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"Things that try to look like things often look more like things than things. Well known fact."

When exposed to an exaggeration or fabrication about certain real-life occurrences or facts, some people will perceive the fictional account as being more true than any factual account.

This might lead to people acting on preconceptions about unfamiliar matters even in a life-or-death situation, or cause viewers to cry foul when things on a show work out in a way that actually is realistic, but contrary to "what everybody knows", like complaining of the "fake Scottish accent" of a real Scottish actor or about a character's death from a bullet "merely" to the shoulder.

Very widespread in fiction. Sub tropes include:


Contrast with Uncanny Valley, where a certain amount of increased realism causes the remaining unrealistic aspects to become extremely obvious and disconcerting.

See also: Based on a Great Big Lie, But It Really Happened!.

Examples of Reality Is Unrealistic include:


Media In General Edit

  • Actual rain never looks like real rain on film, which is why they use a hose and sprinkler. But now that you know that, rain will never look real. You also don't get rain recorded when you just film it. To get it visible on camera, it's back-lit. For the famous scene of Singin in The Rain, the water was mixed with milk so it would show up on camera. The smell on set afterwards can only be imagined.
    • Actual raindrops also tend to be too small and too fast to register on film. Rain machine raindrops are much larger than normal and are moving much slower, since they don't fall nearly as far. One actor said that working under a rain machine, each individual raindrop was about the size of his fist.
  • Mice don't particularly like cheese. They like peanut butter, seeds, nuts and chocolate. They ate cheese because in an average household... what was most smelly and edible? Also, in the past it was likely to be left exposed in the larder. Creepy rat-guy The Exterminator points this fact out in the film version of Wanted. Trapping rats using peanut butter plays a major part of the very explosive finale.
  • Dogs are portrayed in most films as color blind. This is very false. Dogs can see in color, they just see things in a paler shade than we do. This is due to having far fewer cone cells (responsible for providing the means to see color) than humans do and with dogs being dichromatic (meaning they can only see two prime colors; blue and yellow), whilst humans are trichromatic (meaning we can see three prime colors: red, blue and green). Dogs do, however, have a much higher concentration of rod cells (which provide the means to see in black and white) than humans do. All this means however, is not that dogs can't see in color, but that they can see far better in the dark than we can. Seems Hollywood has got it a little backwards.
    • Two other creatures commonly portrayed to be colorblind are cats and bulls when in reality they can see in color. Bulls (and cattle in general) are dichromatic like dogs. Cats are actually trichromatic like humans, but have a different third color from humans, giving them a different range of color vision. See Bull Seeing Red for more info on the cattle example.
  • Cats do not necessarily care for milk either. They enjoy the taste, but like many humans, many cats become lactose intolerant as they grow into adults. Giving a cat milk in lieu of food or water can cause serious digestive problems.
  • Generally speaking, gunshots don't make thunderous sounds. Real gunshots are often mistaken for firecrackers (if you think this means a gunshot is quiet, it must be pointed out you don't usually let off firecrackers six inches away from your own ear). Guns will indeed give you a big bang. However, the bang will be a very sudden loud noise that ends almost as abruptly as it starts, not a "rolling thunder" with several seconds of reverb like in movies. This trope particularly true for Magnum Colts onscreen.
    • Additionally, guns fired in an open field are nowhere near as deafening as the ones discharged in confined spaces. The sound may be also heavily garbled by reflection. The sound of assault rifles heard from behind a few rows of buildings closely resembles the sound of chopping wood.
    • Really BIG guns (cannons, artillery) can be really loud, however. Even so, firing anything with modern propellants makes a brief crack sound. Black powder makes more of a thump than a crack, but even then, you don't get the movie-style "rolling thunder". What does make an extended, rolling, sound is a salvo (a group of guns firing together, like a battery of artillery).
    • It is possible to get something similar to rolling thunder if you fire in a wide-open space with clouds above. The echo can extend the sound of both the gunshot itself and, provided you use a supersonic round, the sonic boom to levels normally heard in Hollywood. The specific requirements to get specific sounds out of firearms is pretty astounding if you fire even the same round in a lot of different settings.
  • Silencers are way more effective in movies or television than in real life. Although, again, caliber can mean a lot. The best silencer on a .45 is still as loud as a young man slamming a door for effect. But a quality silencer on a .22, or a .17? An integral silencer, with the designer not worried about weight or bulk? Like someone dropped a dictionary. In the next room.
    ** The other problem with keeping a silenced shot quiet is that impacting the target and the brass ejecting and hitting walls and other hard surfaces -- is actually really loud, especially on larger caliber weapons. Even if silencers worked like in movies and removed the entire muzzle report, they wouldn't remove the sound of a piece of lead hitting someone at 700+ mph or the sound of the slide moving back and forth in the blink of an eye (hitting metal at both ends of the stroke) or the brass flying out and hitting the wall at 50 mph. This is why most weapons designed to be quiet are manually operated.
    • Though the manually operated part is more to do with less powerful ammunition being unable to operate the slide or bolt, due to the lack of either recoil or gas.
      A significant part of the noise of a firearm isn't the discharge itself, but rather the supersonic bullet's wake collapsing behind it. This is why bullets "Snap!" if one passes by. Suppressed weapons using supersonic ammunition are not going to deliver the lack of sound you expect. In the real world, really, really, quiet weapons use subsonic rounds, either cartridges purpose designed be subsonic or by slowing the bullet from a standard cartridge down (typically by bleeding gas out of the bore before the bullet is fully accelerated). .22LR is readily available in subsonic loadings (for target shooting), this is one reason why it's a favorite cartridge to suppress. Fiction tends to ignore this facet of the technology.
    • Depending on the load and barrel length, most .45 caliber pistol rounds actually are subsonic by standard. It doesn't help though that military and police usually use stronger loads to prevent failure, and, of course, increase power.
    • Some suppressed weapons really are as quiet as portrayed in media. Integrally-suppressed MP5s aren't much louder than an airsoft weapon.
  • As a side effect of Dawson Casting, some people perceive actors that actually are as young as their characters as being too young for their roles.
    • And, in line with this, there have been examples of people in the real world being critical of fully grown adult actors acting like adults, instead treating them as though they are minors. This can range from actors who look like this being constantly told to dress like teenagers in real life by fashion commentators, to even facing serious public outcry if they take on a racy role or pose for something provocative, with people responding as if they were actually underage.
  • The same thing goes double for voice acting just about anywhere. This is particularly evident with voice acting for prepubescent boys, where a vast majority of executive producers find the voices of 30 to 40 something year old women to sound closer to the mark. This is more for the purpose that there are advantages to working with an adult over a child. Producers don't have to deal with labor laws regarding children, voice changes as a boy begins puberty, and a child's immaturity.
  • Speaking of issues relating to height: Film and TV casting, and particularly Comic Book/Animation artwork tend to make most of the main characters appear to be of roughly the same height, or at the very least not significantly varying statures. Although this is naturally avoided when a character is supposed to be particularly short or tall as an intentional character trait, or to represent a particular relationship dynamic, but otherwise any noteworthy variance in height is generally avoided by casting directors (as it may conversely indicate unintended character traits, and at the very least, make framing and composition difficult) and is annoying for comic/animation artists to have to remember what everyone's height is relative to everyone else. This leads to the mistaken impression in real life that significant variances in height is unusual, and as a result when looking at groups may perceive the shortest person present to actually be "short", when they can actually be quite average, and vice versa regarding the tallest, depending on the range of people who just happen to be present. In reality, adults vary quite considerably in height within a "normal" range and can lead to quite marked differences between friends and co-workers, making groups with homogeneous heights quite unusual outside of sports teams (and even then...).
    • In animation this can take on the effect of grouping characters into categories within which they all have uniform statures, such as all kids or teenagers being one height as distinct from adults, or all men being one height and all women being another, as in DCAU shows.
    • This also leads to a particularly annoying side effect in the toy/action figure industry, where action figures are generally categorized and manufactured in a particular scale, most commonly 3 3/4", 6" and 12", and have accessories, vehicles etc. designed to conform to this scale. However, most action figure lines tend to design all "normal" sized adult characters at almost exactly the same height. As a result, if you have two action figures standing side by side that are even half a head different in height, they can look subjectively "out of scale" with each other, which is an absurd conclusion when compared to reality.
    • The height perception can also be useful in Dawson Casting, wherein short actors or actresses can play teenagers well into their 20s and 30s, and can be perceived as younger than actual teenagers because of this.
    • A great example of this is Spud Webb of the NBA. At the time of his debut, he was the shortest player ever to play in the NBA, thus earning him several short jokes over his career. His listed height? Five feet, seven inches, which was only slightly shorter than average height at the time. But, of course, the NBA emphasizes height as a positive trait, so his finding success in the NBA would be a great accomplishment.
  • Glass tends to be used instead of real jewels on the stage - gems are too subtle, basically, and the audience too far away. One reviewer, having missed publicity about actual crown jewels or something being used in a production of Shakespeare, criticized them for looking so fake.
  • Coconuts in fiction are depicted as fuzzy brown things hanging from trees, sometimes with apertures in the surface. Coconuts are actually green with smooth skin until one cuts them out of the pod, then dries the second layer which then turns brown and fuzzy. That gives extra dimension to the trope name The Coconut Effect!
    • Super Mario Sunshine has coconuts that look more realistic than most other coconuts; this led to some people believing them to be fake. The same is true of the Animal Crossing games and the film Cast Away.
    • The same could be said about Pippi in the south seas where they have the realistic coconuts too. This did however work in reverse for some, i.e. teaching some kids that coconuts from palmtrees are green.
    • Kingdom Hearts features both on Destiny Island. The game doesn't let you pick up brown coconuts, because you're specifically looking for the green ones - the brown ones are apparently either unripe or rotten, while the green ones are going into the supplies for the raft.
  • Written (and often spoken) dialogue seems more and more fake and becomes less and less comprehensible as it gets closer to how people actually speak. A good explanation for this can be found here.
    • Somewhere between the two is Mamet Speak, the diction used in David Mamet's plays. Unlike most fictional speech, people stumble over words, repeat themselves, talk over each other and so forth. This give a greater impression of realistic diction, but it's really very stylised.
  • A documentary of hostage situations included a police sniper lecturing on the difficulty of actual marksmanship compared to that shown in movies. He complained that he regularly had to defend himself to laymen asking "Why don't you just shoot the gun out of his hand? The Lone Ranger does it every week!" Not that it can't be done... you just have to be a really, really good shot. Like the sniper in this video.
    • The problem isn't that it can't be done (it can). The problem is that it can't be done consistently, as the real hostage situation isn't a carefully maintained range and there's a whole lot of small unpredictable things each of that could throw the shot off. That's why "shooting the gun out of perp's hand" is usually considered an unacceptable risk.
    • Also, there's the very real danger of the bullet ricocheting, or shrapnel from the gun killing or injuring anybody nearby. The Myth Busters also tested The Lone Ranger method and found that it was incredibly difficult. Even if you could hit the gun, it's very likely that the bullet won't be able to carry enough energy to knock it out somebody's hand if he has a firm grip on it.
      • Or you could accidentally set of one more of the bullets loaded into the gun, which would cause them to drop it, but it would probably also cause them to lose most of their arm in the process.
      • They also showed that despite the technique, you can just plain not shoot the gun out of some people's hands, whether due to experience or their personal grip.
  • Despite what the movies would have you believe, charging a door with your shoulder in an effort to break it down is more likely to damage your shoulder than the door. More effective is to kick it right next to the lock/handle. Got right in Spider-Man 2 when Peter Parker tries to shoulder-bash a door down and gets only a bruise for his efforts. He then kicks it open.
    • Interestingly, kicking the door near the lock does not work well in Europe, where the locks are much heavier and more robust than locks in the United States. If you were wondering why, it's not for a lack of pride in craftsmanship... it's building codes and safety. Less robust doors are easier for firefighters to kick in during an emergency. All interior doors must be hollow. Firefighters are appreciative. And so are the people they save.
      • In many European countries there are no limits concerning the doors, so people sometimes install anti-burglary doors that cannot be breached by anything short of military breaching round or acetylene torch.
    • One proper version of breaking down a door is shown in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, where the Marines breach a door by shooting off the hinges with a shotgun, and then kick the door in.
      • Though, curiously, for some reason, when the Marine in question kicks the door, it explodes. Not like Shower of splinters explodes, but Fireball-and-loud-noise explodes.
    • The designers must have stopped smoking whatever they were while making Call of Duty 3. In it, not only do soldiers break down doors by charging at them with their shoulder, it also reduces the door to splinters. To be fair, 3 was developed not by Infinity Ward (1/2/4/6) but by Treyarch (3/5/7).
    • Likewise SWAT 4 -- breaching a locked door is done either with the breaching shotgun or an explosive charge. They never actually kick doors.
    • There's an even more practical reason for kicking a door as opposed to a shoulder charge: Even if one did manage to bust the door open with their shoulder, they'd be careening into the room off-balance and in no position to engage targets. By kicking in the door, the one can either immediately plant their foot and be in a position to engage, or retreat and let the rest of the team rush in (which is more the case with soldiers and SWAT.
    • Burn Notice: Sam has to break down a hotel room door. He fails utterly.
      • The premiere episode of the show featured Michael breaking into a room by removing the exterior siding beforehand and then kicking his way through the drywall rather than trying to bash down a door (not to mention the guy with the gun on the other side of the door). This technique is sometimes used by firefighters in emergencies: you can spend time fooling around trying to force an interior security door in a steel frame open, or you can punch a hole in the wall, reach in and unlock the door.
    • Demonstrated in Chuck -- Chuck, attempting to save somebody on the other side of a door, rams it with his shoulder and ends up with a very hurt shoulder. After a few seconds of feeling sorry for himself, he opens it with a well-aimed kick.
    • Jamie Hyneman breaks through three of the four locks on the "test door" when Myth Busters tried this, and probably would have gotten the fourth had the build team used the attachment screws that came with the lock. But there's a reason everyone else on the show talks about him being unusually strong, and according to fan sites Jamie did hurt his shoulder in the process.
    • In Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway, squad member Paddock tries kicking open a church door, yelping in pain. He then frustratedly shoots the lock and humbly pushes the door open.
    • In an episode of House, Chase tries to batter down a door in a patient's apartment. He rebounds, hits the floor, and tweaks his shoulder a bit. The irony is that the force of the ramming knocks the key down from the ledge above the door, allowing Thirteen to unlock it.
    • On a DVD of News Bloopers, a woman reporter was doing a piece on how easy it was for people to force their way in through a locked door, then turning and kicking it by the door handle, and completely failing to do anything. Followed by a second, and then a third take, all with the same results. The final piece had the reporter speaking off camera while a man at least a foot taller and a hundred pounds heavier easily kicked the door in.
    • Lampshaded in the Season one opening theme for Reno 911, where Jones tried this very thing and only succeeded in hurting himself.
  • Perhaps the greatest example of this trope are ninjas. Despite how they are shown in the media, ninja dressed and acted as inconspicuously as possible. No sneaking in at night wearing a pitch-black suit with a sword over your back; a ninja was more likely to get in as a carpenter contracted to do some work on the target's house and beat him to death with a hammer. Or better yet, get onto the cooking staff and poison the target's food. If they used a sword, it would've been stolen from the target or one of his guards; ninja clans couldn't afford to send one of their agents out with a proper sword (Japan is an iron-deficient country, making steel very expensive), ninja were only ever sent out with equipment that could be easily and cheaply replaced.
    • The traditional ninja garb is taken from the dress of stagehands in kabuki theatre. They'd dress in all black and the audience would, by convention, pretend not to see them. A ninja character dressed as stagehand used this convention to emulate a character striking from the shadows, since the audience would be surprised to see a "stagehand" suddenly interact with the real actors.
      • Tangentially related, but even the "stealth" justification, that wearing all black would be effective camouflage at night, rings hollow. Black is terrible camo unless your surroundings match (i.e. it's genuinely pitch dark out), otherwise the contrast makes the color stand out. Dark blue is the color of choice.
    • The notion of ninjas existing outside of fiction (whether of the literary or theatrical variety) is questionable at best. No non-literary record of them exists, almost all of the ninja "tricks" were well known to the samurai, samurai had little or no problem mixing with other classes for the sake of subterfuge (the class structure in Sengoku-period Japan was very fluid before the reforms of Totoyomi Hideyoshi), and the hill clans typically associated with ninjutsu supplied far too many men for them all to be super-secret shadow warriors.
    • For that matter, the James Bonds of the real world don't act like James Bond. Spies tend to be extremely normal looking people who actually spend a lot of their time doing paperwork and laborious scut work. This gets discussed in Moonraker (the novel, not the movie): Bond only gets two or three assignments a year; his job the rest of the time consists mainly of reading intelligence reports.
      • This is also mentioned in the non-canon movie Never Say Never Again. Bond mentions at one point early on that he's lately been spending the majority of his time teaching, rather than out in the field.
    • The Western equivalent of the "ninjas in kabuki black" could be how the Knight in Shining Armor trope has usurped the King Arthur myth. Plate armor hadn't been invented at the time the King Arthur legend is set, yet plenty of people wouldn't even recognize an Arthur who wore chainmail or Roman-style banded armor. Medieval artists invariably painted Arthur and his knights decked out in whatever the knights of the painters' own era would wear.
      • Not to mention that the whole idea of Christian feudal knighthood emerged only after few centuries after the times King Arthur was supposed to live in.
      • The word "chainmail" may be another case of this. Modern scholarship classifies all mail as interlocked rings. Use of chain is redundant and almost never found in modern academic literature. Armor of other material is just that, armor (scale armor, plate armor) not mail. To the best of our knowledge this was how people in the middle-ages themselves classified armor.
  • There are people of Hispanic ethnicity who have light skin tone and blond hair. The majority do have dark hair and tan skin like Antonio Banderas (who is Spanish, not Hispanic) and Jennifer Lopez, but try to find an actor or actress portraying a light-skinned Hispanic. This definitely crosses over with The Coconut Effect. Ricardo Montalban played many roles in brown face because he was seen as too fair to play characters of his own ethnicity.
    • The U.S. Department of Transportation defines "Hispanic" as, "persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Central or South American, or others Spanish or Portuguese culture or origin, regardless of race". Even ignoring this, the term "Hispanic" could be said to be more a matter of culture and language than race. Which begs the question why they think all Latin Americans are "otherwise Spanish or Portuguese in culture and origin", or even, that Spanish people are of "Hispanic race". Most Latin Americans are Indian and a mix of European immigrants, but people assume only descendants of Spanish colonists live in, say, Mexico, or vice versa. This like calling US Citizens "other persons of British culture and origin".
