10 Infamous TV Show Anachronisms

Jon Hamm and January Jones star in Mad Men.
Jon Hamm and January Jones star in Mad Men.
Justina Mintz, AMC

Look, no one’s perfect all the time. Whether it’s a stray coffee cup or a time-traveling Colonel Sanders, sometimes TV shows have things popping up where—and when—they shouldn’t. Mistakes were made.

1. Game of Thrones

The final season of Game of Thrones was always going to generate a lot of chatter. Going in, though, HBO probably didn’t think a good chunk of the social media conversation would revolve around a coffee cup that found its way onto a table in front of Daenerys during a feast scene in the season 8 episode “The Last of the Starks.” Following some heavy mocking, HBO digitally erased the cup. Guess they’re more juice people.

2. and 3. Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess

No one watching Hercules: The Legendary Journeys or its spinoff Xena: Warrior Princess was expecting strict adherence to their Greek mythology-based settings. We’re looking at 1990s action goofiness, after all. But both shows played fast and loose with the basics of history, throwing characters together who would have existed hundreds, if not thousands, of years apart. Hercules’s jaunts through world history took him from meeting baby Jesus in season 3's “A Star to Guide Them” to, just a few years later, palling around with Vlad the Impaler, who lived in the 15th century.

An episode of Xena had the warrior princess being told the story of Spartacus by the the famed poet Homer. Now, scholars don’t know whether Homer was an amalgamation of several different writers. Regardless, his/their Iliad and Odyssey are some of the oldest existing works of Western literature, placing their author(s) way before Spartacus’s slave revolt against Rome on a historical timeline.

4. M*A*S*H

Alan Alda stars in M*A*S*H
Alan Alda stars in M*A*S*H.
Fox Home Video

Another show replete with historical inaccuracies is M*A*S*H, which followed an army medical unit serving during the Korean War. That war took place between 1950 and 1953, while the show lasted 11 years; as you might guess, some inaccuracies popped up. Among them: Various characters mention the movie Godzilla, which didn’t come out until 1954. During season 4, Radar reads an issue of The Avengers that didn’t come out until the 1970s. In the season 5 episode “Movie Tonight,” Radar’s John Wayne impersonation pulls from a movie (McLintock!) that wasn't released until 1963.

5. Hogan’s Heroes

In the World War II comedy Hogan’s Heroes, about the exploits of POWs in a German prison camp, Colonel Robert Hogan claimed to have been assigned to the Pentagon. However, the events of Hogan’s Heroes begin in February 1942, at a time when the Pentagon was still being built. It wouldn’t be open for business until January 1943. Not exactly a Hercules: The Legendary Journeys-style discrepancy, but nonetheless incorrect.

6. Downton Abbey

Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery in 'Downton Abbey'
Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery in Downton Abbey
Masterpiece

Eagle-eyed fans had great fun pointing out various historical mistakes in the Masterpiece drama Downton Abbey, which spanned the years of 1912 to 1925. In one episode, for example, a television antenna snuck into a shot. Fair enough: It was an outdoor scene, and people miss things. A more blatant example, however, was the plastic water bottle that was caught hiding in the background of a 2014 promotional photo. The gaffe reportedly caused Downton Abbey bosses to ban all things modern—including water bottles, modern watches and jewelry, and even the wearing of modern underwear—from the set.

7. Mad Men

The team behind Mad Men was always very careful about sticking to its 1960s setting, but that doesn’t mean the odd error didn't slip through the cracks here and there. The show was off by several decades in the season 3 episode "The Color Blue," when the set dressing featured the first three volumes of W.E.B. Griffin’s The Corps series; the books came out in 1986, 1987, and 1990.

8. Little House on the Prairie

Michael Landon’s fluffy ‘70s hairdo wasn't the only anachronism in Little House on the Prairie. In the season 7 episode “Dearest Albert, I'll Miss You,” Laura Ingalls’s adoptive brother Albert strikes up a pen pal relationship with a girl who mentions being captain of her school basketball team; basketball, at that time, had not yet been invented.

Season 8 went the more more tongue-in-cheek route when it featured a cameo from a character who was clearly meant to be Colonel Sanders. Sanders wouldn’t open his first restaurant for another several decades, in part because he wasn’t born yet.

9. Carnivàle

Cult favorite historical drama Carnivàle ran for two seasons on HBO, and racked up five Emmy Awards during that time. Set between 1934 to 1935, during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, the show followed a farm boy with strange powers who joins a traveling carnival. That farm boy, Ben Hawkins (Nick Stahl), carries around a Zippo lighter. While it's technically possible that Ben could have owned one, as the first models were sold in 1933, the lighter didn’t become truly popular until World War II later in the decade.

