There are few perfect movies out there. Even our favorites have some issues. Some of our favorites even have gaping plot holes that make us fundamentally question the plot of the movie. Some of these plot holes are easily noticeable, but others require you to really think about the plot and draw conclusions.
All movies ask us to suspend our disbelief, to put our questions and skepticism aside to enjoy the universe that’s been created. That’s part of the wonder of movies. Not everything has to make total sense in these fantasy worlds.
However, plot holes are details or scenes in movie where even suspension of disbelief doesn’t explain away the problems. Sometimes the plot hole is a basic flaw in the premise of the movie and once you identify the plot hole, the movie barely makes sense anymore. Other times the plot hole is one detail that doesn’t make sense in an otherwise perfect movie.
Either way, once you’ve discovered the plot hole, your viewing of the movie is fundamentally changed. You can’t unsee what’s been seen. Unfortunately, this sometimes ruins the movie, but often it’s just an interesting quirk that makes the movie more interesting.
The Internet is full of sites that identify plot holes and some of them have become so popular that movie creators and scriptwriters have responded trying to explain away the plot holes. Usually, they’re pretty unsuccessful, but it’s cute to see them try.
So, what are some of the biggest plot holes in your favorite movies? Read on to find out.
15. Why wasn’t the Karate Kid disqualified from the final tournament?
“The Karate Kid” is a classic 80’s sports movie, about a boy who’s being bullied by members of a martial arts gym. Luckily the boy lives in the same neighborhood as a martial arts master who promises to teach him to fight. Along the way he also learns about honor, why cheating is the worst, and why being a bully is bad. One giant montage later, the kid is a black belt (which is ridiculous in itself seeing as he only trained for like a month) and ready to take on the bullies.
So, the Karate Kid shows up at the final tournament, kicks the bully in the face and wins the tournament. Rejoice! However, there are a few issues with this. First, how did he show up to the tournament the day of, late and register? I’ve competed in multiple martial arts tournaments and there’s always a cutoff for registration. It’s never after the competition has begun. Second, as a late entry, how’s it possible that he randomly got matched with his bully? Lastly, while kicks to the face look cool, they are definitely prohibited in karate tournaments?
14. How did Snape have a memory of Lily telling Harry to be safe?
In “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” there’s a beautiful scene where Harry explores Snape’s memories, particularly relating to Harry’s mother Lily. Snape is dying and making an effort to explain to Harry who he really is: a bad guy turned good out of love. The scene shows multiple memories Snape has of falling in love with Lily and culminates with him holding her dead body and sobbing after Voldemort has killed her.
One of the scenes in this montage shows the moments right before Lily was killed. She knows she is about to die and she tells Harry to “be safe” and “be strong.”
The scene is heartbreaking and powerful, but the question remains: how did Snape have that memory? One of the central driving points of Snape’s character is his guilt that he was unable to save Lily from Voldemort. He didn’t arrive at the house until after Lily had died.
So, how did Snape have the memory of Lily’s last words? He didn’t even witness her death. Presumably the only people who have this memory are Lily and perhaps Harry, but he may have been too young to remember.
13. How can they still use the Jeeps from “Jurassic Park” in “Jurassic World”?
“Jurassic World” takes place approximately twenty years after the events of “Jurassic Park.” In “Jurassic Park” there were a limited number of gas powered jeeps that employees used to travel the resort.
When the characters in “Jurassic World” are trying to escape from rampaging dinosaurs (also, why would they try to recreate the park in the first place?!?!?), they randomly stumble upon some of the Jeeps from “Jurassic Park.” They manage to fix up the Jeeps, way too quickly, and escape.
Even if we generously assume that Chris Pratt’s character was a world class Jeep mechanic, there are still multiple issues with this scenario. The Jeeps hadn’t been started in about 20 years. Ever tried to start a car that hasn’t been turned on in a couple years? It usually doesn’t go well, so how do they even get the cars to start? Also, the cars have been sitting idle in a tropical environment for years. The tires would be severely degraded and possibly not even in driving condition. I’m pretty sure whatever gas was in the tank wouldn’t be usable either.