      • There are plenty of actors playing light-skinned Hispanic... In Latin American media of course! In telenovelas it's common to see a beautiful blonde that probably came from Venezuela, Mexico or Argentina. Funny thing some of the light-skinned actors play characters from the USA or North Europe that we can't imagine not being blond in Latin America.
        • One high-profile exception: Hurley on Lost, who like his actor Jorge Garcia is so light-skinned that despite his being apparently the only male Latino among the Losties Sawyer still couldn't tell who the "Hugo Reyes" who sent one of the messages in the bottle might have been.
    • Not to mention, there are some hispanic people who can be considered "white". Guillermo del Toro is mexican-born but doesn't look very "hispanic" at all.
    • Likewise, there also are black people who are from "Hispanic" countries, such as Zoe Saldana, but are rarely shown on TV.
    • The same goes for Italians. Ironically the trope cut both ways when The Godfather was cast: the fact that there are fair-haired Italians was offered as justification for trying to cast Robert Redford as Michael. Yet the final cast (while mostly genuine Italian-American) was overwhelmingly dark-haired. This may have something to do with the fact that most Sicilian-Americans (who by and large make up most of the Cosa Nostra) are dark-haired and dark-skinned.
      • Justified by the fact that Vito Corleone is explicitly Sicilian, and was in fact assigned the name of his hometown (which really exists) when he passed through Immigration (his birth name is Andolini). Doubly justified by the fact that Al Pacino's grandparents were from the very same town.
      • The justification was actually that, in the book, Michael is described as not looking like the rest of the family (and during his time in Sicily, he is actually mistaken for a northern Italian). Justifications aside, the real reason behind the attempted casting switch was that none of the actors signed at the time were thought to be capable of "opening" the film (screen legend he is today, Brando was actually at the nadir of his career before accepting the role of Don Corleone; character actor Richard Castellano (Clemenza) was actually the highest-paid member of the cast) and that a well-known actor would be needed.
      • Also, although most Sicilian-Americans are dark-eyed and olive-skinned, many Sicilians in Sicily are blond and blue-eyed (or even red-haired and green-eyed). To a Sicilian, Robert Redford looks more like a Sicilian than Marlon Brando.
    • Most of Lou Diamond Phillips' early roles were Mexican-American characters (La Bamba, Stand and Deliver, Young Guns), but his ancestry is quite mixed [1]
    • This is done right for once in Michiko to Hatchin, where Hatchin is depicted as a very fair-skinned Hispanic girl, in contrast with the more stereotypically dark-skinned Michiko.
    • Even if the movie is supposedly set in Brazil, you won't see any black (not mixed race) or asian people.
  • In the nonfiction book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets (later made into the popular TV series Homicide) it's mentioned that fingerprint experts are routinely called to testify in trials where no fingerprints where found at a crime scene... in order to explain to jurors that, contrary to television, fingerprints aren't found at most crime scenes.
    • A "professional" television or film burglar will often be shown using a cloth to carefully remove fingerprints from a doorknob. In fact, most fingerprinting experts won't bother dusting a doorknob at all, as it will almost invariably reveal a mottled pattern of overlaid prints from which no useful information can be gathered.
  • Many people think that, as portrayed by virtually every Rome-related work of fiction ever, gladiatorial matches were nearly always to the death. In reality, being killed during a match did occur, but it was somewhat rare. Also, they were not no-holds-barred brawls -- fights were regulated by a very strict set of rules defining what sorts of gladiators could fight each other and what weapons and tactics they could use.
    • Most gladiators did indeed die in the ring, but they could easily have a dozen matches behind them before they kicked the dust, with months or even years of recuperating time between each. Also, the gladiators weren't muscle-bound bodybuilders they're usually depicted as, but muscled and obese, like light-end sumo wrestlers; the fat layer allowed them to take relatively large, bleeding wounds without damage to their internal organs, allowing them to fight in the aforementioned multiple matches. Their carb-heavy vegetarian diet was deliberately constructed to this end. The Romans even realized that this diet was lacking in calcium, and had them drink milk mixed with crushed animal bones to counter it.
    • Arena games were actually quite bloody, but most of the blood shed consisted of noxii (condemned criminals) or those condemned to the beasts. These were effectively the opening act to gladiator matches, but the participants are often confused for gladiators.
    • Also, thumbs up from the emperor does not mean "let him live," nor does thumbs down mean "kill him." A thumbs up was actually used to represent stabbing him in the neck, while thumbs down meant for you to lower your weapons and let him live.
      • Historians don't really know what thumbs had to do with it. The answer almost always depends on who you ask.
      • Most historians are agreed that the gesture didn't retain the identical meaning over 1,000 years and dozens of cities. It's likely that every city and town, including Rome, had its own traditions, and those traditions changed as quickly and as quirkily as ours do.
  • If years of Hollywood influence has taught us one thing, it's to Be Yourself that cars explode after crashes, even fairly minor ones (or occasionally, explode in mid-air before touching the ground). Reality disagrees, and modern cars don't explode readily at all. Nonetheless, the public is largely convinced that cars present a serious danger of explosion after a crash, which has resulted in many, many cases of well-meaning members of the public pulling injured victims out of cars, causing further injury to them, to get them away from the car before it explodes. It's better to not move a victim unless there are clearly visible flames burning the car, or if there is some other form of explosive involved.
    • Inversion: While cars in a hard crush will usually just crumple up into hunks of metal, commercial jets frequently will explode dramatically on a direct impact, thanks to the sheer force of it guaranteeing that their heavy loads of volatile fuel won't stay safely contained - as seen in footage of the 9/11 plane crashes. This is demonstrated to be an inversion, not an aversion, by the number of conspiracy theorists who contend that the effect noted above proves the towers were rigged with pyrotechnics.
    • Another jet example: it's not possible to cause explosive decompression on a plane simply by shooting out the windows. On Myth Busters, shooting the windows either failed to break the window, or if the window did crack, didn't lead to explosive decompression like in the movies. The effect was only replicated with plenty of explosives.
      • Something to keep in mind is that this experiment was done on ground level and did not recreate true conditions of a plane in flight. Thus it is technically inconclusive.
    • To "spice up" the field test on Ford Explorer rollovers, Dateline relied on this fact for cover as they rigged the trucks to explode. When they were found out, they issued an apology.
    • Dateline pulled this with GM too. In both cases it went beyond Reality Is Unrealistic and was downright lying and faking the tests.
    • There's also the widely-held belief that if a tire (especially a front tire) blows out the car will inevitably roll. Car and Driver, investigating the rolling Explorers, deliberately tried to roll one by rigging the tires to blow out on their test track. They couldn't get it to flip. It's the driver, stupid.
    • The actual Ford Pinto that formed the basis of Every Car Is a Pinto isn't nearly as ready to explode as the popular image of the car suggests, let alone cars in most visually-based fiction.
  • The volatility of gasoline has been overstated by Hollywood to the point that all gas stations have warning signs regarding cigarette smoking posted at the tanks. However, there has never been any recorded instance of a cigarette or other open flame igniting any gasoline (or petrol) tanks anywhere. The Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms experts have thoroughly debunked this, yet the signs remain. Further, dropping a lit cigarette or match into gasoline does nothing more than extinguish it. In order to start a fire, an actual flame has to be held in the fumes rising above it; the ember of a smoldering cigarette will not trigger a blaze.
    • At a gas station, signs only remind the people working immediately with light fuels. When a spark just somewhere around can make a fireball, it'd be an emergency already. As to the ATF "experts", it's a bad consolation: they used to say ludicrous things.
    • The Myth Busters took great care to bust the myth of cellphones making gas stations explode, repeatedly calling a dozen cellphones of various make over an hour in a sealed environment filled with the 'perfect' ratio of gas fumes to oxygen. Nothing happened. When they didn't optimize the fumes they couldn't set it off even on purpose.
    • Brainiac: Science Abuse not only demonstrated that a mobile phone causing a spark is virtually impossible, but also that the static electricity caused by the rubbing together of polystyrene or other similar fabrics is more likely to cause petrol explosions. You'll note that you don't see a ban on polystyrene clothing in petrol stations.
      • However, many gas stations have a warning to make sure you discharge on your car before putting the pump in and to not get back into the car while the pump is running.
      • This show is an example in and of itself. Almost everything (particularly any explosion) on the show will be accused of being faked. The microwave segment is the most common target of, "They used pyrotechnics!"
      • They get accused of this because they got caught doing it once, using pyrotechnics instead of Caesium.
    • One Darwin Awards article involved someone who tried to douse a road flare in gasoline, after seeing a demonstration of a cigar being extinguished in butane. Then there was the guy who held his lighter near the entrance of his gas tank so he could see inside.
    • It should be noted that gasoline is a toxic, corrosive, flammable substance that is potentially dangerous to the environment, and there are many, many good reasons why you don't want to be distracted by a cigarette or a cell phone while handling it. Not all those signs are to prevent explosions, and anyone who's had spill kit training at an actual gas station job knows the dangers of a lot of spilled gasoline.
  • Breasts. Media would have you believe that tits are [near] perfectly round, ride up high, bounce, and are the same size. No, no, no, and no. To wit:
    • Tits, being soft tissues, primarily take teardrop shapes.
    • Some girls do have breasts which ride up high on the chest regardless of size. There are two categories of women like this: pettanko and plastic. Again, gravity makes natural breasts hang down, and the bigger the boob, the more to make it hang and lower. Breasts hanging down almost to the elbow are not uncommon. Breasts look perkier usually because the owner is wearing a bra, which will hold them higher.
    • Breasts can bounce, but they're more prone to jiggling. Gainaxing just doesn't happen IRL.
    • Perfectly symmetrical boobs are a rarity. It's not at all uncommon for a girl to have a pair where one is small and the other is double the size.
    • Breast implants in fictionland are horrible, basketball under the nipple hard things you can spot a mile away. In reality, not so much. Firstly, with good implants, you'd have to squeeze hard enough to make a lady very unhappy with you to really feel their presence. Secondly, most implants are for going from something like an A to a B or a C to a D. Thirdly, the big basketball bulbous look comes from generally pretty small girls getting big implants, or just anyone going for gag boobs -- no matter what you looked like before, you're not convincing too many folks by parading around with M cups or really anything bigger than an E unless you're a rather heavyset lady -- essentially, barring a botched job or gag boobs or being told, odds are you could be intimate with a woman hundreds of times and not know she had breast augmentation.
    • Interestingly, due to how the implanted breast shape is generally taken to be pleasing due to being perkier and larger, character designs for buxom women often give them shapes generally only attained in real life through plastic surgery, leading plenty of people to be somewhat baffled the first time they see funbags in the flesh.
  • Any media portrayal of any of the more shockingly extreme, sadistic, and/or brutal atrocities performed by an actual historical figure or group may get this reaction from who just can't believe that anyone would be that depraved. The portrayal of Amon Göth, the commandant of the Nazi concentration camp at Płaszów, in Schindler's List was attacked by one critic as being "too unrelentingly brutal" to be believable. In reality Amon Göth's depravity was downplayed for the movie.
    • A variant would be extreme ideological and bigoted behavior as well. Many portrayals in films of real life actions or even just statements by the more extreme racists, supremacists, or any other highly-charged hate groups often elicit eye-rolls from many in the audience and often accusations of being Anvilicious. Even the extent of how deeply things like racism were once accepted in casual society falls into this. For example, the commercials in the Faux Documentary CSA: The Confederate States of America which featured products with over-the-top-sounding racist names (such as Darkie Toothpaste and Coon Chicken Inn). These often get the aforementioned disbelieving eye-rolling from viewers until the end credits of the film show that such products were, in fact, real products in the past. True, the Darkie toothpaste was Asian made, but it was introduced to some Western markets, where few whites batted an eye at its racist name at the time, decades before its Western acquisition and subsequent name change to Darlie in 1985.
  • Boom! Headshot! isn't anything like true in real life; while people overwhelmingly believe that "shot in the head = death", people have survived multiple headshots, and in some cases even continued fighting with severe gunshot-related head injuries with little degradation in their abilities. There are also numerous accounts of people surviving head injuries from masonry nails, large tool blades and even scaffolding poles with little or no long-term effect on their mental performance.
    • For that matter, neither is Pretty Little Headshots. Although headshots are not as lethal as they're widely portrayed, most of them are very messy, since there's a comparatively large amount of fluid and soft tissue packed into a fairly small space -- you'd be hard-pressed to actually pull off the "neat little hole" you see in fiction time and time again, and depending on the range and caliber, Pink Mist really does result from a headshot.
      • Note that such neat little gunshot wounds do actually occur sometimes, but they're much more rare than in fiction -- they're unlikely unless you're using an unusually small caliber, such as a .22 Short. Incidentally, they're actually less survivable than the messier ones, as instead of exiting the skull, the bullet tends to ricochet around in it and damage much more brain tissue than a messier shot that simply goes straight through would.
    • As world-renowned forensic anthropologist Dr. William R. Maples explains in his book Dead Men Do Tell Tales, it is also possible for a suicide victim to shoot themselves multiple times in the head (this is in response to many investigators assuming a particular case is a homicide because the victim has two or more bullet wounds in their head). In fact, the author tells of a case where a man had to shoot himself in the head five times before he would die.
    • The assumption that headshot + no gun = homicide can also lead police astray. It's not that unusual for a thief to liberate a gun from a suicide scene.
    • In Batman Forever Two-Face was able to head shot Bruce, and he was able to survive it.
    • In Max Payne 2 Mona Sax shows up alive after having been shot in the head in the first game, and Max later survives being shot in the head and then falling several stories into a pit on a construction site.
    • There is a police report of a man being brought in for questioning after a large blood splatter, as well as an embedded bullet, was found on the wall of a hotel room he had rented the night before. Upon further inspection they discovered it was a failed suicide attempt; the bullet (which was quite low-calibre) had gone straight through his brain yet missed any important parts. He had reportedly walked off with no memory of the suicide attempt.
    • Look no further than Gabrielle Giffords. She was shot through the head, but she is expected to eventually make a full recovery.
  • Jo Walton refers to this as "The Tiffany Problem". Tiffany is a perfectly plausible medieval name (as a diminutive for Theophania), but no fiction writer can ever spell it that way because it sounds too modern.
    • Several names fall into this. In The Canterbury Tales, several of the female characters are given modern-sounding names (albeit spelled differently.) Allison and Emily come to mind.
  • Anatomically, the human heart is located in the bottom center of the chest cavity, yet everything from vampire flicks to firing-range targets depict it as being in the upper left quadrant, merely because the heartbeat is louder in that location. (The heart's left side is stronger than the right, and projects its sound upward with the aortic blood flow.) Even doctors get looked at funny if they try to center their hands over their actual hearts during the US national anthem, as opposed to centering the hand over the left lung as most people do and letting the heel of the hand end up closer to the actual position.
  • Sonic booms are rarely ever a 'boom' sound, unless it is something absolutely huge that is travelling at the speed of sound (the bigger the object, the lower the pitch), making Concorde just about the only thing that made a sonic boom; other objects making more of a bang, crash, crack or snap sound.
  • Silver plated jewellery looks brighter and, well, silvery-er than the real thing. The reason is that solid silver jewellery is an alloy (for strength as well as economy), whereas plated jewellery can be pure silver where it shows.
  • Nature is a particularly rough subject for this trope. Scenes of nature portrayed in film are usually pretty much backwards. Scenes showing wonder or scenery will show the characters interacting with surprisingly tame prey animals (deer, rabbits, etc.) and having lovely interactions with brightly colored plants and their fruit. Scenes showing danger will show the hero being chased by predators. Cue long lines at the first aid lodge for people who have been poisoned by brightly colored plants and attacked by prey animals and many kids wondering why bears and coyotes tend to just ignore them (predators are pretty lazy unless they're really hungry and tend to go after lone, injured animals for easy kills).
    • In the case of predators losing their fear of humans (there is a very good reason you don't want to feed a wolf/bear/coyote long enough for it to get used to you), some people don't even make it to first aid.
    • For that matter, scenes where the heroes are chased by noisy predators are also unrealistic. First, a healthy predator wouldn't NEED to chase you down. Second, people may have confused hunting with parental displays--most hunts involve quiet and somewhat boring stalk/ambush techniques, while stumbling across an adult with babies is what would realistically trigger the angry, intimidating chase scene.
    • The most dangerous animal in Africa is generally considered not the lion, not the leopard, or even the Nile Crocodile (though all three can be downright scary in their own right) but the hippo, which is an herbivore.
      • Hippos are actually quite terrifying. Yeah, they're goofy-looking creatures, all chubby with big eyes - but they are incredibly territorial and have been known to be cannibalistic. They can also easily outrun a human in spite of their short legs.
      • And those that don't agree it's the hippo tend to plump for another herbivore- the Cape Buffalo is pretty fast, has wicked horns, and is aggressively territorial. Worst thing about it? It looks almost identical to the (mostly harmless) water buffalo...
  • Because of the prevalence of the Good Guns, Bad Guns trope, accurate media depictions (or even news footage) of Philippine terrorists wielding M16 variants are often declared as "inaccurate." However, in reality Philippine terrorists do favor M16 variants over the more internationally-ubiquitous Kalashnikovs since the Philippines has multiple gun manufacturers (licensed and unlicensed) creating variants and copies of the M16 and its ammunition that said rifles and ammo are actually much easier to procure in-country than Kalashnikovs or other such weapons.
  • Vikings never actually wore horned helmets. The horns would put them at a serious disadvantage, since the opponent could grab onto them. They came about in tales written during Greek and Roman times to make the vikings seem more intimidating.
    • There were no Vikings in the Greek and Roman periods. The Viking Age lasted roughly from the 6th century to the 10th CE. Now there were people living in Scandinavia at the time, and some of them apparently did wear horned headwear, but presumably this was for ceremonial purposes, not battle.
    • The horned headwear actually derives from an opera by Wagner. He essentially added the horns for Rule of Cool.
      • Being one I can tell you it has nothing to do with grabbing the horns, but that a) horns in a metal helmet would leave a weak point with less protection. b) Horns (and other weird fantasy embellishments like spikes, etc) will but lead your opponent's weapon to you; channeling them in, and to weak points and a hit on the easy-to-hit horns would likely break your neck or at the very least give you a concussion or shock you enough that he could dispose of you easily after.
  • You know how in all the movies, spiders shriek and hiss? They don't do that in real life, although some DO make a rumbling, growling noise not unlike a revving motorboat engine.
  • Contrary to the popular image of the Pilgrim Fathers, the early settlers of the Plymouth Colony in present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts did not dress in black, wear buckles, or wear black steeple hats. This image was formed in the 19th century when buckles were a kind of emblem of quaintness.
    • Its also been argued that they may have worn clothes similar to what is depicted, but only for special or very formal occasions. So the paintings are the equivalent of people going hunting in tuxedos and preparing food while wearing evening gowns.
  • People do not explode in space as the human body is tough enough to withstand the pressure, but the myth is so prevalent people complain when it doesn't happen.
  • Dilophosaurus did not have a double-crested frill or spit venom.
  • The "ashes" from someone who has been cremated (which are really called "cremains") are depicted as being lighter than air. Cremains are in fact bits of bone too large to simply blow away in the wind or dissolve almost instantly in water.


