Making a TV show can be a thankless task. You can spend months working hard to ensure that every single word, performance, and shot is pitch perfect, only to come unstuck by an eagle-eyed Tumblr user with too much time on their hands. From anachronistic props to misplaced crew members, here’s a look at 40 blink-and-you’ll-miss-it small-screen errors.
40. The upside-down phone in Pretty Little Liars
We know that today’s cell phones have all kinds of new-fangled features. But we’re not sure any possess the capability to have a conversation using the wrong end of the receiver. Look closely at this particular shot in soapy teen drama Pretty Little Liars and you’ll see that Aria’s phone is blatantly upside down.
39. The set dresser’s reflection in Twin Peaks
Hats off to David Lynch for managing to turn an on-camera goof into part of a storyline. The celebrated auteur was inspired to think on his feet after noticing that Twin Peaks’ set dresser Frank Silva had accidentally wandered into a reflection in a mirror. Instead of simply ignoring the gaffe, Lynch leaned into it by giving Silva a role in the surreal mystery as the villainous Bob.
38. Gilmore Girls’ mic drop
Here’s the kind of mic drop you don’t expect to see in your favorite TV show. In the first season of ’00s drama Gilmore Girls, Rory and Lorelei are busy having a conversation in a kitchen that boasts an unusual feature. Yes, alongside a fridge-freezer and microwave, it’s also home to a wayward sound operator’s microphone boom.
37. The disappearing mask in Jane the Virgin
So it seems as though the hospital in Jane the Virgin offers the speediest recovery time known to man. In one shot, Petra’s mom can’t breathe without being hooked up to various tubes and masks. Yet just a split second later, she’s inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide entirely without any support.
36. The wandering elbow in Veronica Mars
One of the most prolific TV blunders is the crew member accidentally wandering into shot. And Kristen Bell’s cult teen drama Veronica Mars certainly wasn’t immune from this type of error. In a scene where Logan and Weevil come to blows in a public bathroom, you can clearly see the elbow of a misplaced camera operator.
35. Game of Thrones’ coffee cup
It’s fair to say that Game of Thrones’ most famous error almost broke the internet. Luckily, showrunner David Benioff was able to laugh about the sight of a Starbucks cup appearing in a historical fantasy land. He told Star Channel, “At first I couldn’t believe it, and then it was an embarrassment because, ‘How did we not see this coffee cup in the middle of the shot?’ And then eventually it was just funny.”
34. Maggie’s picture in The Simpsons
At first glance, there appears to be nothing wrong with this still from The Simpsons. Why wouldn’t Marge and Homer have a picture of their beloved youngest daughter Maggie in their living room? Unfortunately, this was a flashback in which the former is telling the latter she is now pregnant with the animated world’s most famous dummy sucker.
33. Leonard drinking wine in The Big Bang Theory
In The Big Bang Theory season five episode titled “The Good Guy Fluctuation,” Leonard reveals that he gives wine a wide berth. A glass of the stuff apparently results in a migraine, you see. Yet we see the unashamed nerd swigging back the stuff constantly both before and after this claim.
32. The mysterious black object in Lost
Lost prided itself on inspiring fans to discover hidden clues and forge theories about exactly what was happening in its increasingly unfathomable world. But they accidentally threw another red herring into the fold during the opening episode. The mysterious black presence that can be seen just before the plane’s jet engine explodes wasn’t the smoke monster or another supernatural force. It was simply just a CGI error.
31. Phil’s trapeze act in Modern Family
In the first season of Modern Family, Phil Dunphy proudly declares that he’s a tightrope master, having attended trapeze camp as a youngster. Either he was making this up, or he completely forgot his early training. Just two seasons later, a storyline sees him take to the same circus skill as an absolute beginner.
30. Misplaced camera in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
It’s inevitable that the odd piece of crew equipment will wander into view from time to time. But in a fifth-season Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, one particular camera was so visible that you could almost make out its serial number. The offending shot occurred when the titular vampire gets into a staircase-based fight with her arch rival Faith.
29. Mulder’s wedding ring in The X-Files
Who knew that The X-Files’ Mulder had been married? Well, it’s unclear if he ever was. In fifth-season episode “Travelers,” the agent is seen sporting a wedding ring for the first and last time. But while many believe this is a simple case of David Duchovny forgetting to take his real-life jewelry off, the actor claims differently. The star reportedly insists that he wanted to add to his character’s sense of mystery by hinting at an unseen wife.
