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.