When Jerry, Wade, and Stan are standing outside of the Embers, you can see I-394 over their shoulders. An overhead sign shows an HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle, or carpool) lane. Minnesota introduced HOV lanes in 1991.
Jenny's son has a Whitesnake poster on his wall. The film is set in 1987, which was the peak of Whitesnake's popularity, but the color scheme, logo and font on this poster are consistent with that of the Slip of the Tongue era; that album did not come out until two years later, in 1989.
When Carl pulls up to the parking gate after stealing the license plate, the airplane on the Northwest Airlines hangar in the background is painted in the 'bowling shoe' livery. This livery was not used by Northwest Airlines until 1989.
The irate customer says he was paying "Ninteen Five for that car!". The MSRP for a loaded brand new 1987 Cutlass Cierra was $12,357 which the customer would have seen on the window sticker and far below his original quote.
When Marge interviews Shep Proudfoot, she tells him that associating with criminals is a parole violation and will land him "back in Stillwater", referring to a men's medium-security prison in Minnesota. However, she then proceeds to tell him about their involvement in a homicide. Considering that a triple homicide has occurred and that one of the victims was a state trooper, Shep would not be going to Stillwater, but to Oak Park Heights, which is Minnesota's only maximum security prison for men. As a sheriff, Marge should have known the difference and it would have given her even greater leverage in getting information out of Shep.
As Jerry and Jean tell Scotty they don't want him playing hockey, Wade calls Jerry to set up the meeting the next day. When Jean answers the phone, the time on the microwave is 10:44. When she hands the phone to Jerry, it's 7:43. When he turns his back, it's 11:05.
In the opening scene where Jerry is towing the Ciera along the snow-covered roads, both cars are understandably covered with road grime, ice and salt. Later, when he pulls into the King of Clubs for the meeting, both cars are perfectly clean.
During the parking garage sequence, the neon clock at Minneapolis City Hall (visible in some shots) shows a very different time from when the money was supposed to be exchanged. According to the same clock, nearly an hour elapses between Carl's departure and Jerry's arrival.
As Geaer is running away from Marge onto the frozen lake, he is shot in the leg and falls. The boots and soles are still white. He had just been standing in a mess of blood near the wood chipper, and had blood on his heels as he started to run away.
At the start of the movie when the characters Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi), Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare) & Jerry Lundegaard (William H Macey) first meet, Carl says that Shep Proudfoot (Steve Reevis) told him that they were to meet at 7.30pm.
Later when Jerry speaks to Shep, Shep says that he only vouches for Grimsrud and he has never heard of Carl.
When Jerry wants to call it all off, Shep tells Jerry that he is not able to contact Gaear..
Then when Carl is in the hotel room with the escort (Michelle Hutchison),somehow Shep is able to track down Carl who he has never met or even knows what he looks like.
When Jerry drives the car and trailer into the parking lot, the only light is from the street lamps. When the camera moves from Jerry to some guys playing pool, natural light or daylight is coming in through the window.
When Marge is talking to Gaear in the squad car, she asks if the person she saw in the cabin was Jean Lundegaard. However, in the previous scene her body had moved outside and was next in line for the woodchipper treatment.
The sheriff's gun (revolver) changes after she shot Peter Stormare's character - she shoots him in the leg with a snubnose revolver (clearly seen in the close up shot - pun intended) than in the next cut we see a 4 inch barrel revolver in her hand.
After leaving the hotel, Marge is seen driving; the sky is completely overcast grey as she pulls into Hardee's drive-through lane. While she's eating the burger in her patrol car, the sky is a cloudless clear blue, with the low sun shining on her face. In the next scene, as she goes back to the car dealership for a quick chat with Jerry L. regarding the tan Ciera, sky has again become grey and overcast.
When the kidnappers first enter Minneapolis, they are driving northbound on 35W, which means they're approaching from the south. Brainerd is north of the Twin Cities, so they should be approaching from the north.
In Brainerd, when Officer Olson interviews Mr. Mohra about the guy "going crazy at the lake," they each refer to lakes that are nowhere near Brainerd. Officer Olson asks if it's White Bear Lake, about 130 miles southeast of Brainerd. Mr. Mohra tells him it was Moose Lake. Minnesota has more than 1 Moose Lake, but the closest one is in adjacent Cass County, which is outside of the Brainerd Police department's jurisdiction. The error is repeated later, when Marge Gunderson says she is on patrol around Moose Lake.
Nightcrawlers would rarely be used as an ice fishing bait and typically are not even available in the middle of winter. (However although they appear to be in a paper bag, it is foil-lined, which is appropriate for this kind of bait.)
