With the exception of anyone who doesn’t notice that the carbon monoxide detector has been beeping for 45 minutes because they’re too wrapped up in the interfamilial drama of the Targaryens, people love escaping reality through movies and TV shows. Sometimes though, even the greatest pop-culture plot points are a little too divorced from the real world.  Yup, some of our fictional universes can be straight-up ruined with a quick Google search or a query directed to Jeeves, such as how …

Breaking Bad – That Train Heist Could Have Been Avoided With A Trip To CVS

In what easily could have been a crossover event with Thomas the Tank Engine (missed opportunity) an acclaimed episode of Breaking Bad’s fifth season found Walt, Jesse, the dude from Friday Night Lights, and comedian Bill Burr hijacking a train – not to steal old-timey trunks of gold, or to push a DeLorean up to 88 miles per hour, but rather, to boost a tank full of one of Heisenberg’s key meth-making ingredients; methylamine, after their supply is cut off.

While this made for riveting TV viewing, apparently, the daring escapade was shockingly unnecessary. According to experts who spoke to The Washington Post on the subject, from a chemical standpoint, methylamine is “just ammonia with one hydrogen atom swapped out for a methyl group—a carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms.” Obviously. And as we’re sure you’re all already well aware, “an easy way to achieve this swap is to “bubble” ammonia (a gas) through methanol (a liquid) that’s been laced with a dehydrating agent like Silica gel.”

Basically, you could “probably buy these chemicals at Home Depot and CVS.” And while purchasing massive amounts of these products could “attract unwanted attention,” um, so could robbing a goddamn train. Not to mention that this episode literally ends with a kid being shot as a result of their wacky scheme – all of which was, admittedly, far more dramatic than if Walter White had simply spent a day visiting Home Depot like every lame, non-drug kingpin suburban dad.

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The Godfather Part II – Ellis Island Wouldn’t Have Renamed Lil Vito Corleone

The Godfather Part II famously continued the story of Michael Corleone and also flashed back to show us the early life of his dad Vito, played by Robert DeNiro and some small child. In one of the most famous scenes in the movie, lil Vito arrives at Ellis Island and is given the surname “Solo” – no, sorry, make that “Corleone.” 

Despite the fact that he is clearly registered as “Vito Andolini from Corleone,” the American dum dums working at Ellis Island decide that his new name is Vito Corleone for some reason. Well, there’s a long-standing myth that these inspectors changed immigrants' names willy-nilly, but apparently, that’s not really the case.

Reportedly, “Ellis Island inspectors were not responsible for recording immigrants’ names” rather, “any error likely happened overseas,” and was probably made by European shipping lines. According to historians: “If anything, Ellis Island officials were known to correct mistakes in passenger lists.” And often, immigrants would change their own names in order to sound “more American, or to melt into the immigrant community.” Of course, Ellis Island had some other major problems, but randomly swapping kids’ Italian surnames to other equally Italian-sounding surnames wasn’t one of them.

Mad Men – Don Draper’s Greatest Achievement Happened Before He Was Even Born

In order to prove that Don Draper wasn’t just your average 1960s fleshy sack full of Canadian Club, the pilot of Mad Men was quick to show us that Sterling Cooper’s resident handsome guy is a genius in the world of advertising, with his specialty being coming up with a bunch of hogwash on the spot that sounds legit enough to placate clients. 

When we first meet Don, he’s attempting to find a way to advertise the cigarette brand Lucky Strike in a way that will comply with new health regulations. The tobacco company is ready to walk away from the firm – that is until Don pulls a jaw-dropping new slogan straight out of his butt: Lucky Strike, It’s Toasted!

Mad Men was known for often using real brand names in the show (occasionally making them look like total d-bags in the process), and Lucky Strike, of course, is a company – and guess what: their slogan really was “It’s toasted” despite the fact that “all cigarette tobacco was toasted.” 

But this well-worn slogan dates back all the way to 1917 (predating Don Draper’s fictional birthdate by nearly a decade), as evidenced by this old advertisement in which a doctor brags about how the cigarette brand offers “protection” against coughing, all while staring at a pack of Lucky Strikes as if it were … whatever it was people were super-horny for in the 1930s. 

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To put this in a modern context, it would be like an ad agency meeting with Nike in 2022 and spontaneously suggesting that they put the words “Just do it” in their ads. 

National Treasure - Nicolas Cage Would Have Destroyed The Most Important Clue

While the National Treasure movies are mostly goofy fun, there are a lot of logistical problems with this series – like we’re pretty sure that if you steal important historical documents and attempt to abduct the President of the United States, the government won’t be too eager to gift you with a swank mansion for you and your hot German archivist girlfriend to live in.

And while no one went to see National Treasure for a history lesson (with the exception of any high school students who were forced to watch this movie on DVD while their teacher nursed a hangover), it also bungles some basic grade school science. Famously, Nicolas Cage’s character Benjamin Gates steals the Declaration of Independence in order to keep a lost treasure out of the hands of (gasp) British people. Once he has it, he discovers a hidden message that is revealed by the application heat – so he slathers the entire thing in lemon juice, thanks to the giant bowl full of lemons that are occupying the majority of the space in his dad’s fridge for some unspoken reason.

But … that’s not how secret messages work? As anyone who learned this technique as a kid (likely to covertly communicate dirty words to your friends) can tell you, lemon juice is the invisible ink that you write with, which then becomes legible with heat.

In the movie, Gates and company “seem to mix-up different methods” and attempt to use lemon juice as a “developer” – meaning that, really, they would have completely obscured the secret messages and its clues with all that additional juice – so National Treasure really should have ended after like 20 minutes with Benjamin Gates behind bars.

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