Goofs

Overview | Unacceptable Goofs | Categories | Style Guide

A. Overview


  • A goof is an unintentional error in the film making process that in some way breaks the spell and takes us momentarily outside the world created by that movie.
  • A goof must be both relevant and interesting. What is "interesting" can be difficult to define, but it can help to think of it like this: If you met someone at a party and wanted to impress them, would this goof do the trick? Would they hang on your every word in rapt awe, or would they suddenly remember that there was something really important that they had to do in the kitchen? If your item fails this test, it's not really the sort of thing we're after and it may well not be published. Obviously there are exceptions (and we already list much that would fail the test) but it's a useful benchmark.
  • Goofs that relate to individual TV episodes should be added to the episode itself, not the parent title.
  • If submitting a correction or deletion request for an existing goof, please explain why you believe the goof is wrong.
  • Unless you're writing about errors involving real people (wrong name in the credits, etc), use character names and not actor names.
  • If you can cite a reference for factual errors or anachronisms (websites, books, etc), please do so at the end of the submission. We won't include the reference, but it does help us to check.

B. Unacceptable Goofs


  • Artistic licence: Please allow for artistic licence on the part of the film makers. Most movies and TV shows are not meant to perfectly reflect reality as you experience it.
  • Personal opinion: Do not include your own opinions, and try not to use subjective descriptions ("in this great movie...", "Chaplin's superbly comic performance...", etc).
  • Intentional goofs: Please don't submit "mistakes" that were clearly intended by the filmmakers, for humorous purposes or otherwise.
  • Unlikely situations: If something is "highly unlikely" or "completely unbelievable", don't submit it.
  • Character names: Credits with character names not actually used in the film are not goofs.
  • Grammar: Badly written goofs with poor grammar, syntax, or spelling will be automatically rejected.
  • Essays: Keep it short.
  • Nitpicking: It's not the viewer's job to pick apart movies and find fault with them. Allow room for artistic license.
  • Blink and you'll miss it: If it's "easily missed" or you have to "view the scene frame-by-frame" then it's not a goof.
  • Canadian locations: We all know many TV shows are shot in Canada - small giveaways are not goofs (unless they are glaringly obvious)
  • Questions: This is not the place for asking questions about plot holes - save that for the message boards. Only when you are certain that something is a genuinely unintentional mistake does it become a goof.
  • DVD extras: We don't accept goofs pertaining to director's commentaries, or other DVD extras.
  • In space, no-one can hear...: We all know that explosions can't be heard in outer space. It's called artistic licence.
  • Fake phone numbers: Telephone numbers in American movies all start (with exceptions) with the fake prefix 555. This is not a goof.
  • Fake IP addresses: As above - most IP addresses in movies are deliberately fake.
  • Subtitles: Errors in a DVD's subtitles are nothing to do with the film makers, so are not acceptable as goofs.
  • Don't generalize: i.e. don't say "many of the shots look fake" - please give specific examples.
  • Car registrations: It's not unheard of for a car with an Oregon registration plate to be seen in California - these are not goofs.
  • Book adaptations: A movie is a movie and a book is a book. The movie of the book is still a movie and will be treated, for the purposes of goofs, as an entity in its own right, independent of the source material. Therefore it is not a goof if something happens in the movie that did not/could not happen in the book, as long as it is consistent with the rest of the movie. Additionally, an inconsistency in the movie does not become "incorrectly regarded as goof" merely because it is consistent with the book. Even if it is explained away "in the book," that does not make it okay if the explanation does not fit the facts of the film.
  • Long running TV shows: These get a fair amount of latitude when it comes to continuity between episodes. It seems unreasonable to us to expect that every detail of every character's life, every setting and situation, every "fact" in the imaginary world, will be fully thought-out and properly documented when a TV series is first devised. Teams of writers work on these things over many years and it is inevitable that newer, better ideas will come along that will supplant older notions. These will not generally be considered as continuity goofs (unless they're especially interesting or amusing).
  • Long running comedy shows: Almost all continuity errors between episodes of comedy shows will be rejected. Comedy series are driven by the need to be funny, and if it suits the writers' purpose to change details of a character's past for the sake of an entertaining plot line, then they're free to change it as much as they like as far as we're concerned. (The Simpsons is doubly exempt on the grounds that the creators even make jokes about the inconsistencies.)
  • Movie sequels: As long as a movie is consistent within itself and errors don't compromise its own internal structure, it has to be a major change in the premise of the series to qualify as a goof. A character who doesn't like cheese in movie A, but is seen eating a brie sandwich in movie B, is an interesting curiosity for fans, but hasn't really destroyed the series, and their sandwich eating scene probably won't be listed as a goof. However, if a character is placed in jeopardy in movie A because of his lethal allergy to cheese, but then defeats the bad guys and saves the world in movie B sustained only by a diet of Double Gloucester, an important premise has changed far too much to be acceptable.

