All the Things Movies Get Ridiculously Wrong About Real Life
We all know that movies are pretend: No one goes into Spider-Man thinking it's real life. There are embellishments and inaccuracies, and we let them slide because they make stories better.
Still, moviemakers usually get just enough of the details right to be believable — and that's a problem. When the same mistakes or exaggerations are repeated again and again, people often start to take them as fact. Here are 30 you shouldn’t believe.
CPR Doesn't Usually Work
Movies love a happy ending. And nothing is happier than coming back from the dead! How many times have you seen a character drop dead from a heart attack or drown in a pool, and then medics arrive to miraculously bring them back to life with the magic of CPR?
Getting Shot Won't Knock You Over
We've all seen those old-timey Wild West movies where one man challenges another to a duel. They're all alone on a dusty street with curious onlookers peeking out from behind the shuttered windows of saloons. Inevitably, the bad guy ends up getting shot — and he's knocked clean off his feet.
Chloroform Doesn't Instantly Knock You Out
Based on a lifetime of movie and television viewing, most people likely believe that you can soak a rag in chloroform, hold it over someone's nose and instantly render them unconscious. It's a handy trick to have up your sleeve in case you're ever being held captive and somehow happen to have access to a bottle of chloroform.
Massive Explosions Don’t Happen in Space
Virtually every science fiction movie ever made features some sort of massive explosion in the middle of outer space. Take, for example, scenes in the Star Wars films: One of the staples of the franchise is massive explosions in space (the Death Star, a Super Star Destroyer, Alderaan). But this couldn't happen in real life (at least not in our galaxy).
You Don't Always Get a Phone Call From Jail
If you've ever gone to jail (and we sincerely hope that you haven’t), you know that not everyone gets that "one phone call" as soon as they arrive. You may also know that, once you're locked up, you're not limited to just one phone call.
An Air Vent Is Not a Feasible Escape Route
In Stranger Things, the gang decides to pull off a madcap mission by shimmying through an air vent to go spy on some Russians. The only problem? None of them could actually fit in the vent. They ended up paying a child (in ice cream) to do it for them.
Spring Break Isn't Always a Wild Romp in Mexico
If the movies are to be believed, every single college student ever spends their spring break partying the week away in Mexico or some other glamorous tropical location. There’s usually a ton of alcohol, very little clothing and absolutely no supervision.
Defibrillators Only Work Under a Very Specific Set of Circumstances
When it comes to movies, you see defibrillators used again and again as a cure-all treatment for all sorts of trauma situations. Usually, the doctor or surgeon claps the paddles together before powerfully thrusting them at the patient's chest. In real life, this is definitely not the way it works.
It's Impractical to Hold a Gun in Each Hand
Another myth from old Wild West films: Cowboys used to fight each other with a gun in each hand. Boy, do the movies love to show a man on top of a horse, fighting people all around him while riding at top speed. But how did he hold on?
Amnesia Doesn't Usually Erase All of Your Memories
There's a common theme in many romantic movies: Two people are totally in love. One of them gets bonked on the head, ends up in the hospital and can't remember anything about who they are. Of course, they don't remember the love of their life, either. Complete tragedy!
Elevators Don't Have Escape Hatches
It's probably fair to say that we all grew up believing we'd be able to MacGyver our way out of an elevator if we ever got stuck. After all, tons of movies have shown some random person miraculously escape through the elevator's roof hatch right before it plunges to the ground.
You Can't Pull a Grenade Pin With Your Teeth
Real-life soldiers are pretty amazing. Many of them risk their lives on a daily basis to keep the rest of us free. Of course, that isn't quite good enough for the movies. Directors have to amp everything up by 1,000% to make it more "exciting."
An Arrow Wound Will Really, Really Hurt
In movies, you can get hit with an arrow, pull it out and keep on going. It's barely a scratch, right? Sometimes, the character doesn't even bother to remove the arrow. They just run around with it dangling out of their chest like it ain't no thing.
Everything in NYC Is Not in One Convenient Location
Manhattan has dozens of iconic locations that look great in movies. As such, filmmakers often choose to set their scenes in easily recognizable spots, like the Museum of Natural History. This is fine when they do it once, but when they hop around from location to location like all the sites are right next door to each other, it's a problem.
