone through-and pull the blade out again. Fountains. Where are the fountains?
Beccy Higman
141. Jazzlet
129. cmccrzy YES! Especially the driving while looking at your passenger. Don't do it, just don't. Makes my former Road Safety Officer self shout at the screen everytime.

134. Baggage Handler Yes too.
142. swanberg
My biggest pet peeve in movies is the trope of "we use only 10% of our brains", but somehow the hero (or villain) has found a way to tap into the remaining 90%. Hogwash! This is a misapprehension based on very early brain-mapping studies. Doctors/scientists of the time could only determine the function of a small portion of the brain. Doesn't mean the rest of the brain didn't have a function, just that they didn't know at the time what that function was. But modern screenwriters consistently pick up on this myth (possibly because they are only using 10% of their brains) and hang critical plot points on it.

@122. Not only do movie hackers type inhumanly fast on decades-old keyboards without errors, but they also have the supernatural ability to focus on multiple monitors simultaneously. And every movie hacker in existence can break into the most secure computers/networks on the planet in less time than an authorized user could receive a ping response. Bonus points if the hacker is a 20-something loser living in his parents' basement. After all, no self-respecting hacker would actually use his skills to make indecent amounts of money and get his own place.
143. Donia
My biggest pet peeves have to do with perpetuating ignorance and stereotypes in the real world (although many science/historical ones mentioned here make me roll my eyes as well): Why does almost every "historical" (or fantasy for that matter) movie set in *any* country and time period (before America existed, of course) have the main actors speaking with posh English accents? Even if the actors themselves aren't English, and the characters aren't supposed to be English or ever have been anywhere near England? And of course, the "uneducated" and/or lower class characters in the film (again, regardless of country of origin) **always** speak with cockney-type accents.

And usually in those same films, though more typically in the fantasy genre, the "bad guys" are almost always arab or persian looking (with eye-liner to make their eyes look more ominous/middle-eastern. Don't get me wrong, I actually loved the use of this trope with Khal Drogo, but we've been making movies for so long you'd think we could stop making the bad guys literally the "dark ones" (and kudos to JK Rowling for upending that one in her own way, btw)).

Along those same lines, if you're casting a movie where all of the extras are supposed to be from a specific country, then get some people who actually LOOK like they're from that country!! I lived in Greece for several years, and when I saw Mamma Mia I waited for the credits to roll because I knew there was hardly a Greek face in the bunch... and lo and behold, most of the extras were (if I remember correctly from all those years ago) Portuguese, Israeli, etc... simply reinforcing the notion for most people that "they all look the same." Well "they" don't, and I noticed immediately.

It just reminds me of when an American friend came to visit me while I was living in Spain and he was shocked to realize that "they're white!" Because, you know, all cultures that natively speak spanish look a certain way, just like we see in the movies. (Especially hilarious when a native spanish speaking actor is cast in the "white person" role (because they're not dark-skinned) opposite a dark-skinned non-hispanic person who doesn't even speak spanish at all, but is cast as the fiesty latino/a because of their skin color.)
144. Tynam
Defibrillator paddles used on people whose hearts have stopped.


You might use those things if the heartbeat is erratic, arrhythmic, or just wrong. If it's already flatlined, it's too late, and you're just electrocuting them into staying dead when they might have been saved.

Code blue = please put the paddles away now.
145. Esmera
First, @74, deoxygenated blood gets oxygenated when exposed to normal air (which contains oxygen). So people only ever bleed red blood, in real life as well as movies.

Also, @114, its actually possible to sit straight up after waking, but I'll concede it's not really a normal reaction. I taught myself how to do it in middle school, mainly because my mom wouldn't leave after coming into my room until she was absolutely sure I was awake and sitting up was one of the easiest ways to prove so (not that I didn't fall asleep right after she left).

My main peeve is the idea that any fictional creature is automatically a man-eater, and will do anything and everything to devour the nearest human being (specifically in one of the Jurassic Park movies, the Spinosaurus crashes through a huge fence just to try to eat the main character. Also in basically every corny scifi movie I've ever watched about killer mutant sharks). Seriously, wouldn't it just be easier to eat something more normal? Like fish?
146. Tiran
@ 29 - My leather soled shoes, and my cowboy and motorcycle boots are fricking loud on conrete/tile/even some lino. I used to work in an older mall and it was embarassing to walk down the hallway.
You are right about standard issue rubberized soles though. They should squeak.

@72 - Based on experience this is closer to true than not, with people inexperienced with microphones.
George Jong
147. IndependentGeorge
The one that drives me nuts all the time is the Hollywood Silencer, because, it's so deeply ingrained into film. There's a sliding scale of ridiculousness - a silenced .22 LR is in fact pretty quite (though you can still hear the action of the gun), but putting a suppressor on a 5.56mm assault rifle just means it's less likely to damage your hearing indoors.

