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World

Mars, accurately drawn to scale. (source)

"Where did all those majestic cliffs go in the interim 500 years?"
The Nostalgia Chick on the towering cliffs of coastal Virginia in Pocahontas.

A writer may want to set a story in a location, but that doesn't mean they want or need to be accurate- or even see it. This form of Artistic License can happen in a number of ways. The most common seems to be setting a story in a particular city without consulting a map, thus placing locations that are nowhere near one another quite close by, underestimating the time it would take to get from one to another, and sometimes transplanting whole landmarks from somewhere else entirely.

Lack of knowledge of regional climate can also be glaringly obvious. A rural landscape in Maine does not look like a backlot in in California. Often the lack of knowledge beyond common National Stereotypes results in a Hollywood Atlas or worse.

This trope may not be obvious to anyone unfamiliar with the locale in question, but anyone who lives there will spot it right away, and when it's bad enough it can destroy the believability of the entire project.

Compare Television Geography. If the writer intentionally has a character make geography mistakes, then that's a case of Global Ignorance. Artistic License Astronomy has some examples of this trope, only In Space!

Examples of Artistic License Geography include:


General Edit

  • The idea that the Great Wall of China is visible from space is incorrect, even at the closest point that could be considered space. The variations for being visible from the space shuttle or the moon are even more so; from the moon, only massive cloud systems, continents, and the oceans are distinguishable with the naked eye. If you ever want to try, consider trying to pick out the highway systems of Russia in the same view, as they are wider and longer- but it's still too small.

Anime and Manga Edit

  • In 'London Calling' from the Beyblade series, the main characters are ditched in Southampton, England, on their way to Russia for a tournament battle. As the ship pulls into harbour at the start of the episode Southampton appears to have green mountains and picturesque brick houses. It's actually a large modern city and its docks look something like this. Definitely no mountains, too.
    • Then the show redeems itself only a little, relying mostly on Willing Suspension of Disbelief. The scene suddenly jumps from Southampton to London, which means a distance of eighty miles. Kenny has previously mentioned that they have no money, and it's not said whether they walked, hitchiked or anything else. However their arrival on foot does suggest that they walked. Yet the sky is still bright when they get there, and the only thing to suggest that Southampton is not right next door to London is Kenny's (vague)comment that seeing Big Ben reminds him of how much time they've lost.
  • Blood Plus went for the climate. At one point in the series, when Red Shield ship came to Vladivostok, the heroes transfered to a train. Among them only Lewis wore a hat. In the middle of the winter. Apparently, nobody told the authors that the winds at the time could lift an adult man off the ground, and temperatures routinely reached -25C (-13F) with precipitation of 400mm or 32 inches. You'd be lucky if you end up with only frostbitten ears in such conditions.
    • In one episode in Vietnam, Kai walked from Hanoi to a port and back in a day. Firstly, if you look at the map, Hanoi has no port, the nearest one from there is in Hai Phong, which takes 4 hours to travel by car (assuming it doesn't cross the speed limit), and another 4 hour to go back, and somehow Kai traveled back and forth between the 2 places on foot... in a day... before the sunset. And no, Kai is a human character in this vampire series, and even for the vampire characters, only the Schiff variants have sonic speed power.
    • Averted, though, in Darker Than Black 2, where they've did the research. Sure, the weather was shown to be a bit too balmy for a season, but warm spells do tend to happen around New Year, and everything else was pretty much spot on.
  • Invoked in Gundam 0080; Bernie, disguised as an enemy soldier and claiming to be from Australia, talks about how much it would snow in December. Minutes later, the soldier to whom he was speaking realizes that the Southern Hemisphere's seasons are flipped around, exposing Bernie as a spy.
    • Most eregiously, in the colony drop scene from the original Mobile Suit Gundam, although the city is said to Sydney, Australia, the location shown is quite clearly New York.
  • Shinzo takes place 300 years in the future; apparently, geography has changed until New York is nowhere near an ocean and the Statue of Liberty is partially buried by the land. At the same time, Egypt is entirely covered by ocean, and you can reach it in half a day starting from the Alps while moving in a vehicle that goes about 30 miles per hour.
  • Parodied in Excel Saga. New Zealand is a massive desert filled with monsters, which Excel kills and sells their pelts in order to get back to Japan.
    • A massive desert filled with deadly creatures? That's probably just the usual mistake of thinking New Zealand is Australia.
  • In the manga version of Chrono Crusade, Rosette's journey from NYC to San Fransisco to rescue her brother goes as follows: She takes a pilgrimage to the time-frozen Seventh Bell Orphanage in Michigan. From there she drives to Washington DC (Roughly 500 miles the wrong way), where Satella destroys her car. Then she takes a train to Chicago (which gets hijacked and wrecked). From there, her superiors get tired of all the accidental destruction and charter a plane to take her directly to California. Since this rescue mission was the most important thing on Rosette's mind for the four years leading up to this trip, there are only two possible explanations for such a roundabout route: Either the mangaka forgot to plot the journey out on a map, or Rosette is incapable of cross-country navigation. Even with the story taking place 30 years before the creation of the interstate highway system, there had to be a more direct route than that.
  • The novel A Dog of Flanders is very popular in Japan. This of course lead to many anime adaptations of the story. Even though the story takes place in Antwerp, Flanders, some of these films depict the country in a stereotypical version of a neighbouring country, the Netherlands, complete with boys and girls on clumps walking in tullip fields.


Comics Edit

  • The first edition of Land of Black Gold took place in British Mandate Palestine, and Bab El-Ehr is a local insurgent against British rule rather than fighting directly with the Emir of Khemed (a name not heard until the revamped edition). As Tintin is led away into the desert, he eventually meets the oil-rich Emir Ben Kalish Ezab. Israel/Palestine famously has no oil in it. And Emir of what, anyway? Later editions have the story take place in a fictional country called Khemed.
    • "Tintin in the Congo" also fell victim to huge controversy. The continent is depicted as if all black people are lazy, stupid or in general big children. Of course, the album was originally drawn in 1930 when creator Hergé worked for a Catholic newspaper without doing any kind of research for his albums. In those days Tintin actually visited Belgian Congo, not "Africa" as a whole. Later, when he did start doing research before drawing an album, Hergé felt regret for "Tintin in the Congo", even though it was drawn in a time when European colonialism was still vivid and many Europeans shared the same stereotypically ideas about Africa.
  • Exaggerated in the Sam and Max: Freelance Police debut issue, in "Monkeys Violating the Heavenly Temple", when Sam and Max take a trip to the Philippines. Max lampshades the fact that the background behind him is drawn without reference material.
  • The Asterix series also enjoy to feature travel episodes, where the characters visit a country and are confronted with many references to their modern day equivalents. Since the comic strip is humoristic and anachronistic itself many stereotypical jokes should not be taken that seriously. However, sometimes there are literal mistakes:
    • In "Asterix and the Normans" and "The Great Crossing" the Normans and Danish are depicted as vikings who enjoy raiding, even though these countries didn't practice such activities until the early Middle Ages.
    • In "Asterix in Belgium" Belgium is depicted as a completely flat country. This is true in reality, but the creators depict it as if the entire country is one large broad and empty grass field without any forests or hills. Also further in the album the Belgian coastline is also wrongly depicted, since it doens't show any beaches.
  • Jet Dream: In "The Powder Puff Derby Caper," Jet is shot down over a "South Pacific island" somewhere between Honolulu and San Francisco.


Fan Fic Edit

  • In a case of failing canonical geography, legolas by laura has Mirkwood, Mordor, and Rivendell about five minutes' walk away from each other, as opposed to the hundreds of miles separating all three in The Lord of the Rings canon. Then again, Mirkwood and Mordor are persistently called "Milkwood" and "Mondor", which may be entirely different places that are closer together.
  • A lot of fanfic writers think that California is sunny all year long, when the weather from September to mid/late May is completely unpredictable. Winters on the coast are also extremely rainy, windy, and cold.
  • It's not uncommon to run across Harry Potter fanfic which misunderstands where Hogwarts is portraying it as being "just outside London" (the city is big, but not so big it takes best part of a day to travel across via train) instead of in Scotland.
  • Hogwarts Exposed has one scene in which Hermione watches the Sun set at 4 pm on the 1st September. If there's anywhere in the northern hemisphere where this is possible, it certainly isn't in Scotland. For the record, it's over four hours too early. An earlier scene had it still dark at 5:50 am in August.
  • Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami has all of chapter 10, which takes place in "francs". In "francs", the locals speak in bizarre psuedo-French, which is mostly just English with -ez stuck on the end, random French pronouns and random accents on vowels (and on one odd occasion, Spanish), one can buy guns from "gun shops" without any kind of legal issue, is home to "the mona lisa church" and the "Eyfal tower", which you can apparently jump off of into the "river tames".
    • The author butchers London (hell, all of Great Britain) just as badly. The Channel Tunnel goes directly to London, from which you can catch the Tube to "whales", home to cliffs from which you can jump into Loch Ness.


Fanworks Edit

  • Invoked in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series has a flashback where Bakura is introduced as a new student from Britain and some generic student yells "Go back to Russia!"


