Hopefully, it's not a surprise to learn that most movies and TV shows aren't 100% factually accurate; they're stories designed to evoke an emotional response for maximum impact. Often, factual accuracy is a secondary concern, if it's a concern at all.
This is especially true when it comes to the way movies and TV shows depict injuries. Whether it's happening in a high-octane action thriller or a madcap comedy, movie and TV injuries are often nothing more than a temporary obstacle that gets in the main character's way before they inevitably emerge victorious.
Ideally, everyone in the audience would understand this. But often, people who watch movies and TV develop misconceptions about how injuries work. And in real life, that can be dangerous. Here are a handful of dumb things we just might believe about injuries thanks to movies and TV shows.
- Photo: The Thing/Universal Pictures1278 VOTES
If You Flatline Or Stop Breathing, CPR Or Defibrillators Will Quickly Snap You Back To Life
The Trope: When a character suffers a heart attack (which they are always aware is a heart attack from the moment it begins), another character can easily save them, either with a defibrillator, CPR, or both. With a defibrillator, once a patient flatlines, it's as simple as rubbing the paddles together, shouting "Clear!" and shocking the patient's chest. If that doesn't work, some quick CPR will revive them, usually after multiple attempts.
The Reality: There are multiple flaws with these kinds of portrayals. When it comes to defibrillators, the device isn't used to kickstart a heart that has flatlined. Rather, defibrillators are used to stop an irregularly beating or twitching heart, with the goal of allowing the heart to restart with a normal rhythm. What would be effective in a heart attack scenario is CPR - followed by an injection of adrenaline.
As for CPR, the biggest misconception is that when a heart attack occurs anywhere other than a hospital, CPR saves them nearly every time. In reality, when someone has a heart attack outside of a hospital, CPR saves them about 20% of the time.
Examples: Flatliners, Casino Royale, The Thing, the Mission: Impossible movie franchise
- Photo: Beverly Hills Cop / Paramount Pictures2297 VOTES
Getting Shot In A Non-Vital Area Of The Body Is No Big Deal
The Trope: Movies and TV shows often suggest there are "good" parts of the body in which to get shot - or, if not good, at least better than some others. A hero might get shot in the leg and have to hobble along for the rest of the story. Alternately, a villainous character might shoot someone in the arm to show they mean business, but don't necessarily want to kill them. Overall, movies and TV shows would have us believe that some gunshots are no worse than a flesh wound.
The Reality: Getting shot anywhere in the body is almost always a serious medical emergency that leaves the victim incapacitated. The body has many blood vessels in the extremities, and a bullet in the wrong spot can easily cause major blood loss or death. Combat medics have reported numerous dangerous injuries in "non-lethal" areas of the body; conversely, medics have seen patients survive seemingly fatal gunshots to the chest and head.
Examples: Beverly Hills Cop, The Patriot, Last Action Hero
- Photo: The Walking Dead/AMC3224 VOTES
You Can Wake Up From A Coma Instantly With No Ill Effects
The Trope: A character who falls into a coma essentially acts like they've fallen into a deep sleep. When they wake up, either on their own or with medical assistance, they're able to resume normal life with little if any difficulty.
The Reality: Coma patients usually wake up gradually. When they do wake up, they often experience both physical and mental problems, like atrophied muscles or difficulty accessing memories. Treating comas can require a combination of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and psychological evaluation, sometimes for the rest of the patient's life.
Examples: The Walking Dead, Kill Bill Vol. 1
- 4281 VOTES
You Can Get Knocked Out For Minutes Or Hours At A Time and Wake Up With Nothing But A Headache
The Trope: In many movies and TV shows, a character gets knocked out, often via a punch or a blow from a heavy object. This leaves them unconscious for as long as the plot requires, anywhere from a few moments to hours at a time. When they come to, it has no worse effect than that of a long nap.
The Reality: Being knocked unconscious by a physical blow means that at least some level of brain trauma has occurred - the unconsciousness is the physical result of the brain colliding with the interior of the skull. Characters who are knocked cold rarely show real-world symptoms, which can range from a concussion to disorientation, memory loss, confusion, and physical weakness.
Typically, someone who's been knocked out will wake up after 30 to 120 seconds. Any longer than that means it's a serious medical injury - although any time you're knocked unconscious, it's probably worth a trip to the hospital.
Examples: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Goldfinger, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
- Photo: Iron Man / Paramount Pictures5200 VOTES
Bulletproof Vests Make You Invincible
The Trope: A character who's wearing a bulletproof vest can withstand any form of gunfire at any range. Sometimes, body armor is even effective against sharp weapons like knives or ice picks. The impact of the shot usually knocks the hero over, but they often can get right back up and keep going. After being shot, sometimes the character will even rip open their shirt to inspect the stopped bullets, even while still in danger.
The Reality: Most Kevlar vests shown in movies and TV shows are only capable of stopping handgun rounds. And being shot with a handgun while wearing a Kevlar vest still involves enough force to at least bruise someone's ribs, causing pain for days afterwards.
Examples: John Wick, Lethal Weapon, District 9, Batman, In the Line of Fire, Iron Man
- Photo: True Lies/20th Century Fox6224 VOTES
You Can Survive Falling From A Great Height If You Land In Water (Or Something Soft)
The Trope: Jumping into a body of water from a great height is really no different than jumping off a diving board. Characters might jump from heights of dozens or hundreds of feet without injury and simply swim to the top. Similarly, a villain might fall into water from a great height and survive to menace the heroes later.
The Reality: Falling into water even from moderate heights can cause injury or death. The World High Diving Federation recommends that the safest diving height for non-professionals is 65.5 feet, into a body of water at least 43-49 feet deep. Falls from greater heights are almost always fatal once a person's hits terminal velocity, or 75 miles per hour. When that happens, even if the impact itself isn't fatal, a person is in danger of drowning.
Examples: True Lies, Commando, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Tomorrow War, The Nice Guys