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The Subtle Inconsistencies of Severance

The TV show Severance is an incredible work of art, produced by a large team of skilled and talented professionals who clearly put countless hours into making this beautiful, layered, and emotional show. The hard work and dedication of the Severance cast and crew are to thank for the next-level writing, design, production, and performances, all of which contribute to the impact, critical acclaim, and widespread success of the project. It is no exaggeration to say that Severance’s debut is one of the highest-quality and most rewatchable first seasons of a television series.

One of the many things that add to the quality and rewatchability of the show is the attention to detail and consistency present in every scene, each episode, and across the arc of the season. As a rule, the details and continuity of Severance hold together much better than the average production, thanks to the diligence of the crew. There are very few things that can even be considered production errors and perhaps none that could be considered as significant.

In any large work of art, there are always some things that could be considered inconsistencies. These could be minor mistakes, or they could be elements intended to subtly add to the atmosphere, themes, foreshadowing, or other artistic effect. Although it is impossible to classify them without the creator’s input, it can be interesting to document them. This page is an attempt to document some of the small, possible inconsistencies that the community of Severance lovers has noticed. These are probably meaningless and insignificant in the scope of this impressive work but may be interesting in the context of analysis and appreciation of the hard work that goes into creating such a high-quality show.

Please note that most of these inconsistencies have been spotted by professional editors and designers who make their living paying attention to the tiniest details in their work. They enjoy the sport of honing their eye for difference as demonstrated on this page. We hope these observations will be embraced as positive, lighthearted, and creative play in celebration of good work.

Inconsistencies (in order of appearance)

Incoherent dates on Mark’s watch

Explanation: At the beginning of Good News About Hell, as Mark is about to leave his car to go to work, he glances at his watch, which shows the date as 4.[2] On the same day, as he is leaving work, his watch shows the date as 5,[3] implying that a full day has passed. This is most probably not the case, as spending thirty-two consecutive hours at the office is likely to raise some questions. In a later episode, Mark’s watch shows the date as 4 again, further supporting the idea that these are inconsistencies.

Continuity error at the receptionist

The receptionist makes a call before allowing Mark to proceed

Explanation: Severed employees’ entrances and exits are staggered, as revealed in the first and second episodes.[4][5] As Mark enters the Main Lobby, he is greeted by the receptionist, also known as Florence, who then makes a call before allowing him to proceed to the Severed Access area. During this time, there are a few camera cuts between the receptionist and Mark, and upon close examination of the frames, as the GIF above shows, the time elapsed seems to be much longer than intended. Another visible change in the scene is the movement of the pen.

It is possible that this was done on purpose to illustrate a severed person’s damaged perception of time. However, comparing the time Mark leaves his car after glancing at his watch to when he arrives at the Severed Floor shows that only four minutes have passed, lending credence to the idea that this may have been a continuity error.

Slightly tilted clock

Slightly tilted clock

Explanation: The show introduces Judd in the very first episode, a security guard who sits outside the elevator to the Severed Floor, with a retro-styled flip clock right above his desk. The same composition of his desk is shown twice during the episode, the first time when Mark is heading in[6] and another when he is leaving.[7] In the second instance where the clock is showing 05:25, it appears to be slightly tilted upward on its right side.

This could be a function of multiple shooting days, weeks, or as the creators have indicated, possibly even months. If this section of the set had been disassembled to accommodate a different scene, moved, or jostled, it could have knocked the clock askew.

Placement of armchairs

Mark met by Cobel and Milchick in the Severed Floor lobby

Explanation: The Severed Floor lobby has four leather armchairs, placed on a carpet with rectangles of varying shades of green. In at least two instances, including a behind-the-scene photo, the armchairs appear to be lined up on the edge of the second rectangle. However, the placement isn’t consistent throughout the first season.

The Senior Refiner Morning Checklist

Mark enters Macrodata Refinement at the beginning of the workday

Explanation: After a seemingly long walk through the maze-like corridors of Lumon, Mark finally arrives at Macrodata Refinement. In the frame shown above, the metal hanging pocket on the wall—in which the Senior Refiner Morning Checklist and general announcements are placed—appears empty. However, as the scene progresses, the checklist looks to be in its proper spot, marking a minor break in the continuity. This also reaffirms the notion that the morning checklist is a routine procedure.