Quicksand Isn't Actually All That Quick
In the movies, falling into quicksand spells certain doom. Just think about the lightning sand in The Princess Bride: As soon as Buttercup falls in, she's sucked right under. It's as if she was never there at all. If it wasn't for Westley's quick thinking, she'd be gone forever.
Pretty Much Everything About Childbirth Isn’t Accurate
Is there anything in this entire world more dramatic than a Movieland childbirth? You’d think that by this point, childbirth has been around long enough for filmmakers to get it right, but no. It's as if they've never heard of it before.
Knocking Someone Out Just Isn’t Like That
If we’re to believe movies, one solid punch to the head can knock absolutely anyone unconscious — and, on top of that, they'll stay unconscious for quite some time. It's very convenient when you're a spy and you need some time to dig around in the bad guy's apartment before he wakes up.
Heart Attacks Aren't as Dramatic as Movies Make Them Look
When a film character suffers a heart attack, it's usually completely unexpected and highly dramatic. A gentleman is having dinner with his wife, suddenly grabs his chest and falls over right where he's standing. While that can happen in real life, it's certainly not the norm.
Sharks Can't Smell Blood From 20 Miles Away
Sharks can't smell your blood from 20 miles away, even if you happen to cut your toe while you're in the ocean. This one can only partly be blamed on the movies, as panic-mongering "science" pages on social media have also certainly contributed to the hysteria.
There’s No Coming Back From a Flatline
Death is frightening, and no one wants to face their own mortality. That's probably why movies and television shows that feature dramatic "resurrection" scenes do so terribly well. After all, wouldn't we all like to believe that someone could magically bring us back to life after we've died?
Cops Don't Read Your Miranda Rights as Soon as They Slap On the Cuffs
Whenever an arrest is made in the movies, the officer reads the suspect their Miranda rights as soon as those cuffs get slapped on. Many people likely spend their entire lives thinking this is the way it actually works — because, unless you've been in a police car, you wouldn't know any better.
You Shouldn’t Pull the Knife Out of a Wound
We hope that you never get stabbed. But if you do, absolutely do not remove the knife — despite what you've seen in the movies. Films make it look like you can take a knife to the chest, pull it out and keep running. In reality, that's like getting stabbed a second time.
Computer Hacking Isn't That Easy
Watch any movie about computer hackers, and you'll believe that anyone can furiously bang on the keys for a couple of minutes and hack into the Department of Defense's mainframe. It's no wonder we're all getting our private information stolen on the daily!
Meteors Aren't Giant Balls of Fire
There was a time when doomsday movies about giant meteors crashing into Earth were the most popular things out there. In fact, prior to the 2012 end-of-time scare, they were about a dime a dozen (we've all seen Deep Impact, right?). Inevitably, the "meteors" they feature are always giant balls of fire headed straight for our planet.
You Shouldn't Pinch Your Nose When You Get a Nosebleed
According to the movies, any time anyone else so much as glances at your nose, it will immediately (and dramatically) start gushing blood. Of course, the only way to deal with it is to pinch the bridge of your nose and tilt your head back until the bleeding stops.
People Actually Attend Class in College
In Movieland, you get into the college of your dreams, move onto campus...and then spend every single day going on fun adventures with your new friends. There’s never a classroom to be seen, yet somehow everyone still aces finals and holds onto their full-ride scholarship.
Not Everyone on Drugs Has Massive Pupils
When you're watching a movie, what's the one dead giveaway that a character is on drugs? Their eyes are the size of saucers. Maybe filmmakers just needed an easy out — one thing they could use to signal that someone is high without having to get into details. But, the thing is, not all drugs affect people in the same way.
DNA Matching Takes a Lot of Time
Crime movies are the worst at portraying how DNA evidence actually works. On film, it goes something like this: A detective finds a strand of hair at a murder scene. He swings by the lab and hands it to a technician, and the tech tells him within minutes that he's found a DNA match.
A Needle to the Heart Isn’t the Best Way to Stop an Overdose
Ever seen Pulp Fiction? If so, you remember that iconic scene where Vincent revives Mia from an overdose by plunging a huge hypodermic syringe straight into her heart. It's grisly and gory and certainly makes you think twice about ever doing drugs.
Guns Don't Just Fire When You Drop Them
This myth isn't just perpetuated by movies — it's a lie that's repeatedly told by bad guys everywhere. "I didn't shoot the gun. I just dropped it, and it went off by itself." Any screenwriter who puts that line in a script doesn't know the first thing about guns or how they work.