Film Edit

  • In the 2010 film The Tourist, Frank Tupelo walks out of the Santa Lucia train station in Venice, and is immediately invited aboard Elise's boat. The shot then pans out as the boat speeds off, showing them to be moving north on the grand canal from Piazza San Marco, actually heading towards Santa Lucia from the opposite end of the island.
  • In Bill Friedkin's film The Guardian the protagonist family lives in Los Angeles, amidst enormous lush green forests.
  • A less extreme example is Ten Things I Hate About You. Only someone familiar with Seattle would realize the featured high school is actually in Tacoma, and that realistically it would take much more time to travel from the Fremont troll to the U-District. The only real misrepresentation is somewhat incidental, and that's the climate. Seattle never gets that much sun during an actual school year.
  • The 2007 Beowulf movie is set in Denmark. The highest above-sea level point in Denmark is a television tower. The highest natural point weighs in at a whopping 170 meters above sea level. But in the film it is full of huge cliffs, rivers and mountains.
    • Also done in Kenneth Branagh's version of Hamlet (though it is not like the bard's was good with geography itself, see down).
  • A crass mistake is present in the 2007 film version of Hitman, which has the main character driving through the "Russian - Turkish border". Actually, Russia has no land borders with Turkey.
  • Dog Soldiers is guilty of this when the rescued damsel comments that the nearest city is Fort William and at least 2-3 hours drive. Which is a technical impossibility. What's worse is that the main actor is Scottish and should have known this.
    • She was probably lying. She was one of the werewolves after all. Alternatively, it's simply a case of Wild Wilderness, using that setting in Western Europe always requires some fantasy.
  • Bird on a Wire (1990) has the main characters taking a ferry from Detroit to Racine, Wisconsin, on a ferry explicitly labeled "DETROIT TO RACINE". The trip would be roughly 500 miles by water, as one would have to travel around most of Michigan's Lower Peninsula to reach Racine from Detroit. In Real Life, two ferries connect Michigan to Wisconsin across Lake Michigan: the S.S. Badger, which connects U.S. 10 from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, to Ludington, Michigan, and the Lake Express, connecting Milwaukee to Muskegon, Michigan. The latter (which only opened in 2004) is as close to a Detroit-to-Racine connection as you can get... if you consider three hours on westbound Interstate 96 and about 45 minutes on southbound SR-32 "close".
    • Not to mention Racine doesn't even have a dock that can handle a vessel of the size a ferry like that would be likely to be.
      • Not to mention, that's a BC Ferry they're riding, from Tswwassen (Vancouver) to Swartz Bay (Victoria).
  • The 2008 Get Smart movie has a long sequence taking place in Los Angeles, in which the characters drive among the core downtown area, the Port of Los Angeles and Van Nuys Airport within the span of about 10 minutes. The thing is, the Port of Los Angeles is actually in Long Beach, some 20 miles away, and Van Nuys Airport is in the San Fernando Valley, not much closer. You'd think L.A. would be the one town Hollywood filmmakers could get right.
    • And the tracks where the cars crash for the explosive finale are in Montreal...
  • Krakatoa, East of Java managed to get this in the title: Krakatoa is actually west of Java. Reportedly, they actually knew this, but decided that East sounded more exotic.[1]
  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen features a car chase in Venice, which has no roads. A car chase in Venice is like having a yacht race in the Atacama Desert.
    • Not only roads, but canals deep enough to accomodate a battlecruiser-sized submarine.
    • How about bridges over the canals on the sixth floor of the buildings lining the canals (never mind sidewalks) under which said submarine's fuselage (never mind the turret) can fit?
    • Oh, and cemeteries with below-ground plots. In a city at sea level.
  • One scene in Looney Tunes Back in Action has Brendan Fraser chasing a villain leaving the Louvre... and somehow immediately reaching the Eiffel Tower like two seconds later. (In real life, they're about 4 km apart.)
  • No Way Out is legendary for its mashing of Washington, D.C., area geography.
  • Son of the Mask has an absolutely atrocious example, but it's pretty hard to catch. To wit: This movie is set ten years after The Mask and in Fringe City, which is 270 miles southwest of Edge City. Stanley Ipkiss tossed the Mask into the ocean at the end of the first movie, and at the start of the second, it's floating in a river toward Fringe City. So, not only did the Mask travel the wrong way up the river, it appears to be moving at about five miles an hour. In ten years it would have moved about 17,520 miles away from the coast.
    • Not only because the first film ends with both his best friend and his dog jumping in the river to retrieve the Mask, making this even more baffling. Although you could argue that they then proceeded to travel across the country before disposing of it later, in another river.
    • This is being generous of course, as Son of the Mask gave many people the impression that no-one involved in writing it even saw the first movie.
  • The Sound of Music: Even if you did "Climb ev'ry Mountain" from Salzburg, Austria you would not end up in Switzerland. So where would you end up? Germany! Specifically, Berchtesgaden, where Hitler had his Alpine retreat. (The real von Trapps simply took a train to Italy; Georg had been born in a part of Austria that was ceded to Italy after World War I, so he and his family could claim Italian citizenship.)
    • Some people, mainly Austrian Jews, did hike through the Alps into Switzerland because it was the only place they could go.
      • They may have, but not from Salzburg. Salzburg is on the German border, not on the Swiss border.
        • So they'd take a detour. It is possible to go from Salzburg to Switzerland without ever leaving the mountains.
  • Parodied in Team America, where Team America's operations regularly destroy historical landmarks that are nowhere near each other (for example, the Pyramids and the statues of Ramses).
  • The film version of I Robot features an enormous, derelict suspension bridge on Chicago's waterfront. This is presumably the remains of the Chicago Skyway, an elevated expressway that connects industrial Northwest Indiana with the South Side of Chicago. The real Skyway, however, doesn't now and never did have a suspension bridge. Presumably the Rule of Cool says suspension bridges are cooler than steel truss bridges.
    • Actually its appears to be the remains of the Mackinac Bridge, due to a land-reclimation project having drained Lake Michigan. The only problem is that the Bridge is located 200 miles from Chicago.
    • Given how it heavily implied that it was supposed to be a bridge that once spanned Lake Michigan, it woud make it fictional, thus rendering any discussion of its location somewhat moot?
  • At the opening of When Harry Met Sally: They drive off the University of Chicago campus on the South Side to New York.... via a picturesque segment of Lake Shore Drive headed toward the south side [Did they have to visit a friend at Northwestern, Depaul or Loyola first?]
  • In the movie version of Twilight, the scenes supposedly taking place in Arizona are completely inaccurate. It is clear in the book that Bella's house is in Paradise Valley, a highly populated suburb of Phoenix known for its large houses and for being a valley. However, her house in the movie is clearly not in Paradise Valley, especially because it is on a mountain.
    • Also, the scene when the Cullens and Bella are playing baseball there is a view of a tall waterfall. That falls is called Multnomah Falls on the Columbia Gorge. And where Forks is 30 miles south of the Canadian border, Multnomah Falls is all the way in Oregon. However, this might simply be Oregon Doubling, since Oregon is cheaper to film in than Washington, and filmmakers figured most viewers wouldn't know the difference.
  • The Transformers franchise makes several errors. Among them, the second movie acts as though Giza, Aqaba, Petra, and Luxor and their associated landmarks are within an hour or less of each other
  • Bert I. Gordon's giant grasshopper film Beginning of the End is fairly good on Illinois geography, at least on paper. When it comes to filming, who knew Illinois had so many mountains?
  • Cheapo '50s proto-technothriller Radar Secret Service is set in Washington D.C., but looks suspiciously like Southern California. Also there's apparently a canyon near Washington.
  • Jurassic Park has a scene that takes place at an oceanfront restaurant in San Jose, Costa Rica, but San Jose is inland. The subtitles establishing this had to be redubbed for the film's Caribbean release, but remain uncorrected elsewhere.
    • It also ends with the helicopters flying off from Isla Nublar towards the setting sun - due west out over the Pacific Ocean, where there's no land for thousands of miles...
  • One facet of the hilarious badness of the vampire flick Innocent Blood is the utter havoc it wreaks on Pittsburgh geography. The most egregious example is probably the bit where a character demands to know how one gets to the neighborhood called Shadyside, whereupon the action cuts to a very recognizable intersection in another part of town entirely.
    • Then there's the bit where the characters drive along the same short stretch of highway about seven times, because that's all the highway there is and the makers wanted a longer car chase.
    • In another instance, a vampire drives out of the Fort Pitt Tunnel and sees the sun rising directly in front of him, between two skyscrapers of the city. The Fort Pitt Tunnels empty out in a northeast direction. There's no way the sun could be coming up in front of him. Note the shadows on the traffic don't reflect the sun directly in front, either!
  • Some from rowing films: In Oxford Blues the sculling race on the Isis (the Thames in Oxford) is all over the place, if you're familiar with that stretch of river. They even randomly skip to Pangbourne (about 30 miles away by river). The funny thing is that it appears they had enough footage of the right stretch that they could have put the clips together in a realistic order if they'd been bothered.
    • And in The Boy In Blue the river that stands in for The Thames looks like no UK river at all.
  • The totally forgettable John Ritter film from the 70's "Americathon" (set in the near future) includes an opening montage/narration to get the audience up to speed about what has happened to America. One included bit of information is that "North Dakota has become the first all-gay state." This is accompanied by a picture of Mt. Rushmore, with one of the presidents wearing an earring. Mt. Rushmore is, of course, in South Dakota.
    • Of course, the same film had Great Britain as the fifty-somethingth state of the United States, and Israel united with its Islamic-state neighbors as the "Hebrab" coalition. Who knows if the Mt. Rushmore reference was this trope, or just another political-merger joke?
  • The Mighty Ducks movies are set in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area of Minnesota & frequently feature local geography. Which would be great if it didn't feature 13 year olds rollerblading to locations that are up to 60 miles away from each other in Real Life (and don't allow rollerblading in the first place).
  • In the Disney Channel Movie Princess Protection Program, the swamp in Louisiana is shown to be very mountainous. The only problem? The highest point in Louisiana is only 302 feet high, and is nowhere near the swamps.
    • Worse yet the description on the DVD cover (or at least the one on the Redbox vendor screen) states the movie takes place in Wisconsin.
  • Highlander has Connor and Duncan MacLeod being born in Glen Finnan, but Glen Finnan is not really in MacLeod lands.
  • In Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Düsseldorf is depicted as a quaint little Alpine town with half-timbered houses and tall mountains in the background instead of the modern industrial city on the Rhine, not in plain view of any mountains.
  • In the opening of Left Behind, a shot labeled "Israeli-Syrian Border" shows tanks driving over desert. The border of Israel and Syria, which is called the Golan Heights, is actually green and mountainous (and is a subject of dispute partially for this very reason).
    • Fred Clark, in his brilliant analysis of the Left Behind series, is ruthless in his dissection of this series of shots. The film opens with a shot of Jerusalem, with the morning sun glinting off the eastern face of the Dome of the Rock, and the subtitle, "Jerusalem, 6:00 p.m." A moment later we see the title "Iraq, 6:03 p.m.", as Iraqi fighter planes stream west into the setting sun; and then, "Syrian-Israeli border, 6:03 p.m.", and flocks of helicopters and tanks with their shadows stretching out in front of them -- except that Syria is east of Israel, so these helicopters and tanks appear to be invading Syria from Israel (Clark gave up after the next shot, "Mediterranean Sea 6:04 p.m.", which showed fighter planes with the sun directly overhead).
      • Not to mention that Iraq is an hour ahead of Israel and Syria.
  • Parodied repeatedly in the Austin Powers movies. In the second, Austin and Felicity are driving through "the English countryside", and Austin remarks how "the English countryside looks nothing like southern California". In the third, special effects were purposely used to put Mount Fuji in the background of every single exterior shot in Japan.
  • In Mean Girls the students go to "Old Orchard" mall, a well known mall near Chicago. The mall shown in the movie is indoors, whereas Old Orchard is an outdoor mall.
  • Tommy Wiseau spliced in a slew of establishing shots of San Francisco in The Room, but the movie was filmed in LA. This might have been forgivable if it had been more well done, but Wiseau--who claims in interviews to love San Francisco--filmed this in a way that reveals he must have never spent much time in SF, or even been there at all, perhaps. In addition to a very improbable scene of the lead character returning home from work on a cable car line that obviously could not exist, the rooftop scene in The Room is done using a "green screen". As the apartment building appears in the film, backgrounded by a postcard skyline view, the apartment building would have to be built out in the middle of the bay, or maybe on Alcatraz. It would look ridiculous to any San Francisco resident.
  • North Texas is essentially a prairie with hills to the south and woods to the east. Yet according to the first X Files movie, there is a desert just outside of Dallas where the government sets up camp to research an alien creature found there.
  • Jackie Chan's Rumble in The Bronx features shots of the lovely snow capped mountains for which the Bronx is known far and wide. Oh, wait...
    • The Jackie Chan film "Who Am I?" makes another geographical mistake. Even though it is filmed on location in Rotterdam, many random citizens shout out English curse words when Chan runs them over while trying to flee from the people who try to follow him.
  • The Covenant is particularly bad at this, if you know anything at all about the geography of Essex County, Massachusetts. Spencer Academy supposedly is in Ipswich, which is also the town where the party takes place near the beginning of the film. One of the characters mentions cutting across Marblehead to get away from the cops, which happens to be 20 miles away, down on the other side of Salem.
    • Also, there are absolutely no cliffs along the coasts of Essex County. They are all either sandy or rocky, depending on how sheltered the coastline is, and how close it is to the mouth of the Merrimac River.
  • Blade: Trinity is really bad for this with Vancouver geography. Not only are a LOT of the landmarks instantly recognizable to a resident, but there are some bizarre warp portals. In the opening scene, Blade drives into one tunnel and out another, on the other side of town. The rooftop chase involves an apparent teleport across several blocks and at least one major boulevard.
  • In the original The Naked Gun movie, Leslie Nielsen is picked up from LAX and taken to the Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters (presumably in Los Angeles). On the way, they pass the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant, which is easily 75 miles from LAX. As this was a comedy and the power plant looks like two giant breasts (pointed out in this scene as a reference to one character's ex-girlfriend), the writers surely knew this.
    • This is likely a reference to the short lived tv show Police Squad (for which Naked Gun was based on). Even though the show took place in New York, you would frequently have backgrounds that clearly did not belong to New York City (i.e. when they are driving through "Little Italy" the background depicts the Roman Coliseum).
  • In the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, one of the last scenes is Cash's 1968 onstage marriage proposal to June Carter, which according to the labeling took place in "Ontario, Canada". While that's technically correct, Ontario is a huge province, with an area four times greater than that of the UK, and one and a half times greater than Texas.. (In reality, it happened in London, Ontario.)