Advertising Edit

  • Remember those "Ask Dr. Z" commercials for what was then Daimler-Chrysler, with the actor with an odd-looking fake mustache and goofy German accent purporting to be the company's CEO and taking customers' questions? That was the actual CEO of Daimler, and the accent and mustache are both real.
  • You know how beer commercials always have a "beauty shot" with a glass of beer with a thick, frothy head? Beer doesn't really froth that much, but the average viewer thinks it should, so the advertisers add detergent to the beer to achieve the effect.
    • Similarly, beer commercials are also fond of showing the head overflowing and spilling over the glass. Bartenders are told by their bar managers not to do that, as it wastes beer, and needlessly messes up the bar and the napkins. When the head overflows, you've poured too much.
    • Sometimes, those mugs of beer actually are Frothy Mugs of Water. When filming, they often do this because there are issues with drinking real beer on the set. (Especially if it involves minors.)
    • In cereal commercials, the "milk" they use is actually white paint with a little bit of turpentine mixed in. Apparently, it looks thicker and more real than actual milk. Real milk under studio lighting looks transparent and bluish, and less attractive than the PVA glue or white paint that usually stands in for it.
    • The milk-swirling-into-coffee images were similarly mocked up, usually with white paint and treacle (or Marmite in the UK). There was at least one photographers studio in the UK in the 1980s dedicated to this kind of phototrickery.
    • Also common with most food that can melt (ice cream, cheeses etc.); they don't do well under high-temperature lighting.
    • It's also unlikely you'll get a lot of steam off freshly served food, unless it's very hot, moist food in a quite cold room. The steam you see on TV? Probably a soggy microwaved tampon.
    • Besides, to get that beautiful head that consumers have come to expect, many a brewer have resorted to additives (for example E405, propylene glycol alginate).
    • Where's the OP from? Here in Germany, mother of all beer, great emphasis is often put on achieving a beautiful crown of froth and it definitely IS possible.


Anime and Manga Edit

  • A lot of reviewers of Kanon complained that the scene in which a character gets hit by a runaway car looks unrealistic, since the victim cannot be seen anymore. In reality that is likely to happen when the car actually covers the victim or when the victim gets catapulted out of sight, as can be seen on footage of real accidents. And, after that episode was aired, people found footage of an accident on YouTube which was identical to that scene. It's quite possible that it was the one used by the animation team as a reference.
  • In Transformers Cybertron, Jetfire was voiced by a different actor than in the previous two seasons, Armada and Energon. The Powers That Be wanted the new version to sound Australian. The kicker? (No, not that annoying kid from Energon.) The old actor, Scott McNeil, is Australian. The new one, Brian Drummond, is Canadian. As the Transformers Wiki puts it, clearly, McNeil was insufficiently Australian. Though to be fair, he is only technically Australian. He was born there, but he is a certified Canadian.
  • One criticism often leveled against Neon Genesis Evangelion is that its characters are unrealistic. The depiction of their dysfunction is supposedly too extreme to be believable. In fact, the main trio's personalities match up very well to genuine mental problems, to the point where it seems probable that they were consciously modeled after them. Shinji seems to have avoidant personality disorder, Asuka narcissistic personality disorder and Rei schizoid personality disorder. Granted, it's unlikely that three such people would just so happen to be acquaintances, which hurts the Willing Suspension of Disbelief. Well, there's a reason for that... The in-universe explanation for why all the Eva pilots happen to have deep-seated emotional problems is All There in the Manual.
    • The Eldritch Abomination portrayal of Angels in the series is actually more accurate to what the bible described them as than the humans with white wings we see in most religious art.
  • A number of commentators, including this reviewer, have noted a lapse of realism in Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 - a conspicuous absence of rioting and panic in the wake of the disaster. Ironically, the 2011 Sendai earthquake revealed that this was in fact a perfect representation of Japanese cultural sensibilities. The reaction of the Japanese people was indeed extraordinarily level-headed.
    • It should be noted that many western media reported the more or less total lack of looting in Kobe, following the Great Hanshin earthquake of 1995, with considerable undertones of awe. Add to this that the Japanese are widely considered as a society striving for consensus and collective good and this turns into a major case of the reviewer not doing his research.
  • Yasuna from Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl has a physical condition where she can't see mens faces. It comes off as a blur in the anime, and an outline in the manga. A lot of fans and critics believe it to be an outlandish made-up disease or a psychological problem. Her condition is actually very similar to a real disorder called Prosopagnosia, albeit hers is probably a mild form... In the manga at least. One sufferer of the disorder has stated that the portrayal is rather realistic.
    • The anime version makes clear that it is a psychological problem, though, considering what happens by the end. The climax of the anime and manga are very different.
  • Used in a very 'meta' manner in Asobi Ni Iku Yo. Eris - a bona-fide Catgirl alien - gets targeted by a Secret Society of hardcore sci-fi fans who simply refuse to accept that humanity's First Contact is with a Human Alien - they want something PROPERLY alien! Even better, Kio brings Eris along to help his movie-club shoot a sci-fi movie, but not only is Eris not alien enough, her Assistaroids look fake, and - here's the kicker - her spaceship, which she can remote-control, uses a form of superstring braking to maintain flight at very slow speeds, which resembles... strings, going upwards from the corners of the ship. So her ship ends up looking ridiculously fake in all their shots as well. Ultimately, they decide to scrap the sci-fi plot and shoot a Romantic Comedy instead.
  • When people want to paint the Leo from Gundam Wing as a shoddy piece of junk, they tend to cite scenes in which merely being near the blast from Wing's rifle is enough to destroy one. This is, however, a rare aversion of Convection, Schmonvection in the Gundam metaseries, as a gigantic wave of super-charged plasma would generate some pretty intense heat.
    • The same effect is shown in Gundam Unicorn, in which a mobile suit is blown up when a discharge from the Beam Magnum passes near it. The other pilots take this as an indication of the beam's extreme power.
  • Some viewers of Sora no Woto complained about how ludicrous the old house perched on a cliff shown in the first episode was. The whole series location is an accurate recreation of the Spanish town of Cuenca, and the house is a popular tourist spot.


Comicbooks Edit

  • Invoked in Wonder Woman: Eyes of the Gorgon - A battle between Medusa and Wonder Woman is being broadcast on national TV, and one of the viewers comments that "The CGI looks totally fake!".


Film Edit

  • In Slacker, a videogeek mentions that he recently saw a Real Life shooting, and complains that it didn't look realistic. "The blood was the wrong color."
  • In the film A Bout De Souffle, the American actress Jean Seberg played an American character who lived in Paris and spoke French with an accent that was presumably Seberg's own. A poster on the IMDb forums labeled her a French actress that had put on an unconvincing American accent.
    • Amazon reviews for a 2001 BBC radio production of Sherlock Holmes complained about the actors' "obviously fake" British accents.
    • A review of Miller's Crossing complained about Gabriel Byrne's "fake" Irish accent.
    • "That Bridget Jones gal, Zellweger, when I heard her American accent in Chicago I was amazed. It seemed dead-on perfect. Completely convincing. Similarly in Nurse Betty. But then I saw her in Cold Mountain and that completely destroyed the illusion." (She is from Texas.)
    • When Lost first started, some complained that Emilie de Ravin (an Australian), the actress who played Claire (also an Australian), was using a horrible accent.
      • Similarly, a Youtube comment on the trailer for "Perrier's Bounty" complained extensively about Cillian Murphy's "fake" Irish accent. Apparently the man's name wasn't enough of a tip-off ...
    • While working in The Lord of the Rings, American actor Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) always spoke in an English accent in order to maintain it, and upon reverting back to his American accent at the end of filming Bernard Hill (King Theoden) wondered why he was suddenly using such a fake American accent.
    • During the filming of Dr. Strangelove, something similar occurred. The B-52 scenes were filmed in Britain. The film crew thought that Slim Pickens was putting on the 'Texan' accent, and someone on the crew expressed surprise when he spoke that way after a shoot, until being informed that that was the way he normally spoke. He wasn't 'putting on' an accent.
    • One reason British actors often have trouble portraying Americans convincingly is that their accents (and most of Europe, for that matter) are much more subtle than Americans', resulting in British actors often sounding like Canadians when they try to play Americans. This is also why Australians tend to have less trouble playing Americans; they also sound more like they do in the movies.
    • Final Fantasy XIII had two characters, Vanille and Fang, that had accents that sounded Australian. Most people found Fang's closer to the real thing. Fang's voice actor isn't Australian, but Vanille's is.
    • People have accused Liam Neeson of having a poor American Accent in films like Taken. While he is Irish, he's lived in America for twenty years; his speaking voice is nigh-indistinguishable from a Yank, especially if you don't know he's Irish. He has lost his Irish accent but still has a tendency to swallow his words, whereas Americans don't.
    • This trope caused Bryan Singer to think Hugh Laurie was American when he saw the actor's audition tape for House. Apparently Singer had received several auditions from British and Australian hopefuls who didn't match his ideal of the character. When he saw Laurie's audition he is purported to have said, "See, this is what I want; an American guy." Singer was completely unaware that Laurie is English.
  • Common in regard to historical fiction; if a certain fictional account becomes popular enough, people often believe that it is an accurate representation of history.
    • Case in point: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart once alleged that Antonio Salieri had pulled strings to ensure that Mozart's opera Le nozze di Figaro would be a major flop. Later the two collaborated on composing a song; Salieri was given the task of teaching Mozart's son and he also promoted Mozart's compositions on a number of occasions. Six years after Salieri died, Alexander Pushkin wrote a play based around the original allegation depicting Salieri as greatly envying the genius Mozart, thus beginning the tradition of showing a Salieri hostile to Mozart. The prominent use of this fictional invention in the play Amadeus and the film based on it has led many to perceive the fiction that Salieri was responsible for Mozart's early death as a historical truth.
      • Additionally, the alleged rivalry with Salieri is said to drive Mozart to such poverty that he had to be buried in the common grave. In reality Mozart enjoyed great popularity and was receiving large commissions but was also a big spender. His modest burial was also not the result of his financial standing but of the strict Viennese burial laws and was a ceremony typical for a middle class of his era.
    • Ditto for the play and film Inherit the Wind, which took many, many liberties in depicting the actual Scopes Trial (and not just the names), but are more or less accepted as historical fact today.
      • And that wasn't even the intent of the author. It was designed as an allegory for the parodying the ridiculous nature of Mc Carthyism, but now that the Evolution/Creationism controversy has long outlasted the Un-American Activities Committee, the fact that it was written for parodying something else has been forgotten.
    • Lastly, when asked about the American Civil War, most people recall scenes from Gone with the Wind which portrayed a very rose-colored picture of the South. Gone with the Wind is the result of that rose-colored picture already being popular.
    • Napoleon Bonaparte is always portrayed with a French accent. Yet in actuality, during his lifetime some of his French contemporaries complained that his thick Corsican Italian accent made his French nearly impossible to decipher. (Which may be why a few of his comedic appearances instead depict him as muttering incomprehensibly and needing to have someone else translate for him.) Also, Napoleon was not quite as short as he is often depicted in fiction.
  • In Valkyrie, some of Colonel von Stauffenberg's cooler moments were actually cut from the film - for instance, he refused morphine because he was afraid of being addicted, but it was cut because it was felt audiences would think that the filmmakers were trying to turn von Stauffenberg into an action hero.
    • Similarly, they General Beck committs suicide with a single shot. In reality, he botched his suicide very painfully, and had to be finished off by a sergeant.
  • Many film critics who otherwise enjoyed Schindler's List complained that the one thing the found unbelievable was Ralph Fienne's villain Amon Goeth, saying that he was far too evil to be believable. Not only was Amon Goeth a real person, as bad as he is in the movie he got a Historical Villain Downgrade- the real Amon Goeth was much, much worse. Stuff like his morning ritual of shooting innocent people with a sniper rifle from his house made the movie; stuff like his Torture Cellar did not. The most fictional aspects of his character are actually his Pet the Dog moments, put in to make him seem more human.
    • This could probably be extended to many occassions when a critic or an audience are taken out of a movie because they think a character is acting too evil to be real. Goodfellas is another example of a film based on real events where the villainous characters were even more violent and nasty in Real Life than they were portrayed on-screen, but even many completely fictional Card Carrying Villains get up to stuff that Real Life tyrants, terrorists or criminals might find tame.
  • When James Bond used a Bell Rocket Belt in Thunderball, its natural sound was replaced by a supposedly "more realistic" fire-extinguisher sound.
    • Thunderball ends with Bond and his latest woman floating a balloon that they're tethered to, which is then snagged by a transport plane, lifting them in the air to be reeled into the cargo bay. A few reviews said that out of the many the gadgets in the movie, this one was just too much to believe. It's the Fulton surface-to-air recovery system (STARS, or Skyhook), and the US military and intelligence services really did use it until 1996.
  • Apollo 13 was said by some reviewers to have an unrealistic ending, in the astronauts coming back to Earth alive. One thing was added to serve the Rule of Drama - Marilyn dropped her wedding ring in the shower, but the drain holes were too fine for it to go down and be lost. (It went partway down the drain. It was just reachable for recovery.)
    • Jim Lovell himself, in the audio commentary for the Laserdisc/DVD, said that the initial seconds of the Saturn V ignition looked like Ron Howard had "just run the film backwards," and were thus inaccurate. Real footage of a Saturn V launch, however, shows the initial fire plumes being sucked down into the trench below the engines, and it really does look like film of fireballs being run backwards!
  • While Armageddon is largely scientifically inaccurate, it actually got one thing right: sending the shuttles around the far side of the Moon to create a "slingshot effect" to steal a little momentum and kick them on their way. The effect has been used by space agencies for decades to launch deep-space probes such as Voyager, often looping from one planet to another to gain multiple slingshots. Ironically, the movie was criticized in some quarters for being unrealistic because of this, the argument being that cars tend to fly off corners when you go around them fast. And as we all know, spaceships behave exactly like cars.
  • Used outright in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where the American businessman chooses the most ostentatious goblet from the table of possible Holy Grails, drinks, and promptly dies horribly. Indy and his love interest quickly search the table for the least ornate cup, because that's the kind of cup a simple carpenter would actually have.
    • In Temple of Doom, there is a reference to the Japanese bombing Shanghai. Many believe this to be anachronistic, referring to an event from 1937 (the movie takes place in 1935). Actually, the Japanese also bombed Shanghai in 1932.
  • There's a Channel 4 made film called Yasmin where in one scene, a Muslim woman is being abused by children on the high street and at the end an old woman comes out and apologizes in a really badly acted way that completely ruins all verisimilitude. Apparently this old woman was a random person off the street who didn't realize there was filming going on and the director decided not to reshoot the scene.
  • In many movies, when an eagle is shown calling, the sound of a red-tailed hawk's screech is dubbed over it. Apparently the red-tailed hawk's cry is stronger and more dramatic than the eagle's (and audiences have come to associate the red-tailed hawk's sound with eagles).
  • A studio executive allegedly complained that the actor playing Senator Joseph McCarthy in the historical biopic Good Night and Good Luck was overacting badly. Actually all of Senator McCarthy's scenes consisted of Stock Footage of the man himself, who actually did overact badly.
  • The makeup artists in the movie Hannibal went through several iterations of Mason Verger's mangled face before getting to the one you see on screen. The first few they did looked how somebody who had cut his own face off would actually appear, but they realized that it looked ridiculous. So they made his face less realistic and more disturbing.
  • In the movie Cloverfield they first used accurate measures for the head of the Statue of Liberty, but test audiences complained that it looked too small. For this reason they made it 50% larger than it really is. Even then some people still complain that it looks too small.
  • During the scene in Live Free or Die Hard (also known as Die Hard 4.0) in which Bruce Willis ducks under a car flipping through the air and is only saved when it lands on two other cars that just happen to be driving right by him, a lot of people complained about how obviously fake the CGI cars looked. In reality, all of the cars were real.
  • Used extensively, and influentially, throughout Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers, with realistically low-key bullet impacts and deaths as well as explosions that are more concussive than fiery. Furthermore, several of the acts perpetrated by Allied soldiers were deliberately un-Hollywood, such as shooting enemy soldiers In the Back, and killing soldiers who were in the process of surrendering, although this tendency also dates back to revisionist war films of the 1950s and 1960s, such as The Dirty Dozen, Kelly's Heroes, and Robert Aldrich's Attack. On the other hand, Saving Private Ryan also suffered from Painting the Fourth Wall, with its jerky cinematography and desaturated color palette (despite being set in the middle of summer in Northern France).
  • And another war movie example: In The Big Red One the soldiers hide from a group of German soldiers. After the Germans have passed by the American soldiers get up and want to walk on, but find one of their comrades is dead. Upon finding his body in the hole he was hiding in, a soldier comments that he had not even heard a shot being fired. The experienced squad leader just explains that the dead guy is not the first soldier to die from a heart attack in the middle of a war and won't be the last.
  • Christopher Lee has told a story (in The Films of Christopher Lee) that when he tried to perform a scene of his being shot the way he'd seen people shot in WWII -- "I put an expression of slight surprise on my face and slowly sank to the floor with great dignity" -- the people on set found it hilarious.
    • For those who didn't see the DVD extras, Christopher Lee served with the Special Operations Executive in World War II. The SOE's job was to perform sabotage across Europe. While the actions of all SOE agents are still classified, during filming of The Lord of the Rings, Christopher Lee told Peter Jackson exactly what kind of sound Saruman would make on being fatally stabbed in the back.
    • Lee was also turned down for a role in The Longest Day... for not looking like a military man.
  • In Milk, a number of reviewers complained that a scene involving a boy being unable to flee his abusive parents because he's in a wheelchair -- and then turning up safe and sound in Los Angeles at Milk's moment of triumph -- was unrealistic and played only to tug at the heartstrings. This actually happened in real life.
  • IMDb's trivia page for The Man Who Knew Too Much includes this titbit:

 The plot calls for a man (Daniel Gélin in the role of Louis Bernard) to be discovered as "not Moroccan" because he was wearing black makeup. The makeup artists couldn't find a black substance that would come off easily, and so they painted the fingers of the other man (Jimmy Stewart) white, so that he would leave pale streaks on the other man's skin (according to Patricia Hitchcock, this idea was suggested by Daniel Gélin).

