Things That Always Happen in Movies, But Never Ever in Real Life

Ever notice that despite your best efforts, more often than not your life doesn’t resemble a movie? Don’t worry, it’s not your fault, movies just keep recycling completely unrealistic plot devices that never actually occur in real life, we just think they do. We’ve seen them in countless films and have just come to expect to come across them at some point in our own lives, or at the very least in other people’s, but that’s rarely if ever the case.

This started out as a comment thread on reddit, and I decided to use my rudimentary animation skills to bring to life (so to speak) some of the best observations I found. I’ve illustrated about 15 movie scenarios which you can check out below, that more than likely will never, ever happen to you. If you’ve got any more you can think of, feel free to add them in the comments, and I’ll see if maybe I can animate them at some point.

(click any of these to enlarge)

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  1. A skeptic of some unprovable thing (Ghosts, demons, psychics etc.) turns out to be wrong. Yeah that never happens in real life and seems highly unlikely to ever happen.

  2. The president of my country has never stepped up personally into the action with such skill that he poses a bigger menace to the opposition than any other individual involved in the situation, regardless of their age, size or badassery… he’s THE FUCKING PRESIDENT, watch out! The president of my country is just an aging, rich, well-educated man who wouldn’t be too much of a concern to terrorists or aliens mano-a-mano, just like every other president… except Putin.

  3. I had a girlfriend who wore glasses and had her hair up most of the time. When she took off her glasses and let her hair down, she most certainly was 9,000 times hotter than before.

  4. The last one doesn’t make any sense. If you empty a clip, you still have all of those rounds in your magazine. Unless the author actually gets their knowledge from firearms from movies, in which case it’s understandable that they don’t know the difference between a clip and a magazine…

  5. Actually, I did not have the record scratch, per se.

    But was dating a black (Jamaican) girl who took me to an after-hours club. I was the only white guy there, and when we stepped in everyone literally stopped talking and started at me for a good couple of seconds (probably thinking “who let him in here?”) before deciding to ignore me and continue what they were doing.

  6. I was thinking about this very topic the other day.

    The usual cliche of having somebody get married, and another person running in and stopping the wedding just as they’re saying “speak now or forever hold your peace”… how often does that actually happen in real life?

    It occurs in movies seemingly every single time. I’d have to say in real life it would happen maybe 0.0001% of the time 🙂

  7. I’m pretty sure phones that do have dial tones will go to it after a hang up.

    I can’t recall a fight scene of several people vs one where the attackers literally come one at a time. Its actually realistic that a group wont attack simultaneously. People decide at different moments when they personally want to move in and thus not many are throwing punches and kicks at the exact same time.

    If the fighter’s good enough he can fend off a surprising number of enemies thanks to this fact. This is discussed in Musashi’s “The Book of Five Rings”.

  8. @Hallam

    Actually there have been some extremely bad ass US presidents in history.

    First and formost GENERAL George Washington. During the Whiskey rebellion he personally lead US troops to suppress it.

    Andrew Jackson after a failed assassination attempt, proceeded to beat the assailant with a cane so furiously the secret service had to restrain him. Unfortunately Jack was more of a bad ass movie villian then a bad ass movie hero, seeing as he created the “indian removal acts” which pretty much amounted to genocide.

    Theodore Roosevelt was no wimp either. His assassin actually managed to get a shot off. Roosevelt went on to give a speech while bleeding from the chest. He was also head of the Ruff Riders, a big game hunter and an explorer of the Amazon rain forest.

    Most movies I can think of in which the president does something heroic include some sort of military background (such as the president in independence day being a fighter pilot).

    For the most part you’re right that many of our recent presidents were pretty much old businessmen. Sadly the tradition of military service among the upper class seems to have gone out of fashion in modern times.

  9. I’ve never stood aiming a loaded gun at an enemy, while he aims a loaded gun at me, and rather then just shooting, argued over whatever we’re fighting over.