28. The invisible steering wheel on Firefly
Firefly’s Wash must be quite the pilot. In the opening episode of Joss Whedon’s cult hit, the character skillfully manages to steer his spaceship away from another that’s packed with an array of menacing killers. But after celebrating his escape, it becomes clear the steering wheel that he’s apparently used is entirely invisible.
27. Crouching cameraman in Battlestar Galactica
Turns out that Battlestar Galactica’s Chief and Helo had an audience of one when they went head to head in the second season of the cult sci-fi hit. That’s right: as the pair start throwing punches around left, right, and center, you can plainly see another man crouching down to the left of the screen. It’s not a nosy supporting character, though, but a misplaced cameraman.
26. The moving tattoo in Orange Is the New Black
Orange Is the New Black’s Alex appears to have visited a magical tattoo parlor. In the prison drama’s opener, audiences can see that an image of a salt shaker has been inked on a certain part of her left shoulder. But just two episodes later, the tattoo has somehow transfered further inward on the same body part.
25. Baseball-capped crew member in Once Upon a Time
We don’t remember men with baseball caps appearing in many fairy tales. Yet one was quite prominently displayed in an episode of the ABC fantasy drama Once Upon a Time. Of course, this was an accidental sight that only came about when a crew member failed to get out of the shot in time.
24. The incorrect browser location in How I Met Your Mother
Everyone’s second-favorite search engine proved to give the game away in How I Met Your Mother episode “Subway Wars.” As Ted searches a map of the show’s New York setting on Bing, the location in the browser’s top right-hand corner reveals that all the action is being filmed elsewhere. That’s right: the sitcom is actually shot thousands of miles away in Los Angeles.
23. The wandering crew member in Breaking Bad
Toward the end of Breaking Bad’s second season, Walt breaks into Jesse’s home to rob his supply. His partner was too high on heroin with his girlfriend at the time to notice. But apparently there was someone else in the house who could have stopped Walt. As the unlikely drug kingpin makes his exit, a crew member can be seen in the room behind him.
22. Unlocked car in Sons of Anarchy
The carjacker in this offending Sons of Anarchy scene could have saved himself a lot of effort. Viewers of the down and dirty biker drama see the criminal breaking into a vehicle with the use of a slim jim. But if he’d just paid attention to the car door beforehand, he would have noticed that it was already unlocked.
21. Typo in House of Cards
Spelling doesn’t seem to be a strong point for House of Cards’ Frank Underwood. At the end of the political drama’s second season, the incoming president narrates a letter to his predecessor that includes the words “staring at the desk.” But as the camera points to the typewriter he’s using, Underwood has mistakenly typed “started at the desk” instead.
20. Photographer’s reflection in The Walking Dead
Eagle-eyed viewers of The Walking Dead may well have spotted this reflection of a crew member on the red vehicle. It looks like it belongs to a cameraperson shooting everything you see on screen. But in fact it’s that of the photographer who takes stills of the action for promotional purposes at the same time.
19. Lois’s personal assistant in Malcolm in the Middle
It didn’t take long for Malcolm in the Middle to add to the canon of bloopers that made it to air. In only its second episode, Lois discovers that her tearaway sons have ruined her beloved red dress. And as she fetches it, you can easily see a mysterious man crouching down passing the clothing item to her.
18. Recycling symbol in M*A*S*H
You’d have to know your history of recycling to spot this error in drama M*A*S*H. But at least one eagle-eyed viewer managed to call out the makers of the military comedy drama for their anachronistic error. Turns out that the recycling symbol that appears on a cardboard box during one scene was only created two decades after the show’s time period.
17. Stray arm on 24
Most of us were probably too busy wrapped up in the dramatic action on screen to notice this error. But as Nina calls the Counter Terrorist Unit after being shot in 24, some viewers did spot a stray arm wandering into the scene. And instead of belonging to another gun-toting criminal, it was simply that of a straying cameraman.
16. The vanishing envelope in Lost In Space
The makers of Lost In Space were able to make an interstellar spacecraft look convincing. But when it came to a simple piece of paper, they somehow came unstuck. In one shot, Penny can be seen holding an envelope behind her back. And then in the next, it has magically disappeared.
15. Turkey’s head in Bob’s Burgers
This must surely count as one of the most surreal blunders ever to make it to air. During a relatively normal scene in animation Bob’s Burgers, a disembodied turkey’s head suddenly pops up in a queue of humans. In the next shot, the poor turkey has been decapitated even more. The mind boggles.
