50 Things I Learned From The Movies

Below is a pretty great list of 50 things that all of us have learned from movies. (via)

1. All telephone numbers in America begin with the digits 555.

2. Medieval peasants had perfect teeth.

3. The ventilation system of any building is the perfect hiding place. No one will ever think of looking for you in there, and you can travel to any other part of the building you want without difficulty.

4. Any person waking from a nightmare will sit bolt upright and pant.

5. It is always possible to park directly outside the building you are visiting.

6. A cough is usually the sign of a terminal illness.

7. If you decide to start dancing in the street, everyone you bump into will know all the steps.

8. No matter how badly a spaceship is attacked, its internal gravity system is never damaged.

9. The more a man and a woman hate each other, the more likely they will fall in love.

10. All bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red readouts so you know exactly when they’re going to go off.

11. Cars that crash will almost always burst into flames.

12. A cup of black coffee or a splash of cold water in the face is enough to render the most inebriated person stone cold sober.

13. If you try hard enough, you can outrun an explosion.

14. If you stick your head out of cover during a gun fight, it will never be hit, especially if you look backwards to hold a conversation with someone behind you.

15. Police Departments give their officers personality tests to make sure they are assigned partners who are their total opposite.

16. Honest and hard working policemen are traditionally gunned down three days before their retirement.

17. You’re very likely to survive any battle in any war unless you make the mistake of showing someone a picture of your sweetheart back home.

18. The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window in Paris.

19. Computers never display a cursor on screen but always say: Enter Password Now.

20. Once applied, lipstick will never rub off — even while scuba diving.

21. All watches and clocks are synchronized to the second.

22. No matter how fuzzy the photograph, it can be enlarged and enhanced to show the finest detail.

23. Nearly everyone speaks English, no matter where they are from. Even aliens from outer space, despite the fact they have never been to Earth, seen an Earthling, or even heard of Earth or Earthlings.

24. No matter how catastrophic the disaster, pets will always survive it.

25. There will always be a doctor in a plane or building with the right medical supplies.

26. No matter how dead you think you’ve killed a bad guy, he can still get up at least three more times.

27. People rarely use the bathroom, and if they do, they’re usually dead within minutes.

28. Most laptop computers are powerful enough to override the communication systems of any invading alien civilization.

29. Cemeteries generate their own weather. Usually rainstorms… and not just gentle sprinkles, but biblical downpours.

30. When paying for a taxi, don’t look at your wallet as you take out a bill — just grab one at random and hand it over. It will always be the exact fare.

31. Most people keep a scrapbook of newspaper clippings — especially if any of their family or friends have died in a strange boating accident.

32. Cars that fly off cliffs spontaneously combust in midair for no apparent reason.

33. When you turn out the light to go to bed, everything in your room will still be clearly visible, just slightly bluish.

34. All computer disks will work in all computers, regardless of software.

35. Television news bulletins usually contain a story that affects you personally at the precise moment that it is aired.

36. Close blood relatives usually look nothing like each other, or have only a passing resemblance.

37. Any lock can be picked by a credit card or a paper clip in seconds — unless it’s the door to a burning building with a child trapped inside.

38. When they are alone, all foreigners prefer to speak English to each other.

39. An electric fence that’s powerful enough to kill a dinosaur will cause no lasting damage to an eight-year-old child.

40. If your town is threatened by an imminent natural disaster or killer beast, the mayor’s first concern will be the tourist trade or his forthcoming art exhibition.

41. It does not matter if you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts — your enemies will wait patiently to attack you one by one by dancing around in a threatening manner until you have knocked out their predecessors.

42. A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating, but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.

43. If you are trapped in a tunnel, in a sinking ship, or a burning building, a cute little girl, a nun, and a feisty granny will be trapped with you.

44. All writers are wealthy; all publishing companies are glamorous; all artists are self-supporting and have large attractive well-lit loft studios.

45. Action heroes never face charges for manslaughter or criminal damage despite laying entire cities to waste.

46. During all police investigations it will be necessary to visit a strip club at least once.

47. If an expert makes a prediction and is disbelieved, then it will come to pass exactly as he predicted. If he makes a prediction and is believed, it won’t happen.