Don't even get me started on silenced revolvers or sniper rifles. Yes, the VSS Vintorez is a real weapon, but (1) it's a purpose-built weapon which fires its own unique ammo rather than just sticking a cannister on the end of a rifle barrel, (2) I've yet to see one used screen, and (3) it still sounds like a gunshot.
148. BwanaJim
People who crash through glass windows with nary a scratch to show for it.
Gerd K
149. Kah-thurak
@All those people theorizing about visibillity of Laserlight:
Ultimately most lasers are never visible at all. They are infrared (or sometimes ultraviolet). Visible laser radiation normally is only used when it is necessary for it to be visible, as for a laser show or a laser pointer. Also, laserlight usually does not travel in in a neat collimated beam without divergence. Espeacially for more powerfull laser sources. But the usage of lasers in movies is so absurdly wrong that I have long since stopped to think about it much.
Kerly Luige
150. Celebrinnen
Great list with some really good additions. A lot of these things have often bugged me as well.
Only one remark: it shouldn't be too hard for Logan to make some money with his ... gifts. After all, he appeared to make enough money with the cage fight in the first X-men movie, and he did work in the lumberyard in the Origins.
But I'm perfectly happy to overlook these things sometimes, if that means the possibility to look at Dean without the battlescars (the lack of which was just two days ago mentioned as we watched it with a friend) :)
George Jong
151. IndependentGeorge
Another one - poisons and antidotes. This one's on my mind because of a ridiculous recent episode of Burn Notice built around how they needed to recover the antidote for a custom-engineered poison used against a VIP.

1. Not every poison has an antidote. In fact, very few of them do, and of the ones that do, are rarely used for assasination because, well, why would you purposely try to kill someone with a poison that can be easily cured?
2. Even when an antidote does exist (such as snake antivenom), it does nothing to reverse the tissue damage already done even before it's administered. An antidote that can spontaneously regenerate a person's liver is Nobel-Prize level technology.
Anneke van Staden
152. QueenofDreams
Oh Iidentify with these. I think I'm geek though. I watchedLes Miserables a while back, and right near the beginning it has Jean Valjean made to retrieve the national flag. Only it's the WRONG FLAG! It's the flag we associate with France, but in 1815 that was not the French national flag. It really irritated me through the whole movie.
153. Spiegel
Password prompts that show the password instead of asterisks.
Huge houses that are perfectly kept without anyone ever cleaning anything.
154. hoopmanjh
@153 -- That's one of the things (the many, many, many things) I love about the show Archer -- every time they need to get into some highly secured system (well, one of their own systems, at least), the password is always GUEST.
George Jong
155. IndependentGeorge
@154 -Nuh-uh! Sometimes, the password is PASSWORD.
156. dougom
The time thing has always driven me nuts. If the the bomb is supposed to go off in 60 seconds, I want 60 seconds later to see either a heroic disarming, or a kaboom. I will cut them some slack for "movie time" issues, i.e. cutting away to other characters who may be exchanging dialog slightly earlier in the film's timeline. But not much, and that certainly doesn't explain how flexible and lazy they are. Take the scene in the first "Back to the Future" movie where Einstein jumps forward one minute. The amount of time Doc and Marty spend discussing it should be exactly one minute. Doc Brown has a damn stop watch to track it, for Pete's sake, and there are no--NONE!--cut-aways. It's all Marty and Doc. And it's closer to 1:30 than a minute. Maddening.
157. Jessica Burde
@139 I am not an expert, but my understanding is that there is a very big difference between chasing an escapee down in the long run vs the short run.

In the short run, a single escapee on a horse would have a good chance of outrunning a squad of soldiers in pursuit (assuming the escapee doesn't get lost in unfamiliar terrain and forced to backtrack, that is.) However there are a couple of things working against the escapee in a long chase.

1) supplies. If they are expecting a long chase, the guards can stop at the quartermaster's and grab food and water to carry with them, and if necessary eat in the saddle, not stopping except to rest the horses and sleep. The escapee on the other hand, will need to stop every day to find food - which takes a while when you are hunting food up in the wilderness or searching around for a farmhouse you can steal from. This delay gives the guards a chance to catch up.

2) extra horses. The escapee was damn lucky to get a hold of one horse they could steal to ride off on (and lucky it was a horse capable of running and not a plodding cart horse!) The guards could grab a couple of remounts each, and when their first horse gets tired switch horses. Which means escapee needs to be stopping to rest their horse (who is probably already not as good a horse as the guards have), while the guards can keep going, again giving them a chance to catch up.

In a short term chase, the only thing I can think of that would realistically fit the crazy stuff you descibe is if the escapee had been galloping all out and the guards had followed at a sensible canter or trot. The escapee's horse would have needed a long time to recover from a long gallop, and the guards could have had that time to catch up. And their horses would have been relatively rested from going at an easier pace, and able to gallop full out for a short time to catch the escapee on their still-winded horse.