  • Two otherwise good war movies betray their locations: Dawn Patrol was set in Belgium but obviously filmed in Southern California (like every movie was at the time); Dark Blue World mostly takes place in southern England, but there are some conspicuous Eastern European mountains in the background of many scenes.
  • Fictional example of a Geography error: in The Lord of the Rings live-action film adaptation, Legolas proclaims "the Uruks turn northeast. They're taking the hobbits to Isengard!" If the Uruks were taking the hobbits to Isengard, they would be going west (as shown in this Middle Earth Map).
  • In 10,000 BC the protagonist lives in a massive Ice Age mountain range, filled with tundra, glaciers, and mammoths. He then treks down from those mountains, almost immediately entering a verdant jungle with a transitional climate about ten yards across. On exiting said jungle and crossing another ten yard transition, he's in an arid desert.
  • In Speed, the freeway depicted as I-10 is actually I-105, which was already complete in real life, and the I-105 sequence was filmed on I-110, which actually was unfinished at the time.
    • The bus also exits the east I-10 freeway onto Western (south) using a cloverleaf ramp that doesn't exist in Real Life, then goes from there to the I-105 in El Segundo (around 18 miles away) in under a minute.
  • The opening freeway chase in Hancock is clearly filmed on a short one-mile stretch of the I-105 freeway in El Segundo, California (watch the buildings in the background). After the car is stopped on the I-105/I-405 transition, when Hancock carries it off, downtown Los Angeles is clearly shown in the background, even though it's 25 miles away.
  • In Independence Day, a British commander sends a message to the Americans, telling them that Israel and Syria have prepared air-strike wings to take out one of the alien spaceships. He says the aircraft are being prepared in the Golan Straits. Of course, the straits nearest to the Golan Heights are about a thousand miles south, in the Indian Ocean.
    • It also features an impossible road sign. The University Of Houston and North Houston are a good thirty miles away from each other.
  • Cannonball Run II is about a cross-country race from the West Coast to the East Coast of the United States. However, the entire movie was filmed in the outskirts of Tucson, AZ--even the finish line, which is said to be in Vermont, but there is a large saguaro cactus visible on the screen.
  • The 2010 Amy Adams film Leap Year is all over the place regarding Irish geography. The heroine's plane, traveling from Boston to Dublin is forced to land in Cardiff, Wales due to terrible weather. She ends up hiring a boat to go to Cork for some reason; now even if we are to assume the storm blocks off Dublin Port there are plenty of harbours closer to the city than Cork. Not that it matters, since bad weather forces the boat to put ashore in Dingle... which is north of Cork and yet further away from Cardiff. Further, as in about adding about a third again onto her trip.
  • In the movie Life-Size, Casey Stuart tries to convince her father that Eve is a plastic doll come to life. Part of her argument is that Eve says she's from Sunnyvale, which is an obviously fake place that does not exist. Except that... yes, Sunnyvale is a very real location in California.
  • In the film Joy Ride the boys drive through Wyoming, stopping to sleep at a hotel in Rawlins. When the sheriff shows up the next day to investigate a murder, his car identifies him as the Rawlins County sheriff. Problem is, there isn't a Rawlins County in Wyoming. There is a Carbon County, where Rawlins is.
  • Taking Lives, somewhat unusually, rather than having Montreal stand in for some random American city, set the action in Montreal. Which they indicated with a big establishing shot of the Château Frontenac, the most famous landmark in Quebec City. (It's a little like establishing a scene in L.A. using a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge.)
  • In An American Werewolf in London, there are no hospitals in Yorkshire. The nearest hospital is apparently 250 kilometres away in London.
    • The dialogue with the doctor after the protagonist regains consciousness suggests that he's been transferred to a London hospital because he's suspected of having some rare and exotic disease, which needs highly specialised skills and equipment of the sort that are usually only available in the more densely-populated south of England. The process of getting him to the nearest emergency room for an initial assessment and then down south for further treatment would still have been a significant undertaking however, probably involving a helicopter ride, but none of this is even touched upon in the film.
  • In Mr Bean's Holiday, Mr Bean accidently takes a taxi in Paris from the Gare du Nord (in the North-East corner of the city) to the business district of La Défense (west of Paris). The taxi passes the Eiffel Tower (which is not even on the way) and then Notre-Dame de Paris (which lies to the East of the Eiffel Tower).
    • Also, if the previous example could be explained, there is no way the Millau Viaduct is remotely on the way between Avignon (the station where Mr Bean was filmed escaping the police) and Cannes. But then, there is no way either a road trip in France can take more than ~10 hours, and that's if the motorways are really clogged. And if you cross the whole country. This film has some screwed up geography.
  • I Still Know What You Did Last Summer supposedly takes place in the Bahamas, but the hills and rock formations give away that it was filmed in Mexico. There is also a lot of Spanish architecture, also from Mexico.
  • In Charade, a climactic ride on the Paris Metro is between clearly-labelled stations that are not connected by any single line; so of course it's important to the plot that Audrey Hepburn never transfers from one train to another.
    • By the same token, in The Jackal, Bruce Willis flees through a DC Metro tunnel from Capitol Heights to Metro Center stations, with Richard Gere in hot pursuit. Of course, those stations are ten stops and a few miles apart. (Never mind that the scenes are shot in the Montreal Metro, which looks nothing like the distinctive DC Metro architecture and has rubber tires.)
  • The James Bond film Moonraker has a particularly bad scene where Bond is fleeing down the Amazon river, then comes to Iguazu Falls (a distance comparable to Los Angeles-Chicago; to make matters worse, the Amazon doesn't end in a waterfall), ends up in Argentina (another few hundred miles) for his meeting with Q, then somehow walks to the enemy base in a Mayan temple (in Mexico, a whole different hemisphere).
  • In North by Northwest, Cary Grant is seen driving on a treacherous, winding coastal road along cliffs several hundred feet high... in Long Island, New York! While there are some small cliffs in parts of Long Island, there is no scenery or road there anywhere approaching the type of landscape Grant was driving in, which was clearly modeled after the California coast.
  • The war propaganda film The Green Berets ends with a shot of the Sun setting over the ocean. Only it's set in Vietnam, which has no western coastline, meaning the Sun would have to be setting in the east. There's also a suspicious lack of tropical vegetation and abundance of pine trees (it was filmed mainly in western Georgia).
  • In My Best Friend's Wedding, Cameron Diaz is at her wedding at some large estate with at least a few acres of lawn. She goes running out the front gate ... into downtown Chicago.
  • The Great Escape. As Eddie Izzard puts it: "So, he gets on his motorcycle and starts driving, and within ten minutes, he's on the border of Switzerland. This is from Poland. In case you don't know the real geography, the map goes something like this: Switzerland, then Germany, then Venezuela, then Africa, then Beirut, then THE HANGING GARDENS OF BABYLON, then Poland."
  • Elizabeth The Golden Age: There is no cliff in England upon which Elizabeth could have stood to watch the Battle of Gravelines. The English Channel is in the way (there's also the problem that Elizabeth's speech to the troops was not given before the Battle of Gravelines, but some days after; the troops were there to repel a possible invasion by the Duke of Parma, which never materialized).
  • Intersection is one of the few Hollywood movies not only filmed in Vancouver, but actually set there too. As long as they are keeping it real, one wonders why they felt compelled to move the University of British Columbia to the North Shore of Burrard Inlet rather than keeping it in its real location at the edge of the peninsula that forms the city of Vancouver. Perhaps for the very nice views crossing the bridge.
  • In Paycheck (set in Seattle, Washington), John Wolfe shouts their location as 6th Avenue and Pine Street, which in real life is smack-dab in the middle of Downtown and has a number of buildings surrounding it.
  • In Green Zone, the main character, Chief Miller, needs to get to the Republican Palace. He enters the Green Zone through the Assassin's Gate, which is located in the Northeast side of the Green Zone. In the next shot, he's traveling East past the crossed swords toward the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, then he ends up at the Republican Palace. The problem is, the Republican Palace is in the Southeast corner of the Green Zone and the crossed swords are near the Northewestern border. To get to the Republican Palace from the Assassin's Gate through the crossed swords would require driving back and forth or around in circles. All he needed to do was stay on the same road South from the Assassin's Gate and he would have ended up at the palace.
  • In Monsters the characters encounter a Mayan pyramid in the middle of the jungle... within sight of the Texas-Mexico border. Which jungle this is supposed to be or what a Mayan pyramid is going several hundred miles too far north are not addressed.
  • The 1954 movie Drum Beat about the Modoc Indian War, shows beautiful scenery better placed in the southwest. The real Captain Jack's Stronghold was a rocky outcropping of jagged lava flows.
  • In action in Pathfinder takes place between Vikings and natives in the new world. This means either the rocky coastal meadows of Newfoundland or the rocky coastal forests of Maine. Instead, it appears to be a Pacific Northwest-ish rainforest tucked away in the Alps, if not the Andes.
  • Scary Movie 4 shows the characters watching news footage of the city of Detroit before and after the aliens attack (the joke being that Detroit was already so bad that the aliens didn't have any effect whatsoever). But the city in the footage is actually San Diego.
  • In the third Austin Powers film Dr. Evil turns out to be a Belgian, born in Bruges. He demonstrates by talking some French, despite the fact that Bruges is located in Flanders, the Dutch speaking part of Belgium.
    • Perhaps he shared his father's oddly-specific racism?
  • The Jean-Claude Van Damme film "Double Team" shows how Van Damme visits a huge bordello in Antwerp, which can not be found there in real life. What makes this mistake even more perplexing is that Van Damme is actually a Belgian himself!
  • In Mr. and Mrs. Smith, at the start of the film, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's characters claim that they met in Bogota, Colombia. Flashback to said moment, and they show Bogota, a real-life big metropoly city with a very cold climate, portrayed as a small river-side town where sun always shine, people listen to flamenco music and there's no need for clothes. To make things worse, a soldier speaks with a heavy Mexican accent. Even the actors said that they've never been to Bogota, or Colombia, for that matter. Colombians were so not happy.
  • In Entrapment, the protagonists head off to Malaysia to carry out a heist in the Petronas Towers at Kuala Lumpur. The movie portrays rural, ramshackle slums with open views onto the fabulous towers themselves. Kuala Lumpur looks like this.
  • In X Men First Class there's a scene where Magneto kills some bad guys that supposedly takes place in the Argentinian city of Villa Gesell. The establishing shot shows snowy mountains and a beautiful lake surrounded by hills, the only problem is, although you can find a lot of cities that look like that in the southern part of the country, the real Villa Gesell is a beach city located nowhere near that area.
  • In All the Presidents Men, Woodward and Bernstein's car seems to teleport around Washington DC, from shot to shot, at random.
  • Cracked once ran an article that pointed out several common artistic licenses shown in film, such as stereotypically, Australia being shown as being unmercifully hot all year round, or anything taking place in Australia usually taking place in the summer, despite Australia getting its fair share of snow (and more), or Russia being depicted as being constantly snowy, usually having at least a somewhat thick coating of snow on the ground, no matter when the story is taking place, although usually being shown in the winter. Also, Washington D.C. will often be depicted as a colossal metropolis with as many skyscrapers as many other very large cities, despite the fact that Washington has no true buildings taller than sixteen stories.
    • To be fair, a large part of Australia is devoid of snow, and discernable seasons. Anything towards the north of the country has only 2 seasons - Wet and Dry. Then again, most films are set in or near the cities in the south. So perhaps the most realistic depiction of the country comes from The Matrix, which uses Sydney as a random city somewhere in the world.
    • The parts of DC with skyscrapers could theoretically be Arlington, Virginia, right across the river, which does have a traditional (if smallish) skyline.
  • The Devil's Advocate: The movie opens in "Gainesville, Florida". Or rather, a small rural town that looks nothing like the actual, modern, skyscraper-encrusted college-town that is the real Gainesville, Florida, but does look like a one-horse hick town in the middle of nowhere, which was probably the point.
    • Apparently the producers wanted Reeves' character to be from a small rural town and picked Gainesville, Florida off of a map at random, not realizing that "small rural town" does not describe Gainesville, Florida, and hasn't for about a hundred years. The Civil War-era "courthouse" where the trial was taking place is actually in a one-stoplight town some thirty-two miles east of Gainesville, for example; the courthouses in Gainesville proper are all modern, multistory buildings
  • In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, the duo steal a monkey from an animal testing lab in Boulder, Colorado and run off with it on foot. The next scene they are out in the wilderness, and the scene after that they are in a diner in Utah. Boulder to Utah would be a 300+ mile hike, over the Rocky Mountains, and would take weeks even for seasoned backpackers.
  • In The Graffiti Artist, one of the first scenes in the film is supposed to be set in Portland, OR has the main character getting on what is clearly a Seattle Metro bus at what is clearly 3rd and Pine, in the middle of downtown Seattle, as identifiable by the businesses around it and the appearence of the bus shelter. The disregard for the differences in geography between the two cities is in some cases justified because Seattle has better graffiti art (thanks to much more permissive laws), but there is no need for it in this scene.
  • In Joe Dante's film Matinee the action takes place in Key West during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but in the final shot there's a great view of the Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad in the background -- 400 miles to the north and 20 years in the future.
  • In the first National Treasure, there is a chase scene on foot in Philadelphia. Everything is fine until the characters run the wrong way to get where they wind up.
  • Near the beginning of The Rescuers Down Under, when we see the Travel Montage following the telegraph signal from Australia to the United States, Australia for some reason is unusually small and the United States is unusually big. In real life, both countries are approximately the same size. Also, Papua New Guinea is shown being the same size as Australia, the Marshall Islands the size of New Zealand, and Hawaii the size of Indonesia.
  • The globe seen in various promotional media for Cars 2 for some reason showed some continents as being either much larger or smaller than they are in real life. Justified, since the Cars series films all take place in a world populated entirely by anthropomorphic vehicles, and therefore everything in their world down to the rocks, trees, clouds, and "animals" (they are also shown as vehicles) is given a car motif, and the same is for countries and continents.
  • The obscure American 1940 movie, Ski Patrol, follows a group of Finnish soldiers in the 1939 Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union. The movie depicts the countries' border as a Middle European mountain range - for reference, even the highest points of the countries' border doesn't rise above half a kilometre in height. Reportedly, the first panorama of this sight made the Finnish audience burst in laughter.
  • The Tommy Lee Jones vehicle Blown Away culminates with a car careening, in a straight line, through the Back Bay of Boston while our hero tries to defuse a bomb attached to the dashboard. If you traveled through the Back Bay, for that long, that fast, in a straight line, you wouldn't need to worry about the bomb, because you'd be underwater.


