There is no law that mandates movies or TV shows must teach us the truth. We think this is such a huge flaw because it makes it possible for them to tell us absolute lies in fantastic ways. Some movies and series go as far as confidently teaching us what is totally wrong and can put us in harm’s way. Imagine a movie paleontologist telling us that standing still would make us invisible to a T. rex—hilarious and incredible. These are ten times movies and TV shows taught us big lies.
10 Man on Fire (2004)
Big Lie: You can casually walk away from an exploding car bomb
In the movie Man on Fire, Denzel Washington plays John Creasy, a private security guard who is hired to protect a little girl. He goes on a rampage when the little girl is kidnapped in Mexico City. During his rampage, he kills several gang members and corrupt people in Mexico City and, on one of the occasions, ties a police officer to a car that is riddled with explosives.
The car explodes, and Denzel Washington casually walks away from the explosion as if nothing is happening behind him. According to the, you would need to be at least 1,900 feet (580 meters) away from a vehicle-borne IED explosion in order to be one hundred percent out of harm’s way.
9 Firefly (2002)
Big Lie: Any fabric can make a space suit
Firefly is a television series where a renegade crew boards a small spacecraft and travels to unknown parts of the galaxy while being pursued by authorities and also evading warring factions. The space suit in the movie is probably the worst you will ever find.
The space suit looks like something that was made with the fabric used to make jeans. It simply looks like a handyman’s uniform. To make matters worse, early in the show, you can see the protagonist, Captain Mal Reynolds, floating through space in one of the “handyman” space suits. No wonder the television series failed.
8 John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
Big Lie: Gun silencers eliminate gunshot sounds
The movie John Wick: Chapter 2 is an American neo-noir action thriller movie franchise that centers on John Wick, a former hitman who was forced to go back to the criminal underworld he abandoned. In the movie, there is a hilarious but intense scene where John Wick is engaged in a gunfight with another man in a subway. The people around him (John Wick) do not notice anything amiss because both men use silencers on their pistols.
In reality, silencers or suppressors do not make guns silent, as portrayed in the movie. Silencers can only reduce the noise heard. Modern-day silencers are only able to reduce the noise produced by about 14.3–43 decibels, depending on a variety of factors. On average, when silencers are used, you can expect a 30-decibel reduction, which is about the same sound reduction level when you fire guns wearing ear protection. Gun silencers slow the release of propellant gases when a bullet is fired and convert some of the noise energy to heat. They do not eliminate sound outright.
7 Snakes on a Plane (2006)
Big Lie: You can suck snake venom out with your mouth
The movie Snakes on a Plane is an American horror film starring Samuel L. Jackson. In the movie, a witness is being escorted by FBI Agents to testify against a gang boss. So the gang boss arranges for a time-release crate full of snakes to be placed in the cargo hold with the hope that the plane will not make it to Los Angeles International Airport. The snakes get released mid-flight, and they start attacking passengers.
In one particular scene, Elsa Pataky’s character sucks out snake venom from the hand of a bitten child. While this is commonplace in movies, it is ineffective in reality. Moreover, you risk transferring some of the venom into your mouth and also risk infecting the snake bite wound with bacteria. The act of sucking out snake venom either with the mouth or a suction device like the Sawyer Extractor pump is ineffective in reality.
6 Limitless (2011)
Big Lie: Humans only use a small fraction of their brains
Limitless is a 2011 American science-fiction thriller film. In the movie, Eddie Morra is a struggling writer in New York City. Eddie meets Vernon, his ex-wife’s brother, who gives him a sample new nootropic called “NZT-48′ to help Eddie with his creative problems. After using the drug, Eddie acquires a perfect memory and is able to analyze information at an incredible speed. The drug transforms his life positively.
The main message the movie passes on to us is that all humans are only able to use a small fraction of their brains and need a stimulant or drug to unlock the larger percentage. This is false. According to neurologists, it is a myth that humans can only use a small fraction of their brains. The truth is that we humans use virtually every part of the brain, and most parts of the brain are active almost all the time. In fact, throughout a day, a human will have successfully used a hundred percent of their brain. Even when we are sleeping, areas such as the frontal cortex and the somatosensory areas are active.
5 Bladerunner (1982)
Big Lie: A photograph can reveal new data
The movie Bladerunner is a 1982 science fiction film that has become a cult classic. There is one interesting scene that we love to watch over and over again because of how strange it appears. In this scene, Deckard finds a stack of photos while searching Leon’s apartment. One of the photographs catches his attention. He puts the photograph into the Esper machine, and then he starts seeing things that were not previously visible—from small details to entire people.
This may be possible in a movie, but scientifically, it cannot work because you cannot create something out of nothing. With modern technology, if data is present in an image and is not visible due to some defect, it can be made visible within certain limits and with the proper scientific procedure. If the information is not there in the original photograph, no technology can make a photograph reveal new data.
4 Raising Cain (1992)
Big Lie: Chloroform immediately renders people unconscious
A chloroform-soaked rag to the face is the perfect excuse for screenwriters to excuse a character from a scene or the whole movie. It is more commonly used in kidnapping and robbery scenes, but the bitter truth is that chloroform does not operate the way it is being portrayed in movies.
In Raising Cain, you can see how chloroform easily knocks out the driver of the vehicle in less than a minute. In reality, it can take up to five minutes for chloroform to take effect. This alone demystifies it as the perfect kidnapping “recipe.”
3 Jurassic Park (1993)
Big Lie: You will escape the wrath of a Tyrannosaurus rex if you stand still
The movie Jurassic Park taught us as kids to fear the T. rex, but it also taught us a very big and dangerous lie. At one point in the movie, a T-rex goes on a rampage, and Dr. Alan Grant tells Lex that all they need to do is to stand still, and the massive dinosaur will not see them.
This is false, and real-world paleontologists have proven Dr. Grant wrong. Not only is it possible for a Tyrannosaurus rex to see just fine, whether the object before it is moving or non-moving, but there is also ample scientific evidence that the sight of the therapod was very good, possibly better than modern-day hawks and eagles. The good news here is that it is unlikely that you will ever run into a T-rex to test this theory.
2 127 Hours (2010)
Big Lie: You need to wait 24-hours to file a missing persons report
The lie in the movie 127 Hours is particularly painful because the movie is a biographical survival drama. The movie tells the story of Aron Ralston, an American mountain climber who became trapped in 2003 when he was canyoneering in Bluejohn Canyon in the Utah desert. He was trapped for five days.
At one point in the movie, Aron talks about a 24-hour wait period before the police could file a missing person report of his disappearance. This may be “true” in the movies, but it is far from the truth in real life. There is no waiting period to file a missing persons report, and the earlier you report that a person is missing, the higher the chances that they will be found alive and in good health.
1 The Big Blue (1988)
Big Lie: You can hold your breath underwater for as long as you like
The movie The Big Blue is a heavily fictionalized and dramatized story of the friendship and sporting rivalry between two leading contemporary champion freedivers. The movie centers around two freedivers who have the capability to hold their breaths underwater for several minutes. In fact, there is a particular scene where the two share some wine and drink it while submerged underwater.
In real life, freediving has its limits. William Trubridge, a 30-year-old man from New Zealand, was the first man to free-dive for 121 meters without any assistance, and it lasted only four minutes and 10 seconds. This portrays the severe limitation of the ability of a human being to hold his breath underwater. Even those who have managed to hold their breath underwater for a few more minutes have done so under carefully managed situations, with others waiting somewhere close to launch a rescue effort at the slightest hint of danger.