  10. Turning on the news and being relevant makes me think of Arrested Development. “Imagine the impact that would have had if was on when I turned the TV on!” lol.

    @ Tim, you are dumb or are trying to be elitist and making yourself sound dumb to the average person. Clips and magazines are so close to one another, it really doesn’t matter which term you use.

    really? REALLY? Have you ever spent your own money on a gun? it might not still be useful now, but when you get home later, you still have the gun you paid $300-$3000 for.

  11. I was in a pool tournament at a local bar and bought a player in the calcutta(look it up) that had played against several times and he ended up winning the tournament and it made a pretty decent payday for him and myself. After a few drinks with some the other players all of witch were better than myself my player asked me if i wanted to go to a bar across town with and do some gambling and i being nieve and my oppurtunistic self said “lets do It” My player was a black man in his early forties that worked in a steel mill and had been shooting pool since he could see over the table, i was a 23 year old white guy wearing jeans and a polo that had been playing for about four years. We pull into the parking lot if you can call it resembled more of a street corner where a gas station had once been many years ago filled with pot holes and splothces of grass. As I climb out of his Lexus I notice a the faint aroma over marijuana burning and a few not so polite looking large men standing at the door to bar known as La Krystal’s, I say known as because there is no sign to prove it. As we walk through the parking lot me carrying my cue in a nylon case over my shoulder and my player carrying nothing except a lit cigarett in his mouth I ask him “Are you not going to bring your stick in with you?” to which he replies ” I dont have a reason to yet…. I am just looking for something easy. ” By that he meant a pool game or a woman. As we approach the door I give the three large men a sign acknowledging there presence and the fact that they are respected by me, the univesal nod in the downward motion as opposed to the up nod which I thought might have be recieved as a sign of agression. My player takes the last drag off his ciggarett and flicks it out toward the street as he lays a hand on the door to push it open. He leans into the door as it glides open to reveal a cramped bar with black people filling every seat and standing everywhere someone could stand without being in the way of the pooltable or the tiny dance floor. The place was so cramped when the door is open it just barlely misses the pool table, as I step through the doorway behind my player the jukebox litterally stopped playing and all eyes were on me. I was the only white thing in there besides the styrofoam cups and the cue ball. Even it was a little dingy………….

  12. let’s observe this argument seriously.

    First – your logic is faulty – you can’t compare you and the movie situation, if you haven’t ever been even close to real life situation.
    For example – the running from shooters and only getting slightly injured – that is highly implausible, however you, as a fat jobless blogger can’t really account for that. Get approval from some soldier first.

    Yuo haven’t ever fought 25 men, so you can’t account for that either

    and so on.

    Secondly – studying before tests sure as hell goes into montage.

  13. I’ve never had my flashlight stop working as I explored a dark, creepy place.

    I’ve never been stranded in the middle of nowhere only to find that my cell-phone battery is dead / there is no signal.

    I’ve never had, nor met anyone with amnesia.

    I’ve never discovered I have a child I never knew about.

    I’ve never had to sleep in a haunted to house for one night to collect an inheritance.

    I’ve never driven my car through a fruit cart / pile of boxes.

    I’ve never been on a flight where the pilot or co-pilot passed out / were killed.

    I’ve never had an enemy explain his entire plan moments before I escape and thwart it.

    I always make sure the bad guy is dead.

    I don’t know any fat, ugly, syupid guys with gorgeous wives.

    I don’t trip every time I run away from something.

    I’ve never run out of gas in the middle of nowhere.

  14. I’ve never been obsessed with the most popular girl in school, only to discover my best friend is my true soulmate.

    I’ve never witnessed a convenience store robbery.

    I’ve never been in a hostage situation.

    I’ve never been locked in a mall/museum/wherever after hours.

    Inanimate objects have never come to life around me … as far as I know.

  15. I’ve never met a hooker with a “heart-of-gold” and the business savvy to run a multinational company or even to save tens of thousands of $$$, all the while teaching me how to open up to “love.”

