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File:CalvinHobbes bats report 2371.jpg

Triple H: Sixty six percent, that's almost better than a half chance for a DX victory!

Shawn Michaels: Seventy percent of statistics are wrong, eighty percent of the time.

This is a particular instance where -- frequently during a discovery of great scientific or historical significance -- the resident Mr. Exposition, whose Techno Babble has been extremely convincing (and perhaps even accurate) thus far, suddenly makes some comment that is so egregiously off-the-scale of inaccuracy that anyone with a cursory knowledge of the subject realizes the writers made the whole thing up.

Many of these will be Disaster Movies or Action Movies and will use state of the art computer effects to keep your interest.

This can be Played for Laughs by having a Book Dumb character make such an error so that a smarter character can spot and react to it. Compare Insane Troll Logic.

Contrast the MST3K Mantra, which tells us not to worry about these little details. Also see Didn't Think This Through, which is less about research failure and more about planning failure. Also contrast Accidentally Accurate, which is when non-experts think the creators are wrong, but experts know the creators are right--by complete accident.

NOTE: Like other pages related to Did Not Do the Research, make sure that your example really IS an example.

No Real Life Examples, Please Take them to Cowboy Bebop at His Computer.

Examples of Critical Research Failure include:


Advertising Edit

  • A TV spot for the film Gamer became an Internet hit when it claimed that "the last time Gerard Butler kicked this much ass was 300 years ago." Yeah, we're pretty sure Three Hundred did not take place in the early 18th century.
  • A commercial for Oscar Meyer Franks has a father come home sees his three kids on those electronic gizmos kids use these days. Wanting to spend Quality Family Time he trips the circuit breaker of his house knocking the power out and shutting off the older brother's computer, the younger brother's game console, and the sister's cell phone.


Anime & Manga Edit

  • One scene in Grappler Baki involved a character who blinded people by pulling out their optic nerves... by sticking a finger into the side of his opponent's neck and pulling said nerve out. The optic nerve, which connects the eye and brain via a hole through the eyesocket, really has no business being there.


Comic Books Edit

  • The Mexican cartoonist Rius has made several books against the food industry, in one of them he lists as "dangerous food preservatives" Ascorbic acid and Calcium carbonate. Also: "Jazz is not an American product; it's 100% African. And by extension, the same thing can be said about Rock"
  • Calvin and Hobbes In-Universe example: Calvin's report on bats, which has exactly one "fact" (bats are bugs) that Calvin himself made up. He's called out on the Critical Research Failure by everyone and his tiger.
  • Ambush Bug In-Universe: the ordinarily Genre Savvy Ambush Bug once made a huge error. Seeing a young blonde woman in a familiar costume flying by, Ambush Bug immediately realized that some malevolent magic or Red Kryptonite had turned his "pal" Superman into a girl, and that Superman desperately needed the Bug's help. Somehow, Ambush Bug was completely ignorant of the existence of Supergirl, who was naturally mystified by the encounter. (Supergirl, In-Universe, was publicly known and quite famous in her own right at the time.) The Bug made up for his Critical Research Failure with a Critical Success at the end of the story, though, immediately recognizing Supergirl in her secret identity.[2]
  • Superman once multiplied 10x20x16 and got 32,000. That wasn't just math, it was Super Mathematics.
  • The Crisis on Infinite Earths maxi-series suffers from this in its basic set-up: due to an alien Mad Scientist messing with Things Man Was Not Meant to Know at the dawn of time, the universe was split into an infinite number of primarily positive matter universes and a single anti-matter universe. Where things go wrong is when, due to villainous machinations, the positive matter universes start to get wiped out of existence by an "anti-matter wave", and this annihilation somehow strengthens the anti-matter universe and its resident Big Bad while weakening the good guys (and reducing their numbers). Since the first thing you learn about matter/antimatter reactions is that things go boom and you're left with nothing.


Fan Works Edit

  • "At the next intersection, Dean turns left, heading south into the setting sun."
  • The author of Naruto Veangance Revelaitons, claiming to know Japanese history, declares that he knows that Japan had nukes dropped on it in World War One.
  • Happens in Turnabout Storm in-universe. Phoenix makes a loud objection during the trial when it's revealed that the decisive evidence against the defendant is a storm cloud, mocking the prosecution for suggesting that his client could move that cloud around and make it shoot lightning at will. Too bad he happens to be in Equestria, a world where controlling the weather is a common sense fact.

 Phoenix: [After a rather awkward lesson on Equestrian common sense] Oh... Hehe... Sorry! My mistake...

Twilight: Maybe you should have... Oh, I don't know, studied!?

Phoenix: I said I was sorry!


Film Edit

 "Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!"

"Germans?"

"Forget it, he's rollin'."

 Coleman: Let me see, you would be from Austria. Am I right?

Ophelia: No, I am Inga from Sweden.

Coleman: Sweden? ...But you're wearing Lederhosen.

  • In the second Die Hard movie, the villains shut down air traffic control at Washington Dulles International Airport so as to prevent interference with his plot. As a result, planes don't receive landing instructions and have to circle the airport, as their fuel runs out. There's just one problem: FAA regulations state that all airline flights must carry enough fuel to divert to another major airport close by in case of an emergency like the one depicted in the film. There are two major airports in the DC Metro Area, Dulles and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and three if you count Baltimore-Washington International Airport, which, as the name implies, is about halfway between the two cities. Andrews Air Force Base could certainly handle a number of emergency landings in a pinch. In short, the suspense of the movie never should have happened. They attempt to Hand Wave it away in the movie by saying that the storm shut the other airports down, but other major airports like Philadelphia, Richmond, Newark, etc., aren't all that far away, and the planes would have been rerouted long before they reached bingo fuel. So that's 2 CRFs for the price of 1.
  • In Flight Of The Living Dead (a.k.a. Plane Dead), the agent responsible for turning people into zombies is a genetically engineered version of the "malaria virus". Yes, that's right, virus. Malaria is probably the most well-known parasitic disease in the world, and has been known to be caused by a parasite since the 1880s...
  • In Plan 9 from Outer Space, Eros informs the heroes that "a particle of sunlight contains many atoms." Wow. Where to even begin on that?
  • The Tagline of the film Biggles is "Meet Jim Ferguson. He lived a daring double-life with one foot in the 20th century and the other in World War One." Anyone who knows when World War One occurred should see the problem.
  • The Asylum movie Mega Fault. The premise is that a giant earthquake opens a crack in the ground that stretches from the east coast of the US to the Grand Canyon. This one has a lot of cracks following people down roads.


