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10 Anachronisms and Historical Inaccuracies in Movies and TV Shows


Although we all enjoy movies and TV shows because they provide us with a brief diversion from the crazy realities of our everyday lives, we should still expect them to be accurate. Or at the very least, not end up looking like the most 80s movie of all-time even though it is set in the 60s (I’m looking at you, Dirty Dancing!). Whether it’s due to laziness or…okay, entirely because of laziness, films and shows often include ridiculous anachronisms that are often amusing, or at least allow you to be a dork and point out how you knew that Xbox Live shouldn’t have been featured in Passion of the Christ because the gaming experience was far less advanced in those days. With that in mind, here are 10 anachronistic goofs found in movies and TV shows.

1. Starbucks Lattes in Game of Thrones

Although Game of Thrones is a work of fiction and that it’s set in the vast land of Westeros where imagination has no limits, we find it difficult to believe they’ve got Starbucks there or that Daenerys Targaryen would order a coffee. On the other hand, Starbucks is everywhere these days. Even the entrance to Prague Castle features a prominent Starbucks sign. So who knows. 

2. Digital Watch in Glory

Glory is a Civil War drama that takes place from September 1862 to July 1863. While the first digital watches went on sale in 1972, there’s a scene in the movie where one of the soldiers can clearly be seen wearing one. Ironically, the movie still won the Academy Award for Best Editing (although with 4 other Oscars). 

3. Electric Chair in The Green Mile

The electric chair plays a key role in the screen adaptation of the Stephen King novel, set in 1935 Louisiana. While prisoners in the film meet their maker courtesy of Ol’ Sparky, the state didn’t introduce the electric chair until 1940. Prior to that, the most common method of execution would have been by hanging. 

4. Nazi Book Burnings in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

The Nazi book burnings were a campaign to ceremonially burn books that ran counter to Nazi ideology. At one point in the movie, Indiana Jones successfully recovers his father’s diary at one of these ceremonies only to come face-to-face with Hitler himself, who doesn’t recognize the significance of the book and just thinks Jones wants his autograph, which he obliges. The movie is set in 1938, but in reality the book burnings took place over the course of 1933. 

5. Movie Billboard Advertisement in The Doors

The Oliver Stone biopic about the groundbreaking 60’s rock band (okay, it’s really 99% about Jim Morrison because, come on, would you spend 2 hours watching the movie if it had centered around any of the other guys?) features a scene of Val Kilmer on a window ledge with a billboard for Another 48 Hours, the Eddie Murphy/Nick Nolte buddy cop comedy that came out 20 years after the events in The Doors

6. Hippies Wander Onto The Godfather Set

When Don Vito’s son Michael goes to Las Vegas, you can see a couple of fellas with beards, long hair, and dressed in 1970s fashion (the movie was filmed in 1972). However, the movie was actually set in the late 40s/early 50s. Director Francis Ford Coppola confesses in the DVD commentary that the film crew really dropped the ball on that one. 

7. Random White T-Shirt Dude Invades Pirates of the Caribbean 

In the original Pirates of the Caribbean, if you look closely for a second you’ll find a modern-looking guy in a white T-shirt and cowboy hat who looks decidedly out of place for a film set in the mid-18th century. It might be a crew member, but we like to imagine that he’s definitely a time-traveler. 

8. A Slew of Anachronisms in Titanic

When Titanic was released, it held the record for the biggest budget at $200 million. Unfortunately, it appears that not enough of that money went towards basic research. For instance, although the events of the movie took place in 1912, the map in the radio room reflects the 1997 country names and political borders. Jack mentions to Rose that he went ice finishing with his father out on Lake Wissota in Wisconsin. Although it is indeed a real place, the man-made lake wasn’t actually created until 1915. Finally, the Statue of Liberty is depicted as being entirely green (as it is today due to 130+ years of oxidation), but in 1912 it would have still been its original copper brown color.

9. Llamas in Troy

Troy, set around 1250 B.C. and loosely based on Homer’sThe Iliad, features llamas roaming around ancient Turkey. While we believe every movie is made significantly better when it includes llamas, the fact is the Peruvian mammals didn’t set foot in that part of the world until 2,800 years later. 

10. Kilts in Braveheart

When you think of Scotland, what comes to mind? Haggis. Loch Ness. Groundskeeper Willie. And, of course, kilts. When Mel Gibson as William Wallace gives his inspirational speech about freedom, that kilt he was wearing should — historically speaking — actually have been a tunic soaked in horse urine. While we all just like to imagine that the Scots have been wearing kilts since the beginning of civilization, they are actually a relatively recent fashion trend — introduced in the 1700s, more than 400 years after the events in the movie.