Baffling Movie Plot Holes That’ll Have You Scratching Your Head
How did some of these make it into the final cut?
Even big-budget Hollywood blockbusters get it wrong sometimes. In fact, most films have at least a couple of minor discrepancies — and artistic license means filmmakers can get away with bending the truth at least a little in the name of entertainment.
But sometimes a movie has a plot hole that’s just downright confusing. Here’s a recap of some of the most well-known plot holes, plus a few you might have missed.
‘Star Wars Episode VI: A New Hope’ (1977)
Although it’s never explained, there’s clearly a strong link between the Skywalker children and Vader; several times in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, we witness the offspring “sensing” each other, and Vader can communicate with Luke telepathically. Why, then, at the beginning of “A New Hope,” is Vader apparently unaware that Leia is his daughter? You’d think the Force connection would stop him from torturing her. It seems non-recognition is a recurring plot hole theme in this movie — Obi-Wan doesn’t know who R2-D2 is either, despite getting to know the droid over three films.
‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’ (1981)
Could Indiana Jones have prevented World War II? Quite possibly. If Indy had refused the assignment and stayed at home, he wouldn’t have found the Ark of the Covenant and it would have been sent back to Berlin to be opened by Hitler … cue face-melting. That’s right — if the film were reality, the hero of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” could be to blame for WWII and all the chaos that came after it.
‘The Karate Kid’ (1984)
Kids of the ’80s were probably too busy cheering Daniel LaRusso to victory over the evil Johnny Lawrence to notice a big, glaring plot hole in “The Karate Kid.” Basically, the entire premise of this classic could be described as a plot hole. Mr. Miyagi spends the best part of the film teaching Daniel an ethical, balanced form of karate based on respect and hard work — all important lessons for young viewers. But in the end, Daniel defeats Johnny in the ring with a dangerous, illegal crane kick to the face.
‘Toy Story’ (1995)
The main plot in “Toy Story” revolves around the fact that Buzz Lightyear thinks he’s a space commander on an intergalactic mission, not a toy. So why does he freeze whenever Andy comes into the room like all the other toys do (so as not to blow their cover)? He even goes limp in Andy’s hands to let him play with him — something he surely wouldn’t do if he believed he wasn’t a toy.
‘Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull’ (2008)
The long-awaited return of everyone’s favorite fictional archeology professor in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” didn’t live up to the hype, and it wasn’t helped by plot holes the size of craters. Perhaps the most ridiculous is the scene in which Indy survives an atom bomb blast by hiding in a fridge, before being shot through the air — and landing totally unscathed.
‘Rogue One’ (2016)
The whole Star Wars saga is pitted with plot holes, many of which come to light in “Rogue One” — understandably so, as it’s the episode that bridges the gap between the prequels and the later installments. For starters, too many characters simply didn’t need to die. It’s hard to fathom why Lyra chose to doom her daughter Jyn to the life of an orphan, especially when the cave bunker was plenty big enough for two. Jyn’s adoptive father Saw’s demise is similarly baffling; being “tired of running” isn’t a good enough reason to give up on a lifelong quest to bring down the Empire.
‘Ocean’s Eleven’ (2001)
Slick heist movie “Ocean’s Eleven” had a major plot hole, but it’s actually pretty easy to miss. As part of the big reveal, the fake SWAT team switches out the money in the vault for bags stuffed with hundreds of escort flyers. But how did they get the bags down there in the first place? What’s more, how did they manage to make the switch? Even director Steven Soderbergh admits on the film’s commentary that he couldn’t figure out how the team had time for it.
‘Shawshank Redemption’ (1994)
Even Oscar-nominated movies have plot holes, and in the case of “The Shawshank Redemption,” it’s one that was even parodied in an episode of Family Guy. The wrongly-convicted Andy escapes from prison by tunneling out of his cell, but his skills don’t end there. He somehow manages to cover the tell-tale hole in his cell wall with a poster of Raquel Welch — no mean feat from inside a tunnel. Perhaps Andy practiced reattaching the poster to the wall — but even so, it’s done too perfectly to be feasible. It’s still one of the greatest movies of all time, so try not to let a Raquel Welch poster ruin it for you.
‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ (2017)
“Spider-Man: Homecoming” does a great job of uniting the web-crawler with the Avengers, but it completely messes up the entire MCU timeline. The movie opens with a caption saying “Eight years later,” referring to 2012’s “The Avengers.” This places “Homecoming” in 2020. But when the sourcebook “Marvel: The First Ten Years” came out in 2018 it stated that “Homecoming” is set in 2016. And that’s only the start of the Marvel timeline problems …
‘The Matrix’ (1999)
It’s not easy to get in and out of the Matrix; you need an operator to jack you in, supervise you and then facilitate an exit route. So how does Cypher manage to get in and out to meet with the Agent on his own? Another plot hole that’s too big to ignore concerns one of the movie’s main concepts: that the real world and the artificial reality are completely separate. In other words, what happens to the digital avatar of someone “jacked in” has no effect on their flesh-and-blood body — at least, that’s the theory. But the Redpills cough up blood IRL after serious virtual injuries, for which there’s no obvious answer.