Typos and similar errors

Training manual

Explanation: (1) In the first and leftmost image, Guam(GU) in the list of US states is missing a space before the opening parenthesis;[12] (2) in the second image, “training manual” is misspelled as training nanual;[13] (3) in the third image, the note to the trainer should read, “The trainee is disoriented and will want to know your identity. Do not disclose this. Disregard their question.[14]

There are various examples of comma misuse or omission as well, although typos and grammatical errors are commonplace in corporate and government documents.

The Orientation Booklet

The Orientation Booklet

Explanation: In the scene where Helly is browsing The Macrodata Refiner’s Orientation Booklet, an extra article (the) can be noticed within the text next to the waving Sevy: We know you may be curious about the what the numbers mean.[15] This was later fixed in Severance: The Lexington Letter, a tie-in digital book published on Apple Books.


The You You Are excerpt

The You You Are excerpt

Explanation: This excerpt from The You You Are’s ninth chapter, titled “The Quitting Bell,”[17] uses question marks in incorrect ways. In the second paragraph, the following sentence does not require a question mark at the end: Imagine, for instance, if our tragic concessions worker awoke one day, and instead of coming in for his shift, simply said “No? Since this is an indirect question, it should end with a period.[18] In the next sentence, a question mark is well needed; however, the placement of it is incorrect. As per American style guides, such as The Associated Press Stylebook or The Chicago Manual of Style, the question mark and exclamation point go within the quotation marks only when they apply to the quoted matter. They are placed outside when they apply to the whole sentence. The sentence should read, What if, when someone asked him for Lalabees, his answer was a firm and confident “no?

Different spelling of Macrodata Refinement

Macrodata Refinement spelled as “Macro Data Refinement”

Explanation: Across the season, the Macrodata in Macrodata Refinement is spelled as one word. However, during one scene in the Security Office,[19] a different spelling is spotted—Macro Data Refinement.

Dylan’s potato chips

Dylan eating chips in one of Petey’s flashbacks

Macrodata Refinement’s vending machine Macrodata Refinement’s vending machine

Explanation: During one of Petey’s flashbacks, Dylan George is seen eating potato chips that he had gotten from the kitchenette vending machine.[20] However, no such item seems to exist in the current vending machine.

A number of possibilities arise: (1) Due to Petey’s mental and physical state after reintegration, it is likely that he is misremembering the memory; (2) the potato chips used to be available in the past but not anymore; or (3) the chips may have come with his Lumon lunch.

Warning: The following GIFs contain flashing images that may cause discomfort. Please be advised.

Petey’s hair in flashback scenes

Petey’s different hairstyle in flashback scenes

Explanation: While in Mark’s basement, Petey finds himself having flashbacks to a time at Lumon.[21] As the experience progresses, his environment keeps changing between Macrodata Refinement and the basement; however, Petey retains his outfit and continues to work behind his desk, indicating that the scenes are shown to be continuous. As the GIF above displays, Petey’s hairstyle and facial hair appear different in the two scenes.

Same pattern of wetness across different days

Same pattern of wetness across different days

Explanation: The concrete Lumon logo sits beautifully on the front stairs of the company building. The first time it is shown up-close is when Mark is leaving work late one day,[22] and it seems wet from the melted snow. The next time a close-up appears is in a later episode,[23] a few days later, when workers are installing a locking door for Macrodata Refinement. By comparing the two, it is revealed that the pattern of wetness is the same in both instances, which are supposed to be days apart.

This continuity error is likely due to the fact that cinematographers often shoot all of the scenes that take place at a certain location while they are at that location. Jessica Lee Gagné, the show’s Director of Photography, also confirms this in an interview.[24] Additionally, the Lumon logo appears to be a CGI overlay to the real location, and therefore so must be the wetness of the concrete.

Varying versions of Petey’s map

Varying versions of Petey’s map

Explanation: Petey’s map is shown up-close a few times, once when Mark discovers it for the first time[25] and at another point in a later episode when he is looking at it in a bathroom stall.[26] Comparing the two closely, as demonstrated in the GIF above, reveals that they are not the same, meaning they are two almost-identical versions of the same drawing.

Different bins

An MDR bin with Kier’s face An MDR bin with Kier Eagan’s face[27]

Explanation: In The You You Are, Irving is quite eager to visit Optics and Design, and with Dylan and Mark unable to discourage him, he soon embarks on his trip. In the background of this scene, there are two bins next to the printer machine, with one of them clearly marked for recycling. After a camera cut, the same scene now features a different bin with Kier Eagan’s face.

Perhaps, the Macrodata Refinement employee who keeps putting trash in the recycling bin[30] is confused by the different bins.