Of course, if you had run your horse to being winded, the sensible thing for an escapee to do might be (especially if you are in mountain country/forest) to set the horse loose and go on foot through terrian that the guard's horses wouldn't be able to follow.
158. Solid Muldoon
In movies set in ancient times, or in a post-apocalyptic future, the women all have shaved armpits and legs. And perfect teeth.
dusty pulver
159. dustyp
In american films, the baddie frequently has an English accent but as all us English chaps know, us brits are the good guys.
160. Tamaresque
My personal list.
Apart from the universal one of plots having holes in them so big you can drive a truck through them:
* Every dog in every film or TV show has to whine, whether they're happy or not, just to let you know that they're there!
* The sun rising or setting in the wrong direction for the hemisphere that the film / program is based in. 'I shouldn't be alive' is particularly bad at this; all the eps I've seen so far have been set in N America so why is the sun rising from the right of screen (a southern hemisphere view)? I've even seen one ep where the sun rose and set in the same direction!!!
*Lighting that casts 2 or more shadows.
*Spaceships that 'fall' when they get hit! Where did that sudden gravity come from?
*Spaceships that burst into flame and then continue to burn - hello! there's no oxygen in space to support a flame, remember?
*You mentioned sound in space - but that one drives me nuts. I've watched space dramas at home and for the 'in space' shots I've muted the sound while running subtitles - which is much more satisfying but difficult to do accurately because of editing.
*Photos that can be blown up to any size with no loss of resolution. Especially galling when it's done to supposed CCTV records which are usually really poor quality to start with.
Whew! I think that'll do for now.
161. hoopmanjh
@155 -- Clearly I need to start rewatching Archer stat!
162. oldsam1
Every time a helicopter is shot outta the sky in a movie or TV show, it makes the Same. Damn. Noise. This drives my family nuts. Hey! It's the groaning-tourtured-metal-falling-from-the-sky noise! Someone must have shot a helicopter down with their handy SAM that they had in the garage, or with a single bullet from a handgun because they are such a great shot (yes, suspend your disbelief)! It's like the Foley people have an agreement to never change that one sound trope. Sigh.
Christopher Bennett
163. ChristopherLBennett
@160: I don't understand your objection about sunrise direction. If I'm facing north, east is on my right. If I then turn around 180 degrees to face south, east will be on my left. I don't have to change hemispheres for that -- I just have to turn around. So the direction in which the sun rises relative to the screen is just a function of the way the camera happens to be pointing. It would only be wrong if it rose in the wrong place relative to a known landmark -- for instance, if a story set in Queens had the sun rising behind the Manhattan skyline, or if a story set in San Francisco had the sun rising over the ocean.
Jennifer B
164. JennB
I have woken up sitting up in bed after a very loud noise.

We lived near a large saw mill when I was a kid. They must have dropped something big that morning because it was loud. I woke up with a start, sitting up in bed.

Now as a mother, there are several times I have woken up to a noise and jumped out of bed to run to my son's room, adrenaline pumping.
Brent Webster
165. DirtiusMaximus
@Christopher Bennet - The sword on sword thing, yes! A thousand times yes.

My biggest pet peeve, though, as an artist, is the "enhance that image" thing that is so prevalent in police procedural dramas. You can't just enlarge a computer image and make it clearer. It doesn't work that way. There are, now, some computer programs that use a complicated algorithm to kind of estimate what would be there, but it's far from perfect. I cringe every time I see this. It especially hurts when it's on a show that I otherwise really enjoy.
Brent Webster
166. DirtiusMaximus
@156 Why is there a timer on the bomb at all? Why do all film and TV bombers put a visible timer on their bombs?
George Jong
167. IndependentGeorge
@166 - for that matter, why do all bomb makers apparently use a universal color scheme for their wiring? If you're already rigging it to blow if they cut the wrong wire, why not just go the extra mile and use the same damn color* for all the wires?

* which takes us right back to Archer ("One is white wire with blue banding, and the other one is a blue wire with white banding! How can you not tell the difference?")
168. Rondodog
Gunplay. Anyone who has fired a gun at an indoor range knows that-- even with ear protection-- the sound leaves your head ringing. Yet no one reacts to the noise-- bystanders and players alike. The sound of a .45 (or even a 9mm) fired in a room will wreak havok on your hearing. Don't get me started on writers or directors or actors who have never actually fired a real gun-- resulting in no-recoil reactions, big guns and teeny wounds, pumping shotguns constantly, etc.

Dead bodies: they are gross. Flaccid flesh, swelling, etc. Then again, beautiful, pert, dead bodies have resulted in huge ratings, so I can hadly blame them.

Skimpy outfits in sub-zero evironments. Not even goosebumps. Pretty, but silly.

Paper money: A million dollars can't fit into a briefcase. Also, money is paper and paper packs dense (any sf fan who has moved knows how heavy a box of paperback books weighs!). Yet these suitcases packed solid with paper bills is hefted like it barely has a set of summer wear clothing inside.
169. Gerd
Anybody who's done any sort of shooting will know that there's no whining ricochet sound, you hear at best a "clank" and a moment later a less spectacular "boink", and yet they even start to use sounding ricochet in novels!