‘Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban’ (2004)
The third Harry Potter movie ties lots of plot points together nicely, but it also provides some annoying plot holes for irate Potterheads to debate at length. For instance, Harry works out that the evil Peter Pettigrew has been living right under his nose for years as Ron’s pet rat, Scabbers. The problem is that Ron’s brothers, Fred and George, have access to the Marauder’s Map, which reveals the location of every person in Hogwarts. So why didn’t they realize that villainous Pettigrew was sharing a bed with Ron every night?
The extent of the plot hole in “Thor” isn’t clear until you watch “The Avengers” (2012). At the end of “Thor,” the Bifrost is destroyed (meaning Thor has no way of getting out of Asgard) and Loki comes to a tragic end. However, it later becomes clear that Loki is alive and well, and Thor has somehow managed to get to Earth like it’s no big deal. Aside from a flimsy explanation from Loki relating to “dark magics,” we have no idea how he did it.
You can’t deny a plot hole when even one of the film’s biggest stars points it out. When he played an oil driller-turned-astronaut in the action movie “Armageddon,” Ben Affleck asked director Michael Bay if it wouldn’t have been easier to train astronauts to drill, instead of teaching oil drillers to head a mission into outer space. However, Bay wasn’t happy with the question and allegedly told Affleck to “shut the f*** up.”
‘X-Men: Days Of Future Past’ (2014)
Another MCU plot hole comes courtesy of “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” In the previous X-Men offering, “X-Men: The Last Stand,” the Phoenix destroys Xavier, hinting that he shifts his consciousness into a comatose man just before his body decomposes. But in “Days of Future Past,” Xavier is back in his original body. This issue is two-fold: How did his original body come back, and when and how did he transfer his consciousness back into it?
If the fairy’s enchantments lose all their magical powers after the clock strikes midnight, why doesn’t this apply to Cinderella’s shoes? When she runs away from the ball, everything reverts to its former state. The horses turn back into mice, the coach becomes a pumpkin again and the ball gown turns into her mother’s dress. But inexplicably, her shoes remain magical.
‘Independence Day’ (1996)
Anyone who’s ever used a Mac knows only too well that if something wasn’t produced by Apple, it’s not compatible. So one of the big questions posed by “Independence Day” is, how on earth did a Mac OS 7.6 manage to destroy the alien invaders of Independence Day by uploading a virus to their mothership? The computers aren’t even from the same world, let alone the same operating system. Apparently, an explanation was offered in a scene that ended up on the cutting room floor, in which computer genius David Levinson reveals that he’s managed to interpret the alien language and make it compatible using a spaceship from a Roswell crash site.
Set 57 years after “Alien,” “Aliens” sees the return of Ellen Ripley battling a band of aliens. After the initial scuffle, the hostile creatures spend an inordinate amount of time trying to crawl into the ventilation shafts to access the colony HQ from above. But why didn’t they just try to break the doors down? They’re certainly strong enough. There’s an explanation for this one, too — the aliens did try to get through the doors, but the scene was cut. (It was reinstated for James Cameron’s Director’s Cut, though.)
‘E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial’ (1982)
Speaking of aliens, everyone’s favorite friendly extraterrestrial gave the world one of the biggest family movie hits of the 1980s. But even “E.T.” isn’t perfect, in that it contains one almighty plot hole. In one of the film’s most iconic scenes, E.T. and Elliott fly across the sky to avoid getting captured. Why, then, at the start of the film, doesn’t E.T. employ the same tactic to evade the government agents hot on his heels?
‘Gone Girl’ (2014)
Even with a running time of 2 hours, 30 minutes, “Gone Girl” leaves viewers with too many unanswered questions and more than a few plot holes. When Amy first disappears, the cops find evidence of a huge amount of blood in her kitchen, and they later decide that Amy had been struck on the head with a wooden club. But when Amy comes back, she doesn’t have a large head wound — something that would surely have been picked up by the doctors who examined her closely enough to confirm that she had been raped. What’s more, wouldn’t those same doctors ensure she went home clean of Desi’s blood, rather than send her home still covered in it?
‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ (1969)
A gaping plot hole in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” starring George Lazenby as Bond, comes to light when 007 meets Blofeld. Strangely, the criminal mastermind appears to have no idea who Bond is, despite having met him in the earlier installment “You Only Live Twice.” OK, so Bond was played by Sean Connery in that one, but Bond is Bond, right? It turns out that this gaffe was the result of a rejected version of the script, in which Bond has plastic surgery to disguise himself. Sadly, nobody took that into account long enough to join the dots.