10. Better Call Saul

Breaking Bad prequel spinoff Better Call Saul starts out in 2002. So how did a green Kia Soul—which was first introduced at a 2008 car show—drive by in the background at the beginning of the season 2 episode “Inflatable”? Time travel seems to be the only logical explanation.

HBO Is Offering Nearly 500 Hours of Free Content, From The Sopranos to Succession

Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Braun talk business and omelettes in Succession.
Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Braun talk business and omelettes in Succession.
Peter Kramer/HBO

If shelter-in-place orders have you burning through your streaming service selections, HBO might be able to help. The premium network has just announced nearly 500 hours of content will be made available for free beginning Friday, April 3. In a press release, the channel said that content would be unlocked via HBO NOW and HBO GO without a subscription. Viewers can expect a mix of HBO’s original series as well as documentaries and catalog movie titles. For original series, viewers can select these nine shows:

  1. Ballers
  2. Barry
  3. Silicon Valley
  4. Six Feet Under
  5. The Sopranos
  6. Succession
  7. True Blood
  8. Veep
  9. The Wire

Documentary and Docuseries titles include:

  1. The Apollo
  2. The Case Against Adnan Syed
  3. Elvis Presley: The Searcher
  4. I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter
  5. The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley
  6. Jane Fonda in Five Acts
  7. McMillion$
  8. True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality
  9. United Skates
  10. We Are the Dream: The Kids of the MLK Oakland Oratorical Fest

Movies are from the Warner Bros. library and, unlike The Sopranos, are mostly family-friendly. They include:

  1. Arthur
  2. Arthur 2: On the Rocks
  3. Blinded By the Light
  4. The Bridges of Madison County
  5. Crazy, Stupid, Love
  6. Empire of the Sun
  7. Forget Paris
  8. Happy Feet Two
  9. Isn't It Romantic?
  10. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
  11. Midnight Special
  12. My Dog Skip
  13. Nancy Drew And The Hidden Staircase
  14. Pan
  15. Pokémon Detective Pikachu
  16. Red Riding Hood
  17. Smallfoot
  18. Storks
  19. Sucker Punch
  20. Unknown Title To Be Announced

The shows can be viewed directly without a sign-in on the HBO GO and HBO NOW websites or via their apps. (The services are nearly identical, but HBO GO is typically included with a cable subscription; HBO NOW is a standalone streaming service.) If you’d like to sample the full range of HBO series like Game of Thrones, The Outsider, or Curb Your Enthusiasm, the channel is offering a seven-day free trial.

According to the press release, the programming will be available to watch without subscribing through the end of April.

Which Fictional Character Are You? This Online Quiz Might Give You an Eerily Accurate Answer

Peter Dinklage's Tyrion Lannister is the unofficial king of witty side comments. Are you, too?
Peter Dinklage's Tyrion Lannister is the unofficial king of witty side comments. Are you, too?
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

While watching a TV show or movie, you might find yourself trying to draw parallels between you and a certain character you’d want to be. If you’re like many viewers, it’s probably one of the heroic ones—the handsome private investigator with a tortured past and an unerring moral compass or the fearless queen who builds her kingdom from nothing and defends it to the death, etc.

But which character would you actually be? Openpsychometrics.org, a site that develops personality tests, has a new online quiz that might give you an uncannily accurate answer. You’ll be confronted with a series of 28 questions that ask you to pinpoint where you fall between two traits on a percentage-based spectrum. For example, if you’re more playful than serious, slide the bar toward the word playful until you’ve reached your desired ratio. The ratio could be anything from 51 percent playful and 49 percent serious, to a full 100 percent playful and not a single iota of seriousness at all. Other spectrums include artistic versus scientific, dominant versus submissive, spiritual versus skeptical, and more.

Once you’ve completed the quiz, you’ll find out which fictional character your personality most closely matches from a database of around 500 television and film characters. To pinpoint the personalities of the characters themselves, the quiz creators asked survey participants to rate them on a series of traits, and those collective results are then compared to your own self-ratings.

If you scroll down below your top result, you’ll see an option to show your full match list, which will give you a much more comprehensive picture of what kind of character you’d be. My top two results—which, ironically, were the same as Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy’s—were The West Wing’s C.J. Cregg and Joey Lucas, suggesting that we both have a no-nonsense attitude, a perfectionist streak, and an apparent aptitude for national politics that (at least in our cases) will likely go unfulfilled.

The fictional twin of managing editor Jenn Wood, on the other hand, is Game of Thrones’s Tyrion Lannister, unofficial king of witty side comments and all-around fan favorite. This was not surprising. As runner-up, Jenn got her personal hero, Elizabeth Bennet, which, in her words “makes me feel better about myself.” (Jenn has Pride and Prejudice-themed “writing gloves,” which seems important to mention.)

Take the quiz here to find out just how much you have in common with your own personal (fictional) hero.

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