48. If there is a large bump in a downhill road, a speeding car will fly over it and hit the ground in shower of sparks. Unsecured passengers will not be injured, and no tire damage, broken axles, or suspension failures will occur. The car will then execute a sharp turn involving a skid.

49. Dogs always know who’s bad and will naturally bark at them.

50. Text appearing on a computer monitor appears letter by letter and making a sound as if it was produced by a typewriter.

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63 responses to 50 Things I Learned From The Movies

  1. A very good list – and doubly entertaining if one has never read “Roger Ebert’s Little Movie Glossary,” which offers the classic cliché of “The Fallacy of the Talking Killer,” which Ebert credited to his late partner, Gene Siskel:

    “The villain wants to kill the hero. He has him cornered at gunpoint. All he has to do is pull the trigger. But he always talks first. He explains the hero’s mistakes to him. Jeers. Laughs. And gives the hero time to think his way out of the situation, or be rescued by his buddy. Cf. most JAMES BOND movies.”

  2. Also, if you need to get into the Nazi stronghold all you need to do is knock out a guard. His uniform will fit. Once you get in you just need to speak English with a German accent.

    1. Indeed, it is well known that Nazi and Soviet guards will always give you their back while they patrol, and can be stabbed to death without damaging or staining the uniform with blood.

  3. Terry Jones, who has a degree in medieval history as well as being one of Monty Python, says that actually the medieval era had pretty good teeth because they had a good fibrous diet. Teeth didn’t go bad until the sugar trade developed in the West Indies post-Columbus. Nevertheless, he said they reluctantly made the peasants in Monty Python and the Holy Grail have bad teeth because that’s what everyone expected them to have.

    1. That may be true. This entry should probably be changed to “All migrant farm workers, Depression-era hoboes etc. have perfect teeth.”

  4. You forgot one: any small child who is told to go to bed will instantaneously say, “Good night mommy” or “Good night daddy” and leave the room, unlike real children, who will protest for 20 minutes on average and then re-appear asking for a glass of water.

  5. #1: The 555 exchange was, for real, created by Bell Telephone to give movies phone numbers that don’t really exist. (555 is actually not used anywhere in the US.) This after several lawsuits where made up phone numbers turned out to belong to somebody.
    #28: Only if it’s a Mac

  6. Regarding Number 8: Star Trek VI got it right. When the Klingon ship was attacked, one of the things to go was their artificial gravity system. That is why the attackers took gravity boots with them. That is the only example I can think of, though.

  7. 51. When fleeing danger with the leading man,the female/heroine/romantic interest will never be able to run for more than about 20 yards before tripping/stumbling/falling or otherwise hindering the escape

    1. Oh, and I forgot that the bad guy always appears just as the good guy sets down his gun. Or, as in Aliens, just as the good guys picks up his gun again the bad guy strikes from above.

  8. Terrorists have their offices in popular night clubs.

    Warrior women display more upper body strength and skill than the men they fight.

    Rich businessmen who can have anything they want don’t find personal fulfillment until they fall in love with and marry prostitutes.

    Twenty-something single women with liberal arts degrees can find well paid and undemanding jobs working for fashion magazines.

  9. * Anorexic women beat up hulking men.
    * A simple chop to the neck knocks out anyone.
    * Space ships are always oriented the same relative to each other.
    * A peaceful scene will not be so within a few minutes.
    * Orchestras (and sometimes choruses) travel from scene to scene, even during war.
    * The people who make bad movies want their names displayed before and after a movie.
    * Space aliens are always bilaterally symmetrical
    * Hollywood cares more about denigrating America than turning a profit.

  10. #10: And they are always disarmed with just one second left to spare.
    Also, ricochets never happen (unless they’re a part of the plot) and handguns can be fired sideways without hot spent shells hitting the shooter in the face. Oh, and the really good guys are usually African-Americans, Holocaust survivors, gays or lesbians.

  11. – The bedroom blue lighting also works in caves.

    – A water monster of almost any size can successfully submerge itself in water that only comes up to your thighs. And move around without raising a ripple.

    – If the audience of a movie can’t see something, neither can the characters in the movie. This works even if the characters are in the middle of the Utah salt flats under a clear sunny sky and a fifty-foot dinosaur is approaching them.