    I have, however, known a hooker who coaxed every cent out of a guy prior to him killing his wife for the insurance money.

    @ Guy Incognito – I have met someone with long-term retrograde amnesia.

  16. The very first example is at least as old as Moby Dick. Ishmael (white dude) walks into a black church, the choir stops singing, and everyone turns to look at him.

  17. I have actually gotten the dial tone once when someone hung up on me. But it was only once, and I was like, “holy fuck, that actually does happen!”

  18. It is like the person who drew this silly cartoon thinks that life began in 2005. I can’t think of ANY movie that came out in the last 5-6 years that had someone race to the airport to stop a loved one from leaving. All the ones I can remmeber all took place in a tmie when cell phones were not widespread. So how are they supposed to place that phone call? Also…dial tones DID come up when someone hung up. It depended on which party placed the call and which hung up.

    So year…life did not begin in 2004.

  19. tnt…not gtting shot while being shot at is not implausible at all. the MOST illogical movie cliche is that everyone with a hand gun is an expert marksman who can shoot a moving target (while also moving) from a block away and hit dead center where he ws aiming.

  20. I don’t think this situation ever happens in real life (at least it hasn’t happened to me):

    – While in a romantic moment with your significant other, your cell phone rings. Without even looking at the caller ID, you casually toss the cell phone out the window and turn your full attention back to making out with the leading lady/manly hero.

  21. Well they weren’t black but, apparently you never walked into a redneck southeast Iowa bar in 1975 with hair below your shoulders and a guy named Ramirez to buy a twelve pack to go. I never saw a bartender so relieved as when we got to the “to go”. And believe me, we went.

  22. How about the one where you’re talking smack about someone only to have your friends fall silent all of a sudden and you say “he’s right behind me, isn’t he?”

  23. If you drink enough, everything becomes a montage. For example, studying: Drink drink drink read a book, black out, type on a computer, black out, success!!, black out. Voila! Montage!

  24. I love all the amazing artist renderings of screens accessing the Web/Internet that are all 3-D and futuristic, in stories that are set in the present or recent past. I want THAT browser.

  25. i walked into a bar with two guido-looking Jewish friends. the bouncers knew me but asked for three types of picture ID from them. while they got it, all the Waspy people just stared at me. i smiled and waved.
    Jet Li wins battles against 40 opponents who wait for their friends to die and when someone hangs up, i get silence and 20 seconds later, a message telling me to hang up and dial.
    however, when reading these, i put on “The Ghost in You” and pictured myself meeting the artist and telling her that i have been in love with her since 8th grade.

  26. Once when I was a teenager I was flying alone to Paris. When I was at the airport I thought about all the movies about the teenage girls and that if this would be a movie, I would for sure have a seat beside a really handsome guy, we would start a chat on a plane and by the time the plane arrives in Paris we would be totally in love. Of course nothing like this happened 🙂

  27. I’ve never picked up my phone in the middle of a crisis and answered by saying the person’s name I hoped was calling. I look at the caller ID and choose to pick up or ignore the call.

  28. 1. In movies/tv, people can have conversations of any kind, in public, while even speaking loudly, and not attract the attention of anyone nearby (like in a restaurant, hallway, or bar)
    -like in House MD, when House and Wilson openly talk loudly and no one stops to listen, or even stares
    -any restaurant/bar scene.

    2. In movies/tv there’s always the very attractive girl who is readily available to be taken by the lead male character. Not only is the attractive girl single, but she doesn’t have any drama/history (like a bad ex), she’s just unexplainably single, happy, and immediately has a crush on the lead male character when they meet.
    -I don’t know about you guys, but in real life, in my experience, most very attractive girls are already taken, and if they are, the only way they go from one bf to another is via breaking up with the current one to go out with the new one.

