The Biggest Mistakes Made in Popular TV Shows


TV shows may be seen as small-scale siblings to movies, but they require just as many cast and crew to tell their own stories the best way possible. That means writers, actors, camera operators and crew members working in perfect unison. Unsurprisingly, things don’t always go as planned – but the viewers get to enjoy the results all the same. Here is our list of the Biggest Mistakes in Popular TV Shows.


One look at modern television shows just how much ABC’s Lost changed the game, delivering clues, hints, twists and massive conspiracies from week to week. As a result, fans regularly re-watched the early episodes to see just how much they’d missed. Online discussion exploded when viewers took a closer look at the pilot episode, as the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 took cover from an exploding jet engine. Specifically, the swooping black object that seemed to trigger the explosion. Was it the island’s smoke monster? Another creature yet to he revealed, or the mystery that would explain all others. The showrunner were finally forced to explain that it was only a mistake: an error in the CG effect. Fans had to look elsewhere for answers.


It may have lived for less than a single season, but that didn’t stop Joss Whedon’s Firefly from becoming a cult hit. In the years since it originally aired, fans have had no choice but to watch their favorite adventures on repeat, learning every detail and building a series’ worth of fiction out of a handful of episodes. But we’re willing to bet one mistake might have slipped by. The pilot episode is capped off by a deadly escape from a ship full of murderous Reavers, due mainly to the skills of the crew’s pilot, Wash. When the ship is home free, Wash relaxes – but it’s clear that he’s only pretending to be gripping the steering wheel. He may steer the ship with his mind, but the episode also shows he relies on crew members, not gas, to run the ship’s mule.


When dealing with demons, exorcisms and magic hexes, some mistakes are bound to happen. Most of Supernatural’s errors are easy to miss, but a few are easy to spot for those paying close attention. When Sam and Dean Winchester are tracking down a haunted painting in “Provenance,” Dean gets his brother’s attention with a different name – not the character’s, but actor Jared Padelecki’s. A slip-up that small is one thing, but the brothers cast serious doubt on their exorcism skills when chasing a demon onto a commercial airliner in “Phantom Traveler.” Deciding holy water is too extreme to detect a demon in flight, Sam has a better idea, claiming that the possessed passenger will “flinch at the name of God…in Latin it’s Christo.” Actually, it’s “Deus,” but not only is “Christo” the word for Christ, not God, it’s Greek, not Latin. Thankfully, the demon apparently didn’t know the difference.


When the cast of your show is described as a group of know-it-all geniuses, writing the script becomes a minefield of inaccuracies that could truly sell the characters short. It’s possible that The Big Bang Theory‘s Sheldon could misquote the rules of feeding Mogwai after midnight in the movie Gremlins (“The Pirate Solution”), but hearing Amy explain that the Viennese Danish was invented in Denmark makes it clear that another fact-checker was needed on set. But even within the show’s history, the writers have forgotten, or simply ignored prior storylines. As just one example, the hypochondriac Leonard can’t drink wine (“The Good Guy Fluctuation”), except for the times he does. And even more dramatically, Sheldon tells Penny early on in the series that none of his roommates know how to dance (“The Dumpling Paradox”), later breaking out his best moves that he apparently mastered in his youth (“The Agreement Dissection”). The cast may claim to have flawless memories, but it seems the writers can’t keep up.


When series creator Vince Gilligan decided to set his tale of a chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin in the year 2007, he did it knowing that some pop culture references would be off the table. For most of Breaking Bad‘s run, the timeline was simple enough to follow, with time in the show passing much slower. But that led to one particular mistake in the show’s fifth season, when a character made a direct reference to the death of Osama bin Laden (“Gliding Over All”). Unfortunately, the show was still set in 2010 at the latest – several months before bin Laden’s death took place. The creator had to admit it was a mistake, but in a show with so few, it can be forgiven.


For every actor in a given shot, there are dozens of crew members and camera men working just off screen. It’s no surprise then that that some will wander into frame from time to time. Viewers may be shocked to see just how many crew members slip by unnoticed, but one cameraman on the set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer stuck out worse than almost any other. When the show’s fifth season saw Buffy’s longtime nemesis Faith wake from a coma and seek revenge at the Summers house, a fight broke out, with the two Slayers quickly coming to blows. The camera tracks them both as they go tumbling down a staircase, before the opposite angle shows the cameraman responsible for the previous shot, impossible to miss on screen. Different editions of the show have been tweaked to keep him out of frame, but with a cameo this glamorous, we say he deserves a supporting actor credit.


You can’t stay on the air for ten seasons without re-using a few plot lines or jokes. But usually, it isn’t the same characters caught up in them. When Friends‘ Chandler and Monica wind up waiting for a table at an upscale restaurant, she suggests Chandler slip the host a bill slyly concealed inside his palm (“The One With the Holiday Armadillo”). Chandler can’t pull it off, but suspects it was no problem for Monica’s suave ex-boyfriend Richard (Tom Selleck). That’s exactly where she learned the trick – but Chandler should know that. After all, it was Richard who taught both Chandler and Joey to do the same five seasons before (“The One Where Old Yeller Dies”). Chandler forgetting the steps is fine, but the writers feeling such a tiny joke was worth telling twice is the real mystery.


Few sci-fi revivals can claim to be as successful as Battlestar Galactica, with the second season of the series ramping up the tension, stakes, and drama substantially. Character deaths and betrayals were everywhere – apparently, the crew thought viewers wouldn’t notice some hilarious mistakes amid all the chaos. When Helo and the Chief finally let off steam by throwing some punches, they did so with an audience. Why the camera crew visible in the frame was necessary for the shot isn’t clear, but it wasn’t even the most obvious mistake in the season. When President Roslin was re-elected, her campaign staff didn’t even notice the cameraman capturing the moment for viewers to witness back on Earth.


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