Dumb Things We Grew Up Believing Because Of Movies

List Rules

Vote up all the old, dumb tropes you've seen a hundred times.

When it comes to over-the-top explosive scenes, miraculous recoveries, and futuristic technology, nobody does it better than Hollywood. Movies often feature tough-guy protagonists whose cool demeanors and macho characteristics allow them to defy nature by setting off massive fires with the flick of a cigarette, bringing people back to life with a few seconds of CPR, and casually walking away from fire without a trace of distress. 

These scenarios are so ingrained in America's pop culture it can be easy to forget they are made-for-Hollywood scenarios that hold little to no truth in real life. Some unbelievable scenes and rules made for movies have been featured in so many films over time the public accepts them as fact - even when they go against common sense.  

This list features some of the dumbest things we grew up believing because of movies. 


  • It's Easy To Crawl Quietly Through Air Conditioning Ducts
    Photo: Die Hard / 20th Century Fox
    1
    283 VOTES

    It's Easy To Crawl Quietly Through Air Conditioning Ducts

    The Trope: Action movies sometimes feature people (often men of large stature) silently crawling through air conditioning ducts to either escape from or sneak up on their enemies. 

    Why Is It Inaccurate? Technically, the size of air conditioning ducts makes them possible for a human to crawl through relatively easily. However, getting into the duct systems, then crawling through them without alerting people in the room below, would be a difficult task. Although vent covers are easy to open, they are usually relatively small and sometimes blocked by blowers or fans. If a person did manage to climb in unhindered by equipment, then the galvanized steel, PVC, or aluminum structure they'd crawl through would undoubtedly produce quite a bit of noise. Some of the sections in ductwork are also weak, possibly causing a person to unexpectedly fall through and suffer injury. Air conditioning ducts also contain a lot of dust and debris, making breathing without coughing or developing respiratory issues unlikely.

    Notable Offenders: Die Hard, Mission Impossible, The Breakfast Club

    283 votes
  • Technology Can Make Any Photo Or Video Clearer
    Photo: Enemy of the State / Buena Vista Pictures
    2
    160 VOTES

    Technology Can Make Any Photo Or Video Clearer

    The Trope: Investigators can instantaneously pull up crisp images of license plate numbers, faces, and anything else they want to with their high-tech computer software.

    Why Is It Inaccurate? Experts argue this type of technology doesn't exist - and probably never will. Camera images are captured with light, which limits the final result. If an image is captured in a low-quality setting, no amount of doctoring, zooming, or clarifying will create a more distinctive and clear photo. Eric Z Goodnight from How-To Geek explained:

    It may surprise you to know that film-based cameras can capture more detail than even extremely high-resolution digital cameras. But even with a film camera, only a limited amount of light can be recorded on the film... And since any picture is taken in a finite period of time (usually fractions of a second, in case of cameras), there is necessarily an upper limit to the detail of any captured image.

    Notable Offenders: The Bourne trilogy, Enemy of the State, Zero Dark Thirty

    160 votes
  • You Have To Wait 24 Hours Before Reporting Someone Missing
    Photo: A Simple Favor / Lionsgate
    3
    188 VOTES

    You Have To Wait 24 Hours Before Reporting Someone Missing

    The Trope: Authorities won't file a missing person report until the individual has been missing for 24 hours. 

    Why Is It Inaccurate? This particular trope isn't just false - it's dangerous. Knox County Sheriff's Office investigator Amy Dobbs noted: 

    The first 12 to 24 hours are the most critical in an active missing persons investigation. The longer it takes a case to be reported and become an active investigation, the less likely a positive outcome will occur.  

    Hollywood made this notion such a widespread belief government agencies around the world are making deliberate efforts to educate the public and dispel the life-threatening rumor. 

    Notable Offenders: This trope is so widespread even true crime shows make the bizarre claim every now and then.

    188 votes
  • Quicksand Is Always Deadly
    Photo: The Neverending Story / Warner Bros.
    4
    220 VOTES

    Quicksand Is Always Deadly

    The Trope: A person who falls into quicksand will be sucked into the earth for eternity. 

    Why Is It Inaccurate? Even though quicksand does exist in many areas throughout the United States, only a handful of people have perished from falling in it over the past decade. For quicksand to exist, plenty of sand and rising water need to be in the area. The water-filled soil remains in a steady liquid state until a form of outside pressure is applied (for example, a human body). 

    Though the person's weight will cause them to sink, and the quicksand is hard to get out of, it's never bottomless, and is too buoyant to suck a person completely below its surface. 

    Notable Offenders: The Neverending Story, Blazing Saddles, Jumanji

    220 votes
  • You Can Outrun An Explosion
    Photo: Desperado / Sony Pictures Releasing
    5
    197 VOTES

    You Can Outrun An Explosion

    The Trope: Hollywood movies make it appear pretty simple to outrun a large explosion. If the actor's character is cool enough, it might even be possible for them to absent-mindedly walk away from it in slow motion. 

    Why Is It Inaccurate? Though it is technically possible, the only way a person can walk away from an explosion uninjured is if they are already a safe distance away when the device detonates. According to HowStuffWorks

    A C-4 [type of plastic] explosion, for example, is virtually instant. Gases are released from the Device at the super speedy rate of 26,400 feet per second, pummeling everything in its immediate wake. In other words, if you are within 26,400 feet or so of an explosive, you will get hit by the blast within one second, assuming it is powerful enough to reach you. By comparison, Usain Bolt set a world record at the Beijing Olympics by running 565 feet in 19.30 seconds... On the set of a real-life action flick, Bolt's lightning fast pace would not have prevented him from going up in flames, so to speak.

    Notable Offenders: Desperado, The Dark Knight

    197 votes
  • Paramedics Run A Lot
    Photo: There's Something About Mary / 20th Century Fox
    6
    196 VOTES

    Paramedics Run A Lot

    The Trope: Movies where people are injured almost always feature a team of paramedics running to the scene to communicate the urgency of the situation to the audience.

    Why Is It Inaccurate? If paramedics are racing to a scene, a high chance exists they will get injured as well by tripping over an object or missing potential dangers surrounding the site. They're almost always carrying heavy and bulky equipment, making running at any speed less feasible. It's also essential that paramedics are able to think clearly and communicate a sense of ease to the patient, skills that rushing tends to hinder. 

    Notable Offenders: Basically any movie ever created with a scene involving emergency responders.

    196 votes