Literature Edit

  • Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code also fails in this area.
    • When leaving the Louvre, the main characters head to the American embassy, realize they can't get there, and head for Gare Saint-Lazare. To get from the Louvre to where they start making their detour, they would already have passed the American embassy.
    • Teabing parks on the House Guard Parade, so he can see the Parliament and Temple Church. In reality, from that position, he would be able to see neither. Several buildings block the view, and there are no parks to look across, as claimed in the book.
  • The Dresden Files early books were pretty bad on Chicago geography. Particularly notable was when Harry had a meeting in the massive parking lot outside Wrigley Field (in reality, it has about twenty spaces). Later on, after author Jim Butcher actually visited Chicago, he got better about it.
    • Lampshaded in the Tabletop RPG core book. The section on City Creation features, "For instance, let's say the local baseball stadium suddenly gains a parking lot..." Harry, who's reading over the notes for accuracy's sake, sardonically laughs about it.
  • In the first Left Behind novel, Buck is forced to make his way from Chicago to New York after the Rapture causes all manner of destruction. The timeline described is ridiculous, with Buck taking far longer using chartered planes and such to travel the distance than he would have simply by driving back roads. It culminates in a 20 mile bike ride along 13 mile long Manhattan.
    • One of the later books describes huge ships on the river Jordan. Said river is actually very shallow and could not accommodate ships of any kind.
  • Rick Riordan (Heroes of Olympus) seems to think Mt Diablo is like some kind of lowland Yosemite mixed with the Australian outback,when truthfully it's just a gentle rolling brown hill with hardly any foliage on it. And anyone who actually looked at Mt. Diablo at even Google Maps could tell you the top is NOT a depression with eucalyptus trees,but rather a visitors center,and there really aren't any cliffs like described.
    • And I know it was a "Plot Point", but there are not enough- or any- eucalyptus trees surrounding the mountain, certainly not enough to be overpowering. AND in the early morning in the middle of winter, Walnut Creek is not " oh, it could be summer" It might not be freezing, but it's cold. and the Golden Brown Berkeley hills are just that, golden brown...in the Summer. They do, in fact, get green(ish) in the winter.
  • Twilight is terrible about this. Stephenie Meyer seems to have confused the Olympic Peninsula with northern Alaska, since she represents Forks as almost consistently overcast and, well, twilit, yet at the same time underestimates how cold it can get at night, even in summer.
    • She also seems to have forgotten that, yes, the Pacific Northwest does have a summer. A very sunny summer. It could go all of July and August, and sometimes September, without being completely overcast. Do the Cullens go on a three month camping trip every year? Not to mention that most areas in the Pacific Northwest aren't under complete cloud cover all day.
    • Meyer was working from a grain of truth. Thanks to the Olympic Mountains blocking clouds coming in off the Pacific, Forks is beside a literal rainforest. Forks really does get a lot of rain, even compared to the rest of Western Washington State. Grain of truth or not, however, it's still a nasty stereotype about a geographic location that came from inadequate research. Simply googling "Rainiest Town in America", which is more or less all Meyer did by her own admission in the introduction, does not adequate geographic research make.
    • At one point "the west coast of Brazil" is mentioned. West is probably the only cardinal direction you couldn't really say that Brazil has a coast on.
    • Also referring to Lake Union as "Union Lake", not unreasonable...if you're only ever seen a map of Seattle. Actually there are multiple problems with Seattle geography. The shady part of town that Bella visits in the last book is vaguely reminiscent of some parts of Aurora Ave. but doesn't come close enough to any real part of the city to be believable.
  • In The Terror of Blue John Gap, the narrator at one point travels from the eponymous cave (which of course is a source of the semi-precious stone Blue John) to Castleton in Derbyshire, some 14 miles away. In reality, Blue John is found only in the vicinity of Castleton, a roughly 3-mile radius. Maybe this one is also You Fail Geology Forever.
  • "On the road to Mandalay where the flying fishes play, and the sun comes up like thunder out of China 'cross the bay." The poem is set in Burma, as various references make clear. Burma has no sea coast of any kind facing China, and what coast it has is all west-facing, so don't expect the sun to come up out of it any time soon.
    • Chalk it up to Poetic License. Kipling was very well-traveled and knew geography very well; the bit about "thunder from China" is a simile (parsed "the sun comes up (like thunder from China) 'cross the bay"), and specifying a bay makes it clear that he's talking about the east-facing coastline of the Gulf of Martaban. So...
  • Andrew Holleran admitted that he had written the part of Dancer from the Dance set in Washington, D.C., before ever setting foot in D.C. I could tell. Not only was the park scene improbable, but also, another scene described the garish commercial signage of a neighborhood whose only nonresidential land use is a country club.
  • Played with in the Dragaera novels, where Vlad complains about how the human ghetto of Andrilanka is called South Andrilanka, yet isn't located in the south part of the city.
  • Damon Knight's novella Rule Golden contains the line "England is only about 400 miles long, from Land's End to John O'Groats." While the first half of this sentence is roughly true, John O'Groats (as the name implies) is not in England. Scotland adds another 4–500 miles to the length of Britain.
  • The hero of a Heian Japanese tale somehow manages to be shipwrecked on the Persian coast while traveling from Japan to China.
  • The Jack Prelutsky poem New York is in North Carolina is essentially one big lampshading of this trope.
  • Invoked in The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles when the main character is told a Masonic parable of the King of France who got lost riding in the woods, and suddenly found himself in Scotland. He proceeds to comment on the intelligence of a King who fails to notice his horse swimming across the Canale.
  • John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath has a particularly egregious example of this in the form of the main character's home town of Sallisaw, Oklahoma. In the book, the Joads are driven from Sallisaw due to the Dust Bowl ruining the land. The problem? Sallisaw is located in the eastern half of Oklahoma, commonly referred to as green country. It never experienced the Dust Bowl.
  • The Guns of the South has a scene where Robert E. Lee and his staff survey the heart of Washington D.C. from a nearby hill; in the author's notes, Harry Turtledove admits that this is impossible, remarking "Sometimes geography has to bend to suit the author's wishes."
    • Of course, there's also the fact that he invents a South Carolina town out of the blue for the time-travelers to come from; it could have been Handwaved if it was just them, but the fact that one of the main characters is also from the town becomes an important plot point.
  • Stephen King did this on purpose in The Dark Tower series. In the foreword for The Dark Tower, he notes that his New York readers will notice that he has taken "certain geographical liberties" with the city. In the later books, when he writers himself into the story, he distorts the geography of Maine (where he lives) because he doesn't want people harassing him in his home.
    • The former becomes a plot point later on, when Eddie finds out that Co-op City, where he's from, is in a different part of New York City on Keystone Earth than it is in the version of Earth he's from.