But then, I would never notice, even watching for it, if a "singer" draws breath or not...
170. Gwynne
Every car (on screen) that crashes MUST explode, after a pause of a second or so. And Our Hero can always find a parking space, no matter how busy the city or what time of day it is. Anyone kwho breaks in to an office to download information from a computer will finish JUSSSST in time to get out of the office before the security guard turns up. Oh and with sword fighting, I get furious at those sword-fighting sequences where Our Hero TURNS HIS BACK on the other fighter, then at the last moment reaches his sword over his shoulder to block the stroke (Have a look at that vile version of King Arthur with Keira Knightly in it) Speaking of that King Arthur movie, they walked for less than a day and went from deeply covered ice and snow to pleasant flowery meadows and bright sunlight. Also Keira took a bath, in a hut with wide-open windows, when there was cold and snow outside. Then there's all those outfits with a zipper down the back, way before they were invented. Basically every medieval costume is wrong in some way. Many of the Elizabethan ones are pretty dicey, too. At least with SF set in the future I don't spend all my time hissing at the outfits. And most of the furniture.
Rob Rater
171. Quasarmodo
@ 168 re: gun noise - That reminds me of Lethal Weapon 4 when the baddies were pushing Gibson's car over the train track, Rene Russo turns around and fires her gun JUST INCHES AWAY FROM THE BABY'S HEAD!!! I mean, it's a dumb movie but COME ON!

To make matters even worse, she opts to shoot the passenger and not the driver. But of course we all knew that Mel was just going to drive forward eventually, and where was the dramatic tension if the car pushing them was driverless? Monkeys were definitely in charge of that script.
Christopher Bennett
172. ChristopherLBennett
@168: "A million dollars can't fit into a briefcase."

It can if it's in hundred-dollar bills. According to this site, a million dollars in hundreds would have dimensions of 12 inches by 12.5 inches by 4.3 inches, for a volume of 645 cubic inches. I searched a briefcase merchant's site and looked at measurements, and I found that a small briefcase might be 600 or so cubic inches but most have a capacity of 1000 or more, and dimensions in the range of 16 x 12 x 5 inches, give or take. So a million dollars in hundreds could easily fit in a briefcase with room to spare.

Now, a US banknote has a mass of 1 gram, so a million dollars in hundreds would have a mass of 10,000 grams = 10 kg for a weight (on the Earth's surface) of 22 pounds. Which would be significant if you add the weight of the briefcase, but not prohibitive.

@170: My favorite egregious car explosion was in a Dukes of Hazzard episode. They routinely had cars go off cliffs and explode when they hit the ground, but there was one episode where the car exploded while it was still in midair, for no apparent reason! I guess the charge went off early and they couldn't afford a reshoot, so they just had to go with it.
173. KathleenF
I've been irritated with the "no facial bruises" since I watched "The Rockford Files" in 1974. So actors have been immune from injury for 39 years now, lol.

Rockford gets pounded in the face in every episode, I think, and maybe wipes a little trickle of blood from the side of his mouth. I'd seen a few real-life beatings by that time, and uh no. There are bruises, black eyes, broken noses. Sheesh.
Christopher Bennett
174. ChristopherLBennett
@173: I was more preoccupied with how Rockford could keep affording to repair his car after all the times it got trashed, not to mention keep replacing it with the newest model every year.

On the other hand, one common error/departure from reality that The Rockford Files apparently didn't make is having a structure be larger on the inside than the outside. As far as I can determine (and I did research this), the interior dimensions of Rockford's trailer set in the studio actually did match the exterior dimensions of the trailer on location. Although there were a few cases where the back wall was kind of ignored, like in an episode where Rockford got into a fight with a young, bearded Richard Moll. There was a point where Rockford had Moll restrained in a chair in such a way that his face probably would've been squished into the back wall if the wall hadn't been removed for the camera.
175. Eva-femme
Foreign accents in US films. They usually aren't accurate. For example: Dracula's 'eastern-European' accent. Whatever that may be, it is an acent I have never heard in any of the countries in eastern Europe.
Christopher Bennett
176. ChristopherLBennett
@175: Well, the archetypal Dracula accent is Bela Lugosi's, and he was Hungarian. He wasn't faking an accent, that's just how he talked. Indeed, his inability to shake his Hungarian accent hurt his career.
Clark Myers
177. ClarkEMyers
#174 - Kevin Costner in Swing Vote (alt history to make it SF) had a singlewide outside and a doublewide inside.
178. Statia
One word... forensics. It is treated horribly in films and TV. Sure, let us process for latent prints using black powder while in a white business suit. In reality, after extensive processing outside in 90 degree weather and a breeze, CSIs look more like coal miners than cool, calm, collected professionals. Also, it is not blood "splatter". The analysis is of blood "spatter". My roomie's state approved forensics textbook for middle school even used the word spatter. ugh! Time frames on labs too are ridiculously quick. I could go on. The "Ways in which Real World CSI differs from TV" could be a whole series of articles. Good call on the blood!
179. SueQ
My pet frustrated scream inducers are:
1. The week old, still red blood thing makes me yell at the TV screen and mutter into my popcorn at the theatre.
2. Horse hooves that make clattering on cobblestone or pavement sounds, as the horse is running in sand or across a grassy field.
3. When the bad guy gets the drop on the good guy, and then stands there explaining for 15 minutes (time enough for the cops to get there) explaining WHY he did it. Wouldn't it be more practical to dispatch your nemesis and run like h*ll?
4. The lights all flashing on several dozen cop cars for a half hour as they round everyone up. How do they keep from killing the police vehicles' batteries?
5. Everyone knows the legends of how many teenagers have gone missing around a certain part of a creepy lake or forest: so of course you rent a cabin up there for a week or so.
6. A character has a compound fracture (see movie 'Deliverance') and the bone is sticking out of his leg, but he lies there moaning and complaining. He should be unconscious due to the pain and probable loss of blood. (I have this on authority of a registered nurse who is a friend of mine.)
7. I can't remember the other one at the moment, so I'll probably be back around 3 am. Sweet dreams.
Christopher Bennett
180. ChristopherLBennett
@179: Dreams! That's one of my pet peeves. Dreams in fiction are always so much more linear, coherent, and meaningful than the real thing. An accurate recreation of a dream would be a much more random, ever-shifting jumble.