12. Why doesn’t Skynet send more Terminators?
The first two “Terminator” movies are some of the best action/sci-fi movies the 80’s and early 90’s gave us. For the most part, they’re masterpieces, and they even handle time travel relatively well, which is a feat in itself. But there are definitely a few gaping plot holes.
Skynet is an evil corporation that produces robots and tries to take over the world in the future. Their plans for world domination are thwarted by a human freedom fighter named John Connor. In order to prevent this, Skynet develops time travel and killer robots called Terminators, and they send a Terminator back in time to kill John’s mother Sarah Connor to prevent John’s birth.
Sarah defies all odds and manages to defeat the Terminator in the first movie. In the second movie, John Connor, the hero of the future, is a teenager and Skynet sends another Terminator to kill him. Sarah, John, John’s dad (who has also been sent from the future), and a Terminator of their own manage to kill the second Terminator.
The question is, why doesn’t Skynet just send a ton of Terminators to kill John Connor at any point before he becomes a freedom fighter? They only send a Terminator like once every few years. They have mastered mass producing robots and time travel and killing John Connor is central to their world domination, so why don’t they send an army of Terminators? Or send them more often?
11. Where did Edward Scissorhands get the ice for the ice sculptures?
“Edward Scissorhands” is a Tim Burton classic that tells the story of a mad scientist’s creation: a man with blades for hands. In the beginning of the movie we see a scene of Edward using his scissor hands to carve beautiful ice sculptures in the house.
But where did he get the ice blocks for the sculptures? According to the story, the mad scientist who created Edward has been dead for years and he’s been alone in the mansion since. It’s possible that the scientist had a large freezer for mad scientist things, but the freezer probably didn’t contain giant blocks of ice. And even if it did, ice eventually evaporates, even when kept in a freezer, so even if the ice existed at one point it wouldn’t have been there years later.
This plot hole even manages to recur. In the famous “Ice Dance” scene, Edward is carving a giant ice angel. It’s so giant that he needs a ladder to carve the wings. Where did he get a block of ice that large on short notice and when most of the town is scared of him?
10. How did the T-Rex fit inside the Visitor’s Center at the end of “Jurassic Park”?
“Jurassic Park” is one of my favorite movies ever and it’s hard for me to look for faults, but there is one giant (literally and figuratively) plot hole that’s always bothered me. At the end of the movie there’s the iconic scene of the T-rex ravaging the Visitor Center and fighting with the velociraptors. It’s awesome scene, but the questions that haunts me are how did the T-rex get in to the Visitor Center in the first place and how did it get in without anyone noticing?
Grant, Sattler, and the children are surrounded by raptors, and then suddenly there’s just a T-rex, right in front of them. And they all look surprised that it’s there. From a movie watcher’s perspective, the T-rex came in from off camera for dramatic effect, but you’re telling me none of them saw a T-rex just stroll into the building?
The walls don’t look damaged, so it’s not like the T-rex crashed through the walls. There’s definitely open doors, but none of them look big enough for the T-rex to fit through. So how did the T-rex even get in?
9. Why does a human computer virus take out the aliens in Independence Day?
“Independence Day” is the action blockbuster where Jeff Goldblum essentially saves the world. Aliens have invaded and they’re mission is to wipe out human kind so they can mine our world for resources until its destroyed. These aliens have super advanced technology that we can’t even comprehend. Like, the science team at Area 51 had a crashed ship and unconscious aliens in their lab for years and they haven’t managed to figure out anything. So, it’s established that these aliens are way beyond us.
Jeff Goldblum does some genius thinking and figures out how to program a computer virus and upload it to the alien ship. In the 90’s when the movie was made this was some super sci-fi stuff. The government codes the virus on an ancient Mac computer, and manages to upload it to the alien ship and everything goes kablooey.
But why would an alien society that’s so advanced be effected by a computer virus coded on an ancient Mac? Why would their computers, which were created literally in another universe, even be compatible with Earth computers? How do we even know that alien computers understand any coding language we’d produce?