Live-Action TV Edit

  • Sons of Anarchy is set in Northern California, in the fictional town of Charming, CA. You can avoid many issues when filming for a make believe location, but not when your fictional town is located somewhere in the very real San Joaquin county, California, in the shows universe, and that town has hills. The real life county of the show has no hills, indeed, the very name of the county could tell you that. It is in the San Joaquin VALLEY. Lodi is a frequent destination in the show, also, and features hills. Again, Lodi has none.
    • Among other things, they frequently ride around Norther California, often to their destination and back before sunset. It takes at least 4 hours to travel from the central valley, where the show is set, to Redding and Red Bluff, where they went to and returned from in no time in one episode.
    • There are other issues, too, such as there being "Stockton State Prison" and a DOJ facility in the series. Neither exist in real life.
  • In an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Dee describes running down Spring Garden street, through fairmount park in order to get to Paddy's Pub which is canonically located on South Street. Feel free to look at a map of Philadelphia and try to figure out how that works?
  • One of the first instances on TV likely occurred on I Love Lucy. Lucy thinks that Ricky is homesick and decides to make over the house to look like "home." Ricky is Cuban, but she makes the house over to look more like Mexico (complete with sombrero-and-poncho stereotypes a la Speedy Gonzales). They both speak Spanish and are in the same general area, so, bless her heart, she was close, but then comes out and sings a song dressed as Carmen Miranda, who was a Portuguese-speaking Brazilian. Wrong continent, wrong language, wrong hemisphere.
    • Lucy and Ricky's address for the entire series is 623 E. 68th Street. In real life, that would be somewhere in the East River. (Although this is likely intentional. Many shows use deliberately fake addresses and phone numbers so the real places aren't constantly hassled by fans and pranksters.)
  • An important plot point in Season 4 of Twenty Four occurs near the mountains of Iowa. Take a good look at this topographic map of Iowa. See any mountains? The highest point in the state is a little under 1,700 feet above sea level.
    • 24's real-time gimmick gets it into a lot of trouble geographically. Just one example: in the final season, set in NYC, Jack is in Middle Village, Queens and tells Chloe he's 10 minutes away from Houston Street. Maybe if he traveled by helicopter. Trying to decipher the geography of 24 is a foolish proposition.
  • Lost claimed that the discovery of the missing Oceanic airliner in the waters off Bali would allay suspicion. Bali is so utterly off course from the plane's planned flight path (several thousand miles in a completely wrong direction) that even in the weird universe of Lost it would raise alarms with even the most incompetent, lazy, or corrupt accident investigator. Or anyone with a map of the Pacific Ocean. In case you don't have one handy, imagine a flight from Miami to Boston crashing in Seattle and no one finding anything about that suspicious.
    • One of the extras on the series 4 DVD box set is a "conspiracy theory" video about the crash survivors, making that point among others. It's quite amusing, as they can take all the plot holes that viewers have already thought of, and flag them up mercilessly as part of the conspiracy. But it doesn't explain why it's not taken seriously in the world of the series.
    • Also in Lost when Ben Linus is born, a road sign suggests his parents are 32 miles from Portland, even though the surrounding vegetation is decidedly Hawaiian.
  • The Anvilicious 9/11 episode of The West Wing refers to a terrorism suspect entering the United States via the "Ontario/Vermont border." It is Quebec, not Ontario, that borders Vermont.
    • Also on the The West Wing the episode "Two Cathedrals" has the presidential motorcade driving past National Cathedral to get from the White House to the State Department, which has to be a detour of at least 20 minutes.
    • In the first episode of the first season, there's a scene with Mandy driving fast in her convertible around the National Mall while having an argument on her cell phone. To the show's credit, this was filmed on location. However, anyone familiar with the layout of the National Mall quickly realizes that Mandy's car either magically flew backwards between cuts or she for some reason made a full circuit of the Mall (which would probably take at least five minutes, even going 60 or so in Bizzaro!land where there is apparently no other traffic). Also unrealistic is the fact that she was going about 60 miles per hour on Jefferson Drive, and yet does not appear to have bits of jaywalking tourists and school groups in the grille of her cute convertible.
  • Drew Carey once said that "Africa is a big country" on Whose Line Is It Anyway. The rest of the cast mercilessly ragged on him about it for the rest of the episode.
  • There was once a special episode of CSI that took place in Detroit, but was quite obviously filmed in Los Angeles. For one thing, Detroit doesn't have palm-trees lining the streets. For another thing, there are no mountains on Detroit's horizon.
    • In another, the crime lab has to send some people up to Carson City to secure some evidence. They arrive in the middle of a blinding sandstorm, something that any person who lives in Carson City would tell you doesn't happen.
  • In the pilot of the short-lived series "Smith", there are a number of howlers. The alley out of which one character staggers to distract the cops, for instance, is downtown and a good five miles from the building the group is supposedly robbing--which is itself represented on the exterior by a completely different building. Then the crooks make their getaway in a boat that goes down the wrong river, and stops about 50 yards before they would have gone over a dam.
  • Carly's grandfather in ICarly lives in Yakima and commented on why he can't drive a hour-and-a-half to Seattle to see his grandchildren. Driving from Seattle to Yakima takes about two more hours than he claims.
  • In the series finale of Sisters, which took place in Winnetka, IL, a man tells a taxi driver to "Take the Kennedy to Sheridan Road." Those roads/highways are not connected in real life.
  • Happy Days seems to take place in a Milwaukee where mountains and palm trees populate the landscape (especially in the opening credits), along with California housing styles which never went near Wisconsin.
  • Fox News Channel broadcast a map of the Middle East with Iraq labelled as Egypt.
    • They also placed Sydney, Australia on the north coast of Australia during their recent Tsunami coverage.
      • CNN also had a blunder covering the same story (which The Daily Show called them out on) where they called the Galapagos Islands "Hawaii".
  • In Season 1 of Heroes, Sylar visited a man in Virginia Beach, VA. A quick peek outside the door revealed rocky hills, scrub, and lots of dust. Viewers in coastal Virginia rolled their eyes.
  • An episode of MSNBC's To Catch a Predator was set in Riverside, California, but all of the wrap-around shots were from Huntington Beach, which is 50 miles away from Riverside. This might be okay, except that several shots featured the Huntington Beach Pier. Riverside has several things between the city and the ocean, including several other cities and a mountain range.
  • Jericho seems to forget that Kansas is bigger than Rhode Island. Throughout the series, characters see mountains from Central Kansas, (Mountains are not visible from anywhere in Kansas) travel less than an hour to drive over 500 miles from Wichita to Denver and act like Topeka is next door. (There are approximately 140 miles and several towns between the two.)
  • The made-for-TV Olsen sisters' film Passport to Paris had a huge blooper. An animation sequence showed their plane crossing over the Atlantic, flying over London, then over the Channel, then over France and the Mediterranean sea to eventually land somewhere in North Africa. The Channel =/= the Mediterranean sea, guys.
  • Spenser For Hire did do some filming in the Boston area (don't remember how much), but the editing made Boston-area viewers giggle as a chase would jump towns just by turning a corner. This was especially amusing when the towns involved were separated by several other towns.
  • Kenneth from Thirty Rock is said to be from Stone Mountain, Georgia. On the show, it is portrayed as being a rural area, when in fact it is a rather industrial suburb of Atlanta.
    • To be fair, Kenneth has been implied several times to be immortal, so it likely was rural when he was growing up.
  • Hilariously lampshaded in an episode of Homicide: Life On the Street when scenes supposed to be in Pennsylvania were shot in a distinctive area of Ellicott City, Maryland. The characters mention every few minutes that they're in Whatevertown, Pennsylvania. (The show was filmed on location in Baltimore and was fairly popular there.)
  • It happens from time to time on The Amazing Race, what with teams traveling all over the world and all, but never so gloriously as in the Season 16 premiere, when Jordan, despite constantly being reminded that they were going to Chile, proceeds to request tickets to Santiago, China.
  • In British magician Derren Brown's one-off show The Gathering he performed a trick whereby he predicted which country somebody would think of out of all of the countries in the world. The "country" he predicted? Africa. He was correct. (Is this a failure on the part of him, or the audience member?)
  • QI. One example being a question about the smallest English county - expected "wrong" answer being Rutland, with the "correct" answer being the Isle of Wight, which apparently has a smaller area at the relevant tidemark. Unfortunately, in traditional terms the Isle of Wight isn't a county (it's part of Hampshire, and Rutland was the smallest traditional county), and in modern terms, both the reinstated Rutland and the IoW are unitary authorities - the smallest of which is Blackpool.
    • The traditional counties are counties which used to exist but don't necessarily still exist or have their original boundaries. A unitary authority, while being for most purposes a county in all but name, is still considered for ceremonial purposes to be part of a county. Hence the entities known as Ceremonial Counties, which are the current officially existing counties, which have the ceremonial institutions of a county such as a Lord Lieutenant & which may govern all their own territory, or alternatively some or even all of their territory may be under the control of unitary authorities. In any case, QI was wrong because the City of London is a seperate Ceremonial County in its own right, not part of Greater London
  • The Soap Opera The Young and The Restless recently featured a storyline where a character faked his own death and escaped Wisconsin. Then he went to Ottawa. Then he went to Brazil. So his father followed him to Ottawa on a vengeance mission. Apparently, Ottawa is some harbour-front dive-down, inhabited by rednecks in cowboy shirts. In order to enter Ottawa, you have to parachute out of a clunker aeroplane. And then, another character follows the father to Ottawa. By chartering a boat. From Wisconsin. While geographically possible, it still requires a detour through four lakes and the St Lawrence Seaway.
  • In Friends, Phoebe had a scientist boyfriend called David, who went to Minsk on a research trip. Minsk is stated to be in Russia several times, while it actually is the capital of Belarus. Belarus was the part of the Soviet Union to which Americans often referred as "Russia", but the Soviet Union was dissolved years before Friends even started.
    • Still, the characters would have been adolescents to adults at the time the Soviet Union fell apart, with already formed speech habits when it came to the geography they'd learned in school.
    • Those of us educated during the Cold War are at a disadvantage after the redrawing of maps, even those who kept up with the changes still fall back on habitual reference to these countries, just because they were a common topic of discussion. The only ones who get it right now are the ones who took the opportunity to visit the post-Soviet states.
    • Especially bad because the citizens of former Soviet states generally do not appreciate the assumption that they are part of Russia.
  • In How I Met Your Mother, when Robin speaks of how she met her Argentinean boyfriend Gael, it shows how they first got involved in a secluded little beach-side cabin surrounded by palm trees, a beach that looks oddly Caribbean. Argentina's beaches are all on the Atlantic, and you're more likely to find pine trees than anything even slightly resembling Robin's flashback.
  • In an episode of Have I Got News for You, Angus Deaton describes a US event has happening in "Carolina". Evidently the HIGNFY writers (or one the newspapers they got the story from) didn't realize that the state name was "North Carolina", and it wasn't a phrasing analogous to how you might say something happened in "north(ern) France".
  • In 90210, Oscar figures out that there is something suspicious about rapist Mr. Cannon when he claims to be from Chelsea but clearly has a Dagenham accent. Now, while Chelsea has many upper-class parts to it, there are also several working class areas as well. There is no way that anybody could identify a "Dagenham accent" as opposed to any other working-class area of London.
    • But just try convincing Henry Higgins of that.
  • The US version of Shameless had a character drive from Chicago to Detroit to Toronto and then back to Chicago during the span of a single night. It takes about 9-10 hours to make that drive one way not counting any delays at the border. The dialogue suggests that they thought that Toronto was just across the river from Detroit.
  • On one of the early episodes of Go Go Sentai Boukenger has the team traveling to Canada looking for the Power Item of the week. The Area that they head to is located in south-eastern Saskatchewan (known for being mostly flatland with some hills), yet features a huge Mountain range and obviously Japanese Flora. South-western Alberta might have been a better call on that one, what with the Rockies in all.
  • In The Event Vicky describes Murmansk as being in "Western Siberia." This could be a in-show mistake, but Murmansk is near the Finnish border in the most northwestern part of Russia, further west than Moscow (Similar to saying Maine is in the Eastern part of the Old West).
  • 1967 western Cimarron Strip was filmed in a variety of places, including Utah and Southern California - both of which look nothing like the Oklahoma panhandle, where it purportedly took place; where the real "cimarron strip" is flat and covered in prairie grass, the show's version is mountainous and sandy.
  • Torchwood: Miracle Day has the main characters arrive in Venice, California on their way to a location in Los Angeles. When asked by the Gwen, the Welsh character where their final destination is, the American character Esther answers that it's technically in another city: Los Angeles while they're in Venice. Venice is part of the City of Los Angeles.
    • It's also a plot point in Miracle Day that Shanghai and Buenos Aires are antipodes. According to Google Maps, that's about 150 miles off.
  • Viewers who are familiar with Kansas can never watch Smallville without smirking at how much greener, hillier, and wetter the in-show Kansas is compared to the real-world Kansas, and how much the in-show Kansas looks like the Vancouver area.
  • On one episode of JAG, Harm's partner is kidnapped by gangbangers in South Central L.A. They tell Harm to drive back to Camp Pendleton, grab one of their members who has joined the Marines, and bring him back in one hour. Camp Pendleton is 90 miles from Los Angeles - even with no traffic it would be extremely difficult to make the drive down there in one hour, let alone back.
  • In one episode of Law and Order the evidence trail led to Lenny calling the Newburgh Arena in that city in the Hudson Valley. He says "what do they have going on there? Deer ticks?" In actuality, Newburgh is a city with almost 30,000 people and, at time, enough street crime to make Lenny appreciate his job in Manhattan.
  • In one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Picard sits in a cafe in Paris with the Eiffel Tower behind his table. He then gets up, turns in a different direction to look at the view... with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Of course, this could be somewhat forgiven as it takes place on the holodeck.