Plus there are the assumptions about what is or isn't possible in dreams -- like the Batman: The Animated Series episode where a key plot point is that nobody can read in dreams. I read in dreams all the time! What I read isn't very logical or coherent, and if I go back and read it a second time it'll be completely different, but I can make out words and sentences even if the sentences are just stream-of-consciousness meanderings.
E. M. McDougal
181. tigerlil
This "brainfarts" happens ALL the time in weapons scenes - and it doesn't seem to matter which genre!
182. Pat Taylor
I hate the Christmas movies where the characters are at the North Pole on Christmas Eve and the sun is shining.
183. hoopmanjh
Also SF movies where the writer either didn't know or didn't care about the difference between a solar system and a galaxy, and just how damn' big a galaxy is, and how far away other galaxies are. (I'm currently looking at you, Stargate the movie.)
184. Sooz
An entertaining post & great comments! My pet hate is the Chronicles of Roddick - that scene where they are running ahead of the sunrise on a planet where rock melts. How the h*ll are they still breathing, let alone alive, on a planet like that?!
185. Riki Wataru
@31 Depends on the archer, the bow and the arrow, but one hit kills with are bow aren't that egrigious to me. An English/Welsh type longbow circa 1200 with a bodkin arrow could pierce the armour of a knight, and reasonably be expected to kill a person. (I feel obligated to say I' not an archery expert, just read a ridic amount of history and historical fiction involving it.)

Modern bodkin arrows may be armor piercing but that is an extremely recent innovation. Whatever archeologist upon finding the first bodkin arrow points and deciding they were designed to be armor piercing was an idiot. Old bodkin points were flat and long because they used less metal, becuse archers were poor, and because they opened pretty ugly wounds on peasants who subsequently bled out. The battle of Agincourt for example was largely attributed to the longbowmen against the French knights which has probably led to some confusion... because their longbows were useless and they ran up and beat the armored knights to death with hammers while they were stuck in the mud. The thin bodkin arrowhead at the time flattened itself out on the thick french armor without even a chance of penetrating.

The idea of blocking with a sword was always laughable to me. To people who insist on it I always ask how happy they'd be to go into their kitchen and swing two kitchen knives together as hard as they could with a friend. If they don't picture the results clearly they likely won't when considering longer blades either.
Pirmin Schanne
186. Torvald_Nom
The idea of blocking with a sword was always laughable to me. To people who insist on it I always ask how happy they'd be to go into their kitchen and swing two kitchen knives together as hard as they could with a friend. If they don't picture the results clearly they likely won't when considering longer blades either.
I don't quite follow you there: kitchen knifes are a lot shorter (making a block a lot less likely, and allowing the opposing blade to slide over the point), lack a cross guard (meaning you'll likely lose your fingers if the opposing blade slides down), and the cross-section geometry of the blades is quite different.
Christopher Bennett
187. ChristopherLBennett
@182: Err, those Xmas movies would usually be about Santa Claus living at the North Pole, right? I think having the sun up in winter would be the least of the breaks from reality there.

@183: I once read an SF art book with a loose storyline connecting the paintings and sketches, and it contained a line that went something like, "We're two light-years from Earth now. Just a few more galaxies to go."

Then there was that episode of the original Battlestar Galactica where they left their home galaxy and immediately arrived in a different galaxy, as if they were directly abutting. And by the end of the season they'd crossed through several more galaxies and arrived on the outskirts of our own -- all while never traveling at more than lightspeed.

@186: I think Riki Wataru's point is that striking two blades together with such force creates a serious risk of breaking one or both of them and sending metal shards flying into people's faces.
188. SueQ
I'm back. I had comment #179, and I finally remembered pet peeve #8.
8. A retired policeman, who is injured and thus retired from the force, takes up a job as a private detective. He then spends all of his time dashing about chasing bad guys from roof top to roof top and up & down numerous flights of stairs (why exactly is he unfit physically to be a cop???); then he kicks in doors and enters rooms WITHOUT first checking behind the doors for bad guys. Add a concussion from the gun butt to his skull. I am always yelling at the screen "Look behind the door, you idiot!"
This has been fun. See you later.
189. Pat Taylor
Oh, and I forgot the worst one of all: Apocolypto. It depicts a full moon the night of a total solar eclipse.
Christopher Bennett
190. ChristopherLBennett
@189: There are some fictional locations, like Gotham City or the town in the TV series American Gothic, where the Moon is always full.

