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What is a Blooper?

Mary McMahon
Updated: May 23, 2024

A blooper is any sort of embarrassing error, often caused by clumsiness. Some people use the term to refer specifically to errors on the screen, such as mistakes made during live television broadcasts. During the course of filming television shows or movies, a number of bloopers are often made on set; sometimes these bloopers are collected and aired because people find them amusing. In the sense of film, bloopers are also known as outtakes.

The term appears to be imitative in origin, and it refers to the “bloop” noise that a radio will make when subjected to interference. Since the beginning of radio broadcasting, people have been making mistakes on air, sometimes quite publicly in the midst of a live broadcast. Actors on recorded shows and dramas started collecting their bloopers because they thought they were amusing or interesting, and the circulation of blooper reels probably started among friends and family before the general public took a wider interest.

Some films include a few bloopers after their closing credits, to reward patient viewers who sit through the credits. Outtakes are common inclusions on comedy film credits, and they may also be included in special features on home videos and DVDs. A blooper from a more serious films or television show tends not to be reproduced for general audiences, although every now and then they will pop up.

In films, a number of things can cause a blooper. Most commonly, an actor forgets or “fluffs” a line, causing an awkward pause which may be filled with improvisation. Lines may also be transposed, or actors can make slips which are often unintentionally funny. Actors sometimes also play jokes on each other to lighten the mood on the set, and bloopers can also be caused by unforeseen circumstances, such as props breaking, animals on the set acting up, or noise pollution from off-set.

General audiences often appreciate seeing bloopers simply because they are amusing. Bloopers also humanize actors, who can seem like god-like figures, especially when they are extremely well known. Sometimes, a blooper is amusing enough that it is actually integrated into a film; this is especially common with comedy films which use a great deal of improvisation or suggestions from the actors to improve their humor. Several movie studios have collected their famous bloopers in sets so that movie fans can purchase a collection of humorous mistakes from multiple films and decades.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseTour researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon344989 — On Aug 14, 2013

What I find strange are the supposed blooper reels at the end of Pixar movies. It's one thing when a human actor trips over a prop or messes up a line, but how can something that doesn't even exist outside of a computer make those mistakes? The short answer is they can't. The movie makers just thought it'd be funny to include some manufactured mistakes to imitate real blooper reels. Some of them are pretty funny, no doubt, but you think about all the extra hours some animators had to spend working on fake mistakes.

I could see it if the human voice actor messed up a line and they animated it later as a joke, but animating the characters doing stupid things just feels like a waste of time to me.

Sometimes I watch a blooper reel from a sitcom and wonder how they ever got the actual scene right. The actors crack themselves up so many times over a silly line or a problem with a prop, then they have to regroup and do it all over again. If my work day depended on these people getting things right, I'd probably be pretty mad after 30 takes of the same scene.

By cloudel — On Sep 11, 2011

I rarely find movie bloopers funny. Usually, the ones included on DVDs as a separate feature are just silly.

If they were funny, accidental puns or slips of the tongue that meant something, I would laugh. However, simply being unable to form an intelligible word or stuttering are not funny to me.

I also don’t find it amusing when people fall down or run into things. I just have a different sense of humor than lots of folks. I enjoy comedies, but I only like the parts intended to be funny, not the mistakes.

By wavy58 — On Sep 10, 2011

The more serious the television program, the funnier the presence of a blooper. That’s the way I look at it.

I was watching a seminar recently on dinosaurs, fossils, and how time periods were determined. The speaker meant to say the word “geographic,” but he said “pornographic” instead. He very quickly corrected himself and went right on as if nothing had happened, even though the audience giggled loudly.

I know he had to be super embarrassed because of the seriousness of his speech and the prestige of his position. I think he should have laughed at himself a little to ease some of the shame.

By comfyshoes — On Sep 10, 2011

@SauteePan -Personally I like the funny videos program that they show on television. This is where people send in their bloopers from home in efforts to win a grand prize of $10,000.

There are a lot of bloopers that show the predictable fat lady that falls in the water, but I prefer the bloopers with the animals. I think that there is nothing funnier than the animal bloopers because animals are so unpredictable.

That element of surprise really makes the punch line at the end that much better. I also don’t like the bloopers where people fall. To me that is not funny because I feel bad for them.

By SauteePan — On Sep 09, 2011

I love watching funny bloopers with my family. It is something that the whole family enjoys because the outtakes are really funny. I especially like to see the news reporter bloopers because they are usually so serious that when they make a mistake you have to laugh.

The news bloopers are the best. I also think that it is refreshing to see others making a mistake so that you remember that it is okay not to be perfect. I think that this is why people enjoy bloopers so much.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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