C. Categories


Category In a nutshell... Further information
Continuity
There one moment... gone the next.

Always try to explain the error away before you decide that it's definitely a mistake, and be careful that you've not missed something (was that the sound of a waitress placing coffee cups on the table out of shot, for example).

Acceptable examples:

- An actress is wearing a blue coat in one shot - in the next shot, it's a red coat.

- A left-handed child who becomes a right-handed adult.

Unacceptable examples:

- A man is stabbed, but in subsequent shots there is no blood on the blade (this is likely to keep the movie's rating down).

- A boy has blue eyes, but when he is an adult he has brown eyes (eyes can change color).

Plot holes
Genuine errors in narrative structure (no personal opinion).

We're extremely wary of these. By far the greatest number of corrections we get are from people explaining that plot holes aren't really holes at all and were just the result of the original submitter not paying complete attention. Not liking a movie, or believing that you have a better solution for a character's dilemma, does not justify a plot hole entry.
And remember: no personal opinions and no criticism of characters' actions - we like that sort of thing a lot, but only in user reviews.

Factual errors
Unintentional misapplications of truthiness. Errors in fact, not in the created universe.

Please double check your facts before you submit. Many errors made by characters can be attributed to "character error" (i.e., they're the sort of mistakes that real people make in real life) and are exempt.

We also make big allowances for artistic license and suspension of disbelief - you might not be able to do that "in real life", but that's why we love watching movies (this particularly applies to injuries sustained - or, more often, not sustained - from falls, blows and gunshots).

You should also take a moment to think about the "error": so it's not possible to walk underwater holding an upturned rowing boat over your head so you can breathe... but you're perfectly happy to accept a ghostly pirate ship crewed by cursed sailors who only reveal their true selves by the light of the moon? Sometimes filmmakers play with reality because it's fun. We occasionally get submissions from keen-eyed goof spotters who notice that, say, Russian tanks are masquerading as German tanks in war movies, or that deadly coral snakes are being played by harmless milk snakes - these are no more goofs than is the fact that Johnny Depp isn't really an 18th century pirate or that Anthony Hopkins isn't really Richard Nixon.

In movies "based on real events" we also tend to disallow discrepancies between fact and fiction because these changes are usually made for dramatic reasons. You may wish to submit these differences to the trivia section instead..

Character errors
Possibly intentional by the film makers.

An error made by a character (they misspell something, or quote the wrong date for a historical event, for instance) is not necessarily an error on the part of the filmmakers (although it certainly might be).

Acceptable examples: Teachers mis-spelling words on blackboards. Badges on the wrong way round. Wrong number of stripes for military personnel. Name changes.

Anachronisms
A digital watch in ancient Greece? Objects or concepts that didn't exist at the time the film is set. Please double check your facts. We allow a good deal of leeway with antique equipment and machinery as long as it is "of the period" - a 1943 variant of a military airplane in a movie set in 1942, for instance, will not qualify as a goof. Linguistic anachronisms, too, are usually excused (modern words in historical films), and always bear in mind that it's entertainment not documentary.
Revealing mistakes
Blinking corpses and wobbling walls: goofs that betray the creative process.