    – Molten lava, even huge lakes or rivers of it, will not burn you no matter how close you are unless you actually touch it.

  12. Whenever there’s a violent natural cataclysm like a super storm or asteroid, it always devastates some landmark like the Capitol building, the Colosseum or Big Ben, rather than an ordinary cluster of Starbucks and K-marts in the suburbs, or out in the middle of nowhere like Tunguska.

  13. While most cops go their entire careers without firing their weapons in the line of duty, every single police drama (even the ones that cover the coroners and CSI units who investigate what happened AFTER the violence) will leave a trail of bodies due to gunfights.

    Guns appear out of nowhere. If liberal Hollywood writers applied the same gun control standards to their plots as they want for the general public, no TV or movie dramas would be made.

    Gigantic explosions always happen — even in pre-history dramas.

    1. The liberal Hollywood crowd want gun control for everyone except themselves. So it is logical for them to include guns in movies and use them to enforce “law and order”.

  14. >Sometime during the investigation, the detective will be asked to surrender his gun and his badge and take some time off, dammit

    >when a single girl returns from the eclectic grocery store, there will be a fresh baguette sticking out of the grocery bag

    >you can be involved in a gunfight where dozens of shots are fired, and your hearing will not be affected

    >loner detectives listen to jazz and have a wedding photo (dead wife) on the nightstand, next to a gun

    >one of loner detective’s neighbors will be way too hot and young for him. Of course, she will sleep with him.

    >loner detectives can ride motorcycles like pros, even in business attire

  15. Don’t forget the classic one – the guy or guys in the red shirts beaming down to the planet’s surface with the landing party are always the first to die!

  16. Everybody in the movies has an off switch on their head. Hitting it moderately hard will knock them out without a sound that might alert anyone nearby.. Always. In real life, if you hit somebody hard on the head, you’ll probably just make them mad and they’ll holler at you.

  17. “#42. A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating, but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.”

    Funny, this one has some truth to it. Adrenalin rush while fighting, and all that.

  18. This articles was written by Bruce Feirstein, the great writer of three James Bond movies, and first published in Vanity Fair. Let’s give credit where credit is due!

  19. 39. An electric fence that’s powerful enough to kill a dinosaur will cause no lasting damage to an eight-year-old child.

    Typically, electric fences aren’t designed to kill the animals they’re meant to keep in; just to shock them enough to keep them from trying to go through them. I don’t recall seeing anything in Jurassic Park to indicate otherwise.

    IIRC, they stated that the fence was charged to 50,000 volts, which is on the low side of a typical stun gun (which, according to Wikipedia, anyway, can output as much as 1,000,000 volts). Voltage isn’t what kills you though; it’s amperage, and they never stated what that was, though it was obviously enough to stop Timmy’s heart.

  20. – When two people talk on cell phones to each other, and one abruptly ends the call, the other person will hear a dial tone.

    – No matter how awful the car accident, the passengers will crawl out with minor injuries.

    – Someone who has never fired a gun can somehow fire one round and hit the bad guy.

    – When a bunch of animals/birds begin to congregate, it won’t end well for any nearly people.

  21. Every handgun fired by the good guy never runs out of ammunition, and the bullets will unerringly traverse a full warehouse and two flights of stairs to hit only the bad guy in the left arm.

  22. I had to buy a new computer recently and I really wanted one of those you see in the movies–they beep when they’ve found something unusual and no matter what kind of wall you face when you’re trying to access something, the screen helpfully displays an “Override Security Code” on which you just click and presto! you’re in.

    I also want one of those movie cats that, rather than just eating and sleeping like mine does, is trained to knock over garbage cans and attract the guards’ attention while the good guys are trying to sneak into the bad guys’ fortress.

  23. “17. You’re very likely to survive any battle in any war unless you make the mistake of showing someone a picture of your sweetheart back home.”

    Or if you happen to be black, for then you are surely doomed.

    51. The only brand of computer anyone ever uses is a Mac.
    52. Explosions in space make noise and so do beam weapons.

  24. * Doctors spend a great deal of their time in hospitals dealing with their personal problems and/or having sex with co-workers.

    * All the police have to do to get a suspect to tell them all about the crime is to get them into the interrogation room and show them some evidence.