Literature Edit

  • Examples from the Twilight series, whose author, Stephenie Meyer, has infamously bragged about doing as little research as possible. Garbled half-remembrances from high school abound:
    • In Breaking Dawn, Edward and Bella's honeymoon takes place on an island off of the west coast of Brazil. [3]
    • Also in Twilight, Carlisle is mentioned finding a colony of vampires living in the sewers of London, despite his youth taking place over 200 years before underground sewers were constructed. This isn't as easy to excuse as the burning witches (not done, but popularly perceived to have been), but about as easy to excuse as the coming of the Commonwealth suddenly causing Catholics to be persecuted, as if the prior 130 years of Catholic oppression had never happened.
  • In Christopher Pike's book The Secret of Ka, basic errors abound in the first thirty pages alone:
    • There is no desert outside of Istanbul. Indeed, the city is right on the water, lying on the rather famous Bosporous Strait, in fact.
    • Istanbul is likewise portrayed as an extremely violent city, similar to popular portrayals of places like the Gaza Strip, which it isn't. It's also portrayed as the capital of Turkey, which it really isn't.
    • The narrator is scolded for saying "Hell" and "Christ," because she's in an Arab country... which Turkey isn't. (And with Islamism on the rise in recent years, it's still no theocracy, and it's questionable whether many people would get bent out of shape about someone swearing in English in any case.
  • Dan Brown's Digital Fortress:
    • The novel portrays the entire NSA, the world's preeminent codebreaking organization, scrambling around trying to figure out the answer to a simple riddle that anyone who took high school chemistry could easily figure out. On top of that, the answer to said riddle printed in the book is wrong.
    • The novel depicts Spain (and, specifically, Seville) as something resembling a third world hellhole with, among other things, Spaniards unable to have normal wounds treated in hospitals.
  • In Moby Dick, Herman Melville/Ishmael consistently asserts that whales are fish. There's a whole chapter on it. He even goes on to warn of those who might lead the reader astray through talk of mammals and the like, which he essentially counters with "Come on guys, they're totally fish."
  • Lucy Hawking's The Accidental Marathon has a few of these. A police artist, when she became successful as a contemporary artist, quit her job and "breathed a sigh of relief that she would never have to lift a set of fingerprints...again". That would be part of the job of a fingerprint expert, not a police artist, however.
  • Jacqueline Rayner's Doctor Who novel, The Last Dodo, features "Mervin, the missing link between fish and mammals", which is just what it sounds like it should be. The thing is, we already know the steps between fish and mammals -- they're best known as amphibians and reptiles.
  • The Catcher in The Rye has a few prominent In-Universe examples:
    • Holden Caulfield writes a paper about ancient Egypt, which reads thus: "The Egyptians were an ancient race of Caucasians residing in one of the northern sections of Africa. The latter as we all know is the largest continent in the Eastern Hemisphere. The Egyptians are extremely interesting to us today for various reasons. Modern science would still like to know what the secret ingredients were that the Egyptians used when they wrapped up dead people so that their faces would not rot for innumerable centuries. This interesting riddle is still quite a challenge to modern science in the twentieth century." That is the paper, in its entirety.
    • The title of the book comes from Holden mistaking a line from the song "Comin' Through the Rye". He thinks it's "If a body catch a body comin' through the rye", but it's really "If a body meet a body comin' through the rye."
  • There's a Star Trek book in which the author tried to convert from Fahrenheit to Celsius merely by subtracting 32, without dividing by 1.8 afterwards. As a result, a supposedly perfect paradise planet is said to have a mean surface temperature of a "pleasant 50 degrees centigrade". That's 122 degrees Fahrenheit. (For comparison purposes, the average July temperature high in Death Valley in 2009 was 47 degrees Celsius.)
  • The Song of Roland is both a classic piece of literature and proof that Critical Research Failure is Older Than Print. It claims within the first few pages that Muslims worship "Apollin" (who is either Apollo or Apollyon (or both)). Early medieval troubadours didn't have access to Wikipedia, or even TV Tropes. All they had was garbled traveler's tales, accounts written by classical travelers, and the knowledge of what makes a good story. They worked with what they had, which wasn't extensive. It is also claimed that Charlemagne is 200 years old, and the The Song of Roland got major details about the story's historical battle wrong (such as who the two armies were).
  • In The Pendragon Adventure we have, in the first book, a description of Mark's wall. Which apparently has a poster from a "colorful Hentai-animation superhero cartoon". Surprisingly, Mark's female friend Courtney isn't shocked by this sort of explicit pornographic content. Later books in the series (as well as reprints of the first book) correct the author's error, simply referring to Mark's decorations as "anime posters."
  • In The BFG, the eponymous Big Friendly Giant goes on a rant about how Humans Are Bastards because they're the only species that kill members of the same species. In reality, intraspecies killing (and cannibalism) has been common in many animals other than humans. But it's justified because the character lives in a magical realm in a cave in the sky, so he knows little about our world. Plus he gets proven wrong when the other giants try to kill him.
  • Larry Niven is famous as an author of "hard" science fiction, but even he isn't immune to the occasional whopper:
  • Angels and Demons, while famed for a sister trope has an example. The book claims that the Catholic Church copied communion (eating God) from the Aztecs. Even young children know that Europeans and natives of the more southerly regions of the Americas didn't meet until Christopher Columbus' famous voyage of 1492... and that Christianity predates that voyage by about one thousand four hundred and ninety-two years.
  • In the Jack Reacher series novel Running Blind (released in some locales as The Visitor), the killer's method of murdering his victims is to hypnotize them into completely complying with their own murder. Even laymen know that hypnotism just does not work that way.
  • From the non-fiction Weird Michigan: "Customers looking for a summer ice-cream treat don’t need to worry; there is no hemlock (the drink Aristotle did himself in with) in the soft-serve cones at the Hemlock Whippy Dip." If you don't already know why this is a problem, see Socrates’ Very Own Page.
  • An in-universe example from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:

 "What the fuck are these people talking about?" my attorney whispered. "You'd have to be crazy on acid to think a joint looked like a goddamn cockroach!"

