Americans love their TV dramas with a splash of science. Shows like "Dexter," "Bones," and even "NCIS" all feature crimes that must be solved with the high-level science skills of some talented experts. There's just one problem: The writers sometimes forget to do their research. Over the years, there have been plenty of examples of TV shows where "smart" scientists are seen doing or saying things that no self-respecting scientist would ever do in real life. Here are some of the most memorable.
"Dexter": The titular anti-hero apparently failed high school science classTo recap, Dexter Morgan is a forensic scientist working for Miami Metro PD, specializing blood spatter analysis. He's been working in his field for 17 years, and fans learned in Season 2 that Dex attended med school, where he was at the top of his class.
So fans were deeply frustrated when, in one Season 2 episode, Masuka had to remind Dexter what the word "eukaryotic" means. This term (which refers to organisms with a membrane-bound nucleus) would be common knowledge to any high school science student, so it makes no sense that a scientist with an advanced degree like Dex would forget the meaning of this basic vocab word.
Granted, Dexter might just have been stalling for time and pretending to forget the word, since the eukaryotic organisms in question were algae that could be used to pinpoint the location of his killing boat. But wouldn't forgetting such a basic term draw more attention to Dexter's weird behavior?
"Bones": Tornadoes aren't really all that intenseIn "The Twist in the Twister," a woman in the third trimester of her pregnancy drives through a tornado and doesn't get hurt, and that's not even the least scientific thing about this episode. The story revolves around meteorologists and "storm chasers," and they don't seem to be very good at their jobs.
One of them fails to see the warning signs that a tornado is literally right on top of them (and it's a big one!), while the Jeffersonian lab techs don't even get around to comparing tornado storm data to the location of the victim's body until near the end of the episode (because they think the logical first step is to do a facial reconstruction). The idea of the crime hinging on which direction the tornado was spinning was a cool touch, however.
"NCIS": Computer science is still a scientific disciplineAsk any IT professional which episode of "NCIS" they hate the most, and they'll point to the episode that spawned the infamous YouTube clip entitled "2 Idiots 1 Keyboard."
When the NCIS network gets hacked, Abby tries to counterattack, but she can't type fast enough. So then she and McGee start using the same keyboard at the same time. There's no way this would work in real life! Seriously -- grab a friend, split the keyboard down the middle with them, and try to compose a sentence without coming to blows.
- Science, Social Science, & Humanities
- Dexter Morgan