One thing that annoys me, which isn't just a media trope but seemingly a widespread myth, is the assumption that the Moon is only in the sky at night. Of course, since it circles the Earth once a month, it spends about half of each month on the same side of the sky as the Sun, and you can easily spot it in the daytime sky if you bother to look. But people don't seem to look at the sky much anymore.
191. SueQ
My sister LOVED the TV show 'Walker, Texas Ranger'. I could never understand all of the kickboxing stuff. You, Walker, are a Texas Ranger: pull out your gun, hold up your badge, and yell 'Drop your weapons, you are under arrest!' Of course that would have meant a 3 minute long episode and 57 minutes of commercials, but honestly!
192. Geckomayhem
Typing out that I don't really care made me realise that for some things I do actually care. For example, how is it that when someone gets kung fu kicked through a window or a door they don't get all cut up or end up with a broken back? Breakaway props are dumb; they should use them, but the effects should be as if they were real objects -- just once.

How do the aliens in shows like Stargate SG-1 not only speak American English, but understand colloquialisms? It has always befuddled me.

For most of the article's examples, I really don't care. And in fact, if someone drew a sword and it didn't make a ka-shing sound, something would be amiss: it's called artistic license and cuing the audience for a reason. Where we expect dramatisation, it would be pretty disappointing not to receive it to an extreme extent. That's film.

However, grievous errors in historical accuracy are another kettle of fish altogether. I don't pick up most things, but as with a lot of people, I often wonder if there are academics out there who see something and go "pish-posh, that is historically redundant!" ;)
Birgit F
193. birgit
In some documentaries the narrator is pronouncing foreign words terribly wrong although he is translating what someone says in the original language (which you can hear in the background), and the native speaker is of course saying it right.
194. KenSegraves
Why is every law enforcement/military member, who is not the hero, a horrible shot, stupid, and unprofessional? Police, Marines, Soldiers, (and some Coast Guard, Air Force, and Navy) are trained to shoot center-mass, solve problems as leaders, improvise, and survive. Most of time they are only red-shirts wasting small arms ammo on tanks or robots while waiting on the civilian hero to do their thing.
And for the love of everything sacred get an advisor to ensure the military uniforms are not FUBAR!
195. Drop Dead Valentine
The singing/lipsync/breathing thing (which is also a feature of most TV musical shows) is spottable not just because of the failure to breathe correctly, but also the failure to be out of breath due to dancing; the lack of appropriate reverb because the singing was recorded in a sound-dead studio and artificial reverb added; the fattening of the vocals due to double-tracking and electronic correction. That's before you even get to the feature of the singers hitting the notes perfectly, with no sliding up or down into a note.

On an unrelated topic, am I the only person amused when the hero is being chased by a vehicle or animals in a forest and 1) always runs directly in front of them along a road instead of dodging into the trees, and 2) at first seems to be able to outrun the vehicle or animals in question?
196. Monolith
I'm with you there Drop Dead Valentine. A tiger isn't going to amble after you while your two puny legs stumble through the undergrowth.

And recoilless guns - ugh! I find most movies and series are kind of OK in this regard. But not the Walking Dead. Just a little kick is all I'm asking for, just a little one.

Tsk tsk, Sooz, how dare you criticize Chronicles of Riddick!
197. yellowbeasty
I haven't seen my pet peeve yet. Picking a lock, not turning the cylider. Come on, if you have to turn it to open it.
Christopher Bennett
198. ChristopherLBennett
@197: I just saw a Man from UNCLE episode where Napoleon Solo put a spy gadget in a prison-cell lock in order to blow it open, and when the "blown" door swung open, you could clearly see that the bolt was simply in the unlocked position.
Peter Schmidt
199. PHSchmidt
@168 Rondodog - thank you! The first time I fired a .357 Magnum, I was 10 and had no ear protection. The world went instantly and totally silent, until the ringing started after about 30s. I could finally hear normally again about 90s later. So, when Our Heroes crouch behind a rock, pop up and fire several shots, bare-eared, and then whisper to each other! SMH...
200. Claressa
I'm a microbiologist so yeah, CSI bugs the crap out of me. But the movie "Outbreak" really burned my bum. No, you cannot see a typical virus with the magnification achievable with a light microscope. And if you did, you would not be able to conclusively identify it with a single glance - that takes all kinds of chemical and/or molecular tests and at least a couple of hours, if not days. They didn't even attempt a stain! And the coup de grace: Even if all serum antibodies were protective (which they aren't) there is no way you will get enough serum from a rhesus monkey to instantly cure 500 people, utterly reverse all the tissue damage, and not give them some form of blood poisoning when you directly inject it without any purification procedures other than a quick centrifuge spin. Argh!
201. Tamina
1. Running With Drawn Swords Through the Damn Woods: no, no, no. You will trip and impale your fool self. Really, sprinting with drawn swords anywhere is a bad idea.