  • In Matthew Reilly's Seven Deadly Wonders, The Victory of Samothrace is apparently the same Nike who sat in the right hand of Zeus, despite it being found on Samothrace (hence the name) and not at Olympia, and being made out of marble and not ivory and bronze. And despite ballet having originated from France and Italy, and it having specific names for every movement and position, a "toe move" is an accepted step, and a ten year-old can learn it (as well as the complicated and injury-fraught art of ballet) with the guidance of nothing but the TV. One of the characters, in fact, mentions that she's way too good for someone who's self taught.
  • In the '70s horror novel The Sentinel, author Jeffrey Konvitz talks about translating Paradise Lost from the "original Latin".
  • In-Universe example from Gordon Korman's Son of the Mob 2: Vince is heading off to film school in California with his girlfriend and best friend and decides to chronicle their road trip in script form. His girlfriend immediately points out one minor problem: he has them driving west into the rising sun.
  • In Night of the Wolf by Alice Borchardt (sister of Anne Rice), the claim is made that wolves do not mate for life. This has been proven repeatedly to be false - they do.
  • In Jurassic Park, the finale of the book has the military of Costa Rica firebomb Isla Nublar to prevent the dinosaurs from escaping. The problem: Costa Rica has no military. Not even a little one.
  • In Clive Cussler's novel Atlantis Found, the author writes that Hudson Bay was formed by a comet impact in 7120 BC. For reference, the largest known impact structure on Earth is Vredefort, at 300km across. Hudson Bay is over 1000 kilometers across. Something that big would easily have wiped out most of the surface life on the planet, including humans. In part, this is just Science Marches On, as it was once believed that Hudson Bay was an impact basin, and this remains a minority opinion today. But even under that theory, the impact would have occurred in the Precambrian Era, which ended approximately 542,000,000 years before 7120 BC.
  • Invoked in Harry Potter. A Comic Relief book about magical beasts in the Harry Potter universe mentions a Kappa, and states it's Japanese. One of Harry's notes next to it says "Snape hasn't read this book either", since one book has Snape say that Kappa are Mongolian.
  • In the Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels, Free Fall depicts Japan as a Third World Country that sells kids to Americans for 100 American dollars. Again, that's Japan, as in the country that was widely believed to be taking over the world only a decade or two before the novel was written.
  • One volume of Uncle John's Bathroom Reader had what was supposed to be a list of funny answers given on Family Feud, but most (if not all) actually came from the British version, Family Fortunes. Somehow, the fact that one of the questions was "a job that requires a torch" (British English for what Yanks call a "flashlight") never tipped off the writers.
    • The answer given however, was "burglar." The humor still can be found, as it was in the original broadcast, from listing burglary as a job.
  • An in-universe example in the Hunger Games delivered by none other than Effie Trinket "Well, if you put enough pressure on coal it turns to pearls.".
  • In Ski Nurse Mystery by Helen Wells, a doctor refers to Eve Curie as if she were an expert on radiology. It should have been Marie Curie, Eve's mother.