Mistakes that reveal how the film makers physically composed a scene of the film; mistakes that break the spell of the creative process and remind you that it's a movie or TV show; an unintentional breaking of the "fourth wall".

Acceptable examples: Obvious props, stuntmen, dummies and puppets. Visible greenscreen. Reversed shots. Flipped shots. Backwards shots. Breathing corpses. Mis-spelled headlines or signs. Characters looking directly at the camera. Extras looking directly at the camera. Fake newspaper reports. Animation errors. Painted backdrops. Same shots used twice. Wobbling rocks. Glaring animation errors. Bugs in video games. Wearing underwear when supposedly naked. Rubbery guns. Poor accents. Obvious projection screen. Things being thrown out of windows and bouncing. Electronic equipment in the "off" position. Obvious stock footage. Warm days with leaves on the trees in winter etc. etc.

(NB: The fact that you've worked out how a special effect was achieved doesn't necessarily mean it's a goof, so long as the illusion still works. Additionally, the fact that an effect "isn't very good" (especially in older movies) doesn't make it a goof.)

Boom mic visible
Big booms that occasionally loom into shot.

Boom mics are filmed most of the time, but outside the area of the shot that the director intends us to see. When the film is masked for projection, the microphone should be hidden, so 99% of all "boom in shot" goofs are the fault of your projectionist and should not be listed. When the movie is prepared for full-frame (4:3) DVD release it is sometimes impossible to conceal the mic. Again this is not an error.

Only submit the best examples here, the genuinely funny or interesting occasions when a boom is so far in shot that it's a real mistake (see The Night of the Iguana (1964)).

(NB: For industry standardization purposes, we use "mic" not "mike")

Crew/equipment visible
A camera reflection? The Director's hand? Or the Key Grip drinking coffee?

Acceptable examples: Crew members reflected in mirrors, windows and the sides of cars. People wearing baseball caps in period pieces. Wires and harnesses. Crash mats. Hidden mics. Obvious blood squibs.

Sometimes, strange shadows and unexplained figures in the background are not crew members but characters we thought had already left the scene or who have not arrived yet. These may still be errors, but are more likely to be Continuity.

As with boom mics, be aware that reformatted versions may reveal things that were not present on the original release; these are not goofs.

Audio/visual mismatch
Sound and vision don't quite match.

Usually this is reserved for characters who manage to speak without moving their lips, or musicians who are clearly not playing the instrument that can be heard.

Beware of lines that may have been re-dubbed for TV versions to remove profanities.

Errors in geography
Tigers in Tennessee? Sand dunes in Slough?

We do not list "you can't get there from here" goofs. If a character steps out of a building in one part of town and walks a block down the street to another building that you know is three miles away, this is not a goof, it's "creative geography" and is a widely used cinematic device.

Similarly, things like the use of the wrong railway station for the stated destination and other things that only a local would spot, but that don't alter the "reality" of the movie, are excluded.

Miscellaneous
Goofs that don't quite fit elsewhere.

This category is hardly ever used - if you can't shoehorn your goof into any of the above categories it's probably not a goof.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs
Common misconceptions put right.

Things that have been widely misinterpreted as goofs in the past. Items that have been recently corrected might sometimes get the label for a short while before they are deleted, to save people the trouble of resubmitting them.

(NB: It is not illegal to impersonate the military on film - that is an urban myth - therefore any goofs in military uniform are likely to be genuine mistakes.)

D. Style Guide


Your submission has a much greater chance of being processed quickly - and a much greater chance of being accepted - if you follow the basic rules listed below. If your submission does not take these rules into account, it will likely take a lot longer to be processed, and may not be accepted:




1. Hyperlinks

  • If you mention a person or a title (movie, TV series / episode) that is also listed on IMDb, you must use the [link=title number or person number] to automatically create a hyperlink to the relevant page. (Please do not use any HTML coding - it won't work.)
  • People: Start with [link=, followed by the nconst]. You can retrieve the person number, also known as the nconst, from the URL of a person's page. For example:
  • [link=nm0000288] becomes Christian Bale

    "Real" People: In a fictional piece we DO NOT link to the name pages of actual people where they are characters in the story. This means, for instance, that when Abraham Lincoln is mentioned in goofs in Lincoln (2012), it is the character and not the man, so there should not be a link Lincoln's name page.