Music Edit

  • In Frankie Valli's 'My Eyes Adored You', he speaks of himself and the girl "walking home everyday; over Barnegat Bridge and Bay". For New Jersey, this is good geography. For a seemingly autobiographical song about Frankie Valli, who grew up over fifty miles away from Barnegat Bay in Northern New Jersey (Newark and the Oranges), it fails very badly. The song could have been talking about summer vacations at the Jersey Shore, but it gives no indication of that.
    • Frankie Valli didn't actually write the song, so it's unlikely to be autobiographical. The writers were Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan, who sold the song to Valli for $4,000. (Incidentally, although Nolan is from Los Angeles, Crewe was born and raised in Newark.)
    • Mind you, of the four bridges that span Barnegat Bay, none are actually called "Barnegat Bridge" (they are: the Mantoloking Bridge; the Mathis and Tunney Bridges to Seaside Heights; and the Causeway Bridge to Long Beach Island). There is no bridge located at the town of Barnegat. It is just possible, however, that the older bridge that the Mathis Bridge replaced in 1950 was called that, and that Crewe, who was born in 1931, might have known it by that name.
      • Colloquial names - what people call things, as opposed to their "official" names - can change over time and are not necessarily that well documented. If the writer's a native, as in this case, it's probably either a local nickname one of them had at some point in the last seventy years, or Artistic License.
  • In Lefty Frizzell's "Saginaw, Michigan", the narrator claims that he lived in a house on Saginaw Bay. Saginaw, Michigan is about 20 miles inland from the bay, so it would be physically impossible to be in both Saginaw and on Saginaw Bay.
  • And then there's Lead Belly's "Cotton Fields" song which mentions a place "in Louisiana, just about a mile from Texarkana". Texarkana is sitting on top of the Arkansas/Texas border, but it's nowhere within one mile from Louisiana's borders.
  • Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" has the line "Just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit." There is no South Detroit; directly south of downtown is Canada (specifically Windsor, Ontario), while the area south of the city on the Michigan side of the Detroit River is known as "Downriver." It's entirely possible that he could be referring to Downriver, but just didn't know about the specific name.
    • Similarly, The Feeling's "Without You" (its lyrics referring to the Virginia Tech spree shooting) mentions "North Virginia", a term that is not used by locals and in no way describes the location of Virginia Tech within the state of Virginia.
  • Averted/parodied by The Beatles' "Back in the USSR"; the lyric "and Georgia's always on my mind" refers both to the song Georgia on my Mind (about the US Georgia and/or a woman named Georgia) and the Georgia in the Caucasus.
  • The very first verse of the Canadian-geography-extolling patriotic song "Something to Sing About" begins, "I've stood on the sand on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland..." The Grand Banks are between 24 and 100 metres under water.
    • Very, Very strong diving suit?
    • Actually at low tide there are areas you can wade on (or if you're trying to actually fish, avoid like crazy.) That's justification after the fact though: it was probably originally just put in to sound good.
  • British artist Kim Wilde's "Kids in America" includes a perplexing line about "East California". California is long and narrow and is usually divided into north and south regions. The northeast part is dominated by mountains, the southeast is dominated by desert, and both are sparsely populated.
  • Sade's "Smooth Operator": "Coast to coast, LA to Chicago", though you can argue that they're supposed to be two unconnected phrases.
  • "Sausalito Summernight" by Diesel (from The Netherlands) is about a road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco, but the actual verse about Sausalito implies that it's south of San Francisco, when it's actually north. Also, the notion of a "hot summer night in Sausalito" is pretty laughable, because Sausalito is right on the SF Bay and is very breezy. The average overnight low temperature during summer is about 55(F)/13(C).
  • Music video for "Pipppero" by Elio e le Storie Tese takes place on the italian-bulgarian border. Needless to say that the italian-bulgarian border doesn't exists.
  • Lemon Demon's Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny has Abraham Lincoln came out of his grave, in Tokyo...
  • "The Night Chicago Died" says that the police shootout took place on the east side of Chicago. As Dave Barry pointed out in his "Bad Song Survey" column, Chicago has no east side. East of Downtown Chicago is Lake Michigan.
  • Parodied in "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Canadian Idiot", where the singer mentions "driving a Zamboni all over Saskatchewan". In real life, Saskatchewan is considered a prairie province, and definitely isn't covered in ice. This however, is making fun of people who think that all of Canada is a frozen wasteland, as if the Great Plains stopped at the US-Canadian border or something...


New Media Edit

  • The following was said in Botchamania 21 by Macho Man Randy Savage, completely seriously and unironically. Whether or not it's a straight example due to Savage being a bit of a Cloudcuckoolander remains to be seen:

 "I've been in the danger zone -- yeah! -- I've been in the danger zone east of the Pacific Ocean, west of London England, south of Mars, and north of Hell! Yeah!"


Tabletop Games Edit

  • An old WorldOfDarkness supplement infamously placed Oxford within easy walking distance of central London, despite being nearly 60 miles away.
    • In the World Of Darkness, Auckland is located in Australia - and Australia's capital is Sydney.
    • Also in the World Of Darkness, New Orleans apparently has a subway system. On the gulf coast. Below sea level.
    • White Wolf has admitted that since this is set in an Alternate Universe, they take liberties with the geography to fit the mood of each game.
  • New World of Darkness somewhat esoterically treats Europe (and the American seaboards) this way in its Vampire installment. It's explained that Vampires don't want to risk driving even to the nearest city from their own, because it might end up with them stranded with not enough time to make it back to their own city. This makes sense in the middle of the US or Canada, where it can take hours to drive to the city limits of the nearest city and more to drive to the centre and the same amount of time back. In Europe and along the coast, few cities outside Scandinavia are more than an hour from their nearest neighbours.
  • The Lexicon, the geography volume of Bard Games' Atlantean Trilogy, can be forgiven for re-drawing the map of Earth to make their ancient civilizations more interesting. However, referring to salt-water straits as "rivers", merely because they're wet and narrow, would surely have been a boo-boo even in the Second Age of Atlantis!


Theater Edit

  • Shakespeare has been accused of this, accurately and inaccurately.
    • The Italian Errors - None, actually, as the accusations are based on the accusers' own Did Not Do The Research error.
      • Averted in Two Gentlemen of Verona,The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew, and Romeo and Juliet.
      • In Two Gentlemen of Verona, the character of Valentine takes a ship to go to Milan from Verona. In the sixteenth century, Verona and Milan were connected by a canal, allowing Valentine to make his trip by boat to Milan from Verona.
      • In The Tempest, Prospero, Duke of Milan, and Miranda, are put forth from Milan on a "bark", or boat, and are taken "some leagues to sea" to "a rotten carcass of a boat" (Act I, Scene 2). Milan's Grand Canal (Naviglio Grande), still around today, linked Milan to the Ticino river, which in turn empties into the Mediterranean Sea, some leagues away from Milan.
      • In The Taming of the Shrew, Tranio’s father was a ‘sail maker’ from land-locked Bergamo. Bergamo is the nearest large city to Lake Iseo and close to Lake Como, creating a Bergamo boat-making and sail-making industry which started long before the 16th century and continues to this day.
      • In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo is exiled and goes to Mantua - Mantua is within reasonable distance of Verona.
    • The Bohemian Errors - They depend on what is meant by "Bohemia": is it the original country itself, or the entire kingdom of Bohemia? Also, what exactly is a "desert" to an Elizabethan man?
      • In The Winters Tale, Shakespeare gives Bohemia both a coastline and a vast desert.
      • This was also present in the original text that Shakespeare lifted the plot from, so it may be that Shakespeare doesn't fail geography, he just doesn't check the source material.
      • Note that originally "desert" simply refered to wilderness rather than the more specific modern definition of a very dry region (usually hot and sandy/rocky), so Bohemia having a "desert" might not be as bad as it sounds.
      • King Ottokar II (r. 1253-78), King of Bohemia, extended his kingdom to the Adriatic Sea by conquering Hungary in 1260. As Shakespeare's King Polixenes of Bohemia in The Winters Tale closely parallels the life of King Ottokar II, it appears Shakespeare's use of a Bohemian coastline is not the only thing he drew from a history of the region.
      • King Rudolf II (r. 1552-1612), in a reverse fashion to King Ottokar II, became king of Croatia and Hungary in 1572, then became king of Bohemia in 1575, effectively creating a common country with an Adriatic Sea coastline and Bohemia combined. This was a contemporary "Bohemian coastline" to Shakespeare himself, requiring little embellishment to give Bohemia a coastline in The Winters Tale.
    • Measure for Measure is a play with a Duke named Vincentio, his deputy Angelo, a nun named Isabella, her brother Claudio, his lover Juliet, and their friend Lucio... set in Vienna.
    • In Timon of Athens, his description of the Athenian countryside sounds nothing like Greece, but like so many of his other plays depicting foreign parts more like a generic culture with a generic wealthy society.
    • In Othello, he puts Venice only a day away by sail from Cyprus. Venice is over 1,100 nautical miles (2,000 km) from the Cypriot coast; in Shakespeare's time it could take up to three weeks * if* the winds were right to sail from one to the other.
      • Especially bad because in act 1, everyone seems to fully expect Othello to arrive in Cyprus before the Turks do, despite having to travel a much longer distance. Luckily a storm manages to sink all the Turks' ships anyway so it doesn't matter.
      • While the events of the play span three days, they occur in two periods: a time period of one day in Venice leading up to the departure in Act I Scene 3, and then the arrival in Cyprus in Act II Scene 1 starting another time period of two days in Cyprus, with an unspecified period of time between the two periods. Thus the actual length of the journey between Venice and Cyprus is never specified in the play itself.
    • In Macbeth. A witch says she'll keep a woman's ship-captain husband from making port in Aleppo, because she wouldn't share her chestnuts. Aleppo is some distance from the sea, located near Euphrates River which empties into the Persian Gulf.
      • Shakespeare would have had easy access to the account of one Ralph Fitch, who in 1583 set sail on the Tyger bound for Tripoli and Aleppo in Syria. Aleppo's seaport in the late 1500s was located on the nearby Euphrates River. It was seven day journey according to Mr. Fitch. Mr. Fitch arrived back in London in 1591, with plenty of time to write his description before Shakespeare read it.
        • If Mr. Fitch claimed to have made port at Aleppo, he was either sorely mistaken or lying. The Euphrates flows, in fact, into the Persian Gulf. In order to make port there, a ship from England would have needed to circumnavigate Africa. Furthermore, Aleppo is in fact roughly 50 miles from the banks of the Euphrates, and cannot be said to have a port. It is more probable that Fitch made port at Tripoli, on the coast of the Levant, and subsequently traveled overland to Aleppo.
  • The final act of Puccini's Manon Lescault is set in the deserts of Louisiana, with the heroine eventually dying of dehydration right outside of New Orleans (The original novel makes the same mistake).