Live-Action TV Edit

  • Boston Legal frequently makes errors obvious to even non-lawyers. Lawyers routinely meet with judges without the presence of opposing counsel, evidence that has nothing to do with the case is introduced at the last minute, and the same firm occasionally represents both sides in a case.
  • Ally McBeal (Boston Legal creator David E. Kelley's earlier legal show) makes many of the same errors, but the law firm is shown to be "functionally corrupt" and ethically questionable in many ways. Why every single other person in the entire bloody legal system plays by the same rules, on the other hand, is an open question.
  • The Weakest Link research team has proved itself to be the weakest link on occasion:
    • When the question was asked to a contestant "Montreal is the capital city of which Canadian province?" They claimed the answer was Quebec, while in fact the correct answer is none. Quebec City is the capital of Quebec, as Montreal has not been the capital city of the province since its parliament was burned down during a riot in 1849. Anyone who uses Google for more than porn searches could have found that critical detail in under 10 seconds.
    • The question "In which century did the First World War take place, the 19th or the 20th?" and gave the right answer as "the 19th". Perhaps excusable if you're rattling off dates and forget momentarily that the 1900s is not the same as the 19th century, but not for a high-profile, heavily fact-checked game show.
  • In the recent season of the American Big Brother, Julie Chen says that that's probably the first time Jordan won Head of Household. Actually; she won Head of Household twice the previous time she was on. Even if you don't count the first time (Which Jeff threw for her), she still won the final one by herself.
  • The "New Earth" episode of Doctor Who: Everything about the New Humans. They each carry "every disease in the universe" (which somehow amounts to a few puny thousand or so). Not only are the diseases somehow able to coexist in the body, they are passed on in full, infection and symptoms and all, by tactile interaction, instantly. Forget about incubation periods or the fact that it takes time for cells in the body to become damaged enough for external symptoms to manifest. And that's not even half as ridiculous as to how they get cured: The Doctor takes the cures ("intravenous solutions") to every single one of those diseases, mixes them together and sprinkles a few of the New Humans with the resulting cocktail, who are cured instantly, all their symptoms disappearing and the boils healing in a second, and then pass the cure on to those still infected, who are likewise cured instantly. Putting aside the ridiculousness of the whole "instantly" thing mentioned earlier, you can't just mix the different cures together and still expect them all to work separately and not disrupt each other, or worse, combine into something that will kill the patient. There's a reason you're supposed to be very careful when taking different kinds of medicine together. For another, the cure (which most likely consists of antibodies or chemicals) isn't something that's infectional by itself and can get "passed on". In short, shame on you, "Doctor".
    • Doctor Who often plays fast and loose with science in this way - especially in episodes written by Steven Moffat. For example, Amy is once told to close her eyes in order to turn off the vision center of her brain. Obviously Moffat has never dreamt with his eyes shut?
  • Heroes examples:
    • In the first episode of Volume Four, several of the characters find themselves on board an airplane that undergoes a rapid cabin depressurization at altitude. Anything or anyone that isn't tied down naturally starts flying out the hole, and the plane experiences massive turbulence. The Critical Research Failure bit is where the effects of the depressurization continue for the entire duration of the plane's descent. Even when it's less than 500 feet off the ground.
    • almost any time someone mentions evolution, you can bet it will be entirely wrong:
      • The book of a biology professor claims that the right combination of genes could do things that blatantly break the laws of physics.
      • The son of said professor seems to believe natural selection works by destiny, randomly selecting an individual to be awesome, instead of gradually weeding out unfavorable mutations and allowing better mutations a better chance to survive.
      • The son also states that individuals with beneficial mutations have to fight harder than other people to survive.
  • NCIS plays it pretty loose with science and technology, but a few examples are glaring enough to qualify for this trope:
    • During one episode, the NCIS computer network is being hacked by someone. Abby madly taps at her keyboard to try and counter this but isn't fast enough. So McGee jumps on the other side of the keyboard and they madly tap away at the same time, on the same keyboard! Unless anti-hacking software somehow involves a mini-game with a two player mode then they aren't going to accomplish anything. The simplest solution is a phone call to their IT support with orders to unplug their network.
    • The team routinely drives up and down Virginia multiple times an episode, which may possible for a state Virginia's size, if all they did through the entire episode was drive.
    • And again, on the premiere episode of the ninth season, McGee suggests a fun gaming lounge that the team can go to, saying it has "3D, Play Station 2 and a 60" plasma." Even people with just a vague knowledge of modern video games would know that the PS3 replaced the PS2 almost half a decade earlier and never ran in 3D, let alone high-definition.
  • The Young Ones has some In-Universe examples:
    • When Rick is trying desperately to recall his history lessons, he finishes the statement "Crop rotation in the 14th century was considerably more widespread after..." with "1172". Which isn't even in the 14th century.
    • Neil never sleeps because he thinks sleep causes cancer.
  • Parodied in this sketch from That Mitchell and Webb Look. Many faults are pure and simple Gretzky Has the Ball issues, but not all:
    • Steel is very impossible to "mine". "West Germany, famously a bunch of cheats" references East Germany's history with performance-enhancing drugs. And "Cricket? 'Ere in Yorkshire?" makes no sense as cricket is really popular in Yorkshire.
    • The Ashes isn't a tournament with "second rounds" and "semi-finals". It's a revered test cricket match between the national teams of England and Australia. The West Indies, the Dallas Cowboys (an American football team), West Germany (a country that ceased existing for 17 years at the time of airing and in which most people have no idea what cricket actually is) and Pisswiddle Steel Batters are ineligible. Manchester United is an association football team.
    • Michell and Webb have a whole series of skits based on two screenwriters who never, ever, do any research. The medical drama in particular is hilarious.
    • There's also the archaeologist who makes the incredible find of an ancient Roman...videotape. It appears to show several people having a toga party, but he and other researchers talk about the incredible discoveries they're making, while one stares at them in disbelief, and eventually brings up the obvious. He's then guilt-tripped into going along with it.
  • In the "killer gamers" episode of CSI: Miami, the bad guys are basing their crimes on the plot of a video game. The only way the team can find out what happens next is to play the game. Anyone who has ever set foot in a video game store has seen shelves full of Official Strategy Guides proclaiming "All Secrets Revealed!" on their covers. (And Game FAQs and other online sites, which will reveal those secrets for free!)
  • In an early episode of Greys Anatomy there is a patient who needs a porcine valve replacement. Except, she's an Orthodox Jew and she can't have a pig valve in her heart! Except that if anyone had bothered to look it up they'd find out that there is only a prohibition against eating pigs, not on cooking them or deriving benefit from them. And if there were there is another law that says other than idolatry, murder or perverse sexual acts, Jewish laws can be broken to preserve life. Also, she's specifically an Orthodox Jew... but her rabbi is a woman.
  • The BBC programme Movie Mistakes ironically mixed up the order of the famous The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, naming Two Towers as the third and Return of the King as the second.
  • An episode of Star Trek the Next Generation has a character describe Picard as being "two metres tall". That's over 6ft 6in! Patrick Stewart is no more than 5ft 10in, and the remarkably tall Jonathan Frakes (Riker) and Michael Dorn (Worf) are significantly shorter than that, even factoring in Worf's Klingon forehead. The writer clearly didn't know the metric system. Retconned in Picard's last appearance, Star Trek Nemesis- Picard and his clone both lament not having reached two meters tall.
  • In the 2000 TV series The Invisible Man, Darien's surface temperature drops below freezing when he turns invisible. The reason given is that no light is hitting him. Clearly, we must all be freezing to death in our sleep every night.
  • Reviews On The Run's 2010 Blu-Ray award special gave the best voice actor to Kevin Conroy for his performance in Batman: Under the Red Hood. While Conroy voiced Batman in the DCAU and for some other projects, a quick IMDb check reveals Bruce Wayne's part to actually be held by Bruce Greenwood.
  • News magazine show Inside Edition ran a story about the "Real-Life Bonnie and Clyde". Apparently, the Inside Edition team didn't know that Bonnie and Clyde were real people and not just from a movie.
  • Charles Kuralt's On The Road once showed a young girl who had taught a pig to swim. This was shortly followed by a flurry of letters explaining that all pigs can swim from birth.
  • According to Fox News, Oslo is in Germany, Egypt is Iraq, 59 + 35 + 26 equals 100, and 70 + 63 + 60 also equals 100.
  • X-Play has been known to make a couple of these. Among these are showing they've barely played Tales of the Abyss (As well as having done no research on the Tales (series) in general) and claiming that Dead Rising Chop Till You Drop has Mini-games. Which it doesn't.
  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, in "Return of the Green Ranger," features the Rangers going back in time to the late 1700s, where Angel Grove is a colonial town filled with British soldiers. Angel Grove is in California, which was originally ruled by Spain, and wasn't inhabited by Americans until the mid-1800s. Though considering the key demographic of the show, it may be a case of They Just Didn't Care. Another time travel episode more plausibly portrayed Angel Grove as a dusty Wild West town.
  • The Taiwanese adaptation of The Million Pound Drop does this often enough to lead to suspicions that the show is rigged. Frequently, a blatantly false "correct" answer is given for an answer that happens to be one that the contestants left empty. One particularly obvious incident was when they claimed the correct answer to "Which of these animals is warm-blooded?" was salmon.
  • On January 18, 2012, the commercials for Entertainment Tonight previewed a story about the Concordia cruise ship capsizing disaster, which they called "The Real Life Titanic". One would think the real-life Titanic would be, well, the Titanic.
  • In one episode of QI, Stephen claims marsupials aren't mammals.
  • In the 2012 episode of Brad Meltzer's Decoded, Brad brings up the prophecy of the "Blue Star Kachina" and mentions how NASA has recently discovered an actual blue star. They go on as if it's possible for an actual honest-to-goodness star to hit the Earth come December 21st 2012 - and ask a NASA guy about it.
    • Blue stars are real, but if one of them was going to hit the Earth by the end of the year, it would probably be brighter than the Sun. Kinda hard to miss something like that.
  • On an episode of Tales from the Crypt, a woman marries an ugly, abusive man because a fortune teller had told her that he would soon inherit a million dollars then die. Her life with him is completely miserable, so after she wins the lottery she decides to divorce him. When she tells him her decision, he strangles her in a jealous rage and is soon executed for her murder. The implication is that he inherited his million dollars from her and then died. The problem with this is that, as everyone knows, a murderer cannot inherit from his victim.
  • A real life example involving a live-action TV show. In this case, YTV, a youth station in Canada, became the first Canadian station to play Farscape. All the station's programming execs saw was the "Jim Henson Company" credit, what the young viewers saw was Zhaan's bare blue ass. Oops. Good thing they cut it from their schedule before Chiana showed up.
  • iCarly: One episode has the kids being contacted by the Computer Security Agency for attempting to hack the school's servers, and are concerned that they will be sent to juvenile hall. Computer-related offenses are considered federal crimes, and are handled by the FBI. Keep in mind that Carly and her friends are in their early teens, but depending on the state, that would be old enough to have them tried as adults and be sent to a federal prison.
  • News Radio: Bill in one episode trying to stage an office rebellion, shouts "Do you think the Pilgrims really cared about all the tea they dumped into Baltimore Harbor?"


