People love watching movies. Since we were kids we enjoyed sitting in front of the tv or heading to the theatre to watch the newest release. Movies entertain us by keeping us on the edge of our seats, making us laugh, making us cry or making us too scared to go upstairs alone at night. For most of us, we have nostalgic feelings about certain films we saw as kids. They remind us of good times and the sensations we felt the first time we saw a certain movie. Many of these movies become our favorites and we watch them over and over again throughout the years. Most of us can probably recite the lines from our favorites word for word – often to the annoyance of our significant others. A film might even be so good that even in the age of downloading and streaming we feel it warrants owning a physical copy on Blu-ray or DVD.
Of course, even the best films, for all their strengths and entertainments value, can have some shortcomings. Have you ever watched a film and noticed that a scene in daylight suddenly becomes nighttime for no reason? Or perhaps a character says or does something which doesn’t make sense within the movie? As we get older we tend to notice the mistakes and errors within the films we watch. In many cases this only takes a little sparkle off those gems we love so much. Sometimes, however, the errors can be so big or so puzzling that they distract us from enjoying the movie or annoy us for the rest of the film.
The following list looks at one of those shortcomings we so often notice in films. Ahead you’ll find 20 of the biggest plot holes in some of the more notable Hollywood releases. From animated classics to sci-fi thrillers to movies which just are not that good, these plot holes can be rather large and obvious. That said, even the more subtle plot holes covered ahead will still have you wondering how on earth they got past the writers and directors.
20. The Dark Knight Rises
Christopher Nolan’s 2012 film finished off the wildly successful Dark Knight Trilogy with a showdown between Batman and the forces of evil led by Bane. Tired of his time in the spotlight and fed up with getting the crap beaten out of him by Gotham’s psychopaths, Bruce Wayne decides to hang up his bat suit and fake his own death at the end of the film. While most people were left thinking Batman died in the fiery mushroom cloud of a nuclear explosion and that Bruce Wayne was also dead (complete with fake funeral service) the audience knew that Wayne was still alive, sipping drinks with Catwoman in some restaurant in Florence. Just one problem: Bruce Wayne was one of the most popular and recognizable faces on earth – surely he would stand out to others in the area.
In 1982, families everywhere went to movie theatres and drive-ins to see Steven Spielberg’s classic ET. If you haven’t seen the movie, it follows the adventures of a stranded alien on earth who befriends a little boy and gets into all sorts of funny and stressful situations. ET was able to heal things, had a glowing finger, displayed a low alcohol tolerance and even had the ability to fly. This of course begs the question – at the start of the movie when his spaceship takes off without him, why doesn’t he just use some of those superpowers to get himself out of the dangerous situation?
Another 1980s classic film, Gremlins followed the story of a boy who gets a rather interesting creature as a pet. The creature, known as a Mogwai, was cute and cuddly but came with some major safety warnings. The owner of the Mogwai was warned not to expose the creature to sunlight, get it wet or feed it after midnight. It all made for a rather entertaining, albeit dark film that audiences loved. There was just one problem with the plot. When is it not ‘after midnight’? Isn’t it always after midnight somewhere? Isn’t it technically after midnight all the time?
17. Battlefield Earth
Often listed among the worst films ever made, Battlefield Earth was John Travolta’s attempt to turn L Ron Hubbard’s novel of the same name, into a film. Released in 2000, the film is about a race of aliens who enslave the human population who ultimately rise up to overthrow their masters with a lot of bad acting and slow motion camera work. Anyone who can suffer through this film probably noticed the major plot hole during the uprising. When the humans battle the aliens, they use 1000-year-old Harrier jets which work flawlessly despite having no maintenance done to them over that time span. Even the jet fuel which has been sitting there for that time hasn’t broken down. It’s all amazing – and a massive plot hole.
16. Citizen Kane
Orson Welles’ 1941 Citizen Kane is considered a classic of the American big screen. Orson Welles plays Charles Foster Kane, a wealthy newspaper publisher who is based on real-life newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst. The oldest film on our list, Citizen Kane is not without its plot holes. The main issue occurs when, as Kane dies, he utters out his last word – Rosebud. This sparks a search by a reporter to find the meaning of the word. What’s the problem? No one was in the room when Kane uttered his final word so no one should be wondering what ‘Rosebud’ means.
15. The Butterfly Effect
Time travel movies are always full of plot holes because stories using time travel are always so full of holes and errors. The Butterfly Effect falls into this problem. In one scene Ashton Kutcher’s character, Evan, is trying to convince a cellmate that he can talk to Jesus. To do this, Evan goes back in time and stabs himself in the hands to leave scars which then show up in the present and convince the other prisoner of Evan’s powers. The problem with this is that the scars inflicted in the past wouldn’t have just appeared suddenly in the future. To the cellmate, the cuts on Evan’s hands would have been there the whole time from the moment they met.