Reused elevator scene

Elevator scene comparison

Explanation: During the reading montage in episode five, Mark is shown calling the elevator and stepping inside to leave the floor.[31] The same elevator scene reappears later on in episode eight, when Mark is about to leave after Helly.[32] For a video comparison, please see here.

Party hats

Explanation: As Milchick first rolls the MDE cart into the office, three party hats are visible on the bottom shelf. There are, from left to right, a light blue, a striped, and a cyan hat. In a frame that follows, the cyan and striped hats switch places.


A fly or gnat behind Dylan

A man on the TV talks about a gnat A man on the TV talks about a gnat

Explanation: Just as Dylan takes a turn and is about to head into the Security Office, a fly or gnat can be seen entering and leaving the frame just behind the character.[35] Considering that director Ben Stiller has said during a Q&A panel[36] that they erased the housing development around Bell Works—the iconic building that houses the Lumon Industries headquarters—using visual effects, it raises the question why they decided to leave the fly in.

Although probably not related, it is interesting to note that in the first episode when Mark is at home, a man on the TV can be heard saying, “Indeed, this gnat will spend much of its three- to seven-day life . . . .”[37]

Mixed-up ID numbers

Explanation: In the leftmost image, Mark, Dylan, and Irving’s ID numbers are as follows:

-‎-‎- -‎-‎- -‎-‎-
Mark. S Macro Data Refinement 109827-2938 873.
-‎-‎- -‎-‎- -‎-‎-
-‎-‎- -‎-‎- -‎-‎-
Dylan. G Macro Data Refinement 112954-1004 873.
Irving. B Macro Data Refinement 764523-2236 873.
-‎-‎- -‎-‎- -‎-‎-

In the subsequent frame where Helly R. is added to the screen, it appears that the shift in the names was not anticipated as the three ID numbers remain unchanged. This means that Helly’s ID number is, in fact, Mark’s ID number from the previous screen, while Mark’s ID number is the same as Dylan’s.

In addition, the content of the Transition History column seen in the second image appears to be a direct copy and paste, as all the “In” and “Out” times are exactly the same. This cannot be true since it has been mentioned and implied a number of times that severed employees’ entrances and exists are staggered.

See Also

Season 1, Episode 5, The Grim Barbarity of Optics and Design (6:36)
Season 1, Episode 1, Good News About Hell (6:00)
Season 1, Episode 1, Good News About Hell (33:57)
Season 1, Episode 1, Good News About Hell (32:22)
Season 1, Episode 2, Half Loop (9:16)
Season 1, Episode 1, Good News About Hell (8:33)
Season 1, Episode 1, Good News About Hell (33:55)
Season 1, Episode 1, Good News About Hell (9:20)
Season 1, Episode 8, What’s for Dinner? (31:01)
Season 1, Episode 1, Good News About Hell (11:08)
Season 1, Episode 1, Good News About Hell (13:06)
Season 1, Episode 1, Good News About Hell (18:34)
Season 1, Episode 1, Good News About Hell (18:39)
Season 1, Episode 1, Good News About Hell (19:07)
Season 1, Episode 2, Half Loop (9:36)
Season 1, Episode 3, In Perpetuity (56:04)
Season 1, Episode 4, The You You Are (41:04)
The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017), 6.69.
Season 1, Episode 8, What’s for Dinner? (43:17)
Season 1, Episode 3, In Perpetuity (1:20)
Season 1, Episode 3, In Perpetuity (17:27)
Season 1, Episode 3, In Perpetuity (51:00)
Season 1, Episode 6, Hide and Seek (36:21)
Season 1, Episode 3, In Perpetuity (49:05)
Season 1, Episode 4, The You You Are (6:28)
A prop from the Severance Activation event at San Diego Comic-Con 2022
Season 1, Episode 4, The You You Are (8:46)
Season 1, Episode 4, The You You Are (9:01)
Season 1, Episode 3, In Perpetuity (14:00)
Season 1, Episode 5, The Grim Barbarity of Optics and Design (6:57)
Season 1, Episode 8, What’s for Dinner? (31:03)
Season 1, Episode 7, Defiant Jazz (22:23)
Season 1, Episode 7, Defiant Jazz (22:27)
Season 1, Episode 8, What’s for Dinner? (40:49)
Menzel, Scott (May 14, 2022). “Severance FYC Event Q&A Panel.” Hollywood Critics Association.
Season 1, Episode 1, Good News About Hell (36:30)
the_subtle_inconsistencies_of_severance.txt · Last modified: 2022-08-18 19:32 by Saeid