  • Many people have questioned the famous scene from The Dark Knight in which The Joker's request for a phone call in jail is refused. In reality, there is no law or precedent requiring people in jail to get a phone call. Of course, that being said, most police officers are more than happy to let a prisoner make a telephone call from a department phone. The reason being, unless the prisoner speaks to his or her lawyer, whatever he or she says over the phone isn't confidential speech, and the police are more than free to listen in and/or record the conversation.
    • During the making of the film, the filmmakers thought that Batman's cape would get caught in the back wheel of the Batpod, and as such a backpack-mode was designed for the cape. However, the cape did not, and so Christopher Nolan and costume designer Lindy Hemming went with letting Batman wear the fabric cape while on the Batpod as well.
    • One awesome example occurred on The First 48, when the suspect calls his house and asks them to hide the murder weapon. In Creole, just in case the cops were listening. They were, and since it was South Florida, the cop who actually spoke Creole sat watching the monitor while the normally sedate detectives tried to keep their laughter down to a giggle.
    • The SWAT Team's entry tactics late in the movie were questioned, especially regarding them never opening fire on the Joker's minions or the disguised hostages. In reality, the SWAT team was following actual procedure: until the suspect raises their weapon, they are not an immediate threat and cannot be fired upon.
    • Similarly, Two-face's face. The original design was a realistically burnt face, but test audiences found it so unsettling that the filmmaker's turned the damage Up to Eleven in order to make the face more outlandish than sinister.
  • To Hell and Back is the true story of Audie Murphy, a WWII combat vet, except it's not. He had to ask the writers to take out some parts that were included in his autobiography, for fear that he would be called a liar. The full details of just what he did show up in Cracked.com's article Real Life Soldiers that Make Rambo Look Like a Pussy.
    • The Chinese movie Men Behind The Sun was criticized as being an exploitation film and being too over the top with its violence, despite the fact that everything in the film is based on some experiment the Japanese scientists actually performed (Unit 731).
  • One example from the filming of the movie JFK: Two railroad employees' testimonies of seeing smoke behind the grassy knoll fence on November 22, 1963 is used by Oliver Stone as indisputable proof that there was a second gunman present to help kill President Kennedy. Problem was, during filming of a flashback, none of the rifles they used emitted any visible smoke. The special effects team had to be brought in with a smoke machine to complete the illusion.
  • SFX artist Tom Savini, who often uses his memories of dead bodies he encountered during his tour of duty in the Vietnam War to create his gore effects, is criticized by some because his makeup effects look "faker" than others.
  • Godzilla fans have complained about the Heisei Mothra prop looking like a plush toy, and how the Showa and GMK Mothra are "so much more realistic"; nevermind real moths can look quite toylike when viewed in extreme closeup.
  • In The Shining (1980), apparently for the scene in which Jack breaks down the bathroom door, the props department built a door that could be easily broken. However, Jack Nicholson had worked as a volunteer fire marshal and tore it apart far too easily. The props department was then forced to build a stronger door for the storyline and dramatic effect.
    • Real Life doors are, in fact, exactly as easy to break down as portrayed in the movie, even by amateurs. This is because your average indoor door is actually pretty flimsy, being composed more of empty space (to reduce weight and material costs) than actual wood, since they're mostly meant to block sight and noise rather than attempts to break them down. A safety door made of massive wood, on the other hand, is nearly impossible to break through with a simple axe in any reasonable timeframe. In fact, it's usually easier to attack the doorframe, which doesn't have as much mass.
  • Some viewers of Munich complained that the scene in which the Mossad agents dress as women in order to approach the apartment they are raiding in Tarifa without suspicion was ridiculous, contrived, and ruined the realism of the film. Presumably they were unaware that this particular sequence was closely based on Operation Spring of Youth, a real Mossad operation, in which the men did indeed dress like women to approach their target.
  • Ridley Scott actually declined to include any reference in Gladiator to the historical practice of gladiators endorsing products from their sponsors, specifically out of fear of this trope.
  • The Bad Guy's lair in the first Dungeons and Dragons movie not only looked fake but actually a bit on the nose and over-the top evil. Turns out, it was filmed in a real bone church made out of actual human bones during the Black Plague. (In Prague, if anyone's interested.)
    • There was a Discovery Channel show on it in 2007. The church is beautiful in a somewhat macabre manner.
  • The movie The Great Raid was lambasted by some critics, especially bloggers, as being unrealistically gung-ho about the rescue mission due to the large differences in casualty rates as very few Americans and Filipinos died in the film compared to the scores of Japanese. The brutality of the Japanese in the film was also criticized as over-the-top, even racist. This ignored the fact that in the real life mission the film was based on the Japanese sustained 523 casualties total (killed and wounded) while the total casualties of the Filipino guerrillas performing the rescue numbered under 30, and the American Rangers suffering two. The brutality of the Japanese in the film was also very much downplayed compared to the multiple documented cases of how horribly Imperial Japan treated the people in its conquered territories.
  • The 1996 film The Ghost and the Darkness, about a pair of man-eating lions, featured "conventional" maned lions. The real-life Tsavo man-eaters were actually part of a maneless subspecies. This may have been for the crew's safety as well as this trope; the Tsavo subspecies is well known for aggressive behavior (without manes, they have to be to attract mates).
  • One of the complaints about the film The Kingdom is that it's an American imperialist propaganda film about how evil Arabs are, even in countries aligned with America. However, the attacks that drive the film are based on actual bombings possibly involving Saudi terrorists.
    • And recording of the action on the portable camera? Very common among various group, prevalent in the Hezbollah, where such recordings are used for propaganda and training purposes.
  • One of the criticisms raised about Enemy at the Gates was that it interrupted an exciting story about the sniper duel between Soviet sniper Vasily Zaytsev and his Nazi counterpart during the Battle of Stalingrad with a pointless Romantic Plot Tumor between Zaytsev and Rachel Weisz's character. Thing is, the 'sniper duel' was pure Soviet propaganda, whereas Zaytsev actually did have a relationship with the woman Weisz's character is based on.
  • A common criticism of Sylvester Stallone's critically-panned racing film Driven is that the crashes are ridiculously overblown and physically impossible. Though the crashes are painfully obvious fake CG, the reality is that only one of the incidents shown in the film is truly outside the realm of possibility, and most of the crashes are actually far TAMER than crashes that have actually happened in real life. Realism failure in the movie comes more from portraying a single season as having so MANY crashes of such a nature, rather than the severity of the crashes themselves.
  • Some viewers thought that Speed celebrating his final victory with milk in the Speed Racer movie was an example of Frothy Mugs of Water. In fact, this is also how winners of the Indianapolis 500 celebrate their victories.
  • William Goldman mentions three examples for A Bridge Too Far. First, a British general (Dirk Bogarde) who sends his troops to a supposedly undefended territory, although he actually has informations about German troops being there, but doesn't care. Second, James Caan forcing a medical officer to operate his captain, who seems to be dead (which he isn't, of course). Third, Ryan O'Neal as general James Gavin who was deemed to be too young for the role by the critics - despite being exactly the same age as the real Gavin had been at that time.
    • There was also a complaint (or number of complaints) during the filming from Colonel Frost about the way Anthony Hopkins (playing Col. Frost) moved from house to house during the battle of Arnhem- Frost claimed that no British officer (and certainly not him) would do anything but shown disdain for enemy fire by walking from place to place. Hopkins apparently tried, but when the gunfire started instinct took over and he dashed around in a half-crouch.
  • When The Matrix Reloaded was released, there was a widespread rumor/misconception that the twins were completely computer-generated characters. Many people said that, while looking pretty decent, they still didn't look all that convincing. In actuality they were portrayed by real actors (when not in their "ghost" form).
  • Critics of Unstoppable complained that the way control was lost over the train was too contrived. Not only was the film inspired by a true story (the "Crazy Eights" incident), but the train in real life became a runaway through an even more improbable set of circumstances.
  • The original plan in 2001: A Space Odyssey was to have Discovery fly to Saturn. To that end, Kubrick's special effects team tried to create a model of Saturn that was as realistic as possible. However, the more realistic they made it, the faker it looked! The rings looked like a flat band of metal foil held up by plexiglass. Thus, the trip to Saturn was scrapped in favor of a trip to Jupiter. Flash forward a decade-and-a-half, when Voyager 1 sent back close-up Real Life photos of Saturn and its rings -- the rings in Voyager's photos looked exactly like the flat, "fake" ones that Kubrick's production team had abandoned!
    • Also, the Discovery was originally designed with large radiator fins, which is indeed realistic because spacecraft need a way to dissipate excess heat from the engines, life support, electronics, etc. However the production team chose to omit the fins because they looked too much like wings, and they didn't want audience members to think that the Discovery was intended for atmospheric flight.
  • Stop and think: how many libraries have you seen whose books are not mostly standing straight, one against another like bricks? And yet for some reason movie set designers, such as the one in Ghostbusters, have often insisted on making bookshelves look more "realistic" by having the books be stacked messily and lean crazily against each other on both sides, unlike virtually any real bookshelves.
    • You're right. No human could stack books like that.
    • Although keeping books in good order is a large part of working in a library, not least because it would otherwise mess up the cataloguing system.
  • In the French movie The Bear, they used natural bear cub sounds for the baby bear, but in real life they sound almost exactly like a human baby whimpering, leading many people to believe the sounds were faked by a human.
  • The Shawshank Redemption was criticized for portraying prison guards as using beatings to control inmates, but prison guards have been known to do exactly that in real life.
  • People have criticized Martha's reaction to her own sexuality in The Children's Hour; even a few actors from the movie in recent years have criticized that aspect. However this movie is based off a '30s play, so it probably takes place in The Thirties; even if not so, it takes place in 1950s America. It'd be an understatement to say that it wouldn't be unusual for her not to protest homophobic people. Considering she was already having a bad time about her unrequited feelings for Karen even before the Malicious Slander began, and that she probably felt she wrecked Karen's life along with everyone considering her horrible and gross due to being gay, her behavior wasn't that out-of-it.
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith: Bringing up Christopher Lee once again, several people, a number of internet critics included, derided Dooku's flip down from the balcony as bad CGI. In fact, it was an actual live stunt with wirework, with the only CGI being replacing the stuntman's head with Lee's.
  • The Prince of Persia Video Game series and the movie adaptation gets a lot of flak for making the Prince "too white", due to Western audiences expecting everyone who lives in the Middle East to be brown as can be and not even vaguely similar to the rest of the world. In truth, the Persian people were close relatives of the Europeans, and the majority of modern Iran's population could be considered "white". And most people there identify as white. Compare Iranian prime minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Jake Gyllenhaal. Also, read Kotaku's article.
  • Fans of On the Waterfront (including the people who do the commentary track for the DVD version) are fond of claiming that the film's one weak link is Karl Malden's character, Father Barry. According to the critics, his didactic sermons and high moral tone sometimes stand in contrast with the naturalistic dialogue in the rest of the movie, and Karl Malden occasionally overplays the part by being sanctimonious and one-dimensional. What they seem not to realize is that, according to writer Bud Schulberg, about 80% of Barry's "unrealistic" "Sermon on the Docks" was taken from the speeches of the real-life waterfront priest Fr. John Corridan, S.J. Not only that, but Karl Malden lived with Fr. Corridan for several days before shooting (he purchased Corridan's hat and coat and wore them onscreen), and was specifically asked by Corridan not to play the character as "holier-than-thou", and therefore made deliberate efforts to tone it down.
  • Jon Favreau related this anecdote that took place during the filming of Iron Man for a documentary on the history of Industrial Light and Magic; while looking at the film rushes one day, he looked at a scene of the Iron Man armor and commented that he thought that the lighting effects in the CGI for that scene were off. He was then informed that the shot was of the actual full-sized armor, not CGI.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender used real Chinese characters for the posters and messages in its universe, as well as the opening, and actually had an expert in ancient Chinese calligraphy as part of the staff. The Last Airbender used a made-up sqiggle language because Shyamalan thought actual Chinese didn't look Asian enough.
    • In a similar vein, he also had the characters' names pronounced "properly", so that "Ayng" became "Ahng", "Sock-ka" became "Soa-kah", etc. The issue is that the names were written phonetically for English speakers; if you were to use phonetic Chinese characters, the names would be pronounced exactly as in the animation.
  • In the How It Should Have Ended parody of Captain America: The First Avenger, Armin Zola questions the Red Skull why they should label their bombs in English. The words written on the bombs were names of US cities: New York, Chicago, etc. These names are written the same way in both English and German; therefore, the bombs were in fact written in German.
    • In the actual film, many people thought that the skinny Steve Rogers was the actual Chris Evans, while the bulked up Steve Rogers was achieved through CGI. In fact, it was the other way around.
    • And on the topic of HISHE, they have a bit of a problem with this trope. In their parody of Star Trek, Kirk suggests dumping all of their extra mass in order to allow their ship to move with greater velocity against the black hole, and Spock reprimands him as "that is not how spaceships work"... That's the fundamental theory of rocketry, actually.
      • But of course, the Enterprise does not actually use rockets for propulsion.
  • Clint Eastwood mentioned in an interview that during the filming of The Eiger Sanction, he would have to dangle off the side of a cliff upside down with a rope tied to his leg. Eastwood insisted on doing the stunt himself, because he wanted the camera to zoom in on his face to show that it actually was him. Later, he snuck into a screening of the film to gauge the audience reaction, and most of them thought that the scene was done with special effects.
  • James Purefoy, best known for speaking The Queen's Latin in the TV-series Rome, puts on a very strange, vaguely British accent to play Solomon Kane in the 2010 film adaptation. The accent happens to be the accent spoken in the West Country, where the character Solomon Kane comes from... and Purefoy's natural accent.
  • In the infamous shower scene in Psycho, we see blood swirling down the drain. However this isn't real blood, or even fake blood. Because of how it showed up better in black and white, Hitchcock used chocolate syrup for the scene.
  • The movie Red Tails, as well as the older Made for TV film Tuskegee Airmen, both about the all-black 332d Fighter Group of World War II, features a scene where one of the pilots manages to blow up a destroyer using only his machine guns, and predictably drew complaints that a fighter plane didn't carry enough firepower for that kind of effect. Most American fighter planes in WWII carried six .50 caliber machine guns, firing a rifle round that was a half-inch thick, which was nothing to sneeze at by itself. These planes often carried armor-piercing and incendiary ammo for their guns. And destroyers of that era often carried their torpedoes and depth charges on the deck of the ship, being too small to carry them anywhere else... long story short, that happened.


Literature Edit

  • The book for the German movie Sonnenallee, literally At the Shorter End of Sonnenallee, provides an in-universe example that played the trope straight. When protagonist Micha finds out how his extreme-sporting relative Lutz gets to Mongolia when visa (or rather "invitations") are hard to get, faking the seal by penciling the relief of a five Tukrig coin, Micha succeeds by this method as well. Unfortunately, when they get a real invitation to Mongolia, the officers reject approval as the seal doesn't look as it's supposed to be.
  • Older Than Feudalism: In one of Aesop's Fables, a talented clown does impressions for a town, including an "incredibly realistic" pig's squeal. Finally, a farmer in the back shouts that it sounds nothing like a pig. The next day the two have a face-off. The clown gives his squeals, and then the farmer puts his head in his cloak and there is a horrible sound. The crowd jeers and says it's fake...and then the farmer pulls a piglet out of his coat, as he'd been pinching its ear to make it squeal.
  • This is referenced in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Wyrd Sisters. The witches hide the crown of Lancre (a simple gold coronet) among the prop crowns used by a group of traveling players, and the youngest one, Magrat, comments that the real crown looks out of place among the elaborate and ostentatious fake crowns. As Granny Weatherwax tells her, "Things that try to look like things often look more like things than things. Well known fact."
    • An even more specific example of this trope: in Moving Pictures, the movie-set version of Ankh-Morpork used to film Blown Away is described as looking more like Ankh-Morpork than the city itself does. The movie-set version, of course, is nothing but painted canvas and plywood nailed to the fronts of crudely-built shacks, which have yet another faux-frontage nailed to their backs.
    • Possibly lampshaded in Guards! Guards!, during a discussion about Carrot's sword, an astoundingly non-magical and weathered (but still very functional) specimen. Sgt. Colon very briefly wonders if old kings' swords weren't really marked by their glinting light or impressive sounds, because the kings that were around in the old days wouldn't need something showy, but something that needed to be bloody good at cutting things. In the next City Watch book, Men At Arms, the sword proves so sharp and durable that Carrot nails a bad guy through his midsection to a stone pillar.
    • Referenced in Men At Arms, that a bloke who could put a sword through a stone would have more right to be king than one who could pull it out. Perhaps he'd be an ace.
      • The sword either plays it completely straight or completely inverts this trope: since everything in the Discworld is permeated with at least a slight background level of magic anything that is completely unmagical is slightly more real than everything else around it.
    • Possibly referenced in Good Omens, when War has her sword delivered. The narration points out that it's not a fancy magical sword, just one obviously designed to hurt, kill, and maim as many people in as efficient a manner as possible.
  • This trope is pretty much the same as Umberto Eco's hyperreality theories.
  • Subverted in Stephen Fry's novel The Liar, in which the main character finds a body with the throat cut. His first thought is that it doesn't quite look realistic, but then he reasons that he's never seen a real dead body before, and maybe real-life gore actually looks less real than the movie stuff, just like how real-life gunshots don't sound as real as movie ones. Turns out it actually was fake.
  • In-story example: in Heroes Die, Actors' experiences are recorded and played back for others, as if they were on the Adventures themselves. Someone plays one the protagonist's own tapes back for him, only they have turned up a few settings because they want it to seem "realistic".
  • In Stephen King's Duma Key, Wireman tried to kill himself, blacked out, woke up, and assumed the blood he was lying in was from him falling asleep and injuring himself falling off the chair while he was merely thinking of suicide. He had a headache. He kept on thinking that until he got to the bathroom and saw the hole in his head. He applies a Band-Aid and takes some asprin, and proceeds to spend three days straight at work until he's kicked out.
  • In the novel Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, the lead scientist explicitly states he wants to alter the genetic code of many dinosaurs in the next batch to make them "more realistic", because real dinosaurs were quite different from people's expectations and would be perceived as "unrealistic" by the park visitors.
    • Amusingly, back then, people were under the impression that dinosaurs were slow, stupid lizards who lumbered around in swamps, which was how he intended to alter them. Now, thanks to that very same book and movie, people are aware that Science Has Marched On and no longer think dinosaurs are like that. Now they don't realize Raptors should have feathers.
    • While matching guest expectations was part of it, his major reason was that they had made the same assumptions when building the park. As a result, most of their control measures were utterly useless.
  • In Timeline by Michael Crichton, a time-traveler sent back to the Hundred Years War-era France observes knights dueling in full armor to be much faster and agile than he'd imagined. Another character is watching live footage of historical events, which he finds too mundane. Abraham Lincoln "sounds like Betty Boop" when delivering the Gettysburg Address and George Washington crossing the Delaware "looks like a drowned rat" huddled up in the back of a boat, not "heroic".
  • In On Stranger Tides, Shandy is taught sailing by pirates, and has to learn how to deploy sails to best effect. He's surprised to learn that the proper position leaves each sail with wrinkles in it, not stretched out smooth as looked "more correct" to his landlubber eyes.
  • German philosopher Oswald Spengler commented in his non-fiction book The Decline of the West that some historical events, like the death of Alexander the Great, seem like they were written by a bad author.
  • Lampshaded by Arthur C. Clarke in A Fall of Moondust; the news company covering the events in the book knows that its audience expects to see stars in space, but because they are too faint to be visible during the lunar day it has a special "stargate" circuit to add them to the picture.
  • The Adventures of Blue Avenger by Norma Howe argues that this is in play with Contrived Coincidence. Unlikely coincidences happen all the time, and Million-to-One Chance events are pretty common in a world with nearly seven billion people. So why is it "contrived"?
  • Boston author Dennis Lehane, of Shutter Island, Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone fame, has run into this a couple times.
    • He was once by one of his editors to tone down the violence of the bad guy in Darkness, Take My Hand since it was too "over the top" to which Lehane burst out laughing and explained that his version was the toned down version, and that the real-life exploits of James "Whitey" Bulger and the Winter Hill Gang, which he based the bad guys on, were actually far, far worse. And he should know, seeing as he grew up in the same neighborhood.
    • Critics of Gone Baby Gone focused on the fact that in the story Social Services Does Not Exist and criticized him for using it as a plot device... but the thing is that Lehane used to work with real abused children, so he knows all too well that trope is Truth in Television, and several of the stories told in the book by the police assigned to such cases are based on real cases Lehane handled.
    • Similarly, after the movie version of Gone Baby Gone came out some Bostonians complained that some of the background characters were too stereotypical, but said characters were actual residents of the area and were largely allowed to improvise their own dialog (to the point that Lehane and Ben Affleck, the director, were unsure if they would take direction or tell them to shove it).
  • Some people have criticized Maurice's ending as too unrealistically optimistic about the fate of a homosexual interclass romance in Edwardian England, but Forster's inspiration for Maurice and Alec's relationship came from Edward Carpenter and George Merrill's non-tragic real-life relationship. Such relationships were far from common in early 20th century England, of course, but they weren't impossible.