‘The Hangover’ (2009)
At the end of “The Hangover,” Phil, Alan and Stu finally realize Doug has been on the roof of their Las Vegas hotel the entire time they’d been rushing around looking for him. It’s wonderful that the groom will make it back to Los Angeles in time for his wedding. But before that, there’s the small question of how he managed to survive on a rooftop in scorching heat, without shade or water, for several days, with nothing more serious than sunburn. He should be seriously dehydrated at the very least.
‘Back To The Future’ (1985)
Understandably, time travel isn’t easy. But Marty McFly manages it in “Back to the Future” — with the help of Doc Brown — and travels back to 1955 to unite his parents, save their relationship and secure his own future existence. But there’s one rather large plot hole: Why don’t George and Lorraine McFly acknowledge, in the present day, that their son looks exactly like “Calvin Klein,” who brought them back together years ago and inspired George’s career as a sci-fi novelist?
‘The Lord Of The Rings’ Trilogy (2001 – 2003)
As the cinematic adaptation of one of the greatest fantasy novels of all time, “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy has been picked apart by critics and Tolkien purists, time and time again. One of the many plot holes concerns the warning beacons located on top of the massive White Mountains. It made for an impressive sight, but it would be impossible for a beacon lighter to survive for a significant length of time at that height without modern equipment. Not even the most adept professional climbers would have been able to supply the beacon lighters with food and water at regular intervals.
In “Taken,” Liam Neeson’s daughter Kim goes on holiday to France, where she’s abducted and sold into the sex trade. Uber-protective father Neeson travels to Paris, where he kills nearly everyone in the city during his search for her. But Kim didn’t go to France alone — she was with her friend Amanda. Unfortunately for Amanda, nobody seems interested in searching for her.
‘Jurassic Park’ (1993)
As you’d expect, the dinosaurs in “Jurassic Park” are pretty impressive, even more so when they go into attack mode. The moment the hungry T-Rex chases the jeep is one of the movie’s best, but there’s also a dino-sized plot hole. The T-Rex snaps the wires of the fence and continues onto the road — or does she? It appears she may actually be levitating; a few moments later when one of the jeeps falls over the same fence, there’s no road there but a sheer drop of at least 100 feet.
All pet owners need to abide by certain rules to keep their creatures safe, and that goes for the cute, furry Mogwais of “Gremlins” just as much as the more traditional choices out there. One of the main Mogwai rules is that you can’t feed them after midnight. But this simply triggers a long list of questions for which there are no satisfactory answers. When is it safe to start feeding again? Isn’t it always after midnight somewhere? What happens when the clocks jump forward at the end of daylight saving time?
‘A Quiet Place’ (2018)
The alien creatures in “A Quiet Place” are very sensitive to sound, which suggests they should have attacked the family — who presumably talked, snored and sneezed on a daily basis — a long time ago, but there’s another glaring plot hole. The family uses sand to cover the ground of their farm, as it mutes their footsteps and allows them to run around without tipping off their unwelcome guests. But it’s not clear where they got the sand from, how they got it to the farm without alerting the aliens, or why such vast quantities of sand were already on their farm, if that was the case.
Moviegoers won’t have expected realism to be a priority, but at the very least you’d imagine a film called “Gravity” would consider the most basic principles of physics. In the film’s most memorable — and emotional — scene, George Clooney’s Lieutenant Kowalski and Sandra Bullock’s Dr. Ryan Stone, entangled in a parachute, are clinging to opposite ends of a tether in zero gravity. Kowalski detaches himself to save Stone, but he could have just tugged on the tether to drift back toward the International Space Station, which could have saved both their lives.
‘Reservoir Dogs’ (1992)
The “Reservoir Dogs” plot hole is a big one. In the famous Mexican stand-off scene toward the end of the film, Nice Guy Eddie has his gun aimed at Mr. White, who has his gun aimed at Joe, who has his gun pointed at Mr. Orange. If all had gone to plan, Joe would have shot Orange, White would have shot Joe, and Nice Guy Eddie would have shot White. Finally, White would have shot Nice Guy Eddie as he swung his gun around when he fell to the ground. But the movie prop went off too soon, and Chris Penn (Nice Guy Eddie) reacted to it. Basically, nobody actually shot Nice Guy Eddie before he fell to the ground.
Possibly the biggest plot hole in movie history is in “Titanic.” There was no need for Jack to die — he could easily have joined Rose on the large piece of wood she was floating on, and they would have been saved together and lived happily ever after. If only Rose had moved ove r… However, if she had, the film wouldn’t be remembered as having one of the most tragic, romantic endings in cinematic history.