Music Edit

  • Any song that uses "Romeo and Juliet" to say their love is perfect. It's not as if the source material is that hard to find (and it's required reading in a vast majority of high schools). Romeo and Juliet's love wasn't perfect, it was hasty, shallow, and blind. The whole point of the play is that kids make incredibly stupid decisions when it comes to romance. Shakespeare, you sardonic bard you. The idea that the two teenagers were perfect and their parents were stupid probably originates from high-school readers.
    • Taylor Swift's "Love Story". Not only does she have lines like "Romeo, stay away from Juliet" (quite the opposite in the actual story), she actually goes the extra mile with research failure by saying "You were Romeo, I was a Scarlet Letter", which is, in fact, a badge of shame given for adultery. A perfect storm of Critical Research Failure and Mainstream Obscurity. It's entirely possible Taylor Swift is well aware of both The Scarlet Letter and Romeo and Juliet, and that the whole thing falls squarely under Poe's Law.
    • Beautifully averted, however (that is, to say, researched perfectly), in Liam Kyle Sullivan's song No Booty Calls as alter-ego Kelly, in an exchange between her ex-boyfriend and herself:

 Neil: Baby, all I wanna do is make you sweat. Let me be Romeo to your Juliet.

Kelly: Okay, drink some poison and I'll stab myself. You'd know that story if you ever took a book off a shelf!

    • Also averted by Mindy McCready's "Oh Romeo":

  Oh Romeo/Who would lay down her life?/Swallow the poison, pick up the knife/Maybe I cried/Just a teardrop or two/I would not die for you/I would not die for you...

    • (Don't Fear) The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult treats the idea of a Romeo and Juliet fantasy pretty accurately. Two people want to be together forever? It's as easy as killing yourselves. You know, all suicide pacty.
      • Technically, the song is not about a suicide pact, but about the idea love can endure in the afterlife.
    • Another interpretation of the play is that Romeo and Juliet really are deeply in love - they are just also quite rash and get involved in a series of tragic events. So songs comparing one's depth of commitment to that of Romeo and Juliet don't necessarily backfire on the analogy, only those which imply that the result will be a happy ending.
    • The term "star-crossed" (as in "star-crossed lovers") doesn't mean "perfect", or "fated", or anything like that. It means the opposite; that fate was throwing everything it had at them to make sure this shit didn't happen, and they were going ahead with it anyway, fate be damned.
  • Neil Young has a song called "Cortez the Killer", in which he praises the pacifist and egalitarian... Aztecs!? Seriously, he comes right out and says "Hate was just a legend, / And war was never known" while he's talking about one of the bloodiest civilizations in human history. He also says they "lifted many stones" and "built up with their bare hands / What we still can't do today." So, which early 16th century Aztec stone buildings were unmatchable by 1970s technology exactly?
    • On top of that, Cortez was actually one of the more humane of the conquistadores (insofar as the conquistadores were humane at all). Once the Aztecs were conquered, he actually wasn't a bad ruler. But these are 16th century Spanish standards. He petitioned for the Aztec titles of nobility to be recognized by the Spanish crown and in his will insisted that his Indian, mestizo, and Spanish heirs be treated equally (including inheritance of his lands and titles). Yes, you read that right; he actually wanted to maintain the social structure of the empire, essentially treating it as an overseas province of Spain.
  • There is a Dutch DJ who, as of October 2011, claims to get phone calls from Madonna and Frank Sinatra on a regular basis. His phone bill must be through the roof, because Sinatra died in May 1998. Two seconds on Wikipedia would have prevented this; it's right there in the very first sentence of their article on Sinatra.
  • There was a period in the 2000s when the media believed "emo" to be a "cult" and that the "Black Parade" was a Valhalla type place where emos go after they die. [1] Critical Research Failure indeed.
  • In "Firework", Katy Perry claims a rainbow comes after a hurricane. In another, she claims hummingbirds make honey.