8. Why doesn’t Harry Potter use the Time Turner to save hundreds of lives?
The Time Turner has infuriated Harry Potter fans for years. In “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” Hermione is given an incredibly powerful magical object called a Time Turner so she can take more classes. Leave it to Hermione to use time travel just to get more credits. Later in the movie, Harry and Hermione use the Time Turner to go back in time to save Buckbeak, a magical creature sentenced to die for harming a student, and to help Harry’s wrongfully convicted escape a fate worse than death, but also death.
At the end of the movie the Time Turner is returned to Hogwarts staff and its agreed that the gang won’t use the Time Turners again because playing with time is too dangerous. Well, if it was so dangerous, why was Hermione allowed to use one just to take more classes? And if Dumbledore encouraged its use to save the lives of Buckbeak and Sirius, why wouldn’t he encourage its use to save hundreds of lives from Voldemort?
Rowling and the movie’s creators tried to close this plot gap saying that all the Time Turners were destroyed in the battle in the Department of Mysteries in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” but that was two years after the gang uses the Time Turner for the first time and after Voldemort reappears. Someone could have easily obtained a Time Turner after Voldemort’s return, seeing its life saving implications.
7. In “Armageddon” why didn’t they just train astronauts to drill instead of training drillers to be astronauts?
In “Armageddon” an asteroid is hurtling toward Earth, threatening to destroy the planet. Scientists at NASA somehow come up with the idea to drill in to the asteroid and plant a nuclear bomb to blow it up, neutralizing the threat. NASA then recruits a team of drilling experts and trains them to be astronauts so they can go to the asteroid and complete the drilling.
The obvious question is why didn’t NASA train astronauts to do the drilling instead of training the drill team to be astronauts? Astronaut training takes literally years of rigorous effort. I imagine learning to use drilling equipment, even highly technical drilling equipment, would be much easier than training civilians to be astronauts. And the drilling didn’t even have to be that precise. They’re just putting a hole in the ground to plant a bomb. On a related note, why are they trusting civilians with a literal nuclear bomb?
6. Where did the parents think the presents were coming from in the “Santa Clause”?
In the 90’s Christmas classic, “The Santa Clause,” Tim Allen accidentally kills Santa and becomes the new Santa Claus when he puts on Santa’s jacket. One of the central themes in the movie is that everyone thinks Tim Allen’s character is losing his mind and pretending to be Santa to win favor with his son, who still believes in Santa. It is well established that none of the adults in this movie believe in Santa Claus.
This plot line seems relatively sound as most adults do not actually believe in Santa, but there’s one big problem. The Santa killed by Tim Allen is shown delivering presents for children, and later on Tim Allen’s character is seen delivering presents as well. This means that there were definitely presents under the tree that those parents didn’t buy.
Why didn’t the parents question where these presents came from? Maybe each parent thought that the other parent bought the mystery presents, but a simple conversation, which you’d assume they’d have, would reveal that neither parents bought the presents. How can they not believe in Santa if mysterious presents are, in fact, showing up on Christmas morning?
5. What time zone do Gremlins function on?
In this 80’s horror comedy, a kid gets a cute little creature called a mogwai as a Christmas present from his father. The father found the mogwai in a sketchy occult type store in Chinatown, where the proprietor refuses to sell it to him. The proprietor’s son secretly sells the father the mogwai and is very specific about the rules of owning and caring for it.
One of the cardinal rules of mogwai ownership is that they can’t be given food or water after midnight. Of course, this rule is broken and chaos ensues. The mogwai transforms from a cutesy pet to a mischievous monster called a Gremlin, who wreaks havoc on the town.
The glaring plot hole in this movie is what time zone do the Gremlins function on? Additionally, it’s implied that the Gremlins are from another country. So, which time zone does the “after midnight” apply to? It follows that the rule would apply to the time zone of the place where the Gremlins originated, but the Gremlins still change when fed after midnight in the time zone they’re in. The movie takes place in a fictional town and it’s not clear what time zone this town falls in. Does the Gremlin adjust their biology to the time zone they’re in?
4. How long is Luke on Dagoba?
“The Empire Strikes Back” is widely regarded as the best movie of the original trilogy, mostly because Yoda! The ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi instructs Luke Skywalker to go to Dagobah to be trained by the Jedi Master Yoda. After his spacecraft crash lands on Dagobah, Yoda discovers Luke and they begin to train in the ways of the Jedi.