  29. I think I know why. I read Attack-Unicorns’ comment first then looked up… shortly before spitting my Diet Coke onto my screen. Thanks alot, NursesLabs! 🙂

  30. I heard a medical examiner once say that someone dying by falling down stairs is something that happens so rarely it’s unrealistic. Most people who fall down stairs get bruised or break a bone or two.

    1. Actually, I know someone that died from falling down the stairs. It’s unrealistic if you fall feet first, but if you trip, you could break your neck or slam your head.

  31. I’ve never known anyone to simply hang up to end a telephone conversation without saying ‘good-bye’, unless they were being intentionaly rude.

    But with the bathroom mirror cabinet – surely the reason it’s used in thrillers or horror movies is because it’s NOT usual. The idea of someone/something sneaking up on you, in a place where you should feel safe, is scary.

  32. HAL 9000 wrote: “The idea of someone/something sneaking up on you, in a place where you should feel safe, is scary.”
    Like Uranus?

  33. I never had a Music Blackout while making a quote that actually wasn’t meant to be heard and wasn’t related to the people visiting the party but the partial information they get during the Blackout makes it look like i’m a total jerk.

  34. Grenades. In movies, one grenade will destroy half a city block. I was so disappointed when I went to the grenade range at basic training and watched them explode through the little impact-glass windows. In real life, grenades pop like firecrackers and produce lots of shrapnel. Deadly, but not blowing-up-half-a-city-block deadly.

  35. I would love to see one of the movie guys answer his phone by saying, “Talk to me” and then finding out it’s either his mom on the other end or a wrong number. I’ve also never tripped when running. On the other hand if I’m going to be in a situation where running may be involved I generally don’t wear 4″ heels. Unlike most movie characters we ‘real’ people use the restroom at least once a day and if food is placed in front of use we eat more than 2 bites before running out the door. Years ago on some of the daytime stories, every time a female character fainted, she was pregnant. I didn’t do that either. I’ve also never accidentally, or on purpose, gotten involved with a double agent. I love these and have also gotten some big laughs out of some of the comments posted.

  36. So you pull up to the place you plan to visit and, wow, who knew! There’s a parking space right in front. In real life, you have to drive around the block for 20 minutes looking for a place to park that won’t get you towed.

  37. I’m sure no POSITIVE most people in real life would calmly and slowly walk up to a strange noise they just heard or holler out ‘who’s there?’ when they hear scary noises. and they most always stop when they see a hapless body lying in the road not just running the fucker over and keep going and I always give rides to strangers on lonely dark highways and most humans can get right back up after being flung into a wall/mirror/bookcase very easy without a mark on them or any broken bones. that goes for driving into a tree or building and yes you apparantely can survive a car accident WITHOUT a seatbelt or airbag. and I always wanted to befriend a funny looking little alien because he’s not at all dangerous it’s that mean old government that wants to ‘hurt’ him and yes Bill Murray CAN get a hottie like Scarlett Johansson and Steve Carrell can score Anne Hathaway despite being a good 25 years older ugly and he looks like her DAD!

  38. Ive never started singing an original song aloud, and have everyone know the lyrics.

    Not only know the lyrics, but sing in perfect harmony, have their own versus, and have grand stand dance number.

  39. In the movies people don’t call 911 when you think it’s the best and easiest thing to do.

    In the movies people always decide to drop the guns and fight it out.

    These are what I will do differently in real life. I’ll pick up every gun I come across to make sure I have enough weapon to defeat the bad guy. If I run out of bullets, I’ll keep the guns with me and pretend they are loaded to scare away the bad guys. lol

    I won’t be gay like Superman and let the bad guys live. I’ll kill them punks, plus I won’t destroy the whole street and building while doing it. I’ll pick up the bad guy and take him to an open space to finish the fight.