Tabletop Games Edit

  • Old World of Darkness books have a few, but a special shout out goes to "Berlin By Night". Aside from having it somehow being a secret that West Berlin's Jekyll and East Berlin's Hyde are the same person, it was written and edited at the same time as another sourcebook about the Ax Crazy Malkavians, and White Wolf didn't notice that both books included Rasputin the Mad Monk... while giving him entirely different backgrounds and clans. Subsequent books Lampshaded this, with him being a mage, werewolf, ANOTHER mage, and ultimately implied to be a ghost, possessing all of the above at varying times.


Theatre Edit

  • In The Winters Tale, William Shakespeare committed a Critical Research Failure and was called out on it by his contemporary, Ben Jonson. Shakespeare had his characters shipwrecked on the coast of Bohemia (i.e., Czechia) "where there is no sea near by one hundred miles."[4] Shakespeare's mistake was likely an artifact from his original source, which took place in Sicily, not Bohemia.
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream examples:
    • The play takes place in Athens in the time of Theseus, placing it around 1200 BCE at the very latest. Yet there is a reference to a clock striking twelve. The same occurs in Julius Caesar, wherein a clock strikes three.[5]
    • Characters in the play also mention Cupid, A Roman god. The Greek name would have been Eros.
  • In Antony and Cleopatra, Cleopatra suggests playing a game of billiards, a game which wouldn't exist until about 1000 years later.
  • Two Gentlemen of Verona has a plot point often regarded as a Critical Research Failure, but it's actually an aversion. While the gentlemen and their servants take a ship to get from Verona to Padua (or Milan, the script says both at different times), and all three cities do not have access to the sea, the three cities did have access to an extensive network of canals linking Verona to Padua and Milan, as well as to various points within each city. Some of these canals are still around today, though their transportation uses have been replaced by modern transportation methods.
  • The Tempest has a similar aversion in Act I Scene 2, where we are told that Prospero and Miranda were taken from Milan by "bark" (i.e., "barque," a type of ship) "some leagues to the sea," where they were put aboard "a rotten carcass of a boat". Again, while Milan lacks direct access to the ocean, it did have access to an extensive network of canals, and the Grand Canal (Naviglio Grande) is still around today.