The Jedi training on Dagobah appears to take a long time, maybe even months, and you’d assume it would take a long time for an untrained student to master a supernatural power. Meanwhile, Leia and Han evade the Empire and eventually travel to Cloud City, the home of Han’s friend Lando Calrissian. Lando betrays them and Han and Leia are captured by Vader. Luke gets word of the capture and abandons his training on Dagobah to rescue them.
All of that makes sense, until you try to create a timeline. The Han and Leia plot appears to take a week at most. Assuming that space travel is relatively quick, which is a basic premise of travel in sci-fi movies, it wouldn’t take Han and Leia all that long to escape the Empire ships and get to Cloud City.
Their story line certainly didn’t take months, yet Luke appears to be on Dagobah for much longer than their storyline takes. Does time move differently on Dagobah? Or did Luke train for like a week, master the basics, of the Force and then just peace out? If this is the case it makes much more sense that Yoda gets so angry with Luke leaving prematurely. And Luke only trained for a week, how has he mastered the Force well enough to win a battle with Vader, who has been training for years?
3. How did everyone survive the water vaporizer in Batman Begins?
Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” movies are some of the best “Batman” movies Hollywood has ever produced and arguably the most accurate to the comics. “Batman Begins” provides the most interesting take on Batman’s origin story and training. It also introduces the brilliant Dr. Crane, also known as the supervillain “The Scarecrow.”
The Scarecrow’s master plan is to release a fear inducing drug in to the water system so that everyone is drugged. The drug will induce hallucinations of everyone’s worst fears, causing them to attack each other and tear apart the city.
Toward the end of the movie it’s revealed that Batman’s mentor Ra’s al Ghul actually wants to destroy Gotham too. Ra’s has stolen a microwave emitter from Wayne Enterprises and intends to vaporize all the town’s water, which would make the fear toxin airborne.
Sounds like a good plan, right? Except for the fact that the human body is largely composed of water. Turning on the microwave emitter would theoretically vaporize all the water within the human body, killing the entire city. Ra’s al Ghul and all of his cronies would die as well, so why would they move forward with this plan?
2. Why would aliens who were so sensitive to water invade a planet covered in water?
“Signs” is another story of alien invasion where the humans end up victorious. But their victory is belittled when you take time to think about this movie’s plot hole. The aliens in the movie are super sensitive to water. It reacts like acid on their skin and when they are doused in water they actually die.
It seems like really poor planning on their part to invade a planet that is largely composed of water, where water is a huge part of the atmosphere, and where it could rain at any time. I mean, did the aliens check their weather apps before they landed to make sure it wasn’t a rainy day? And how is it that the water in Earth’s atmosphere didn’t hurt them? It wouldn’t be enough to kill them, but it would presumably make their skin hurt enough that it probably wouldn’t be pleasant. And how did they have to wait until the dew on the grass evaporated before they could come out for the day?
1. How does Batman get around the fact that his actions kill civilians?
Batman doesn’t kill people. This is one of his primary character traits. Movies like “Batman Begins” do a great job of establishing the fact that Batman believes that if he kills the thugs and villains he pursues it makes him no better than them. His quest for justice is strictly non-lethal.
This makes for a very noble superhero, but you have to wonder how he justifies the fact that his battles with villains must result in collateral damage. In every “Batman” movie there are multiple scenes where Batman chases the movie’s villain through the crowded Gotham city. Often in the Batmobile, Batman drives like a madman to pursue the villains and cars are sent off the road in every direction. These battles often result in massive destruction of city property, which is likely to fall all over the city of Gotham, crushing at least a few.
It’s impossible to deny that Batman’s fights with villains result in deaths. So how does Batman justify this to himself? It’s possible that he sees these deaths as a result of the villain’s actions and therefore not his fault, but that seems pretty dismissive.
Even our favorite movies aren’t perfect. I hope pointing out these glaring plot holes haven’t ruined your enjoyment of these classics. What other major plot holes did we miss?
Sources: Den of Geek, Movie Pilot, Movie Mistakes, Digital Spy, Harry Potter Wikia, Business Insider, Batman Wikia