... the desert right outside New Orleans.


Video Games Edit

  • Railroad Tycoon 3 includes a mission to build a railroad over the Rocky Mountains...Between Sacramento and Salt Lake City. Those are the Sierra-Nevada mountains, by the way.
    • Railroads! (or RRT 4), wasn't much of an improvement. It almost looked like a 3D version of the original 1990 game maps.
      • Because it was conceived to be just that.
  • Hilariously parodied by Backyard Hockey, which says that Buddy Cheque came from the town of Janestown, which, they say, is near the geographically impossible border of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Canada.
  • In Rad Racer, you're racing in the "Trans America competition, but one of the tracks is set in ancient Greek ruins.
  • Similarly in Radmobile, when you arrive in Chicago you'll see palm trees and a gigantic cruise ship on what is presumably Lake Michigan.
  • Resistance 2 has a secret military bunker on Angel Island. When you exit the bunker The Bay Bridge has suspiciously been painted red.
  • There's also Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater's Russian jungle.
    • Soviet jungle: The jungle is actually one of the southern republics of the USSR, likely bordering the Himalayan mountains, west of China. It's actually stated that even the FOX unit would be nuts to initiate a mission into Russia, but Soviet territory is fair game.
    • The Turkic republics of the Soviet Union are steppe country. What isn't steppe is desert or mountainous.
  • In Daytona USA, a racing game on the Sega Saturn, there are mountains in the background in Daytona. There are no mountains anywhere in Florida. In fact, most of Daytona has water surrounding it on 3 sides thanks to an inlet.
    • And the second game takes place in or near a city resembling Chicago.
  • Command and Conquer Red Alert: Abound in almost all missions that feature major cities and/or landmark structures. The most Egregious example is probably the final Allied mission in Yuri's Revenge, where the 1000-or-so-kilometer distance between Tierra del Fuego and the Antarctic Peninsula is compressed into about 1.
  • Age of Empires III has the Netherlands as one of its playable countries. The capital, Amsterdam, is depicted with a mountain-range in the background. It isn't called the Low Countries for nothing.
  • Let's Go Find El Dorado features great mountain peaks separating cities and rivers with random names on them. As such, you can go from Santa Fe, New Mexico, fly over the mountains, and end up in Panama City. Yep.
  • Halo 3 not only has jungles in the Tsavo area of Kenya, but also temperate plants from the Pacific Northwest. Mt. Kilimanjaro looks more like Mt. Rainier, and is far too close for the location, which is on the opposite side of the country.
  • Rival Turf has a pretty bad one. The game is supposedly set in Los Angeles, yet the level screen shows a map of Canada.
  • Need for Speed II featured the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and Uluru. All on the same track.
    • Need for Speed III has a track set in a Grand Canyon-type area, with an underground Greek temple.
  • Averted in Dragon Quest III. The World Map in that game is a very good representation of Earth.
    • Well, except for the continent you start the game on. You know, the one with all the plains and forests while bearing an uncanny resemblance in shape to Antarctica...
      • Actually Australia, but that still doesn't excuse the complete lack of desert, the voluminous amounts of forest and plains, and the sprawling mountain ranges.
        • To be fair, it's vaguely implied to be a lost continent.
  • Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones starts with the Hero on a boat, sailing to Babylon. He sails past a couple of huge rocks and spots his besieged and burning city. The problem is that Babylon was in what is now Iraq, which is a fairly flat country, so there are no huge rocks in the river.
  • While mostly faithful to actual geography, Empire Earth at times goes happy-go-lucky on perspectives. Examples include cities changing locations from a mission to another, Alexandria spreading over the whole Nile delta, or Brittany being completely obliterated from the map of France in the Roman campaign.
  • In Soldier of Fortune II, there's a Mayan pyramid in the Colombian jungle.
  • The Knight Rider NES game overlaps this and Hollywood Atlas. The Houston level is set in a desert, complete with Cacti. The St. Louis level has the landmark arch on a hill and in a village setting. However, in real life, it's in the downtown area by the river on common ground. Phoenix has the Grand Canyon in the background, when it is northwest of the city.
  • Several episodes of CNNNN and The Chaser's War on Everything have featured Julian or Firth talking with Americans on the street and exposing poor general knowledge about the world. One memorable segment had people being asked which country the US should attack next in the War on Terror. Thanks to deliberately mislabelled maps, at least three people thought the country they'd chosen was located in AUSTRALIA (specifically, Iran, France and North Korea (with Tasmania representing South Korea).
    • Another segment featured someone who also thought that there were about ten Eiffel Towers in Paris.
    • There are actually quite a few replicas of the Eiffel tower all around the world.
  • Generally averted, but still lampshaded in Uncharted, particularly in the third game.

  Sully: Only you could find a jungle in the middle of France.

  • Likely deliberate, but still quite noticeable in No More Heroes, namely in the positioning of Santa Destroy. Driving around will find the border with Mexico, and the city is on the coast, likely overwriting the existence of a little town called San Diego.


Webcomics Edit

  • In the Mafia themed La Cosa Nostra set in the Mid 1800s where the Irish main character emigrating to America meets a Japanese boy on a ship going across the Atlantic. The sad part is, that isn't the only instance.
    • That's only a real Wall Banger if you assume that the Japanese boy was coming over from Japan. In Real Life, the Japanese diaspora has been sizable if not that large pretty much since the Shogunate was kicked out, and many came first to Europe via the Suez Canal and from there to New England. And they weren't the only confusing case of this as well, such as in the "Great Railroad race", where the company on the Pacific coast primarily used Irish labor while the company on the Atlantic used Chinese. Hence why Reality Is Unrealistic
  • In Scandinavia and The World, America literally cannot see Denmark and cannot tell the difference between Sweden and Norway. On the flipside, he seems to be the only main character that acknowledges South America.


Western Animation Edit

  • Disney's Pocahontas has cliffs and mountains, but the setting is placed at Virginia's coastline.
  • In One Hundred and One Dalmatians (the Disney cartoon), a reference is made to the "small village of Suffolk". Suffolk is a county, just like the ones in Massachusetts and New York.
  • In the Dora the Explorer special where travels the world, Dora can spot Africa by from where she's standing in Mexico by looking directly behind her.
  • Say what you will about the geographic sins of the Transformers live-action movies (above) but the original cartoon was worse. Much worse. The link is to a Transformer Wiki page, including both an incredibly erroneous map of Europe and a comprehensive list of what is wrong with it, and a list of what historical and political events would have had to occur to alter the map such.
    • According to Transformers Headmasters, London is covered by trees and fog and people travel by horseback.
      • Don't forget, Headmasters takes place in the year 2011, making it that much worse.
  • In the X-Men animated episode "Days of Future Past, Part 2," Gambit travels to Washington, D.C. But the monitor shows the state of Washington (with Washington, D.C. captioned right below).
  • In the Direct-to-video Franklin special Back To School with Franklin, when Miss Koala points out where Australia is to the kids with a globe. Apparently, southern Thailand has ceased to exist on their version of Earth.
  • In the Real Adventures of Jonny Quest episode "The Mummies of Malenque," the Quest team goes on a trip to Columbia. Luckily they specified it was the Columbia that is in South America, else the kiddies might've gotten confused.
  • In Total Drama Island's "Celebrity Manhunt Special" the gang travels from Ontario to New York, and somehow get lost in a desert with a nuclear testing site (Trinity Site is in New Mexico if you are wondering.)
  • In the Inspector Gadget episode "Wambini Predicts", Gadget goes to "Alpakistan", where there are diamond-spitting llamas. Llamas and alpacas are from South America, only camels are found in the Middle East.
  • The song "Yakko's World" from Animaniacs, ostensibly listing all of the countries in the world, left out several countries, such as South Africa and Burkina Faso.
    • As is traditional, the song messes up the UK completely by listing England, Scotland and Ireland. It should either list England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, or just the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. And possibly adding Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, depending on definition of 'country'.
    • The 50 states and capitals song is great, but the animation that goes with it is really screwed up. Many of the states are the wrong shapes in some shots (but correct in others), such as the ones bordered by the Missouri River, which are shown as having a straight north-south border. Iowa in particular is unrecognizable, with the eastern "nose" and southeastern "arm" missing.
  • The Simpsons: The creators claim they often do a lot of research before they sent the family to another country. Yet they like to make use of stereotypes and intended mistakes, excused by the Rule of Funny. This makes it hard to determine which mistakes are really ignorant blunders and which ones are simply intended to be that way. Either way they might be funny to the creators and ignorant American viewers, but really jarring to the countries themselves and Americans who are informed about other countries.
    • In "The Bart Wants What It Wants" the family travels to Toronto, Canada. However, their depiction is absolutely abysmal; the biggest goof of the episode was depicting the C.N. Tower as being in the middle of a field... anyone who has ever been to Toronto could correct that.
    • In "Simpson Safari" they travel to Africa where a lot of local fauna are intentionally inaccurately depicted: giraffes live under ground, rhinoceroses lay eggs, hippo's are afraid of water and giant spiders live in jungles.
      • The Masai tribes are depicted as if they practice lip plates and neck rings, while in reality they don't.
    • After the Simpsons travelled to Brazil in "Blame It On Lisa" the Brazilian government complained about the way their country was depicted in the episode: rampant street crime, kidnappings, slums and a rat infestation. A spokesman for the Tourist Board of Rio De Janeiro added that "what really hurt was the idea of the monkeys - the image that Rio de Janeiro was a jungle." They even threatened with legal actions.
    • In "30 Minutes Over Tokyo" several Japanese landmarks are depicted being within short distance of one another.
    • Krusty visits The Hague in "Elementary School Musical" and arrives at the local airport. Despite the fact that The Hague has no airport in real life!
    • "The Regina Monologues" acts as if the United Kingdom still has the death penalty, which is of course acted out in a medieval fashion by ordering beheading in The Tower Of London. Ironically capital punishment no longer exists in the U.K., while some states in the United States still practice it!
  • Whenever the Earth is shown in Homestar Runner, the United States is actually drawn as a single landmass surrounded by oceans, with Alaska, Canada, Mexico, and Central and South America nowhere to be seen!
  • Dino Squad tends to set itself in location that actually exist, but at the same time tends to ignore the actual travel times. The episode "Easy Riders and Raging Dinos" has the kids driving to places in excess of 400 miles away from their hometown (Kittery Point, Maine to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Niagra Falls) like they're going to the next town over.