Video Games Edit

  • Imageepoch listed Black Rock Shooter: The Game as an RPG. Everyone who played the game or actually watched the trailer knew at once that it's anything but an RPG.
  • In Koudelka, the first part of the Shadow Hearts series, the action takes place in an old abbey in Wales. Which, the manual cheerfully tells everyone, including people living there, is a "small country in the north of England".
  • In the PSP game Def Jam Series: Fight for NY: Takeover, there is plenty of cringe-inducing trash-talk that gets tossed back and forth before almost every fight in the main storyline. One of the opponents you can fight for money in the Dragon House is named Prodigy. All trash talk pertaining to this opponent makes reference to him claiming to be a prophet. Prodigy, prophecy, what's the difference?
  • Soviet Strike has Crimea located "somewhere in Southern Russia", but even a simple political map of it will tell you this territory does in fact belong to Ukraine. On top of that, despite the game has the word "Soviet" in its' name, the latter events point that it actually takes place when Russia became a separate federation, with countries like Belarus and Ukraine proclaiming their independance at this time. Simply said, after the collapse of USSR.
  • While Pokémon's Pokédex has a good number of instances in which it seems to contradict itself and make strange claims, Whismur's entry states its cry is louder than a jet plane. The strange part is that the player character can hear it multiple times (while having no indication of ear protection) with the source being right in front of them. It's very possible that Pokémon can control the volume of the sounds they make. That doesn't explain how an ill-ordered Hyper Voice has no effect on the trainers or surrounding bystanders, though.
    • Here's a good look at the faulty science behind Pokémon.
    • Another one that would count would be the 90% of Electric attacks. Every one that has "Thunder" in its name is misnamed because the thunder is the sound made by the lighting, and has nothing to do with the electric power directly.
      • Thunderbolt is interchangeable with lightning; Thunder is a direct translation of "kaminari", which is the move's name; Thundershock is the maximum characters allowed, and would still make sense since the translation of the attack is Electric Shock; Thunder Wave is the only one that doesn't make sense.
      • The issue is really more of a cultural one. Japanese uses the same character to refer to both thunder and lightning (雷; rai). While "shuurai" does specifically mean "lightning bolt" or "strike of lightning", it seems to be a rarely-used phrase.
      • Those are just the names of the attacks, and as in every RPG, they should be taken with a pinch of salt. Those names are made up to sound fancy (both in and out of universe), not to be 100% accurate.
    • The strange claims, Fridge Logic, and contradictions have given rise to the fan theory that the Pokedex entries are actually written by the protagonists, who are generally children of approximately ten years old, fudging numbers and making vague estimates that seem right as long as you don't actually know better; in other words, they actually are the result of a complete lack of research. One example often cited is Magcargo, whose temperature is cited to be something to the tune of 18000 degrees Fahrenheit (about 7000 degrees hotter than the surface of the sun); since this is so hot that it ought to be incinerating organic matter at quite a lot of paces indeed, the theory goes that the kid writing the entry just made up a number that sounded like "really fucking hot" and called it a day.
    • There's also Alakazam and its alleged 5000 I.Q. Since genius-status I.Q in Real Life is around 140 to 160 depending on the scale you're reading (e.g. Albert Einstein) and "supergenius" is 200, this particular claim is a bit on the outragous side., and stumbling across someone of either status is extremely rare. [6]
      • On top of that, IQ is a relative measure; the statistical average is always given a value of 100, so one's IQ score will change along with the statistics. To say nothing of the fact that, if we're going to assume there's more than one Alakazam (which we are), the fact that they're all so prodigiously intelligent would skew the results somewhat.
    • There is also the fact that Flying-types are weak to Electric attacks, while Ground-types are immune to them. If anything, this is backwards: electricity will eagerly flow through grounded things and into the earth, causing severe burns to the grounded thing; but something not touching the ground isn't in danger from electricity unless two differently charged objects form a pathway across it (like a lightning bolt). Birds can sit on high-voltage power lines without getting zapped, but touching a low-voltage electric fence and the ground at the same time is extremely painful.
    • Another issue is that what's stated in the Pokedex or what you can see by just looking at them often contradict with what moves they can or cannot learn in game. For example, originally Charizard, who is a dragon that is stated to fly at Mach 2, cannot learn fly (this was fixed in later games), and Lickitung initially could not learn Lick.
  • Demyx of the Kingdom Hearts series wields a weapon that the official literature describes as a "sitar"--shaped like the Indian instrument of lore, but played... like a Japanese koto. Sometime during the development cycle, someone failed to alert the art director, Tetsuya Nomura, that the two instruments are not actually interchangeable. Unfortunately for the localization team, this cascading error also means a "koto" is not a "sitar." It also has the timbre of a wind instrument somehow.
  • In the licensed game of Back at the Barnyard, you play a cow, which you can choose the sex of. A male player cow has an udder and can (and is required by basic gameplay mechanics to) milk himself. X-Play's review focuses a great deal on this. The creator of Barnyard said that they were well aware male cows didn't have udders. However, they wanted to use the udders for the scene in the movie where he sticks them out the window of the car.
  • The manual for Beat 'em and Eat 'em, an Atari 2600 porno game in which a man masturbates off a rooftop while two player controlled women on the street below try to catch the semen in their mouths, explains that should the player fail, "shame on you! It could have become a famous doctor or lawyer." The method outlined in the game is unlikely at best to produce anything at all, though as Seanbaby pointed out, if a man is masturbating off a rooftop, he's probably not the best gene stock.
  • Batman: Arkham City features the Penguin bragging about how the machine guns he makes available to mooks can fire over 100 rounds per minute. This is true... but is analogous to saying a Ferrari has a top speed in excess of 10 miles per hour, or that over ten thousand people live in New York.[7]
  • Weirdly enough, this gets Played for Drama thanks to an in-universe example in Tales of the Abyss. Dist spends much of the game trying ("try" being the key word) to manipulate the real Big Bads into gaining the knowledge and resources to resurrect Professor Nebilim: his and Jade's Hot Teacher through cloning. A noble goal, but clones are separate existences so it would never work. It stands out as being egregious because, while Dist may be Always Second Best to Jade, he is (oddly enough) way more of an Omnidisciplinary Scientist than his rival and was there when the first cloning attempt failed and produced an Ax Crazy replica. Jade regards the whole thing as a tragic dream that can never be.
  • A Gamespot review attracted a lot of ridicule when it claimed Blaz Blue's Arakune was "a colony of bacteria that really wanted into the tournament so it put on a mask and got in and started fighting". The split second the reviewer said this, Arakune's Arcade Mode profile showed up and revealed his story in full. Blazen had a barrel of fun with that one.


Webcomics Edit


Web Original Edit

  • The Irate Gamer is guilty of this in almost every video he makes. There used to be a page at TV Tropes dedicated to them.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd is normally better than The Irate Gamer; but in his Castlevania series, he comes across a few. Among these, he never seems to realize that you had to actually hit the "interact" button to drop the Nitro or the Mandragora by the cracked wall in Castlevania 64, and had repeatedly tried to use it from the item screen for stuff you use on yourself. One can easily assume he didn't have the manual, but even if he was recounting his experiences as a kid, it's pretty impressive that he didn't think to try the "interact" button since he had gotten that far in the game. He then proceeds to mix up Dawn of Sorrow and Aria of Sorrow's plots and says that Dawn of Sorrow is an example of how every game has to take place in Dracula's Castle. Wrong, Dawn of Sorrow is so far the only Castlevania game to not include Dracula's castle itself; only a simulation. Given that he's shown himself playing it, it shows he had not really been paying attention to it.
  • Gaia Online made a terrible mistake whilst describing a new item called Lala the Koala Plushie.

 "Lala the Koala Plushie pays tribute to the noble koala bear, which is now just returning from hibernation to resume it's [sic] voracious consumption of eucalyptus".

    • While regular bears hibernate, koalas (which are not bears, or even placentals) live in Australia, which even in its temperate zones doesn't get cold enough to necessitate hibernation.
  • Darwins Soldiers is normally good about research but there is one obvious Critical Research Failure in the first RP. Lockdown turns a wardrobe into antimatter... and it disintegrates into nothing without the massive explosion and accompanying blast of gamma rays that typically results from matter-antimatter annihilation.
  • The Nostalgia Critic is confused by the villain Ruber mentioning he bought a magic potion from witches, and still said he was confused by it in his "the next top 11 f***ups" video, saying "when have we seen witches? Those exist in Camelot? It's like saying he bought it from a bunch of munchkins, it just seems out of place". However, in some versions of Arthurian legends, Morgan Le Fay (the main villainess) is a Witch, meaning Witches actually make sense in Camelot. And Merlin in many versions is a wizard.
  • The now-memetic "Jimmy McPerson" essay includes, among others:
    • Having Jimmy grow up in Illinois while living in Harlem.
    • Having the Japanese attack Jimmy's town, when neither NY nor Chicago was attacked.
    • Alleging blacks couldn't join the military in World War II because Martin Luther King Jr. wasn't born yet. Yes, they could, and MLK was born in 1929.
    • Jimmy meets with the president of Japan. President of the Japanese Empire?
    • Jimmy battles with both said president/emperor/whatever AND Hitler.
    • Jimmy kills Hitler in a suicidal charge. Just like Hitler died in real life.
    • The most glaring issue: If, as the essay says, Jimmy was forgotten by history, how does the author know him?