  • Titles: Start with [link=, followed by the tconst]. You can retrieve the title number, also known as the tconst, from the URL of the title's page. For example:
    [link=tt0076759] becomes Star Wars
    
  • Please click on this link for a more detailed explanation of the [link=title number or person number] notation.



2. Style & Grammar

  • Do keep your submissions short, snappy and easy to read. Anything that is written in a way that we (and by extension, IMDb users) don't understand it on the first read is likely to be rejected.
  • Do write all submissions in the present tense.
  • Do remember that it's okay to use "says" and "said" to describe the act of speaking - despite what your English teacher may have told you.
  • Do not use ALL CAPS - there's no need to shout.
  • Do not use exclamation marks, unless quoting speech.
  • Do not use chat-speak or text-speak - we cannot b xpectd 2 translt it in2 English 4 u.
  • Do not use ampersands (&). Type the word "and" instead - it's only one more keystroke!
  • (NB: A certain amount of leeway is given to anyone whose first language is not English, and to those who are clearly not able writers, but we cannot spend time correcting laziness or sloppiness.)



3. Spelling, Punctuation & Formatting

  • We use standard US punctuation and spelling, with one notable exception: we use the UK rules for punctuation around quotation marks. Under US rules all punctuation goes inside the quotation marks; under UK rules, punctuation only goes inside the quotation marks if it's part of the phrase being quoted. (For example: "I bought a CD," has the comma correctly inside the quote, but the name of the CD would be shown as "Hunky Dory".)
  • Any item where spelling and / or punctuation (missing spaces after punctuation, proper names in lower case, etc.) is so bad that the item would have to be extensively edited before publishing is likely to be rejected.
  • The correct way of denoting decades is "1920s" - not "1920's" or "20's" (the apostrophes are incorrect).
  • For bulleted lists, start the lines in the list with " - " (i.e. space, hyphen, space).
  • For paragraph breaks, use a double newline.



4. Corrections

  • If you wish to provide additional information to explain your reasons for amending or deleting an existing item, or wish to cite your source (YouTube, book, magazine article, website, etc), please do so at the end of your submission. The comments will not be published but they help us to check the submission.
  • Do not put your sources (book titles, DVD commentary etc) in the text of the actual submission itself.



5. Plagiarism

  • Do not copy entries from other publications, either offline (books etc) or online (Wikipedia etc.). We cannot republish copyrighted text.



6. TV Episodes




7. Spoilers

  • Please try not to include anything that reveals key elements of the plot at all, but if you can't avoid it, begin your item with:
    SPOILER:
  • This tag will then be recognized by the database and automatically placed beneath a SPOILERS! warning, so that anyone who does not wish to know what happens can avoid reading it.



8. Perspective

  • DO use only 3rd person perspective ('he', 'she', 'it', 'they') when writing your submission.
  • Do not use 1st person ('I', 'we'), e.g.: I remember when we started filming that the actress had great trouble remembering her lines
  • Do not use 2nd person ('you'), e.g.: You turned me down for the part of Monty and I shall never forgive you.



9. Timestamps

  • Timestamping a goof where possible is encouraged, but the format must adhere to strict rules.
  • Please use the format (at around xx mins) or (at around xh xx mins).
  • Additionally, to account for regional variations and alternate versions, please round down the timings using the following thresholds:
  • 00:00:01 - 01:30:00 -> down to the nearest minute
    01:30:01 - 02:59:59 -> down to the nearest 5 minutes
    03:00:00 and over -> down to the nearest 10 minutes
    
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