Real Life Edit

  • Quite a few people refer to Europe as if it were one country. When talking about album sales, box office, or TV ratings, many people mention that something was "successful in Europe" without differentiating specific countries, turning Europe into one large foreign market like Australia or Japan. Europe can be treated as a single economic territory, and the EU is a polity in its own right, but neither of these things makes Europe a country.
  • Dan Quayle is notable for his geography blunders. Examples: "It's wonderful to be here in the great state of Chicago." and "I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix."
  • There is a US state called Georgia and ex-"republic" in USSR, now the nation called Georgia. Naturally, a few citizens from the former expressed confusion when they heard about the Russian invasion of the latter. Google didn't help any, when their automatic Google Maps integration on Google News was helpfully showing a map of the former. Trolls even supplied a few "panicked logs of the invasion". At least, by the next time enough people learned that it wasn't repeated even despite early overblown rumors.
    • This is the reason that at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the country that got the most applause other than the United States, was Georgia.
  • This headline.
  • "I've now been in fifty.... seven states?" - President Barack Obama.
    • To be fair, that incident sounds more like he started to claim that he'd been in every state, realized that he hadn't, and fumbled the correction.
    • On the other hand, it's sometimes thought he was jokingly overestimating how many states he'd been to.
    • Sarah Palin had some fun with the incident: A Thanksgiving messsage to 57 states. Palin also included about a dozen other gaffes from other political figures in her message, to make the point that everyone makes mistakes when they're tired and stressed.
  • John McCain's infamous Iraq-Pakistan border.
  • Both Americans and the British seem to think that London and New York City are roughly the same latitude - in other words, roughly the same distance from the Equator. It's perhaps understandable given that the cities are often compared to each other, but New York City is actually at the same latitude as Madrid, while London is much further north - about the same latitude as Calgary. Britain (and Europe in general) has a far milder climate than its latitude entitles it to, due mainly to the Gulf Stream, which probably contributes to the overall confusion.
  • Some Americans apparently like to visit Hawai'i in a car. Or on a train.
    • Step # 10: apparently the best way to get to Honolulu, Hawaii is to kayak. (found by searching this)
  • The London Evening Standard 2010-04-21 edition had an article about how a drunken rugby star wandered onto a railway line at Wandsworth Road Station, electrocuting himself and then being hit by a train. The article includes the statement "It is not known why [he] ended up in Wandsworth at 4 a.m." Except that he didn't -- Wandsworth Road Station is so-named because it's on Wandsworth Road, which in turn is so-named because it runs from Vauxhall to Battersea, passing through Clapham on the way (and because anyone who travels along it to Battersea, and keeps going in the same direction, will shortly arrive in Wandsworth). Wandsworth Road Station is in Clapham -- nowhere near Wandsworth.
  • Apparently invoked by Opera Software in their FastMail.FM Acquisition FAQ; it's headed by a picture of Sydney Opera House and then goes on to say that FastMail.FM The Messaging Engine Pty. Ltd. Opera Software Australia Pty. Ltd. is in Melbourne, hundreds of miles from Sydney. However, more careful reading of the FAQ reveals that their use of the well-known Opera House image is a pun, so this is actually an aversion.
  • John F Kennedy once said: "The great battleground for the defense and expansion of freedom today is the whole southern half of the globe--Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East--the lands of the rising peoples." One glance at an actual map (or this xkcd strip) shows us that the majority of Asia, over half of Africa, central America and the entire Middle East are in fact Northern hemisphere. And Australia is on the Southern hemisphere despite not being on the list.
    • On the other hand, he probably meant South-East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa (even though much of Sub-Saharan Africa is above the equator as well). He did seem to neglect the Communist insurgency in Australia, though.
    • South America and Africa, at least, are now often referred to as the Global South, but the term was coined long after JFK died.
  • President Ronald Reagan went to Brazil and, with a grin on his face, said to be "Happy to visit the capital of Brazil, Buenos Aires"
  • One notorious example in Canadian politics involved the eminently mockworthy former right-wing leader Stockwell Day referring in an election debate to "jobs flowing south like the Niagara River." The Niagara River flows north.
  • Vancouverites are forever having to explain to people that the attractive mountains around the city are the Coastal Range. Not the Rockies. You cannot see the Rockies from Vancouver. There is a whole province between the two. Also, there's a mountain range in the way, but we're getting repetitive here.
  • A popular meme for media is to go into the streets and ask simple questions to random passersby. Geography questions tend to garner the most unrealistic and hilarious answers. Popular mistakes include making a country the capital city of a completely different country and not knowing where any country is outside of the passerby's home continent.
    • A South African newspaper once did the same, and got several interesting results. One respondent asked, "Angola ... isn't that in Egypt?" This, despite the fact that South Africa was fighting in Angola at the time.
    • A Dutch TV reporter went out on the streets asking random people for their opinion on the closure of Guantanamo Bay. "Shame, it was such a nice place when I went there last summer".
  • Douglas (Wrong Way) Corrigan. In 1938 he flew from Brooklyn to Ireland non-stop. However he had not been given authorization for such a flight. He claimed conditions made him misread his compass. Turns out, however, that Mr. Corrigan was a skilled aircraft mechanic who wanted to make that flight, with or without permission.
  • In his first press conference after being drafted by the Utah Jazz, Karl Malone told the Salt Lake City media how happy he was to be in "the city of Utah".
  • Dallas' sports teams have it crazy. The Cowboys are in a division with all Northeast teams (see above) while the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars are in divisions with all West Coast teams. Only the Mavericks get to be in a division with two other Texas teams and one in New Orleans.
    • And the Memphis Grizzlies.
    • Speaking of Dallas (well, the Metroplex, at any rate), Texas Christian University's sports teams nearly joined the Big East conference (which itself consists of mostly Northeast teams except DePaul, which is in Chicago) before accepting an invitation from the Texas-dominated Big 12 instead.
    • On a similar note, for a long time, Cincinnati and Atlanta were in the National League West division, while St. Louis and Chicago were in the NL East.
    • The NFL, up until the 2002 re-alignment, was an exercise in geographical insanity. Of the five teams in the NFC West division in 2001, three of them (New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers) were Southern cities while the Arizona Cardinals of the NFC East was the westernmost city in the NFC after the San Francisco 49ers. There are still a few oddities present today (the NFC West's Rams are still farther east than the NFC East's Cowboys; the Indianapolis Colts of the AFC South are farther north than the Baltimore Ravens of the AFC North), but for the most part, the current partitioning makes a lot more sense.
      • Somewhat justified, as the Cardinals had moved from St. Louis in the late 80's, and when the Panthers came into existence in 1995, the NFC West had an open spot, having only four teams to the other divisions' five. And when the AFL and NFL merged, the new NFC alignment was literally drawn out of a hat.
  • A certain postcard of Seattle has the level of Puget Sound much higher than in real life, with a band of green spliced in along the waterfront.
  • According to CNN, Queensland is actually a city in Tasmania. (They had to have meant Queenstown, since Queensland is the state where the other cities on the map are located). CNN also once stated that Edinburgh is in England. Try telling a native that.
  • Even more funny is how, according to Fox News, Egypt borders Israel on the west and Iran on the east.
  • Two countries, one whose name is part of the other's. Congo and The Democratic Republic Of The Congo (formerly Zaire). It's the latter that's always in the news, yet the former's name is used a vast majority of the time to refer to it. Worse, they're neighboring countries...
    • The former's official name is Republic of the Congo, and the demonym for both nationalities is the same: Congolese.
  • US Representative Michele Bachmann (Tea Party - Minnesota District 6) proudly told people in New Hampshire that the Revolutionary War battles of Lexington and Concord happened right there. Internet Backlash naturally followed from irate Massachusetts (and other knowledgeable) citizens.
    • She pulled off another one kicking off her presidential nominee campaign when she said that John Wayne, born in the city she was currently visiting, was an American hero. Marion Michael Morrison, later known as John Wayne, was born in another city 140 miles away. The John Wayne born where she was at the time was John Wayne Gacy.
      • No wonder she decided to become a Swiss citizen.
  • When the Dallas Mavericks faced the Utah Jazz in the 2001 NBA playoffs (the Mavs' first playoff in 11 years), Dirk Nowitzki caught flak for saying how Dallas was going to the "city of Utah." True, Nowitzki is German, but he'd been in the league three years and the Mavs and Jazz were in the same division at the time.
  • And then there's the story of the American woman who gave back her tickets to the Richard Wagner festival in Bayreuth (during the Eighties), because "there's war now in Lebanon!"
  • A Mexican singer named Maite Perroni, from the pop group RBD once yelled "¡Arriba Chile!"... In Perú. Here's the incident in question
  • New Mexico Magazine has a monthly column called "One of Our 50 is Missing" dedicated to the geographical failures that result from people not knowing New Mexico is in the United States. This ranges from the traditional thinking it is part of Mexico to an instance of thinking it was in Canada.
  • Many American pro sports teams are not based in the cities they represent, but bordering suburbs: The Washington Redskins currently play in FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. The New York Giants and New York Jets don't play in New York (the city OR the state); MetLife Stadium is in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Buffalo Bills play in the suburb of Orchard Park. The Miami Dolphins do play in a city with the word "Miami", but it's Miami Gardens. The Detroit Pistons play in the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Phoenix Coyotes play in Glendale, Arizona.
    • Zig-zagged by the Cleveland Cavaliers. They originally played in the Cleveland Arena until it was torn down in 1974, then they played in Richfield, almost an hour south, for over twenty years. However, Gund Arena (now Quicken Loans Arena or "The Q") was built in downtown Cleveland in 1994, and the Cavs have been playing in Cleveland proper ever since.
  • Many people seem to forget that Canada is part of America. The (possibly ex-)top comment of this YouTube video, for example, is/was "what I've learned from JFL is that Canadians are much kinder than Americans".