Edit
It's a Wonderful Life (1946) Poster

Goofs

Continuity 

As George approaches Bert and Ernie by Ernie's taxi, and then all three ogle Violet as she walks down the street, the same woman in a print dress, holding the brim of her hat, walks by five times in 30 seconds.

Anachronisms 

Young George Bailey is shown working in a drugstore in 1919, but he's standing next to a Coca-Cola Silhouette Girl Thermometer which wasn't produced until 1938.
Characters quote from a National Geographic Magazine article involving Fiji and coconuts, but no article was published by that magazine in that year.
5 of 21 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Audio/visual unsynchronised 

When Mary and George are walking down the street after the dance, she asks him, "Well, why don't you say it?" The next shot George is heard saying, "I don't know. Maybe I will say it," but his mouth is not moving at all.
7 of 11 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
George jumps into the river to save Clarence. As he is rescuing him, Clarence is screaming "help", but his mouth is not moving.
5 of 8 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Character error 

At one point George (James Stewart) calls Violet (Gloria Grahame), Gloria.
When drying off after his jump in the river, Clarence mentions his book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He also mentions that George should check out what Mark Twain is currently writing. If he means 1945, the current year, Mark Twain wouldn't be writing anything, because he died in 1910. We don't know how he has the book. He couldn't have died with it like the night gown, because he says he's been waiting 200 years for his wings which would mean he died at least 131 years before it was published in 1876. Since Clarence is said to have "the IQ of a rabbit," and made a mistake regarding Harry's age in the sledding scene, and has apparently suffered multiple failures to earn his wings, he is likely confusing the date of his present assignment with a previous failed attempt to to assist peoples' lives on Earth in the past.
4 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Continuity 

