7 Huge Literary Bloopers

It isn’t easy to create a great work of literature. Even if you can create compelling characters and write the perfect words, you still have to worry about getting tripped up by some little plot detail. In fact, some of the most famous books, poems, and plays ever written have bloopers in them!

Don’t believe us? Just check out the list below. From classics to our favorite young adult novels, all sorts of works include embarrassing errors. Whoops!

Warning: spoilers abound in the bloopers below, so read on with caution!


The Case of Watson’s Injury

From A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes’ faithful sidekick, Dr. John Watson, is a former army man who was discharged after suffering an injury in Afghanistan. Watson was shot, but he doesn’t seem to know exactly where. In A Study in Scarlet, Watson explains that he was shot in the shoulder; in The Sign of the Four, the injury has mysteriously migrated to his leg.


For Whom the Bell Shouldn’t Toll

From Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

“Peace! Count the clock,” Brutus cries when he hears a clock toll in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. We would think that he’d react more strongly to the strange sound, since tolling clocks like the one described wouldn’t have existed at the time. In fact, Shakespeare is off by more than a thousand years.


The Parent Swap

From Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

At the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry’s wand connects with Voldemort’s in a reaction called “Priori Incantatem.” As a result, ghostly versions of Voldemort’s victims fly out of his wand and speak with Harry. The apparitions appear in the reverse order from that in which they were killed – except for Harry’s parents, who J.K. Rowling accidentally put in the wrong order. Later editions of the book corrected this mistake, which was big news at the height of Pottermania.


Put That in Your Pocket

From Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Robinson Crusoe is a classic novel, but there’s at least one noted error in it. After being marooned for a bit, Crusoe decides to swim out to the shipwreck for supplies. He strips off his clothes, swims to the wreck – and then fills his pockets with biscuits. How does he have pockets if he doesn’t have any clothes?


They Didn’t Start the Fire

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Golding’s famous book about marooned schoolboys features a science error. The boys use the lens of Piggy’s glasses to focus the sun and start a fire, but that wouldn’t really work: Piggy is nearsighted, which means his glasses would have concave lenses that would only scatter the light. The boys would have needed a convex lend, like the kind found on reading glasses that some farsighted adults use. Just another reason the kids needed adult supervision!


The Missing Stark

From A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

When Jon Snow attends a feast in Winterfell in the first book of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, he describes all of the Stark children – except Bran Stark. Is this a clever clue to something hidden in the story? Sadly, no: Martin has said it’s just a mistake. This isn’t the biggest blooper on this list, but it gets bonus points because Martin himself is so annoyed by it.


The Wrong Explorer

From “On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer” by John Keats


Keats was so impressed with George Chapman’s translation of Homer’s epic poems that he wrote a poem of his own as an ode to the work. He likens seeing Homer in new light to the feeling that the explorers must have had when they discovered the Pacific Ocean: “…like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes / He star’d at the Pacific…” The problem? Cortés didn’t discover the Pacific. Vasco Núñez de Balboa did.