Western Animation Edit

  • In the X-Men animated episode "Days of Future Past, Part 2", Gambit travels to Washington DC. But the monitor shows the state of Washington (with Washington, D.C. captioned right below).
  • In a likely nod to the Animal House example above, TJ from Recess once made a speech to convince Gretchen to not give up on the "space travel training" the gang was putting her through:

 "Did Albert Edison give up when they stole his Theory of Regularity? Did Ben Franklin give up when the Germans shot down his kite?"

    • He even stated Benjamin Frankmin.
  • A terrible offender is The Mummy: The Animated Series in the episode "The Cloud People" Lake Titicaca is described as both puma-head shaped and as being found below the ruins of Macchu Picchu.
  • On King of the Hill, Hank attempts to invoke this on a number of archaeology students who are digging up his lawn because Peggy told their professor that she found a Native American artifact there. His efforts (chicken bones strung on a piece of fishing line like a necklace) fail miserably: the haughty professor asks Peggy to identify the 'artifact', and after she declares that it's a warrior's trophy made from the "finger bones of his enemies", he hands it to his students who immediately state what it really is.

 "It was baling twine, ha!"

  • In an episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Jimmy does a report on Thomas Edison. Why? Because Edison invented electricity. Besides everything else (including the work of Edison's rival Nikola Tesla), electricity is a physical natural property that exists in lightning bolts.
    • Perhaps Jimmy isn't such a genius? He even thinks Cindy is wrong when she does her report on Marconi (he 'invented' the radio) because she says he made the radio prior to Edison's work.

 "What was it, mud powered?"

    • Marconi actually didn't invent the radio - he was merely the first to really monetize it. The actual credit for the invention of radio (telegraphy) is shared between several scientists and inventors: Maxwell, Hertz, Tesla, etc.
    • This actually happens all the time. For example, he refers to the Cretaceous Period as the Cretaceous 'Era' and, for most of an episode, insists that people can't change because their personality is somehow imprinted on their brain before birth, etc.
    • And the "white dwarf star matter" he uses for the star on his Christmas tree. (It being one of the densest substances in existence)
  • In Total Drama World Tour the intern responsible for doing the research comes up with Rome, rather than Greece, as the birthplace of the Olympic Games. He is fired by Chris, the host of the show, when the mistake is pointed out... by being shoved out of the plane.
    • In a later episode, Courtney— who actually corrected the intern— tried correcting Chis again when the contestants were in China, and he told them the Great Wall was built eight million years ago. The kicker? Even though Courtney realized the Great Wall couldn't have been built until much more recently, she explained there were dinosaurs in 8,000,000 B.C.
      • Probably joking, but the point still stands.
  • An episode of House of Mouse starring Professor Ludwig von Drake was actually all about this. Throughout the whole episode, Mickey Mouse and the gang are constantly trying to find ways to outsmart von Drake. At the end of the episode, they make von Drake sing a song about every single animated Disney character as of June 15, 2001. When the song is over, von Drake tells Mickey that he names all the characters, and Mickey's response? "Actually, you left out only one person in your song: yourself!" Apparantly, Mickey and the gang thinks that von Drake is actually stupid, but to the viewers, he's actually even more so: Aside from leaving out himself from his song, von Drake actually also left out a huge number of animated Disney characters as well, such as Megara, Mulan's family, and Kuzco of all characters! He even referred the prince from Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs as "Prince Charming" (the real Prince Charming is from Cinderella) as well. Said characters were probably left out as Ludwig was naming everyone who was inside the House at the time
  • Zula Patrol: On average, for every one thing they get right, there is one thing they got wrong.
  • In an episode of American Dad, Roger claims to have discovered the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden, claiming that he's "right here in D.C." But the actual location he's referring to is Langley Falls, Virginia, a fictional suburb of Washington, D.C.[8], where the CIA is headquartered. While some people think of Washington and its suburbs as all being "D.C.", a local wouldn't.
  • In the Home Movies episode "History", Brendon makes a movie with George Washington, Annie Oakley, and Pablo Picasso as the primary villains, with very obvious inaccuracies for their backstories (such as Washington freeing the slaves, Picasso cutting off his ear, etc.). It's later revealed that he's been receiving tutoring from Coach McGuirk, and he's flunking history.
  • In an episode of The Fairly Odd Parents, Timmy is mocked for believing in giant squids. They're real creatures whose existence is well documented.

Notes

  1. Except for Calvin, of course.
  2. Supergirl #16 (1984)
  3. 10 seconds with a map reveals that the west coast of Brazil consists of the "islands" of Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay.
  4. Shakespeare might have an out, if the play took place during the rule of King Ottokar II (1233-1278), who conquered Hungary and added it (including its Adriatic coastal provinces) to the Bohemian realm. Or King Rudolf II, a contemporary of Shakespeare, who was simultaneously King of Bohemia and King of Hungary and Croatia. Even so, nobody really considered Croatia to be "part of" Bohemia at the time.
  5. While there were clocks as far back as ancient Greece, they weren't the kind we usually think of when mentioning a "clock striking twelve". They were horribly expensive, complicated, prone to breaking down, and not all that accurate unless maintained very thoroughly.
  6. One could argue that Alakazam is the product of Singularitarianism, a technology-centric ideology in which in the future, artificial computer intelligence will be stronger than the power of all human intelligence combined, but...
  7. For reference, the original hand-crank Gatling gun could fire 200 rounds per minute. In 1862.
  8. based on the real Langley, Virginia (no "Falls"), where the CIA is indeed headquartered