2. Horses Always Saddled: it doesn't matter how long ago you made camp, just vault on the back of your perpetually saddled horse! And ride at full speed, at night, through tangled forest!

3. Nobody Says Goodbye: Characters having a phone conversation always seem to know the exact moment to hang up on the other person despite never saying "ok" or "fine" or "bye" or "thanks" or "see you then" or "fuck you" or ANYTHING. I guess if you just had an argument you can just hang up or if you're in a super-tense-crucial-info-only thing. But seriously, how are they not constantly cutting each other off?
Gerd K
202. Kah-thurak
I would say that fighting with swords is way more dangerous than running ;-)

So, while it is a very sensible to handle weapons with care in non-critical real life situations, I can understand very well why you would want to have a sword drawn when you chase someone likewise armed and inclined to kill to you.
Pirmin Schanne
203. Torvald_Nom
@201: Firstly, running with a sword drawn is a lot easier to do than running with a sheathed sword - the latter will only bang against your legs, and in the worst case cause you to stumble and trip (or you get caught in the underbrush with the hilt or crossguard, which is really embarrassing).
Also, one of the first things you learn (and usually do on instinct, anyway) when carrying something that dangerous: to fling it away from your body when you fall. You might hit your companion with it, but you don't hurt yourself.
204. Petar Belic
Related: When people touch sword blades. DO NOT TOUCH SWORD BLADES. No, bad oils on your hands. No. Bad knight/freedom fighter/highlander.
I fight with swords (asian and european) regularly. We 'touch sword blades' all the time for various reasons, including blocking, cleaning, or at the start of a sparring session. Can the author please clarify what is meant here?
John Dodds
205. jakk1954
Great post, Emily, you really cracked me up. And reassured me that there are other anal-retentive movie geeks like me out there, too. My most recent gripe was the remake of Total Recall. We're supposed to experience a sense of paranoia about whether the hero's experiences are real or imagined. But the film-makers completely blew it by giving us a scene from the POV of the bad guys going after the hero with all guns blazing. That scene blew the film for me. The paranoia could only work if they'd stuck to the hero's POV.
206. billie
In movies set in ancient times, or in a post-apocalyptic future, the women all have shaved armpits and legs. And perfect teeth.

THANK YOU @158 Solid Muldoon. This always drives me crazy. Don't forget perfectly plucked eyebrows which, yeah do-able but if you are fighting to find food/shelter/escape from zombies, am I really to believe you stopped to pluck your eyebrows?

That and pregnant women who have babies 20 minutes after their contractions start. Arrrrgh. A physical possibility yes, but for 1st time mothers 20 hours would be much more believable.
207. hoopmanjh
@206 and 150 -- Apparently, in the Tim Burton Planet of the Apes, the human tribes spent all their time scavenging roots and berries that they could use to create a variety of cosmetics for the ladies.
Donia L
208. Donia
My biggest pet peeves have to do with perpetuating ignorance and stereotypes in the real world (although many science/historical ones mentioned here make me roll my eyes as well): Why does almost every "historical" (or fantasy for that matter) movie set in *any* country and time period (before America existed, of course) have the main actors speaking with posh English accents? Even if the actors themselves aren't English, and the characters aren't supposed to be English or ever have been anywhere near England? And of course (and more annoyingly), the "uneducated" and/or lower class characters in the film (again, regardless of country of origin) ***always*** speak with cockney-type accents.

And usually in those same films, though more typically in the fantasy genre, the "bad guys" are almost always arab or persian looking (with eye-liner to make their eyes look more ominous/middle-eastern. Don't get me wrong, I actually loved the use of this trope with Khal Drogo, but we've been making movies for so long you'd think we could stop making the bad guys literally the "dark ones" (and kudos to JK Rowling for upending that one in her own way, btw)).

Along those same lines, if you're casting a movie where all of the extras are supposed to be from a specific country, then get some people who actually LOOK like they're from that country!! I lived in Greece for several years, and when I saw Mamma Mia I waited for the credits to roll because I knew there was hardly a Greek face in the bunch... and lo and behold, most of the extras were (if I remember correctly from all those years ago) Portuguese, Israeli, etc... simply reinforcing the notion for most people that "they all look the same." Well "they" don't.

It just reminds me of when an American friend came to visit me while I was living in Spain and he was shocked to realize that "they're white!" Because, you know, all cultures that natively speak spanish look a certain way, just like we see in the movies. (Especially hilarious when a native spanish speaking actor is cast in the "white person" role (because they're not dark-skinned) opposite a dark-skinned non-hispanic person who doesn't even speak spanish at all, but is cast as the fiesty latino/a because of their skin color.)
Brent Webster
209. DirtiusMaximus
Okay, I remembered another one that bugs the crap out of me. Lights on the inside of space suit helmets. Okay, I get it. The filmmakers want the audience to see the actors' faces, but come on! Have you ever turned on the internal lights in your car when driving at night? How did that affect your ability to see what's outside? Yeah, it's like that.
210. David Jack Smith
There are many Movie (and TV) Peeves -- but this one drives me insane because it overturns our sensory logic.