On Christmas Eve when he is hugging Tommy, George is clean shaven. By the time he climbs the stairs to check on ZuZu he has a heavy 5 O'clock shadow on his face.
When Mary puts on "Buffalo Gals" on the phonograph, she starts a ten-inch, yellow-labeled record, but in the next shot, a dark-labeled record is playing. Also, when Mary breaks the record after the conversation with George, she breaks a twelve-inch, yellow-labeled record instead of the original ten-inch record.
After Clarence disappears whilst being wrestled by Bert the cop, you can see the shadow of Ernie the cab driver shaking his finger. However, when the camera shows Ernie, he has both hands on the tree, and then he begins to shake his finger.
9 of 9 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Just before George speaks to Harry on the phone, George removes a wreath from his arm and places it on a table. The wreath immediately reappears on his arm.
When George and Clarence are drying off in the bridge keeper's shack, the postcard hanging by the thermometer on the wall next to the door, repeatedly disappears and reappears between shots.
When everyone is jumping into the pool during the dance, the same person jumps in twice.
George and Clarence swap sides as they are thrown out of Nick's.
6 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When George arrives home and finds Mary lying there, he puts his right hand on her right hand and kisses her. In the next shot he is caressing her head with his right hand.
6 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
As Violet walks away from George, Ernie, and Bert, Ernie watches her out the window of his taxi. He stops watching and moves away from the window. In the next shot, he is watching from the window again.
5 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When George crashes his car into the tree, there's not much snow on it. When he gets out of the car to have a look at the damage, there's lots of snow on the car.
7 of 8 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Ol' Man Gower's cigar disappears when he sends young George to deliver a prescription.
4 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When George is on the bridge, the snow and ice pattern on his left coat shoulder is the same as it was when he was in Potter's office, even though he was in the bar afterward.
4 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
In the drugstore, Little Mary and Little Violet are looking at each other and away from each other from shot to shot.
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
During the run inside the Building & Loan, the hat changes position on the coat stand outside George's office.
5 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When George and Mary are throwing rocks at the dilapidated house on the way home from the dance, as George throws his rock, the window that Mary is supposed to throw a rock at is missing. Then when Mary gets ready to throw her rock, the window is there.
7 of 10 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When George visits his father in his office and finds him arguing with Potter, his father is standing behind his desk talking to Potter. There is a cut away from this, but upon return George's father is now on the same side of the desk as Potter.
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When George has to cancel his school plans, Uncle Billy is looking at George, but in the following shot he's looking at Dr. Campbell.
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When George has Mary's robe, the cord is trailing along the ground, but when George hands her the robe, the cord is all bundled up.
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When Potter is telling the board Bedford Falls doesn't need the Bailey Building & Loan, Uncle Billy is looking at George; in the following shot he's looking at Potter.
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
As George and Mary prepare to drive Martini's family to their new home, Mary (in a close up) is holding the goat's horn/antler. The scene cuts to an extreme long shot in which her hand is nowhere near the goat.
3 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When George wanders across the street (soon to be joined by Violet), the man approaching him with the pipe suddenly becomes a woman.
3 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When Potter yells at Peter in his office, Peter looks at the floor. In the following shot, he's facing Potter.
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When Tommy asks George to excuse him, he's looking up at him. In the previous shot, he's looking at his brother Pete.
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When George walks into the Bailey Building & Loan with a wreath hooked around his arm, he throws it on a desk. In the following shot, its back around his arm and he then drops it on the desk again.
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Some confetti from George's wedding is on his hair during his phone conversation with Potter, but not the shots before it.
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
George's pipe disappears when talking to Violet in his office.
1 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
After George storms out of Uncle Billy's house, Uncle Billy lays his head on his arms. At first he has his arms crossed right over left, then immediately they are crossed left over right.
1 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The number of boys at the bottom of the slope during the sledding scene increases from shot to shot, even though we've only seen a couple actually sledding.
1 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When Mr Gower tells George to get going, he doesn't have his cigar in his mouth he's been smoking throughout the scene.
1 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
A hat being held by someone donating money in the Bailey house, first has a little snow, then a lot of snow, then no snow.
1 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Alignment of George's car when it hits the tree
1 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When Little Mary asks for chocolate ice cream, she's facing George, but when she stuck her tongue out at Little Violet, she was facing away from George.
1 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Since George was a child when Harry died, then the cemetery where Harry is supposed to be buried was in business at least ten years before George could have bought the land to build the houses in Bailey Park .
1 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When George invites Carter to come in and follows him in, he is holding the pipe with his left hand. However, in the shot after, someone asks him about hanging up the phone, he appears with the pipe in his right hand.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When George comes back to Gower's drugstore and faces Gower on the telephone, he's got his hand to his hair, but in the following shot he hasn't.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When Potter talks to Billy at the bank, he tucks his glasses away, and in both shots his scarf changes position.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
George leaves Mary's robe on the bush, but in the following shot it has disappeared.
1 of 7 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Snow on Ernie's taxi disappears and reappears when arriving at George's dilapidated house.
0 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The standing position of Potter's bodyguard when Potter talks to Peter Bailey at the Building & Loan.
0 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Errors in geography 

At the scene showing the new houses at Bailey Park, California hills are visible beyond the houses. The film is set in New York state, which only has much gentler, rolling hills.
6 of 9 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Factual errors 

The gigantic flowers in Mary's front yard could not have been that height on graduation night (May or June) in upstate New York.
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
'The Bells of Saint Mary's" (1945) had just been released to the first-run, big-city theatre circuit, and would not have been playing the neighborhood, small-town theatre circuit this early.
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When Ernie fires his service revolver at George as George is running away, seven shots are heard. Most service revolvers carried by police could only fire six rounds before needing to be reloaded.
1 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When George Bailey and Mr. Potter are arguing in the board room after Peter Bailey's death, George says to Potter: "...I know very well what you're talking about; something you can't get your fingers on, and it's gawing (?) you, that's what you're talking about." "Gawing" is not the correct word, and there is no time-period reference to it that I can find. The word should be "Gnawing"; it would seem Stewart just mispronounced the word and the cameras kept rolling.
0 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Miscellaneous 

When George is showing the headline about his brother Harry to Ernie (and they show us too in a close-up), the paper goes from folded in half to opened, then back to folded.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