Live-Action TV Edit

  • In an episode of Babylon 5, Centauri women (a type of almost Human Alien) were depicted as being completely bald or bald except for a ponytail. They were played by actresses who wore latex caps, except for one extra who actually was bald. Supposedly, one of the production crew commented that her cap looked fake.
    • This criticism was also aimed at Mira Furlan, who played Delenn using her native Yugoslavian/Croatian accent, leading detractors of the show to complain that the character's accent sounded "fake". Similarly with the new Earth Alliance president late in season 4; like Furlan, the actress used her real accent (Polish) and many viewers complained that it sounded fake. With the new president, though, viewers did at least have one point in their favor; the actress was supposed to be portraying a Russian character--and though both Polish and Russian are Slavic languages, the accents sound very different. So, real accent... just not a real Russian accent.
    • This was picked up on in Lost, when fans asked why the French woman trapped on the Island by herself for 16 years is speaking with a Croatian accent. The producers regularly discuss this on their podcasts for Rosseau-heavy episodes, pondering if her traumatic experiences are responsible for the accent shift.
    • In yet another episode, many complained about a villain's "fake" scar. In fact, the actor had gotten that scar while trying to stop a mugging, and as a consequence he'd been out of work for years until B5.
  • The opening episode to the main series of the new Battlestar Galactica deals with how the fleet is just getting by with everyone being sleep-deprived from a relentless chase by the Cylons. During the table read, Edward James Olmos brought in a sleep-deprivation expert to consult with the cast to better inform how they would act for the episode. Olmos was convinced that people would be on the verge of suicide after five days of no sleep. The expert said everyone would just be really irritable after five days, much to Olmos' chagrin.
  • Brainiac Science Abuse got in a spot of bother for pandering to this trope. The alkali metals (group one on your periodic table) get more reactive as their masses increase. The show demonstrated this by dropping them into water and watching the increasingly loud bangs as the metals liberated and ignited hydrogen gas. Unfortunately when they reached caesium, the large atomic mass meant, pound for pound, it was far less dramatic than the rest. Rather than show this interesting result to the audience, they repeated the experiment with numerous pyrotechnic charges in the tank. "Science Abuse" indeed. Funnily enough on a small scale caesium is far more impressive. While the lower number metals fizz and occasionally burn in water, caesium will quite happily make the tank explode.
    • Theodore Gray, a scientist who built a coffee table in the shape of the Periodic Table - and filled it with samples of all the elements he can feasibly get hold of - was pissed at this and has demonstrated all the stable alkali metals in water, as shown here http://www.theodoregray.com/PeriodicTable/AlkaliBangs/index.html He also says that if you want to have some REAL fun... try dropping a two-pound block of sodium into a lake and timing how long it takes to fall back down, and explode again... and again... it's on the same page, under 'Sodium Party'
  • The New York Supreme Court is actually the lowest state-level court in the New York judicial system (county and municipal courts being below it). It's a trial court where felonies, large civil lawsuits, and divorces are tried, whereas other Supreme Courts only hear appeals of issues of major national or statewide legal importance. This all means that to anyone who doesn't know how the New York courts are set up, works that get the name right (like Law and Order) sound wrong, while works that get the name wrong sound right. A few early episodes of Law and Order erroneously referred to the 'superior court.'
    • The state's appellate courts are misleading too; the court of last resort for all state matters is the plainly named Court of Appeals. If you're familiar with the Federal court system, that's just like the mid-level appeals court above the trial court and below the Supreme Court of the United States. The NY version of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals? The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court. Yeah, good luck with convincing people who aren't legal experts that's real.
  • Similarly parodied in Monty Python's Flying Circus. While filming "Scott of the Antarctic" on an English beach, the crew cover up the sand with white foamy mats, which supposedly, "on screen, look more like snow than snow!"
  • When the Myth Busters bust a Hollywood myth, like, say, Blown Across the Room, you can be almost certain that there will be a large portion of fans who clamor about having the myth re-tested because they're so used to seeing such myths on the media for so long that they have difficulty believing that real life won't live up to what they expect based on said myths.
    • When testing the method of slowing the detonation of a bomb by cooling it with liquid nitrogene like in Lethal Weapon 2, it turned out that not only did it work, it actually worked a lot better than in the movie. In the movie, cooling the bomb gives Riggs and Mmurtaugh two or three seconds of time to dive into cover, but in the test they had to wait for the bomb to completely thaw before it would explode 15 minutes later. To quote Adam: "The technique used by the bomb squad is far more effective in reality than it is in the movies. When does that ever happen?"
  • A common sources of snickering about Star Trek is that Picard is supposedly French, but speaks English with a British accent and not a French one. Patrick Stewart is indeed British and not French, but it's common for French people who know English well to speak it in a British accent - Britian is, after all, the nearest English-speaking country to France. A French person speaking English with a British accent is no more unrealistic than is, say, a Mexican person who speaks English with an accent from the American south.
  • Parodied in Supernatural's self-referential episode "Hollywood Babylon". There's a real black-and-white ghost woman with rope burns on her neck and the producer just says "Not sure about those neck wounds, though. They need to be red."
    • Another version happens in season five's "The Real Ghostbusters": at a haunted Supernatural convention, a patron dressed as season one's Hookman ghost tells a group of real ghost-children, "You look nothing like real ghosts. Just telling you!" Right before they kill him.
  • A group of Native American actors appearing as extras in the series Wild Wild West were asked to speak in their own language for a scene, only for the director to change the dialogue as it didn't sound 'Indian' enough.
  • As mentioned in the DVD commentary of the U.S. series premiere, the creators of The Office run up against this problem quite a bit. It's a fictional show done in documentary style, which means it needs to look "realistic", but to achieve this, it often needs to look less professional than an actual documentary. Willing Suspension of Disbelief isn't necessary for a documentary filmmaker, because by its very nature a documentary is assumed to be true and uses no actors or sets. Therefore, they often strive to make their footage look as artistic and professionally staged as possible. But if The Office did that it would probably look like a regular show, hence it has to be "behind the times".
  • The television show The Nanny featured a British butler working for a British Broadway producer. The show would repeatedly get fan mail suggesting that the guy who played the butler (who is from Arkansas) coach the guy who played the producer (who is from London) to make his accent more believable.
  • Deliberately avoided by the producers in the HBO adaptation of Generation Kill. No doubt the best example would be Captain America, who is toned down from Evan Wright's account of things as seen in the book, for fear that the audience wouldn't believe it.
    • The series still suffers from this trope played straight; it's not uncommon for viewers to think the show is completely unrealistic and an insult to military personnel when they don't know the characters, Wright included, are real people actually followed around by a reporter. The Marines being more vulgar and shameless than military characters portrayed in the John Wayne-era or even newer World War II films just seem unrealistic to civilians after decades of Hollywood painting the battlefield with an air of civility. Beyond this, some will still justify calling bullshit on it through the idea that Evan Wright is biased at best, and fabricating things at worst, the fact that the real Marines portrayed have no problem sitting down with him and talking about what goes on in the series seemingly irrelevant. The real Brad Colbert actually mentions this trope in one such discussion, he and the other Marines having what is essentially this entry as a conversation.
    • Never mind the fact that one of the actual marines was an actor in the series. "Fruity" Rudy (The marine who played himself in the show) would likely also qualify as reality is unrealistic. Nobody would find a fictional Marine like him believable.
    • One scene that gets a lot of complaints is a part where an Iraqi AA gun ambushes the Marines' humvees as they're driving down the highway. The common complaint is that the AA gun should have ripped apart the Marines' column before they could have taken cover, let alone return fire or direct a helicopter after the gun. In reality, this event actually happened almost exactly like it did in the show - except that unlike in the show, they were being fired upon with explosive ammunition, and there were Iraqi mortars bombarding the column too. Not only was this mentioned in the Generation Kill book, but 1st Lieutenant Nathan Fick's own autobiography One Bullet Away verifies it further.
    • This also carried over to Army of Two, which was based partially on GK and partially on actual accounts from mercenaries.
  • In the early days of Seinfeld, Jason Alexander complained to Larry David of the way George was written, saying that no person could possibly sink so low as to do some particular thing, that it was completely unrealistic for one person to be that selfish and stupid. Larry informed him that he himself HAD done that very same thing in real life. This changed how Jason saw the character when he realized it is possible for a person to sink that low. Also lampshaded in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm- playing himself, Jason complains to Larry that he always gets typecasted as schmucks and assholes because of George. Larry asks what he meant, Jason said something like "Well come on, George was an asshole! He did [lists off various misdeeds of George]" to which Larry angrily replies "I did those things!!!"
  • Lampshaded in an episode of Victorious which involves a reality show, and uses stuff they shot to make it look like Tori and Beck were into each other, which then results in Jade getting violent towards Tori. When they go to the show's producers, they claim that nothing that ever happens on reality TV is actually real.
  • The laughter track on the pilot episode of The Mighty Boosh is actually a quieter version of the laughter heard on the day. However, the audience who attended felt the laughter track was too much on the filmed episode, despite it being their laughter.
  • British TV show Cardiac Arrest was written by a practicing doctor in a hospital about his experiences as a junior doctor. It was slammed as an unrealistic portrayal of life in a hospital by critics who had never been in one.
  • A frequent knock on the TV show Survivorman is that the number of times he stumbles onto a useful piece of trash or a food source seems set up. Les Stroud often states, on air, that human refuse is simply a fact of life, no matter where you go. He lampshades this trope during an episode in Alaska, where he runs across half a salmon discarded by an eagle.

 Les: Now, I know what you're thinking: "Ah, come on! That looks set up!"

  • Invoked in Burn Notice when Fiona's brother shows up to help Fiona survive an old foe come back to kill her. Long story short, the brother thinks Michael is Irish from an old operation and Fiona encourages him to maintain the illusion. At a certain point they need to do some recon work and are left to wonder how an Irishman will blend into an American crew. At that point Michael drops his accent and says he's done undercover work in America before. Fiona's brother remarks that Michael's American accent could use some work.[2]
  • This is a common problem on Leverage. In interviews and episode commentary, the writers take great pains to point out how few of their villains' atrocities are not things that actual white-collar criminals have gotten away with.
  • An in-universe example in Stargate SG-1 on the set of Wormhole X-treme where, due to low budget, the producer refuses to finance a spaceship prop. Then a real, awesome-looking, spaceship descends from the clouds. At first, everyone is agape. Then a couple of stagehands are discussing how fake it looks. The other one replies that they can make it look "less fake" in post-production.
  • Tim Minear remarks in an audio comment for Dollhouse that they brought in a blind woman as an expert, so Eliza Dushku could portray blindness realistically. But it turned out that when she behaved like a blind person actually would, then it looked fake on screen. So they went with more stereotypical "blind" behaviour.
  • Mark Sheppard - Badger in Firefly has been criticised for his "atrocious British accent". Perhaps a borderline case - Sheppard is British, but he was laying that accent on rather thick.
  • The game show QI (hosted by the genius Stephen Fry) lives and breathes this trope. For example: Jesus probably wasn't born December 25th; there are words that rhymes with "orange", "purple" and "silver"; goldfish have respectable memories; and they say of the Acropolis, where the Parthenon is, that there are no straight lines... even though that's not actually true.
  • The character of Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones was introduced skinning a stag. Viewers heartily criticised the silly fake stag and ridiculed the scene. It was a real carcass and the actor was actually skinning it.
  • Arguably, every episode of every 'ghost hunting' show ever - except for England's Most Haunted, which was revealed to be a fabrication. (Cast and crew members of shows such as Ghost Hunters, Paranormal State and Ghost Adventures absolutely insist that no fakery is involved.)
  • While some elements of Viva La Bam were scripted in advance, some fans have claimed that Vince "Don Vito" Margera was acting, and that his over-the-top, incomprehensible manner was a put on. This is untrue, though April Margera has stated that the show made Vito out to be a bigger jerk than he actually is.
  • Any mention of the character of Spearchucker Jones on MASH - including multiple pages on this very Wiki - inevitably includes the "fact" that he was written out when producers were told no black surgeons served in Korea. MASH is based on a real unit, the 8055th, which did indeed have an African-American surgeon on staff.
  • Parodied in an episode of One Foot in the Grave, when a woman writes a play based on a typical day with the Meldrews... that is, a day when everything goes wrong and a few surreal things happen that they never manage to figure out. Her backer protests that there isn't a proper story, and it's not convincing.

 Backer: The bottom line is I don't believe it.

  • John Rogers frequently does write-ups and Q&A sessions for each episode of Leverage on his blog. For episodes that feature a prominent character with an accent (i.e. the antagonist with an Irish accent in "The Bottle Job"), someone inevitably tells Rogers that the actor's accent sounds fake, only for Rogers to reveal that the actor is actually using their native accent.
  • In the early years of The Adventures of Superman, when it was in black and white, Superman's costume was actually white and red, because blue would have looked wrong (you can see it in the movie Hollywoodland). A normal version was created for later seasons that were shot in color.
  • Season 5 of Mad Men opens with a rival agency throwing water bombs on protesters. The scene was criticized for being unrealistic and having bad dialogue, but it was actually lifted word for word from a contemporary New York Times article.
  • Invoked in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia when Mac and Charlie get a hold of a hand grenade and use it to blow up Dee's car. There's a small explosion which blows out the windows but doesn't do much other visible damage. They start complaining that they were expecting a fireball that would lift the car in the air.
  • As Badass as Omar Little is, there's no way he would really be able to survive a leap from a fourth-floor window, right? Except for the fact that Donnie Andrews, one of the real-life Baltimorians Little is based off, pulled off a similar feat with a sixth-floor drop.


Music Edit

  • This is somewhat a film example as well as music, but "Weird Al" Yankovic holds a note out so ridiculously long in the Theme Song to Spy Hard that it's commonly thought that this was a sound editing trick.
  • Happens a lot in music; the advent of the synthesizer allowed amateur songwriters to fake any number of musical instruments and other sounds to near-perfection. Because of that, people who enjoy the synthesized stuff would be mighty surprised when they're told that their favorite song was, in fact, played by a real band with real instruments.
    • Same thing with singers; lip-syncing scandals (like with Britney Spears) have become so prevalent in the public memory in recent years, that it comes as a shock to listeners when they're told a performer they swear is lip-syncing actually isn't.
    • In an article about the use of pitch-correcting software in the music industry, one producer noted that singers who don't use the software get criticized by fans for sounding "pitchy". Ironically the article was mainly about rappers who use the software to intentionally distort their voices.
      • The Unfortunate Implications that electronic-sounding pop music (and only electronic-sounding pop music) is singled out for employing the same studio trickery, autotune, drag-and-drop editing and effects processing that almost all modern recording studios have access to in all styles of music doesn't help matters. This is also true with live performances and "mimed" TV appearances.
    • Some of the Rick Rolled people complained "about that guy's fake baritone". That's Rick Astley's natural voice.
      • The same thing happened to Roger Ebert once: when reviewing the 1998 remake of Psycho he complained of the evident electronically tweaked voice of the cop to make it sound unusually deep for effect. After someone wrote to him in the "Questions for the Movie Answer Man" column correcting him he had to add a footnote to later versions of the review saying, "I was wrong: that's James Remar's real voice."
    • Queen in particular were notorious for this; contrary to popular belief, the "no synths" disclaimer on their early albums wasn't because they had anything against synths even then, but because they were annoyed at May's guitar proficiency and their overdub tricks being mistaken for synth effects.
  • From an AV Club piece about "Weird Al" Yankovic: "It’s anyone’s guess how Sheryl Crow's 'All I Wanna Do' slots in with the 120 Minutes standards compiled by 1995’s 'Alternative Polka'." Crow was actually all over alternative rock radio in 1994-95, alongside Green Day and the others. "All I Wanna Do" got to #4 on Billboard's "Modern Rock Tracks" chart and "Leaving Las Vegas" and "Strong Enough" were also Top 10 hits.
    • Of course, during the mid-90's, alternative rock radio also played a grab bag of vaguely alternative subgenres. "The Mummers' Dance" by Celtic musician Loreena McKennitt and "O, Carolina!" by reggae star Shaggy were also Top 20 hits on the Modern Rock Track tracks chart during this time.
  • Listeners often complain that Gorillaz vocalist 2D sounds too different between singing and speaking to have realistically performed those songs. (In all fairness, he is played by two separate voice actors.) In reality, people can have dramatic differences between their speaking and singing voices: accents disappear, pronunciation becomes clearer, tones vary widely etc. It's not uncommon for someone with a thick accent or odd mode of speech to sound fine in recordings; learning to shift between voices is one of the first things aspiring vocalists are taught.
    • A well-known example of this is Ozzy Osbourne. Most people consider his normal speech to be difficult to understand, and yet his lyrics are pretty easy to make out when he's singing.
  • A hot-ticket act for many years around Canada is The Musical Box, a fantastically accurate tribute band that plays spot-on performances of vintage (usually Peter Gabriel-era) Genesis music with spot-on theatrics; in fact, the only tribute band Genesis and Gabriel personally endorse and allow to perform with those theatrics. This is the closest you are going to come to a recreation of the band in its progressive rock heyday. This is until you technically take into account that Genesis performed to much smaller, feistier crowds, with less spit-and-polish than TMB use, lower-tech and less reliable sound equipment, lighting, musical instruments, theatrics and staging, and smaller road crews (if any). They were also flying by the seat of their pants as a young, naive, hungry unknown band playing unknown and weird experimental original music with unheard-of, weird, outrageous, experimental theatrics in The Seventies, with all the nerves, spontaneity and hunger to prove themselves you would expect out of such a band starting out.