14. Independence Day
Will Smith using witty one-liners against aliens, the White House blowing up and trailer park folk defeating alien invaders with fighter jets – it all makes for an American classic. Of course, even the audience’s ability to suspend their disbelief couldn’t make up for the major plot hole involving the way the humans overcame the alien ship’s defences. MIT-educated computer expert David Levinson, played by Jeff Goldblum, helps create a virus that is then uploaded into the mother ship to disable it. So what’s the problem? The humans develop a computer virus using their Mac software and that’s supposed to be compatible with whatever system/software the aliens are using? These super advanced invaders don’t have some ultra-advanced virus protection, like a galactic Norton package?
13. The Hangover
The 2009 comedy The Hangover was a box office and critical success which introduced us to the likes of Zach Galifianakis and further popularized Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper. What wasn’t to love? A bunch of guys go to Vegas for a wild bachelor party and get into all sorts of trouble while meeting all sorts of interesting people like Mike Tyson and Wayne Newton. The major plot hole is that Doug, the groom-to-be, spends two days on the roof of a casino-resort and nobody notices. Considering the amount of surveillance at a Vegas casino, it’s unlikely he could be up on the roof without being noticed. Additionally, since the windows of the hotel do not open, surely one of the maintenance workers responsible for removing the mattress stuck on the statue would have put it all together and taken a quick look up on the roof . Finally, are we to believe that Doug was just passed out for 2 days on the roof without attempting to attract attention or yell over the edge for help?
12. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
The second film of the Star Trek series is considered by many to be the best. The film sees Captain Kirk and the Enterprise clash with Khan Noonien Singh and his band of genetically enhanced beings. Space battles, suspense and the ‘death’ of Spock all make this a favorite of sci-fi film-goers. There are numerous small errors in the film but one of the biggest plot holes occurs near the beginning when Khan comes face to face with two federation officers. Upon confronting Pavel Chekov, Khan recognized Chekov and says he never forgets a face. The main problem is that Khan has never met Chekov. The only other time Khan was near the Enterprise was in the series episode “Space Seed.” Khan was never shown anywhere near Chekov and the two were never ever crossing paths which leaves this plot hole wide open.
11. Alien 3
Alien and its sequel Aliens were sci-fi masterpieces. The first was a terrifying thriller and the second was suspenseful and action packed. Then, in 1992, they made Alien 3. The film itself was fine, but not nearly as good as the first two. Plot-wise, there is a major letdown right at the start that makes the rest of the movie improbable. The opening scenes show an alien egg attached to the ceiling in the sleeping/living quarters of the spaceship. How did it get there? It’s implied the Queen alien put it there at the end of Aliens, but she was never near that part of the ship. Fans will also point out that the queen detached from her egg sack and probably didn’t carry a spare egg with her. It was all just too convenient and came across as a massive cop-out by the writing team.
10. The Empire Strikes Back
Often considered the best film of the entire Star Wars franchise, The Empire Strikes Back sees, well, the Empire strike back against the Rebellion. From the battle on Hoth, the pursuit of the Millenium Falcon across the galaxy to the climactic lightsaber battle in Cloud City, this film is considerably darker than the first Star Wars installment as the forces of evil, led by Darth Vader seem unstoppable. Even being the best of the series, Empire has some plot holes. The biggest of these centers around the final duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. After Vader chops off Skywalker’s hand and tells him that he is his father, Luke decides to fall off the ledge rather than turn to the dark side. Just one problem. Isn’t Darth Vader super powerful with the ability to use the force to pick up objects and move them around at will? Couldn’t he have just stopped Luke, mid-fall, and brought him back up, thus preventing his escape from Cloud City?
9. The Karate Kid
This is the heart-warming story of a boy who has moved to a new city and befriends a mysteries man, the whole time being picked on and beaten up by a bunch of bullies at his school. Daniel LaRusso quickly turns the tables on his Cobra Kai bullies by learning karate from Mr. Myiagi. The karate tournament sets the stage for the climax of the film and the defining moment is surely when Daniel faces off against Johnny. With an injured leg and things not looking good, Daniel gives Johnny a super crane kick and takes home the trophy and girlfriend Elizabeth Schue. The major problem with this moment is that the killer blow administered by Daniel is an illegal kick to the face. Daniel is disqualified and Johnny wins.
8. Back to the Future
Yes, another time travel movie with plot holes – shocking. In this instance, perhaps it’s not so much a plothole but a major case of improbability. We of course are talking about the plan for Marty to get back to the 1980s by timing the run of the DeLorean so it hits the wire just as the car reaches 88 mph and just when the lightning strikes. All of the timing for this is based on a town hall clock which lacks a second hand. So in addition to getting the car up to 88 mph by the time the hook hits the wire, the DeLorean must also be at the right spot at exactly the right second. How do Marty and Doc know whether the lightning strikes at 10:04:01 or 10:04:35? They literally have a 1 in 60 chance of guessing the right time.