The state trooper turns on the flashing light on the police car way before it gets close to the kidnappers' Cierra. It means that he could not have noticed that the Cierra had dealer plates on it at such distance, at night.
Marge shoots Gaer in the leg at Moose Lake at the end of the movie. She then transports Gaer to the police station in her own car. This isn't standard police protocol. If a suspect becomes seriously wounded during a pursuit, as from a shot wound, then an ambulance must be called and the suspect must first be transported by that ambulance to a hospital for treatment before they can later be taken into police custody.
As very upset as Scotty was and his insistence on calling the police to investigate his mother's kidnapping, he very nearly did without his father's (Jerry Lundegard) knowledge, despite Marge's tying in the murders to Shep and Jerry at Wade's car dealership.
Jean Lundegaard dials 911 from a phone in the upstairs bathroom. A few seconds later, the phone is disconnected. While modern 911 systems could automatically identify the address, that was not the case in 1987. The dispatcher might not have been able to take any further action.
When the patrolman approaches the kidnappers' car at night on the highway, he carries the flashlight in his left hand, and his gun and holster are on his left hip, but when he arrives at the car window, he has the flashlight in his right hand, and the gun and holster are on his right hip. This is not a goof because when the patrolman is approaching the car it's being filmed through the car's side mirror.
In Ludegaard's first plan to raise money, he asks Wade for seed money for a $750,000 parking lot project. Wade refuses to give him the money, but offers him a 10% finder's fee. If he took the finder's fee, he would have had $75,000 instead of the $40,000 he would have had from his second plan of splitting the $80,000 ransom with the kidnappers. However, the ransom demand was $1 million; Jerry only told the kidnappers it was $40,000.
Marge is visibly pregnant, but in the initial crime scene, she complains of "morning sickness." Morning sickness typically occurs in the first 12-15 weeks of pregnancy, long before any woman has a visible "baby bump." However, morning sickness can last throughout an entire pregnancy.
When Jerry speaks to Shep about "the two guys," Shep says he only knows Grimsrud and does not know Carl. But when Shep later bursts into Carl's room to choke and whip him, they clearly recognize each other. Shep could have been lying to Jerry.
During the investigation of the roadside shooting, Marge and her police colleague's uniforms display the American flag incorrectly on their right shoulders. The field of stars is on the left side of the flag, when it should correctly be on the right of the flag on the right shoulder so that it is moving "forwards" - the flag can never retreat. NOTE: While this is true of the US military, it is almost universally common for US law enforcement and firefighters to display flags on their uniforms as depicted in this scene.
At the motel in North Dakota where Jerry is hiding out, the knob on the outside door is not an exterior keyed door lock, but rather an interior type bathroom door knob that can be opened with a paper clip. The hotel employee fakes using a key to open it.
When Gaear Grimsrud does a 180 degree burnout to chase the passersby who saw the dead trooper, the Tan Ciera is spinning its rear wheels, as this maneuver cannot be done with a front-wheel drive vehicle. Later, in the snowy airport parking lot, the front wheels of the Ciera can clearly be seen spinning.
The witnesses to the state trooper shooting at night veer off the road for no apparent reason, after Gaear gives chase. The roads were clear and dry. However, the car was moving at very high speed and the driver was presumably panicked - something as simple as looking over his shoulder at the pursuing headlights could've caused him to drift into the snow on the side of the road and lose control of the car.
Unbeknownst to Gaear Grimsrud, Carl's partner in crime, Carl took the $1 million from Wade after killing him. Carl then pretends to Gaear that he got "all of it...all eighty grand. That's forty for you and forty for me. Here are the keys to my truck. I'm taking the Cierra." Gaear then tells Carl that "one of us pays the other for half." Why did Carl make such a big deal about giving up only another $20,000 to Gaear when he had the leftover $20,000 from the $80,000 he pocketed, plus another $920,000 that Gaear did not know about? That would have left Carl $940,000 AND the Cierra, and most importantly he would still be alive.
Given the friction between Carl and Gaear Grimsrud, his partner in the kidnapping, given that he just inherited $1 million after killing Mr. Gustafson with no witnesses, why did Carl simply not take off on his own? Why did he go to the trouble to bury the $920,000 out in the snow after he had set aside the original $80,000 ransom when he already had the entire $1 million AND the Cierra and his life? He could have easily left the state and Shep wouldn't have thought anything of it, since Shep's initial contact was with Jerry who set up the kidnapping.