Radio Edit

  • Horse hooves were always simulated with coconut halves in golden age radio shows, but by then, the automobile had already almost completely replaced the horse as everyday transportation, and so the common man came to think that horse hooves actually sound like coconut halves banging together. This misconception has persisted to the point that now that it would be a simple matter to digitally insert actual horse hoof sounds into film or radio or television, audiences won't believe it sounds like horse hoof sounds because they will only accept the coconut sounds.


Sports Edit

  • Red Smith practically wrote the Trope Codifier when he wrote about the improbable "Shot Heard 'Round the World" (Bobby Thomson's game-winning home run to win the 1951 pennant for the Giants, after being down 13 1/2 games to the Dodgers in August).

 Red Smith: Now it is done. Now the story ends. And there is no way to tell it. The art of fiction is dead. Reality has strangled invention. Only the utterly impossible, the inexpressibly fantastic, can ever be plausible again.

    • Major League Baseball over the last sixty years: 1960 Pirates, Red Sox (pick a year: 1967, 1975, 1978, 1986, 2004, 2011), 2007 Rockies, 2010 Giants and Rangers, etc. Tell anybody who doesn't know much about baseball those stories and the likely reaction is: "No, really..."
    • The 1991 World Series in its entirety. Seven contests, all won by the home team, four - including the climactic Game 7 - won in extra innings; Game 7 won in a 1-0 shutout by the 40-year-old starting pitcher. And both the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves having finished last in their division the previous year.
  • Brian Wilson, a closing pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, was said by one commentator to have "the fakest-looking real beard I've ever seen".
  • A small (by NBA standards) Asian man who is barely surviving in the NBA's Development League and sleeping on his brother's couch suddenly breaks out on a team that plays in the most famous city and the most famous arena in the entire world. He's one of the most clutch players in the league, and in his first couple weeks of consistent playing time, he puts up numbers that resemble those of the greatest NBA players to ever live. And he does this on a hugely underachieving team WITH ITS TWO BEST PLAYERS INJURED AND UNABLE TO PLAY. If you had pitched the Jeremy Lin story to Hollywood before it happened, they'd laugh at how fake it sounds.


Tabletop Games Edit

  • Players and reviewers of D20 Modern often complained about how unrealistic it was that wielding a weapon with a burst fire setting doesn't give you the effects of the game's Burst Fire feat. As the game's designers have pointed out, the point of the burst fire setting on guns is to ensure you only fire the three to five rounds in an automatic burst that have any realistic chance of actually hitting the target. If you don't know how to effectively fire an accurate burst with an automatic weapon, this setting won't make it any easier.
    • D20 Modern got this in a lot of respects. Many players and reviewers compained about how a submachine gun could easily kill a character in the early levels of the game (where the median hitpoints could be around 7 or 8 at first level and a submachine gun could deal 2d6 (2-12)). The logic on why this was bad? Because SM Gs shoot 'little pistol bullets' and everyone knows from movies those only wound you, not kill you.
  • Dragon (magazine) article "Illusions of Grandeur" proposed Spectral Farce spell weaponizing this. It makes things in the affected area to be perceived as less believable, whether they are real or not. Of course, in this case Illusion/Phantasm magic aura actually helps the effect if detected. The whole point is that a harmless spell becomes ridiculously lethal once the victims disregard as "fake and tacky" something like a swooping dragon -- or even a badly disguised trap.
  • House rules are the bread & butter of Tabletop RPGs, but they also show how pervasive this trope is. Those who read an AD&D newsgroup or a forum for several years probably reflexively laugh from hearing or seeing the word "realistic". Or at least grin, remembering some "realistic" accomplishements that good rules absolutely have to make possible. Let's say, shooting a squirrel in the eye with a longbow (yes) is not nearly the worst. Conversely, the foreword by Rich Backer to a Players' Options book (that derived some of its parts from internet house rules) set it straight on the very first page:

  The Combat & Tactics book is a compromise that adds some detail to combat -- not to make it more realistic, but to make combat more believable.

    • Of course, Running the Asylum gradually made it a moot point, what with Bear Lore et al.


Videogames Edit

  • The Blood Elf male models in World of Warcraft are perhaps the most realistically proportioned models in the entire game. Almost everyone's thoughts on the model for the Blood Elf Males? That they look very scrawny. (Females are obviously intended to be this way, they look like Courtney Yates during China.) Well of course humans are gonna look ultra-thin when you put them next to the bulky Orcs and Draenei and the chunky Tauren...
  • A very common gripe among some Eve Online players is that the game's colourful background nebulae are massively over the top because the sky should just be black with twinkly bits, right? In reality, space is full of all sorts of spectacular features, it's just that these are too dimly lit for the human eye to see unaided, especially if you live in an urbanized area with lots of light pollution.
  • On most hand grenades, pulling the pin is not what makes them go boom; the pin is just a final safety catch for the lever, which when released sets off the time-delayed detonator. Also, trying to pull the pin with your teeth is usually a good way to break a tooth. You cannot put the pin back in a grenade (or put in a replacement) if the lever (the part the pin was holding in the first place) has already been released. Even if you try to replace the handle, the fuse has started. If the fuse hasn't started, if the lever hasn’t moved, you might be able to make the grenade 'safe' again by putting the pin back. But don't risk your life on it.
    • Notable in First Person Shooters where holding a grenade too long will result in the player blowing themselves up or the grenade exploding as soon as it leaves the player's hand. Apparently, FPS heroes don't know how to handle grenades properly. May be justified in that in FPS games, the hero uses an unsafe (but sometimes effective) practice of "cooking" the grenade. (This is explicitly how grenades work in Killzone 2. There's even a series of lights that tells you how long before you overcook, so to speak.)
    • In some games with an older theme, it's done with dynamite. The hero lights the fuse and then you hold it to time the throw and explosion. Hold it too long and it goes kablooey in your hand. In real life, dynamite explodes as soon as it is lit, which is why contractors use blasting caps, a detonator, and plenty of space to set it off.
  • A character designer for God of War details his encounters with this trope in some making-of bonus material, as the rest of the dev team would say authentic Ancient Greek costumes and armor were "not Greek enough," and were only satisfied with the pop-culture versions of Ancient Greek garb.
    • In the developers’ defense, they all understood it was authentic, but realized that the general public was unlikely to have researched ancient Greek fashion, thus becoming a minor case of Pandering to the Base.
  • Pokémon's May, Dawn, and to a certain extent Misty (even though the last one is actually flat-chested, something explicitly stated on the show) are often accused of being unrealistically "well-developed" for a 10-year-old. In reality, puberty for young girls has gotten much lower in recent generations because girls are fatter than they used to be (a girl needs a certain amount of body fat before she can begin puberty). Thus the average age for puberty to start in girls is actually at nine and ten years old. Not surprisingly, this shocks people in real life as well.
    • On a completely different tangent is Brock's ethnicity. Most Americans think that he is Latino or Black or so on. Turns out that it's really not that uncommon for Asian people to get that dark.
      • This, despite that a minor celebrity in the U.S. is Julie Chen, a former newsanchor, host of Big Brother and a talk-show host in the off-season.
    • Lest we not forget, the world's youngest recorded mother was five years old well before such chemical exposures were likely to have happened; individual differences in this regard are, and have always been, huge. And in any case, minor breast growth can happen even before the puberty kicks in with full force.
    • It's also not uncommon for precocious puberty to be a temporary thing, environmentally or otherwise, such as in an Italian school in the 1970s where boys and girls started growing breasts -- believed to be from exposure to contaminated beef or poultry. The effects disappeared within 8 months.
    • Plus, babies have been known to grow breast buds and secrete "witch's milk", i.e. infant lactation, due to exposure of estrogen and other hormones from their mother's womb or breast milk.
  • A common complaint about driving games is that a speeding car can easily yank a metal lamp post out of the ground with little loss of speed, while being stopped dead by a humble tree, which makes no sense to most people. In reality, modern lamp posts are intentionally designed to buckle in the event of a car crash as to not harm the passengers, while trees are rooted in the ground and require much more force to uproot. This complaint still has some merit though if a game depicts something like a fast semi truck or tank being unable to damage a thin palm tree.
  • Related to the above; in most FPS games, headshots are instant kill. They may not entirely be instant (as shown below) but because of this, a lot of snipers aim for the head specifically. In Real life, most snipers don't actually aim for the head for the fact that it's an even harder target to hit in real life than it is in games. Most actually aim for the chest or the neck as to get the heart or the jugular, or even inflict enough damage they can't fight back. Not that headshots can't be done with a sniper rifle, just that they're Awesome but Impractical. (Especially if it's in a battlefield. If someone's holding still long enough for you to get a clear shot at their head, they're not just a sitting duck for snipers...)
  • As video games strive to become more realistic, the colors have become darker, mostly greys and browns. Particularly First Person Shooters. Take a look outside and tell me how much brown and grey you actually see. In their defense, you probably aren't looking out your window at the kind of blasted hellscape most shooters are set in. And though grey and brown are the colours of aging stone, abandoned cities would very quickly turn green as the truly inexorable inhuman destroyers, plants, swarm in.
    • Still, to be fair to developers, this is partly due to genuine limitations in graphics technology which are only just being overcome. In real life, brightly colored surfaces affect the color of reflected light, an effect known as Radiosity. See this discussion.
    • Professional summary: Light that bounces off of blue things turns blue. Limiting the number of colors in a scene prevents this from becoming noticeable in its absence.
    • In fact, this is why the blue things appear blue. The light that reflects from them is mostly in the wavelength of blue when it reaches your eye. The other wavelengths are absorbed as a property of the colored material.
    • Lampshaded in the Uncharted series, which has a "Next-Gen Filter" that turns everything brown/grey. The game is normally much more colorful than the typical First Person Shooter.
    • There seems to be a lot of green in the ruined New York of Crysis 3.
  • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney the first victim is killed with a glass bottle to the forehead, leading to people to question why it didn't shatter, leaving it to be presented in court intact (made worse by the fact that the series is based on finding such contradictions, but asking this in game isn't an option and a previous game in the series featured a bottle that broke when someone was hit non lethally.). Glass is not as fragile as depicted in Hollywood, and the process used to make the bottle (of which there are several) and the quality and amount of material used are a factor. In fact, the non-lethal broken bottle from the previous game was likely a cheaper product, and was non-lethal because it broke, which absorbed a significant amount of the energy involved, while the unbroken bottle would have transfer more energy into the skull, thus causing more damage.
    • In the same vein, auto glass (specifically the front and rear windshield) is specifically designed NOT to shatter in the case of a crash. The side windows are a little different, as evidenced by many photos of carjackings where the perp smashed the drivers window.
      • You can smash almost any car window with a sharp point and some leverage. The same window may remain intact if you simply throw a brick at it, however. They are made of safety glass designed to shatter without sharp edges when a strong enough pressure is applied to a single point.
    • The "Glass Bottle" trope was actually tested on Myth Busters.
    • On that note, in the first of the Ace Attorney games, the Steel Samurai case is though by many people as being completely ridiculous and impossible to do in real life... In actual fact, Word of God has said that this case was based on a similar case that happened at a Japanese filming studio in which the actor who portrayed the villain on a show was killed by the actor who played the hero on said show. In the actual real life event, the case linked back to an accident from the past involving an impaling just like in the game and also a grade schooler did testify under the impression that the murder he saw was a staged fight. As well as this the real life victim did steal the hero costume to kill someone who he wanted to get revenge on. Believe or not, it's true...
  • On the forums of the America's Army game, a game created by the U.S. Army, people often complain that certain aspects about the game are less realistic than other games. The actual case is inevitably that America's Army is the first game to get that particular aspect right and the people aren't used to that. Common examples of what uninformed posters complain about are what weapons the Army uses (specifically the lack of expected weapons), the slow speed of the reloading animations, the dramatic stun effects of flashbangs, the frequency of weapon jams, the slow movement and gameplay speed, the lack of some ridiculous practices, and other things commonly misrepresented by other games. You know a media-caused misconception is ingrained firmly when people think they understand something about combat better than the actual Army.
    • Though to be fair to critics, the more frequent than expected weapons jams in America's Army's current weapon of choice are frustrating professionals in real life as well.
    • On the subject of the M16, most people would express absolute disbelief at any report or video that the M4/M16 can indeed take quite a bit of abuse like sand and dust due to the ingrained belief that the tiniest bit of debris will jam it. It was less reliable compared to AK-47 -- but what isn't? The infamy is inherited from the early versions: due to machinations with the hasty release and logistics they failed soldiers who weren't taught or equipped to properly maintain them. The manufacturer worked out kinks, but the reputation remains soiled. Hence the "Good Guns, Bad Guns" Product Placement campaign.
      • Today, there are still two remaining issues with the M16 series. One, the army still uses the original Direct Impingement system that can be replaced with a $60 drop in piston available on the open market. Two, the M16 is a well made gun. Lower tolerances and minimized head space makes for a quality arm, but also for a less dirt-tolerant one. Anyone doubting the M16's durability in regards to physical pounding should see what happens when you run one over with a tank, then do the same to an AK-47. The AK's sheet steel construction folds like a deck of cards. But the M16's gets cracked plastic and a bent barrel, easy fixes.
  • Halo pulls an interesting version of this - only Spartans can go Guns Akimbo. Lampshaded by a marine:

 "I've seen a Spartan use two SMGs at once, tearing the crap out of the little ones; sending the big ones down in bloody heaps. But I guess that's what ya gotta be to pull it off: an action-movie hero or a seven-foot-tall walking tank..."

    • Fittingly, bitter They Changed It, Now It Sucks Halo 1 pistol fanboys complained that the SMGs in question shouldn't be able to force the Chief's aim up the way it does. (They neglected to consider that the Halo 1 Magnum had an even bigger kick per-bullet.[3].)
  • People have complained that Vanille's Australian accent in the dub of Final Fantasy XIII is fake sounding and doesn't sound Australian. Her voice actress, Georgia Van Cuylenburg, is actually from Australia. To Australians, though, she sounds like a surfer chick.
    • Similarly, Leiliana from Dragon Age gets flak because her French Orlesian accent sounds fake. Her voice actress is, of course, French. Marjolanne, another character with an Orlesian accent, actually is voiced by Kath Soucie who is not French.
  • To make the skin textures for the Infected in Left 4 Dead, the Valve team compiled a book of gruesome skin disorders. Then they decided it was just so disgusting and over-the-top that they never looked at it again, and used things like fibreglass and cardboard instead.
    • Course, there could be another reason they made the infected the way they did...
  • Wolfire Games did a blog post about research they did for their upcoming game. Many of the picture subtitles fit this trope.
  • In a humorous example in the second Paper Mario game, a huge Luigi fan asks Mario to introduce her to her idol. In order to complete this quest, you must wear the L badge, which dresses Mario in Luigi's garb. When you speak to her, she's estatic, until the real Luigi shows... and is immediately chastised by the girl for being an imposter.
  • The developer commentary to Portal 2 reveals that an important detail of the Final Boss fight very nearly fell victim to this. Playtesters expected portals fired by the Handheld Portal Device to appear instantly and were confused when an obvious Chekhov's Gun failed to go off as expected due to speed-of-light lag. After toying with ignoring the speed of light, Valve's final solution was to constrain the player's view so they cannot easily look away from the intended target, and once the final shot is fired, to lock the game into cutscene mode. It works perfectly.
  • In Okami, when Amaterasu uses Golden Fury, she hikes her leg up in a way that most people associate with male dogs. This confuses some people. In real life, whether a wolf hikes its leg or not is dependent on the wolf's position in the pack hierarchy, not its gender. Alpha wolves raise their leg when marking/urinating and subservient wolves squat down to urinate. Some female dogs hike their leg, too.
  • Bully actually does have some events like what goes on in the game happen in real life. But don't worry, in Real Life, if half of the stuff that goes on in Bullworth happened in one year, it'd get closed down by the end... probably before.
  • Some criticisms of The Elder Scrolls towards the Argonians was that they walk on plantigrade feet (human feet). In Morrowind, they walked on digitigrade legs, and others claimed this was more realistic. Funny thing... in Real Life, Reptiles are plantigrade, so technically, the Morrowind argonians were the most unrealistic. Now, as for the Khajiits, based off of felines who don't walk on plantigrade feet...
    • Depends on what kind of reptile the Argonians are based on. Squamatas (which include lizards) and testudines have plantigrade feet, but archosaur reptiles (ie Dinosaurs) typically have digitigrade feet. While Argonians are often called "lizards" by racists who probably don't know any better, the series' lore seems to imply that that they really are just lizards in origin.
  • In Dead Island, the Australian character Purna is voiced by an Australian actress, Peta Johnson. Despite this, one of the most frequent criticisms of Johnson's performance is that her accent sounds fake.
  • Most gamers playing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword don't know that the design of the goofy-looking Loftwings the citizens of Skyloft ride on are based on real (though smaller but still quite large) birds called Shoebill storks, native to Sudan.
  • Some younger Guitar Hero fans thought Slash was a fictional person created just for the game. [1]
  • Racing games with licenced cars very often feature stereotypical handling and performance. Whenever a Porsche shows up in a racing game you can bet it will oversteer and be hard to control, even though you are driving a modern Porsche with four wheel drive and 45-55 weight balance and not a '76 Turbo. The Boxster and Cayman will be very light and have a low top speed because they kind of look like something Lotus would make, even though the only reason the real life Cayman does not outperform the equivalent 911 is because its drivetrain was intentionally downgraded and a tuned Cayman should blow the doors off a comparable 911. Lotus itself always ends up providing the slowest car with the best acceleration and handling, even if said car is the Esprit V8 which is pretty much a mid engined muscle car in real life. The perennial Aston Martin in Need for Speed always handles like a boat, even the DBR 9 version which is a race spec build and should handle like any other GT 1 formula sportscar. Same goes for the BMW M 3 R and for the same reason. The Nissan GTR is often represented as a drift car with a low top speed, probably because it looks like an upgraded Skyline. And whenever you see a modern four door car in the lineup, usually the Audi RS 4 or a Maserati, it will have the handling and ramming power of a semi.