Harry Bailey is not "shown jumping from a plane with other paratroopers". He is shown in the Ready Room of his aircraft carrier, (the walls and door of which are decidedly not shaped like the interior of a troop transport airplane) going through the exit to the flight deck to his fighter plane. He and the other fighter pilots wear padded cloth aircrew helmets with radio headphones and goggles, not "steel pots" like paratroopers would, and there is no overhead static jump line at the doorway to which paratroopers' parachutes would be hooked up to.
2 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The characters of cousins Tilly and Eustace DO NOT pose a problem. They are both Baileys being their last names are on their desk plates. These two, as well as George and Harry, all call Billy "Uncle Billy" throughout the film. It is further established that Peter Bailey is the father of George and Harry, with no mention of Billy having children of his own. However, it is never established that Peter and Billy were the only brothers in that generation of the family, nor the only brothers involved in the Building and Loan. (Presumably Tilly's and Eustace's father (or fathers) is/are deceased by the start of the story.)
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Plot holes 

The $8,000 is still missing at the end of the film. While family and friends have provided George Bailey with additional monies at that point, if or when an audit is performed, he still has to explain what happened to the money that his absent-minded uncle lost. This puts him in the same position that he was before he received the additional donations/deposits. In fact, without a solid explanation as to where the money went, it would likely be assumed that the money was either stolen by Uncle Billy or embezzled by George himself. The building and loan would likely face legal sanctions as would George Bailey. The happy ending portrayed in the film does not reflect the realities of the film at its ending.
0 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Revealing mistakes 

James Stewart's toupee falls off after he and Donna Reed fall into the pool during the Charleston contest.
In the drugstore when Mary leans over the counter to whisper in George's ear, a piece of tape suddenly appears on the edge of the counter between George's and Mary's heads. This was most likely done as a reference mark for the young actors so the focus puller could accurately pull focus.
When Mary (Donna Reed) throws her rock at an upstairs window of the dilapidated old house, the rock disappears a split second after leaving her hand, and then reappears in the distance just before crashing through the glass. The roof of the house was a matte painting, added after principal photography by the visual effects department. When Ms. Reed threw her rock (and it was her throwing it, not a stand-in), the arc of its flight was a bit too high, and it crossed the matte line for most of its travel. Consequently, it was covered up by the painting, which was added later. Apparently the live-action crew did not notice the potential problem when filming the shot.
4 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When Uncle Billy is counting the money at the bank for the deposit, we can clearly see the first few bills are 5's, followed by, at the most, 20 more bills. Considering that these would have been monthly cash payments on $6000 mortgages, it is unlikely that anything close to $8,000 could have been in that small stack of bills. It is about 1/3 of the size of the wedding money which is 1/4 of the amount.
3 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When Ernie looks at Violet, a woman walks past his taxi; in the following shot there's no-one there.
2 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
In the montage depicting what happens to the townspeople of Bedford Falls during World War II, Joseph narrates, "Marty [Mary's brother] helped capture the Remagen Bridge," whilst Marty is shown calling out urgently and giving the classic infantry "Follow Me!" gesture. In the rear projection stock footage making up the background, however, American troops are actually walking casually onto the bridge in a non-tactical manner. The lighter-shaded rectangle on the right bridge tower is actually a sign that reads "CROSS THE RHINE WITH DRY FEET, COURTESY OF 9TH ARMD DIV.", which was put up the day after the bridge had been captured.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Spoilers

The goof items below may give away important plot points.

Character error 

On the tombstone, Harry Bailey's years of life are show as 1911-1919, which would make him, at the oldest, eight years old when he died. However, immediately before George Bailey brushes away the snow to reveal the dates, Clarence states that Harry died when he was 9, showing that Clarence isn't numerically inclined.

Continuity 

In the first scene where George finds his brother Harry's grave, the year of death (1919) is clearly visible. The next scene, it is obscured by snow and George has to dig it out to find the year his brother died.
7 of 10 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When the "old maid" Mary is closing the library door, she has a wreath in her right arm. The wreath disappears in the next shot.
3 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

When George Bailey is arguing with Mr. Potter in the board room after Peter Bailey's death, George says to Potter: "What'd you say just a minute ago? They had to wait and save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home." We never hear Potter say this, but it is possible that it happened near the beginning of the meeting, which we did not see.
4 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

Contribute to This Page