This movie is impossible to think about without having Aerosmith’s “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” pop into your head. You are welcome. This 1998 film has all the elements you’d expect from a Michael Bay film; cheesy lines, insane editing, special effects overload and cringe-worthy acting. The whole premise is that NASA sends a rag-tag group of drillers into space to destroy an asteroid that is going to destroy the planet. We think Ben Affleck, who starred in the film, outlines the plot hole the best when he asked Bay why on earth NASA would train drillers to be astronauts when it would have been more practical to train astronauts to drill.
6. Beauty and the Beast
A touching story about a beautiful girl who meets a rather hairy prince and, after they overcome his issues, they fall in love and live happily ever after. The major problem with this storyline is that the timing and age of the prince never really matches up. It is said the prince was 11 years old when the Enchantress placed a curse on him that turned him into a beast. The Prince had no family around, just a bunch of servants. So how then, after he is transformed into a beast, can he destroy a picture of himself as an adult? Perhaps the prince had some sort of time machine; a horse and carriage combo built by DeLorean? Or, perhaps he was just the most mature 11-year-old anyone has ever seen.
5. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Setting the bar for special effects on the big screen, Terminator 2 was a blockbuster when it hit theatres in 1991. The shape-shifting T-1000 was a special effects marvel and everyone loved Arnold as the somewhat comical and good terminator, sent to protect a young (albeit annoying) John Connor. As we learned in the original Terminator, only organic matter can travel back in time. That’s why everyone is naked when they arrive. The original Terminator can make the jump because his metal skeleton is covered in living tissue. But what about the T-1000? That Terminator had no organic matter and was made of liquid metal so it should not have survived the time jump.
4. The Matrix
The Matrix series presented us with an alternate version of reality where humans were actually living in giant tubes, being used as batteries for robots who, in turn, created a computer generated world (the Matrix) for the humans to believe they were living in. The original film sees a small group of humans, including Keanu Reeves, detach from the Matrix to live in the ‘real’ world. In order to re-enter the Matrix, you needed to hook a wire into your head and have an operator ‘dial’ you back in. This creates one of the biggest plot holes in the film. When Cypher turns on his friends and re-enters the Matrix to make a deal with Smith to betray the group, how does he do it without anyone else noticing and who ‘dials’ him in?
3. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
Yes, many of us have seen that episode of The Big Bang Theory where Sheldon discovers that the character of Indiana Jones is almost completely inconsequential to the outcome of the movie. In fact, except for being around at the end to collect the ark after all the Nazis are killed, Jones provides nothing more than comical or suspenseful filler. Nonetheless, in the scene where Jones loses the ark for the umpteenth time to the Nazis and their submarine, a plot hole exists. Jones swims to the submarine and somehow travels with it all the way to the secret Nazi island base. How does Indiana Jones survive the trip holding on to the exterior of the submarine – especially after it dives under water?
2. Batman Begins
With Christian Bale as the Dark Knight, the Batman series was rebooted with the release of Batman Begins in 2005. Filled with all the usual characters you’d expect in a Batman movie, Batman Begins nevertheless had a massive plot hole. The main villain, Ra’s al Ghul, played by Liam Neeson, decides that he wants to destroy Gotham, and the best way to that is with a secret microwave weapon. This weapon can vaporize all of the water in Gotham and send a chemical secretly planted in the water system well beforehand, into the air to make everyone psychotic. What that whole premise doesn’t consider is that humans are mostly made up of water and, thus, the weapon should have caused everyone to explode when it was started up. Furthermore, since the toxin was being released into Gotham’s water well before the big day, what happened to the many people who would have boiled kettles of water for tea or other drinks? Surely they would have been exposed to the toxin.
1. Star Wars
An all-time favorite of sci-fi fans, Star Wars became a massive hit and had a huge impact of culture and society that no one could have imagined at the time. Of course, even a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there can be serious plot holes. First, there is the escape pod with the droids in the opening scene. When they launch and start their escape from the Imperial forces the gunners onboard the Star Destroyer decide not to shoot the pod because the scanners don’t detect any life forms. In a world where droids are everywhere you either couldn’t detect them onboard or decided it wasn’t a big deal and you could let just this one go?
Being the generous people we are here, we’ll throw in another big plot hole from the film. The Death Star destroys planets. The Death Star is sent to destroy Yavin 4, the planet with the rebel base. Before it can do this, the Death Star first has to orbit another planet to get a clear shot. Why not just blow up the planet that’s in the way and then destroy Yavin 4 and the rebel base? For an evil empire they sure are reluctant to shoot unless they have to.