Webcomics Edit

  • Invoked in Girl Genius by Master Payne's Circus of Adventure, whose crew explicitly avoids everything that looks too realistic: most notably, for a talking cat, they use a man in a cat costume rather than Krosp.
    • Much like with Dawson Casting, there is also the issue that real cats, talking or not, are proverbially difficult to direct.
  • Mocked in Weregeek:

 Dustin: Well, to be fair, there can't be that many Jamaican voice actors in the business... they probably just hire black actors who can sound Jamaican.

Mark: Hey, you know where Blizzard could have found a LOT of guys who can do a perfect Jamaican Patois accent, and could use the work?

  Schlock: The TV-me is putting me-me out of a job. [...] Maybe we can kill another TV network. Is there still money in that?


Web Originals Edit

  • When Nuclear Apocaluck was launched -- a site with simulations of damage caused by nuclear attack -- the overwhelming response was "I know that a nuke would do more damage than that." Nukes are powerful enough in their own right, but they've been so over-dramatized that people don't recognize the insane horror of their power when they do see it. What some people don't realize is that the way the system is set up is kind of off; unless a city is at fatal ratings for 12 months a year, they don't get glowing brightly, and "glowing" (with no shockwave or heat blast) can range anywhere from being 40-90 rads or deadly for seven months of the year and very bad for you another five.
  • Almost any photography blog (or any blog where someone puts up scenic photos in general) will immediately attract a flood of commenters complaining that the image is 'obviously Photoshopped'. Of course, a talented photographer is perfectly capable of capturing an impressive shot without resorting to Photoshop software to touch it up, but try telling them that. In many cases, comments of these nature indicate that the commenter is either a Troll just trying to stir up trouble or just unfamiliar with professional grade SLR cameras. Point-and-shoot cameras have about as much in common with these SLRs as, say, a butter knife has with a chainsaw. Many effects you can get with an expensive manually controlled camera really are impossible with a point-and-shoot. Moreover, many commenters are unaware that effects have long been added to traditional film photos in the development process.
  • This "review" of the History Channel's "World War II Show" provides a hilarious example. The author denounces the show for being a Cliché Storm full of lazy writing, and calls out The Bomb for being an Ass Pull with no Foreshadowing, which then became Forgotten Phlebotinum as the writers never used it again despite the numerous subsequent wars.
  • Not Always Right tells the story of someone who was unaware of the rarity of disapproval voting outside game shows:

 (A young girl of 18 or 19, clearly a first-time voter, skips the line and rushes up to my table.)

Me: "I’m sorry, you’ll have to wait. There’s a line."

Voter: "I’m sorry, but it’s important! I need to get my ballot paper back. I voted for the wrong person!"

Me: "Alright, give me the spoiled one."

Voter: "I can’t. I put it in the box."

Me: "Then I’m afraid we can’t get it back. The boxes can’t be opened until the end of voting at ten o’clock."

Voter: "But I didn’t know! I don’t want the Conservatives to get in so I voted for [Conservative candidate]. I should have voted for someone else!"

Me: "Um, why did you vote for the Conservative?"

(The girl turns scarlet and looks utterly miserable.)

Voter: "I thought it was like TV where you vote them off!


Western Animation Edit

  • Used in an episode of The Venture Brothers. When he needs to get an operation from a very shifty doctor in order to get Helper's head out of his chest, Brock pulls the pin on a grenade, and places the thing in Helper's mouth, with the implication being that Helper will let go of the lever if the doc tries anything funny while Brock's under.
  • Parodied in The Simpsons, where a Hollywoodesque special effects team paints a horse's skin in a cow pattern, because "real cows don't look like cows on-screen." When asked how they would make something look like a horse on-screen, they suggest stringing a bunch of cats together.
    • In another episode of The Simpsons, the guest star was John Waters. John Waters' real mustache is basically a very straight thin line across his upper lip. However, in the cartoon, he had a wavy moustache. In the audio commentary, the reason John Water's straight thin moustache was replaced by a wavy line was because John Waters' real moustache would just look like a straight line over his lip and disappear. John Waters said he actually liked it, but considered that it would be difficult to shave his moustache to look like that. So what we have here is, the fake moustache looks more real than the real moustache. John wants to make his real moustache look more real like the fake moustache that looks more real. However, he can't make his fake-looking real moustache look more real because it is just too difficult to shave in a wavy line like the fake moustache that looks more real even though it's too hard to shave in real life and oh no, I've gone crosseyed.
  • Parodied in one SpongeBob SquarePants episode in which Mr. Krabs pulls his way to use the sponge himself as a promotional money-making tool for the Krusty Krab, after a food critic complimented him. He makes Spongebob leave his current position to manually work on a ride, having set up Squidward, in costume, for his place. After tiring out, Spongebob gets attacked with insult and mockery for not looking like the real thing. It's not until the end of the episode that Mr. Krabs fixes things up.
  • One of The Spill.com's biggest complaints about the Animated Adaptation Movie TMNT is that Splinter's voice doesn't sound Asian, when in fact it was voiced by the famed Japanese actor Mako Iwamatsu.
  • One of the oft-cited "absurdities" of George Miller's Happy Feet is that the main character somehow ends up far out his region, washed ashore and stranded. This has happened more than a few times, the most recent and talked about being the African Penguin who ended up a world away, and the King Penguin who'd somehow spirited himself beyond the Falklands. Penguins have even wound up in Alaska - admittedly, most likely by boat (escaped ship's pets), but still...
  • Lampshaded on Metalocalypse in the episode "Dethstars." The band's helicopter breaks open an oil rig, spewing oil on hundreds of people, one of whom is smoking a cigar that ignites the oil, causing the rig and everyone on it to go up in flames. As the band flies away, Murderface looks down at the burning wreckage and says "That is so fake."
  • In Balto, the Incurable Cough of Death is shown to indicate the kids are sick and most people assume coughing is a symptom of a terrible disease, so much that coughing is shown on made-up diseases or diseases that don't actually cause the sufferer to cough. In reality? Diphtheria actually does cause a cough because of the toxins and fluid filling the lungs. The Death Toll was also thought to have been greatly reduced for the sake of making it kid-friendly. In reality, a lot of the kids did survive. Also, there were people saying that there was no way a woman could have been a kid depicted in the film because it was so long ago. Actually, this was in 1925 - When the movie was done in the 90s, a woman could have easily still been alive, as she would have been in her 80s-90s.
  • One complaint about the character design of Artemis in Young Justice was how she's half Asian but has blond hair. Greg Weisman responded that she's actually based on one of the producer's daughters, whose parents are both half Asian and has natural blond hair, because both could have inherited the blond gene from their non-Asian parents. However, Artemis' mother is Vietnamese and Weisman mentions elsewhere that Artemis is fluent in French, due to Vietnam being a former French colony. If Artemis has at least one French maternal ancestor, it is plausible.
    • More recently, the fandom has gone after her for having dark eyebrows, taking this as "proof" that she dyes her hair. They are, however, ignoring two critical pieces of information: Word of God says that her hair is natural, and blond people often have eyebrows that are much darker than their natural hair color.
  • Lampshaded on Futurama, where Zapp Brannigan tells Kiff to make an image larger and goes "Why is it still blurry?" When Kiff explains that just because it's larger, that doesn't make the resolution clearer, Zapp responds "Well, it does on CSI: Miami!"
  • Seems to be coming up as fandom reacts to the latest The Legend of Korra trailer, which shows skyscrapers, cars, and a stoplight -- seventy years after Avatar: The Last Airbender had working tanks and airships. You'd think they would have had the cars before the tanks...
    • Not to mention that the timeline - 75 years after the original show, where the world had just begun a technological evolution - corresponds to our own Industrial Revolution, which is generally considered to have taken around 80-90 years.
    • The most amazing criticism of the post-time-skip world is how quickly such a massive city with huge skyscrapers and complex infrastructure could be built in such a short time without extant power tools and massive construction equipment. Nevermind the fact that Earth-benders working in construction in this world tend to be far more precise and efficient than nearly any mechanical piece of construction equipment, the critics apparently never realized that most of the larger stone constructions of the Real Life ancient world were made in less time than what's depicted as having passed here, they were just more spread out chronologically, and cities have frequently gone from populations of a few hundred to tens of thousands in as little as a decade. Becoming the capital city of a not-insignificant percentage of the known world will do that.
  • In the South Park episode "Cartoon Wars: Part 2" Cartman and Kyle, the two friends yet designated archenemies of the series, are each trying to persuade the Fox Corporation executives to air/pull off an episode of Family Guy featuring Mohamed. The tension builds up gradually leading to a "final battle" scene with dramatic music score and all. Instead of seeing a fight of epic proportion, we are shown a rather lame brawl between two kids, EXACTLY as the fight involving 4 graders would look like in real life.
  • A case of skin colour confusion, in The Proud Family, Lacieniga is obviously hispanic, and takes after her mother. (Who's dark-skinned.) Felix also obviously looks pretty hispanic as well (but more light-skinned) but his father, Papi could pass for "White". There was actually a bit of debate where people assumed that Felix's mother was hispanic that he's only half hispanic. In actuality, it is fully possible for Papi to be hispanic yet could still pass for "white".


Real Life Edit

  • Jess Harnell was once told that his Wakko Warner impression "Didn't sound anything like him!" Ditto for Kevin Clash and Elmo.
  • An audience member at a late showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show was asked to leave the theater for being a Tim Curry impersonator. The member? Tim Curry.
    • Reality is too realistic?
  • One of the members of the band Barenaked Ladies was shown playing a karaoke game at the first Gphoria (G4's annual video game award show). The game rated his attempt to sing the song "One Week" as "Bad", to which he replied, "Bad? I wrote this!"
  • The rock band Rush attempted to play their song "Tom Sawyer" on the Rock Band game and got a failing grade. This is actually quite common - playing a real instrument and playing with a game controller shaped like one are still two different skills. Rush actually did very well by I Don't Know Mortal Kombat standards, since they were playing on the highest difficulty level and made it to 31%.
    • Plus a musician internally directs the music, while playing Guitar Hero is the opposite: you have to follow the external directions of the game.
    • One of the members of Dragon Force tried to play his song "Through the Fire and Flames" in Guitar Hero, and failed at 2%.
    • Here's a video showing Scott Ian of Anthrax failing his own band's song on Easy mode.
  • The ending of Bridge to Teribithia is reasonably plausible. However, it was based on his eight year old son's friend, who was struck by lightning and killed. Real Life Writes the Plot and two Tear Jerkers.
  • One claim made by those who believe the Apollo moon landings were faked is that there is no visible star field in the photos, as one frequently sees in movies. In reality, those photos were taken during the lunar daytime[4], and despite the fact that the sky is black, the light from the sun and the camera's brief exposure time prevents any starlight from being captured on the film. You can even try this one at home: take a picture of yourself under a streetlight and never believe in the stars again!
    • When the Apollo lunar modules lifted off the Moon's surface on live television, they just went straight up, with no visible flames or smoke coming out, completely unlike anything ever seen in a sci-fi movie. This helped fuel speculation that the landings were faked. The reality is that while it's perfectly possible to make fire in space (you just have to mix the fuel and oxidizer together before igniting them), flames and billowing smoke are the result of the contents of your fuel (see 2061) and the interference of an atmosphere, and the moon's atmosphere has a total mass of 104 kg, for all intents and purposes it's total vacuum.
    • It is also claimed that the landing was a hoax because the flags the astronauts placed are not limp (as normal flags would be in an airless environment). However, this was because the supports inside them, to hold them out in the airless environment of the moon, ironically so you could see the whole flag, but they didn't quite deploy all the way.
    • One reason why the photos look fake is that the horizon is unnaturally close. On Earth, on relatively flat land, the horizon is about 3 miles (5 km) away -- on the Moon, it's 1.5 miles (2.5 km), because the Moon is so much smaller.
      • Not only that, but the lack of an atmosphere on the moon means that, unlike on Earth, distant objects are not desaturated and faint and hence seem to be much closer and much smaller.
  • John Barrowman, who is openly gay, tried out for the role of Will from Will and Grace. According to the producers, he wasn't gay enough. They then proceeded to hire Eric McCormack, who is straight.
  • How do you tell a Transsexual amongst a group of transvestites? The transsexual is the one who wears jeans and T-shirt and looks like an ordinary woman.
  • About fifteen years ago, there was a foiled bank robbery where one of the robbers had a submachine gun, and fired a couple bursts at the guards, with video shown on the news. There were accusations that the video was faked because none of the guards were hit, let alone shredded to pieces as they would have expected. This objection eventually was raised as the story developed, with a clip of a gun expert basically explaining that submachine guns aren't known for their fantastic accuracy, especially when you're holding it wrong, not even really trying to aim or keep it under control.
    • The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three. Near the end of the first segment, a Mook opens fire with an M-16 assault rifle, which he calls "The Wonderful Rambo Machine". He promptly cuts one of his own allies in half. The narrative then pauses to point out that with a weapon like the M-16, More Dakka will send you off target after about four or five shots. It describes the look of amazement on Eddie's face as the bullets miss him by a mile. The idiot in question is screaming "I got him!", "unable to distinguish between the script in his head and reality" when he is shot.
      • This underlines why rifles like the M-16 have a selective fire option to limit bursts to three rounds and keep the gun 'under control' - professional soldiers don't empty magazines in a 'spray and pray' fashion.
    • Compare common graphic portrayals of people getting shot to this story, including a video of a man getting shot five times, which made the news rounds because it doesn't seem that "graphic".
  • A bizarre Real Life example: optical proportions, intentionally unbalancing the design of a flag to account for the distortion caused when the flag is flying in the wind.
    • Ancient Greco-Roman columns were built with a bulge in the middle to make them look straight from far away. The bases of large Greco-Roman buildings were likewise built ever-so-slightly co/ncave, on a 3+ mile radius of curvature, so as to appear flat (a genuinely flat surface would appear to bow outward slightly).
    • Similarly, door hinges are often not equally spaced; this is done to create the appearance that they are equally spaced, because you're typically not looking at a door from the exact centre, but slightly higher up. If the hinges were really spaced equally, they would appear not to be. Confused yet?
    • The Eiffel Tower is actually painted three different shades of brown-gray so that it appears as one color to observers on the ground.
    • The mat in some framed art is wider at the bottom to make the matting appear equal on all sides of the work.
      • It is called a "weighted border". This is also done because a person's eye is typically 5-6 feet off the ground, so people are used looking at things that are ontop of something else. Looking at a painting with a weighted border is visually similar to looking at vase on a table.
    • Letters are set up this way. Take the letter B, if you look at it even here, pixel by pixel, the top bow is smaller then the bottom bow. This is used in typography to make the letter look equally spaced, or "standing upright".
  • Real Life example: The platypus.
    • The Okapi, thought to be a hoax until recently.
    • Similarly, archaeopteryx.
    • Also see: The Blobfish.
    • Even the gorilla. When early European explorers brought back reports, they were generally disbelieved.
      • It doesn't help that the discovery of gorillas still is a mysterious affair, since the first Europeans to have claimed to seen and hunted these previously mythical apes did so in an area where none have lived by any native accounts or physical evidence. Some historians have suggested that they unwittingly skinned and ate pygmies.
  • In the early 19th century, reports of meteors were dismissed as hoaxes. When one impact was verified by two professors from Yale, Thomas Jefferson is alleged to have said "I would rather believe that two Yankee professors would lie than believe that stones fall from heaven."
  • When the state of Maine began to produce a new style of personalized plates, they were originally going to paint the living lobster in its realistic colors (a greenish-black), but instead painted it red so that it would be recognized as a lobster, despite the fact that lobster is only red when cooked.
  • Occurs in the market for hand-crafted works, including blacksmithing, as referenced in Charles McRaven's The Blacksmith's Craft. Masterful smiths can make items so smooth and perfect that they look as if they might as well have been factory-made. Consumers for such goods, however, won't believe something that looks that good to be handmade. Paradoxically, the products of lesser smiths will be more popular as "better" and "more genuine."
    • If the masters weren't able to create smooth surfaces, how would people have ever had mirrors, polish-able jewellery, or blades that could cut cleanly without snagging all before machines?
  • Diane Kruger had to hound Quentin Tarantino for her role in Inglourious Basterds. She is probably the poster girl for "HOT ARYAN WOMAN", was born in Germany and started her modeling/acting careers in Germany, but Quentin was about to cast an American in her role because he "wanted someone more authentically German." Apparently, Miss Kruger's English is too good.
    • In a similar vein, Anthony La Paglia was famously denied the role of an Australian character because his accent wasn't deemed authentic enough by the producers. The actor is Australian born and bred, and had only recently moved to the US at the time.
  • Sometimes, cute as they are, these little guys look a bit like puppets. It's the clumsy flailing.
  • The "smell of the sea", familiar to billions, isn't the aroma of salt water. It's the smell of rotting seaweed and other beach residue. Makers of water-additives for home saltwater aquaria have to add organic compounds as well as minerals to their mixtures, otherwise people complain that it can't be right for their fish.
  • On the gruesome side there's the amount of blood one can spill, depending on the wound. Upon seeing the disturbing video of Budd Dwyer's suicide, at the part where blood gushes from his nose like a waterfall, there was a brief moment of 'like in Dead Alive'.
    • The head has a surprisingly high blood volume for its size. It is also well-supplied with many arteries. Some of these are very superficial. Head wounds will bleed significantly, even if relatively minor. Professional wrestlers take advantage of this when they need something to look brutal -- the technique known as "blading", or innocuously slicing your head to get the blood flowing. The largest collection of blood is in the veins of the legs, however, which is exactly what would be predicted by considering the effects of gravity. Muscle action is required to push that blood to the heart (and this is the main reason veins have valves, to keep the blood from flowing back down; when they fail, you get varicose veins). However, arteries in the limbs tend (with exceptions, such as the radial and ulnar arteries at your wrists) to be deep structures. The consequence is small head wounds bleed heavily, while small limb wounds bleed slowly.
    • If we're talking disturbing medical facts, Hollywood consistently shows characters 'passing out from pain' after being injured in car accidents etc. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way in real life. As any paramedic will tell you, people can be in truly horrific accidents and be suffering extreme pain but remain conscious throughout, provided their head is relatively uninjured and they have a decent oxygen supply to the brain.
  • Ah-nuld's Austrian accent, would be almost gone by now if he didn't make regular visits to a dialect coach (since it's such a big part of his character). That's right; he goes to a dialect coach so he doesn't sound too American.
    • Accents in general don't sound as standard as they are in fiction. People can pick up bits and pieces of odd pronunciations depending on what accents they've been exposed to and how they've learned the language, to the point where some people's real accents sound like Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping.
    • Surprisingly Good English and its inverses count as well. People assume that anyone who knows a second language must speak it with a thick accent from their first. Depending on how long they've been studying and how they study (actual person to person interaction instead of reading and memorizing,) people like the Japanese Kei Hosogai (who lived in Seattle for quite a while) and the Swedish Marie Serneholt (who had an American English teacher) surprise a lot of people when they speak English with nearly flawless American accents.
  • In 1945, twelve prisoners escaped from Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary through a 97 foot-long tunnel dug underneath the prison wall. Although many people on the busy street outside witnessed the escape, most of the escapees managed to make it across the city without being caught. Why? When surveyed, a number of the witnesses claimed that they did not believe that they were actually watching a "real" prison break. They believed that it was just a movie being filmed.
  • {{[http|//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violet_Jessop Violet Jessop}} was a cruise ship stewardess who survived the sinkings of the Titanic and Brittanic, and also was aboard the Olympic when it collided with another ship.
  • As destructive as atomic bombs are, many people survived the Hiroshima bombing in 1945. Their homes destroyed, the survivors vacated the area to live with relatives, including several who moved to Nagasaki. This means a few dozen Japanese residents, such as Tsutomu Yamaguchi, survived not one, but two atomic bombings.
  • In Animals Make Us Human, animal-husbandry scientist Temple Grandin relates how her research on the stress-free collection of blood samples from wild antelope had to be published under another title, because no one was willing to acknowledge that traditional methods of capturing wildlife were stressful. Her own data proved otherwise, as levels of stress hormones in antelopes tested using her methods were far lower than the alleged "baseline" levels in animals that'd been netted and held down.
  • This article explains the extreme danger of failing to notice someone drowning, because Hollywood has told us they flail wildly and cry for help. Actual people drowning can not speak or wave, they just mostly stand still until they die.
    • This is actually done right in Doonesbury, though played for laughs. BD and Mike to on a vacation and at one point visit a pool. All we're shown is BD and a girl hanging around the side of the pool, looking into the water (presumably at Mike), commenting on how he's got such great stamina to hold his breath underwater for so long. In the last panel, we see Mike thinking "Actually, what I'm doing is drowning".
    • According to the CDC, in 10% of cases where a child dies from drowning, an adult is not just present but watching the child drown, having no idea that that's what's happening.
  • HDR imaging has this effect at times. While the image is supposed to be more realistic as it's an accurate representation of what human eyes normally see, it feels off because of how fairly new/unused this process is. In fact, it can make some images look fake. It doesn't help that most people that see HDR images came from video games.
    • This is a common misconception. While the human eye can see within the range of about 21 stops of light, it is constantly adjusting to changes in light and only sees a fraction of that range at any given time. At the most the human eye usually tops out at about 14 stops in the best conditions and can be as little as 7 in low light. While HDR images show "what is possible" for the human eye to see, modern digital and film cameras are pretty similar to what we actually see.
  • An Older Than Feudalism example from Herodotus' account of the Phoenician circumnavigation of Africa:

