Characters that aren’t understood by their writers

I noticed that the Daytona 500 was on yesterday, and it brought to mind a thread I have been thinking about starting. There is an episode of King of Hill where Bobby and Joseph learn that there is something called “Daytona 500” going to be aired on Fox (and they always say it that way—“Daytona 500”, without a “The.”) One of the plot threads of the episode centers around Bobby and Joseph’s speculation as to what type of exciting reality-type show Daytona 500 is going to be, and trying to figure out how to remove Hank’s parental block from that channel. The problem is, what are the chances that a couple of redneck kids on the edge of their teens in rural Texas will have never before heard of NASCAR? It is beyond credible, and shows that the writers of the episode really had no understanding of what their characters should or shouldn’t know.

So, other examples? I was thinking in terms of blips in episodes of a TV series, but similar problems in books or movies are welcome, too.

This is one horse I’ve flogged quite a few times, but people who can’t speak their own native language because the writer can’t.

  • A Catalan referring to her “lady” by a word which actually means “woman” and which would only be used as a form of address in exasperation (so, “wo-man!” more than just “woman”). Very different words.
  • A Brazilian whose Spanish (when speaking to the Mexicans) is correct but the Portuguese is from Googleland.
  • Hispanics, as in from actual Spanish-speaking countries and not just ancestry, who manage to butcher a salutation.
  • In foreign-language segments of movies or TV series, people who are supposed to all be from the same place and all have different accents. I don’t mean that they sound more or less educated; I mean they are the equivalent of “the family is from Boston: Dad sounds from West Texas, Mom from Glasgow and yet their kid somehow grew up in Mumbay.”

I’m a nurse.

Chances are, if it’s on television, the writer doesn’t understand the nurse’s job, mentality, vocabulary, or way of relating with their coworkers.

(Exceptions: Scrubs and Code Black. And I’ve heard good things about Nurse Jackie, but not seen it.)

Harlan Ellison famously misunderstood the Star Trek universe and didn’t really get Dr. McCoy’s personality.

Fenimore Cooper had some real problems with the Deerslayer. Mark Twain carved him a new one over that.

In the comic book series XvA (X-Men vs. Avengers) the drama got off to a REALLY bad start when Captain America stormed in and started demanding personal custody of one of the X-Team – and refused to discuss it. Hellishly out of character for Cap.

Not true. The myth is that Harlan had McCoy dealing drugs. However, the script had an anonymous crewman as the dealer. Harlan has pointed out that the final script showed McCoy to be an incompetent doctor for dosing himself.

One from the comics: Roger Stern created the Hobgoblin, a villain who acquired (a) some high-tech gear, and (b) a chemical treatment that left him with, like, ten-ton superstrength. So he was a vicious evildoer who could use cars as throwing weapons, or grapple Spider-Man for the win; that sort of stuff.

Thing is, Stern left the comic without saying which member of Spidey’s supporting cast was secretly that masked criminal. And the folks who took up that plot thread, well, they got it wrong, as Stern explained years later; it wasn’t, as they’d figured, supposed to be Ned Leeds. But, hey, we can give them a pass on that, right? After all, isn’t the whole point of a secret identity that the guy puts on an act to keep people from realizing he’s his alter ego? So, okay, sure, fine; whatever.

But how did they script the reveal that Ned was the Hobgoblin? Well, by having a regular guy reach out and grab his arm. “ARRGH! My arm! You broke my arm!” Ned then spends rest of the scene getting overpowered and killed by normals.

I think they were trying to play off the infamous "Houston 500"thing from years ago and no it had nothing to do with auto racing , but having a parental block on a network tv station ?

ive had people tell me every thing on a show based on a profession is at least 80 percent wrong espically anything medical law professional/enforcement based … the detectives I knew wished the could get away with tv tactics ,

In Stephen King’s book “11/22/63”, the protagonist has the interests of a Baby Boomer even though he’s supposedly decades younger.

Tolkien didn’t understand Tom Bombadil, or know what role he played in his story or his universe.

King is great at creating horror, but writes like a person who has never actually known any real humans.
Harpo Marx was supposedly offered a lot of money to speak one line in a movie (Love Happy, IIRC) and was offended that his silence was regarded as a gimmick rather than an aspect of his character. Doper Mapcase may have insight on this.

Mel Brooks once said he never understood why people watched “Get Smart”, why watch an idiot like Maxwell Smart? But as Don Adams pointed out, Max isn’t stupid, his mind is wired differently from other people. He always foils the KAOS agent to make the world good for niceness and goodness.

I recently saw John Cleese live when he had a Q&A after a screening of Holy Grail. Part of his “Holy Shit I Paid my Ex-wife a Lot of Money” tour. He made it very clear that he doesn’t understand why people find some of his work to be funny.

I’m not sure if he did not understand, or just never got to cover Tom’s story and purpose.
As he sits, the small part that he exists, he is somewhat the oddball enigma though.
In the world, but not of it, and unaffected by anything.

I refuse to believe that the nerds on Big Bang Theory would be totally unfamiliar with classic Warner Brother cartoons. But that’s how they were written.

The writer of Frasier has never been near a radio station, and maybe has never even listened to one.

My guess is that anyone who has ever seen their job portrayed on the screen feels the same way. Ask a judge sometime about courtroom dramas.

I’ve always found it hard to believe that the station could pay Frasier all that much money without having his show syndicated.

There is an episode of New Girl where the fastidious neat freak Schmidt doesn’t know how to use a washing machine.

I mean, what?

I feel a lot of writers currently don’t understand the character of Frank Castle in “The Punisher”. In order to update his backstory for modern times they simply make him an Iraq or Afganistan War vet which doesn’t really make any sense considering his character and just serves as a lazy way for writers to show his military background.

But the thing is, the Vietnam War is as integral to Frank Castle as was the shooting deaths of his family. Vietnam was such an insane war that it drove men like Frank Castle to insanity. The sheer resourcefulness and brutality of the NVA and the VietCong enemies shaped Frank Castle’s entire combat style. Everything about the Vietnam War is embodied in Frank Castle.

While you can’t exactly keep using Vietnam as his battlegrounds anymore considering how distant that war is, you can still use good writing to invoke those feelings and brutality into modern Punisher. As much as I liked him in the second Daredevil season he still lacked the edge story-wise to show why he was so crazy, just some lazy and vague crap writing about him being ambushed at an LZ in Afghanistan. It’s more realistic but also doesn’t explain how Frank Castle knows so much about booby-traps and hand-to-hand combat if he was just patrolling with his squad as opposed to being deep behind enemy lines by himself forced to live-off-the-land.


The account was that he was offered the money, but he just shook his head.