14. The Rachel stand-in in Friends
The advances in TV technology caused problems for the ubiquitous Friends several years after it went off air. During one scene involving Rachel and Joey, someone who’s clearly not Jennifer Aniston can be spotted standing next to Matt Le Blanc. The body double wouldn’t have been seen back when the episode aired in the intended ratio aspect. But thanks to the popularity of widescreen TV, newer or repeat viewers can spot the gaffe in all its glory.
13. The green-screened arm in 9-1-1
Played by Leonard Robert, Ronnie Cooper underwent quite the trauma in the third season of emergency procedural 9-1-1. The captain was forced to have his arm amputated after an accident. But the operation initially appeared to turn the damaged body part an entirely different color! Of course, this was just the green-screen sleeve that should have been removed in the editing suite but embarrassingly wasn’t.
12. Water bottle in Downton Abbey
We still can’t quite believe this mistake wasn’t spotted before being revealed to the public. In a still shot for the stately drama Downton Abbey, Laura Carmichael’s Lady Edith and Hugh Bonneville’s Robert Crawley pose in front of a hearth adorned with period-appropriate items. Well, apart from one. Yes, alongside various exquisite antique vases, there’s also the very modern invention of a plastic water bottle.
11. Chicago skyline in Stranger Things
Netflix phenomenon Stranger Things was said to have dropped the ball in several ways with “The Lost Sister.” The second-season episode was criticized by many viewers for a narrative that was completely incidental to the main plot. And it was also called out for its shot of a Chicago skyline that featured several buildings that didn’t exist in the show’s setting of 1984.
10. Elsa’s legs on American Horror Story
We know all kinds of freaky things happen on Ryan Murphy’s anthology American Horror Story. But a double amputee suddenly seen with not just one but two of her legs completely intact? That’s what happened in the final episode of Freak Show as Jessica Lange’s Elsa Mars was carried away kicking and screaming.
9. Crew member’s reflection in Star Trek: The Next Generation
This blooper must surely go down as one of the most amusing in the Star Trek universe. In an episode of The Next Generation, Patrick Stewart’s Captain Picard stands next to a glowing green ornament. Unfortunately, the reflection of a glasses-wearing crew member just happens to have been accidentally beamed onto the top of it.
8. Director makes unwanted cameo in Charmed
A closed door is all it would have taken for the director’s blushes to be spared in this offending shot. The gaffe in witchy drama Charmed occurs when the camera points its lens toward a suited male character. Unfortunately, in the room behind him, you can see the director watching all the action unfold.
7. Violin in The Tudors
News of this anachronistic gaffe wouldn’t have been music to the ears of The Tudors’ producers. As its name suggests, the period drama was set in the 16th century. That’s a good 200 years before the type of violin that Mark Smeaton, David Alpay’s court musician, plays in season two was even invented.
6. Rose dates the same man twice
The Golden Girls’ team appeared to suffer from amnesia when it came to the casting of Rose’s professor date Miles in season five. For Harold Gould, the man who played him, had already appeared in the classic sitcom as a different character. Yes, back in the first season, Gould popped up as another of Rose’s conquests named Arnie.
5. The helping hand in The Good Place
So it seems in Heaven that there’s always someone there to hand you a wad of paper when you need one. In NBC’s afterlife hit sitcom The Good Place, Janet is asked for a roster by Ted Danson’s Michael. And as the document briefly hangs in mid-air, it’s clear that an on-set lackey is passing it onto her.
4. The reused Andy Griffith Show set
The makers of The Andy Griffith Show were nothing if not resourceful. When its characters headed out to visit a Hollywood film set, the behind the scenes team simply borrowed Floyd’s barbershop. They might have got away with it if it hadn’t been for the same pesky shelves and wall calendar.
3. The disappearing people in Sex and the City’s opener
This TV blunder may be the most unforgivable as it appears at the start of every single episode. In Sex and the City’s famous intro, an image of Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw can be seen emblazoned on the side of a bus. But in the next shot, the people who a split second ago were riding that same bus have mysteriously disappeared.
2. The side-switching newspapers in Seinfeld
In Seinfeld’s third-season episode “The Boyfriend,” George trips over with his pants around his ankles after running out from the bathroom while screaming. As he falls, a newspaper can be spotted to his right. But when the camera switches angles, the same newspaper is now to his left. And to make matters worse, the living room rug has also miraculously changed.
1. Mysterious girls in Glee
While preparing for a battle of the sexes sing-off in Glee episode “Vitamin D,” the girls line up to get their vitamins from Terri. Alongside the familiar likes of Mercedes and Rachel, there are two girls in the queue purporting to be members of New Directions. But they haven’t been seen before and are never seen again.