‘Pulp Fiction’: John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson’s ‘I Shot Marvin’ Car Scene Has a Huge Error, According to Fans

Since its 1994 debut, Pulp Fiction has become an oft-quoted and very beloved staple of cinema history. Its story is so well-known among movie buffs that it can be easy to forget that it wasn’t an actual event of the ’90s. Despite its very title reminding fans that it is “fiction,” the depth of characters and story presented in the dark comedy can be deceptive. Still, even a Tarantino hit can have its flaws. With so many viewers’ eyes on the film, plot and production goofs were inevitably identified — including in one of the movie’s most memorable moments. 

(L-R) Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta smiling
(L-R) Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta | KMazur/Getty Images

Pulp Fiction became a cult classic in 1994

RELATED: This Film Beat Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction’ for the Best Picture Oscar

Part of Pulp Fiction‘s allure is its prioritization of characters over plot. Although a storyline emerges through the converging adventures of the protagonists, the action is driven by the quirks of each individual player. One-of-a-kind personalities in the form of hitmen, a boxer, bandits, and a gangster take center-stage throughout the film.

The lack of a linear story arc might repel some audience members, but the star-studded cast is sure to draw them back in. The unlikely crew is made up of Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, and Bruce Willis — to name a few. Tarantino’s unapologetic willingness to push the envelope — in terms of content and characters — helped Pulp Fiction to become the first independent movie to gross $100 million.

As Vanity Fair reports, that number would soon soar to over $214 million, although some early viewers were taken aback by Tarantino’s signature vulgarity. According to Mental FlossPulp Fiction contained 265 uses of the “f-word,” just shy of the director’s record. Decades after its debut, the film is still topping lists of cinema history’s best. Why die-hard fans view it as nothing short of perfection, however, some have pointed out potential errors in its logic. 

An iconic scene has had its accuracy questioned

One film fan took to Quora to ask users, “What is one thing that movies always get wrong?” The thread was soon flooded with goofs and classic production errors, with many scrutinizing scenes from Pulp Fiction. The dark comedy is inevitably unrealistic at times, with characters’ thought processes often ignoring logic or common sense. Still, commenter Jeroen van Kesteren insisted that one iconic scene was not just improbable, but downright impossible.

The moment in question sees Travolta and Jackson riding in a car, having a heated debate. Travolta’s character briefly turns around to consult another passenger, Marvin. Unfortunately, Travolta’s loaded gun fires as he faces Marvin, inadvertently shooting him. The scene brought us the classic quote, “Aw man, I shot Marvin in the face.” But for Kesteren, it also brought questions. In his post, he points out that firing a gun in a closed vehicle would cause incredible hearing loss. The fact that Travolta and Jackson’s characters continue to talk afterward defies all reason. 

Travolta’s scene is one of many beloved cinema goofs

RELATED: ‘Pulp Fiction’ Dance Scene Made Uma Thurman ‘More Afraid Than Almost Anything’

Other Quora users weighed in Kesteren’s assertion, with some arguing that car shootouts frequently happen in real life and on-screen without significant hearing damage. Still, the necessity of wearing ear protection when firing in open spaces lends credibility to Kesteren’s theory. Regardless, the potential medical oversight did not seem to ruin the viewing experience of many fans. It joins the ranks of many other historical cinema goofs and is far from the only mishap in Pulp Fiction itself. Seth Rogen famously complained about Jackson’s drastic hairstyle change in between promotional pictures and the actual movie shoot.