In a public scene -- club, bar, pub, et al -- in the FOREGROUND we have extras "talking" but we cannot hear them as they pretend to mouth dialogue--

Meanwhile in the BACKGROUND, the 2 leads are talking in full surround sound.

211. fillon
That's a pretty old thread but just stumbled on it. I would add this:
1- anachronism, like celebrating Christmas in the 1800's like we do nowadays. Even with a Santa Claus. They did it in Little house on the prairie and Bonaza.
2- In Star Wars, the very first one from the 70's, We are suppose to be on Datoine but we clearly see the Big Dipper. Come on !
3- Giving historical characters traits and feelings that are clearly modern. Like suppose you are in an ancient time, like in the movie Spartacus. The main characters have the same way of thiking as modern men. They talk to women the same way. And of course he won't have sex with a complete stranger even though morality in that time in history wasn't at all like today.
4- Aliens from other planets that spontaneously speak English. We all know they should be speaking French. ;-))
5- Again in Sci-fi movies or tv shows, confusing vaccum with no-gravity. All of a sudden when there is no air, there is no gravity as well. Or when you remove pressure in a compartment, gravity is also gone. We see it in one episode of Star Trek TOS.
Christopher Bennett
212. ChristopherLBennett
@211: The "no gravity in vacuum" thing is seen pretty often in other Trek series, like in First Contact and Enterprise: "Minefield" where characters are weightless on the hull of the ship even though there are gravity generators just a couple of meters below them. The same is true in other franchises like the original Battlestar Galactica -- in "Fire in Space," there's a weightless spacewalk on top of the Galactica.

But I can't recall any such scene in TOS, since of course they didn't have the budget to simulate weightlessness on any large scale. The closest thing I can think of is the scene in "The Lights of Zetar" where Mira Romaine was placed in the hyperbaric chamber and floated while she was in it, but the pressure was actually increased to several atmospheres, and the artificial gravity inside the chamber was explicitly turned off (Kirk ordered "Neutralize gravity"), although it wasn't explained why.
214. kcimos
how about when people on foot are being chased by people in a car (often a high performance car) & the people run down the middle of the street & the car can't catch up to them. Really? that 1200 HP Challenger can only go 2 mph?
215. dlnevins
My pet peeve is a close relative of Emily'S "Painting that Wasn't Painted Yet" entry, namely animals and/or plants which couldn't possibly be present in the place and time shown in the movie. In one of the crowd scenes in Troy we get a glimpse of someone leading a llama. Llamas are from South America; how did one wind up in Turkey in 800 BC? Likewise, in any scene in a historical movie where exotic parrots or monkeys are shown, the species they use are invariably from halfway around the globe. Ditto plants, with the offenders usually being maize and/or orchids. Come on, movie producers, some of us actually know some botany and zoology! Is it so hard to stick with species the locals in that place and time could plausibly encounter?
216. Gina Goodwin
Only just come across this and its brilliant.
One the really gets me is that we never see characters do essential day to day tasks. Take Lord Of The Rings for example, as much as I love the films I can't help but notice that they all go through this long adventure, and drink tons of water, but they never need to go to the bathroom....
You never see a character go offstage saying 'I just need the bathroom' ??
Its only small but it really frustrates me.
217. AlanAlan

A number of people have already brought up the silly noises computers still supposedly make when text appears on-screen. But how about when they find the bad guy's secret plans for some evil weapon ... complete with a high-quality animation showing exactly how it works, where he plans to use it, and the apparent outcome. Animations like these don't just magically appear - they take a lot of time and effort to make! Who would do that?

Also, in shows and movies where the hero has tech support from some apparent geek. The hero asks for info on someone or something, and in two keystrokes and a couple of fancy hand gestures, the geek comes up with exactly the detailed answer that the hero needs. Ridiculous! Unless, of course they had a database containing only that information...
Christopher Bennett
218. ChristopherLBennett
@217/AlanAlan: I dunno, I've sometimes been able to find specific information on Google in just a few seconds. (Although Google is making that harder and harder, now that they've begun assuming we're too stupid to type what we actually mean and are just giving us the most popular search results that are broadly similar to what we typed, instead of giving us what we actually ask for!!!!! Ahem... sorry, pet peeve.)
Derek Law
219. DerekL
Showing the driver's feet whenever he changes gear in a manual driven car, as if it was the most important thing a driver can do. Most of the world drives "stick", we know how the clutch works and we operate the pedals without even thinking about it.

Plus, they always change gear up, never down (some of the cars must have over 20 gears), there's always another gear if dramatically required and in real life you invariably need to change DOWN to go faster.
Christopher Bennett
220. ChristopherLBennett
@219/DerekL: Speak for yourself... I could never get the hang of the clutch pedal. And I thought that stick-shift cars were rather uncommon these days. This site says that under 4 percent of newly sold cars have manual transmissions.

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