  These men made a statement which I do not myself believe, though others may, to the effect that as they sailed on a westerly course round the southern end of Libya, they had the sun on their right -- to northward of them.

  • People are less dense than water is. Regardless of what Hollywood tells you, if you fall in water, you don't instantly drown unless your lungs fill up with water, and even then, you won't sink motionlessly to the bottom.
    • The police regularly make use of this fact in both cases of murder and accidents: corpses thrown into water will float very easily, both for the above reasons and because of decompositional gases. As such, trying to dispose of a corpse in a lake or river may actually get it found quicker than simply throwing it in the trash.
      • Most people are less dense than water, but fat is less dense than muscle. If a high enough percentage of a person's body-weight consists of muscle instead of fat, it is possible for that person to be denser than water, or at least dense enough to have difficulty keeping afloat.
      • Bone is a lot denser than any of muscle, fat, or water, so the people who float the worst are the skinny ones.
  • Surgeons may tell you of suicidal patients who slit their own throat... then walk all the way to the clinic because they survived, but were left unable to talk. Thing is, not only do people survive a sliced throat (as long as the arteries are undamaged of course), there are actual medical procedures that require cutting the patient's throat and windpipe.
    • Survival depends on getting enough oxygen to the brain and heart. If the main arteries and veins of the neck are spared, it is unlikely that a person will bleed to death. However, speech requires all kinds of cartilages, nerves, and tiny muscles to work properly. If these structures are destroyed, speech will be severely limited or impossible. The blood vessels are off to the side and sometimes hidden behind muscles. The organs of speech are front and center.
  • Charlie Chaplin once lost a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.
    • Albeit, it was a more a lookalike contest for Chaplin's tramp character. Chaplin had the walk and mannerisms perfect, but he competed without a costume or makeup.
    • Dolly Parton, on the other hand, has lost Dolly Parton lookalike contests while dressed just as "Dolly Parton" ought to have been. One such contest was a contest for drag queens.
  • Contrary to what most comments on this video will tell you, using magnets and iron pellets to control goldfish looks nothing like this. Anyone who ever saw a magnet in real life can tell you, if it's powerful enough to move an object, it's powerful enough not to let them go. That's not mentioning that the fishes keep their distance, while a magnet would just pull them together. A Hanna-Barbera villain may be able to pull it off, but for real people, it's a lot easier to just train them.
  • Twenty or so years ago one of the members of Helsinki University of Technology role-playing club had made himself a mail hauberk. He wanted to go swimming with it - and he did, without the slightest issues. As the other members of the club witnessed it, one comment was "Now all the statistics of all RPGs are obsoleted immediately. It is completely possible to swim in armor".
    • This was well-known even in medieval times. If someone drowned in armor, either A.) they didn't know how to swim in the first place, or B.) they were too exhausted to move, as metal armor makes it difficult to remove body heat, and visor-type helmets restrict breathing, not to mention carrying around all that extra weight. At the battle of Agincourt, quite a few French knights actually drowned in mud during the fighting. In addition, armor was typically worn with a great deal of shock-absorbent padding underneath, making it even easier to overheat.
    • Similar to this is the idea that someone wearing full plate body armor couldn't move quickly, or mount a horse, or whatever. This might be true for some specialized tournament armors, but people wearing armor in battle had to have nearly the same mobility and agility as an unarmoured opponent. Contemporary records of armor fittings hint that a standard test of proper fit and weight was for the purchaser to put the full ensemble on and then do some gymnastics like rolls, cartwheels and dancing with a lady-friend. Of course this does require the person to be accustom to the armor's weight.
    • There are reports of final knighthood tests that involved mounting a horse, dressed in full battlefield kit, without using anything except the normal saddle to do so. Some reports imply that the knight had to do it without even using the stirrups.
    • Thinking about this would quickly make a person realize how stupid the idea is: a full plate suit of armour could weigh (depending on style and material) between 30 and 70 pounds. Aside from soldiers, who routinely go into the field with 90lbs or more, ordinary civilians go hiking and climb mountains carrying that much extra mass. A more direct comparison (applicable to even more people) would be someone who gains 30-70 pounds when they're an adult: someone who packs on an extra 40 or 50 lbs is not suddenly rendered immobile. Also, the weight of plate armor is dispersed all over the body, making it less stressful on any individual part of the body.
  • Actual freshly/ severed heads tend to take on a latex-like appearance (thanks to blood drain and post-mortem bloating) that makes them look remarkably like Hollywood-style fake heads.
    • How do you kno/w that....
  • After Osama bin Laden's death was declared on May 2nd, 2011, 9/11 Conspiracy Theorists said Muslim burial practices don't allow sea burial, and it was done to keep "the people" from seeing and identifying the body. Said burial practices do, in certain circumstances, allow sea burial, such as the body being at risk of disinterment and mutilation on land. Also, his DNA was tested. The "Truthers" said that he couldn't have been tested in an hour, since DNA testing takes several weeks. Not only did no official sources say that he was, but most of the weeks for police DNA testing is the backlog of cases the lab has to get through. In other words, The CSI Effect just removes the backlog and uses a snappy montage to make the process look faster. The actual testing part only takes a few hours. '
    • Not to mention that the body itself doesn't have to be present for the DNA test. A blood and/or tissue sample is quite enough.
    • If a movie had used the account of how Osama went down as a plot point, some internet nerds surely would have complained. "Oh, let me get this straight, a super secret squad of soldiers came in over international borders and through a residential area, next to a military installation, in a helicopter, and got in without arising suspicion? What did they have, like a STEALTH HELICOPTER or something?Of course, in reality, military helicopters flying about weren't exactly in the area to begin with, and as the famous tweets reveal, it was noticed.
  • In Adventures in the Screen Trade William Goldman mentions an idea for a film; someone wants to meet the most powerful and heavily guarded woman in the world, and discuses two ways a screen writer might approach this. The first way would be a Mission Impossible style plot in which the man hires a team of experts to break in. The second is having the man just walk in and none of the highly trained and paid security guards taking any notice. He then points out that the second way is exactly the way that Michael Fagan got to meet the Queen.
  • The Egyptian pyramids as we see them today (and as are depicted in historical works) are as brown and worn out as the dunes that surround them. However, during history, they were gleaming white due to an outer layer of heavily polished limestone (and topped off with a gold cap). Thousands of years of wear and tear from sandstorms and attackers (particularly medieval sultans pilfering the precut blocks to build Cairo, which is nearby) revealed the brown core underneath. The Mummy 1999 was one of the few pieces of work to get this right.
    • Speaking of the pyramids: you often find them portrayed as being in the middle of nowhere, being very majestic, and easily accessed by pretty much anyone. In fact, they are only being saved from becoming engulfed in the urban jungle that is Giza (a "suburb" of Cairo with a population of nearly 3 million and growing fast) by the fact that tourist revenues would decline quite a bit if every view of the pyramids had a 10-story concrete apartment block behind it, the place is crowded with salesmen and tourists, and actually getting to the pyramid will put you back a fair amount of money (unless you're an Egyptian citizen or the spouse or child thereof). Or, well, hear Cracked explain it.
  • Continuing with the Egyptian theme, people often call foul whenever they see a white Cleopatra on television or film. In actuality, Cleopatra was ethnically Greek, although she was a native Egyptian (being born and raised in Alexandria and spoke the Egyptian language). Her family, the Ptolemys, were descended from one of Alexander the Great's generals when he conquered Egypt. Cleopatra's ancestry is well-documented and, upon becoming rulers of Egypt, practiced many of the customs of the Pharaohs, such as brother-sister incest and marriage. Although Cleopatra and her older sister Berenice were probably of predominately Greek decent, there is some evidence that her younger siblings (Arsinoe, Ptolemy XIII, Ptolemy XIV) may have been of mixed race since Cleopatra and Berenice's mother/aunt disappears from the historical record before the births of their younger siblings and no information is given about their mother.
    • To be fair, maybe you could argue that Cleopatra is tanned from living in Egypt, but an ethnic Egyptian is pretty easily distinguished from an ethnic balkan who is tanned.
  • You know how whenever you see an eagle in the movies or on TV, they make a very loud high-pitched noise? Well you're more likely to hear a Red-Tailed Hawk's screech, as an eagle's vocalisations are more along the lines of chirping, although they can certainly be quite loud.
  • This remarkable landscape painting is actually a photograph.
  • Apparently, a lot of people think narwhals are mythical and that wolverines are just some fancy title for a certain X-Men character. Best illustrated by this.
    • In addition a lot of commentators refused to believe the sounds made by the Australian lyrebird (a bird known for mimicking practically any sound, including constructing equipment such as chainsaws) were real.
    • Michigan is the 'Wolverine state' and yet it's been a considerably long time since there's been a sighting of one here.
      • Thats actually a misconception. It was never the 'Wolverine state' due to the local fauna, but because of how the people behaved.
  • If you've ever been punched in the face, you'll know that the sound of someone being punched in the face is a dull thud - akin to a textbook being dropped onto a table - rather than that PSHT sound you hear in TV and movies.
  • Some people become confused whenever fiction depicts someone without eyes using sound to get an accurate image of the shape of something. Such as in Daredevil and The Dark Knight films. It's actually possible; in fact, it's recently being used to help blind people. Nicknamed the 'bat boy' technique, they merely teach them how to make a small sound, and then map the resulting bouncing soundwaves off of nearby objects.
    • Humans have a small amount of innate ability to do this, for instance being able to know where walls are despite a room being pitch black, even in unfamiliar environments.
  • Adolf Hitler embodied so many Villain Ball Contrived Stupidity Tropes that World War Two would never have passed muster as a fiction series. Just the fact that he escaped some 40 plus assassination attempts is probably enough to kill the series. (Even though most of the assassination attempts failed because they were abandoned, or the assassins got cold feet, or a Body Double was killed, not because of anything Hitler did.)
  • Speaking of, the Colonel Bogey March tune is true- Hitler did only have one ball.
  • Quantum Mechanics and all its bizarre but true descriptions of phenomena. At one point it was revolutionary enough to belong here. Wave Particle Duality anyone?
    • Quantum Tunnelling is very significant at the scale at which electronics has shrunk to today. Heck, even the sun and stars wouldn't glow if it weren't truly possible. And that means...
  • If string theory and higher dimensions can actually be verified, than our picture of reality would turn out to be a lot weirder.
  • Reality is stranger than reality. Some scientists even say that is impossible to fully understand it.
    • G. K. Chesterton once mentioned this in an essay, saying that (paraphrased):"Of course, reality would be stranger than fiction, as fiction suits our own tastes".
  • Some people think Pilgrims always dress something like this. In Real Life, those were actually formal wear as Pilgrims were agrarian people and were much more likely to be wearing clothes more suited for farming on a day-to-day basis.
  • Marco Polo's journal for centuries wasn't believed by Europeans to be true for quite some time. During his day, Europe can't wrap its head around the idea of far-off advanced Empire (China) that had silly stuff like:
    • Money made of paper.
    • Artificial shells (Porcelain)
    • Cloth that doesnt burn (Asbestos)
      • Asbestos was known in Ancient Greece (which is where the name comes from, ἄσβεστος = imperishable). The eternal flame on the Akropolis of Athens had a wick made of asbestos, and Greek physicians used handkerchiefs made of asbestos that could be cleaned in fire.
    • Furthermore, gold was nothing to them and treasured a certain green stone above it (Jade, which truly was worth more than gold in Imperial China).
  • The 2012 Mexico earthquake. Scaled in 7.9 Richter scale, only two people died: one died because his house was poorly built, the other died of heart complications due to the fear caused by the earthquake. A pedestrian bridge collapsed in a bus with no passengers, leaving the driver with minor injuries, a man jumped off a building and only broke his legs and buildings all over the city just had cracks appear on walls and windows bursting, but no collapsed structures were registered. This is in fact strange since it's the strongest earthquake ever registered in Mexico City since 1985, it was only 0.2 degrees off and was actually higher than the other three earthquakes (the 1985 aftershock and the 1957 and 1979 earthquakes that were registered at 7.6, 7.8 and 7.9 each).
  • This controlled demolition of an actual dam looks like bad CGI, doesn't it?
  • Gravity makes no sense.
  • Food- people have gotten so used to certain artificial flavors that the real thing just doesn't taste right. For example, many people have only had the syrup made with corn syrup and the such so when they taste real maple syrup it just tastes off.
  • It is not always the case that "successful" suicides are obviously unhappy in the last few days or weeks of their lives. Some people who are suffering enough that they're considering taking their own lives actively try to hide their inner turmoil. A lot of times, they are so successful that their loved ones recall that they last time they saw their dead friend or relative alive, they seemed happy.
    • There's also the real possibility that these people were actually happy due to the thought that their pain would soon be over. Often, the inner turmoil lies in the earlier self-debate ("To be, or not to be"); once they have made the decision, they can be remarkably calm, methodical and at peace in the planning and execution of the act.
  • Brinicles, which are icicles formed underwater from extremely cold salt water, look a whole lot like a special effect even at regular speed. This is actually the first time a brinicle has been filmed in action, back in 2011 for the BBC's Frozen Planet documentary.
  • Part of the reason that so many conspiracy theories exist about the 9/11 attacks. People believe that the towers should have fallen over like cut trees instead of collapsing, causing many people to conclude that the destruction was caused by controlled demolition
  • Many from the West who see portrayals (or even actual recordings) of Soviet people invoking God's name or the like as expletives or in prayer often call it out as unrealistic, mostly because the USSR has always been said to be anti-religious to the point of suppressing any and all things even remotely related to religion. The reality was far more complex. Active relgious practice was allowed in the Soviet Union, and while suppression or support tended to vary depending on the current leadership and sociopolitical atmosphere, there was never any real attempt to completely eradicate it. "Opium of the people" or not, centuries of influence from the Russian Orthodox Church[5] isn't going to disappear just like that.

Notes

  1. Phillips' father is a Scots-Irish American with one-quarter Cherokee blood, and his mother is a Filipina with Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese ancestry.
  2. This is also a Lampshade Hanging on the fact that Michael has his actor's Massachusetts accent, despite growing up in South Florida, which is not all that unlikely either.
  3. This is because the M6 pistol series uses larger, more powerful bullets than the SMG. Despite the recoil being much more violent, it is somehow able to remain held on target by Spartans and Elites
  4. Actually, morning, which is important in debunking another of conspiracy theorists claims, but the lighting was already bright enough to drown all the stars except when they specifically shot the sky at the longer exposures
  5. and to varying degrees, other Christian sects, as well as Buddhism and Islam in the Asian parts of the USSR

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