Look, we know movies aren't real. Hollywood likes to exaggerate reality, probably because reality is so goddamned boring. So the cop can jump off a two-story rooftop, land on his feet and continue the chase. Hey, it can happen!
Sure, and it has. The problem is, Hollywood does to body trauma what porn does to pizza delivery: takes it to totally unrealistic -- albeit visually satisfying -- extremes. And we wind up with a completely stupid idea of what the real experience is like.
So just for the record, here's what you can expect with ...
6Getting Knocked Out (From a Blow to the Head)
What we see in the movies:
It seems to happen in about a third of the action movies/TV shows ever made: Someone jumps our hero from behind, and the screen goes to black. Hours later, he wakes up in some strange place and has to think on his feet to make his escape.
We see it in Casino Royale, after Bond survives a car accident but before he gets smashed in the nuts over and over. It also happens in Pulp Fiction, when Bruce Willis and Ving Rhames are knocked out by the owner of the pawn shop and wake up bound and gagged, right before the guy decides to "bring out the gimp."
Quentin Tarantino has some issues.
When they wake up, the guys aren't happy about it, but they're otherwise immediately alert and aware -- Willis is even able to orchestrate a violent escape a minute later.
It also happens to Marty McFly at least once in every Back to the Future movie: He knocks himself unconscious and inevitably wakes up a while later in bed with his mother (or, in one case, a paternal grandmother who looks disturbingly like his mother).
But that's nothing compared to the repeated head trauma suffered by some TV characters -- you would see it happen repeatedly on Lost (usually with the butt of a gun) and Heroes (usually right before every commercial break). The character Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was known for being a) super-smart and b) extremely prone to head injuries. These two things are not as compatible as you might think.
What would really happen:
We've all seen boxers and football players get knocked out for a few seconds and then jump up and continue playing the game (hell, it's happened to some of you reading this). But it's all about how long you are out. Experts say if you're ever out for more than five minutes, call a goddamned ambulance. There's a really, really good chance you have severe damage. A hit hard enough to keep you down that long means concussion or, worse, a traumatic brain injury or your brain may be goddamned bleeding on the inside.
But hey, it's just your brain.
And that's talking about being out a matter of minutes -- think about all of the movies you've seen where the character wakes up into some wacky misunderstanding hours later. In Pulp Fiction, the guy from the pawn shop has enough time to carry the characters to his basement one at a time, tie them to chairs and wait for his friend to arrive. By the time they wake up (not on their own -- they only wake up because their captor sprays water on them), Willis and Rhames can probably say goodbye to such helpful abilities as standing, walking, talking or maybe even waking up again.
And when you start talking about those TV show characters who are getting knocked out in every other episode, you're dealing with realism on the level of Elmer Fudd surviving getting flattened by a boulder. Concussions -- even mild ones -- have cumulative effects (as every football fan now knows). The more times you get knocked unconscious, the more severe your dizziness, disorientation and nausea will be each time. So, by the end of Back to the Future Part III, after being knocked out so many times in a period of like two weeks (or 125 years, depending on how you look at it), Marty McFly should be reduced to a drooling idiot incapable of walking by himself, let alone driving a DeLorean through time and space.
CRACKED: Ruining Back to the Future for you since 2006.
5Getting Thrown by an Explosion
What we see in the movies:
If you don't have an explosion throwing the main character toward a camera, you don't have an action movie. You legally can't call it that unless your screenplay contains the words "runs in slow motion from the fireball."
Like in Mission: Impossible, when Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is thrown by an exploding helicopter onto the back of a speeding train. Or in Mission: Impossible III, when the same guy's body is propelled by a freaking exploding missile, launching him sideways against a car ... only for him to get up, continue running and singlehandedly take down the airplane that shot him.
Ethan Hunt has been traumatized by every single method of transportation.
According to the physics of the Mission Impossible universe, jumping from an explosion involves surfing the shock wave. Tom Cruise is literally getting a little push from the inferno behind him, conveniently allowing him to reach a safe place more quickly. This also happens in the Die Hard franchise whenever John McClane has to leave a place in a hurry. By the fourth movie, he doesn't even flinch when a helicopter explodes right in front of him.
Shit. Did I leave the front door unlocked?
So it's kind of like getting pushed by a really strong wind. Your hair might get a little messed up, but otherwise you get to take a ride on physics.
What would really happen:
Notice how the same force was strong enough to tear apart the metal car or helicopter or airplane? It's not complicated; the explosion shock wave that can turn titanium into tissue paper will turn your body into a heaping bowl of human pudding. High explosives, like the kind you find in missiles, are hitting you with a force of around 1.5 million pounds ... per square inch. Basically, imagine a battleship landing on you. In the explosion business, they call it total body disruption.
And of course we're not even talking about the shrapnel flying toward your body, each chunk moving at the speed of a bullet. Or the ball of fire behind Bruce Willis that was burning jet fuel at 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bruce Willis and explosions have a long history of friendly cooperation.
But maybe the hero was farther away from the blast than he looked, and maybe the explosion was just a gas tank instead of high explosives. In that case, you're only dealing with ruptured eardrums, burst lungs and bowel contusion/perforation. If you're not convinced that last one is a problem, go right ahead and do a search for that term in Google Images. Don't do it right after lunch, though.