We tend not to go to movies looking for realism.  Even the movies we watch that are “based on” or “inspired by” true stories tend to bend the facts of the tale around a more logical (or marketable) narrative that audiences would be more likely to get behind, but some common tropes have become so pervasive in our film and television culture, that many of us have come to simply accept them as real.  After all, they wouldn’t show these tropes in so many movies unless there was a real-world precedent for them, right?  Well, wrong.  It turns out, the fictional universes our movies take place in all share some common survival threads that fail to make the leap from the big screen and into reality.

You know, tropes like…

(Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Myth #1: Sucking the venom out of a snake bite

For a long time, it seemed like every Western movie to come out of Hollywood included at least one scene where a cowboy suffers a bite from a venomous snake, leaving the unenviable task of sucking the venom out to another member of his outlaw party.  This trope is so pervasive, it has since gone on to live a new life as an over-tread joke on sitcoms, cartoons and even Saturday Night Live.  After decades of showing us cowboys and adventurers practicing this effective form of frontier medicine, there’s got to be some truth to it, right?

Wrong… for all sorts of reasons.  First and foremost, the act of cutting open a bite and sucking the venom out will usually do very little to prevent the spread of the toxin that sets to work immediately when someone is bitten.  If there is any venom still pooled at the puncture site, you’ll be exposing any small wounds in your mouth to it, not to mention the exchange of bacteria between you and your friend as you place your mouth on an open wound that was just punctured by the mouth of another animal.

The same rule applies to poison darts.

Don’t just take my word for it, let’s ask a doctor.