  40. Remember movies are supposed to show special situations, not what we’re used to see everyday…That’d be boring!
    So for you guys complaining about “unrealistic” movies, remember!…just because something doesn’t happen OFTEN it doesn’t mean it NEVER happens! Actually I’ve turned on the Tv multiple times just to find the answer to what I was thinking and sometimes I’m talking to someone on the phone and the actors answer me or say exactly the same I’m saying by coincidence. My friend also wore glasses and braces and had her hair tied up all the time and once she changed it, guys immediatly started to notice her. And finally I’ve actually called my loved one to tell him to stop but his phone was turned off so I drove to the airport and ran until I found him…True story
    So you see? Nothing is unrealistic, everything is realistic as long as someone has the will to make it happen. Of course it won’t happen regularly but if you stop being skeptical about it, you might do or witness something “unrealistic” too…

  41. Seriously?? You’ve never heard a dial tone when someone hangs up the phone?? That seems a little ridiculous, because I have heard it many many times. ALTHOUGH, I have always wondered why when they show someone on a cell phone, and the call ends, there is a dial tone. Cell phones don’t work like regular phones, so why would there be a dial tone??

    Also, I have seen girls do the hair and glasses thing, it works like it does in the movies.

  42. I’ve never written a list of things that happen in movies but never in real life, only to have a long list of people responding with critiques and “expert opinions”, telling me how wrong I am, as if their very existence depended on having somebody they will never meet, read about how they know more about a minor detail that does not actually matter, than the person who wrote the list that was meant as a humorous piece instead of a serious, fate-of-the-world-changing debate on clip versus magazine or dial tones.

    But I hear it happens on the internet all the time …

  43. When the electricity is conveniently out I have never switched a wall switch on and off repeatedly thinking that that will bring the entire grid back on line (OK, I switched it only twice a few times).

    I have never actually stared at a phone hand set or cell phone when someone hangs up on me. Actually, I can’t even remember when someone hung up on me.

    I have never slammed down or thrown a cell phone in anger. The bad guys have about 20 prepaids in their pockets at all times anyway.

    I, while looking for a monster/burglar/ghost/strange noise/etc. in a very dark room, have never had my spouse walk up behind me while not making even one tiny sound that would alert me of their presence and place their hand on my shoulder, scaring me to death and have some music blast at 180db in the background and then ask if I’m OK.

    I have never dropped a gun down a flight of steps and each time it hits a step it fires killing each bad guy with pinpoint, sniper accuracy. (True Lies?)

    I have never entered a dark room, immediately turn around facing the door to shut it and then walk slowly backwards.

    I have never had any ghost or other malevolent creature mess with the electricity in my house, lights flickering, blowing up, etc.

  44. “I never turn on the TV news and see what’s on is immediately relevant to my situation.”
    Nor have you IMMEDIATELY turned the TV off at the very end of it (with the remote “clicking,” to boot!)

    I mean, how did they know they were finished? How did they know there wasn’t a follow-up story? Who does that?

  45. Walk in on an obvious murder scene, then inexplicably pick up the weapon, which was conveniently left behind, because the plan was to frame you and they somehow KNEW you were just that stupid.

    Then, when you see the knife is a bloody mess, you wipe the blood off your hands….onto your own shirt.


  46. No one ends a phone conversation. They simply hang up when they’re done talking. Of course, the other person always knows that they were done.

  47. Bad guys pulling out, then raising their guns and taking shots at police officers – whose weapons are already drawn – yet they don’t manage to return fire. Huge example in the Harrison Ford flick “The Fugitive,” where on the train scene, an academy-trained officer has his weapon pointed and aimed at the back of the movie bad guy, (a one-armed man, no less) who then whirls around, fires as he is spinning, hits the officer, and kills him. The cop never even fires a shot.

  48. From the days of landlines….tapping the hang up button repeatedly after a hang up/power outage, as if that would somehow bring them back onto the phone.

  49. Holding onto something the equivalent of the key of life while running – you mange to stumble and fall, then not only do you drop that which you are clinging to for dear life, but you FLING it 60 feet away from you.

  50. Life-or-death info needs to be shared, yet you allow the person you need to share it with to interrupt, cut you off, and blow you off, without persisting.

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