    1. -There are only doctors in hospitals. Nurses only come out when the patient inevitably codes. Docs do all the works, tests, administering meds.

  25. * The bad guys are always white, though from some place that will give them an accent like Eastern Europe or South Africa.

    Building mechanical rooms always have huge spinning fans that will block the way or kill the bad guy.

    High rise building elevators have unlocked hatches and will fall like a brick if something, anything goes wrong.

  26. 13 – Bill Nye could demonstrate in a really cool experiment!

    22 – Google “structures on mars” for elaboration.

    23 – Include aliens and Earthlings from the past and the future – just ask The Doctor.

    25 – Or he will survive a plane crash on an uninhabited island where a twisted cult leader really needs his medical talents.

    45 – Does Godzilla count as an action hero? Good luck serving him a subpoena…

    1. To be fair, The Doctor actually explains that any passenger of the TARDIS will be able to interpret any written or spoken language as English and be able to speak it as well.

  27. I credit author Terry Pratchett with the following:
    If a person explodes, say from a bomb, their shoes remain behind, with a wisp of smoke coming from them.
    If a car explodes, say from driving off a cliff, one tire rolls out of the burning wreckage.

  28. OK, I think this one is original with me:

    When you’re being chased by a bad guy, or chasing after a bad guy, when you jump into your car, the car just won’t start.

  29. You forgot (I think) “Every gadget or device a spy or agent carries bleeps and has a red light that flashes when activated which defeats the purpose of their covert operation but no one else hears it except him (and us)”

  30. Very good list, Might I make a suggestion? ” All ancient Europeans, no matter what country, will always have a British accent.”

  31. When you walk into a room with an ice bucket, no matter how long the room/house/apartment has been vacant, there is always ice in the bucket.

  32. Vincent Pasqualetto,

    Sometimes modern mainland Europeans speak with a British accent. Sean Connery is one of the more famous examples


    Check out Roger Moore’s role as Major Otto Hecht in the WWII film Escape to Athena (advance to 1:05 in the video for the trailer).


    And then there’s Bob Hoskins as Nikita Khrushchev in Enemy at the Gates:


    Next thing you know they’ll cast Alan Rickman as a Stasi agent.

    1. I was talking about Ancient Greece, Medieval Germany, and Renaissance Italy. If these times are portrayed in film then Hollywood would give them a slight British Accent. Although these are some good examples of mainland Europeans speaking with and British accent (which can make sense in these occasions because these are actors from the U.K. but the filmmakers were to lazy to tell them to speak true to the character.)

  33. The action hero will *always* be able to out-maneuver a Ninja no matter how many injuries he’s had.

    There is *always* someone who was just short of a pilot’s license able to talk a passenger/flight attendant into flying and landing the plane with little or no previous experience because the pilot has been injured/killed/died.

    Zombies walk slowly, but no matter how fast you run, they can still catch up to you.
    A zombie will infect someone, but they will try and treat them for as long as they can before they finally become a zombie in the end and they have to shoot them anyway. There will usually be a big fight over who should do it.

    You walk in the house, flip the switch, but your light doesn’t turn on. You don’t turn around and get the flashlight out of your car or turn a light on in another part of your house, you walk into a dark room anyway. Every. Single. Time.

  34. “47. If an expert makes a prediction and is disbelieved, then it will come to pass exactly as he predicted. If he makes a prediction and is believed, it won’t happen.”

    Something even worse will happen instead of what the expert predicted.

  35. ::: You never see anyone with keys in hand to start or turn off cars.

    ::: The fancy dress or outfit given to the female lead fits her like a glove and requires no alterations. Or the store she goes to always has her size.

    ::: Every up scale/rich person house has a lead crystal alcohol decanter just sitting out

    ::: Every time someone puts the radio on, the DJ is speaking. No commercials, no music. . .

  36. Whenever someone calls the protagonist and tells him/her to turn on the tv cause something important is airing, the person always just turns it on and the right channel is always on, no searching, no nothing

  37. No matter how many of their friends have died horrible deaths, teenagers will have sex.
    No matter how horrible, scary or the deaths of everyone around them, the survivors will make out or crack stupid jokes in the end.
    You will always see naked women in movies but very rarely naked me. Not even in Magic Mike which we all know is the only reason we went to see it!

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